Light Multi-Role Aircraft

Boeing and the Paramount Group, the South Africa-based global defense and aerospace business, have expanded their 2014 agreement to cooperate on an advanced mission system for a variant of the Advanced, High Performance, Reconnaissance, Light Aircraft (AHRLAC).

Boeing and the Paramount Group will collaborate on an integrated mission system for the Mwari aircraft enabling ISR and light strike missions for the variant of Paramount’s advanced high-performance reconnaissance light aircraft (Photo credit: Paramount Group)
Boeing and the Paramount Group will collaborate on an integrated mission system for the Mwari aircraft enabling ISR and light strike missions for the variant of Paramount’s advanced high-performance reconnaissance light aircraft (Photo credit: Paramount Group)

A high-wing, two-seat aircraft, AHRLAC is designed to incorporate advanced Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities and weapons systems. Boeing will develop an integrated mission system for the aircraft enabling ISR and light strike missions for the AHRLAC safety & security, and military variants. This militarised version will be known as Mwari.

Speaking from the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi, Jeffrey Johnson, vice president, Business Development, Boeing Military Aircraft, said, «Through AHRLAC, we’ll not only bring a flexible, persistent and affordable aircraft to the international market, but we’ll also be developing world-class technology in Africa». «Our relationship with Paramount will help us access markets that are new to Boeing», Johnson added.

The Paramount Group is the largest privately owned defense and aerospace business in Africa, providing fully integrated turnkey solutions to global defense, peacekeeping and internal security forces. Since its inception in 1994, Paramount has built strong relationships with governments and government agencies in more than 30 countries around the world. Paramount is a leading innovator in the design and development of state-of-the-art products that it manufactures in locations globally and has partnered with some of the world’s largest and most reputable organizations in the global defense community.

 

GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS

OVERALL LAYOUT
Pusher configuration, jet-like characteristics
Unobstructed forward view for sensors
Internal high velocity 20-mm cannon
Flexible belly-mounted multi-mission sensor pod
High wing for good external view and rough field operation
MAXIMUM TAKE-OFF WEIGHT (MTOW) 8,378 lbs/3,800 kg
PAYLOAD WITH FULL FUEL 1,764 lbs/800 kg +
LANDING GEAR
Retractable, optimised for semi- and unprepared sites
Sized for optional extra-large high flotation wheels
COCKPIT
Tandem seat, two crew
Large vertical cockpit separation and high wing for optimum external view
New generation multi-function IFR Glass cockpit
PERFORMANCE
Take-Off Distance 1,804 feet/550 m Full payload
Maximum Cruise Speed 272 knots/313 mph/504 km/h
Service Ceiling 31,000 feet/9,449 m
External Stores and Armament 6 Wing Hard Points
20-mm Fuselage mounted Cannon
Maximum Mission Range 1,150 NM/1,323 miles/2,130 km
Maximum Ferry Range 2,000 NM/2,302 miles/3,704 km
Length 34.4 feet/10.5 m
Wing Span 39.4 feet/12 m
Height 13.1 feet/4 m
Engine 1 × Pratt & Whitney PT6A-66B 950 HP Flat-rated (Growth to 1,600 HP/1,193 kW)
CONFORMAL AND INTERCHANGEABLE MISSION-SPECIFIC POD ACCOMMODATING COMBINATIONS OF:
Forward Looking InfraRed (FLIRs)
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Radars
Active and Passive Electronic Warfare (EW)
Electronic intelligence (ELINT)/Communications intelligence (COMINT)
High wing for good external view and rough field operation
AHRLAC Mwari delivers a highly flexible mission-configurable payload system, allowing it to be transformed quickly between operational roles
AHRLAC Mwari delivers a highly flexible mission-configurable payload system, allowing it to be transformed quickly between operational roles

GD to Build AJAX

On March 7, 2016 General Dynamics Land Systems-UK inaugurated its new Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT) facility at Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. The facility, which will undergo significant refurbishment through 2016 and be fully operational in 2017, will support the delivery of AJAX vehicles to the British Army.

AJAX incorporates cutting-edge and proven technology to provide an unparalleled balance of protection, weight and agility for a vehicle of its class
AJAX incorporates cutting-edge and proven technology to provide an unparalleled balance of protection, weight and agility for a vehicle of its class

At a short ceremony attended by the Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales, Philip Dunne MP, Minister for Defence Procurement, and Alun Cairns MP, Wales Office Minister, representatives of the British Army and other local dignitaries, the facility was declared open and reaffirms the UK’s proud history of developing and manufacturing AFVs.

The facility was dedicated in the memory of famous Welshman, Sir Tasker Watkins. Born in Nelson, Caerphilly, which is a short distance from Merthyr Tydfil, Sir Tasker earned the Victoria Cross during the Second World War for his gallantry in the face of the enemy. Following the war, he served Wales with equal distinction in many different roles, including as President of the Welsh Rugby Union.

The Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales, said: «Today’s news is great for Merthyr and great for Wales. We’ve built a strong and close working relationship with General Dynamics – one of our anchor companies – and we have supported a number of their key projects that have brought new work and technology to Wales and created hundreds of new jobs. I am delighted we were able to support this latest, strategically important, investment and welcome the considerable associated economic benefits it will create».

Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Procurement, commented: «The opening of this new facility is a major development for both Merthyr Tydfil and the British Army. It is another reminder of the importance of Defence investment right across the UK: the AJAX programme alone is sustaining 2,800 jobs across the country, 550 of which are here in Wales. This new facility, like the next generation vehicle it will produce, is more evidence of our £178 billion commitment to provide our Armed Forces with the equipment they need. Thanks to the close partnership between the UK Government and industry, this site will spring back in to life as a significant centre of employment and bring in valuable skills with a lasting legacy for the entire region».

