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25 Oct 19. Britain chases early contract for new Skynet satellite to avert delay. Faced with a possible delay in the delivery of a key communications satellite, the British Ministry of Defence and contractor Airbus Defence and Space are working on a deal to purchase long-lead items ahead of a full contract signature, the ministry’s top civil servant said in a new assessment on progress with the Skynet 6 program released Oct. 24.
With the existing Skynet 5 network aging, Britain wants the satellite in service to ensure its space communications capabilities are not compromised ahead of a new generation of spacecraft expected to start entering service in 2028.
But the document, known as the accounting officer assessment and written by Stephen Lovegrove, the MoD’s permanent secretary, said the delivery timescale on the Skynet 6A satellite is at risk without contracting early for some long-lead items.
“The reason for raising this accounting officer assessment is to highlight the level of risk against achieving the demanding schedule for the delivery of Skynet 6A with a planning assumption for service entry of the second quarter of 2025,” Lovegrove said in a letter to the chair of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee.
“The MoD is working hard with ADS [Airbus Defence and Space] to address the risk to service entry: in the first instance, we are planning to place an early contract with ADS for long lead items; this early contract is termed Phase 1, which would place the program in a position to mitigate an initial series of risks to the schedule and provide opportunities for further risk mitigation in Phase 2,” the assessment read.
No details have been released on what long-lead items are involved in the first phase.
Lovegrove said that for the moment, Skynet 6A remains within its scheduled timeline.
Airbus was named preferred bidder to build a single communications satellite in 2017, but delays to getting the deal over the line has seen the contract split into two phases.
Phase 1 of the deal is expected to be signed by early 2020, and the business case for a full contract, including Phase 2, is to be presented to the MoD’s Investment Approvals Committee by March 2020.
Controversially, the spacecraft was selected by the MoD without a competition. Airbus supplies the Skynet 4 and 5 satellite systems used by the British military.
Richard Franklin, the head of secure communications at Airbus D&S, said the company is confident it will hit the 2025 target. “The approval for the contract we are targeting with MoD will be early 2020, and we are confident of meeting the schedule timescale of 2025 in service,” he said.
The Airbus executive said the Skynet 6A negotiations took longer than expected. In part that’s because of the need to get a deal through the government’s Single Source Regulation Office, or SSRO.
“It has taken longer to go through the single-source negotiations, documentation and approvals process than the customer had hoped for. We at Airbus are ensuring that in the meantime we can maintain and commit to that schedule,” Franklin said.
Lovegrove also referenced the impact of the SSRO on the negotiations, particularly on the value-for-money aspects of the deal.
“In the case of Skynet 6A, scrutiny under the single-source contract regulations is more rigorous, with value-for-money assurance achieved through a detailed examination of the Airbus cost model for the proposed work,” Lovegrove’s letter read.
Skynet 6A is the first element of a major update of British military space communications capabilities in four principle areas.
A competition to operate the ground-control segment of Skynet 6 — or whatever it ends up being called — is expected to get underway with the release to industry of what is known as a prequalification questionnaire.
Called the “service delivery wrap,” it’s a support contract for management services to control the Skynet constellation, extend the life of key ground infrastructure and manage satellite communication services.
Airbus D&S currently operates the ground segment of the Skynet program under a long-term private finance initiative deal scheduled to end in 2022.
A Skynet 6 “enduring capability” will encompass the future types of platforms to be acquired by Britain to provide beyond-line-of-sight communications. It will involve provision and operation of both satellites and ground infrastructure to deliver satellite communication services on an enduring basis.
A fourth element will involve secure telemetry, tracking and command, providing assured sovereign control, and the management of satellites and their payloads.
The MoD said it is “preparing to place contracts for the next stages of all four projects, all of which currently remain within their scheduled timelines.” (Source: Defense News)
25 Oct 19. F-35 stealth jet loaded with weapons on Royal Navy carrier. The British Royal Navy has revealed that a F-35 Lightning fighter jet was ‘tooled up’ with weaponry for the first time on the deck of the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier. F-35 was loaded with an arsenal, including inert Paveway laser-guided bombs and ASRAAM air-to-air missiles.
