All posts by Dmitry Shulgin

Kansas City

Austal Limited is pleased to announce that Austal USA has delivered its 11th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to the U.S. Navy at the company’s shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.

Austal USA has delivered LCS-22, the future USS Kansas City to the U.S. Navy (image: Austal USA)

The future USS Kansas City (LCS-22) is the first Independence-class LCS to be delivered by Austal USA in 2020.

Austal Chief Executive Officer David Singleton said the latest LCS delivery from Austal’s USA shipyard builds upon the company’s strong record in recent years.

«Austal USA’s delivery of the Independence-class LCS program continues to impress, with quality, cost and productivity improvements being achieved with each new vessel. We have now delivered 11 of the 19 Independence-class LCS currently contracted and it’s very pleasing to see more and more of these ships deployed around the world, adding great capability to the U.S. Navy», Mr. Singleton said.

Upgrades to the LCS program continue to take shape, both in production and post-delivery. Austal USA and General Dynamics Mission Systems teams recently integrated a new over-the-horizon missile system onto the USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) prior to her deployment. USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) and her sister ship, USS Montgomery (LCS-8), are currently deployed and meeting U.S. Navy operational requirements in South East Asia.

Five Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships (small surface combatants) are under various stages of construction at Austal USA including the future USS Oakland (LCS-24) and USS Mobile (LCS-26) that are preparing for sea trials. Assembly is underway on the future USS Savannah (LCS-28) and USS Canberra (LCS-30), and modules for the future USS Santa Barbara (LCS-32) are under construction in Austal’s Module Manufacturing Facility (MMF). Three more LCS are under contract and scheduled for production, through to the USS Pierre (LCS-38).

The Independence-class LCS is a fast, agile, focused-mission platform designed for operation in near-shore environments yet capable of open-ocean operation.

The 421 feet/128.3 m trimaran is designed to defeat asymmetric «anti-access» threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft. The ship successfully integrates new technology and capability to support current and future U.S. Navy mission capability in any operating environment.

Austal USA is also under contract to build 14 Expeditionary Fast Transport vessels (EPF) for the U.S. Navy. The company has delivered 11 EPFs, while an additional two are in various stages of construction at the Mobile, Alabama shipyard.

 

The Independence Variant of the LCS

PRINCIPAL DIMENSIONS
Construction Hull and superstructure – aluminium alloy
Length overall 421 feet/128.3 m
Beam overall 103 feet/31.4 m
Hull draft (maximum) 14.8 feet/4.5 m
PAYLOAD AND CAPACITIES
Complement Core Crew – 40
Mission crew – 36
Berthing 76 in a mix of single, double & quad berthing compartments
Maximum mission load 210 tonnes
Mission Bay Volume 118,403 feet3/11,000 m3
Mission packages Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Surface Warfare (SUW)
Mine Warfare (MIW)
PROPULSION
Main engines 2 × GE LM2500
2 × MTU 20V 8000
Waterjets 4 × Wartsila steerable
Bow thruster Retractable azimuthing
PERFORMANCE
Speed 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range 3,500 NM/4,028 miles/6,482 km
Operational limitation Survival in Sea State 8
MISSION/LOGISTICS DECK
Deck area >21,527.8 feet2/2,000 m2
Launch and recovery Twin boom extending crane
Loading Side ramp
Internal elevator to hanger
Launch/Recover Watercraft Sea State 4
FLIGHT DECK AND HANGER
Flight deck dimensions 2 × SH-60 or 1 × CH-53 or multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs/VTUAVs)
Hanger Aircraft stowage & maintenance for 2 × SH-60
Launch/Recover Aircraft Sea State 5
WEAPONS AND SENSORS
Standard 1 × 57-mm gun
4 × 12.7-mm/.50 caliber guns
1 × Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) launcher
3 × weapons modules

 