Alun Cairns MP, Wales Office Minister, remarked: «The UK government is determined to see as many MoD projects designed, built and manufactured here in the UK. General Dynamics’ decision to bring the assembly, integration and testing of AJAX vehicles to south Wales is an enormous vote of confidence in the skills and expertise of the workforce here in Merthyr Tydfil. This grows the defence footprint in Wales and is an excellent example of the UK and Welsh Governments working together in the interests of the Welsh economy. The Welsh manufacturing sector is surging from strength to strength. Today’s event showcases the invaluable contribution our home-grown talent is making in the provision of first-class protection and support to the brave men and women working in front line situations around the world».

Kevin Connell, vice president of General Dynamics Land Systems-UK, said: «Today’s inauguration reaffirms our commitment to delivering world-leading AFVs to the British Army from the UK, and firmly establishes Wales as the home of the UK’s AFV industry. I’d like to thank the UK Government, Welsh Government, local council and community for its support as we establish a facility that we can all be proud of, which will lead the way in the delivery of a cutting-edge, fully-digitised fleet of vehicles for the British Army».

Commenting on the dedication of the facility in the memory of Sir Tasker Watkins, Kevin Connell said: «Sir Tasker put his service to his men and country before his own safety during the Second World War, and his gallantry deserves to be continually remembered. Today’s dedication was our way of honouring his memory, and recognising the service of our Armed Forces, who serve our country with distinction every day».

The new facility will support the creation of 250 new jobs, whilst the entire AJAX programme directly supports approximately 2,800 jobs across the UK at more than 210 UK-based companies. General Dynamics Land Systems-UK will begin initial, limited recruitment for the new facility later this year, with further significant recruitment taking place in mid-2017.

AJAX can operate in combined-arms and multinational situations across a wide-range of future operating environments
AJAX can operate in combined-arms and multinational situations across a wide-range of future operating environments

Murtha’s Sea Trials

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced on March 7 the successful sea trials of the company’s 10th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26). The ship, built at HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division, spent four days in the Gulf of Mexico last week with Ingalls’ test and trials team operating the ship and performing more than 200 test events.

Ingalls Shipbuilding’s 10th amphibious transport dock USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) sails the Gulf of Mexico for Builder’s Trial (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)
Ingalls Shipbuilding’s 10th amphibious transport dock USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) sails the Gulf of Mexico for Builder’s Trial (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)

«Overall the builder’s trial was successful, and the ship performed well», said Kari Wilkinson, Ingalls’ LPD-26 program manager. «This shipbuilding milestone is another accomplishment for a seasoned LPD production and test team that is ready to continue the learning on future LPD platforms. This team understands the important mission LPDs provide to our nation, and we look forward to delivering another fine, much-needed asset to our sailors and Marines».

Major evolutions during builder’s trials include the anchor-handling demonstration, ballast/deballast demonstration, detect-to-engage exercise, running the ship at full power and steering.

Shipbuilders will now prepare USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) for acceptance trials in April to demonstrate the same tests and operational success to the U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). The ship is scheduled to be delivered to the U.S. Navy in the second quarter of 2016.

«LPD-26 experienced an excellent builders trials», said George S. Jones, Ingalls’ vice president of operations. «This is another fine testament to the dedicated men and women of Ingalls shipbuilding and their shipbuilding talents. The USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) is a quality ship, and the ability to deliver her on schedule later this year is a result of great craftsmen and the outstanding Navy partnership we have with the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Gulf Coast».

LPD-26 is named in honor of the late John P. Murtha, who represented Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District from 1974 to 2010. In addition to his tenured history in the House of Representatives, Murtha was also a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and Reserves. He served for 37 years and received the Bronze Star with Combat «V», two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry for his service in the Vietnam War. He retired as a colonel in 1990.

Ingalls has built and delivered nine ships in the San Antonio-class. In addition to USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26), Ingalls has the 11th LPD, USS Portland (LPD-27), under construction. USS Portland (LPD-27) launched on February 13 and will be christened on May 21. Ingalls received a $200 million advance procurement contract for the 12th ship in the class, LPD-28, in December 2015.

The San Antonio-class is the latest addition to the U.S. Navy’s 21st century amphibious assault force. The 684-foot-long/208-meter-long, 105-foot-wide/32-meter-wide ships are used to embark and land Marines, their equipment and supplies ashore via air cushion or conventional landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles, augmented by helicopters or vertical takeoff and landing aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey. The ships support a Marine Air Ground Task Force across the spectrum of operations, conducting amphibious and expeditionary missions of sea control and power projection to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions throughout the first half of the 21st century.

Ingalls Shipbuilding conducted Builder Sea Trials for USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) in the Gulf of Mexico

 

General Characteristics

Builder Huntington Ingalls Industries
Propulsion Four sequentially turbocharged marine Colt-Pielstick Diesels, two shafts, 41,600 shaft horsepower
Length 684 feet/208 m
Beam 105 feet/32 m
Displacement Approximately 24,900 long tons (25,300 metric tons) full load
Draft 23 feet/7 m
Speed In excess of 22 knots/24.2 mph/38.7 km/h
Crew Ship’s Company: 374 Sailors (28 officers, 346 enlisted) and 3 Marines. Embarked Landing Force: 699 (66 officers, 633 enlisted); surge capacity to 800
Armament Two Bushmaster II 30-mm Close in Guns, fore and aft; two Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launchers, fore and aft: ten .50 calibre/12.7-mm machine guns
Aircraft Launch or land two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters or two MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft or up to four CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, AH-1 or UH-1 helicopters
Landing/Attack Craft Two LCACs or one LCU; and 14 Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles/Amphibious Assault Vehicles
USS Portland (LPD-27) is seen here in the middle of launch early Saturday morning at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula. Portland is the 11th San Antonio-class landing platform dock (Photo by Andrew Young/HII)
USS Portland (LPD-27) is seen here in the middle of launch early Saturday morning at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula. Portland is the 11th San Antonio-class landing platform dock (Photo by Andrew Young/HII)

