The Bell V-280 Valor has achieved 100% build completion and moved one step closer to its first flight this fall. The V-280 is the newest revolutionary aircraft in the tiltrotor family. The V-280 Valor was selected in August 2014 to advance, build and fly an aircraft within the Joint Multi Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) program.
The V-280 has been designed to provide our military with the speed, range and operational productivity needed to complete any mission successfully and outmatch every opponent. New innovations incorporated in the V-280 include stationary nacelles, which increases the ease of aircraft maintenance and safety of the ingress and egress. The newest tiltrotor offers fixed-wing high speed performance and low speed agility, giving soldiers and operators the option to select the best pace and maneuverability for their mission.
General Dynamics Land Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics (GD), recently received two contract awards from the U.S. Army for Abrams main battle tank upgrades, which will boost the platform’s capabilities and help the Army lead the way into the future.
The company will design, develop and integrate multiple engineering changes into the Abrams M1A2 System Enhancement Package Version 3 (SEPv3), creating a SEPv4 and further modernizing the tanks. Abrams main battle tanks are produced at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio.
The first contract is for SEPv4 upgrades, which include the Commander’s Primary Sight (formerly known as the Commander’s Independent Thermal Viewer), an improved Gunner’s Primary Sight and enhancements to sensors, lethality and survivability. General Dynamics Land Systems will deliver seven prototype M1A2 SEPv4 tanks to the Army. The contract has an initial value of $311 million. Work will be performed in Sterling Heights, Michigan; Lima; Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Tallahassee, Florida.
The second award was a $270 million contract from the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Command to produce 45 Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 tanks. The first pilot vehicles, which feature technological advancements in communications, reliability, sustainment and fuel efficiency and upgraded armor, are expected to roll off the production line in fall 2017. Work will be performed in Lima, Scranton, Tallahassee and Anniston, Alabama.
General Dynamics Land Systems provides innovative design, engineering, technology, production and full life-cycle support for land combat vehicles around the globe. The company’s extensive experience, customer-first focus and seasoned supply chain network provide unmatched capabilities to the U.S. military and its allies.
HMS Argyll (F231) has successfully conducted the first firings of the Sea Ceptor system, a major milestone for the Royal Navy as it brings its upgraded Type 23 frigates back into service.
The Sea Ceptor system, which utilises MBDA’s next-generation Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM), is being fitted to replace the Sea Wolf weapon system on the Type 23 frigates as part of their life-extension programme. Sea Ceptor will provide improved protection for the Royal Navy against anti-ship cruise missiles, aircraft and other highly sophisticated threats.
HMS Argyll (F231) is the first Type 23 to undergo the life-extension programme, and will conduct further firing trials of the Sea Ceptor system before returning to frontline service. Sea Ceptor not only provides a robust self-defence capability for the host vessel but importantly also a local area air defence competency to defend consort vessels within a maritime task group.
Designed and manufactured by MBDA in the UK, Sea Ceptor will also protect the Royal Navy’s future Type 26 Frigates, and as Land Ceptor will replace Rapier in British Army service. The missile uses innovative technologies that provide significant improvements in performance compared with previous generations of missiles.
Compared to Sea Wolf, CAMM is faster, has longer range, has a two-way data link, and has a much more advanced seeker, all of which enable the missile to intercept more challenging targets.
Dave Armstrong, Executive Group Director Sales and Business Development and Managing Director UK at MBDA, said: «Sea Ceptor is the most modern air defence system of its type in the world, and will provide a step-change in capability to the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates. These first firings are testament to the hard work of the talented team of people working on the programme across MBDA, the Royal Navy, Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), BAE Systems and QinetiQ. CAMM is a perfect demonstration of the benefits of the portfolio-approach to complex weapons between MBDA and the UK MoD, simultaneously delivering world-beating technology to our Armed Forces and significant cost benefits to the UK taxpayer».
Traditional air defence systems utilise semi-active radar guidance, meaning they rely on a surface-based fire control radar to illuminate the missile’s target. By using an active radar seeker and datalink on the missile CAMM does not require the dedicated fire control radar on which a semi-active system depends. This not only removes cost and weight from the vessel, it makes integration simpler and means that Sea Ceptor can intercept more targets simultaneously, and across 360 degrees – something a semi-active system cannot.
