Tag Archives: Capabilities

DCNS Unveils SMX-Ocean, A New Blue-Water SSK with Expanded Capabilities

By on Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

At Euronaval 2014, DCNS is unveiling the SMX-Océan conventionally powered attack submarine. The new vessel draws extensively on the design of a state-of-the-art nuclear-powered submarine, with a number of key innovations that give this diesel-electric adaptation truly outstanding performance.

Exceptional performance
This innovative concept ship promises submerged endurance and deployment capabilities that are unprecedented for a conventional-propulsion submarine. With up to three months’ endurance, an SMX-Océan could cross the Atlantic six times without surfacing. Its transit speed is up to 14 knots.

To achieve this level of performance, DCNS teams have developed and combined a number of innovations including a high-performance air-independent propulsion (AIP) system using second-generation fuel cells for submerged endurance of up to three weeks.

The SMX-Océan features the same combat system, provisions for special forces’ missions, masts and general layout as the Barracuda SSN.

4D firepower: effective against underwater, surface, land and air threats
With a total of 34 weapons including torpedoes, mines, anti-ship missiles, cruise missiles and anti-air missiles, the SMX-Océan’s firepower will be unprecedented for an SSK.

The SMX-Océan concept ship design also includes vertical launchers, another major innovation in SSK design, to provide a salvo capability for cruise missile strikes on land targets.

A reconfigurable multi-role submarine
The SMX-Ocean offers more multi-role capabilities than any other submarine of its type. It can operate alone or as part of a carrier group or other naval deployment, and will be the only conventionally powered submarine with the ability to deploy special forces, combat swimmers, unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and even unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Carrier group escort
Equipped with tactical datalinks meeting international standards, the SMX-Ocean is ideal for carrier group escort roles in support of coalition operations in any theatre of operations.

Technical data

  • Length: 100 m
  • Height: 15.5 m
  • Beam: 8.8 m
  • Surface displacement: 4,750 t
  • Maximum diving depth: 350 m
  • Maximum speed, submerged: 20 kts

DCNS designs and builds submarines and surface combatants, develops associated systems and infrastructure, and offers a full range of services to naval bases and shipyards. The Group generates annual revenues of €3.4 billion and employs 13,600 people (2013 data)

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Taranis UCAV Demos Stealth Capabilities In Second Phase of Flight Trials

By on Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Together with the UK Ministry of Defence (UK MOD) we have today revealed that Taranis, the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle demonstrator, has successfully completed a second phase of flight testing

Taranis – the most advanced aircraft ever built by British engineers – flew in a fully ‘stealthy’ configuration, making it virtually invisible to radar during this latest set of trials.

In order to achieve an unprecedented level of stealth, the team changed all antennas on the aircraft to signature control variants and the air data boom on the nose of Taranis was removed. Following these modifications Taranis used a specially-designed system which allowed the aircraft to generate a full set of flight data, without the use of an external probe or boom.

Taranis also used a cutting edge communications system to ensure it was able to stay in touch with its mission commander without giving away its position to the enemy.

Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne said: “The success of these test flights is an important milestone for the Taranis project. We are gaining vital insights into the potential of unmanned aircraft and this knowledge will shape future capabilities and help reduce the risks faced by military personnel on the frontline. I am determined to continue investing in these world-leading projects to show us the future, today.”

Speaking on behalf of industry, Nigel Whitehead, our Group Managing Director said: “The first flight of Taranis last year was a significant milestone for UK aviation and this latest development underlines the UK’ s lead in unmanned air systems. The engineering data gathered from the latest phase of trials will help us develop the stealth technologies on Taranis further.”

Conrad Banks, Rolls-Royce Chief Engineer – Research and Technology, Defence, added: “Successful propulsion integration was another key highlight of the second trial phase, with the fully embedded and ‘hidden’ Adour Mk951 engine operating flawlessly coupled with the highly complex and stealthy exhaust system.”

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Boosting Australia’s Maritime Capabilities

The Minister for Defence David Johnston today announced the first set of key initiatives in the Abbott Government’s long-term strategic naval plan.

