Landing Craft Utility

Kolkata, 31 December 20: Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd., (GRSE), a leading warship building and Mini-ratna Category 1 Company under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence, tops off year 2020 with «Delivery» of the «Last of Eight LCU Project» & «Start Production» of the First Ship of Eight Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Craft (ASWSWC) Project.

IN LCU L-58 (Yard 2099)
GRSE Delivers 106th Warship: LCU L-58 Bids Adieu to 2020, Achieving A Double Milestone

GRSE delivered IN LCU L-58 (Yard 2099), eighth and last in the series of Landing Craft Utility Ships to the Indian Navy. This ship is the 106th Warship built and delivered by GRSE so far, since its inception in 1960, the highest no. of warships delivered by any Indian Shipyard till date.

The Protocol of delivery and acceptance was signed between Rear Admiral VK Saxena, IN (Retired), Chairman & Managing Director, GRSE and Lieutenant Commander Krishan Kumar Yadav in the presence of Commodore Sanjeev Nayyar, IN (Retired), Director (Shipbuilding), Commodore P R Hari, Director (Personnel) and Shri RK Dash, Director (Finance) and other Senior Officials of GRSE and Indian Navy.

The LCU is the third ship delivered by GRSE in 2020, no mean feat considering the operational constraints imposed by the global pandemic of COVID 19. The Shipyard has delivered 14 ships in the last 42 months which clocks an average of 3 months per ship. The complete design of the LCU Mark IV ships has been developed in-house by GRSE as per requirements specified by the Indian Navy which necessitate a unique design with no precedence worldwide. The 62.8 m/206 feet long and 11 m/36 feet wide LCU has a displacement of 830 T and can achieve a speed of 15 knots/17 mph/28 km/h. The LCU is designed to accommodate 216 personnel and is equipped with Two Indigenous CRN 91 Guns to provide Artillery Fire support during landing operations. The ship is fitted with State-of-the-Art Equipment and Advanced Systems like the Integrated Bridge System (IBS) and the Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS). In line with the Govt. of India’s Make In India Initiative towards Self Reliance & Indigenisation efforts, the LCU Mark IV Class of Ships are fitted with close to 90% indigenous equipment fit and multiple innovations.

LCU L-58 being delivered by GRSE today to the Indian Navy shall join the fleet of ships at Andaman & Nicobar Command. The Andaman & Nicobar Archipelago whilst acting as the extended arms of India, straddle one of the busiest trade routes in the world leading into the South China Sea and keeping the islands safe is one of the chief responsibilities of the Indian Navy. The Eight LCUs with high military lift capabilities built by GRSE, shall form the backbone of the Maritime Security Cover and HADR activity in the A&N Archipelago.

GRSE is also currently executing three major projects of the Indian Navy pertaining to the construction of 03 Stealth Frigates, 04 Survey Vessel (Large) ships and 08 Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Crafts. The last two projects have been won on competitive bidding.

Today is also the ‘Start Production’ Day for the First of Eight ASWSWCs which is the first ‘Milestone’ in shipbuilding and signifies commencement of vessel construction after design engineering phase. The compact and complex stealth crafts are designed by GRSE. The platforms will be packed with state-of-the-art weapons and sensors like Hull Mounted Sonar, Towed Sonar, Torpedo Launchers and Rocket Launcher to interdict and destroy sub-surface targets in coastal waters. The crafts are capable of ‘Search & Rescue’ and ‘Low Intensity Maritime Operations’ and are propelled by water-jets capable of doing high speeds.

Since its takeover by the Government of India in 1960, GRSE has delivered high-end warships ranging from Fast Patrol Vessels, Survey Vessels, LSTs, LCUs, Fleet Tanker, Frigates and Missile & ASW Corvettes. The shipyard also has the distinction of achieving over 90% indigenous content, onboard ASW Corvettes, a significant advancement towards self-reliance in state-of-the-art warship design and construction. Having modernized its infrastructure facilities, GRSE is using Advanced Modular Integrated Shipbuilding Technology in line with the best in the world. This has helped enhance its capacity to the present level of constructing 20 warships concurrently. On 14 December 2020, GRSE created history with the launching of first of three Stealth Frigates, «Himgiri» under prestigious Project 17A.

