After meeting several primary objectives during risk reduction flights at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah in late July, DARPA’s Gremlins program now is targeting additional tests of its X-61A vehicle later this year. The program seeks to develop and demonstrate air launch and air recovery of up to four Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs), known as Gremlins Air Vehicles (or just Gremlins), within 30 minutes.
Over several days in July, the technology development team completed multiple flight tests of the Gremlins air-vehicle ground and recovery systems, including demonstration of a recovery system safely retrieving and stowing the air vehicles. The team also conducted a controlled launch of a Gremlin flying for more than two hours and performed rendezvous and autonomous formation station-keeping between the air vehicle and a C-130 at a separation of 125 feet/38.1 m.
The July flights follow the program’s first flight test in November 2019, during which the program completed one captive-carry mission, and an airborne launch and free flight lasting more than 90 minutes.
«The air vehicle performed beautifully from launch through mission modes, and the consistency between the flight tests in November and July increases confidence in the X-61A», said Scott Wierzbanowski, the Gremlins program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. «However, we made a decision to delay the first air recovery attempt and instead focus on key risk reduction activities to better ensure a smooth air recovery test later this year».
The program now calls for flight tests to resume in October with the key objective to recover first one, and then two, air vehicles in the same flight. By the end of the year, the program aims to complete the test series, culminating with airborne recovery of four Gremlins within 30 minutes. This final demonstration will showcase the capability of safe, effective, and efficient air recoveries, opening the way to dramatically expand the application and utility of attritable UASs.
Mission flexibility and affordability are the key attributes of the Gremlins system, which would launch groups of UASs from multiple types of military aircraft while the latter remain beyond the range of adversary defenses. The Gremlins program is using a C-130 as the demonstration platform, but the recovery system is designed to be easily modified and compatible with a wide array of transport aircraft and weapons systems. Once Gremlins complete their missions, the transport aircraft would retrieve them in the air and carry them home, where ground crews could prepare them for their next use within 24 hours.
Gremlins can incorporate several types of sensors weighing up to 150 pounds/68 kg, and integrate technologies to accommodate different stakeholders and missions.
On 24th August 2020, the U.S. Navy held a keel-laying ceremony in Groton, Connecticut and officially began the construction of a new Virginia-class attack submarine USS Idaho (SSN-799).
The U.S. Navy held a ceremony with former Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne Monday to name Nicholas Meyers as the USS Idaho (SSN-799) commander. Its crew of 135 sailors will also feature three native Idahoans.
General Dynamics Electric Boat Division is constructing this $2.44 billion piece of equipment at a shipyard in Quonset Point, Rhode Island. The submarine is 377 feet/114.8 m long, can travel up to 25 knots/28 mph/46.3 km/h and is capable of diving 800 feet/244 m.
The future USS Idaho (SSN-799) will be the fifth U.S. naval vessel named after the Gem State. The USS Idaho (SSN-799) will be the 26th submarine of the Virginia-class which is the most advanced nuclear submarine of the U.S. Navy.
The USS Idaho (SSN-799) will be the fifth ship to represent Idaho, but the first in more than a century. The last one was a battleship that played a crucial role in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.
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)
OSI Maritime Systems (OSI) is pleased to announce NUSHIP Supply (II), the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) new Supply class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) ship, has successfully completed its Sea Acceptance Trials (SAT) in Ferrol, Spain.
OSI is contracted by Navantia to design and deliver Integrated Bridge Systems (IBS) for the RAN SEA 1654 AOR Program. In addition, OSI is providing onboard training and supervision of the system as the ship transits to its delivery destination.
«Working directly with Navantia was a rewarding experience», stated Ken Kirkpatrick, President and CEO, OSI Maritime Systems. «It brought together partners from Spain, Australia, and Canada, and demonstrated the cooperation that is possible in the global shipbuilding industry even with the challenges brought on by COVID-19».
