All posts by Dmitry Shulgin

SPIKE Missile

November 18, 2019 – Eurospike, a joint venture between Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., Diehl Defence GmbH & Rheinmetall Electronics GmbH has signed a multi-year framework contract for the supply of SPIKE (also known as Mehrrollenfähige Leichte Lenkflugkörpersystem – Multirole-capable Light Anti-tank Missile System, MELLS in Germany) Missiles & launchers to the German Army. The missiles and launchers will be manufactured in Germany by local German companies, in keeping with RAFAEL’s global policy of teaming up with domestic industry, resulting in knowledge transfer and local job creation.

German Army acquires 1500 SPIKE missiles and hundreds of launchers

The contract was signed by representatives from Eurospike and Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr (BAAINBw) in a ceremony that took place at the beginning of November in the offices of the German MOD (BAAINBw) in Koblenz Germany.

As part of the framework contract, the first order was made for the supply of 1500 SPIKE rounds, as well as hundreds of RAFAEL’S new ICLU (Integrated Control Launch Unit) dismounted missile launchers.

The multi-year framework contract will allow the Bundeswehr to continue procuring additional SPIKE Missiles in the next few years to reach its goal of high launcher-to-missile ratio.

The German Army is already currently using both the dismounted portable SPIKE (MELLS) launcher as well the as the vehicle-mounted launcher on the German army Puma, Marder & Wiesel.

SPIKE is a cutting-edge precise, multi-platform, multi-mission and multi-range electro-optical missile Family, with capabilities of fire-and-forget, as well as fire, observe and update, allowing attack of hidden targets.

With 33 SPIKE missile users around the world, Germany is among 19 other SPIKE users in the EU and NATO. More than 30,000 SPIKE missiles have been supplied worldwide to-date, with over 5500 SPIKE missile firings, both in training and in combat.

Moshe Elazar, EVP, Head of RAFAEL’s Land and Naval Division: «This is a significant contract for Eurospike and thus for RAFAEL, as a leading supplier of 5th generation ATGM in the world. It will undoubtedly cement the German Army’s position as one of the strongest ATGM forces in Europe. The SPIKE missile and launcher cross-nation commonality enables the nations to manage joint SPIKE missile stocks, create joint procurement and maintain mutual support. In combination with local production within Europe by Eurospike, SPIKE is a truly common European missile».

Rafael’s SPIKE LR2 5th Gen tactical multipurpose, multi-platform missile is engaging a tank in high trajectory top attack

First Sea Going

PPA1 (Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura), named after «Paolo Thaon di Revel» (P430), sailed its first nautical miles in the blue waters of the Gulf of La Spezia on 12th November 2019. The First Sea Going (FSG) is a crucial contractual milestone towards the delivery of the ship to the Italian Navy (FOAR), scheduled for May 2021.

PPA1 sailing in front of Alpi Apuane, famous for the marble (Italian Navy)

«Paolo Thaon di Revel» (P430) is the First of Class (FOC) PPA in Light configuration. During the FSG, several platform systems/equipment installed on-board have been set up and successfully tested.

The PPA contract was signed on May 2015; only 4 years and a half have elapsed before the FOC FSG, a worldwide remarkable achievement for OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’ARmement) as contracting authority, given the innovative character of this vessel. PPA1 is expected to complete the sea trials in March 2021 and to be delivered to the Italian Navy in May 2021.

The first four ships (seven under current contract) are currently in the production stage. The second one, also in Light configuration, will be named after the Venetian Doge «Francesco Morosini», and will be launched in March 2020.

PPA1 sailing in its FSG (Italian Navy)

 

PPA – Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura

The PPA Programme is an innovative Multipurpose Patrol Ship Programme for Italy. PPA characteristics meet the Italian concept of «Multi-Purpose by Design», a model, shared with the NATO Community, that will allow these ships to be able to cope with dynamic and complex scenarios, as well as to carry out many profiles of operations.

These units, fully interoperable with NATO and EU partners, will be more versatile than the present generation of ships, benefiting from an extensive use of the modularity concept. They are conceived, since the beginning of the design phase, with enhanced “dual use” features, fit for all military tasks and able to intervene also during peace time, supporting Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance Operations.

The PPA will have a smaller environmental footprint, by further reducing the polluting emissions, also by adopting new generation bio fuel and electric propulsion. Some characteristics deserve a special mention: high flexibility and level of innovation, very high speed, long endurance, resilience and seaworthiness, manoeuvrability, modularity, high level of integration and automation, in other words better suited to face the challenges of the 21st century. PPAs will be able to be rapidly deployed at long distances in a broad spectrum of emergency situations, becoming the backbone of the Italian Navy.