The missile’s clean aerodynamic design provides it with improved performance in the air, while also making it highly compact for installation onboard ship. Moreover, Sea Ceptor uses an innovative soft vertical launch system that significantly reduces the impact of a traditional «hot launch» missile on both the ship and the crew.
Besides the Royal Navy and the British Army, CAMM is also the modern air defence weapon of choice for a further four nations’ armed services.
The North Carolina National Guard’s Detachment 1, D Company 236th Brigade Engineer Battalion, recently completed six weeks of New Equipment Training (NET) near Fort Bragg, North Carolina, July 17 – August 25, 2017 after receiving the latest model of the RQ-7BV2 Shadow.
This newest version of Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) is visually similar to the previous model, but with several upgrades including longer flight durations.
«The Shadow as a platform brings reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition, which gives us capabilities for our military intelligence company in support of the 30th Brigade», said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephen Isaacs, the Detachment 1 commander. «The V2 gives us a much larger range. It gives us a longer flight time, which also gives us more time to be on target».
In addition to the increased range, the new version of the Shadow also meets the requirements of a new NATO regulation that requires all unmanned aircraft to have a certain level of interoperability and communications security.
Sergeant Joseph Patton, a unit trainer and operator with Detachment 1, is happy about the improvements to the aircraft.
«It’s absolutely better», said Patton. «From flying unmanned aircraft down-range and in combat, there have been instances of other people being able to see our feed and our video and this is going to completely mitigate that. This will keep our capabilities to us».
Although Detachment 1 only has the Shadow, it is part of a new universal system that gives operators the ability to control more than one type of UAS.
«It’s a part of NATO’s system to have that universality so we will be able to help our fellow NATO forces in the future», Isaacs said.
The NET gave the Soldiers a chance to learn about the new aircraft without the limitation of time they face on most drill weekends, where it takes three-quarters of a day to set up the airfield.
«There are guys who have gotten more training during this NET than they’ve had all year», said Patton.
The additional training was not easy. The Soldiers had to battle a hot North Carolina summer with afternoon thunderstorms that kept them from flying, and they had to re-learn the new system.
«The hardest part was definitely changing the way we’ve been doing something for eight, sometimes 12 years for some of the operators», Patton said. «When you do this for so long you have a flow and you do the same flow every time and you get the aircraft in the air, and now it’s changed».
Patton said all the troubles were worth the effort.
«There’s been growth not just in our flying capabilities but also in our operations», he said. «It’s always exciting to get that first bird up, every time. Whether it’s a drill weekend or annual training. There’s a lot of work getting it set up, but every time that bird leaves the rails for the first time, that means everything you just did was validated».
September 4, 2017, Bengaluru, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) signed one more contract for supply of Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH). The contract is for 40 ALH to the Indian Army and one to the Indian Navy (IN).
«The latest order reflects the trust on HAL’s capabilities and gives an impetus to make-in-India campaign. It reposes faith of Indian Defence forces in indigenous ALH which has been serving them with distinction for a long time», says Mr. T. Suvarna Raju, CMD-HAL.
The contracts for supply of 41 ALHs amounting around Rs 6100 crores will be executed in a period of 60 months. The contract was signed between MoD and HAL in New Delhi recently. Officials from MoD, Indian Army, Indian Navy and HAL were present during the event.
In March this year HAL had signed a contract for supply of 32 ALH to boost the maritime security capabilities of the Indian Navy (IN) and Indian Coast Guard (ICG).
Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, has awarded Lockheed Martin a Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 1 contract to build two production CH-53K King Stallion helicopters. This contract follows the April 4, 2017, Milestone C decision by the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) approving LRIP production.
«Gaining the U.S. Marine Corps approval to enter into production and the award of the first contract are milestones made possible by the tremendous achievements of the joint Sikorsky, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and U.S. Marine Corps team», said Dr. Mike Torok, vice president, CH-53K programs. «This is what we have been striving for – to deliver this amazing capability to the U.S. Marine Corps».
Under the $303,974,406 million contract, Sikorsky will deliver two production aircraft to the U.S. Marine Corps in 2020 along with spares and logistical support. Aircraft assembly will take place at Sikorsky’s headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut.
