A new era in autonomy and unmanned systems for naval operations is on the horizon, as officials at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) announced April 14 recent technology demonstrations of swarming Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – part of the Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) program. LOCUST can launch swarming UAVs to autonomously overwhelm an adversary. The deployment of UAV swarms will provide Sailors and Marines a decisive tactical advantage.
«The recent demonstrations are an important step on the way to the 2016 ship-based demonstration of 30 rapidly launched autonomous, swarming UAVs», said ONR program manager Lee Mastroianni.
The LOCUST program includes a tube-based launcher that can send UAVs into the air in rapid succession. The breakthrough technology then utilizes information-sharing between the UAVs, enabling autonomous collaborative behavior in either defensive or offensive missions. Since the launcher and the UAVs themselves have a small footprint, the technology enables swarms of compact UAVs to take off from ships, tactical vehicles, aircraft or other unmanned platforms.
The ONR demonstrations, which took place over the last month in multiple locations, included the launch of Coyote UAVs capable of carrying varying payloads for different missions. Another technology demonstration of nine UAVs accomplished completely autonomous UAV synchronization and formation flight.
ONR officials note that while the LOCUST autonomy is cutting edge compared to remote-controlled UAVs, there will always be a human monitoring the mission, able to step in and take control as desired. «This level of autonomous swarming flight has never been done before», said Mastroianni. «UAVs that are expendable and reconfigurable will free manned aircraft and traditional weapon systems to do more, and essentially multiply combat power at decreased risk to the warfighter».
UAVs reduce hazards and free personnel to perform more complex tasks, as well as requiring fewer people to do multiple missions. Lowering costs is a major benefit of UAVs as well. Even hundreds of small autonomous UAVs cost less than a single tactical aircraft – and, officials note, having this capability will force adversaries to focus on UAV swarm response.
Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert’s Sailing Directions to the fleet note that over the next 10 to 15 years, the U.S. Navy will evolve and remain the preeminent maritime force. It directs: «Unmanned systems in the air and water will employ greater autonomy and be fully integrated with their manned counterparts».
ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps’ technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 55 countries, 634 institutions of higher learning and non-profit institutions over 960 industry partners. ONR through its commands including headquarters, ONR Global and the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C., employs more than 3,800 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel.
The LOCUST program will make possible the launch of multiple swarming UAVs to autonomously overwhelm and adversary
Less than twelve months after its corporate rebranding, Airbus Group Australia Pacific has delivered an advanced, multi-mission H145 helicopter. The delivery of this first H145 to the Australia Pacific region culminates a program preparing the helicopter to its new owner’s requirements, with aircrews and technical support teams in New Zealand and Germany working to deliver the helicopter, which replaces the customer’s earlier model EC145.
Commenting on the H145’s delivery to its New Zealand customer, Dr. Jens Goennemann, Managing Director Airbus Group Australia Pacific said, «We are delighted to see the arrival of the first H145 in this region. It’s yet another example of our customers acknowledging that Airbus offers the latest in rotary-wing technology, enhanced mission capability and flexibility».
Designed to deliver excellent performance throughout the flight envelope, the H145 was certified last year as the latest member of Airbus Helicopters’ 4-tonne-class, twin-engine product range, incorporating a package of state-of-the-art technologies that reinforce the family’s reputation as the quietest helicopters on the market.
This quietness is achieved by utilising an enclosed Fenestron tail rotor and an automatic variable rotor speed control system, which, together, produce significantly reduced external sound levels while boosting payload, range and speed.
Compact in size but with a spacious cabin that can accommodate one pilot and ten passengers, the H145’s small noise footprint, range and speed make it the aircraft of choice for a variety of civil missions. The class-leading H145 will be touring Australia and New Zealand during May and June 2015.
Earlier this year, Airbus Helicopters announced new «H» designations to replace the former corporate identity «EC» across its civil and military product lines, symbolising the company’s full integration in the Airbus Group and consistent with the numbering used by the Airbus commercial jetliner manufacturer.
Maximum Take-Off Weight: 3,650 kg/8,047 lbs (All configurations)
United Launch Alliance (ULA) unveiled its Next Generation Launch System (NGLS) on April 13, 2015 at the 31st Space Symposium. The new rocket, Vulcan, will transform the future of space by making launch services more affordable and accessible. The NGLS brings together decades of experience on ULA’s reliable Atlas and Delta vehicles, combining the best features of each to produce an all-new, American-made rocket that will enable mission success from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) all the way to Pluto.