Independence-class

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Independence (LCS-2) 01-19-2006 04-26-2008 01-16-2010 San Diego, California
USS Coronado (LCS-4) 12-17-2009 01-14-2012 04-05-2014 San Diego, California
USS Jackson (LCS-6) 08-01-2011 12-14-2013 12-05-2015 San Diego, California
USS Montgomery (LCS-8) 06-25-2013 08-06-2014 09-10-2016 San Diego, California
USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) 04-16-2014 02-25-2015 06-10-2017 San Diego, California
USS Omaha (LCS-12) 02-18-2015 11-20-2015 02-03-2018 San Diego, California
USS Manchester (LCS-14) 06-29-2015 05-12-2016 05-26-2018 San Diego, California
USS Tulsa (LCS-16) 01-11-2016 03-16-2017 02-16-2019 San Diego, California
USS Charleston (LCS-18) 06-28-2016 09-14-2017 03-02-2019 San Diego, California
USS Cincinnati (LCS-20) 04-10-2017 05-22-2018 10-05-2019 San Diego, California
USS Kansas City (LCS-22) 11-15-2017 10-19-2018 San Diego, California
USS Oakland (LCS-24) 07-20-2018 07-21-2019 San Diego, California
USS Mobile (LCS-26) 12-14-2018
USS Savannah (LCS-28) 09-20-2018
USS Canberra (LCS-30)
USS Santa Barbara (LCS-32)
USS Augusta (LCS-34)
USS Kingsville (LCS-36)
USS Pierre (LCS-38)

 

Missile on target

MBDA’s Marte Extended Range (ER) anti-ship missile has completed its second firing carried out at the Poligono Interforze del Salto di Quirra (PISQ) test range in Sardinia. This firing confirmed the overall design and performance of the missile marking a critical milestone in its development path.

New Marte Extended Range (ER) missile on target in second test firing

Compared to the first firing, which took place at the end of 2018, several additional features and functionalities were tested. These included an integrated navigation system, proximity fly-over fuze, with weapon controller and actuation system in advanced configuration. The missile also featured the terminal guidance with a new seeker, engineered and developed by the MBDA Seeker Division.

The floating target was hit with «almost zero» miss distance after a flight of about 100 km/62 miles. The missile pushed its envelope to the limit with several major manoeuvres including very low sea skimming at very high speed.

Hitting the target confirmed the perfect behavior of the missile and the telemetry system recorded a huge amount of data. Flight data showed very good alignment with simulation outcomes.

The Marte ER programme is progressing at full speed in order to meet customers’ requirements and the full integration of Marte ER on the Eurofighter Typhoon platform is proceeding at pace in order to implement an anti-ship capability onto the fighter.

 

CHARACTERISTICS

Weight 315 kg/694.5 lbs.
Length 3.60 m/11.81 feet
Maximum body diameter 316 mm/12.44 inch
Range Well beyond 100 km/62 miles
Speed High subsonic

 

Glide Breaker

Aerojet Rocketdyne has been awarded a contract worth up to $19.6 million by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop enabling technologies for an advanced hypersonic defense interceptor known as Glide Breaker.

Artist’s concept of Glide Breaker (Credit: DARPA)

«Advancing hypersonic technology is a national security imperative», said Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president. «Our team is proud to apply our decades of experience developing hypersonic and missile propulsion technologies to the Glide Breaker program».

According to DARPA, the Glide Breaker program intends to advance the United States’ means to counter hypersonic vehicles. The effort aims to develop and demonstrate a technology that is critical for enabling an advanced interceptor capable of engaging maneuvering hypersonic threats in the upper atmosphere.

Aerojet Rocketdyne supplies both solid-fueled and air-breathing propulsion systems for hypersonic flight. The company provided both types of systems for the joint Air Force-DARPA-NASA X-51A WaveRider, which completed the first practical hypersonic flight of a hydrocarbon-fueled and -cooled scramjet-powered vehicle. More recently, the company successfully completed a series of subscale propulsion-system test firings as part of DARPA’s Operational Fires (OpFires) program, which is an effort to develop a ground-launched hypersonic missile for tactical use.

Model Aircraft

Airbus has revealed MAVERIC (Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovative Controls) its «blended wing body» scale model technological demonstrator.

Airbus reveals its blended wing aircraft demonstrator

At 2 metres/6.56 feet long and 3.2 metres/10.5 feet wide, with a surface area of about 2.25 m²/24.2 square feet, MAVERIC features a disruptive aircraft design, that has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by up-to 20 percent compared to current single-aisle aircraft. The «blended wing body» configuration also opens up new possibilities for propulsion systems type and integration, as well as a versatile cabin for a totally new on-board passenger experience.

