Satellite new life

Northrop Grumman Corporation and the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, SpaceLogistics LLC, have successfully completed the docking of the Mission Extension Vehicle-2 (MEV-2) to the Intelsat 10-02 (IS-10-02) commercial communications satellite to deliver life-extension services. The docking was completed at 1:34 p.m. EST.

Mission Extension Vehicle-2 (MEV-2)
An image of Intelsat 10-02 taken by MEV-2’s infrared wide field of view camera at 15 m/49 feet away

Northrop Grumman is the only provider of flight-proven life extension services for satellites, and this is the second time the company has docked two commercial spacecraft in orbit. The company’s MEV-1 made history when it successfully docked to the Intelsat 901 (IS-901) satellite in February 2020. Unlike MEV-1, which docked above the GEO orbit before moving IS-901 back into service, MEV-2 docked with IS-10-02 directly in its operational GEO orbital location.

«Today’s successful docking of our second Mission Extension Vehicle further demonstrates the reliability, safety and utility of in-space logistics», said Tom Wilson, vice president, strategic space systems, Northrop Grumman and president, SpaceLogistics LLC. «The success of this mission paves the way for our second generation of servicing satellites and robotics, offering flexibility and resiliency for both commercial and government satellite operators, which can enable entirely new classes of missions».

Under the terms of Intelsat’s satellite life-extension servicing contract, MEV-2 will provide five years of service to IS-10-02 before undocking and moving on to provide services for a new mission.

«Intelsat has pioneered innovations in space-based technology for more than five decades. We are proud to work side by side with Northrop Grumman on today’s groundbreaking mission, the first-ever docking of a communications satellite in GEO orbit», said Intelsat Chief Services Officer Mike DeMarco. «Space servicing is a valuable tool for Intelsat in extending the high-quality service experience that our customers depend upon. Northrop Grumman’s MEV technology has helped us extend the life of two otherwise healthy and high-performing satellites, while focusing our innovation capital on advancing the Intelsat next-generation network – this technology is a ‘win-win’ for us».

The Mission Extension Vehicle is the first in Northrop Grumman’s lineup of satellite servicing vehicles, but following last year’s robotic servicing mission award from DARPA, the company is working with the agency on a mission that will feature the first-ever commercial robotic servicing spacecraft. This mission will expand the market for satellite servicing of both commercial and government client satellites with advanced robotics using the company’s Mission Robotic Vehicle (MRV) to conduct in-orbit repair, augmentation, assembly, detailed inspection and relocation of client satellites through robotics.

To further complement its on-orbit servicing portfolio, Northrop Grumman is leveraging model based systems engineering to develop its Mission Extension Pods (MEPs) which will also provide critical life extension services to aging satellites. The MRV will be used to install these pods on existing in-orbit commercial and government client satellites to extend their mission lives. The company is targeting 2024 for launch of both the MRV and the initial MEPs.

Norwegian Poseidon

The first P-8A Poseidon fuselage for Norway arrived on April 12, 2021 at Boeing facilities in Renton, Washington, from Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas, marking a major milestone in the production of the first of five Poseidons for the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

P-8A Poseidon
Norway’s first P-8A Poseidon aircraft is moved from a rail car through the air to the first step of the assembly process, the Fuselage Systems Installation tool, in Renton, Washington (Boeing photo)

A derivative of the Boeing 737 Next-Generation commercial aircraft, the P-8 Poseidon is first assembled at Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ 737 production line, where the fuselage receives additional wiring and systems needed to support military components, equipment and operation. The aircraft is then delivered to Boeing’s Defense, Space & Security unit for the installation of military systems, testing and delivery to military customers.

«Boeing uses a proven in-line production process to efficiently build the aircraft», said Christian Thomsen, P-8A Poseidon Europe program manager. «Implementing established best practices and common, commercial production-system tools enables the team to reduce flow time and cost while ensuring quality and on-time delivery to our customers».

