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27 Aug 20. Infrastrata to reopen North Devon’s Appledore shipyard in £7m deal. Infrastrata – the owner of Harland & Wolff in Belfast – has signed a £7m deal to acquire Appledore shipyard in North Devon. Under the deal, the shipyard will be renamed Harland & Wolff (Appledore) and will be used by Infrastrata to target five key markets; defence, commercial, renewables, cruise and ferry and oil and gas.
InfraStrata CEO John Wood said: “We see Appledore playing a key role in an exciting new era for UK shipyards and shipbuilding; supporting UK industry and revitalising economic growth in the South West. Our vision is to transform it into a thriving centre of excellence that creates jobs, trains apprentices and re-establishes this country at the forefront of a new generation of shipyards.”
The shipyard was previously owned by Babcock, where it was used to build sections of the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers before being mothballed in March 2019.
Other vessels built at the shipyard include HMS Echo, HMS Enterprise, and HMS Scott as well as a number of patrol vessels for the Irish Naval Service.
Wood said that across the five sectors listed Infrastrata estimated there to be a ‘£6bn pipeline of opportunities over the next five years’. Wood added that a large programme of smaller vessels would be well suited for construction at Appledore.
Appledore is understood to be able to also accommodate other projects such as steel fabrication for industry and the construction sector. Under its new remit, the shipyard is set to offer ‘complete lifecycle management’ from technical services through to decommissioning.
Wood added: “For decades our outdated and unwieldy shipyards have been in decline and have continued to deliver programmes late, whilst overseas yards have led the way in productivity and efficiencies.
“This is a once in a lifetime chance to re-build, modernise and re-shape the industry with a new generation of shipyards, which can adapt, move quickly and utilise the expertise of a skilled and highly motivated workforce.”
Appledore shipyard features a 119m covered drydock, as well as quays for repairs, outfitting and commissioning.
Commenting on the acquisition, Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions general secretary Ian Waddell said: “The prospect of Appledore being reopened is great news for British shipbuilding and we welcome its purchase by Infrastrata.
“Appledore played a vital role making the complex bows for the aircraft carrier and it could play a similar role by constructing the Future Solid Support ship which the Government must build in Britain in order invest in our regional economies and get the economy back up and running.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
26 Aug 20. India to bolster island territories’ infrastructure. India is reportedly planning to upgrade the infrastructure at its two island territories, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep, amid China’s increased presence in the Indian Ocean.
The Chinese Navy has increased its presence in the region with ports in Myanmar, Pakistan and Iran.
This move is expected to ensure that there is no hinderance for navigation or a repetition of South China Sea in its territory.
The Hindustan Times reported that India plans to upgrade the airstrip at INS Kohassa in Andamans and at the Campbell strip in Nicobar into complete fighter bases.
It also intends to upgrade the Agatti airstrip in Lakshadweep for military operations. This is expected to secure the Bay of Bengal up to Malacca Straits and up to Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea.
A tri-service commander was quoted by the newspaper as saying: “The two island territories will be like the new aircraft carriers for India, extending the navy’s reach in the region far from the mainland.
“Both the islands sit on the busiest sea lanes of the world, with more than half the world trade going through this route.”
As per the officials, the upgrade of the infrastructure is urgent due to China’s efforts to urge Thailand to commence work on Thai Canal.
Some people have expressed concerns regarding the canal, which is promoted by the Belt and Road Initiative of China, stating that the canal could lead to long-term maritime security risks for India.
Last month, the Indian Navy expanded its deployment of frontline warships and submarines in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
India had deployed its ships in the IOR amid border clashes with China in the Galwan Valley in June that led to the death of 20 Indian Army personnel. In June, the Indian and Japanese navies reportedly conducted an exercise in the Indian Ocean amidst the border tensions in Ladakh. (Source: naval-technology.com)
27 Aug 20. Investigation suspects arson as cause of fire on USS Bonhomme Richard. US Naval investigators have launched a probe into a sailor in relation to the fire that occurred on the USS Bonhomme Richard ship and are suspecting arson as the cause. On 12 July, an explosion and fire on board the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) left around 60 people injured. There were no fatalities reported.
The ship was docked pierside at Naval Base San Diego in California when the fire escalated overnight.
News reports have quoted anonymous US Navy officials as saying that the inquiry regarding the sailor is part of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigation.
Leaders of the defence department were informed of the development. The navy sailor has not been detained.
The fire on the ship was burned for over four days and is said to be one of the worst US ship fires outside of combat in recent times.
USS Bonhomme Richard suffered extensive structural, electrical and mechanical damage due to the fire.
AP quoted Navy spokesman Lt Tim Pietrack as saying: “The navy will not comment on an ongoing investigation to protect the integrity of the investigative process and all those involved.
“We have nothing to announce at this time.”
Last month, General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co (GD NASSCO) won a $10m contract for work on the Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6). The award was a cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to a previously awarded contract. Work under the award is expected to conclude by November. (Source: naval-technology.com)
25 Aug 20. China introduces first warship developed for Pakistan Navy. China has introduced the ‘most advanced’ warship, which was developed for the Pakistan Navy, in a ceremony at Hudong Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai, China. This vessel is the first of the four Type-054 class frigates expected to help Pakistan tackle challenges in the future.
