At a ceremony on May 6, 2015 at Royal Australian Air Force Base Townsville in northern Queensland, Australia commissioned their first two Boeing CH-47F Chinook advanced configuration aircraft. It is a major milestone in the updating of the Australian Army’s cargo helicopter fleet.
The acquisition is part of an ongoing transformation that is allowing Australia to build one of the world’s newest and most technologically advanced armed forces. Five additional new Chinooks will be delivered this year, eventually replacing an existing fleet of six older Boeing CH-47D Chinooks.
«The outgoing CH-47D Chinooks have proved highly effective in Australian operations, and the new CH-47F Chinook will deliver an improved cargo helicopter for Australia’s Army», said Rear Admiral Tony Dalton of Australia’s Defence Materiel Organisation. «Furthermore, the project to deliver the new Chinooks remains on schedule and under budget».
Australia was among the Chinook’s first international customers and now there are almost twenty countries operating the helicopter.
«Working with our Australian allies to build a modernised Chinook fleet enables more seamless operations with U.S. and other forces», said Colonel Robert Barrie, project manager, U.S. Army Cargo Helicopter Office.
«The Australian Army values the features and capabilities of the advanced CH‑47F Chinook and we delivered them as promised», said Steve Parker, Boeing vice president, Cargo Helicopters and H-47 program manager. «These aircraft will meet their demanding mission requirements now and well into the future».
The Australian Chinook fleet is flown by the Army’s 5th Aviation Regiment, 16th Aviation Brigade. Under the scope of the contract, Boeing Defence Australia will provide delivery and on-site operational maintenance support to the seven aircraft.
For more than 70 years, Boeing and Australia have maintained a partnership operating and supporting a broad range of platforms that now includes, in addition to Chinook, the Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control System and C-17 Globemaster III.
Engineers at BAE Systems have applied the new upgrade «Active Damping» system to current variants of the CV90 combat vehicle family; breaking speed records in rough terrain and increasing the CV90’s agility by reducing the vehicle’s pitch acceleration by approximately 40 per cent – taking a world class system to the next level, and leaving competitors behind.
First introduced into Formula One in the 1990s, the «Active Damping» system works by sensing the speed of the vehicle and lay-out of the terrain ahead and responding by pressurising the suspension to keep the vehicle on a level plane at all times.
This increased stability across all terrain is helping to reduce the wear and tear on the armoured vehicles and subsequently reduce through-life repair costs for each vehicle, despite seeing each able to travel 30 – 40 per cent faster on rough terrain.
For the crew of a CV90, the technology means a smoother ride and a reduction in fatigue; an important factor on the battlefield. The reduced vertical motion also increases the gunner’s probability of finding and hitting targets.
The suspension system usually operates on carbon fibre racing cars weighing no more than 700 kg, but engineers at BAE Systems have cleverly adapted it to use on heavy tracked vehicles, some weighing as much as 35 tonnes. In recent trials a CV90 fitted with active damping set a new speed record on a rough terrain course, beating the Main Battle Tanks (MBTs).
Dan Lindell, CV90 Platform Manager at BAE Systems, said: «Adapting the Active Damping system for the first time from a light weight car to a heavy tracked vehicle such as CV90 was a unique challenge for us, but this advanced technology will deliver results to our customers in terms of vehicle performance and savings on the through life costs, as well as providing real benefits to the front line solider».
The CV90 is designed and built by BAE Systems in Sweden and is one of the largest families of armoured combat vehicles. CV90 is currently used in countries such as Norway, Finland and Denmark and has successfully performed in global operations including UN and NATO collaborations.
Top speed: 43.5 mph/70 km/h
Range: 559 miles/900 km
Payload: 16 tonnes
Ballistic: > 5
Mine: > 4a/4b
Trench crossing: 2.6 m/8.5 feet
Step climbing: 1.1 m/3.6 feet
Fording: 1.5 m/4.9 feet
Remote Weapon Station (RWS): 7.62 – 40 mm Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL)
First GPS III space vehicle prepares for testing in simulated harsh space environments. Using a 10-ton crane, Lockheed Martin engineers and technicians gently lowered the system module of the U.S. Air Force’s first next generation GPS III satellite into place over its propulsion core, successfully integrating the two into one space vehicle.
GPS III space vehicle one (SV 01) is the first of a new, advanced GPS satellite design block for the U.S. Air Force. GPS III will deliver three times better accuracy, provide up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities and extend spacecraft life to 15 years, 25 percent longer than the satellites launching today. GPS III’s new L1C civil signal also will make it the first GPS satellite interoperable with other international global navigation satellite systems.
