12 Dec 19. Astrobotic proudly announces that it will open a new state-of-the-art headquarters for lunar logistics in May 2020. The 47,000 square foot facility in Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood of Manchester will house the company’s spacecraft integration cleanrooms, test facilities, lab spaces, rover test labs, payload operations room, and dedicated mission control. Astrobotic’s new headquarters is poised to become the epicenter for America’s return to the Moon.
“This new facility marks the next phase of Astrobotic’s growth and will be the primary hub for lunar logistics in the United States. Our headquarters will be used to design, build, and test lunar landers and rovers all under one roof, and then operate those vehicles from our own mission control right here in Pittsburgh,” said Astrobotic CEO, John Thornton.
11 Dec 19. ASL GRP (Air Sea Land Group) unveils its extensive new factory in Rookely, Isle of Wight, alongside five new recruits. A dynamic armour company with over 30 years’ experience globally across sea, land and airborne vehicles, ASL GRP has an impressive history for delivering advanced protective solutions for the defence sector all around the world. Enhancing this capability and bespoke offering for clients of all needs even further, the new production site is a third bigger than the previous site in Merstone, with plans for more developments in 2020. The larger premises supports the company’s ever-growing order book by facilitating new job opportunities, particularly in the defence industry. 2019 has seen substantial orders for 3D Moulded Armour at ASL GRP. It is designed to work in conjunction with hot formed steel armour, allowing a standard B6 vehicle to be up-armoured to a BR7 / STANAG 4569 level 2/3* without the need for a new steel design or additional tools. The 3D composite mouldings also offer more versatile fit inside a vehicle when compared to steel panels, and available as standalone configurations, it is suitable for use in specialist applications and small production runs. These systems avoid the need for any complicated steel fabrication work, dramatically reduce weight and can be bonded directly to an existing steel monocoque vehicle body or aluminium wheel house.
ASL GRP has also made some key appointments over the last few months – including Dan Graves as Project Manager and Laura Jones as Soft Armour Technician. This is alongside three new factory staff being brought on board to help deliver ASL GRP’s extensive defence projects.
Jonathon Diffey, Founder and Managing Director of ASL GRP, comments, “This is a really exciting time for ASL GRP. We have made significant progress within the marine industry and the past year has been a game changer for us. The new facility and recent recruitment drive gives us a more streamlined production process, ensuring we can meet and exceed the requirements and expectations of all our clients.”
ASL GRP has particular specialism in the defence sector, along with trusted, high quality products, reducing the likelihood of injury, loss of life and possessions. Offering a bespoke service, ASL GRP can develop blast containers and blast suppression blankets, all the way up to armoured protection vehicles and property protection.
06 Dec 19. Yokota Air Base breaks ground on new apron at AFSOC airfield. Yokota Air Base, a US Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force base in Fussa, Japan, has broken ground on an Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) airfield apron. Members from the Yokota Air Base, AFSOC, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Nippo participated in the programme. The AFSOC complex will provide a permanent home for the 21st Special Operations Squadron’s CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor transport aircraft with the addition of the new apron.
Commander of 21st SOS Lt Col Jason Hock said: “The project will ensure the 21st SOS has the permanent capability needed to effectively execute long-range infiltration and exfiltration missions, and provide disaster relief support in the event of crisis or contingency.
“Forward-basing the CV-22 at Yokota provides an increased level of security, disaster preparedness, and emergency airlift capability during crisis situations that will allow US Forces to support of the defence of Japan and the region.”
Japanese construction company Nippo won the US-funded military construction project through the USACE.
The US Army Corps of Engineers awarded the $63m contract in August 2019. Construction is expected to be completed in 2022.
Commander of 374th Airlift Wing Col Oits Jones said: “I am proud that our team here at Yokota is able to accommodate such an important project for our mission partners.
“We look forward to seeing this lead to increased capabilities for our airforce and an opportunity to strengthen our relations with our community and mission partners.”
