The concept phase start-up for a new European helicopter, Airbus Helicopters’ X6, was announced on June 16 at the Paris Air Show, initiating a two-year definition period on this next-generation heavy-lift rotorcraft that will be tailored for the civil market. X6 will initially target oil and gas missions and will also be perfectly suited for Search and Rescue, VIP and other applications.
Major marketing, architecture and design choices for the twin-engine aircraft will be assessed to meet customer operational requirements during the concept phase, supported by a significant dialog with customers worldwide to validate the X6’s value creation for their operations.
The X6 is the newest arrival in Airbus Helicopters’ H generation, continuing on from the success of the recently unveiled H160. In line with its company-wide transformation, Airbus Helicopters continues to live up to the excellence of the Airbus name and sets its ambitions looking forward.
«X6 will be for the heavy segment in the next decade what the H160 is today for the mediums. It will set new standards in the industry not only for design, but for its production strategy as well, as we will rely on the industrial capacities of our core countries, including the upcoming pillar in Poland», explained Guillaume Faury, the President & CEO of Airbus Helicopters. «Our objective is to bring to the market the most efficient helicopter solutions adapted for how our customers’ needs and the industry itself will evolve in the future».
In defining and developing the X6, Airbus Helicopters will build on its reputation as a recognized leader in the industry, resulting in a next-generation, twin-engine rotorcraft that is mature and all-weather ready – including full de-icing – from the first delivery. One of the major innovations to be integrated on X6 is the Fly-by-Wire flight control system.
As the latest program to benefit from Airbus Helicopters’ long history of innovation and expertise, the X6 will share commonality features with the company’s latest rotorcraft – including the new H175 and H160. As one of the key-programs for the coming decades, the X6 also will maintain Airbus Helicopters’ leadership in the oil and gas sector.
Once adequate program maturity has been achieved in the concept phase, a subsequent development phase will follow, leading to an X6 entry into service anticipated in the 2020s.
Spirit AeroSystems has successfully delivered to Sikorsky the third fuselage section for the CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter program’s System Demonstration and Test Article (SDTA) contract. Consisting of an integrated cockpit and cabin structure with a separately attached tail section, the composite-skinned fuselage will enable prime contractor Sikorsky to begin assembling the third of four SDTA aircraft to further solidify the final production configuration of the CH-53K aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps.
«Spirit AeroSystems is pleased to be a major supplier to a new generation, heavy-lift helicopter capability for the Marine Corps», said Phil Anderson, Spirit senior vice president of Defense Programs. «The strong, lightweight composite structures we are providing to Sikorsky will in turn give the Marine Corps a much needed increase in payload capability».
Sikorsky came under contract to the U.S. Navy in 2013 to assemble and deliver the four SDTA aircraft by 2017 in support of the Marine Corps operational evaluation of the CH-53K platform. Spirit is on contract to deliver to Sikorsky the final SDTA fuselage unit later this year.
The U.S. Marine Corps will employ the four SDTA aircraft to verify the helicopter’s design capability to carry 27,000 pounds/12,247 kg over 110 nautical miles/126.6 miles/203.7 km under «high hot» ambient conditions, tripling the external load carrying capacity of the current CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter.
On June 19, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. delivered six CH-148 Cyclone helicopters to the Canadian government during an acceptance celebration joined by Canada’s Defense Minister Jason Kenney, Public Works and Government Services Minister Diane Finley, Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Regional Ministers. Representing Sikorsky, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., was William Gostic, Vice President of the Maritime Helicopter Program (MHP), who hailed the event as «a major milestone for the Canadian Armed Forces, our industry partners, Sikorsky and all of our employees committed to this unique and highly sophisticated aircraft».
The six helicopters represent the first of 28 Cyclone aircraft that Sikorsky will deliver to the Canadian Armed Forces to perform a full range of anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search and rescue, and utility missions in various environments. Sikorsky will introduce increased capabilities that will be phased in while the Royal Canadian Air Force determines operational strategy and more personnel are trained to fly and maintain the aircraft. More than 40 military personnel have completed initial training already. Completion of all deliveries and capability upgrades will enable replacement of the venerable Sea King fleet, also provided by Sikorsky, beginning in 2018.