The PPA Programme includes Development and Production of 10 ships (seven plus an option for another three) and the In Service Support for ten years. Based on a common platform, PPAs will be delivered in three configurations with incremental capabilities:

  • LIGHT (2 ships): this version has a complete set of artillery;
  • LIGHT PLUS (3 ships): version similar to ‘LIGHT’ but adds a missile firing capability with actuators planned also for ballistic missile defence;
  • FULL (2 ships): able to carry out tasks in all warfare areas such as Anti-Air (AAW), Anti-Surface (ASuW) and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW).

LIGHT and LIGHT PLUS have been developed with the «fitted for» approach: every system on the FULL can quickly be deployed also on LIGHT and LIGHT PLUS, facilitating operational flexibility and growing capabilities during the Ships life.

The delivery of the First of Class, in Light configuration, is planned in 2021 and 2024 for the first in Full configuration (FOC F).

The PPA Programme was integrated into OCCAR in 2015.

 

PPA Technical Information

Overall Length 133 m/436 feet
Width 16,5 m/54 feet
Displacement ~ 6,000 tonnes
Maximum Speed 32 knots/37 mph/59 km/h
Autonomy 5,000 NM/5,754 miles/9,260 km at 15 knots/17 mph/28 km/h
Crew 145 people
Accommodation 181

 

Solid State Radar

The world’s latest generation solid-state radar technology, formerly known as Lockheed Martin’s Solid State Radar (LM SSR), has been designated as AN/SPY-7(V)1 by the United States government. The designation of AN/SPY-7(V)1 is a direct reflection of the maturity and capability of Lockheed Martin’s solid-state radar technology.

Lockheed Martin’s Solid State Radar has been designated as AN/SPY-7(V)1 by the United States government. SPY-7 and Aegis Ashore will defend against ballistic missile threats and provide continuous protection of Japan

The Japanese Ministry of Defense selected AN/SPY-7(V)1 for two planned Aegis Ashore installations in 2018. Additionally, variants of AN/SPY-7(V)1 will be used by the Royal Canadian Navy for the Canadian Surface Combatant program and the Spanish Navy for the upcoming F-110 frigate program.

«Lockheed Martin’s solid state solution meets the mission now and is flexible to adapt to the evolving threats of the future», said Paul Lemmo, vice president and general manager at Lockheed Martin. «This new designation solidifies our ability to provide the most technically advanced capabilities our warfighters require».

AN/SPY-7(V)1 is a modular and scalable solid state radar, allowing for continuous surveillance and protection. It will be fully integrated with the Aegis Combat System, providing advanced technology for future ship classes.

With 50 years of constant evolution and innovation, Lockheed Martin has a trusted history of producing, integrating and delivering radars and combat systems. Lockheed Martin and the Aegis Combat System continue to keep pace with evolving integrated air and missile threats, introducing new capabilities to create the latest generation of advanced solid state technologies, integrated with the Aegis system, to provide world-class defense and ensure future safety and security.

Seoul Frigate

According to Navy Recognition, South Korea launched a new frigate the ROKS Seoul (FFG-821) on Monday, November 11 2019, featuring advanced sonar and power systems to boost anti-submarine capabilities in coastal operations.

The new FFG-II Seoul Frigate launched on November 11 2019 (source: South Korean Navy)

The launch ceremony for the 2,800-ton FFG-II Seoul took place at Hyundai Heavy Industries Co.’s shipyard in the southeastern port city of Ulsan, according to the Navy. It is the third frigate to be built under the project to secure a second batch of such vessels to replace the Navy’s aging frigates and patrol combat corvettes.

The 122-meter-long/400-foot-long ship is equipped with guided missiles and guns and can carry a helicopter for marine operations, the Navy said. The latest version, in particular, boasts advanced anti-submarine patrol and combat capabilities, as it employs an advanced sonar system as well as a hybrid propulsion system that reduces the level of noise the vessel makes underwater, it added.

It will be delivered to the military in early 2021 after additional preparations are completed, and several more vessels of this class will be built by the early 2020s, according to the Navy. Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo attended the ceremony and celebrated the launch of the new frigate as well as the 74th anniversary of the foundation of the Navy.

