17 June 21. US Navy’s USS California submarine completes maintenance availability. The Virginia-class submarines undergo EDSRAs, which are large maintenance events and occur every six years.
The nuclear-powered vessel was delivered back to the fleet on 15 June.
USS California entered drydock to undergo the extensive overhaul at PNS in May 2019.
According to a US Navy estimate, EDSRAs require 200,000 days of labour and much longer in practice.
The availability includes performing maintenance, repairs, and upgrades on the submarine in dry dock. It mostly focuses on the vessel’s hull, propulsion, and other systems.
The Virginia-class maintenance cycle was adjusted by the US Navy. Before 2015, the maintenance cycle was only four years.
California Project Superintendent Dave Simoneau said: “The workforce at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the crew of California have proven what teamwork, respect, and ownership can accomplish.
“The success achieved in maintaining the EDSRA schedule is the direct result of these men and women leaning in and owning it every day.
“They are the reason we are able to win the ‘Race to Combat Readiness’ and return California to the Fleet in record time to help protect our nation.”
California is the seventh navy ship and first submarine to be named after the US state and the eighth Virginia-class boat.
According to Navy policy, the service’s four public shipyards must deliver majority of maintenance on US nuclear-powered fleet.
The other three shipyards are Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.
PNS commander captain Daniel Ettlich said: “There is immense pride in knowing PNS bought back time for fleet-readiness.
“It is a monumental accomplishment to return California to the seas, combat-ready and modernised, to support our national security despite the once-in-a-century obstacles brought forth by Covid-19.”
16 Jun 21. Leonardo announced today that building work will shortly commence on a new c.£30m single-site logistics facility at Leonardo’s helicopter site in Yeovil. The ground-breaking facility, spanning an area of nearly 20,000m2, the equivalent of 2.7 football pitches, is scheduled to be completed in Q4 2022. The project sees the consolidation of eight existing warehouses into one all-encompassing logistics hub.
This high-tech facility means a reduction in operating costs, by having all logistics under one roof, and maximises the potential of helicopter component logistics. The new facility, with its high-end technologies, is heavily focussed on sustainability. It will be equipped with rainwater harvesting tanks for brown water services, full LED lighting will be employed throughout the facility, a heat recovery system will be used in the main warehouse, which will be complemented by a modern office temperature control system. In addition, there will be a bank of electrical vehicle charging points.
The site will be operated under a new ten-year commercial contract with Kuehne+Nagel, which will include an investment in plant and equipment installation and warehousing transition activity by the global transport and logistics company. The facility is expected to be fully operational in 2023.
15 June 21. Abrams conclude inaugural deployment in amphibious ops. The tanks were put to the test in an amphibious warfare exercise for the first time. Exercise Sea Explorer has wrapped up after approximately 1,800 Australian Defence Force personnel engaged in amphibious operations at Cowley Beach in North Queensland.
The exercise included the deployment of Army’s M1A1 Abrams tanks, which took part in the exercise for the first time.
Commander 1st Division Major General Jake Ellwood said the deployment of the fleet helped advance Army’s warfighting capability in the coastal environment.
“During Exercise Sea Explorer we were able to demonstrate our capacity to project a mechanised combat team onto land from the sea,” MAJGEN Ellwood said.
“Troops rehearsed beach landings with a range of military vehicles, including the M1A1 Tank, using a variety of landing craft and with Australian Army ARH-Tiger and CH-47 Chinook helicopters in support.”
The Australian Amphibious Force conducted wet and dry environmental rehearsals, combat enhancement training and force integration, supported by HMA Ships Canberra and Choules.
Commander Amphibious Task Force Captain Leif Maxfield said Exercise Sea Explorer enabled forces to experiment with capabilities in a bid to develop new cross-domain skills.
“The Australian Amphibious Force is a scalable, joint force enhancing the ADF’s ability to achieve the nation’s Defence and maritime strategic objectives and interests throughout the region,” CAPT Maxfield said.
“Exercise Sea Explorer enables our soldiers, sailors and aviators to practice a range of procedures and capabilities in complex and challenging scenarios.”
Exercise Sea Explorer was the forerunner to next month’s Exercise Sea Raider, which is set to involve a range of realistic amphibious assault and raid rehearsals as part of Exercise Talisman Sabre — a multinational exercise designed to strengthen interoperability through combined and Joint Task Force operations with strategic partners.
