Montana

The U.S. Navy commissioned the USS Montana (SSN-794), the newest Virginia-class fast attack submarine, during a 10:00 a.m. EST ceremony on Saturday, June 25, at Naval Station Norfolk.

USS Montana (SSN-794)
Navy commissioned Virginia-class fast attack submarine Montana

Governor Greg Gianforte of Montana delivered the principal address. Additional speakers include U.S. Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia’s 3rd District; Undersecretary of the U.S. Navy Erik Raven; Admiral James Caldwell, director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program; and Ms. Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding.

The submarine’s sponsor is Sally Jewell, former Secretary of the United States Department of Interior. Montana was christened at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, in Newport News, Virginia, on September 12, 2020. Mrs. Jewell gave the order to «man our ship and bring her to life».

The USS Montana (SSN-794) honors the Treasure State and will be the second commissioned warship bearing the name. The first USS Montana (ACR-13), an armored cruiser, was also built at Newport News Shipbuilding and commissioned in July 1908. ACR-13 served in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, landed Marines during unrest in Haiti in 1914, and escorted convoys during World War I. The U.S. Navy decommissioned the first USS Montana in 1921, and two other vessels named after the state never saw commissioned service.

«This boat is a true treasure of the U.S. Navy, and will play an integral part in protecting and promoting American prosperity and security abroad», said Secretary of the U.S. Navy Carlos Del Toro. «I am so proud of the brave men and women who will man this submarine, and I look forward to their success on the high seas».

Montana is the third Block IV Virginia-class submarine to enter service, designed to carry out the core missions of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; delivery of special operations forces; strike warfare; irregular warfare; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; and mine warfare. These capabilities allow the submarine force to operate anywhere, at any time, and contribute to regional stability and the preservation of future peace.

Montana is 377 feet/114.8 m long, has a 34-foot/10-meter beam, and will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet/244 m and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots/28 mph/46.3 km/h submerged. It has a crew of approximately 136 Navy personnel.

Emblem
Emblem

 

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 05-28-22 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-794 Montana NNS 09-12-20 06-25-22 Norfolk, Virginia
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

 

Manned-Unmanned Teaming

The ability to task unmanned systems from a manned aircraft is an important force multiplier in Airbus’ vision for future air power, with a wide range of applications extending to combat scenarios and beyond.

Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T)
Key milestones achieved in Manned-Unmanned Teaming for future air power

As a pioneer in the realm of Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T), Airbus has developed an ambitious technological roadmap to make this innovative concept – which boosts the effectiveness of piloted and pilotless aircraft alike – a reality. The company demonstrated leading technological and industrial capabilities in 2021 and 2022, including key flight tests.

Fully implementing Manned-Unmanned Teaming – which will play an instrumental role in such initiatives as the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) and Multi-Domain Combat Cloud – requires a high level of automation. However, the involvement of human operators will ensure that meaningful control always will be retained.

 

Leveraging Airbus’ expertise

The involvement of Airbus with Manned-Unmanned Teaming began in 2018, when the first flight test campaign took place to validate initial capabilities. Since then, the development has seen increasing levels of maturity – with Airbus and its partner teams focusing on several key areas.

Synchronized and efficient use of manned and unmanned vehicles necessitates coordination and optimisation, with requirements that may vary from one mission to the next. To address this, Airbus is developing artificial intelligence-based teaming concepts and algorithms, including swarming behaviours and distributed teaming intelligence shared among the platforms.

This novel approach is reflected in the payloads, which can be integrated on the unmanned aircraft, as well as in the way they are used. For example, a distributed electronic warfare sensor was shown to be capable of precisely and quickly locating a threat and sharing its location across the network.

To achieve such capabilities, the unmanned assets must be able to communicate with the manned resources – and among each other in an agile and robust way, which is why an advanced data link is one pillar of the development.

Additionally, Airbus is preparing airframe solutions for future unmanned systems, building on experience in both unmanned aerial vehicles and combat aircraft. As the development progresses, these solutions will materialise as the FCAS Remote Carriers – unmanned aircraft designed to cooperate with fighters. To achieve the full potential, MUM-T technologies will also need to be relevant for already-existing unmanned aerial systems and for those developed in the future.

