25 Mar 21. UK SMEs benefit from new supply policy. Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that the UK MoD is putting £46m over 4 years to bolster the UK Defence Supply Chain reverting from using contracts advertised on the European Tender site (TED) to a ‘Buy British,’ policy. The MoD is reportedly part financing SMEs to fill gaps in their machinery to supply parts. This may be due to UK SMEs being blocked out of a number of parts tenders for such vehicles as Boxer and Ajax which have gone to the European incumbent company. The cancellation of Warrior which supported 2000 UK jobs, many of them in SMEs may well have spurred this process. In the past there has been a policy by some suppliers to buy Chinese and other countries’ parts and repackage them, as ‘Made In UK.’
22 Mar 21. Indian Navy commissions eighth and final Mk IV landing craft
The Indian Navy (IN) has commissioned its eighth and final Mk IV landing craft utility (LCU) platform ordered from state-owned shipyard Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) in September 2011.
Named IN LCU L58, the 62.8 m vessel entered service in a ceremony held on 18 March at Port Blair, the capital of India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands and headquarters of the IN-headed tri-service command.
The LCU, which is part of an INR21bn (USD290m) contract for eight such vessels signed between GRSE and the Indian government, was launched on 16 December 2016 at GRSE’s facility in Kolkata, and has now joined the seven other vessels of the class – L51, L52, L53, L54, L55, L56, L57 – the first of which entered service in March 2017.
Each of the LCUs is capable of transporting up to 160 fully equipped troops, main battle tanks, armoured vehicles, and other equipment, including containerised mission modules for amphibious and sealift operations.
Based at the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC), these ships can also be employed in a number of missions, including beaching, search-and-rescue, humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief, and supply and replenishment operations.
Each vessel of the Mk IV class displaces 830 tons, has a crew of 50 – including five officers – and is fitted with “state-of-the-art equipment and advanced systems” such as a locally designed integrated bridge system (IBS) and an integrated platform management system (IPMS), according to the IN. (Source: Jane’s)
18 Mar 21. Boeing scores new test milestones for MQ-25A test asset. Boeing has chalked up two new milestones during flight testing of a pre-production version of the US Navy’s (USN’s) MQ-25A unmanned aerial refuelling aircraft.
T1 – the company’s own flight test asset – recorded its longest flight to date at more than six hours. The air vehicle has also achieved its highest altitude so far, with test points recorded at 30,000 ft. Developed to meet the navy’s Carrier-Based Aerial-Refuelling System requirement, the MQ-25A is intended to provide USN carrier air wings with a robust organic refuelling capability to improve the combat range of embarked strike fighters. In August 2018 Boeing was awarded a USD805.3m engineering, manufacturing, and development (EMD) contract by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) for design, development, fabrication, test, delivery, and support of four MQ-25A unmanned air vehicles, including integration into the carrier air wing for an initial operational capability in August 2024.
The MQ-25A is expected to deliver up to 15,000 lb of fuel to aircraft up to 500 n miles away. Aerial refuelling operations will be undertaken using two Cobham 31-301-7 Aerial Refuelling Store (ARS) pods – one under each wing – paying out a refuelling hose and basket. These buddy stores are already in service on USN F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.
T1 begin flying testing with the ARS pod in 2020. Flight testing initially focused on evaluating the aerodynamic effects of the buddy store at various points in the flight envelope.
The T1 will next test its ARS hose and drogue, including wake surveys. This will be followed by receiver flights with an F/A-18 Super Horne