Tactical SATCOM

The U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC) and Boeing recently completed a critical design review for the Protected Tactical SATCOM Prototype (PTS-P), validating Boeing’s technical maturity on the rapid-prototyping program.

A U.S. military Corps transmissions system operator establishes communication using a multiband-networking-manpack radio. Boeing’s Protected Tactical SATCOM Prototype (PTS-P) will provide users in-theater anti-jam capability to ensure protected connectivity in contested environments (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Mackenzie Binion)

«We’re making great progress on this pacesetter program», said Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Rose, SSC’s Tactical SATCOM Division deputy chief. «We’ve asked all industry partners to move fast – to build, iterate, demonstrate, and improve performance, so we can deploy much faster than we typically would. This design review demonstrates we’re on track to deliver new communication capabilities to the warfighter».

Boeing’s PTS-P features an on-board processor of the U.S. military’s jam-resistant Protected Tactical Waveform (PTW), providing users in-theater anti-jam capability with network routing that exceeds objective requirements.

Scheduled for on-orbit demonstration after a 2024 launch, the prototype payload showcases PTS-P’s improved stand-off distance performance, reduced latency, and other mission-enabling capabilities that enable the warfighter in a modern battlefield. Host vehicle integration and testing will begin next year.

Boeing is leveraging its expertise in model-based systems engineering and digital engineering to design an agile, scalable and flexible solution to meet the warfighter’s ever-emerging needs. Millennium Space Systems strengthens the team with rapid prototyping and demonstrations in a fully-integrated and streamlined execution approach.

«The Space Force’s incremental demonstration approach is allowing us to bring capabilities rapidly to the warfighter while mitigating risk for future technology developments», said Troy Dawson, Government Satellite Systems vice president at Boeing. «We’re investing across our satellite portfolio to deliver the most advanced solutions to our customers. Our scalable software-defined payload will be able to accommodate and grow to meet the needs of any mission, and it can be hosted on commercial or government platforms».

To date, the Boeing team has completed several capability demonstrations and design reviews, including validating interoperability with government-furnished Protected Anti-Jam Tactical SATCOM (PATS) hardware and software components.


Boeing P-8A Poseidon team members and Spirit AeroSystems employees have laid the keel beam for New Zealand’s first P-8A Poseidon. This process, also called ‘keeling,’ was done at the Spirit AeroSystems facility where all Boeing 737 fuselages, nacelles and pylons are designed and built. Laying the keel is an important production milestone during the build of any ship or aircraft and represents the cornerstone of this latest P-8A Poseidon.

P-8A Poseidon
Boeing begins build on New Zealand’s first P-8A Aircraft

Rosemary Banks, New Zealand’s ambassador to the United States, who was on hand to witness the keeling said, «Today’s keeling ceremony is the beginning of a new era for New Zealand’s maritime patrol and response capability. Our four P-8A Poseidons will better equip our defence forces to extend their reach into the Pacific and beyond, working with our partners and friends».

An aircraft keel runs the length of the fuselage belly. Due to the innovative in-line approach to the build of commercial derivative aircraft pioneered on the P-8A Poseidon, the keel beam on a P-8A Poseidon is different from the typical 737 keel beam. The P-8A Poseidon keel includes unique aspects of the P-8A Poseidon configuration, such as the integration of an internal weapons bay.

«The excitement of seeing this come together was contagious», said Brian Stuart, P-8A Poseidon program manager for New Zealand. «Not only are we kicking off the journey to the first New Zealand P-8A Poseidon delivery, but we are strengthening our relationships with suppliers like Spirit as well as our U.S. Navy and Royal New Zealand Air Force customers».

The panel and other fuselage components will be completed on Spirit’s existing 737 production line. Spirit will ship the P-8A Poseidon fuselage to a Boeing Commercial Airplanes facility in Renton, Washington for final assembly. After that, Boeing Defense, Space & Security employees will install mission systems and complete testing prior to delivery to New Zealand later this year.

In total, four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will eventually replace New Zealand’s current fleet of six aging P-3K2 Orion aircraft providing advanced capabilities to maintain situational awareness in neighboring waters on and below the surface of the ocean.