 

Continuing development

Building upon lessons learned from the previous MUM-T-related milestones, Airbus marked a major achievement with a live demonstration that linked company-built Do-DT25 target drones acting as surrogate Remote Carriers with an in-flight German Air Force Eurofighter aircraft. This occurred during the Timber Express 2021 multinational exercise organised by the German Armed Forces.

During the trial, the Eurofighter was able to assign tasks to two Airbus Do-DT25 Remote Carriers in real time. These unmanned platforms demonstrated the ability to perform several tasks, including aerial reconnaissance and electronic warfare. Upon receiving the tasks, the Remote Carriers autonomously planned their flight routes, adhering to prescribed airspace restrictions and circumnavigating known threats.

In 2022, MUM-T-related flight tests were performed outside of Germany for the first time. A test campaign organized in the Finnish areas of Rovaniemi and Kemijärvi – and directed by the Finnish Defence Forces (FDF) – marked the official start of cooperation with the German Armed Forces on this key capability.

As stated by the FDF in a press release: «The research cooperation strengthens the Defence Forces’ understanding of the development of unmanned aviation, which enables experimenting and evaluating the teaming of unmanned and manned aerial vehicles in the local operational environment».

In parallel, the capabilities of manned platforms are increasing to accommodate the future potential of Manned-Unmanned Teaming. Airbus’ multi-role A400M Atlas airlifter is envisioned as a launcher of FCAS Remote Carriers, with the first flight test already performed to confirm this capability.

Patrol Vessel

On June 17, 2022, the keel of the first Multipurpose Modular Patrol Vessel (MMPV) for Bulgarian Navy was laid at MTG Dolphin in Varna. The first keel block, weighting 47 tons, was laid over «lucky coins» in a traditional shipbuilding ceremony.

MMPV
Keel laying of the first patrol vessel for the Bulgarian Navy

Commander of the Navy Rear admiral Kiril Mihaylov announced the name of the new vessel, which will be «Hrabri», meaning «Brave» in Bulgarian – proud inheritor of Navy’s torpedo boat of the same name from the beginning of 20th century.

The important milestone was attended by the President of Bulgaria Mr. Rumen Radev, Minister of Defense Mr. Dragomir Zakov, Chief of Defense Admiral Emil Eftimov, Commander of the Navy Rear admiral Kiril Mihaylov and other officials.

The vessels, based on the proven NVL design, are being built in Bulgaria by MTG Dolphin, acting as subcontractor to prime contractor of the project – NVL Group. When completed, they will be 90 meters/295 feet long, with a displacement of 2300 tons, and will feature a wide variety of naval capabilities, supported by integrated Combat Management System (CMS).

Missiles & Defense

Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, is awarded an $867 million Missile Defense Agency contract to deliver SM-3 Block IIAs to the United States and partners.

SM-3 Block IIA
Missile Defense Agency awards Raytheon Missiles & Defense $867 million for SM-3 Block IIA

«The SM-3 Block IIA interceptor was developed in partnership with Japan, and it features a larger rocket motor and kinetic warhead that allow it to defend broader areas from long-range ballistic missile threats», said Tay Fitzgerald, president of Strategic Missile Defense at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. «Our strong cooperation with Japanese industry was essential to the development of this next-generation solution that can defeat complex threats around the world from sea and land».

The SM-3 Block IIA interceptor is a defensive weapon the U.S. Navy uses to destroy short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles. The interceptor uses sheer force, rather than an explosive warhead, to destroy targets in space. Its «kill vehicle» hits threats with the force of a 10-ton truck traveling 600 mph/966 km/h. This technique, referred to as «hit-to-kill», has been likened to intercepting a bullet with another bullet.

The SM-3 Block IIA interceptor’s kinetic warhead has been enhanced, improving the search, discrimination, acquisition and tracking functions, to address advanced and emerging threats. The missile intercepted an advanced ballistic missile threat in its first live target test in early 2017.

The SM-3 interceptor is a critical piece of the Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defense in Europe. The interceptor is being carried by U.S. Navy ships deployed off Europe’s coast and is now operational at a land-based site in Romania, further enhancing Europe’s protection.