 

San Antonio-class

Ship Builder Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS San Antonio (LPD-17) Avondale 07-12-2003 01-14-2006 Norfolk, Virginia
USS New Orleans (LPD-18) Avondale 12-11-2004 03-10-2007 San Diego, California
USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19) Ingalls 11-19-2004 12-15-2007 Norfolk, Virginia
USS Green Bay (LPD-20) Avondale 08-11-2006 01-24-2009 San Diego, California
USS New York (LPD-21) Avondale 12-19-2007 11-07-2009 Norfolk, Virginia
USS San Diego (LPD-22) Ingalls 05-07-2010 05-19-2012 San Diego, California
USS Anchorage (LPD-23) Avondale 02-12-2011 05-04-2013 San Diego, California
USS Arlington (LPD-24) Ingalls 11-23-2010 02-08-2013 Norfolk, Virginia
USS Somerset (LPD-25) Avondale 04-14-2012 05-01-2014 San Diego, California
USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) Ingalls 11-02-2014 San Diego, California
USS Portland (LPD-27) Ingalls 02-13-2016
USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD-28) Ingalls

 

SM-6 hits target

Raytheon Company’s Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) successfully engaged a surface target – the decommissioned USS Reuben James (FFG-57) – in a recent flight test. The test was a demonstration of the U.S. Navy’s concept of «distributed lethality», employing ships in dispersed formations to increase the offensive might of the surface force and enabling future options for the joint force commander. The USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53) fired the SM-6 during the test; another Air Defense Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer was on station as the assist ship.

The USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53), configured with AEGIS Baseline 9.C1, executed the series of four missions with five SM-6 missiles for Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation, part of the final testing leading to a likely declaration of Full Operational Capability in 2017
The USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53), configured with AEGIS Baseline 9.C1, executed the series of four missions with five SM-6 missiles for Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation, part of the final testing leading to a likely declaration of Full Operational Capability in 2017

The mission validated that the legacy Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW) capability of the Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) family of missiles and the Mk-7 Aegis Weapon System (AWS) has successfully carried over to SM-6 and the latest Aegis Destroyer baseline 9. The investment in the Standard Missile family resulted in an affordable SM-6 effector that continues to perform beyond expectations.

«This test event demonstrated Raytheon’s decades of continued technological development and partnership with the U.S. Navy», said Dr. Taylor Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president. «The ability to leverage the Standard Missile Family and the legacy AWS in newly fielded systems brings additional warfighting capability to the U.S. Fleet».

In recent testing, SM-6 has shown expanded mission capability in three key areas: Anti-Air Warfare, Sea-Based Terminal and Anti-Surface Warfare. The tri-mission capability of SM-6 continues to emphasize its value by providing additional capability beyond its original intended mission.

Raytheon has delivered more than 250 SM-6 missiles, which were deployed for the first time in 2013. The missile’s final assembly takes place at Raytheon’s state-of-the-art SM-6 and SM-3 all-up-round production facility at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.

A Standard Missile-6 is loaded into a specialized container at the Raytheon Redstone Missile Integration Facility for delivery to the U.S. Navy
A Standard Missile-6 is loaded into a specialized container at the Raytheon Redstone Missile Integration Facility for delivery to the U.S. Navy

Benevolent Dragon

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) delivered the «Jinryu» (Benevolent Dragon) submarine to the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MOD) on March 7 in a ceremony held at the MHI Kobe Shipyard & Machinery Works’ No.3 pier in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture. The «Jinryu» (SS-507) is the seventh Soryu-class submarine supplied to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and the fourth built by MHI. MHI also built the first Soryu-class submarine, and has produced a total of 26 submarines at the MHI Kobe Shipyard over the last 70 years.

The cost of the Soryu-class submarine was estimated at $540 million
The cost of the Soryu-class submarine was estimated at $540 million

The delivery ceremony was attended by a number of MOD officials including State Minister of Defense Kenji Wakamiya, JMSDF Chief of Staff Tomohisa Takei, and Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency Commissioner Hideaki Watanabe. MHI was represented by Hisakazu Mizutani, Executive Vice President of MHI and President & CEO of MHI Integrated Defense & Space Systems.

Soryu-class submarines are the world’s largest conventionally powered submarines. They have an excellent operational track record and are equipped with state-of-the art technologies, including Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems that enable them to remain fully submerged for long periods of time, and advanced stealth technologies that make them extremely difficult to detect.

2 × 3-inch underwater countermeasure launcher tubes for launching of Acoustic Device Countermeasures (ADCs)
2 × 3-inch underwater countermeasure launcher tubes for launching of Acoustic Device Countermeasures (ADCs)

 

Specifications

Length overall 275.6 feet/84 m
Breadth 30 feet/9.1 m
Depth 33.8 feet/10.3 m
Displacement 2,950 tonnes
Submerged Displacement 4,100 tonnes
Main engine Diesel-Stirling-electric, one shaft
Maximum output 6,000 kW/8,000 PS
Maximum speed 20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h
Complement about 65
Armament and other equipment Torpedo tubes, snorkel, submarine sonar system, etc.
6 × HU-606 21-inch/533-mm torpedo tubes with 30 reloads for: 1) Type 89 torpedo; 2) Harpoon missiles; 3) Mines
6 × HU-606 21-inch/533-mm torpedo tubes with 30 reloads for: 1) Type 89 torpedo; 2) Harpoon missiles; 3) Mines

Tanker First Flight

The Boeing test team successfully completed the first flight of the program’s second KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft on March 2, taking off from Paine Field and landing later at Boeing Field in Seattle. During the flight, Boeing test pilots performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems.

