European Service Module

The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed a further contract with Airbus for the construction of three more European Service Modules (ESM) for Orion, the American crewed spacecraft for the Artemis programme.

European Service Module (ESM)
Airbus wins ESA contract for three more European Service Modules for NASA’s Orion spacecraft

With these additional Service Modules, ESA ensures continuity in NASA’s Artemis programme beyond the three modules which are already under contract with Airbus. The European Service Module will be used to fly astronauts to the Moon. As the powerhouse of the new Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis missions, it will provide critical functions such as the propulsion system to get the astronauts to the Moon, and the consumables the astronauts need to stay alive.

«Europe has entered a new decade of exploration. Building six Orion European Service Modules is a venture like no other. Airbus has some of the world’s best minds in space exploration working on this phenomenal vehicle and this new agreement will facilitate many future Moon missions through international partnerships», said Andreas Hammer, Head of Space Exploration at Airbus. «Europe is a strong and reliable partner in NASA’s Artemis missions and the Orion European Service Module represents a crucial contribution to this».

David Parker, ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration, said: «This contract doubles Europe’s commitment to delivering the vital hardware to send humankind to the Moon on Orion. Together with the elements we are building for the lunar Gateway we are guaranteeing seats for ESA astronauts to explore our Solar System as well as securing employment and technological know-how for Europe».

The ESM is cylindrical in shape and about four metres in diameter and height. It has four solar arrays (19 metres across when unfurled) that generate enough energy to power two households. The service module’s 8.6 tonnes of fuel can power one main engine and 32 smaller thrusters. The ESM weighs a total of just over 13 tonnes. 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 attached to the crew module.

Artemis I, the first non-crewed Orion test flight with a European Service Module 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. With Artemis III, NASA will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. The ESMs announced today will be used for the Artemis IV to VI missions, the first two of which are part of the European contribution to the international Gateway planned to be assembled starting from 2024 in a lunar orbit.

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.

Extensive Missions

Kongsberg Maritime is proud to announce the next generation of its advanced HUGIN Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV). Named HUGIN Endurance, the new AUV boosts operational duration to approximately 15 days, enabling extended survey and inspection missions far from shore.

HUGIN Endurance
Kongsberg Maritime to launch next-generation HUGIN Endurance AUV

This longevity allows HUGIN Endurance to undertake extensive missions without the support of a mothership. Shore-to-Shore operations offer the opportunity to reduce carbon footprint for commercial activities and yet retain unrivalled data resolution and accuracy. With this in mind, KONGSBERG has added its Maritime Broadband Radio (MBR) communications system to HUGIN Endurance’s payload, allowing it to surface and share large quantities of data swiftly with any suitably equipped installation, such as another vessel, shore station or a wind turbine fitted with an MBR antenna.

For defence applications, HUGIN Endurance makes persistence a reality. Whether it is long range military survey; wide area mine detection, classification and identification; or even patrolling a choke point listening for submarines, this new extended range capability offers new solutions to existing and future challenges.

HUGIN AUVs already set the standard for autonomous underwater operations thanks to their rugged reliability and accurate, cutting-edge sensor payloads. The HUGIN Endurance is no exception; it can be equipped with a wide array of sensors including the high-resolution KONGSBERG HiSAS synthetic aperture sonar, a wide swath multibeam echosounder, sub-bottom profiler and magnetometer, together with other sensors to detect parameters such as methane, current and turbidity.

This proven portfolio of hydroacoustic sensors, communications and other technologies – teamed with unparalleled operational range – ensures that HUGIN Endurance is well equipped for advanced situational awareness scanning, and mapping/inspection activities for far-field applications such as offshore wind farms. It also delivers significant sustainability benefits, not only when contrasted with conducting operations from surface vessels but also compared with other AUV operations, as the reduction in the need for surface support further diminishes the environmental footprint.

«We are proud to launch HUGIN Endurance, which represents a step change in AUV operations», says Richard Mills, Vice President of Marine Robotics Sales, Kongsberg Maritime. «Teaming long endurance with large area coverage capabilities allows a single AUV to map areas up to 1,100 square kilometres/425 square miles in a single mission – a target impossible until now. With its unprecedented long-range capability and advanced communications, HUGIN Endurance sets a new standard for autonomous subsea mapping and inspection, yielding unmatched operational flexibility, efficiency and sustainability».