«In addition to today’s deliveries, Sikorsky will continue developing and enhancing the capability of the Cyclone to meet all of Canada’s required operational capabilities. In our view, the CH-148 Cyclone will be the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter», said Gostic. «In parallel to the development effort, Sikorsky and our Canadian partners are committed to delivering world class, in-service support of the Cyclone to the men and women who fly and maintain the aircraft. It is a privilege for us to serve the Canadian Armed Forces, and one we take with the highest sense of responsibility».
«Today is an exciting day as we take another significant step forward in the Cyclone project», said The Honorable Jason Kenney, Minister of National Defense, during the aircraft acceptance celebration at the Canadian Forces’ base in Shearwater. «I am confident this modern aircraft will improve our aviators’ and sailors’ ability to work together in defense of Canada from current and future threats».
The Honorable Diane Finley, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, said, «Last year our government committed to delivering the first CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters, and I am pleased to be here today to see them now safely in the hands of the Canadian Armed Forces. This marks an important milestone in our Maritime Helicopter Project and demonstrates our commitment to equipping our men and women in uniform with state-of-the-art helicopters».
«Our government is committed to supporting our men and women in uniform across the country», said The Honorable Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. «With today’s announcement, this government is once again showing its support for our forces by providing them with the lifesaving equipment they need to do their challenging job protecting Canadians».
Sikorsky International Operations Inc., as the prime contractor for MHP, will build the CH-148 in Bridgeport, Connecticut and West Palm Beach, Florida. General Dynamics Canada Ltd. and L-3 MAS are principal sub-contractors to Sikorsky. Development of the mission data management system, integration testing of the integrated mission system and development of all shipboard and ground-based support systems will be performed by General Dynamics Canada Ltd. at their Ottawa and Calgary engineering facilities.
Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, and Spirit AeroSystems Inc. announced on June 15, 2015 that major assembly has started on the Bell V-280 Valor fuselage. The delivery of the first V-280 fuselage to the Bell Helicopter facility in Amarillo, Texas, is expected later this year. First flight of the V-280 Technology Demonstrator is anticipated in the second half of 2017.
«Spirit AeroSystems brings decades of composite manufacturing experience to the team which allows us to quickly build an aircraft like the V-280», said Phil Anderson, Spirit AeroSystems senior vice president of Defense. «This is a major milestone for the technology demonstrator unit. Spirit AeroSystems is proud to be on Team Valor and we are excited to be designing and building the composite cabin and cockpit for the V-280».
«U.S. ground forces require significant increase in speed and range to operate against and strike adversary systems much deeper than existing platforms», said Mitch Snyder, executive vice president of Military Business for Bell Helicopter. «That is the vision for Future Vertical Lift (FVL). The V-280 advanced technology tiltrotor provides the Department of Defense (DoD) with unmatched speed, range and payload for expeditionary maneuver to win these future conflicts. We are confident in the capability that the V-280 will provide, and we are proud to have Spirit AeroSystems adding their expertise to Team Valor and to the Bell V-280. Spirit AeroSystems beginning major assembly on the V-280 fuselage brings this high-performance aircraft one step closer to completion».
With more than twice the speed and twice the range of current helicopter platforms, the Bell V-280 is designed to provide combatant commanders with the ability to reach the battlefield while providing superior low-speed agility at the objective. The efficient speed and reduced reaction time provided by the V-280 will allow operators to outmaneuver their adversaries. The tiltrotor’s speed, range and payload significantly reduce logistical, security and medical footprints, freeing up personnel and additional combat power.
Bell Helicopter has led the formation of Team Valor, a group of preeminent aerospace companies bringing the best engineering resources and industrial capabilities to meet the Department of Defense’s anticipated needs.
Speed: 280 KTAS/322 mph/518 km/h
Combat Range: 500-800 NM/575-920 miles/926-1,481 km
Strategically Self-Deployable: 2,100+ NM/2.416.5 miles/3,889 km
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
Team Valor includes:
Israel Aerospace Industries
TRU Simulation and Training
The Future of Vertical Lift has taken shape, as a full-scale mockup of the Bell V-280 Valor
Airbus Helicopters’ highly innovative H160 flew for the first time in Marignane on Saturday, 13 June, shortly after beginning its ground runs end of May. The aircraft flew for about 40 minutes in ground effect that allowed the flight test team to check the overall behavior of the aircraft and to verify the measurements.