Within a year of taking office the Government is moving decisively to tackle Labor’s Defence mess and to ensure that Australia does not face major capability gaps as a result of Labor’s defence cuts and failure to take crucial decisions, including on maritime capability.

As a result of our plan, Navy will be properly equipped in the years ahead and Australian industry will have the long-term strategic direction that has been lacking for the last six years. Further steps in our strategic naval plan will developed as part of the White Paper process.

We are moving now to address the most urgent capability shortfalls created by Labor.

Replenishment vessels

Replenishment vessels are essential to support sustained naval deployments. Navy’s current replenishment ship HMAS Success is in urgent need of replacement. And HMAS Sirius only provides limited replenishment capability.

In light of the urgent need to forestall a capability gap in this crucial area; the current low productivity of shipbuilders involved in the AWD program; and value for money considerations, the Government has given First Pass approval for Defence to conduct a limited competitive tender process between Navantia of Spain and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) of South Korea for the construction of two replacement replenishment vessels based on existing designs.

“Navy is in urgent need of large support vessels that we assess are beyond the capacity of Australia to produce competitively at this stage. In this instance it would not serve anyone if we were to provide a challenge to industry that was beyond its capabilities.”

“Competition between these two experienced shipbuilders is the best way to ensure delivery of capable, cost effective vessels in the time frame required,” Senator Johnston said.

Bringing forward work on future frigates

The Government has also agreed to bring forward preliminary design work to ensure Australia maintains the necessary capabilities to retain the option of building the future frigate in Australia. This work will focus on continued production of the current AWD hull, suitably adapted and utilising capabilities from the cutting-edge Australian companies CEA Technologies Australia and SAAB Combat Systems. Further decisions on the future frigate will be taken in the context of the 2015 Defence White Paper.

The Government has committed $78.2 million to bring forward preliminary engineering and design work necessary to keep open the option of building the future frigate in Australia. In parallel, the Government is reviewing Australia’s shipbuilding requirements, capabilities and capacities in order to inform a long-term strategic naval plan that provides the ADF with leading-edge capabilities and Australian taxpayers with value for money.

“Naval shipbuilders and Unions must understand that naval shipbuilding in Australia is at a critical crossroads. Demonstrating that the AWD Program is able to provide value for money will be a crucial test for the Australian shipbuilding industry. No responsible Government could consider providing further work to an industry that is performing so poorly,” Senator Johnston said.

Pacific Patrol Boat

The Government has brought forward an open competition with Australian industry to construct more than 20 replacement Pacific Patrol Boats. This important project will boost the maritime security and resource and fishery protection capabilities of partner countries in the South West Pacific and generate additional work for yards around Australia.

“These will be steel hulled vessels designed to support fisheries, Exclusive Economic Zone enforcement and other maritime security missions,” Senator Johnston said.

Naval Capability Plan

As part of its 2015 Defence White Paper the Government will announce further steps in its Naval Capability Plan. This plan will provide for an enterprise level shipbuilding plan that will bring together navy capability requirements, available resources, and recommendations around Australian industry requirements.

“The decisions announced today move us in the right direction in working towards a revitalised naval shipbuilding industry in Australia, but this is just the first step to fix the problems we have inherited from Labor, and more work needs to be done.”

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B-1B Software Upgrade Will Ensure Future Warfighting Capabilities

In order to keep the B-1B Lancer’s capabilities ready to operate now and well into the fast-paced integrated battlefield of the future, the 419th Flight Test Squadron began testing Sustainment Block 16A software upgrades here April 1, to work in conjunction with the long-range bomber’s recently added glass cockpit configuration.

The SB 16A software is a fielding configuration that will enhance the glass cockpit introduced as part of the B-1 Integrated Battle Station modification, increase Link 16 capabilities and provide a leap in situational awareness for the B-1 operators. Link 16 allows all Link 16-equipped military aircraft, as well as naval and ground forces, to interact and exchange overall tactical pictures in near-real time.