Guided-Missile Frigate

The US Navy announced it has exercised the option to have Fincantieri U.S. subsidiary, Marinette Marine (FMM), build the third Constellation-class guided-missile frigate, USS Chesapeake (FFG-64). The option value stands at approximately 536 million dollars.

USS Chesapeake (FFG-64)
Fincantieri to build the third Constellation-class frigate for the U.S. Navy

This announcement follows last month’s successful design review of the first-in-class USS Constellation (FFG-62), which is nearing the start of construction.

The Constellation program was awarded to FMM in 2020, through a contract for the lead frigate and 9 option ships. The contract, including post-delivery availability support and crew training, has a cumulative value of 5.5 billion dollars. Under the same program, the U.S. Navy plans to build 10 additional vessels, for a total of 20 units.

Fincantieri succeeded in such a high-profile tender, distinguishing itself among several major U.S. shipyards thanks to a project considered as the most innovative and cutting-edge. The Group’s proposal is based on the FREMM frigate platform, globally recognized as the most technologically advanced, and the backbone of a 10-unit program for the Italian Navy which Fincantieri is currently completing.

Furthermore, the upgrade of Fincantieri U.S. shipyards is nearly completed, enabling the subsidiary to build two frigates each year.

FMM is the spearhead of Fincantieri Marine Group (FMG), which controls two other shipyards also located in the Great Lakes (Wisconsin) – Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding and Fincantieri Ace Marine. The company serves commercial and government customers in the U.S. FMM is committed to the Littoral Combat Ships program for the U.S. Navy and the Multi-Mission Surface Combatants (MMSC) program for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as part of the U.S. Foreign Military Sales plan.

 

Specifications

Displacement 6,500 tons
Length Overall 496 feet/151.2 m
Beam 65 feet/19.8 m
Propulsion Combined diesel-electric and gas (CODLAG)
Sustained Speed 26+ knots/30+ mph/48 km/h
Range 6,000+ NM/6,905 miles/11,112 km at 16 knots/18.4 mph/29.6 km/h
Accommodations 200

 

Ships

Ship Laid down Christened Commissioned Homeport
USS Constellation (FFG-62)
USS Congress (FFG-63)
USS Chesapeake (FFG-64)

 

Advance procurement contract

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced on June 16, 2022 that its Ingalls Shipbuilding division has received a $240 million, cost-plus-fixed-fee advance procurement contract from the U.S. Navy to provide long-lead-time material and advance construction activities for amphibious transport dock LPD-32. The ship will be the 16th in the San Antonio class constructed at Ingalls Shipbuilding.

LPD-32
HII awarded $240 million advance procurement contract for LPD-32

«Our shipbuilders are proud to continue building these amphibious ships that are integral to the Navy fleet», Ingalls Shipbuilding President Kari Wilkinson said. «The funds from this contract will be used to purchase long-lead time material and major equipment across a supplier network of nearly 400 companies in 30 states».

LPD-32 will be the third Flight II amphibious ship in the San Antonio class. LPD Flight II is the next generation amphibious ship to replace Whidbey Island (LSD-41) and Harpers Ferry (LSD-49) classes of dock landing ships. Ingalls has delivered 12 San Antonio-class ships to the U.S. Navy and has two more under construction, including USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29) and USS Harrisburg (LPD-30). Fabrication of the 15th San Antonio-class ship, USS Pittsburgh (LPD-31), will begin later this year.

HII is an all-domain defense and technologies partner, recognized worldwide as America’s largest shipbuilder. 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, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) analytics. HII leads the industry in mission-driven solutions that support and enable an all-domain force. Headquartered in Virginia, HII’s skilled workforce is 44,000 strong.

 

Flight II

Ship Builder Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Harrisburg (LPD-30) Ingalls
USS Pittsburgh (LPD-31) Ingalls
LPD-32 Ingalls

 

Laser Communication

Northrop Grumman Corporation on June 14, 2022 announced the successful ground demonstration of a secure networked laser communications system for proliferated-LEO (Low Earth Orbit) constellations supporting the U.S. military.

Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL)
Northrop Grumman’s Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL) mesh satellite constellation will provide resilient, low-latency, high-volume data transport supporting U.S. military missions around the world and serve as a critical element for Joint All Domain Command Control

Performed for the Space Development Agency (SDA) leadership, the demonstration validated compatibility between commercially developed laser communication and secure U.S. government encryption hardware, providing a baseline for Northrop Grumman’s future proliferated space crosslink communications offerings including SDA’s Transport and Tracking programs.

«We invested in this demonstration because we wanted to reduce key risks early in development», said Blake Bullock, vice president, communication systems, strategic space systems, Northrop Grumman. «Our team focused on speed and optimizing the best of emerging commercial suppliers like Mynaric and Innoflight – while bringing the mission expertise unique to Northrop Grumman to test and field this prototype constellation».

Northrop Grumman selected Mynaric as a strategic supplier for laser communications in space, and Innoflight for encryption, decryption and other key aspects of Northrop Grumman’s architecture.

As the U.S. Department of Defense works to connect the joint force, Northrop Grumman’s space networking capabilities seek to play a vital role in providing secure global connectivity. Another step toward enabling this vision to connect the joint force is the recent announcement of a collaboration with AT&T to research and develop a 5G-enabled digital battle network.

Innoflight is a non-traditional defense contractor founded in 2004. Innoflight offers state-of-the-art space avionics, including Communications & Networking Solutions, Cyber Security Solutions, Processing, Data Storage & Payload Interface Electronics Solutions, and Bus & Payload Integrated Avionics Solutions. Our core competency is secure Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4) systems designed through innovative implementation of modern commercial, off-the-shelf technology. The result is modular, high performance, yet low Size Weight and Power systems at competitive prices. Our products are qualified through an Innoflight rigorous process that includes parts reliability analysis and testing, system-level fault tolerance, and radiation risk mitigation. Our customers include the U.S. government, prime aerospace contractors and commercial space developers.

Mynaric is leading the industrial revolution of laser communications by producing optical communications terminals for air, space and mobile applications. Laser communication networks provide connectivity from the sky, allowing for ultra-high data rates and secure, long-distance data transmission between moving objects for wireless terrestrial, mobility, airborne- and space-based applications. The company is headquartered in Munich, Germany, with additional locations in Los Angeles, California, and Washington, D.C.

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.

Christening of John Basilone

The U.S. Navy christened the future USS John Basilone (DDG-122) during a 10:30 a.m. EDT ceremony on Saturday, June 18, at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine.

USS John Basilone (DDG-122)
Navy christened Guided-Missile Destroyer USS John Basilone (DDG-122)

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy Black delivered the christening ceremony’s principal address. U.S. Senator Susan Collins of Maine; Vice Admiral Francis Morley, principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy for research, development, and acquisition; Vice Admiral Scott Conn, deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting requirements and capabilities; Don Basilone, brother of the ship’s namesake; and Charles Krugh, president of General Dynamics Bath Iron Works also provided remarks. The ship’s sponsors are Ryan Manion and Amy Looney Heffernan, president and vice president of the Travis Manion Foundation. Ms. Heffernan was unable to attend the event. In a time-honored Navy tradition, Ms. Manion christened the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow.

The ship’s namesake, Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, received the Medal of Honor for heroism displayed in the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II, where he led his heavy machine gun sections in defense of a critical position and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. Basilone later returned to action at the Battle of Iwo Jima in February of 1944, where he single-handedly destroyed an enemy blockhouse and led a Marine tank under fire safely through a minefield. He was killed in action later that day and was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his unwavering devotion and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice.

«The future USS John Basilone will serve as a constant reminder of the immense impact that actions taken by any one Sailor or Marine can truly have», said Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro. «Gunnery Sergeant Basilone is a national hero and this ship and crew will honor his legacy for decades to come».

This is the second ship to honor Basilone. The first, USS Basilone (DD-824), was a Gearing-class destroyer in service from 1945 to 1977.

Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are the backbone of the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet, providing protection to America around the globe. These highly capable, multi-mission ships conduct various operations, from peacetime presence to national security, providing a wide range of warfighting capabilities in multi-threat air, surface, and subsurface domains. These elements of seapower enable the Navy to defend American prosperity and prevent future conflict abroad.