First Flight

The new Boeing F-15EX Strike Eagle fighter jet completed its first flight on February 2, 2021, paving the way for the early delivery of the first two jets to the U.S. Air Force later this quarter. The jet took off and landed from St. Louis Lambert International Airport, completing a 90-minute test flight before returning to the airport.

F-15EX Strike Eagle
The F-15EX Strike Eagle fighter jet demonstrates a vertical «Viking» departure during its first flight on February 2, 2021 (Boeing photo by Eric Shindelbower)

Boeing F-15 Chief Test Pilot Matt Giese checked out the multirole jet’s avionics, advanced systems and software. A test team monitoring the data collected during the flight in real time confirmed that the aircraft performed as planned.

«Today’s successful flight proves the jet’s safety and readiness to join our nation’s fighter fleet», said Prat Kumar, Boeing vice president and F-15 program manager. «Our workforce is excited to build a modern fighter aircraft for the U.S. Air Force. Our customer can feel confident in its decision to invest in this platform that is capable of incorporating the latest advanced battle management systems, sensors and weapons due to the jet’s digital airframe design and open mission systems architecture».

The fighter’s digital backbone means it can serve as a testbed for future technology insertion, a key capability for the Air Force. Modern variants of the F-15 also include fly-by-wire flight controls, an all-new digital cockpit, modern Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar and the ADCP-II, the world’s fastest mission computer. The F-15EX Strike Eagle, the most advanced version to date, features the Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System electronic warfare system to improve mission effectiveness and survivability for operators.

In July, the Air Force awarded Boeing a contract to build the first lot of eight jets. Future plans call for as many as 144 aircraft.

Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As a top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.

Combat Training System

The Naval Aviation Training System and Ranges program office (PMA-205) recently completed the first flight test of its next-generation air combat training system, the Tactical Combat Training System Increment II (TCTS II), on an F/A-18F Super Hornet at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland. The second flight test, the first for this system involving two aircraft, followed in quick succession using two F/A-18E Super Hornet aircraft.

TCTS II
The Tactical Combat Training System Increment II (TCTS II) pod successfully completed its first single aircraft flight test at Patuxent River December 11, followed by its first two aircraft flight test on December 15

Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 conducted the test flights and the PMA-205 test team collected and analyzed the data in real time with its industry partner, Collins Aerospace Systems, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Collins).

«Our team faced software, COVID, and platform challenges but worked with urgency to stay on track for low rate initial production decision in April. The fact that the date has not changed since contract award in 2017 speaks volumes of not only our team but also the level of support from the Navy to field this capability», said Captain Lisa Sullivan, PMA-205 program manager.

The TCTS II system, developed by Collins, is an open architecture system enabling highly secure air combat training between aircraft, replacing and advancing the existing range training infrastructure. The TCTS II system is the first certified encrypted, multi-level security training pod that communicates with both airborne and ground equipment.

«This is the first time the team has been able to see the system in use in a real-world environment using an operational platform. These tests provide valuable insight into system performance, including pod-to-pod and pod-to-ground datalink performance, positional accuracy, and weapon simulations», said Jake Kiehlmeier, PMA-205 TCTS II lead test engineer.

The U.S. Air Force joined the Navy’s TCTS II program, leveraging investments made by the Navy and delivering training capabilities sooner and at a lower cost. The services are working together to develop and use this system to train against real-world threats.

«This is just the beginning of how this system and integration of additional Live, Virtual, Constructive capabilities in the portfolio will revolutionize training for the U.S Air Force and the Navy alike», said Sullivan.

PMA-205 provides full life cycle acquisition of naval aviation platform and general training systems, training range instrumentation systems, and distributed mission training centers to provide U.S. Navy and Marine Corps pilots, naval flight officers, aircrew, and maintainers with the training equipment required to provide lethal capability and operational readiness.

Training devices include flight simulators, part-task trainers, maintenance trainers, airborne and underwater training range instrumentation, threat systems, and associated curricula to ensure optimum performance for naval aviation. Responsibilities include execution of naval aviation’s Live, Virtual, and Constructive training strategy, execution of the Navy Aviation Simulator Master Plan, commonality and interoperability across training systems, procurement and sustainment of training products and services to include equipment overhaul and/or replacement, engineering changes, modernization and technology refreshes, and future technology advancements for training systems and training ranges.

Maritime HAROP

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to Provide Loitering Munitions Systems to Asian Countries in Deals Worth Over $100 Million USD.

