Manned-unmanned teaming

The F/A-18 Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler Program Office (PMA-265) has conducted a successful series of Manned-UnManned Teaming (MUM-T) flight tests in which a Block III F/A-18 Super Hornet demonstrated command and control of three Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

Block III F/A-18 Super Hornet
U.S. Navy Super Hornet teams with unmanned aerial vehicles in flight demos

The event took place at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, Point Mugu, California, and included four flight tests supported by Air Test and Evaluation Squadrons (VX) 23 and 31 and industry partners, Boeing and BAE Systems.

«The MUM-T concept explores interoperability between manned aircraft and unmanned autonomous systems to conduct missions», said Captain Jason Denney, program manager for PMA-265. «Such collaborative endeavors are imperative for resource and requirements planning to ensure the warfighter is equipped with best-in-class capabilities».

During the flight tests, F/A-18 pilots Super Hornet entered commands into a third-party tablet instructing the UAVs to perform various maneuvers used in combat missions. The tablet was connected to the Block III’s adjunct processor, known as the Distributed Targeting Processor – Networked (DTP-N), which transmitted these commands to the UAVs. The UAVs successfully carried out all commands given by the pilots.

«The U.S. Navy conducts exercises of this nature with industry partners to evaluate current and future capabilities», said Doctor Michael Yu, PMA-265 science and technology, and experimentation/demo lead. «The comprehensive analysis of data captured during these events further informs development and refinement of technologies that could potentially be incorporated into Navy platforms».

Yu said MUM-T could allow the U.S. Navy to extend the reach of its aircrew, while keeping them farther away from enemy fire. This capability could also enable pilots to delegate tasks or incorporate UAVs into missions such as patrolling airspace, fueling aircraft or serving as a communication relay node.

«MUM-T has the potential to transform tomorrow’s fleet into a more lethal, better-connected force», said Denney. «MUM-T will help us maintain the technological advantage and competitive edge against our adversaries».

The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet serves as the backbone of carrier-based aviation power projection. PMA-265 continues to evaluate MUM-T and other innovative technology to keep the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler strategically relevant in today’s dynamic combat environment.

Ocean-going tug

Construction began on the Navy’s newest towing, salvage and rescue ship, T-ATS-11 at Austal USA’s Mobile, Alabama shipyard, July 11.

Start of Construction Marked for T-ATS-11

The Navajo-class (T-ATS) provides ocean-going tug, salvage, and rescue capabilities to support fleet operations. T-ATS replaces and fulfills the capabilities that were previously provided by the Fleet Ocean Tug (T-ATF-166) and Rescue and Salvage Ships (T-ARS-50) class ships.

«It’s always a great Navy day when we start construction of a new ship to be used to do the Nation’s bidding», said Rear Admiral Tom Anderson, Program Executive Officer, Ships. «It’s an exceptional Navy day when the start of construction also marks the expansion of the shipbuilding industrial base, as it does today, as Austal puts its new facility to work building its very first steel ship, a Navajo-class Towing, Salvage and Rescue Ship, T-ATS-11».

Navajo-class ships will be Multi Mission Common Hull Platforms based on commercial offshore Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS) vessels. T-ATS supports current missions including, but not limited to: towing, salvage, rescue, oil spill response, humanitarian assistance and wide area search and surveillance. They also enable future rapid capability initiatives, supporting modular payloads with hotel services and appropriate interfaces.

T-ATS-11 marks the first steel ship in Austal’s ship construction program. Austal is also contracted to build T-ATS-12, with options for additional ships.

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.

Initial Production

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, delivered the third Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) CH-53K King Stallion helicopter ahead of contract schedule to the U.S. Marine Corps. This aircraft, built in Sikorsky’s digital factory, is the first CH-53K King Stallion from the Lot 2 LRIP contract awarded by the U.S. Navy in 2019, and the seventh overall delivered to the fleet. The CH‑53K’s heavy-lift capabilities exceed all other U.S. Department of Defense rotary wing platforms and is the only heavy-lift helicopter that will remain in production through 2032 and beyond.