According to local media, the guided missile frigate is said to be the biggest combat ship that has been sold by China to a navy of a foreign country and marks an important step for the military export sector of the country. The remaining three ships are expected to join the Pakistan Navy next year.
Gulf News quoted the Pakistan Navy as saying in a statement that the frigates will feature modern surface, subsurface and anti-air weapons and sensors.
The vessels will be one of the most advances surface platforms in its fleet and “contribute in maintaining peace and security in its area of responsibility.”
The Type 054A Class of missile frigates are being built by Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard and Huangpu Shipyard for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
They have a length of 134m and a beam of 16m. The standard displacement is 3,600t, while the full displacement is around 4,000t. Each vessel has a crew complement of 165.
Pakistan and China have deepened their military and defence ties with the ‘Sea Guardians 2020’ joint naval drill in the Arabian Sea and the development of JF-17 multirole combat aircraft.
Last month, China Shipbuilding Group planned to build an advanced amphibious assault ship to boost the Chinese marines’ ability to hit targets on land and at sea. (Source: naval-technology.com)
26 Aug 20. Newest RAN destroyers head to sea for combat system tests. The Royal Australian Navy’s newest guided-missile destroyer, HMAS Sydney, has sailed in company with sister ship HMAS Brisbane to conduct training and testing of the Aegis Combat System.
Commanding Officer of Sydney Commander Edward Seymour said it was the first time the ship sailed in company with another guided missile destroyer and the first time joining another vessel at sea equipped with the co-operative engagement capability.
“This activity is a great opportunity to use some of the more complex systems that we have to provide crew training and preparedness,” CMDR Seymour said.
Sailing in company with Brisbane has also allowed the ship to exercise bridge and navigation teams, watch-keeping and communications.
Sydney has been progressing through the DDG Force Generation cycle, which includes conducting Aegis waterfront training with the support of a team of specialists from Lockheed Martin in the US.
CMDR Seymour added, “The waterfront training let’s us train ourselves to generate the ship’s combat systems training team and integrate this as part of the whole ship training regime. We have achieved this with valuable assistance from the team from the United States who bring expertise and experience on the Aegis Combat System.”
Principal Warfare Officer in Sydney’s combat information centre, Lieutenant Daniel James, said the training contributed greatly to test and validate the system and train its maintainers and operators.
“This is one of the few occasions that Australian ships have been able to employ this capability other than with US Navy platforms,” LEUT James said.
Following the Aegis Waterfront Training, Sydney will begin unit ready work-ups in preparation for final live weapons and systems tests in the US next year.
The three Hobart Class vessels, HMA Ships Hobart, Brisbane and Sydney, will primarily provide air defence for accompanying ships, in addition to land forces and infrastructure in coastal areas.
The Hobart Class’ Spanish counterparts entered service with the Spanish Navy beginning in the early 2000s, working alongside key NATO and US maritime assets.
When deployed to the Persian Gulf, the F100s became the first foreign Aegis-equipped ships to fully integrate into a US Navy Carrier Strike Group, while the class has also successfully deployed as the flagship of NATO’s Maritime Group Standing Reaction Force, highlighting the individual and interoperable capabilities of Navy’s new destroyers.
The vessels will be capable across the full spectrum of joint maritime operations, from area air defence and escort duties, right through to peacetime national tasking and diplomatic missions.
The Hobart Class combat system is built around the Aegis weapon system. Incorporating the state-of-the-art phased array radar, AN/SPY 1D(V), will provide an advanced air defence system capable of engaging enemy aircraft and missiles at ranges in excess of 150 kilometres.
While based upon the Spanish F100s, the Australian vessels incorporate a number of modifications and Australian-specific structural/design and combat system modifications to provide a uniquely Australian surface combatant with international provenance. (Source: Defence Connect)
24 Aug 20. Indian Navy’s Vikrant aircraft carrier to begin basin trials. The Indian Navy’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) INS Vikrant is set to commence basin tests next month following the fitting of systems and equipment. Basin trials of INS Vikrant are expected to start next month. The New Indian Express reported sources in the navy as confirming that the harbour trials have completed. This marks a major step in the manufacture of the aircraft carrier.
Basin trials are carried out to establish the propulsion, transmission and shafting systems that can be tested in waters.
Following the sea trials scheduled to place during the end of this year, Vikrant will be inducted by the end of the year.
The original timeline of the IAC was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to a halt in operations.
In January this year, Vikrant was under the third phase of construction.
The 40,000t IAC Vikrant is capable of accommodating MiG 29K fighter jets and helicopters. The 260m-long and 60m-wide carrier is the largest ship being built at Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) in Kochi, India.
The Indian Navy has planned to deploy INS Vikrant in Vizag in the state of Andhra Pradesh on the eastern seaboard.
Along with the MiG-29K aircraft, the future INS Vikrant was displayed as part of the navy’s parade on the country’s Republic Day.
INS Vikramadithya is currently the only operational carrier.
In January this year, the naval version of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) completed its maiden arrested landing on the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier.
