Ula retires

The Ula-class submarines are among the most silent and maneuverable subs in the world. This, in combination with their relatively small size (length: 59 m; beam: 5.4 m; draft: 4.6 m), makes them very difficult to detect from surface vessels and quite ideal for operations in coastal areas. Therefore it is not surprising that these diesel-electric submarines are regarded as both the most effective and cost-effective weapons in the Royal Norwegian Navy (RNoN).

HNoMS Ula (S300)
HNoMS Ula (S300)

However, it must be noted that six Ula-class submarines were commissioned between 1989 and 1992, designed for a service life of thirty years. These submarines are insufficient to meet future, high-tech threats. As defense-aerospace.com reported, Norway’s future submarine capability has been studied since 2007. The studies have been conducted in two phases, both with thorough external quality reviews before being presented. The Norwegian Government has now taken a conceptual decision on future submarine capability.

«Submarines are a vital capability in the Norwegian Armed Forces, and have a major impact on our overall defence capability. Together with combat aircraft and Special Operations Forces (SOF), submarines are among the armed forces’ most important capabilities. Hence, it is very important that we now have established that the acquisition of new submarines will form the basis for further project work. This decision makes it possible for us to maintain a credible submarine capability», says Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide.

He also noted that that the ability to operate covertly, which is so vital for the submarine’s relevance, will be significantly better for a new watercrafts than what is achievable through service life extension of the current fleet. This is due to lower acoustic signatures and a better hydrodynamic design.

It is a substantial task that awaits the project organization. Part of the work will be to evaluate potential cooperation with other countries in terms of procurement, training and maintenance. A partnership can contribute to economies of scale and a robust solution throughout the life of the submarines. I guess the Norwegian Government will cooperate with Germany, as it was while Ula-class submarines were assembled in Germany by Thyssen Nordseewerke, Emden. By the way, in Germany the Ula-design submarines are known as the U-Boot-Klasse 210.

The decision only entails that the project moves into a new phase – the project definition phase. No investment decisions have so far been taken. By the end of 2016, a recommendation on the future submarine capability will be presented. Thereafter, pending the Governments decision, an investment proposal will be presented to Norwegian Parliament. This will enable the delivery of new submarines to the Norwegian Navy starting from the mid 2020’s. Thus, the Ula-class must be kept operational for additionally five years (!) in order to maintain a continuous submarine capability until a replacement is operational. Studies, carried out by the Ministry of Defence, show that it would have been very costly and impractical to extend the service life beyond this.

The total investment cost of this major project depends on the number of submarines and the weapons inventory. Of course, we are talking about diesel-electric watercrafts. Norway cannot afford to build and maintain nuclear-powered submarines.

«I emphasize that we have not decided the final level of ambition for this project or the number of submarines. This is something I will give my recommendation on when the project is presented in 2016», says the Minister of Defence.

Diesel-electric submarine
Diesel-electric submarine

Farewell to Russia

During the Cold War (or, more precisely, «during the First Cold War», as my friend says) India has worked closely with the Russian military-industrial complex. However, in the beginning of the XXI century, this old friendship cracked.

INS Vikramaditya
INS Vikramaditya

First of all, after Russian aircraft carrier Baku was deactivated in 1996 (it was too expensive to operate on a post-Cold War budget), Russia and India signed a deal for the sale of the ship. Baku was free, while India would pay $800 million for the upgrade and refit of the ship, as well as an additional $1 billion for the aircraft and weapons systems.

The announced delivery date for INS Vikramaditya was 2008; however, India finally agreed to pay an additional $1.2 billion for the project – more than doubling the original cost. Furthermore, in July 2008, it was reported that Russia wanted to increase the price by $2 billion, blaming unexpected cost overruns on the deteriorated condition of the aircraft carrier and citing a «market price» for a new ship of $3-4 billion. On 17 September 2012, malfunctions were detected during sea trials. According to official Russian report, seven out of eight steam boilers of the propulsion machinery were out of order! Because of this, the deadline of the hand over this ship to the Indian Navy was postponed again until October 2013, and INS Vikramaditya was formally commissioned only on November 16, 2013. In May 2014, the carrier was declared operationally deployed along with its embarked air group.

Arjun MBT Mk-II
Arjun MBT Mk-II

Secondly, in 1996 the Indian government decided to mass-produce the new main battle tank at Indian Ordnance Factory’s production facility in Avadi. The Arjun project experienced serious budget overruns; nevertheless, in March 2010 the Arjun tank was pitted against the T-90 in comparative trials and performed well. The Arjun MBT Mk-II is an advanced third generation main battle tank; it had outclassed the T-90 during the trials.

