Rheinmetall and the German Bundeswehr have successfully tested a high-energy laser effector installed on a German warship operating on the high seas.
To carry out the test, Rheinmetall mounted a 10-kilowatt High-Energy Laser (HEL) effector on a MLG 27 light naval gun.
The test programme included tracking of potential targets, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and very small surface craft. Furthermore, the HEL effector was also tested against stationary targets on land.
Besides the successful mounting of a 10-kW HEL effector on an MLG 27, the test programme demonstrated for the first time the effectiveness of Rheinmetall HEL effector technology in maritime operations. The test programme revealed insights important for the development of future HEL naval effectors.
Having joined forces to form the ARTEC consortium, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV) manufactures the Boxer in cooperation with fellow German defence contractor Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) under a bi-national programme, in which Rheinmetall holds a 64% stake.
The HEL variant of the Boxer vehicle shown at IDEX 2015 is equipped with a High-Energy Laser weapon system. HEL Boxer can defeat modern asymmetric aerial threats by neutralizing optics, antennas or radars, ammunition or energy supplies of complete weapon systems without destroying them.
Maximum flexibility and an optimized capability for further upgrades guarantee a quick adaption to changing requirements. Also the protection of the turret is adaptable for a wide range of missions and to face different threats.
According to Defense-aerospace.com, the first prototype of the new Embraer KC-390 jet transport aircraft has logged more than 100 flight hours since resumed its flight test program in October 2015. A second prototype will fly in the first half of this year.
The Brazilian manufacturer says it is on the path to certification in the second half of 2017, with first deliveries to the Brazilian Air Force in 2018, two years later than originally planned due to an interruption of flight testing because of pressures on government budgets in the wake of Brazil’s economic crisis.
«We are happy with the aircraft, which had good availability for the tests, sometimes making two flights a day», said vice president Paul Gaston Silva. «The plane is behaving very well and we were able to cover the entire flight envelope. We tested speed limits, Mach number and altitude, and tested all positions of slats, flaps and landing gear. We also made an on-board shutdown, with engine and APU restart. We can confirm all our predictions for the flying qualities and performance».
The Brazilian Air Force plans to purchase 28 units. He declined to comment on Embraer’s ongoing campaign to interest other countries, but said that the statements of intention of five foreign partners (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic for 32 additional aircraft remain intact. Embraer also recently joined the bidding in Canada.
According to Silva, there are good prospects for the KC-390 in the Asia-Pacific market. «It is a multi-mission aircraft and so is suitable for many missions, including transport and aerial refueling. It can carry all kinds of cargo, including vehicles and helicopters, and is very competitive in terms of life cycle costs».
Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (VMM-365) conducted section confined area landings and a M2 Browning .50-Cal machine gun shoot from Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, February 10. Marines with the unit flew two MV-22B Ospreys to a landing zone for familiarization flight training, which allowed pilots to practice landings. After practicing CALs, the crew flew off the coast to a safe distance in order to practice shooting the machine gun from the back of the aircraft.
Prior to their flight, the pilots and crew gave a brief which covered information about the aircraft’s capabilities, as well as factors that may affect the flight, such as current and expected weather conditions. The crew conducted a thorough inspection of their Osprey and after the aircraft was deemed safe and ready for flight, they took to the sky. «Section CALs is just one of the biggest basic building blocks into what we do», said Captain Edward K. Williams, a pilot with the unit. «You have got to master that before you can get three or four aircraft into a zone and then move on to doing that at night».
The pilots and crew traveled to a nearby landing zone to practice landings and take-offs. For this part of the flight there were two MV-22B Ospreys landing within close vicinity. «The purpose of the training today was mainly proficiency», said Lance Corporal Jarod L. Smith, a crew chief with the unit. He explained how of the two aircraft, one had fairly experienced pilots and crew but the other aircraft had a newer pilot who was getting his initial code.
Smith explained that pilots acquire different codes for the flights they conduct. Once the initial CALs flight was completed, the Marines returned to the hangar to refuel and then flew out for a .50-caliber machine gun shoot. «The tail guns are important because they are our primary weapon», said Williams. «If there is a threat in the zone the crew chiefs need to be proficient to be able to engage a threat without prior notice».
The .50-caliber machine gun was mounted on a pivot in the back of the Osprey. The pivot allows the weapon operator to take advantage of a wide angle to effectively engage any target. Smith explained how firing these larger rounds offer more penetration than other munitions and allow the gunner to engage enemies at greater distances.
