12 May 21. France receives upgraded motorised floating bridges. The Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the French defence procurement agency, announced on its website on 6 May that it had received and delivered the first four upgraded Pont Flottant Motorisé (PFM) motorised floating bridges to the French Army in April.
The agency said the upgraded PFM F2 can be equipped with shorter ramps than the 36-year-old PFM F1 it replaces, allowing it to be transported by the same semi-trailer as the module rather than the previous two and to be deployed more quickly. The shorter ramps can handle military load class 40 (MLC40) vehicles weighing 35–40 tonnes.
The logistics tail has also been reduced, with two rather than the five semi-trailer trucks required for the PFM F1 sufficing to carry the parts of a motorised ferry capable of handling MLC40 vehicles. With a single remote-control console to power four new, more powerful engines, the ferry is more manoeuverable on the water.
The PFM F2 also has better land mobility, provided by new tractor trucks and the upgrade of the PFM F2 with new hydraulics and the addition of an engine to bring it up to existing civilian standards. Of the new trucks, 10 are armoured for better protection.
The PFM F2 retains the ability to handle MLC65-class vehicles by using long ramps and up to five modules.
13 May 21. US Army concludes trial of Chinook fitted with King Stallion engines. The US Army, Boeing, and General Electric (GE) have concluded trials of an NCH-47D Chinook heavy-lift helicopter fitted with the more powerful GE T408 engines of the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion, it was announced on 12 May.
As noted by Boeing, the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center (CCDC AvMC) and its industry partners conducted 18 ground tests and an undisclosed number of flight tests from late 2019 into early 2021.
“The success of this effort demonstrates how integration of more powerful engines on the H-47 Chinook could support future aircraft capability and Army Aviation modernisation efforts while reducing technical and integration risk,” Boeing said.
The standard Honeywell T55 engine that currently powers the Chinook puts out 5,000 shp for a combined 10,000 shp per helicopter, while the T408 puts out 7,500 shp for a combined 15,000 shp per helicopter. Though not part of the Block 2 upgrade that is geared at reinstating lift capacity that has been lost over recent years as more mission equipment has been installed on to the helicopter, the improved Block 2 drivetrain combined with the T408 engine could be an alternate means of achieving the same effect. (Source: Jane’s)
10 May 21. US Navy commissions expeditionary sea base vessel Miguel Keith. The US Navy has commissioned the Lewis B Puller-class expeditionary sea base (ESB) USS Miguel Keith (ESB 5) at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, California.
USS Miguel Keith’s sister ship USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB-3) at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia (USA). Credit: U.S. Navy Combat Camera Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David Kolmel.
The 785ft-long vessel has been named after US Marine Corps Vietnam veteran Lance Corporal Miguel Keith, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam War.
With a beam of 164ft and around 39ft navigational draft, USS Miguel Keith is the third ESB platform.
The US Navy christened ESB 5 in October 2019.
According to the US Department of Defense (DoD), USS Miguel Keith will now be part of the Forward Deployed Naval Force (FDNF) and will operate from Saipan.
ESB was previously known as Afloat Forward Staging Base. General Dynamics NASSCO is building the warships.
The ships are designed to support a range of missions, including special operations force (SOF) and airborne mine counter measures (AMCM), as well as logistics movement from sea to shore.
The vessels provide capabilities, such as aviation facilities, berthing, equipment staging area, and command and control.
In December 2016, NASSCO was awarded the construction contract for ESB 5. The firm is also responsible for the detail design and construction of ESB 6 and 7.
With a range of 9,500nm, the ESBs can accommodate a crew of 34 Military Sealift Command personnel. (Source: naval-technology.com)
11 May 21. USMC eye tactical resupply drone prototypes. Just like Amazon wants to use drones to drop off packages on your doorstep, the Marines want to use UAS systems for tactical resupply to squads in the field. Military Times’ Todd South looks goes to Periscope Aviation’s headquarters for a look at where heavy-lift drone technology is headed.
The Marines are one step closer to finding ways to transport vital supplies to Marines on the move via drones.
In 2020, the Corps sought prototype drones that would be able to carry a 60 pound payload on a 20 km roundtrip.
After evaluations at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, the Corps picked Periscope Aviation and Malloy Aeronautics to build competing drones under the Tactical Resupply Unmanned Aircraft System program.
