Ballistic Missile Defense

The U.S. is bolstering its ability to intercept ballistic missiles fired from North Korea with the deployment of another Raytheon missile-defense radar in central Japan, said Brendan McGarry, Military.com correspondent. In a joint announcement, the U.S. and Japanese governments said a second so-called Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance system, or AN/TPY-2, made by Raytheon Co. has been installed on the island nation. The announcement follows discussions last year between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe involving deployment of the technology that drew opposition from China.

In forward-based mode, the radar is positioned near hostile territory, and acquires ballistic missiles in the boost (ascent) phase of flight, shortly after they are launched
In forward-based mode, the radar is positioned near hostile territory, and acquires ballistic missiles in the boost (ascent) phase of flight, shortly after they are launched

The mobile unit is based in Kyogamisaki in the central part of the country, complementing an existing system already located Shariki in northern Japan. The Kyogamisaki site is believed to be ideal for such purposes because any short- or medium-range missile launched from North Korea against American military defenses in Guam or Hawaii would probably fly over the region.

The first step in defeating a ballistic missile that has been fired is «seeing» it. And that is where Raytheon’s AN/TPY-2 X-Band radar comes in. A critical element in the Ballistic Missile Defense System, AN/TPY-2 continually searches the sky for ballistic missiles. Once it detects a missile, it acquires it, tracks it, and uses its powerful radar and complex computer algorithms to discriminate between the warhead and non-threats such as countermeasures.

Depending on the needs of the warfighter, the AN/TPY-2 radar can be deployed in two different modes. In forward-based mode, the radar is positioned near hostile territory, and acquires ballistic missiles in the boost (ascent) phase of flight, shortly after they are launched. It then tracks and discriminates the threat, and passes critical information required by decision makers to the Command and Control Battle Management network.

The high-resolution, X-band, phased-array radar can track all classes of ballistic missiles at various points in their trajectories
The high-resolution, X-band, phased-array radar can track all classes of ballistic missiles at various points in their trajectories

When the AN/TPY-2 radar is deployed in terminal mode, the radar’s job is to detect, acquire, track and discriminate ballistic missiles in the terminal (descent) phase of flight. The terminal-mode AN/TPY-2 also leads the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) ballistic missile defense system by guiding the THAAD missile to intercept a threat.

AN/TPY-2 has a record of flawless performance against all classes of ballistic missiles. In forward-based mode, it has proven capability against short-, medium and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. In terminal mode, AN/TPY-2 has demonstrated its ability to enable an intercept of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. AN/TPY-2 can provide precise tracking information to any number of missile-defense batteries, including the truck-mounted THAAD, systems in the Pacific and the Middle East; the sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System; or the Ground-based Mid-course Defense System in Alaska and California.

According to public U.S. intelligence estimates, there are more than 6,300 ballistic missiles outside of U.S., NATO, Russian and Chinese control, with that number expected to grow to almost 8,000 by 2020
According to public U.S. intelligence estimates, there are more than 6,300 ballistic missiles outside of U.S., NATO, Russian and Chinese control, with that number expected to grow to almost 8,000 by 2020

The radar itself is composed of four mobile components: an antenna unit, an electronics unit, a cooling unit and a prime power unit, according to information from the manufacturer. The system can be transported in such cargo planes as the C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III, as well as in ships, railroad cars and trucks.

The U.S. Army, which has already purchased five of the radars, had previously planned to purchase as many as 18 of the units, though that number was reduced amid automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. Last year, each was budgeted to cost about $173 million, according to budget documents.

 

 

The first harbinger

The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) has received its first Carrier Variant (CV) F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the Lockheed Martin announced on 22 December 2014.

F-35C Lightning II (aircraft CF-02)
F-35C Lightning II (aircraft CF-02)

Aircraft CF-19 will now be transferred from the Fort Worth production facility in Texas to the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, where it will be assigned to the U.S. Navy’s (USN’s) VFA-101 ‘Grim Reapers’ for pilot training.

The USMC is acquiring a mixed fleet of Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35B and CV F-35C aircraft. The current plan is for the Corps’ current McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier IIs to be replaced by 353 F-35Bs, and its Boeing F/A-18 Hornets to be replaced by 67 F-35Cs. Initial operating capability for the F-35B is slated to be achieving in the coming months, while that for the F-35C is expected in 2018.

According to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, CF-19 was the 36th and final F-35 to be delivered this year. Aircraft delivered in 2014 comprised 23 Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) F-35As to the U.S. Air Force (USAF), two F-35As to the Royal Australian Air Force, four F-35Bs to the USMC, six F-35Cs to the USN, and one F-35C to the USMC.

The Department of the Navy decided to base F-35C Lightning II aircraft at NAS (Naval Air Station) Lemoore, California. NAS Lemoore is the newest and largest Master Jet Base in the U.S. Navy. It has two offset parallel runways 4,600 feet (1,400 m) apart.