The Osprey made several passes allowing each of the crew members in the back to practice firing the weapon system. Each pass involved firing into an area of the ocean while keeping a tight group on the rounds fired.
Williams explained how despite this training being conducted on a regular basis it is still not routine. Every time Marines fly, the training requires the same amount of preflight planning and briefing. A lot of work goes into preflight planning as well as debriefs.
Debriefs allow pilots and crew chiefs to assess their flights and determine how to improve their next flight. Even if the flight goes according to plan, Marines always look for ways to improve for future operations. «Training is important because as Marines we pride ourselves in readiness», said Smith. «We need to be proficient in confined area landings because that is what you’re going to conduct when you’re anywhere».
Widely regarded as the «Swiss Army Knife» of combat engineering vehicles, BAE Systems’ Terrier has been fitted with new technologies and systems by its defence engineers. The updated vehicle offers a new telescopic investigation arm and the ability to wade through 6.5-foot/2-meter wave surges.
The telescopic investigation arm extends over 26 feet/8 m from the vehicle – one of the longest in the world available for such a vehicle – allowing crews to probe and unearth buried devices from a safe distance. Additionally, the vehicle can now be exported with a rock hammer, ripper and earth augur – hugely extending its capabilities. The hammer can split rocks and penetrate concrete, while the ripper can tear up roads or runways, preventing their use. The earth augur can drill holes for use in combat engineering.
Terrier will also be able to wade through significantly deeper waters, withstanding up to 6.5-foot/2-meter wave surges. Rory Breen, Export Sales Manager for BAE Systems Land (UK) said: «The greater wading depth and surge protection will make Terrier even better suited for use in coastal or low-lying areas, where it can play an important role in disaster relief as well as combat situations. Along with the new telescopic arm and other attachments, Terrier remains the most technologically advanced and flexible combat engineer vehicle in the world. Due to the modular nature of the vehicle, it could also be quickly adapted for a range of other situations, such as clearing paths through jungle or thick foliage».
Terrier’s existing capabilities include complete remote control from up to 0.6 mile/1 km away, along with a variety of lifting, grabbing and moving capabilities. Its front loader system can lift weights of up to five tonnes and can shift 300 tonnes of earth per hour. In addition, its recently trialled sub-surface mine plough can penetrate to recognised safe depths while travelling at up to 9.3 mph/15 km/h, quickly creating a path free of mines and improvised explosive devices.
Terrier was designed to provide the British Army with maximum flexibility from a single vehicle, allowing them to reduce their equipment and logistic footprint. BAE Systems’ engineers continue to develop new modular attachments, meaning that Terrier customers can upgrade their vehicles to meet new requirements without changing platforms.
Terrier is the most advanced combat engineer vehicle – delivering uncompromising performance from a medium weight chassis
The MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) built for the U.S. Navy by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) has successfully completed Operational Assessment (OA). Pending final data analysis, the completion of this milestone signals the maturity of the system and paves the way for a positive Milestone C decision. Milestone C will transition Triton into Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP).
As part of OA, an integrated test team made up of U.S. Navy personnel from Air Test and Evaluation Squadrons VX-1 and VX-20, Unmanned Patrol Squadron, VUP-19 and Northrop Grumman demonstrated the reliability of Triton over the course of approximately 60 flight hours. The team analyzed sensor imagery and validated radar performance of Triton’s sensors at different altitudes and ranges. The aircraft system’s ability to classify targets and disseminate critical data was also examined as part of the operational effectiveness and suitability testing. Successful evaluation of Triton’s time on station confirmed that it will meet flight duration requirements.
«Operational assessment for Triton included several flights which exercised the weapon system through operationally relevant scenarios that demonstrated its readiness to meet the U.S. Navy’s maritime Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance (IRS) needs», said Doug Shaffer, vice president, Triton programs, Northrop Grumman. «As a result of the flight tests, the program moves one step closer to a milestone C decision later this spring».
Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System provides real-time Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance over vast ocean and coastal regions. Supporting missions up to 24 hours, the high-altitude UAS is equipped with a sensor suite that provides a 360-degree view of its surroundings at a radius of over 2,000 NM/2,302 miles/3,704 km.
