All posts by Dmitry Shulgin

Polar Icebreakers

Canada has three oceans and the longest coastline in the world. Our nation’s blue economy depends on a strong Coast Guard fleet to keep mariners safe, protect our coasts and waterways, and deliver commercial goods and other vital services to Canadians.

Polar Icebreaker
Government of Canada announces Polar Icebreakers to enhance Canada’s Arctic presence and provide critical services to Canadians

The recent growth in commercial shipping, the serious impacts of climate change, and increased maritime activity in the Arctic have all highlighted Canada’s need for a renewed Coast Guard fleet.

On May 6, 2021, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, joined by the Quebec Lieutenant and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced the Government of Canada will move forward with the construction of two Polar icebreakers under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).

Both new Polar icebreakers will have capacity and ability beyond that of Canada’s current largest icebreaker, the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, and will both be built by Canadian shipyards. Early estimates are that the construction of these ships will generate approximately 300 jobs per vessel at the shipyards, and 2,500 jobs across the marine supply chain. The construction of these new ships is in addition to the $17.49 billion in contracts already awarded to shipyards large and small across Canada under the NSS that have resulted in the revitalization of Canada’s shipbuilding industry, and the creation of thousands of jobs already.

Seaspan Shipyards in Vancouver, British Columbia, which has proven its shipbuilding capability with the completion of the first class of large vessels under the NSS, will build one of the Polar icebreakers. The other Polar icebreaker will be built by Davie Shipbuilding of Lévis, Quebec, pending the successful completion of the ongoing selection process as the third strategic partner for large ships construction under the NSS. Both shipyards are expected to be supported by many small and medium-sized Canadian businesses across the country, ensuring that the construction of these ships will be a historic, cross-country effort to help drive Canada’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

This procurement approach will ensure at least one polar icebreaker is delivered by 2030 when the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent is expected to retire from service. Precise timing of icebreaker delivery will be determined once shipyard agreements are in place.

With their enhanced capabilities, these larger, more powerful Polar icebreakers will enable the Coast Guard to conduct year-round operations in Canada’s Arctic. Their greater endurance will ensure they can operate at higher latitudes for longer periods, and will allow the fleet to better support Indigenous Peoples and northerners, strengthen Arctic sovereignty, advance high Arctic science, and better respond to maritime emergencies.

Today’s announcement represents a large step forward in ensuring the Canadian Coast Guard has the equipment it needs. It will also have a lasting impact on Canadian marine industry, its workers and their suppliers. Through their construction and service, the Polar icebreakers will contribute to growing Canada’s blue economy and create more opportunities in our coastal communities. They will strengthen our Coast Guard for the long-term, and ensure that maritime services and science platforms are available year-round in Arctic waters.

AJAX Overwatch

General Dynamics Land Systems-UK on April 26, 2021 unveiled a further variant of its best-in-class AJAX Family of Vehicles (FoV). The Brimstone Anti-tank Guided Weapon ‘Overwatch’ variant, demonstrated in collaboration with MBDA, could operate in the vanguard of the British Army’s future Heavy Brigade and Deep Recce Strike Combat Teams, providing vital force protection for the more dispersed force and ensuring the integrity of long-range persistent surveillance.

AJAX-Brimstone Overwatch
General Dynamics Land Systems demonstrates AJAX-Brimstone ‘Overwatch’ variant

The MBDA Brimstone-based solution Overwatch capability can be seamlessly integrated onboard an ARES vehicle utilising its state-of-the art Electronic Architecture, which is installed across the AJAX FoV and enables the rapid insertion and integration of new technologies and capabilities.

Carew Wilks, Vice President and General Manager of General Dynamics Land Systems-UK, said: «The AJAX family can fulfil a large number of roles for Armed Forces worldwide, including reconnaissance, persistent surveillance, command and control, and bridging. Our collaboration with MBDA further demonstrates the versatility of the AJAX fleet through the delivery of an ‘Overwatch’ capability quickly and effectively for the Heavy and Deep Recce Strike Brigade Combat Teams».