The systems integration event brought together several major fully functional satellite components. The system module includes the navigation payload, which performs the primary positioning, navigation and timing mission. The functional bus contains sophisticated electronics that manage all satellite operations. The propulsion core allows the satellite to maneuver for operations on orbit.
«The final integration of the first GPS III satellite is a major milestone for the GPS III program», said Mark Stewart, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Navigation Systems mission area. «This summer, SV 01 will begin Thermal Vacuum testing, where it will be subjected to simulated harsh space environments. Successful completion of this testing is critical as it will help validate our design and manufacturing processes for all follow-on GPS III satellites».
Lockheed Martin is currently under contract to build eight GPS III satellites at its GPS III Processing Facility near Denver, a factory specifically designed to streamline satellite production.
The GPS III team is led by the Global Positioning Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Air Force Space Command’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS), based at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.
GPS III Facts
GPS III Specification
U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center
Highly accurate 3-D position, velocity and precise time
Six orbit planes at 55° inclination
10,898 NM/20,183.1 km
15 years; 13-year MMD (Mean Mission Duration)
5,003 lbs/2,269.32 kg
97×70×134 inch/2.46×1.78×3.40 m
Under one meter, with daily updates from the control segment
100-lb Liquid Apogee Engine, twelve 0.2-lb REAs, six 5-lb REAs (Rocket Engine Assembly)
Structural and Thermal
Four aluminum honeycomb panels mounted to a central composite core
Heat pipes in equipment panels, control blankets, thermal coatings, radiators and electrically controlled heaters
Enhanced performance for increased subsystem accuracy; improved anomaly resolution; includes multiple atomic frequency standards (Rubidium clocks), radiation-hardened design, high stability timing, automated integrity monitoring
Mission data unit
Rad-Hard processor; expanded waveform generation, full message encoding and processing; real-time Kalman filter
Legacy UHF (Ultra High Frequency) receive and transmit, precision intersatellite ranging, full-frame modulation and mode control
New GPS III signal
L1C (p, d); programmable waveform generation
Tracking, Telemetry and Command
Space vehicle computer
Rad-Hard processor; command and telemetry processing, Bus functions, payload accommodation
Redundancy management for on-board power and Bus components
Encrypted data links using redundant architecture cryptographic units, centralized command decoding, flexible telemetry communications
S-Band, SGLS/USB Transponder
GPS provides critical situational awareness and precision weapon guidance for the military and supports a wide range of civil, scientific and commercial functions – from air traffic control to navigation systems in cars, cell phones and wristwatches
On 20 April 2015, Damen Shipyards Group gave a sneak preview of their newly designed 2nd generation Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) during the annual OPVs & Corvettes Asia Pacific conference in Singapore. Damen’s Design & Proposal Manager Piet van Rooij explained how this new OPV has been configured for various missions.
This new generation of re-configurable Damen OPVs is highly efficient and incredibly versatile. Damen’s famous Sea Axe hull shape is used for these 2nd generation OPVs. Due to this hull design, these vessels demonstrate superior seakeeping including exceptional low heave accelerations. This makes the vessel very comfortable, even in stormy sea states.
Since the hull is designed to reduce water resistance, the new OPV is also very fuel efficient and capable of speeds up to 25/26 knots/29/30 mph/46/48 km/h.
Versatility has been reinvented by three newly developed multi-mission locations – namely the Bridge, Hangar and Bay. The Multi-Mission Bay (MM Bay) can be equipped with dedicated mission modules (e.g. mission containers) for missions such as counter piracy, counter-drug operations, Anti-Mining Warfare (AMW), Search-And-Rescue (SAR) etc.
The MM Bay is also equipped with a nine-meter Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB), which can be launched over a dedicated slipway through the rear of the vessel while the OPV is sailing. In the Damen-built Holland Class Ocean Patrol vessels for the Royal Netherlands Navy this system has already proven to be safe in operations up to SS 5 conditions.
Unlike other OPVs, the Command-and-Control Centre (C2 Centre) is located directly behind the bridge. Damen calls this development their Multi-Mission Bridge (MM Bridge). Both spaces can be separated by means of a blinded sliding wall. OPVs are less likely to take part in combat situations such as those faced by a frigate.
During a mission, when lowering the sliding wall, situation awareness in the C2 Centre is improved, allowing C2 Centre officers to observe the situation immediately with their own eyes.