Norway is expected to receive its first P-8 Poseidon later this year. In total, five P-8s will eventually replace Norway’s current fleet of six P-3 Orions and three DA-20 Jet Falcons and will provide advanced capabilities to maintain situational awareness in neighboring waters on and below the surface of the ocean.

To date, Boeing has delivered 104 P-8 Poseidon aircraft to the U.S. Navy and customers in Australia, India and the United Kingdom.

 

Technical Specifications

Wing Span 123.6 feet/37.64 m
Height 42.1 feet/12.83 m
Length 129.5 feet/39.47 m
Propulsion 2 × CFM56-7B engines
27,000 lbs./12,237 kgf/120 kN thrust
Speed 490 knots/564 mph/908 km/h
Range 1,200 NM/1,381 miles/2,222 km with 4 hours on station
Ceiling 41,000 feet/12,496 m
Crew 9
Maximum Take-Off Gross Weight 189,200 lbs./85,820 kg

 

Laser Communication

Airbus and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) have launched a programme to develop a laser communication terminal demonstrator for aircraft, known as UltraAir.

ScyLight
Airbus and TNO to develop aircraft laser communication terminal

The project, which is co-financed by Airbus, TNO and the Netherlands Space Office (NSO), is part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) ScyLight (Secure and Laser communication technology) programme. It covers the design, construction and testing of the technology demonstrator. Laser communication technologies are the next revolution in satellite communications (satcom), bringing unprecedented transmission rates, data security and resilience to meet commercial needs in the next decade.

The UltraAir terminal will be capable of laser connections between an aircraft and a satellite in geostationary orbit 36,000 km above the Earth, with unparalleled technology including a highly stable and precise optical mechatronic system. The technology demonstrator will pave the way for a future UltraAir product with which data transmission rates could reach several gigabits-per-second while providing anti-jamming and low probability of interception. In this way UltraAir will not only enable military aircraft and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to connect within a combat cloud, but also in the longer term allow airline passengers to establish high-speed data connections thanks to the Airbus’ SpaceDataHighway constellation. From their position in geostationary orbit, the SpaceDataHighway (EDRS) satellites relay data collected by observation satellites to Earth in near-real-time, a process that would normally take several hours.

Airbus is leading the project and brings its unique expertise in laser satellite communications, developed with the SpaceDataHighway programme. It will coordinate the development of the terminal and testing on the ground and in the air. As key partner of the project, TNO provides its experience in high-precision opto-mechatronics, supported by the Dutch high-tech and space industry. Airbus Defence and Space in the Netherlands will be responsible for the industrial production of the terminals. Airbus’ subsidiary Tesat brings its technical expertise in laser communication systems and will be involved in all testing activities.

The first tests will take place at the end of 2021 in laboratory conditions at Tesat. In a second phase, ground tests will start early 2022 in Tenerife (Spain), where connectivity will be established between an UltraAir demonstrator and the laser terminal embarked on the Alphasat satellite using the ESA Optical Ground Station. For the final verification, the UltraAir demonstrator will be integrated on an aircraft for flight testing by mid-2022.

As satellite services demand is growing, the traditional satcom radio-frequency bands are experiencing bottlenecks. Laser links also have the benefit of avoiding interference and detection, as in comparison to the already-crowded radio frequencies, laser communication is extremely difficult to intercept due to a much narrower beam. Thus, laser terminals can be lighter, consume less power and offer even better security than radio.

This new programme is a key milestone in the roadmap of Airbus’ overall strategy to drive laser communications further, which will bring forward the benefits of this technology as a key differentiator for providing Multi-Domain collaboration for Government and defence customers.

Optionally-Manned
Firebird

Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Firebird multi-sensor aircraft showcased the versatility of the optionally-manned autonomous system as it flew to various locations across the United States last month. The ability of Firebird to be flown manned through national airspace is a demonstration of its unique operational flexibility for self-deployment and its rapid relocation ability to adapt to specific user needs and operational requirements.