Boeing’s second KC-46 Pegasus tanker (EMD-4) takes off from Paine Field in Everett on its first flight. The tanker landed later at Boeing Field in Seattle and will initially be used to test mission system avionics and exterior lighting (Photo credit: Gail Hanusa, Boeing)
Boeing’s second KC-46 Pegasus tanker (EMD-4) takes off from Paine Field in Everett on its first flight. The tanker landed later at Boeing Field in Seattle and will initially be used to test mission system avionics and exterior lighting (Photo credit: Gail Hanusa, Boeing)

«Adding a second tanker to the flight test program is very important as we move into the next phase of testing», said Colonel John Newberry, U.S. Air Force KC-46 System program manager. «The team will initially use the aircraft to test mission system avionics and exterior lighting. Later, it will share the air refueling effort with the first KC-46».

The Boeing team now will conduct a post-flight inspection and calibrate instrumentation prior to the next series of flights. As part of the overall flight test program, the KC-46 Pegasus will demonstrate it can refuel 18 different aircraft. The second tanker will help share the test load and receiver certification.

Boeing was awarded a contract in 2011 to design and develop the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation tanker aircraft and is building four test aircraft – two are currently configured as 767-2Cs and two as KC-46A Pegasus tankers.

Engineering & Manufacturing and Development-1 (EMD-1), a 767-2C test aircraft, has completed more than 260 flight test hours to date since its first flight in December 2014. EMD-2, the program’s first KC-46A Pegasus tanker, made its maiden flight September 25, 2015 and has now completed more than 180 flight test hours. EMD-3, a 767-2C, will begin flight testing later this year.

The KC-46A Pegasus is a multirole tanker Boeing is building for the U.S. Air Force that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients. Overall, Boeing plans to build 179 KC-46 Pegasus aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.

Boeing and U.S. Air Force crews complete the KC-46A Pegasus tanker’s first refueling flight following takeoff from Boeing Field in Seattle. The Boeing/Air Force test team aboard the KC-46 offloaded 1,600 pounds/726 kg of fuel to an F-16 fighter (Photo credit: Paul Weatherman, Boeing)
Boeing and U.S. Air Force crews complete the KC-46A Pegasus tanker’s first refueling flight following takeoff from Boeing Field in Seattle. The Boeing/Air Force test team aboard the KC-46 offloaded 1,600 pounds/726 kg of fuel to an F-16 fighter (Photo credit: Paul Weatherman, Boeing)

 

General Characteristics

Primary Function Aerial refueling and airlift
Prime Contractor The Boeing Company
Power Plant 2 × Pratt & Whitney 4062
Thrust 62,000 lbs/275.790 kN/28,123 kgf – Thrust per High-Bypass engine (sea-level standard day)
Wingspan 157 feet, 8 inches/48.1 m
Length 165 feet, 6 inches/50.5 m
Height 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
Fuel Capacity 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
Maximum Airspeed 360 KCAS (Knots Calibrated AirSpeed)/0.86 M/414 mph/667 km/h
Service Ceiling 43,100 feet/13,137 m
Maximum Distance 7,299 NM/8,400 miles/13,518 km
Pallet Positions 18 pallet positions
Air Crew 15 permanent seats for aircrew, including aeromedical evacuation aircrew
Passengers 58 total (normal operations); up to 114 total (contingency operations)
Aeromedical Evacuation 58 patients (24 litters/34 ambulatory) with the AE Patient Support Pallet configuration; 6 integral litters carried as part of normal aircraft configuration equipment

 

Long-range strike

After more than a decade of performing precision strike operations in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility, the B-1 Lancers have returned home. While U.S. and coalition aircraft step in to continue the air campaign in Iraq and Syria, where B-1s from Dyess and Ellsworth Air Force Bases (AFBs) delivered devastating blows to Daesh forces, the Lancers are stateside, completing the largest fleet sustainment block upgrade in the program’s history.

A 9th Bomb Squadron B-1B Lancer at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, begins its 15-hour flight to the Alaskan Yukon Range February 23, 2016, during a B-1 Combat Mission Effectiveness Exercise (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Austin Mayfield/Released)
A 9th Bomb Squadron B-1B Lancer at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, begins its 15-hour flight to the Alaskan Yukon Range February 23, 2016, during a B-1 Combat Mission Effectiveness Exercise (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Austin Mayfield/Released)

The 7th Bomb Wing is wasting no time putting those upgrades to work, recently executing a short-notice, long-range strike exercise to successfully demonstrate, for the first time, the U.S. Air Force’s ability to deploy Block 16 B-1s during a 15-hour flight to the Yukon Range in Alaska.

«This exercise proved that the B-1 fleet is now capable of deploying and employing Block 16 aircraft to provide a global strike presence within hours of being tasked», according to Captain Ryan Stillwell, wing weapons officer, adding that the Block 16 modifications allow the aircraft to perform more efficiently and effectively than ever before.

A key element of the modifications he pointed out is that the upgrade allows better data sharing between aircrew and aircraft in the sky.

«The Block 16 upgrade results in increased situational awareness in the jets as well as increased reliability in our systems and displays», Stillwell said. «This ties us into the external sensors the rest of the U.S. Air Force and military provide in a more usable way».

This enhanced capability not only aids the crew of the B-1 Lancer, but allows other military assets to be better prepared against enemy threats.

