Drone wings clipped

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would restrict Navy spending on the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program until the completion of a Pentagon review of its entire information, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) portfolio and those results were reported back to Congress, as USNI News reported. The Navy’s FY 2015 budget submission included $403 million to further develop the UCLASS program.

X-47B UCAS. First Flight at Pax River, July 2012
X-47B UCAS. First Flight at Pax River, July 2012

As it is expected, the bill will have passed both the Senate and the House. This fateful document also directs the Secretary of the Navy to submit a report to Congress on how the Navy decided on the most recently stated set of requirements for UCLASS through the prism of the emerging anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) threats the military has touted as a dangerous limitation to U.S. forces and future capabilities of a carrier strike group (CSG) in 2030.

In this regard, it is worth noting the following point: the FY 2017 budget submission will include the study, which will require the Navy to outline its plan for how the UCLASS would work with the Navy’s EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, the F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and the planned next generation F/A-XX naval fighter.

Congressman Randy Forbes at HASC-led press conference
Congressman Randy Forbes at HASC-led press conference

«I am very encouraged by the conference outcome on the UCLASS program. The OSD study… will not just force a second look at requirements for this platform, but also take a broader look at our plans for the carrier air wing in the 2030 time period», Congressman J. Randy Forbes (4th district of Virginia), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee told USNI News. «We need to be measuring these programs twice and cutting only once when it comes to important new investments that we will be relying on to project power in the contested environments of the future».

The report will also require the Navy to provide an UCLASS acquisition strategy, program costs and schedule information to Congress. By the way, USNI News reporter Sam LaGrone argues that the UCLASS program inside the Navy is called the RAQ-25.

The service has pitched an UCLASS with an emphasis on surveillance and light strike in the last two years – a change from a stealthy UAV capable of penetrating strikes with a payload equivalent to the F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

«The Navy may have made an appropriate set of trade-offs between costs and capabilities in deriving a set of requirements for UCLASS, but those trade-offs should be evaluated in the context of the overall CSG capability, not on the basis of individual capabilities of weapons systems or an unconstrained budget», according to a report from the bill.

An earlier House report found, «disproportionate emphasis in the requirements on unrefueled endurance to enable continuous intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support to the carrier strike group, would result in an aircraft with too little survivability and too small an internal weapons payload capability». As an example, UCAV X-47B can carry up to 4,500 lbs/2,040 kg payload in contrast with F-35C – 18,000 lbs/8,160 kg total weapons payload.

Finally, we should note that four American companies – Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and General Atomics – have all won early contracts to develop the UCLASS concept and were expected to respond to the final request for proposal. The US Navy expects to field UCLASS by 2020.

 

The UCAS-D team moved the X-47B UCAS by elevator from the hangar bay to the flight deck
The UCAS-D team moved the X-47B UCAS by elevator from the hangar bay to the flight deck

X-47B Specifications

Wingspan:                                                    62.1 ft/18.9 m

Folded Wingspan:                                   30.9 ft/9.4 m

Length:                                                          38.2 ft/11.6 m

Height:                                                           10.4 ft/3.2 m

Wheelbase:                                                 13.9 ft/4.2 m

Altitude:                                                        >40,000 ft/12,192 m

Range:                                                            >2,100 nm/3,889 km

Max Gross Takeoff Weight:              44,000 lbs/19,958 kg

Twin Internal Weapons Bay:            4,500 lbs/2,040 kg

Top Speed:                                                   High Subsonic

Powerplant:                                                Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220U

 

 

 X-47B (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle – UCAV)(http://usnavalaircraft.blogspot.ru/2014/11/x-47b.html)

Under the scheme «3-2-1»

The U.S. Navy deployed its third Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), USS Fort Worth, on a 16-month journey to Southeast Asia for an expedition that will build upon the success of USS Freedom’s 2013 voyage. The new ship will operate from Singapore, the Navy announced.

USS Fort Worth (LCS-3)
USS Fort Worth (LCS-3)

The U.S. Navy has said that while deployed, the ship will visit more ports, collaborate with more navies and expand LCS capabilities including the MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. USS Fort Worth departed from his homeport Naval Station San Diego (California) on November 17 and is due back in March 2016.

The ship’s Commander, Kendall Bridgewater, was enthusiastic about the upcoming mission and expressed his confidence in recent interviews with media who were invited to tour the ship prior to deployment. «The LCS is a fast ship with a shallow draft, which allows it to go into ports other Navy ships can’t access», Bridgewater said. «We can go in and engage with a lot more partners and allies», he said.

Along with an expansion of operations from the 2013 deployment, Fort Worth will be the first LCS to test the Navy’s so-called «3-2-1» deployment scheme. In fact, such a scheme of service is a classic shift work. Specifically, three crews will each take a four-month rotation on two LCS ships, one deployed and one in port. The idea of this scheme is to minimize crew fatigue and maximize the utility of a forward deployed ship. The service plans to have USS Fort Worth deployed for a total of 16 months.

