The fifth and final new Royal Navy patrol ship – at the vanguard of the UK’s renewed global aspirations – is at sea for the first time.
HMS Spey (P234) has sailed from BAE Systems’ yard at Scotstoun on the Clyde to begin Contractor Sea Trials.
A mix of Royal Navy sailors, BAE employees, contractors, inspections authorities and civilian sailors are crewing the 2,000-tonne warship for the key tests and assessments off the west coast of Scotland.
The sea trials are a significant milestone in Spey’s short life to date and are designed to thoroughly test the capability and integrity of the vessel.
Her systems will be tested to the max and will include live firing of her weaponry (including her main 30-mm gun), pushing the ship’s engines to their full power and testing her top speeds before the ship returns to Scotstoun.
Her maiden voyage comes just weeks after the first sailors of her ship’s company moved on board and ahead of her journey to Portsmouth later this year when she will officially join the Royal Navy fleet.
HMS Spey (P234) is last of five new River-class ships and will join her older sisters HMS Forth (P222), HMS Medway (P223), HMS Trent (P224) and HMS Tamar, all of which are now operational.
When trials and training are complete next year, HMS Spey (P234) will operate as part of the navy’s Forward Presence programme, stationed around the world for several years at a time, with the ship’s company changing on a regular basis.
The world’s most advanced torpedo is on the cusp of entering service with the Royal Navy after extensive trials in Scotland.
The upgraded Spearfish – the principal weapon of the UK’s Submarine Flotilla against enemy ships and submarines – was ‘fired’ repeatedly at frigate HMS Sutherland (F81) as scientists, engineers and sailors study its performance.
Over four days on special ranges near the Kyle of Lochalsh, the improved weapon was put through its paces, testing both software and hardware enhancements – while the Plymouth-based frigate did its utmost to fend off the torpedo’s attacks.
Spearfish has been the Silent Service’s weapon of choice since the early 1990s, though it has never been fired in anger.
The warhead is a good six times more powerful than that carried by the smaller Sting Ray torpedo, fired by ships like Sutherland or launched from Merlin and Wildcat helicopters.
It can break the back of frigates, destroyers and similar-sized warships, and take out any underwater threats.
The Royal Navy is investing £270 m in upgrading Spearfish, fitting a new warhead, new, safer fuel system, an enhanced electronic ‘brain’ and a new fibre-optic guidance link with its parent submarine to improve its accuracy and lethality.
A team of around 100 engineers and experts from BAE Systems in Portsmouth have spent nearly six years working on the improved torpedo, which will be introduced to front-line hunter-killer and nuclear-deterrent submarines over the next three years – and in service into the 2050s.
The latest trials are the fourth involving Sutherland – which is purpose-built to hunt down hostile submarines – to help introduce the new Spearfish into service.
For the latest workout at the British Underwater Test and Evaluation Centre (BUTEC) – a stretch of water between Skye and the Scottish mainland which is ten kilometres/6.2 miles long, six/3.7 wide, up to 200 metres/656 feet deep and peppered with state-of-the-art sensors – the frigate was assessed to see if she could defeat the new-look Spearfish, using a mix of evasive manoeuvres to evade the torpedo and advanced acoustic counter-measures to lure it away from Sutherland.
Anyone expecting tell-tale submarine wakes streaking through the waters was disappointed as Spearfish was set to ‘run deep’ for safety reasons – so the ‘battle’ was played out on the displays in Sutherland’s operations room, where the shrill sound of whistles announced a torpedo in the water.
«During the trial this week we have put our elite training into action, using a variety of underwater sensors to locate and track the weapon», said 23-year-old Able Seaman Matthew Brown from Perth, one of the underwater warfare specialists who’s been tracking Spearfish. «Having one of the most advanced and capable torpedoes in the world fired at you certainly puts the pressure on».
Weapon Engineer Officer Lieutenant Commander David Tinsley added: «This is not the first time Sutherland has contributed to Spearfish trials, and we’re glad to be supporting a small part of a larger Defence programme which will deliver a world class weapon into Service. A range of military and industrial partners have come together to deliver an efficient trial which in due course will deliver another exciting capability for the Royal Navy».
Following the torpedo trials, Sutherland moved on to join the Americans, Norwegians and Danes on exercise in the Arctic.
A final trial of Spearfish will take place at BUTEC later in 2020 before the weapon is declared operational and begins being delivered to the submarine fleet.
The first Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) has driven off the BAE Systems production line to be delivered to the U.S. Army.
The AMPV is central to the Army’s modernization objectives and comes in five variants to meet a wide range of missions across the battlefield.
«Finalizing the first AMPV for delivery marks a major milestone for the program and the U.S. Army», said Bill Sheehy, AMPV program director for BAE Systems’ Ground Vehicles product line. «The AMPV is designed to meet the Army’s missions for the Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCT), and lay the foundation for the future of the battlefield».
Identified by the Army as a top priority for safety and survivability, the AMPV family provides the Army with a highly survivable and mobile fleet of vehicles that address a critical need to replace the Vietnam War-era M113s and maneuver with the ABCT in challenging terrain on the front lines.
The Mission Command vehicle will be the first vehicle delivered and is the cornerstone of the Army’s ABCT Network Modernization Strategy. It facilitates digital mission command, taking advantage of increased volume, protection, power and cooling capabilities and provides flexibility and growth capacity for command, control, communications and computer capabilities.
The other variants in the AMPV family include:
the General Purpose vehicle: operates throughout the battle space to conduct resupply, maintenance, and alternate casualty evacuation from point of injury;
the Mortar Carrier: provides immediate, and responsive, heavy mortar fire support to the ABCT in the conduct of fast-paced offensive operations;
the Medical Evacuation vehicle: enables immediate treatment or evacuation at the point of injury to either ambulatory or litter casualties;
the Medical Treatment vehicle: is the first of its kind, serving as an «operating room on tracks» for life-sustaining care to Soldiers suffering from life-threatening injuries.
«The AMPV family of vehicles provides significant power, mobility, interoperability, and survivability improvements for the ABCT», said Jeremy Tondreault, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems’ Combat Mission Systems. «The AMPV has demonstrated outstanding survivability and force protection as well as flexibility and growth for the future».
The AMPV has built-in growth to add new capabilities as technology evolves, including enhanced power generation for advanced electronics, and network connectivity. This gives the Army a vehicle to execute today’s missions, with the ability to adapt to future technologies and capabilities.
The AMPV has completed nearly two dozen Army tests and has consistently met or exceeded all of its requirements.
Under the current Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract awarded in 2018, BAE Systems will deliver more than 450 of the highly mobile, survivable, multi-purpose vehicles. Work on the AMPV program takes place across BAE Systems’ industrial network, which includes facilities in Aiken, South Carolina, Anniston, Alabama, Phoenix, Arizona, Sterling Heights, Michigan, and York, Pennsylvania.
HMS Trent (P224) has been commissioned into the Royal Navy fleet during a ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base on August 3, 2020.
In 2013 it was announced that the Royal Navy had signed an Agreement in Principle to build three new offshore patrol vessels, based on the River-class design, at a fixed price of £348 million including spares and support.
The following year, BAE Systems signed the contract to build the ships on the Clyde in Scotland. The Ministry of Defence stated that the Batch 2 ships are capable of being used for constabulary duties such as «counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and anti-smuggling operations».
According to BAE Systems, the vessels are designed to deploy globally, conducting anti-piracy, counter-terrorism and anti-smuggling tasks currently conducted by frigates and destroyers.
BAE Systems has been awarded a $32 million prototype agreement by the U.S. Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) to integrate a Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) system onto a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The development program is part of the Army’s effort to increase vehicle efficiency and boost power generation to support integration of future technologies and greater mobility for combat vehicles on the battlefield.
BAE Systems and teammate QinetiQ will use an existing Bradley Fighting Vehicle as the testbed for integrating the HED technology under the Combat Vehicle Power and Energy architecture and mobility capabilities development program. The integration work will begin this summer.
«Integrating a Hybrid Electric Drive system into combat vehicles vastly increases on-board power and provides a significant increase in mobility, lethality options, and range, all of which enable overmatching operational capabilities», said Scott Davis, vice president of BAE Systems’ Ground Vehicles product line. «BAE Systems has invested and collaborated with industry for more than 40 years to advance HED technology and develop vehicle architectures and demonstrators. A systems approach to vehicle electrification enables break-through capabilities in the current and future platforms our warfighters need to maintain battlefield superiority».
HED systems also improve automotive performance and provide drive-by-wire mobility to support autonomy in addition to increase power generation. With minor platform modifications, HED technology can be configured for various vehicles including the Bradley, the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, the M109A7 Paladin self-propelled howitzers, and the family of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.
QinetiQ is developing the electric cross drive transmission (Modular E-X-Drive), a key component of an HED system for a tracked combat vehicles. The QinetiQ Modular E-X-Drive has been tested and proven in a wide range of tracked vehicles and weight classes over the last decade. The designs have completed extensive lab and vehicle tests, including safety certifications. BAE Systems and QinetiQ have a long-standing relationship in the development of vehicle HED technologies.
