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06 Aug 20. Taiwan launches first ‘fast minelayer’ for RoCN. Taiwan’s Lungteh Shipbuilding launched on 4 August the first of four fast minelaying ships being built for the Republic of China Navy (RoCN). The 41 m-long vessel, which bears the designation FMLB-I (Fast Mine Laying Boat-I) on its hull, entered the water in a ceremony held at the company’s facilities in Yilan County. Work on the ship, which is expected to be handed over to the RoCN by the end of 2020, began on 24 May 2019, with the keel being laid on 14 November. Construction of the second one is progressing and the shipyard began working on the third and fourth ships of the class on 17 April. Construction of these three vessels is expected to be completed in 2021. According to computer-generated imagery released by the RoCN, each minelayers will be 41 m long, 8.8m wide, have a hull draught of 1.7 m, and a full-load displacement of 347 tonnes. (Source: Jane’s)
04 Aug 20. Royal Navy’s HMS Trent sails for first operational deployment. HMS Trent, a Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol vessel for the Royal Navy, has sailed for its first operational deployment. The vessel departed for the Mediterranean following its commissioning in a ceremony held at Portsmouth Naval Base. HMS Trent is designed to support anti-piracy, anti-smuggling, and counter-terrorism operations. In the Mediterranean, it will support Nato’s ongoing maritime security operation.
Royal Navy Surface Flotilla Commander Commodore Craig Wood said: “Our membership and commitment to Nato is the foundation of UK defence.
“By deploying HMS Trent to the Mediterranean, the Royal Navy will be supporting UK and Nato security with her patrols of the international shipping lanes and denying criminals and terrorists unchallenged use of the sea.”
HMS Trent was built on the Clyde by BAE Systems. It was delivered to the Royal Navy in December last year and underwent training and workouts to prepare it for deployment.
The ship is the third of five Batch Two River Class offshore patrol vessels being developed for the Royal Navy.
These vessels are designed to accommodate more personnel and conduct helicopter operations. They are also faster and more heavily armed than the predecessors.
HMS Trent Commanding Officer Lt Cdr James Wallington-Smith said: “It’s my honour and privilege to take HMS Trent from the start of her career in the Royal Navy to her first operational deployment as part of a key Nato mission in the Mediterranean.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
04 Aug 20. US Navy’s EPF vessel USNS Newport completes integrated sea trials. The US Naval Sea Systems Command has announced that the USNS Newport, an Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel, has completed integrated sea trials. During the trials, builder Austal USA carried out comprehensive tests to enable the US Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey assess the capabilities of the ship’s major systems. The USNS Newport (EPF 12) is the second EPF ship to undergo the integrated trial.
Program Executive Office Ships strategic and theater sealift program manager Tim Roberts said: “Achieving this milestone is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the shipbuilding team and our partners in industry.
“We are eager to press forward with delivering USNS Newport to the fleet this year and to enhance the operational flexibility available to our combatant commanders.”
EPFs are designed as non-combatant transport ships to carry troops, military vehicles, and equipment. These transport vessels also feature a flight deck to support aircraft launch.
They can carry 600 short tonnes of cargo 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots.
EPFs are developed to operate in shallow waterways and can be used for several missions, including disaster relief, support for special operations forces, theatre security cooperation activities, and emerging joint sea-basing concepts. The USNS Newport is expected to be delivered later this year.
Austal USA has already started building the future USNS Apalachicola (EPF 13). The ship builder is also under contract to build the future USNS Cody (EPF 14). (Source: naval-technology.com)
03 Aug 20. Royal Canadian Navy receives first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship. The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) has received the first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS), called HMCS Harry DeWolf.
The vessel, the first of a class of six ships, will support surveillance and defence activities across Canada’s three coasts.
HMCS Harry DeWolf is also the first ship to be developed through the federal government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy.
The AOPS is capable of operating in up to 120cm of first-year sea ice. It can also accommodate a Cyclone helicopter, as well as small vehicles, deployable boats, and cargo containers for operations.
Canadian Minister of National Defence Harjit S Sajjan said: “Since the announcement of our fully funded defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, we have reached another milestone.
“By ensuring that our defence policy was fully funded, our sailors will have the confidence they will receive all of the ships outlined in the National Shipbuilding Strategy, including six AOPS for the Royal Canadian Navy.
