The first in «full» version

On February 12, 2022, the technical launch of the fourth Multipurpose Offshore Patrol ship (PPA – Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura) «Giovanni delle Bande Nere» (P433) took place at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Riva Trigoso (Genoa).

Giovanni delle Bande Nere (P433)
Fincantieri launches the fourth PPA « Giovanni delle Bande Nere » in Riva Trigoso

This PPA, to be delivered in 2024, is the first in «full» version, which means equipped for a complete defence ability, and the first to be supplied with generator sets by Isotta Fraschini Motori, a Fincantieri subsidiary specialized in the production of diesel engines.

The vessel is part of the renewal plan of the operational lines of the Italian Navy vessels, approved by the Government and Parliament and started in May 2015 («Naval Act») under the aegis of OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Cooperation sur l’Armement, the international organization for cooperation on arms).


Vessel’s characteristics: PPA – Multipurpose Offshore Patrol Ship

The multipurpose offshore patrol vessel is a highly flexible ship with the capacity to serve multiple functions, ranging from patrol with sea rescue capacity to Civil Protection operations and, in its most highly equipped version, first line fighting vessel. For the seven vessels of the program there will be indeed different configurations of combat system: starting from a «soft» version for the patrol task, integrated for self-defence ability, to a «full» one, as described above. The patrol ship is also capable of operating high-speed vessels such as RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) up to 11 meters/36 feet long through lateral cranes or a hauling ramp located at the far stern.

  • 133 meters/436 feet long
  • Speed more than 31 knots/35.7 mph/57.4 km/h according to vessel configuration and operational conditions
  • 145 crew members and accommodation capacity up to 181 beds
  • Combined diesel and gas turbine propulsion system, i.e. with electric motors for low speeds
  • Capacity to supply drinking water to land

The PPAs will be built at the Integrated Shipyard of Riva Trigoso and Muggiano, with deliveries expected until 2026.

Giovanni delle Bande Nere – Ludovico di Giovanni de’ Medici, also known as Giovanni delle Bande Nere (born April 6, 1498, Forli – died November 30, 1526 Mantua), was an Italian Renaissance «condottiero» (captain of mercenary forces). He belonged to a cadet branch of the Medici.

The light cruiser that during World War II was named after him was launched in 1930. During the conflict, equipped with seaplanes, Bande Nere participated in the Battle of Calabria. Later deployed to the Aegean Sea to attack enemy units, she took part in the battle off Cape Spada, fighting against an Australian cruiser and 5 British destroyers. Successful missions conducted by Bande Nere included the laying of Minefield T, a coastal mine barrier off Tripoli, which caused the sinking of an enemy cruiser and a destroyer, besides severely damaging other two cruisers. This was the most significant result ever achieved thanks to minelaying during WW II. During the Second Battle of Sirte, Bande Nere hit another British cruiser. In 1942, returning from one of her missions, she was fatally torpedoed off the island of Stromboli.

In 2019, during a technical verification and surveillance of the seabed in the Tyrrhenian Sea near Stromboli, the Italian Navy’s minesweeper Vieste found the wreck of the Light Cruiser sunk 77 years before with her brave crew.

Honeywell Engine

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, and Boeing on February 10, 2022 announced Honeywell as the engine provider for DEFIANT X, the advanced helicopter for the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) competition.

Lockheed Martin Sikorsky-Boeing selects Honeywell Engine to power DEFIANT X

With Honeywell providing the HTS7500 turboshaft engine, Team DEFIANT brings unsurpassed Army Aviation experience to revolutionize Army air assault while seamlessly integrating with legacy platforms, proven tactics and existing infrastructure. DEFIANT X will be the fastest, most maneuverable and survivable assault helicopter in history.

«Team DEFIANT’s strength is built on the experience of Sikorsky and Boeing, and a commitment to Army Aviation», said Mark Cherry, vice president and general manager of Boeing Vertical Lift. «Honeywell’s history with Boeing and the U.S. Army makes us even more confident that DEFIANT X is the best fit for the Army’s total mission».

«DEFIANT X is a transformational aircraft, and Honeywell is giving us a transformational engine to power it», said Paul Lemmo, president of Sikorsky. «DEFIANT X is optimized for operational effectiveness, sustainment and interoperability with the enduring fleet, and will transform the Army».