The program is basically the Marines Corps’ way of seeing what’s available from industry for smaller payload, shorter range resupply that could be scaled up quickly for larger payloads at farther distances with the right technology investment.
Marine Corps Times recently visited the Leesburg, Virginia, headquarters of Periscope Aviation to view a demonstration of their prototype and talk with Periscope CEO Nick McCarter.
“From there, the Marine Corps wanted to lift more weight, so we developed the MK4-RX,” McCarter said.
In early 2021, the company delivered the MK4-RX prototype, which can carry 60 pounds on a 40 km roundtrip and 90 pounds on a 20 km roundtrip.
Company officials noted they’ve done test lifts with the drone up to 135 pounds and fly a 20 km round trip.
McCarter explained that part of the way they’re able to do that work is through a series of patents on their more streamlined design that allows the drone to travel through the air with less resistance. They also focus on use 20 percent thrust at takeoff as compared to industry competitors which can often use as much as 70 percent thrust.
That reduced thrust still allows for takeoff but doesn’t strain battery life, which translates to longer flight duration once airborne.
“We achieve this by using over-spec’d motors and props couple with extreme light weight airframes,” company officials said.
While the Marines are still evaluating the most recent prototypes, McCarter said his company’s next effort will look to the 400 pound to 500 pound payload at the same ranges.
The company has designed the device with the field in mind. The drone breaks down into six boxes which can all fit on an all-terrain vehicle such as the Corps’ Polaris MRZR. Set up and tear down can be accomplished in under five minutes and a series of push-pull locking pins clicks it together, no tools required.
It can fly in autonomous or semi-autonomous modes through simple tablet computer displays.
“Which means if you can pick waypoints on a map, you can fly this drone,” McCarter said.
He stressed the niche that a drone like this is filling. While this project is for resupply, the same drone could be used for communications relays or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
They’re made in a kind of in-between space that is more durable than the hobby drones flown for recreation or photography and the high-end, high-altitude, multimillion dollar drones used for long-range reconnaissance.
“Everything we build is designed around what that customer wants to do,” McCarter said.
Periscope falls within Chartis Federal, a company that began working with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in 2008 to solve a communications problem agents were experiencing in rough terrain at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Agents would be cut off from communications in deeper valleys or lower areas of steep cliffs.
Chartis was able to use tethered drones over those spots to run as kind of mobile communications towers to relay signals and give agents communications in previously no-go areas. (Source: Marine Times)
11 May 21. Rheinmetall takes over maintenance of first two German Air Force CH-53G transport helicopters at Diepholz Air Base. Rheinmetall has taken over maintenance operations for the Bundeswehr’s fleet of CH-53G helicopters, as planned. Embedded in the organization of the 64th Helicopter Squadron at Diepholz Air Base, Rheinmetall Aviation Services GmbH now received the first two aircrafts in their maintenance bay.
The takeover of maintenance operations by Rheinmetall proceeded remarkably smooth and quickly. The Bundeswehr and Rheinmetall signed a maintenance contract on 27 November 2020; together with involved elements of the German Air Force, especially the local detachment of the 64th Helicopter Squadron at Diepholz, it took just 77 days to lay the groundwork basis necessary for assuring a start of operations on 29 March 2021 on time. This was only achievable due to superb support and cooperation of the Bundeswehr.
At Diepholz, the local detachment of the 64th Helicopter Squadron is responsible for major maintenance and repair operations, with five Bundeswehr-owned maintenance bays dedicated for the CH-53G – an aircraft that has been in the Bundeswehr inventory ever since 1972.
Prior to taking over the maintenance operations, Rheinmetall Aviation Services had to contend with multiple organizational and logistical challenges. Among other things, experienced personnel had to be located and hired, who in some cases had to undergo additional training and be schooled in the specific requirements of the Bundeswehr. Moreover, countless tools and items of work equipment had to be purchased at short notice.
07 May 21. 1st B-1Bs Resume Flight Operations. The first B-1B Lancers resumed flight operations May 3 following a safety stand-down issued April 20 by Gen. Tim Ray, Air Force Global Strike Command commander. Individual B-1B aircraft will return to flight as inspections and maintenance directed during the stand-down are completed on each aircraft.
