23 Jul 15. Delta rocket blasts off with U.S. military satellite. An upgraded Delta 4 rocket delivered a $445m U.S. military communications satellite into orbit on Thursday, the seventh member of a planned network of 10 satellites. Built and flown by United Launch Alliance, the 22-story tall booster rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 8:07 p.m. EDT (0007 GMT). United Launch Alliance is a partnership of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co (BA.N). The Delta 4 was powered by an engine made by Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. Poor weather in Florida delayed the launch by one day. Perched on top of the rocket was the U.S. Air Force’s seventh Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) satellite, part of a network being built by Boeing. Once in position more than 22,000 miles (35,400 km) above the equator, the satellite, known as WGS-7, will join a constellation that provides the military’s highest capacity communications service. The 7,600-lb (3,447 kg) spacecraft is designed to last 14 years.
The WGS network is used to relay television broadcasts, video conferences, images and other high-bandwidth data to and from ships, aircraft, ground forces, operations centers, the U.S. Department of State, the White House and select partners worldwide.
In an unusual partnering arrangement with the U.S. Air Force, Australia paid $707m for the WGS-6 satellite, which was launched in 2013. In exchange, Australia can use a percentage of the WGS network through 2029, when its 22-year agreement with the Air Force expires.
The Air Force has a similar agreement in place with Canada, Denmark, Luxemburg, Netherlands and New Zealand, which are banding together to pay for the ninth WGS spacecraft.
The U.S. military has not yet finalized partners to finance follow-on satellites, said Air Force spokeswoman Christina Greer. (Source: Reuters)
23 Jul 15. USMC set to choose two ACV bidders later this year. Key Points:
* Two solutions are to be chosen from offerings by ADVS, BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, and SAIC
* ACV 8×8 armoured personnel carriers are meant to ‘swim’ some distance to shore, and USMC leaders say prototype trials so far have proven that capability
The US Marine Corps (USMC) will soon downselect two designs for its Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) programme, and the prospective next USMC commandant is sanguine about the prototypes’ in-water capabilities.
Lieutenant General Robert Neller, currently head of US Marine Corps Forces Command and the nominee to become USMC commandant, defended the USMC’s plan to use a slower waterspeed vehicle in lieu of the erstwhile high-speed Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.
The marines “extensive open-ocean and surf zone testing of various prototype 8×8 armoured personnel carriers” contributed to the ACV requirements and the USMC’s overall modernisation strategy, he told Congress during his 23 July confirmation hearing.
Based on testing so far, Lt Gen Neller said he is “confident that at least two contractors will be capable of delivering prototypes with the capacity to achieve water mobility performance on par with or greater than our existing assault amphibian [the AAV7A1 Assault Amphibious Vehicle] along with the capabilities needed for the landward portion of the ACV mission profile”. The AAV7A1 has an 8.2 mph (13.2 km/h) maximum water speed, according to IHS Jane’s Land Warfare Platforms.
The USMC has said it would take up to two contractors through a development phase.
The five proposed designs for ACV have come from Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems (ADVS), a relatively small company from Michigan; BAE Systems and Iveco with a version of the Superav; General Dynamics with a variant of its Piranha; Lockheed Martin offering a yet-unknown bid (it originally teamed with Patria Land Systems to offer a variant of the AMV called Havoc but separated earlier this year); and STK and SAIC with a version of the Terrex.
USMC spokesman Manny Pacheco on 23 July told IHS Jane’s that in