On October 14, 2015 General Dynamics NASSCO, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, began construction on the second ship of the U.S. Navy’s newly reclassified Expeditionary Base Mobile (ESB) program.
The 785-foot/239.3-meter ship will be configured with a 52,000 square-foot/4,831 square-meter flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, repair spaces, magazines, mission planning spaces and accommodations for up to 250 personnel. The ship will be capable of supporting multiple missions including Air Mine Counter Measures (AMCM), counter-piracy operations, maritime security operations, humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions and U.S. Marine Corps crisis response. It will also support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters, and will be upgraded to support MV-22 tilt rotor aircraft.
In 2011, General Dynamics NASSCO was awarded a contract from the Navy to design and build two Mobile Landing Platforms (MLP), the USNS Montford Point (ESD-1) and USNS John Glenn (ESD-2). MLP was recently reclassified by the Navy as Expeditionary Transfer Docks (ESD). In 2012, a third MLP, the USNS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-1), was added to the contract and reconfigured as an ESB, or formerly known as a MLP Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB). All three ships have been delivered by NASSCO to the U.S. Navy.
According to DefenseNews, the Pentagon late last week refused to waive a law banning the use of Russian rocket engines for military satellite launches, rejecting a plea from United Launch Alliance (ULA). ULA, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing that provides spacecraft launch services to the U.S. government, has threatened to skip an upcoming Air Force competition for satellite launches unless it gets some relief from the ban. ULA relies on the Russian RD-180 rocket engine to power its Atlas V rocket, although it also builds a Delta IV rocket powered by U.S. company Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RS-68 engine.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is the other potential competitor for the Air Force’s GPS III Launch Services solicitation, part of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. SpaceX has invested heavily over the past few years to develop its own Merlin engine to power its Falcon 9 rocket. Proposals for GPS III Launch Services are due November 16.
In response to recent Russian aggression, particularly Moscow’s annexation of Crimea last year, lawmakers in the fiscal 2015 defense budget banned the use of Russian RD-180 rocket engines for military satellite launches after 2019.
The Pentagon remains committed to maintaining two sources of launch services to ensure access to space, according to Lieutenant Commander Courtney Hillson, spokeswoman for the deputy secretary of defense. Department of Defense (DoD) will continue to evaluate the need for a waiver and consider a range of options, including possible sole-source contracts, to keep both companies in business, she continued.
«We are not planning at this time to issue a waiver lifting the prohibition against award of an EELV space launch services contract to a contractor intending to use a Russian manufactured engine, although we will continue to evaluate the need for such waiver, if deemed necessary», Hillson said in a statement emailed to Defense News on October 13.
«We will continue to work with the Administration and Congress to maintain assured access to space, to achieve the mutual goal of a healthy and competitive industrial base, and to ensure a rapid transition away from the Russian RD-180 engine».
On 10 October 2015, DCNS signed a contract with the Ministry of Defence of the Arab Republic of Egypt for the supply of two Mistral-class projection and command ships (BPCs). After the delivery of a FREMM frigate and the construction of four GOWIND 2500 corvettes, currently on-going, this agreement strengthens the strategic relations with the Egyptian Navy, initiated by the Group in 2014. By 2020, the Egyptian Navy will deploy a fleet of at least seven combat ships designed and built by DCNS.
Hervé Guillou, Chairman and CEO of DCNS announced that: «After the contracts for the supply of four GOWIND corvettes and a FREMM frigate, we are proud that the Egyptian Navy continues to place its trust in us today by signing a contract for the delivery of two MISTRAL-class BPCs. With 7 combat ships already ordered to date and a latest-generation frigate already in operation in the Egyptian Navy, DCNS is thus participating in the modernization of the defence infrastructure of this strategic French ally».
The two projection and command ships (BPCs) ordered by the Egyptian Navy from DCNS will join their homeport in the summer of 2016, after the training of the future crews. This training will be given mainly over the 1st half of 2016 in Saint-Nazaire.
