All posts by Dmitry Shulgin

Construction of LPD-31

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced on April 03, 2020 that its Ingalls Shipbuilding division has received a $1.50 billion fixed-price-incentive modification to a previously awarded contract for the procurement of the detail design and construction of amphibious transport dock LPD-31. The ship will be the 15th in the San Antonio class and the second Flight II LPD.

Huntington Ingalls Industries awarded $1.50 billion contract for the construction of LPD-31

«In building this 15th LPD, Ingalls experienced shipbuilders will continue this hot production line of great amphibious warships for our Navy/Marine Corps team», Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias said. «We are all proud to be building these great ships, and will continue to deliver the most survivable and affordable ships possible for our customers and our nation».

Ingalls’ LPD Flight II program vendor base consists of more than 600 manufacturers and suppliers in 39 states, including 387 small businesses. More than 1,500 shipbuilders work on each LPD. Ingalls has delivered 11 San Antonio-class ships to the Navy, and it has three more under construction.

The San Antonio class is a major part of the Navy’s 21st century amphibious assault force. The 684-foot-long/208.5-meter-long, 105-foot-wide/32-meter-wide ships are used to embark and land Marines, their equipment and supplies ashore via air cushion or conventional landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles, augmented by helicopters or vertical takeoff and landing aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey. The ships support a Marine Air Ground Task Force across the spectrum of operations, conducting amphibious and expeditionary missions of sea control and power projection to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions throughout the first half of the 21st century.

AN-124 in Czech

On 31 March, at 17.35 local time, an AN-124 landed in Pardubice Airport carrying tons of medical supplies that the Czech government will use to fight COVID-19.

Unloading cargo at Pardubice airport (Credits: Czech Ministry of Defence)

This is the third flight arranged by the Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS in support to Czech Republic. In total, SALIS airlifted 106 tons of medical supplies from China to the Czech Republic.

This flight followed a similar itinerary than the previous ones, taking off from Leipzig/Halle airport, SALIS Operating Base, and arriving to Shenzhen Airport, in southeaster China on the following day. On 31 March 2020, the plane landed in the city of Pardubice, where the equipment was unloaded and transported to the warehouse of the Ministry of the Interior in Opočínek.

Precautionary measures were put in place to ensure the safety of the crew during the operation.

The Czech Republic has been a member of the Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS) since its beginning in 2006. SALIS provides participating nations with a strategic air transport capability. Nine NATO Allies (Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) currently participate in the programme, managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA).

Through SALIS, nations obtain assured access of up to five AN-124 aircraft within few days. In addition, the current contract with Antonov Logistics SALIS also provides access to AN-22, AN-225 and IL-76 Chap IV aircraft.

VORTEX engine

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security leader owned by Eren and Fatih Ozmen, reached a major milestone in the advancement of hypersonic propulsion with its patented VORTEX engine, advancing to the next phase of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Operational Fires (OpFires) program.

SNC Leverages VORTEX Engine Technology for DARPA’s OpFires Program

Through OpFires, SNC is extending its hybrid VORTEX engine capabilities to advanced, deep throttling, restartable propulsion systems. The system utilizes benign solid fuel with a liquid oxidizer, both of which are storable on Earth and in space. Recent testing shows positive results in being able to package significant energy into a small volume that will have the ability for deep throttling and smooth restart capabilities on command. «The VORTEX flows integrated into the hybrid significantly improves performance of the hybrid engine», said Doctor Marty Chiaverini, director of Propulsion Systems at SNC.

«This program opens up a new market for SNC for preplanned or on-demand propulsion control capabilities that are applicable to both military and beyond Earth orbit propulsion capabilities», said Tom Crabb, vice president of SNC’s Propulsion & Environmental Systems business unit. «Deep throttling and restart capabilities expand the tools for smart and unpredictable trajectories for various vehicles and systems».

The first two phases of DARPA’s OpFires program focus on the propulsion technologies required to deliver diverse payloads to a variety of ranges. Since Phase 1 contract award, SNC has made critical discoveries in advanced rocket motor technology for the OpFires upper stage, completing more than 30 motor trials from subscale through full size. SNC hopes to demonstrate these engines in flight and offer the engines to new, promising vehicle systems.

In addition to the deep throttling, restartable, storable system for DARPA, SNC is expanding its propulsion capabilities and products with near-term flight for its Dream Chaser spaceplane Reaction Control System, maturation of upper stage engines and development of other liquid storable engines for spacecraft, lunar, and other exploration and protection applications. SNC is also co-investing with the U.S. Air Force (USAF) for development of the engine for USAF needs.

Dutch Chinook

Boeing recently delivered the first CH-47F Chinook with an upgraded cockpit to the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), continuing a track record of on-time deliveries to customers. The RNLAF will operate a fleet of 20 CH-47F Chinooks, the newest configuration in use by countries around the world.

The first new CH-47F Chinook was delivered to the Royal Netherlands Air Force from Boeing’s Philadelphia production facility (Fred Troilo, Boeing photo)

«The RNLAF made it clear to us that they need the advanced, proven capability of the CH-47F now», said Andy Builta, vice president of Cargo & Utility Helicopters and H-47 program manager. «I want to thank our phenomenal team for working hard during a difficult situation to safely deliver these aircraft. This is a reminder to all of us of how important Chinooks are to our customers».

The 20 CH-47F Chinooks will be a fleet equipped with the same state-of-the-art technology as the U.S. Army, including digital automatic flight controls, a fully-integrated Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) glass cockpit, and advanced cargo handling capabilities. The common configuration leads to lower overall life cycle costs.

The RNLAF currently flies a mix of F-model Chinooks with the Advanced Cockpit Management System (ACMS) and CH-47D Chinooks.

«It has been a pleasure to work closely together with the U.S. Army and Boeing teams to achieve this milestone», said Colonel Koen van Gogh, Netherlands Defence Materiel Organisation. «The Chinook helicopter is a vital asset for our missions and the in-time delivery certainly supports our operational planning. I salute the Boeing workforce for their continued efforts to make this happen in these troubling times, as well as the U.S. Army officials that helped keep us on track».

Deliveries to the RNLAF are expected to continue into 2021. Chinooks are currently in service or under contract with 20 international defense forces, including the U.S. Army, U.S. Special Operations Forces and eight NATO member nations.

Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As a top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries. Boeing employs more than 160,000 people worldwide and leverages the talents of a global supplier base. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.

Combat King

Lockheed Martin delivered the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s first HC-130J Combat King II on April 2, 2020 to a crew from the 920th Rescue Wing (RQW) from Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. This HC-130J will be operated by the 39th Rescue Squadron (RQS), which is part of the 920th RQW.

The U.S. Air Force Reserve’s first HC-130J Combat King II takes flight from Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Georgia, production facility (Lockheed Martin photo by Amanda Harwell)

These Reservists are long-time operators of legacy HC-130 P/N Combat King combat search-and-rescue aircraft, flying and maintaining HC-130s since the 1960s – using HC-130s to save more than 3,000 lives. The HC-130J is the sole dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform operated by the Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard.

The 920th RQW and 39th RQS also have the distinction of being the Air Force Reserve’s only HC-130J operators and will eventually have an HC-130J fleet to support mission requirements.

Like others in the U.S. Air Force Rescue community, the 920th RQW and the 39th RQS live by the motto, «That Others May Live», which reflects the mission of supporting combat search and rescue anywhere in the world. These crews rely on HC-130s to also extend the range its HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search and rescue helicopters, which were manufactured by Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky business in Stratford, Connecticut.

Often tasked for airdrop, airland, and helicopter air-to-air refueling and forward-area ground refueling missions, the HC-130’s mission capabilities also include humanitarian aid operations, disaster response, security cooperation/aviation advisory, emergency aeromedical evacuation and noncombatant evacuation operations.

«From supporting humanitarian relief efforts on the Florida coast to making combat rescues in Southeast Asia, the 920th’s HC-130s have exemplified the reputation of being tried and true workhorses for 60 years», said Rod McLean, vice president and general manager, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions at Lockheed Martin. «As we salute one fleet for a lifetime’s worth of work, we are also excited to commemorate a new era with the arrival of the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s first HC-130J Combat King II. This HC-130J provides the Citizen Airmen with increased power, capability and performance to continue to support critical missions close to home and around the world».

Compared to legacy platforms, the HC-130J Combat King II offers significant performance and capabilities advancements, to include fuel efficiencies, improvement in payload/range capabilities, an integrated defensive suite, automated maintenance fault reporting, high-altitude ramp and door hydraulics, and unmatched situational awareness with its digital avionics and dual Head Up Displays.

The HC-130J is one of nine production variants of the C-130J Super Hercules, the current production model of the legendary C-130 Hercules aircraft. With more than 450 aircraft delivered, the C-130J is the airlifter of choice for 20 nations. The global Super Hercules fleet has more than 2 million flight hours of experience supporting almost any mission requirement – any time, any place.