USS Forth Worth embarked with a detachment from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 that will operate both a MH-60R Seahawk manned helicopter and a MQ-8B Fire Scout rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The ship, which has traveled more than 40,000 nautical miles, is the second LCS built by the Lockheed Martin-led industry team, which includes Marinette Marine Corporation (MMC) and Gibbs & Cox. Forth Worth was delivered to the Navy in 2012, two months ahead of schedule.

While USS Fort Worth conducts its mission in Southeast Asia, the industry team continues to build Freedom-variant LCSs at MMC in Marinette, Wisconsin, with six under construction:

USS Freedom (LCS-1) – commissioned 2008 – San Diego

USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) – commissioned 2012 – San Diego

USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) – commissioned 2015

USS Detroit (LCS-7)

USS Little Rock (LCS-9)

USS Sioux City (LCS-11)

USS Witchta (LCS-13)

USS Billings (LCS-15)

USS Indianapolis (LCS-17)

Ship Design Features
Ship Design Features

Ship Design Specifications

Hull:                                                   Advanced semiplaning steel monohull

Length Overall:                           118.6 meters (389 feet)

Beam Overall:                              17.5 meters (57 feet)

Draft:                                                 4.1 meters (13.5 feet)

Full Load Displacement:        Approximately 3,200 metric tons

Top Speed:                                     Greater than 40 knots

Watercraft Launch and Recovery:    Up to Sea State 4

Aircraft Launch and Recovery:            Up to Sea State 5

Propulsion:                                     Combined diesel and gas turbine with steerable water jet propulsion

Hangar Space:                              Two H-60 helos or one H-60 helo and three VTUAVs

Core Crew:                                     Less than 50; Accommodations for 75 sailors provide higher sailor quality of life than current fleet

Integrated Bridge System:    Fully digital nautical charts are interfaced to ship sensors to support safe ship operation

Core Self-Defense Suite:       Includes 3D air search radar, Rolling Airframe Missile, medium caliber gun, EO/IR gunfire control system and decoy launching system

 

MH-60R Seahawk
MH-60R Seahawk

MH-60R Seahawk Specifications

Dimensions

Operating length                      64.83 ft/19.76 m

Operating width                       53.66 ft/16.35 m

Operating height                      16.70 ft/5.10 m

Folded length                              41.05 ft/12.51 m

Folded width                               11.00 ft/3.35 m

Folded height                              12.92 ft/3.94 m

Main rotor diameter               53.66 ft/16.35 m

Tail rotor diameter                  11.00 ft/3.35 m

Airframe Characteristics

Mission gross weight (Surface Warfare, SUW)        21,290 lb/9,657 kg

Maximum takeoff gross weight                              23,500 lb/10,681.82 kg

Engines                                           (2) T700-GE-401C

Mission endurance (SUW)  3.30 hours

Dash speed                                  140 kts/259 km/h

Weapons                                      Anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, 50 cal. guns

Auxiliary fuel                              Up to two external tanks

 

LCS 3 Builder’s Trials

Freedom Class LCS (Littoral Combat Ship)(http://navyarm.blogspot.ru/2014/11/freedom-class-lcs.html)

New «Scout» for the fleet

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) has delivered the first operational MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter to the U.S. Navy, reported defense-aerospace.com. The new VTUAV (Vertical Takeoff and landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) system will be used by ship-based commanders to improve the Navy’s intelligence-gathering capabilities.

Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout sits on the tarmac at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu. (Photo by Northrop Grumman)
Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout sits on the tarmac at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu. (Photo by Northrop Grumman)

The MQ-8C Fire Scout is a fully autonomous, four-blade, single-engine unmanned helicopter. Like the MQ-8B, it will carry an array of reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) sensors to support warfighters’ demands for enhanced situational awareness.

The new Fire Scout supports both maritime and land-based missions, taking off and landing on aviation-capable warships, and at prepared and unprepared landing zones in proximity to ground troops. It has also been designed to operate with nearly any type of future or current military standards-based control segment, communicating as easily with shipboard controllers using the Navy’s Tactical Control Station as field commanders using the U.S. Army’s universal ground control station.

As you can see from the specifications, the new VTUAV 4,7 ft longer (with blades folded), 1,2 ft taller, 1,6 ft wider and 2850 lbs heavier than the old MQ-8B Fire Scout Vehicle.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout provides the U.S. Navy with an increased range by over 30%, twice the endurance and an increased payload capacity over the existing MQ-8B variant. Under a risk reduction and cost-savings approach, the unmanned systems architecture developed and matured for the MQ-8B is re-used in a Bell 407 helicopter to support a special operations requirement for a ship-based unmanned system, says Northrop Grumman.

The Bell 407 is a mature commercial helicopter with more than 1,000 airframes produced and over 3 million flight hours. Combined with the maturity of Northrop Grumman’s unmanned systems architecture, the MQ-8C Fire Scout uses available technology and equipment to deliver a more capable system to the Navy.

«The test program will run through the summer as we expect these aircraft to be ready for operations by year’s end», said George Vardoulakis, vice president for medium range tactical systems with Northrop Grumman.

The MQ-8C’s first shipboard flight tests aboard the USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) will be conducted this winter. The Navy will then assess the advanced system for operational use.

NOC is under contract to build 19 MQ-8C Fire Scouts, including two test aircraft. The US Navy plans to purchase 70 aircraft total.