During the stand-down, maintenance depot personnel disassembled the Augmenter Fuel Filter Housing and performed a series of inspections. After each unit was determined to be free of defects, it was reassembled, pressure checked and returned to service.
“We are proud of the tremendous efforts of our maintainers and B-1 partners in identifying, inspecting, and remediating any potential issues with the B-1B fuel filter housing,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Weatherington, Eighth Air Force commander, who is responsible for the Air Force bomber force. “The aircraft are still safe to fly and we are confident that this stand-down has resulted in increased safety within the B-1B fleet.”
The entire maintenance, depot, engineering and acquisition team must be commended for getting the B-1B bombers back into the hands of warfighters in a very short time, according to AFGSC officials. Although this was an Air Force enterprise-wide effort, special thanks must go to the maintainers at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Dyess AFB, Texas and the AFGSC staff, as well as Air Force Sustainment Center’s depot team, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s B-1 Program Office and Propulsion Directorate, the Air Staff and the Secretary of the Air Force office of Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics on their efforts.
The precautionary safety stand-down and holistic inspection of the Augmenter Fuel Filter Housing on each aircraft was ordered after an April 8 ground emergency resulted in the discovery of a discrepancy with the system. (Source: ASD Network)
06 May 21. Collins completes first upgrade of US Navy’s C-130T and KC-130T. Raytheon Technologies’ Collins Aerospace has upgraded the US Navy’s C-130T and KC-130T aircraft fleet with new wheels and brakes.
The latest wheels and carbon brakes upgrade will enable C-130 users to lower maintenance time and cost.
Collins’ C-130 brakes are made of DURACARB carbon heat sink material. They allow the aircraft to clock 2,000 landings per overhaul.
This is eight times more than the 250 landings per overhaul allowed by the C-130’s existing system.
Furthermore, the brakes can manage high amount of energy and raise the safety margin for heavily loaded C-130 jets compared to aircraft’s existing equipment.
Collins claims that its boltless wheels feature unique ‘lock-ring design and higher fatigue life’ than the existing C-130 system.
According to the company, the combined wheel and brake assembly comprises 17% fewer parts than the C-130’s existing equipment. This simplifies maintenance and service.
Collins Aerospace Landing Systems vice-president Ajay Mahajan said: “At Collins Aerospace, we’re committed to keeping our warfighters safe while delivering the most efficient solutions to our customers to help keep their aircraft in the air.
“And that is exactly what our boltless wheels and carbon brakes will do for the US Navy.”
Collins is a provider of wheels and brakes for Army platforms, including the US Air Force’s (USAF) F-15, F-16, C-5, C-130 as well as Global Hawk fleets.
Last month, Collins Aerospace secured a contract from the USAF for the ‘B-52 Wheel and Brake System Improvement’ programme.
The company also completed wheel and brake upgrades for several global air forces.
More than half of all C-130s that are currently operational fly with Collins’ wheels and brakes. (Source: naval-technology.com)
07 May 21. USS John C Stennis aircraft carrier to undergo ROCH at HII. The US Navy’s Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS John C Stennis (CVN 74) is set to undergo its refuelling and complex overhaul (RCOH).
Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division will carry out the mid-life refuelling overhaul and maintenance availability of the carrier.
The contract related to the vessel’s RCOH works was awarded to the company in February this year.
As part of the RCOH, Newport News shipyard workers will perform hull and freeboard blast and paint, as well as repair its propellers, sea chests, shafts, and rudders.
Workers will also defuel and refuel power plant.
According to HII, more than 4,000 Newport News employees will support the RCOH execution effort, which will run until 2025.
The RCOH programme will prepare the aircraft carrier to continue operating for another 25 years.
Newport News in-service aircraft carrier programmes vice-president Todd West said: “For the last three years, we have planned each step of the aircraft carrier USS John C Stennis’ (CVN 74) RCOH, including procuring long lead-time materials, conducting shipboard inspections, and readying our facilities for this extensive engineering and construction project.
“We look forward to continuing our work with the ship’s crew and our 579 vendors across 36 states that provide material and services which brings stability of this industrial base and is critical to our ability to continue to build and maintain the navy fleet our navy and nation needs.”
Christened in 1993 and delivered to US Navy in 1995, USS John C Stennis is the seventh Nimitz-class aircraft carrier to undergo an RCOH programme. (Source: naval-technology.com)