Launched in 2017, MAVERIC first took to the skies in June 2019. Since then the flight-test campaign has been on-going and will continue until the end of Q2 2020.

«Airbus is leveraging emerging technologies to pioneer the future of flight. By testing disruptive aircraft configurations, Airbus is able to evaluate their potential as viable future products», said Jean-Brice Dumont, EVP Engineering Airbus. «Although there is no specific time line for entry-into-service, this technological demonstrator could be instrumental in bringing about change in commercial aircraft architectures for an environmentally sustainable future for the aviation industry».

Airbus is using its core strengths and capabilities of engineering and manufacturing, in close collaboration with an extended innovation ecosystem, to accelerate traditional research and development cycles. By doing this Airbus is able to achieve proof of concepts, at a convincing scale and speed, thereby driving forward maturity and increasing their value.

Through AirbusUpNext, a research programme, Airbus is currently working on a number of demonstrator projects in parallel; E-FAN X (hybrid-electric propulsion), fello’fly (v-shaped «formation» flight) and ATTOL (Autonomous Taxi Take-Off & Landing).

An innovative shape for improved performance & an enhanced passenger experience

Militarisation of the H160

Airbus Helicopters and the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) are pursuing a new set of studies to further the militarisation of the H160 and to define its associated support ecosystem in the frame of the Joint Light Helicopter program (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger: HIL) This contract launches pre-development activities for the military version of the H160, also called the Guépard by the French armed forces, in order to meet the delivery schedule that was brought forward in May 2019 by the French Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly.

Airbus Helicopters continues the militarisation of the H160 and its support framework

The new set of studies will also focus on defining the optimal set-up for supporting the tri-service H160M fleet. Airbus Helicopters, Safran Helicopter Engines, and the DGA will work closely together in order to maximize the availability rate of the helicopters, as well as optimizing the cost of supporting the fleet.

«Launching this collaborative work between Industry and the Ministry of the Armed Forces in order to define the support framework for the Guépard and the associated processes, as early as the pre-development phase, is essential. The output will provide us with all the levers necessary to ensure a high level of availability at the H160M’s entry into service in the French armed forces», said Alexandra Cros, Vice President and Head of Governmental Affairs France at Airbus Helicopters. «The studies build upon the work and commitments taken recently in the global support contracts for the Cougar, Caracal, and Tiger fleets of the French armed forces».

The H160 was designed to be a modular helicopter, enabling its military version, with a single platform, to perform missions ranging from commando infiltration to air intercept, fire support, and anti-ship warfare in order to meet the needs of the army, the navy and the air force through the HIL programme. Bringing the launch of the HIL programme forward to 2021 will enable first deliveries to the French armed forces in 2026.

St. Louis

Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine delivered the future USS St. Louis, Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) 19, to the U.S. Navy.

Littoral Combat Ship 19 (St. Louis) delivered to U.S. Navy

«With LCS 19’s delivery, the U.S. Navy has 10 Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ships in the fleet. USS Detroit (LCS-7) recently deployed, and it is gratifying to know that our team has delivered a ship that is relevant for today’s fight and that is needed around the world», said Joe DePietro, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager, Small Combatants and Ship Systems. «Our team is encouraged by the positive feedback we’ve received about LCS-7 on deployment, and we continuously look to incorporate fleet input into capabilities on LCS hulls».

Today, the Freedom-variant LCS delivers advanced capability in anti-submarine, surface and mine countermeasure missions. LCS was designed to evolve with the changing security environment. Today, as we see an increase in near-peer competition from large nation states, Lockheed Martin is partnering with the U.S. Navy to evolve LCS to meet these threats. Upgrades are already underway – the LCS computing infrastructures are receiving cyber upgrades and naval strike missiles are being installed in support of upcoming deployments.

USS St. Louis (LCS-19) is the tenth Freedom-variant LCS designed, built and delivered by the Lockheed Martin-led industry team and will be commissioned in Pensacola, Florida, this summer.

