Hypersonic weapons

The B-1B Lancer’s expanded carriage capabilities comes one step closer to fruition following an external captive carry flight over the skies of Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), California, November 20.

B-1B Lancer
A B-1B Lancer with a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) flies in the skies above Edwards Air Force Base, California, November 20. The flight was a demonstration of the B-1B’s external weapons carriage capabilities (Air Force photo by Ethan Wagner)

The flight featured a B-1B Lancer assigned to the 412th Test Wing’s 419th Flight Test Squadron, Global Power Combined Test Force, and carried an inert Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile under an external pylon for the first time.

This demonstration may pave the way possibly for the B-1B Lancer to carry hypersonic weapons externally.

«Adapting a small number of our healthiest B-1s to carry hypersonic weapons is vital to bridge between the bomber force we have today, to the force of tomorrow», said General Tim Ray, Air Force Global Strike Command commander. «This is a major step forward in our global precision fires capability and it is important we pursue these technologies to remain ahead of our competitors. My goal is to have a limited number of B-1s modified to become the roving linebacker of the western Pacific and the North Atlantic».

The captive carry flight was the culmination of the numerous ground tests that began with last year’s expanded carriage demonstration that included a modified internal bomb bay, which featured a moveable bulkhead. The demonstration showcased a configuration of the B-1B Lancer that would allow the aircraft to carry larger-sized weapons both internally and externally.

«We’re essentially displaying our external weapons carriage capability», said Major Bret Cunningham, a B-1B Lancer test pilot with the 419th FLTS. «We have a JASSM weapon on what is traditionally the targeting pod pylon on the forward right hard point, so we are demonstrating that the B-1B Lancer has the capability to carry weapons and employ them externally».

This extensive engineering review will help the Air Force understand areas where it needs to focus on to maintain the B-1B Lancer as a multi-mission weapon system, potentially laying the groundwork for integration of future weapons on the aircraft.

The B-1B Lancer was initially designed to incorporate a moveable bulkhead and usable external hard points for its original nuclear mission, however the U.S. shifted the Lancer’s mission to conventional weapons in 1994. The physical conversion to conventional-only armaments started in 2007 with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), and was finished in 2011.

The current expanded carriage demonstrations will keep the aircraft compliant with the New START agreement, which means the Lancer can once again utilize those features while delivering conventional weapons.

«Since the long bay demo last year this has really been our key focus point in 2020; getting ready for this external weapons release demo as kind of the next step in that progression towards external weapons carriage and hypersonic capabilities for the B-1B Lancer», Cunningham said. «We’re pretty close to the culmination of this demo event and reaching that next milestone».

The demonstration could mean a potential boon for combatant commanders as the increase in weapons stores remedies an immediate shortfall due to the limited number of strategic bombers. The proposed increase in capacity means that two bombers would equal to three bombers’ worth of weapons.

Following the captive carry mission, engineers will then review the data gathered from the flight before moving on to the next of phase of the demonstration; an external weapons release.

«For us, we’re looking to do this safely, since this is the first time, we will release a weapon from the external hard point in over 30 years», said Agustin Martinez, project test lead. «So, we pretty much focused on doing a safe build up approach…to make sure the JASSM and the B-1B Lancer are communicating correctly; the JASSM has correct surface deployment timelines so once it does get released it will safely separate».

Engineers within the Air Force Test Center (AFTC) enterprise, B-1B Lancer system program office and Boeing will verify both the weapon’s and pylon’s integration with the B-1B Lancer. They are also interested in the physical effects, software, and flying qualities of the new shape on the outer mold line of the aircraft, Cunningham explained.

«The Air Force Test Center is enthusiastically teaming with Global Strike to enable greater flexibility in B-1B Lancer operational payloads», said Major General Christopher Azzano, AFTC commander. «The external carriage and long-bay mods reflect our ability to keep weapon systems relevant with mid-life upgrades».

AFTC has a long history of certifying external carriage weapons, Azzano added.

That history of test success and uniqueness of the mission is not lost on testers such as Cunningham and his B-1B Lancer flight crew.

«This is a great example of how we are accelerating change to meet our adversaries, and the engineers and operators should be commended for their work in getting this demonstration completed», Ray added. «We will continue to invest in and modernize the bomber fleet while increasing the lethality of our global precision fires to be anywhere and anytime».

This demonstration does not affect the Air Force’s request to retire 17 B-1B Lancer bombers in 2021.