«More capabilities in space mean more capabilities here on Earth», said Tory Bruno, president and CEO of United Launch Alliance. «Because the Next Generation Launch System will be the highest-performing, most cost-efficient rocket on the market, it will open up new opportunities for the nation’s use of space. Whether it is scientific missions, medical advancements, national security or new economic opportunities for businesses, ULA’s new Vulcan rocket is a game-changer in terms of creating endless possibilities in space».
To help give all Americans a chance to play a role in the future of space, last month ULA launched an online naming competition that allowed Americans to vote on their favorite name for the NGLS. More than one million votes were cast, and Vulcan was the top choice.
«As the company currently responsible for more than 70 percent of the nation’s space launches, it is only fitting that America got to name the country’s rocket of the future», added Bruno.
By streamlining the processes and rocket design, and developing a new all-American engine, ULA will continue to be the country’s most innovative, cost-efficient and technically rigorous launch company, providing a wide range of services to a broad customer base – including the most critical U.S. government missions.
«ULA’s precision and focus makes the remarkable seem routine. Our track record of 95 successful launches in less than nine years – an average of one launch per month – is unmatched in the industry. Our ability to deliver critical national security, scientific and commercial satellites into the correct orbit every time is filled with risks and challenges, and ULA has delivered every time. ULA’s reliability is and will continue to be part of the mission», Tory Bruno concluded.
At today’s news announcement, Bruno also unveiled the Sensible, Modular, Autonomous Return Technology (SMART) initiative, which will be introduced into NGLS and allow ULA to reuse the most expensive portion of the first stage – the booster main engines – via mid-air capture. This allows a controlled recovery environment providing the confidence needed to re-fly the hardware.
Step one of NGLS will consist of a single booster stage, the high-energy Centaur second stage and either a 4- or 5-meter-diameter payload fairing. Up to four Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) augment the lift off power of the 4-meter configuration, while up to six SRBs can be added to the 5-meter version.
In step two, the Centaur second stage will be replaced by the more powerful, innovative Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage (ACES), making the NGLS capability that of today’s Delta IV Heavy rocket. ACES can execute almost unlimited burns, extending on-orbit operating time from hours to weeks.
Last year, ULA announced that it had partnered with Blue Origin, LLC, a privately funded aerospace company owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, to provide a cutting-edge engine for the NGLS while also providing a viable alternative to the Russian-made RD-180. This collaboration to fund the development of a new, U.S.-made BE-4 rocket engine, is part of the cost-reduction innovation for our customers. The BE-4 is designed for low recurring cost and will meet commercial and NASA requirements as well as those of the U.S. Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. The BE-4 uses low-cost liquid natural gas fuel and is designed for reuse.
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 90 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.
Next Generation Launch System
With the introduction of the Vulcan, ULA’s NGLS, ULA is transforming the future of space launch – making it more affordable, accessible, and commercialized – and innovating to develop solutions to the nation’s most critical need: reliable access to space.
Unleashing Mankind’s Potential in Space
More capabilities in space mean more capabilities here on Earth. By making it more affordable to conduct launches, Vulcan will open up brand new opportunities for the nation’s use of space.
Simple and Affordable
The NGLS offers our customers unprecedented flexibility in a single system. From Low Earth Orbit to Pluto, the single-core NGLS does it all. This simple design is more cost-efficient for all customers, whether defense and national security, NASA science and human spaceflight, or commercial.
The NGLS will have an American engine, will offer the best value and with the introduction of the ACES it will have greater capability than any other rocket on the market.
In step one, with a planned initial launch capability in 2019, Vulcan will exceed the capability of Atlas V, serving the vast majority of our customers’ mission needs. Step one of the NGLS consists of single booster stage, the high-energy Centaur second stage and either a 4-meter or 5-meter-diameter payload fairing. Up to four SRBs augment the lift off power of the 4-meter configuration, while up to six SRBs can be added to the 5-meter.
In step two, the Centaur second stage will be replaced by the more powerful ACES in 2023. With the addition of ACES, Vulcan will achieve the current capability of the Delta IV Heavy, which carries the largest payloads for our most critical customers.