Development came after the LCA Navy completed extensive trials on the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF). (Source: naval-technology.com)
25 Aug 20. First survey motor boat for South African Navy launched. The first Survey Motor Boat (SMB) for the South African Navy (SAN) has been launched, shipbuilder Paramount Maritime told Janes on 25 August. The 11m long SMB has been designed and built by Paramount Marine subsidiary Veecraft Marine, and features two twin Volvo Penta D4 engines with duo-prop propellers and a Volvo Penta D3 joystick helm control system. The vessel’s survey equipment includes multi-beam and single-beam echo-sounders, a side-scan sonar, and a seabed sampler to recover sample material from the sea-floor and underlying sub-strata for testing and analysis purposes. The vessel’s capabilities allow for nearshore shallow water surveys in depths of up to 300m. The SMB will now continue standard harbour trials and sea acceptance testing before being delivered to the SAN. Details on the planned delivery date were not disclosed. The delivery of the SMBs is part of South Africa’s efforts to revitalise its hydrographic capabilities under Project Hotel, with the current ocean-going survey ship SAS Protea being replaced by a new hydrographic survey vessel (HSV) currently being built by Sandock Austral Shipyard (formerly Southern African Shipyards). South African media reported in June, citing South African government reports, that the project was progressing well, with six out of 10 sections of the new vessel completed. (Source: Jane’s)
24 Aug 20. Littoral Combat Ship 21 (Minneapolis-Saint Paul) Completes Acceptance Trials. U.S. Navy to commission ship in 2021, becoming the 11th “effective and adaptable” LCS in the fleet.
Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) 21, the future USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul, completed acceptance trials in Lake Michigan. Trials included a full-power run, maneuverability testing, and surface and air detect-to-engage demonstrations of the ship’s combat system. Major systems and features were demonstrated, including aviation support, small boat launch handling and recovery and machinery control and automation. Now that trials are complete, the ship will undergo final outfitting and fine-tuning before delivery to the U.S. Navy. LCS 21 is the eleventh Freedom-variant LCS designed and built by the Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT)-led industry team and is slated for delivery to the Navy early next year.
“LCS 21 joins a fleet of sister ships delivering unique flexibility and capability to the U.S. Navy,” said Joe DePietro, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager, Small Combatants and Ship Systems. “Freedom-variant LCS are inherently capable to serve freedom of navigation, drug interdiction and humanitarian missions, and with additional capabilities onboarded, they can serve further focused missions. On LCS 21’s acceptance trials, we successfully tested the ship’s maneuverability, automation and core combat capability.”
The Freedom-variant LCS has completed four successful deployments, including LCS 7 (USS Detroit)’s deployment completed this summer. LCS 7 deployed to the U.S. Southern Command supporting the Martillo campaign – a multinational effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in Central American coastal waters.
Regarding LCS’ capabilities, U.S. Southern Commander Admiral Craig Faller recently stated, “LCS has proven to be an effective and adaptable platform capable of multiple missions in our area of responsibility. It has become an end-game enabler for U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement authorities who disrupt transnational criminal organizations and the smuggling of deadly narcotics. Adding the LCS to our Enhanced Counter Narcotics Operation is helping save lives.”
Unique among combat ships, the focused-mission LCS is designed to support mine countermeasures, anti-submarine and surface warfare missions and is easily adapted to serve future and evolving missions. The Freedom-variant LCS is:
- Flexible — Forty percent of the hull is easily reconfigurable, able to integrate Longbow Hellfire Missiles, 30 mm guns, manned and unmanned vehicles designed to meet today’s and tomorrow’s missions.
- Lethal — LCS is standard equipped with Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) and a Mark 110 gun, capable of firing 220 rounds per minute.
- Powerful — LCS has gas turbines, diesel engines and water jets that together generate 114,000 horsepower making LCS capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots.
- Automated — LCS has the most efficient staffing of any combat ship.
“I am pleased to see another successful acceptance trials on Lake Michigan,” said Jan Allman, CEO of Fincantieri Marinette Marine. “Together with our partners, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy, our proud shipbuilding team puts in long hours to deliver a proven warship for the fleet.”
27 Aug 20. South Africa’s AHRLAC poised for deliveries. The AHRLAC, South Africa’s first aircraft since the Apartheid era, is back in production and poised for deliveries after a messy divorce between the programme’s two shareholders threatened its future last year.
The AHRLAC is a cost-effective solution to asymmetric threats, says Paramount
South African defence group Paramount – which almost a decade ago invested in the light-attack and reconnaissance platform alongside father and son developers Paul Potgieter senior and junior – emerged late last year as the outright owner of manufacturer Aerospace Development Corporation (ADC).
It followed an acrimonious dispute between the owners that saw ADC briefly cease operations and enter a “business rescue” process under South African law, where a practitioner is appointed to work with directors and creditors to find a viable outcome.
Ivor Ichikowitz, founder and executive chairman of Paramount, says the newly branded Paramount Aerospace Industries has “taken orders” for the AHRLAC – which is branded the Mwarai in a militarised configuration – and is “preparing for deliveries”. A new factory in Wonderboom, near Pretoria, is “fully operational”.
Ichikowitz will not name customers. ADC had announced in early 2018 it was close to its first delivery to an unnamed buyer, but Ichikowitz says production was put on hold by the restructuring.
However, he adds that the restructure “allowed us an additional year of development work to get the aircraft right”. The aluminium-bodied, high-winged, tandem-seat AHRLAC is powered by a single rear-facing Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6, and first flew in 2014.
