On April 22 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) successfully completed the maiden flight of the «X-2», an Advanced Technology Demonstrator (ATD) jet.
The aircraft took off from Nagoya Airport and went through a series of trials to confirm basic maneuvers including climbing, descent and circling operations. After 23 minutes X-2 then landed at the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Gifu Air Base, some 50 km to the north.
After completing the maiden flight, the pilot, from MHI, described the flight experience as «extremely stable». «Control of the aircraft went exactly as in our simulated training sessions», he said, «and after piloting the aircraft I’m 100% positive the X-2 is magnificent and will meet the Ministry of Defense’s requirements».
The X-2 is a prototype stealth aircraft – the first in Japan to feature technology impeding its detection by radar – engineered for extremely high maneuverability. The prototype integrates an airframe, engines, and other advanced systems and equipment all adaptable to future fighters.
As the coordinating company of the X-2 development project, MHI has been developing the aircraft’s airframe since 2009 with cooperation provided by 220 domestic companies and guidance from Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA). In this way, world-class cutting-edge technologies developed in Japan are featured throughout the prototype unit.
Going forward MHI will continue to develop, manufacture and support the operation of defense aircraft incorporating the world’s leading technologies, thereby contributing to Japan’s national security.
April 20 Lockheed Martin announced the CH-53K King Stallion helicopter has achieved its first external lift flight by successfully carrying a 12,000-pound/5,443-kg external load.
«Achieving our first external lift signifies another milestone for the CH-53K program», said Mike Torok, Sikorsky’s Vice President of CH-53K Programs. «Our flight envelope expansion efforts remain on track, and we continue to make good progress toward our initial operational test assessment later this year, and ultimately full aircraft system qualification».
The first two CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopters achieved their first flights on October 27, 2015, and January 22, 2016, respectively. To date these helicopters have achieved over 50 flight hours combined including one flight at speeds over 140 knots/161 mph/260 km/h. The third and fourth King Stallion aircraft will join the flight test program this summer.
As the King Stallion flight test program proceeds, both of the current flying aircraft will be exercised to expand the external load envelope. Initial external payloads weighing 12,000 pounds/5,443 kg will be flown first in hover and then incrementally to speeds up to 120 knots/138 mph/222 km/h. The aircraft will then carry 20,000 pound/9,072 kg and 27,000 pound/12,247 kg external payloads.
The CH-53K King Stallion is equipped with single, dual and triple external cargo hook capability that will allow for the transfer of three independent external loads to three separate landing zones in support of distributed operations in one single sortie without having to return to a ship or other logistical hub. The three external cargo hooks include a single center point hook with a 36,000 pound/16,329 kg capability and dual-point hooks each capable of carrying up to 25,200 pound/11,430 kg.
The system features an electrical load release capability from the cockpit and cabin, and a mechanical load release capability at each of the pendant locations. An auto-jettison system is incorporated to protect the aircraft in the event of a load attachment point failure.
«It is exciting to have achieved our first external lift, another important step towards fielding the most powerful U.S. military helicopter», said Colonel Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps Program Manager for Heavy Lift Helicopters. «Our program continues on pace to deploy this incredible heavy lift capability to our warfighters».
Sikorsky Aircraft, a Lockheed Martin company, is developing the CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter for the U.S. Marine Corps. The CH-53K King Stallion maintains similar physical dimensions and «footprint» as its predecessor, the three-engine CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter, but will more than triple the payload to 27,000 pounds/12,247 kg over 110 nautical miles/126.6 miles/204 km under «high hot» ambient conditions.
Features of the CH-53K King Stallion helicopter include a modern glass cockpit; fly-by-wire flight controls; fourth-generation rotor blades with anhedral tips; a low maintenance elastomeric rotor head; upgraded engines; a locking, United States Air Force pallet compatible cargo rail system; external cargo handling improvements; survivability enhancements; and improved reliability, maintainability and supportability.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Program of Record remains at 200 CH-53K King Stallion aircraft. The U.S. Marine Corps intends to stand up eight active duty squadrons, one training squadron, and one reserve squadron to support operational requirements.