«Fincantieri Marinette Marine’s shipbuilders are proud to deliver these proven warships, and we are honored to continue working with our partner Lockheed Martin and our customer, the U.S. Navy, to give them the capabilities to keep our nation and her interests safe», said Jan Allman, Fincantieri Marinette Marine CEO.

 

Ship Design Specifications

Hull Advanced semiplaning steel monohull
Length Overall 389 feet/118.6 m
Beam Overall 57 feet/17.5 m
Draft 13.5 feet/4.1 m
Full Load Displacement Approximately 3,200 metric tons
Top Speed Greater than 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range at top speed 1,000 NM/1,151 miles/1,852 km
Range at cruise speed 4,000 NM/4,603 miles/7,408 km
Watercraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 4
Aircraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 5
Propulsion Combined diesel and gas turbine with steerable water jet propulsion
Power 85 MW/113,600 horsepower
Hangar Space Two MH-60 Romeo Helicopters
One MH-60 Romeo Helicopter and three Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (VTUAVs)
Core Crew Less than 50
Accommodations for 75 sailors provide higher sailor quality of life than current fleet
Integrated Bridge System Fully digital nautical charts are interfaced to ship sensors to support safe ship operation
Core Self-Defense Suite Includes 3D air search radar
Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) gunfire control system
Rolling-Airframe Missile Launching System
57-mm Main Gun
Mine, Torpedo Detection
Decoy Launching System

 

Freedom-class

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Freedom (LCS-1) 06-02-2005 09-23-2006 11-08-2008 San Diego, California
USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) 07-11-2009 12-07-2010 09-22-2012 San Diego, California
USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) 10-27-2011 12-18-2013 11-21-2015 San Diego, California
USS Detroit (LCS-7) 08-11-2012 10-18-2014 10-22-2016 San Diego, California
USS Little Rock (LCS-9) 06-27-2013 07-18-2015 12-16-2017 San Diego, California
USS Sioux City (LCS-11) 02-19-2014 01-30-2016 11-17-2018 Mayport, Florida
USS Wichita (LCS-13) 02-09-2015 09-17-2016 01-12-2019 Mayport, Florida
USS Billings (LCS-15) 11-02-2015 07-01-2017 08-03-2019 Mayport, Florida
USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) 07-18-2016 04-18-2018 10-26-2019 Mayport, Florida
USS St. Louis (LCS-19) 05-17-2017 12-15-2018
USS Minneapolis/St. Paul (LCS-21) 02-22-2018 06-15-2019
USS Cooperstown (LCS-23) 08-14-2018 01-19-2020
USS Marinette (LCS-25) 03-27-2019
USS Nantucket (LCS-27) 10-09-2019
USS Beloit (LCS-29)
USS Cleveland (LCS-31)

 

Maritime Trial Flights

Elbit Systems UK has been selected by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to conduct maritime demonstration flights in the UK using a number of its Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) including the Hermes 900. The demonstration flights are designed to demonstrate the advantages of using long-range unmanned capabilities in civilian airspace, with the ability to utilise multiple sensors on a single platform.

Elbit Systems UK Selected by the UK MCA to Conduct UAS Maritime Trial Flights

Elbit Systems UK will collaborate closely with the UK Civil Aviation Authority, supported by additional UK companies, including Inzpire and Aviation Systems Group.

Martin Fausset, CEO of Elbit Systems UK commented: «We are proud to partner with the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency on this valuable demonstration of the wide range of unmanned capabilities Elbit Systems UK can offer. We look forward to providing the best possible support for the lifesaving work of the MCA. This is the latest example of how Elbit Systems UK is delivering proven technologies to support operational needs of UK customers».

With a wingspan of 15 metres/49 feet, the 1.2 Ton/2,400 lbs. Hermes 900 Maritime Patrol is a long-range maritime surveillance system tailored for littoral and blue water operations. It features maritime radar, an Electro Optic payload, Satellite Communication, an Automatic Identification System receiver and an Emergency Position-indicating Radio Beacon receiver. The Hermes 900 Maritime Patrol enables persistent monitoring of vast swathes of sea and long coastlines with effective advanced search capabilities to support with valuable search and rescue work as well as the identification of potential hazards. Elbit Systems’ Skylark I-LEX will also be taking part in the demonstration flights.