The U.S. government operates the largest C-130J Super Hercules fleet in the world. This delivery continues the U.S. government’s transition to the C-130J as the common platform across Air Mobility Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Marine Corps. The Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command currently operate a mixed fleet of C-130J and older Hercules aircraft.

Delaware Joins Fleet

The U.S. Navy commissioned USS Delaware (SSN-791), the 18th Virginia-class attack submarine, April 4.

The Virginia-class attack submarine USS Delaware (SSN-791) transits the Atlantic Ocean after departing Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding division during sea trials in August 2019 (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of HII by Ashley Cowan/Released)

Although the traditional public commissioning ceremony was canceled for public health safety and due to restrictions on large public gatherings, the U.S. Navy commissioned USS Delaware (SSN-791) administratively and transitioned the ship to normal operations. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy is looking at a future opportunity to commemorate the special event with the ship’s sponsor, crew and commissioning committee.

«This Virginia-class fast-attack submarine will continue the proud naval legacy of the state of Delaware and the ships that have borne her name», said Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly. «I am confident that the crew of this cutting edge platform will carry on this tradition, confronting the many challenges of today’s complex world with the professionalism and agility the American people depend on from the warriors of the silent service».

Vice Admiral Daryl Caudle, commander, Submarine Forces, said he is pleased to welcome the ship to the U.S. submarine fleet and contribute to its unmatched undersea warfighting superiority.

«The U.S. Navy values the support of all those who contributed to today’s momentous milestone and will look for a future opportunity to commemorate this special event», Caudle said. «The sailors of USS Delaware hail from every corner of the nation and from every walk of life. This crew, and the crews who follow, will rise to every challenge with unmatched bravery and perseverance to ensure the U.S. Submarine Force remains the best in the world».

The ship’s sponsor, Doctor Jill Biden, offered congratulations to everyone who played a role in delivering USS Delaware (SSN-791) to service.

«I know this submarine and her crew of courageous sailors will carry the steadfast strength of my home state wherever they go», she said. «The sailors who fill this ship are the very best of the Navy, and as you embark on your many journeys, please know that you and those whom you love are in my thoughts».

Delaware’s commanding officer, Commander Matthew Horton, said today marks the culmination of six years of hard work by the men and women who constructed the submarine and are preparing her to become a warship. He said he is especially thankful to the crew and their families, Doctor Biden, the USS Delaware (SSN-791) Commissioning Committee and the U.S. Navy League of Hampton Roads for all their hard work and support.

«As we do our part to maintain the nation’s undersea supremacy well into the future, today marks a milestone for the sailors who serve aboard USS Delaware (SSN-791). Whether they have been here for her initial manning three years ago, or have just reported, they all are strong, capable submariners ready to sail the nation’s newest warship into harm’s way», Horton said. «I am equally proud of the families who have stood by through the long hours of shift work, testing, and sea trials and supported our mission with patriotism and devotion».

This is the first time in nearly 100 years the name «Delaware» has been used for a U.S. Navy vessel. It is the seventh U.S. Navy ship, and first submarine, to bear the name of the state of Delaware. Delaware is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; delivery of special operations forces; strike warfare; irregular warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and mine warfare.

The submarine is 377 feet/114.8 m long, has a 33 feet/10.0584 m, and will be able to dive to depths greater than 800+ feet/244+ m and operate at speeds in excess of 25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h submerged. It will operate for over 30 years without ever refueling. Delaware’s keel was laid April 30, 2016, and was christened during a ceremony October 20, 2018. It is the final Block III Virginia-class submarine, before the next wave of Block IV deliveries.

 

General Characteristics

Builder General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. – Newport News Shipbuilding
Date Deployed October 3, 2004
Propulsion One GE PWR S9G* nuclear reactor, two turbines, one shaft; 40,000 hp/30 MW
Length 377 feet/114.8 m
Beam 33 feet/10.0584 m
Hull Diameter 34 feet/10.3632 m
Displacement Approximately 7,800 tons/7,925 metric tons submerged
Speed 25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h
Diving Depth 800+ feet/244+ m
Crew 132: 15 officers; 117 enlisted
Armament: Tomahawk missiles Two 87-in/2.2 m Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching 6 Tomahawk cruise missiles
Armament: MK-48 ADCAP (Advanced Capability) Mod 7 heavyweight torpedoes 4 torpedo tubes
Weapons MK-60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo) mines, advanced mobile mines and UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles)

* – Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories

 

Nuclear Submarine Lineup

 

Block III

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-784 North Dakota EB 11-2-13 10-25-14 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-785 John Warner NNS 09-06-14 08-01-15 Norfolk, Virginia
SSN-786 Illinois EB 10-10-15 10-29-16 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
SSN-787 Washington NNS 03-05-16 10-07-17 Norfolk, Virginia
SSN-788 Colorado EB 12-03-16 03-17-18 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-789 Indiana NNS 04-29-17 09-29-18 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-790 South Dakota EB 10-14-17 02-02-19 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-791 Delaware NNS 10-20-18 04-04-20 Norfolk, Virginia

 

$2.1 billion contract

Raytheon Company will produce and deliver Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IB interceptors under a $2.1 billion, multi-year U.S. Missile Defense Agency contract. It is the first multi-year contract for the SM-3 program, and covers fiscal years 2019-2023.

Raytheon, Missile Defense Agency sign landmark $2 billion Standard Missile-3 contract

SM-3 is the only ballistic missile interceptor that can be launched on land and at sea. It is deployed worldwide and has achieved more than 30 exoatmospheric intercepts against ballistic missile targets.

«This procurement deal is a win-win for government and industry», said Doctor Mitch Stevison, Raytheon Strategic and Naval Systems vice president. «Efficiencies gained from this contract will allow us to reduce costs, continue to improve the SM-3 and deliver an important capability to our military».

The Block IB variant achieved full-rate production in 2017. The company has delivered more than 400 SM-3 rounds over the lifetime of the program.

Fort Lauderdale
Launched

The future USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD-28) was successfully launched at the Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Ingalls Division shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi on March 28. The USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD-28) is the Navy’s 12th San Antonio class amphibious transport dock ship.

The future USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD-28) was successfully launched at the Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Ingalls Division shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi on March 28 (Photo by Huntington Ingalls Industries)

On March 7 2020, the ship was translated from the land level facility to the dry dock in preparation of floating off. During the launch, the dry dock was slowly flooded until the ship floated off the blocks.

«I am thrilled to get Fort Lauderdale in the water, so we can begin final outfitting and eventually take the ship out to sea for trials», said Captain Scot Searles, LPD-17 class program manager for Program Executive Office (PEO), Ships. «The San Antonio class has proven essential to expeditionary warfighters, and we are eager to deliver another ship to the fleet».

San Antonio class ships support embarking, transporting, and landing elements of 650 Marines by landing craft or air cushion vehicles. The ship’s capabilities are further enhanced by its flight deck and hangar, which can operate CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters and the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft (MV-22 Osprey). Because of the ships inherent capabilities, they are able to support a variety of amphibious assault, special operations or expeditionary warfare missions, operating independently or as part of Amphibious Readiness Groups (ARGs), Expeditionary Strike Groups, or Joint Task Forces.

Ingalls Shipbuilding is also in production on the future USS Richard M. McCool (LPD-29) and USS Harrisburg (LPD-30). LPD-28 and LPD-29 will serve as transition ships to LPD-30, the first LPD-17 Flight II ship.

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, and boats and craft.

 

Ship Facts and Characteristics

Propulsion Four sequentially turbocharged marine Colt-Pielstick Diesels, two shafts, 41,600 shaft horsepower/31,021 kW
Length 684 feet/208.5 m
Beam 105 feet/32 m
Displacement Approximately 24,900 long tons/25,300 metric tons full load
Draft 23 feet/7 m
Speed In excess of 22 knots/24.2 mph/38.7 km/h
Crew Ship’s Company: 380 Sailors (29 officers, 351 enlisted) and 3 Marines. Embarked Landing Force: 699 (66 officers, 633 enlisted); surge capacity to 800
Armament Two Mk-46 30-mm close in Guns, fore and aft; two Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launchers, fore and aft: ten .50 caliber/12.7-mm machine guns
Aircraft Launch or land two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters or two MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft or up to four AH-1 Cobra or UH-1Y Venom helicopters
Landing/Attack Craft Two Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCACs) or one Landing Craft Utility (LCU); and 14 Amphibious Assault Vehicles

 

San Antonio-class

 