«Uncertainties in regional maritime security situations have continued due to feuds over maritime jurisdiction and freedom of navigation. … Under these circumstances, we should secure more powerful naval capabilities», Jeong said in his congratulatory remarks. «We will firmly protect national security and maritime sovereignty by perfectly carrying out all missions in seas surrounding the Korean Peninsula and the world», he added.

Missile defence

November 12, 2019, the Council of the European Union gave the green light to the TWISTER (Timely Warning and Interception with Space-based TheatER surveillance) capability project for implementation within the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) framework. This international missile defence project which already includes five European countries, seeks to develop with support from the European Defence Fund a European multi-role interceptor to address emerging threats and be brought into service by 2030.

MBDA ready to meet the challenge of Europe’s missile defence

In addressing this capability gap, the interceptor component of the TWISTER project will ultimately become a key element in the contribution made by European countries to NATO’s territorial, population and armed forces defence mission while meeting the European Union’s level of ambition in the field of missile defence. By rationalising and pooling capabilities, the PESCO Member States will benefit from an operational capability in a class of its own and guarantee their strategic autonomy and freedom of action.

This new endo-atmospheric interceptor will address a wide range of threats including, manoeuvring ballistic missiles with intermediate ranges, hypersonic or high-supersonic cruise missiles, hypersonic gliders, and more conventional targets such as next-generation fighter aircraft. This Interceptor will integrate existing and future land and naval systems.

MBDA is committed to meeting this need through next generation technologies and architectures building on national and company funded studies which have been conducted over the past five years. MBDA will also draw on its experience of industrial cooperation at European level, its long heritage of leading complex air defence programmes and its solid industrial relationships across the wider European landscape to establish a skills and capability led team.

«MBDA enthusiastically welcomes the Council’s decision», says MBDA CEO Éric Béranger, «and will commit all its energy and extensive missile defence experience in future collaborative and cross-border R&T and R&D activities. This next generation interceptor project provides a unique opportunity for Europeans to converge their efforts in the field of missile defence and to secure sovereignty in an area vital to their strategic autonomy. These high-end interceptors are technologically demanding and their development will represent a qualitative leap forward for Europe’s entire missile sector. Our industrial model as a European champion gives us the critical mass necessary to deliver this challenging project through cooperation with our European industrial partners».

The TWISTER project is the second missile systems project to be supported under the new European defence agenda following the Beyond Line Of Sight (BLOS) capability programme which became part of PESCO in November 2018 and for which MBDA has put forward its 5th generation ground combat system., the only solution under European design authority that gives front-line combat units the ability to fire beyond the direct line of sight while maintaining man-in-the-loop decision-making.

The 10th NSC

Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division officially started fabrication of the U.S. Coast Guard’s newest Legend-class National Security Cutter (NSC) USCGC Calhoun (WMSL-759) on November 12, 2019. The start of fabrication signifies that the first 100 tons of steel have been cut.

Paul Bosarge, a burner work leaderman at Ingalls Shipbuilding, starts fabrication of steel for the newest Legend-class national security cutter (NSC) USCGC Calhoun (WMSL-759). Also pictured, from left, are Cmdr. Jason Dunn, U.S. Coast Guard program manager representative; Braxton Collins, Ingalls’ NSC hull superintendent and Amanda Whitaker, Ingalls’ NSC ship integration manager (Photo by Derek Fountain/HII)

«Each new ship in this class has been an exciting opportunity to build on our legacy», said Jay Boyd, Ingalls’ NSC program manager. «This is the 10th cutter in the class and a steady production line has allowed our shipbuilders to continually improve on how we build and deliver these technologically advanced cutters to the nation».

NSC 10 is named for Master Chief Petty Officer Charles L. Calhoun, who was the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard (MCPOCG). He served in the U.S. Navy for three years during World War II and was honorably discharged on February 21, 1946, as a Torpedoman Second Class. He enlisted in the Coast Guard on September 20, 1946, and over the course of 14 years held varying positions of leadership. He served as the MCPOCG from August 27, 1969 until August 1, 1973.

Ingalls has delivered eight Legend-class NSCs, two more are under construction and one additional is under contract. USCGC Stone (WMSL-758), the ninth NSC, is scheduled for delivery in 2020.

NSCs are capable of meeting all maritime security mission needs required of the high-endurance cutter. They include an aft launch and recovery area for two rigid hull inflatable boats and a flight deck to accommodate a range of manned and unmanned rotary wing aircraft. The Legend class is the largest and most technologically advanced class of cutter in the Coast Guard, with robust capabilities for maritime homeland security, law enforcement, marine safety, environmental protection and national defense missions. NSCs play an important role enhancing the Coast Guard’s operational readiness, capacity and effectiveness at a time when the demand for their services has never been greater.