Japan Engineer District (JED), AFSOC, Yokota and Nippo have taken several measures in the design and construction to minimise impact to the surrounding communities.
JED commander Col Thomas Verrell Jr said: “From ensuring the storm water drainage of the completed campus does not significantly change its current status to utilising innovative procedures for contractor access, which minimises off-base traffic congestion, we worked diligently to ensure the local communities will see little impact with the new construction.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
12 Dec 19. Japan Marine United launches third Awaji-class minesweeper. Shipbuilding company Japan Marine United (JMU) Corporation has launched the third Awaji-class mine countermeasures vessel (MCMV) on order for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). The 67m-long boat, which has been named Etajima (with pennant number MSO 306), entered the water in a ceremony held on 12 December at the company’s facility in Yokohama City and is expected to enter service with the JMSDF in March 2021.
JMU has built all three Awaji-class MCMVs. In late August the JMSDF requested about JPY12.8bn (USD118m) for fiscal year 2020 to build the fourth vessel of the class. According to the JMSDF, the Awaji class has a crew complement of around 55, a standard displacement of 690 tonnes, a beam of 11 m, and a draught of 5.2m. Each of the vessels in service is powered by two diesel engines of 2,200hp each and has a stated top speed of 14kt. The hull of these platforms has been constructed from a composite fibre-reinforced plastic material to reduce weight as well as the magnetic signature of the platforms during minesweeping operations. The material is also highly corrosion-resistant, according to the JMSDF.
A JMSDF spokesperson told Jane’s that the Awaji-class vessels are expected to be in service for more than 30 years while wooden-hulled minesweepers have a service life of about 20 years.
Etajima is equipped with light detection and ranging (LIDAR) surveillance systems, which can locate objects under water at long range both during the day and at night. The ship is equipped with the Mitsui E&S Holdings’ expendable mine disposal system (EMDS) for mine identification as well as with the Hitachi-made variable depth sonar (VDS) system, which is designed to detect, locate and classify mines. It is also equipped with unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to locate and clear deep mines. (Source: Jane’s)
11 Dec 19. Royal Navy commissions aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales. The White Ensign being hosted as a sailor salutes onboard HMS Prince of Wales for the first time during her commissioning. Credit: Royal Navy. The Royal Navy has commissioned aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales into the naval fleet during a ceremony at HM Naval Base Portsmouth.
HMS Prince of Wales is the second Royal Navy aircraft carrier to be commissioned. HMS Queen Elizabeth, the lead ship in the class, was commissioned in December 2017. The ceremony was attended by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the ship’s sponsor.
Other officials who have graced the event include the First Sea Lord admiral Tony Radakin and US Sixth Fleet commander vice-admiral Lisa Franchetti.
The £3.1bn, 65,000t carrier is the largest vessel ever built for the Royal Navy.
HMS Prince of Wales commanding officer captain Darren Houston said: “As we lower the Blue Ensign and raise the White Ensign, this day marks the culmination of over a decade of work by the country’s maritime and shipbuilding industry who have come together with the Ministry of Defence to deliver this magnificent ship through the Aircraft Carrier Alliance.”
The ship is heavier and larger than its fellow aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. It is equipped with two gas turbines and four diesel engines.
The commissioning comes after the ship completed its first sea trials since leaving Rosyth in September. The carrier sailed into its home base of Portsmouth for the first time last month. The two vessels docked together for the first time at the naval base earlier this month. HMS Prince of Wales recently completed operational trials with British F-35 fighter jets. (Source: naval-technology.com)
11 Dec 19. Danish Arctic frigate deployment highlights requirement to augment regional C2. Key Points:
- The Royal Danish Navy recently deployed an Iver Huitfeldt frigate and an Absalon combat support ship to its Greenland-based Joint Arctic Command for the first time, and is planning to deploy such platforms routinely to the region
- The frigate’s capabilities have highlighted Denmark’s requirement to improve Arctic command-and-control (C2) to maximise the impact of such capabilities
The Royal Danish Navy (RDN) has completed deployment of an Iver Huitfeldt-class frigate and an Absalon-class combat support ship to the High North to operate under Denmark’s Joint Arctic Command for the first time.