Triton builds on elements of the Global Hawk UAS while incorporating reinforcements to the airframe and wing, along with de-icing and lightning protection systems. These capabilities allow the aircraft to descend through cloud layers to gain a closer view of ships and other targets at sea when needed. The current sensor suite allows ships to be tracked over time by gathering information on their speed, location and classification.
Built to support the U.S. Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program, Triton will support a wide range of intelligence gathering and reconnaissance missions, maritime patrol and search and rescue. The Navy’s program of record calls for 68 aircraft to be built.
Provides persistent maritime ISR at a mission radius of 2,000 NM/2,302 miles/3,704 km; 24 hours/7 days per week with 80% Effective Time On Station (ETOS)
Land-based air vehicle and sensor command and control
Afloat Level II payload sensor data via line-of-sight
Dual redundant flight controls and surfaces
51,000-hour airframe life
Due Regard Radar for safe separation
Anti/de-ice, bird strike, and lightning protection
Communications bandwidth management
Commercial off-the-shelf open architecture mission control system
Net-ready interoperability solution
Payload (360-degree Field of Regard)
Multi-Function Active Sensor Active Electronically Steered Array (MFAS AESA) radar:
Maritime and air-to-ground modes;
Long-range detection and classification of targets.
MTS-B multi-spectral targeting system:
High resolution at multiple field-of-views;
Full motion video.
AN/ZLQ-1 Electronic Support Measures:
Specific Emitter Identification.
Automatic Identification System:
Provides information received from VHF broadcasts on maritime vessel movements.
They may not have zoomed flawlessly around obstacles like the Millennium Falcon did as it careened through the hull of a crashed Star Destroyer in Star Wars VII. But the sensor-loaded quadcopters that recently got tested in a cluttered hangar in Massachusetts did manage to edge their way around obstacles and achieve their target speeds of 20 meters per second. Moreover, the quadcopters were unmanned … and real. Thus was the initial phase of data collection for DARPA’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program recently deemed an encouraging success.
DARPA’s FLA program aims to develop and test algorithms that could reduce the amount of processing power, communications, and human intervention needed for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to accomplish low-level tasks, such as navigation around obstacles in a cluttered environment. If successful, FLA would reduce operator workload and stress and allow humans to focus on higher-level supervision of multiple formations of manned and unmanned platforms as part of a single system.
FLA technologies could be especially useful to address a pressing surveillance shortfall: Military teams patrolling dangerous overseas urban environments and rescue teams responding to disasters such as earthquakes or floods currently can use remotely piloted UAVs to provide a bird’s-eye view of the situation, but to know what’s going on inside an unstable building or a threatening indoor space often requires physical entry, which can put troops or civilian response teams in danger. The FLA program is developing a new class of algorithms aimed at enabling small UAVs to quickly navigate a labyrinth of rooms, stairways and corridors or other obstacle-filled environments without a remote pilot. The program seeks to develop and demonstrate autonomous UAVs small enough to fit through an open window and able to fly at speeds up to 20 meters per second (45 miles per hour) – while avoiding objects within complex indoor spaces independent of communication with outside operators or sensors and without reliance on GPS.
DARPA researchers recently completed the first flight data collection from the common quadcopter UAV platform that three research teams are using for the program. The flight test data validated that the platform – which uses a commercial DJI Flamewheel 450 airframe, E600 motors with 12″ propellers, and 3DR Pixhawk autopilot – is capable of achieving the required flight speed of 20 meters per second while carrying high-definition onboard cameras and other sensors, such as LIDAR, sonar and inertial measurement units. During the testing, researchers also demonstrated initial autonomous capabilities, such as «seeing» obstacles and flying around them at slow speed unaided by a human controller.
«We’re excited that we were able to validate the airspeed goal during this first-flight data collection», said Mark Micire, DARPA program manager. «The fact that some teams also demonstrated basic autonomous flight ahead of schedule was an added bonus. The challenge for the teams now is to advance the algorithms and onboard computational efficiency to extend the UAVs’ perception range and compensate for the vehicles’ mass to make extremely tight turns and abrupt maneuvers at high speeds».
The three performer teams are Draper, teamed with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; University of Pennsylvania; and Scientific Systems Company, Inc. (SSCI), teamed with AeroVironment.
The test flight and data collection took place at Otis Air National Guard Base, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in a former aircraft hangar that was transformed into a warehouse setting with simulated walls, boxes and other obstacles to test flight agility and speed. The test run also resulted in several crashes. «But the only way to achieve hard goals is to push physical systems and software to the limit», Micire said. «I expect there will be more flight failures and smashed quadcopters along the way».