“The SB 16A configuration is expected to improve situational awareness to all crew members, increase the maintainability of the B-1B and provide data link capabilities to the field,” said Capt. Carlos Pinedo, 419 FLTS B-1 Test Pilot and flight commander. “Major software enhancements include improved integration between the B-1 offensive avionics system, various onboard sensors and the data link, which results in improved battlespace awareness for both the B-1 aircrew and fellow strike package assets.

“The new displays allow aircrew members to seamlessly pass information and accomplish tasks that were once crew-position dependent,” he continued. “The overall result is improved situational awareness and a reduction in crew workload, leading to improved combat effectiveness. The improved sustainability of the B-1B as a result of this program will help maintain the Air Force’s long-range strike capability for many years to come.”

According to Raymond So, 412th Test Engineering Group project lead engineer, the focus of the test squadron after April 1 is to identify any deficiencies as early as possible so that the customer has time to resolve issues and provide the warfighter with the best available product.

“The greatest challenge for the team [currently] is to understand the software maturity and requirements flowing into SB 16A. The new displays and interface will have such a great impact on B-1B tactics and situational awareness that the team is learning and identifying how the new aircraft will be used,” added So. “This has also changed our testing philosophy. We have had to adapt our testing to the new system that we are given.”

Pinedo noted that the squadron plans to test the upgrades in four phases, in which the final phase will be the configuration that the warfighter will see.

“SB 16A testing builds on and merges prior tests, which included, but are not limited to, the Integrated Battle Station with the new glass cockpit design, updated Inertial Navigation Systems and the B-1B Radar Reliability and Maintainability Improvement Program,” Pinedo said. “The flight and ground tests will be accomplished in four phases, each relating to a different software drop — ultimately resulting in the first operational fielding of the new cockpit design.”

According to the test team, SB 16A testing is projected to end in February 2015.

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Robocopter: New Technology Brings New Capabilities to the Marine Corps

Autonomy options for the Marines have taken a major step forward, as officials at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) announced today two successful helicopter flight demonstrations with unmanned flight capability at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., part of the Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System (AACUS) program.

AACUS will enable the Marine Corps to rapidly resupply forces on the front lines using cutting-edge technology sponsored by ONR. The system consists of a sensor and software package that will be integrated into rotary wing aircraft to detect and avoid obstacles in unfavorable weather conditions, or to enable autonomous, unmanned flight. The capability will be a welcome alternative to dangerous convoys, manned aircraft or air drops in all weather conditions.

“This is a giant leap in autonomous capabilities for our Marines,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder. “Imagine a Marine unit needing more ammunition and water where a helicopter crew would be in peril trying to fly in, either from weather or enemy fire.

“With AACUS, an unmanned helicopter takes the supplies from the base, picks out the optimal route and best landing site closest to the warfighters, lands, and returns to base once the resupply is complete-all with the single touch of a handheld tablet.”

The need for this capability surfaced during Marine Corps operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, experts say. Cargo helicopters and resupply convoys of trucks bringing fuel, food, water, ammunition and medical supplies to the front lines frequently found themselves under fire from adversaries, or the target of roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices.

The AACUS technology is designed to be simple to use; an operator with minimal training can call up the supplies needed and order the flights using only a handheld tablet. In the demonstration tests at Quantico, a Marine with no prior experience with the technology was given a handheld device and 15 minutes of training.

The Marine was able to quickly and easily program in the supplies needed and the destination, and the helicopters arrived quickly-even autonomously selecting an alternative landing site based on last-second no-fly-zone information added in from the Marine.

“This technology truly opens up new unmanned operations capabilities,” said Max Snell, the AACUS program manager. “In the most immediate sense, AACUS will enable safer resupply for the warfighter and save pilots’ lives. Down the road, as the technology develops, it could be used for casualty evacuation, bringing supplies to first responders in disaster areas, and more.”

The technology enables the manned or unmanned rotary wing aircraft to detect and avoid obstacles like telephone wires, large objects on the ground and even a vehicle or other object that has appeared since the initial landing site was chosen by AACUS.