“This milestone is important for our homegrown defence industry, for the Royal Canadian Navy, and for the protection of Canada.”
The RCN will now carry out post-acceptance trials and training of HMCS Harry DeWolf. Formal commissioning of the ship is expected next year, and the vessel will then enter active naval service.
The construction of three following ships of the same class is currently underway. The fifth and sixth Harry DeWolf-class vessels will enter the construction phase in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Once delivered, these ships will patrol Canada’s offshore waters and northernmost regions. The vessels are also designed to undertake a variety of domestic and international missions. (Source: naval-technology.com)
03 Aug 20. Naval Group, French Navy progress Barracuda SSN to weapons systems trials. The French Navy’s first-in-class, Barracuda Class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) Suffren has returned to Toulon, its homeport, to begin phase three of its sea trials – with the weapons systems trials set to be the next phase. Naval Group has announced that Suffren, the lead of the nuclear-powered Barracuda Class fast attack submarines (SSN), has begun sea trials with the support of the French Navy and French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA).
The sea trials will enable the DGA and the French Navy to test the performances of the submarine at sea before the delivery of Suffren to the French Navy later this year – the SSN started its sea trials with a static dive test on 28 April.
Naval Group, the French Navy and DGA have stated that the testing and trial phase will consist of three individual phases, including:
- Phase 1 took place around Cherbourg (where Naval Group’s submarine shipyard is located and where the first static diving was conducted);
- Phase 2 in Brest area, in Britanny (for deep-diving tests); and
- Phase 3 in Toulon area (in the late summer of 2020) for tests of the weapon systems. This is where the SSN will eventually be commissioned in late 2020.
Pierre Eric Pommellet, Naval Group’s chairman and CEO, welcomed the milestone for the Barracuda program, saying:
“The first sea trial of the Suffren is a source of great pride for Naval Group employees and their partners. I am extremely grateful for the efforts of our teams. They made it possible to start these trials while respecting strict compliance with the health and safety measures to protect the crew, which is partly constituted of Naval Group members.
The Suffren is the first of class, intended to replace the generation of Rubis Class SSNs. Naval Group is in charge of the production of this series of submarine – from the design to the construction of the ship – and of the information systems, the manufacturing of the main components of the nuclear reactors as Swell as the maintenance of the ships in Toulon.
The SSN Suffren sea trials are a priority for the Ministry of Defence. Naval Group deployed a series of measures for the protection of the health and safety of the employees in order to continue the operations during the COVID-19 health crisis.
The Suffren is one of the world’s stealthiest submarines. This discretion, combined with her advanced detection capabilities, guarantees her acoustic superiority.
For the first time, thanks to the Suffren Class submarines, the French Navy will have a deep strike capability with MBDA’s naval cruise missiles. The latest generation of SSNs also allows the discreet deployment of Special Forces underwater, in particular thanks to its “divers hatch” and the optional carrying of a dry deck shelter allowing for the deployment of underwater vehicles.
Naval Group’s Shortfin Barracuda design, which serves as the basis for the Royal Australian Navy’s new Attack Class, is a conventionally-powered variant of the nuclear-powered Barracuda fast attack submarine currently under construction for the French Navy.
The 12 vessels will be built by Naval Group at a specialist submarine shipyard at Osborne, South Australia. The Commonwealth government’s Australian Naval Infrastructure program will support the development of the future submarine shipyards.
The Commonwealth government formally signed the strategic partnering agreement with Naval Group in February 2019 ahead of confirming the final design specifications and requirements for the Attack Class submarines.
The Attack Class will enter service with the Royal Australian Navy at a time when 50 per cent of the world’s submarines will be operating in the Indo-Pacific region. (Source: Defence Connect)
04 Aug 20. Blue Angels’ new C-130J flies away home. Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group said a fond farewell to the US Navy Blue Angels’ stunning new C-130J as it headed home today.
Since the aircraft arrived in Cambridge last year, the Marshall’s team has been carrying out depth maintenance and minor modification work, as well as repainting it in the iconic Blue Angels’ livery.
The aircraft, which was purchased by the U.S. Navy from the UK MoD, will now join the Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron (NFDS) to provide improved logistical support to the display team.
It will also take part in the display team’s flying performances, as well as being a crucial support aircraft, carrying tools, spare parts and engineers.
Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group CEO, Alistair McPhee, explains: “The aircraft looked absolutely stunning as it left Cambridge this morning. We are delighted to have been able to use our experience and expertise to support the US Navy in bringing its new C-130J into service and I am sure, like its predecessor, it will prove a valuable asset for many, many years to come.”
“We are incredibly grateful to our partners in the UK for all their efforts in delivering this vital aircraft to our team,” said Capt. Beau Mabery, Lead C-130 Demonstration Pilot, USMC. “Their dedication coupled with support from NAVAIR, CNATRA, PMA-207 and the Marine Corps, will allow us to return to our lead role as the logistics support aircraft for our team. We look forward to fulfilling that role and eventually joining the demonstration, where we can showcase the capabilities of the C-130J and Marine Corps.”
Air Marshal Sir Julian Young, Director General Air for DE&S, said: “The UK MOD was proud to work alongside multiple stakeholders to help deliver this great aircraft to the United States Navy Blue Angels. It really was a team effort from both sides of the Atlantic.
“This C-130J aircraft served the Royal Air Force well over the years, and I am delighted that following a refurb it will now go on to serve another military force. With its bright, new livery I’m sure the new Blue Angels C-130J will turn heads wherever it goes.”
The display team’s C-130 pilots and engineers arrived in Cambridge in June to conduct a series of maintenance tests, prior to flying the aircraft back to its base in Pensacola, Florida.
Major General Greg Masiello, program executive officer air ASW, assault and special mission programs, said: “This has been a great example of cooperation between allies and professionals. Coordination and work to deliver this Blue Angels C-130J highlight a unique program office partnership with UK MoD and Marshall Aerospace. The team has worked through challenges to deliver this high-visibility asset to our fleet, and provide us with a ‘new’ aircraft to support our Naval Flight Demonstration Squadron for years to come.
“We have all been able to witness the transformation of this particular C-130 Hercules transition into a valuable addition to our Blue Angels flying demonstration team. We are pleased to deliver this Super Hercules as the Blue Angles transition to Super Blues. Definitely a job well done by all involved.”
31 Jul 20. First A400M Atlas for Belgian Air Force conducts maiden test flight. Belgian Air Force has announced that its first Airbus A400M Atlas has conducted maiden test flight.
The military transport aircraft conducted its first flight at an Airbus Defence facility in Seville.
In a Twitter post, the Belgian Air Force said: “The aircraft performed a full Production Aircraft Test Manual (PATM) flight test profile in the late afternoon.”
According to the Airbus website, the A400M Atlas is designed to carry strategic loads to tactical locations. It can land on frontline airbases, grass and / or sand strips, as well as deliver paratroopers or pallets by airdrop.
The aircraft was launched in 2003 to serve the requirements of seven European Nations regrouped within OCCAR. The aircraft is assembled in Spain, while the wings and the fuselage are manufactured in the UK and Germany respectively. Capable of carrying payloads of up to 37t, the aircraft has a range of 8,900km and can be used to carry paratroopers, heavy vehicles, equipment and other cargo. Particularly, the A400M can be used to transport personnel and goods directly into theatres of operation and undertake strategic airlift operations. The aircraft can also be used for front-line refuelling missions. In May, the Airbus A400M next-generation airlifter secured certification for its Automatic Low-Level Flight capability. The certification campaign was performed above the Pyrenees and central France and involved operations down to 500ft.
This year, the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) also deployed Airbus A400M aircraft to support Covid-19 relief operations in the country. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
31 Jul 20. India’s HAL expects LCA Tejas Mark 1A jets confirmation by end of 2020. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited reportedly expects the order for 83 Tejas Mark 1A variant jets by Indian Air Force (IAF) to be confirmed before the end of this year. Following months of talks, HAL and IAF agreed on a price of Rs390bn ($5.2bn) for the 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), reported India Today. Of the 83 jets, 73 are fighter jets and ten are two-seat trainer variants. The delay on the order has been attributed to a number of issues, in particular ‘additional requirements through contract’.
A HAL official said: “All queries have now been answered and the case is under approval.”
India’s national security decision-making body Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) will have to approve this contract following which a formal contract will be signed by HAL and IAF.
Delivery of the Mark 1A variant is expected to commence within three years of the signing of the contract. All aircraft are expected to be delivered within five years. The IAF invested Rs590bn ($7.8bn) for the acquisition of the 36 Rafale fighter jets.