«The first flight was very promising in terms of stability, vibrations, and sound levels», said Olivier Gensse, the flight test pilot, upon landing the Airbus aircraft. The flight test campaign has now been launched and the next flights will begin to open the flight envelope progressively. The new aircraft already reached 130 knots/150 mph/240 km/h during the second flight on Wednesday, 17 June.
«We are very proud that the H160 has reached another milestone on time», said Bernard Fujarski, head of the H160 program. «The dedication of the team working on the program has paid off and we are all looking forward to the final development phase to bring this highly anticipated helicopter to the market».
In order to complete this final development phase and to ensure the H160’s entry into service in 2018, Airbus Helicopters is relying on three dedicated prototypes and two helicopter zero integration test means. The first prototype will pursue its flight test campaign, including its first hot weather flight tests planned for this summer. The second Airbus prototype performed its first power-on 12 June.
The H160 opens a new chapter in the history of Airbus Helicopters. Joining the product range between the H145 (formerly EC145) and the H175 (formerly EC175), this innovative medium helicopter becomes the first new member of the H generation.
The entire design was based on one overriding goal: to create added value for customers in terms of performance, economic competitiveness, safety and comfort. Both cleaner and quieter, the H160 takes a step forward in respect for the environment.
Configurations being developed include offshore transportation, business and private aviation, public services, and commercial passenger transport. The H160 was unveiled at the Heli-Expo trade show in March 2015.
Three months after its introduction to the public at the Heli-Expo air show in Orlando, Florida, UAS, and following its first ground run on May 28, the H160 has now successfully performed its first flight in Marignane on Saturday, 13 June
On June 12th in Brest, DCNS delivered the FREMM multi-mission frigate D652 Provence to the French Navy, as stipulated in the contract. This frigate is the second of the series ordered by OCCAR (l’Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement – Organisation for Joint Armament) on behalf of the DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement – French armament procurement agency).
Delivery of the FREMM multi-mission frigate Provence is the result of a design and construction process managed by DCNS in close cooperation with the French Navy, DGA and OCCAR teams. All DCNS sites, its partners and subcontractors took part to this technological and industrial success to ensure compliance with the industrial milestones, in particular the launching in September 2013 and the first sea outing in September 2014.
The delivery of the second series to the French Navy took place just a few weeks after the first successful firing in Europe of a naval cruise missile from the first-of-class, the FREMM D650 Aquitaine. The sale of a frigate to the Royal Moroccan Navy and the Egyptian Navy, as well as the announcement of the launch of the intermediate-size frigates programme, boost DCNS ambitions for international development thanks to a broader offer of first of rank surface ships.
«The delivery of the FREMM Provence represents an opportunity to applaud the industrial and technological prowess of DCNS and its subcontractors. It underlines our ability to produce first of rank combat ships that meet our client navies needs, such as those of Morocco and Egypt», stated Anne Bianchi, Director of FREMM programmes. «Today, we are proud to deliver this second ship to the French Navy».
SETIS, one of the most effective sea-proven combat systems on the market
The delivery of the FREMM Provence marks the culmination in the ramping up of SETIS (Ship Enhanced Tactical Information System), the latest-generation combat system developed by DCNS. The ship is now equipped with a cutting-edge solution that is perfectly integrated on board. Indeed, the successful firing of the naval cruise missile on May 19th 2015 from the FREMM Aquitaine is a demonstration of the anti-land warfare capabilities directed at targets located deep in enemy territory. Added to the anti-submarine, anti-surface and anti-air warfare capabilities, the FREMM has now reached its full technological capabilities.
«DCNS has successfully accomplished this essential step for the FREMM SETIS combat system. We are proud to have contributed to the successful firing of a cruise missile from a surface ship, a first in Europe. This result is a demonstration of DCNS expertise in the area of the design and integration of combat systems», stressed Anne Bianchi.
Four FREMM at different stages of construction at DCNS Lorient Shipyard
For DCNS, the FREMM programme currently involves the construction of ten frigates, eight of them for the French Navy. Six of these are to be delivered by 2019 and the remaining two frigates, equipped with extended anti-aircraft capabilities, will be delivered before 2022. Two other were sold for export clients: the Royal Moroccan Navy and the Egyptian Navy.
The delivery of the FREMM Provence takes place at a time when the FREMM programme is powering ahead on the DCNS site in Lorient. To date, three FREMM frigates are under construction and one is being prepared before being delivered:
The FREMM D650 Aquitaine, first in series, delivered in 2012.