The F-35C completes catapults and arrestments aboard USS Nimitz on November 12, 2014.
The F-35C completes catapults and arrestments aboard USS Nimitz on November 12, 2014

With the programme still in low-rate initial production (LRIP), the final two lots (LRIP 10 and LRIP 11) are due to be contracted in the next couple of years. After 2016, Lockheed Martin intends to ramp-up to full-rate production of about one aircraft per day.

More than 50 years of carrier based fighter evolution culminates in the Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II aircraft. Never before has very low observable stealth been available at sea. With a broad wingspan, ruggedized structures and durable coatings, the F-35C Lightning II CATOBAR (Catapult Assisted Take-Off Barrier Arrested Recovery) aircraft is designed to stand up to harsh shipboard conditions while delivering a lethal combination of 5th Generation fighter capabilities.

The Carrier Variant Lockheed Martin aircraft sets a new standard in weapon systems integration, maintainability, combat radius and payload that brings true multimission capability to naval forces around the world.

It is truly a first-day-of-the-war fighter with the ability to dominate adversaries in the air or on the surface, while surviving the most formidable threat environments.

CF-01 flew with inert AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles on port and starboard pylons to measure flying qualities and aircraft vibrations
CF-01 flew with inert AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles on port and starboard pylons to measure flying qualities and aircraft vibrations

F-35C SPECIFICATIONS

Length:                                                             51.5 ft/15.7 m

Height:                                                             14.7 ft/4.48 m

Wingspan:                                                      43 ft/13.1 m

Wing area:                                                      668 ft2/62.1 m2

Horizontal tail span:                                 26.3 ft/8.02 m

Weight empty:                                             34,800 lb/15,785 kg

Internal fuel capacity:                             19,750 lb/8,960 kg

Weapons payload:                                    18,000 lb/8,160 kg

Maximum weight:                                      70,000 lb class/31,751 kg

Standard internal weapons load:     Two AIM-120C air-to-air missiles

Two 2,000-pound (907 kg) GBU-31 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) guided bombs

Developmental Testing I is the first of three at-sea test phases for the F-35C carrier variant
Developmental Testing I is the first of three at-sea test phases for the F-35C carrier variant

Propulsion (uninstalled thrust ratings):          F135-PW-400

Maximum Power (with afterburner):               43,000 lbs/191,3 kN/ 19,507 kgf

Military Power (without afterburner):           28,000 lbs/128,1 kN/ 13,063 kgf

Length:                                                                               220 in/5.59 m

Inlet Diameter:                                                              46 in/1.17 m

Maximum Diameter:                                                 51 in/1.30 m

Bypass Ratio:                                                                 0.57

Overall Pressure Ratio:                                           28

F135-PW-400 engine for F-35C Carrier Variant (CV)
F135-PW-400 engine for F-35C Carrier Variant (CV)

Speed (full internal weapons load):                  Mach 1.6 (~1,200 mph/ 1931 km/h)

Combat radius (internal fuel):                             >600 NM/1,100 km

Range (internal fuel):                                                >1,200 NM/2,200 km

Max g-rating:                                                                7.5

 

Planned Quantities

U.S. Navy:                                                                       260;

U.S. Marine Corps:                                                       80;

In total:                                                                             340

 

 

Main battery

According to Igor Tabak, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly reporter, Croatia has ordered 12 Panzerhaubitze 2000 (PzH 2000) 155 mm self-propelled howitzers from ex-German military stocks. A contract for the order was signed in Zagreb on 5 December, 2014 by Viktor Koprivnjak, Croatian deputy minister of defence in charge of material resources, and by Helmut Richter from the Federal Office for Defence Technology and Procurement.

Panzerhaubitze 2000 (PzH 2000)
Panzerhaubitze 2000 (PzH 2000)

The delivery of PzH 2000 to the Croatian Armed Forces (CAF) is to be done in two tranches of six systems: the first in the second half of 2015 and the second in 2016. Germany will prepare the artillery systems for Croatian service prior to their delivery, a process that will include upgrading their communications array and weapon control software.

During the signing, Koprivnjak stated: «The weapons themselves are priced at €12 million ($15 million), while the overall project is valued at €41 million. Apart from the actual PzH 2000 howitzers, there is training, spares, and adjustment of the weaponry and their electronic systems for service in the CAF».

Panzerhaubitze 2000 in Afghanistan
Panzerhaubitze 2000 in Afghanistan

While this procurement is mentioned in the new CAF Long-Term Development Plan 2015-24 (still going through parliament) as a goal to be fulfilled by 2019, the new artillery systems are considered vital for the development of a CAF NATO force capability.

In order to lower the costs of the upgrades and for their operational usage, the contracting for these parts of the programme is being done by the NATO Support Agency’s Land Combat Vehicle (Project PzH 2000) effort in order to benefit from economies of scale.