HAROP
HAROP System

Three recently-signed deals include the sale of ROTEM Vertical Take-Off & Landing (VTOL) Tactical Loitering Munition and Land and Naval version of the HAROP system announces the signing of three significant contracts valued at over $100 million USD, in which it will supply loitering munitions systems to several countries. The contracts include winning an international tender for the sale of the multi-purpose ROTEM system to a foreign country, sale of the naval version of the HAROP system to the navy of a country in Asia and sale of the ground version of the HAROP system to another customer in Asia.

Boaz Levy, IAI’s President and CEO, said: «IAI is a global pioneer in developing the operational concept of a loitering munitions systems, which has ripened to a family of unique and accurate attack systems. These systems, which have added impressive achievements to the operational capability of fighting forces around the globe, constitute central and decisive attack components for advanced battlefields of the future. These contracts are further proof of the importance and confidence modern armies place in accurate munitions systems as part of their arsenal, and may be harbingers of additional business activity in this field. IAI will continue to develop and improve a range of strike systems in order to give its clients around the world a precise operational solution».

The Maritime HAROP system provides an operational solution for a range of vessels, from off-shore vessels to fighting frigates in the naval theater. In a complex naval theater, the HAROP system gives mission commanders in a fleet of ships the capability to independently and organically collect intelligence, assess targets and strike. The intelligence gathered by the HAROP is directly integrated in the vessel’s control room and allows for quick, accurate and lethal decision-making. Use of the HAROP on naval platforms is an operational alternative and complementary element to using sea-sea missiles, with a wide range of uses and with optimal cost-efficiency for the navy. The maritime and land combat-proven HAROP provides an operational solution for a range of low and high-intensity conflict scenarios and for anti-terrorism activity. The HAROP is equipped with day/night cameras and has the ability to search, find and attack with maximum precision both static and moving targets, on land or at sea and at a long-range. A strike can take place from any direction and at any angle of attack.

ROTEM is the first VTOL Tactical Loitering Munition combat-proven and used in operations by several of the world’s militaries as a small loitering device based on a drone platform and is a power multiplier for tactical forces in a range of fighting scenarios, including security operations and maneuvers. The system provides a reconnaissance, observation and attack envelope with maximum autonomous performance, integrating a simple and intuitive operation interface that can be used by a single fighter from a touchscreen tablet. The ROTEM VTOL Tactical Loitering Munition carries day/night cameras and a warhead weighing up to one kilogram and is optimally designed to carry out combined missions of intelligence gathering and attack. The system incorporates a unique safety mechanism that enables its safe return to the fighter on the ground if an attack was not carried out. The ROTEM system has proven its operational effectiveness for precise, surgical strikes against a range of different targets.

The loitering munitions family developed by IAI includes the Harpy-NG – a third generation of the system homing against radiating targets, the HAROP, a second-generation of a precision electro-optical attack system, the Mini-Harpy, dual (Electro-optical day & night + Anti-Radiation seeker) tactical advanced munitions system and the tactical loitering Green-Dragon system, as well as the ROTEM VTOL Tactical Loitering Munition. IAI is a focal point of national and global technological know-how in the field of attack systems, air defense, radars, satellites, remotely operated aircraft, civilian aviation and cyber.

12 Rafales

Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, on January 29, 2021 signed a contract for the sale of 12 Rafale aircraft with Florence Parly, French Minister of the Armed Forces.

Rafale
Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, on January 29, 2021 signed a contract for the sale of 12 Rafale aircraft with Florence Parly, French Minister of the Armed Forces

These aircraft will replace the 12 Rafales of the French Air and Space Force (FASF) sold to the Hellenic Air Force.

The contract was signed during a visit by the French Minister of the Armed Forces to the Argonay plant in Haute-Savoie which has produced the flight control systems for all Dassault aircraft since 1963.

Dassault Aviation and its industrial partners would like to thank the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, the French defense procurement agency DGA and the Armed Forces for their renewed confidence.

«This contract for 12 new aircraft will enable our Air and Space Force to continue the Rafale build-up while awaiting the fifth tranche, which is scheduled for delivery between 2027 and 2030. The contract is a great satisfaction for Dassault Aviation, Thales, Safran and the 500 French companies involved in the program, in the particularly difficult conditions facing our aeronautics sector in the context of the Covid crisis», said Eric Trappier.

Moon Cruiser

Airbus has been awarded a CLTV (Cis-Lunar Transfer Vehicle) study for a «Moon Cruiser» by the European Space Agency (ESA). According to the study concept (two parallel Phase A/B1), the CLTV is a versatile, autonomous logistics vehicle that could, for example, provide timely and efficient support to NASA and ESA in the implementation of the future Artemis Moon missions. The spacecraft will be based on existing and proven technologies and will complement the multipurpose European Large Logistic Lander (EL3).