The FREMM 701 Mohammed VI, for the Royal Moroccan Navy, delivered in 2014.
The FREMM D652 Provence, delivered on 12 June 2015.
The FREMM intended for the Egyptian Navy, formerly the FREMM D651 Normandie, will be delivered in summer 2015.
The FREMM D653 Languedoc will make its first sea outing in autumn 2015.
The FREMM D654 Auvergne is currently in the final stages of construction and will be launched in September 2015.
The FREMM D656 Bretagne is currently being assembled.
Technical characteristics of the FREMMs
The FREMM multi-mission frigate is one of the most technologically advanced and competitive ships on the market. Its versatility and manoeuvrability meet the operational requirements of numerous navies around the world. Equipped with high-tech sensors and weapons, integrated with the SETIS latest-generation combat system developed by DCNS, the frigate can counter all types of threats, whether air, surface, submarine or land-based.
The heavily armed FREMM frigate is equipped with the most effective weapons systems and equipment, such as the Herakles multifunction radar, the Aster and Exocet MM 40 missiles, or the MU 90 torpedoes. It is innovative and offers unequalled levels of interoperability and availability. This combat ship is capable of meeting the expectations of numerous navies.
The U.S. Navy christened its tenth Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the future USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10), during a midday ceremony June 13 at Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Alabama. LCS 10 is named after former United States Representative Gabrielle Giffords.
«The christening of the future USS Gabrielle Giffords marks the beginning of what is certain to be a long life for this great ship», said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. «It is also a celebration of the skill and dedication of the men and women who have built LCS 10 and the courage of her namesake. This ship truly embodies the Navy motto of Semper Fortis – Always Courageous».
During the event, Second Lady of the United States Doctor Jill Biden, the ship’s sponsor, smashed a champagne bottle on the bow as other dignitaries, including Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle and former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and her husband Captain Mark Kelly, USN (Retired), were watching from the platform.
Though Gabby’s comments were brief, Giffords’ excitement shown through every word during Saturday’s christening ceremony. «Thank you to all the people who built this ship. She’s stealthy. She will defend freedom around the world. Go Navy», Giffords said.
The LCS class consists of the Freedom variant and Independence variant, each designed and built by different industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin (for odd-numbered hulls, e.g., LCS-1). The Independence variant team is led by General Dynamics (LCS-2 and LCS-4) and Austal USA (for the subsequent even-numbered hulls). Purchased under the innovative block-buy acquisition strategy, there are 12 ships currently under construction.
While capable of open-ocean tasking, LCS is intended to operate in the littorals – shallow, coastal waters. As such, the ships can operate in water as shallow as 20 feet/6 meter deep and can travel at speeds in excess of 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h. USS Freedom (LCS-1) and USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) recently demonstrated these critical capabilities as part of their operational deployments to U.S. 7th Fleet in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Independence Variant of the LCS Class
Construction: Hull and superstructure – aluminium alloy
Length overall: 417 feet/127.1 m
Beam overall: 103 feet/31.4 m
Hull draft (maximum): 14.8 feet/4.5 m
Payload and capacities
Complement: Core Crew – 40
Mission crew – 36
Berthing: 76 in a mix of single, double & quad berthing compartments
Maximum mission load: 210 tonnes
Mission packages: ASW, SUW, MIW
Main engines: 2 × GE LM2500
2 × MTU 20V 8000
Waterjets: 4 × Wartsila steerable
Bow thruster: Retractable azimuthing
Speed: 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range: 3,500 NM/4,028 miles/6,482 km
Operational limitation: Survival in Sea State 8
Deck area: >21,527.8 feet2/2,000 m2
Launch and recovery: Twin boom extending crane
Loading: Side ramp
Internal elevator to hanger
Flight deck and hanger
Flight deck dimensions: 2 × SH-60 or 1 × CH-53
Hanger: Aircraft stowage & maintenance for 2 × SH-60
On June 12, 2015 General Dynamics NASSCO, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics (GD), delivered the U.S. Navy’s newest ship, the USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP-3/AFSB-1). The ship is named in honor of the late U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General Lewis «Chesty» Puller, the most decorated Marine and the only one to be awarded five Navy Crosses. Construction on the USNS Lewis B. Puller began in 2013.