PzH 2000 155 mm self-propelled howitzer
PzH 2000 155 mm self-propelled howitzer

 

Ground – Artillery – Panzerhaubitze 2000

 

Vertical Take-Off

A UK test team including personnel from BAE Systems, has successfully completed initial aircraft handling trials for ASRAAM (Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile) and Paveway IV weapons on the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II aircraft at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland, United States.

A US Marine Corps F-35B is shown here carrying two Asraam air-to-air missiles and four Paveway IV laser-guided bombs during initial weapon trials in the US
A US Marine Corps F-35B is shown here carrying two Asraam air-to-air missiles and four Paveway IV laser-guided bombs during initial weapon trials in the US

The trial or «dummy» weapons rounds, which are identical in fit and form to the operational weapons, were tested on the Short Take-off Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35B for the first time during a series of flights from the U.S. Navy’s test facility at Patuxent River Naval Air Station. The initial tests are an important step in integrating weapons onto the F-35B, allowing test pilots to understand how they affect the way the aircraft performs and handles.

The UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) already uses ASRAAM and Paveway IV on its existing combat air fleet. The successful tests are a step towards full interoperability between the current and future fast jets that will be used by the RAF and the UK’s Royal Navy from 2018.

Two F-35B STOVL aircraft, flown by Billie Flynn, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 test pilot and Squadron Leader Andy Edgell from the RAF, completed nine flights with MBDA’s ASRAAM missiles and Raytheon’s Paveway IV laser guided bombs. The flights involved different configurations of both weapons types on the aircraft.

A United Kingdom Royal Air Force test pilot takes off from the USS Wasp on Aug. 13, 2013. The flight marked the first time a U.K. military pilot flew an F-35B short takeoff mission at sea
A United Kingdom Royal Air Force test pilot takes off from the USS Wasp on Aug. 13, 2013. The flight marked the first time a U.K. military pilot flew an F-35B short takeoff mission at sea

The successful tests will be followed by the next stage of weapons testing due to take place in early 2015. These tests will involve weapon separation and then guided releases of both ASRAAM and Paveway IV from the aircraft.

BAE Systems’ lead test pilot for F-35, Pete Wilson, said: «The team at Patuxent River has got over two thousand hours of flying under their belts for the F-35B variant and the handling and performance of the aircraft has shone through throughout. These latest trials were no exception and help us to move confidently into the next phase of weapons testing».

J.D. McFarlan, Lockheed Martin’s Vice President for F-35 Test & Verification from the Joint Strike Fighter programme added: «These trials show the truly international nature of the F-35 enterprise – being led out of a U.S. Navy facility, involving a joint U.K. Ministry of Defence and industry team, working alongside the U.S. Department of Defence and Lockheed Martin. And the test results for one partner will benefit all, further demonstrating the versatility and capability of the F-35 as a multi-role platform».

An F-35B test aircraft flies in short takeoff/vertical landing mode in November 2013
An F-35B test aircraft flies in short takeoff/vertical landing mode in November 2013

Modern security challenges require a wide distribution of forces and the ability to operate successfully in a broad range of scenarios. Protecting freedom and ensuring security in today’s battlespace calls for an unprecedented aircraft.

For the first time in aviation history, the most lethal fighter characteristics – supersonic speed, radar-evading stealth, extreme agility and Short Take-off Vertical Landing – have been combined in a single platform; the F-35B.

With the F-35B Lightning II in their fleet, expeditionary forces, like the U.S. Marine Corps, have a decisive advantage over their adversaries. The F-35B’s versatility, as demonstrated onboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1), will revolutionize expeditionary combat power in all threat environments by allowing operations from major bases, damaged airstrips, remote locations and a wide range of air-capable ships. The F-35B gives warfighters the ability to accomplish their mission, wherever and whenever duty calls.

F-35B test aircraft BF-1 lands aboard the USS Wasp for the first time on Aug. 12, 2013. The landing marked the beginning of Developmental Test Phase Two for the F-35’s short takeoff/vertical landing variant
F-35B test aircraft BF-1 lands aboard the USS Wasp for the first time on Aug. 12, 2013. The landing marked the beginning of Developmental Test Phase Two for the F-35’s short takeoff/vertical landing variant

 

F-35B SPECIFICATIONS

Length:                                                            51.2 ft/15.6 m

Height:                                                            14.3 ft/4.36 m

Wingspan:                                                     35 ft/10.7 m

Wing area:                                                     460 ft2/42.7 m2

Horizontal tail span:                                21.8 ft/6.65 m

Weight empty:                                            32,300 lb/14,651 kg

Internal fuel capacity:                             13,500 lb/6,125 kg

Weapons payload:                                    15,000 lb/6,800 kg

Maximum weight:                                     60,000 lb class/27,215 kg

Standard internal weapons load:     Two AIM-120C air-to-air missiles

Two 2,000-pound (907 kg) GBU-31 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) guided bombs