This will support the MCA in their existing efforts, providing a 24-hour maritime search and rescue service around the UK coast and in the international search and rescue region through HM Coastguard.

Maritime Minister, Nusrat Ghani said: «Drone technology has enormous potential for our search and rescue teams, who save lives 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This ground-breaking project will not only hope to boost the capabilities of our already fantastic teams but will also boost our ability to spot pollution hazards and protect our precious marine environment».

Maritime Patrol Aircraft

The RAF’s (Royal Air Force) new submarine-hunting Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) has touched down for the first time in the UK.

The first Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft has arrived in the UK

The aircraft is the first of a new £3 billion programme, including the purchase of nine state-of-the-art P-8A Poseidon jets, which will improve the UK’s ability to track hostile targets below and above the waves.

P-8A Poseidon aircraft will protect the UK’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent and be central to NATO missions across the North Atlantic, co-operating closely with the US and Norwegian Poseidon fleets.

The UK’s purchase of the P-8A Poseidon is in response to increased threats such as Russian submarine activity in the Atlantic returning to Cold War levels, while China is also investing heavily in new Arctic facilities, infrastructure and ice-capable ships.

Defence Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: «Our Poseidon fleet will soon join an integrated UK force of fighter jets, ships, submarines, helicopters and highly-trained Royal Marines, ready to operate in Arctic conditions. The UK will not stand by if peace in the Arctic region is threatened. RAF Lossiemouth’s strategic northerly location makes it one of the most important air stations in the UK: already home to half of the UK’s Typhoon Force, and now sitting at the heart of our anti-submarine operations».

The P-8A Poseidon is designed to carry out extended surveillance missions at high and low altitudes. The aircraft is equipped with cutting-edge sensors which use high-resolution area mapping to find both submarines and surface vessels.

Each aircraft carries sonobuoys which are dropped from the aircraft into the sea to search for enemy submarines, surveying the battlespace under the sea and relaying data back to the aircraft.

Poseidon will also be armed with Harpoon anti-surface ship missiles and Mk-54 torpedoes capable of attacking both surface and sub-surface targets.

Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff, said: «The Poseidon MRA1 is a game-changing Maritime Patrol Aircraft. I am delighted and proud to see the ‘Pride of Moray’ and her crews returning to maritime patrol flying from Scotland, working alongside the Royal Navy to secure our seas and protect our nation».

First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, said: «The arrival of the first Poseidon marks a significant upgrade in the UK’s ability to conduct anti-submarine operations. This will give the UK the ability to conduct long range patrols and integrate seamlessly with our NATO allies to provide a world-leading capability. This will maintain operational freedom for our own submarines and apply pressure to those of our potential foes. I look forward to working with the RAF and our international partners on this superb aircraft».

All nine UK Poseidons will be delivered to the RAF by the end of 2021 and achieve full operational capability from RAF Lossiemouth in 2024. The aircraft will be flown initially by 120 Squadron, the leading anti-submarine warfare squadron in World War 2, with 201 Squadron joining the programme in due course.

Named the ‘Pride of Moray’, the first UK Poseidon arrived at Kinloss Barracks, used previously by the RAF Nimrod MPA fleet, and now home to the Army’s specialist air support engineers, 39 Engineer Regiment.

P-8A Poseidon will temporarily operate from Kinloss until October 2020 while £75 million of planned runway and taxiway resurfacing works is completed at Lossiemouth by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation. Routine Typhoon training will also temporarily relocate from Lossiemouth to Kinloss in June and July while the intersection of the runways there is resurfaced.

Michelle Sanders, DE&S P-8A Poseidon Delivery Team Leader, said: «Seeing the first RAF Poseidon MRA Mk1 landing in the UK is an incredibly proud moment for all of the team at DE&S. Close, collaborative working with colleagues in Air Capability, the US Navy and industry has helped us deliver this very capable aircraft. Moray’s RAF Lossiemouth is one of the most important air stations in the UK: it is already home to four RAF Typhoon squadrons – half of the RAF Typhoon Force – and will become the centre of operations for the UK Poseidon fleet».