«B-1s are a global deterrence platform in the conventional strike role; we can put bombs on targets anywhere in the world, anytime», Stillwell said. «Block 16 enables that because it increases our situational awareness and it makes us more lethal. We can share target and threat data with other assets, which help us survive and allow us to place our weapons in an accurate location in a quicker timeline against the enemy».

Block 16 has made the B-1 Lancer a complete combat machine, the captain added. «The B-1 is not limited to a certain sortie duration», Stillwell said. «Our B-1s are only limited to crew fatigue, as long as the crew is rested and we get in-air refueling there is no limit to how far our B-1 can go».

An important piece of the exercise was to ensure the Block 16 B-1s are ready for that long-duration mission. «One of the key planning factors was demonstrating the global reach of the B-1», said Lieutenant Colonel Luke Baker, 7th Bomb Wing director of inspections. «We also wanted to demonstrate its global capability with long-range and precision attacks, which allows us to reach out and touch people across the world».

During this exercise the B-1’s three weapons bays were loaded with inert Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles and Joint Direct Attack Munitions. Both sets of weapons benefit the addition of the Block 16 technology by allowing the weapon systems officers to be more accurate in targeting the enemy.

While exercising a new system successfully was one objective, Stillwell pointed out that this exercise was also critical in ensuring the wing is capable of getting jets and Airmen ready to deploy in a short-notice scenario.

«We did this exercise to exercise the machine that is Dyess Air Force Base, which eventually results in putting bombs on targets», Stillwell said. «We were able to get all six aircraft launched on time. From the maintenance side and operation side they had everything ready before we launched the aircraft».

A successful deployment or exercise ultimately hinges on the skill and dedication of Airmen, and according to the 7th Bomb Wing vice commander, he never doubted they would achieve the targeted goal.

«It doesn’t surprise me that our Airmen were able to accomplish such a large task on such short order, because we have developed a ‘bomber Airmen’ culture, who are ready to defend the nation at any time», Colonel Michael Miller said. «These upgrades just further enhance the ability of our Airmen to do what they do best, which is putting steel on target».

Airmen assigned to the 7th Maintenance Group load an inert Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, in a B-1B Lancer February 21, 2016, during a B-1 Combat Mission Effectiveness exercise (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Austin Mayfield/Released)
Airmen assigned to the 7th Maintenance Group load an inert Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, in a B-1B Lancer February 21, 2016, during a B-1 Combat Mission Effectiveness exercise (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Austin Mayfield/Released)

 

General characteristics

Primary function long-range, multi-role, heavy bomber
Contractor Boeing, North America (formerly Rockwell International, North American Aircraft); offensive avionics, Boeing Military Airplane; defensive avionics, EDO Corporation
Power plant 4 × General Electric F101-GE-102 turbofan engine with afterburner
Thrust 30,780 lbf/13,962 kgf/136.92 kN with afterburner, per engine
Wingspan 137 feet/41.8 m extended forward
79 feet/24.1 m swept aft
Length 146 feet/44.5 m
Height 34 feet/10.4 m
Weight approximately 190,000 lbs/86,183 kg
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 477,000 lbs/216,634 kg
Fuel capacity 265,274 lbs/120,326 kg
Payload 75,000 lbs/34,019 kg
Speed Mach 1.2/900 mph/1,448 km/h at sea level
Range intercontinental
Ceiling more than 30,000 feet/9,144 m
Armament 84 500-pound/227-kg Mk-82 or 24 2,000-pound/907-kg Mk-84 general purpose bombs
up to 84 500-pound/227-kg Mk-62 or 8 2,000-pound/907-kg Mk-65 Quick Strike naval mines
30 cluster munitions (CBU-87, -89, -97) or 30 Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispensers (CBU-103, -104, -105)
up to 24 2,000-pound/907-kg GBU-31 or 15 500-pound/227-kg GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions
up to 24 AGM-158A Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM)
15 GBU-54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions
Crew four (aircraft commander, copilot, and two combat systems officers)
Unit cost $317 million
Initial Operating Capability (IOC) October 1986
Inventory active force, 62 (test, 2); ANG, 0; Reserve, 0
Airmen assigned to the 7th Maintenance Group prep a B-1B Lancer’s bomb bay for a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile February 21, 2016, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, during a B-1 Combat Mission Effectiveness Exercise (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Austin Mayfield/Released)
Airmen assigned to the 7th Maintenance Group prep a B-1B Lancer’s bomb bay for a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile February 21, 2016, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, during a B-1 Combat Mission Effectiveness Exercise (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Austin Mayfield/Released)

X-Plane Phase 2

For decades, aircraft designers seeking to improve Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) capabilities have endured a substantial set of interrelated challenges. Dozens of attempts have been made to increase top speed without sacrificing range, efficiency or the ability to do useful work, with each effort struggling or failing in one way or another.

DARPA’s Vertical Take-Off and Landing Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program seeks to provide innovative cross-pollination between fixed-wing and rotary-wing technologies and develop and integrate novel subsystems to enable radical improvements in vertical and cruising flight capabilities
DARPA’s Vertical Take-Off and Landing Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program seeks to provide innovative cross-pollination between fixed-wing and rotary-wing technologies and develop and integrate novel subsystems to enable radical improvements in vertical and cruising flight capabilities

DARPA’s VTOL Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program aims to overcome these challenges through innovative cross-pollination between fixed-wing and rotary-wing technologies and by developing and integrating novel subsystems to enable radical improvements in vertical and cruising flight capabilities. In an important step toward that goal, DARPA has awarded the Phase 2 contract for VTOL X-Plane to Aurora Flight Sciences.