Mission Master

Rheinmetall’s game-changing Mission Master Autonomous – Unmanned Ground Vehicle (A-UGV) family has just gained a new member: The Mission Master – Armed Reconnaissance. Equipped with intelligence-gathering technology and a Rheinmetall Fieldranger Remote-Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS), the new Armed Reconnaissance module is designed to collect tactical intelligence in the area of operations while providing frontline fire support whenever necessary.

A-UGV Mission Master
Rheinmetall unveils its new Mission Master – Armed Reconnaissance system

 

Crewless recon missions maximize troop security

Autonomous robotic vehicles offer countless advantages, including in a reconnaissance context. The Mission Master – Armed Reconnaissance is designed to execute high-risk scouting missions and deliver a real-time common operating picture without putting soldiers in danger. Since an enormous volume of data is gathered during missions of this type, Rheinmetall’s new A-UGV is equipped with resilient, highly reliable systems. Its payload consists of long-range Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) sensors, a surveillance radar, a 360° full ring camera, a laser rangefinder and a laser designator to identify potential threats. To further enhance the line of sight for the sensors while keeping a concealed posture, the reconnaissance payload is installed on a 3.5-metre/11.5-foot expandable mast with a tilting mechanism. This convenient feature allows for increased and safe transportability on any platform, even a CH-53 Sea Stallion or CH-47 Chinook.

The Armed Reconnaissance module also features radio-agnostic architecture, which means it can accommodate any type of radio that customers may need. The bidirectional communication system permits clear exchanges with HQ and other A-UGVs, giving commanders greater situational awareness. When engaging enemy forces, the Rheinmetall Fieldranger Light 7.62-mm RCWS will provide much more firepower than the usual man-carried section weapon. Engagement of targets is remote-controlled, never autonomous.

 

Safe operation at all times

As with the other modules of the Mission Master family, the Armed Reconnaissance owes its autonomous functions to the Rheinmetall PATH autonomous kit (A-kit). Proven, agnostic, trusted and highly autonomous, PATH is designed to enable military vehicles to operate in unmanned mode, freeing up soldiers for other duties and keeping them out of immediate danger. The A-kit provides a wide range of teleoperation options for the Mission Master, including a tablet, smartwatch, soldier system, and single-hand controller. These devices enable full access to advanced PATH features such as follow-me, convoy and autonomous navigation modes. Each control mode incorporates multiple layers of protection to ensure that the vehicle operates safely at all times. Moreover, Rheinmetall is committed to keeping a man in the loop in all kinetic operations, assuring that a human decides when to open fire, never a machine.

 

A comprehensive Mission Master family

The new Armed Reconnaissance module is the latest addition to the modular Mission Master family, widely acclaimed for its all-terrain manoeuvrability and ability to keep troops safe when deployed in harm’s way. The Cargo module can carry over half a ton of supplies, relieving the burden on troops keeping them fresh. The Fire Support modules boost the combat power of dismounted units, while the Rescue module autonomously evacuates casualties and carries specialized equipment for medical interventions in the field. In addition, every single module is equipped with a Blue Force tracking system that is fully compatible with NATO standards.

Like all members of the Mission Master family, the Armed Reconnaissance version is already networked to the Argus soldier system and Rheinmetall Command and Control Software, which can be installed in any user’s battle management system.

 

Power of the Wolf Pack

The addition of the Armed Reconnaissance to the Mission Master suite turns Rheinmetall’s groundbreaking Wolf Pack concept into a reality. The Wolf Pack consists of multiple Mission Master vehicles efficiently operating as a team in order to accomplish missions of all types, including zone surveillance, reconnaissance, target position transfer and slew-to-cue. All units communicate with each other and use artificial intelligence to maintain the total situational awareness necessary for carrying out their missions.

A genuine force multiplier, the entire Wolf Pack can be managed by a single operator from anywhere using the LTE network, SATCOM, or military cloud. It is an intuitive concept that enables one operator – rather than multiple uncoordinated operators – to focus on the overall mission rather than managing all the tasks of each A-UGV. As Rheinmetall continues to develop new modules for the Mission Master family, the Wolf Pack’s range of capabilities will only increase, significantly improving the military’s ability to achieve overmatch against increasingly capable enemies.