With regard to associated BPC support ships, DCNS will supply in particular four new-generation landing crafts (CTM NG), designed by the Group as an integrated system to an amphibious force organized around Mistral ships, and two fast landing crafts (EDAR), designed and built by CNIM.
A long-term partnership with the Egyptian Navy
Considering that the first of the four future GOWIND corvettes for the Egyptian Navy is already being built, that the other three will be assembled in Egypt in Alexandria and that the FREMM Tahya Misr frigate was already delivered to the Egyptian Navy on 23 June 2015, the signature of this new contract further strengthens the strategic partnership developed between DCNS and the Egyptian Navy.
By 2020, the Group will have supplied at least seven ships to Egypt contributing to the modernization of its defence mechanisms.
This strong partnership between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the French Republic is reinforced by DCNS’ commitment to accompany the Egyptian Navy in the long term, especially with the unfailing support of dedicated service teams for the maintenance of main warships. The Group also states its presence in a wider project of industrial cooperation with the Egyptian party in the field of construction and maintenance of major program units.
Once again, due to this historical agreement, DCNS expects to build a partnership with the Egyptian Navy but also with Egyptian shipyards with which the Group intends to build a long-term cooperation. That is how DCNS has decided to invest in the Egyptian Industry to mutually develop the essential knowledge and means to support a leading Navy.
Technical characteristics of the Mistral-class ships
With a length of 653 feet/199 meters, a displacement of 23,000 tonnes and a speed in excess of 18 knots/21 mph/33 km/h, the Mistral-class BPC is defined by its large carrying capacity.
The Mistral-class BPC is designed for force-projection, peacekeeping and humanitarian-support operations, and is equipped with a particularly modular command and control centre, featuring efficient communication systems that can be adapted to all shipboard headquarter configurations.
It also has an onboard hospital, and can carry out large-scale humanitarian missions. Its highly capable communication system makes it the ideal command ship within a naval force.
HMS Forth leads her sisters Medway and Trent, all three third-generation River-class patrol vessels. Work on October 09, 2015 began on the third and final ship in the trio, Trent, at the BAE yard in Govan as defence procurement Philip Dunne pressed the button to start a plasma cutter at work on sheets of steel.
Forth is already 50 per cent assembled in the neighbouring ship hall – her engines and pipes have now been fitted – and will be complete outwardly by the year’s end. Work piecing together Medway will began in the same building before 2015 is out.
Despite the River-class title, the trio are much closer to patrol ships BAE built for the Thai and Brazilian Navies than Tyne, Mersey, Severn and Clyde – although there are 28 enhancements, such as a stronger flight deck (so a Merlin can use it) and installing BAE’s new command system.
The 800 or so shipwrights and engineers involved with the trio are using lessons from the construction of blocks for carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
In addition, work on the three ships will act as a stepping-stone towards building the Type 26s, the successors to the Type 23 frigates, which begins next year.
«It doesn’t matter whether we building one of the biggest ships we have ever built, or the smallest – pride seeps through all the team. People in this business are very proud to be building warships», said Iain Stevenson, overseeing the construction of all three River-class ships.
Forth is due to join the Fleet in 2017, followed shortly afterwards by her younger sisters.
The KC-46A Pegasus notched another success this week when the systems at the heart of aerial refueling were demonstrated on Engineering, Manufacturing and Development 2 (EMD-2) with the deployment of both drogue systems and the boom. On October 8, EMD-2 successfully extended the drogue refueling baskets from both the Centerline Drogue System (CDS), located on the belly of the fuselage, and from the Wing Aerial Refueling Pods (WARP), located on the wing tips, for probe receiver aircraft. On October 9, EMD-2 extended the boom, the telescoping tube, which an operator on the tanker aircraft extends to receptacle-equipped receiver aircraft.
«The core mission of Pegasus is to fuel the fight, so deploying the boom and drogues signals real progress toward demonstrating the ability to pass fuel in flight», said Brigadier General Duke Z. Richardson, the program executive officer for tankers at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. «This sets the stage for the main act, which is hooking up to and refueling an aircraft in flight».