An MQ-8B Fire Scout aboard USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) in July 2013.
An MQ-8B Fire Scout aboard USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) in July 2013.

MQ-8B Fire Scout Specifications

Fuselage Length (with Dual Payload Nose)           23.95 ft (7.3 m)

Fuselage Width                                                                      6.20 ft (1.9 m)

Fuselage Length (with Blades Folded Forward) 30.03 ft (9.2 m)

Rotor Diameter                                                                      27.50 ft (8.4 m)

Height (Top of Tail Antenna)                                          9.71 ft (2.9 m)

Gross Weight                                                                           3,150 lbs (1428.8 kg)

Engine                                          Rolls Royce 250-C20W Turboshaft Engine

Speed                                                                                      115+ Knots (213 km/h)

Ceiling                                                                                          20,000 ft (6.1 km)

Endurance

Total Flight Time with Baseline Payload                 8+ Hrs

Total Flight Time with EO/IR + Radar                       7+ Hrs

Total Flight Time with Maximum Payload              5+ Hrs

Payloads

EO/IR/LRF/Mine Detector/Comm Relay/Maritime Radar

 

Artist conception of MQ-8C Fire Scout
Artist conception of MQ-8C Fire Scout

MQ-8С Fire Scout Specifications

Length                                                                    41.4 ft (12.6 m)

Width                                                                     7.8 ft (2.4 m)

Blades Folded Hangar                  7.8 x 34.7 x 10.9 ft (2.4 x 10.6 x 3.3 m)

Height                                                                    10.9 ft (3.3 m)

Rotor Diameter                                                 35 ft (10.7 m)

Gross Takeoff Weight                                   6,000 lbs (2721.5 kg)

Engine                                                                     Rolls-Royce 250-C47B        with Full Authority Digital Electronic Control

Performance

Speed                                                           140 knots (max) (259 km/h)

Operational Ceiling                             17,000 ft (5.1 km)

Maximum Endurance                         14 hrs

Maximum Payload (Internal)         1,000 lbs (453,6 kg)

Typical Payload                                      600 lbs (272 kg) (11 hrs endurance)

Maximum Sling Load                          2,650 lbs (1202 kg)

 

Ula retires

The Ula-class submarines are among the most silent and maneuverable subs in the world. This, in combination with their relatively small size (length: 59 m; beam: 5.4 m; draft: 4.6 m), makes them very difficult to detect from surface vessels and quite ideal for operations in coastal areas. Therefore it is not surprising that these diesel-electric submarines are regarded as both the most effective and cost-effective weapons in the Royal Norwegian Navy (RNoN).

HNoMS Ula (S300)
HNoMS Ula (S300)

However, it must be noted that six Ula-class submarines were commissioned between 1989 and 1992, designed for a service life of thirty years. These submarines are insufficient to meet future, high-tech threats. As defense-aerospace.com reported, Norway’s future submarine capability has been studied since 2007. The studies have been conducted in two phases, both with thorough external quality reviews before being presented. The Norwegian Government has now taken a conceptual decision on future submarine capability.

«Submarines are a vital capability in the Norwegian Armed Forces, and have a major impact on our overall defence capability. Together with combat aircraft and Special Operations Forces (SOF), submarines are among the armed forces’ most important capabilities. Hence, it is very important that we now have established that the acquisition of new submarines will form the basis for further project work. This decision makes it possible for us to maintain a credible submarine capability», says Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide.

He also noted that that the ability to operate covertly, which is so vital for the submarine’s relevance, will be significantly better for a new watercrafts than what is achievable through service life extension of the current fleet. This is due to lower acoustic signatures and a better hydrodynamic design.

It is a substantial task that awaits the project organization. Part of the work will be to evaluate potential cooperation with other countries in terms of procurement, training and maintenance. A partnership can contribute to economies of scale and a robust solution throughout the life of the submarines. I guess the Norwegian Government will cooperate with Germany, as it was while Ula-class submarines were assembled in Germany by Thyssen Nordseewerke, Emden. By the way, in Germany the Ula-design submarines are known as the U-Boot-Klasse 210.

The decision only entails that the project moves into a new phase – the project definition phase. No investment decisions have so far been taken. By the end of 2016, a recommendation on the future submarine capability will be presented. Thereafter, pending the Governments decision, an investment proposal will be presented to Norwegian Parliament. This will enable the delivery of new submarines to the Norwegian Navy starting from the mid 2020’s. Thus, the Ula-class must be kept operational for additionally five years (!) in order to maintain a continuous submarine capability until a replacement is operational. Studies, carried out by the Ministry of Defence, show that it would have been very costly and impractical to extend the service life beyond this.

The total investment cost of this major project depends on the number of submarines and the weapons inventory. Of course, we are talking about diesel-electric watercrafts. Norway cannot afford to build and maintain nuclear-powered submarines.

«I emphasize that we have not decided the final level of ambition for this project or the number of submarines. This is something I will give my recommendation on when the project is presented in 2016», says the Minister of Defence.