The fully loaded fighter jet is nicknamed ‘beast mode’ due to its destructive firepower. It is said to provide nearly three times more firepower than a Harrier attack aircraft.
The Royal Navy said in a statement: “Loaded on to this state-of-the-art jet from 17 (trials and evaluation) is the weaponry it would typically carry on a strike mission: 22,000lb of destructive and defensive power.
“In this case the ‘bombheads’ on HMS Queen Elizabeth, red-surcout-wearing air engineer technicians, carefully loaded inert Paveway laser-guided bombs and ASRAAM air-to-air missiles (for taking out aerial threats) on to the external pylons and bomb bay.”
The aircraft carrier has an automated system to get the firepower from the magazines in the bowels to the flight deck.
The ship’s highly mechanised weapon handling system enables mechanical ‘moles’ to move to carry weapon loads on pallets to the vessel’s weapon preparation areas or hangar.
Hydraulic lifts are used to support the movement of weapons. The network of tracks used by the weapon handling system is remotely controlled from operator consoles.
Once the weapons are moved to the flight deck, they are transported using trolleys to the aircraft.
The navy added: “A system like this has never been fitted to a ship before and allows weapon moves with far fewer people involved than more traditional manual handling methods, supporting a greater rate of weapon re-supply to aircraft and therefore a better mission sortie rate.”
The beast mode on the carrier represents another significant milestone in the creation of a carrier strike capability.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is undergoing trials off the east coast of the US. Aerial platforms currently onboard the carrier include F-35s and Merlin helicopters. The ship is expected to make its first deployment in 2021. (Source: naval-technology.com)
24 Oct 19. No obliteration: Western arms embargo has little impact on Turkey as it looks east. A number of Turkey’s NATO allies have suspended arms sales to the country in condemnation of its military incursion into Syria, but analysts and officials are shrugging off the embargo, saying it will have a minimal impact on the military’s operational capabilities.
Several countries, including France, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, Spain and Germany, imposed arms embargoes against the Turkish government after its troops entered Syria to attack the Kurdish militia, which Turkey views as a terrorist group. Turkey said its military operation, launched Oct. 9, will help create a safe zone in northeastern Syria.
The Trump administration announced its own sanctions against Turkey earlier this month over the offensive in Syria, though those sanctions included a Treasury Department waiver to allow foreign military sales to continue, according to a senior defense official. President Donald Trump also threatened via Twitter earlier this month that he would “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if Ankara took any action he considered “off-limits.” But the president said Oct. 23 that he plans to lift all sanctions leveled against Turkey for its recent military operations following reports of a fresh cease-fire agreement.
“Our arms imports from those countries are limited. None has monopoly on any system which we can easily procure from other suppliers,” a senior Turkish diplomat told Defense News. “Non-Western suppliers are keen to replace Western manufacturers.”
Turkey’s top procurement official, Ismail Demir, also downplayed the potential impact of the embargo. “None of that will affect us,” he said. “We have taken precautions regarding alternative sources as well as local production.”
The European Union joined scores of other countries to condemn the Turkish operation in Syria.
“The E.U. condemns Turkey’s military action, which seriously undermines the stability and the security of the whole region, resulting in more civilians suffering and further displacement and severely hindering access to humanitarian assistance,” the organization said in a statement. “Turkey’s security concerns in northeast Syria should be addressed through political and diplomatic means, not with military action, and in accordance with international humanitarian law.”
A senior Turkish military official ruled out operational weaknesses in the Syria campaign resulting from the embargo. “The operation [into Syria] took off on assumption that it would be an open-ended campaign. Equipment and ammunition stocks would suffice for several months,” the official explained. Shortly after the Turkish military incursion, Washington brokered a cease-fire between Turkish troops and Kurdish fighters. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to resume the campaign if Kurds did not vacate northern Syria as agreed.