Innovative Next Generation Launch System will provide country’s most reliable, affordable, and accessible launch service
Lockheed Martin is studying adding an Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) to Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) sites, reported Sam LaGrone, USNI News editor. The studies are not in advance of a new program of record for modifications of the installations and are at the behest of the Missile Defense Agency, said Jim Sheridan, Director of AEGIS development for Lockheed Martin in a briefing to reporters ahead of the Navy League Sea-Air-Space Exposition 2015.
«There’s been some detailed discussion over the past couple of years about the possibility of reconstituting or adding an AAW capability to the Aegis Ashore configuration», Jim Sheridan told reporters. «We’ve been turned on to do some studies on what it would take to do that going forward in the future».
Aegis Ashore – created in conjunction with Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Navy – uses the SPY-1D radar and the Mk-41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes native to the Navy’s Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyers (DDG-51) to detect and launch Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors to counter ballistic missile threats.
Since most of the hardware is the same, Jim Sheridan said it would not be difficult to reconfigure the installations in Poland and Romania: «There is no program of record to reconstitute or add AAW capabilities to the Aegis Ashore configuration, but they’re just asking in the event in the future, what it would take to do that. We think it would not be difficult because that’s the same configuration we’re delivering to destroyers today».
It is said in The NavyTimes that a 430-acre (174 hectare) Aegis Ashore facility will be operational by year’s end in Deveselu, Romania, and manned by about 200 U.S. service members, government civilians and support contractors. It will be armed with SM-3 IB interceptors. A second site planned for Poland, scheduled to become operational in 2018, will be armed with SM-3 IIA interceptors.
The SM-3 Cooperative Development Program focuses on joint U.S. and Japan development of a 21-inch diameter variant of the SM-3 missile, referred to as SM-3 Block IIA. Aegis BMD 5.1 will integrate the SM-3 Block IIA missile into the combat system. Data links will also be improved to enable Engage on Remote track data. Deployment begins in 2018.
SM-3 Block IIA guided missile development completed Critical Design Review and successfully conducted a Propulsion Test Vehicle (PTV) flight test. The PTV round consisted of a live booster with an inert 21-inch diameter upper-stage assembly encanisted in a Vertical Launch System canister.
Aegis Ashore is a land-based capability of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System to address the evolving ballistic missile security environment. The re-locatable deckhouse is equipped with the Aegis BMD weapon system and Standard Missile-3, with upgrades being phased during this decade. Each Aegis BMD upgrade provides increased capability for countering ballistic missile threats. In addition to Aegis BMD ships, Aegis Ashore is part of Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) Phases II and III.
Uses the same combat system elements (AN/SPY-1 Radar, Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence systems, Vertical Launching System, computer processors, display system, power supplies and cooling) that are used onboard the Navy’s new construction Aegis BMD Destroyers.
Conducting flight tests at the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex at Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Kauai, Hawaii. Each test will increase the operational realism and complexity of targets and scenarios and will be witnessed by Navy and Department of Defense test agents.
Integrates advances in sensor technology such as launch of an SM-3 missile in response to remote sensor data.
Defeats short- to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats.
Incorporates future capability upgrades in association with Aegis BMD Program of Record.
Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex (AAMDTC)
The AAMDTC at the PMRF is a test and evaluation center in the development of the PAA. The test complex leverages the Aegis BMD Weapon System and the new SM-3 Block IB missile for PAA Phase II deployment, as well as, supports deployment decisions and upgrades of future PAA Phase capabilities.
The AAMDTC fired the first land-based SM-3 Block IB missile in May 2014.
In 2015, Aegis Ashore will be installed in Romania as part of the PAA Phase II. This deployed capability will use Aegis BMD 5.0 CU and SM-3 Block IB to provide ballistic missile coverage of southern Europe.
In 2018, Aegis Ashore will be installed in Poland, as part of the PAA Phase III. This deployed capability will use Aegis BMD 5.1 and SM-3 Blocks IB and IIA to support increased additional defense of Europe.
Engagement of longer range ballistic missiles.
Land-based Aegis Ashore, as part of Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA), will use the same components as those onboard the Navy’s new construction Aegis BMD Destroyers
It is said in The Business Standard that the programme for India and Russia to jointly develop a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), long touted as the flagship of a time-tested defence relationship, has run into a stone wall. Documents available with Business Standard indicate India’s defence ministry is cold-shouldering Russian requests to continue the negotiations on a «R&D Draft Contract», which will govern the partnership to develop a futuristic, fifth-generation fighter, reported Ajai Shukla.