Firebird
Northrop Grumman’s Optionally-Manned Firebird Demonstrates Operational Flexibility

The company flew Firebird almost 9,000 miles/14,484 km around the US with stops in Dayton, Ohio; Washington DC; Patuxent River, Maryland; as well as Tampa, Miami and Key West, Florida.

«Our flights showcased one of its key differentiators – the ability to position the system in a manned configuration, then convert to autonomous operations for persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) in under two hours», said Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager, autonomous systems, Northrop Grumman. «At each stop, plane-side briefings provided customers the opportunity to see first-hand the operational versatility of the platform, its large sensor bay, and rapid configurability for changing mission needs».

Firebird is a medium altitude long endurance Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) that is designed for flexibility and affordability. Customers can install new payloads in as little as one day, and swap payloads in 30 minutes making the system suitable for numerous domains and missions.

The flights concluded in Key West, Florida where the team conducted a series of manned maritime operational events that included a four-sensor package containing two high-definition Electro-Optical and InfraRed Sensors (EO/IR); a maritime configured multi-spectral sensor for small target detection; and an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 97,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

The Firebird multi-sensor aircraft prepares for its multi stop demonstration tour

BIW Lays Keel

On Tuesday, April 6, General Dynamics (GD) Bath Iron Works (BIW) celebrated the keel laying of the future USS Harvey C. Barnum, Jr. (DDG-124). The U.S. Navy named the ship in honor of Marine Corps Colonel Harvey C. Barnum, Jr., a Medal of Honor recipient who attended Tuesday’s ceremony. Colonel Barnum served in the Vietnam War and continued to serve his country afterward, eventually being named Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs). The ship’s sponsor is Martha Hill, Colonel Barnum’s wife.

USS Harvey C. Barnum, Jr. (DDG-124)
General Dynamics Bath Iron Works Lays Keel of future USS Harvey C. Barnum, Jr. (DDG-124)

Colonel Barnum and Ms. Hill authenticated the keel by striking welding arcs onto a steel plate that will be incorporated into the ship. They were assisted by Marty Fish, a Specialist Welder and work leader with 34 years of experience at BIW, currently working on Main Machinery Room 1 of DDG-124. The laying of the keel and its authentication signifies the start of hull integration and the pre-cursor to final integration, launch and sea trials.

Ed Kenyon, Director of New Construction Programs for Bath Iron Works, hosted the ceremony and welcomed the audience, which included Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker, Maine Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, Representative Chellie Pingree, Navy personnel and BIW employees. «The keel-laying ceremony is an opportunity to re-affirm our commitment that a Bath-built ship is best built, at all stages of construction». Kenyon said. «We are proud to be building the Harvey C. Barnum, Jr. We will ensure that Colonel Barnum’s ship will be ready to serve our nation, nobly, as he did during his service in Vietnam and subsequent service to our nation».

 

CHARACTERISTICS

Length Overall 525 feet/160 m
Beam – Waterline 65.6 feet/20 m
Draft 32.8 feet/10 m
Displacement – Full Load 9,217 tons/9,363 metric tons
Power Plant 4 General electric LM 2500-30 gas turbines; 2 shafts; 2 CRP (Contra-Rotating) propellers; 100,000 shaft horsepower/75,000 kW
Speed in excess of 30 knots/34.5 mph/55.5 km/h
Range 4,400 NM/8,149 km at 20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h
Crew 380 total: 32 Officers, 27 CPO (Chief Petty Officer), 321 OEM
Surveillance AN/SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar (Raytheon Company) and Aegis Combat System (Lockheed Martin); SPS-73(V) Navigation; SPS-67(V)3 Surface Search; 3 SPG-62 Illuminator; SQQ-89(V)6 sonar incorporating SQS-53C hull mounted and SQR-19 towed array sonars used with Mark-116 Mod 7 ASW fire control system
Electronics/Countermeasures SLQ-32(V)3; Mark-53 Mod 0 Decoy System; Mark-234 Decoy System; SLQ-25A Torpedo Decoy; SLQ-39 Surface Decoy; URN-25 TACAN; UPX-29 IFF System; Kollmorgen Mark-46 Mod 1 Electro-Optical Director
Aircraft 2 embarked SH-60 helicopters ASW operations; RAST (Recovery Assist, Secure and Traverse)
Armament 2 Mark-41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) with 96 Standard, Vertical Launch ASROC (Anti-Submarine Rocket) & Tomahawk ASM (Air-to-Surface Missile)/LAM (Loitering Attack Missile); 5-in (127-mm)/54 (62) Mark-45 gun; 2 (1) CIWS (Close-In Weapon System); 2 Mark-32 triple 324-mm torpedo tubes for Mark-46 or Mark-50 ASW torpedos