Turkey boasts that it locally produces most hardware and ammunition required for the campaign. Turkish officials claim local production currently meets 70 percent of the military’s requirements, compared with 20 percent 15 years ago.
Demir said most systems used in the operation including helicopters, smart ammunition, rockets, infantry rifles, armored vehicles and electronic warfare systems are supplied by the local industry. However, the Turkish military did experience a temporary shortage of ammunition, a Turkish security official told Defense News on the condition of anonymity. “Some ammunition stocks we normally bought from the West ran short but was quickly replaced by Russian supplies,” he said.
Alternative suppliers and ice cream
An Ankara-based defense analyst pointed to Ukraine, Belarus, Pakistan, South Korea and China as alternative sources for ammunition. “Especially China would volunteer to sell almost every weapons system,” he said.
It also wouldn’t be difficult to imagine Russia filling the void left by a lack of high-tech Western systems. After the U.S. suspended Turkey’s partnership in the multinational Joint Strike Fighter program in retaliation for Turkey’s $2.5bn purchase of Russian-made S-400 air defense systems, Ankara turned to Moscow for a stopgap solution to bolster its fighter fleet.
Erdogan visited the MAKS air show in Russia this year with President Vladimir Putin. No deal was announced, but the two leaders ate ice cream together and Erdogan took a photo with Russia’s Su-57 stealth fighter.
“Possibly, they [the Turkish government] will make a choice in favor of our combat aviation, nothing can be ruled out,” Russia’s deputy premier, Yuri Borisov, said Oct. 20.
Meanwhile Turkey is trying to design and develop its first indigenous fighter jet. But officials privately admit the country will likely miss its original deadline of 2023 to fly the planned aircraft.
Moscow’s courting of Ankara is likely to increase following the latter’s spat with Washington over the fate of the Kurds in northern Syria, and few things are more attractive to the Kremlin right now than spoiling America’s relations with its NATO allies, according to Russian political analyst Vladimir Frolov.
“It makes sense to sell Erdogan just about anything he wants, so long as it further deepens the strains between Turkey and U.S. and NATO,” Frolov said, noting that nuclear weapons are off the table.
But recent developments in Syria add an element of complication to a potential Turkish shopping spree through Russia’s export catalog. The latest catalyst driving Russia’s opportunity — Turkey’s advance into northern Syria — is at odds with Russia’s own objectives, namely the restoration of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s control over the country.
Erdogan flew to the Russian resort town of Sochi on Oct. 22 to meet with Putin and discuss developments in Syria. Ahead of the meeting, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov predicted “long and complicated” discussions, and he reiterated Russia’s position that only Russian troops — at Assad’s invitation — have any business operating within Syrian borders. However, Peskov said Russia could do nothing to prevent Turkish troops from entering and operating in Syria.
Western arms embargoes on Ankara is nothing new. In May 2018, lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a $717bn annual defense policy bill that included a measure to temporarily halt weapons sales to Turkey. In addition, Turkish officials have been unsuccessfully negotiating with German manufacturers to acquire engine and transmission system for the Altay, Turkey’s first indigenous main battle tank in the making. Berlin has cited political concerns for its reluctance to permit any technology transfer for the Altay.
A German diplomat told Defense News that Turkey’s operation in Syria hurts Turkey’s negotations for Altay technology. “We simply don’t want German technology used in any cross-border operation targeting Kurds,” the official said.
The German embargo jeopardizes Turkey’s planned program to upgrade scores of German-made Leopard II battle tanks. The Turkish Army has in its inventory 720 Leopard I and Leopard II tanks. About 200 of them have been upgraded. (Source: Defense News)
23 Oct 19. Pentagon will send more than 50 F-35s to Europe to deter Russia. F-35 stealth fighter jets on fast track to receive laser-based offensive and defensive capabilities. The Air Force Research Lab and Office of Naval Research are currently developing fast and precise laser weapons that can “burn holes” through enemy targets at the speed of light. Concurrently, the U.S. Navy is developing a laser-application for its Marine Corps F-35B, intended to effectively maintain the stealth fighter for future decades of war.