F135-PW-600 engine for F-35B Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL)
F135-PW-600 engine for F-35B Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL)

Propulsion (uninstalled thrust ratings):                F135-PW-600

Maximum Power (with afterburner):                     41,000 lbs/182,4 kN/ 18,597 kgf

Military Power (without afterburner):                  27,000 lbs/120,1 kN/ 12,247 kgf

Short Take Off Thrust:                             40,740 lbs/181,2 kN/18,479 kgf

Hover Thrust:                                                40,650 lbs/180,8 kN/18,438 kgf

Main Engine:                                                  18,680 lbs/83,1 kN/8,473 kgf

Lift Fan:                                                             18,680 lbs/83,1 kN/8,473 kgf

Roll Post:                                                           3,290 lbs/14,6 kN/1,492 kgf

Length:                                                               369 in/9.37 m

Main Engine Inlet Diameter:                 43 in/1.09 m

Main Engine Maximum Diameter:     46 in/1.17 m

Lift Fan Inlet Diameter:                            51 in/1,30 m

Lift Fan Maximum Diameter:                53 in/1,34 m

Conventional Bypass Ratio:                   0.57

Powered Lift Bypass Ratio:                    0.51

Conventional Overall Pressure Ratio:         28

Powered Lift Overall Pressure Ratio:           29

An F-35B test jet takes off from the USS Wasp on Aug. 21, 2013. The takeoff was part of Developmental Test Phase Two for the F-35 short takeoff/vertical landing variant
An F-35B test jet takes off from the USS Wasp on Aug. 21, 2013. The takeoff was part of Developmental Test Phase Two for the F-35 short takeoff/vertical landing variant

Speed (full internal weapons load):                Mach 1.6 (~1,200 mph/ 1931 km/h)

Combat radius (internal fuel):                           >450 NM/833 km

Range (internal fuel):                                              >900 NM/1667 km

Max g-rating:                                                               7.0

 

Planned Quantities

U.S. Marine Corps:                                                   340;

U.K. Royal Air Force/Royal Navy:                   138;

Italy:                                                                                     30;

In total:                                                                            508

 

 

Fifth Globemaster

The Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of National Defence, announced that the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) will acquire a fifth aircraft to augment the current CC-177 Globemaster (Boeing C-17 Globemaster III) fleet.

The CC-177 Globemaster performs touch and goes at Mountain View.On 25 April 2012, at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, 429 Squadron validated techniques, aircraft systems and training while performing the first Canadian Heavy Equipment Drop from a CC-177, Globemaster
The CC-177 Globemaster performs touch and goes at Mountain View.On 25 April 2012, at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, 429 Squadron validated techniques, aircraft systems and training while performing the first Canadian Heavy Equipment Drop from a CC-177, Globemaster

The additional CC-177 will improve the Canadian Armed Forces’ response capability to both domestic and international emergencies and provide support to a variety of missions, including humanitarian assistance, peace support and combat. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring the men and women of Canada’s Armed Forces have the equipment they need to carry out their missions around the world.

The additional Boeing Globemaster will ease the burden on the current fleet and extend the life expectancy of the entire fleet by about seven and a half years.

With the purchase of an additional aircraft, the RCAF is projected to have at least three CC-177 aircraft available more than 90 per cent of the time to respond to concurrent international or domestic crises. This represents an increase of approximately 25 per cent.

The current fleet of Globemaster CC-177s has been playing an integral role in ferrying supplies and troops to Kuwait to establish and resupply the Canadian camp through «Operation Impact». It has also delivered essential armaments and materiel to CF-18s deployed in Lithuania in support of NATO as part of «Operation Reassurance» and the international response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

The CC-177s have also been used domestically to provide support to «Operation Nanook» where they transported both equipment and personnel in Canada’s largest arctic sovereignty operation, and on «Operation Boxtop», where they provide a critical lifeline and resupplies on a semi-annual basis Canadian Forces Station Alert.

The C-177 Globmaster III carrying re-supplies lands at Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert in support of Operation Boxtop
The C-177 Globmaster III carrying re-supplies lands at Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert in support of Operation Boxtop

Canada’s defence sector will continue to benefit from the purchase of the fifth Globemaster C-17 through the Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy. Boeing’s value proposition includes strong commitments in areas such as supplier development and research and technological development to improve the competitiveness of Canada’s defence sector.

Using existing defence budgets, the acquisition project cost is estimated at $415 million, in addition to 12 years of integrated in-service support valued at $30 million.

«Our Government has made the rebuilding of Canada’s defence capability a cornerstone of our policy agenda at a time when the world remains volatile and unpredictable. Having a fifth Globemaster C-17 will significantly augment the flexibility of the Canadian Armed Forces’ strategic airlift, allowing our men and women in uniform to respond quickly when and where necessary», said Rob Nicholson, Minister of National Defence.