Larsen & Toubro, VEM Technologies, Alpha Tocol, Tata Advanced Materials and Dynamatic Technologies will manufacture the fuselages, wings, tail fins and rudders for the LCAs.
HAL would assemble these components at its twin production lines in Bengaluru. Currently, IAF operates one squadron of the 16 ‘Mark 1’ baseline Tejas type at Coimbatore airbase.
HAL is developing a third production line for Tejas, which will be established in November. This line will produce the two-seat trainer variant. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
30 Jul 20. Japan commits to local F-35 production. The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) has confirmed plans to continue the local production of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.
The move reverses a decision in late 2018 to cease local production at Japan’s final assembly and checkout (FACO) facility in Nagoya and instead focus on the localised maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade (MRO&U) of F-35s. That move was previously prompted by the high cost of building the F-35s at the facility.
However, a spokesperson from the MoD told Janes that the new decision to continue building the aircraft at the Japanese FACO facility was influenced by the declining costs of producing the F-35 locally. Producing the aircraft locally, said the spokesperson, is now cheaper than importing the F-35 from the United States.
The spokesperson was speaking to Janes nearly three weeks after the United States government approved a potential USD23bn deal to sell Japan an additional 105 F-35s. This Foreign Military Sale means Japan will operate a total of 147 F-35s, becoming the second-largest operator of the aircraft in the world. These aircraft will comprise 105 conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A aircraft and 42 units of the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B. The spokesperson said, “For the acquisition of F-35As in fiscal years (FY) 2019 and 2020… the Japanese MoD has decided to use domestic manufacturing at the FACO… It is confirmed that the unit cost of aircraft produced at the domestic FACO [facility] is less, compared to the unit cost of imported aircraft.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Jane’s)
MILITARY AND GOVERNMENT
03 Aug 20. US Army National Guard to restructure force in eight divisions. The US Army National Guard (ARNG) has unveiled a plan that will align existing forces under eight division headquarters.
The move is aimed to increase the large-scale combat readiness of the force, as well as expedite talent management. It will also increase the number of divisions from existing ten to 18.
Army National Guard director Lieutenant General Daniel Hokanson said that the plan is aligned with the National Defense Strategy that provides a roadmap to meet upcoming challenges, following the re-emergence of strategic competition with China and Russia.
Hokanson said: “Future mobilisations and deployments in support of large-scale combat operations will require our formations to integrate with the Total Army and the Joint Force at every echelon.”
He also added that the restructuring will improve the training of the soldiers during capstone exercises. Such exercises are conducted at army training centres to assess the battle readiness of a unit.
Hokanson further stated: “This alignment will not only help us improve readiness, it will greatly enhance talent management from company to division level.
“Through coordination between Adjutants General and Division Commanders, our Soldiers will have opportunities for key leader development positions previously hampered by geography.”
The reorganisation does not affect the 54 Adjutants General authorities or current force structure.
Recently, the US Senate confirmed Hokanson as the 29th chief of the National Guard Bureau. (Source: army-technology.com)
04 Aug 20. US V Corps HQ Forward Location Announced. The US Army Chief of Staff has announced the Forward Headquarters of V Corps, reactivated at Fort Knox in February, will be located in Poland. Today the US Army Chief of Staff announced the V Corps Headquarters (Forward) would be located in Poland. Gen. James McConville was on hand to promote Maj. Gen. John Kolasheski, V Corps commanding general, to the rank of lieutenant general and officially unfurl the V Corps flag in Poland. The forward command post will be manned with approximately 200 personnel on a rotational basis. US Army Europe expects the first rotation of personnel in Fiscal Year 2021.
“The activation of an additional Corps headquarters provides the needed level of command and control focused on synchronising US Army, allied, and partner nation tactical formations operating in Europe. It will enhance US Army Europe and US European Command as they work alongside allies and partners to promote regional stability and security,” said McConville.
In February, the US Army announced the reactivation of V Corps at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and identified Europe as the location for a forward command post. The location of the V Corps Headquarters (Forward) was brought to fruition by the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, announced July 31.
The primary mission of the new forward headquarters will be to conduct operational planning, mission command and oversight of the rotational forces in Europe. It will also provide additional capability to support allies and partners in the region. The V Corps Headquarters (Forward) is expected to participate in DEFENDER-Europe 21.