Thirdly, in February 2011, French Rafales flew demonstrations in India, including air-to-air combat against Su-30MKIs. On January 31, 2012, the Indian Air Force (IAF) announced the Rafale as the preferred bidder in the competition with the Eurofighter Typhoon. The contract for 126 Rafales, services, and parts could be worth as much as $20 billion.

Unfortunately, the deal was stalled from disagreements over the fighter production in India. As per the RFP issued in 2007, the first 18 jets are to be imported and the rest manufactured under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). According to the sources, French Dassault was reluctant to stand guarantee for the 108 fighters to be built by HAL as far as liquidity damages and timelines for production are concerned. This, the sources said, is the critical issue that is delaying the final inking.

Dassault Rafale
Dassault Rafale

At last, on December 1, 2014 French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian raised the issue of the multi-billion dollar deal for 126 Rafale combat aircraft during talks with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar who said it would be «resolved in a fast-tracked manner». The Defence Ministry is of the view that the guarantee clause was part of the Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQR) under the RFP that was issued. Dassault had agreed to the ASQR and hence was chosen the winner, the sources maintained.

Dassault Rafale, which would replace India’s Russian-made fleet of MiG-21 and MiG-27 planes, had stood over combat aircraft manufactured by rivals like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. At present, India has only 34 fighter jet squadrons (16-18 planes in each) against the projected need of 45 squadrons.

Indian Air Force
Indian Air Force

 

Specifications and performance data

 Dimensions

Wing span:                                              10.90 m

Length:                                                      15.30 m

Height:                                                       5.30 m

 

Weight

Overall empty weight:                      10 t (22,000 lbs) class

Max. take-off weight:                        24.5 t (54,000 lbs)

Fuel (internal):                                       4.7 t (10,300 lbs)

Fuel (external):                                      up to 6.7 t (14,700 lbs)

External load:                                         9.5 t (21,000 lbs)

 

Store stations

Total:                                                           14

Heavy-wet:                                                 5

 

Performance

Max. thrust:                                             2 x 7.5 t

Limit load factors:                                -3.2 g/+9 g

Max. speed (high altitude/low):   M = 1.8 (1,912 km/h)/750 knots

Approach speed:                                   less than 120 knots

Landing ground run:                           450 m (1,500 ft) without drag-chute

Service ceiling:                                       15,235 m (50,000 ft)

Diesel submarines return

It is a well-known fact that in the United States Navy as well as in the Royal Navy and French Navy all combatant submarines are nuclear-powered. At the same time as Russia, China and India operate not only nuclear-powered submarines, but also diesel-electric submarines.

Scorpene SSK (above), SMX-Océan (center), Barracuda SSN (below)
Scorpene SSK (above), SMX-Océan (center), Barracuda SSN (below)

There are some sophisticated models among modern diesel-electric submarines. I reckon the most advanced subs of that type are Sōryū-class attack submarines (Japan) and Type 214 class submarines (Germany). Sōryū-class submarines are fitted with air-independent propulsion based on Kockums stirling engines license-built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, allowing them to stay submerged for longer periods of time. Therefore, I am not surprised that Australian officials are leaning towards replacing the Collins-class submarine with Sōryū-class boats bought from Japan.

Apparently, France is going to return to the club of diesel-electric submarines. As naval-technology.com reported, SMX-Océan, a conventionally powered attack submarine design concept, unveiled by DCNS Group, is based on the basic Barracuda-class nuclear submarine layout including weapons, masts and combat system. The SMX-Océan submarine will be a transposition of the Barracuda SSN nuclear powered attack submarine into diesel-electric submarine (SSK). It is expected to enter into French Navy’s service by 2017.

The new multi-role submarine will be suitable for deployment in anti-surface warfare (ASuW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-air warfare (AAW), land attack and even Special Forces missions. Special operations forces (SOF) equipment for 16 divers will be fitted to the sub, as will an internal reserved area, lock out chamber for eight divers, and an external watertight storage. It will also feature a dry dock shelter, hyperbaric chamber, swimmers delivery vehicle, and unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) dock. The SMX-Océan submarine will integrate sensors with manned or unmanned vehicles that provide capability to gather intelligence in four domains including air, surface, under the sea and on the land. It will be capable of launching UUVs and unmanned air vehicles (UAVs).

With up to three months’ endurance, an SMX-Océan could cross the Atlantic six times without surfacing. DCNS teams have developed and combined a number of innovations including a high-performance air-independent propulsion (AIP) system using second-generation fuel cells for submerged endurance of up to three weeks (21 days). With a total of 34 weapons including torpedoes, mines, anti-ship missiles, cruise missiles and anti-air missiles, the SMX-Océan’s firepower will be unprecedented for an SSK. The SMX-Océan concept design also includes vertical launchers to provide a salvo capability for cruise missile strikes on land targets.

SMX-Océan conventionally powered attack submarine
SMX-Océan conventionally powered attack submarine

 

Technical data

Length:                                                             100 m (330ft)

Height:                                                             15.5 m

Beam:                                                               8.8 m (28.9ft)

Surface displacement:                            4,750 t

Maximum diving depth:                         350 m

Maximum speed, submerged:            20 kts

Range:                                                               18,000 nmi at 10 kts speed

Hit the bull’s-eye

According to the Jane’s (IHS Inc.), the Royal Air Force (RAF) has completed the first in-service releases of the Raytheon Paveway IV precision-guided bomb from a Eurofighter Typhoon.

Typhoon
Typhoon (British Crown Copyright 2013)

1(Fighter) Squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth, successfully released two live Paveway IV weapons at Cape Wrath Training Area on 25 November as part of the squadron’s work up with the new Phase One Enhancement (P1Eb) Typhoon capability upgrade.

The squadron conducted a total of eight Paveway IV drops during the week of 24 November, with a mix of profiles including GPS and laser guidance; pre-planned and target of opportunity using the pilot’s Helmet Equipment Assembly (HEA); and employing both impact and airburst fusing settings on the weapon.

The eagerly awaited P1Eb upgrade brings full air-to-surface capability for the Tranche 2 aircraft. It provides enhancements to the Litening III Laser Designator Pod (LDP) and the HEA as well as with Paveway IV. The LDP can now also be used seamlessly with the HEA to visually identify air tracks at long range, as well as identifying, tracking and targeting points on the ground. The Paveway IV offers increased precision, stand-off, and flexibility of employment, and the Typhoon can release a number of weapons to different targets in a single pass. BAE Systems test pilot Steve Formoso commented, «P1Eb standard Typhoons can carry up to six Paveway IV weapons, which can be released simultaneously against multiple targets».

Armourers prepare Paveway IV Bomb
Armourers prepare Paveway IV Bomb

 

Paveway IV (500 lb/230 kg)

Manufactured by Raytheon Systems Ltd, UK, Paveway IV dual-mode (INS/GPS and laser-guided) precision guided bomb significantly increases the RAF’s capability to deliver precision effects matched to the target set. The weapon is cockpit-programmable and allows the aircrew to select weapon impact angle, attack direction and fuzing mode to detonate in airburst, impact or post-impact delay modes. The fuze minimizes collateral damage through the ability to detonate the weapon when buried or partially buried, and is fitted with a ‘Late-Arm’ safety functionality that will not allow an off-course munition to arm. The company has also developed a penetrator warhead for the Paveway IV, through which Raytheon is aiming to provide roughly the same level of capability as a 2,000 lb penetrator in a 500 lb package. To achieve this, the warhead incorporates an inner hardened-steel penetrator surrounded by a frangible peeling shroud, operating on the same principle as a sabot round to provide a higher sectional density and reduced impact area to improve penetration.

The lighter Paveway IV’s provides greater flexibility giving the potential for a single aircraft to carry more weapons and so strike multiple targets in a single pass. The weapon can be reprogrammed with target data by the aircrew while airborne by using data from on-board sensors or from Forward Air Controllers on the ground. Paveway IV also retains the legacy laser guidance capability of its predecessors.

Other improvements over older weapons include less drag, greater accuracy, higher resistance to GPS jamming, better supportability, zero maintenance, lower cost and improved safety signatures. The weapon went straight onto an operational footing after its introduction into service being carried by Harrier GR9 in Afghanistan. It was later integrated onto Tornado GR4 with outstanding success on missions in both Afghanistan and Libya. Paveway IV is also a candidate weapon for integration into Joint Combat Aircraft.

Paveway IV (Raytheon Company)
Paveway IV (Raytheon Company)

Atlas is sent to England

While the Ukrainian project of Antonov An-70 is still lacking funding, the European Airbus A400M Atlas is gaining momentum. As UK Ministry of Defence reported, the first of the UK’s A400M Atlas aircraft has been officially unveiled at its new home at Royal Air Force (RAF) Brize Norton.