Foreign military personnel from the US, Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand and the UK are en route to Australia for Exercise Talisman Sabre.
France, India and Indonesia are also expected to participate as observer nations.
This year’s exercise, which will mark the ninth iteration, is expected to involve a field training exercise incorporating force preparation (logistic) activities, amphibious landings, ground force manoeuvre, urban operations, air combat and maritime operations. (Source: Defence Connect)
11 Jun 21. US transfers some Afghan MD 530F support to UAE. The United States has part transferred support of Afghanistan’s fleet of MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) MD 530F Cayuse Warrior light attack and reconnaissance rotorcraft to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), ahead of the planned withdrawal of its forces from the country later in the year.
The last two US Department of Defense (DoD) support contracts for the Afghan Air Force (AAF) MD 530F fleet, the most recent of which was posted on 10 June, have listed Al Ain in the UAE as a site alongside Kabul for maintenance and support. The AAF is due to receive 72 helicopters in all, with deliveries currently ongoing.
The recent move to shift MD 530F maintenance out of Afghanistan is part of a wider US plan to provide ‘over-the-horizon’ support to the Kabul government after the Western forces leave the country by the end of September.
The MD 530F is one of a number of strike platforms fielded by the AAF. Known as Jengi (Warrior) in the Afghan service, the MD 530F is equipped with the Enhanced-Mission Equipment Package (EMEP) that comprises the option of the FN Herstal 12.7 mm Heavy Machine Gun Pod (HMP) or 70 mm rockets, combined with upgraded communications equipment, fuel systems, and ballistic protection for the crew. Though partly chosen for the AAF due to its relative simplicity and ruggedness, the MD 530F features a modern ‘glass’ cockpit that requires specialist contractor support.
14 June 21. DSTA signs MoU to explore additive manufacturing for navies. DSTA will work with Naval Group to determine potential use cases of harnessing additive manufacturing. Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore the potentiality of additive manufacturing technology for naval applications.
The MoU was signed between DSTA and French defence contractor Naval Group and its Singapore subsidiary Naval Group Far East.
As agreed, the organisations will work together to identify potential use cases of harnessing additive manufacturing.
The scope of collaboration will include the sharing of production methodology, certification, and qualification of additive manufactured components for naval platforms.
DSTA naval systems director Ong Li Koon said: “DSTA recognises the importance of collaboration in tapping emerging technologies amidst a rapidly evolving landscape.
“We look forward to exchanging our knowledge and experience with Naval Group, and are confident this partnership will help enhance our additive manufacturing competencies and drive its adoption for defence applications.”
DSTA is a statutory board under the Singapore Government’s Ministry of Defence. It is responsible for defence acquisitions, implementation of new technologies, and the development of defence infrastructure.
Commenting on the collaboration, Naval Group executive vice-president, chief technical and innovation officer Eric Papin said: “The agreement will pave the way for the exchange of best practices in the area of additive manufacturing for defence.
“Naval Group is committed to innovation and excellence in the fields of naval defence and energy, with a strong focus on collaborative research that translates into trusted partnerships, such as the one we share with DSTA.”
Last month, the French defence contractor launched the third offshore patrol vessel (OPV) for Argentinian Navy called ARA Storni. Naval Group will deliver a total of four OPVs as part of a contract signed in 2018.
14 Jun 21. Three overhauled SLAF An-32B transports return to service. Three Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Antonov An-32B transport aircraft have returned to operational service with the No 2 Heavy Transport Squadron at Katunayake airbase after being overhauled in Ukraine.
The aircraft – bearing tail numbers SCM 860, SCM 863, and SCM 869 – had departed for Ukraine in August 2020 and returned to Sri Lanka on 11 June, after a five-day journey, said SLAF in a statement issued the following day.
The decision to overhaul the three platforms, which were acquired in 1995 but had been grounded for several years, was made by the Sri Lankan government in early January 2020, with SLAF Commander Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana telling Janes that the overhaul project was valued at USD7.5m.
The An-32Bs are the largest operational transport aircraft in SLAF service. The commander said that plans to overhaul the service’s fourth and final platform of the type are expected to be finalised soon. The SLAF is also evaluating proposals to overhaul its two C-130K transports, both of which have been grounded for years, noted the commander.