 

GUIDED MISSILE DESTROYERS LINEUP

 

Flight IIA: Technology Insertion

Ship Yard Launched Commissioned Homeport
DDG-116 Thomas Hudner GDBIW 04-23-17 12-01-18 Mayport, Florida
DDG-117 Paul Ignatius HIIIS 11-12-16 07-27-19 Mayport, Florida
DDG-118 Daniel Inouye GDBIW 10-27-19 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
DDG-119 Delbert D. Black HIIIS 09-08-17 09-26-20 Mayport, Florida
DDG-120 Carl M. Levin GDBIW
DDG-121 Frank E. Peterson Jr. HIIIS 07-13-18
DDG-122 John Basilone GDBIW
DDG-123 Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee HIIIS 01-27-20
DDG-124 Harvey C. Barnum Jr. GDBIW
DDG-127 Patrick Gallagher GDBIW

 

Payload release test

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) successfully completed the XQ-58A Valkyrie’s sixth flight test and first release from its internal weapons bay, March 26, 2021 at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.

XQ-58A Valkyrie
The XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrates the separation of the ALTIUS-600 small UAS in a test at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground test range, Arizona on March 26, 2021. This test was the first time the weapons bay doors have been opened in flight (Courtesy photo)

This test, conducted in partnership with Kratos UAS and Area-I, demonstrated the ability to launch an ALTIUS-600 Small, Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) from the internal weapons bay of the XQ-58A Valkyrie. Kratos, Area-I and AFRL designed and fabricated the SUAS carriage and developed software to enable release. After successful release of the SUAS, the XQ-58A Valkyrie completed additional test points to expand its demonstrated operating envelope.

«This is the sixth flight of the XQ-58A Valkyrie and the first time the payload bay doors have been opened in flight», said Alyson Turri, demonstration program manager. «In addition to this first SUAS separation demonstration, the XQ-58A Valkyrie flew higher and faster than previous flights».

This test further demonstrates the utility of affordable, high performance unmanned air vehicles.

 

About AFRL

The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development.

Cold Weather Vehicle

Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation company, announced on April 5, 2021, that the National Advanced Mobility Consortium (NAMC) has selected Oshkosh Defense and partner, ST Engineering, to participate in the prototype phase for the U.S. Army’s Cold Weather All-Terrain Vehicle (CATV).

Cold Weather All-Terrain Vehicle (CATV)
National Advanced Mobility Consortium (NAMC) selects Oshkosh Defense to produce new Cold Weather All-Terrain Vehicle (CATV) prototype

The CATV is a new program for a tracked vehicle that operates in extreme cold weather or arctic conditions and is designed to replace the Small Unit Support Vehicles (SUSVs) that have been in service since the early 1980s.

«Oshkosh Defense and ST Engineering bring together an abundance of defense industry and manufacturing expertise to address the U.S. Army’s need for a proven vehicle that can easily maneuver in arctic environments», said Pat Williams, vice president and general manager of U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps programs. «We are confident that the Oshkosh CATV will enable Soldiers to efficiently move personnel and supplies in the most extreme conditions, and we look forward to getting them into the hands of the end user for testing and evaluation».

