UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
23 Mar 21. UK to develop new class of nuclear submarine. A new generation of nuclear submarines will be developed to replace the Astute class in the 2040s. The Defence Command Paper, titled ‘Defence in a Competitive Age’, describes the planned programme: “We commit to funding for the next generation of nuclear submarines (SSNs) to guarantee our security well into the second half of the century.”
The Astute-class submarines are the largest, most advanced and most powerful attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy, combining world-leading sensors, design and weaponry in a versatile vessel. The Royal Navy also say that the class sets a new standard for the Royal Navy in terms of weapons load, communication facilities and stealth.
The boats are being constructed by BAE Systems Submarines at Barrow-in-Furness alongside the Dreadnought class nuclear missile submarines, the submarines that are pictured above will replace the Vanguard class and host Trident nuclear missiles.
Seven boats are be constructed: the first of class, Astute, was launched by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in 2007, commissioned in 2010, and declared fully operational in May 2014.
The Astute class is the replacement for the Trafalgar-class fleet submarines in Royal Navy service. We know very little about their replacements however.
There is a bit of information floating around, though. Pun intended. Respected naval commentator H. I. Sutton wrote in an article for Forbes that on November the 23rd 2019, BAE Systems advertised a job in Barrow-in-Furness.
“The advert is now closed, but the information contained is of great interest because of just one word: SSNR. The role description included ‘to work different stakeholders across the Astute, Dreadnought and SSNR programmes’. Defence watchers will recognize the first two projects. The Astute Class is the Royal Navy’s current attack submarine, and the Dreadnought is the new Trident missile boat.”
(Source: News Now/https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/)
23 Mar 21. Norway will order four submarines from Germany’s Thyssenkrupp for 45bn crowns ($5.3bn), while Germany will purchase another two, the defence ministries in Oslo and Berlin said on Tuesday. Norway and Germany, both NATO members, are jointly procuring identical submarines from Thyssenkrupp’s shipbuilding division. Germany agreed to order two submarines from Thyssenkrupp, pending approval from the German parliament, the defence ministries said. The signing of the contract is due this summer, the ministry in Oslo said, with the first submarine due for delivery in 2029. As part of the deal, Norway and Germany have also agreed to buy missiles jointly and to finance the development of a new type of missile. In 2017, Norway and Germany agreed in principle to build the submarines as part of a closer cooperation of the countries’ navies. Originally, they aimed to sign the contract with ThyssenKrupp in 2019. Thyssenkrupp’s partner on the submarine project is Norway’s Kongsberg Gruppen. ($1 = 8.5587 Norwegian crowns) (Source: Reuters)
22 Mar 21. Strategic Capabilities Office Selects Two Mobile Microreactor Concepts to Proceed to Final Design. The Department of Defense (DOD) exercised contract options for two teams— led by BWXT Advanced Technologies, LLC, Lynchburg, Virginia; and X-energy, LLC, Greenbelt, Maryland—to proceed with development of a final design for a transportable advanced nuclear microreactor prototype. The two teams were selected from a preliminary design competition, and will each continue development independently under a Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) initiative called Project Pele.
After a final design review in early 2022 and completion of environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act, one of the two companies may be selected to build and demonstrate a prototype. This selection follows an April 2019 request for solutions through which three companies were awarded competitively other transaction agreements for prototyping to develop preliminary designs.
“We are thrilled with the progress our industrial partners have made on their designs,” said Dr. Jeff Waksman, Project Pele program manager. “We are confident that by early 2022 we will have two engineering designs matured to a sufficient state that we will be able to determine suitability for possible construction and testing.”
The DOD uses approximately 30 Terawatt-hours of electricity per year and more than 10 million gallons of fuel per day—levels that are only expected to increase due to anticipated electrification of the vehicle fleet and maturation of future energy-intensive capabilities. A safe, small, transportable nuclear reactor would address this growing demand with a resilient, carbon-free energy source that does not add to the DOD’s fuel needs, while supporting mission-critical operations in remote and austere environments. Project Pele is a fourth-generation nuclear reactor, which, once prototyped, could serve as a pathfinder for commercial adoption of such technologies, thereby reducing the Nation’s carbon emissions and providing new tools for disaster relief and critical infrastructure support.
The prototype reactor will be designed to deliver one to five Megawatts of electrical power for at least three years of operation at full power. To enable rapid transport and use, it will be designed to operate within three days of delivery and to be safely removed in as few as seven days.
Project Pele is a whole-of-government effort, with critical expertise provided by the United States Army, the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Nuclear Security Administration.
“Production of a full-scale Fourth Generation nuclear reactor will have significant geopolitical implications for the United States,” said Mr. Jay Dryer, SCO director. “The DOD has led American innovation many times in the past, and with Project Pele, has the opportunity to help us advance on both energy resiliency and carbon emission reductions.”
(Source: US DoD)
22 Mar 21. US Navy seeks prototype data fusion system for CUAS. The US Navy is seeking industry input toward the development of a new High Level Data Fusion (HLDF) prototype system architecture, designed to augment command and control capabilities (C2) aboard current combat platforms to support counter unmanned aerial system (CUAS) operations.
The crux of the new HLDF prototype will be a new open systems architecture “that can fuse data from multiple sources to provide object assessment, situational assessment, and threat assessment,” particularly those posed by small UAS (sUAS) platforms, according to Request for Solutions (RFS) posted by the National Security Technology Accelerator in March. Service leaders have set aside USD3.5m for the programme.