 

Ship Characteristics

 

Length Overall 510 feet/156 m
Beam – Waterline 59 feet/18 m
Draft 31 feet/9.5 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 SPY-1D Phased Array Radar (Lockheed Martin)/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 12-08-21 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
DDG-119 Delbert D. Black HIIIS 09-08-17 09-26-20 Mayport, Florida
DDG-120 Carl M. Levin GDBIW 05-16-21 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
DDG-121 Frank E. Peterson Jr. HIIIS 07-13-18 05-14-22 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
DDG-122 John Basilone GDBIW 06-12-22
DDG-123 Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee HIIIS 01-27-20
DDG-124 Harvey C. Barnum Jr. GDBIW
DDG-127 Patrick Gallagher GDBIW

 

rMCM program

On 14 June 2022, Naval Group has laid the keel for the second of the twelve mine countermeasure platforms of the Belgian-Dutch rMCM program, the HNLMS Vlissingen, intended for the Royal Netherlands Navy. The keel laying ceremony took place in Lanester, in the presence of Vice Admiral René Tas, Commander of the Royal Netherlands Navy, Commodore Harold Boekholt, Director of Projects of the Netherlands Defence Material Organisation, Lieutenant General Marc Thys, Belgian Deputy Chief of Defence and Major General Ivan De Tender, Belgian Material Resources Public Procurement.

HNLMS Vlissingen
Naval Group lays the keel for the second mine countermeasure platform of the Belgian-Dutch rMCM programme

This programme was awarded in 2019 to Belgium Naval & Robotics, the consortium formed by Naval Group and ECA Group, following an international competition. It provides for the supply to the Belgian Navy and the Royal Netherlands Navy of twelve mine countermeasures platforms and around a hundred drones integrated inside a toolbox that will equip the vessels.

Kership, a joint venture between Naval Group and Piriou, is in charge of the production of the twelve platforms which are assembled in Concarneau and Lanester. They will be then all armed afloat by Piriou in Concarneau. Naval Group, as overall architect and prime contractor, is responsible for the design of the ships, the overall integration, and the testing and commissioning of the mission system (combat system and mine countermeasures system). ECA Group, as co-contractor, is in charge of the unmanned drones’ system. The drones will be produced in ECA Group factory (Ostend, Belgium). The maintenance of the ships will be carried out in Belgium in close collaboration between the Belgian Navy and Naval Group Belgium, with the assistance of its partner Flanders Ship Repair.

Pierre Eric Pommellet, CEO of Naval Group said: «I am very pleased to welcome our customers here in Lanester to take this new important step in the programme. The rMCM programme is a great story of cooperation between European partners, but also between industrial partners. It is also the story of a shared vision for the future of mine warfare and naval defence. Together, we are preparing the future of mine countermeasures by sharing a common game-changing defence solution».

Dominique Giannoni, CEO of ECA Group added: «We are very happy to be present at this ceremony alongside our partner Naval Group. All ECA Group teams are mobilised for the success of this highly innovative program: it aims at an unprecedented level of automation of mine warfare operations, with the coordinated implementation of underwater, surface and aerial drones. In close collaboration with Naval Group teams, we are developing an integrated and optimised system to meet the requirements of our Belgian and Dutch customers».

Chief of the Royal Netherlands Navy, Vice Admiral Rene Tas stresses the importance of these platforms for the future proofing of mine counter measures and therefore, the safety of (commercial) vessels at sea for the Netherlands and our NATO Partners.

These specialised Mine CounterMeasures (MCM) platforms are the first to have the capability to embark and launch a combination of surface drones (themselves 12-metre/39-foot, 20-tonne vessels), underwater drones and aerial drones. The mine countermeasures platforms will use a mainly autonomous system for detection, classification and neutralisation of mines. They can withstand underwater explosions and have very low acoustic, electrical and magnetic signatures, in line with the missions to be carried out.

