All posts by Dmitry Shulgin

Angler program

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded six contracts for work on the Angler program, which aims to pioneer the next generation of autonomous underwater robotic systems capable of physical intervention in the deep ocean environment. This class of future Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) must overcome reliance on GPS and human intervention to support infrastructure establishment, maintenance, and resilience over the vastness of the ocean. The Angler program seeks to merge breakthroughs in terrestrial and space robotics, as well as underwater sensing, to develop autonomous robotic solutions capable of navigating and surveying ocean depths, and physically manipulating human-made objects of interest.

Artist’s concept of Angler

Three companies will perform in Track A, focused on developing an integrated solution for all challenges in the Angler technology and operational areas:

  • Leidos;
  • Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation;
  • L3Harris Technologies.

Three companies will perform in Track B, focused on developing solutions specific to the fields of navigation, autonomy, and perception:

  • SoarTech;
  • EdgeTech;

The Angler program envisions numerous benefits, including:

  • Establishing functionality for long-duration mission navigation and autonomy deprived of GPS and surface-based communication;
  • Providing a first-of-its-kind long-distance undersea manipulation platform capable of fully autonomous operation;
  • Advancing perception systems to enable grasping underwater objects in degraded undersea environments.

The program is targeting three phases of development, culminating with a fully integrated prototype completing an underwater mission in a dynamic, open ocean environment.

Alliance Surveillance

Northrop Grumman Corporation successfully ferried the first of five NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft, via a non-stop, 22-hour transatlantic flight. The aircraft took off on Wednesday, November 20, from Palmdale, California and landed approximately 22 hours later on November 21 at Sigonella Air Base, Sigonella, Italy.

NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Aircraft Completes Successful Ferry Flight

«Northrop Grumman is proud to support NATO in its mission to protect and defend global security, while maintaining a position of collective deterrence for the Alliance», said Brian Chappel, vice president and general manager, autonomous systems, Northrop Grumman. «NATO missions will be enhanced by the strategic surveillance capability NATO AGS provides».

The NATO AGS RQ-4D aircraft is based on the U.S. Air Force wide area surveillance Global Hawk. It has been uniquely adapted to NATO requirements and will provide NATO state-of-the-art intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability. This includes protecting ground troops, civilian populations and international borders in peacetime, times of conflict and for humanitarian missions during natural disasters.

Aircraft, ground and support segments, along with advanced sensor technologies including the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program radar, comprise the NATO AGS system.

The NATO AGS aircraft has met the rigorous standards required for the first large unmanned aerial vehicle, military type certification, approved by the Italian Directorate of Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness (DAAA).

Companies from across NATO’s member nations, including Leonardo, Airbus and Kongsberg, comprise the Northrop Grumman-led industry team that developed the NATO AGS capability.

SIGINT Aerostat

CERBERE (Capacité Expérimentale ROEM pour Ballons et Aérostats Légers – Experimental SIGINT Capability for Balloons and Light Aerostats), an airborne demonstrator measuring the electromagnetic environment, has been tested by the Direction générale de l’armement (Directorate General of Armament, DGA) near Lorient (Morbihan).

The DGA is flying an aerostat in the skies of Brittany

The collection of electromagnetic intelligence is essential to control the information and the knowledge of the adversary. On foreign theaters of operations, the armed forces are confronted with an increased density of electromagnetic emissions, due in particular to the development of telecommunications. They must therefore have optimized and innovative means of detection and localization.

In this perspective, fitting a SIGINT (SIGnals INTelligence) system on a light balloon offers two advantages. Placed at altitude, electromagnetic sensors are less constrained by the effects of terrain- masking (trees, buildings and the roundness of the Earth). They thus gain in detection capabilities. A balloon also offers a very long endurance at altitude, at a lower cost than a fleet of aircraft or drones.

Proving the feasibility of such a system is the challenge of the CERBERE experimental study. After a development phase, an essential step was taken in the summer of 2019 with the flight of the CERBERE demonstrator in the skies of Brittany. These tests were made possible thanks to the help of the Navy.

The test campaign was conducted by engineers and technicians from DGA’s Center of Expertise and Testing, with the industrial support of Ineo Défense and ONERA. The flights took place over two weeks over a training site near the ocean, and were conducted by naval and army personnel.

The objective of the tests was to evaluate the demonstrator’s performance by playing scenarios representative of the operational reality, whether the environment is maritime or terrestrial. Different simulated targets specifically implemented for the experiment were detected, located and identified.

The results of the CERBERE study will be taken into account to guide the future intelligence and electronic warfare programs run by the DGA for the benefit of the armed forces.

CERBERE (Capacité Expérimentale ROEM pour Ballons et Aérostats Légers – Experimental SIGINT Capability for Balloons and Light Aerostats)

Joint fighter program

According to Reuters, France and Germany have reached an agreement on their joint fighter program and are expected to award a contract to demonstrate the validity of the planned technology by January, Dassault Aviation chief executive said on Monday, November 18.

The contract for a demonstrator of the French-German-Spanish New Generation Fighter is on track for award in January 2020, according to Dassault Aviation’s CEO, and talks about a separate contract for its engine could be concluded this year (DA image)

The contract was initially expected to be awarded this year and the delay had sparked Dassault and Airbus, the leading industrial partners in the project, to pressure France and Germany to make progress.

«There is no more issue right now between the French and German (governments) as far as the FCAS (Future Combat Air System) is concerned», Dassault CEO Eric Trappier told Reuters at the Dubai Airshow. «There is an agreement at the top level and the next step should be the first contract for a demonstrator before the end of January 2020». He also said talks between France’s Safran and Germany’s MTU Aero Engines, which are making the engines, were progressing and that he hoped an agreement would be reached this year.