Chris Allam, MBDA UK Managing Director, said: «Brimstone and AJAX is a potent battle-winning combination. Brimstone is a core part of the ‘portfolio’ approach to complex weapons between MBDA and the UK Ministry of Defence. This co-operation on AJAX Overwatch demonstrates how we can use sovereign UK complex weapons technologies to provide rapid and low cost solutions to enhance the operational capabilities of the UK Armed Forces, while ensuring sovereign skills, jobs and security of supply are maintained».

Brimstone is the ubiquitous multiple-platform weapon for Air, Land and Maritime environments. Operationally proven and packed with the latest technology for further growth, in the Overwatch role Brimstone is the differentiator for high intensity, peer-on-peer warfighting, with excellent reach, high-loadout and salvo capability. Defeating all known Defensive Aide Suites and armour with high precision and in all weathers, Brimstone gives several targeting options while uniquely enhancing platform and operator survivability through best-in-class insensitive munition compliance.

General Dynamics Land Systems has a long pedigree and worldwide experience in delivering tracked and wheeled military vehicles, including Overwatch and other specialist variants, alongside industry-leading knowledge in complex, scalable Electronic Architectures. It delivers, amongst others, the AJAX family of vehicles, the Abrams main battle tank, LAV (Light Armoured Vehicle) and Stryker Family of Vehicles, and the Cougar Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP).

SA’AR 6 corvette

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems on May 4, 2021 officially handed over the second of four corvettes to the Israeli Navy. In the presence of Jeremy Issacharoff, the Israeli ambassador to Germany, his wife, Laura Kam Issacharoff, first named the ship «INS Oz». Subsequently, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Managing Director Dr. Rolf Wirtz officially handed over the ship to the Israeli Navy in a ceremony that was kept small due to the pandemic. In the world of shipping, it is a favoured tradition to pass on the names of good ships. With the Israeli Navy, however, the «INS Oz» is the first vessel to receive this name.

INS Oz
ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems hands over «INS Oz» in Kiel to the Israeli Navy as second SA’AR 6 corvette

Doctor Rolf Wirtz, CEO of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems: «As the first ship in the history of the Israeli Navy with this name, the «INS Oz» will establish a new tradition. We are convinced of this here at ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, because she has everything it takes. We are very proud that, after the first-of-class, this is now the second vessel to receive this honour».

The SA’AR 6-class corvettes will form the backbone of the Israeli Navy for the next 30 years. ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems is building the ships in a joint venture with German Naval Yards Kiel. Rear Admiral Ariel Shir had arrived in Kiel for the occasion of the naming and handover: «Today is a great and historic day for the State of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces and of course the Israeli Navy. This is a day when a vision becomes reality. A day when we can see this vision in all its grandeur, thanks to the hard work tirelessly contributed by so many».

The contract for the delivery of four SA’AR 6-corvettes was signed in May 2015. After the design phase, the construction phase began with the type ship’s first cut ceremony in February 2018. Only 15 months after the first steel was cut, the ship was undocked. In May 2019, the «INS Magen» received its name in Kiel and was handed over in November 2020. The following two units of the series are also scheduled for delivery in 2021.

The Israeli Navy is itself equipping the corvettes with radar and weapon systems.

 

Principal dimensions of the SA’AR 6

Length (approximately) 90 metres/295.3 feet
Beam (approximately) 13 metres/42.6 feet
Displacement (full load, approximately) 1,900 tonnes

 

Project Hydra

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the U.S. Air Force successfully linked a U-2, five F-35s and an F-22 in air and provided real-time 5th Generation data to operators on the ground, introducing greater mission flexibility across domains and an enhanced total operational picture for the joint warfighter.

Project Hydra
Lockheed Martin Skunk Works’ Project Hydra Demonstrates 5th Gen To 5th Gen Communications Across Domains

Named Project Hydra, the latest flight test leveraged an Open Systems Gateway (OSG) payload aboard the U-2 to connect an F-22 to five F-35s via native Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL) and Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL), successfully sharing data between all airborne aircraft and with nodes on the ground. The target tracks were also transmitted by and through the U-2 into the fighter avionics and pilot displays.