The Armed Reconnaissance module is the newest addition to Rheinmetall’s lineup of Mission Master Autonomous – Unmanned Ground Vehicles (A-UGVs)

Advanced Hawkeye

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of France of three (3) E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Aircraft and related equipment for an estimated cost of $2 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

E-2D Advanced Hawkeye
France has awarded an order worth about $2 billion for three Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye AEW aircraft, seen here during a test, to replace the earlier E-2Cs that operate from the French Navy carrier Charles de Gaulle (FR Navy photo)

The Government of France requests to buy three (3) E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Aircraft, ten (10) T-56-427A engines (6 installed and 4 spares), three (3) AN/APY-9 radar assemblies, four (4) AN/ALQ-217 electronic support measure systems (3 installed and 1 spare), three (3) AN/AYK-27 Integrated Navigation Channels and Display Systems, five (5) Link-16 (MIDS-JTRS) Communications Systems (3 installed and 2 spares), ten (10) Embedded GPS/INS (EGI) Devices (6 installed and 4 spares), four (4) AN/APX-122(A) and AN/APX-123(A) Identification, Friend or Foe systems (3 installed and 1 spare) and one (1) Joint Mission Planning System. Also included are Common Systems Integration Laboratories with/Test Equipment, one in Melbourne, FL, and the other in France; air and ground crew equipment; support equipment; spare and repair parts; publications and technical documentation; transportation; training and training equipment; U.S. Government and contractor logistics, engineering, and technical support services; and other related elements of logistics and program support. The total estimated program cost is $2 billion.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve security of a NATO ally which is an important force for political stability and economic progress in Europe.

The proposed sale will improve France’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing its Naval Air Forces with a sustainable follow on capability to their current, legacy E-2C Hawkeye aircraft. The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft will continue and expand French naval aviation capabilities and maintain interoperability with U.S. naval forces. As a current E-2C Hawkeye operator, France will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment and support into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The principal contractor will be Northrop Grumman Systems Corp, Aerospace Systems, Melbourne, Florida. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. Any offset agreement will be defined in negotiations between the Purchaser and the prime contractor.

Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to France.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness resulting from this proposed sale.

French Albatros

During a visit to the Dassault Aviation plant in Seclin, in northern France, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, today announced the upcoming notification of the contract for the «Albatros» Maritime Surveillance and Intervention Aircraft (AVSIMAR) program, which will be based on the Dassault Aviation Falcon 2000LXS. In accordance with the multiyear military spending bill (LPM), the initial order is for seven aircraft, to be delivered from 2025, out of the planned total of 12.

Falcon 2000 Albatros
Falcon 2000 Albatros for the French Navy

Dassault Aviation and the dozens of French companies associated with the Falcon programs would like to thank the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) and the French Navy for their confidence.

The Falcon 2000 Albatros will feature a multifunction radar under the fuselage, a high-performance optronic turret, observation windows, a SAR (Search & Rescue) kit release system and dedicated communication systems.

In line with the aeronautical maintenance transformation policy initiated by the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, the Albatros contract commits Dassault Aviation to a guaranteed availability clause, favoring industrial support in close cooperation with Navy personnel for 10 years.

«The Falcon 2000 Albatros is a high-performance aircraft equipped with a mission system and sensors of the latest generation. From the Falcon 20 of the U.S. Coast Guard to the Falcon 2000MSA of the Japanese Coast Guard, as well as the Falcon 200 Gardian and 50M of the French Navy, we have extensive experience in maritime surveillance, in addition to our long experience in maritime patrol with the Atlantique», said Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. «Several countries have shown interest in these aircraft, which provide an effective response to the considerable challenges of homeland protection and maritime security and government action at sea: fighting pollution and trafficking, surveillance of borders and exclusion zones, fisheries policing, search and rescue at sea, etc. It is only fitting that France, which has the world’s second largest exclusive economic zone, should be at the forefront in the use of this type of aircraft».

The first Falcon 2000LXS aircraft on which the program will be based will be manufactured in France. The remainder will be produced in India as part of the offset arrangements related to the 2016 Rafale contract. The conversion of the 12 Falcon 2000LXS aircraft into the Albatros configuration will all be carried out in France.

Over the past 50 years, Dassault Aviation has modified many Falcon aircraft to adapt them for maritime surveillance, medical evacuation, cargo transport, calibration, intelligence-gathering, training, etc. These multi-role aircraft represent approximately 10% of the Falcon fleet in service. French government services operate Falcon 10, 200, 50, 900, 2000, 7X and soon 8X aircraft in a strategic intelligence version under the Archange contract.

