Ninth Cape class

Austal is pleased to announce the successful roll out prior to launch of Hull 380, the ninth Cape-class patrol boat designed and constructed by Austal and the first of two to be delivered to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 2017.

Austal’s Cape-class patrol boat program for the Royal Australian Navy has directly engaged 348 Australian suppliers and directly employed 350 people over the past 12 months of construction (Photo: Austal)
Austal’s Cape-class patrol boat program for the Royal Australian Navy has directly engaged 348 Australian suppliers and directly employed 350 people over the past 12 months of construction (Photo: Austal)

Australian Defence Industry Minister, The Honourable Christopher Pyne Member of Parliament, Senator Chris Back and Federal Member for Canning, Andrew Hastie Member of Parliament joined Austal Chief Executive Officer David Singleton and Austal Chairman, John Rothwell at the official roll out, completed at Austal’s Henderson Western Australia shipyard.

Mr. Singleton said: «It is with great pride we welcome the Defence Industry Minister here today (December 8, 2016) to celebrate not only the continuing success of Cape-class as an effective maritime border protection solution, but Austal’s proven shipbuilding capability. Austal delivered eight Capes to the Australian Border Force over 2013 – 2015 and we will hand over Capes 9 and 10 to the Royal Australian Navy in the first half of 2017. To date, we have directly engaged 348 Australian suppliers and created and sustained 350 jobs in the delivery of the Cape program».

Austal’s Cape-class patrol boat is a 190 feet/58 meter all aluminium monohull vessel, designed to perform border protection and maritime security tasks, with a top speed of 26 knots/30 mph/48 km/h and a range of up to 4,000 nautical miles/4,603 miles/7,408 km. With a crew of 22, the vessel is capable of undertaking 28 day patrols in (up to) sea state 4 and the ability to launch two boats simultaneously.

New, enhanced maritime security and anti-mine warfare variants of the Cape were announced at Euronaval 2016, which offer even greater capability and feature mission packages that include Unmanned Aerial Vehicle’s (UAV’s), Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV’s) and Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV’s).

Hull 380 is due to be launched later this week and will undergo final fitout before sea trials commencing in January 2017. Delivery to the RAN is on schedule for April 2017.

The second Cape for the RAN, Hull 381, is due for launch in February 2017.

The Cape-class patrol boat is an effective maritime border protection capability, in service with the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy (Photo: Austal)
The Cape-class patrol boat is an effective maritime border protection capability, in service with the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy (Photo: Austal)

First Tactical Airlifter

Airbus Defence and Space has delivered to the German Air Force its first A400M transport aircraft qualified for tactical operations and able to fly in areas subject to military threats.

Germany Receives First Tactical Standard Airbus A400M Airlifter
Germany Receives First Tactical Standard Airbus A400M Airlifter

The aircraft is the sixth A400M in German service and the first with the new capabilities in addition to the world-leading performance of all A400Ms as strategic transports. All aircraft will be retrofitted to the new standard and receive subsequent enhancements as those are certified.

Key aspects of the aircraft’s latest capabilities are improvements in its self-defence systems, ability to air-drop cargo loads, and paratrooping. Additionally, it can operate on unprepared runways, fly as low as 150 feet/45.7 m above the ground, refuel other aircraft as a tanker, and safely take-off and land in extremely high temperatures.

Airbus Defence and Space A400M Programme Manager, Kurt Rossner, said: «The A400M programme has made enormous progress this year in implementing these critical capabilities on the aircraft. In addition to having twice the payload-range of the legacy transports like the C-160 and C-130 that it is replacing, it can now also operate from any runway that those older aircraft could use. There is no other aircraft in the market with the A400M´s combination of tactical and strategic capabilities and it is going to transform Germany’s air mobility force».

The new aircraft is fitted with a Defensive Aids Sub-System (DASS) incorporating a Missile Warning System, Radar Warning Receiver, and an Expendables Dispensing System to eject flares and radar-confusing chaff. The DASS for all A400Ms is integrated by Airbus Defence and Space at Ulm.