Mr. Van Rooij comments: «Today OPVs don’t engage in combat situations as often as frigates do, however, fast and effective coordination during a ‘chase’ is essential for an OPV».
The Multi-Mission Hangar (MM Hangar) is capable of storing an 11-tonne NH-90 helicopter and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) such as the Boeing ScanEagle. The MM Hangar has been designed so that the OPV crew can deploy either the helicopter or the UAV without having to move either one. Furthermore, there is space for a spare parts store and workshop for both the helicopter and UAV.
The Damen OPV 2nd generation is available as a standard in four series:
It is said in The DefenseNews that U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf are accompanying U.S.-flagged merchant vessels through the Strait of Hormuz after Iran’s recent seizure of one cargo ship and its harassment of another in international waters. A dozen ships are operating in the area and capable of providing support, the official said on May 1. U.S. warships frequently transit the strait, but it is more unusual for the U.S. to routinely convoy U.S.-flagged merchants through.
The warships include ships with the Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group, which entered 5th Fleet three weeks ago and spent several days in the waters off Yemen, a show of force that compelled Iranian ships to turn around. The ships at NAVCENT’s disposal include:
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71);
The cruiser USS Normandy (CG-60);
The destroyers USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60), USS Milius (DDG-69), USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81) and USS Farragut (DDG-99);
Coastal patrol ships USS Monsoon (PC-4), USS Typhoon (PC-5), USS Firebolt (PC-10), USS Whirlwind (PC-11) and USS Thunderbolt (PC-12);
The minesweeper USS Devastator (MCM-6).
The move comes as tensions rise in the region, with news that Iranian navy ships harassed one U.S.-flagged shipping vessel in international waters and later boarded a Marshall Islands cargo ship, a country under U.S. protection. Only a week before, the Theodore Roosevelt and members of its strike group converged off the coast of Yemen, as rumors swirled that Iranian cargo ships were bringing in weapons to arm the Houthi rebels in their clash against Yemeni government.
The Defense Department is not communicating with Iran, and the country’s motives are, «not clear to the Department of Defense», Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Steve Warren told reporters. «It’s difficult to know why the Iranians are operating this way», he said said. «We certainly call on them to respect all of the internationally established rules of freedom of navigation, the Law of the Sea, to which they are a signatory, and other established protocols».
On the other hand, according to Defense One, when Pentagon officials announced yesterday that they would increase protection for U.S.-flagged vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, they also introduced a bit of confusion. U.S. Navy sailors know what it means to escort another vessel. Generally speaking, a warship meets up with another ship, or even a group of them, and together they set out on a voyage, matching courses and speeds for most of the way. That is what happens when an aircraft carrier deploys with its battle group; that is what happened when U.S. warships shepherded tanker convoys through the war-wracked Persian Gulf of the late 1980s.
However, when Pentagon officials announced that the Navy would be increasing the protection given to U.S.-flagged ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz, they used a different word: «accompany». And it turns out they meant something a bit different from the far more commonly used «escort». A spokesman for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, explained, «U.S. naval forces will transit the strait along with and nearby such shipping, although it is not as though they’ll necessarily be in some sort of formation».
«Accompanying is basically a step down from escorting», the official said. «The U.S. Navy ships will be in the same general area as the U.S.-flagged merchant vessels and are there to ensure a safe flow of maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz».
Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division christened the company’s 29th Arleigh Burke-class (DDG-51) Aegis guided missile destroyer, USS John Finn (DDG-113), today in front of nearly 1,000 guests.
DDG-113 is named John Finn after the first Medal of Honor recipient of World War II. Finn received the honor for machine-gunning Japanese warplanes for over two hours during the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor despite being shot in the foot and shoulder and suffering numerous shrapnel wounds. He retired as a lieutenant after 30 years of service and died at age 100 in 2010.
«I often speak to the members of the Chief Petty Officer Mess about the characteristics of a leader and, more specifically, the characteristics I expect to see in my chiefs», said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael Stevens, who was the principal speaker. «I tell them that a model chief petty officer is a quiet, humble and servant leader. I believe with all my heart that John Finn exemplified all of these traits through his heroic actions that day».
Laura Stavridis, wife of Admiral James Stavridis (U.S. Navy, Ret.) and DDG-113 ship sponsor, smashed a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow of the ship, officially christening DDG-113 as John Finn. «God bless this ship and all who sail on her», she said.
