3-D printed SUAS

U.S Marines with 2nd Marine Division tested remote controlled craft made through additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, September 26-27, 2017.

Marines prepare to test a small unmanned aerial system at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, September 27, 2017. Technicians from the United States Army Research Lab demonstrated to the Marines how easy the system is to create and have it fully operational with little to no training (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Taylor W. Cooper)
Marines prepare to test a small unmanned aerial system at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, September 27, 2017. Technicians from the United States Army Research Lab demonstrated to the Marines how easy the system is to create and have it fully operational with little to no training (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Taylor W. Cooper)

The technicians and engineers with U.S. Army Research Lab gathered Marines from different military occupational specialties to demonstrate the usefulness and convenience of the additive manufactured Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS).

Unlike systems the military has in use already, the additive manufactured SUAS has the flexibility to adhere to all types of different missions, and can be created much faster.

«At this point we are focusing on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions», said Eric Spero, a team leader in the vehicle technology directorate of the U.S. Army Research Lab. «We have different cameras such as an infrared and a day camera; there are different things we can do like stream the video to systems or a heads-up display and record it for later viewing».

Researchers have created a catalog for the crafts that allows service members to select an SUAS that is tailored to fit the needs of the mission.

Troops simply pick the SUAS that fits their mission objectives and download the information that allows the parts to be 3-D printed.

An additive manufactured SUAS can be created, constructed and ready for operations in approximately 24 hours.

«Basically, what we are doing is combining two emerging technologies», said John Gerdes, a mechanical engineer at the U.S. Army Research Lab. «We have taken 3-D printing and quad-copters and created a means of giving troops a customized vehicle right when they need it, with the capabilities they need from it, on demand».

Instead of fitting troops to systems that are already in use such as the RQ-11 raven or the RQ-20 puma and forcing them to compromise to complete the mission, they can instead take their needs and create a vehicle specific to the job, said Gerdes.

«These craft are the future because they’re protected by obsolescence», said Gerdes. «We are able to give troops the technology almost immediately by printing new parts and making slight adjustments so they will always have a craft that is able to complete the mission».

U.S Marines with 2nd Marine Division tested remote controlled craft made through additive

FFG(X) program

As part of its FY2018 budget submission, the U.S. Navy has initiated a new program, called the FFG(X) program, to build a new class of guided-missile frigates. The U.S. Navy wants to procure the first FFG(X) in FY2020, a second FFG(X) in FY2021, and two FFG(X)s per year starting in FY2022. Given current Navy force-structure goals, the U.S. Navy might procure a total of 8 to 20 FFG(X)s. The U.S. Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget requests $143.5 million in research and development funding for the program.

Navy Frigate (FFG[X]) Program
Navy Frigate (FFG[X]) Program
U.S. Navy frigates are smaller, less capable, and less expensive to procure and operate than U.S. Navy destroyers and cruisers. In contrast to cruisers and destroyers, which are designed to operate in higher-threat areas, frigates are generally intended to operate more in lower-threat areas. The U.S. Navy envisages the FFG(X) as a multimission ship capable of conducting Anti-Air Warfare (AAW, aka air defense) operations, Anti-Surface Warfare operations (ASuW, meaning operations against enemy surface ships and craft), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) operations, and Electromagnetic Maneuver Warfare (EMW) operations (EMW is a new term for electronic warfare).

Although the U.S. Navy has not yet determined the design of the FFG(X), given the desired capabilities just mentioned, the ship will likely be larger in terms of displacement, more heavily armed, and more expensive to procure than the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs). The U.S. Navy envisages developing no new technologies or systems for the FFG(X) – the ship is to use systems and technologies that already exist or are already being developed for use in other programs.