«The CC-177 fleet has proven to be an extremely effective fleet, one which enables large numbers of simultaneous operations even on short notice. Canada’s addition of a fifth aircraft increases the Royal Canadian Air Force’s flexibility and availability to respond to international or domestic crises», added General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff.

 

Air – Cargo – C-17 Globemaster III

 

MQ-8C takes first flight

Northrop Grumman reported that the U.S. Navy successfully flew the MQ-8C Fire Scout system for the first time off the guided-missile destroyer, USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109), Norfolk, VA, Dec. 16, off the Virginia coast.

After more than a year of land-based testing at Point Mugu, California, the MQ-8C Fire Scout grew its sea legs, making 22 takeoffs and 22 precision landings while being controlled from the ship’s ground control station.

 A Northrop Grumman MQ-8C has completed five days of dynamic interface tests on USS Jason Dunham. (Northrop Grumman)
A Northrop Grumman MQ-8C has completed five days of dynamic interface tests on USS Jason Dunham. (Northrop Grumman)

“The MQ-8C Fire Scout’s flights from the USS Dunham represent a significant Navy milestone. This is the first sea-based flight of the MQ-8C and the first time an unmanned helicopter has operated from a destroyer,” said Capt. Jeff Dodge, Fire Scout program manager at Naval Air Systems Command. “The extended capabilities will offer the Navy a dynamic, multipurpose unmanned helicopter with increased endurance, allowing for our ship commanders and pilots to have a longer on station presence.”

“These dynamic interface tests are an essential part in clearing the operational envelope of the system and are proving the system’s ability to operate off any air-capable ship,” said George Vardoulakis, vice president for medium range tactical systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace System. “We are on track to validate all of the critical performance parameters of this Navy asset and ready the system for deployment and operational use.”

 

 

Air – Unmanned Systems – MQ-8C Fire Scout

 

Operate Forward

The U.S. Navy has awarded General Dynamics NASSCO a $498 million contract for the detail design and construction of the Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB). Under this option, NASSCO will provide the detail design and construction efforts to build the second AFSB of the Mobile Landing Platform-class ships. The work will be performed at NASSCO’s San Diego shipyard and is scheduled to be completed by March 2018.

SAN DIEGO (Nov. 6, 2014) The mobile landing platform Lewis B. Puller (T-MLP-3/T-AFSB-1) successfully completed launch and float-off at the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) shipyard.
SAN DIEGO (Nov. 6, 2014) The mobile landing platform Lewis B. Puller (T-MLP-3/T-AFSB-1) successfully completed launch and float-off at the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) shipyard.

The MLP AFSB – based on the hull of an Alaska-class crude oil tanker – is a flexible platform and a key element in the Navy’s large-scale airborne mine countermeasures mission. With accommodations for 250 personnel and a large helicopter flight deck (capable of fielding MH-53E Sea Dragon MCM helos), the MLP AFSB will provide a highly capable, innovative and affordable asset to the Navy and Marine Corps.

According to Sam LaGrone, USNI Online Editor at the U.S. Naval Institute, the contract modification that funds the construction follows the first AFSB – USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP-3/AFSB-1) – that was launched at the San Diego yard on November 6, 2014. Lewis B. Puller is slated to become operational in 2015 and will likely replace the current AFSB stand in – USS Ponce (AFSB-(I)-15). The second new AFSB will most likely based in the Pacific.

Jonathan William "Jon" Greenert is a United States Navy Admiral currently serving as the 30th Chief of Naval Operations.
Jonathan William “Jon” Greenert is a United States Navy Admiral currently serving as the 30th Chief of Naval Operations

Jonathan W. Greenert, Admiral, U.S. Navy said, «The need to clear mines and support special operations forces will not end anytime soon. Moreover, because she is over 40 years old, USS Ponce (AFSB-(I)-15) will be an interim solution that will need to be replaced in the near term. To provide an AFSB for the long term, we converted one Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) and build another from the keel up that adds a flight deck, berthing, fuel storage, equipment storage, and repair spaces. Like Ponce, the new AFSBs will have a rotating crew of civilian mariners and military personnel so they can operate forward almost continuously».

«Thus, AFSBs can support patrol craft, auxiliary boats, helicopters, and special operations forces, providing a base of operations for everything from counter-piracy/smuggling, maritime security, and mine clearing to humanitarian aid and disaster relief. Although a port provides the potential for greater logistical capacity, they may not be readily available when or where they are needed most. AFSBs can operate globally in international waters, providing what may be the only way to support an important mission», added Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert.

The Chief of Naval Operations concluded by saying, «MLP/AFSBs are not a new idea, but with rotating crews and increased capacity, the MLP will dramatically improve our capability where it matters most – forward. They are a key element of my tenet to «Operate Forward», and are essential to effectively support our partners and allies in the Arabian Gulf and elsewhere».