Ichikowitz describes the AHRLAC – it stands for advanced high-performance reconnaissance light attack aircraft – as a “multi-mission bus” that “is a brand new platform that takes you right into that sweet spot of operational need around the world”.
Paramount is pitching the AHRLAC at governments “who want a cost-effective solution” to asymmetric threats to their security and generally have budgets of under $1bn. Of its competitors, which include utility and general aviation aircraft designed for other purposes, Ichikowitz remarks: “Everything else is a compromise.”
One of the biggest potential prizes for the AHRLAC is the US Special Operations Command’s Armed Overwatch programme, which will source around 75 aircraft for close air support, precision strike and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
Paramount is partnered along with training company Vertex Aerospace in a bid primed by US service provider Leidos to offer a variant of the AHRLAC dubbed the Bronco II. If successful, the Bronco II will be manufactured in Florida.
Ichikowitz declines to comment on the prospects for the campaign.
He describes the new factory as one of the “most modern aircraft manufacturing facilities in the world”, with 70% of parts made on site as part of a “vertically integrated” model that spans “sheet metal to final assembly”.
Paramount claims the new factory is one of the most modern in the industry
He adds: “Although we have the capability here to meet much of the global demand directly, our system does allow for portable assembly. We can supply the aircraft in kit form.”
Ichikowitz says that, while the shareholder dispute was “unfortunate”, it was “inevitable that the structure would have to change at some point”. He promises further investment in the coming months. “Now we have absolute clarity in terms of the company’s direction,” he says.
He maintains that with mission systems supplied by a sister business within Paramount and the company’s experience in training and support, “we can offer customers a complete turnkey solution”.
Paramount – which was established by Ichikowitz in 1994 – has expanded largely by acquisition into Africa’s biggest independent aerospace and defence group; its main product line is armoured vehicles.
Its Texas-based US subsidiary provides Dassault Mirage F1 airframe and engine support to two companies that provide aggressor training and other contract services to the US Air Force: Draken International and Textron subsidiary ATAC. Paramount also has a military pilot training centre in South Africa.
South Africa’s aerospace and defence industry – a major component of the economy during the years when arms embargoes forced the White minority regime to be self-sufficient – has shrunk since the 1990s. However, state-owned Denel remains a major player, and Aerosud – in which Paramount has a stake – is a supplier of aerostructures to Airbus and Boeing. (Source: Google/Flightglobal)
24 Aug 20. Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 completes CH-53K sea trials. Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 pilots and engineers based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River have completed sea trials of the CH-53K King Stallion. The trials offered developmental test information regarding the aircraft and can also change the way a squadron carries our similar tests in the future.
A 96-man test team boarded the USS Wasp (LHD 1) in early June to conduct a series of intensive tests to establish the performance range during day and night take-offs and recovery of the helicopter from different wind speeds and conditions.
The exercise was aimed at testing the engaging, disengaging, folding, and unfolding of the rotors in different wind conditions, and to permit the Sikorsky and Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron (VMX) 1 maintenance crews to practice working on the aircraft.
CH-53K sea trials project officer Joshua Foxton said: “Typically you include more test points than you can reasonably expect to accomplish, which gives us greater flexibility in executing the plan.
“But due largely to the success of the aircraft, we were able to accomplish all of our objectives while we were underway.”
Team members on the Wasp completed 32 hours of flying over the 14-day detachment period. Around one third of the flying was carried out in the night.
The team completed 364 landing, with 74 carried out using night vision devices. In March this year, the US Navy’s amphibious transport dock USS San Antonio (LPD 17) started sea trials after undergoing an extensive maintenance period. (Source: naval-technology.com)
23 Aug 20. The First Deeply Modernized Missile Carrier Tu-95MSM Made Its First Flight. On August 23, before the opening of the Army-2020 International Military-Technical Forum, while inspecting the exhibition of the latest aviation technology at the Kubinka airfield, the General Director of the United Aircraft Corporation Yuri Slyusar informed the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, General of the Army Sergei Shoigu, of the start of flight tests of the first prototype of the deeply modernized Tu-95MSM strategic missile carrier.
Work on the development of the Tu-95MSM is being carried out jointly by PJSC Tupolev and PJSC TANTK im. G.M. Beriev “(part of PJSC UAC of State Corporation Rostec).
The first flight of the Tu-95MSM made the day before at the airfield of G.M. Beriev in Taganrog. The aircraft was piloted by the crew under the guidance of Andrey Voropaev, test pilot of the Zhukovskaya flight test and development base – a branch of Tupolev PJSC. The flight took place in normal mode, at an altitude of 9,000 meters, and lasted 2 hours and 33 minutes. Systems and equipment worked without any remarks.
Yuri Slyusar, General Director of PJSC UAC, Vice President of SoyuzMash of Russia LLC, emphasized: “This is an aircraft with a new armament system, a new on-board electronic equipment complex, with newly modified engines and new propellers. The combat capabilities of the vehicle have doubled after this upgrade. After departure, tests will continue. Modernization of the fleet of strategic missile carriers will continue along this path.”
The modernization will significantly increase the navigation accuracy and reliability indicators, extend the service life of the aircraft system, and improve its takeoff and landing characteristics.
As part of the deep modernization, new systems were installed on the Tu-95MSM: weapons control, aircraft control, flight and navigation equipment, an onboard communications system, a radar station, and targeting control equipment. The result of the work carried out will be a significant increase in the efficiency indicators of the aircraft system when used for its intended role.