The Pentagon is sending more than 50 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Europe over the next few years to deter Russia and help NATO prepare for an entirely new kind of warfare.
“By the time our planes get there, there will be 100-plus F-35s there with our European partners,” Air Force Gen. James Holmes told reporters at a recent Air Force Association Conference at Maryland’s National Harbor. “We will be falling in on our European partners who already have their F-35s.”
Although the full number of just over 50 combat aircraft won’t arrive until the early 2020s, preparations are already underway. The Air Force didn’t specify where the F-35s will be sent, citing security reasons. However, there are numerous vital strategic areas in the region, such as the Baltics and places in Eastern Europe, that might be considered.
INSIDE THE F-35 FACTORY, WHERE STEALTH BEGINS
Emphasizing that the arriving fighters will “train and operate” together with European allies, Holmes said the move was “important to our ability to compete and deter in Europe.”
Bringing F-35s to the European continent introduces a range of new attack options for U.S. and NATO forces seeking to prevent potential Russian advances. It brings 5th Generation stealth, which includes targeting sensors with never-before-seen range, new air-to-air weapons and a dronelike ability to surveil and target areas of interest.
U.S. and allied F-35s all have a common data link which enables dispersed, yet networked, attack options. In a tactical sense, it seems that a high-speed F-35, fortified by long-range sensors and targeting technologies, might be well positioned to identify and destroy mobile weapons launchers or other vital, but slightly smaller on-the-move targets.
“Once the F-35 gets there you will see it be moved around and used. It will operate with our allies, reassure them and do some deterrence as well,” Col. William Marshall, 48th Fighter Wing Commander, told reporters at AFA. The arriving F-35s will work through U.S. Air Force Europe.
F-35 SET FOR LASER BOOST
The weapons, the ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) technology and the multirole functions of the F-35 provide a wide range of attack options should that be necessary in the region. The F-35 has completed a series of weapons separation tests and is currently able to be armed with the AIM-9X, AIM-120, AIM-132, GBU-12, JDAM, JSOW, SDB-1 and the Paveway IV, Lockheed Martin data states. The F-35 is configured to carry more than 3.500 pounds of ordnance in stealth mode and over 18,000 pounds uncontested.
As part of this equation, an F-35 might also increasingly be called upon to function as a key element of U.S. nuclear deterrence strategy. In recent years, F-35s were deployed to the Pacific theater to participate in military exercises over the Korean Peninsula.
Utilizing speed, maneuverability and lower-altitude flight – compared to how a bomber such as a B-2 would operate – a nuclear-capable F-35 presents new threats to a potential adversary.
LOCKHEED MARTIN F-35 LIGHTNING II: THE FIGHTER OF THE FUTURE
A nuclear-armed F-35 will be able to respond much more quickly, with low-yield nuclear weapons, in the event that new intelligence information locating a new target emerges. Lower-yield nuclear weapons on the F-35 could enable highly destructive, yet more surgical, nuclear attacks to eliminate targets without necessarily impacting much larger swaths of territory.
Air Force officials say the service is now integrating the B61 mod 12 nuclear bomb into the F-35 as part of an upcoming 4th software drop. The Block 4 F-35, to fully emerge in the next decade, contains more than 50 technical adjustments to the aircraft designed as software and hardware builds — to be added in six-month increments between April 2019 to October 2024.
The latest version of the B61 thermonuclear gravity bomb, which has origins as far back as the 1960s, is engineered as a low-to-medium yield strategic and tactical nuclear weapon, according to nuclearweaponsarchive.org, which also states the weapon has a “two-stage” radiation implosion design. The most current Mod 12 version has demonstrated a bunker-buster earth-penetrating capability, according to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).