The project to build a new generation of manned and unmanned warplanes was announced by the leaders of France and Germany two years ago and expanded earlier this year to include Spain.

Dassault and Airbus won a 65 million euro ($72 million) contract in January to develop the concept.

The first test fight of the demonstrator remains on track for 2026, Trappier said, having earlier warned that date could be at risk from delays to the program.

The warplane system is expected to be operational from 2040, with a view to replacing Dassault’s Rafale and the four-nation Eurofighter, in which Airbus represents both Germany and Spain

«We are preparing not for the future of tomorrow but for the future of after tomorrow», Trappier said.

The European joint project faces competition from a British new generation fighter jet project dubbed «Tempest», which Italy joined last month.

Trappier said he did not mind that Britain was pursuing its own program and that it could still join the Franco-German project, but only after the first demonstrator flight. «What is sure is if nobody does anything, that is a problem. If there are two teams it’s better than no team», he said. Trappier also said he expected India to buy additional Rafale warplanes following its initial 36 jet purchase.

Expeditionary Sea Base

The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of its third Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) ship, USNS Miguel Keith (T-ESB-5) November 15.

An artist rendering of the future Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) ship, T-ESB 5 named in honor of Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Miguel Keith (U.S. Navy photo illustration)

Delivery marks the official transfer of the ship from the shipbuilder to the U.S. Navy. USNS Miguel Keith (T-ESB-5) will be owned and operated by Military Sealift Command.

«The Navy and industry team overcame significant setbacks in the construction of this ship, and I’m extremely proud of the urgency and determination displayed on everyone’s part to deliver a high-quality ship that will support our operational requirements in the 7th Fleet area of operations», said Captain Scot Searles, Strategic Sealift and Theater Sealift program manager, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. «Like the ship’s namesake, those who sail aboard Miguel Keith will embody his dedication to service to our country».

ESBs are highly flexible, modular platforms that are optimized to support a variety of maritime-based missions including special operations force and airborne mine countermeasures support operations, in addition to humanitarian support and sustainment of traditional military missions.

ESBs include a four-spot flight deck and hangar and a versatile mission deck and are designed around four core capabilities: aviation facilities, berthing, equipment staging support and command and control assets. ESBs will operate as the component commander requires, providing the U.S. Navy fleet with a critical access infrastructure that supports the flexible deployment of forces and supplies.

USNS Miguel Keith (T-ESB-5) was constructed by General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) shipyard in San Diego, California. NASSCO is under contract for detail design and construction of ESBs 6 and 7, with an option for ESB-8.

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.

Multipurpose helicopter

Airbus Helicopters has delivered the first of two H145M multipurpose helicopters for defence and security missions to the Government of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. Together with the helicopters, Airbus also provides a training and support package to its customer. The delivery of the second helicopter is scheduled before the end of the year. The delivered H145M is the first H145 in Luxembourg.

Airbus Helicopters has delivered the first of two H145M multipurpose helicopters for defence and security missions to the Government of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. Together with the helicopters, Airbus also provides a training and support package to its customer. The delivery of the second helicopter is scheduled before the end of the year. The delivered H145M is the first H145 in Luxembourg

The helicopter is equipped with a hoist, a fast roping system, a high-performance camera, a search light, advanced communication systems, and will have provisions to install a light armour protection kit. The latest technologies to allow the helicopter to operate in adverse weather conditions and during nighttime are incorporated in the design. The helicopter will be operated and serviced at Luxembourg Findel Airport, where it has been presented to public today for the first time. With a maximum take-off weight of 3.7 tonnes, the H145M can be used for a wide range of tasks, including troop and passenger transport, surveillance, air rescue, reconnaissance and medical evacuation.

The H145M is a tried-and-tested light twin-engine helicopter that was first delivered in 2015 to the German Armed Forces and has since been ordered by Hungary, Thailand and the Republic of Serbia. Mission readiness of the H145Ms already in service is above 95 percent.

Powered by two Safran Arriel 2E engines, the H145M is equipped with Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) and the Helionix digital avionics suite. It includes a high-performance 4-axis autopilot, increasing safety and reducing pilot workload. Its particularly low acoustic footprint makes the H145M the quietest helicopter in its class.

 

Characteristics

DIMENSIONS
Length (rotor rotating) 44.72 feet/13.63 m
Fuselage length 38.35 feet/11.69 m
Height 13.12 feet/4 m
Main rotor diameter 36.09 feet/11 m
Width (blades folded) 8.89 feet/2.71 m
CAPABILITIES
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 8,157 lbs/3,700 kg
Useful Load 3,900 lbs/1,769 kg
Sling load 3,307 lbs/1,500 kg
Maximum seating 1/2 pilots + 10/9 troops
ENGINE
2 × Turbomeca ARRIEL 2E turboshaft engines
Maximum Continuous Power (MCP) 2×771 shp/2×575 kW
Take-Off Power (TOP) 2×894 shp/2×667 kW
2 min One Engine Inoperative (OEI) 1×1,038 shp/1×775 kW
30 sec OEI-power 1×1,072 shp/1×800 kW
PERFORMANCE AT MTOW
Speed (Vne – never exceed speed) 135 knots/155 mph/250 km/h
Fast Cruise speed (Vh – maximum speed) 132 knots/152 mph/244 km/h
Maximum range 357 NM/411 miles/662 km
Hover ceiling OGE (TOP), ISA 8,858 feet/2,700 m

 

SPIKE Missile

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

German Army acquires 1500 SPIKE missiles and hundreds of launchers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Sea Going

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

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

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

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

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

PPA1 sailing in its FSG (Italian Navy)

 

PPA – Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The PPA Programme was integrated into OCCAR in 2015.

 

PPA Technical Information

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

 

Solid State Radar

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seoul Frigate

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

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

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

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

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

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