The shipyard has a healthy order book of over Rs 26,000/-Crore for construction of 15 warships of the Navy to be completed progressively by the year 2027. GRSE has also diversified into ‘Engineering’ business and more than 5300 Portable Steel Bridges have been supplied to Indian Army, Border Road Organisation and State Governments. These bridges have also been exported to friendly neighborhood countries including, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka & Bhutan. GRSE also undertakes production of Deck Machinery Items which are fitted on GRSE built ships as well as those built by other shipyards in the country. Assembly, Testing and Overhauling of MTU Diesel Engines is undertaken at GRSE’s Diesel Engine Plant at Ranchi.

Patrol Corvette

EDA’s Steering Board recently approved the launch of a specific European Defence Agency (EDA) ad hoc project which will contribute to the implementation of a Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) project aimed at developing a European Patrol Corvette. Italy, which leads a group of four PESCO participating countries involved in EPC (together with France, Spain and Greece), had requested the Agency’s support for moving this ambitious project forward.

European Patrol Corvette (EPC)
EDA to support ‘European Patrol Corvette’ PESCO project

Part of the third batch of PESCO projects approved in November 2019, the project aims at designing and developing a new class of military ship, named «European Patrol Corvette» (EPC), which will host several systems and payloads able to accomplish a large number of tasks and missions in a modular and flexible way. The EPC will provide valuable capabilities in the areas of maritime situational awareness, surface superiority and power projection. The participating Member States aim to produce their first corvette prototype in 2026-2027.

The EPC is envisaged as a common platform, a shared baseline, which can be customised as needed by participating Member States according to their national needs and specifications. The overall displacement is expected to be no more than 3,000 tonnes, which will allow the ship to operate from minor harbours (draft less than 5.5 meters/18 feet). The length of the ship, to be equipped with diesel and/or electrical engines, should not exceed 110 meters/361 feet.

The ship will be based on an open plug-and-play architecture which will facilitate the versatility of response in the framework of EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations and will provide a quick reaction capability, applicable to a broad range of scenarios.

 

EDA tasks

The Agency’s new project will support the EPC PESCO project implementation through the development and adoption of Common Staff Target (CST), Common Staff Requirements (CSR) and a Business Case (BC). The objective of these documents, which are an indispensable step for a follow-on phase of the EPC PESCO project, is to shape the common core part and identify specifications and requirements that would be compatible with the modularity concept of the military ship.

The Agency will also support the governance body of the EPC project. With its expertise in project management and harmonisation of capability requirements, EDA will be able to provide valuable assistance in these domains. Industry is not participating directly in this EDA project, but may be consulted, if deemed necessary by the contributing Member States.

EDA’s Chief Executive Jiří Šedivý said: «EDA is delighted to support this ambitious and innovative PESCO project. As the European hub for collaborative capability development, the Agency has the expertise to help Member States in the implementation of their PESCO projects. The European Patrol Corvette project responds directly to an existing gap in Europe’s capability landscape acknowledged by Member States during the revision of the Capability Development Plan (CDP) in 2018, namely that of naval manoeuvrability and the need for improved maritime situational awareness, surface superiority and power projection. The future EPC will provide participating Member States with those missing capabilities, thereby further strengthening the Europe of Defence».