DEFIANT X is a complete weapon system that builds on the handling qualities and capabilities proven by the team’s technology demonstrator, SB>1 DEFIANT. It flies twice as far and fast as the venerable Black Hawk helicopter it is designed to replace. Currently undergoing testing in a digital combat environment, the aircraft continues to prove itself as the most survivable platform for mission requirements.

«Honeywell is excited to be a part of Team DEFIANT and proud to play a part in the future of vertical lift for the U.S. Army», said Ricky Freeman, president, Defense & Space at Honeywell Aerospace. «We’re confident our HTS7500 engine on the DEFIANT X platform will provide the Army with an agile, fast and maneuverable platform that will help ensure overmatch capability in the future battlespace».

Sikorsky-Boeing submitted the proposal for DEFIANT X for the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft in September 2021. Contract award is expected this year.

Snakehead LDUUV

A Navy team led by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport and the Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants (PEO USC) conducted a vehicle christening for the first Snakehead Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (LDUUV) prototype February 2 at the Narragansett Bay Test Facility in Newport, Rhode Island.

Snakehead LDUUV
Navy team christens first Snakehead advanced undersea vehicle prototype

Snakehead is a modular, reconfigurable, multi-mission LDUUV deployed from submarine large ocean interfaces. It is equipped with a government-owned architecture, mission autonomy capabilities and vehicle software, employing innovation in the areas of hull materials and lithium-ion battery certification. Deployed from a submarine dry deck shelter, Snakehead provides guidance and control, navigation, situational awareness, propulsion, maneuvering and sensors in support of undersea missions.

The Navy continues to invest in a family of Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUVs) to meet the mission requirements for maintaining undersea domain superiority. Snakehead is the Navy’s largest submarine-launched UUV, providing increased endurance, depth capability, and payload capacity beyond small and medium UUVs.

PEO USC is responsible for driving the majority of the Navy’s acquisition, development, delivery and sustainment of unmanned surface and undersea platforms, along with the development of key enabling technologies to support advanced autonomy operations.

Ship to Shore Connector

The next generation landing craft, Ship to Shore Connector (SSC), Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC), successfully completed well deck interoperability testing with USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) and demonstrated the craft are another step closer to fleet integration.

Ship to Shore Connector (SSC)
The next generation landing craft, Ship to Shore Connector (SSC), Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC), successfully completed well deck interoperability testing with the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) and demonstrated the craft are another step closer to fleet integration (U.S. Navy photo by Michael Macdonald)

The evolution was conducted as part of the first phase of ship interface testing and helped validate user requirements by performing multiple well deck entries and exits from USS Carter Hall. LCACs are built with similar configurations, dimensions, and clearances to the legacy LCAC – ensuring the compatibility with existing well deck equipped amphibious ships.

«This is an exciting period for the Ship to Shore Connector program as we continue to validate user requirements and get the craft ready for their eventual fleet tasking», said Captain Scot Searles, program manager, Amphibious Assault and Connectors Programs, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. «The success of the well deck testing and other recent evolutions validates these modernized craft will be a game changer for the Navy/Marine Corps team as they execute various missions in the maritime domain».

The test event, a collaboration between, PEO Ships, USS Carter Hall, Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division and other stakeholders, was the culmination of months of preparation. The testing also has historical significance, as Panama City, Fla. is the location of the Navy’s Air Cushion Vehicle Center of Excellence with the first-ever well deck operations occurring off Panama City in 1985 between legacy LCAC-01 and USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41).

«Working alongside Program Executive Office Ships, Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Panama City Division and other stakeholders to provide the fleet with a modernized and more capable Ship to Shore Connector makes our Navy better in every way», said Commander LaDonna Simpson, Carter Hall’s commanding officer. «The time and efforts invested here make my people more proficient, and our Navy stronger. We are grateful to have been selected to support this evolution».

With the recent delivery of LCAC-103 and its fly away to NSWC Panama City, the program is currently in serial production on LCACs 104-116. The delivery of four more craft is scheduled for later this calendar year.

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, boats and craft.