The rigid, centerline boom used on the KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender, has been the Air Force standard for in-flight refueling since the 1950s. With a 1,200 gallons per minute transfer rate from the KC-46, the boom will be the fastest way to refuel. Like all previous tankers, the Pegasus can refuel a single aircraft at a time on the boom.
On the other hand, Air Force helicopters and all Navy and Marine Corps aircraft use the hose and drogue method of refueling. The two drogue systems on the KC-46, CDS and WARPs, pass fuel at a rate of 400 gpm, and the WARPs can refuel more than one aircraft at a time. The KC-46A is a leap forward, as it can conduct boom and drogue refueling on a single mission without landing to reconfigure.
«These capability gains are vital to the tanker mission in support of global reach and global power providing the U.S. military the ability to extend the range of aircraft to respond wherever it’s called to duty», said Colonel Christopher Coombs, the KC-46 system program manager. «This tanker will be able to refuel any fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter in the (Defense Department) fleet, while being able to take on fuel itself».
The Air Force contracted with Boeing in February 2011 to acquire 179 KC-46As to begin recapitalizing the aging tanker fleet. The program is currently working to meet the required assets available date, a milestone requiring 18 KC-46As and all necessary support equipment to be on the ramp, ready to support warfighter needs by August 2017.
Aerial refueling and airlift
The Boeing Company
2 × Pratt & Whitney 4062
62,000 lbs/275.790 kN/28,123 kgf – Thrust per High-Bypass engine (sea-level standard day)
157 feet, 8 inches/48.1 m
165 feet, 6 inches/50.5 m
52 feet, 10 inches/15.9 m
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW)
415,000 lbs/188,240 kg
Maximum Landing Weight
310,000 lbs/140,614 kg
212,299 lbs/96,297 kg
Maximum Transfer Fuel Load
207,672 lbs/94,198 kg
Maximum Cargo Capacity
65,000 lbs/29,484 kg
360 KCAS (Knots Calibrated AirSpeed)/0.86 M/414 mph/667 km/h
43,100 feet/13,137 m
7,299 NM/8,400 miles/13,518 km
18 pallet positions
15 permanent seats for aircrew, including aeromedical evacuation aircrew
58 total (normal operations); up to 114 total (contingency operations)
58 patients (24 litters/34 ambulatory) with the AE Patient Support Pallet configuration; 6 integral litters carried as part of normal aircraft configuration equipment
October 10, 2015, General Dynamics Electric Boat christened the USS Illinois (SSN-786), the 13th submarine of the U.S. Navy’s Virginia Class. Electric Boat is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics.
The Saturday morning christening ceremony took place at Electric Boat’s Groton shipyard with the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus as the ceremony’s principal speaker. First Lady Michelle Obama is the ship’s sponsor and she christened the ship by breaking a bottle of Illinois sparkling wine against the submarine’s bow before an audience of approximately 7,500 people.
USS Illinois (SSN-786) will be delivered to the U.S. Navy in 2016.
«We are honored to have the First Lady as our sponsor», said Electric Boat President Jeffrey Geiger. «I’m proud to show her that this submarine is the embodiment of our team, whose innovation, ingenuity and unrelenting work ethic is unmatched».
Virginia-class submarines are among the most effective platforms in the U.S. Navy’s portfolio. These submarines are equipped to wage multi-dimensional warfare around the globe. In addition to anti-submarine, anti-surface ship and counter-mine warfare, Illinois will support surveillance, special operations and covert strike missions.
Electric Boat has established standards of excellence in the design, construction and lifecycle support of U.S. Navy submarines. The company’s primary locations are in Groton, New London, Conn., and Quonset Point, R.I. Its current workforce is approximately 14,000 employees.