CH-53K King Stallion
Sikorsky delivered a seventh CH-53K King Stallion Helicopter to the U.S. Marine Corps. The heavy lift helicopter will be based at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina

This CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter joins the six in operation at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina. The CH-53K King Stallion is the only sea-based, long range, heavy lift helicopter in production and will immediately provide three times the lift capability of its predecessor.

«This Connecticut-built CH-53K King Stallion aircraft is a credit to our employees and their skills embracing digital tools and other advanced technologies to continue the Sikorsky legacy of building modern, safe, reliable rotorcraft. Our nationwide supply chain supports the active production line as we prepare to deliver two more CH-53K King Stallion helicopters later this year», said Bill Falk, Director, Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion program. «We look forward to continuing our progress toward next year’s full rate production decision».


Building Helicopters in Sikorsky’s Digital Factory

The CH-53K King Stallion helicopter was born in a digital environment, and now its digital thread connects design, manufacturing, training, and sustainment teams. This network, that includes everything from work instructions to maintenance manuals, is based on the helicopter’s single, continuous data thread that stays consistent from initial design all the way through sustainment. Today, all of Sikorsky’s aircraft programs are born in a digital environment. The power of this digital thread drives affordability, producibility and reliability across the aircraft lifecycle.

The CH-53K King Stallion is Sikorsky’s pioneer digital technology program with advancing installation of wheels, electrical units, hydraulics and more.

The high-tech production line in Connecticut is active with seven aircraft in build on final assembly.


Factory Prepares for Foreign Military Sales

Earlier this year Sikorsky secured a contract to build 12 CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopters for Israel under a U.S. Navy Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement.

The signed Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) between the U.S. Government and Israel states first deliveries of the baseline aircraft are planned for 2025.

The CH-53K King Stallion helicopters will replace the Israeli Air Force (IAF) fleet of modified CH-53D Yasur helicopters, which have been in Israel’s inventory for over 50 years. The all-new CH-53K King Stallion delivers modern state-of-the-art capabilities that result in improved survivability, safety, and reduced aircrew workload over its predecessor, making it the perfect fit for the demanding IAF mission.



The Marines recently declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) and have been flying and supporting the CH-53K King Stallion in the fleet environment demonstrating the aircraft is on track to deploy on schedule in 2024. The aircraft have flown more than 3,000 flight hours showcasing the CH‑53K’s performance in a range of mission scenarios and challenging environments.

The CH-53K King Stallion will further support the U.S. Marine Corps in its mission to conduct expeditionary heavy lift assault transport of armored vehicles, equipment, and personnel to support distributed operations deep inland from a sea-based center of operations, critical in the Indo-Pacific region.


General Characteristics

Number of Engines 3
Engine Type T408-GE-400
T408 Engine 7,500 shp/5,595 kw
Maximum Gross Weight (Internal Load) 74,000 lbs./33,566 kg
Maximum Gross Weight (External Load) 88,000 lbs./39,916 kg
Cruise Speed 141 knots/162 mph/261 km/h
Range 460 NM/530 miles/852 km
AEO* Service Ceiling 14,380 feet/4,383 m
HIGE** Ceiling (MAGW) 13,630 feet/4,155 m
HOGE*** Ceiling (MAGW) 10,080 feet/3,073 m
Cabin Length 30 feet/9.1 m
Cabin Width 9 feet/2.7 m
Cabin Height 6.5 feet/2.0 m
Cabin Area 264.47 feet2/24.57 m2
Cabin Volume 1,735.36 feet3/49.14 m3

* All Engines Operating

** Hover Ceiling In Ground Effect

*** Hover Ceiling Out of Ground Effect

Stryker Double-V Hull

The U.S. Army Contracting Command – Detroit Arsenal (ACC-DTA) announced that it has awarded Oshkosh Defense, a wholly owned subsidiary of Oshkosh Corporation, an order valued at $130 Million to upgrade 95 additional Stryker Double-V Hull Infantry Carrier Vehicles (ICVVA1) with the 30-mm Medium Caliber Weapon System (MCWS).

