01 Sep 21. GE Renews CSA with RCN for GE LM2500 Gas Turbines. GE Marine announced it has renewed a long-term, customized service agreement (CSA) with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). The CSA covers an operating fleet of 24 GE LM2500 aeroderivative marine gas turbines plus spare engines used to power Halifax class frigates.
According to Kris Shepherd, Vice President, General Manager, GE Marine, Evendale, Ohio, “GE has been providing the RCN with 20 years of customized service for their LM2500 engines, yielding significant performance and operational advantages in terms of improved reliability and the high availability of the gas turbines to power their surface combatants.”
“GE builds on its relationship of trust and reliability with the RCN, dating back to the early 1990s. The CSA provides the Navy with high availability of the RCN’s LM2500 fleet over the initial five years of contract support, as well as helping to promote supplier and skills development in Canada. The five-year contract comes with renewal and sustainment options until the eventual decommissioning of the Halifax class frigates,” Shepherd added.
Other benefits of this CSA include formal and on-the-job training with GE and Navy personnel working side by side to maintain the LM2500 fleet, and assistance with procurement, inspection, technical support and materials inventory management.
Backed by GE’s extensive network of global field service technicians, the RCN has access to GE services located throughout the globe, providing immediate onsite technical support 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.
Similar to the original contract, the scope of the renewed contract includes:
- Repair, overhaul and engineering support
- Parts warehousing and inventory management (including spare engines, supply of spare parts and replenishment of inventory)
- Field service representative support (home port and deployed)
- Support of naval engineering school training curriculum for on-engine and equipment maintenance
- Operational level maintenance
- Configuration management
- Supply and distribution of technical manuals
Customized agreements provide direct access to GE’s global inventory of parts and spare engines, and the ability to tap into GE’s worldwide service and support expertise such as training, maintenance, repair and overhaul services — all on an as-needed basis. With a CSA, navies can realize the full potential for their critical propulsion gas turbines while balancing performance and risk, along with predictable costs and less administrative oversight. (Source: ASD Network)
30 Aug 21. DARPA Hopes A Plane-Boat Hybrid Can Solve The Pentagon’s Sealift Challenge. A new DARPA solicitation is seeking information about a vehicle class capable of filling the sealift and airlift gaps within the Pentagon’s requirements.
The Pentagon’s premiere research agency published a request for information earlier this month eyeing a new class of aircraft capable of utilizing the “wing-in-ground” effect. But analysts tell Breaking Defense the military’s request, on a relatively short turnaround time, will be a difficult for the industrial base to oblige — and worry that the system might not be viable for more than short trips.
“This is a very hard ask,” Mark Montgomery, a retired rear admiral and now a senior fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said of the request for information, which set a one-month turnaround time for industry to respond.
The WIG effect is a well-known aerodynamics principle: by flying at low altitudes just above the water’s surface, the friction of the air against the water helps the plane maintain lift and move efficiently.
WIG vehicles are largely emergent technologies and are far less common than conventional ships or planes. While designs can vary greatly by manufacturer, the vehicles tend to closely resemble traditional planes, with the lower half of the chassis built to allow the craft to float on the water’s surface. While a WIG vehicle’s characteristics are comparable to an aircraft, they are still required to operate as a waterborne vessel and comply with conventional shipping rules, according to the International Maritime Organization.
Now, it seems, DARPA wants to see if it can use the WIG effect to help with sealift requirements. A request for information, published by the agency’s Tactical Technology Office earlier this month, lays out the challenge: sealift ships can carry large payloads, but transit slowly and require well-developed ports to deliver materiel. In contrast, airlift platforms can move quickly, but due to their size and weight, require long runways for takeoff and landing and are of little use to forces underway at sea.
Wing-in-ground effect vehicles “achieve increased aerodynamic efficiencies and address many of the operational limitations of traditional sea and air lift platforms in maritime theaters, but they are unable to operate in high sea states and have limited capability to avoid collisions in congested environments,” according to DARPA’s solicitation.
Which is why the agency is seeking a much more capable platform than what existing WIG vehicles currently offer. Specifically, this platform needs to takeoff and land at up to sea state three and be capable of operating outside the ground effect zone to dodge obstacles and inclement weather. (Sea states are a widely recognized measurement of the ocean’s surface conditions, with sea state zero representing calm waters and nine indicating massive waves up to 50 feet high. Sea state three would consist of light waves up to four feet high.)