AIR FORCE F-16 GETS F-35 SENSORS, WEAPONS AND RADAR
The B61 Mod 12 is engineered with a special “Tail Subassembly” to give the bomb JDAM-type GPS accuracy, giving a new level of precision targeting, according to data provided by the Federation of American Scientists.
The text of the administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, released last year, specifically cites the importance of dual-capable aircraft (DCA) in Europe and states that a nuclear-armed F-35 is fundamental to deterring Russia.
“We are committed to upgrading DCA with the nuclear-capable F-35 aircraft. We will work with NATO to best ensure – and improve where needed – the readiness, survivability, and operational effectiveness of DCA based in Europe,” the Nuclear Posture Review states. (Source: News Now/https://www.foxnews.com)
23 Oct 19. Defence minister says Turkey, U.S. to overcome F-35 problem. Turkey expects that disagreements with the United States over production of F-35 jets will be overcome, its defence minister told Reuters, adding that Ankara remained at the centre of NATO despite criticism from allies of its incursion into Syria. Washington began removing Ankara from a joint F-35 production programme after Turkey bought and took delivery in July of Russian S-400 missile defence systems. The United States says the system is not compatible with North Atlantic Treaty Organization defences, and pose a threat to Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 stealth fighters. Turkey, which also wanted to buy the jets, has since said it could look elsewhere.
“We hope that we will continue producing them. There are some issues right now, but I believe these issues will be overcome,” Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said in an interview on Wednesday.
“We are partners in the production of F-35s, and we have been investing in the project for years, around $1.5bn… producing some of its parts in Turkey,” he added.
Turkey’s incursion this month into northeastern Syria has further strained ties between the two NATO allies, even though President Donald Trump paved the way for it by pulling U.S. troops out of the region.
Last week, Washington sanctioned some Turkish ministries and ministers over the attacks on the Kurdish YPG militia, which were U.S. allies in a years-long fight against Islamic State in Syria. On Wednesday Trump said the sanctions would be lifted after Ankara said it was making a ceasefire in Syria permanent.
Akar rejected criticism that Turkey was drifting away from its Western allies.
“We are at the centre of NATO, and we remain determined to carry out all of our responsibilities fully. We are going nowhere,” he said.
Akar added that Turkey had caught around 200 Islamic State militants in northern Syria during its operations into the area.
“In various ways, we have captured 200 ISIS members,” he said. “We are preserving them in the appropriate ways in the appropriate places.” (Source: Reuters)
22 Oct 19. US Senate approves North Macedonia to NATO. The U.S. Senate approved the accession of North Macedonia to NATO in a 91-2 vote Tuesday, meaning the small Balkan nation is a step closer to becoming NATO’s 30th member. The decision marked a victory for Skopje after the European Union decided not to initiate membership talks with the government earlier in the week. It also sends a broader message of support to Europe and deterrence in the region, said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch, R-Idaho.
“This lays out a template to all Europeans, that they’re welcome, that the door is open, that we want them to join NATO,” Risch told reporters Tuesday. “The Russians hate this sort of thing, they hate an increase in the size of NATO, but we want the Europeans to be encouraged.”
The “no” votes came from Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee, two libertarian-leaning Republicans. Several of the Democrats running for president were absent for the vote.
NATO member states and North Macedonia signed an agreement clearing the way for membership after the country officially changed its name from “Macedonia” in February. Greece had blocked its neighbor’s NATO membership since 2008, saying use of “Macedonia” implied territorial claims on the northern Greek province of the same name and usurped ancient Greek heritage.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Oct. 4 at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in London that “NATO’s door remains open.”
When North Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev hosted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Oct. 4, Zaev said his country plans to make its defense budget 2 percent of its gross domestic product by 2024, if not sooner. NATO has set a goal for its members to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense.
North Macedonia also contributed troops to fight alongside U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Pompeo at the time cautioned the government to be vigilant against malign influences from beyond its borders. “The hearts and minds of North Macedonia citizens should guide your country forward, not Russian bots and trolls on social media,” Pompeo said.