Electric Boat, Groton, Connecticut
One GE PWR S9G nuclear reactor, two turbines, one shaft; 40,000 hp/30 MW
377 feet/114.8 m
33 feet/10.0584 m
34 feet/10.3632 m
Approximately 7,835 tons/7,925 metric tons submerged
25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h
800+ feet/244+ m
132: 15 officers; 117 enlisted
Armament: Tomahawk missiles
two 87-inch/2.2-meter Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching 6 Tomahawk cruise missiles
Armament: MK-48 ADCAP (Advanced Capability) Mod 7 heavyweight torpedoes
4 × 21-inch/533-mm torpedo tubes
MK-60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo) mines, advanced mobile mines and UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles)
Nuclear Submarine Lineup
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
SSN-777 North Carolina
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
EB – Electric Boat, Groton, Connecticut
NNS – Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia
SSN – Attack Submarine, Nuclear-powered
SSN-778 New Hampshire
SSN-779 New Mexico
SSN-784 North Dakota
SSN-785 John Warner
SSN-790 South Dakota
SSN-795 Hyman G. Rickover
SSN-796 New Jersey
It took her three tries before the determined First Lady Michelle Obama successfully cracked the bottle, causing an immediate eruption of sparkling wine
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and 13 CubeSats lifted off from Space Launch Complex-3 October 8 at 5:49 a.m. PDT. Designated NROL-55, the mission is in support of national defense. This is ULA’s 10th launch in 2015 and the 101st successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.
«Congratulations on today’s successful launch of NROL-55! ULA is honored to have collaborated with the NRO Office of Space Launch and the Air Force on the integration and launch of the NROL-55 spacecraft to orbit with our Atlas V vehicle», said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. «Launches like this only happen with exceptional teamwork by an extremely talented team and a one-launch-at-a-time focus on mission success».
The Atlas V rocket also delivered 13 Government Rideshare Advanced Concepts Experiment (GRACE) CubeSats to orbit. The nine NRO-sponsored CubeSats and four NASA-sponsored CubeSats were mounted to the Aft-Bulkhead Carrier located on the back end of the Centaur upper stage.
«The GRACE CubeSats will perform missions demonstrating tracking technologies, software-defined radio communications and will also conduct other measurements and experiments», said Sponnick. «We are happy that ULA could play a part in bringing these nano-satellites to orbit along with the NRO payload through a cost-effective rideshare».
The 13 CubeSats were developed by Aerospace Corporation, the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Center, Tyvak, SRI International, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Salish Kootenai College, Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Weighing 1-5 kilograms, they are developed, launched and controlled at a fraction of the cost of a typical operating satellite.
The NRO payload and GRACE CubeSats were launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter-diameter payload fairing. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine.
ULA’s next launch is the Atlas V Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-11 satellite for the U.S. Air Force, scheduled for October 30 from Space Launch Complex-41 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.
With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 100 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.
7 October, the FREMM Languedoc, the third frigate of the series for the French Navy, made its first sea outing. This industrial milestone marks the start of the vessel’s sea trials, which will take place off the coast of Brittany. With three FREMM multi-mission frigates currently under construction on the Lorient site, DCNS will have delivered six FREMMs to the French Navy before mid-2019, in accordance with the Military Programming Law 2015-2019, as well as two FREMMs for the export market.
DCNS has now completed the first sea outing of the FREMM Languedoc on the Lorient site, the third of the series of vessels ordered by OCCAR (l’Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement – Organization for Joint Armament) on behalf of the DGA (French Defence Procurement Agency) and the French Navy. During this first sea outing, the main objective was to test the performance of the vessel’s propulsion and navigation system.
The FREMM Languedoc will benefit from a significant reduction in the duration of its sea trials compared to the previous FREMMs: six weeks instead of the previous eight. This optimised trial duration illustrates the transition to «series mode» for the multi-mission frigates.
DCNS teams and those of its partners were thus able to capitalise on the experience acquired with the FREMMs already delivered to proceed with the integration of the combat system’s sensors and weapons before the FREMM Languedoc’s first sea outing. This streamlining of the scheduling allows an optimisation of the duration and number of sea outings for the frigate and therefore, in the end, a reduction in the total time required for vessel trials.