Stryker ICVVA1
Oshkosh Defense receives third order to upgrade Strykers with 30-mm Medium Caliber Weapon System

In June 2021, the U.S. Army selected Oshkosh Defense and partners Pratt Miller Defense and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to integrate the 30-mm MCWS onto the Stryker ICVVA1. The five-year requirements contract (with one option year) includes production and logistics support of the MCWS for up to six Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCTs). Including today’s order, the U.S. Army has ordered 269 upgraded vehicles valued at $356 Million to outfit three SBCTs in addition to 20 vehicles for Product Verification Testing (PVT), Follow-on Operational Testing & Evaluation (FOT&E), and logistics development.

«We partner with our customers to offer tailored solutions that meet today’s requirements while staying focused on future growth capability», said Pat Williams, Vice President and General Manager of U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps Programs. «For the MCWS program, our team listened to customer feedback to provide a Soldier-centric lethality solution in a lightweight package that’s easy to integrate while maintaining the survivability and mobility performance of the Stryker».

In April 2022, Oshkosh Defense completed Government-planned Risk Management Testing (RMT), which further validated the Oshkosh design. Oshkosh Defense also initiated production of the systems for delivery to PVT testing, which begins in late summer.

«We are proud of the partnership we’ve formed with the U.S. Army and the lethality solution we’ve designed together. We look forward to delivering the vehicles to test and getting them into the hands of the Soldiers who need them», Williams concluded.

Trophy Ready Kits

General Dynamics Land Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics (GD) announced on July 13, 2022 that it has been awarded a competitive award worth up to $280,112,700 to procure Trophy Ready Kits as an Active Protection System (APS) for Abrams main battle tanks.

M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams
General Dynamics Land Systems Awarded up to $280 Million for Trophy Active Protection System Kits for Abrams Tanks

Trophy rapidly detects, classifies and engages threats such as recoilless rifles, antitank guided missiles, rockets, tank rounds and rocket-propelled grenades. The detection of threats, including their launch location, allows Abrams tank crews to rapidly handle targets.

The kits will be added to M1A2 SEPv2 and M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams tanks as needed, continuing their fielding across the Army.

«We are honored to have been chosen by the Army to continue to provide this important capability to keep tank crew members and their vehicles safe on the battlefield», said Gordon Stein, vice president of U.S. operations at General Dynamics Land Systems.

Work on the indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract is expected to extend into mid-2027.

General Dynamics Land Systems provides innovative design, engineering, technology, production and full life-cycle support for land combat vehicles around the globe. The company’s extensive experience, customer-first focus and seasoned supply chain network provide unmatched capabilities to the U.S. military and its allies.

General Dynamics is a global aerospace and defense company that offers a broad portfolio of products and services in business aviation; ship construction and repair; land combat vehicles, weapons systems and munitions; and technology products and services. General Dynamics employs more than 100,000 people worldwide and generated $38.5 billion in revenue in 2021.

M270A2 First Delivery

Lockheed Martin delivered the first Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) M270A2 launcher to the U.S. Army in a ceremony on July 12, 2022 at the Precision Fires Center of Excellence in Camden, Arkansas.

Lockheed Martin Delivers The First Modernized MLRS M270A2 To The U.S. Army During A Ceremony At Lockheed’s Camden Operations Facility In Arkansas (Photo Credit: Evan Wheatley)

«This delivery represents a significant milestone for Lockheed Martin as the modernized system will support the Army and allied partners for decades to come», said Jay Price, vice president of Precision Fires for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. «Our award-winning Camden facility continues to produce world-class vehicles, and this newest MLRS M270A2 launcher will continue our legacy of combat-proven reliability».

Lockheed Martin, in partnership with the Red River Army Depot, is modernizing MLRS M270 with a brand new 600 horsepower/447.5 kW engine, an Improved Armored Cab, and Common Fire Control System (CFCS). This upgrade provides compatibility with future munitions like the Extended-Range GMLRS and the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM). The complete restoration ensures the MLRS M270-series launcher remains highly effective and reliable to serve the U.S. Army and partner nations through 2050.

The MLRS M270A2 is a Joint All Domain Operations (JADO) enabling, heavy-tracked mobile launcher, transportable via C-17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy aircraft. The launcher and its munitions are designed to enable soldiers to support the joint fight by engaging and defeating artillery, air defense concentrations, trucks, light armor and personnel carriers at greater distances than previously capable.