The New Zealand Defence Force is a P-8 Poseidon foreign military sales customer and is one of eight global customers. Current P-8 operators include the U.S. Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Indian Navy, United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and Norway’s Royal Norwegian Air Force.

To date, the global operating P-8A Poseidon fleet has amassed more than 400,000 mishap-free flight hours. The P-8A Poseidon is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations. In addition, the P-8A Poseidon performs humanitarian and search and rescue missions around the globe.

Advance Projectile Interceptor

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced today that it has completed a major test series in collaboration with the Army and Navy to advance the state-of-the-art in gun-launched defensive projectile interceptor designs. Identical projectile designs were test fired from a railgun at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and a powder gun at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. The projectiles reached record hypersonic velocities from the railgun launch and tested the projectiles’ guided flight capabilities from both gun systems. GA-EMS delivered projectiles with integrated gun-hardened guidance electronics to test their capability to sustain data links and control trajectory while the projectiles undergo intense G-forces at hypersonic speeds.

Advance Projectile Interceptor
GA-EMS Test Firings Advance Projectile Interceptor Design

«Close communication among the team members was critical to the outcome of this effort», stated Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. «We tested significant advancements in our projectile design, demonstrating survivability and good aerodynamic performance at these velocities, while testing guidance capabilities that promise greater precision and accuracy to effectively meet and defeat airborne threats».

GA-EMS fabricated and delivered completed projectile assemblies which contain guidance electronics and control actuation systems. GA-EMS worked closely with the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center (DEVCOM-AC) and the Naval Surface Warfare Center – Dahlgren Division (NSWC-DD) to perform several test firings. During the first test series, projectiles were launched using the Navy’s 32 megajoule railgun system at the White Sands Missile Range. The second test series fired the same projectile designs from a 120-mm powder gun at Dugway Proving Ground

«We have completed our contract to fabricate, deliver, and test prototype projectiles in railgun and powder gun environments», continued Forney. «GA-EMS continues to develop technologies to bring the most affordable, gun-launched hypersonic and supersonic weapon system capabilities to the future battlespace».

Submarine Montana

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), America’s largest shipbuilder and leading provider of mission-driven defense technologies, on March 14, 2022 delivered the newest Virginia-class fast-attack submarine to the U.S. Navy.

USS Montana (SSN-794)
Virginia-class attack submarine USS Montana (SSN-794) successfully completed initial sea trials in February 2022

USS Montana (SSN-794), which successfully completed sea trials last month, is the 10th Virginia-class submarine to be delivered by HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division and the 21st built as part of the teaming agreement with General Dynamics’ Electric Boat.

«We continue to be proud of our partnership with the U.S. Navy in delivering the most advanced ships in the world to our warfighters», said Jason Ward, Newport News Shipbuilding vice president of Virginia-class submarine construction. «The results of the Navy’s board of inspection and survey during sea trials are a testament to our priorities of safety and quality. We are proud of our team of shipbuilders for delivering these critical capabilities to the Navy and the nation».

More than 10,000 shipbuilders from Newport News Shipbuilding and Electric Boat have participated in Montana’s construction since the work began in May 2015. The submarine was christened by the ship’s sponsor, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, during a ceremony in September 2020.

Montana is the third of the 10-ship group of Virginia-class submarines known as Block IV. Block IV submarines incorporate design changes focused on reduced total ownership cost. By making smaller-scale design changes, the U.S. Navy will increase the length of time between maintenance stops and increase the number of deployments.


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


Japan’s Global Hawks

Northrop Grumman Corporation successfully ferried the first of Japan’s three RQ-4B Global Hawks via a non-stop transpacific flight. The aircraft departed on Thursday, March 10, from Palmdale, California landing 18.7 hours later on March 12 at Misawa Air Base, Misawa, Japan.