Twenty-two countries have ratified the NATO accession protocol for North Macedonia. The country can join once the remaining seven also do so.
For its part, Montenegro became the 29th member of NATO two years ago, and Georgia is expected to become a member of NATO, though no timeline’s been set. (Source: Defense News)
21 Oct 19. US moves troops, tanks into Lithuania in message to Russia. The United States began deploying a battalion of troops and dozens of tanks to Lithuania for an unprecedented six-month rotation on 21 October, a move sought by the Baltic EU and NATO state to deter neighbouring Russia. Dozens of Abrams tanks and Bradley armoured vehicles arrived by railway at the army training area in Pabrade.
Lithuania’s Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis said the deployment of some 500 US troops scheduled to stay through the winter proves that a US military presence on NATO’s eastern flank ‘is no longer a taboo’.
‘First and foremost, it is a message to Lithuania and neighbouring NATO states that allies are together with us,’ the minister told AFP. ‘And it is also a message to Russia that the US is engaged, and it is an additional deterrence element.’
Ben Hodges, the former commander of US Army forces in Europe, said the US deployment was a ‘manifestation of American commitment to continued deterrence along NATO’s eastern flank’, at the time when US was pulling American troops out of Syria and abandoning its Kurdish allies.
‘Nobody, including the Russians, should be confused by the Americans’ commitment to NATO despite what was I think a mistake of pulling out of Syria,” Hodges told AFP.
Two years ago, NATO deployed a German-led multinational battalion of around 1,000 troops to Lithuania, an EU and NATO nation of 2.8 million people.
The alliance installed similar battalions in Poland and Baltic states Estonia and Latvia as tripwires against possible Russian adventurism in the region after Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
The entire region had been dominated by the Soviet Union for more than 40 years after World War II. (Source: Shephard)
21 Oct 19. UK, US Enter New Era: ‘Unprecedented’ Carrier-Sharing Plan.
“We’re not talking about interoperability anymore, we’re talking about proper integration to a level we’ve never seen,” Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Jerry Kyd. For the first time, a US Marine Corps F-35B squadron will deploy aboard the UKs new aircraft carrier on its maiden voyage in 2021, a milestone hailed as “unprecedented” — even among close allies.
“We’re not talking about interoperability anymore; we’re talking about proper integration to a level we’ve never seen,” British Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Jerry Kyd told me on the deck of the carrier as it launched and recovered aircraft during an exercise in the Atlantic.
The integration of Marines into the British carrier’s operations from Day One is “unprecedented,” he said. “It would be hard to think of another two countries on the planet who can do that right now.”
As Kyd and fellow Royal Navy officers praised the “special relationship” between Washington and London during a recent visit to the ship, the US Navy’s top admiral was half a world away, using much the same language to pitch his own ideas for closer linkages between allied navies.
“Today, the very nature of our operating environment requires shared common values and a collective approach to maritime security,” Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, told a seapower conference in Venice.
Gilday alluded to the British upgrades and increasing operations with NATO allies at sea, noting that Adm. Mike Mullen, former Navy chief, once talked about a 1,000-ship Navy. “I say, why not a 10,000-ship navy? With like-minded partners, there’s a lot we can do together to keep the maritime commons free and open.”
Spurring the move toward greater linkages between allied forces are the realities of a more aggressive and rapidly modernizing Chinese navy, and an increasingly unpredictable Russia. “We are defending international norms to foster global economic prosperity; we do it to protect the right to navigate the world’s international waters; we do it to ensure smaller nations are not bullied by others,” Gilday said in Venice.
Similarly, Kyd sees the increasing integration as an obvious move in an era punctuated by a variety of potential threats. “Why wouldn’t we be far more integrated with our key ally at a moment where the rules-based international system is under threat, and we need to reinforce our western values and operate together?”