 

Facts

Displacement 4,500 long tons
Length 418 feet/127 m
Beam 54 feet/16 m
Speed 28 knots/32 mph/52 km/h
Range 12,000 NM/13,809 miles/22,224 km
Endurance 60 days
Crew 120
Equipped with Mk-110 57-mm turret mounted gun
6 × 12.7-mm/.50 caliber machine guns
3D air search radar
2 level 1, class 1 aircraft hangers
A stern launch ramp for mission boats
Aviation carried (2) MCH, or (4) Vertical-Launch Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (VUAV) or (1) MCH and (2) VUAV
Stern launch Two cutter boats (Long Range Interceptor and/or Short Range Prosecutor)
Electronic Warfare and Decoys AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare System, Two Super Rapid Bloom Offboard Countermeasures (SRBOC)/2 NULKA countermeasures chaff rapid decoy launcher
Communications HF, VHF & UHF
Sensors and Processing Systems X and S band radar, 3D air search radar, AN/SPQ-9 radar, Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF)

 

Ship list

Ship Hull Number Laid down Launched Commissioned
Bertholf WMSL-750 03-29-2005 09-29-2006 08-04-2008
Waesche WMSL-751 09-11-2006 07-12-2008 05-07-2010
Stratton WMSL-752 07-20-2009 07-23-2010 03-31-2012
Hamilton WMSL-753 09-05-2012 08-10-2013 12-06-2014
James WMSL-754 05-17-2013 05-03-2014 08-08-2015
Munro WMSL-755 10-07-2013 09-12-2015 04-01-2017
Kimball WMSL-756 03-04-2016 12-17-2016 08-24-2019
Midgett WMSL-757 01-27-2017 11-22-2017 08-24-2019
Stone WMSL-758 09-14-2018 10-04-2019
Calhoun WMSL-759
WMSL-760

 

First flight

The prototype of Airbus Helicopters’ VSR700 unmanned aerial system has performed its first flight at a drone test centre near Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. The VSR700 performed several take-offs and landings on Friday 8th of November with the longest flight lasting around 10 minutes.

VSR700 prototype performs first flight

In accordance with the airworthiness authority that provided the flight clearance, the VSR700 was tethered with 30-metre/98-foot cables to fully secure the flight test zone. The subsequent phases of the flight test programme will now evolve towards free flight, and then progressively open the flight envelope.

«The VSR700 is a fully-fledged unmanned aerial system, capitalising on Airbus Helicopters’ extensive experience of advanced autopilot systems and engineering expertise to provide modern militaries with new capabilities», said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. «This first flight of the VSR700 prototype is a major milestone for the programme as we make progress on the operational demonstrator for the French Navy that will perform trials in 2021 in partnership with Naval Group».

The VSR700, derived from Hélicoptères Guimbal’s Cabri G2, is an unmanned aerial system in the 500-1000 kg/1,102-2,204 lbs. maximum take-off weight range. It offers the best balance of payload capability, endurance and operational cost. It is capable of carrying multiple full size naval sensors for extended periods and can operate in existing ships, alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint.

The VSR700 prototype which has just performed its maiden flight is a step change from the optionally piloted demonstrator that first flew in 2017 and which was based on a modified Cabri G2 equipped for autonomous flight. Compared to the demonstrator, the VSR700 prototype has a specialized set of avionics and an advanced flight control system, a payload bay in place of the pilot station designed to manage mission equipment, as well as a sleeker, more aerodynamic shape to improve flight performance.

Offshore Patrol Ship

The Royal Canadian Navy’s second Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS), the future HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431), was launched today, November 10, 2019, at Halifax Shipyard.

The Royal Canadian Navy’s second Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship, the future HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431), on the barge from which she was floated in Halifax Harbour for the first time (Irving photo)

The launch of the second of six AOPS for the Royal Canadian Navy, marks a significant milestone for Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) and the revitalization of the Royal Canadian Navy’s combatant fleet.

The 103-metre/338-foot future HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431) transitioned from Halifax Shipyard’s land level facility to a submersible barge on November 8, 2019 and launched in the Bedford Basin on November 10, 2019.

The ship is now pier side at Halifax Shipyard where work continues to prepare the ship for sea trials and handover to the Royal Canadian Navy late next year.