Diesel-electric submarine
Diesel-electric submarine

Farewell to Russia

During the Cold War (or, more precisely, «during the First Cold War», as my friend says) India has worked closely with the Russian military-industrial complex. However, in the beginning of the XXI century, this old friendship cracked.

INS Vikramaditya
INS Vikramaditya

First of all, after Russian aircraft carrier Baku was deactivated in 1996 (it was too expensive to operate on a post-Cold War budget), Russia and India signed a deal for the sale of the ship. Baku was free, while India would pay $800 million for the upgrade and refit of the ship, as well as an additional $1 billion for the aircraft and weapons systems.

The announced delivery date for INS Vikramaditya was 2008; however, India finally agreed to pay an additional $1.2 billion for the project – more than doubling the original cost. Furthermore, in July 2008, it was reported that Russia wanted to increase the price by $2 billion, blaming unexpected cost overruns on the deteriorated condition of the aircraft carrier and citing a «market price» for a new ship of $3-4 billion. On 17 September 2012, malfunctions were detected during sea trials. According to official Russian report, seven out of eight steam boilers of the propulsion machinery were out of order! Because of this, the deadline of the hand over this ship to the Indian Navy was postponed again until October 2013, and INS Vikramaditya was formally commissioned only on November 16, 2013. In May 2014, the carrier was declared operationally deployed along with its embarked air group.

Arjun MBT Mk-II
Arjun MBT Mk-II

Secondly, in 1996 the Indian government decided to mass-produce the new main battle tank at Indian Ordnance Factory’s production facility in Avadi. The Arjun project experienced serious budget overruns; nevertheless, in March 2010 the Arjun tank was pitted against the T-90 in comparative trials and performed well. The Arjun MBT Mk-II is an advanced third generation main battle tank; it had outclassed the T-90 during the trials.

Thirdly, in February 2011, French Rafales flew demonstrations in India, including air-to-air combat against Su-30MKIs. On January 31, 2012, the Indian Air Force (IAF) announced the Rafale as the preferred bidder in the competition with the Eurofighter Typhoon. The contract for 126 Rafales, services, and parts could be worth as much as $20 billion.

Unfortunately, the deal was stalled from disagreements over the fighter production in India. As per the RFP issued in 2007, the first 18 jets are to be imported and the rest manufactured under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). According to the sources, French Dassault was reluctant to stand guarantee for the 108 fighters to be built by HAL as far as liquidity damages and timelines for production are concerned. This, the sources said, is the critical issue that is delaying the final inking.

Dassault Rafale
Dassault Rafale

At last, on December 1, 2014 French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian raised the issue of the multi-billion dollar deal for 126 Rafale combat aircraft during talks with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar who said it would be «resolved in a fast-tracked manner». The Defence Ministry is of the view that the guarantee clause was part of the Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQR) under the RFP that was issued. Dassault had agreed to the ASQR and hence was chosen the winner, the sources maintained.

Dassault Rafale, which would replace India’s Russian-made fleet of MiG-21 and MiG-27 planes, had stood over combat aircraft manufactured by rivals like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. At present, India has only 34 fighter jet squadrons (16-18 planes in each) against the projected need of 45 squadrons.

Indian Air Force
Indian Air Force

 

Specifications and performance data

 Dimensions

Wing span:                                              10.90 m

Length:                                                      15.30 m

Height:                                                       5.30 m

 

Weight

Overall empty weight:                      10 t (22,000 lbs) class

Max. take-off weight:                        24.5 t (54,000 lbs)

Fuel (internal):                                       4.7 t (10,300 lbs)

Fuel (external):                                      up to 6.7 t (14,700 lbs)

External load:                                         9.5 t (21,000 lbs)

 

Store stations

Total:                                                           14

Heavy-wet:                                                 5

 

Performance

Max. thrust:                                             2 x 7.5 t

Limit load factors:                                -3.2 g/+9 g

Max. speed (high altitude/low):   M = 1.8 (1,912 km/h)/750 knots

Approach speed:                                   less than 120 knots

Landing ground run:                           450 m (1,500 ft) without drag-chute

Service ceiling:                                       15,235 m (50,000 ft)

Diesel submarines return

It is a well-known fact that in the United States Navy as well as in the Royal Navy and French Navy all combatant submarines are nuclear-powered. At the same time as Russia, China and India operate not only nuclear-powered submarines, but also diesel-electric submarines.

Scorpene SSK (above), SMX-Océan (center), Barracuda SSN (below)
Scorpene SSK (above), SMX-Océan (center), Barracuda SSN (below)

There are some sophisticated models among modern diesel-electric submarines. I reckon the most advanced subs of that type are Sōryū-class attack submarines (Japan) and Type 214 class submarines (Germany). Sōryū-class submarines are fitted with air-independent propulsion based on Kockums stirling engines license-built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, allowing them to stay submerged for longer periods of time. Therefore, I am not surprised that Australian officials are leaning towards replacing the Collins-class submarine with Sōryū-class boats bought from Japan.

Apparently, France is going to return to the club of diesel-electric submarines. As naval-technology.com reported, SMX-Océan, a conventionally powered attack submarine design concept, unveiled by DCNS Group, is based on the basic Barracuda-class nuclear submarine layout including weapons, masts and combat system. The SMX-Océan submarine will be a transposition of the Barracuda SSN nuclear powered attack submarine into diesel-electric submarine (SSK). It is expected to enter into French Navy’s service by 2017.

