Monthly Archives: January 2013

Navy’s New Carrier Receives First Massive Gas Turbine

By on Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

The first of the world’s most powerful marine gas turbines has been installed in the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth at Babcock’s Rosyth shipyard in Scotland.

A computer-generated image of new Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea

The Rolls-Royce MT30, at 36 megawatts (around 50,000 horsepower), is the world’s most powerful marine gas turbine engine. Two MT30s will be installed in each of the 2 new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers and will provide two-thirds of the 109 megawatts needed to power the 65,000-tonne ships – enough energy to power a town the size of Swindon.

The power generated will meet the carriers’ demand for energy, which includes the propulsion motors, weapons and navigation systems as well as the entire low-voltage requirements for lighting and power sockets.

The MT30s are being installed as part of a gas turbine alternator which also includes an alternator and gas turbine enclosure, weighing a total of 120 tonnes.

Tony Graham, Head of Capital Ships at the Ministry of Defence, said:

The successful achievement of this major milestone has brought the biggest grin to my face since Christmas Day.”

To have successfully lifted the most powerful engine in the Royal Navy onto the biggest ship ever built for the Royal Navy using the biggest capacity gantry crane in Europe is an important event in the construction of the Queen Elizabeth.”

Everyone involved should take huge pride in their contribution to this national endeavour.”

The Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbine enclosure, shrink-wrapped for protection, prior to installation on HMS Queen Elizabeth at Babcock’s Rosyth shipyard in Scotland [Picture: Rolls-Royce]
The installation involved the lifting of the MT30 gas turbine and associated ancillary equipment – housed in a steel package known as the gas turbine enclosure – onto the ship’s structure. With the enclosure in place, the large alternator, which is driven by the gas turbine to produce electrical power, was then hoisted into place.

Currently being built at shipyards around the country, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are the future flagships of the nation.

Both ships are being constructed in one of the most demanding and revolutionary shipbuilding programmes ever undertaken, with the pieces being slotted together in a specially-extended dry dock. Both ships are expected to serve for up to 50 years.

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US Army Units Train for UAV Operations

By on Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Unmanned aerial vehicles soared through the sky under the control of 16 “Raider” Brigade Soldiers during QR-11 Raven training on Fort Carson, Jan. 7-18.

During the two-week training certification course, Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, in a variety of career fields, learned how to launch, maneuver and land the small, unmanned aircraft in a variety of situations, including aerial security during movement operations, terrain reconnaissance and target acquisition during night operations.

“The benefit of this training can’t be overstated,” said 2nd Lt. Theresa Ross, intelligence officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team. “The Raven is small, lightweight and portable. We use it for everything from site reconnaissance to target acquisition, so having several Soldiers trained and qualified to operate it is a huge combat multiplier.”

The hands-on approach to the training helped the Raiders get a feel for the tactical importance of the unmanned aerial vehicle, as well as a solid understanding of its capabilities and limitations, said Ross.

“Not a whole lot of intelligence officers get the chance to learn about this hardware first hand,” she said. “Because I have first-hand knowledge of the Raven, I will have reasonable expectations of what we can accomplish with it during a combat deployment.”

The Raven is designed for quick assembly and deployment at the lowest levels of the military structure. Weighing only four pounds and operated by remote control, the Raven can gather video or photographic intelligence, or direct forces to a target using an infrared laser.

Having Soldiers from both combat arms and support career fields participating in the training ensures that no mater what the situation, U.S. forces can always get an “eye in the sky,” said Steve Rocovitch, small unmanned aerial system instructor, Rally Point Management.

“The Raven is a great asset to the military, but only if it is used properly,” Rocovitch said. “I have confidence that these Soldiers can take what we’ve practiced these past two weeks and implement them in a complex deployed environment.”

While one Soldier flew the Raven via remote control, others viewed the unmanned aerial vehicle’s flight on a laptop, implemented flight patterns and controlled its cameras and other tools.

“In addition to learning how to operate the Raven, I gained a better understanding of all the things going on in an operating environment,” said Pfc. Glen Default, infantryman, Company B, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team. “When I fly, I have to be aware of everything going on in my airspace and know what is going on ground side to accomplish my mission. It’s a much bigger picture than I have been exposed to.”