RQ-4B Global Hawk
Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4B Global Hawk aircraft will provide the Japan Air Self-Defense Force with persistent, high-altitude surveillance of the Indo-Pacific

«The arrival of the first Japan Global Hawk is an important milestone in the development of this critical security asset», said Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager, global surveillance, Northrop Grumman. «The autonomous Global Hawk will provide the Japan Air Self-Defense Force with persistent, high-altitude surveillance of the Indo-Pacific. Global Hawk’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities will provide invaluable support to Japanese national security and to the security of allies across the region».

RQ-4B Global Hawk, a large High-Altitude, Long-Endurance (HALE) Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV), is equipped with mission-specific sensors to meet critical ISR needs. This capability will change the way allies monitor threats and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster response day or night. Combined with other Japanese intelligence assets, the advanced UAV will provide solutions to monitor and deter regional threats, contributing to Japan’s national security well into the future.

Northrop Grumman’s family of autonomous HALE systems, including Global Hawk, are critical components of networked, global ISR collection for allied nations around the world. The ISR data enables decision makers to act in a timely manner, deterring aggression and responding to emerging threats. Japan, with its Global Hawk fleet, will be part of a growing list of allied nations operating HALE UAVs. The United States, Australia, NATO and Korea will all be operating versions of this vital national security asset.

Adversary Air

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Aerospace Systems Directorate has awarded a Small Business Innovation Research contract to Blue Force Technologies to develop an unmanned air vehicle that supports adversary air (ADAIR) training missions. The Bandit program contract was awarded as the result of a Strategic Financing (STRATFI) proposal selected by AFWERX with a $9 million initial value and options to complete the design and build of up to four air vehicles.

A newly awarded Air Force Research Laboratory Small Business Innovation Research contract will develop an unmanned air vehicle design that supports adversary air (ADAIR) training missions for pilots of Air Force fighter aircraft (Courtesy illustration/Blue Force Technologies)

Under the Bandit program, Blue Force Technologies, a small aerospace and defense company based in North Carolina, will mature a high-performance unmanned air vehicle design that pilots of Air Force fighter aircraft can use to train against. The air vehicle is a part of a proposed autonomy-based system providing adversary air training for Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fighter crews at greatly reduced costs compared to current manned capabilities.

The 12-month effort will mature the vehicle design to critical design level, perform engine ground testing and validate the design of the engine installation under the technical guidance of AFRL subject matter experts. Options under this contract, if exercised, will complete the design and engineering tasks, produce up to four air vehicles and complete initial flight testing.

Alyson Turri, the AFRL Bandit program manager, said «these small unmanned ADAIR systems can be flown in training scenarios so that fighter pilots can train against tactically relevant adversaries in threat representative numbers. The goal is to develop an unmanned platform that looks like a fifth-generation adversary with similar vehicle capabilities».

The Bandit program aims to provide an air vehicle solution for the unmanned ADAIR capability which, when integrated with autonomy, mission payloads and sensors, will revolutionize the adversary air training mission and provide key opportunities for pilots to interact with the unmanned systems in a training environment.

SBIR work with Blue Force Technologies began in 2019 and covered the initial requirements development, vehicle design, analysis and build of a structural test article supporting unmanned ADAIR.

AFRL is coordinating the Bandit program with Air Combat Command and has aligned the vehicle development effort in support of the unmanned ADAIR capability. ACC Commander Gen. Mark Kelly addressed the need for alternate approaches to costly adversary air sorties at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Life Cycle Industry Days in August 2021.


On Thursday 10 March, the coastguard vessel KV «Bjørnøya» arrived at Vard Langsten in Tomrefjord. Since 16 February, the vessel has been towed from Vard Tulcea’s shipyard in Romania to Norway. The actual tow was expected to take about a month, but due to good weather conditions, the vessel arrived earlier than expected.

KV «Bjørnøya»
KV Bjørnøya will now be equipped, tested, and completed before it is handed over to The Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) in 2023

KV «Bjørnøya» is the second vessel in the Jan Mayen class to take over for the robust Nordkapp class, which will soon be retired after more than 40 years in faithful service for the Armed Forces. During the next year, KV «Bjørnøya» will transfer from being a hull, to becoming a full-fledged coastguard vessel, says project manager Odd Magne Nilsen in NDMA.

Before the vessels become operational, they must be equipped and have the necessary equipment installed for the operations in which they are to participate.