An artist’s conception of the Afloat Forward Staging Base
An artist’s conception of the Afloat Forward Staging Base

 

General Characteristics, Montford Point Class

 

Builder:                                    NASSCO

Propulsion:                            Commercial Diesel Electric Propulsion

Length:                                     239.3 meters (785 feet)

Beam:                                        50 Meters (164 feet)

Displacement:                      78,000 tons (fully loaded)

Draft:                                         9 meters (fully loaded); 12 meters (load line)

Speed:                                       15 knots/17 mph/28 km/h

Range:                                       9500 nautical miles/17594 km

Crew:                                         34 Military Sealift Command personnel

Accommodations:              250 personnel

 

Ships:

USNS Montford Point (MLP 1)

USNS John Glenn (MLP 2)

USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP 3/AFSB-1) – Launched November 2014

USNS (MLP 4/AFSB-2) – Under construction

 

Future is here

The first Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning II jet arrived at USAF’s Luke Air Force Base. The jet’s arrival marks the first international partner F-35 to arrive for training at Luke.

Australia's first F-35, Fort Worth, Texas.  Pilot Al Norman
Australia’s first F-35, Fort Worth, Texas. Pilot Al Norman

«The Royal Australian Air Force is delighted to be the first foreign partner nation with F-35A aircraft arriving at Luke Air Force Base», Air Commodore Gary Martin, air attaché said. «This is an important milestone for Australia and we are looking forward to the commencement of our fifth-generation pilot training here at Luke in 2015».

Luke will be the central training hub for international F-35A Lightning II training. In the near future, international and U.S. students will be teamed together learning how to effectively employ the fifth-generation strike fighter.

Welcoming the aircraft, Brigadier General Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing Commander said, «Today, we take another tremendous step forward in our transition to the F-35A here at Luke. Australia is the first of 10 nations that will not only become part of the Luke community, but will share in calling the West Valley a home away from home».

«Welcoming our first Australian F-35A is a special day for Luke and the community that has been so supportive of us», Brigadier Pleus said. «Luke’s mission has been to train the world’s greatest fighter pilots. We will continue on that legacy as we train the world’s best F-35 pilots».

«The collaborative training we’ll be doing here on aircraft designed with stealth, maneuverability and integrated avionics will better prepare our combined forces to assume multi-role missions for the future of strike aviation», Pleus said. «From the bed-down of the F-35 and its infrastructure to the execution of training, our partner-nations have been an important piece of Luke’s F-35A team. The relationships we’re building now will be invaluable when we deploy together around the world protecting our respective countries».

Lockheed Martin Fort Worth Texas Photo by Alex Groves
Lockheed Martin Fort Worth Texas Photo by Alex Groves

Australia’s training will be conducted in conjunction with the 61st Fighter Squadron. Other partner-nations that will be joining the U.S. and Australia in the F-35A training program here will be Turkey, Italy, Norway, and the Netherlands, in addition to Foreign Military Sales countries Japan, Korea and Israel.

According to Defense-aerospace.com, the teamwork on the F-35A is not the first time Luke Air Force Base has worked with international partners on an airframe. Luke’s Airmen currently train on base alongside pilots and maintainers from Singapore and Taiwan on the F-16.

Virtually undetectable to an enemy that cannot hide, the Conventional TakeOff and Landing (CTOL) F-35A gives the Royal Australian Air Force the power to dominate the skies – anytime, anywhere. It’s an agile, versatile, high-performance 9g multirole fighter that provides unmatched capability and unprecedented situational awareness.

The F-35A’s advanced sensor package gathers and distributes more information than any fighter in history, giving operators a decisive advantage over all adversaries. Its tremendous processing power, open architecture, sophisticated sensors, information fusion and flexible communication links make the F-35A Lightning II an indispensable tool in future homeland defense, joint and coalition irregular warfare, and major combat operations.

The F-35A brings unparalleled performance to any theater in any conflict against any threat.

AU-1 First Flight, Fort Worth, Texas.
AU-1 First Flight, Fort Worth, Texas.

 

F-35A SPECIFICATIONS

Length:                                                                          51.4 ft/15.7 m

Height:                                                                          14.4 ft/4.38 m

Wingspan:                                                                   35 ft/10.7 m

Wing area:                                                                   460 ft2/42.7 m2

Horizontal tail span:                                              22.5 ft/6.86 m

Weight empty:                                                          29,300 lb/13,290 kg

Internal fuel capacity:                                           18,250 lb/8,278 kg

Weapons payload:                                                  18,000 lb/8,160 kg

Maximum weight:                                                   70,000 lb class/31,751 kg

Standard internal weapons load:                   25 mm GAU-22/A cannon

Two AIM-120C air-to-air missiles

Two 2,000-pound (907 kg) GBU-31 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) guided bombs

F135-PW-100 engine for F-35A Conventional TakeOff and Landing (CTOL)
F135-PW-100 engine for F-35A Conventional TakeOff and Landing (CTOL)