«Today’s delivery of the USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP-3/AFSB-1) to the U.S. Navy symbolizes an immense culmination of efforts made by the hard-working men and women of the General Dynamics NASSCO shipbuilding team», said Kevin Mooney, vice president of operations at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard. «At NASSCO we are building and delivering affordable ships that are providing new and revolutionary capabilities for America’s Navy and Marine Corps».
The Afloat Forward Staging Base (ASFB) modifications add a 52,000 square-foot/4,831 square-meter flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, repair spaces, magazines, mission planning spaces and accommodations for up to 250 personnel. The ship is capable of supporting multiple missions including Air Mine Counter Measures (AMCM), counter-piracy operations, maritime security operations, humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions and Marine Corps crisis response. The ship is designed to support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters, and will be upgraded to support MV-22 tilt rotor aircraft.
Earlier this year, NASSCO shipbuilders christened the ship with a ceremony at the company’s shipyard in San Diego. The commandant of the Marine Corps, General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., was the ceremony’s principal speaker. Ms. Martha Puller Downs, daughter of General Puller, served as the ship’s sponsor.
The U.S. Navy has awarded NASSCO a contract for the detail design and construction of a fourth Mobile Landing Platform (MLP), to be configured as another Afloat Forward Staging Base. Construction of the fourth MLP-4/AFSB-2 is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Propulsion: Commercial Diesel Electric Propulsion
Length: 785 feet/239.3 m
Beam: 164 feet/50 m
Displacement: 78,000 tons (fully loaded)
Draft: 29.5 feet/9 m (fully loaded); 39 feet/12 m (load line)
Speed: 15 knots/17 mph/28 km/h
Range: 9,500 nautical miles/10,932 miles/17,594 km
The largest and the first indigenously-built, 40,642-tonne aircraft carrier (IAC) to be christened as INS Vikrant on commissioning was undocked on Jun 10 at a simple ceremony held at the Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL).
The ship, being built at CSL, would be required to undergo a series of fitment and trial processes and tests before it becomes ready for propulsion and inducted into the Indian Navy. Major outfitting work of the ship would be undertaken in the coming months. Prior to its delivery to the Indian Navy, the ship has to undergo basin trials and extensive sea trials. The basic design of the IAC was done by the Indian Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design.
The successful completion of aircraft carrier puts India in the elite group of four nations in the world who are capable of designing and constructing aircraft carriers. The other four countries are US, China, UK and France.
The ship has a length of over 860 feet/262 metres and breadth of 197 feet/60 metres. It has two take-off runways and a landing strip with three arrester wires, capable of operating Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) aircraft including the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), as well as a range of helicopters with hangar facilities.
The ceremony of undocking of Vikrant was witnessed by Commodore Kartik Subramaniam, Chairman and Managing Director CSL. Also present during the undocking function were other officials of the shipyard.
Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division delivered the National Security Cutter (NSC) USCGC Joshua James (WMSL-754) to the U.S. Coast Guard on Jun 05, 2015. In mid-July the ship will sail to her August 8 commissioning site in Boston.
«Ingalls shipbuilders continue to prove they’re committed to building the world’s best ships», said Jim French, Ingalls’ NSC program manager. «The National Security Cutter program continues to prove the benefits of continuous production, which allows us to learn and improve from ship to ship. From this learning, we are able to build quality ships affordably, safely and on schedule, all the while maintaining the industry standards. All of the Ingalls-built NSCs have been top quality, and James is no exception».
James will join the rest of the Legend-class fleet as the fifth National Security Cutter Ingalls has built for the Coast Guard. The Legend-class NSC is meant to replace the 378-foot/115-m Hamilton-class cutters, which were first introduced in the 1960s. NSCs are 418 feet/127 m long with a 54-foot/16-m beam and displace 4,500 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/13,809 miles/22,224 km, an endurance of 60 days and a crew of 120.
«This is a great day for our nation, for our Coast Guard, for Ingalls Shipbuilding and for the plankowner crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Joshua James», said Captain Andrew Tiongson, the ship’s commanding officer. «A lot of people worked thousands of hours to get this point, and we thank you».
The fifth National Security Cutter is named to honor Captain Joshua James of the U.S. Life-Saving Service, who is credited with saving over 600 lives and is considered one of the most celebrated lifesavers in the world.
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 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.