Rear Admiral Torben Mikkelsen, Admiral Danish Fleet, told Jane’s the RDN would “on a routine basis from now on [be] deploying large ships up there”.
The plan to build on these deployments has also demonstrated Denmark’s need to augment Arctic command-and-control (C2) capacity to maximise the operational benefits of deploying its larger warships to the region.
The RDN’s second-in-class frigate HDMS Peter Willemoes deployed across the region between June and September 2019. Peter Willemoes was followed by HDMS Absalon, which operated in the region from mid-July to mid-August.
As regards Peter Willemoes, “The main task for the frigate was to conduct peacetime routine surveillance, [so] contributing to the sovereignty of the Kingdom. The frigates are deployed to the region to strengthen surveillance, command, control, and communication [C3],” Rear Adm Mikkelsen added.
Deploying such ships has brought new capability to the region for the RDN and the Joint Arctic Command. Frigates, for example, bring more modern sensors and improved air surveillance in particular, when compared to the Thetis-class patrol ships (which have been providing RDN presence in the region).
“As a whole one could argue that the on-board sensors of the frigate enhance Joint Arctic Command ability to build domain awareness,” Rear Adm Mikkelsen said. (Source: Jane’s)
10 Dec 19. Argentine Navy commissions ARA Bouchard OPV. The Argentine Navy took delivery of its first Gowind-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV), ARA Bouchard, from Naval Group on 6 December at Toulon Naval Base in Brazil. The ship is the first of four Gowinds to be delivered and was commissioned after receiving some modifications as it was loaned by the shipyard to the French Navy since 2012. The other three vessels are expected to be delivered between 2021 and 2023. All will be newbuilds. The vessel is the first of its kind to be commissioned to the Argentine Navy. The ships are meant to protect against illegal fishery and other activities. (Source: Jane’s)
06 Dec 19. USN deploys USS New Orleans and USS America to Japan. The US Navy (USN) has announced the deployment of a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock vessel and of its lead America-class amphibious assault ship to the Japanese coastal city of Sasebo to become part of the service’s Forward Deployed Naval Forces. The transport dock vessel, USS New Orleans, joined the US 7th Fleet’s amphibious force in Sasebo on 1 December after transiting the Pacific Ocean from its former homeport of San Diego. New Orleans became the second such ship to be assigned to Commander, Amphibious Squadron 11 – the USN’s newest and only forward-deployed amphibious squadron – joining USS Green Bay, which was deployed to the 7th Fleet in 2015, according to a 2 December statement by the USN. (Source: Jane’s)
11 Dec 19. France receives first A400M with AAR capability, ability to paradrop 16-tonne load. The French Air Force’s 16th A400M arrived at Orléans-Bricy Air Base on 4 December following its acceptance by the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the French procurement agency announced on its website on 6 December. The aircraft was the first A400M capable of dropping a 16-tonne load and perform air-to-air refueling (AAR), according to the DGA. The agency said the ability to drop heavy equipment facilitated mobility in a theatre of operations – for example, engineering equipment to repair damaged runways. It added that the aircraft had an AAR system that can refuel Rafale and Mirage fighters, as well as other transport aircraft such as the A400M. (Source: Jane’s)
10 Dec 19. Boeing [NYSE: BA] and Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. [NYSE: TXT] company, have delivered the first modified MV-22 Osprey to the United States Marine Corps for improved readiness and reliability of the tiltrotor fleet. The Marines have multiple configurations of the MV-22 aircraft in service. Under the Common Configuration – Readiness and Modernization (CC-RAM) program, Bell Boeing is reducing the number of configurations by upgrading block “B” aircraft to the current block “C” configuration.