Indonesian Rafale

In the presence of the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, and the Indonesian Minister of Defence, Prabowo Subianto, the Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, Eric Trappier, and the Air Vice Marshal Yusuf Jauhari, Head of Defence Facilities Agency of the Indonesian Ministry of Defence, signed the contract for the acquisition by Indonesia of 42 latest-generation Rafale aircraft, at a ceremony held on February 10, 2022 in Jakarta.

Rafale F4
Indonesia purchases the Rafale

The Rafale acquisition for the Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara (Indonesian National Army Air Force) includes a complete turnkey solution, with a comprehensive package that covers aircrew training, logistical support for several Indonesian air bases, and a training center with two full-mission simulators.

The Rafale’s unique «omnirole» capability will provide Indonesia with a tool for sovereignty and operational independence, reinforcing its role as a major regional power.

Indonesian industry will benefit from a substantial industrial return, not only in the aeronautical sector, but also in all the other major areas of cooperation relating to the broad portfolio of dual technologies mastered by Dassault Aviation and its industrial partners, Safran Aircraft Engines and Thales.

«It is a great honor for Dassault Aviation to see the Rafale join the highly prestigious Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara air force, and I would like to thank the Indonesian authorities for the trust they have placed in us. This contract marks the start of a long-term partnership that will see Dassault Aviation rapidly step up its presence in the country. It also demonstrates the strong bond between Indonesia and France and reinforces the position of the world’s largest archipelago as a key power on the international stage. I am confident that the Rafale will meet the operational needs of the Indonesian Air Force, actively contributing to the defence and sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia», said Eric Trappier on this occasion.

Uninhabited flight

The DARPA Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program completed a first ever flight of a UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter without anyone onboard. Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, completed 30-minutes of uninhabited flight with the Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) over the U.S. Army installation at Fort Campbell, Kentucky on February 5th. An additional uninhabited flight was also conducted on February 7th.

ALIAS equipped Black Hawk helicopter completes first uninhabited flight

The Black Hawk was retrofitted with Sikorsky MATRIX autonomy technologies that form the core of ALIAS and can change the way aviators and air crews execute their missions by providing assistance when flying with limited visibility or without communications.

ALIAS is a flexible, extensible automation architecture for existing manned aircraft that enables safe reduced crew operations, which facilitates the addition of high levels of automation into existing aircraft. It also provides a platform for integrating additional automation or autonomy capabilities tailored for specific missions.

«With reduced workloads pilots can focus on mission management instead of the mechanics», said Stuart Young, program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. «This unique combination of autonomy software and hardware will make flying both smarter and safer».

The ALIAS program has leveraged the considerable advances in aircraft automation systems over the past 50 years, as well as similar advances in remotely piloted aircraft. Even in today’s most automated aircraft, pilots must still manage complex interfaces and respond to unexpected situations.

ALIAS aims to support execution of an entire mission from takeoff to landing, including autonomously handling contingency events such as aircraft system failures. Easy-to-use interfaces facilitate supervisor-ALIAS interaction.

«With ALIAS, the Army will have much more operational flexibility», said Young. «This includes the ability to operate aircraft at all times of the day or night, with and without pilots, and in a variety of difficult conditions, such as contested, congested, and degraded visual environments».

The Army is currently exploring potential use cases for technologies such as ALIAS, including those outlined in the U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program.

Within the next month, the ALIAS program plans to conduct the first flight of a fly-by-wire M-model Black Hawk at Fort Eustis, Virginia.

First Uninhabited Black Hawk Flight

Builder’s Trials

USNS John Lewis (T-AO-205), the U.S. Navy’s lead ship of its new class of fleet replenishment oilers, conducted initial Builder’s Trials and returned to port, February 4.

USNS John Lewis (T-AO-205)
USNS John Lewis (T-AO-205) Conducts Builder’s Trials

Builder’s Trials consist of a series of in-port and at-sea demonstrations that allow the U.S. Navy and the shipbuilder, General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO), to assess the ship’s systems and readiness prior to acceptance trials and delivery to the U.S. Navy.

«Ensuring readiness through sea trials is a crucial step to bringing this ship closer to fleet tasking», said John Lighthammer, program manager, Auxiliary and Special Mission Shipbuilding Program Office. «USNS John Lewis will provide much needed capability to the fleet as the primary fuel pipeline at sea. We are looking forward to getting the ship into the hands of Sailors and merchant mariners as another tool to support at-sea operations».