The U.S. Navy’s desire to procure the first FFG(X) in FY2020 does not allow enough time to develop a completely new design (i.e., a clean-sheet design) for the FFG(X). (Using a clean-sheet design might defer the procurement of the first ship to about FY2023.) Consequently, the U.S. Navy intends to build the FFG(X) to a modified version of an existing ship design – an approach called the parent-design approach. The parent design could be a U.S. ship design or a foreign ship design. The U.S. Navy intends to conduct a full and open competition to select the builder of the FFG(X), including proposals based on either U.S. or foreign ship designs. Given the currently envisaged procurement rate of two ships per year, the U.S. Navy envisages using a single builder to build the ships.

The FFG(X) program presents several potential oversight issues for Congress, including the following:

  • whether to approve, reject, or modify the U.S. Navy’s FY2018 funding request for the program;
  • whether the U.S. Navy has accurately identified the capability gaps and mission needs to be addressed by the program;
  • whether procuring a new class of FFGs is the best or most promising general approach for addressing the identified capability gaps and mission needs;
  • the U.S. Navy’s proposed acquisition strategy for the program, including the U.S. Navy’s intent to use a parent-design approach for the program rather than develop an entirely new (i.e., clean-sheet) design for the ship;
  • the potential implications of the FFG(X) program for the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base; and
  • whether the initiation of the FFG(X) program has any implications for required numbers or capabilities of U.S. Navy cruisers and destroyers.

Final Airseeker

L3 Technologies announced on September 28 that it has successfully delivered the third and final RC-135V/W Rivet Joint (RJ) signals intelligence aircraft to Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF), a milestone marking the completion of the historic U.S. Air Force (USAF) and U.K. Ministry of Defence (MOD) Airseeker program.

L3 Successfully Delivers Final Airseeker to U.K. Royal Air Force
L3 Successfully Delivers Final Airseeker to U.K. Royal Air Force

The three U.K. RJ aircraft form the backbone of the U.K.’s Airseeker capability, providing new and collaborative Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) resources in support of global security missions. Upon touchdown at Royal Air Force Waddington, Lincolnshire, U.K., the aircraft was formally transferred to the RAF, completing the hardware deliveries under the Foreign Military Sales contract valued at approximately $1 billion.

Taken together, the U.K. RJ and USAF RJ aircraft form a combined fleet of 20 aircraft, and L3 will perform future baseline upgrades and periodic depot maintenance on the fleet. L3 has also delivered a station to support ground operations and training systems to train both operators and maintainers.

«This groundbreaking agreement gives the U.K. access to future innovative technology and presents a very high level of interoperability with major coalition partners», said Christopher E. Kubasik, L3’s President and Chief Operating Officer. «This partnership has provided our U.K. allies with an intelligence-gathering platform that supports near-real-time on-scene collection, analysis and dissemination capabilities».

«Analysts have hailed this U.K./U.S. program as the highest level of intelligence cooperation between the two countries since World War II», said Mark Von Schwarz, L3’s Senior Vice President and President of its Aerospace Systems business segment. «The U.S. and the U.K. will be closely involved in future maturation of the Rivet Joint weapon system for at least the next 25 years».

Under the agreement, the U.K. purchased three Rivet Joint aircraft for conversion by L3 from KC-135R tankers to the RC-135W configuration. The first two aircraft were delivered in 2013 and 2015, respectively, and upon gaining their airworthiness releases.

«The cooperation between L3, the USAF and the U.K. MOD throughout the Airseeker program has been the key to delivering aircraft early and fielding the capability ahead of the original schedule», said Bill Chrispin, the U.K. MOD’s Airseeker Delivery Manager.

Headquartered in New York City, L3 Technologies employs approximately 38,000 people worldwide and is a leading provider of a broad range of communication, electronic and sensor systems used on military, homeland security and commercial platforms. L3 is also a prime contractor in aerospace systems, security and detection systems, and pilot training. The company reported 2016 sales of $10.5 billion.

Andros line

Northrop Grumman Corporation’s subsidiary Remotec Inc. is unveiling the newest member of the Andros line of proven Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs), the Interoperability Profile (IOP)-compliant Nomad.