A letter from Russia’s powerful export agency, Rosoboronexport, points India’s defence ministry has not responded to Russian requests dated February 9 and March 3, which «suggested holding of the negotiations in February and March of 2015».
Sources tell Business Standard this is because air marshals fear the FGFA undermines the rationale for buying the Rafale fighter from France, a $18-20 billion contract that is sputtering through so-far unsuccessful negotiations.
In December 24, 2013, top Indian Air Force (IAF) officials alleged the FGFA would not meet Indian expectations. Business Standard reported that air marshals at a high-level defence ministry meeting (January 21, 2014) claimed: «Russia can’t deliver on Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft. The FGFA has shortfalls… in terms of performance and other technical features». The IAF claimed the FGFA’s current AL-41F1 engines were underpowered; the Russians were reluctant to share critical design information; and the fighter would eventually cost too much.
On January 15, 2014, at a MoD meeting to review progress on the FGFA, the Deputy Chief of Air Staff (DCAS), the IAF’s top procurement official, said:
the FGFA’s engine was unreliable;
its radar inadequate;
its stealth features badly engineered;
India’s work share too low;
the fighter’s price would be exorbitant by the time it enters service.
Contract with Dassault (April 10, 2015) seems logical conclusion of this story. Dassault Aviation, which is the Indian Air Force supplier for more than 60 years, is honored of the repeated trust of the Indian Government and welcomes its intention to finalize the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircraft at conditions that will allow to meet rapidly the security needs of India.
Dassault Aviation is grateful to the Indian Authorities to be given the opportunity to pursue and extend their partnership and underlines its pride in contributing to Indian defense and sovereignty.
By doubling the number of Rafales it will buy directly from France, without waiting for the conclusion of the license-production agreement, India ensures it will get the aircraft as soon as possible and gained extra time to work out local production details.
«Just as we are delivering the first upgraded Mirage 2000, I am delighted by the decision of the Indian Authorities which gives a new impetus to our partnership for the next decades and comes within the scope of the strategic relationship gathering France and India», declared Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation.
The Rafale, with its «omnirole» capabilities, is the right answer to the capability approach selected by an increasing number of governments. It fully complies with the requirement to carry out the widest range of roles with the smallest number of aircraft. The Rafale participates in permanent «Quick Reaction Alert» (QRA)/air-defence/air sovereignty missions, power projection and deployments for external missions, deep strike missions, air support for ground forces, reconnaissance missions, pilot training sorties and nuclear deterrence duties. The Air Force single-seat Rafale C, the Air Force two-seat Rafale B, and the naval single-seat Rafale M feature maximum airframe and equipment commonality, and very similar mission capabilities.
Lessons learned from the latest conflicts where air power was used, can be summarized into four overarching expectations about weapon systems by political decision makers:
«Versatility», that is the capability, with the same system, to perform different missions.
«Interoperability», or the ability to fight in coalition with the allies, using common procedures and standards agreements, and collaborating and communicating in real-time with other systems.
«Flexibility», which can be illustrated by the ability to conduct several different missions in the course of the same sortie («omnirole» capability). With this capability, it is possible to switch instantly on the demand of a political decision maker, from a coercion mission («strike force») to a preventive mission (a dissuasive low-altitude, high-speed «show of force»), or even to cancel a mission until the last second (reversibility).
«Survivability», that is the capability to survive in a dense threat environment thanks to stealthiness and/or to advanced electronic warfare systems.
The «omnirole» Rafale combines all these advantages: it is relevant against both traditional and asymmetrical threats, it addresses the emerging needs of the armed forces in a changing geopolitical context, and it remains at the forefront of technical innovation. Thanks to its versatility, its adaptability and its ability to meet all air mission requirements, the Rafale is the «poster child» transformational fighter, which provides a way forward to air forces confronted to the requirement of doing «more» with «less», in an ever-changing strategic environment.