CLTV (Cis-Lunar Transfer Vehicle)
Versatile, autonomous logistics vehicle to support future lunar missions based on heritage from Orion ESM and ATV

The execution of lunar missions, including landing on the Moon and setting up upcoming lunar space station, Gateway, is a complex and challenging task for the international community. It requires a precisely planned chain of supply and logistics missions. The Airbus Moon Cruiser concept supports these challenges in several ways:

  • Gateway logistics: the CLTV can transport cargo or fuel for refuelling in lunar orbit and to the Gateway, the international project led by the two main contributors NASA (United States) and ESA (Europe), supporting a sustainable presence on the Moon and exploration beyond and a pillar of NASA’s Artemis programme.
  • Transfer of a large Lunar Module into Low Lunar Orbit: The CLTV is required to fly a lander or an ascent stage between the Gateway and the low lunar orbit, to perform landing and ascent missions with larger and more extensive services.
  • CLTV’s versatility will also allow it to support missions to post-ISS orbital infrastructure in LEO as well as missions in the field of GEO satcom servicing.

The CLTV’s design allows multiple mission types to be carried out with a single vehicle and is compatible with various launchers. Airbus’ solution is a mature, versatile and modular concept based on a large portfolio of mission and vehicle designs for Human Space-flight and Exploration built by Airbus for ESA including the Orion European Service Module (ESM), as well as five successful Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) space transporter missions, carrying a total of around 30 tonnes of cargo into space.

«With the Airbus Moon Cruiser concept for CLTV, we are establishing the first building blocks for humans and machines to work together all the way between the Earth and the Moon. CLTV can serve Gateway logistics and add value to the EL3 Large Lunar Lander by enabling additional missions, whether standalone for Europe or as part of wider international co-operation», said Andreas Hammer, Head of Space Exploration at Airbus.

The CLTV can be launched on Ariane 6, and it could transport a module of over 4.5 tonnes to the Gateway. The European Space Agency ESA could deploy the CLTV in the second half of the decade and it is planned that the CLTV will literally «cruise» on a direct flight path to the Moon.

The target is to validate the following, implementation phase (B2/C/D) of CLTV at the next Ministerial Council in 2022, with the aim of launching in 2027.

Airbus is building the European Service Module for ESA for the new NASA spacecraft Orion, the central spacecraft of future NASA space exploration. The first service module has already been delivered to NASA by Airbus. A second service module is currently being built at Airbus in Bremen. The first launch for Orion – a test flight without astronauts – will take Orion into a lunar orbit and back to Earth under the Artemis I mission and is scheduled for 2021.

Laser system

Germany’s Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) has awarded a consortium, or ARGE, consisting of MBDA Deutschland GmbH and Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH a contract to fabricate, integrate and support testing of a laser weapon demonstrator in the maritime environment. The order value is in the low double-digit million euro range.

Laser system
MBDA and Rheinmetall win contract for high-energy laser system

Work will be shared out on a roughly equal basis. MBDA Deutschland is responsible for tracking, the operator’s console and linking the laser weapon demonstrator to the command-and-control system. Rheinmetall is in charge of the laser weapon station, the beam guiding system, cooling, and integration of the laser weapon system into the project container of the laser source demonstrator.

The demonstrator is to be fabricated, tested and integrated by the end of the 2021. Trials onboard the German Navy frigate F124 Sachsen are to take place in 2022.

As Doris Laarmann, head of laser business development at MBDA Deutschland, notes, «The contract is an important step on the path to an operational high-energy laser system. Our two companies will apply their respective strengths to make this project a success on behalf of the German Navy. Once it’s installed, the demonstrator will also be used to test important aspects such as the interaction and function of the sensor suite, combat management system and effector as well as rules of engagement».

Alexander Graf, head of Rheinmetall Waffe Munition’s laser weapons programme, and Dr Markus Jung, who leads the company’s laser weapon development effort, both agree, adding that «The contract marks a systematic extension of the functional prototype laser weapon successfully tested in recent years, with the experience gained now dovetailing into one of the most ambitious projects in the field of laser weapon development in Europe».

A breakthrough development in the history of defence technology, lasers engage targets at the speed of light, operating with great precision and producing very little collateral damage. A demonstrator system featuring these capabilities will soon be put to the test under highly realistic operating conditions onboard a German frigate.