Italy’s Capability Director, General Giovanni Iannucci said: «The project of the European Patrol Corvette is aimed at developing a new Class of military ships in order to accomplish, with a flexible approach, a large number of tasks and missions aimed to Homeland Security and protection of European waters. More in details, the EPC will carry out Maritime Security Operations and Police of the High Seas functions, playing a key role in preserving Freedom of Navigation (FoN) and fighting against terrorism and illegal trafficking at sea. The EPC will be characterized by a multi-purpose and modular approach by design that will also allow to perform dual-use missions, such as anti-pollution activities, humanitarian assistance operations and interventions in support of populations in case of natural disasters. Italy is very proud of the coordinating role and will continue to conduct all necessary activities for the EPC’s success. Furthermore, I believe that this project constitutes an excellent opportunity for the whole European Defence and in particular the military shipyards sector to work together in order to foster industrial synergies, operational interoperability and maintain a technological advantage».

Operating Capability

The UK’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) has achieved a major milestone ahead of its first operational deployment this year.

HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08)
HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) has achieved Initial Operating Capability (IOC)

The CSG has reached Initial Operating Capability (IOC), meaning all elements of the group from fighter jets to radar systems to anti-ship weapons have been successfully brought together and operated.

Both the air and naval elements of the CSG have now met this milestone, which includes qualified pilots and ground crews being held at short notice for carrier-based operations and trained to handle weapons and maintain the equipment.

Another marker of success at this stage includes the ability to deploy Anti-Submarine Warfare capabilities such as frigates and destroyers, as well as both fixed and rotary wing aircraft including Merlin helicopters to operate alongside the carrier.

Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said: «This is a hugely significant milestone for HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), the Royal Navy and the whole country. This achievement is a testament to the determination of our service personnel and industry workforce who have delivered this first-rate military capability, a capability held by only a handful of nations. I wish the entire Carrier Strike Group well ahead of their first operational deployment this year».

Following the success of the NATO Joint Warrior Exercises last autumn, the Carrier Strike Group capability has reached the key IOC milestone for the programme on schedule.

The multinational deployment in 2020 focussed on incorporating all elements of the CSG with 13 of the UK’s allies including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Turkey, Japan, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the U.S. Exercise Joint Warrior saw the largest number of aircraft on a British Royal Navy carrier since 1983, as well as the most F-35B Lightning II jets at sea across the globe.

Full Operating Capability (FOC) for the CSG is expected by December 2023.

Two more Poseidon

Air Force’s maritime patrol capability will be boosted with Australia set to acquire two more P-8A Poseidon surveillance and response aircraft, bringing the total fleet size to 14.

P-8A Poseidon
Two more P-8A Poseidon aircraft boosts maritime patrol capability

The Government has also approved sustainment funding for the current approved fleet of three MQ-4C Triton aircraft.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Honorable Linda Reynolds Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC) said the announcement is part of the Morrison Government’s unprecedented $270 billion investment in defence capability over the next decade.

«Together, the P-8A Poseidon and the MQ-4C Triton will provide Australia with one of the most advanced maritime patrol and response capabilities in the world», Minister Reynolds said. «The P-8A Poseidon is a proven capability that will conduct tasks including anti-submarine warfare, maritime and overland intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and support to search and rescue missions. These additional aircraft will enhance Air Force’s flexibility to support multiple operations and will play an important role in ensuring Australia’s maritime region is secure for generations to come. The Morrison Government’s continued investment in the P-8A Poseidon program is also creating more Australian jobs and opportunities for Australian small businesses. Several Australian companies are already completing work for Boeing Defence Australia, and industry investment including facilities works is over $1 billion».

The additional P-8A Poseidon aircraft are to be purchased through our existing Cooperative Program with the United States Navy.

Minister Reynolds said being part of the Cooperative Program with the United States Navy allows Australia to share in the benefits of their technical expertise and divide project costs.

«Defence is committed to this cooperative approach; together we are striving to develop this military technology to the highest standards», Minister Reynolds said.

The P-8A Poseidon is a highly versatile, long endurance platform capable of a range of mission types including Maritime Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance and striking targets above and below the ocean’s surface.