The new multi-role submarine will be suitable for deployment in anti-surface warfare (ASuW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-air warfare (AAW), land attack and even Special Forces missions. Special operations forces (SOF) equipment for 16 divers will be fitted to the sub, as will an internal reserved area, lock out chamber for eight divers, and an external watertight storage. It will also feature a dry dock shelter, hyperbaric chamber, swimmers delivery vehicle, and unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) dock. The SMX-Océan submarine will integrate sensors with manned or unmanned vehicles that provide capability to gather intelligence in four domains including air, surface, under the sea and on the land. It will be capable of launching UUVs and unmanned air vehicles (UAVs).

With up to three months’ endurance, an SMX-Océan could cross the Atlantic six times without surfacing. DCNS teams have developed and combined a number of innovations including a high-performance air-independent propulsion (AIP) system using second-generation fuel cells for submerged endurance of up to three weeks (21 days). With a total of 34 weapons including torpedoes, mines, anti-ship missiles, cruise missiles and anti-air missiles, the SMX-Océan’s firepower will be unprecedented for an SSK. The SMX-Océan concept design also includes vertical launchers to provide a salvo capability for cruise missile strikes on land targets.

SMX-Océan conventionally powered attack submarine
SMX-Océan conventionally powered attack submarine

 

Technical data

Length:                                                             100 m (330ft)

Height:                                                             15.5 m

Beam:                                                               8.8 m (28.9ft)

Surface displacement:                            4,750 t

Maximum diving depth:                         350 m

Maximum speed, submerged:            20 kts

Range:                                                               18,000 nmi at 10 kts speed

Hit the bull’s-eye

According to the Jane’s (IHS Inc.), the Royal Air Force (RAF) has completed the first in-service releases of the Raytheon Paveway IV precision-guided bomb from a Eurofighter Typhoon.

Typhoon
Typhoon (British Crown Copyright 2013)

1(Fighter) Squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth, successfully released two live Paveway IV weapons at Cape Wrath Training Area on 25 November as part of the squadron’s work up with the new Phase One Enhancement (P1Eb) Typhoon capability upgrade.

The squadron conducted a total of eight Paveway IV drops during the week of 24 November, with a mix of profiles including GPS and laser guidance; pre-planned and target of opportunity using the pilot’s Helmet Equipment Assembly (HEA); and employing both impact and airburst fusing settings on the weapon.

The eagerly awaited P1Eb upgrade brings full air-to-surface capability for the Tranche 2 aircraft. It provides enhancements to the Litening III Laser Designator Pod (LDP) and the HEA as well as with Paveway IV. The LDP can now also be used seamlessly with the HEA to visually identify air tracks at long range, as well as identifying, tracking and targeting points on the ground. The Paveway IV offers increased precision, stand-off, and flexibility of employment, and the Typhoon can release a number of weapons to different targets in a single pass. BAE Systems test pilot Steve Formoso commented, «P1Eb standard Typhoons can carry up to six Paveway IV weapons, which can be released simultaneously against multiple targets».

Armourers prepare Paveway IV Bomb
Armourers prepare Paveway IV Bomb

 

Paveway IV (500 lb/230 kg)

Manufactured by Raytheon Systems Ltd, UK, Paveway IV dual-mode (INS/GPS and laser-guided) precision guided bomb significantly increases the RAF’s capability to deliver precision effects matched to the target set. The weapon is cockpit-programmable and allows the aircrew to select weapon impact angle, attack direction and fuzing mode to detonate in airburst, impact or post-impact delay modes. The fuze minimizes collateral damage through the ability to detonate the weapon when buried or partially buried, and is fitted with a ‘Late-Arm’ safety functionality that will not allow an off-course munition to arm. The company has also developed a penetrator warhead for the Paveway IV, through which Raytheon is aiming to provide roughly the same level of capability as a 2,000 lb penetrator in a 500 lb package. To achieve this, the warhead incorporates an inner hardened-steel penetrator surrounded by a frangible peeling shroud, operating on the same principle as a sabot round to provide a higher sectional density and reduced impact area to improve penetration.

The lighter Paveway IV’s provides greater flexibility giving the potential for a single aircraft to carry more weapons and so strike multiple targets in a single pass. The weapon can be reprogrammed with target data by the aircrew while airborne by using data from on-board sensors or from Forward Air Controllers on the ground. Paveway IV also retains the legacy laser guidance capability of its predecessors.

Other improvements over older weapons include less drag, greater accuracy, higher resistance to GPS jamming, better supportability, zero maintenance, lower cost and improved safety signatures. The weapon went straight onto an operational footing after its introduction into service being carried by Harrier GR9 in Afghanistan. It was later integrated onto Tornado GR4 with outstanding success on missions in both Afghanistan and Libya. Paveway IV is also a candidate weapon for integration into Joint Combat Aircraft.