These multi-role Falcon aircraft are a perfect example of the dual civil/military know-how of Dassault Aviation: they benefit from the cutting-edge technologies developed for our fighter aircraft and, at the same time, they take advantage of the industrial processes used for the highly competitive production of our business jets.

Habitation Outpost

Northrop Grumman Corporation has successfully completed its initial Preliminary Design Review (PDR) event for the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO). The module will serve as living quarters for astronauts at the Gateway during lunar exploration missions.

HALO module
Artist illustration of Northrop Grumman’s HALO module and the Power Propulsion Element which form the first critical component of NASA’s Gateway

The design for HALO is based on Northrop Grumman’s flight-proven Cygnus spacecraft, a human-capable vehicle that delivers supplies, equipment and experiments to the International Space Station. Design upgrades for HALO include command and control systems, as well as environmental control and life support systems.

«By basing the HALO module on Cygnus, we are able to deliver an affordable and reliable flight-proven product on an accelerated timeline», said Steve Krein, vice president, civil and commercial satellites, Northrop Grumman. «Maturing HALO through its preliminary design marks a major milestone in the module’s production».

The HALO module is key to NASA’s Lunar Gateway, serving both as a crew habitat and docking hub for vehicles navigating between Earth and the moon. With NASA’s Orion spacecraft docked, HALO will be able to sustain up to four astronauts for up to 30 days as they travel to and from the lunar surface.

Northrop Grumman’s work on HALO is a follow-on to the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships 2 (NextSTEP-2) program, where the company used virtual reality and 3-D printed models to support rapid prototyping of the NextSTEP-2 habitat modules.

In addition to HALO, Northrop Grumman is partnering on the Blue Origin-led human landing system team to develop the Human Landing System (HLS) for the Artemis program. Northrop Grumman will provide the Transfer Element vehicle that lowers the landing system into low lunar orbit. The company is also responsible for delivering boosters for the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion Ascent Abort System.

From the first lunar lander to the space shuttle boosters, to supplying the International Space Station with vital cargo, Northrop Grumman has pioneered new products and ideas that have been put into orbit, on the moon, and in deep space for more than 50 years. As a part of NASA’s Artemis program, we are building on our mission heritage with new innovations to enable NASA to return humans to the moon, with the ultimate goal of human exploration of Mars.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

ICBM target

The Missile Defense Agency successfully intercepted a Northrop Grumman Corporation built Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) target that was launched during a flight test from the Reagan Test Site in the Kwajalein Atoll.

FTM-44
Company’s ICBM target and its ground control systems contribute to homeland defense test

FTM-44 satisfies a Congressional mandate to demonstrate that the MDA can use the Navy’s Aegis Combat System equipped with the Standard Missile 3 Block IIA (SM-3 IIA) to intercept intercontinental threats.

«As the ICBM target prime contractor for the Missile Defense Agency, we understand how critical it is to launch a realistic threat target to ensure our nation’s defense systems work when called upon», said Scott Lehr, vice president and general manager, launch and missile defense systems, Northrop Grumman. «With this successful test, the MDA has successfully demonstrated critical capabilities for the defense of our country utilizing many of Northrop Grumman’s missile defense capabilities».

Northrop Grumman is also the prime contractor on the Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) target, which is air-launched from a C-17 aircraft to provide the MDA with flexibility in mission engagement scenarios. To date, the company has supported three ICBM target launches and five IRBM target launches with 18 more on contract for future test missions with the MDA. Northrop Grumman also offers additional short, medium and long-range targets to meet evolving threats.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

SM-3 Block IIA Missile Excels in First Ever ICBM Intercept Test

 

ICBM
The MDA successfully intercepted a Northrop Grumman built ICBM target that was launched during a flight test from the Reagan Test Site in the Kwajalein Atoll

Missile for the Tiger

French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly has announced that MBDA is to develop the Future Tactical Air-to-Surface Missile (MAST-F) program as the main French Army air to ground armament for the Tiger combat helicopter.

MAST-F
MBDA to develop the combat missile for the Tiger helicopter

MBDA was selected after proposing to the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA – French Procurement Agency) its MHT/MLP concept (Missile Haut de Trame/Missile Longue Portée – high tier missile/long-range mobile missile) that builds on the technologies of the mid-range Missile Moyenne Portée (MMP), the first 5th generation land combat missile to enter service around the world. Its modular architecture enables easy integration of the MHT/MLP onto a variety of land or air combat platforms in addition to the Tiger.