Northrop Grumman’s next-generation multifunction, multimission Andros Nomad is a mid-sized Interoperability Profile-compliant unmanned ground vehicle that offers affordability and versatility with extraordinary mobility
Northrop Grumman’s next-generation multifunction, multimission Andros Nomad is a mid-sized Interoperability Profile-compliant unmanned ground vehicle that offers affordability and versatility with extraordinary mobility

IOP is a U.S. Department of Defense initiative to organize and maintain interoperability standards for UGVs. With IOP-compliant software messaging and hardware interfaces, Nomad can easily integrate the best available capabilities, sensors and payloads for multiple functions and missions.

«Building on our 30-year heritage, Nomad represents another exciting chapter of Andros innovation, performance and value in render-safe operations», said Dan Verwiel, vice president and general manager, missile defense and protective systems division, Northrop Grumman. «Future upgrades can be spiraled via IOP compliance and its next-generation track pods allow Nomad to go where others cannot. We continue to improve affordability. Over the past few months, working with supply chain, advanced materials and manufacturing availability, we have cut even more costs to make the Nomad available to a greater range of users», said Verwiel.

Nomad was designed using a proven concurrent engineering process to develop a superior product at an affordable price. Like other robots in the Northrop Grumman Andros fleet, Nomad incorporates the feedback from decades working with first responder and military customers to offer advanced technology, ease of use and reliability.

The mid-size Nomad weighs 164 pounds/74.4 kg and measures 35.5 inches/90.2 cm long, 23 inches/58.4 cm wide and 26 inches/66 cm high when its mast is horizontal or 42 inches/106.7 cm high when the mast is fully vertical. Nomad’s manipulator arm has a lift capacity of 15 pounds/6.8 kg when fully extended and impressive dexterity through extensive shoulder pitch, shoulder rotation, elbow pitch and wrist roll abilities. Its four independent track pods provide extreme mobility with stability climbing uneven terrain, complex obstacles and inclines as steep as 60 degrees.

Northrop Grumman is the largest provider of ground robots to the first responder market in the U.S. In addition, the company’s UGVs are fielded across all U.S. military services and bomb squads in 36 countries.

With more than 75 years of experience in advanced autonomy, Northrop Grumman’s autonomous systems expand the boundaries of human potential to deliver end-to-end solutions that meet evolving mission requirements for a rapidly changing world.

Northrop Grumman’s newest UGV, the Andros Nomad, has four independent track pods that provide extreme mobility with stability climbing uneven terrain, complex obstacles and inclines as steep as 60 degrees
Northrop Grumman’s newest UGV, the Andros Nomad, has four independent track pods that provide extreme mobility with stability climbing uneven terrain, complex obstacles and inclines as steep as 60 degrees

Adaptable aircraft

Within the next few decades, armed forces could be using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) with adaptable aircraft technologies that alternate between fixed-wing flight and rotary-wing flight.

Engineers unveil futuristic unmanned aircraft concept that uses both fixed and rotary wing flight
Engineers unveil futuristic unmanned aircraft concept that uses both fixed and rotary wing flight

Engineers from BAE Systems together with students from Cranfield University, have revealed a new technology concept – named Adaptable UAVs – which can alternate between the two different flight modes in the same mission. When in rotary wing mode the UAVs can be launched and recovered from battlefields and docked on a special pole.

The Adaptable UAVs are a hybrid between fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, and would use adaptive flight control and advanced navigation and guidance software, which would allow the aircraft to benefit from the greater speed and range afforded to fixed-wing aircraft, before alternating to rotary-wing mode to hover and achieve vertical take-off and landing. This novel technology could allow UAVs to better adapt to evolving future battlefield situations and through working together in a swarm, tackle sophisticated air defences, as well as operating in complex and cluttered urban environments.