The enhanced MLRS M270A2 launcher can engage and relocate at high speed, dramatically reducing an adversary’s ability to locate the system. Similar units have been in operation with the U.S. Army since 1983.

MLRS M270 continues to exceed performance requirements and remains in high demand as evidenced by recent launcher production contracts, that include international orders for the United Kingdom.

Maritime Patrol Aircraft

The newest Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol, reconnaissance aircraft took to the skies over Puget Sound bringing the total number of P-8s delivered to 150. The 150th multi-mission P-8A Poseidon will be operated by Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) One based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.

P-8A Poseidon
Boeing Delivers 150th P-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft

«There are now 150 P-8s around the world delivering confidence and an unmatched capability to our global customers», said Stu Voboril, vice president and program manager, P-8 Programs. «Our focus has been, and will be, on delivering the world’s best maritime patrol aircraft».

Amassing more than 450,000 mishap-free flight hours, the global P-8 fleet includes 112 aircraft delivered to the U.S. Navy, 12 to Australia, 12 to India, nine to the United Kingdom and five to Norway. The aircraft are designed for anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and search and rescue.

The 150 P-8s in service do not include six test aircraft provided to the U.S. Navy during the initial stages of the program. Boeing tested those aircraft during development to assess capabilities and performance. As development of system enhancements and new technology continues, the test aircraft perform a critical role in ensuring Boeing provides state-of-the-art capabilities to global P-8A Poseidon customers.

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, leading with sustainability, and cultivating a culture based on the company’s core values of safety, quality and integrity.

Ground Vehicles

Teledyne FLIR Defense, part of Teledyne Technologies Incorporated, announced that it has received new orders worth $62.1 million from the U.S. Armed Services for its advanced, multi-mission robots. The U.S. Army, Navy, and other command centers placed orders for nearly 500 more Centaur unmanned ground systems, including additional spares, antennas, and payload mounting kits.

Teledyne FLIR Centaur
Teledyne FLIR Defense Receives $62 Million in Orders from U.S. Military for Centaur Unmanned Ground Vehicles

This latest award raises the value of the original Man Transportable Robot System Increment II (MTRS Inc. II) contract from roughly $190 million to more than $250 million.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams use the Teledyne FLIR Centaur ground robot to disable UneXploded Ordnance (UXO), improvised explosive devices, landmines, and to perform similar dangerous tasks. Operators can quickly attach different sensors and payloads to the robot to address other missions, including Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) threats.

In 2017, the Army chose Centaur as its MTRS Inc. II solution for a multi-year program of record. Since then, other U.S. military branches have opted to deploy Centaur to their EOD units as a new or replacement ground robot system. Since 2020, Teledyne FLIR has announced orders totaling more than 1,800 Centaurs from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

«Our Centaur platform continues to prove itself as one of the most versatile and sought after tactical Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) to support America’s military», said Tom Frost, general manager of Unmanned Ground Systems at Teledyne FLIR Defense. «Our team is honored to play a role in providing technology U.S. warfighters depend on for risky and sometimes deadly missions».

«Centaur also can be used effectively for UXO clearance in hotspots such as Ukraine, and with global security threats on the rise, allied nations can leverage this multi-purpose robot to support a wide array of manned/unmanned operations», Frost added.

The Teledyne FLIR Centaur is a medium-sized UGV that provides a standoff capability to detect, confirm, identify, and dispose of hazards. Weighing roughly 160 pounds, the InterOperability Protocol (IOP)-compliant robot features an advanced Electro-Optical/InfraRed (EO/IR) camera suite, a manipulator arm that reaches over six feet, and the ability to climb stairs. Modular payloads can be used for CBRN detection and other missions.

Teledyne FLIR Defense also recently launched two newly upgraded ground robot systems – the PackBot 525 man-transportable UGV and the Kobra 725 heavy payload UGV.​

Deliveries are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2023.

Tranche 1 Transport Layer

Northrop Grumman Corporation on July 05, 2022 announced the selection of Airbus U.S. Space & Defense Inc. as the commercial provider of satellite platforms for its proliferated-LEO constellation. Under the terms of the contract, Airbus U.S. will supply 42 satellite «bus» platforms, as well as support vehicle assembly, integration and testing.

Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL)
Northrop Grumman’s 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

The Space Development Agency (SDA) selected Northrop Grumman in February to develop and field a portion of its Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL) constellation. The T1TL network will deliver persistent, secure connectivity for the U.S. military and serve as a critical element for Joint All-Domain Command and Control.

«The addition of Airbus U.S. as one of our key commercial suppliers complements our end-to-end satellite system integration and heritage communication mission expertise», said Blake Bullock, vice president, communication systems, strategic space systems, Northrop Grumman.

In May, Northrop Grumman announced the selection of Mynaric and Innoflight as its suppliers for laser communications and encryption, decryption capabilities.

Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia and operating under a Special Security Agreement (SSA), Airbus U.S. Space & Defense, Inc. offers advanced solutions to meet the most complex U.S. defense, security, space, and intelligence requirements. A long time U.S. government partner, Airbus U.S. leverages world-class satellite, laser communication, rotary and fixed wing solutions to help its National Security focused customers meet their missions.

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.

Airborne Mine Detection

The U.S. Navy recently demonstrated a Mine CounterMeasure (MCM) prototype technology aboard the MQ-8C Fire Scout Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, proving a capability that could allow the warfighter to rapidly detect and respond to threats.

MQ-8C Fire Scout demonstrates a new Mine CounterMeasure (MCM) prototype technology in May 2022 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, proving a capability that could allow the warfighter to rapidly detect and respond to threats (U.S. Navy photo)

The objective of the demonstration was to gather performance data for both the MQ-8C Fire Scout and Single-system Multi-mission Airborne Mine Detection (SMAMD) System to inform future MCM integration efforts.

«The team successfully demonstrated that the prototype SMAMD System effectively operates as designed aboard the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter in relevant real world environments», said Captain Thomas Lansley, Fire Scout program director. «This cutting-edge technology could really enhance Fire Scout’s capability going forward».

The team conducted operations from the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) utilizing drifting, tethered, and moored mines throughout beach zone to deep waters. They gathered data day and night, across all water depths and in mild to difficult weather conditions.

The demonstration also proved the reliable and repeatable high performance of the MQ-8C Fire Scout. The air vehicle handled the dual podded system with ease, being the first MCM capability flown on the MQ-8C Fire Scout as well as the heaviest payload carried to date. MQ-8C Fire Scout successfully operated in restricted and unrestricted air space alongside other aircraft platforms.

The SMAMD System, developed by BAE Systems under a Future Naval Capability (FNC) Program sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), is an airborne optical sensor suite that, in a single pass, detects and localizes mines and obstacles on land and at sea. With a low false-alarm rate, SMAMD provides real-time detection sent via data link enabling warfighters to respond much quicker to threats than the current MCM technologies allow as post-mission analysis is required.

This effort, led by ONR, included support from multiple organizations across the Navy and industry including the MQ-8 Fire Scout program office, the Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants (PEO USC), Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), Aircraft Prototype Systems Division (APSD), Webster Outlying Field (WOLF), the Digital Analytics Infrastructure and Technology Advancement Group Prototyping, Instrumentation and Experimentation Department, and Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two Four (UX-24).

ONR and PMA-266 engaged NAWCAD AIRWorks to manage the demonstration taking advantage of AIRWorks’ project execution expertise and ability to connect warfare center resources.

«The AIRWorks SMAMD Team was proud to be a part of demonstrating a future naval capability which provides real-time threat detection to the warfighter», said AIRWorks’ project lead Kristina Hewitt-Thompson. «Through this effort, we were able to assist in risk reduction and provide critical data for future integration».

Throughout the project, the team facilitated execution of a complex demonstration including airworthiness and cyber certifications, design, fabrication and hardware integration along with flying qualities testing prior to the final demonstration at Eglin, she said. They assured close coordination between the U.S. Air Force, ONR, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and other stakeholder organizations to successfully achieve their objectives in less than 24 months and at a reduced cost.

AIRWorks is NAWCAD’s office focused on rapidly and effectively delivering fast, affordable, quality solutions to meet immediate and emergent warfighter needs working with government and industry partners to deliver services including aircraft modification, prototyping, additive manufacturing, system integration, sustainment, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and rapid contracting.