Specifications and performance data
Wingspan: 10.90 m/35.76 feet
Length: 15.30 m/50.19 feet
Height: 5.30 m/17.38 feet
Overall empty weight: 10,000 kg/22,000 lbs class
Maximum take-off weight: 24,500 kg/54,000 lbs
Fuel (internal): 4,700 kg/10,300 lbs
Fuel (external): up to 6,700 kg/14,700 lbs
External load: 9,500 kg/21,000 lbs
Heavy – wet: 5
Maximum thrust: 2×7.5 tons
Limit load factors: -3.2 g/+9 g
Maximum speed (Low altitude): M = 1.1/750 knots/863 mph/ 1389 km/h
Maximum speed (High altitude): M = 1.8/1,032 knots/1,187 mph/ 1,911 km/h
Approach speed: less than 120 knots/138 mph/222 km/h
Landing ground run: 1,500 feet/450 m without drag-chute
According to Daniel Wasserbly, Jane’s Defence Weekly correspondent, the U.S. Army has begun receiving its first production-model M109A7 Paladin Integrated Management (called PIM) Self-Propelled Howitzers (SPHs) and held a ceremony on 9 April to mark the new system’s arrival.
The army and prime contractor BAE Systems are in the process of finalising a Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) plan that is expected to include 66 vehicle sets (a set is one SPH and one M992A3 CAT, Carrier, Ammunition, Tracked vehicle) plus an extra SPH for testing, Mark Signorelli, BAE Systems’ vice-president and general manager of combat vehicles, told IHS Jane’s on 8 April. The army could buy as many as 580 sets, but the actual procurement quantity could be slightly lower and depends on funding.
For fiscal year 2016 (FY 2016) the service requested Paladin PIM programme funding to support final developmental testing with $152.3 million and to buy 30 PIM LRIP systems with $273.9 million. Mark Signorelli said a full-rate production decision is expected in February 2017 after qualification and reliability testing is completed, and following an operational test slated for the second half of 2016.
PIM is to replace the legacy M109A6 Paladin howitzers and M992A2 ammunition carriers with a more advanced system, while incorporating drive train and suspension components common to the M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV). The programme was approved to begin initial production in October 2014 following an extended testing period after the first seven prototypes were delivered in 2011.
Mark Signorelli described those prototypes as «generation one» and noted that several upgrades and capabilities were added to change the configuration over time, including new armour designs for heightened protection and design changes around the gun drives and rammer. «Very few of them were individually significant», Signorelli said, although the changes took time and added testing qualifications.
The PIM retains the legacy 155-mm Paladin’s cannon, but it is fitted on a new chassis based on the Bradley. The two vehicles share a 600 hp Cummins V903 diesel engine, a suspension, and other components.
Aside from the chassis, the PIM models also have a new electric ramming system and a 600 V on-board power system that builds on technologies developed during the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) programme and is intended to ensure the PIM will have enough space, weight, and power-cooling growth potential for future upgrades.
Paladin Integrated Management
M109A7 Self-Propelled Howitzer
The new M109A7 Self-Propelled Howitzer and its associated M992A3 Carrier, Ammunition, Tracked (CAT) vehicle enhance their combat-proven successors’ – the M109A6 Paladin and M992A2 Field Artillery Ammunition Support Vehicle’s (FAASV) – reliability, maintainability, performance, responsiveness, and lethality. Additionally, they provide increased commonality with the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV) of the Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) with significant built-in growth potential in terms of available space, weight and electrical power.
The M109A7 chassis features a power pack, drive train, track, and suspension components common with the BFV, improving supportability and reducing the ABCT’s logistical footprint.
The M109A7’s «shoot and scoot» capability protects the crew from counterbattery fire by means of an onboard position navigation system and fire control system capable of executing missions digitally and via secure voice command. With an upgraded, 675 hp/503 kW electronically controlled version of the BFV standard V903 engine, coupled with an improved HMPT-800 transmission, the M109A7 has faster acceleration for rapid displacement, and the ability to keep pace with the maneuver forces it supports.
From the move, the M109A7 can receive a fire mission, compute firing data, select and occupy a firing position, transition from traveling configuration to firing configuration, and point its cannon, and fire within 60 seconds – all with first round fire-for-effect accuracy. The M109A7 operates day or night, in all weather conditions, providing timely and accurate fires with a range in excess of 30 km/18.6 miles.
The M109A7 offers increased survivability, because the crew remains inside the vehicle throughout the mission. Along with the «shoot and scoot» capability, the M109A7 features an Automatic Fire Extinguishing System (AFES), Common Remote Operated Weapons System (CROWS), and enhanced applique armor.
Hull, turret, suspension, and automotive system upgrades increase system reliability. The M109A7 incorporates an onboard computer with comprehensive diagnostics programs that rapidly pinpoint equipment issues early for ease of maintenance while improving system availability.
