Stimulus plan

The French Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly, has announced that the Armament General Directorate (DGA) has signed an order to purchase eight additional H225Ms and a second VSR700 prototype. The H225Ms will be operated by the French Air and Space Force. The VSR700 is an unmanned aerial system being developed for the French Navy in partnership with Naval Group. This order is part of a Stimulus plan to support the national aeronautical industry announced by the French government in 2020. For Airbus Helicopters, the plan also includes an order for two H145s for the Sécurité Civile and 10 H160s for the French Gendarmerie Nationale.

H225M
France orders H225Ms and VSR700 prototype in support of helicopter industry

«We are very thankful to the French government for their support of the aeronautical industry through the Stimulus plan. This is a win-win situation as the aircraft fulfill a real operational need for the French armed forces and this order allows Airbus Helicopters to secure jobs and key skills in the medium term», said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. «The French armed forces are facing increasing and varied challenges and I am confident that the H225M, thanks to its excellent range and multirole capacity, will be an efficient and reliable asset that will enhance their operations at home and abroad. The VSR700 is also a crucial programme. It will provide the French Navy with a highly capable autonomous platform and it will pave the way for future unmanned systems within the Airbus Helicopters portfolio».

Like the rest of the aeronautical industry, the helicopter industry has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 2020 saw the worldwide market decrease by 50%. The support of the French government will help secure 960 jobs during the next three years for Airbus Helicopters and its suppliers.

These contracts will benefit the French helicopter industry as a whole, including other key French aerospace providers such as Safran Helicopters Engines with the H225M’s Makila 2A engines, Safran Power Units with the Saphir 20 auxiliary power unit, Safran Electronic Defense with the electro-optical system Euroflir 410M NG and the Sigma inertial navigation system, and Thales with the VUHF radio TRA6034 and IFF transponder TSC4000. But with more than 300 French Tier 1 suppliers involved in the H225M’s supply chain, the contract will also benefit a variety of small and medium enterprises. The VSR700 is based on the Cabri G2 light helicopter built by local SME Hélicoptères Guimbal.

First deliveries of the H225Ms are planned to start in 2024 and will fulfill the Air and Space Force’s operational needs and the long awaited replacement of the Puma fleet.

Thanks to a modular and versatile configuration allowing the integration of diverse equipment, the aircraft will be dedicated to a wide range of military missions including combat/search and rescue, medical evacuation, support to the population in times of crisis, and tactical training. While based in the Air and Space Force’s Cazaux base in Southwest France, the helicopters will be deployed across the country and will also support the French armed forces’ operations overseas.

With more than 104 helicopters in service and more than 143,000 flight hours accumulated to date, the H225M is a recognized combat-proven, versatile and reliable workhorse for military missions worldwide. Among the essential operational advantages offered by the 11-tonne helicopter is the in-flight refueling capacity, already tested by the French and Brazilian air forces.

Designed to operate alongside other shipborne naval assets, the VSR700 unmanned aerial system (UAS) is being developed within the frame of the SDAM (Système de drone aérien de la Marine) programme for the French Navy. The VSR700, derived from Hélicoptères Guimbal’s Cabri G2, is an unmanned aerial system in the 500-1000 kg maximum take-off weight range. It offers the best balance of payload capability, endurance and operational cost. It is capable of carrying multiple full-size naval sensors for extended periods and can operate from existing ships, alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint.

The first prototype of the VSR700 performed its maiden flight in 2020 and has recently begun expanding its flight envelope.

Bernees

According to information published by the Egyptian Ministry of Defense on April 14, 2021, ENS Bernees (FFG-1003), FREMM Carlo Bergamini-class, constructed by Italian company Fincantieri arrived at the Alexandria Naval Base to join the Egyptian Navy’s fleet.

ENS Bernees (FFG-1003)
Carlo Bergamini-class ENS Bernees (FFG-1003) (Picture source: El Yom)

According to Navy Recognition, ENS Bernees (FFG-1003) was originally constructed as the Carlo Bergamini-class Emilio Bianchi before being acquired by Egyptian Navy and being renamed.

The «Emilio Bianchi» vessel, like the other units, features a high degree of flexibility, capable of operating in all tactical situations. 144 meters/472.4 feet long with a beam of 19.7 meters/64.6 feet, the ship has a displacement at a full load of approximately 6,700 tones. The vessel has a maximum speed of over 27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h and has a maximum accommodation capacity for a 200-person crew.