«Project Hydra marks the first time that bi-directional communications were established between 5th Generation aircraft in-flight while also sharing operational and sensor data down to ground operators for real-time capability», said Jeff Babione, vice president and general manager, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. «This next-level connectivity reduces the data-to-decision timeline from minutes to seconds, which is critical in fighting today’s adversaries and advanced threats».

The Project Hydra effort also marked the first time F-35 sensor data was delivered to an operational ground system over a Tactical Targeting Network Terminal (TTNT) link using an airborne gateway. This data was then sent to the US Army Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) Airborne Sensor Adaptation Kit (A-Kit), also developed by Lockheed Martin. The A-Kit then transmitted data to the IBCS Tactical System Integration Laboratory (TSIL) at Fort Bliss, Texas. IBCS used the F-35 sensor data to conduct a simulated Army fires exercise.

The core of the Hydra payload leverages the Open Mission Systems (OMS) compliant Enterprise Mission Computer 2 (EMC2), facilitating F-22, F-35, TTNT and Link-16 connections.  By leveraging both Line-Of-Sight (LOS) and Beyond Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) datalink capabilities of the U-2, data can now be shared directly to tactical users and globally to Command and Control (C2) nodes like the Common Mission Control Center (CMCC). During this demonstration, both the CMCC and Shadow Operations Center at Nellis Air Force Base were able to view the sensor and platform data to enable situational awareness for operational command and control of highly capable air assets.

Bringing the power of 5th Generation data and exposing new C2 opportunities across multiple domains continues to demonstrate Lockheed Martin’s readiness to provide unmatched battlespace awareness and rapidly field capability today. This demonstration is another key step forward in Lockheed Martin’s support for the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System and the Army’s Project Convergence, supporting the goal of providing commanders critical tools for the joint all-domain battlespace environment.

Egyptian Rafales

The Arab Republic of Egypt has decided to purchase an additional 30 Rafales to equip its air force.

Rafale
Egypt acquires 30 additional Rafale fighters

This new order complements the first acquisition of 24 Rafales signed on February 2015 and will bring the number of Rafales flying under Egyptian colors to 54, making the Egyptian Air Force the second in the world after the French Air Force, to operate such a fleet of Rafales.

It reflects the strategic relation between Egypt and France. It emphasizes also the confidence of the highest Egyptian authorities in Dassault Aviation and their satisfaction with the effective execution of the first contract.

«This new order is proof of the unfailing bond that unites Egypt, the first foreign user of the Rafale, as it was for the Mirage 2000, with Dassault Aviation for nearly 50 years. It is also a tribute to the Rafale’s operational quality, as this is the second time an export customer has chosen to order additional aircraft. Dassault Aviation and its partners would like to thank the Egyptian authorities for this new mark of trust and assure them of their total commitment to meeting their expectations once again», stated Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation.

This contract confirms the Rafale’s technological and operational excellence and its export success.

All-terrain vehicles

BAE Systems has signed a contract worth around $200 million to produce and deliver 127 BvS10 all-terrain vehicles to the Swedish Army, adding to its existing fleet of BvS10s.

BvS10
Sweden adding to BvS10 fleet, ordering 127 more of the all-terrain vehicles

The contract signed with the Swedish military procurement agency, FMV, is for both command and control and logistics vehicles. Deliveries of the 127 vehicles are planned to begin in 2022 and complete in 2024.

The vehicle can traverse rocks, mountains, snow, swamps, and Arctic environments, and its amphibious capability allows it to seamlessly transition to swimming. The BvS10’s flexible and modular design accommodates changing mission requirements, including advanced battle management.

Sweden already operates the BvS10 as well as its predecessor Bv206, and adding more BvS10s to the fleet will increase the Army’s ability to carry out its mission.

«The investment from Sweden provides the Swedish Army with more of these extremely mobile, capable and robust vehicles. This continued investment in the BvS10 is an important step toward further opportunities in Sweden and internationally for the BvS10 and its Beowulf unarmored variant», said Tommy Gustafsson-Rask, managing director of BAE Systems Hägglunds. «This also demonstrates the strong and trusted relationship between BAE Systems and the Swedish customer to deliver the capabilities the Swedish military needs».