The V Corps’ history dates back to 1918, when the unit was activated during World War I. Later, it took part in the World War II D-Day invasion and liberation of Europe. (Source: joint-forces.com)
31 Jul 20. Clear Skies Ahead at Grand Sky for Northrop Grumman. Northrop Grumman recently hired a dozen interns and full-time employees at its Grand Sky location, to help handle an increased workload brought on by a recently opened 35,000-square-foot hangar.
In that hangar are new unmanned aerial systems, Firebirds, with commercial, civil and military capabilities. To find those new employees, Northrop turned to its partnership with local universities.
“We get some of the most phenomenal interns that I’ve ever had in my entire career out of the local community,” said Mike Fridolfs, Northrop Grumman’s Grand Sky site director. “Brilliant, brilliant students.”
Many of those interns come from UND, Northland Community & Technical College and some come from NDSU or other regional universities. More than 90% of them become full-time employees at a facility that takes workers out of the office and puts them next to the product.
“There’s not a lot of places where you can be an engineer and also look out the window of the facility and actually see and touch the items that you’re working on,” Fridolfs said.
Those new interns and engineers may wind up working with the Firebird drone, or they may work on other projects, such as software design. The Grand Sky facility acts as a training center for pilots, operators and maintainers, as well as operations and mission analysis. With the completion of the new hangar, workers also can focus on flight operations — drones taking off from the site.
Last year, the facility successfully completed a flight control test of a NASA Global Hawk drone: It took off in California and was remotely piloted from Grand Sky. The recent addition of the Firebird, which undertook a flight operation at Grand Sky on Wednesday, July 22, is used to assist the company in its mission to integrate drones into the national airspace and advance work on flying beyond visual line of sight.
The Firebird unmanned aerial vehicle comes in a variety of configurations. It can be operated remotely, or, after a few hours of system changes, can be flown by a pilot. The drone is versatile and can be operated by a small crew. It only takes two people to reconfigure from manned to unmanned flight. Aside from military uses, the drone can be used to map floodplains, detect wildfires and monitor infrastructure.
“We’re flying in the beyond visual line-of-sight configuration, which is the primary usage of the Firebird,” said Jon Haun, director of the Firebird production team. “The ability to be optionally manned allows for additional flexibilities as far as being able to transit national airspace.”
Continued growth and the jobs that come with it are, in part, due to the partnerships the company has made here, including with the Northern Plains UAS Test Site and local universities. Together, they form a network that channels students into jobs to do the work necessary to integrate large unmanned aerial vehicles into the national air space. It is a community that Fridolfs has not seen anywhere else.
“You look at autonomous systems throughout the world, and this ecosystem here really does allow us to strengthen that state-of-the-art system,” he said.
For Northrop Grumman, it’s the skies and beyond. The company has provided a component that will be used in NASA Jet Propulsion’s Perseverance Mars Rover. The launch is expected to happen by mid-August. The rover will land on Mars in February 2021, to study the planet’s habitability and search for signs of past life. The rover also will collect surface samples and test oxygen production in the atmosphere. The component will provide data to the ground mission and help navigate the planet’s surface.
The unit, called an inertial measurement unit, has been used on previous Mars missions, including the rovers Spirit and Opportunity in 2003 and Curiosity in 2012. That rover is still in operation eight years after its two-year mission. (Source: UAS VISION/Grand Forks Herald)
04 Aug 20. NXT Communications Corporation (NXTCOMM) announced today the appointment of Stephen Newell as its Chief Commercial Officer. He leads NXTCOMM sales, business development and product marketing efforts for its next-generation connectivity products, including the AeroMaxSM flat panel antenna for the commercial and defense aviation markets. Newell brings more than 20 years experience to the aviation and satcom industry, having formerly served in executive positions at several leading communications firms. His first priorities include helping secure NXTCOMM’s launch customer for AeroMax and distribution and alliance partners key to NXTCOMM’s vision to bring affordable connectivity technology and services to broadband markets. Most recently, Newell was VP of the Defence and Aftermarket business for Gastops, an Ottawa-based advanced aircraft gas turbine sensor manufacturer. (Source: PR Newswire)
30 Jul 20. Spirit AeroSystems [NYSE: SPR] announced today changes on its Executive Leadership Team. John Pilla, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, and Vic McMullen, Senior Vice President for Global Manufacturing and Boeing Operations, have announced their intent to retire and will move into special advisor roles with the company, effective August 1. (Source: PR Newswire)
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