In the end, the new architecture and associated Computer Software Configuration Item (CSCI) requirements, will lay out the technological blueprint for “competitive design and development of complete HLDF components of C2 systems, or individual data fusion software modules, [which] can be used to allow software modules from multiple organizations or systems to be interoperable,” the RFS solicitation stated.
Specifically, the architecture requirements being sought by navy engineers will allow service personnel to integrate “various software modules” into existing C2 systems, allowing those programmes to “adopt the HLDF reference architecture [and] enable efforts to be focused on improving specific data fusion capabilities within the system,” the solicitation stated. “The HLDF reference architecture developed in [RFS] will include requirements and interfaces for software modules, as well as an assessment of existing capabilities with the goal of reducing the cognitive workload on the operator so the only decision is whether or not countermeasures should be employed,” it added. (Source: Jane’s)
REST OF THE WORLD
24 Mar 21. Five applicants to progress onto next stage of SEA 129. Five applicants have been selected to progress onto the next stage of SEA 129’s Phase 5 Block One. Five applicants have been selected to advance onto the next stage of the Maritime Unmanned Aircraft System Continuous Development Program, SEA 129 Phase 5, Defence confirmed on Wednesday morning.
The applicants that have progressed to Block One of SEA 129’s Phase 5 are: BAE Systems Australia, Insitu Pacific, Northrop Grumman Australia, Raytheon Australia and Textron Systems Australia. Block One is the first five-year phase over the course of SEA 129’s 30-year lifespan.
Acting Minister for Defence Marise Payne welcomed the continued progress of the program.
“This program will acquire maritime unmanned intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting aircraft systems which will complement current sensors and systems on Navy’s ships, while boosting a ship’s area of surveillance,” Minister Payne said.
“Today’s milestone is a result of the Morrison government’s unprecedented $270bn investment in defence capability over the next decade, which is equipping the Australian Defence Force with world-class, cutting-edge capability.”
This was further welcomed by Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price.
“By incorporating new technology through block upgrades every five years, the program supports the development of Australia’s unmanned aircraft system industry, and provides the Navy with a leading-edge maritime surveillance capability,” Minister Price said.
“This process will allow Australian businesses to be directly involved in providing greater situational awareness for the Fleet, in particular the new Arafura offshore patrol vessels, while strengthening long-term job growth and security.” (Source: Defence Connect)
19 Mar 21. NSW launches new space industry grants programs. The state government has established its own Node of the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre, which is set to fund industry-research teaming project.
NSW has become the first state to launch its own Node of the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), which aims to foster collaboration between industry and academia for the development of advanced telecommunications, intelligent satellite systems and Earth observation data services.
The Node is expected to incentivise collaboration through three separate grant programs, designed to facilitate industry access to advanced equipment, laboratory space and research infrastructure within universities.
The government has invited applications for co-funding of up to $100,000 for projects exploring ways to address challenges in agriculture, mining and resources, defence and security, transport, and bushfires and disaster management.
NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the Node would help create jobs in a range of space sectors, including launch and support services, ground systems, and satellite technology.
“Supporting a thriving research ecosystem is just one part of our Space Industry Development Strategy, which will also help develop a fit-for-purpose workforce by closing the STEM skills gap and supporting the growth of innovation precincts,” Minister Ayres said.
“The technology innovations produced by the space industry have enormous impact here on earth, from using GPS on a smart phone to monitor bushfires to using artificial intelligence to reduce waste across all our industries.”
The SmartSat CRC was established in 2019 as part of the Commonwealth government’s $55m Cooperative Research Centre program.
Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews welcomed the NSW government’s participation in the program.
“This node will contribute to the Australian government’s goal to triple the size of the space sector to $12bn and create an extra 20,000 jobs by 2030, and it will also complement the work of our $1.5bn Modern Manufacturing Strategy, under which space is one of six priority areas,” Minister Andrews said.
SmartSat CRC CEO Professor Andy Koronios said the NSW space ecosystem would help drive commercialisation opportunities of space-related technologies.
“SmartSat is incredibly excited to be partnering with the NSW government in establishing this Node and augmenting other NSW initiatives to supercharge the NSW space innovation ecosystem,” Professor Koronios said.
“We are already working on a number of exception R&D projects that will develop space capabilities and build the commercialisation pathways within the state.”
The NSW-backed Node will be led by coordinator Dr Tim Parsons and based in Tech Central.
Dr Parsons is chair of the Space Industry Association of Australia and has experience supporting the growth of the space industry through his organisation Delta-V NewSpace Alliance.
“With 38 per cent of space start-ups based here, the majority of Australia’s angel and venture capital tech investors, as well as the headquarters of its largest companies, NSW is a fantastic home for Australia’s space industry,” Dr Parsons said.
“The NSW Node will strengthen the outcomes of the SmartSat CRC by enabling more start-ups and SMEs to participate.”
NSW chief scientist Hugh Durrant-Whyte also welcomed the state government’s new commitment.
“This investment will ensure we are well-positioned to take advantage of this growing industry and create new and exciting job opportunities,” he said.
The NSW government first launched its Space Industry Development Strategy in January 2020, which aims to establish the state as the premier hub for commercial space technology in the Asia-Pacific region. (Source: Space Connect)