Paveway IV (Raytheon Company)
Paveway IV (Raytheon Company)

Atlas is sent to England

While the Ukrainian project of Antonov An-70 is still lacking funding, the European Airbus A400M Atlas is gaining momentum. As UK Ministry of Defence reported, the first of the UK’s A400M Atlas aircraft has been officially unveiled at its new home at Royal Air Force (RAF) Brize Norton.

A400M Flares
A400M Flares

The aircraft will replace the existing fleet of C-130 Hercules (http://usairforc.blogspot.ru/2014/11/c-130j-super-hercules.html). Manufactured by Airbus Defence & Space, A400M Atlas will represent major advances on its predecessor, capable of flying almost twice as fast, twice as far and carrying almost twice as much cargo. With a cargo capacity of 32 tonnes and a hold optimised for carriage of heavy vehicles, helicopters or cargo pallets, the aircraft is capable of supporting a wide range of operational scenarios.

The UK is the third country to operate the aircraft, after France and Turkey and the £2.8 billion programme will see a total of 22 aircraft delivered to the RAF in the coming years, as it was reported by defense-aerospace.com.

The A400M has been rigorously designed to meet the equipment transport needs of modern armed forces. The A400M can perform missions, which previously required two – or more – different types of aircraft, and which even then provided an imperfect solution. Its fuselage external width of 5.64 metres/18 ft 6 in is equal to that of the A330/A340 wide-body. Its cargo hold has an inside usable width of 4 metres/13ft, height of up to 4 metres/13ft, and usable length of 17.71 metres/58 ft.

Extensive use of advanced 3D computational fluid dynamics tools optimised the wing shape, resulting in a low drag design and thus a high speed cruise of Mach 0.72, without compromising low speed performance and handling.

With a maximum payload of up to 37 tonnes (81 600 lb) and a volume of 340 m3 (12 000 ft3), the A400M can carry numerous pieces of outsize cargo including, vehicles and helicopters that are too large or too heavy for previous generation tactical airlifters, for example, an NH90 or a CH-47 Chinook (http://usgroundforces. blogspot.ru/2014/11/ch-47-chinook.html) helicopter, or two heavy armoured vehicles for military purposes. It can also carry a heavy logistic truck, or a rescue boat, or large lifting devices, such as excavators or mobile cranes needed to assist in disaster relief.

The A400M is able to land on, and take-off from, any short, soft and rough unprepared CBR 6 airstrip, no longer than 750 m/2,500 ft, while delivering up to 25 tonnes/55,000 lb of payload, and with enough fuel on board for a 930 km/500 nm return trip. In addition to offering optimised support to deployed military operating bases, these characteristics also allow it to ensure that swift humanitarian aid can be deployed direct to a disaster region.

The A400M can also easily and swiftly be adapted to become a Tanker, if required in a military operation. Air-to-Air Refuelling can be done either through two wing mounted hose and drogue under-wing refuelling pods or through a centre-line fuselage refuelling unit (FRU). Its built-in air-to-air refuelling capability allows it to be rapidly re-configured to become a tanker. With hard points, fuel lines and electrical connections already built into the wings, it takes under two hours to convert the A400M from an airlifter into a two-point tanker aircraft.

The A400M excels in the airdrop role, being able to drop from both high and low altitudes, (as high as 40,000 ft for special forces’ operations, and as low as 15ft for low level load deliveries). With the new A400M, which can carry more paratroopers than other Western-built military transport, Airbus Military is setting new standards in paradropping operations.

Heavy and Outsize Loads
Heavy and Outsize Loads

 

Specifications

 

Dimensions

Overall Length                                                45.10 m                     148 ft

Overall Height                                                14.70 m                     48 ft

Wing Span                                                         42.40 m                     139 ft

Cargo Hold Length (ramp excluded) 17.71 m                      58 ft

Cargo Hold Height                                       3.85-4.00 m            12 ft 7 in-13 ft

Cargo Hold Width                                        4.00 m                        13 ft

Cargo Hold Volume                                     340 m3                       12 000 ft3

 

Weights

Maximum Take Off Weight                      141 000 kg                 310 850 lb

Maximum Landing Weight                        123 000 kg                 271 200 lb

Internal Fuel Weight                                     50 500 kg                   111 300 lb

Maximum Payload                                          37 000 kg                   81 600 lb

 

Engine (x4)

EuroProp International TP400-D6       11 000 shp                  8200 kW

 

Performance

Maximum Operating Altitude                   40 000 ft                     12 200 m

Maximum Cruise Speed (TAS)                   300 kt                           555 km/h

Cruise Speed Range                                         0.68-0.72 M

 

Range

Maximum Payload (37 000 kg – 81 600 lb)       1780 nm          3300 km

Range with 30 000 kg (66 000 lb) Payload         2450 nm          4500 km

Range with 20 000 kg (44 000 lb) Payload         3450 nm          6400 km

Maximum Range (Ferry)                                                4700 nm          8700 km

 

Total orders                                                               174

Total deliveries                                                              6

Total in operation                                                         6

Number of customers-operators                        8

Number of current operators                               2

Number of countries                                                  8

 

France              Orders – 50, Deliveries – 5, In operation – 5

Germany         Orders – 53

Malaysia          Orders –   4

Spain                  Orders – 27

Turkey              Orders – 10, Deliveries – 1, In operation – 1

UK                       Orders – 22, Deliveries – 1

 

Navy needs new «docks»

It is not a secret of the Universe our World is changing. After the Russian-Georgian and Russian-Ukrainian war, NATO revised its understanding of Russia. Moscow made no secret of his ambition with regard to its neighbors. Thus, the United States understood the need to maintain amphibious fleet in a constant state of readiness to be able to move troops in Europe.