The planned integration of the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) into Air Force capability will also allow it to strike adversary surface vessels at significantly increased ranges.

P-8A
Based at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Edinburgh, the P-8A Poseidon is an important part of Australia’s future maritime patrol and response strategy

 

P-8A Poseidon

The P-8A Poseidon has advanced sensors and mission systems, including a state-of-the-art multi-role radar, high-definition cameras, and an acoustic system with four times the processing capacity of the AP-3C Orions.

The P-8A Poseidon is built specifically as a military aircraft. It is based on the proven commercial designs of Boeing’s 737-800 fuselage, but has been substantially modified to include:

  • a weapons bay;
  • under wing and under fuselage hard points for weapons;
  • increased strengthening for low level (down to 200 feet/61 m) operations and high angle turns.

The P-8A Poseidon aircraft has an extensive communications system including radios and data links across Very High Frequency (VHF), Ultra High Frequency (UHF), High Frequency (HF) and SATellite COMmunications (SATCOM).

An internal fuel capacity of almost 34 tonnes/74,957 lbs. allows the P-8A Poseidon to conduct low level anti-submarine warfare missions at a distance of greater than 2,000 kilometres/1,243 miles/1,080 NM from base. The P-8A Poseidon will be compatible for air-to-air refueling with the Airbus KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT).

Poseidon
A RAAF P-8A Poseidon supports sea trials for the HMAS Hobart (DDG-39) in the Gulf St Vincent off the coast of Adelaide

 

Specifications

Manufacturer Boeing
Role Maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and response
Crew Pilot, co-pilot, mission specialists
Engine Two CFM56-7 BE (27) engines each with 27,000 lbs./12,247 kg thrust
Length 129.6 feet/39.5 m
Height 42 feet/12.8 m
Wingspan 123.4 feet/37.6 m
Weight (maximum) 189,201 lbs./85,820 kg
Maximum Speed 490 knots/564 mph/907 km/h
Range 4,050 NM/4,660 miles/7,500 km
Ceiling 41,000 feet/12,497 m
Capacity Sonobuoys, 11 weapons stations
Weapons Self-Protection Measures, Lightweight Anti-Submarine Torpedo, AGM-84 Harpoon Anti-Ship Missiles
Learmonth
The spectacular Milky Way dominates the night sky as a No. 11 Squadron P-8A Poseidon sits on the hardstand at RAAF Base Learmonth

Heron MOAS

Australia’s Collins Class submarines will increase their operational effectiveness in hazardous, shallow waters through the delivery of sovereign Mine and Obstacle Avoidance Sonar (MOAS) and High Frequency Intercept Array (HFIA) systems.

Heron MOAS
Thales Australia to deliver enhanced sonars for Collins Class Submarines

Thales Australia and the Commonwealth of Australia (CoA) have signed a $23.7M contract to deliver these next generation systems on the Collins Class Submarines.

The Heron MOAS is an Australian designed and developed system and the result of more than 20 years of investment in Australia by Thales, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Defence Science and Technology to develop sonar systems tailored to Navy’s unique operating requirements.

Mine and obstacle avoidance capability is critical to sustain naval operations due to the rapidly evolving threat of mines, as well as other navigational hazards in the shallow, poorly charted waters that are prevalent throughout Australia’s maritime region.

The Herron system provides enhanced detection, coupled with a low false alarm rate, against dangers ranging from small mine-like objects to reefs, shoals, and hazardous objects like displaced shipping containers.

The High Frequency Intercept Array (HFIA) will enhance the submarine’s ability to detect high frequency emissions like sonars, and emerging undersea threats.

Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said that these new systems will achieve more than 80% Australian Industry Capability and additional export opportunities: «These advanced systems are designed, developed, integrated and sustained in Australia. Enhancing our world leading sovereign industrial capability in sonar systems. Together, these contracts will support approximately 30 jobs at our Rydalmere site in western Sydney and additional jobs with our supply chain partners».