The Oshkosh CATV is derived from the Bronco 3, a member of the proven, highly effective, and reliable Bronco Family of Vehicles (FoV) by ST Engineering which have been in service in various countries. The Bronco FoV has undergone more than 1,860 miles/2,993 km of performance testing in arctic conditions as well as over 200,000 miles/321,869 km in a theatre of operations on harsh desert terrain. The Oshkosh CATV prototypes will offer built-in mission modularity to accommodate a variety of configurations. A General Purpose vehicle, for example, can be used as a troop carrier, casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) or Command and Control vehicle and can be swapped from one configuration to another in the field within 30 minutes by a two-person crew.

«The new vehicle design will be built with the combined expertise of Oshkosh Defense and draws on the rich heritage of the Bronco family of vehicles, a proven, robust and versatile articulated platform which has been in operation since 2001», said Lee Shiang Long, President/Head, Land Systems, ST Engineering.

Oshkosh Defense and ST Engineering will deliver two prototypes – one General Purpose and one Cargo vehicle for testing and Soldier evaluation in Q3FY21. The prototypes will be evaluated on payload, mobility, crush resistance, swimming, and transportability. The U.S. Army has announced plans to issue a follow-on production contract for up to 200 CATVs in FY22.

ERCA project

Anniston Army Depot (ANAD) recently completed the modification of two cabs for the Army’s Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) project. The ERCA is a part of an Army modernization strategy aimed at improving combat weapons and vehicles.

Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA)
Anniston Army Depot recently completed modification of two cabs for the extended range cannon artillery project. The cabs modified at ANAD will be used in final testing of the ERCA system (U.S. Army Photo by Mark Cleghorn)

According to Michael McCartney, maintenance management specialist, ANAD has been modifying cabs that will be used in the final testing for the ERCA, which is slated to be completed later this year. The project, in line with ANAD’s primary mission to support warfighters, ensures that Soldiers will have a more advanced and extensive artillery system.

«We took the M109A7 cab of the howitzer Paladin and updated it», McCartney said. «Essentially, we enlarged the area where the gun fits in order to accommodate the new, larger weapon».

ANAD’s mission to modify the equipment for the ERCA took close to 90 days per cab.

Modification involved multiple processes and several shops, including the machine shop, welding shop and paint shop. «The welding shop began the process by cutting out the cab. Then it ping-ponged between the welding and machine shop several times until the cab was ready to be blasted and painted», McCartney explained.

Precise blueprints were followed to ensure the cab met proper dimensions and specifications. Machinists also utilized a handheld coordinate measuring machine to check the dimensions of each component to verify accuracy.

«Checking these specifications is vital because each cut and weld needs to be solid in case Soldiers were to be fired upon in the field», said McCartney.

Shops were also tasked with modifying and fabricating nearly 50 subcomponents inside the cab. The components had to be reconfigured from the Paladin M109A7 cab to match the new XMR99 cab. These reconfigurations were completed by the supporting shops.

According to McCartney, ANAD’s prior experience fabricating parts and repairing paladins helped them to complete the work on the ERCA cab. «We’ve done great work on these types of vehicles in the past», McCartney said. «And when you do great work, engineers want to continue working with you».

Michael Rogers, division chief of the vehicle support division, reiterates the importance of the work. «This project not only strengthens our partnerships but it helps the Army’s mission of modernizing its fleet of combat vehicles for Soldiers», he said. «We’ve been working on the process from prototype all the way to the finished product. And our workforce has done great work».

FDI frigates

On March 29, 2021, during a visit to Lorient of the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, Naval Group received notification of the order for two Frégate de Défense et d’Intervention (FDI) frigates by the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA). The acceleration of the FDI program will support the activity of the Naval Group site in Lorient where the frigates are designed and built, also ensuring the preservation of skills.