The Swedish BvS10s feature enhanced crew ergonomics, greater internal volume, and advanced protection, building on BAE Systems’ legacy Bv206 vehicles, of which more than 10,000 have been sold to more than 40 countries. The BvS10 has been deployed for missions to Afghanistan, Central Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East.

«We see an increased interest from many countries for extreme mobility capabilities, such as those seen on our BvS10 and Beowulf platforms. We are especially looking forward to the joint four-nations collaborative all-terrain procurement involving Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom», added Gustafsson-Rask.

Today Austria, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom are operators of the BvS10.

Blocks join together

The aft block of HMS Glasgow, the first City Class Type 26 frigate being built for the Royal Navy, has been rolled out of the build hall to join the forward block at our BAE Systems shipyard on the River Clyde.

HMS Glasgow
HMS Glasgow blocks come together for first time

In a busy period for HMS Glasgow, teams at our Govan shipyard prepared and completed a series of complex manoeuvres to bring the aft block out of the ship block and outfit hall and into position to meet the forward block. This significant moment brings the two blocks together, and for the first time the full size, scale and the elegant lines of HMS Glasgow are out in the open.

The aft block contains the versatile mission bay and hangar which is capable of supporting helicopters, boats, mission loads and disaster relief stores, while the flight deck is capable of landing a Chinook helicopter for transport of embarked forces.

HMS Glasgow is the first in a new generation of cutting-edge Type 26 frigates, designed and built in her namesake city. The Type 26 programme supports more than 4,000 jobs across the UK, making a significant contribution to the nation’s economic recovery by maintaining much-needed skills and capabilities.

The Type 26 is the original variant of BAE Systems’ Global Combat Ship, which Australia and Canada have both selected as the reference design for their anti-submarine frigate programmes, supporting greater operational, training and intelligence ties between the three nations.

AESA radar prototype

Raytheon Intelligence & Space (RI&S), a Raytheon Technologies business, delivered the APG-79(V)4 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar prototype to the U.S. Marine Corps. The prototype allows for early flight testing and completion of weapon systems integration on the Hornet platform.

APG-79(V)4 AESA
Raytheon Intelligence & Space Delivered Prototype Radar to U.S. Marine Corps

The APG-79(V)4 is a scaled version of the APG-79 AESA radar that helps pilots detect and track enemy aircraft from farther distances and with more accuracy than the legacy APG-73 system. The radar’s improved targeting capabilities provide an edge in crucial operations including air-to-air, maritime strike and air-to-surface missions. Powered by gallium nitride (GaN), the APG-79(V)4 is the first domestic implementation of a GaN-based fire control radar, with GaN Transmit/Receive Modules embedded directly into the array.

«Aircrews must have access to new tools to support readiness», said Eric Ditmars, vice president of Secure Sensor Solutions for RI&S. «The upgrade to AESA radar offers increased reliability and sustainability for the customer, which equates to lower maintenance and repair costs, and increased aircraft availability».

The smaller radar shares much of the same parts and technology as the AN/APG-79 radar used in the F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft.

The first 25 production AESA radars will be delivered starting in December 2021 as part of the $83.6 million production contract awarded in 2020.

60th KC-130J

The U.S. Marine Corps received its 60th KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft in March; the aircraft includes improved navigational performance, a modernized cockpit, and other key upgrades.

KC-130J Super Hercules
The 60th USMC KC-130J aircraft takes off from Lockheed Martin production facilities in Marietta, GA on March 31 on its way to VMGR-252 in Cherry Point, NC (U.S. Navy Photo)

The Tactical Airlift Program Office (PMA-207) accepted delivery of the aircraft outfitted with the Block 8.1 updated cockpit and AN/AAQ-24 DoN Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasure (DoN LAIRCM). These upgrades address obsolescence issues and improve survivability.

Produced by Lockheed Martin, the KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft have undergone numerous adaptations since entering Marine Corps service in September 2000.