The FREMM is a class of multi-purpose frigates designed by French company Naval Group and Fincantieri from Italy for the navies of France and Italy. The FREMM program consists of the construction of 18 ships: 8 for France, 10 for Italy. The first FREMM was delivered in 2012 and the objective of contractual delivery is 2022 for the whole 18 frigates.

The Italian FREMM is also being developed in two designs: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and General Purpose (armed with DCNS Sylver A-50 Vertical Launching System/VLS), with the possibility to perform a wide range of operational missions. The Italian versions also operate with a reduced crew thanks to Human Factors optimizations and a high level of automation with 2 helicopters (with two crews), a federated Combat Management System, and a higher level of maintainers embarked to ensure greater flexibility.

DEFIANT X

We are excited about our continued partnership with the U.S. Army on the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction (CD&RR) program to develop this vital modernization capability. DEFIANT X builds on the handling qualities and transformational capabilities proven in flight tests by our SB>1 DEFIANT technology demonstrator and is already undergoing testing and evaluation in a digital combat environment. The result is an adaptable design that delivers transformational speed, range and unprecedented maneuverability at the X. DEFIANT X will be a critical enabler for full-spectrum convergence of Army and joint operations assets on the multi-domain operational battlefield.

DEFIANT X
Sikorsky And Boeing Statement on Continuing to Advance DEFIANT X in U.S. Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft Program

As we ramp up CD&RR we will refine the final set of weapon system requirements and complete our preliminary design review for our DEFIANT X weapon system. Supporting this review will be subsystem preliminary design reviews conducted with our exceptional suppliers. The overarching objective of this phase of the program is to enable the successful execution of detailed design following contract down-select. The team of hundreds of hand-picked experts from Sikorsky and Boeing will continue their work to develop an optimized assault aircraft for the Army. Additional activities will include:

  • Refining our virtual prototype, utilizing a digital twin and digital design techniques that are embedded in our processes today. State-of-the-art digital design and manufacturing is already in use on other production programs, and will enable the Army to not only lower the acquisition cost, but enable rapid, affordable upgrades to stay ahead of the evolving threat. We will continue to sharpen our tools with data from flight test, our powered system test bed, end to end SIL, Sikorsky S-97 RAIDER flight test, and other risk reduction activities.
  • Sharpening and demonstrating our Modular Open Systems Approach which will enable the Army to readily modify and upgrade DEFIANT X as new needs and opportunities appear.
  • Closing on the details around an exceptional warfighter experience, including the pilots in the cockpit, crew chiefs and troops in the cabin. Maintainers will continue to perform procedures at scale in virtual reality labs, sharing their perspective with designers on everything from ease of access, to ergonomics, to how straightforward it is to remove parts for servicing.
  • Quantifying the exceptional reliability, maintainability and availability that is better than the proven UH-60 BLACK HAWK despite the leap in capability.

Background on CD&RR:

  • Although the development and design completed under CD&RR Phase II will continue to inform the USG for their FLRAA down select in mid-2022, the effort in Phase II is also part of a series of developmental steps and design reviews. Phase II is focused on functionality, integration and developing all the data and artifacts to accomplish a preliminary design review.

Specialized Surveillance

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. on April 5, 2021 announced it delivered a special missions Gulfstream G550 to the Israeli Air Force to support and enhance their mission-critical surveillance operations.

Gulfstream G550
Gulfstream G550 modified for Specialized Surveillance

«Israel has been a Gulfstream special-missions customer for many years, and we are grateful for their continued confidence in us», said Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream. «With unparalleled performance capabilities, our modified aircraft can fly the demanding missions governments and militaries conduct around the world. Combined with the exceptional reliability our platforms provide and the expertise of our dedicated teams, Gulfstream’s special-missions service is second to none».

Gulfstream’s engineers designed the adjustments to the aircraft’s exterior and flight deck, and its production team built the surveillance platform in the dedicated special-missions modification facilities in Savannah.

Gulfstream has been producing special-missions aircraft for over 50 years, with more than 200 aircraft delivered to governments and militaries in more than 40 countries. Capabilities include airborne security operations, advanced medevac, airborne research and priority transport missions. Gulfstream Customer Support also offers tailored contractor logistics support for special-missions customers around the world.

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.