Tu-95MSM is the first strategic missile carrier, a new modification of the world’s fastest turboprop aircraft-missile carrier Tu-95MS. It is designed to carry out combat missions while protecting the country’s distant borders. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/United Aircraft Corp)
21 Aug 20. Images show wide-body variant of Z-8G helicopter undergoing load-carrying trials. The first clear images of the wide-body variant of the Changhe Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) Z-8G medium-lift helicopter have emerged on Chinese social media sites showing that People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) personnel have been involved in undertaking trials with the platform.
Several photographs of the variant, which is being commonly referred to as the Z-8L, were released on 17 August via the Weixin social media page of the ‘Chinese Weapon Tests’ website, and show the rotorcraft being used to carry an underslung 6×6 all-terrain vehicle during what appeared to be external load-carrying capability trials.
The images – the first high-resolution ones to emerge showing the complete helicopter – were taken at an undisclosed location in China’s eastern Jiangxi Province, with the website stating in a news article that the tests were carried out “recently”.
The helicopter, which was shown bearing PLA insignia and painted in Army Aviation camouflage, has serial number ‘PT02’ written on its tail boom, suggesting that this is the second prototype of this variant to have been built.
Compared with the Z-8G, which has been in PLA Army Aviation service since early 2018, the Z-8L has much longer external sponsons on both sides of the fuselage. Moreover, unverified Chinese media reports claim that the internal width of the load area has been increased from 1.8–2.4m. (Source: Jane’s)
21 Aug 20. Lufthansa Technik hands over first Airbus A350-900 to German Air Force. Lufthansa Technik has successfully handed over the first of three new Airbus A350-900 for the German Federal Ministry of Defence’s (BMVg) Special Air Mission Wing. The milestone was celebrated during a small ceremony in Hamburg.
Before entering service, the new wide-body aircraft will undergo various test flights to receive the military certification for the 10+03 designation in the following weeks.
It is the world’s first Airbus A350 to be used as the government aircraft and not in commercial airline service.
Lufthansa Technik Executive Board chairman Dr Johannes Bussmann said: “Today, we are proud to present to the Federal Minister of Defence the new flagship of the Federal Government’s Special Air Mission Wing, the world’s very first Airbus A350, as a government aircraft.
“The 10+03 and its two subsequent sister aircraft are a continuation of the successful tradition of supplying the German Armed Forces and having them as one of our best and most important customers.”
The aircraft arrived at Lufthansa Technik in May.
Airbus A350 is currently equipped with a transitional cabin that will be exchanged with a fully fledged government cabin from Lufthansa Technik in 2021.
Currently, the other two aircraft 10+01 and 10+02 are under construction.
Lufthansa Technik will provide the two aircraft with a government cabin next year, following which the transitional cabin in 10+03 will be exchanged. The delivery of 10+03 to the German Armed Forces has been delayed due to the effect of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on the global supply chain. It is expected to be delivered in the next few weeks. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
20 Aug 20. ALTAIR goes North and South. The Russian Northern Fleet is to receive a squadron of the most modern amphibious aircraft, the Be-200 ALTAIR, the Izvestia newspaper reported yesterday, citing sources in the Russian Ministry of Defence. The statement claims that the aircraft are to be used in both the regular emergency variant but also in a new anti-submarine version. The aircraft will be based at special facilities (termed hydro aerodrome) in the Arctic Circle at the settlement of Safonovo near Murmansk, for which the premises must be restored and renovated.
In July, the first Be-200ES (emergency version with fire-fighting capabilities) entered service with the Russian Black Sea Fleet and on 14th July, it was officially accepted by the 190 Mixed Training Aviation Regiment in the city of Yeisk, Krasnodarskiy Kray. The contract also includes two more Be-200ES aircraft to be delivered to Naval aviation by the end of 2020. In 2016-2018, TANTK (a United Aircraft Corporation subsidiary) built six Be-200ES (serial numbers 303 to 308) for the Russian Ministry of Emergencies (EMERCOM) under a contract from May 2011. Ahead of that, nine Be-200 aircraft were built – two flight prototypes at the TANTK facility (Be-200 in 1998 and Be-200ES in 2002) and seven serial Be-200ES at the Irkutsk Aviation Plant (commissioned from 2003 to 2011), of which six were supplied to EMERCOM and one to the Azerbaijan Emergencies Ministry. Thus, a total of 16 flying Be-200s were built.
ALTAIR Goes Global
The Be-200 has excellent characteristics as a fire-fighter in addition to working as a search and rescue aircraft, being the world’s only commercial amphibian aircraft with jet engines, with an airframe partially made from composites and anti-corrosion aluminum-lithium alloys. Its maximum flight altitude is 8,100m, maximum speed – 700km/h and the flight range is 3500km. It can fly from any fresh or sea water pools with a depth of 2.6m and the wave height up to 1.2m (3 points). The Be-200 is able to take-on 12 tons of water in 12-15 seconds while gliding which compared to a regular fire-fighting plane, means it can perform up to 10 times more pick-and-drop cycles. The Be-200 rescue version is able to carry 4 inflatable rafts and a mobile hospital while it has a number of international certificates to operate in different climates.