In the rotary wing mode of flight, the Adaptable UAVs can be easily and safely launched and recovered using a range of vehicles in dangerous environments that might be cluttered by personnel, other aircraft or vehicles. The pole constrains the lateral or sideways movement of the UAV when being launched or recovered so strong winds cannot dislodge them and avoids any damage to personnel nearby. This is particularly important when recovering a UAV to the aft of a ship or a land vehicle. The pole’s gyro-stabilised element also ensures that it remains upright independently of the host vehicle’s orientation, which may be rolling if on a ship, or in the case of a land vehicle driving up or down a slope at the time of the launch or recovery.

«The battlefield of the future will require novel solutions to meet emerging threats and to keep human operators safe wherever they may be’», said Professor Nick Colosimo, BAE Systems’ Futurist and Technologist. «The Adaptable UAVs concept and related technologies are one of a number of concepts being explored through close collaboration between industry and students in academia».

Professor Antonios Tsourdos, Head of the Centre for Autonomous and Cyber-Physical Systems at Cranfield University, said: «Working with BAE Systems on the Cranfield University MSc in Autonomous Vehicle Dynamics & Control has provided a great opportunity for the students and research staff to explore a range of novel concepts and technologies».

Cranfield University is one of BAE Systems Strategic University Partners. Research staff and students have explored a range of UAV technologies including research into adaptive flight control and advanced navigation and guidance software.

BAE Systems has developed some of the world’s most innovative technologies and invests in research and development to generate future products and capabilities. The Company has a portfolio of patents and patent applications covering approximately 2000 inventions internationally.

Maiden Flight

Leonardo is pleased to announce the successful maiden flight of the first of eight upgraded Brazilian Navy Super Lynx Mk21B helicopters at its Yeovil facility, in southwest England, on 28th September 2017. The upgraded Lynx helicopters will give Brazil’s Naval Aviation a significant improvement in its capabilities, with much increased aircraft performance and mission effectiveness.

Leonardo Helicopters has flown the first of eight Brazilian Navy Super Lynx Mk21A helicopters to undergo a major upgrade; the first three upgraded aircraft will be delivered in 2018 (LH photo)
Leonardo Helicopters has flown the first of eight Brazilian Navy Super Lynx Mk21A helicopters to undergo a major upgrade; the first three upgraded aircraft will be delivered in 2018 (LH photo)

The Super Lynx Mk21B is powered by two new generation CTS800-4N engines, already used on the Super Lynx 300 and the AW159 helicopters, which provide the helicopters with major performance improvements, especially in hot environments, increasing payload and mission effectiveness. A new glass cockpit will be complimented by an advanced avionic suite comprising a tactical processor, satellite based navigation system, civil navigation aids including a Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), Automatic Identification System (AIS), radar warning receiver/electronic surveillance measures integrated with countermeasures dispensers and a full Night Vision Goggle (NVG) compatible cockpit, together with a new electrically powered rescue hoist.

The maiden flight marks another milestone in the long-standing partnership between Leonardo and the Brazilian Navy, which has been operating Lynx helicopters since 1978.

Dagger Brigade

Troopers from 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division engaged in a demonstration of readiness, Presidenski Range, Trzebian, Poland, September 25, 2017.

Apache helicopters from the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, regroup at a new battle position with Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Abrams tanks from the 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, during a readiness demonstration, Presidenski Range, Trzebian, Poland, September 25. The combined arms live-fire is a demonstration of the unit's capability and to ensure equipment is still in working conditions. The unit is in Poland to support Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. endeavor to fulfill NATO commitments by rotating U.S.-based units throughout the European theater and training with NATO partners and Allies (U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Shiloh Capers)
Apache helicopters from the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, regroup at a new battle position with Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Abrams tanks from the 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, during a readiness demonstration, Presidenski Range, Trzebian, Poland, September 25. The combined arms live-fire is a demonstration of the unit’s capability and to ensure equipment is still in working conditions. The unit is in Poland to support Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. endeavor to fulfill NATO commitments by rotating U.S.-based units throughout the European theater and training with NATO partners and Allies (U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Shiloh Capers)

The unit is in Poland to support Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. endeavor to fulfill NATO commitments by rotating U.S.-based units throughout the European theater and training with NATO Allies and partners.