«The acceleration of the trial scheduling for the FREMM Languedoc is a demonstration of DCNS capacity to ensure efficient serial production», explains Anne Bianchi, Director of the FREMM Programme at DCNS.
A cutting-edge 3D radar system, capable of detecting objects as small as a tennis ball and travelling at three times the speed of sound more than 15.5 miles/25 km away, has been successfully installed to the Royal Navy’s future aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Known as Artisan 3D the radar system will be used for the first time to deliver air traffic management, providing the aircraft carriers with unparalleled awareness and control of the skies around them. The successful installation of Artisan took place in late September, marking another major milestone in the preparation for sea trials.
The Artisan 3D system designed and developed by BAE Systems, can monitor more than 800 objects simultaneously from 656 feet/200 metres to 124 miles/200 km and cut through radio interference equal to 10,000 mobile phone signals. The radar system has already proven its capability to deliver uncompromising air defence and anti-ship operations on the Type 23 frigate and helicopter carrier.
Les Gregory, Director for Products and Training Services at BAE Systems said: «Artisan is a ground-breaking radar system that delivers real capability to the Royal Navy in its supreme accuracy and uncompromising tracking. In addition, its world-leading electronic protection measure ensures that even the most complex of jammers will not reduce its effectiveness. We have already seen the radar perform excellently on the Type 23 frigates and are proud to be able to bring this advanced technology to the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers utilising its air traffic management capability for the first time».
Rear Admiral Henry Parker, Defence Equipment & Support Director of Ship Acquisition, said: «The addition of such an effective system, which has already proved itself on the Royal Navy’s Type 23 Frigates, will provide HMS Queen Elizabeth with first-class radar performance. The construction of the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers has created and sustained thousands of UK jobs and will act as a spearhead for our naval capability for years to come».
The new aircraft carriers will become the flagship of the Royal Navy and demand the very best radar technology to deliver uncompromising carrier strike capability anywhere in the world. The carriers will also be versatile enough to be used for operations ranging from supporting war efforts to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
BAE Systems designed and developed the Artisan 3D at its sites in Cowes, Chelmsford and Portsmouth and the system is currently in use on the Royal Navy Type 23 frigates. Preparations to install the radar system on to HMS Queen Elizabeth have taken two and a half years with engineers from BAE Systems working closely with the Ministry of Defence. Part of this work included creating a life-sized mock-up of the carriers’ aft island in Cowes, which was used to hone the radar’s interaction with the combat systems on-board the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, to deliver an optimal integrated solution.
Ground breaking radar capability fitted to future Royal Navy flagship
The H160 mock-up is making its British debut today at Helitech, as the program steadily pursues its flight test campaign. The first prototype flights are progressing according to plan and the aircraft has already reached a maximum speed of 175 knots/201 mph/324 km/h and an altitude of 10,000 feet/3,048 meter. As the validation of technical parameters is followed closely, the flight tests also provide a perfect opportunity for the fully integrated ground support teams to optimise maintenance activities.
The second prototype (PT2) is progressing as per plan since its power on in June. As one of the key priorities of the H160’s development program is maturity at entry into service, the Turbomeca Arrano engines will be installed and tested on the dedicated integration installation called the Dynamic Helicopter Zero before the PT2 performs its first flight by the end of this year.
«The flight envelope opening of the H160 is well paced – thanks to the relevance of our investments in new generation test benches», said Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. «We are excited to present the H160 at Helitech and we are in a good position to begin its commercialisation next year, with the end objective of having a fully mature product ready to be delivered in 2018», he added.
A new generation 5.5 to 6-tonne twin-engine helicopter, the H160 will be tailored for a wide range of applications, including oil & gas operations, emergency medical services, public service, and private and business aviation. Placing customer satisfaction at the heart of its design, the program is continually working with customers on mission specific aspects, whether it is on the oil & gas segment or the VIP segment which just saw the launch of the H160 VIP interior design contest. Customers and opinion leaders will be at the heart of the innovative selection process.