Thales Australia Underwater Systems Vice President, Troy Stephen said the Heron MOAS will give our submarines the tools they need to remain safe within a mine threat area: «We will be working with a great team of Australian supply chain partners and the proven capability of the Underwater Systems team in France to deliver this capability to the Royal Australian Navy».

The Bug

In collaboration with UAVTEK, we have developed a nano «Bug» drone and delivered the first 30 units to the British Army, which has put it through its paces as part of a trial.

UAVTEK Bug
Collaborating with UAVTEK to develop to develop non ‘Bug’ drone

The Bug is a nano-Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) weighing 196 g/7 ounces – similar to the weight of a smartphone – with 40-minute battery life and a 2 km/1.24-mile range. It boasts a stealthy low visual profile and the ability to fly even in strong winds of more than 50 mph/80 km/h. It was the only nano-UAV able to cope with the uncompromising weather during a recent Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE) event hosted by the Ministry of Defence’s Future Capability Group.

James Gerard, Principal Technologist at BAE Systems’ Applied Intelligence business said: «We delivered the Bug in partnership with UAVTEK, an SME that designs and builds UAVs from its workshop in the Cotswolds. Our experience in developing large volumes of secure hardware means we were able to help the team turn the excellent design into a real product which our Armed Forces can use. This kind of collaboration is happening right across BAE Systems and is a great way to quickly get the best thinking from small companies into the hands of military users».

James Gerard, Principal Technologist, BAE Systems’ Applied Intelligence said: «In even the toughest weather, the Bug can deliver vital tactical intelligence on what’s around the corner or over the next hill, working autonomously to give troops a visual update. Combined with our other information advantage products, this video feed could be shared multi-domain, enabling commanders on land, sea and air to increase their situational awareness and inform their decisions».

Innovations at the annual AWE event are designed to explore emerging technologies and identify specific capabilities, this year focusing on Agile Command, Control and Communication (C3) space suitable for rapid exploitation. Emphasis is placed on innovations which push the boundaries of technology and military capability, testing a range of prototype systems by putting them in the hands of the user whilst giving invaluable military feedback to suppliers.

Jenna Copley, Director at UAVTEK said: «BAE Systems has been extremely supportive of us as an SME and the team has shared procedural knowledge to improve our engineering processes and practices. BAE Systems has effectively offered us a mentoring partnership and supported us in a variety of activities, whilst still enabling us to remain an agile Subject Matter Expert (SME) and keep our core offerings and DNA».

The teams are now working on the next developments on the nano-UAV, exploring sensing equipment and capabilities which could be added, as well as how the Bug could be integrated with other military equipment.

Bug infographic
Bug infographic

First two M-345 delivered

On December 23, 2020, Leonardo delivered the first two M-345 jet trainer aircraft to the Italian Air Force, which to-date has ordered 18 units from a total requirement for up to 45 aircraft. The new type, designated T-345A by the Italian Air Force, will gradually replace the 137 MB-339s which have been in service since 1982.

Aermacchi T-345A
The Italian Air Force has a total requirement for up to 45 M-345s. They will gradually replace the 137 MB-339s which have been in service since 1982

Marco Zoff, Leonardo Aircraft Managing Director, said: «Building on our heritage and expertise in jet trainers, the M-345 will allow our customers to achieve a significant improvement in training effectiveness while at the same time reducing operating costs. This first delivery to the Italian Air Force is a key milestone, the result of a longstanding and productive team working closely together with the operator».

The new M-345, designed to meet basic and basic-advanced training requirements, will complement the in-service M-346, which is used for advanced pilot training. Leonardo’s integrated training system developed around the M-345 platform, is representative of the company’s technological leadership in training pilots to fly current and future generation aircraft. The system benefits from experience with, and technology developed for, the M-346, which includes a «Live Virtual Constructive» capability. This allows aircraft which are flying live training missions to incorporate simulated «friend» or «foe» elements into scenarios, allowing the pilot to be exposed to the full range of possible operational situations.