Gross vehicle weight
80,000 lbs/36,288 kg
675 hp/503 kW
143 gallons/541 liters
38 mph/61 km/h
Estimated cruising range
186 miles/300 km
72 inches/1.8 m
Maximum fording depth
42 inches/1.0 m
382 inches/9.7 m
154 inches/3.9 m
129 inches/3.3 m
M284 cannon/M182A1 mount
70 kW; 600 vdc/28 vdc
A key design consideration is the ability to operate with rapid, easy movement across almost any terrain, displaying much of the mobility of a main battle tank.
While the engine needs to be powerful and compact to meet this requirement, it also needs to offer exceptional reliability to ensure maximum availability of these high-value battlefield assets. The heavy-duty V903 engine is purpose developed by Cummins for these highly demanding applications – and during combat situations the outstanding abilities of this unique engine have been fully proven.
The V903 has also proved an ideal power solution for one of the most important elements on the battlefield – the tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), typified by the M2 Bradley together with derivatives such as the M3 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicle (CVF).
Equipped with 600 hp (447 kW) of Cummins heavy-duty power, the Bradley can maintain progress with main battle tanks right at the forefront of the action. Very high power-toweight ratio enables these vehicles to incorporate heavier armour and more firepower, while the inherent reliability of the engine is a major advantage during high intensity operations.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, announced (8 April, 2015) that an independent measurement team contracted by the U.S. Government has completed beam quality and power measurements of GA-ASI’s Generation 3 High Energy Laser System (HEL) using the Joint Technology Office (JTO) Government Diagnostic System (GDS).
«These measurements confirm the exceptional beam quality of the Generation 3 HEL, the next-generation leader in electrically-pumped lasers», said Claudio Pereida, executive vice president, Mission Systems, GA-ASI.
The new laser represents the third generation of technology originally developed under the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS, Generation 1) program. The goal of the HELLADS program was to develop a high-energy laser weapon system (150 kW) with an order of magnitude reduction in weight compared to existing laser systems. The Generation 3 Laser employs a number of upgrades resulting in improved beam quality, increased electrical to optical efficiency, and reduced size and weight.
The recently certified Generation 3 laser assembly is very compact at only 1.3×0.4×0.5 meters. The system is powered by a compact Lithium-ion battery supply designed to demonstrate a deployable architecture for tactical platforms.
The Generation 3 HEL tested is a unit cell for the Tactical Laser Weapon Module (TLWM) currently under development. Featuring a flexible, deployable architecture, the TLWM is designed for use on land, sea, and airborne platforms and will be available in four versions at the 50, 75, 150, and 300-kilowatt laser output levels.
The GDS was employed by an independent measurement team to evaluate the beam quality of the Generation 3 system over a range of operating power and run time. According to JTO’s Jack Slater, «The system produced the best beam quality from a high energy laser that we have yet measured with the GDS. We were impressed to see that the beam quality remained constant with increasing output power and run-time».
With run time limited only by the magazine depth of the battery system, beam quality was constant throughout the entire run at greater than 30 seconds. These measurements confirm that the exceptional beam quality of this new generation of electrically pumped lasers is maintained above the 50-kilowatt level.
Following this evaluation, the independent team will use the GDS again to conduct beam quality measurements of the GA-ASI HELLADS Demonstrator Laser Weapon System (DLWS). The HELLADS DLWS includes a 150-kilowatt class laser with integrated power and thermal management.
At the U.S. Army Aviation Missions Solution Summit (29-31 March, 2015), Nashville, Tennessee, Bell Helicopter was previewing a technology demonstration of its integrated single screen cockpit concept for the Bell V-280 Valor, reported Andrew Drwiega from Quad-A, Nashville (Military Technology).
It is a futuristic – combining the usual flight symbology that would be expected from a digital display, together with interactive screens showing active Degraded Visual Environment (DVE) information, live video and imagery feeds, onboard weapons status (with interactive selection and firing on-screen) – all with a touch of «Iron Man» conceptualisation thrown in for good measure. Pilots would be able to finger-pass information box data across the screen from one to the other. The system’s data could also be displayed on the front windscreen and/or in the pilot’s visor – or a combination, which could be customisable.