The combined arms live-fire is a routine demonstration, said Lieutenant Colonel Dave Maxwell, squadron commander, 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team. It is a validation of movement and to ensure equipment is in full working order.

Equipment utilized in the live fire was a team comprised of Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Abrams tanks and Apache helicopters. The air support element was provided by 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade.

Abrams tanks provided rear screening with Bradley Fighting Vehicles progressing in bounding movements to engage targets at phase lines.

The demonstration also displays the ability to control the troop-size element as it moves onto the field and executes its live fire, Maxwell said. It also displays the ability to transport equipment, personnel, and supplies to execute the mission.

«We’re excited, as an organization, to be able to come over here with all of our military equipment and train and operate as a fully capable armored cavalry squadron», Maxwell said.

The unit prepared for the rotation with months of planning and training. Weeks were dedicated to living in field environments and utilizing the Advanced Gunnery Training System. The tank simulator enhances the foundation of gunnery skills like target recognition and fire control.

Although simulation is an excellent method for education and training, it is a controlled environment.

«Time and experience prepares the Soldier; the longer they’re in country, the more experienced they become», said Staff Sergeant Robert Garcia, 2nd platoon, Tomahawk Troop, 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team. «A lot of things we do at home station is a baseline to get you to where you need to be but I don’t truly think you can ever be 100 percent ready until you’re actually there».

As it is only the first of many ranges for the unit, the opportunity for improvement and experience is plentiful.

Many of the Troopers are ready and eager to get out onto the field with the Polish Army, Garcia said.

Training with Allies and partners is a way to see each other’s equipment capabilities and how they might be combined on the battlefield, he said. It would be interesting to see what type of movement maneuvers the squadron and the Polish Army can do together.

Working closely with Allies is a training priority for the squadron, Maxwell said.

«We want to increase our ability to operate with our NATO Allies», Maxwell explained. «Increasing our interoperability and our ability to shoot, move and communicate is what, as a squadron, we’re looking to achieve».

Dagger Brigade conducts first exercise since arriving to Europe

Keel Authenticated

The U.S. Navy held a keel laying and authentication ceremony for its tenth Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel, USNS Burlington (EPF-10), September 26.

The ships are capable of interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, as well as on/off-loading vehicles such as a fully combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank
The ships are capable of interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, as well as on/off-loading vehicles such as a fully combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank

The keel was said to be «truly and fairly laid» as it was authenticated by William Pfister, Vice President Emeritus of Austal USA, signing his initials into the keel plate. As the keel is the symbolic backbone of a ship, the keel laying ceremony is a major milestone in the construction process.

«EPFs are incredibly versatile and an asset to the Navy’s fleet», said Captain Scot Searles, Strategic and Theater Sealift program manager, Program Executive Office (PEO), Ships. «With the production consistency that has been demonstrated in the program over the years, I look forward to seeing EPF 10 continue to progress towards delivery».

EPFs are non-combatant vessels designed to operate in shallow-draft ports and waterways, increasing operational flexibility for a wide range of activities including maneuver and sustainment, relief operations in small or damaged ports, flexible logistics support, or as the key enabler for rapid transport. The ships are capable of interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, as well as on/off-loading vehicles such as a fully combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank.

EPFs support a variety of missions including the overseas contingency operations, conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, supporting special operations forces, and supporting emerging joint sea-basing concepts. EPFs are capable of transporting 600 short tons 1,200 NM/1,381 miles/2,222 km at an average speed of 35 knots/40 mph/65 km/h. Each vessel includes a flight deck to support day and night aircraft launch and recovery operations. Burlington will have airline-style seating for 312 embarked forces with fixed berthing for 104.