It is important that the vessels are equipped with the capacities necessary to patrol and solve imposed tasks throughout Norway’s area of interest, including Arctic waters, Nilsen explains.


The first vessel will be handed over to the Armed Forces in 2022

The main contract between NDMA and VARD to build three helicopter-carrying and ice-reinforced vessels, was signed 25 June 2018. The acquisition of the coastguard vessels is one of the largest defense acquisitions ever made in the maritime sector.

The proportion of Norwegian subcontractors is large and contributes to further developing national competence and capacity within the maritime industry, Odd Magne Nilsen explains.

The first coastguard vessel «Jan Mayen» arrived in Norway last year and the vessel is now equipped at VARD Langsten in Tomrefjord.

The equipment of the first hull, arriving at the yard in September 2021, is now entering a new phase with completion, commissioning, and an extensive test period. Getting the hull of the second vessel to the yard now, is a good fit and in accordance with our plans. This contributes to a good transfer of experience by using the same workers on both vessels, and that we get a steady load on the yard in the coming months, says project manager Roar Gjerde in VARD.

According to plan, «Jan Mayen» will be handed over to the Armed Forces in the autumn of 2022. There will be an intensive period ahead before preparing the vessel for delivery. With its capacities and ability to operate in the entire area of interest to Norway, including Arctic waters, the Coast Guard vessel will be an important resource. KV «Bjørnøya» is planned to be delivered to the Armed Forces in 2023, while KV «Hopen» will be delivered in 2024.



By 2024, the Coast Guard’s vessels in the Nordkapp class will be replaced by the Jan Mayen class. The acquisition of the three new coastguard vessels «KV Jan Mayen», «KV Bjørnøya» and «KV Hopen» is one of the largest defense acquisitions ever made in the maritime sector in Norway.

The vessels will be handed over from VARD to the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) in 2022, 2023 and 2024.

The hulls of the Jan Mayen class are built at VARD Tulcea in Romania, before being towed to VARD Langsten in Tomrefjord in Norway to be equipped, tested and completed.

The tow of the second vessel in the Jan Mayen class, KV Bjørnøya, started on Wednesday 16 February.

The main contract to build three helicopter-carrying and ice-reinforced vessels between the NDMA and VARD was signed on 25 June 2018. The vessels will solve imposed tasks throughout Norway’s area of interest, including Arctic waters. Strict requirements are set for the vessels’ seaworthy properties, strength, stability, helicopter availability, sensors and communication and control capacity.

The proportion of Norwegian subcontractors is large in the offer from VARD and will contribute to further developing national competence and capacity within the maritime industry.

The vessels must be able to cooperate with and support civilian units and military units.

Keel Authenticated

The keel of future USS Ted Stevens (DDG-128), the 78th Arleigh Burke-class ship was ceremonially laid at Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding, March 9.

USS Ted Stevens (DDG-128)
Keel Authenticated for Future USS Ted Stevens (DDG-128)

The ship is named for the late Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska. Stevens was the longest-serving Republican U.S. Senator in history at the time he left office and was the third senator to hold the title of president pro tempore emeritus. He was the president pro tempore of the United States Senate in the 108th and 109th Congresses.

The contemporary keel laying ceremony represents the joining together of a ship’s modular components at the land level. The keel is authenticated with the ship sponsors’ initials etched into a ceremonial keel plate as part of the ceremony. Sponsors of DDG-128 are Catherine Stevens, wife of the ship’s namesake, and Susan Stevens Covich and Lily Stevens Becker, daughters of the namesake.

«The Flight III upgrade fulfills a critical need for the Navy. Flight III ships like the future USS Ted Stevens (DDG-128) will serve as a deterrent to our adversaries using the ship’s increased power projection capability as a result of the upgraded AEGIS Combat System and Air and Missile Defense Radar», said Captain Seth Miller, DDG-51 class program manager, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. «We are honored to have the Stevens family with us today as we mark this important milestone in building the Navy’s and the Nation’s next great warship».