NUSHIP Supply (II) is the first of two ships being delivered to the RAN. When commissioned, the ships are intended to carry fuel, dry cargo, water, food, ammunition, equipment and spare parts to provide operational support for the deployed naval or combat forces operating far from the port on the high seas for prolonged operational periods.
The IBS supplied for SEA 1654 is based upon OSI’s Warship Integrated Navigation & Tactical System (INTS) design; custom built to the RAN’s requirements. As a type approved Integrated Navigation System (INS), INTS’s scalable architecture allows for core capabilities to be designed to fit a range of bridge configurations from offshore patrol vessels to large frigate designs.
Integrated into to this innovative bridge design is ECPINS, OSI’s leading warship navigation software. ECPINS is an International Maritime Organization (IMO) Approved ECDIS and the only third-party type approved NATO WECDIS STANAG 4564. The RAN operates ECPINS fleet wide.
«Our expertise in navigation and tactical solutions is easily recognized in both integrated systems and software solutions», added Jim Davison, Vice President, Business Development. «There really is no other company that can offer both systems and software solutions that are specifically designed for naval operations and are third-party type approved».
ECPINS operates fleet wide across nine navies and INTS is currently being supplied to multiple NATO and Allied navy programs including the Royal Canadian Navy’s Canadian Surface Combat program; a design based upon the BAE Systems Type 26 Global Combat Ship.
Auxiliary Oiler Replenisher
173.9 m/570.54 feet
23.0 m/75.46 feet
8.0 m/26.25 feet
Warship Electronic Chart Display & Information System (WECDIS)
Electronic Chart Precise Integrated Navigation System (ECPINS)
Integrated Bridge System
Based on OSI’s Integrated Navigation & Tactical System
Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS); 2×25-mm Typhoon Weapon Station; 4×12.7-mm heavy machine guns
The 411th Flight Test Squadron in conjunction with the 412th Range Squadron achieved the first successful flight of the Common Range Integrated Instrumentation System (CRIIS) at Edwards Air Force Base, California, August 5. This event marked the first flight of the CRIIS at the Edwards Flight Test Range, and it was also the first flight on a fifth-generation fighter platform.
«This successful CRIIS flight test ensures that the 412th Range Squadron will achieve Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for CRIIS and continue the legacy of providing leading edge Time-Space-Position Information (TSPI) capability for Edwards Flight Test Range customers that was started almost 30 years ago with the IOC of the nation’s first Advance Range Data System (ARDS) Global Position System», said Randall Heiling, 412th Range Squadron’s master architect.
CRIIS is a tri-service Test and Evaluation range system designed to replace the aging ARDS. The CRIIS system can downlink and relay aircraft TSPI, as well as other aircraft data to a test range ground station.
«CRIIS will enable F-22 Raptor flight testing for the foreseeable future», said Zachary Rumble, 775th Test Squadron, and F-22 Raptor Navigation Subject Matter Expert. «In initial testing, CRIIS appears to be more accurate than the legacy ARDS plate, with more room for growth».
Recent CRIIS flight testing has proven the ability of the system to record highly accurate TSPI on board the F-22 Raptor. A live stream test of CRIIS data from an F-22 Raptor to a mission control room is on track for later this summer.
«The CRIIS is truly a needed upgrade for the test enterprise», said Lieutenant Colonel David Schmitt, 411th FLTS and F-22 Raptor Combined Test Flight Director of Operations. «The ability to record and utilize TSPI in real-time is a foundational piece of what we do. It is a critical enabler, which unlocks many of the tools the experts use to verify the performance of everything from fire control radars, to datalinks, to new or upgraded munitions. This was the first flight at Edwards of what will hopefully be a long legacy of CRIIS performance across the test enterprise».
CRIIS is currently in the final stages of achieving IOC at Edwards, Eglin AFB, Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC) Aircraft Division Patuxent River, Nellis Test and Training Range, NAWC Weapons Division (WD) China Lake, NAWCWD Point Mugu, and White Sands Test Center. CRIIS is being deployed on aircraft platforms such as the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and F/A-18 Super Hornet. The CRIIS is expected to set a new tri-service standard for test range TSPI instrumentation.
General Dynamics Land Systems-UK has been awarded a contract by NP Aerospace, under the UK Ministry of Defence Protected Mobility Fleet Vehicle Programme, to demonstrate an electric-drive (e-drive) Foxhound vehicle.
The contract will enable General Dynamics Land Systems-UK to demonstrate an innovative e-drive solution for Foxhound, which is intended to deliver:
enhanced Silent Watch capabilities;
off-board electrical power for light infantry soldiers;
increased onboard power for the insertion of the latest technologies.
General Dynamics Land Systems-UK is partner vehicle OEM for Foxhound and Magtec is the electric drive and battery technology partner.
Carew Wilks, vice president and general manager of General Dynamics Land Systems-UK, said: «As technology develops to meet the future operating needs of the British Army, the demand for onboard power only increases, and electrification of land vehicles offers an innovative solution. Foxhound, the British Army light infantry vehicle of choice, already has an architecture that enables electrification and is a natural choice for this demonstrator. We look forward to demonstrating our e-drive Foxhound in the coming months».
General Dynamics Land Systems has a long pedigree and worldwide experience in delivering tracked and wheeled military vehicles, alongside specialist knowledge in e-drive capabilities and complex, scalable Electronic Architectures. It delivers, amongst others, the AJAX family of vehicles, the Abrams main battle tank, LAV (Light Armoured Vehicle) and Stryker Family of Vehicles, and the Cougar Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP).
Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) 21, the future USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul, completed acceptance trials in Lake Michigan. Trials included a full-power run, maneuverability testing, and surface and air detect-to-engage demonstrations of the ship’s combat system. Major systems and features were demonstrated, including aviation support, small boat launch handling and recovery and machinery control and automation. Now that trials are complete, the ship will undergo final outfitting and fine-tuning before delivery to the U.S. Navy. USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS-21) is the eleventh Freedom-variant LCS designed and built by the Lockheed Martin-led industry team and is slated for delivery to the U.S. Navy early next year.
«LCS-21 joins a fleet of sister ships delivering unique flexibility and capability to the U.S. Navy», said Joe DePietro, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager, Small Combatants and Ship Systems. «Freedom-variant LCS are inherently capable to serve freedom of navigation, drug interdiction and humanitarian missions, and with additional capabilities onboarded, they can serve further focused missions. On LCS 21’s acceptance trials, we successfully tested the ship’s maneuverability, automation and core combat capability».
The Freedom-variant LCS has completed four successful deployments, including LCS-7 (USS Detroit)’s deployment completed this summer. LCS-7 deployed to the U.S. Southern Command supporting the Martillo campaign – a multinational effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in Central American coastal waters.
Regarding LCS’ capabilities, U.S. Southern Commander Admiral Craig Faller recently stated, «LCS has proven to be an effective and adaptable platform capable of multiple missions in our area of responsibility. It has become an end-game enabler for U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement authorities who disrupt transnational criminal organizations and the smuggling of deadly narcotics. Adding the LCS to our Enhanced Counter Narcotics Operation is helping save lives».
Unique among combat ships, the focused-mission LCS is designed to support mine countermeasures, anti-submarine and surface warfare missions and is easily adapted to serve future and evolving missions. The Freedom-variant LCS is:
Flexible – Forty percent of the hull is easily reconfigurable, able to integrate Longbow Hellfire Missiles, 30-mm guns, manned and unmanned vehicles designed to meet today’s and tomorrow’s missions.
Lethal – LCS is standard equipped with Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) and a Mark 110 gun, capable of firing 220 rounds per minute.
Powerful – LCS has gas turbines, diesel engines and water jets that together generate 85 MW/113,600 horsepower making LCS capable of speeds in excess of /46 mph/74 km/h.
Automated – LCS has the most efficient staffing of any combat ship.
«I am pleased to see another successful acceptance trials on Lake Michigan», said Jan Allman, CEO of Fincantieri Marinette Marine. «Together with our partners, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy, our proud shipbuilding team puts in long hours to deliver a proven warship for the fleet».
Ship Design Specifications
Advanced semiplaning steel monohull
389 feet/118.6 m
57 feet/17.5 m
13.5 feet/4.1 m
Full Load Displacement
Approximately 3,200 metric tons
Greater than 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range at top speed
1,000 NM/1,151 miles/1,852 km
Range at cruise speed
4,000 NM/4,603 miles/7,408 km
Watercraft Launch and Recovery
Up to Sea State 4
Aircraft Launch and Recovery
Up to Sea State 5
Combined diesel and gas turbine with steerable water jet propulsion
85 MW/113,600 horsepower
Two MH-60 Romeo Helicopters
One MH-60 Romeo Helicopter and three Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (VTUAVs)
Less than 50
Accommodations for 75 sailors provide higher sailor quality of life than current fleet
Integrated Bridge System
Fully digital nautical charts are interfaced to ship sensors to support safe ship operation
Core Self-Defense Suite
Includes 3D air search radar
Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) gunfire control system
A team of pilots and engineers from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River recently completed a crucial series of sea trials of the CH-53K King Stallion that not only provided them with valuable developmental test information about the aircraft, but could change the way the squadron conducts similar tests in the future.
The test team of 96 personnel embarked on the USS Wasp (LHD-1) in early June to conduct an intensive series of tests that were designed to establish the helicopter’s performance envelope for day and night launches and recoveries at a wide range of wind speeds, to test engaging, disengaging, folding, and unfolding the rotors in a variety of wind conditions, and to allow maintenance crews from Sikorsky and Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron (VMX) 1 to practice working on the aircraft in at-sea conditions.
«We went to sea with a robust test plan», said Maj Joshua «Felon» Foxton, CH-53K King Stallion sea trials project officer. «Typically, you include more test points than you can reasonably expect to accomplish, which gives us greater flexibility in executing the plan. But due largely to the success of the aircraft, we were able to accomplish all of our objectives while we were underway».
Over the course of the 14-day detachment, the team members who were embarked on Wasp accomplished just over 32 hours of flying, well over a third of which were flown at night. Altogether, the team achieved 364 landings, of which 74 were conducted using night vision devices. The team successfully launched and recovered to all spots, and was able to launch 13 sorties in the first eight days of ship-based maintenance.
Foxton praised the CH-53K’s performance, noting that the responsive and well-tuned fly-by-wire controls make shipboard landings much easier and more precise than is possible with many other helicopters. «It’s a real testament to the stability of the aircraft», Foxton said.
Lieutenant Colonel Fred «NOVAC» Neubert, department head and government lead test pilot for the CH-53K King Stallion program, agreed with Foxton’s assessment. «There may be other aircraft out there with similar performance capabilities, but I have not flown a helicopter with the outstanding handling qualities that the 53K provides», Neubert said.
The aircraft performed so well, in fact, that the test team succeeded in testing nearly all of the aircraft’s launch and recovery envelope expansion – the team’s primary test objective – within the first seven days of the trip, leaving the second week to thoroughly pursue the other objectives. As a result, the test team was able to devote more time to identifying refinements and minor improvements to suggest to the manufacturer than it otherwise would have had. Foxton recalled how, during one post-flight debriefing, one of the team’s veteran flight engineers pointed out, «Do you realize we just spent 15 minutes talking about whether we could improve the windshield wipers»?
«We were able to focus on those little things because the big things took care of themselves», Foxton said.
Teamwork was another major factor in the detachment’s success. «It can sometimes take weeks or months for a team to coalesce, but we had 14 days underway to forge a team», Foxton said. «Thanks to the professionalism of the contractors, our Marine counterparts in VMX-1, and our colleagues in the Navy, we were able to accomplish everything so thoroughly that we were actually ably to fly the aircraft off a day earlier than we had planned. That was inspiring».
Neubert and Foxton also had plenty of praise for the Wasp’s crew. «The crew was amazing», Foxton said. «They carefully negotiated winds and weather for us in order to get the ship in the exact position with the conditions we needed for every test point. Their true professionalism enabled all of our successes».
«One of the things that stands out about this detachment was the quality of the ship’s crew from the leadership on down, their commitment to figuring out a way to make it work no matter what we needed», Neubert said. «I think that reflects the command culture. The ship’s commanding officer, Captain Greg Baker, likes to get to ‘Yes.’ Every department embodied that mentality».
The envelope expansion testing that the team accomplished has resulted in the largest fleet envelope for any Navy and Marine Corps helicopter currently in existence, according to the squadron.
«I think this detachment is going to rewrite how we plan a test phase», Foxton said. «It’s an opportunity for us to find very specific efficiencies in our testing, which will in turn increase our speed to the fleet».
Neubert agreed. «In flight test, we specialize in risk mitigation and preparing for how we will respond to something that goes wrong», Neubert explained. «What we discovered in this test is that in the future, we’ll want to spend more time planning how we will we respond if something goes unexpectedly great».
«Our objective is to provide the fleet Marines with a safer and more effective platform with greater operational capability, and this detachment was a successful example of that», Neubert said. «This is why we do flight test – because we come from the fleet, and we want to give good products back to the fleet».
Britain’s newest warship is ready for front-line duties – just five months after the first sailors stepped aboard HMS Tamar (P233).
In what is thought to be the fastest generation of a warship in peacetime, the Portsmouth-based ship has gone from incomplete lifeless hulk at the beginning of 2020 into a vessel ready to deploy around the globe by August.
Bringing HMS Tamar (P233) to life has been made all the more challenging by the pandemic – and the fact that most of the 61 crew are new to River class ships. Most have come from frigates and destroyers, even carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08).
The ship has spent 13 of the 17 weeks since she sailed from Govan at the end of March – with the yard going into lockdown as the ship headed down the Clyde – at sea.
At 60 one of the oldest sailors still at sea, and also one of the few Falklands veterans still serving, Warrant Officer 1st Class Trevor Ross witnessed the decommissioning of the previous Tamar – the base in Hong Kong which closed in 1997 when the territory was returned to China.
«We have lived in a ‘Tamar bubble’ throughout the pandemic. Eighteen-hour days, it’s been hard work and very tiring, but the spirit is really, really good, one of the best ships I’ve been on for morale», said the ship’s deputy head of marine engineering, who joined the Royal Navy in 1977. He is more than twice the average age of the ship’s company – far more sailors are in their 20s, like Able Seaman Mollie Sunshine Stokes, who joined HMS Tamar (P233) from Britain’s biggest warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08).
«We’re like a massive family on board Tamar – because everyone has been in the same situation with getting the ship ready and lockdown, it’s been easier to get through the past few months. There’s always someone around to pick you back up», said the 22-year-old seaman specialist from Exeter. «We have a really good work ethic – we smashed FOST out of the park».
She’s referring to Fleet Operational Sea Training, the last act of turning Tamar into an active warship, staged off the west coast of Scotland – fire/flood/navigational training and manoeuvres in the confined waters of numerous lochs – before switching to the South Coast for specific military training, such as gunnery, practising offensive tactics with her sister HMS Trent (P234) against destroyer HMS Defender (D36), and working with the Royal Marines of 47 Commando, who were impressed with HMS Tamar (P233) and her facilities.
The ship has a dedicated mess for more than 50 troops/marines/additional personnel – ideal for the wide range of maritime security roles that Tamar is designed to undertake.