Since 2003, the ALTAIR has been used for fire-fighting all over Russia as well as in France, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Israel and Indonesia. This year, two Be-200s were hired by Turkey for four months to be on duty in the vicinity of Antalya, Izmir and Bodrum, while the Russian press reported that Turkey may buy a certain number of Be-200 as the aircraft has been contracted by several international customers.
In September 2018, US-based Seaplane Global Air Services announced a contract with TANTK for four Be-200ES with an option for six more. This was reconfirmed during the 2019 Paris Airshow with deliveries to happen in 2020-2021. At the same time, Chilean company Asesorias CBP Ltda. announced a deal for two Be-200ES, although the situation with both deals is currently unclear.
The aircraft’s D-436TP power plant is under production at Motor Sich in Zaporozhiye, Ukraine and has been banned for export to Russia since the 19th February 2018. The management of TANTK found an interim solution to employ French-Russian SaM146 engine which is currently used by the Sukhoi SUPERJET 100 aircraft. The re-engined vehicle had already been on display when the Russian General Prosecutor office banned the use of this engine aboard Be-200 due to its NATO-country origin, casting doubt on plans for an anti-submarine warfare version of the aircraft. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
PLANT CLOSURES, JOB LOSSES AND STRIKES
27 Aug 20. Drone maker General Atomics lays off hundreds. Privately held drone maker General Atomics, of San Diego, is laying off approximately 630 of its roughly 10,000 employees.
“General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. can confirm a reduction in force involving 6% of its workforce,” a spokesperson wrote in an email to Defense News late Wednesday. “This reduction was made to balance resources with customer requirements.”
The layoffs were announced internally Wednesday and confirmed by the company, which did not specify which operations were impacted.
General Atomics and Northrop Grumman were two beneficiaries of the Trump administration’s recent decision to ease restrictions on overseas sales of unmanned aircraft. In addition, lawmakers are expected to boost Reaper buys in the near term, with House appropriators proposing to give General Atomics $344m for 16 more MQ-9s in fiscal 2021.
But the company was also dealt a blow earlier this year when the Air Force announced it would stop buying the MQ-9 Reaper in fiscal year 2021, at least four years earlier than expected. And now the future of the program remains uncertain, with the Air Force looking at options to replace the MQ-9 Reaper.
Over the past two decades, the Reaper has served as one of the Air Force’s workhorse drones for surveillance and for striking targets in the Middle East. But service leaders believe it is ill-suited for a war with Russia and China. In addition, they believe it costs too much time and money to keep the aircraft ready for operations in low-threat environments.
“The Reaper has been a great platform for us. Four million flight hours, just undeniable overmatch in a low-end uncontested fight, and it is certainly saving lives,” Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper told lawmakers at a House Armed Services Committee hearing this March. “But as we look to the high-end fight, we just can’t take them into the battlefield. They are easily shot down.”
In June, the Air Force issued a request for information for an MQ-9 successor, underscoring the service’s plan to transition from the Reaper to a new surveillance and strike drone. (Source: Defense News)
27 Aug 20. Staffing cap set to cut over 100 Australian Defence jobs. The Department of Defence has announced that up to 111 jobs will be cut from aerospace, intelligence and surveillance, and maritime and weapon divisions. The union representing the public sector including Department of Defence, the CPSU, is calling on the government halt these staff cuts.
These cuts are a direct result of the government’s Average Staffing Level Cap policy. The Department’s own change document spells out that this is job cut is solely due to the ASL Cap. Since 2013, 4,667 jobs or 21% of department staff have been cut as a direct result of the ASL Cap.
The majority of roles will come from South Australia(60) and Victoria(44), with the remainder to come from New South Wales, and the ACT offices.
Brooke Muscat, CPSU Deputy National President said, “We know that now is not the time to be cutting jobs. The CPSU is calling on the government to halt this decision, and scrap the ASL Cap.”
“The government needs to be investing in public sector jobs, not cutting them. These cuts will impact the capacity of the aerospace, intelligence and surveillance, and maritime and weapon divisions of the department. The Department of Defence and Australia’s defence capabilities should not be paying the price for political decisions.”
“It’s time for the government to scrap the ASL Cap and invest in Australian public sector. If the past 6 months have shown us anything, it’s that the public sector is integral to Australia’s success and response to the pandemic.” (Source: Google/https://www.miragenews.com/)
24 Aug 20. Shipbuilders approve 3-year pact, ending monthslong strike at Bath Iron Works. A 63-day strike at Bath Iron Works — against the backdrop of a pandemic in an election year — came to an end Sunday with shipbuilders voting to return to their jobs producing warships for the United States Navy.
With the approval of a three-year contract, the 4,300 production workers represented by Machinists Local S6 will begin returning to work on Monday.
After falling behind schedule, Bath Iron Works is eager to get caught up on production of destroyers as the U.S. Navy faces growing competition from China and Russia on the high seas. The General Dynamics subsidiary was already behind more than six months schedule before the strike.
“We are pleased to welcome back our valued manufacturing employees and get back to the important work of building ships on schedule for the U.S. Navy,” Bath Iron Works said Sunday in a statement.
Robert Martinez Jr., the Machinists’ international president, cast the outcome on Sunday in historic terms, saying “this fight for dignity, justice and good Maine jobs will go down in the history books of the Machinists Union.”