 

These mine countermeasure platforms have the following characteristics:

Length 82,6 m/271 feet
Width 17 m/56 feet
Displacement 2800 t
Maximum speed 15,3 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range >3500 nautical miles/4028 miles/6482 km
Crew 63 people (base crew 33 people)
Drone capabilities ECA Group’s UMISOFT System, 2 unmanned surface vehicles (ECA Group’s Inspector 125), 3 autonomous underwater vehicles (A-18 equipped with ECA Group’s UMISAS 120 sonar), 2 towed sonars (T-18 equipped with ECA Group’s UMISAS 240 sonar), 2 Mine Identification & Disposal Systems (MIDS) systems (ECA Group’s Seascan et K-Ster C), 2 unmanned aerial vessels (UMS Skeldar’s V200), 1 ECA Group influence mine sweeping system integrating 5 CTM magnetic modules et 1 PATRIA acoustic module
Embarkation capacity 2 SOLAS rigid hull inflatable boats of 7 m/23 feet
Handling 2 side gantries with floating cradle for surface drones and commando boats, a 15 t dedicated rear crane and a 3 t overhead crane

 

Proteus LDUUV

All-domain defense and technologies partner Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced on June 13, 2022 the successful demonstration of capabilities enabling HII-built amphibious warships to launch, operate with and recover HII-built Large-Diameter Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (LDUUV).

Proteus LDUUV
HII’s Pharos prototype platform being towed behind a small craft in the Pascagoula River while recovering HII’s Proteus LDUUV during a demonstration June 8, 2022

The research and development initiative between HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding and Mission Technologies divisions is among a portfolio of corporate led and funded internal research and development efforts aimed at advancing mission-critical technology solutions in support of HII’s national security customers.

«HII is committed to advancing the future of distributed maritime operations and demonstrating our capability to support unmanned vehicles on amphibious ships», said Kari Wilkinson, president of Ingalls Shipbuilding, which hosted and partnered in the demonstration. «I am very proud of our team’s initiative to strengthen the flexibility of the ships we build by anticipating the challenges and opportunities that exist for our customers».

«This is a great example of how HII can leverage expertise across divisions to develop unique solutions for customers», said Andy Green, president of Mission Technologies. «HII is focused on growing critical enabling technologies, like unmanned systems and Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning (AI/ML) data analytics, to help further enhance the capabilities of our national security platforms».

HII-built San Antonio-class amphibious warships have unique well decks that can be flooded to launch and recover various maritime platforms. The U.S. Navy has previously demonstrated the ability to recover space craft from the amphibious warship well deck.

HII’s Advanced Technology Group, comprised of employees from across the company, performed the launch and recovery demonstration with a prototype platform called Pharos and HII’s LDUUV Proteus. The demonstration took place in the Pascagoula River.

The demonstration involved having the LDUUV approach and be captured by the Pharos cradle, while Pharos was being towed behind a small craft that simulated an amphibious ship at low speed. Pharos was put in a tow position, then using a remote control, it was ballasted down in the trailing position allowing the LDUUV to navigate into Pharos. Once the unmanned vehicle was captured, Pharos was deballasted back up into a recovery and transport position. The demonstration also included ballasting down to launch the LDUUV after the capture.

Pharos is outfitted with heavy duty wheels to allow its transport maneuverability within the well deck of an amphibious ship for stowage on the vehicle decks. Pharos can be rolled off the back of an amphibious ship while using the ship’s existing winch capabilities to extend and retract the platform from the well deck. The Pharos design is scalable and reconfigurable to fit various unmanned underwater or unmanned surface vehicles.

The Pharos design was conducted by HII, and three main partners supported the development. The University of New Orleans, in conjunction with the U.S. Navy, performed the initial model testing, and the prototype device was fabricated by Metal Shark in Louisiana.

HII is currently exploring modifications for other UUV’s and participating in live demonstrations with the fleet within the next year. HII will use results from the Pharos demonstration to further mature concepts and continue to develop innovative national security solutions.

HII is an all-domain defense and technologies partner, recognized worldwide as America’s largest shipbuilder. 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, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and AI/ML analytics. HII leads the industry in mission-driven solutions that support and enable an all-domain force. Headquartered in Virginia, HII’s skilled workforce is 44,000 strong.