Propulsion (uninstalled thrust ratings):      F135-PW-100

Maximum Power (with afterburner):           43,000 lbs/191,3 kN/ 19,507 kgf

Military Power (without afterburner):        28,000 lbs/128,1 kN/ 13,063 kgf

Length:                                                                            220 in/5.59 m

Inlet Diameter:                                                           46 in/1.17 m

Maximum Diameter:                                               51 in/1.30 m

Bypass Ratio:                                                               0.57

Overall Pressure Ratio:                                         28

Royal Australian Air Force Logo
Royal Australian Air Force Logo

Speed (full internal weapons load):               Mach 1.6 (~1,200 mph/ 1931 km/h)

Combat radius (internal fuel):                          >590 NM/1,093 km

Range (internal fuel):                                             >1,200 NM/2,200 km

Max g-rating:                                                              9.0

 

Planned Quantities

U.S. Air Force:                                              1,763;

Italy:                                                                         60;

Netherlands:                                                       37;

Turkey:                                                                100;

Australia:                                                            100;

Norway:                                                                 52;

Denmark:                                                              30;

Canada:                                                                  65;

Israel:                                                                      33;

South Korea:                                                      40;

Japan:                                                                     42;

In total:                                                           2,322

 

 

F-35A Lightning II CTOL (Conventional Take-off and Landing)
(http://usairforc.blogspot.ru/2014/11/f-35a-lightning-ii.html)

Upgrading the Spearfish

The UK’s Ministry of Defence has awarded BAE Systems a £270 million ($424 million) contract to upgrade the Spearfish Heavyweight Torpedo for the Royal Navy’s submarines. Following the completion of the design phase, existing torpedoes will be upgraded by BAE Systems at its Broad Oak facility in Portsmouth to the new design with initial deliveries in 2020 continuing until 2024, said BAE Systems’ representatives. Key subcontractors for the Spearfish Upgrade programme include MBDA TDW (responsible for an Insensitive Munitions warhead), Atlas Elektronik UK (fibre-optic guidance link and signal processing in the digital homing head), GE Intelligent Platforms (processing boards), and Altran (safety electronic unit).

Spearfish Heavyweight Torpedo Mod 1
Spearfish Heavyweight Torpedo Mod 1

The upgrade, known as Spearfish Mod 1 extends the life of the torpedo, improves safety through the introduction of an Insensitive Munitions warhead and by utilizing a single fuel propulsion system that will offer cost and safety benefits over the current dual-fuel (using Otto fuel II and HAP, Hydroxyl Ammonium Perchlorate) system and provides more capable data links between the weapon system and the launching vessel (replacement of the current copper/cadmium wire guidance link with a fibre-optic system). This results in capability improvements for the Royal Navy as well as significant reduction in through-life operating costs.

The anti-submarine and anti-surface Spearfish Mod 0 torpedoes are currently deployed the BAE Systems designed and built Trafalgar and Vanguard submarines, as well as the Astute Class submarines. Spearfish can be used in defensive and offensive situations and its advanced design delivers maximum warhead effectiveness at high speed with outstanding maneuverability, low radiated noise, advanced homing and sophisticated tactical intelligence.

The torpedo can operate autonomously from the time of launch and is capable of variable speeds across the entire performance envelope. Its high power density bespoke engine allows it to attain exceptional sprint speed in the terminal stage of an attack. The result is an underwater weapon that provides decisive advantage against the full range of submarine and surface threats in all operational environments. Extensive in-water testing will demonstrate consistently high performance and outstanding reliability.

Spearfish Heavyweight Torpedo Tail
Spearfish Heavyweight Torpedo Tail

John Hudson, Managing Director for BAE Systems’ UK Maritime Sector, said: «Upgrading the Spearfish Heavyweight Torpedo Mod 0 will provide sophisticated advances for the Royal Navy with increased operational advantage in the underwater domain». He continued: «As well as sustaining and creating jobs in the Solent region, the contract allows the opportunity to work on one of the most exciting development programmes in the country, underpinning BAE Systems’ position at the forefront of underwater systems development over the last 40 years».

The contract also ensures the sustainment of the UK’s torpedo manufacturing capability at BAE Systems’ Broad Oak facility in Portsmouth through to the mid-2020s, and underpins plans to maintain Spearfish in Royal Navy service beyond 2050.

MAIN CHARACTERISTICS

Length:                                              5 m

Weight:                                             <2.000 tonnes

Speed:                                                70 mph/61 Knots/113 km/h

Materials:                                        Aluminium and Titanium

Crouching Tiger

Airbus Helicopters has completed official delivery of the first two Tiger helicopters in the new HAD-E version (Helicoptero de Apoyo y Destrucción, Support and Destruction Helicopter) for the Spanish Army Airmobile Force (FAMET), said Gloria Illas, Airbus Helicopters España.