«Just when we thought it had all been done before, the Aurora team found room for invention – truly new elements of engineering and technology that show enormous promise for demonstration on actual flight vehicles», said Ashish Bagai, DARPA program manager. «This is an extremely novel approach», Bagai said of the selected design. «It will be very challenging to demonstrate, but it has the potential to move the technology needle the farthest and provide some of the greatest spinoff opportunities for other vertical flight and aviation products».

VTOL X-Plane seeks to develop a technology demonstrator that could:

  • Achieve a top sustained flight speed of 300 knot/345 mph/555 km/h to 400 knot/460 mph/740 km/h;
  • Raise aircraft hover efficiency from 60 percent to at least 75 percent;
  • Present a more favorable cruise lift-to-drag ratio of at least 10, up from 5-6;
  • Carry a useful load of at least 40 percent of the vehicle’s projected gross weight of 10,000-12,000 pounds/4,536-5,443 kg.

Aurora’s Phase 2 design for VTOL X-Plane envisions an unmanned aircraft with two large rear wings and two smaller front canards – short winglets mounted near the nose of the aircraft. A turboshaft engine – one used in V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft – mounted in the fuselage would provide 3 megawatts (4,000 horsepower) of electrical power, the equivalent of an average commercial wind turbine. The engine would drive 24 ducted fans, nine integrated into each wing and three inside each canard. Both the wings and the canards would rotate to direct fan thrust as needed: rearward for forward flight, downward for hovering and at angles during transition between the two.

In an important step toward that goal, DARPA has awarded the Phase 2 contract for VTOL X-Plane to Aurora Flight Sciences
In an important step toward that goal, DARPA has awarded the Phase 2 contract for VTOL X-Plane to Aurora Flight Sciences

The design envisions an aircraft that could fly fast and far, hover when needed and accomplish diverse missions without the need for prepared landing areas. While the technology demonstrator would be unmanned, the technologies that VTOL X-Plane intends to develop could apply equally well to manned aircraft. The program has the goal of performing flight tests in the 2018 timeframe.

Aurora’s unique design is only possible through advances in technology over the past 60 years, in fields such as air vehicle and aeromechanics design and testing, adaptive and reconfigurable control systems, and highly integrated designs. It would also be impossible with the classical mechanical drive systems used in today’s vertical lift aircraft, Bagai said.

The Phase 2 design addresses in innovative ways many longstanding technical obstacles, the biggest of which is that the design characteristics that enable good hovering capabilities are completely different from those that enable fast forward flight. Among the revolutionary design advances to be incorporated in the technology demonstrator:

  • Electric power generation and distribution systems to enable multiple fans and transmission-agnostic air vehicle designs;
  • Modularized, cellular aerodynamic wing design with integrated propulsion to enable the wings to perform efficiently in forward flight, hover and when transitioning between them;
  • Overactuated flight control systems that could change the thrust of each fan to increase maneuverability and efficiency.

«This VTOL X-plane won’t be in volume production in the next few years but is important for the future capabilities it could enable», Bagai said. «Imagine electric aircraft that are more quiet, fuel-efficient and adaptable and are capable of runway-independent operations. We want to open up whole new design and mission spaces freed from prior constraints, and enable new VTOL aircraft systems and subsystems».

VTOL X-Plane Phase 2 Concept Video

 

Christening of Washington

On March 5, 2016 Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division celebrated the christening of the future USS Washington (SSN-787), the 14th Virginia-class submarine.

Elisabeth Mabus, daughter of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, smashed a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow of Virginia-class submarine Washington (SSN-787), christening the submarine named for the Evergreen State. Washington will be the seventh Virginia-class submarine to be delivered by Newport News Shipbuilding (Photo by John Whalen/HII)
Elisabeth Mabus, daughter of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, smashed a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow of Virginia-class submarine Washington (SSN-787), christening the submarine named for the Evergreen State. Washington will be the seventh Virginia-class submarine to be delivered by Newport News Shipbuilding (Photo by John Whalen/HII)

Ship sponsor Elisabeth Mabus, daughter of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, smashed a bottle of sparkling wine, dipped in the waters of Washington’s Puget Sound, across the bow to mark the christening of the submarine named for the Evergreen State.

«It seems amazing that only a year and a half ago we were laying the keel», Elisabeth said. «It is a testament to the work at Newport News and Electric Boat that we are back here so soon to christen the newest member of the fleet».

Secretary Mabus served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker. Other ceremony participants included Representative Randy Forbes, Republican Party, Virginia; Representative Bobby Scott, Democratic Party, Virginia; Admiral James Caldwell, director, U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program; Vice Admiral Joseph Tofalo, commander of Submarine Forces, Submarine Forces Atlantic and Allied Submarine Command; Matt Mulherin, president, Newport News Shipbuilding; and Jeffrey Geiger, president, General Dynamics Electric Boat.

Secretary Mabus highlighted the award of 10 Virginia-class submarines in the Block IV contract, the largest shipbuilding contract in U.S. Navy history, and the cost savings associated with it.

«Many things have allowed us to bring the cost down», Mabus said. «So many efficiencies by these shipyards. By giving them stability – by Congress allowing us to do this 10-ship buy at the same time so they can make the investments, employ the skilled workers, buy the materials that they need to build not just one submarine, but all 10 – it’s good for our shipbuilders, it’s good for the shipbuilding industry, it’s good for America’s Navy, and it’s good for America».

USS Washington (SSN-787) will be the seventh Virginia-class submarine delivered by Newport News. Construction began in September 2011, marking the beginning of the two-submarines-per-year build plan between Newport News and General Dynamics Electric Boat.

«Today’s ceremony marks a new chapter in the life of this submarine, which embodies years of hard work by a team committed to continuous improvement and extending its record of deliveries ahead of schedule and under budget», Geiger said. «Largely because of the Virginia-class program’s success, we are in the midst of a sustained period of increased submarine production».

Nearly 4,000 Newport News shipbuilders have worked on USS Washington (SSN-787). The submarine is on track to be delivered in 2016.

«Here at the shipyard, we’re celebrating our 130 years in business», Mulherin said. «We’ve been christening ships throughout our history, with more than 800 such ships built here. For more than a century, we’ve christened ships. The pride, patriotism and attention to every little detail is something that has been passed down from generation to generation. We are extremely proud to be a part of that tradition because we know we aren’t just celebrating a christening today, we are also celebrating the men and women who built this magnificent submarine and those who will serve aboard her».

About 2,000 people attended the christening of the Virginia-class submarine Washington (Photo by Ricky Thompson/HII)
About 2,000 people attended the christening of the Virginia-class submarine Washington (Photo by Ricky Thompson/HII)

 

General Characteristics

Builder General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. – Newport News Shipbuilding
Date Deployed October 3, 2004
Propulsion One GE PWR S9G(*) nuclear reactor, two turbines, one shaft; 40,000 hp/30 MW
Length 377 feet/114.8 m
Beam 33 feet/10.0584 m
Hull Diameter 34 feet/10.3632 m
Displacement Approximately 7,800 tons/7,925 metric tons submerged
Speed 25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h
Diving Depth 800+ feet/244+ m
Crew 132: 15 officers; 117 enlisted
Armament: Tomahawk missiles 12 individual VLS (Vertical Launch System) tubes or two 87-in/2.2 m Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching 6 Tomahawk cruise missiles
Armament: MK-48 ADCAP (Advanced Capability) Mod 7 heavyweight torpedoes 4 torpedo tubes
Weapons MK-60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo) mines, advanced mobile mines and UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles)

(*) – Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories

Secretary Mabus highlighted the award of 10 Virginia-class submarines in the Block IV contract
Secretary Mabus highlighted the award of 10 Virginia-class submarines in the Block IV contract

 

Nuclear Submarine Lineup

 

Block I

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-774 Virginia EB 8-16-03 10-23-04 Portsmouth, New Hampshire
SSN-775 Texas NNS 7-31-05 9-9-06 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
SSN-776 Hawaii EB 6-19-06 5-5-07 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
SSN-777 North Carolina NNS 4-21-07 5-3-08 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

EB – Electric Boat, Groton, Connecticut

NNS – Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia

SSN – Attack Submarine, Nuclear-powered

Nearly 4,000 Newport News shipbuilders have worked on USS Washington (SSN-787). The submarine is on track to be delivered in 2016
Nearly 4,000 Newport News shipbuilders have worked on USS Washington (SSN-787). The submarine is on track to be delivered in 2016

 

Block II

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-778 New Hampshire EB 6-21-08 10-25-08 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-779 New Mexico NNS 12-13-08 11-21-09 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-780 Missouri EB 12-5-09 7-31-10 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-781 California NNS 11-6-10 10-29-11 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-782 Mississippi EB 12-3-11 6-2-12 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-783 Minnesota NNS 10-27-12 9-7-13 Norfolk, Virginia
The ship's crest of the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Washington (U.S. Navy graphic/Released)
The ship’s crest of the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Washington (U.S. Navy graphic/Released)

 

Block III

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-784 North Dakota EB 11-2-13 10-25-14 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-785 John Warner NNS 09-06-14 08-01-15 Norfolk, Virginia
SSN-786 Illinois EB 10-10-15
SSN-787 Washington NNS 03-05-16
SSN-788 Colorado EB Under Construction
SSN-789 Indiana NNS Under Construction
SSN-790 South Dakota EB On Order
SSN-791 Delaware NNS On Order
The first description of a U.S. warship christening is that of Constitution, «Old Ironsides», at Boston on October 21, 1797. As the ship slipped into the water, the sponsor, Captain James Sever, broke a bottle of Madeira over the bowsprit
The first description of a U.S. warship christening is that of Constitution, «Old Ironsides», at Boston on October 21, 1797. As the ship slipped into the water, the sponsor, Captain James Sever, broke a bottle of Madeira over the bowsprit

 

Block IV

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-792 Vermont EB On Order
SSN-793 Oregon EB On Order
SSN-794 Montana NNS On Order
SSN-795 Hyman G. Rickover EB On Order
SSN-796 New Jersey NNS On Order
SSN-797 Iowa EB On Order
SSN-798 Massachusetts NNS On Order
SSN-799 Idaho EB On Order
SSN-800 (Unnamed) NNS On Order
SSN-801 Utah EB On Order
The submarine USS John Warner (SSN-785) delivered on June 25, 2015, two and a half months ahead of schedule (Photo by Chris Oxley/HII)
The submarine USS John Warner (SSN-785) delivered on June 25, 2015, two and a half months ahead of schedule (Photo by Chris Oxley/HII)

 

Block V

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-802 (Unnamed)
SSN-803 (Unnamed)
SSN-804 (Unnamed)
SSN-805 (Unnamed)
SSN-806 (Unnamed)
SSN-807 (Unnamed)
SSN-808 (Unnamed)
SSN-809 (Unnamed)
SSN-810 (Unnamed)
SSN-811 (Unnamed)
In Virginia-class SSNs, traditional periscopes have been supplanted by two photonics masts that host visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms
In Virginia-class SSNs, traditional periscopes have been supplanted by two photonics masts that host visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms

 

Block VI

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-812 (Unnamed)
SSN-813 (Unnamed)
SSN-814 (Unnamed)
SSN-815 (Unnamed)
SSN-816 (Unnamed)
USS Minnesota (SSN-783) – Attack Submarine, Nuclear-powered
USS Minnesota (SSN-783) – Attack Submarine, Nuclear-powered

Block VII

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-817 (Unnamed)
SSN-818 (Unnamed)
SSN-819 (Unnamed)
SSN-820 (Unnamed)
SSN-821 (Unnamed)

Watch an awesome time-lapse video of the rollout, flooding and launch of Virginia-class submarine USS Washington (SSN-787) at Newport News Shipbuilding. It’s four days of work compressed into less than two minutes.