A400M Flares
A400M Flares

The aircraft will replace the existing fleet of C-130 Hercules (http://usairforc.blogspot.ru/2014/11/c-130j-super-hercules.html). Manufactured by Airbus Defence & Space, A400M Atlas will represent major advances on its predecessor, capable of flying almost twice as fast, twice as far and carrying almost twice as much cargo. With a cargo capacity of 32 tonnes and a hold optimised for carriage of heavy vehicles, helicopters or cargo pallets, the aircraft is capable of supporting a wide range of operational scenarios.

The UK is the third country to operate the aircraft, after France and Turkey and the £2.8 billion programme will see a total of 22 aircraft delivered to the RAF in the coming years, as it was reported by defense-aerospace.com.

The A400M has been rigorously designed to meet the equipment transport needs of modern armed forces. The A400M can perform missions, which previously required two – or more – different types of aircraft, and which even then provided an imperfect solution. Its fuselage external width of 5.64 metres/18 ft 6 in is equal to that of the A330/A340 wide-body. Its cargo hold has an inside usable width of 4 metres/13ft, height of up to 4 metres/13ft, and usable length of 17.71 metres/58 ft.

Extensive use of advanced 3D computational fluid dynamics tools optimised the wing shape, resulting in a low drag design and thus a high speed cruise of Mach 0.72, without compromising low speed performance and handling.

With a maximum payload of up to 37 tonnes (81 600 lb) and a volume of 340 m3 (12 000 ft3), the A400M can carry numerous pieces of outsize cargo including, vehicles and helicopters that are too large or too heavy for previous generation tactical airlifters, for example, an NH90 or a CH-47 Chinook (http://usgroundforces. blogspot.ru/2014/11/ch-47-chinook.html) helicopter, or two heavy armoured vehicles for military purposes. It can also carry a heavy logistic truck, or a rescue boat, or large lifting devices, such as excavators or mobile cranes needed to assist in disaster relief.

The A400M is able to land on, and take-off from, any short, soft and rough unprepared CBR 6 airstrip, no longer than 750 m/2,500 ft, while delivering up to 25 tonnes/55,000 lb of payload, and with enough fuel on board for a 930 km/500 nm return trip. In addition to offering optimised support to deployed military operating bases, these characteristics also allow it to ensure that swift humanitarian aid can be deployed direct to a disaster region.

The A400M can also easily and swiftly be adapted to become a Tanker, if required in a military operation. Air-to-Air Refuelling can be done either through two wing mounted hose and drogue under-wing refuelling pods or through a centre-line fuselage refuelling unit (FRU). Its built-in air-to-air refuelling capability allows it to be rapidly re-configured to become a tanker. With hard points, fuel lines and electrical connections already built into the wings, it takes under two hours to convert the A400M from an airlifter into a two-point tanker aircraft.

The A400M excels in the airdrop role, being able to drop from both high and low altitudes, (as high as 40,000 ft for special forces’ operations, and as low as 15ft for low level load deliveries). With the new A400M, which can carry more paratroopers than other Western-built military transport, Airbus Military is setting new standards in paradropping operations.

Heavy and Outsize Loads
Heavy and Outsize Loads

 

Specifications

 

Dimensions

Overall Length                                                45.10 m                     148 ft

Overall Height                                                14.70 m                     48 ft

Wing Span                                                         42.40 m                     139 ft

Cargo Hold Length (ramp excluded) 17.71 m                      58 ft

Cargo Hold Height                                       3.85-4.00 m            12 ft 7 in-13 ft

Cargo Hold Width                                        4.00 m                        13 ft

Cargo Hold Volume                                     340 m3                       12 000 ft3

 

Weights

Maximum Take Off Weight                      141 000 kg                 310 850 lb

Maximum Landing Weight                        123 000 kg                 271 200 lb

Internal Fuel Weight                                     50 500 kg                   111 300 lb

Maximum Payload                                          37 000 kg                   81 600 lb

 

Engine (x4)

EuroProp International TP400-D6       11 000 shp                  8200 kW

 

Performance

Maximum Operating Altitude                   40 000 ft                     12 200 m

Maximum Cruise Speed (TAS)                   300 kt                           555 km/h

Cruise Speed Range                                         0.68-0.72 M

 

Range

Maximum Payload (37 000 kg – 81 600 lb)       1780 nm          3300 km

Range with 30 000 kg (66 000 lb) Payload         2450 nm          4500 km

Range with 20 000 kg (44 000 lb) Payload         3450 nm          6400 km

Maximum Range (Ferry)                                                4700 nm          8700 km

 

Total orders                                                               174

Total deliveries                                                              6

Total in operation                                                         6

Number of customers-operators                        8

Number of current operators                               2

Number of countries                                                  8

 

France              Orders – 50, Deliveries – 5, In operation – 5

Germany         Orders – 53

Malaysia          Orders –   4

Spain                  Orders – 27

Turkey              Orders – 10, Deliveries – 1, In operation – 1

UK                       Orders – 22, Deliveries – 1

 

Navy needs new «docks»

It is not a secret of the Universe our World is changing. After the Russian-Georgian and Russian-Ukrainian war, NATO revised its understanding of Russia. Moscow made no secret of his ambition with regard to its neighbors. Thus, the United States understood the need to maintain amphibious fleet in a constant state of readiness to be able to move troops in Europe.

LPD Flight II
LPD Flight II, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc.

As said Sam LaGrone, the USNI Online Editor at the U.S. Naval Institute, Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) has revised its plan to use the hull form of the San Antonio-class amphibious warship (http://navyarm.blogspot.ru/2014/11/san-antonio-class-lpd.html) as a candidate for the Navy’s next generation amphibious warship – LX(R).

HII’s new Flight IIA modifies the original LPD-17 design by removing some of the higher end capabilities of the San Antonio and creating a so-called amphibious truck to replace the existing class of aging Whidbey Island (http://navyarm.blogspot.ru/2014/11/whidbey-island-lsd.html) and Harpers Ferry (http://navyarm.blogspot.ru/ 2014/11/harpers-ferry-class-lsd.html) 16,000-ton landing ship docks (LSD).

The largest improvement in capability will be to the ship’s communication and aviation ability.

The current LSDs have a minimal command and control capability – the ability to communicate with other U.S. military forces and coordinate different types of aircraft and smaller vessel – and no native ability to host and maintain the aircraft of the trio of ships that make up the Navy’s Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs).

The LX(R) will be much bigger than the ships it will be replacing – displacing about 7,000 more than the current LSDs at 23,470 tons, HII officials told USNI News.

Instead of the four Colt-Pielstick diesel engines, HII’s model reduces the prime mover count to two unspecified main propulsion diesel engines (MPDE).

The Mark-46 30mm gun weapon system is replaced with a Mark-38 Mod 2 remote controlled 25mm chain gun providing offensive and defensive ability.

The AN/SPS-48E air search radar is replaced with a TRS-3D, which is currently outfitted on the National Security Cutter providing a more suitable sensor for its mission.

The Flight IIA retains about half of the medical spaces on the LPD. Company officials also said the current iteration would feature two spots for the Navy’s LCAC hovercraft or one utility landing craft (LCU) – which is in line with the Navy’s current thinking for requirements for the LX(R). Other changes include reducing the troop capacity from 800 to 500 with a crew of about 400 sailors.

Though HII is original designers and builders of the LPD-17 ships, they are not guaranteed the design and construction contract for the new LX(R) ship class. General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, California has also helped the Navy in its current push to lower the cost at the start of the acquisition process and is considered likely to bid on the final work.

The Navy’s frontend analysis of alternatives process for LX(R) has been described as, «the best ship design conversation we’ve had in a long time inside the government», NAVSEA chief Vice Adm. William Hilarides said in May.

HII officials didn’t announce a cost estimate for their version, but according to past information from the Navy a San Antonio LX(R) could cost about $1.64 billion for the lead ship with follow-ons costing about $1.4 billion for a total of 11 ships.

Flight II vs. LPD 17
Flight II vs. LPD 17

 

Dimensions

Overall length: 684 ft, 208.5m

Beam, DWL: 105 ft, 31.9m

Full load Draft: 21.7 ft, 6.6m

 

Weights (long tons)

Lightship: 16,600

Full load at delivery: 22,800

 

Performance

Sustained Speed: 20+ knots

Installed Power: 26,820 SHP

Service Life: 40 years

 

Machinery Systems

20 MW MPDE

Direct Drive Reduction Gears

2 x Controllable Pitch Propellers

 

Amphibious Systems

Vehicle Square (net): 24,600 sq ft

Cargo Cube (net): 17,000 cu ft

Cargo Fuel, JP-5: 310,000 gal

Landing Craft: 2 x LCAC or 1 x LCU

Well Deck Operations: Wet/Dry

 

Navigation

NAVSSI

AN/UQN-4A Sonar Sounding Set

AN/WQN-2 DSVL

AN/SPS-73 Surface Search Radar

AN/WSN-7

AN/URN-26 TACAN

Anti-Jam GPS

Integrated Bridge

 

Communications

SI COMMS

HF/VHF/UHF Voice/Data

DWTS/EPLRS

UHF/SHF/EHF SATCOM

SMS

Secure VTC

SWAN

 

EW & Decoy

AN/SLQ-25

AN/SLQ-32A

MK-36 SRBOC

 

Aviation Facilities

Land/Launch Spots

2 x CH-53E or

2 x MV-22 or

2 x CH-46 or

2 x AH/UH-1

 

Electric Plant

AC Zonal Distribution System

10 KW

400 Hz Frequency Converters

 

Auxiliary Systems

A/C Plants (CFC Free): 1,500 tons installed

RO Plants: 72,000 GPD installed

Cargo Elevators: 12,000 lb capacity

Lift Platform: 6,000 lb capacity

 

Medical Facilities

Medical Operating Rooms: 1

Hospital Ward Beds: 8

Dental Operating Rooms: 1

 

Accommodations

Ship’s complement: 396

Troop: 506 Total

 

Surveillance

2D/3D Radars

AN/SPQ-9B – Fire Control Radar

AN/UPX-29 Central IFF

 

Weapons

2 x RAM Launchers

2 x 25mm Mark-38

4 x .50 Caliber Machine Guns

 

Command and Control

Links 11, 16

AN/SPQ-12V

NTCSS

GCCS-M

SGS/AC

CENTRIX

 

Survivability

Collective Protection System (Single Zone)

Strengthened Structure Against Whipping

Fragmentation Protection

Water Mist Fire Extinguising System

Degaussing System

 

Great ships require
deep waters

Canberra’s Commander Air, Commander Paul Moggach, told IHS Jane’s that the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) commissioned first-of-class landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra in Sydney on 28 November.

HMAS Canberra (LHD 02)
HMAS Canberra (LHD 02)

Thus, the sealift capability of the RAN has been dramatically increased. Based on the design of the Spanish Navy’s aircraft carrier Juan Carlos, the Canberra can embark, transport, and deploy more than 1,000 troops and their equipment from alongside or by helicopter and landing craft.

Canberra will be joined in 2016 by sister ship HMAS Adelaide (LHD 01). The hulls of both ships were constructed by Navantia at its Ferrol facility in northwest Spain and subsequently transported by heavy-lift ship to BAE Systems in Melbourne for addition of the superstructure, fitting out, and systems integration.

Design changes for the RAN included upgrades to air conditioning, Australian explosives standards in the magazines, enhanced firefighting and medical facilities, and four Typhoon remote-controlled 25 mm weapons systems at each corner of the hull for close-in defence. The Australian-developed Nulka hovering anti-missile decoy will be fitted at a later date.

The flight deck is configured for simultaneous operation of four medium-sized helicopters, such as the NHIndustries NH90 (MRH90 in Australian service) or the Sikorsky S70A-9 Black Hawk, or four Boeing CH-47D/F Chinooks. Up to eight medium helicopters can be accommodated in the hangar, and up to 18 can be carried if the light vehicle deck is also utilised.

The four Navantia-built LCM-1E watercraft carried by each LHD can transport a maximum load of 54 tonnes via the ship’s well deck.

The ultimate goal of these efforts – an Amphibious Ready Group: a battalion-based combat team with enablers that will involve about 2,000 troops and require both LHDs to transport – is scheduled to be operational by 2017.

Initial operational capability (IOC) for Canberra is expected to be reached in 2016, enabling the ship to participate in that year’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.

Earlier this year Prime Minister Tony Abbott ordered an assessment of the benefits of the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and modifying the LHDs to operate them. Unfortunately, the general reaction from senior defence sources of the Royal Australian Navy has been that additional capability would not be justified by the time, cost, and risk involved.

As it is known from open sources, the fourth American warship named for the United States of America – USS America (LHA-6) can fulfill battle missions when configured with 20 F-35B strike fighters. USS America has been modified to make her better able to withstand the great amounts of heat generated by the F-35B’s engine exhaust when taking off or landing vertically. Intercostal structural members will be added underneath flight deck landing spots seven and nine to more closely perform timed cyclic flight operations without overstressing it. Other changes may involve re-adjusting some ship antennas to allow for a clear flight path.

From this, we can conclude that it is not so easy to accommodate aircraft carriers like Australian HMAS Canberra (LHD 02) or Japan Izumo (DDH-183) for using with new multirole fighter F-35B Lightning II.