«Finn outlived 14 fellow sailors who earned the Medal of Honor for their service in World War II», said Mike Petters, HII’s president and CEO. «Unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough to know that a Navy ship would be named after him. I think he would be as humbled by this honor as he was with the title of hero bestowed upon him. Just remember his words: ‘There’s all kinds of heroes.’ And if you ask me, this ship was built for heroes by heroes. All in the name of freedom».
Ingalls has delivered 28 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to the U.S. Navy. Destroyers currently under construction at Ingalls are USS John Finn (DDG-113), USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114), USS Paul Ignatius (DDG-117) and USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119). Earlier this year, Ingalls received a contract modification funding the construction of the company’s 33nd destroyer, DDG-121.
«Rest assured these shipbuilders – Ingalls shipbuilders – understand their noble calling», said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. «To build ships like John Finn safe, strong and proud for the sailors and Marines who sail in her, with strength pride and our deepest gratitude and respect».
«The future USS John Finn is the first destroyer built at Ingalls after the U.S. Navy restarted the program», Cuccias continued. «We hit the ground running with the new program, re-establishing the best destroyer team in the world with many best-in-class achievements, and this is already proven, as DDG-113 was launched three weeks ahead of schedule».
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are highly capable, multi-mission ships that can conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection, all in support of the United States’ military strategy. They are capable of simultaneously fighting air, surface and subsurface threats. The ship contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs well into the 21st century.
«I have said it many times, and I mean it every time I say it … Gulf Coast shipbuilders build the greatest warships the world has ever seen», said Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss. «Your craftsmanship is beyond compare, and I know that you all care very deeply about the work you do, because you know how important your work is to our national security and keeping America and our loved ones safe. No matter how many times I see these ships grow from steel plate into the great ship you see here today, I still believe it is an absolute modern marvel».
510 feet/156 meters
Beam – Waterline
59 feet/18 meters
30.5 feet/9.3 meters
Displacement – Full Load
9,496 tons/9,648 metric tons
4 General electric LM 2500-30 gas turbines; 2 shafts; 2 CRP (Contra-Rotating) propellers; 100,000 shaft horsepower/ 75,000 kW
SPY-1D Phased Array Radar and Aegis Combat System (Lockheed Martin); SPS-73(V) Navigation; SPS-67(V)3 Surface Search; 3 SPG-62 Illuminator; SQQ-89(V)6 sonar incorporating SQS-53C hull mounted and SQR-19 towed array sonars used with Mark-116 Mod 7 ASW fire control system
SLQ-32(V)3; Mark-53 Mod 0 Decoy System; Mark-234 Decoy System; SLQ-25A Torpedo Decoy; SLQ-39 Surface Decoy; URN-25 TACAN; UPX-29 IFF System; Kollmorgen Mark-46 Mod 1 Electro-Optical Director
2 embarked SH-60 helicopters ASW operations; RAST (Recovery Assist, Secure and Traverse)
Dassault Aviation is honored by Qatar’s decision to acquire 24 Rafale aircraft to equip its Air Force. The contract between the State of Qatar and Dassault Aviation is to be signed on Monday, May 4 in Doha in the presence of Mr. François Hollande, President of the French Republic. Following on from the Mirage F1, the Alpha Jet and the Mirage 2000, the Rafale is set to extend the historic partnership between Qatar, France and Dassault Aviation.
«This new success for the French team demonstrates the Rafale’s operational qualities and confirms the confidence that countries, that are already users of the Mirage 2000, have in our company», said Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation.
Dassault Aviation, its partners Thales and Safran, and the 500 companies associated with the Rafale programme, are delighted at the announcement of this new contract, constituting further proof of their competitiveness and their industrial and technological know-how.
Specifications and performance data
Wingspan: 10.90 m/35.76 feet
Length: 15.30 m/50.19 feet
Height: 5.30 m/17.38 feet
Overall empty weight: 10,000 kg/22,000 lbs class
Maximum take-off weight: 24,500 kg/54,000 lbs
Fuel (internal): 4,700 kg/10,300 lbs
Fuel (external): up to 6,700 kg/14,700 lbs
External load: 9,500 kg/21,000 lbs
Heavy – wet: 5
Maximum thrust: 2×7.5 tons
Limit load factors: -3.2 g/+9 g
Maximum speed (Low altitude): M = 1.1/750 knots/863 mph/ 1389 km/h
Maximum speed (High altitude): M = 1.8/1,032 knots/1,187 mph/ 1,911 km/h
Approach speed: less than 120 knots/138 mph/222 km/h
Landing ground run: 1,500 feet/450 m without drag-chute
Dangerous frontline operations call for a safe and efficient method to locate and evacuate wounded personnel. To address this critical need and help save lives, Lockheed Martin, Kaman Aerospace, and Neya Systems demonstrated the first ever collaborative unmanned air and ground casualty evacuation using the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Control Segment (UCS) Architecture and K-MAX cargo helicopter on March 26, 2015.