The SLAF stated that the An-32Bs played a vital role during the country’s civil war, which ended in 2009, by transporting “military personnel, civilians, wounded personnel, essential goods, and munitions to and from the Northern and Eastern Theatres”. (Source: Jane’s)
11 June 21. USAF To Set Up 3D Printed Supply Chain At Tinker AFB.
“The ability to additively manufacture an aircraft engine part and gain military airworthiness is a significant step forward in growing the adoption of additive manufacturing in the Air Force,” Nathan Parker, deputy program executive officer at RSO, said.
For the first time the Pentagon has certified as airworthy a 3D printed aircraft engine part — an F110 sump cover produced under the Air Force’s collaborative initiative with General Electric called Pacer Edge.
The next step in the program will see a metal parts additive manufacturing supply chain established at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma, starting with a buy of two GE printers in fiscal 2022.
“We will be taking delivery of two GE Additive machines during the first quarter of FY22 and have them fully operational during the second quarter of FY22,” according to an email response to Breaking D’s questions from the Air Force’s Pacer Edge team at Tinker yesterday. “The program is committed to pushing the bounds of this game changing technology to improve warfighter capabilities and tackle material readiness challenges.”
Pacer Edge is spearheaded by the Air Force’s Rapid Sustainability Office (RSO) and the Propulsion Directorate of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) also provided technical support to the program over the past two years, and continues to play a key role in developing materials process controls and quality standards for 3D parts.
Mark Benedict, AFRL’s additive manufacturing lead, said the lab — as the “Department of the Air Force’s additive manufacturing subject matter experts” — helped to shape “the requirements of the initial Pacer Edge program, and played a pivotal role in helping ‘translate’ between GE’s design and manufacturing practice and the DAF’s airworthiness acceptance process.”
“The Pacer Edge program is an important initiative for reducing risk and showcasing the application of additive manufacturing in aerospace. The ability to additively manufacture an aircraft engine part and gain military airworthiness is a significant step forward in growing the adoption of additive manufacturing in the Air Force,” said Nathan Parker, deputy program executive officer at RSO, in a GE press release.
“The F110 sump cover was a terrific pathfinder, allowing us to exercise the USAF’s airworthiness process. There are numerous parts in queue that are ideal candidates for metal 3D printing. Next, we are focused on refining the airworthiness process, so it is as responsive as the technology,” added Melanie Jonason, chief engineer, at the service’s Propulsion Sustainment Division.
While the “Configuration Control Board (CCB) and Airworthiness” approval was inked on Feb. 23 for the additively manufactured F110 Sump Cover, according to the Tinker team’s email, it wasn’t announced until June 8.
The program was launched with a $1.1m contract to GE in March 2020. A second contract for $2.6m was awarded in September 2020, kicking off 3D printing of a family of parts on the TF34 engine, which has been in service for more than 40 years. A third contract for $5m was awarded this April, and another $5m contract will be inked later this month, the email added, bringing the total awards (funded by both RSO and the Propulsion Directorate) so far up to $13.76m.
While the F110 sump cover is a small part, it is nonetheless important to how the engine — used by both the F-15 and F-16 fighter jets — functions. Its air worthiness certification moves the Air Force closer to its goal of expanding the use of 3D printing to boost aircraft readiness. Air Force leaders see additive manufacturing as key to resolving the service’s serious problems in maintaining aging aircraft and infrastructure and lowering costs.
Putting GE’s 3D printers at Tinker also will advance AFLMC’s push to establish its own additive manufacturing capabilities at its depots, so the service can print its own spare parts. The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex at Tinker printed its first metal engine part — for the TF33-P103 engine — last August, and the acquisition will expand its capacity. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
14 Jun 21. Difficult F-35 engine sustainment contributing to higher than expected cost per flight hour. Difficulty sustaining the engine on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is contributing to a higher cost per flying hour than originally anticipated, a former programme official and a government auditor have noted.
A Lockheed Martin official told reporters on 10 June at the company’s F-35 production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, that the aircraft’s cost per flying hour is USD33,000 in 2012 dollars: USD38,655 in 2021 dollars.
A former F-35 programme official, who was grated anonymity to speak freely, told Janes on 9 June that the original concept predicted that the aircraft would have a cost per flying hour between USD25,000–30,000 in 2021 dollars, once the programme reached the current stage: between initial operational capability (IOC) and full operational capability (FOC). This cost per flying hour was supposed to be somewhat comparable to newer Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons.