UK defence is investing £470 million in upgrading RAF Lossiemouth’s infrastructure, including a new £132 million strategic facility for the P-8A Poseidon fleet, upgraded runways and operating surfaces, a new Air Traffic Control Tower, upgraded facilities for IX (Bomber) Squadron which moved to Scotland in 2019, new personnel accommodation, upgraded drainage and electrical supplies.

When these developments are complete there will be 550 additional military personnel based at RAF Lossiemouth, taking the total number of military personnel employed there to 2,532.

Coast Guard

Lockheed Martin representatives joined U.S. Coast Guard leaders and crew members for a ceremony on January 31 at the Coast Guard Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, celebrating the completion of operational testing of the first Coast Guard HC-130J Super Hercules outfitted with the Block 8.1 upgrade.

The first U.S. Coast Guard HC-130J Super Hercules outfitted with the Block 8.1 upgrade takes flight

This upgrade was installed on a previously delivered HC-130J Super Hercules at the Lockheed Martin facility in Greenville, South Carolina. The aircraft recently completed initial operational testing and will be placed into operational service. Lockheed Martin is currently contracted to deliver a minimum of six Block 8.1 upgrade kits to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The U.S. Coast Guard HC-130J Block 8.1 upgrade adds new and advanced capabilities:

  • a new flight management system that complies with Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS)/Air Traffic Management (ATM) mandates, and includes vertical navigation with coupled auto throttle;
  • Civil GPS;
  • Ground power modes;
  • Updated Identification Friend or Foe (IFF);
  • CNS/ATM Data Link;
  • Enhanced inter-communication system;
  • Enhanced approach and landing systems;
  • Expanded diagnostics;
  • Improved PA system;
  • Additional covert lighting;
  • International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) compliant search pattern programming.

«The U.S. Coast Guard has relied on its Hercules fleet for more than 60 years to support complicated missions that ensure our nation’s safety and security», said Peter London, director of Tactical Airlift Programs for Lockheed Martin’s Air Mobility & Maritime Missions line of business. «The advanced features and purpose-built design enhancements found in the Block 8.1 upgrade ensure that Coast Guard crews will rely on the HC-130J Super Hercules for mission support for many more decades to come».

In addition to the Block 8.1 upgrade, the Coast Guard is also integrating Minotaur mission system architecture into its fixed-wing aircraft. Missionization includes post-production modification of new C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to incorporate the specialized equipment necessary to carry out Coast Guard missions.

The Coast Guard’s HC-130J Super Hercules long-range surveillance aircraft provides heavy air transport and long-range maritime patrol capability. Each aircraft is capable of serving as an on-scene command and control platform or as a surveillance platform with the means to detect, classify and identify objects and share that information with operational forces.

The Coast Guard is acquiring a fleet of 22 new, fully missionized HC-130J Super Hercules aircraft to replace its older HC-130Hs.

The C-130J Super Hercules is the current production model of the C-130 Hercules airlifter. The Super Hercules is the global standard in tactical airlift, providing a unique mix of versatility and performance to complete any mission – anytime, anywhere. The global C-130J Super Hercules fleet has more than 2 million flight hours and is the airlifter of choice for 20 nations.

Unmanned Growlers

Boeing and the U.S. Navy successfully flew two autonomously controlled EA-18G Growlers at Naval Air Station Patuxent River as Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) using a third Growler as a mission controller for the other two.

Test show ability of F/A-18 Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler pilots to remotely control fighter and attack platforms from the cockpit

The flights, conducted during the U.S. Navy Warfare Development Command’s annual FLeet EXperiment (FLEX) exercises, proved the effectiveness of technology allowing F/A-18 Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers to perform combat missions with unmanned systems.

«This demonstration allows Boeing and the Navy the opportunity to analyze the data collected and decide where to make investments in future technologies», said Tom Brandt, Boeing Manned-UnManned Teaming demonstration lead. «It could provide synergy with other U.S. Navy unmanned systems in development across the spectrum and in other services».

Over the course of four flights, 21 demonstration missions were completed.

«This technology allows the Navy to extend the reach of sensors while keeping manned aircraft out of harm’s way», Brandt said. «It’s a force multiplier that enables a single aircrew to control multiple aircraft without greatly increasing workload. It has the potential to increase survivability as well as situational awareness».