During the demonstration, a distress call led ground operators to send an unmanned ground vehicle to assess the area and injured party. The ground operators used control stations that communicated with one another using the UAS Control Segment Architecture. Upon successful identification, the ground operators requested airlift by unmanned K-MAX of one individual who was injured. From the ground, the K-MAX operators used a tablet to determine the precise location and a safe landing area to provide assistance to the team. The injured team member was strapped into a seat on the side of the unmanned K-MAX, which then flew that individual to safety.
«This application of the unmanned K-MAX enables day or night transport of wounded personnel to safety without endangering additional lives», said Jay McConville, director of business development for Unmanned Integrated Solutions at Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training. «Since the K-MAX returned from a nearly three-year deployment with the U.S. Marine Corps, we’ve seen benefits of and extended our open system design incorporating the UCS Architecture, which allows rapid integration of new applications across industry to increase the safety of operations, such as casualty evacuation, where lives are at stake».
«Neya is continuing to develop advanced technologies for human robot interfaces for complex platforms and multi-robot missions», said Dr. Parag Batavia, president of Neya. «Our and Lockheed Martin’s use of the Unmanned Aircraft System Control Segment Architecture greatly sped up integration of our respective technologies, resulting in a comprehensive capability that can be ultimately transitioned to the warfighter very efficiently».
While deployed with the U.S. Marine Corps from 2011 to 2014, unmanned K-MAX successfully conducted resupply operations, delivering more than 4.5 million pounds of cargo during more than 1,900 missions. Manufactured by Kaman and outfitted with an advanced mission suite by Lockheed Martin, unmanned K-MAX is engineered with a twin-rotor design that maximizes lift capability in the most challenging environments, from the mountainous Alps to the Persian Gulf. Its advanced autonomy allows unmanned K-MAX to work day and night, in all-weather, even when manned assets are unable to fly. Lockheed Martin continues to extend and mature the K-MAX helicopter’s onboard technology and autonomy for defense operations, as well as demonstrate its use for civil and commercial applications.
With five decades of experience in unmanned and robotic systems for air, land and sea, Lockheed Martin’s unmanned systems are engineered to help our military, civil and commercial customers accomplish their most difficult challenges today and in the future.
Kaman Aerospace is a division Kaman Corporation, which was founded in 1945 by aviation pioneer Charles H. Kaman. Neya Systems, LLC is a small business unmanned systems company in Wexford, Pennsylvania. Founded in 2009, Neya focuses on developing interoperable solutions to the world’s hardest robotics problems.
K-MAX Unmanned Aerial System
Lockheed Martin Corporation and Kaman Aerospace Corporation have successfully transformed Kaman’s proven K-MAX power lift helicopter into an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) capable of autonomous or remote controlled cargo delivery. Its mission: battlefield cargo resupply for the U.S. military.
The K-MAX UAS is a transformational technology for a fast-moving battlefield that will enable Marines to deliver supplies either day or night to precise locations without risk of losing life in the process. The aircraft can fly at higher altitudes with a larger payload than any other rotary wing UAS. With its four-hook carousel, the K-MAX UAS can also deliver more cargo to more locations in one flight
The team has flown the K-MAX UAS more than 750 hours in autonomous mode since joining forces in 2007. The rugged system can lift and deliver a full 6,000 lbs/2,722 kg of cargo at sea level and more than 4,000 pounds/1,814 kg at 15,000 feet/4,572 m density altitude.
The K-MAX continues to exceed expectations as an unmanned platform. The aircraft has met all unmanned milestones to date and continues to excel in the commercial logging and firefighting industries. The aircraft will remain optionally piloted for ease of National Airspace Operations, occasional manned mission flexibility, ferry flights, rapid integration of new mission equipment, and allow rapid return-to-service activities.
The manned version of the K-MAX is used for repetitive lift operations by commercial operators for the construction and logging industries. To date, the fleet has accumulated more than 255,000 flight hours since 1994.