Christening in Hamburg

The third of a total of four 125 class frigates for the German Navy was christened «Sachsen-Anhalt» on March 4 at the Hamburg site of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Following the christening of the first two frigates «Baden-Württemberg» in December 2013 and «Nordrhein-Westfalen» in April 2015 this is a further important milestone in the shipbuilding program for this frigate class. Dr. Gabriele Haseloff, wife of the premier of the state of Saxony-Anhalt after which the frigate has been named, performed the christening ceremony in the presence of high-level representatives from government, the German Navy and the companies involved.

Dr. Gabriele Haseloff, wife of the premier of the state of Saxony-Anhalt after which the frigate has been named, performed the christening ceremony
Dr. Gabriele Haseloff, wife of the premier of the state of Saxony-Anhalt after which the frigate has been named, performed the christening ceremony

The frigate «Sachsen-Anhalt» is scheduled to be handed over to the German defense procurement agency BAAINBw in early 2019. Commissioning and in-port trials of the first F125 frigate, the «Baden-Württemberg», have now advanced to the stage where sea trials can commence as planned in spring this year. Handover of the «Baden-Württemberg» to the BAAINBw is scheduled for mid-2017. The contract for the F125 program is worth around two billion euros in total.

Dr. Hans Christoph Atzpodien, member of the Management Board of ThyssenKrupp’s Industrial Solutions business area and chairman of the supervisory board of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems: «The F125 frigate class is a completely new type of ship. With numerous innovations and a multiple-crew strategy it is a further showcase for the leading engineering expertise of German naval shipbuilding».

The ARGE F125 consortium which was awarded the contract to build four F125 class ships for the German Navy in 2007 comprises ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems as the lead company and Fr. Lürssen Werft in Bremen. The pre-fitted bow sections are being manufactured at the Fr. Lürssen Werft shipyards in Bremen and Wolgast. Construction of the stern sections, the joining of the two sections and further fitting out is being carried out at Blohm+Voss Shipyards in Hamburg.

The four 125 class frigates will replace the German Navy’s eight (Bremen type) 122 class frigates. The ships were developed specially for current and future deployment scenarios for the German Navy. In addition to the traditional tasks of national and alliance defense, the 125 class frigates are designed for conflict prevention, crisis management and intervention/stabilization operations in the international arena. The ships are capable of remaining at sea for 24 months and thus represent the first realization of the intensive use concept, i.e. significantly increased availability in the deployment region. This capability is supported by a smaller crew and a multiple-crew strategy which permits a complete change of crew during deployment.

The third of a total of four 125 class frigates for the German Navy was christened «Sachsen-Anhalt» on March 4 in Hamburg
The third of a total of four 125 class frigates for the German Navy was christened «Sachsen-Anhalt» on March 4 in Hamburg

 

Class 125 Frigate

The Blohm+Voss Class 125 stabilisation frigate, now under construction for the German Navy, is especially designed for sustained littoral presence for the stabilisation of crisis regions.

The ship has enhanced Command and Control, boat, helicopter and shore bombardment capabilities for the support of Special Forces amphibious operations. In particular, four large, fast Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs), 50 Special Forces, and two 20-feet/6-meter containers may be embarked.

The ship has palletised cargo routes for efficient replenishment and rapid operational disembarkation. Incorporating all of the tough survivability features of its predecessors, the Blohm+Voss Classes 123 and 124, the Blohm+Voss Class 125 introduces the «twoisland» concept, whereby critical Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (C3I), sensors and effectors are split between separated superstructure «islands» forward and aft, allowing the ship to continue to fight even after severe damage.

As a world-first in frigate logistic support, the Blohm+Voss Class 125 logistic engineering has been specially tailored for the ship to remain on station in a distant theatre of operations for up to two years without base or dockyard maintenance. In this concept, the crew is rotated while the ship remains in theatre.

The four 125 class frigates will replace the German Navy's eight (Bremen type) 122 class frigates
The four 125 class frigates will replace the German Navy’s eight (Bremen type) 122 class frigates

 

Technical Data

MAIN DIMENSIONS
Length overall 149 m/489 feet
Beam maximum 18.8 m/61.7 feet
Draught 5.0 m/16.4 feet
Displacement (approximately) 7,100 t
Speed 26 knots/30 mph/48 km/h
Range 4,000 NM/4,603 miles/7,408 km at a speed of 18 knots/21 mph/33 km/h
PROPULSION PLANT
CODLAG Combined diesel-electric and gas
CPP (Controllable Pitch Propellers) 2
Diesels MTU 20 V 4000 4 × 3,015 kW (total 12.06 MW)
Propulsion Electric Motors 2 × 4.5 MW (total 9 MW)
Gas Turbine GE LM 2500 1 × 20 MW
COMPLEMENT
Crew 120
Supernumerary (Helicopter/Special Forces) 70
HELICOPTER
NHIndustries MH-90 2
BOATS
RHIBs (11-meter length) 4
The F125 has two 21-cell Mk-49 launchers armed with the Raytheon RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM)
The F125 has two 21-cell Mk-49 launchers armed with the Raytheon RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM)