Sponsored by Meggitt Training Systems
16 Apr 20. Kratos wins contract to deliver 21 jet target drones. National security solutions provider Kratos Defense & Security Solutions’ unmanned systems unit has received a contract for its target drones from an undisclosed customer. The contract is valued more than $19m and will see the procurement of 21 high-performance jet target drones. The sole-source award also includes the acquisition of spares and provision of development engineering support. The company said it will not provide further details about the contract award ‘due to competitive, customer-related, and other considerations’.
Kratos Unmanned Systems Division president Steve Fendley said: “To prepare for a forecasted growth in demand, Kratos Unmanned has invested in and expanded our production facilities over the past 12-18 months, allowing us to begin immediately fulfilling new orders even in these uncertain times.
“We are proud to continue supporting our defence customers as critical infrastructure within the Defence Industrial Base.
“Upholding the nation’s security by helping our customers meet their critical needs while also protecting the safety and health of our employees is our top priority and will continue to be as we meet the increasing demand for our high-performance UAS.”
According to Kratos Unmanned Systems Division, the high-performance, jet-powered, unmanned aerial target drones are designed for use in weapon systems testing and soldier training. The systems are threat representative and can imitate current and emerging threats. Some of the aerial targets manufactured by Kratos include BQM-167A, BQM-167i, BQM-177i, BQM-177A and MQM-178 Firejet. These are mostly used by the US Air Force and the US Navy. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
14 Apr 20. D3A Defence debuts specialised mortar operator simulation system. UK-based D3A Defence has developed an end-to-end simulation system specifically designed to train mortar operators, and demonstrated the concept at the Defence Simulation Education and Training (DSET) conference in Bristol in March 2020.
Scott Winter, chief technology officer for D3A Defence, told Jane’s that the system was developed to fill a perceived gap in the market for a simple in-barracks simulator to support training on predominantly infantry-manned mortar systems, as opposed to specialist artillery simulators.
The system consists of three networked modules: the observation post (OP), the command post (CP), and the mortar crew. This enables the complete process of calling for fire, calculating firing data, firing, observing the fall of shot and making subsequent corrections to be practised within a common virtual environment.
The mortar crew module consists of a training mortar with a barrel that has a cut out at the base to allow a loaded bomb to drop out. Data to enable accurate fall of shot to be calculated is provided using a device from Minerva Simulation and Training that is appended to the barrel. This plots barrel elevation and azimuth and receives RF data from the loaded training ammunition. These rounds are fitted with radio emitters that provide the ammunition type, number of charge rings, and the fuze setting. This data is then fed over the network to the CP station for verification if necessary.
The CP module enables the management of fire missions. The concept demonstration used a laptop running Battlespace Simulation Inc’s (BSI’s) modern air combat environment (MACE) integrated with MetaVR’s virtual reality scene generator (VRSG) for image generation (IG). Together they provide real-time ballistic information and replicate effects of fired ordnance accurately within the synthetic environment, enabling the mortar fire controller (MFC) to observe realistic fall-of-shot, accurately reproduced according to the fire-direction orders. (Source: Jane’s)
14 Apr 20. Philadelphia shipyard to build new dual-use merchant mariner training ships. A struggling Philadelphia shipyard got a new lease on life April 8 with the announcement that it had been selected to build up to five training ships for the Maritime Administration destined for use by civilian mariners attending state maritime academies. The contract, issued by Alaska-based company TOTE Services, tapped Philly Shipyard to build the first two national security multimission vessels, or NSMV, for a total of $630m, according to the trade publication Marine Log.
The ships, which will feature the latest navigation and bridge technologies, will be able to accommodate up to 600 cadets but will also be available for use by the federal government for disaster relief operations. The ships come with a roll-on/roll-off ramp and a crane that can be used for moving equipment and containers.
The NSMVs will be 525 feet long and about 90 feet wide, or just a little smaller than a Ticonderoga-class cruiser, according to a Maritime Administration fact sheet.
MARAD Administrator Mark Buzby said the contract is a win for American shipbuilding jobs.
“Investing in maritime education creates more American jobs,” Buzby, a former Navy flag officer, said in a statement. “By the selection of Philly Shipyard, Inc., as the construction shipyard for the NSMV, this effort is not only bolstering the U.S. Merchant Marine, but the U.S. economy and vital transportation infrastructure as well.”
Philly Shipyard primarily makes Jones Act ships, or vessels that exist only because the Jones Act mandates that goods shipped between U.S. ports must be sent on U.S.-flagged ships built and crewed by Americans. The rule is designed to preserve the domestic shipbuilding industry as a national security asset. Without it there would essentially be no domestic commercial shipbuilding industry.
“Philly Shipyard only received one order per year during the last two years and was in danger of closing during 2020 unless it received additional work,” said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who recently led a study of the domestic shipbuilding industry.
“Philly is important not just because it is a significant employer in the Philadelphia area, but also because it is one of the shipyards the government depends on to build smaller auxiliary and non-combatant ships such as Coast Guard cutters, NOAA research ships, and Navy unmanned surface vessels, survey ships, and towing and salvage vessels.”