Weights and Measurements
Max gross weight (with external load)
12,000 lbs/5,443 kg
Max take-off weight
7,000 lbs/3,175 kg
5,145 lbs/2,334 kg
6,855 lbs/3,109 kg
Cargo hook capacity
6,000 lbs/2,722 kg
Lift Performance – ISA (International Standard Atmosphere) +15°C (59°F)
6,000 lbs/2,722 kg
5,000 feet/1,524 m
5,663 lbs/2,574 kg
10,000 feet/3,048 m
5,163 lbs/2,347 kg
15,000 feet/4,572 m
4,313 lbs/1,960 kg
Hover Performance – 4,000 feet/1,219 m, 35°C (95°F)
The rugged K-MAX multi-mission helicopter that Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace have transformed into an Unmanned Aerial Truck proves why it is the best for unmanned battlefield cargo resupply missions
In January, 2010, the Unmanned K-MAX helicopter demonstrated autonomous and remote control flight over both line-of-sight and satellite-based beyond line-of-sight data link
The frigate Carabiniere (F593) was delivered on April 28, 2015 at the Muggiano (La Spezia) shipyard. It is the fourth vessel of the FREMM program – Multi Mission European Frigates – commissioned to Fincantieri within the international Italian-French program, coordinated by OCCAR (the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation). Orizzonte Sistemi Navali (51% Fincantieri and 49% Finmeccanica) is the prime contractor for Italy in the FREMM program, which envisions the building of 10 units, all already ordered.
The ship has been named Carabiniere (F593) to celebrate in 2014, year of the launching, the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the Italian Carabinieri Force. Carabiniere (F593) is the fourth FREMM unit which Fincantieri builds and delivers to the Italian Navy completed with a combat system (the third with the ASW – Anti Submarine Warfare configuration), that is the ability of silent navigation speed in significant anti-submarine hunting.
144 meters long and a displacement at full load of approximately 6,700 tonnes, the FREMM frigates represent technological excellence: designed to reach a maximum speed of 27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h and to provide accommodation for 200 people (crew and staff), these vessels are able to always guarantee a high degree of flexibility and to operate in a wide range of scenarios and tactical situations.
The program faces the fleet renewal need of the Italian Navy’s units of the class frigates Lupo (disarment completed in 2003) and Maestrale (close in reaching its operational life limit). It is coordinated by OCCAR (l’Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’ARmement).
These units significantly contribute to the tasks assigned to the Italian Navy, being able to operate in various sectors: anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and anti-naval warfare, fire support from the sea as well as an organic helicopter component embarked. The FREMM units are set to become the backbone of the Italian Navy of the next decades.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), and Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) are collaborating to host a Hall thruster experiment onboard the X-37B flight vehicle (Boeing). The experiment will be hosted on Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) mission 4, the fourth flight of the X-37B reusable space plane.
The first three OTV flights have accumulated a total of 1,367 days of on-orbit experimentation prior to successful landings and recoveries at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The X-37B program performs risk reduction, experimentation, and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies, and it is administered by RCO.
The Hall thruster that will fly on the X-37B experiment is a modified version of the units that have propelled SMC’s first three Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) military communications spacecraft. A Hall thruster is a type of electric propulsion device that produces thrust by ionizing and accelerating a noble gas, usually xenon. While producing comparatively low thrust relative to conventional rocket engines, Hall thrusters provide significantly greater specific impulse, or fuel economy. This results in increased payload carrying capacity and a greater number of on-orbit maneuvers for a spacecraft using Hall thrusters rather than traditional rocket engines.
This experiment will enable in-space characterization of Hall thruster design modifications that are intended to improve performance relative to the state-of-the-art units onboard AEHF. The experiment will include collection of telemetry from the Hall thruster operating in the space environment as well as measurement of the thrust imparted on the vehicle. The resulting data will be used to validate and improve Hall thruster and environmental modeling capabilities, which enhance the ability to extrapolate ground test results to actual on-orbit performance. The on-orbit test plans are being developed by AFRL and administered by RCO.
The experiment has garnered strong support from AFRL senior leadership. «Space is so vitally important to everything we do», said Major General Tom Masiello, AFRL commander. «Secure comms, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), missile warning, weather prediction, precision navigation and timing all rely on it, and the domain is increasingly contested. A more efficient on-orbit thruster capability is huge. Less fuel burn lowers the cost to get up there, plus it enhances spacecraft operational flexibility, survivability and longevity».
Dr. Greg Spanjers, the AFRL Space Capability Lead and Chief Scientist of the Space Vehicles Directorate, added, «AFRL is proud to be able to contribute to this research teamed with our partners at SMC, RCO, NASA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Aerojet Rocketdyne. It was great to see our Government-Contractor team identify an opportunity and then quickly respond to implement a solution that will offer future Air Force spacecraft even greater capabilities».