The new John Lewis-class T-AOs will be operated by Military Sealift Command to provide diesel fuel and lubricating oil, and small quantities of fresh and frozen provisions, stores, and potable water to Navy ships at sea, and jet fuel for aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers. The new T-AOs will add capacity to the Navy’s Combat Logistics Force and become the cornerstone of the fuel delivery system.

NASSCO is currently in production on USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO-206), USNS Earl Warren (T-AO-207), and USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO-208). The future USNS Lucy Stone (T-AO-209) and USNS Sojourner Truth (T-AO-210) are under contract.

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and boats and craft.

Initial Sea Trials

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced on February 7, 2022 the successful completion of the initial sea trials Friday of fast-attack submarine USS Montana (SSN-794). The Virginia-class submarine, built at HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division, spent several days at sea to test the ship’s systems and components.

Virginia-class attack submarine USS Montana (SSN-794) has successfully completed initial sea trials
Virginia-class attack submarine USS Montana (SSN-794) has successfully completed initial sea trials

Testing included submerging the submarine for the first time and high-speed maneuvers while on the surface and submerged. HII teams will continue the testing program and will deliver the boat to the U.S. Navy later this year.

«We are very proud to say the Montana and her crew performed exceptional», said Jason Ward, Newport News Shipbuilding vice president of Virginia-class submarine construction. «Taking the ship to sea for the first time is a huge milestone for everyone involved. The crew, thousands of suppliers from around the country and shipbuilders from HII and Electric Boat can be proud the ship was successfully brought to life and will soon be part of the world’s greatest Navy».

Construction of Montana began in 2015. The boat – the 21st Virginia-class submarine built as part of the teaming partnership with General Dynamics’ Electric Boat – was christened in September 2020.

HII is a global engineering and defense technologies provider. With a 135-year history of trusted partnerships in advancing U.S. national security, HII delivers critical capabilities ranging from the most powerful and survivable naval ships ever built, to unmanned systems, ISR and AI/ML analytics. HII leads the industry in mission-driven solutions that support and enable a networked, all-domain force. Headquartered in Virginia, HII’s skilled workforce is 44,000 strong.

USS Montana (SSN-794) Sea Trials


General Characteristics

Builder General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. – Newport News Shipbuilding
Date Deployed October 3, 2004
Propulsion One GE PWR S9G* nuclear reactor, two turbines, one shaft; 40,000 hp/30 MW
Length 377 feet/114.8 m
Beam 33 feet/10.0584 m
Hull Diameter 34 feet/10.3632 m
Displacement Approximately 7,800 tons/7,925 metric tons submerged
Speed 25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h
Diving Depth 800+ feet/244+ m
Crew 132: 15 officers; 117 enlisted
Armament: Tomahawk missiles Two 87-in/2.2 m Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching 6 Tomahawk cruise missiles
Armament: MK-48 ADCAP (Advanced Capability) Mod 7 heavyweight torpedoes 4 torpedo tubes
Weapons MK-60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo) mines, advanced mobile mines and UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles)

* – Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories


Nuclear Submarine Lineup


Block IV

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-792 Vermont EB 10-20-18 04-18-20 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-793 Oregon EB 10-05-19
SSN-794 Montana NNS 09-12-20
SSN-795 Hyman G. Rickover EB 07-31-21
SSN-796 New Jersey NNS 11-13-21
SSN-797 Iowa EB Under Construction
SSN-798 Massachusetts NNS Under Construction
SSN-799 Idaho EB Under Construction
SSN-800 Arkansas NNS Under Construction
SSN-801 Utah EB Under Construction


Cryogenic Fuel Tank

A new type of large, fully-composite, linerless cryogenic fuel tank, designed and manufactured by Boeing, passed a critical series of tests at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center at the end of 2021. The successful test campaign proves the new technology is mature, safe and ready for use in aerospace vehicles.