Flight I

Ship Builder Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS San Antonio (LPD-17) Avondale 07-12-2003 01-14-2006 Norfolk, Virginia
USS New Orleans (LPD-18) Avondale 12-11-2004 03-10-2007 San Diego, California
USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19) Ingalls 11-19-2004 12-15-2007 Norfolk, Virginia
USS Green Bay (LPD-20) Avondale 08-11-2006 01-24-2009 San Diego, California
USS New York (LPD-21) Avondale 12-19-2007 11-07-2009 Norfolk, Virginia
USS San Diego (LPD-22) Ingalls 05-07-2010 05-19-2012 San Diego, California
USS Anchorage (LPD-23) Avondale 02-12-2011 05-04-2013 San Diego, California
USS Arlington (LPD-24) Ingalls 11-23-2010 02-08-2013 Norfolk, Virginia
USS Somerset (LPD-25) Avondale 04-14-2012 05-01-2014 San Diego, California
USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) Ingalls 11-02-2014 10-08-2016 San Diego, California
USS Portland (LPD-27) Ingalls 02-13-2016 12-14-2017 San Diego, California
USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD-28) Ingalls 03-28-2020
USS Richard M. McCool (LPD-29) Ingalls

 

Flight II

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

 

Heavy Tactical Vehicle

Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation company, announced on March 30, 2020 that it has been awarded delivery orders totaling $346.4 million from the U.S. Army Contracting Command – Warren to modernize vehicles in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve Heavy Tactical Vehicle (FHTV) fleets.

Oshkosh Defense Awarded $346.4 Million to Modernize Vehicles in the US Army and US Army Reserve FHTV Fleets

Under the delivery orders, Oshkosh will recapitalize Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTT) and Palletized Load System (PLS) trucks as well as manufacture new PLS trailers.

The FHTV fleet is designed to accommodate many mission packages, allowing it to support multi-domain operations as the battlefield continues to evolve.

«Whether they’re hauling rocket launchers and missile defense systems, or transporting mission-critical equipment, the HEMTT and the PLS will continue to be an integral part of the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve heavy vehicle fleets for years to come», said Pat Williams, vice president and general manager of U.S. Army and Marine Corps Programs for Oshkosh Defense. «As the military pivots its focus to near-peer adversaries, they can be confident that the FHTV fleet will continue to serve as a key enabler for combat missions», Williams continued. «We look forward to supporting the Army’s modernization priorities now and well into the future».

Recapitalized vehicles are rebuilt with the latest technology and safety upgrades and quickly returned to field operations with the same warranty and life cycle cost advantages of a new vehicle. Since 1995, Oshkosh Defense has recapitalized over 13,700 HEMTTs and 3,400 PLS vehicles.

In Orbit Commissioning

Airbus has received confirmation from ESA of a successful end to the In Orbit Commissioning (IOC) of CHEOPS after the IOC review on 25 March 2020. This critical phase was performed by Airbus in Spain with the support of the Instrument Team (University of Bern), Mission Operation Centre (INTA), Science Operation Centre (University of Geneva) and ESA.

Airbus successfully completes In Orbit Commissioning of CHEOPS

The IOC phase started on 7th January and over the past two and a half months Airbus has conducted the operations to verify the performance of the satellite (platform and instrument), the ground segment and the science package. During this time the main goal was to consolidate the documentation, processes and procedures for use during the operational phase.

ESA recognised the great job done by the Airbus teams and stated there were no issues preventing routine operations from starting and confirmed hand-over of the mission operations from Airbus to INTA and the mission consortium.

Fernando Varela, Head of Space Systems in Spain, said: «The in-orbit delivery of the CHEOPS satellite is the culmination of the Airbus participation in the programme. It is the first European exoplanetary mission and the first ESA mission built by Airbus in Spain. The professionalism of the technical and engineering teams at Airbus was key to this success».

CHEOPS will be controlled by INTA and the mission consortium (University of Geneva and University of Bern). Nevertheless, Airbus is also ready to assist during the operational phase for the whole mission life.

CHEOPS marks the first time that Airbus in Spain has been the prime contractor for the whole mission, from satellite development, through launch, to LEOP and IOC. The entire mission development was completed in record time without delays and met the very tight budget. To do this, Airbus managed a team of 24 companies from 11 European countries, seven of them Spanish, confirming Airbus as the driving force behind the space industry in Spain.

As a reminder, CHEOPS is the first in ESA’s FAST TRACK missions programme whose main characteristics are low cost and a challenging budget. CHEOPS will characterise exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, observing known planets in the size range between Earth and Neptune and precisely measuring their radii to determine their density and understand what they are made of.