The future HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431) joins Canada’s lead AOPS, the future HMCS Harry DeWolf (AOPV 430), pier side at Halifax Shipyard. The future HMCS Harry DeWolf (AOPV 430) is in the final stages of construction and is preparing for initial builder sea trials at the end of November.

Inside Halifax Shipyard’s facilities, the Royal Canadian Navy’s third and fourth AOPS, the future HMCS Max Bernay (AOPV 432) and the future HMCS William Hall (AOPV 433), are under construction. The first two major sections of the future HMCS Max Bernay (AOPV 432) are scheduled to be moved outside in spring 2020.

Canada’s NSS was created to replace the current surface fleets of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard. Over the next few decades, Halifax Shipyard will build six AOPS for the Royal Canadian Navy, two AOPS for the Canadian Coast Guard, and 15 Canadian Surface Combatants for the Royal Canadian Navy.

As a result of the NSS, Irving Shipbuilding has become one of Atlantic Canada’s largest regional employers, with thousands of Canadians now working in skilled, well-paying jobs. Halifax Shipyard, long at the centre of Canadian shipbuilding, is now home to the most modern, innovative shipbuilding facilities, equipment, and processes in North America.

Halifax Shipyard is also continuing its legacy as the Halifax-class In-Service Support Centre of Excellence, with HMCS Charlottetown (FFH 339) currently in the graving dock for an extensive docking work period.

«Congratulations to our more than 2,000 shipbuilders on today’s successful launch of the future HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431). It is exciting to have two Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships in the water and closer to being in use by the Royal Canadian Navy’s sailors», Kevin McCoy, President, Irving Shipbuilding.

Halifax Shipyard launches Canada’s second Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship

Fire control radar

Northrop Grumman Corporation has delivered its 500th AN/APG-81 fire control radar for the F-35 Lightning II. The Northrop Grumman AN/APG-81 active electronically scanned array is the cornerstone of the F-35’s advanced sensor suite, providing unparalleled battlespace situational awareness that translates into platform lethality, effectiveness and survivability.

Northrop Grumman delivered its 500th AN/APG-81 radar for the F-35 Lightning II (Photo Credit: Northrop Grumman Corporation)

«As a principal member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 industry team, our continued investment in facilities and equipment, production enhancements in process and design, and expanded supply chain capability through second sourcing helped reach this milestone», said Chris Fitzpatrick, director, F-35 programs, Northrop Grumman. «The 500th delivery of this top-of-the-line fighter radar was made possible by our continuous focus on quality and excellence across our company».

The AN/APG-81 radar has long-range active and passive air-to-air and air-to-ground modes that support a wide range of demanding missions. These modes are complemented by an array of stealth features as well as electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance functions.

Northrop Grumman plays a key role in the development, modernization, sustainment and production of the F-35. In addition to producing the AN/APG-81 radar, the company manufactures the center fuselage and wing skins for the aircraft, produces and maintains several sensor systems, avionics, mission systems and mission-planning software, pilot and maintainer training systems courseware, electronic warfare simulation test capability, and low-observable technologies.

ATHENA

Lockheed Martin recently demonstrated their laser weapon system for the U.S. Air Force (USAF) at a government test range at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where the system successfully engaged and shot down multiple fixed wing and rotary drones.

The ATHENA system shown here destroyed multiple drones in a real-world demonstration for the Air Force

The Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) operated in a fully-netted engagement environment with a government Command and Control (C2) system and radar sensor. The radar track was provided to airmen who operated ATHENA via cues from the C2, then ATHENA’s beam director slewed, acquired, tracked and defeated the drone with a high-energy laser.

Validating this type of full kill-chain performance has been a priority of the U.S. Air Force and other branches of the Department of Defense, and it remains a requirement for laser weapons to be effective against Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) on the battlefield.

«We’ve watched in recent news this type of laser weapon solution is essential for deterring unmanned vehicle type threats, so it’s an exciting time for us to watch airmen compete Lockheed Martin’s critical technology. ATHENA has evolved to ensure integration and agility are key and it remains an affordable capability for the warfighter», said Sarah Reeves, vice president of Missile Defense Programs for Lockheed Martin.

The ATHENA system was developed by Lockheed Martin to integrate seamlessly and provide a cost-effective, complementary anti-drone capability with the network of systems the warfighter is already using. ATHENA was operated by USAF personnel during this demonstration, and it was able to destroy multiple drones in engagements representative of what is being encountered by U.S. armed forces today.

The ATHENA high-energy laser system is transportable and therefore enables the Air Force to emplace it anywhere they need to defend bases and high-value assets.