Tiger HAD-E version (Helicoptero de Apoyo y Destrucción, Support and Destruction Helicopter)
Tiger HAD-E version (Helicoptero de Apoyo y Destrucción, Support and Destruction Helicopter)

As for the combat helicopters, Tiger deliveries belong to the new HAD-E version, which offers numerous advantages compared to the HAP-E Tigers (Hélicoptère d’Appui Protection, Support and Escort Helicopter) currently in service: a new MTR390-E (Enhanced) turboshaft with 14% more power, an improved optronic vision system, Spike air-to-ground missiles, an Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system coupled with an interrogator and a new electronic warfare and countermeasure system.

The Spanish Army purchased a total of 24 of these helicopters. To date, six HAP-E version Tiger helicopters have been delivered to the Attack Helicopter Battalion. Their satisfactory deployment in Afghanistan during 2013 represents an important milestone for this helicopter.

Tiger HAD-E
Tiger HAD-E

 

CHARACTERISTICS

 

Main Assets

Length (rotor rotating):                                                          15.82 m (51.90 ft)

Fuselage length:                                                                          13.85 m (45.43 ft)

Rotor diameter:                                                                           13.00 m (42.85 ft)

Height:                                                                                               3.84 m (12.60 ft)

Width:                                                                                                4.53 m (14.85 ft)

Disc area:                                                                                         133 m² (1,430 ft²)

 

Typical characteristics

Maxi Take-Off Weight (MTOW) – ISA (International Standard Atmosphere), SL (Sea Level):                                           6,600 kg/14,553 lb

Engine 2 × MTR 390 – Step 1-5:                                    1,092 kW/1,464 shp

Super contingency power (One Engine Inoperative):           1,322 kW/ 1,774 shp

Standard fuel capacity:                                                        1,105 kg/2,435 lb

Standard fuel capacity + external fuel tanks:         1,689 kg/3,723 lb

 

Performances

Fast cruise speed at MTOW, SL:                                     271 km/h/146 kts

Mission duration (standard):                                             2 h 30 min

Maximum endurance with external fuel tank:        5 h 00 min

Max range «armed» with standard fuel tanks:        400 NM/740 km

Max range «not armed» with external fuel tanks: 610 NM/1,130 km

 

Flight envelope

Operating temperature:         – 30°C to ISA + 35°C

Service ceiling:                              -500 m to 4000 m/-1,640 ft to 13,123 ft

Tiger HAD-E with 70 mm unguided rockets (up to 52 rockets)
Tiger HAD-E with 70 mm unguided rockets (up to 52 rockets)

 

Typical configurations

Attack

4 Air-to-Air Mistral

+ 8 Hellfire or Spike

+ 30 mm turreted gun

 

Ground

68 rockets 68 mm

or

52 rockets 70 mm

+ 30 mm turreted gun

 

Attack

2 Air-to-Air Mistral

+ 4 Hellfire or Spike

+ 34 rockets 68mm

or

26 rockets 70 mm

+ 30 mm turreted gun

 

Armed Reconnaissance

4 Air-to-Air Mistral

+ 44 rockets 68 mm

or

38 rockets 70 mm

+ 30 mm turreted gun

 

Air-to-Air combat

4 Air-to-Air Mistral

+ 30 mm turreted gun

 

Armament

30 mm turret-mounted gun (Nexter 30M781)

Total Ammunition capacity:

450 rounds;

Rate of fire: 750 rounds per minute;

Bursts: 5/10/25 bullets;

Azimuth: +/-90°;

Elevation: +28°/-25°

Optimized firing domain:

ATG (Air-To-Ground): up to 1,500 m;

ATA (Air-To-Air): up to 1,000 m

30 mm turret-mounted gun (Nexter 30M781)
30 mm turret-mounted gun (Nexter 30M781)

 

Rockets

Versatile 68 mm or 70 mm unguided rocket system (change of rocket type without change of any fixed part on helicopter)

68 mm (up to 68 rockets):

2 inner launchers of 22 rockets;

2 outer launchers of 12 rockets

70 mm (up to 52 rockets):

2 inner launchers of 19 rockets;

2 outer launchers of 7 rockets

Firing Control for:

rocket inner pods elevation;

sub-ammunition ejection delays;

rocket types

Growth potential for laser guided rockets

 

Missiles

Air-to-Air Mistral Missile:

Off boresight capability;

Multicell seeker;

2 × 2 missiles (outer launchers);

Range = up to 6000 m

Air-to-Ground missiles

Hellfire (laser guided):

2 M299 launchers × 4 missiles;

Range = 8000 m;

Self-designation or Collaborative designation;

Locked Before Launch (LOBL) or Locked After Launch (LOAL)

Spike ER:

2 × 4 missiles;

Range = 8000 m;

(Fire-and-follow) with electro-optical or fiber optics technologies

Tiger HAD-E (Spanish Army Airmobile Force)
Tiger HAD-E (Spanish Army Airmobile Force)