The EPF program delivered its eighth ship, USNS Yuma, earlier this year and USNS City of Bismarck (EPF-9) is preparing for its second set of sea trials before delivery later this year. USNS Puerto Rico (EPF-11) started construction earlier this year and EPF-12 started construction earlier this week.

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

PRINCIPAL DIMENSIONS
Material Hull and superstructure – aluminium alloy
Length overall 103 m/337.9 feet
Beam overall 28.5 m/93.5 feet
Hull draft (maximum) 3.83 m/12.57 feet
MISSION BAY
Area (with tie-downs) 1,863 m2/20,053 feet2
Clear Height 4.75 m/15.6 feet
Turning diameter 26.2 m/86.0 feet
ISO TEU (Twenty Equivalent Units) Stations 6 Interface Panels
ACCOMMODATIONS
Crew 41
Single SR 2
Double SR 6
Quad SR 7
Troop Seats 312
Troop Berths Permanent: 104
Temporary: 46
Galley and Messing 48
PROPULSION
Main Engines 4 × MTU 20V8000 M71L Diesel Engines 4 × 9.1 MW
Gear boxes 4 × ZF 60000NR2H Reduction Gears
Waterjets 4 × Wartsila WLD 1400 SR
PERFORMANCE
Average Speed 35 knots/40 mph/65 km/h @ 90% MCR with 635 mt (700 st) payload
Maximum Speed 43 knots/50 mph/80 km/h without payload
Maximum Transit Range 1,200 NM/1,381 miles/2,222 km
Self-Deployment Range 5,600 NM/6,444 miles/10,371 km
Survival Through SS-7
AVIATION FACILITIES
NAVAIR Level 1 Class 2 Certified Flight Deck for one helicopter
Centreline parking area for one helicopter
NAVAIR Level 1 class 4 Type 2 Certified VERTREP (Vertical Replenishment)
Helicopter Control Station
AUXILIARY SYSTEMS
Active Ride Control Transcom Interceptors
Foils: 3.24 m2/34.9 feet2 each, forward on inboard sides of demi-hulls
Vehicle Ramp Articulated Slewing Stern Ramp
Straight aft to 45 Starboard
Telescoping Boom Crane 12.3 mt @ 15 m, 18.2 mt @ 10 m/13.6 Lt @ 49.2 feet, 20.1 Lt @ 32.8 feet

 

Ships

USNS Spearhead (EPF-1), Delivered

USNS Choctaw County (EPF-2), Delivered

USNS Millinocket (EPF-3), Delivered

USNS Fall River (EPF-4), Delivered

USNS Trenton (EPF-5), Delivered

USNS Brunswick (EPF-6), Delivered

USNS Carson City (EPF-7), Delivered

USNS Yuma (EPF-8), Completed acceptance trials

USNS Bismark (EPF-9), Completed builder’s trials

USNS Burlington (EPF-10), Under construction

USNS Puerto Rico (EPF-11), Under construction

USNS EPF-12, On order

Delivery of Little Rock

The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of the future USS Little Rock (LCS-9) during a ceremony at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) shipyard, September 25.

The future USS Little Rock (LCS-9) underway during a high-speed run in Lake Michigan during Acceptance Trials. Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine successfully completed acceptance trials on the future USS Little Rock (LCS-9), August 25 (Photo by Lockheed Martin)
The future USS Little Rock (LCS-9) underway during a high-speed run in Lake Michigan during Acceptance Trials. Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine successfully completed acceptance trials on the future USS Little Rock (LCS-9), August 25 (Photo by Lockheed Martin)

USS Little Rock (LCS-9) is the 11th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to be delivered to the U.S. Navy and the fifth of the Freedom variant to join the fleet. Delivery marks the official transfer of the ship from the shipbuilder, part of a Lockheed Martin-led team, to the U.S. Navy. It is the final milestone prior to commissioning, which is planned for December in Buffalo, New York.

«Today marks a significant milestone in the life of the future USS Little Rock, an exceptional ship which will conduct operations around the globe», said Captain Mike Taylor, LCS program manager. «I look forward to seeing Little Rock join her sister ships this fall, with 100 percent of propulsion power available for unrestricted use».