The Bell V-280 Valor full-scale model is also demonstrating a weapons rail that could be deployed from under the wing and, potentially carry Hellfire missiles which could be fired forward without hitting or being affected by the large rotors.
Bell Helicopter has also brought a V-280 simulator to demonstrate at Quad-A. While this concept is just that – a concept – those responsible for the thinking behind it are envisaging taking mission management and situational awareness to a new level.
«The Army Aviation Summit provides us with a great opportunity to engage with current and future Army aviation leadership», said Mitch Snyder, executive vice president of Military Business at Bell Helicopter. «This unique event gives us the chance for precise, in-depth discussions on what the next generation of tiltrotor can deliver in support of the U.S. Army’s operating concepts and future doctrine». Throughout the show, the Bell V-280 Valor mockup was shown in both attack and utility configurations, demonstrating the aircraft’s versatility and multi-mission capability to attendees. The annual event was held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and convention center and hosted representatives from 22 countries.
The first flight of the next generation tiltrotor is scheduled for the second half of 2017. The Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor will provide unmatched speed, range and payload, along with unmatched agility at the objective. The aircraft will provide the best value in operations and maintenance costs, and is being designed with sustainability, affordability, and ease of manufacturing in mind.
Bell V-280 Valor
With twice the speed and range of conventional helicopters, the Bell V-280 Valor will offer unmatched operational agility to self-deploy and perform a multitude of vertical lift missions unachievable with current aircraft. The V-280 Valor is a combat force multiplier with superior performance, survivability, and reliability to give the warfighter the decisive advantage.
Transformational agility and operational reach:
twice the speed and twice the range more than doubles operational reach;
highest productivity and range enables reduced deployed force structure;
significantly higher fuel efficiency reduces logistical and security footprint;
covers more than five times the area of current MEDEVAC helicopters.
Speed: 280 KTAS/322 mph/518 km/h
Combat Range: 500-800 NM/926-1,481 km
Strategically Self-Deployable: 2,100+ NM/3,889 km Range
High/Hot 6k/95F Hover Out of Ground Effect (HOGE) Performance
Carries crew of four and 14 troops
Useful load of 12,000+ lbs/5,443+ kg
Triple redundant fly-by-wire flight control system
Conventional, retractable landing gear
Two 6’ wide large side doors for ease of rapid ingress/egress
Enhanced situational awareness and sensing technologies
Bell V-280 Valor – Future of Vertical Lift Takes Flight
Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced (April 7, 2015) the successful completion of builder’s sea trials for the company’s fifth U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter (NSC), USCGC Joshua James (WMSL-754). The ship, built at HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division, spent three days in the Gulf of Mexico testing all of the ship’s systems.
«Any time we get the opportunity to take a new ship to sea, it is always something special, and this trip was no exception», said Jim French, Ingalls’ NSC program manager. «Our shipbuilding team continues to incorporate learning from ship to ship, making this a very stable program across the board. We’ve got a good NSC core team who work the same areas of each ship, and we are seeing the benefits associated with this serial production. It’s the most affordable way to build a class of ships».
Ingalls’ test and trials team led the sea trials and conducted extensive testing of the propulsion, electrical, damage control, anchor handling, small boat operations and combat systems. This culminated in the successful completion of a four-hour, full-power propulsion run on James.
«Our Ingalls/Coast Guard team worked tirelessly during the three days, and the ship performed well», said Richard Schenk, Ingalls’ vice president, program management and test and trials. «The Ingalls operating crew performed more than 180 events and handled each one with the utmost professionalism. It is obvious to all who sailed on builder’s trials that NSC 5 is ready for her acceptance trials at the end of April».
Ingalls has delivered four NSCs and has three more, including James, under construction. A construction contract was just awarded for an eighth NSC last week.
The ship is named to honor Captain Joshua James, one of the world’s most celebrated lifesavers. His lifesaving experience began at age 15 when he joined the Massachusetts Humane Society. Over the years, he was credited for saving more than 600 lives until the time of his death at age 75. He was on duty with the U.S. Life-Saving Service, which later merged into the U.S. Coast Guard. «The NSC team is extremely efficient in everything they do, and they proved it this week», said Jim McKinney, Ingalls’ NSC program director. «We start every ship with the goal for it to be better than the last one, and the men and women working in this program have not disappointed. The Coast Guard will be getting an awesome ship when we deliver James in June».
National Security Cutters (NSCs), the flagships of the Coast Guard’s cutter fleet, are designed to replace the 378-foot/115-m Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters, which entered service during the 1960s. NSCs are 418 feet/127 m long with a 54-foot/16-m beam and displace 4,500 long tons with a full load. They have a top speed of 28 knots/32 mph/52 km/h, a range of 12,000 nautical miles/22,224 km, an endurance of 60 days and a crew of 120.
The Legend-class NSC is capable of meeting all maritime security mission needs required of the high-endurance cutter. The cutter includes an aft launch and recovery area for two Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) and a flight deck to accommodate a range of manned and unmanned rotary-wing aircraft. It is the largest and most technologically advanced class of cutter in the Coast Guard, with robust capabilities for maritime homeland security, law enforcement, marine safety, environmental protection and national defense missions. The Legend-class of cutters plays an important role in enhancing the Coast Guard’s operational readiness, capacity and effectiveness at a time when the demand for their services has never been greater.
Displacement: 4,500 long tons
Length: 418 feet/127 m
Beam: 54 feet/16 m
Speed: 28 knots/32 mph/52 km/h
Range: 12,000 NM/22,224 km
Endurance: 60 days
Equipped with: Mk-110 57-mm turret mounted gun; 6 × 12.7-mm/.50 caliber machine guns; 3D air search radar; 2 level 1, class 1 aircraft hangers; A stern launch ramp for mission boats
It said in The Hindu that India launched its first indigenously built attack submarine on April 6, 2015 at Mazagaon Dock Limited in Mumbai. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was speaking to the press at the Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) after commemorating the undocking of the first of class submarine of Project 75, named INS Kalvari, the Tiger Shark. The French-designed, Indian-built Scorpene-class is the first of six diesel-electric boats (SSK) set to join the fleet over the next few years as part of the Indian Navy’s Project 75 in collaboration with France (DCNS), according to India Today.
On the Scorpene submarines, Mr. Parrikar said, India will fulfil its requirement of submarines to protect its sea waters by 2022. «We expect the rest of the construction to be completed as per the schedule. Any delay in achieving the deadline will result in heavy penalty», he said.
Acknowledging the efforts of MDL in construction of this partially indigenous submarine, the Defence Minister said the government had an ambitious plan to fulfil the requirements of the armed forces as per which all Public Sector Undertakings would double their production in the next two years. «We want to build a ‘Blue Water Navy’ which can survive despite operating across the deep ocean waters without any problems. We will ensure that we become one such navy», he added, according to The Hindu.
Following the undocking of submarine on Monday, the launching of the Scorpene-class boat will take place in September 2015. Until September 2016, it will undergo rigorous trials and tests, both in harbour and at sea, while on surface and underwater. Thereafter it would be commissioned into the Navy as INS Kalvari.
Scorpene 2000 submarines design takes into account the requirements of war time and of far and long deployments. This includes the large and varied underwater weapons payload, the unrivalled acoustic advantage, the hydrodynamic shape and detection means fitted for high speeds, the redundancy and reliability of main equipments. Scorpene 2000 submarines fulfil the entire scope of missions of modern multipurpose submarines:
anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare;
integration in a naval force;
area surveillance and blockade;
strikes against land-based objectives.
The SUBTICS (Submarine Tactical Integrated Combat System) fully integrated combat system gathers all the information from the sensors or data links in order to build a comprehensive picture of the tactical situation and to deploy the appropriate weapons. Besides a high quality sonar suite and several above-water sensors, the combat system includes a fast, silent and safe weapon handling and launching system – enabling the loading of any launching tube with any weapon at any time. Scorpene 2000’s 18 heavy-weapon payload is the best on the market and able to launch torpedoes, missiles or mines.
Chile: 2 submarines at sea.
Cherbourg (France), Cartagena (Spain).
Malaysia: 2 submarines at sea.
Cherbourg (France), Cartagena (Spain).
India: 6 submarines under construction.
Building place (by transfer of technology):
Brazil: 4 submarines under construction.
Building place (by transfer of technology):
66-82 m/216.5-269 feet
>20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h
>350 m/1,148 feet
31: 6 officers and 25 enlisted sailors
6 × 533 mm torpedo tubes that can deploy the SM-39 Exocet Block 2 anti-ship missile
Rechargeable at sea, lithium-ion batteries allow more than one week submerged at low speed, and very good performance at high speed