With each successive program milestone flight test, the warehouse venue will be made more complicated by adding obstacles and clutter to create a more challenging and realistic environment for the UAVs to navigate autonomously.
«Very lightweight UAVs exist today that are agile and can fly faster than 20 meters per second, but they can’t carry the sensors and computation to fly autonomously in cluttered environments», Micire said. «And large UAVs exist that can fly high and fast with heavy computing payloads and sensors on board. What makes the FLA program so challenging is finding the sweet spot of a small size, weight and power air vehicle with limited onboard computing power to perform a complex mission completely autonomously».
The FLA program’s initial focus is on UAVs, but advances made through the program could potentially be applied to ground, marine and underwater systems, which could be especially useful in GPS-degraded or denied environments.
DARPA’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program recently demonstrated that a commercial quadcopter platform could achieve 20-meters-per-second flight while carrying a full load of sensors and cameras
Raytheon Company and the U.S. Navy have conducted a successful operational test of the new Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW) C-1 gliding, precision-guided weapon. Conducted in a challenging flight environment, the test further demonstrated the capabilities of JSOW C-1 against a broad set of land targets.
Launched from an F/A-18F Super Hornet at approximately 29,000 feet/8,839 meters, the JSOW C-1 flew a flawless, preplanned route before destroying its intended land target with precision accuracy. The challenging battlefield scenario included a well-defended target that used tactical countermeasures.
«This test demonstrated yet again JSOW’s ability to deliver decisive battlefield effects with precision stand-off capability against some of the most challenging land targets facing our warfighters», said Celeste Mohr, JSOW program director for Raytheon Missile Systems. «Naval aviators also recently employed JSOW C in a tactically realistic, cave-defeat scenario that included heavy radio frequency countermeasures. The result was two direct hits».
The new JSOW C-1 combines the proven, precision, stand-off land attack capabilities from JSOW C, with the new, state-of-the-art Link 16 data link to also engage moving maritime targets. The JSOW C-1 variant adds a two-way Link 16 data link to engage and destroy moving targets, as well as stationary land targets.
This initial operational test shot was preceded by seven-for-seven, equally successful employments against both stationary land targets and maritime moving targets during the developmental and integration test phases. It paves the way for the next phase of operational testing against large and small maritime moving targets.
JSOW C and C-1 are designed to provide fleet forces with robust and flexible capability against high-value targets, at launch ranges exceeding 62 miles/100 kilometers.
JSOW is a family of low-cost, air-to-ground weapons that employ an integrated GPS-inertial navigation system with highly capable guidance algorithms. JSOW C prosecutes fixed land targets and uses an imaging infrared seeker for increased accuracy in the terminal phase.
JSOW C-1 adds the two-way Link 16 data link enhancement, enabling additional target sets with moving maritime target capability.
On February 13, Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division has launched the company’s 11th amphibious transport dock, USS Portland (LPD-27). The ship, named for Oregon’s largest city, is scheduled to be christened on May 21.
«It takes a tremendous effort by all of our crafts personnel to accomplish this big milestone», said Bruce Knowles, Ingalls’ LPD-27 program manager. «The LPD program continues to improve with each ship, and LPD-27 falls into that same line of success proven by a hot production line. Our shipbuilders continue to build these ships more efficiently and affordably».
USS Portland (LPD-27) was translated via Ingalls’ rail car system to the floating dry dock prior to launch. The dock was moved away from the pier and then flooded to float the ship. With the assistance of tugs, Portland came off the dock on Saturday morning.
Ingalls has built and delivered nine ships in the San Antonio class of ships, with USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) and USS Portland (LPD-27) remaining. Ingalls received a $200 million advance procurement contract for LPD-28, the 12th ship in the class, 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.
Huntington Ingalls Industries
Four sequentially turbocharged marine Colt-Pielstick Diesels, two shafts, 41,600 shaft horsepower
684 feet/208 m
105 feet/32 m
Approximately 24,900 long tons (25,300 metric tons) full load
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
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
Two LCACs or one LCU; and 14 Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles/Amphibious Assault Vehicles
USS San Antonio (LPD-17), Norfolk, VA
USS New Orleans (LPD-18), San Diego, CA
USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19), Norfolk, VA
USS Green Bay (LPD-20), San Diego, CA
USS New York (LPD-21), Norfolk, VA
USS San Diego (LPD-22), San Diego, CA
USS Anchorage (LPD-23), San Diego, CA
USS Arlington (LPD-24), Norfolk, VA
USS Somerset (LPD-25), San Diego, CA
USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26), San Diego, CA
USS Portland (LPD-27), launched
LPD-28, procurement contract
Here’s a time lapse video of the amphibious warship USS Portland (LPD-27) being translated and launched at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula. This ship first hit water on Saturday, February 13. Portland is the 11th San Antonio-class Landing Platform Dock to be built
USS Coronado (LCS-4) successfully completed the U.S. Navy’s Total Ship Survivability Trial (TSST) off the coast of California, January 28. During the test event, the crew handled realistic damage simulations, including fire, smoke, electrical failure, flooding, ruptured piping, and structural failure. The scenarios benefited the crew by offering realistic damage control training in preparation for Coronado’s maiden deployment later this year.
«Initial indications are that Coronado’s performance met, and in multiple cases exceeded, the survivability requirements for this small surface combatant», said Captain Tom Anderson, Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program manager. «I commend the crew for their exceptional performance and dedication while conducting this important test».
The purpose of the TSST is to evaluate the ship’s systems and procedures following a simulated conventional weapon hit. The primary areas that are evaluated include the ship’s ability to contain and control damage, restore and continue mission capability, and care for personnel casualties. The test is also designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the survivability features inherent in a ship’s design.
«The experience provided the crew, through realistic scenarios, an appreciation for what it would take to operate following battle damage on board an Independence-variant warship», said Commander Troy A. Fendrick, commanding officer of Coronado. «It also provided Sailors, from the deckplate level, the opportunity to provide critical input to the LCS program office, which will result in the improvement of overall ship survivability».
The TSST, along with the Full Ship Shock Trial scheduled June 2016, is a component of the Live-Fire Test and Evaluation program. Coronado is the second LCS of the Independence-variant built by Austal USA and is homeported in San Diego.
LCS is a modular, reconfigurable ship, with three types of mission packages including surface warfare, mine countermeasures, and anti-submarine warfare. The Program Executive Office Littoral Combat Ships (PEO LCS) is responsible for delivering and sustaining littoral mission capabilities to the fleet. Delivering high-quality warfighting assets while balancing affordability and capability is key to supporting the nation’s maritime strategy.
The Independence Variant of the LCS Class
Hull and superstructure – aluminium alloy
417 feet/127.1 m
103 feet/31.4 m
Hull draft (maximum)
14.8 feet/4.5 m
PAYLOAD AND CAPACITIES
Core Crew – 40
Mission crew – 36
76 in a mix of single, double & quad berthing compartments
Maximum mission load
Mission Bay Volume
118,403 feet3/11,000 m3
Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Surface Warfare (SUW)
Mine Warfare (MIW)
2 × GE LM2500
2 × MTU 20V 8000
4 × Wartsila steerable
40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
3,500 NM/4,028 miles/6,482 km
Survival in Sea State 8
>21,527.8 feet2/2,000 m2
Launch and recovery
Twin boom extending crane
Internal elevator to hanger
Sea State 4
FLIGHT DECK AND HANGER
Flight deck dimensions
2 × SH-60 or 1 × CH-53 or multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs/VTUAVs)
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-6 on February 10 at 3:40 a.m. PST. Designated NROL-45, the mission is in support of national defense. This is ULA’s second launch in 2016 and the 105th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.
«Congratulations to the ULA team and our U.S. Air Force and NRO partners on the launch of NROL-45», said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Custom Services. «This is our second successful launch within five days for our U.S. government customer, a testament to our outstanding teamwork and focus on 100 percent mission success, one launch at a time. ULA is proud to be entrusted with safely and reliably delivering our nation’s most critical space assets to orbit».
This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Medium+ (5,2) configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) using a single ULA common booster core powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A main engine along with two Orbital ATK GEM-60 solid rocket motors. The upper stage was powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10B-2 engine with the satellite encapsulated in a 5-meter-diameter composite payload fairing.
ULA’s next launch is the Atlas V OA-6 Cygnus International Space Station resupply mission, flown for Orbital ATK under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. The launch is targeted for March 22 from Space Launch Complex-41 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense (DoD) and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.
With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 100 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.
A Delta IV rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex-6 carrying the NROL-45 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office