Captain Shawn Johnston, commander, LCS Squadron Two (COMLCSRON TWO), welcomed Little Rock to the fleet.

«We are excited to welcome the future USS Little Rock to the Fleet», Johnston said. «Successful completion of this milestone is another important step to bring more LCS to the Fleet. We look forward to completing the building phase of Little Rock and moving on to the operational and deployment phases of each subsequent LCS. Our ability to operate for extended periods of time from forward operating stations will provide our Fleet commanders more flexibility and posture overseas».

COMLCSRON ONE and TWO support the operational commanders with warships ready for tasking by manning, training, equipping and maintaining littoral combat ships in the fleet.

Several additional ships of the Freedom variant are under construction at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin. The future USS Sioux City (LCS-11) is preparing for trials later this fall. The future USS Wichita (LCS-13) was christened/launched in September 2016 and is currently conducting system testing in the Menominee River, preparing for trials in the spring of 2018. The future USS Billings (LCS-15) was christened and launched in July and is projected to commence trials in the fall of 2018. The future USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) is preparing for launch this winter while the future USS St. Louis (LCS-19)’s keel was laid earlier this spring and is undergoing construction in FMM’s erection bays. The future USS Minneapolis St. Paul (LCS-21) started fabrication in February while the future USS Cooperstown (LCS-23) started fabrication in September. The future USS Marinette (LCS-25) is in the pre-production phase, having been awarded in 2016.

LCS is a modular, reconfigurable ship with three types of mission packages including Surface Warfare, Mine Countermeasures, and Anti-Submarine Warfare. Program Executive Office for Littoral Combat Ships is responsible for delivering and sustaining littoral mission capabilities to the fleet. Delivering high-quality warfighting assets while balancing affordability and capability is key to supporting the nation’s maritime strategy.

The LCS-class consists of the Freedom variant and Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin (for the odd-numbered hulls, e.g. LCS-1). The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA (for LCS-6 and follow-on even-numbered hulls). Twenty-seven LCS ships have been awarded to date: 11 have been delivered to the U.S. Navy, 13 are in various stages of construction, and three are in pre-production states.

 

Ship Design Specifications

Hull Advanced semiplaning steel monohull
Length Overall 389 feet/118.6 m
Beam Overall 57 feet/17.5 m
Draft 13.5 feet/4.1 m
Full Load Displacement Approximately 3,200 metric tons
Top Speed Greater than 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range at top speed 1,000 NM/1,151 miles/1,852 km
Range at cruise speed 4,000 NM/4,603 miles/7,408 km
Watercraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 4
Aircraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 5
Propulsion Combined diesel and gas turbine with steerable water jet propulsion
Power 85 MW/113,600 horsepower
Hangar Space Two MH-60 Romeo Helicopters
One MH-60 Romeo Helicopter and three Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (VTUAVs)
Core Crew Less than 50
Accommodations for 75 sailors provide higher sailor quality of life than current fleet
Integrated Bridge System Fully digital nautical charts are interfaced to ship sensors to support safe ship operation
Core Self-Defense Suite Includes 3D air search radar
Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) gunfire control system
Rolling-Airframe Missile Launching System
57-mm Main Gun
Mine, Torpedo Detection
Decoy Launching System

 

Freedom-class

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Freedom (LCS-1) 06-02-2005 09-23-2006 11-08-2008 San Diego, California
USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) 07-11-2009 12-07-2010 09-22-2012 San Diego, California
USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) 10-27-2011 12-18-2013 11-21-2015 San Diego, California
USS Detroit (LCS-7) 08-11-2012 10-18-2014 10-22-2016 San Diego, California
USS Little Rock (LCS-9) 06-27-2013 07-18-2015
USS Sioux City (LCS-11) 02-19-2014 01-30-2016
USS Wichita (LCS-13) 02-09-2015 09-17-2016
USS Billings (LCS-15) 11-02-2015 07-01-2017
USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) 07-18-2016
USS St. Louis (LCS-19) 05-17-2017
USS Minneapolis/St. Paul (LCS-21)
USS Cooperstown (LCS-23)
USS Marinette LCS-25

 

Welcome to the fleet

With a zealous crowd and great fanfare, the guided missile destroyer HMAS Hobart (DDG-39) was commissioned in to the Royal Australian Navy fleet in a formal ceremony at Garden Island in Sydney on 23 September 2017.