«We have just successfully launched the production of the most powerful helicopter our nation has ever designed. This incredible capability will revolutionize the way our nation conducts business in the battlespace by ensuring a substantial increase in logistical through put into that battlespace. I could not be prouder of our government-contractor team for making this happen», said Col Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command’s Heavy Lift Helicopters program, PMA-261.
The CH-53K King Stallion provides unmatched capability with three times the lift capability of its predecessor, the CH-53E Super Stallion. The helicopter cabin, a full foot wider, gives increased payload capacity to internally load 463L cargo pallets, High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) or a European Fenneck armored personnel carrier while still leaving the troop seats installed. The CH-53K’s external hook system provides the capability to lift three independent external loads simultaneously. These true heavy lift internal and external cargo improvements give the Marine Corps tremendous mission flexibility and efficiency in delivering combat power in support of the Marine Air Ground Task Force or in delivering humanitarian assistance or disaster relief to those in need.
The CH-53K King Stallion also brings enhanced safety features for the warfighter. Full authority fly-by-wire flight controls and mission management reduce pilot workload enabling the crew to focus on mission execution. Features include advanced stability augmentation, flight control modes that include attitude command-velocity hold, automated approach to a stabilized hover, position hold and precision tasks in degraded visual environments, and tactile cueing. These features permit the pilot to focus confidently on the mission at hand while operating in degraded environments.
The CH-53K’s internal health monitoring systems with fault detection/fault isolation, coupled with a digital aviation logistics maintenance system that interfaces with the Fleet Common Operating Environment for fleet management, provides improved combat readiness for the Marine Corps.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Program of Record remains at 200 CH-53K King Stallion aircraft. The U.S. Marine Corps intends to stand up eight active duty squadrons, one training squadron, and one reserve squadron to support operational requirements.
The first of the Royal Navy’s (RN) next-generation patrol ships HMS Forth (P222) is at sea as she sailed down the Clyde for the first time on August 31.
HMS Forth (P222) leads a class of five state-of-the-art warships which will act as the RN’s eyes and ears around the United Kingdom (UK), help to safeguard fishing stocks, reassure and protect Falkland Islanders and deploy to the Mediterranean and Caribbean if necessary.
Designed for a crew of just under 60 (but needing only 38 crew at any one time to go to sea), the ship departed Scotstoun – where she’s spent several months being fitted out – on August 30 afternoon with a maximum number of 110 souls aboard. Every bunk aboard is filled.
Contractors from builders BAE Systems, experts from the military’s support organisation Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), the RN’s equipment trials specialists Maritime Capability Trials and Assessment (MCTA) and ship’s company will guide HMS Forth (P222) through her ‘contractor sea trials’ to see how she handles and how the equipment on board performs.
Although she’s classed as a Batch 2 River-class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), HMS Forth (P222) and her sisters – HMS Medway (P223), HMS Trent (P224), HMS Tamar and HMS Spey – are a big leap forward from HMS Tyne (P281), HMS Severn (P282), HMS Mersey (P283) and HMS Clyde (P257), which were designed and built 15 years ago.
They’re four knots/4.6 mph/7.4 km/h faster, carry a 30-mm, not 20-mm main gun, two Miniguns, four machine-guns, two Pacific 24 sea boats. Each ship is equipped with a flight deck (only HMS Clyde (P257) of the first-generation craft can host a helicopter) and there’s accommodation for up to 50 troops/Royal Marines to support operations ashore if needed.
Junior ratings share six-berth cabins – as on Type 45 destroyers; senior rates and officers will live in two-berth en suite cabins.
HMS Forth (P222), which is affiliated to the historic city of Stirling, also borrows many of the first batch’s features – which were revolutionary in RN ships at the time: fixed fire-fighting systems across much of the ship, a computer-controlled machinery monitoring system. The bridge is far more Type 45 (spacious, computerised with interchangeable displays, communications kit) than a rather cramped Type 23 frigate.
«Today marks a key moment in the generation of the ship and it is extremely exciting to be on board», said Commander Bob Laverty, Forth’s first Commanding Officer. «Forth boasts state-of-the-art equipment, and my Ship’s Company are looking forward to developing their knowledge of the systems on board with their industry counterparts».
The Batch 2s are from the same family as the Batch 1s «but are a completely new design», Lieutenant Tom Sleight, Forth’s Navigator, explained.
«The design provides a lot more operational flexibility with the large flight deck and space for the embarked force. These ships will be able to conduct all of the fishery protection and domestic security duties currently undertaken by the squadron but will now also provide far more capable platform for deploying overseas such as when HMS Mersey (P283) provided support to migrant operations in the Mediterranean or HMS Severn (P282) and HMS Mersey (P283) on Atlantic Patrol North. They are going to be extremely capable ships when compared with their predecessors».
Ship No.2, HMS Medway (P223), has taken Forth’s place at Scotstoun for fitting out having been floated down river from Govan in mid-August.
Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser underwent a captive carry test at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center here August 30. The test was part of the spacecraft’s Phase Two flight test efforts to advance the orbiter closer to space flight, according to an SNC press release.
A Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter carried the Dream Chaser over Edwards for about an hour. The goal was to reach an altitude and flight conditions the spacecraft would experience before being released on a free flight test, said company officials.
The Dream Chaser was delivered to Armstrong January 25 to undergo several months of testing at the center in preparation for its upcoming approach and landing flight on one of Edwards Air Force Base’s (AFB) runways.
The test series is part of a developmental space act agreement SNC has with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The test campaign will help SNC validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser, according to NASA.
Lee Archambault, SNC director of flight operations for the Dream Chaser program, said in a press release, «We are very pleased with the results from the captive carry test and everything we have seen points to a successful test with useful data for the next round of testing».
The August 30 captive carry test is one of two planned at Edwards for this year. The test obtained data and evaluated both individual and overall system performance, said the release. If the second captive carry test is a success, it will clear the way for a free-flight test.
The Dream Chaser is also being prepared to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract beginning in 2019. The data that SNC gathers from this test campaign will help influence and inform the final design of the cargo Dream Chaser, which will fly at least six cargo delivery missions to and from the space station by 2024, according to NASA.
A Raytheon-built Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target at sea in its final seconds of flight, after being fired from the USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53).
The SM-6 missile can perform anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare and – now – even more advanced ballistic missile defense at sea.
«Earlier this year, our customer requested an enhanced capability to deal with a sophisticated medium-range ballistic missile threat», said Mike Campisi, Raytheon’s SM-6 senior program director. «We did all this – the analysis, coding and testing – in seven months; a process that normally takes one to two years».
This was the third time that the SM-6 missile successfully engaged a ballistic missile target in its terminal phase. It was first tested in a successful flight test mission in August 2015, and then again in late 2016.
Deployed on U.S. Navy ships, SM-6 delivers a proven over-the-horizon offensive and defensive capability by leveraging the time-tested Standard Missile airframe and propulsion system. It’s the only missile that supports anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare and sea-based terminal ballistic missile defense in one solution – and it’s enabling the U.S. and its allies to cost-effectively increase the offensive might of surface forces. Raytheon has delivered more than 330 SM-6 missiles with continuing production.
The U.S. Department of Defense has approved the sale of SM-6 to several allied nations.
NATO’s four multinational battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland are now fully operational. This milestone comes after the Canadian-led battlegroup based at Camp Ādaži in Latvia became the fourth battlegroup to complete its Certification Exercise.
In response to a changed security environment, Allied leaders decided at the Warsaw Summit in 2016 to enhance NATO’s military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance. Since then, four multinational battlegroups totaling approximately 4,500 troops have deployed to the Baltic nations and Poland. Canada leads the battlegroup in Latvia, with contributions by Albania, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Spain. Germany leads the battlegroup in Lithuania, with contributions by Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway. The United Kingdom leads the battlegroup in Estonia, with contributions by France. The United States leads the battlegroup in Poland, with contributions by Romania and the UK.
These forces are a defensive and proportionate deterrent force, fully in line with NATO’s international commitments. They send a clear message that an attack on one Ally would be met by troops from across the Alliance.
The four battlegroups are one part of the Alliance’s response to Russia’s use of force against its neighbours and its military build-up in the Baltic region and beyond. NATO is also strengthening its multinational presence in the Black Sea region, based around a Romanian-led multinational framework brigade. The Alliance has also tripled the size of the NATO Response Force to 40,000 – with a high-readiness Spearhead Force at its core – and set up eight small headquarters (NATO Force Integration Units) to facilitate training and reinforcements.