The vessels could also prove useful in the Navy’s quest to identify a flexible hull that can meet a number of missions as it seeks to replace its aging logistics fleet, said Sal Mercogliano, a maritime historian at Campbell University.
“I think those vessels serve as a potential hull form for maybe a hospital ship, maybe a command ship, an aviation logistics ship, a sub tender: There’s potential there,” Mercogliano said.
The Navy planned to develop and field two variants of a Common Hull Auxiliary Multi-Mission Platform, one for sealift purposes and one for other auxiliary ship missions such as submarine tending, hospital ships, and command-and-control platforms. But late last year, the White House blanched at a cost estimate of upward of $1.3bn for the submarine tender variant of the CHAMP platform, planned for acquisition in 2024.
For moving lots of tanks and howitzers across long distances, the NSMV isn’t well-suited. But for many of the other missions the Navy needs to recapitalize, including its hospital ships, it could prove useful.
“I don’t think they’d be good for a roll-on/roll-off — it’s not designed for a large mission bay,” Mercogliano said. “But I think for the hospital ship, a command ship, there’s a lot of utility there.” (Source: Defense News)
14 Apr 20. China hones carrier group capabilities in Western Pacific. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has deployed an aircraft carrier group formed around its Kuznetsov-class carrier, Liaoning, to the Western Pacific for what appears to be another training mission in the region. The group, which was first detected by the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) on 10 April, sailed through the Miyako Strait, which lies between Japan’s Miyako and Okinawa islands, as part of its transit to the Western Pacific. Besides Liaoning , the group is comprised of the Type 901-class fast replenishment ship, Hulunhu , the Type 054A (Jiangkai II)-class frigates Zaozhuang (542) and Rizhao (598), and the Type 052D (Luyang III)-class destroyers Xining (117) and Guiyang (119), according to information provided by the JMSDF in a media statement on 11 April. (Source: Jane’s)
14 Apr 20. USS America and Akebono conduct exercises in East China Sea. The US Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Murasame-class destroyer JS Akebono (DD 108) have conducted bilateral communications exercises and division tactics from 9-11 April. America, along with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, joined the destroyer for the events while sailing in the Philippine Sea and East China Sea. America and Akebono carried out the events, which have been designed to improve interoperability between the two navies. The exercises also focused on the importance of communications and coordination.
Expeditionary Strike Group 7 commander Fred Kacher said: “We are excited to be sailing alongside our Japanese friends and teammates in the East China Sea, just as our team aboard USS Gabrielle Giffords did in the Andaman Sea last week.
“In these challenging times, it is deeply important that we continue to come together as allies and partners in this incredibly vital region of the world.”
As part of these events, the two ships demonstrated warfighting readiness during a replenishment-at-sea. They also connected fuel lines and performed underway replenishment with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Ericsson (T-AO 194).
With this, the impact of sustained operational readiness was strengthened for both maritime services. Akebono is deployed to the East China Sea to maintain regional security and stability.
These cohesive operations with partners and allies will allow the US Navy to operate with other navies by conducting exercises beyond the beach and into sea lanes globally.
The US Navy’s 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of the country’s national interests in the Indo-Pacific area of operations. It also interacts with 35 other maritime countries to build partnerships for improved maritime security. (Source: naval-technology.com)
Meggitt introduces the next generation of immersive training — the FATS® 180MIL.
Delivering 180° high definition projection and 5.1 surround sound, the FATS 180MIL increases training realism, heightening awareness and proper use of force responses. Three borderless screens fit into almost any space with at least a 10’ tall ceiling, providing a 150” X 84” (16:9 aspect ratio) borderless projection surface. It also includes:
- Military Validation – The same high-fidelity ballistic engine validated by the US Army, USMC and other military customers.
o Provides accurate ballistic characteristics in flight.
o Supports and enforces the proper fundamentals of marksmanship.
- Immersive Training – Supports both 3D Marksmanship and Judgmental training.
- Courseware – Delivered with full array of training courseware.
- Hit Detection System – Three digital cameras interface directly with Off-CPU real-time (OCR) processor used by FATS® 100 system for easy upgrade path.
- Projectors – Ultra short throw projectors provide freedom of movement, displaying stunning visuals in 180°environment.
- Low-Light Subsystem (optional) – Practice in simulated low-light conditions with hand-held and weapon-mounted flashlights.
- Rack – Uses same transportable rack as the FATS 100 system.
- Realistic Sounds – Self-powered audio system plays scenarios in 5.1 surround sound. Using directional sound effects board, the instructor can incorporate unsettling sounds from any direction, including barking dog, crying baby, gunshots and more to elevate situational awareness.
- Supports up to 60 simulated weapons, including FATS weapons and ammunition types. Up to 4 simulated weapons can be assigned to a single user.
With the FATS 180MIL, users feel they’re in the action, facing decision-making pressures while maintaining situational awareness.