The Raider Soldiers will continue to train in preparation for an upcoming deployment in support of U.S. Army Central Command.

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Royal Navy Looks to Improve the Security of Maritime Operations

By on Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

The Ministry of Defence is looking for ways to strengthen the security of maritime operations so that it can be more effective at combating illegal activities such as gun-running, people-smuggling and piracy.

A member of HMS Monmouth’s force protection team provides cover during the boarding of a ship that had been assaulted by suspected pirates

The Royal Navy provides the main defence of the UK’s seas and overseas territories and ensures safe navigation, transport and trade in national and international waters.

The security of trade and other maritime operations is critical to UK interests around the world but can be threatened by international crime, which is increasingly using the same waters for unlawful activities such as the movement of people and weapons.

Maritime Constabulary Operations and Maritime Security Operations already use the full spectrum of tools available to the Royal Navy but some hostile activity can be difficult to detect in busy and congested waters where it is hard to identify and stop the few illegal operations out of the vast number of legitimate civilian activities.

More effective tools are now needed to strengthen the UK’s response and reduce the risks to trade and shipping.

The MOD’s Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE), which is part of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), is seeking proof-of-concept research proposals from industry and academia to improve the security of maritime operations. Areas of interest include:

  • the determination of unlawful activity at sea by developing breakthroughs in the way that activities such as piracy or the transportation of weapons can be detected when unlawful craft and lawful craft look very similar.
  • the response to hostile activity at sea by developing new technology, and other solutions, that can provide a graduated range of responses, particularly non-lethal and non-destructive means, when interdicting craft that are carrying out unlawful activities.
  • small arms accuracy at sea by developing new tools, such as effective training aids, that are representative of small arms operations on maritime platforms and can provide the feedback on marksmanship accuracy needed to develop performance.

A boarding team from HMS Montrose confiscates suspected pirates’ gear in the Indian Ocean [Picture: Petty Officer (Photographer) Terry Seward, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]
David Sherburn, who leads the maritime research programme at Dstl, said:

It’s vitally important we reach out to industry and academia which have experience with equipment delivery, technology development and innovation to ensure we get the broadest and most coherent science and technology package of ideas and solutions for the front line commands.”

CDE proves the value of novel, high-risk, high-potential-benefit research sourced from the broadest possible range of science and technology providers, including academia and small companies, to enable development of cost-effective capability advantage for UK Armed Forces and national security.

Successful proposals from a previous maritime-related CDE call, ‘Innovation in Technology for Unmanned Maritime Systems’, have been funded with academia and industry, including small and medium-sized enterprises.

These aim to demonstrate solutions for everything from novel technology for the safe and quick recovery of unmanned systems to technology that can reduce the drag of unmanned systems using micro vortex generators or autonomously power an unmanned system using the energy from ocean waves.

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Cassidian Supplies IT Infrastructure for NATO Headquarters

By on Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Cassidian has delivered and installed the turnkey IT infrastructure to the NATO sites in Brunssum (NL), Heidelberg, Ramstein and Wesel, for use by a total of 3,000 users, and full acceptance has now been concluded without limitations. The customer was the Federal Republic of Germany, which acted as the procurement agency on behalf of NATO. The key objective of the project was to expand and modernise the computer centres, the LAN and WAN networks and the entire end-user domain.

After successfully carrying out site integration tests at each of the sites, NATO was directly able to put the new infrastructure into operation. The final system acceptance was concluded by the German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw), after all documentation had been delivered.

As part of the project, the existing network infrastructure was completely re- designed and its capacity and bandwidth were increased simultaneously. The computer centres were modernised and expanded with a new server infrastructure based on blade technology and next-generation storage and back-up systems. During this process, cutting-edge technology, such as virtualisation, was used.

System components such as workstations, laptops and printers were also provided, and a secure printing system was set up. Out-of-band management enables the infrastructure to be managed fully, without influencing its operation.

Migrating data and transferring all the existing applications to the new system constituted another essential component of the contract, which was executed on time, on cost and to the customer’s full satisfaction.