“You only have a finite amount of money and you can spend your money buying new aircraft [but then] you do not have any money to fly them,” the former F-35 programme official said. “Or you can spend less [money] buying new aircraft because it costs more to fly them.
12 June 21. The P-8A Poseidon’s mission readiness rate has suffered in recent years. Here’s why. As the U.S. Navy’s premier anti-submarine patrol aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon has been plenty busy in recent years over the skies of Europe, hunting for Russian subs while getting regularly intercepted by Russian jets in the sky.
But in recent years, the aircraft’s mission capable rates have fallen below the targets set by Naval Air Forces, according to a report released late last month by the Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General.
While the Navy’s main air command mandates that Navy squadrons maintain a mission capability rate of 80 percent, the Poseidon’s mission capability rate ranged from 53 to 70 percent from October 2018 to March 2020, according to the report.
IG investigators found that the aircraft’s low mission capable rate occurred because several support offices “did not develop a supportable sustainment strategy for the P-8A Poseidon fleet.”
Also, officials with the Program Executive Office, Air Anti-Submarine Warfare, Assault and Special Missions Programs didn’t oversee implementation of corrective actions to address the sustainment challenges that had already been identified in independent logistics assessments, according to the IG.
Two of the IG’s other findings are redacted in the publicly released version of the report.
The Poseidon completed its replacement of the P-3C Orion aircraft last spring.
According to the IG, the Poseidon fleet has faced an array of issues with parts as well.
Maintenance personnel have experienced delays in identifying and receiving spare parts, while the Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Office and Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support personnel didn’t provide the Poseidon maintainers with “detailed maintenance procedures and technical data” for the platform’s mission-specific systems and equipment, the IG report states.
While deployed to the U.S. European Command area of operations, Poseidon squadrons grappled with consumable spare parts shortages on items ranging from O rings to bolts, rivets and valve assemblies.
In its recommendations, the IG report states that the Navy needs to implement a plan to address such sustainment challenges in the fleet, while standing up a “demand forecast” for consumable spare parts for when the planes are operating in EUCOM’s territory, while ensuring that five-year sustainment reviews are being conducted.
In response, the MPRA program manager agreed to develop a plan that will better provision parts for the fleet while fixing a lack of Poseidon technical data, while NAVSUP’s Weapon Systems Support office has already addressed the shortage of parts at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy.
The Program Executive Office also agreed to develop plans and milestones to correct and monitor Poseidon sustainment deficiencies, while reviewing sustainment analysis processes and improving internal controls, according to the IG. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Navy Times)
14 June 21. Serco: Engie Joint Venture ‘VIVO’ awarded significant Defence Infrastructure contracts.
- Estimated base value of £900m and a potential total value of c.£3.4bn
VIVO Defence Services (VIVO), a 50/50 Joint Venture between Serco, the international provider of services to governments, and ENGIE, the leading energy and services company, has been awarded contracts to provide asset and facilities management services for the UK Defence built estate by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). VIVO has been awarded contracts for two of the four regions being tendered under Lot 3 of the Future Defence Infrastructure Services (FDIS) programme. VIVO will be responsible for providing services in the South West and Central regions of the UK, the largest two regions of the four that were competed, and which represent around 2/3rds of the MOD’s estimated value of Lot 3 of the Future Defence Infrastructure Services contracts.
The total core contract value to VIVO for the two regions is estimated to be around £900m over the initial seven-year period. There are a further three one-year extension options. In addition to the core fixed price contract for each region, there will be significant amounts of additional project work, which will be commissioned as required by the DIO, and while the future value of these projects is uncertain, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) estimates that they are likely to be worth a further £2.5bn over the initial seven year term.
The services VIVO will deliver will support the UK’s defence capability, maintaining the built estate across more than 200 sites and around 19,000 buildings. The core services include planned and reactive maintenance, as well as mandatory safety checks. The potential additional project work will range from small scale asset replacement and property refurbishments to large construction projects. Following a six-month mobilisation phase, the core work is scheduled to start in February 2022, and we expect the additional project work to ramp up during the course of 2022.
Covering the Midlands, Northern England, Wales and East Anglia, the Central region is the single largest region and includes more than 140 establishments and in excess of 12,500 buildings, with such iconic sites as Catterick Garrison, RAF Valley, RAF Cranwell and Bassingbourn Barracks.