The shipyard on the Kennebec River is one of the Navy’s largest, and it’s also a major employer in the state with with 6,800 workers.
The stakes were high for both a company that feared being priced out of competition for Navy contracts and a highly skilled workforce that didn’t want to give up ground to subcontractors. The test of wills ultimately ended with help from a federal mediator.
Shipbuilders represented by Machinists Local S6 got most of what they wanted when it came to work rules and maintaining the status quo for hiring of subcontractors, along with the previous proposal’s annual pay raises of 3% for three years. The company got streamlined rules for hiring subcontracting, and a commitment to work together to get back on track.
Because of the pandemic, voting on the contract’s approval — unanimously endorsed by the union negotiating committee — took place online and by telephone. Voting began Friday and ending at noon Sunday. The vote was 87% in favor of the contract among those who voted, said Jay Waldeigh, a district union official.
“Now that we successfully protected our contract language with respect to subcontracting and seniority, we need to get back to work,” said Local S6 President Chris Wiers.
The shipyard builds the workhorse of the Navy fleet, destroyers that have the ability to provide air defense while simultaneously waging war against submarines and surface warships. Destroyers are also one of the few types of warships equipped to withstand a chemical attack.
The Navy wants to increase the fleet’s size — something President Donald Trump supports — and Bath Iron Works has said it needs to get back on schedule and lower costs to remain competitive on those contracts.
Going into negotiations, the shipyard’s production workers were already angry over past concessions that ultimately still failed to yield contracts on Coast Guard cutters and a new class of Navy frigates. The pandemic in which they were required to remain on the job only added to their feeling that the company didn’t care about them — deemed essential by the Navy, the shipyard continued production despite a union request to shut down for two weeks.
Workers were determined enough to strike, despite the loss of company-paid insurance as the coronavirus raged around the country. A giant inflatable, cigar-smoking pig outside the union hall took aim at corporate greed as workers fumed over the hiring of “scab” workers and political leaders got involved.
It’s a far cry from the way things were in the past.
The strike was the first in 20 years at Bath Iron Works. There was enough trust between management and the union in 1994 that a contract was approved allowing cross-training of workers under a formula called a “High Performance Work Organization.” Then-President Bill Clinton visited the shipyard to praise the collaboration.
The company hopes that mediated discussions between the union and the company will help get the relationship back on track.
But it’s going to take time. Levi Benner, a shipfitter, said there are hard feelings because management routinely rejects workers’ ideas for improvements.
“It’s going to be hard to restore trust. We know what we’re doing. We’ve been building ships for years and years. These guys are geeks. They know their graphs and pie charts, but they don’t know how to build ships,” he said Sunday.
In the end, workers and the shipyard must learn how to work together if the company is to successfully compete for contracts against lower-cost competitors, said Loren Thompson, an analyst at the Lexington Institute.
“Both sides need to understand that their best chance for having a future is to get along with each other,” he said. “The American landscape is littered with the debris of destroyed industries. Most of them made a good product but they’re still gone.” (Source: Defense News)
MILITARY AND GOVERNMENT
27 Aug 20. Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, has named Robyn Gatens as acting director of the International Space Station at NASA Headquarters. The appointment was effective Aug. 25. Sam Scimemi, the former director, has assumed new responsibilities as a special assistant for the agency’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. In this role, Gatens will lead strategy, policy, integration, and stakeholder engagement for the space station program at the agency level, working closely with International Space Station Program Manager Joel Montalbano at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Gatens will provide technical advice for the program, as well as overseeing program execution and managing risks. (Source: PR Newswire)
27 Aug 20. MG Mark W. Gillette, chief of staff, United Nations Command, Republic of Korea, to senior defense official and defense attaché, U.S. Defense Attaché Office, Egypt.
27 Aug 20. BG Jacqueline D. Brown, deputy director of command, control, communications and cyber, J-6, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii, to director of command, control, communications and cyber, J-6, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Camp Smith, Hawaii.
27 Aug 20. BG Paul T. Stanton, deputy director of operations, J-3, U.S. Cyber Command, Fort Meade, Maryland, to deputy commanding general (operations), U.S. Army Cyber Command, Fort Gordon, Georgia.
27 Aug 20. Col. (Promotable) Glenn A. Dean III, deputy for acquisition and systems management, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology), Washington, D.C., to program executive officer, Ground Combat Systems, Warren, Michigan.
21 Aug 20. Army Gen. James H. Dickinson succeeded Space Force Gen. John W. ‘Jay’ Raymond as Spacecom commander, the 11th and newest DOD combatant command. Raymond, the chief of space operations, had also led Spacecom since its inception.
21 Aug 20. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Sheryl D. Lyon, currently assigned as the command senior enlisted leader for the U.S. Army Cyber Command, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, has been selected to assume responsibility as the command senior enlisted leader for the U.S. Cyber Command and National Security Agency, Fort Meade, Maryland.
26 Aug 20. Rheinmetall partnership with Weld Australia to develop skilled welding workforce. Peak industry body Weld Australia has announced a collaboration with Rheinmetall Defence Australia to develop a skilled welding workforce ready to deliver major defence industry programs, including LAND 400 Phase 2.