The DDG-51 Flight III upgrade is centered on the AN/SPY-6(V)1 Air and Missile Defense Radar and incorporates upgrades to the electrical power and cooling capacity plus additional associated changes to provide greatly enhanced warfighting capability to the fleet. Flight III is the latest Flight upgrade in the more than 30-year history of the class, building on the proud legacy of Flight I, II and IIA ships before it.

HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding is also in production on the future USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123), USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), USS Jeremiah Denton (DDG-129), and USS George M. Neal (DDG-131).

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, sealift ships, support ships, boats and craft.

The 1st Taigei Class

According to Naval News, the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) commissioned the submarine JS Taigei (SS-513) the lead submarine of the Taigei-class, with a ceremony at the Kobe Shipyard of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.

JS Taigei (SS-513)
JMSDF commissions the 1st Taigei Class Submarine

The event was posted on the official Twitter account of the JMSDF on March 09. JS Taigei (SS-513) (previously known as 29SS) is the first submarine of its class, and its name means «Great Whale» in Japanese and was once used as the name of a submarine tender of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Taigei was officially launched on October 14, 2020, and entered service 17 months later.

The external appearance of the Taigei is not much different from the Sōryū-class, but inside of it is a completely different submarine. First, the Taigei uses lithium-ion batteries instead of the 4V-275R Mk-III Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, which was installed aboard the first 10 Sōryū-class submarines.

Secondly, the capabilities of the sonar and combat command system have been improved, as well as the use of new acoustic absorbent materials and a floating floor structure to make it quieter. It is also equipped with Torpedo Counter Measures (TCM), which ejects decoys to evade enemy torpedoes for improved survivability.

The JS Taigei (SS-513) will be used as a test submarine, according to the «National Defense Program Guidelines for FY 2019 and beyond» published in December 2018. In other words, Taigei will be the dedicated ship to conduct all future tests of technology on JMSDF submarines.


Key Specifications

Standard Displacement about 3000 tons
Length 84 meters/275.6 feet
Total width 9.1 meters/30 feet
Crew about 70
Propulsion Diesel Electric Propulsion (with lithium-ion batteries)


E-6B Mercury Aircraft

Northrop Grumman Corporation announced it was recently awarded the Integrated Modification and Maintenance Contract for the U.S. Navy’s E-6B Mercury platform, a derivative of the commercial Boeing 707 aircraft. The work will be performed at Northrop Grumman’s Aircraft Maintenance and Fabrication Center in Lake Charles.

E-6B Mercury
Northrop Grumman selected by U.S. Navy for sustainment and modernization of E-6B Mercury aircraft. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement (Source: U.S. Air Force; Staff Sergeant Jacob Skovo)

«We are laser focused on providing the most relevant capabilities while improving mission readiness», said Mary Petryszyn, corporate vice president and president of Defense Systems at Northrop Grumman. «As leaders in aircraft sustainment and modernization, the U.S. Navy’s E-6B Mercury fleet is another example of our strong partnership with the Navy in achieving those goals».

Over the next five years, Northrop Grumman will perform modifications to the Navy’s E-6B Mercury aircraft improving command, control and communications functions that connect the national command authority with the United States’ Nuclear Triad. The company will establish a consolidated production line for core modifications required under the $111 million contract. Northrop Grumman may also take on additional, smaller modifications and select depot maintenance tasks as required.

As part of the critical Take Charge and Move Out (TACAMO) strategic communications mission, the E-6B Mercury operates across a wide frequency spectrum to transmit and receive secure and non-secure voice and data information. The aircraft provides survivable, endurable, reliable airborne command, control, and communications in support of the President, Secretary of Defense, and United States Strategic Command.

Northrop Grumman provides sustainment and modernization support that includes: contractor logistics support and fleet stewardship; modifications and upgrades; mission planning, weapon systems development and pilot training; as well as software design engineering and integration solutions on autonomous, tactical, fixed wing and special mission aircraft systems, including:

F-35 Lightning II; P-3 Orion; BACN E-11A; E-8C; A-10 Thunderbolt II; B-2 Spirit; RQ-4 Global Hawk and more. This contract continues the company’s expansive growth in aircraft maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade.

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.