Frégate de Défense et d'Intervention (FDI)
The French Ministry of the Armed forces accelerates the FDI frigates program and supports Naval Group’s activity in Lorient

The two frigates – the second (Admiral Louzeau) and third (Admiral Castex) in a series of five – will both be delivered in 2025, whereas the original plan was to deliver them every 18 months.

The first FDI (Admiral Ronarc’h), for which construction work began in 2020, is scheduled for delivery in 2024.

Pierre Eric Pommellet, Chairman and CEO of Naval Group said: «We are honoured by the confidence of the Ministry of the Armed Forces. It is a strong message for local jobs and the preservation of our very unique skills, but also to international navies that could be interested in this frigate. We will mobilise all our industrial and technological excellence to meet the new deadlines».

With a tonnage of more than 4,200 tonnes and a length of 121 metres/397 feet, the FDI frigates are based on a digital and scalable architecture built around our SETIS 3.0 combat management system.

They can conduct all the missions of modern navies (anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine warfare or special forces projection) and address new threats such as cyber attacks and asymmetric threats.

The FDI also benefits from the best technologies available on the naval defence market, including the latest Thales multi-function radar with active antenna and fixed panels as well as a fully digital electronic warfare system.

Naval Group employs 2,200 people at its Lorient site, where it builds surface ships for its customers, including the FREMM multimission frigates and Gowind corvettes.

The second phase

Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. company and the U.S. Army have agreed to terms on the execution of the second phase of the Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction (CD&RR) contract that was awarded in March 2020 for the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program. This new contract is an important milestone and testament to the continued momentum for Army modernization. Bell’s flight-proven V-280 Valor design advances from an aircraft with transformational speed and survivability towards a low-risk weapons system ready to support joint combined arms and maneuver operations around the world.

Bell V-280 Valor
Bell is executing the second phase of a Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction contract to inform the imminent program of record competition for U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA)

«This is the next step to a program of record and Bell is proud to closely collaborate with the Army to transition our flight-proven V-280 Valor into a highly-capable and sustainable FLRAA weapons system», said Keith Flail, executive vice president, Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell. «Bell and our Team Valor teammates continue to optimize our platform based on research, design, and thorough flight-testing of the aircraft to deliver an outstanding capability for the Army».

During phase one of the CD&RR, Bell provided detailed iterations on the V-280 design, data to highlight the feasibility of executing the program of record requirements, and executed trade studies using model-based systems engineering. This work will continue under phase two as the Army finalizes requirements for the program of record planned for 2022.

Bell has already safely delivered groundbreaking performance and successfully completed a rapid design, build, and test program with the V-280. Since its first flight in 2017, the V-280 team has executed a rigorous flight test program flying more than 200 hours through over 160 individual test flights that delivered critical data to validate Bell’s digital models and performance.

As the FLRAA competition moves to a program of record, Bell continues to take a holistic approach to transition the V-280 to a weapons system that ensures exceptional performance and is affordable throughout the lifecycle. From the outset, the Bell V-280 Valor was designed for efficiency – using simplified and inherently reliable designs, adhering to Army Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) requirements, reducing maintenance costs, and increasing reliability. Bell applied digital design and manufacturing technologies, included maintenance as part of the design process, and used emerging commercial processes to bring a comprehensive view of digital models, processing, and analysis. This methodology has reduced programmatic risk, improved lifecycle maintenance and servicing outcomes, increasing program affordability.

«This aircraft is not an engineering science project. The V-280 tiltrotor provides a critical and combat-proven capability needed to maintain our U.S. military’s ability to deter adversaries by radically improving over the current fleet’s speed, range, versatility, and sustainability. Our program has provided evidence that the V-280 is a transformational long-range assault aircraft solution for the Army and we are proud to move forward as a team to continue to mature the weapons system», said Ryan Ehinger, vice president and program director, FLRAA at Bell.

Over an 8-day period recently the Bell V-280 Valor team completed 5 hours of flight over 4 sorties; nearing 180 total flight hours and over 330 total operating hours