The Block 8.1 cockpit upgrade includes a new flight management system that complies with Communications, Navigation, Surveillance and Air Traffic Management mandates. It also boasts enhanced GPS capabilities, improved communications systems, and improvements to the KC-130J’s friend-or-foe identification technology.

The addition of DoN LAIRCM, a laser-based self-protection system designed to defend against surface-to-air infrared missile threats, increases survivability of the aircraft and aircrew in the event of an airborne attack.

«Both these systems increase the aircraft’s combat effectiveness to perform the KC-130J Super Hercules core mission essential tasking», said Navy Captain Steve Nassau, PMA-207 program manager. «The KC-130J Super Hercules is a global workhorse, and the Block 8.1 upgrade clears the path for the aircraft to have world-wide access, while the DoN LAIRCM allows the aircraft to operate under expanded threat environments».

The aircraft will become part of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 252 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.

«Our team has worked hard to make sure the Marine Corps is ready to utilize and support this aircraft», said Joanna Sockoloskie, PMA-207 KC-130J Super Hercules integrated product team lead. «We have been involved from the start and it is our mission to ensure our Marines have the latest and finest equipment available».

The Marine Corps will receive the remaining 26 aircraft over the next five years reaching their program of record 86 KC-130Js.

 

Specifications

Primary Function Tactical air-to-air refueling, assault support and cargo airlift
Date Deployed 2004
Propulsion Four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprops
Length 97 feet 9 inches/29.3 meters
Wingspan 132 feet 7 inches/39.7 meters
Height (Tail Height) 38 feet 3 inches/11.4 meters
Weight (Maximum gross, take-off) 175,000 pounds/79,380 kg
Range 3,548 nautical miles/4,083 miles/6,571 km
Crew Three
Prime Contractors Lockheed Martin, Cobham, Rolls Royce Corporation, Dowty

 

National Security

Northrop Grumman Corporation supported yesterday’s successful launch of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV heavy rocket. The rocket launched a national security payload, designated NROL-82, for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in support of a national defense mission.

Delta IV Heavy
Integrated Northrop Grumman launch vehicle products support the successful launch of a ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a critical NRO payload on April 26, 2021 from Vandenberg Air Force Base (Photo credit: United Launch Alliance)

«The successful launch of this Delta IV rocket demonstrates the reliability of our large composite aerospace structures», said Wendy Williams, vice president, aerospace structures, Northrop Grumman. «We play a vital role with the NRO and ULA, as we have for decades, by providing key launch vehicle structures and propulsion and control subsystems in support of national security missions».

The largest of the Delta IV family, and the largest rocket in the U.S. fleet, the heavy version features three common booster cores mounted together to form a triple-body rocket.

Northrop Grumman’s contributions to the ULA Delta IV heavy rocket include 11 key large composite structures including three thermal shields that house and protect the engines during flight; three centerbody structures that connect the Liquid OXygen (LOX) and Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) tanks; the payload fairing that provides protection to the payload; the composite interstage on the center common booster core; the nose cones on the two strap-on boosters and one set of X-panel structures that connect the upper stage LOX tank with the upper stage hydrogen tank. The large-scale composite structures measure four to five meters in diameter and range from one to 15 meters/49.2 feet in length. Northrop Grumman produced them all using advanced hand layup, machining and inspection techniques at the company’s manufacturing facility in Iuka, Mississippi.

Other Northrop Grumman products integrated on the ULA Delta IV heavy launch vehicle include four booster separation rocket motors for the launch vehicle manufactured at Northrop Grumman’s Rocket City, West Virginia facility. The motors ignite when the two side-mounted common core stage burns are complete to assist booster separation from the center core.

Northrop Grumman also designed and produced the nozzles for the three Aerojet-Rocketdyne RS-68 engines, as well as the nozzles’ innovative thermal protection material, which is capable of shielding them from the extreme heat of launch when external temperatures can exceed 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit/2204.4 degrees Celsius. Northrop Grumman manufactured the nozzle at its Promontory, Utah facility.

Additionally, the company manufactured the propellant tank for the Delta IV upper stage roll control system at its Commerce, California facility.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 97,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.