The problem with that requirement, Montgomery said, is two-fold. There is the obvious kinetic problem associated with a wave hitting the craft, but the more difficult challenge is that even small waves can disrupt the WIG effect and turn the craft’s ride turbulent — and less than fuel efficient.
A preliminary search of WIG craft will quickly bring up the Lun-class ekranoplan. Built by the Russians in the 1970s and employed until the late 1980s, Montgomery said that vehicle was tested mostly on the Caspian Sea, where the waters are usually much calmer than sea state 3.
Perhaps most importantly, given its sea and airlift missions, this new craft would have to support more than 100 tons of cargo and able to carry “multiple amphibious vehicles.” However, one detail left out of DARPA’s solicitation is the range this new craft must travel.
“I thought they were talking about the last 500 miles. The last 1,000 miles. In other words, from some kind of logistics base into the theater. So, maybe not cross the pond, but cross the first island chain,” Montgomery said.
DARPA declined an interview request about the solicitation citing the nascent stages of its endeavors. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
31 Aug 21. NATO MMU receives fifth MRTT. The Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) received its fifth Airbus A330 MultiRole Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft on 31 August. Aircraft MMF5/T-058 of the Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) was delivered to the unit’s main operating station at Eindhoven Airbase in the Netherlands, it was announced by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), which manages the fleet on behalf of the MMF nations.
“The delivery of this fifth aircraft represents another successful step in the construction of a fleet ready to provide strategic transport, air-to-air refuelling and medical evacuation capabilities to its six participating nations. With this addition, the programme is halfway to completion, as the full fleet will consist of nine aircraft,” the agency said.
The MMF capability comprises NATO members Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Norway, with the MMU operating unit composed of military personnel from these six participating nations. Six MRTTs will operate from Eindhoven Airbase, with a further three operating from the forward operating base at Cologne-Wahn airbase.
As noted by the NSPA, with aircraft deliveries having begun in June 2020, the MMU is currently mainly operating the aircraft for training purposes, and has started to gradually perform operational tasks. (Source: Jane’s)
30 Aug 21. After Afghanistan evacuation mission, UK air force still not reexamining plans to retire C-130. The arduous airlift demands of the Afghanistan evacuation mission haven’t changed the U.K. Royal Air Force’s plans to retire its C-130s by 2030, its top officer said Aug. 27.
“This is the first large-scale operation that we’ve done with our A400s, and it’s demonstrated that this is an aircraft with real potential and enormous capacity,” said RAF Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston in an interview with Defense News. “It flies much higher and much faster and carries a greater payload than the C-130. So as every month goes by, my confidence in that decision increases.”
The RAF ultimately transported more than 15,000 people out of Kabul from Aug. 14 to Aug. 28, according to the U.K. ministry of defence.
Wigston — who visited the United States last week to attend the Space Symposium — spoke to Defense News on Friday evening, during the last hours of the United Kingdom’s presence in Afghanistan.
At that point, the Royal Air Force had evacuated about 8,500 Afghans, an estimated 4,500 U.K. passport or visa holders, and 1,500 people from other nations, Wigston said. About 500 to 1,000 others awaited the last RAF flights out of Kabul.
“We have stopped taking in new people for processing,” he said. “Over the next few hours, those 500 to 1,000 [people] remaining will be taken out. At that stage, our evacuation operation will have come to an end, and we will just focus on getting our people out safely.”
The RAF used about 15 aircraft during the evacuation mission, with half staged forward — transporting passengers from Kabul to other cities in the Middle East — and the other planes conducting flights from those cities to the United Kingdom, Wigston said.
Over the two-week period, aircraft spotters frequently documented British C-17s, A400s and C-130s moving in and out of the airspace at Hamid Karzai International Airport.
In March, the defence ministry announced as part of a command review it would retire the RAF’s remaining 14 C-130Js by 2023.
“Twenty-two A400Ms, alongside the C17s, will provide a more capable and flexible transport fleet,” U.K. defence secretary Ben Wallace said then.
Despite the C-130s offering additional airlift capacity, Wigston said there’s no need for the RAF to revisit its current retirement plans.
“It will be with a heavy heart that we retire the C-130 in two years’ time because it’s been an absolute workhorse, but I have absolute confidence in the A400 and what that aircraft is able to do going forward,” he said. So far, Airbus has delivered 20 A400M Atlas aircraft to the RAF. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)