Cassidian, an EADS company, is a worldwide leader in global security solutions and systems, providing Lead Systems Integration and value-added products and services to civil and military customers around the globe. In 2011, Cassidian – with around 28,000 employees – achieved revenues of € 5.8 billion. EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2011, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 49.1 billion and employed a workforce of more than 133,000.

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Japan launches new satellites to boost surveillance

By on Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Japan Sunday launched two satellites to strengthen its surveillance capabilities, including keeping a closer eye on North Korea which has vowed to stage another nuclear test.

One of them was a radar-equipped unit to complete a system of surveillance satellites that will allow Tokyo to monitor any place in the world at least once a day.

The other was a demonstration satellite to collect data for research and development.

The H-IIA rocket blasted off from the southern island of Tanegashima around 1:40 pm (0440 GMT) and released the satellites as planned, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

“The rocket flew as planned and released both satellites,” JAXA said in a statement, confirming its success.

From an altitude of several hundred kilometres, the radar satellite will be able to detect objects on the ground as small as a square metre, including at night and through cloud cover.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has taken a hardline stance on North Korea, hailed the successful launch.

“The government will make the most use out of the system… in order to enhance our country’s national security and crisis management,” he said in a statement, according to national broadcaster NHK.

Japan developed a plan to use several satellites as one group to gather intelligence in the late 1990s as a response to a long-range missile launch by Pyongyang in 1998.

The space agency has said the radar satellite would be used for information-gathering, including data following Japan’s 2011 quake and tsunami, but did not mention North Korea by name.

But the launch came as Pyongyang has vowed to carry out more rocket launches and a third nuclear test in protest at tightened UN sanctions over its banned launches.

The North last year launched two long-range rockets. The first failed in April but the second in December flew over the southern Okinawa island chain, jangling nerves in Japan.

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U.S. and Timor-Leste Naval Forces Build Maritime Partnerships

By on Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

PORT HERA NAVY BASE, Timor-Leste: The U.S. Navy and Timorese Navy commenced the first Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Timor-Leste exercise Jan. 25, with an opening ceremony held at Port Hera Navy Base.

U.S. Ambassador Judith Fergin and Col. Falur Rate Laek, Chief of Staff of the Timor-Leste Defense Force (F-FDTL), officiated the ceremony.

Fergin reaffirmed U.S. support for Timor-Leste’s efforts to consolidate peace and security gains, noting the exercise enhanced mutual cooperation.

“The contributions that the participants in Exercise CARAT will make this week will strengthen the foundations of cooperation between our two countries for years to come,” said Fergin.

In his opening remarks, Laek noted that the upcoming exercises build a stronger relationship between Timor-Leste and U.S. naval forces.

“The partnership between the Timor-Leste and U.S. Navy and Marines is not a new one. These Naval and Marine exercises between Timor-Leste and United States help to will ensure peace, build experience, and strengthen the permanent partnership between Timor-Leste and the United States,” said Laek.

Over the next four days, Marines from U.S. Fleet Antiterrorism and Security Team (FAST), Pacific, will conduct hands on skill transfers and combat fundamentals with their F-FDTL counterparts.

In addition to FAST, Coast Guardsmen from the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Training Branch homeported in Yorktown, Va., and Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5, homported in Port Hueneme, Calif., will conduct subject matter expert exchanges with the F-FDTL Navy on several F-FDTL ships. Coast Guardsmen will hold training on engineering, navigation, seamanship and damage control, while the Seabees will conduct medical, mechanical and electrical classroom courses.

Representing U.S. forces, Lt. Cmdr. Jennie Stone, CARAT Liaison Officer, Logistics Group Western Pacific, noted these exchanges allowed maritime professionals to share best practices and build partnerships.

“Our partners in the F-FDTL are skilled professionals, and this exercise helps increase interoperability between our forces, while at the same time building personal and professional relationships. This ongoing development becomes critical should future events call for our forces to work side-by-side,” said Stone.

CARAT is a series of annual, bilateral maritime exercises between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor-Leste.