Space Launch System (SLS)
Boeing’s all-composite cryogenic fuel tank undergoing pressure testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (Boeing photo)

The 4.3-meter (14 foot) diameter composite tank is similar in size to the fuel tanks intended for use in the upper stage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which is the foundational capability in NASA’s Artemis lunar and deep space human exploration program. If the new composite technology were implemented in evolved versions of the SLS’s Exploration Upper Stage, the weight savings technology could increase payload masses by up to 30 percent.

«Composites are the next major technological advancement for large aerospace cryogenic storage structures», said Boeing Composite Cryotank Manufacturing Lead Carlos Guzman. «And while they can be challenging to work with, they offer significant advantages over traditional metallic structures. Boeing has the right mix of experience, expertise and resources to continue to advance this technology and bring it to market in a variety of applications across aerospace and aeronautics».

During the testing, which was funded by DARPA and Boeing, engineers from Boeing and NASA filled the vessel with cryogenic fluid in multiple test cycles, pressurizing the tank to expected operational loads and beyond. In the final test, which intended to push the tank to failure, pressures reached 3.75 times the design requirements without any major structural failure.

«NASA’s support through this testing has been invaluable», said Boeing Test Program Manager Steve Wanthal. «We were able to use their technical expertise and investments made in the testing infrastructure at the Marshall Space Flight Center to continue to advance this technology, which will ultimately benefit the entire industry».

Applications for the technology expand past spaceflight. The test which builds upon Boeing’s extensive experience with the safe use of hydrogen in aerospace applications will inform Boeing’s ongoing studies of hydrogen as a potential future energy pathway for commercial aviation. In addition to use in space programs, Boeing has completed five flight demonstration programs with hydrogen.

As a leading global aerospace company, Boeing develops, manufactures and services commercial airplanes, defense products and space systems for customers in more than 150 countries. As a top U.S. exporter, the company leverages the talents of a global supplier base to advance economic opportunity, sustainability and community impact. Boeing’s diverse team is committed to innovating for the future and living the company’s core values of safety, quality and integrity.

AI assistant

Northrop Grumman Corporation has been awarded a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Perceptually-enabled Task Guidance (PTG) program to develop a prototype Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistant. The prototype will be embedded in an Augmented Reality (AR) headset to help rotary pilots perform expected and unexpected tasks.

Northrop Grumman’s prototype AI assistant will help rotary pilots perform expected and unexpected tasks such as augmenting the crew’s response to an engine fire in this example

Northrop Grumman, in partnership with the University of Central Florida (UCF), will develop an Operator and Context Adaptive Reasoning Intuitive Assistant (OCARINA) that will support UH-60 Blackhawk pilots, who fly with both visual and instrumented flight, which varies with weather, time of day and other environmental factors.

«The goal of this prototype is to broaden a pilot’s skillset», said Erin Cherry, senior autonomy program manager, Northrop Grumman. «It will help teach new tasks, aide in the recognition and reduction of errors, improve task completion time, and most importantly, help to prevent catastrophic events».

Rotorcraft aircrews face numerous demands particularly when flying in close proximity to buildings, terrain, people and from the threat of adversary RADAR systems. Today, simple warning systems are the most common means for aiding a rotorcraft aircrew, such as auditory alerts to increase altitude. These warning systems are limiting and can induce unanticipated cognitive burdens on pilots. Studies have shown that inattentional blindness to such warnings can occur, often making them ineffective for the aircrew.

DARPA’s PTG program aims to develop AI technologies to help users perform complex mental and physical tasks. The goal is to provide users of PTG AI assistants with wearable sensors that allow the assistant to observe what the user perceives and know what the user knows. Using advanced information processing and an AR interface, the goal of the program is to have the AI assistant provide feedback and guidance through speech and aligned graphics at the right place and time to augment the aircrew.

Using powerful, proven algorithm development and implementation processes, Northrop Grumman develops and integrates leading-edge AI solutions into large, complex, end-to-end mission systems that are essential to our national security. Northrop Grumman’s artificial intelligence systems are developed using responsible AI principles. The company’s AI technologies are equitable, traceable, reliable, governable, auditable and protected against threats.

Northrop Grumman is a technology company, focused on global security and human discovery. Our pioneering solutions equip our customers with capabilities they need to connect, advance and protect the U.S. and its allies. Driven by a shared purpose to solve our customers’ toughest problems, our 90,000 employees define possible every day.