“Our first CC-RAM aircraft returning to Marine Corps Air Station New River was a key program benchmark,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Matthew Kelly, program manager, V-22 Joint Program Office (PMA-275). “We are excited to see the capability, commonality and readiness improvements these CC-RAM aircraft bring to the fleet as part of the Marine Corps’ V-22 readiness program.”
As a block “B” configuration, this MV-22 was originally delivered to the fleet in 2005. In 2018, the aircraft flew from Marine Corps Air Station New River to the Boeing Philadelphia facility for modernization.
“This milestone marks the beginning of an Osprey evolution,” said Kristin Houston, vice president, Boeing Tiltrotor Programs and director, Bell Boeing V-22 Program. “Through a shared focus on safety and quality, the Bell Boeing team is delivering modernized MV-22 aircraft that are ready to serve our dedicated servicemen and women who rely on this essential aviation resource.”
The next CC-RAM delivery is expected in early 2020.
“We look forward to having the remaining MV-22 block “B” aircraft rejoin the fleet in a block “C” configuration,” said Kelly.
In November 2019, the U.S. Navy awarded Bell Boeing $146,039,547 to upgrade nine additional MV-22 aircraft under the CC-RAM program, with work expected to be completed in March 2022.
10 Dec 19. Germany receives first H145 LUH SAR helo. The German Army received the first of seven new Airbus Helicopters H145 rotorcraft on 10 December. The H145 Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), one of a batch ordered in late 2018, was handed over some months ahead of the originally disclosed timeline of mid-2020. The remaining six will be delivered through to early 2021. The new helicopters will enable the Bundeswehr to begin the process of replacing its ageing Bell UH-1D ‘Huey’ rotorcraft in the domestic search-and-rescue (SAR) role. They will be stationed at the current home of the UH-1D SAR force at Niederstetten, as well as at Holzdorf and Nörvenich. Airbus Helicopters will be responsible for logistics support, repair, and maintenance of the helicopters. The H145 SAR helicopters are equipped with high-performance cameras, searchlights, emergency beacon locator systems, a full suite of medical equipment, and rescue winches and load hooks that can be used for fire-extinguishing buckets. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Dec 19. The Korean Airlines Co. Ltd., Aerospace Division, Seoul, South Korea, has been awarded a $213,000,000 ceiling indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for A-10 Pacific Air Force depot support. This contract provides depot support for A-10 aircraft that are stationed in South Korea. Work will be performed in Buson, South Korea, and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2029. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition and one offer was received. Fiscal 2020 operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $166,361 are being obligated at the time of award. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the contracting activity (FA8202-20-D-0001).
09 Dec 19. Sikorsky in Colombia finishes Black Hawk production with unfinished airframe outside US for first time.
- Sikorsky, for the first time, rebuilt a Black Hawk outside the US with an imported airframe
- This offers an economic option for customers as opposed to losing an aircraft or buying a new platform
Sikorsky has, for the first time, taken an unfinished Black Hawk utility helicopter airframe to finish production outside the United States at its hangar at the Colombian National Army’s Tolemaida Air Base.
Adam Schierholz, Sikorsky Latin America regional executive and product marketing director, told Jane’s on 6 December that Sikorsky built additional UH-60L airframes when production of the model ended because they anticipated customers would need them. The Colombian National Army (Ejército Nacional de Colombia: EJC) needed an aircraft as it had a crash-damaged UH-60L that was beyond economical repair due to a hard landing and roll-over.
The EJC purchased two unfinished airframes and had them shipped down from Sikorsky’s Connecticut facility. The army furnished a large amount of parts to Sikorsky Colombia, or bought new parts if it did not have them in stock, to populate the build of this damaged airframe and bring it back to flight-worthy status.
The UH-60L being rebuilt is model 2157. The EJC also purchased airframe model 2157 and is taking parts from this aircraft to rebuild model 2179.