HMAS Hobart III
HMAS Hobart III

The Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull joined with other dignitaries, ship’s company and family and friends to welcome the newest ship to the Australian Fleet.

Mr. Turnbull said Australia plays a leading role in ensuring the world remains at peace.

«In these uncertain times, a strong, well equipped Australian Defence Force is absolutely critical», he said. «The commissioning of HMAS Hobart provides clear evidence of our determination to keep Australians safe and ensure we are ready and able to meet the challenges that come our way in the years ahead. Wherever she may travel around the world, Hobart will serve our nation and take action in Australia’s name».

The third Australian Navy ship to carry the name Hobart will provide air defence for accompanying ships in addition to land forces and infrastructure in coastal areas, and for self-protection against missiles and aircraft.

Hobart’s state-of-the-art Aegis combat system, including the phased array radar and missile systems, will provide an advanced air defence system capable of engaging enemy aircraft and missiles at ranges in excess of 150 kilometres/93 miles/81 NM.

She will also be capable of undersea warfare and be equipped with modern sonar systems, decoys, surface-launched torpedoes and an array of effective close-in defensive weapons

Commanding Officer, Hobart, Captain John Stavridis said the ship will be the most complex and capable warship ever operated by Australia.

«She is as powerful as she is potent and is every bit a destroyer», he said. «Her sensors and weapons are leading edge and she is capable of conducting the full span of maritime security operations. However, without the 185 men and women who serve in her, she is just another ship alongside. To be a warship requires a specialist team who are masters in their individual skills and are capable of working collectively to achieve the mission. I am blessed with such a crew, who are both proficient and professional».

The ceremony included the breaking of the commissioning pennant and hoisting of the Australian White Ensign for the first time, at which point, Hobart became the responsibility of Captain Stavridis.

Witnessing the historic occasion were sailors from the former Hobarts which served with distinction in the Second World and Vietnam Wars.

The ship's company of HMAS Hobart line the upper decks and cheer ship during HMAS Hobart’s Commissioning Ceremony held at Garden Island, Sydney
The ship’s company of HMAS Hobart line the upper decks and cheer ship during HMAS Hobart’s Commissioning Ceremony held at Garden Island, Sydney

 

Characteristics

Length 481.3 feet/146.7 m
Beam 61 feet/18.6 m
Draft 23.6 feet/7.2 m
Full load displacement 7,000 tonnes
Main Engine 36 MW/48,276 hp
Top speed 28+ knots/32 mph/52 km/h
Range at 18+ knots/21 mph/33 km/h 5,000+ NM/5,779 miles/9,300 km
Crew 186
Accommodation 234
Combat System Aegis Weapon System Baseline 7.1
AN/SPY-1D(V) Phased Array Radar (81 NM/93 miles/150 km)
AN/SPQ-9B Horizon Search Radar
Mk-41 Vertical Launch System (48 VLS cells: RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM)/Standard Missile-2 (SM-2)/SM-6)
Mk-45 Mod.4 5” (127-mm) 62 Calibre Gun (Range: 20 NM/23 miles/37 km)
Advanced Harpoon Weapon Control (2 × 4 launchers)
Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite
Very Short Range Air and Surface Defence
Nulka Active Missile Decoy system
Integrated Sonar System incorporating a hull mounted and towed array sonar
Communications Suite
Aviation Flightdeck and hangar for one helicopter
Boats Two Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIBs)