All posts by Dmitry Shulgin

First firing trial

The Brimstone 3 ultra-high precision missile system has successfully achieved a major milestone by completing its first firing trial at the Vidsel Trials range in Sweden.

The new-build Brimstone missiles will incorporate all of the improved functionalities offered by the spiral upgrades of Brimstone that have taken place over recent years
The new-build Brimstone missiles will incorporate all of the improved functionalities offered by the spiral upgrades of Brimstone that have taken place over recent years

Whilst enduring extreme weather conditions with temperatures below -30°C, the missile was surface launched against a pick-up truck target.

All trials objectives were fully achieved with the missile proving, through a telemetry unit, full closed loop guidance with the seeker progressing into target acquisition and track.

Russell Jamieson, Chief Engineer, said: «The trial further proves Brimstone’s fully flexible platform approach, providing a «one missile, multiple platform» capability, for surface launch, fast jet, Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS), attack helicopter, land and maritime platforms, all utilising the same missile. The result really was a tremendous success, and thanks to the hard work and determination of the whole team».

The demonstrated surface to surface capability builds on the advanced guidance and targeting abilities developed during the Brimstone programme and from hundreds of successful operational firings against targets in structures, main battle tanks/armoured vehicles, maritime vessels, trucks, fast moving and manoeuvring cars/motorbikes and individual targets in the open.

Brimstone 3 is the product of the Brimstone Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP), announced in March 2018, that will provide new Brimstone missiles for the UK Armed Forces in order to replenish the country’s inventory and to maintain the UK’s battlefield edge into the future. It will also provide the ability to fully meet current and future export supply needs.

The new-build Brimstone missiles will incorporate all of the improved functionalities offered by the spiral upgrades of Brimstone that have taken place over recent years which include the highly capable Dual Mode Semi-Active Laser (SAL)/millimetric Wave (mmW) seeker, enhanced autopilot, and the new insensitive munition compliant rocket motor and warhead, all combining to provide unique performance capabilities of Brimstone against the most challenging of targets. The new hardware standard will also enable the addition of further capability upgrades in the future.

David’s Sling

The Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) of the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully completed a test series of the David’s Sling Weapon System, a missile defense system that is a central part of lsrael’s multilayer antimissile array.

IMDO and MDA Successfully Complete David's Sling Weapon System Intercept Test Series
IMDO and MDA Successfully Complete David’s Sling Weapon System Intercept Test Series

This test series, designated David’s Sling Test-6 (DST-6) was the sixth series of tests of the David’s Sling Weapon System.

The test series examined capabilities and performance of the entire David’s Sling Weapon System. These successful tests are an important milestone in operational capability of Israel to defend itself against existing and future threats in the region.

The information collected during the test is being analyzed by program engineers and will be used for ongoing development and fielding of the David’s Sling Weapon System. This test series provides confidence in future Israeli capabilities to defend against large-caliber rockets and other developing threats.

The David’s Sling Weapon System project is a cooperative effort between the United States and Israel to develop a defense against large caliber rockets and short-range ballistic missiles.

 

Meteor and Spear

A team of BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and MBDA engineers enhancing the capability of the UK’s fleet of F-35 Lightning II aircraft by commencing work on the integration of next generation weapons.

Work starts integrating next generation Meteor and Spear onto UK F-35 Fleet
Work starts integrating next generation Meteor and Spear onto UK F-35 Fleet

BAE Systems has received an initial funding award from Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on the F-35 Lightning II programme, to start integration efforts for MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and SPEAR precision surface attack missile.

Under this initial package of work BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin will also complete further integration work with MBDA on Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) and with Raytheon on Paveway IV, initially integrated in support of delivering Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for the UK.

Tom Fillingham, Senior Vice-President – U.S. Programmes of BAE Systems, said: «BAE Systems engineers played a crucial role in supporting the UK to achieve Initial Operating Capability for its F-35 fleet. Now, working alongside our partners including Lockheed Martin and MBDA, we are using our expertise to take that capability even further with advanced weapons systems such as Meteor and SPEAR. We are extremely proud of the critical contribution UK engineers are playing for both the UK and the global F-35 fleet through the development, production and sustainment of the aircraft».

Cliff Waldwyn, Head of Combat Air, Group Business Development of MBDA, said: «This is a significant milestone for the UK Combat Air’s capability. This initial package of work officially commences the integration of Meteor and SPEAR and will enhance the operational capability of the UK’s Lightning Force in the future; it is also a positive step for the wider F-35 enterprise as it adds additional capability choice for international customers. MBDA’s integration team have worked well with our BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin colleagues and we plan to build on this excellent foundation into the future on this follow-on modernisation work».

Last year, a pilot from 17 Squadron, the RAF’s F-35 Test and Evaluation Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, California took to the skies for the first time with UK weapons, including ASRAAM and Paveway IV.

This followed work carried out during the F-35 Lightning II programme’s System Development and Demonstration (SDD) initial testing phase to develop and certify weapons capabilities by an integrated test team. This team includes Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Raytheon and MBDA, working alongside the UK Air Warfare Centre to clear weapons for Operational Testing by Royal Air Force/Royal Navy (RAF/RN) pilots.

Mine Countermeasures

The contract for the construction and maintenance of twelve new mine countermeasures vessels has been awarded to the Naval Group/ECA Robotics consortium. These vessels, for both the Belgian and Dutch Navies, will be equipped with modular deployment drones. The two governments gave their agreement on March 15th. The European tender was managed by the Belgian Defense but both countries were part of the bid evaluation team.

Belgium and The Netherlands have selected the new minehunting system developed by Naval Group and ECA to replace their Tripartite-class minehunters; it will consist of mother ships operating unmanned surface and underwater vehicles (BN&RC image)
Belgium and The Netherlands have selected the new minehunting system developed by Naval Group and ECA to replace their Tripartite-class minehunters; it will consist of mother ships operating unmanned surface and underwater vehicles (BN&RC image)

In early 2018, the Belgian Minister of Defense and his Dutch counterpart signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly acquire a new minehunting capability so as to reduce the purchase and maintenance price per ship. The current ships are over thirty years old and will reach the end of their service life in 2023.

The future capability will use unmanned systems on the surface, above water level and under water to detect and neutralize mines. Thanks to this new method of work, the mothership and her crew will be able to stay out of the minefield because only drones will be active there.

Naval mines are relatively inexpensive and widely available weapons. They can easily prevent access to ports and waterways. An incident on the Scheldt or in the North Sea can represent a daily economic loss of fifty million euros. Ensuring the safety of waterways and ports is therefore crucial for our economy. Each week, our ships are engaged as they participate in international missions.

The Belgian Navy has been recognized for over 50 years for its expertise in the field of mine countermeasures. This modernization program will strengthen its position within NATO as an expert and pioneer in the field.

The new system will cost more than two billion euros. Our Navy is waiting for the first of its six ships in 2023. The first Dutch ship will be delivered a year later.

Initial production

Raytheon Co., Integrated Defense Systems, Marlborough, Massachusetts, is awarded a $402,658,015 fixed-price-incentive (firm target) modification to previously-awarded contract N00024-14-C-5315 to exercise options for Air and Missile Defense Radar Program (AMDR) Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP). This modification will provide for three AMDR LRIP units. The LRIP units will be deployed on DDG-51 Flight III-class ships. Work will be performed in Marlborough, Massachusetts, and is expected to be completed by March 2023. Fiscal 2019 shipbuilding and conversion (U.S. Navy) funding in the amount of $402,658,015 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity.

Robots and engineers work together in Raytheon's new radar development facility to assemble an array for the U.S. Navy's AN/SPY-6(V) radar
Robots and engineers work together in Raytheon’s new radar development facility to assemble an array for the U.S. Navy’s AN/SPY-6(V) radar

AN/SPY-6(V) is the U.S. Navy’s next generation integrated air and missile defense radar. Currently in production, and on track for the DDG-51 Flight III destroyer, SPY-6 provides the Navy with unmatched protection against air, surface, and ballistic missile threats.

The radar is built with individual ‘building blocks’ called Radar Modular Assemblies (RMA). Each RMA is a self-contained radar in a 2’×2’×2’ box. These RMAs can stack together to form any size array to fit the mission requirements of any ship. This technology makes SPY-6 the Navy’s first truly scalable radar.

SPY-6 Advantages:

  • Scalable – can be configured for other ships based on mission requirements;
  • Capable – designed to counter large and complex raids;
  • Digital beamforming – provides exceptional capability in high-clutter and jamming environments;
  • Reprogrammable – able to adapt to new mission or emerging threats;
  • Gallium Nitride-based AESA – semiconductor technology enables 360 degree Active Electronically Scanned Array capability.

AN/SPY-6(V) Radar Build

NextSTEP Phase II

For long-duration, deep space missions, astronauts will need a highly efficient and reconfigurable space, and Lockheed Martin is researching and designing ways to support those missions. Under a public-private partnership as a part of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Phase II study contract, Lockheed Martin has completed the initial ground prototype for a cislunar habitat that would be compatible with NASA’s Gateway architecture. This habitat will help NASA study and assess the critical capabilities needed to build a sustainable presence around the Moon and support pioneering human exploration in deep space.

The Lockheed Martin Habitat Ground Test Article (HGTA) Lunar habitat prototype is designed to accommodate a variety of missions around the Moon (Photo courtesy: Lockheed Martin)
The Lockheed Martin Habitat Ground Test Article (HGTA) Lunar habitat prototype is designed to accommodate a variety of missions around the Moon (Photo courtesy: Lockheed Martin)

The full-scale prototype, or Habitat Ground Test Article (HGTA), is built inside of a repurposed shuttle-era cargo container, called a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM), at Kennedy Space Center. Using rapid prototyping and modern design tools like virtual and augmented reality, the team customized the interior making full use of the entire volume of the module to accommodate a variety of tasks like science missions and personal needs of future astronauts. The team also studied how to apply the advanced, deep space capabilities that are already built in to NASA’s Orion spacecraft. Through additional research and development funding, the NextSTEP team also applied mixed-reality technology to further refine the concept.

«Throughout the design and engineering process of this high-fidelity prototype, we have kept the diversity of missions top-of-mind», said Bill Pratt, Lockheed Martin Space NextSTEP program manager. «By building modularity in from the beginning, our design can support Lunar orbit and surface science missions along with commercial operations, all while accelerating the path to the Moon».

Over the past five months, the team used tools like virtual and augmented reality to simplify and streamline the build-up process. They also applied expertise from Lockheed Martin’s heritage of operating autonomous interplanetary robotic missions, like OSIRIS-REx and InSight, to integrate reliable robotic capabilities in to the design.

«Getting back to the Moon, and eventually Mars, is no small feat, but our team are mission visionaries», said Pratt. «They have worked to apply lessons learned from our experience with deep space robotic missions to this first-of-its-kind spacecraft around the Moon».

The Lockheed Martin team will soon transition the prototype to the NASA NextSTEP team for assessment. During the week of March 25, a team of NASA astronauts will live and work inside the prototype, evaluating the layout and providing feedback.  The NASA test team will also validate the overall design and will be able to evaluate the standards and common interfaces, like the International Docking System Standard (IDSS), and how to apply those systems for long-term missions based at the Lunar Gateway. Once NASA testing has completed, Lockheed Martin will continue to optimize and study the prototype to prepare for other Lunar efforts.

Keel Laid on Bougainville

The keel of the America-class amphibious warship USS Bougainville (LHA-8) was authenticated during a ceremony at Ingalls Shipbuilding on Thursday, March 14. Ship’s sponsor Ellyn Dunford declared the keel «truly and fairly laid» after her initials were welded onto a plate.

Official Keel Plate for Bougainville (LHA-8)
Official Keel Plate for Bougainville (LHA-8)

 

Bougainville and the America class

Bougainville will retain the aviation capability of the America-class design while adding the surface assault capability of a well deck. The well deck will give the U.S. Marine Corps the ability to house and launch two Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercraft or one Landing Craft Utility (LCU) as needed during their maritime missions. Other additions to Bougainville include a larger flight deck configured for Joint Strike Fighter and Osprey V-22 aircraft, which can be used for surface and aviation assaults. The additional area on the flight deck comes in part from a smaller deck house and an additional sponson.

 

Namesake background

USS Bougainville (LHA-8) will be the second U.S. Navy vessel to bear the name Bougainville. The name commemorates the Bougainville Campaign that took place during World War II. During the campaign, which lasted from 1943 to 1944, Allied forces secured a strategic airfield from Japan in the northern Solomon Islands, helping the allies break the Japanese stronghold in the South Pacific.

 

Ingalls amphibious shipbuilding background

Ingalls is currently the sole builder of large-deck amphibious ships for the U.S. Navy. The shipyard delivered its first amphibious assault ship, the Iwo Jima-class USS Tripoli (LPH-10), in 1966. Ingalls has since built five Tarawa-class (LHA-1) ships, eight Wasp-class (LHD-1) ships and the first in a new class of ships, USS America (LHA-6). The second ship in the class, USS Tripoli (LHA-7) is currently under construction and USS Bougainville (LHA-8) is the third ship in the class.

 

Sponsor

Ellyn Dunford, spouse of General Joe Dunford, 19th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is the sponsor of Bougainville. A graduate of Simmons College, Mrs. Dunford worked as a physical therapist for close to 30 years. General and Mrs. Dunford have three children.

 

LHA Facts and Stats

With a typical air combat element embarked, an LHA amphibious assault ship can be equipped with:

  • 5 F-35B Joint Strike Fighters;
  • 4 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters;
  • 2 UH-1Y Venom attack helicopters;
  • 4 CH-53E Super Sea Stallion helicopters;
  • 12 MV-22 Osprey;
  • 2 MH-60S Search and Rescue helicopters;
  • Defensive weapons systems include .50 caliber/12.7-mm machine guns, The Phalanx, Sea Sparrow and Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) anti-ship cruise missile weapon systems and decoy launchers.

 

LHA-8 Milestones

Started Construction: October 6, 2018

Keel Authenticated: March 14, 2019

 

Ships

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS America (LHA-6) 07-17-2009 06-04-2012 10-11-2014 San Diego, California
USS Tripoli (LHA-7) 06-22-2014 05-01-2017
USS Bougainville (LHA-8) 03-14-2019

 

Missile Defense

The U.S. Army has awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation a $713 million contract for the production of Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS) for the first phase of Poland’s WISŁA air and missile defense program.

Northrop Grumman has been awarded $713 million to provide Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS) next-generation capabilities for Poland’s WISŁA air and missile defense program
Northrop Grumman has been awarded $713 million to provide Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS) next-generation capabilities for Poland’s WISŁA air and missile defense program

«Poland is taking a leadership role in today’s complex threat environment by selecting IBCS over legacy stove-piped systems that were designed decades ago for a much different threat profile. IBCS is the future of multidomain operations and with it, Poland will have a state-of-the-art system to modernize its integrated air and missile defense capabilities», said Dan Verwiel, vice president and general manager, missile defense and protective systems, Northrop Grumman. «Through the acquisition of IBCS, Poland will be in line with the U.S. Army’s future direction. Poland will have the flexibility to consider any radar and any interceptor, optimize sensor and effector integration and keep pace with an evolving threat».

Under this foreign military sales contract for WISŁA, Northrop Grumman will manufacture IBCS engagement operations centers and integrated fire control network relays and deliver IBCS net-enabled command and control for four firing units. The IBCS engagement operations centers will be integrated with IBCS battle management software that maximizes the combat potential of sensors and weapon systems. IBCS engagement operations centers and network relays will be transported by Polish Jelcz vehicles.

«Northrop Grumman continues to work closely with the Polish Ministry of National Defense and Polish industry toward a comprehensive offset program that meets the program goals and requirements. We look forward to continued collaboration and partnership with PGZ and its consortium of companies on this and future phases of the WISŁA program», said Tarik Reyes, vice president, business development, missile defense and protective systems, Northrop Grumman. «We are pleased with the opportunity to deliver cutting-edge, net-centric IBCS technology to Poland and support the Ministry of National Defense’s modernization priorities».

IBCS is the air and missile defense command-and-control solution of choice for Poland. In March 2018, Poland signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance with the U.S. government to purchase IBCS and became the first international partner country to acquire this advanced capability. By implementing IBCS, Poland will transform its IAMD capabilities in a manner consistent with the U.S. Army.

IBCS creates a paradigm shift for IAMD by replacing legacy stove-piped systems with a next-generation, net-centric approach to better address the evolving complex threat. The system integrates disparate radars and weapons to construct a far more effective IAMD enterprise. IBCS delivers a single integrated air picture with unprecedented accuracy and broadens surveillance and protection areas. With its truly open systems architecture, IBCS allows incorporation of current and future sensors and weapon systems and interoperability with joint C2 and the ballistic missile defense system.

IBCS is managed by the U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

Training Center

Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Distributed Training Center (DTC) recently hosted simulated training for the U.S. Marine Corps at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, Virginia.

An ANGLICO team operates from a rooftop during the Iraq War (Photo credit: USMC Corporal Rocco DeFilippis Courtesy: United States Marine Corps)
An ANGLICO team operates from a rooftop during the Iraq War (Photo credit: USMC Corporal Rocco DeFilippis Courtesy: United States Marine Corps)

During two training events, eight F-15E aircrew based at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho trained with four Marines from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state via the DTC. The Marines, trained as Joint Tactical Air Controller/Joint Forward Observers (JTAC/JFO), are part of the 6th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) tasked with calling-in air strikes and artillery fire in support of their attached formation. ANGLICO JTACs support Special Operations Forces and typically deploy to the battlefield in small teams.

Each mission scenario was designed, created and supported by Northrop Grumman DTC engineers based on mission demands. The multi-service Close Air Support (CAS) training closely replicated scenarios in current battle zones where warfighters are deployed, while at the same time providing virtual and constructive training at a fraction of the cost of live training.

«The Marines were impressed with the high fidelity training and said the customized scenarios felt like real life», said Martin Amen, director, secure network operations, Northrop Grumman.

The simulation training event met the following desired learning objectives provided by the participants:

  • (JTAC) Joint CAS environment – more than one service involved;
  • (JTAC) Integrated air and surface fires;
  • (JTAC) Deconflict multiple air assets – training included four virtual F-15Es and one constructive MQ-9 Reaper;
  • (F-15E) 25 mph+ moving target – fighter tracks and engages a target going more than 25 mph;
  • (F-15E) Hot gun to target artillery deconfliction – ensuring aircraft flight paths are not in conflict with the flight path of artillery rounds being fired at targets in the same vicinity;
  • (F15E) Squirters from a strike – track and target enemy fighters who survive the initial strike;
  • (F-15E) Bomb-on-coordinate targets utilizing different weapons – using varying classes of GPS-aided bombs to hit the right targets;
  • (F15E) CAS stack deconfliction – airspace management with the added value of matching aircraft to targets.

The DTC has provided live, virtual and constructive training for the U.S. Air Force for nine years, but this was the first time Marines used the DTC to train for their missions. Last year, the Army Rangers utilized the DTC for the first time to train for deployment.

Developed for Air Force simulation training in 1999, Northrop Grumman’s Distributed Mission Operations Network (DMON) provides the connectivity and network interoperability for the DTC, which became operational in 2010 to meet the need for real-world scenario development and advanced warfighter readiness training. Northrop Grumman wants to expand the use of the DMON and DTC beyond the Air Force to additional services such as the Marine Corps, the U.S. Army and international forces.

Joint Strike Missile

Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace AS (KONGSBERG) has entered into contract with Japan to supply the initial deliveries of JSM (Joint Strike Missile) for their fleet of F-35 Lightning II fighter aircrafts.

KONGSBERG awarded Joint Strike Missile contract with Japan
KONGSBERG awarded Joint Strike Missile contract with Japan

The JSM development started in 2008 and was completed in mid-2018 after a series of successful validation test firings.

«This is an important international breakthrough which demonstrates the importance of cooperation between Norwegian authorities, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment and Norwegian industry», says CEO of KONGSBERG Geir Håøy.

The JSM is the only long-range sea- and land-target missile that can be carried internally in the F-35 Lightning II and thus ensuring the aircraft’s low-signature (stealth) capabilities. JSM is a new missile that will expand the overall capabilities of the F-35 Lightning II. No other weapon on the market today, can perform the same types of missions.

«The international F-35 Lightning II user consortium is showing great interest in the JSM and KONGSBERG is very proud to have been selected by Japan to provide the JSM for their F-35 Lightning II fleet. This is a major milestone for the JSM program, entering into the production phase», says Eirik Lie, President, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace AS.