Schierholz said buying this airframe was an economical choice for the EJC as it had two options after this aircraft was badly damaged: It could lose an aircraft or it could buy a whole new platform. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Dec 19. Bulgarian Navy accepts attrition-replacement Dauphin helicopter. The Bulgarian Navy (Voennomorski sili na Republika Balgariya: VMS) accepted into service one Airbus Helicopter AS365N3+ Dauphin multipurpose rotorcraft on 6 December. A ceremony to welcome the new arrival took place at the Chayka naval helicopter base on the Black Sea coast. Procured second-hand, the Dauphin (serial number 905) will replace an Airbus Helicopters AS565MB Panther that crashed into the Black Sea on 9 June 2017, following a collision with the VMS Wielingen-class frigate, Drazki 41 (former Belgian Navy frigate Wandelaar F912).
Prior to its delivery to the VMS, the Dauphin was overhauled by Airbus Helicopters Romania in Brasov. (Source: Jane’s)
06 Dec 19. MDHI reveals Block II advancement for MD 530G helo. MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) has announced an improved Block II (2) variant of the MD 530G armed reconnaissance/light attack rotorcraft that it has developed in partnership with Elbit Systems of Israel.
The enhanced version of the ‘Little Bird’-variant helicopter, the existence of which was revealed by the company on 5 December, features advanced weapons and mission management capabilities.
“The proven, pilot-centric Integrated Weapons System (IWS) is comprised of a Helmet Display and Tracking System (HDTS), Weapons Management System (WMS), and Mission Management System (MMS),” MDHI said in a statement.
As noted by MDHI, these systems come together in an improved human-machine interface (MHI) that includes touch-screen multifunctional display (MFD) units in, what the company terms, “a multimission cockpit”.
Specifically, the IWS – an already-proven solution currently fielded on other Western helicopter types – “will deliver greater mission flexibility and improved operational performance”, MDHI said.
The HDTS allows for day and night operations, while the WMS allows the carriage of the Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missile and/or the BAE Systems Advanced Precision-Kill Weapon System (APKWS). Interestingly, when the MD 530G Blk I was launched in January 2014, Jane’s was told by MDHI that the MD 530 could not carry the Hellfire due to weight constraints but that it would feature on the (since cancelled) MD 540A. It would appear that the company has now addressed this particular limitation.
The MMS features a digital mapping capability that is managed via a touchscreen MFD, as well as integrating directly with the electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor “to enable, detect, and store intelligence”, MDHI noted.
“Detect and store intelligence ensures that once a target has been acquired, the crew can choose to attack with guided weapons from a distance, or unguided munitions using the ballistics Continuously Calculated Impact Point (CCIP) displayed over the HDTS.” (Source: Jane’s)
MILITARY AND GOVERNMENT
10 Dec 19. Royal Australian Navy assumes command of Combined Task Force 150. Royal Navy commodore Ed Ahlgren, US Navy vice admiral James Malloy and RAN commodore Ray Leggatt. Credit: Combined Maritime Forces.
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has assumed charge of the Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, a Bahrain-based multinational coalition.
Britain’s Royal Navy handed over the command of CTF 150 to Australia during a ceremony at the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Headquarters in Bahrain. The UK was supported by personnel from the French Marine Nationale during the 119-day mission. In addition to the RAN, the incoming personnel will include forces from the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy. The ceremony was attended by officials from the 33 member nations of the CMF. The CTF 150 focusses on counter-terrorism operations in the maritime domain. The task force acts against the movement of terrorist personnel, weapons and narcotics and enables freedom of navigation to commercial ships. It is responsible for the region covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean.
The Australian, New Zealand and Canadian team underwent training for six weeks in Sydney to prepare for the deployment. The training was followed by mission readiness evaluations at the Naval Synthetic Warfighting Centre at HMAS Watson, the RAN’s maritime warfare training establishment.
The team will be commanded by RAN commodore Ray Leggatt.