Landing Helicopter Dock
Landing Helicopter Dock

 

Platform Characteristics

Length Overall                                                                           230.8 m

Length Waterline                                                                     207.2 m

Beam                                                                                                32 m

Design Draft                                                                                7.18 m

Full Load Displacement                                                         27,831 t

Crew and Embarked Forced Accommodation         1,403

 

Machinery

Propulsion                             2 x Siemens 11,000 kW PODs

Bowthruster                         2 x 1,500 kW Brunvoll/Siemens motors

Stabilisers                               2 x Fincantieri

Generators                            1 x 22,000 kW GE LM2500 Gas Turbine and                                                       2 x 7,680 kW Diesel

Integrated Platform Management System              Navantia – Sistemas

Fresh Water                          6 x Reverse Osmosis Plants (each 25 t/day)

Sewage                                     2 x Treatment Plants

 

HMAS Adelaide (LHD 01) and HMAS Canberra (LHD 02)
HMAS Adelaide (LHD 01) and HMAS Canberra (LHD 02)

 

Performance

Maximum Speed                                                                             20+ kts

Economic Speed                                                                             15 kts

Maximum Range                                                                             9,250 nm

Endurance                                                                                           45+ days

 

Capacity

Flight Deck                                                             4,750 m²

Dock (including ramp)                                     1,165 m²

Heavy Cargo Garage                                        1,410 m²

Light Cargo Garage                                           1,880 m²

Hangar                                                                      990 m²

Garages, Hangar and Well Dock               1,350 lane metre (2.9 m wide)

General Store Rooms                                       1,079 m²

Future Growth Margin                                    672 t

The King of the Ocean

The Boeing P-8 Poseidon is an anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare aircraft developed for the United States Navy. Nevertheless, the US Navy is not a unique operator of that powerful aircraft. India renamed P-8 Poseidon into P-8I Neptune.

Jim Anderson, Boeing Photographer
P-8I Indian Navy B1 First Flight Renton WA; Jim Anderson, Boeing Photographer

Ironically, Poseidon (Greek: Ποσειδῶν) was one of the twelve Olympian deities of the pantheon in Greek mythology. His main domain was the ocean, and he was called the «God of the Sea». The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology; both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon. So why in India sailors prefer Roman mythology Greek? I have no idea.

Notwithstanding, Boeing has delivered the sixth P-8I Neptune to the Indian Navy, the company announced in a statement on 25 November, as IHS said.

The aircraft was said to have arrived at Indian Naval Station (INS) Rajali in Arakkonam (southern India) on 24 November. It joins five other P-8Is already being used by the Indian Navy and is scheduled to begin flight trials «in the coming months», according to the statement.

The latest P-8I delivery is part of an eight-aircraft contract worth USD2.1 billion awarded in January 2009 to replace India’s ageing Russian Tupolev Tu-142Ms. The first aircraft was handed over to the Indian Navy in December 2012; the final two are scheduled for delivery in 2015.

The P-8I Neptune is based on Boeing’s 737 commercial aircraft, and can accommodate a crew of nine including five mission system operators. The aircraft has an operating range of more than 2,000 km with a four-hour on-station endurance.

The aircrafts are equipped with Raytheon’s APY-10 surveillance radar that incorporates air-to-air, air-to-sea, and all-weather modes. According to an IHS Jane’s report in May 2013, the aircraft are also armed with Raytheon’s AGM-84L Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles and Mark-54 torpedoes for submarine prosecution.

Accordingly, India shows its serious ambitions for its military presence in the Indian Ocean.

P-8I is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon
P-8I is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon

P-8A Poseidon (P-8I Neptune) Technical Specs

Wing Span:                                                   123.6 ft (37.64 m)

Height:                                                            42.1 ft (12.83 m)

Length:                                                            129.5 ft (39.47 m)

Propulsion:                                                    2 CFM56-7B engines, 27,000 lb                                                                                   thrust (12,237 kgf, 120 kN)

Speed:                                                               490 kn (564 mi/h, 908 km/h)

Range:                                                               1,200 nmi with 4 hr on station                                                                                     (2,222 km)

Ceiling:                                                              41,000 ft (12,496 m)

Crew:                                                                  9

Maximum Takeoff Gross Weight:     189,200 lb (85,820 kg)

 

P-8A Poseidon (Anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare)
http://usnavalaircraft.blogspot.ru/2014/11/p-8a-poseidon.html

Rule, Britannia!
Rule the waves!

As defense-aerospace.com reported, the U.S. Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin finalized the eighth F-35 Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP-8) contract for 43 F-35 Lightning II airframes valued at $4.7 billion, including $0.5 billion of Advance Procurement funding that was announced at the time of award.

F-35A Lightning II
2014 Darin Russell
Lockheed Martin

The 43 F-35 include 29 jets for the United States and 14 for five international countries. This agreement reflects an average airframes unit cost approximately 3.5% lower than the LRIP-7 contract signed in 2013 and a 57% reduction since LRIP-1.

Thus, LRIP-8 per variant airframe unit prices (not including Pratt & Whitney F-135 engine cost!) is as follows:

Furthermore, the LRIP 8 contract provides for the production of the first 2 F-35A for Israel and the first 4 F-35A for Japan, along with 2 F-35A for Norway and 2 F-35A for Italy.

The United Kingdom will receive 4 F-35B (STOVL). The contract also funds manufacturing-support equipment as well as ancillary mission equipment.

Lockheed Martin will begin delivering LRIP 8 units in early spring 2016. Once production of LRIP 8 aircraft is completed, more than 200 F-35s will be in operation by eight nations.

Thus, as a result of American allies will be able to explore new sophisticated stealth machines and test them in real conditions.

I guess the United Kingdom is the most interested operators of all allies to the F-35 contract. By the way, Gareth Jennings (IHS, London) says the UK already has two operational test and evaluation (BK-1 and BK-2) and one training aircraft (BK-3) delivered and flying out of Eglin Air Force Base in Florida (USA).

The order of 4 F-35B marks an initial buy from the MoD’s Main Gate 4 acquisition approval process for 14 jets to equip the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) 617 Squadron, which is scheduled to stand-up as the UK’s first operational F-35B unit in 2016.

In 2018, 617 Sqn will transfer to its future home station at RAF Marham in the UK, and in December of that year the UK will declare initial operating capability – land (IOC – Land) for its F-35B force.

Queen Elizabeth
IHS – Aircraft Carrier Alliance

The second unit – the FAA’s 809 ‘Immortals’ Naval Air Squadron – will be created ahead of the commencement of sea trials aboard the future HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in 2018, with the full operating capability (land and maritime) being declared in 2023.

The exact numbers of aircraft are yet to be decided, but with the UK having so far committed itself to just 48 F-35 it is likely that the final order will be substantially less than the 138 programme of record.

À la guerre comme
à la guerre

As you could hear, the famous soap opera «Mistral and Putin» continues with a new intriguing accompaniment.

BPC
STX France

On November 25, the Reuters reported, France suspended INDEFINITELY on Tuesday delivery of the first of two Mistral helicopter carrier warships to Russia, citing conflict in eastern Ukraine where the West accuses Moscow of fomenting separatism.

«The President of the French Republic considers that the situation in the east of Ukraine still does not permit the delivery of the first LHD (helicopter carrying and command vessel)», said a statement from President Francois Hollande’s office.

«He has therefore decided that it is appropriate to suspend, until further notice [when Hell freezes over], examination of the request for the necessary authorization to export the first LHD to the Russian Federation».

«Le président de la République considère que la situation actuelle dans l’est de l’Ukraine ne permet toujours pas la livraison du premier BPC (bâtiment de projection et de commandement). Il a donc estimé qu’il convenait de surseoir, jusqu’à nouvel ordre, à l’examen de la demande d’autorisation nécessaire à l’exportation du premier BPC à la Fédération de Russie». (Le Monde)

My prediction:

Russia will not receive the first Mistral (Russian sailors named him «Vladivostok») in the nearest future, I mean, in December of this year.

Vladivostok
DCNS Group

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS (STX France, shipyards – Saint-Nazaire and Lorient)

Length overall                                                199 m

Breadth                                                              32 m at the helicopter deck level

Maximum speed                                           19 knots

Full load displacement                              21,500 t

Complement                                                   160 crew, 450 troops

Range                                                                  11,000 NM at 15 knots

Carrying capacities                                     16 helicopters

What was the purpose of this deal? Why Russia wants to spend more than €1.2 billion for the purchase of ships, which she would never be able to use? Because Russia has a common land border with all «enemies», such as China or Ukraine. This is the billion-dollar question.

By the way, if you are interested in comparison Mistral with the American amphibious assault ships, you could see general technical specifications of some LHA and LHD in my navy blog (http://navyarm.blogspot.ru/). I suppose, Russia has no chance to prevail in this direct comparison with the US Navy.

Thank DCNS Group for the photos