The M-345 is a high-performance aircraft which supports a pilot’s transition from basic trainers to latest-generation fighters. The Italian Air Force’s acquisition of the new aircraft is an important step forward in the modernization of its fleet, with the M-345 replacing the MB-339A in Air Force’s second and third military pilot training phases. The M-345 has also been chosen as the new aircraft of the Italian Air Force’s acrobatic team, the «Frecce Tricolori».

At the Paris Air Show 2017, Leonardo presents the Aermacchi M-345 next generation high efficiency trainer, the solution for tomorrow’s training needs

 

M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer)

The new M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer) reduces the time required for air forces to train pilots. It also gives trainees the chance to fly an aircraft that features higher performance characteristics than other basic/advanced trainer aircraft currently in service around the world. The performance of the M-345 allows it to carry out the most demanding mission types found in a training syllabus, delivering high quality training at significantly lower cost.

The M-345 cockpit architecture is the same as that of frontline fighters. The aircraft is also able to perform operational roles, thanks to an extended flight envelope, with a high-speed maneuvering capability even at high altitudes, modern avionics systems, high load capacity and performance.

The M-345 is designed with a long life-cycle and a two-level approach to maintenance, eliminating the need for expensive general overhauls. The aircraft’s Health and Monitoring Usage System (HUMS) also contributes to a lower cost of ownership.

A sophisticated on-board training simulator confers a number of benefits. For instance, M-345 pilots are able to plan maneuvers before live training, allowing for higher efficiency during flight. Trainees are also able to fly in formation with other pilots in the air and those training on the ground in simulators, via a real-time data-link. The aircraft’s Mission Planning and Debriefing Station (MPDS) allows trainees to analyse the missions they have just flown.

The M-345’s engine is a Williams FJ44-4M-34 turbofan optimised for military and aerobatic use. The cockpit is based on HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick) controls and features a glass cockpit with a three-colour MFD (Multi-function Display) touch screen. The aircraft’s heads-up display is mirrored on a fourth screen in the rear seat.

 

CHARACTERISTICS

SIZE

Wing Span 27.78 feet/8.47 m
Length 32.32 feet/9.85 m
Height 12.27 feet/3.74 m
Wing Area 135.6 feet2/12.6 m2

WEIGHTS

Take-off (Trainer) 7,715 lbs./3,500 kg
Take-off (Maximum) 9,920 lbs./4,500 kg
Max External Stores 2,425 lbs./1,100 kg

POWERPLANT

Engine, turbofan Williams FJ44-4M-34
Maximum Thrust, Sea Level Static (SLS), International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) 3,400 lbs./1,540 kg
Max Internal Fuel 1,545 lbs./700 kg

PERFORMANCE (Clean, ISA)

Max Level Speed (SL/20,000 feet/6096 m) 380/425 Knots True Air Speed (KTAS); 437/489 mph; 704/787 km/h
Limit Speed 400 Knots Equivalent Air Speed (KEAS)/0.8 MN; 460 mph; 741 km/h
Stall Speed (Landing, 20% fuel) 92 Knots Calibrated Air Speed (KCAS); 106 mph; 170 km/h
Rate of Climb (SL) 4,700 feet/min; 1,435 m/min
Service Ceiling 40,000 feet/12,190 m
Limit Load Factors +7/-3.5 g
Maximum Sustained Load Factor (50% fuel, SL) 4.0 g
Take-off/Landing Ground Run (SL) 2,050 feet/625 m
Ferry Range, 10% reserve, Clean 720 NM/826 miles/1,330 km
Ferry Range, 10% reserve, 2 External Tanks 1,000 NM/1150 miles/1,850 km
Endurance, 10% reserve, Clean/2 External Tanks 150 min/210 min

 

French Griffon

Nexter, Thales and Arquus, as part of the temporary grouping of companies (GME) EBMR (Engins Blindés Multi-Rôles), presented the 128th GRIFFON planned for 2020 to the French Delegation for Armaments (DGA). Under the terms of the SCORPION program, and despite an unprecedented health crisis that profoundly affected production, the three manufacturers were able to take the challenge and meet their contractual objectives.