Leggatt said: “We are fortunate that our Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand staff composition will bring valuable diversity in thinking and experience, which will provide us with agility and unity of effort in the prosecution of our singular mission.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
10 Dec 19. The Prince of Wales was today honoured by the Royal Navy with a new title to celebrate the commissioning of his namesake ship. Henceforth the Duke of Cornwall will be the Honorary Commodore-in-Chief, Aircraft Carriers, a title bestowed on him by the First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin, with the blessing of Her Majesty the Queen. This honorary title highlights the continued relationship between the Royal Navy and the Monarchy and gratefully acknowledges the service of many members of the Royal Family. The Prince of Wales is himself a Naval Officer, following his father, grandfather and great-uncle in the Senior Service. His Royal Highness served in the guided missile destroyer HMS Norfolk from 1971 to 1972, then in the frigates HMS Minerva (1972 to 1973) and HMS Jupiter (1974), before commanding the minesweeper HMS Bronington in 1976, for the final ten months of his active service in the Royal Navy. (Source: Royal Navy)
03 Dec 19. New COO @ Ball Aerospace as of January 1, 2020. Effective as of January 1, 2020, Dr. Dave Kaufman has been named as the Chief Operating Officer of Ball Aerospace. Kaufman joined Ball Aerospace in 2000 as Senior Program and Capture Manager, National Security Space. Since 2013, he has served as VP and GM of the National Defense Strategic Business Unit, where he has made a significant impact. Mark Healy, currently vice president of the National Intelligence Systems Mission Area within National Defense, will succeed Kaufman as VP and GM of the National Defense Strategic Business Unit. Healy has more than 30 years of experience in the U.S. Army and aerospace and commercial industry sectors. (Source: Satnews)
12 Dec 19. Mick Golson, chief operating officer for Engineering & Computer Simulations (ECS), announced that John Jansen has been promoted to Director of Contracts. Jansen has been invaluable since he joined the firm almost a year ago and continues to provide extensive professional experience and a portfolio of specialized skills in government and military contracts, subcontracts and procurement. He will oversee implementation of the firm’s contracts and subcontracts and assist with other related duties, as needed.
11 Dec 19. Flying Colours Corp., the North American maintenance, repair, overhaul and completions business, has appointed Scott Meyer as Vice President and General Manager of its St. Louis, MO. facility with immediate effect. Meyer steps into the role at a time of considerable growth and is responsible for managing day to day operations, designing strategies for business evolution, and exploring new expansion opportunities. He is initially focusing on the implementation, integration and refining of business processes to increase efficiencies across the U.S. facility, while ensuring FCC retains its reputation for delivering the highest standards. With a background in project management, engineering and advanced composite materials Meyer brings technical expertise, combined with nearly 30 years of international aerospace and aviation management experience to the expanding U.S. location. Having previously held the position of CEO at a fully integrated completion, MRO, services and warranty center for Bombardier, Boeing and Airbus aircraft, customers and colleagues will also benefit from his first-hand knowledge of the complexities of the VIP maintenance, completion and interior modifications sector.
09 Dec 19. GD Announces Deep to Succeed Whited as President of GDLS. General Dynamics (NYSE: GD) announced today that General Dynamics Land Systems’ president Gary L. Whited has informed the company of his intent to retire effective April 1, 2020. He will be succeeded by Danny Deep, who currently serves as chief operating officer of General Dynamics Land Systems. General Dynamics announces Deep to succeed Whited as president of General Dynamics Land Systems. (Source: ASD Network)
REST OF THE WORLD APPOINTMENTS
11 Dec 19. Naval Group Pacific announced the appointment of Dr Margaret Law as chief technology officer. The Naval Group subsidiary said Dr Law will be responsible for establishing Naval Group Pacific’s Australian technical strategy, in close co-ordination with Naval Group’s CTO team in charge of the technical research and innovation strategy, including developing and executing on the associated research and developing the program of work. (Source: Defence Connect)