The MHT/MLP is characterised by its high operational effectiveness. Weighing 20% less than other missiles in its category provides a weight saving of nearly 100 kg/220 lbs. for the Tiger helicopter, which can carry up to eight missiles in combat configuration. Exploiting this weight saving increases the Tiger’s fuel capacity and so its combat endurance, with a significant gain in «Playtime».

The MHT/MLP has a range of over 8 km/5 miles, even when fired from a stationary platform at low altitude. Its multi-effect warhead can handle a wide variety of targets, from modern battle tanks to hardened combat infrastructure. The MHT/MLP performs day or night, including in Beyond-Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) mode, with a two-way data link that sends images from the missile’s high-resolution visible and infrared optronic seeker back to the operator. The crew of the Tiger can use this imagery to choose the missile’s point of impact or to select a new target in flight, making the weapon suitable for fluid battlefield situations.

Commenting on the launch of the programme, MBDA CEO Eric Béranger declared: «The MHT/MLP missile combines new technologies, developed with the support of the DGA, with the tried and tested components of the MMP, making it an effector at the forefront of today’s tactical land combat missiles. It offers a flexibility of use unmatched in today’s armed forces, while minimising development risks. And with its all-European design authority, the MHT/MLP programme will fully contribute to the strategic autonomy objectives set by France and the European Union».

«With nearly 350 jobs per year over the next five years and, ultimately, around 250 annual jobs in France during the first 10 years of its production, the development and production of this new missile will help maintain of the national industrial and technological base, and in particular in the Centre region», he added.

Computerized canines

Over the last year, Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) and the 325th Security Forces Squadron have been working with Ghost Robotics to develop a system to enhance security and safety for the base population.

Computerized canines
An unmanned ground vehicle is tested at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, November 10, 2020. Tyndall AFB is one of the first military bases to implement the semi-autonomous UGV’s (Unmanned Ground Vehicle) into their defense regiment. The semi-autonomous robot dogs will aid in reconnaissance and enhanced security patrolling operations across the base (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1 st Class Tiffany Price)

Tyndall AFB will be one of the first Air Force bases to implement semi-autonomous robot dogs into their patrolling regiment. These computerized canines demonstrated their abilities November 10 at an event attended by Major General Tom Wilcox, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center commander, and leadership from the 325th Fighter Wing and the Tyndall AFB Program Management Office.

«We are very excited», said Major Jordan Criss, 325th Security Forces Squadron commander. «We are the first unit within the Department of Defense to use this technology for enhanced security patrolling operations».

While these robots walk on all fours and resemble a dog, they are not intended to replace the military working dogs. Instead, they will aid in patrolling operations and, in doing so, allow Tyndall AFB’s defenders to focus their efforts on security actions that require a physical presence.

«These robot dogs will be used as a force multiplier for enhanced situational awareness by patrolling areas that aren’t desirable for human beings and vehicles», Criss said.

Criss explained that the robot dogs will be given a patrol path which will be set and monitored by the Security Forces Electronic Security Sensor System noncommissioned officer in charge.

«We will be able to drive them via a virtual-reality headset within our Base Defense Operations Center», Criss said. «We will be able to see exactly what the robot dog is detecting through its mobile camera and sensor platform if desired, we will also be able to issue verbal commands to a person or people through a radio attached to the dogs».

The semi-autonomous canines allow defenders that would otherwise be patrolling these areas to focus on training, security and overall situational awareness across the base.

«These dogs will be an extra set of eyes and ears while computing large amounts of data at strategic locations throughout Tyndall Air Force Base», Criss said. «They will be a huge enhancement for our defenders and allow flexibility in the posting and response of our personnel».

This technology has the potential to replace and exceed the capabilities of certain static defense equipment especially in a contingency, disaster, or deployed environment. This makes Tyndall AFB, post Hurricane Michael, the perfect home for the Air Force’s newest computerized canines.