With Rheinmetall having established its Australian headquarters and Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) in south-east Queensland, local welders need training and qualifications that align with global best-practice to ensure they can deliver world leading Defence capability and reap the benefits of major defence programs such as LAND 400 Phase 2.
Weld Australia chief executive Geoff Crittenden said that Australia is facing a significant shortage of qualified and certified welders.
“Without action, we will be unable to meet future demand for not only defence industry projects, but rolling stock, infrastructure and resources projects. It is vital that Australian welders are properly trained and ready to deliver the $5bn LAND 400 Phase 2 project. This landmark project is an economic game-changer that is expected to create over 450 jobs at its Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence,” Crittenden explained.
Under a memorandum of understanding, Weld Australia and Rheinmetall will work together to establish accredited and non-accredited welding training outcomes and efficiencies – as well as technical development opportunities – that flow from Commonwealth Defence programs such as the delivery and sustainment of more than 3,500 high mobility logistics trucks to the Australian Army (LAND 1213B/5B) and the manufacture of the Boxer 8×8 combat reconnaissance vehicle (CRV) in Australia under LAND 400 Phase 2.
Focus areas include the importance of certification of Australian companies that work on the Boxer program, including requirements for developing welding capability to the internationally recognised AS/NZS ISO 3834 and DIN 2303.
Rheinmetall Defence Australia managing director Gary Stewart said the company welcomed Weld Australia’s active role in delivering the best training capability to defence industry at a time when the Commonwealth is focused on building significant new capability across the land, air and maritime domains.
“We look forward to working with Weld Australia to ensure local welding teams at manufacturing sites across Australia that supply into defence industry programs such as LAND 400 Phase 2 have world-class training and qualifications,” Stewart added.
The $5.2bn LAND 400 Phase 2 program will have Rheinmetall deliver 211 8×8 Boxer CRVs to the Australian Army.
Under the company’s offering to the Commonwealth, Rheinmetall will build a majority of the vehicles at the company’s specialised MILVEHCOE in Queensland.
The first 25 vehicles will be built in Germany as part of the technology transfer process, with the remaining vehicles to be built in Australia.
Boxer will replace the ageing ASLAVs that have served with the Australian Army in East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Army will accept 133 reconnaissance variants of the Boxer, which will be equipped with Rheinmetall’s cutting-edge Lance 30mm automatic cannon turret system, among a number of other variants.
25 Aug 20. AAR partners with Corporation for Skilled Workforce and Lumina Foundation to reduce labor shortage and increase diversity in the aviation industry. AAR (NYSE: AIR), a leading provider of aviation services to commercial and government operators worldwide, announces a new partnership with Corporation for Skilled Workforce (CSW) to grow and diversify the talent pool of aviation maintenance technicians and reduce future labor shortages. The initiative, powered by a grant from Lumina Foundation, will also raise awareness of lucrative aircraft repair jobs and career pathways in aviation.
Through October 2021, AAR and CSW will engage community colleges and technical training providers in strategic locations to develop competency-based programs, curriculum and stackable credentials that meet FAA Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) requirements. Next month, AAR is launching a pilot program to mentor and develop a cohort of up to 20 women in aviation maintenance at its aircraft repair facility in Miami. The initiative also will expand Skillbridge programs to provide job opportunities for military veterans and active duty personnel who are transitioning to civilian aviation maintenance careers.
The average age of an aviation maintenance technician is 54. The project expands AAR’s work under its EAGLE Career Pathways Program at seven colleges and technical training centers in the U.S. to mitigate mass retirements in the industry by diversifying the talent pool. The need for skilled technicians has slowed during the pandemic, but we are training new workers now to meet future demands as the industry recovers.
“As our industry re-builds following the impact of COVID-19, we have a unique opportunity to strengthen the talent pipeline through recruitment of groups that historically have been under-represented in aviation,” said John Holmes, AAR President and CEO. “At AAR, we are committed to our core value, Work as One, Be Inclusive, and excited to partner with CSW and Lumina to address our workforce challenges while at the same time increasing our diversity.”
“The success of this project is important to generate more diversity in the aviation industry,” said Holly Zanville, strategy director at Lumina Foundation. “The need for aviation technicians over the next 20 years is unprecedented. Aviation schools are only producing half the required students to support the needs of the industry.”
“This project offers CSW an opportunity to work with an industry partner, AAR, on an initiative that brings together competency-based learning and stackable credentials, pathways to good-paying jobs, and a commitment to workforce diversity that’s a win-win for the industry and workers,” said Jeannine LaPrad, a senior fellow at CSW.
12 Aug 20. Mynaric (Frankfurt Stock Exchange: M0Y, ISIN: DE000A0JCY11) has announced that Tina Ghataore has been appointed company President of the firm’s US-branch, Mynaric USA. Tina joins Mynaric USA from Yahsat, a Mubadala company, where she was spearheading the expansion of their satellite communication services business into the mobility communications sector, as the Executive Vice President for Inflight Connectivity. An aerospace industry veteran with 20 years’ experience in airborne and satellite communication and connectivity, Tina’s career has encompassed senior roles at Yahsat, Panasonic Avionics, The Boeing Company and she has helped shape connectivity strategies at Airbus and Thales, as well as new space satellite start-ups. Mynaric will capitalize on Tina’s proven breadth of experience in building and launching products and services in the communication services sector on a global market scale. (Source: Satnews)
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