The South West region covers Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, and contains more than 60 establishments and in excess of 6,000 buildings in the South West region, including MOD Abbey Wood, Bovington Camp, RNAS Culdrose and Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth.
Commenting on the awards, DIO’s Chief Operating Officer David Brewer said: “We are passionate about the work we do every day to support the Armed Forces and their families across the whole of the UK.
“The Future Defence Infrastructure Contracts for the Built Estate represent an increased investment in maintenance by the MOD and will offer improved response times and increase the amount of planned maintenance.
“I am pleased to announce the successful suppliers in the Central and South West regions. I look forward to working with these industry leading organisations to continue the work we are doing to improve the service we deliver for our Servicemen and women.
“The Built Estate contracts will create and sustain thousands of jobs and protect local supply chains throughout the UK.
“DIO is committed to building a broader and more diverse supply base, working with both larger companies and SMEs through our supply chain to support local industry and deliver the facilities that the military need to live, work, train and deploy.”
Paul McCarter, Managing Director of Serco’s Defence business, said: “We are delighted that VIVO, our joint venture with ENGIE, has been awarded these two important contracts to look after the MOD estate in the South West and Central regions of the UK. Our team will be working to maintain a total of around 19,000 buildings on 230 sites across the two regions and we understand the importance of these facilities to the UK Armed Forces’ operational capability.
“Serco has been supporting the UK Armed Forces for over 50 years and this experience has given us a deep understanding of their requirements. We are grateful to the MOD and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation for the trust they are placing in us and we look forward to working with them.”
Sam Hockman, Divisional CEO for ENGIE in the UK & Ireland, said: “We are proud that VIVO has been awarded these two key contracts to support the asset and facilities management requirements of the MOD’s built estate. ENGIE looks forward to working closely with our partners at Serco to deliver together a high-quality, expert service which utilises our collective strengths and experience in a way that ultimately benefits the UK’s Armed Forces.
“VIVO has been specifically formed to leverage our combined strengths to meet the unique and varying needs of DIO and their many stakeholders. Beyond technical services, it will also bring the latest digital innovation and smart building technology to greatly increase the efficiency and performance of buildings. Our solution has been designed to enhance customer experience, lower operational costs and ultimately reduce carbon emissions.”
About the DIO framework and contracts
VIVO is also competing for two further DIO competitions being run under the same framework, covering Regional Accommodation Maintenance Services and for Training Estate Services. Contracts award announcements are expected to be made for each of these later this year.
14 June 21. Airbus and Boustead to explore military aircraft MRO in Malaysia. Airbus and Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation (BHIC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to explore the joint development of military aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capabilities in Malaysia.
Under this MoU, the partners will collaboratively look into how to leverage their respective expertise to advance local MRO capabilities for military fixed wing aircraft platforms, in support of the operators’ fleet.
“Airbus has enjoyed a very successful partnership with BHIC on military helicopter MRO and pilot training,” Johan Pelissier, Head of Asia Pacific at Airbus Defence and Space, said. “We are excited to now strengthen this strong alliance as we study the possibility of expanding our local industrial presence to cover both rotary wing and military fixed wing MRO solutions, bringing better convenience to our customers.
“We are also looking forward to contributing to the country’s Capability Development 2055 transformation plan as it introduces a new military fixed wing platform for maritime patrol missions in the coming years.
“Malaysia is Airbus’ largest supplier base in South East Asia and is a key market for us. Today’s MoU signature is a clear demonstration of Airbus’ full commitment to contribute to the country’s development of a self-sustaining aerospace value chain.”
“We have identified the aerospace sector as one of the key growth segments to steer the company forward,” Sharifuddin Md Zaini Al-Manaf, CEO of BHIC, added. “BHIC is casting our net wider in this sector to enlarge our market base by capitalising on our existing facilities and MRO expertise.”
Airbus and BHIC have been long time partners supporting the growing Malaysian aerospace industry. Their helicopter MRO joint venture BHIC Aerospace Services provides maintenance services for military helicopter operators, while their Subang-based Airbus Helicopters Malaysia Simulation Centre joint venture houses the region’s only training simulators for the H225 and H225M helicopters, as well as a second simulator for the AS365 Dauphin training. (Source: ADM)