Officials say the five-year effort represents a leap-ahead technology for the Marine Corps and Navy, moving autonomous flights far beyond the current standard which requires a specialized operator to select a landing site and manually control an unmanned aircraft via remote.

“Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has discussed using drones to deliver a customer’s book order in 30 minutes,” said Klunder. “We’re talking the same concept here-the difference is, we’re bringing our customer, the Marine, 5,000 pounds of ammo and water instead.”

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USAF Bombers Train On Long-Range Capabilities

Two B-52 Stratofortresses from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and two B-2 Spirit bombers from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., recently flew non-stop from their home stations to training ranges in Hawaii to exercise the president’s credible and flexible military options to meet national security obligations to the U.S. and its allies. Part of the mission was to conduct coordinated range operations amongst multiple airframes as well as test low approach training capabilities before returning to their bases.

“These long-duration, coordinated training missions allow our strategic bomber aircrews to execute synchronized global strike missions tailored to the needs of the combatant commander,” said Maj. Gen. Scott Vander Hamm, commander, 8th Air Force and Joint Functional Component Commander for Global Strike.

The mission, which spanned nearly 8,000 miles from home station to the drop site and back to the home installation, tested the ability for planners to coordinate operations between combatant commands and amongst multiple Air Force wings. The 20-plus hour training missions also demonstrated the U.S.’ capability to provide a flexible and always-ready force to respond to a variety of threats and situations within U.S. Strategic Command’s global strike and strategic deterrence missions.

During the training mission, bomber crews enhanced their operational proficiency and readiness by releasing their inert ordnance on Hawaii’s Pohakuloa military weapon range. They also honed their skills at operating during a long duration flight; an important element of U.S. Strategic Command’s enduring deterrence capability.

“These tailored exercises are vital to assuring our nation’s leaders and our allies that we have the right mix of aircraft and skill to strike at the time and place of our choosing,” General Vander Hamm said.

The Department of Defense routinely conducts training missions to ensure the U.S. has a credible capability to respond to a variety of levels of threats and to provide the President a variety of options he may need to protect the nation or its allies and partners.

“Most bomber missions are long duration like this. The experience gained from this kind of training mission is invaluable,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Link, 96th Bomb Squadron commander, Barksdale AFB. “We boost our coordination capabilities and flying skills, and our bomber force is better for it.”

The B-2 and B-52 are long-range, multi-role bombers capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. Both bombers can fly at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet.

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Scalable Agile Beam Radar Brings Advanced Capabilities to Global F-16 Fleets

By on Friday, February 21st, 2014

Northrop Grumman Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) will help bring advanced capabilities to existing global F-16 fleets, keeping them formidable beyond 2025, according to the head of the company’s Combat Avionics Systems business unit.

Northrop Grumman Vice President Jeff Leavitt provided a detailed SABR update to reporters in a briefing at the Singapore Air Show. This included the radar’s development progress, along with information about successful flight demonstrations and the upgraded capabilities SABR brings to the F-16.

Northrop Grumman was chosen by prime contractor Lockheed Martin as the radar provider for the U.S. Air Force and Taiwan F-16 radar modernization and upgrade programs, which aim to keep the F-16 viable in future threat environments and to improve system reliability, maintainability and affordability.

Since the SABR active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar was selected for the U.S. Air Force and Taiwan modernization and upgrade programs this past July, the system has completed three major development and design reviews. Several engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) systems are now in production, with the first to be delivered to Lockheed Martin before the end of 2014.

“We will deliver EMD units this year and the assets we deliver are anticipated to be identical to the production deliveries we will be making for Taiwan,” said Leavitt.

SABR features Big Synthetic Aperture Radar (Big SAR), which allows for broad area all-environment precision mapping and location, and improved situational awareness. Air-to-air and air-to-surface modes have substantially increased ranges and can be operated simultaneously, resulting in improved situational awareness and survivability.

“We are providing SABR with robust electronic protection, including proven software directly reused from the F-35′s AN/APG-81,” said Leavitt. “We have over seven decades of experience in RF systems. We have applied that deep understanding of EP to SABR, increasing survivability in dense RF environments against present and future threats.”

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