Griffon
Nexter, Thales et Arquus succeed in presenting the 128 Griffons planned for 2020

After this step, the last GRIFFONs will have to be submitted to the verification operations carried out by the DGA’s quality department. The vehicles will then be transported to the Canjuers site where the Army will proceed to take them into account; it is then that the DGA will formally receive them. To date, 90 GRIFFON have completed this route, adding to the 92 GRIFFON delivered in 2019. From January 2021, the last vehicles that left the production line in December will join them in the regiments, catching up very early in 2021 with the delay due to the health crisis.

From March 2020, Covid-19 has indeed strongly disrupted the industrial organization of the program. The site of Roanne, where the GRIFFON and JAGUAR are assembled, was forced to suspend its activity from March 20 to 30 in order to allow the installation of a structure adapted to the resumption of the activity under maximum safety conditions. Since then, two teams have been working on the lines in shifts of eight consecutive hours (2×8) to ensure that the lines are operational during these 16-hour days. Closely linked to their government contacts and after consulting their suppliers, the members of the GME quickly reviewed the initial schedule: the 2020 objectives were maintained for GRIFFON; the first deliveries of JAGUAR were postponed to April 2021; and this, while preserving the number of deliveries at the end of 2021.

The year 2020 was marked by the passage of several major milestones for the GME. In September, the DGA notified the third conditional tranche of the EBMR contract, enabling the second batch of vehicles (271 GRIFFON and 42 JAGUAR by 2023) to go into production. In November, the GRIFFON command post vehicle (EPC) was qualified. Thus, among the 128 GRIFFONs of 2020, 35 examples of this new variant were presented to the administration, an additional difficulty that the EPC teams overcame. Finally, the new-generation T1 remotely operated turret that will arm the GRIFFONs was also qualified by the DGA.

Nexter, Arquus and Thales would like to pay tribute to the exceptional commitment of their teams. Their sense of duty and creativity have enabled them to meet the expectations of the French Army and its combatants as best they could, while greatly limiting the impact of the health crisis.

Jammer Low Band

The U.S. Navy awarded a $496 million Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract to L3Harris Technologies on December 18 to further the Next Generation Jammer Low Band (NGJ-LB) capability.

NGJ-LB
The Airborne Electronic Attack Systems Program Office (PMA-234) and L3Harris Technologies test the company’s Next Generation Jammer Low Band demonstration unit in the Air Combat Environment Test and Evaluation Facility as part of the Demonstration of Existing Technologies contract that ended in August. PMA-234 announced December 18 that L3Harris Technologies as awarded the NGJ-LB Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract valued at approximately $496 million (U.S. Navy photo)

The contract supports the final design efforts and manufacturing of eight operational prototype pods and four test pods that will be used for various levels of testing and fleet employment to include airworthiness, functionality, and integration with and carriage on the EA-18G Growler host aircraft.

The contract award announcement from Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) Program Office (PMA-234), the managing office for product acquisition, comes directly on the heels of NGJ-LB entering the EMD acquisition phase, often referred to as Milestone B (MS B).

«I’m proud of the hard work and determination of the Navy and industry team», said James Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition. «The teams work to reduce development risk, inform technology realities, and speed capabilities to the fleet was impressive. The efforts by all those involved enabled the Navy to move forward in a rapid manner to bring this new critical capability to bear for our warfighters, saving years in operational development».

Geurts signed the MS B Acquisition Decision Memorandum December 8, signifying his satisfaction with NGJ-LB’s proposed cost, schedule and performance intentions.