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Enhanced Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle Successful In Non-Intercept Flight Test

By on Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Raytheon Company’s upgraded Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle played a mission-critical role in a non-intercept flight test of Boeing’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense program. The EKV is a vital component of the GMD’s Ground-Based Interceptor.

The EKV allows the GBI to lock on and eliminate high-speed ballistic missile warheads in space using nothing more than the force of impact.

“Rigorous non-intercept flight tests are important in proving the effectiveness and operational capability of ballistic missile defense weapons and their various components,” said Wes Kremer, Raytheon Missile Systems’ vice president of Air and Missile Defense Systems. “Today’s test allowed us to challenge the EKV in a series of realistic outer-space environments, which gives us a broad range of data prior to moving toward an intercept scenario.”

During the test, the EKV performed as planned, maneuvering the interceptor to the appropriate altitude and closing velocity required for an intercept.

“The sole purpose of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program is to defend the homeland from the threat of ballistic missile attack,” said Kremer. “This test moves us one step closer to an intercept flight test in 2013.”

Leveraging more than two decades of kill vehicle technology expertise, the EKV is designed to destroy incoming ballistic missile threats by colliding with them, a concept often described as “hit to kill.”

  • The EKV has an advanced multi-color sensor used to detect and discriminate incoming warheads from other objects.
  • The EKV also has its own propulsion, communications link, discrimination algorithms, guidance and control system, and computers to support target selection and intercept.
  • Deployed and operational today, the EKV has had eight successful intercepts throughout the life of the program.

Raytheon Company, with 2012 sales of $24 billion and 68,000 employees worldwide, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Mass.

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US Patriots Set to Begin NATO Missile Defense In Turkey

By on Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

The first elements of U.S. Patriot missile batteries deployed to Turkey earlier this month are expected to reach initial operating capability this weekend, a senior NATO officer reported.

Plans are on track for two PAC-3 Patriot anti-missile systems and about 400 U.S. personnel deployed to operate them to begin providing missile defense in the coming days, British Army Brig. Gen. Gary Deakin, director of the strategic operations center at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Brussels, reported yesterday on NATO TV.

Members of the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command from Fort Bliss, Texas; 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery, based at Fort Sill, Okla.; and the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command and 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion in Europe deployed to Turkey earlier this month to support the mission. The 10th AAMDC will provide command and control for two Patriot missile batteries from the 32nd AAMDC.

“We are aiming for the first initial operating capability to be established this weekend,” Deakin said.

“NATO will have the ability to defend some aspects of the population of what we’re going to actually cover in the big picture,” he explained during a news conference earlier this week. “The first units will arrive on station. They will plug into the NATO command and control network, and they will be then ready to defend the population. So that’s what we’re calling initial operating capability.”

Meanwhile, four additional Patriot batteries from the Netherlands and Germany arrived by sea in Iskenderun, Turkey, earlier this week, he said. They are now fanning out to their designated sites along Turkey’s southwest border.

The U.S. Patriots are in Gaziantep, the Dutch will position theirs in Adana, and the Germans in Kahramanmaras, Deakin reported.

“Those locations were decided in close coordination with our Turkish allies, based on the size of the population [and] how we could get the equipment to get the best effect,” he said. “A number of factors were considered to get the best deployment options with the resources available from the nations that made the offers in this case.”

The next milestone — achieving full operational capability — is expected by the month’s end, Deakin said. This involves getting all six Patriot batteries in place, plugged into the NATO network and coordinated with Turkey’s air defenses. It also includes the full roll-out of the associated sustainment package, consisting of the fuel, logistics and manpower support required to continue the mission long-term.

Once fully in place and at full operational capability, the NATO missile defense systems will help Turkey defend an estimated 3.5 million Turkish citizens, Deakin said.

Although the length of the NATO missile defense mission in Turkey is unclear, he said, all the three nations supporting it have committed assistance for up to a year.

NATO foreign ministers agreed in late November to provide Turkey the air defense support it had requested. The request came after shells from Syria’s political unrest -– which a new United Nations report estimated this week has claimed 60,000 lives — spilled into Turkey.

“NATO has decided to augment Turkey’s air defense capabilities in order to defend the population and territory of Turkey and contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along the alliance’s border,” the ministers said in a statement released following the meeting.

“Turkey is an important NATO ally, and we welcome the opportunity to support the Turkish government’s request in accordance with the NATO standing defense plan,” said Navy Vice Adm. Charles Martoglio, U.S. European Command’s deputy commander.

Martoglio emphasized that the deployment will be defensive only, and won’t support a no-fly zone or any offensive operation.

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US says Iran blast reports not credible

By on Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

The White House on Monday dismissed reports of an underground explosion at Iran’s Fordo atomic plant and also accused the Islamic Republic of adopting delaying tactics on nuclear talks.

Iran had previously condemned reports in sectors of the US and Israeli media about the alleged blast as “western propaganda” designed to influence the outcome of its stalled nuclear dialogue with Western powers.

“We have no information to confirm the allegations in that report, and we do not believe the report is credible,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

The reports cited the conservative American news website WND, which reported that an explosion at the Fordo facility on January 21 had caused major damage and trapped workers.

Iran has several times accused Israel and the United States of taking action to sabotage its nuclear program, through assassinations of its scientists and unleashing computer malware against its facilities.

The Fordo site is dug into a mountain near the holy city of Qom, some 150 kilometers (90 miles) south of Tehran, to protect it against air strikes.

Iran says it has been targeted previously, and blamed an explosion that reportedly cut the power supply to Fordo on saboteurs.

The site, whose existence was revealed by major powers in 2009, began in late 2011 to enrich uranium to purities of 20 percent, a process at the heart of US and western concerns that Iran is trying to make a nuclear bomb.

The last round of Iran’s talks with the so-called P5+1 — the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia — held June in Moscow ended with a stalemate, as did previous rounds.

The sides have failed to agree on a new stage of talks, blaming each other for uncertainty over a date and venue. The US side has said Iran was offered talks in Istanbul at the end of this month, but never confirmed.

“Iran, not for the first time, has been continually putting forward new conditions as a delaying tactic,” Carney said.

“Negotiations about negotiations is a familiar tactic that only results in further isolation and more pressure on Iran.”

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the ball is in Iran’s court after the US proposed “another set of dates and another range of venues in February.”

She said the US had been extremely “open and flexible” but that Washington had to ensure the talks were held in “a venue that’s not politicized.”

“I don’t think we’re going to Tehran, for example,” she added. Tehran and Washington have not had diplomatic relations since the storming of the US embassy in the Iranian capital in 1979 and the subsequent hostage crisis.

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US military plans drone base near Mali: official

By on Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

The US military plans to set up a base for drones in northwest Africa to bolster surveillance of Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the region as well as allied Islamist extremists, a US official told AFP on Monday.

The base for the robotic, unmanned aircraft would likely be located in Niger, on the eastern border of Mali, where French forces are currently waging a campaign against Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The base was first reported by the New York Times earlier Monday.

The airfield would allow for better intelligence gathering by unarmed drones on the movement of AQIM and other militants, which Washington considers a growing threat, the official said.

If the plan gets the green light, up to 300 US military service members and contractors could be sent to the base to operate the drone aircraft, according to the New York Times.

US Africa Command was also looking at an alternative location for the base in Burkina Faso, the official said.

The United States and Niger signed a status of forces agreement Monday, which will provide legal safeguards for any American forces in the country. The Pentagon secures such agreements for base arrangements or troop deployments.

The head of Africa command, General Carter Ham, was due to visit Niamey on January 11.

The French intervention in Mali, the recent hostage taking at an Algerian natural gas plant and the deadly assault on a US consulate in Libya in September has increased the demand in Washington for more intelligence on militants in the region.

As news emerged of the planned drone base, the Wall Street Journal reported that US military and intelligence officials were weighing plans to provide French fighter aircraft with sophisticated data to help them hunt down militants in Mali.

President Barack Obama’s administration waited for more than two weeks before agreeing to offer aerial refueling tankers to the French forces, amid concerns among some advisers that assisting the French could draw the United States into an open-ended conflict.

The Obama administration has also provided transport planes to help ferry French weapons and troops and to share intelligence with Paris from surveillance aircraft, including reportedly unmanned Global Hawk spy planes.

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