Al-Diriyah

Navantia has launched on November 14, 2020 the second of the five corvettes built for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF), named Al-Diriyah, in homage to the city where the Saudi royal family has its origins, and which today is linked with San Fernando. The event, which has included telematic interventions, has been presided over by the Commander of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, Vice-Admiral Fahad Bin Abdullah Al-Ghofaily; by the Chairwoman of Navantia, Belén Gualda; by the CEO of SAMI, Walid Abukhaled and by the Admiral Chief of Staff of Spanish Army, Teodoro López Calderón. In addition, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya has been especially involved in the event with a final intervention in which she has highlighted the commitment of the Spanish Government to this naval program and the desire for future collaboration between both countries.

Al-Diriyah
Navantia San Fernando celebrates the launching of the second corvette for Saudi Arabia

The ceremony has begun with a welcome from the director of shipyard, Javier Herrador, followed by a reading from the Holy Koran by the Commander of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, continuing with a video about the city Al-Diriyah (which gives its name to the ship), followed by a video from Navantia about the preparations for the launching of the ship has been shown. After that, the hymns of Saudi Arabia and Spain has commenced the speeches.

Commander of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces has highlighted the work of Navantia and the Spanish Navy, «giving the highest to achieve the training of the first crew in Spain, qualified personnel capable of operating and maintaining these ships». In this sense, the Admiral Chief of Staff of Spanish Army has also highlighted the total commitment of the Spanish Navy in this pioneering program, which involves a high-quality training beyond the construction.

CEO of SAMI has expressed his appreciation for the support of the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in making it possible for the corvette Al-Diriyah and all other corvettes of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces to be equipped with the first Saudi Combat Management System.

The Chairwoman of Navantia has had some words of thanks to the whole team working on this program, both in Spain and in Saudi Arabia has shown her commitment to the Royal Saudi Naval Forces and she has expressed the purpose of Navantia to collaborate with the Royal Saudi Naval Forces throughout other future programs.

Next, Commander of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, Fahad Bin Abdullah Al-Ghofaily, has proceeded to cut the ribbon from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the corvette Al-Diriyah has begun to slide down the steps until she has touched water for the first time.

Corvette Al-Diriyah has a length of 104 meters/341 feet, a beam of 14 meters/46 feet and she will be able to transport a total of 102 people including crew and passengers. It will reach a maximum speed of 27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h and, among other things, she has the capacity to carry provisions on board for 21 days.

The design of the corvettes is of the latest generation, maximizing the participation of Navantia by incorporating its own products, such as the CATIZ Combat System, the HERMESYS Integrated Communications System, the DORNA Firing Direction, the Integrated Platform Control System and the MINERVA Integrated Bridge, together with other equipment developed by Navantia under license, such as the MTU Engines or the RENK Reduction Gearboxes.

This contract, which came into force in November 2018, strengthens the immediate future of Navantia and benefits all the shipyards of the company and its auxiliary industry, especially the whole Bay of Cadiz.

Specifically, it will mean a global workload of around seven million hours which, translated into employment, will reach the figure of 6,000 annually during the next five years. Of these, more than 1,100 will be Navantia employees; more than 1,800, employees from Auxiliary Industry of Navantia and more than 3,000, indirect employees generated by other suppliers. There will be more than 100 auxiliary companies that will collaborate in this project.

This program, whose last vessel must be delivered in 2024, includes, in addition to construction, Life Cycle Support for five years, from the delivery of the first vessel, with an option for another five years.

On the other hand, the contract also includes the supply of several services such as, Integrated Logistic Support, Operational and Maintenance Training, Supply of Training and Education Centers for the Combat System and Platform Control System of the ships, the Life Cycle Support previously mentioned, and the systems for the maintenance of the ships in the Jeddah Naval Base.

FREMM Lorraine

Naval Group has launched the FREMM Lorraine (D657) in Lorient on Friday 13th November. This ship was ordered by the French General Directorate of Armament (DGA) on behalf of the French Navy. The program management is entrusted to the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR). The FREMM Lorraine (D657) is the tenth unit of the FREMM series produced by Naval Group, and the eighth and last one added to the French Navy’s fleet.

Lorraine (D657)
Naval Group launches the FREMM Lorraine (D657), the second frigate offering an enhanced air defence capability

It is also the second FREMM frigate of the FREMM DA type, presenting an enhanced air defence capability.

The French Minister of Armed Forces (Minister of Defence) Florence Parly, Admiral Pierre Vandier, Chief of Staff of the French Navy, and General Engineer Emmanuelle Thivillier, in charge of naval programs at the French General Directorate of Armament (DGA) as well as the Chairman and CEO of Naval Group, Pierre Eric Pommellet, alongside employees from the Lorient site participated to the launching ceremony.