The program embarked on a Demonstration of Existing Technologies in late 2018, which informed technical maturity of capabilities. Originally the program was approved as a Middle Tier Acquisition Program due to the need for speed to fleet, but changes in policy mandated that the U.S. Navy rapidly move the program to a Major Defense Acquisition Program.

«The program did a great job of overcoming all the obstacles that this transition laid in front of them», said Geurts. «Really a herculean effort that I’m honestly proud to have been part of».

«NGJ-LB is the next step in the evolution of Airborne Electronic Attack that is needed to meet current and emerging electronic warfare gaps», said Rear Admiral Shane Gahagan, Program Executive Officer, Tactical Aircraft Programs. «The increased jamming capability that NGJ-LB brings to the warfighter is critical to sustaining the future missions of the Navy and other services».

NGJ-LB is an external jamming pod that will address advanced and emerging threats using the latest digital, software-based array technologies and will provide enhanced AEA capabilities to disrupt, deny and degrade enemy air defense and ground communication systems.

«Our AEA arsenal continues to expand with the NGJ-LB capability», said Captain Michael Orr, PMA-234 program manager. «With the NGJ-LB EMD contract award, we continue our focus on delivering the warfighter an unsurpassed capability».

NGJ-LB is part of a larger NGJ weapon system that will augment, and ultimately replace the legacy ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System pods in the low frequency spectrum currently used on the Growler. The weapons system is a joint program initiative with Australia.

Belgian Air Force

The Belgian Air Force has taken delivery of its first of seven Airbus A400M military transport aircraft. The aircraft was handed over to the customer at the A400M Final Assembly Line in Seville (Spain) and subsequently performed its ferry flight to the 15th Wing Air Transport in Melsbroek (Belgium), where the aircraft will be based.

Airbus A400M
Airbus delivers the first A400M to the Belgian Air Force

This A400M, known as MSN106, will be operated within a binational unit composed of a total of eight aircraft, seven from the Belgian Air Force and one from the Luxembourg Armed Forces.

The second A400M for Belgium will be delivered in early 2021.

Alberto Gutierrez, Head of Military Aircraft at Airbus Defence and Space, said: «With the delivery of this aircraft all launch customers are now equipped with the A400M. MSN106 will join Luxemburg’s aircraft in the binational unit operated jointly with Belgium. Despite challenges due to Covid-19, our teams have achieved all 10 aircraft deliveries scheduled this year, bringing the global fleet in operation to 98 aircraft».

 

Specifications

DIMENSIONS
Overall Length 45.10 m/148 feet
Overall Height 14.70 m/48 feet
Wing Span 42.40 m/139 feet
Cargo Hold Length (ramp excluded) 17.71 m/58 feet
Cargo Hold Height 3.85-4.00 m/12 feet 7 inch-13 feet
Cargo Hold Width 4.00 m/13 feet
Cargo Hold Volume 340 m3/12,000 feet3
WEIGHTS
Maximum Take Off Weight 141,000 kg/310,850 lbs
Maximum Landing Weight 123,000 kg/271,200 lbs
Internal Fuel Weight 50,500 kg/111,300 lbs
Maximum Payload 37,000 kg/81,600 lbs
ENGINE (×4)
EuroProp International TP400-D6 11,000 shp/8,200 kW
PERFORMANCE
Maximum Operating Altitude 12,200 m/40,000 feet
Maximum Cruise Speed (TAS) 300 knots/345 mph/555 km/h
Cruise Speed Range 0.68-0.72 M
RANGE
Range with Maximum Payload (37,000 kg/81,600 lbs) 1,780 NM/2,050 miles/3,300 km
Range with 30,000 kg/66,000 lbs Payload 2,450 NM/2,796 miles/4,500 km
Range with 20,000 kg/44,000 lbs Payload 3,450 NM/3,977 miles/6,400 km
Maximum Range (Ferry) 4,700 NM/5,406 miles/8,700 km