The CH-53K King Stallion achieved its first external lift flight, successfully carrying a 12,000 pound/5,443-kg external load
Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced on April 19 the successful completion of acceptance sea trials for the company’s 10th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26). The ship, built at HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division, spent six days with the test and trials team performing more than 200 trial events that included both an in-port and underway portion.
«This was a significant test at sea for LPD-26, and the ship performed well», said Kari Wilkinson, Ingalls’ USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) program manager. «The logistical performance it takes for our test and trials team to execute all of these events while underway is nothing short of phenomenal. Once again the Navy will be receiving a quality Ingalls-built ship that will be mission-ready and able to achieve whatever tasks the sailors and Marines require».
The U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) spent time onboard evaluating the ship’s performance. Now shipbuilders will put the final fit-and-finish touches on the ship in preparation for delivery in May.
Major evolutions during acceptance trials include the anchor-handling demonstration, ballast/deballast demonstration, detect-to-engage exercise, running the ship at full power and steering.
«It took a lot of work for the folks to complete these sea trial evolutions, and the ship answered every task and performed well», said George S. Jones, Ingalls’ vice president of operations. «Every single skill needed to build this amphibious ship was on display for the INSURV board to see. Our people and this ship did not disappoint. I would also like to thank our partners at Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Gulf Coast for this joint effort».
LPD-26 is named in honor of the late John P. Murtha, who represented Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District from 1974 to 2010. In addition to his tenured history in the House of Representatives, Murtha was also a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and Reserves. He served for 37 years and received the Bronze Star with Combat «V», two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry for his service in the Vietnam War. He retired as a colonel in 1990.
Ingalls has built and delivered nine ships in the San Antonio-class. In addition to USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26), Ingalls has the 11th LPD, USS Portland (LPD-27), under construction. Portland launched on February 13 and will be christened on May 21. Ingalls has received advance procurement funding for long-lead-time material for the 12th ship in the class, USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD-28).
The San Antonio-class is the latest addition to the U.S. Navy’s 21st century amphibious assault force. The 684-foot-long/208 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.
Huntington Ingalls Industries
Four sequentially turbocharged marine Colt-Pielstick Diesels, two shafts, 41,600 shaft horsepower
684 feet/208 m
105 feet/32 m
Approximately 24,900 long tons (25,300 metric tons) full load
On April 18, Aurora Flight Sciences announced that a Subscale Vehicle Demonstrator (SVD) of its LightningStrike, Vertical Take-off and Landing Experimental Plane (VTOL X-plane) for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was successfully flown at a U.S. military facility at Manassas, Virginia. The flight of the subscale aircraft met an important DARPA risk reduction requirement, focusing on validation of the aerodynamic design and flight control system.
«The successful subscale aircraft flight was an important and exciting step for Aurora and our customer», said Tom Clancy, Aurora’s chief technology officer. «Our design’s distributed electric propulsion system involves breaking new ground with a flight control system requiring a complex set of control effectors. This first flight is an important, initial confirmation that both the flight controls and aerodynamic design are aligning with our design predictions».
The subscale aircraft weighs 325 pounds/147.4 kg and is a 20% scale flight model of the full scale demonstrator Aurora will build for DARPA in the next 24 months. The wing and canard of the subscale vehicle utilize a hybrid structure of carbon fiber and 3D printed FDM plastics to achieve highly complex structural and aerodynamic surfaces with minimal weight. The unmanned aircraft take-off, hover and landing was controlled by Aurora personnel located in a nearby ground control station with oversight and coordination by U.S. government officials including DARPA personnel.
On March 3, 2016, DARPA announced the award of the Phase II contract for the VTOL X-Plane contract to Aurora, following a multi-year, Phase I design competition. The program seeks to develop a vertical take-off and landing demonstrator aircraft that will achieve a top sustained flight speed of 300 knots/345 mph/556 km/h – 400 knots/460 mph/741 km/h, with 60-75% increase in hover efficiency over existing VTOL aircraft. Aurora’s design is for the first aircraft in aviation history to demonstrate distributed hybrid-electric propulsion using an innovative synchronous electric-drive system. Having successfully completed the subscale demonstrator flight, Aurora’s LightningStrike team will focus over the next year on further validation of flight control system and configuration of the full scale VTOL X-Plane demonstrator.
Aurora Flight Sciences’ subscale vehicle demonstrator successfully flew at a U.S. military facility
On Saturday, April 16th 2016, Alexandria Shipyard started cutting metal for the first Gowind 2500 corvette built in Egypt, in the presence of high representatives of the Egyptian Navy and of DCNS technical assistance and management teams.
The Egyptian Navy chose DCNS to design and build four Gowind 2500 corvettes with a construction technology transfer. The contract, which entered into force in July 2015, provides for the construction of the first ship within 29 months. It is now being built by DCNS in Lorient. The three following units will be built by Egyptian partner Alexandria Shipyard.
DCNS has sent supervision and technical assistance teams to Alexandria for the construction of three corvettes through technology transfer. DCNS also provides training of the Egyptian shipyard staff at DCNS site in Lorient. Finally, DCNS will deliver all technical data required for the construction of the corvettes as well as necessary components.
The Gowind 2500 corvette chosen by the Egyptian Navy is a first rank ship with a displacement of 2,500 tonnes; it incorporates the SETIS multi-mission combat management system developed by DCNS.
Gowind 2500 corvette
Gowind 2500 is DCNS’ response to 21st century defence and security challenges, combining unrivalled stealth features, resilience and high availability at sea with outstanding Anti-Air Warfare (AAW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti-Surface Ship Warfare (ASuW) performances.
With the Ship Enhanced Tactical Information System (SETIS) state-of-the-art Combat System providing the operator with the best management and decision-making aids, Gowind 2500 ensures supremacy against all conventional and asymmetric threats.
A stealth and multirole combat ship
Gowind 2500 is a resilient and powerful surface combatant designed to perform complex naval operations as well as low intensity maritime security missions.
Through a 360° sensors coverage and deployable assets, Gowind 2500 simultaneously detects, tracks and engages multiple airborne, surface as well as submarine threats, providing the best performance in all warfare domains.
Gowind 2500 offers exceptional stealth capabilities with reduced radiated noise and Radar Cross Section (RCS) significantly improving the tactical advantage compared with other ships of her class.
Integrated operational capabilities
Broad and with excellent seakeeping characteristics, Gowind 2500 operates an organic 10 t class helicopter, which extends the vessel’s warfare capabilities far beyond the horizon.
Gowind 2500 is fitted with SETIS, DCNS’ integrated Combat System to counter multiple, multidomain attacks and threats:
long range coordinated surface engagement;
point air defence;
submarine deterrence and tracking;
gradual asymmetric engagement;
shared accurate tactical picture through;
interoperable data links.
Built to address current and emerging threats, Gowind 2500 integrates the latest technologies. Unmanned Aerial Systems such as Airbus Defence and Space Tanan extend the ship’s action range and therefore the tactical advantage.
To improve interoperability during joint or international operations, SETIS also integrates additional command support modules as well as collaborative planning tools.
Resilient and sea proven, SETIS provides a high level of reliability with rapid reconfiguration protocols and back-up modes to return to full operational capability even in case of combat damage.
Mission modules will be integrated on board future Gowind configurations making the ship even more flexible and adaptable to emerging operational requirements.
Forward-thinking Gowind development plans also include innovative close-in defence systems integrated into the NextGen Combat Information Centre (CIC) and Combat Bridge.
SETIS’s intuitive Man-Machine Interface (MMI) and integrated command aids improve the crew’s ability to synthetise numerous data and react quickly in extreme and rapidly changing conditions, therefore maximizing the tactical advantage against any kind of threats.
SETIS functionally integrates UAS allowing real time control and data fusion for expanded detection and response capabilities.
102 m/334.6 feet
16 m/52.5 feet
5.4 m/17.7 feet
Combined diesel and electric
25+ knots/29+ mph/46 km/h
3,700 NM/6,852 km at 15 knots/17 mph/28 km/h
Crew (+ Pax)
Electronic Support Measures (ESM) suite;
Hull mounted sonar;
Variable depth sonar;
Fire control system;
Vertical launching system (16 cells);
Main gun (57- up to 76-mm);
8 Surface-to-surface missiles;
Short range gun system;
Torpedo launching system;
Decoy launching system;
Helicopter (10 t) and Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) facilities;
Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs).
DCNS starts the construction of the first Gowind 2500 corvette for the Egyptian Navy
Austal Limited (Austal) is pleased to announce it has been awarded preferred tenderer status by the Commonwealth of Australia for the Pacific Patrol Boats Replacement (PPBR) Project.
The PPBR project involves the construction of up to 21 steel-hulled patrol vessels and through life sustainment over 30 years in a total Government expenditure of up to $900 million. Austal’s share of the PPBR program will include the construction of the vessels and short to medium term maintenance components of the project.
Austal will now work with the Commonwealth of Australia to complete documentation and finalise the contract over the coming weeks. Full details will be provided to the market when the contract is finalised.
Austal plans to construct the Pacific Patrol Boats in its shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia, with through-life support to be performed at Austal’s existing facility in Cairns, Queensland. The vessels will replace the existing Pacific Patrol Boat fleet, which is approaching the end of its service life, and will assist Pacific Island countries to continue to take an active part in securing their own extensive Exclusive Economic Zones.
Austal Chief Executive Officer David Singleton said: «I am delighted that we have been selected as preferred tenderer, adding to our long history of constructing patrol boats at our shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia. Austal has delivered Australia’s entire border patrol capability – comprising 30 vessels delivered over the past 17 years – and we look forward to extending this by constructing and servicing vessels that will be used by many of our neighbours in the South Pacific. Construction of the Pacific Patrol Boats also extends Austal’s shipbuilding capability into steel-hulled vessels, which will be important for the future construction of Offshore Patrol Vessels. This project will add to our existing work at our Henderson shipyard, where two High Speed Support Vessels are being constructed for the Royal Navy of Oman this year as well as two additional Cape Class Patrol Boats».
Singapore Technologies Marine Ltd (ST Marine), the marine arm of Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd (ST Engineering), held the Launching Ceremony on April 16 for the second Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV), RSS Sovereignty, designed and built for the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).
The Launch Ceremony was officiated by Mr. Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security. Initiating the launch of the vessel at ST Marine’s Benoi Yard was DPM Teo’s wife, Mrs. Teo Chee Hean. The event was witnessed by Dr. Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defence; Dr. Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Senior Minister of State for Defence, and many senior officials from Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
The launch of RSS Sovereignty, the second LMV in a series of eight vessels, marks another significant milestone for the LMV programme. Smarter, faster and sharper, the LMVs are highly capable warships designed and equipped with advanced combat capabilities and technologies to further strengthen the RSN’s ability in the seaward defence of Singapore and protecting our sea lines of communication.
The Integrated Command Centre, where the Bridge, Combat Information Centre and Machinery Control Room are co-located, integrates and synergises the management of navigation, engineering, and combat functions to achieve greater operational effectiveness and efficiency during maritime security operations. Adopting the concept of «mission modularity», these vessels are versatile and can leverage a range of mission modules that can be reconfigured to respond to different circumstances and roles, ranging from maritime security and mine clearing, to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
Measuring 262.5 feet/80 m in length and beam at 39.4 feet/12 m with displacement of 1,250 tonnes, the LMVs are 2.5 times larger than the current Fearless-class Patrol Vessels (PVs) and possess better sea-keeping capabilities to operate in higher sea state conditions.
ST Marine was awarded the contract by MINDEF in 2013 to design and build eight LMVs for the RSN. The vessels are expected to be delivered from 2016. They will replace the PVs that ST Marine designed and built in the 1990s.
BAE Systems has been awarded a £15.5 million contract by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to manufacture and deliver Archerfish mine neutralisers, continuing its support to the U.S. Navy’s minesweeping operation.
Archerfish is a remotely-controlled underwater vehicle equipped with an explosive warhead to destroy sea mines.
Capable of overcoming the threat of modern mines, Archerfish has formed a key part of the U.S. Navy’s Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) programme since 2007. In addition to Archerfish mine neutralisers, manufactured at BAE Systems’ Broad Oak facility in Portsmouth, United Kingdom, the contract also includes the supply of fibre-optic spools.
The fibre-optic spools provide a communications link between the Archerfish mine neutraliser and the launch platform, an MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter deployed from the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships (LCS).
Developed by BAE Systems, Archerfish draws on the company’s expertise and extensive technology in torpedoes, naval mines and minehunting. The Archerfish neutraliser provides significant time and logistical advantages over current Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) mine disposal systems.
Deliveries to the U.S. Navy will begin in September 2017. The contract also includes further options which, if exercised by the DoD, could bring the total value to over £39 million.
Les Gregory, Product & Training Services Director at BAE Systems, said: «We are delighted to provide the Department of Defense with Archerfish neutralisers, and to continue supporting the U.S. Navy’s work in clearing sea mines. This important contract demonstrates BAE Systems’ ability to deliver equipment that provides greater security and resilience to modern threats around the world, and we look forward to meeting the U.S. Navy’s demand for a first-class underwater defence capability for many years to come».
Boeing continues its role as the United States’ leading provider of attack helicopters with a contract to remanufacture 117 AH-64D Apaches to the new, more capable AH-64E model. The agreement, which also includes the acquisition of Longbow Crew Trainers, logistical support and spares, carries a total contract value of about $1.5 billion.
The U.S. Army has stated it plans to acquire 690 AH-64E Apaches, 290 of which are now under contract with this latest award.
«The AH-64E Apache continues to meet the requirements of aviators, battlefield commanders and soldiers deployed on missions worldwide», said U.S. Army Apache Project Manager, Colonel Jeff Hager. «The Army, Boeing and Team Apache suppliers continue a valuable collaboration that ensures soldiers have the latest technologies to succeed in defending freedom with this outstanding weapons system».
«With our integrated production, services and training teams, Boeing is able to affordably support the Army through each phase of the Apache’s lifecycle», said Kim Smith, vice president, Attack Helicopter Programs, Boeing Vertical Lift. «The dedication and commitment to first-time quality by Boeing teammates and suppliers combine to deliver an Apache that is ready to meet the rigorous demands of the men and women who depend on it».
The agreement modifies an existing contact among Boeing and the U.S. Army for the full-rate production of lots 5 and 6 Apache helicopters. The Army will return 117 AH-64D Apaches to Boeing’s Mesa, Arizona production center to be remanufactured into the AH-64E configuration. The Army followed a similar model when the AH-64A Apaches were remanufactured into AH-64Ds.
The AH-64 Apache is the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopter and is used by the U.S. Army and a growing number of international defense forces. Boeing has delivered more than 2,100 Apaches to customers around the world since the aircraft entered production. The U.S. Army Apache fleet has accumulated (as of Jan 2015) more than 3.9 million flight hours since the first AH-64A was delivered to the U.S. Army in 1984.
The AWD Alliance reached another major milestone in the lead up to sea trials for the HMAS Hobart (DDGH-39) with the commencement of «Main Engine Light-Off» – or starting of one of the main engines that will drive the ship’s propellers.
The large 5,650 kW/7,577 hp Bravo V16 Propulsion Diesel engine burst into life on Thursday 14 April, in an engine room deep below the main superstructure of the ship.
It will drive the port-side propeller while the other Bravo propulsion diesel, to be started in coming weeks, will drive the starboard propeller. They will provide the propulsion power for the HMAS Hobart (DDGH-39) to travel at low speeds, while higher speeds will be achieved by two gas turbines, which are yet to be commissioned on the ship.
Platform Test and Activation Manager Mike Clements said the successful commencement of Main Engine Light-Off (MELO) is a testament to the work completed by hundreds of AWD personnel across the shipyard in bringing the ship’s systems and engine to this point.
«Main Engine Light-Off is a major milestone for any warship and the start of the MELO activities this week is a great achievement for everyone who has contributed to the ship to date», Mike said.
The main propulsion engines were made by Navantia in Spain and transported to Australia by barge. There are a further four diesel generator engines on-board for the ship’s electrical power that have been commissioned and are currently undergoing parallel testing.
In coming months, once MELO is complete, the propulsion engines will be connected to the propellers and «dock trials» conducted, in which the engines turn the propellers while the ship remains roped to the dock.
481.3 feet/146.7 m
61 feet/18.6 m
23.6 feet/7.2 m
Full load displacement
36 MW/48,276 hp
28+ knots/32 mph/52 km/h
Range at 18+ knots/21 mph/33 km/h
5,000+ NM/5,779 miles/9,300 km
Aegis Weapon System Baseline 7.1
AN/SPY-1D(V) Phased Array Radar (81 NM/93 miles/150 km)