Military and humanitarian loads of up to 8 tonnes/17,637 lbs each, including for example 24 × 1 tonne/2,205 lbs pallets, are fully certified for air-dropping from the aircraft’s ramp and further loads are being continually qualified in flight test.

Paratroops can be dropped from the ramp or side paratroop doors in sticks of up to 20, and sticks of 30 have already been successfully demonstrated with certification to follow. Flight testing continues to build the numbers next to 40 and then 58 in a single pass.

The A400M is certified to operate from grass runways and has successfully completed testing of operations from gravel and sandy soil with certification in process. Low-level flight in mountainous terrain is cleared down to 150 feet/45.7 m above ground by day and 300 feet/91.4 m by night under the pilot’s manual control. Development of automatic low-level flight is well advanced.

The aircraft is certified to receive fuel in-flight from a tanker, and as a tactical tanker itself to refuel fighters and other large aircraft by day, with night operations demonstrated and close to certification.

In this latest configuration the A400M is certified to operate in temperatures up to 55°C at sea level, ensuring excellent «hot and high» performance at operationally challenging airfields around the world. And it is approved to take-off and fly on only three of its four powerful engines in the event of a mechanical problem or battle damage, adding to its outstanding level of operating autonomy.

 

Specifications

DIMENSIONS
Overall Length 45.10 m/148 feet
Overall Height 14.70 m/48 feet
Wing Span 42.40 m/139 feet
Cargo Hold Length (ramp excluded) 17.71 m/58 feet
Cargo Hold Height 3.85-4.00 m/12 feet 7 inch-13 feet
Cargo Hold Width 4.00 m/13 feet
Cargo Hold Volume 340 m3/12,000 feet3
WEIGHTS
Maximum Take Off Weight 141,000 kg/310,850 lbs
Maximum Landing Weight 123,000 kg/271,200 lbs
Internal Fuel Weight 50,500 kg/111,300 lbs
Maximum Payload 37,000 kg/81,600 lbs
ENGINE (×4)
EuroProp International TP400-D6 11,000 shp/8,200 kW
PERFORMANCE
Maximum Operating Altitude 12,200 m/40,000 feet
Maximum Cruise Speed (TAS) 300 knots/345 mph/555 km/h
Cruise Speed Range 0.68-0.72 M
RANGE
Range with Maximum Payload (37,000 kg/81,600 lbs) 1,780 NM/2,050 miles/3,300 km
Range with 30,000 kg/66,000 lbs Payload 2,450 NM/2,796 miles/4,500 km
Range with 20,000 kg/44,000 lbs Payload 3,450 NM/3,977 miles/6,400 km
Maximum Range (Ferry) 4,700 NM/5,406 miles/8,700 km

 

Five ship programme

BAE Systems welcomed Harriett Baldwin MP, Minister for Defence Procurement to its Govan shipyard in Glasgow on 8 December 2016 to announce the £287 m manufacturing contract for two further River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) and support services for the five ship programme, taking the total value to £635 m.

OPV contract announcement marked by construction of new navy warship
OPV contract announcement marked by construction of new navy warship

Work on the additional two Offshore Patrol Vessels, named TAMAR and SPEY, will sustain skills in Glasgow and the wider supply chain, with over 100 companies involved in the programme across the UK.

To mark the occasion employees were joined at a ceremony by representatives of the Royal Navy and the local community as Harriett Baldwin switched on a plasma cutting machine to cut the first steel plates for the fourth and latest of the River Class OPVs.

During the visit to BAE Systems’ shipyard Harriett Baldwin said: «This contract will deliver two more modern Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Royal Navy and safeguard vital shipbuilding skills and hundreds of jobs in Scotland. Protected by a rising Defence budget, the OPV programme is an important part of the Government’s £178 billion plan to ensure our armed forces have the equipment they need».

Iain Stevenson, Managing Director of BAE Systems Naval Ships, said: «Securing this contract for two further River Class OPVs is testament to the proven capability of the design and the tremendous skill and dedication of employees on the programme. Our investment in the latest digital design technologies and new processes is enabling us to deliver equipment of the highest quality at the lowest possible cost, helping to secure the long-term future of our highly skilled industry in the UK. I am looking forward to seeing both the OPV and Type 26 ships in construction across both our shipyards in Glasgow next year».

This offshore patrol vessel design builds on the Royal Navy’s existing River Class ships with variants already in service in Brazil and Thailand which puts capability at the forefront of their navies.

The first vessel, FORTH, entered the water in August, less than two years after construction started, and is now docked at the Company’s Scotstoun facility where she will complete final systems installation and testing before being delievered to the Royal Navy in the second half of 2017.

The second ship, MEDWAY, is scheduled to enter the water in the spring of 2017 while the third ship, TRENT, is currently at an advanced stage of assembly at Govan.

Flight Testing

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), tactical reconnaissance radars, and electro-optic surveillance systems, today announced the commencement of flight testing for its MQ-1C Gray Eagle Extended Range (ER) series with the successful first flight of the company’s production representative MQ-1C Gray Eagle ER aircraft from its El Mirage Flight Operations Facility in Adelanto, California, on October 29th.

Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER)
Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER)

«The flight of our capital MQ-1C Gray Eagle ER Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is a significant milestone in the continued evolution of the MQ-1C program with our U.S. Army customer», said David R. Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. «This marks the next step in delivering the aircraft’s increased endurance and payload capability to the warfighter».

MQ-1C Gray Eagle ER, developed by GA-ASI on Internal Research and Development (IRAD) specifically to increase endurance and payload capacity, is a next-generation derivative of the combat-proven Gray Eagle UAS, which has accumulated over 300,000 flight hours since 2008. MQ-1C ER is expected to complete flight testing in June 2017, at which point it will begin a series of Army test events culminating in the program’s second Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation in late 2017. The first four aircraft are expected to be delivered in Q2 and Q3 2017, with an additional 15 over the course of 2018.

MQ-1C ER delivers an advanced Medium-altitude Long-endurance (MALE) capability for the Army, adding increased payload capacity, greater range and endurance, and improved maintainability. The aircraft is engineered with a Maximum Gross Takeoff Weight (MGTOW) of 4,200 pounds/1,905 kg compared with Gray Eagle’s MGTOW of 3,600 pounds/1,633 kg. The incorporation of MQ-1C ER’s straight belly design allows for more than 910 pounds/413 kg of internal fuel and a centerline hard point that can accommodate an optional fuel pod with an additional 450 pounds/204 kg. With endurance at more than 40 hours, the aircraft will exceed the Army’s requirement for 14 hours on station at 621 miles/1,000 kilometers for all mission types.

MQ-1C ER features an upgraded Heavy Fuel Engine-180 (HFE-180) which provides increased horsepower and reliability. HFE-180 includes propulsion reliability enhancements, an improved cooling system and high-performance induction system. The new engine began flight tests on Block 1 Gray Eagle in February 2016.

MQ-1C ER’s enhanced capabilities will expand the tactical range for Intelligence, Reconnaissance, Surveillance (ISR), electronic warfare, and attack missions for the U.S. Army and other prospective customers.

Lion maiden flight

8 December 2016, the NH90 Sea Lion naval multi-role helicopter took off on its on-schedule maiden flight at Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth. Wolfgang Schoder, CEO of Airbus Helicopters Deutschland; Ralph Herzog, Director in the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) and Vice Admiral Andreas Krause, Chief of the German Navy welcomed this important milestone in the programme.

German Navy NH90 Sea Lion performs maiden flight
German Navy NH90 Sea Lion performs maiden flight

«We are proud to be delivering this state-of-the-art naval helicopter to the German Armed Forces on time», said Wolfgang Schoder. «This new generation of NH90 naval helicopters, the Sea Lion, has benefited from experience gathered by other countries who have been using it». The NH90 has an increased number of sensors and improved navigation and communications equipment, which means that this military helicopter will also be able to operate in civil air space. The military friend/foe identification has also been updated to the latest standards.

For the BAAINBw in Koblenz, the Sea Lion is also a special project: «We need to keep to a tight schedule if we are to replace the Sea King in time. This requires all those participating in the project to coordinate quickly and efficiently to achieve this», explained Ralph Herzog. «By using an existing NH90 model as the basis for the Sea Lion and adding the required additional functionalities to it, we have been able to significantly reduce the delivery process. This model is also configured not only to be an adequate replacement for the Sea King but is designed so that it can be adapted to future roles».

«The Navy is looking forward, as the first customer, to be receiving the NH90 Sea Lion on time by the end of 2019», said Vice Admiral Andreas Krause. «We are now expecting a successful test phase». Meanwhile, the Navy is preparing intensively for the acceptance of the helicopters with technical and flight personnel already training. Further measures have commenced at their future home, the Nordholz naval air base. Infrastructural changes and new buildings are necessary.

Deliveries of NH90 Sea Lions to the Navy will start at the end of 2019. When deployed, it will take on a range of roles including search and rescue (SAR) missions, maritime reconnaissance, special forces missions as well as personnel and materiel transportation tasks. The German Armed Forces have ordered 18 of these helicopters altogether, with the last due to go into service in 2022. The second NH90 Sea Lion awaiting qualification testing is currently at the final assembly stage and series production at Donauwörth will commence in the summer of 2017.

In addition to its land-based use in SAR missions, the NH90 Sea Lion is also intended to operate on Type 702 (Berlin class) combat support ships. Thanks to its multi-role capability and future proofing, the Sea Lion will not merely replace the Bundeswehr’s Sea King Mk41 fleet but significantly enhance the Navy’s operational capabilities. The electronic fly-by-wire flight controls of the NH90 Sea Lion reduce the crew’s workload. Other benefits of this control system are its high precision and ease of use, which particularly come to the fore in over-water hovering, even in poor weather conditions.

The NH90 Sea Lion shell is manufactured from advanced, high-strength composite materials. This offers optimum protection for the crew thanks to its excellent crash behaviour.

Five nations are already using the naval NH90 NFH (NATO Frigate Helicopter). They have already completed more than 30,000 flying hours with the 69 helicopters delivered so far: in humanitarian and SAR and military missions on land and on board naval vessels. The German NH90 Sea Lion programme has greatly benefited from the experience gained from these operations. Altogether 129 NH90 NFH helicopters have been ordered; the total for all NH90 models comes to 515. The whole NH90 fleet comprising 296 helicopters delivered so far has already completed over 120,000 flying hours.

 

MAIN CHARACTERISTICS

Overall dimensions (rotors turning)
Length 64.18 feet/19.56 m
Width 53.48 feet/16.30 m
Height 17.42 feet/5.31 m
Weights
Maximum Gross Weight 23,369 lbs/10,600 kg
Alternate Gross Weight 24,250 lbs/11,000 kg
Empty Weight 14,109 lbs/6,400 kg
Useful Load 9,260 lbs/4,200 kg
Cargo Capacity
Cargo Hook 8,818 lbs/4,000 kg
Single or dual Rescue Hoist 595 lbs/270 kg
Rescue Hoist on ground 880 lbs/400 kg
Fuel Capacity
7-Cell Internal System 4,486 lbs/2,035 kg
Internal Auxiliary Fuel Tanks (each) 882 lbs/400 kg
External Auxiliary Fuel Tanks (each) 644 lbs/292 kg or 1,102 lbs/500 kg
Internal Dimensions
Width 6.56 feet/2.00 m
Length 15.75 feet/4.80 m
Height 5.18 feet/1.58 m
Volume 536.78 feet³/15.20 m³
Sliding doors opening 5.25 × 4.92 feet/1.60 × 1.50 m
Rear ramp opening 5.84 × 5.18 feet/1.78 × 1.58 m
NH90 General Performance (Basic Aircraft)
Maximum Cruise Speed* 162 knots/186 mph/300 km/h
Economical Cruise Speed* 140 knots/161 mph/260 km/h
Maximum Rate Of Climb* 2,200 feet/min/11.2 m/sec
One Engine Inoperative (OEI) Rate Of Climb 2 min Rating* 850 feet/min/4.3 m/sec
OEI Rate Of Climb Continuous Rating at 6,560 feet/2,000 m* 300 feet/min/1.5 m/sec
Hover Ceiling In Ground Effect (IGE)* 10,500 feet/3,200 m
Hover Ceiling Out of Ground Effect (OGE)* 8,530 feet/2,600 m
Maximum Range 530 NM/610 miles/982 km
Maximum Range with 5,511.5 lbs/2,500 kg payload 486 NM/559 miles/900 km
Maximum Endurance 5 h
Ferry Range (with Internal Aux Fuel Tanks) 864 NM/994 miles/1,600 km

* At 22,046 lbs/10,000 kg

John Finn delivered

Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division delivered the Arleigh Burke-class (DDG-51) guided missile destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113) to the U.S. Navy today, the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The ship’s namesake helped shoot down Japanese warplanes during the attack and was the first Medal of Honor recipient of World War II.

Ingalls Shipbuilding's 29th Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113) sails the Gulf of Mexico during Alpha sea trials (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)
Ingalls Shipbuilding’s 29th Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113) sails the Gulf of Mexico during Alpha sea trials (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)

«Our shipbuilders are patriots who take pride in each and every one of the ships we build at Ingalls», said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. «DDG-113 is no exception. John Finn forged a great legacy as he fought valiantly, while wounded, to protect our country. It is an honor for our shipbuilders to build the ship that will carry on that legacy in the U.S. Navy destroyer fleet. Nearly three decades of talented shipbuilders working in the DDG-51 program make me confident DDG-113 will surely honor her namesake».

The signing of the DD 250 document officially transfers custody of the ship from HII to the U.S. Navy. The signing took place during a morning ceremony and included an acknowledgement at 7:38 a.m., remembering the time the attacks began on December 7, 1941.

«This is a very unique moment», said George Nungesser, Ingalls’ DDG-51 program manager. «Years of working with the DDG-51 program has created a team of shipbuilders who truly understand what it means to build these ships. Today they share in the honor of delivering this ship on the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and are able to take a moment to honor the men and women who will continue to carry on the mission that John Finn and his fellow sailors fought so bravely for. It is a memory that will last forever».

Finn received the Medal of Honor for machine-gunning Japanese warplanes for over two hours during the 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 lived to be 100 years old, passing in 2010.

Ingalls has delivered 28 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to the U.S. Navy. Other destroyers currently under construction at Ingalls include USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114), USS Paul Ignatius (DDG-117), USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119) and USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG-121). Construction of USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123) is scheduled to begin in 2017.

Delivery of the Aegis guided missile destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113), named for a Pearl Harbor hero and the Navy’s first World War II Medal of Honor recipient, was officiated on the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 2016. Signing the document are, from left, Freddie Joe O’Brien, Ingalls’ DDG-113 ship program manager; Navy Commander Micheal Wagner, prospective commanding officer of DDG-113; and Commander Ben Wilder, former Navy DDG-51 program manager’s representative (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)
Delivery of the Aegis guided missile destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113), named for a Pearl Harbor hero and the Navy’s first World War II Medal of Honor recipient, was officiated on the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 2016. Signing the document are, from left, Freddie Joe O’Brien, Ingalls’ DDG-113 ship program manager; Navy Commander Micheal Wagner, prospective commanding officer of DDG-113; and Commander Ben Wilder, former Navy DDG-51 program manager’s representative (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)

 

Ship Characteristics

Length Overall 510 feet/156 m
Beam – Waterline 59 feet/18 m
Draft 30.5 feet/9.3 m
Displacement – Full Load 9,217 tons/9,363 metric tons
Power Plant 4 General electric LM 2500-30 gas turbines; 2 shafts; 2 CRP (Contra-Rotating) propellers; 100,000 shaft horsepower/75,000 kW
Speed in excess of 30 knots/34.5 mph/55.5 km/h
Range 4,400 NM/8,149 km at 20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h
Crew 380 total: 32 Officers, 27 CPO (Chief Petty Officer), 321 OEM
Surveillance 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
Electronics/Countermeasures 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
Aircraft 2 embarked SH-60 helicopters ASW operations; RAST (Recovery Assist, Secure and Traverse)
Armament 2 Mark-41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) with 90 Standard, Vertical Launch ASROC (Anti-Submarine Rocket) & Tomahawk ASM (Air-to-Surface Missile)/LAM (Loitering Attack Missile); 5-in (127-mm)/54 (62) Mark-45 gun; 2 (1) CIWS (Close-In Weapon System); 2 Mark-32 triple 324-mm torpedo tubes for Mark-46 or Mark-50 ASW torpedos

 

Flight IIA: Restart

Ship Yard Launched Commissioned Homeport
DDG-113 John Finn HIIIS 03-28-15
DDG-114 Ralph Johnson HIIIS 12-12-15
DDG-115 Rafael Peralta GDBIW 10-31-15

 

Latest SBIRS
Gets Green Light

Lockheed Martin’s newly upgraded Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) ground system received sign-off from the U.S. Air Force, enhancing the constellation’s ability to deliver infrared data that is critical to early missile warning and defense.

Shown here, Lockheed Martin engineers inspect the next Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) geosynchronous (GEO) Flight 3 satellite at the company’s Sunnyvale, California, facility
Shown here, Lockheed Martin engineers inspect the next Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) geosynchronous (GEO) Flight 3 satellite at the company’s Sunnyvale, California, facility

The new SBIRS ground system serves as the nerve center for the constellation, collecting large amounts of data from the satellite’s powerful sensors and converting it into actionable reports for defense, intelligence and civil applications. The Block 10 system includes upgrades like faster collection times, improved threat detections and improved target tracking and infrared information to see dimmer events faster.

Operational Acceptance of the SBIRS ground system consolidates the Air Force’s command and control of legacy Defense Support Program satellites, SBIRS geosynchronous Earth orbit satellites and highly elliptical orbit payloads into the same ground system. SBIRS Block 10 also improves cueing data for missile defense systems and allows for command, control and mission planning of taskable sensors, as well as real-time and offline raw sensor data processing for technical intelligence used by the intelligence community.

«While launching, a satellite is a highly momentous event, the work continues 24/7 on the ground within command and data processing centers», said David Sheridan, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Overhead Persistent Infrared Systems mission area. «With the Block 10 upgrade, the mission-critical data supplied by SBIRS is now being managed from a single ground control station, which is not only cost-efficient, but also more effective in providing our Air Force operators with the ability to characterize threats and quickly provide that information to military commanders deployed around the globe».

Already, the multi-mission system supports missile warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness, and technical intelligence and also distributes raw and processed data in order to support civil and emerging applications. With the deployment of the ground system, Lockheed Martin will provide ongoing operations and sustainment support, while continuing to enhance the system through additional cyber security capabilities, automation features and continued evolutions to support Air Force requirements.

The new ground system is located at the SBIRS Mission Control Station at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, and replaces the existing ground segment, which has been in operation since 2001.

The SBIRS development team is led by the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Sunnyvale, California, is the SBIRS prime contractor, with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, Azusa, California, as the payload integrator. The 460th Space Wing, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, operates the SBIRS system.

Combat support

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the eighth installment of the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite for the United States Air Force lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 December 7 at 6:53 p.m. EDT. This is ULA’s 11th launch in 2016 and the 114th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the eighth installment of the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite for the United States Air Force lifts off from Space Launch Complex-37
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the eighth installment of the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite for the United States Air Force lifts off from Space Launch Complex-37

«Thank you to the U.S. Air Force and industry team whose flawless execution enabled today’s successful launch of the WGS-8 mission», said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Custom Services. «Last week ULA celebrated our anniversary and 10 years of 100% mission success. This evening’s launch epitomizes why our customers continue to entrust ULA to deliver our nation’s most crucial space capabilities».

This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Medium+ (5, 4) configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) powered by one common booster core and four solid rocket motors built by Orbital ATK. The common booster core was powered by an RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine producing 705,250 pounds of thrust at sea level. A single RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine powered the second stage. The booster and upper stage engines are both built by Aerojet Rocketdyne. ULA constructed the Delta IV Medium+ (5,4) launch vehicle in Decatur, Alabama.

The U.S. Air Force's eighth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite, encapsulated in a 16.4-foot/5-meter payload fairing, is mated to a Delta IV booster at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex (SLC)-37
The U.S. Air Force’s eighth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite, encapsulated in a 16.4-foot/5-meter payload fairing, is mated to a Delta IV booster at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex (SLC)-37

WGS-8, the second Block II Follow-on satellite, supports communications links in the X-band and Ka-band spectra. The WGS-8 satellite will be able filter and downlink up to 8.088 GHz of bandwidth. WGS satellites are an important element of a new high-capacity satellite communications system providing enhanced communications capability to our troops in the field.

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 110 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.

Delta IV WGS-8 Launch Highlights

 

Finnish fighter

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Finland for F/A-18 Mid-Life Upgrade Program and related support, equipment, and training. The estimated cost is $156 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on December 2, 2016.

Finland has expanded the scope of the mid-life update of its F-18C Hornet fighters, some of which are seen here during an exercise in the Netherlands, and which will now include MIDS-JTRS terminals (USAFE photo)
Finland has expanded the scope of the mid-life update of its F-18C Hornet fighters, some of which are seen here during an exercise in the Netherlands, and which will now include MIDS-JTRS terminals (USAFE photo)

The Government of Finland has requested a possible sale of follow-on equipment and support for Finland’s F/A-18 Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) program, consisting of: Ninety (90) Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS-JTRS) variant(s). The proposed program support also includes software test and integration center upgrades, flight testing, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, transportation, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support. Total estimated program cost is $156 million.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United State by helping to improve the security of a friendly country which has been and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in Europe.

The Finnish Air Force (FAF) intend to purchase this MLU program equipment and services to extend the useful life of its F/A-18 fighter aircraft and enhance their survivability and communications connectivity. The FDF needs this upgrade to keep pace with technology advances in sensors, weaponry, and communications. Finland has extensive experience operating the F/A-18 aircraft and will have no difficulty incorporating the upgraded capabilities into its forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The principal contractors will be Raytheon in Waltham, Massachusetts; Lockheed Martin in Bethesda, Maryland; The Boeing Company in St. Louis, Missouri; BAE North America in Arlington, Virginia; General Electric in Fairfield, Connecticut; General Dynamics in West Falls Church, Virginia; Northrop Grumman in Falls Church, Virginia; Rockwell Collins in Cedar rapids, Iowa; ViaSat in Carlsbad, California; and Data Link Solutions in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple trips to Finland involving U.S. Government and contractor representatives for technical reviews, support, and training.

Electronic
countermeasure

Northrop Grumman Corporation has been awarded a contract by the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) to upgrade the AN/ALQ-131 electronic countermeasure (ECM) pods for its F-16 aircraft fleet. The upgrade includes new threat detection and jamming capabilities to allow aircraft to operate safely in the modern threat environment.

Currently operational in the United States and 11 other countries, the Northrop Grumman AN/ALQ-131 pod is one of the most successful ECM systems ever built
Currently operational in the United States and 11 other countries, the Northrop Grumman AN/ALQ-131 pod is one of the most successful ECM systems ever built

Air defense capabilities in hostile and unstable regions have grown rapidly in sophistication in recent years, presenting an increased threat to military aviation. Northrop Grumman’s Digital Receiver/Exciter adds fifth-generation aircraft electronic warfare technology to the AN/ALQ-131, providing the flexibility to remain ahead of emerging threats.

«The digital technology in the AN/ALQ-131 upgrade provides a significant leap in capability for electronic countermeasures, giving RNLAF aviators a superior level of protection wherever their missions take them», said Doctor Robert Fleming, vice president, programs, Northrop Grumman.

Currently operational in the United States and 11 other countries, the AN/ALQ-131 pod is one of the most successful ECM systems ever built. The company has more than 60 years of experience in electronic warfare protecting a variety of aircraft and aircrews, including A-10 Thunderbolt II, B-1 Lancer, B-52 Stratofortress, C-130 Hercules, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Hornet and F-35 Lightning II.