The engineering activities of the HED system will primarily occur at the BAE Systems’ Sterling Heights, Michigan, and San Jose, California, facilities. Build is planned to be completed at the BAE Systems’ Sterling Heights prototype shop.
BAE Systems has delivered its first shipment of next-generation radiation-hardened software defined radios (SDR) enabled by its RAD5545 computer to Lockheed Martin Space. The radios provide spacecraft with the performance, availability, reliability and on-board signals processing capacity needed to support future space missions – from planetary exploration to communications, national security, surveillance, and weather missions.
«Our RAD5545 software defined radios are ideal for any mission requiring reconfigurable radio processing», said Ricardo Gonzalez, director of Space Systems at BAE Systems. «The radios can be easily modified to address various reconfigurable processing solutions».
BAE Systems’ software defined radio is anchored by the RAD5545 Single Board Computer (SBC), providing the most advanced radiation-hardened quad core general purpose processing solution available today to address future threats on a variety of missions. The system leverages modular and standard building blocks including a SpaceVPX chassis and backplane electrical connectors, Serial RapidIO and Spacewire interfaces, and a fully supported expansion port for a custom interface card.
Adhering to industry standards, this flexible and adaptable architecture supports reconfiguration for other missions by simply swapping out SpaceVPX modules, a highly desirable feature in today’s space hardware.
BAE Systems’ next-generation software defined radios, centered around the RAD5545 computer, represent a significant advance in high reliability reconfigurable electronics systems. Increased processing power, and a radiation-hardened design combine for a product line that can enable increased mission flexibility.
The RAD5545 SBC delivers exponential improvements in size, speed, and power efficiency over its predecessor single board computers. BAE Systems also offers a suite of radiation-hardened Serial RapidIO network products that complement the RAD5545 SBC and allow the user to efficiently manage and route data through a system. Products include the RADNET 1848-PS, an 18-Port RapidIO Packet Switch, the RADNET 1616-XP Crosspoint, a protocol agnostic SerDes signal circuit switch and replicator, and the RADNET SRIO-EP, a Serial RapidIO endpoint.
The RAD5545 SDR was developed at BAE Systems’ sites in Merrimack, NH, and Manassas, VA, and is produced in Manassas.
BAE Systems successfully completed test shots of its Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guided rockets from a tactical configuration ground-based weapon system for the first time. The proof-of-concept testing demonstrated the flexibility of APKWS rockets to deliver standoff precision strike capabilities for ground forces, providing warfighters with a unique solution for engaging targets with greater range than small arms fire and without the need for air support.
BAE Systems tested the APKWS rockets at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground, in collaboration with the U.S. Navy and Arnold Defense, a premier manufacturer of rocket launchers. The team used Arnold’s FLETCHER 2.75-inch/70-mm Weapon System concept – a purpose-built laser-guided rocket launcher for ground vehicles – to fire several successful shots. The ground-launch capability builds on hundreds of successful shots in combat from rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft.
«Our customers see the value in low-cost, precision-strike capabilities that reduce the risk of collateral damage, and they want the flexibility to deliver them from the platform of their choice», said Greg Procopio, director of Precision Guidance and Sensing Solutions at BAE Systems. «Demand is growing for ground-to-ground precision munitions that provide a safe standoff distance for small ground units. We’re working closely with our customer and partners to deliver that capability».
Ground-launched APKWS rockets could provide mounted and dismounted units with a unique way to engage soft and lightly armored targets from a variety of platforms. The low size, weight, and power requirements of ground-launched APKWS rockets make them ideal for tactical lightweight vehicles, remote weapon stations, non-standard tactical vehicles, and stationary platforms, providing warfighters with precision munitions that improve their safety and mission effectiveness.
«We designed FLETCHER specifically as a ground launcher for precision-guided 70-mm rockets», said Jim Hager, president and CEO at Arnold Defense. «FLETCHER-launched APKWS rockets enable our military customers to engage targets from more than just airborne platforms. We envision FLETCHER being used on everything from trucks and tracked vehicles to marine platforms in the future».
APKWS laser-guided rockets are the only U.S. government program of record for precision-guided 70-milimeter rockets. All four U.S. armed forces use APKWS rockets, and it is available to U.S. allies via Foreign Military Sales. FMS activities support more than a dozen partner nations and interest from other nations.
BAE Systems’ long range precision fires solutions use advanced technologies to consistently and effectively hit a variety of targets in complex environments from long distances, resulting in successful land, air and sea missions.
HMS Audacious (S122), the fourth of seven Astute-class attack submarines being built by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy, set sail from our Barrow-in-Furness site on 6 April 2020.
New ways of working and amended protocols have been introduced at the site, in line with Government guidelines, to enable a small team of employees to provide vital support to the Royal Navy ahead of the boat’s departure, while protecting their health and wellbeing.
The submarine was guided into open water for the first time before setting off on her inaugural journey to Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, the home of the UK’s Submarine Service.
Cliff Robson, Managing Director of BAE Systems Submarines, said: «This is an incredibly difficult time for employees, their families and the community but, as is often the case in times of great adversity, it has been truly humbling to see everyone come together to support the Government’s critical defence programmes and help deliver HMS Audacious (S122)».
Ian Booth, Chief Executive of the Submarine Delivery Agency, said: «The departure of HMS Audacious (S122) from Barrow is a key milestone in the Astute Class programme. The delivery of our incredibly complex submarine programmes depends on the extremely skilled submarine workforce and close collaboration with our industrial partners across the supply chain to deliver a first class product for the Royal Navy. I am extremely grateful to everyone involved in the significant efforts to meet this milestone and the key roles they have played in the shadow of these unprecedented circumstances to get HMS Audacious (S122) to sea».
The boat’s departure comes days after the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Sir Stephen Lovegrove, thanked the defence industry for its efforts to continue to deliver critical and nationally important defence operations and programmes during the difficult and unprecedented times the country is facing.
The 97 metre/318 feet, 7,400-tonne Astute-class submarines are the most capable submarines ever built for the Royal Navy. The first three submarines, HMS Astute (S119), HMS Ambush (S120) and HMS Artful (S121) are in service, while the final three Astute-class are at various stages of construction at Barrow.
The U.S. Army has awarded BAE Systems a $339 million contract modification for the production of 48 vehicle sets of M109A7 Self-propelled Howitzer (SPH) and its companion, the M992A3 Carrier, Ammunition, Tracked (CAT) vehicle, and includes post-delivery support and spare parts.
The M109A7 SPH and M992A3 CAT vehicle set is a vital program enhancement for increased combat capability and sustainment of the Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCTs). The program offers enhanced indirect-fire artillery capabilities to the ABCTs with new technologies for power generation and survivability.
The new M109A7 addresses long-term readiness and modernization needs of the M109 self-propelled howitzer family through a critical redesign and production plan that leverages today’s most advanced technology. Its state-of-the-art «digital backbone» and power generation capability provides a more robust, survivable, and responsive indirect fire support capability for ABCT Soldiers. The M109A7 is a significant upgrade over the M109A6 as it enhances reliability, maintainability, performance, responsiveness, lethality, and crew survivability.
The initial contract was awarded in 2017 for low-rate production. This most recent order brings the total number of M109A7 and M992A3 vehicle sets to 204, with a total contract value of $1.5 billion. The award follows the Army’s decision, announced in February, to commence full-rate production of the vehicle.
BAE Systems has been awarded a contract from Lockheed Martin to design and manufacture next-generation infrared seekers for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system, providing critical targeting technology that helps protect the U.S. and its allies from ballistic missiles. The sensor design work will improve the missile defense system’s ability to neutralize more threats and improve its manufacturability.
«The THAAD seeker is a key product in our precision munitions portfolio that’s recognized for its proven intercept capabilities. It demonstrates our ability to deliver advanced targeting and guidance systems for critical precision munitions», said Barry Yeadon, THAAD program director at BAE Systems. «This award is a testament to our ongoing success with the program, and enables us to advance our proven design and take the program into the future in support of the Missile Defense Agency’s mission».
The THAAD weapon system intercepts hostile ballistic missiles with kinetic force during their final, or terminal, phase of flight. BAE Systems’ seeker provides infrared imagery that guides interceptors to their intended targets, destroying enemy warheads inside or outside the Earth’s atmosphere. The company has been developing and producing missile defense seeker technology for more than four decades, and has delivered more than 500 THAAD seekers to date.
THAAD is an integral part of the MDA’s mission to field an integrated, layered, ballistic missile defense system. Its high-altitude intercept capability mitigates the effects of enemy weapons before they reach the ground, and its non-explosive kinetic impact minimizes the risk of detonation. THAAD is a highly effective system for addressing ballistic missile threats.
BAE Systems’ THAAD seekers are assembled, integrated, and tested at the company’s facilities in Nashua, New Hampshire and Endicott, New York. Portions of the design work for the next-generation seeker technology will be conducted in Huntsville, Alabama, where the company is actively hiring and building a state-of-the-art facility. The THAAD seeker program provides an opportunity for engineers to join a cutting-edge design program at its early stages in the Rocket City.