The extra mess also makes the ship useful for evacuation operations, while the 16-tonne crane and space for up to five shipping container will be vital in disaster relief operations, both of which were tested by the FOST assessors.
The class is at the vanguard of the RN’s Forward Presence programme, stationing ships around the globe in regions key to UK interests/security as well as in home waters.
Airbus Helicopters, Inc. (AHI) has delivered the first of 16 new H125 helicopters uniquely configured for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO). AMO collaborated with AHI as part of a long-term fleet upgrade initiative, and the resulting configuration has led to one of the most advanced, high-tech law enforcement helicopters ever developed.
«Our mission is to safeguard the nation by anticipating and confronting security threats», said Steve Boyer, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner for AMO. «Airbus Helicopters’ continued commitment to designing, manufacturing, and delivering quality products will enable AMO personnel to successfully and safely carry out this mission».
The first helicopter for the new configuration was tested and delivered from Airbus Helicopters, Inc.’s facility in Grand Prairie, Texas. The remaining aircraft are being built in Columbus, Miss, where a workforce made up of 40 percent U.S. veterans also produces the UH-72A Lakota for the U.S. Army and has delivered more than 450 single-engine H125 aircraft for the North American market.
Following a rigorous analysis of its mission needs and next generation aerospace technology, AMO developed a set of requirements for the new helicopters, which Airbus put in place through nearly 30 Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs). The series of STCs are tied together through a primary all-encompassing STC that ensures all of the systems interact properly with one another and with the basic aircraft.
Airbus and AMO have a longstanding relationship of more than 30 years, during which Airbus has delivered more than 100 helicopters from the H120 and H125 family. This new acquisition was made possible through a partnership with Davenport Aviation, an SBA-certified woman-owned small business and HUBZone contractor specializing in the supply of aerospace equipment to federal, state and local government agencies.
«We are honored to partner with Airbus Helicopters and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to support this fleet upgrade for enhanced law enforcement capabilities through the procurement of 16 new H125 helicopters from our GSA contract», said Leah Simoes, Owner and Chairwoman of Davenport Aviation. «Throughout this project, we have been very appreciative of the support we have received from Airbus and CBP of our WOSB, HUBZone Certified small business».
Known for its power, versatility and excellent performance in hot and high conditions, the H125 features dual hydraulics, dual channel engine FADEC, a crash resistant fuel system, and advanced glass-panel cockpit displays. The H125 is the single most popular law enforcement helicopter in the U.S., accounting for nearly half of all helicopters delivered for that mission in North America over the last decade.
L3Harris Technologies has received a contract from the U.S. Navy for the Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MUSV) program. This is the Navy’s first program for an unmanned surface vehicle to support the Navy’s Distributed Maritime Operations strategy.
The $35 million initial award is part of a $281 million program that includes a prototype and options for a total of nine MUSVs. L3Harris will integrate the company’s ASView autonomy technology into a purpose-built 195-foot/59.4 m commercially derived vehicle from a facility along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana. The MUSV will provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to the fleet while maneuvering autonomously and complying with international Collision Regulations, even in operational environments.
«The MUSV program award reinforces our investments in the unmanned market and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to bring mission-critical capabilities to our warfighters», said Sean Stackley, President, Integrated Mission Systems, L3Harris. «L3Harris is continuing to develop a full range of highly reliable and affordable autonomous maritime capabilities to enable distributed maritime operations in support of the National Defense Strategy».
L3Harris will be the systems integrator and provide the mission autonomy and perception technology as the prime contractor on the program. The program team includes Gibbs & Cox and Incat Crowther who will provide the ship design and Swiftships will complete the construction of the vehicle.
L3Harris is a world leader in actively powered Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) systems, with over 115 USVs delivered worldwide. L3Harris’ USVs are actively serving the Navy, universities, research institutions and commercial businesses.