Kyd, who commanded the Queen Elizabeth last fall when she ran weeks of trials off the US east Coast, is now responsible for overseeing all operational elements of the Royal Navy. Last year’s deployment saw the Brits flying US-based F-35s, but just this past week Royal Navy pilots began flying their own F-35Bs from the ship, becoming the first non-US pilots to own and fly carrier-based Joint Strike Fighters.
The QE is joined on this trip by the newly-formed Westlant 19 Carrier Strike Group – comprised of Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon, submarine hunter HMS Northumberland and tanker RFA Tideforce.
“We are learning how to fight a carrier strike group beyond the jets for the first time,” Commodore Michael Utley told me. The new ship, flying new aircraft, “is a huge step forward. It’s not just a return,” to carrier operations, he said.
The Navy faces huge hurdles in trying to get to 355 ships – but a new shipbuilding plan due in coming weeks could change the whole calculus.
The QE has been working up to its 2021 deployment to the Mediterranean and Middle East in the waters along the US East Coast since July, readying for the Royal Navy’s first carrier operations in a decade.
The new carrier has been specifically designed to operate the F-35, and British officers on board refer to it as a “5th generation” ship that represents a massive leap over the Invincible-class big decks the Royal Navy retired in 2010, leaving the country — which has one of the proudest naval traditions in the world — without a carrier.
“This aircraft carrier for the UK is strategic, not just in terms of scale — she’s the biggest carrier we’ve ever had — but she’s interoperable with the US Marine Corps and again it’s that trust. You can’t surge trust,” Kyd said.
That integration with the Marines comes as the Corps and the Navy are working on a new force structure assessment due later this year aimed at more closely linking the operations of the two. It’s a major shift for the Corps, which is coming off almost two decades of operating primarily as a ground force in the Middle East. As part of the emerging shift back to the sea, the Marines are looking to begin testing unmanned platforms to quickly refuel and rearm their F-35Bs operating from remote, austere bases in the Pacific — part of an effort to be more nimble and unpredictable, as the traditional American dominance at sea and in the air erodes.
Last month, Marine leaders announced a year-long round of war games to push the force into the future, while Gilday and Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger recently signed a memo pledging to work on a joint project to hack out a new way to project power forward. The goal is to more closely align their doctrine, training, and equipping plans to complement one another, rather than the Navy simply providing lift and cover for the Corps.
And now, with the QE preparing to set sail, it appears the Royal Navy may play a key part in those plans.
With the QE in the fleet, “we’ve jumped into a much more sophisticated networked environment, and together [with the US] there’s huge potential in the next 4 to 5 years to really squeeze out the maximum from this very advanced aircraft that we couldn’t even think about 10 years ago,” Kyd said.
The Royal Navy’s second F-35-specific carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, is currently undergoing sea trials in the North Sea in preparation for its planned first deployment in 2023. Having two brand-new carriers that can swap aircraft and missions with the US Navy and Marine Corps is, by any measure, a significant move at a time when US East Coast-based carriers are having some trouble making it out to sea on schedule. (Source: News Now/ Breaking Defense)
16 Oct 19. Multipurpose Helicopter NH-90: Fastening Element Must Be Exchanged. The safety of soldiers Bundeswehr is a top priority, even during training and maneuvers. Industry recently pointed out that tail rotor problems can be encountered in the multi-purpose helicopter NH-90. The Bundeswehr and industry are working together to find a solution. The tail rotor blades on all NH-90 delivered before 2018 are being inspected. All affected helicopters will be checked. After complaint-free examination by experts, aircraft are able to continue their flight operations. However, any affected components must be promptly replaced, and the helicopters can only return to flight after new components are installed. The material incident will limit the operational readiness of the NH-90 over the next few weeks. The NH90 helicopters delivered after 2018 do not require inspection or modification, since they were fitted with a new component during their original assembly. The German army fully complies with its operational obligations, since the NH-90 is currently used on foreign assignments. Overall, the flight operations of the NH-90 fleet is not endangered. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/German Army)
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