 

The launch of the eighth French Navy’s FREMM

Fifty-four months after the start of the production, the FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) left the construction form of Naval Group site in Lorient. This operation took place on Friday 13th November 2020, fully complying with the schedule set by the Military Planning Law, while respecting the safety and health rules currently enforced.

Technical adaptations have been made on both FREMM DA such as a more powerful multifunction radar supplied by Thales, enhanced communications, three additional consoles of the Setis Combat Management System in the «central operations center» with an enhanced air defence capability through the use of Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles. The FREMM DA also benefits from a new mast, optimized to increase detection performance. In addition to performing the same anti-submarine warfare missions as the previous FREMMs, the FREMM DAs will be responsible for the air defence of major units: Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, or amphibious helicopter carriers (PHA) as part of the naval or amphibious air group.

More generally, the FREMM frigates integrate the evolution of systems over time to ensure the latest units of the series benefit from the latest technologies such as: additional cyber capabilities, deployment of Liaison 22 (liaison between NATO military units), integration of a tactical digital table, etc.

 

Meeting the operational requirements of the French Armament Procurement Agency (DGA)

«Throughout this demanding program, we have maintained close ties with our customer, in order to best respond to the expectations and the technological challenges regarding the onboard innovations. This feedback led us to change our industrial organization. Modular construction, supply chain optimization and block pre-fabrication have reduced construction lead times and, ultimately, production costs. As a result, we have gained in efficiency and performance, while at the same time improving the working conditions of our employees, which has led to a considerable reduction in accidents at work. We are proud to launch today the latest French FREMM»! declared Laurent Espinasse, Executive Vice-President for Industry at Naval Group.

Naval Group’s site in Lorient offers industrial infrastructures that enable us to meet the technical and technological challenges of the latest generations of military ships, including a 15,000 m2 covered construction form.

The design tools and methods have evolved considerably during the FREMM program thanks to virtual reality. All of the ship’s data, including equipment operating data, is integrated into a digital mock-up. The infrastructures have also been modernized, including the extension and renovation of the construction nave, the installation of three covered paint booths and the extension of the quay.

 

Ensuring the preservation of key competencies

To deliver frigates with the required military performance, Naval Group has mobilized no less than 250 skills throughout the program. Some of them are very specific and rare and are often the result of a long or even very long acquisition: sheet metal carpenter, formator-straightener, hull welder, pipe fitter…

Naval Group promotes the recruitment of young talents and has recruited 400 work-study students since the beginning of the year and even during the sanitary crisis. This is 50 more than in 2019 and Naval Group site in Lorient is home to 58 of them.

Naval Group is also implementing specific training programs to develop these rare and unique skills, through the introduction of the certificate of joint qualification of metallurgy (CQPM). This certification training, takes place alternatively in a training organization and in industrial workshops over twelve months. A CQPM carpenter-sheet metal worker was opened in September 2019, in collaboration with the IUMM of Lorient, at a Naval Group site in Lorient.

 

Technical characteristics of FREMM DA

The FREMM program has been running on a stable schedule since the last Military Planning Law. Eight units of the FREMM series have been delivered between 2012 and 2019. Aquitaine (D650) in 2012, Provence (D652) in 2015, Languedoc (D653) in 2016, Auvergne (D654) in April 2017, Bretagne (D655) in July 2018 and Normandie (D651) in July 2019. Alsace (D656) was launched on April 18, 2019 and will be delivered in 2021. Internationally, the Mohammed VI (701) was delivered to Morocco in 2014 and the Tahya Misr (FFG-1001) was delivered in Egypt in 2015.

FREMM DA Alsace (D656) is heavily armed and uses the most powerful weapons systems and equipment such as the Herakles multifunction radar, the Aster 15 and 30 and Exocet MM 40 missiles and the MU 90 torpedoes. The performance of her combat system is enhanced with increased radar and communication capabilities, new radar and electro-optical fire control and a SETIS Combat Management System with specific air defence functions.

 

Characteristics

Total length 466 feet/142 m
Width 65.6 feet/20 m
Displacement 6,000 tonnes
Maximum speed 27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h
Operation 123 persons (+ 14 people for the helicopter detachment)
Accommodation capacity 165 men and women
Cruising range at 15 knots/17 mph/28 km/h 6,000 nautical miles/6,905 miles/11,112 km