LPD Flight II
LPD Flight II, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc.

As said Sam LaGrone, the USNI Online Editor at the U.S. Naval Institute, Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) has revised its plan to use the hull form of the San Antonio-class amphibious warship (http://navyarm.blogspot.ru/2014/11/san-antonio-class-lpd.html) as a candidate for the Navy’s next generation amphibious warship – LX(R).

HII’s new Flight IIA modifies the original LPD-17 design by removing some of the higher end capabilities of the San Antonio and creating a so-called amphibious truck to replace the existing class of aging Whidbey Island (http://navyarm.blogspot.ru/2014/11/whidbey-island-lsd.html) and Harpers Ferry (http://navyarm.blogspot.ru/ 2014/11/harpers-ferry-class-lsd.html) 16,000-ton landing ship docks (LSD).

The largest improvement in capability will be to the ship’s communication and aviation ability.

The current LSDs have a minimal command and control capability – the ability to communicate with other U.S. military forces and coordinate different types of aircraft and smaller vessel – and no native ability to host and maintain the aircraft of the trio of ships that make up the Navy’s Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs).

The LX(R) will be much bigger than the ships it will be replacing – displacing about 7,000 more than the current LSDs at 23,470 tons, HII officials told USNI News.

Instead of the four Colt-Pielstick diesel engines, HII’s model reduces the prime mover count to two unspecified main propulsion diesel engines (MPDE).

The Mark-46 30mm gun weapon system is replaced with a Mark-38 Mod 2 remote controlled 25mm chain gun providing offensive and defensive ability.

The AN/SPS-48E air search radar is replaced with a TRS-3D, which is currently outfitted on the National Security Cutter providing a more suitable sensor for its mission.

The Flight IIA retains about half of the medical spaces on the LPD. Company officials also said the current iteration would feature two spots for the Navy’s LCAC hovercraft or one utility landing craft (LCU) – which is in line with the Navy’s current thinking for requirements for the LX(R). Other changes include reducing the troop capacity from 800 to 500 with a crew of about 400 sailors.

Though HII is original designers and builders of the LPD-17 ships, they are not guaranteed the design and construction contract for the new LX(R) ship class. General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, California has also helped the Navy in its current push to lower the cost at the start of the acquisition process and is considered likely to bid on the final work.

The Navy’s frontend analysis of alternatives process for LX(R) has been described as, «the best ship design conversation we’ve had in a long time inside the government», NAVSEA chief Vice Adm. William Hilarides said in May.

HII officials didn’t announce a cost estimate for their version, but according to past information from the Navy a San Antonio LX(R) could cost about $1.64 billion for the lead ship with follow-ons costing about $1.4 billion for a total of 11 ships.

Flight II vs. LPD 17
Flight II vs. LPD 17

 

Dimensions

Overall length: 684 ft, 208.5m

Beam, DWL: 105 ft, 31.9m

Full load Draft: 21.7 ft, 6.6m

 

Weights (long tons)

Lightship: 16,600

Full load at delivery: 22,800

 

Performance

Sustained Speed: 20+ knots

Installed Power: 26,820 SHP

Service Life: 40 years

 

Machinery Systems

20 MW MPDE

Direct Drive Reduction Gears

2 x Controllable Pitch Propellers

 

Amphibious Systems

Vehicle Square (net): 24,600 sq ft

Cargo Cube (net): 17,000 cu ft

Cargo Fuel, JP-5: 310,000 gal

Landing Craft: 2 x LCAC or 1 x LCU

Well Deck Operations: Wet/Dry

 

Navigation

NAVSSI

AN/UQN-4A Sonar Sounding Set

AN/WQN-2 DSVL

AN/SPS-73 Surface Search Radar

AN/WSN-7

AN/URN-26 TACAN

Anti-Jam GPS

Integrated Bridge

 

Communications

SI COMMS

HF/VHF/UHF Voice/Data

DWTS/EPLRS

UHF/SHF/EHF SATCOM

SMS

Secure VTC

SWAN

 

EW & Decoy

AN/SLQ-25

AN/SLQ-32A

MK-36 SRBOC

 

Aviation Facilities

Land/Launch Spots

2 x CH-53E or

2 x MV-22 or

2 x CH-46 or

2 x AH/UH-1

 

Electric Plant

AC Zonal Distribution System

10 KW

400 Hz Frequency Converters

 

Auxiliary Systems

A/C Plants (CFC Free): 1,500 tons installed

RO Plants: 72,000 GPD installed

Cargo Elevators: 12,000 lb capacity

Lift Platform: 6,000 lb capacity

 

Medical Facilities

Medical Operating Rooms: 1

Hospital Ward Beds: 8

Dental Operating Rooms: 1

 

Accommodations

Ship’s complement: 396

Troop: 506 Total

 

Surveillance

2D/3D Radars

AN/SPQ-9B – Fire Control Radar

AN/UPX-29 Central IFF

 

Weapons

2 x RAM Launchers

2 x 25mm Mark-38

4 x .50 Caliber Machine Guns

 

Command and Control

Links 11, 16

AN/SPQ-12V

NTCSS

GCCS-M

SGS/AC

CENTRIX

 

Survivability

Collective Protection System (Single Zone)

Strengthened Structure Against Whipping

Fragmentation Protection

Water Mist Fire Extinguising System

Degaussing System

 

Great ships require
deep waters

Canberra’s Commander Air, Commander Paul Moggach, told IHS Jane’s that the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) commissioned first-of-class landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra in Sydney on 28 November.

HMAS Canberra (LHD 02)
HMAS Canberra (LHD 02)

Thus, the sealift capability of the RAN has been dramatically increased. Based on the design of the Spanish Navy’s aircraft carrier Juan Carlos, the Canberra can embark, transport, and deploy more than 1,000 troops and their equipment from alongside or by helicopter and landing craft.

Canberra will be joined in 2016 by sister ship HMAS Adelaide (LHD 01). The hulls of both ships were constructed by Navantia at its Ferrol facility in northwest Spain and subsequently transported by heavy-lift ship to BAE Systems in Melbourne for addition of the superstructure, fitting out, and systems integration.

Design changes for the RAN included upgrades to air conditioning, Australian explosives standards in the magazines, enhanced firefighting and medical facilities, and four Typhoon remote-controlled 25 mm weapons systems at each corner of the hull for close-in defence. The Australian-developed Nulka hovering anti-missile decoy will be fitted at a later date.

The flight deck is configured for simultaneous operation of four medium-sized helicopters, such as the NHIndustries NH90 (MRH90 in Australian service) or the Sikorsky S70A-9 Black Hawk, or four Boeing CH-47D/F Chinooks. Up to eight medium helicopters can be accommodated in the hangar, and up to 18 can be carried if the light vehicle deck is also utilised.

The four Navantia-built LCM-1E watercraft carried by each LHD can transport a maximum load of 54 tonnes via the ship’s well deck.

The ultimate goal of these efforts – an Amphibious Ready Group: a battalion-based combat team with enablers that will involve about 2,000 troops and require both LHDs to transport – is scheduled to be operational by 2017.

Initial operational capability (IOC) for Canberra is expected to be reached in 2016, enabling the ship to participate in that year’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.

Earlier this year Prime Minister Tony Abbott ordered an assessment of the benefits of the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and modifying the LHDs to operate them. Unfortunately, the general reaction from senior defence sources of the Royal Australian Navy has been that additional capability would not be justified by the time, cost, and risk involved.

As it is known from open sources, the fourth American warship named for the United States of America – USS America (LHA-6) can fulfill battle missions when configured with 20 F-35B strike fighters. USS America has been modified to make her better able to withstand the great amounts of heat generated by the F-35B’s engine exhaust when taking off or landing vertically. Intercostal structural members will be added underneath flight deck landing spots seven and nine to more closely perform timed cyclic flight operations without overstressing it. Other changes may involve re-adjusting some ship antennas to allow for a clear flight path.

From this, we can conclude that it is not so easy to accommodate aircraft carriers like Australian HMAS Canberra (LHD 02) or Japan Izumo (DDH-183) for using with new multirole fighter F-35B Lightning II.

Landing Helicopter Dock
Landing Helicopter Dock

 

Platform Characteristics

Length Overall                                                                           230.8 m

Length Waterline                                                                     207.2 m

Beam                                                                                                32 m

Design Draft                                                                                7.18 m

Full Load Displacement                                                         27,831 t

Crew and Embarked Forced Accommodation         1,403

 

Machinery

Propulsion                             2 x Siemens 11,000 kW PODs

Bowthruster                         2 x 1,500 kW Brunvoll/Siemens motors

Stabilisers                               2 x Fincantieri

Generators                            1 x 22,000 kW GE LM2500 Gas Turbine and                                                       2 x 7,680 kW Diesel

Integrated Platform Management System              Navantia – Sistemas

Fresh Water                          6 x Reverse Osmosis Plants (each 25 t/day)

Sewage                                     2 x Treatment Plants

 

HMAS Adelaide (LHD 01) and HMAS Canberra (LHD 02)
HMAS Adelaide (LHD 01) and HMAS Canberra (LHD 02)

 

Performance

Maximum Speed                                                                             20+ kts

Economic Speed                                                                             15 kts

Maximum Range                                                                             9,250 nm

Endurance                                                                                           45+ days

 

Capacity

Flight Deck                                                             4,750 m²

Dock (including ramp)                                     1,165 m²

Heavy Cargo Garage                                        1,410 m²

Light Cargo Garage                                           1,880 m²

Hangar                                                                      990 m²

Garages, Hangar and Well Dock               1,350 lane metre (2.9 m wide)

General Store Rooms                                       1,079 m²

Future Growth Margin                                    672 t