Sabtu, Juli 10, 2010

RAAF Squadron to Expand Base Role

The Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) Number 21 Squadron (21 SQN) will be given the additional responsibility of operating RAAF Base Williams from July 2010.

21 SQN, which currently is the provider of air force reserve training and administration in Victoria, will be integrated with Combat Support Unit (CSU) Williams as part of the expansion.

Under its new role, the squadron will manage the airfield, support air base operations, and maintain its reserve training activities, following which, Combat Support Unit Williams will be disbanded.

Air Marshal Binskin said RAAF reservists would now have an increased opportunity to contribute to operational capability in the modern and future air force.

The integrated 21 SQN and Combat Support Unit Williams, will be reassigned to the combat support group from air force training group, as part of a review.

Browsing Posts in Weapons Sky Warrior Moves into Production to Equip the U.S. Army ER/MP Program

As production of Predator A winding, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI) shifts to the production of the new Sky Warrior MQ-1C model designed for the U.S. Army Extended Range/Multi-Purpose (ER/MP) UAS program. The company has received $195.5 million in funding from the U.S. Army, part of an estimated $399 million contract to provide Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) aircraft and supplemental hardware for ER/MP.

The remaining amount expected in the late summer of 2010 will provide for 34 Sky Warrior aircraft, 16 One System Ground Control Stations (OSGCS) made by AAI Corporation, airborne and ground Tactical Control Data Link (TCDL) equipment produced by L-3 Communications West, and various other items to include automatic landing systems, spares, and ground support equipment.

Beginning December 2010, the company is scheduled to deliver over two aircraft a month through the end of 2012. New features being introduced with the Sky Warrior system include the capability to carry four Hellfire missiles, fully autonomous operation, including automatic takeoff and landing and the de-icing capabilities enabling the aircraft to fly through degraded weather conditions. Earlier this summer the Army is planning to field four Sky Warrior aircraft configured with the latest ‘Quick Reaction Capability’ (QRC-2), fitted to carry four new Hellfire AGM-114P+ missiles modified to better perform with unmanned aerial systems. Early models (QRC-1 and Sky Warrior Alpha) have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2008, and to date have logged over 145,000 flight hours.

Australian Submarines Complete Undersea Training Exercise

Australian Navy submarines have successfully completed an undersea warfare exercise off the West Australian coast.

During the exercise, the navy's Collins Class submarines HMAS Collins, HMAS Dechaineux and HMAS Waller, completed a training exercise that involved a wide variety of anti-submarine warfare scenarios.

In addition, Australian Navy frigate HMAS Anzac, three Seahawk helicopters and a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion have participated in the exercise.

Australian Navy Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Steve Gilmore said these types of exercises ensured war fighting skills and competencies in the undersea environment were maintained at the highest operational readiness.

Jumat, Juli 09, 2010

Thales receives follow-on USN contract

Thales Australia has delivered minesweeping equipment for the US Navy’s Avenger class Mine Counter Measure Vessels.

Thales Australia has been awarded a follow-on contract by the US Department of Defense to supply minesweeping equipment for the US Navy's Avenger class Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMVs).

The contract for four ship sets with the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) includes an option for a further three ship sets, and follows several highly successful contracts for Thales minesweeping systems for the US Navy.

Over the past four years Thales Australia has delivered Advanced Acoustic Generators (AAGs), Infrasonic Advanced Acoustic Generators (IAAGs), Sweep Tracker Monitor Systems (STMS), spares and accessories for seven of the 14 Avenger class MCMVs.

Pentagon Wants to Move $3.9B Around

U.S. soldiers with an M1A1 Bradley tank in Iraq in 2007. The new Defense Department reprogramming request calls for cutting $200 million in funding for the Bradley program. (U.S. MARINE CORPS)

The Pentagon wants to shift nearly $4 billion in previously allocated funding, much of it within the Army's budget to buy arms and gear needed in Afghanistan, according to a July 2 omnibus reprogramming request.

Defense News obtained a copy of the 89-page request, signed by Pentagon comptroller Robert Hale and sent to Congress for review.

A similar cut moves $143 million out of research and development funding for the Army's Combat Vehicle Improvement program. The funds are available because the Pentagon has delayed its decision to upgrade the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the Abrams tank, according to the reprogramming request.

To support operations, the Pentagon wants to shift $100 million to purchase 1,500 One System Remote Video Terminal, the Army's version of the Air Force's ROVER system, which provides soldiers access to full-motion video shot by UAVs.

The Pentagon would also like to shift $10 million to start developing a replacement for the M113 armored personnel carrier.

"These funds will inform the Army on the current state-of-the-art M113 replacement options, potentially provide a forum for industrial teaming allowing the Army to refine its requirement document and explore current vehicles for adaptability to the M113 requirements," the document said.

The Pentagon also shifts $35 million in Army funding for the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) to the Navy's research and development accounts for the same program.

The "funds are available because the Rifleman radio is not prepared for Milestone C in fiscal year 2010 due to deficiencies found during the Limited User Test," the document said.

Instead, the money will be spent on accelerating the delivery of the Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit (HMS) systems for test and potential deployment to theater, according to the document.

The Pentagon also reduces funding for the Joint Assault Bridge by $68 million, citing a program restructuring that shifted authority for the program from the Marine Corps to the Army. Low-rate initial production has been delayed until fiscal year 2013, according to the document.

For the Air Force, the Pentagon generally shifts money from procurement accounts to spending on personnel.

The Pentagon would like to cut $36 million from the Air Force's Global Hawk program.

"Obligations are late due to delays in the development test program, late and poor quality proposals from contractors, and reprioritization of acquisition activities to meet urgent Combatant Commander requirements," the document reads. The Pentagon cuts an additional $18 million from the program later in the request.

Most of the $74 million plus-up allocated to the Navy for administration activities - $54 million - was needed for increased costs for personnel security investigations. USS Independence, the second littoral combat ship and the first ship from the General Dynamics-Austal USA team, received an additional $5.3 million to meet higher than anticipated costs to correct problems discovered on sea trials. The effort to re-start DDG 51-class destroyer production with a new Flight III version got another $6.7 million to create a capability development document.

The MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned aerial aircraft received a 50 percent plus-up of $13 million to support completion of operational evaluation (OPEVAL) efforts to take place on board the frigate Halyburton. Continuation of the OPEVAL was necessary after the 2009-2010 effort on board the frigate McInerney encountered numerous technical challenges and discrepancies. The money became available when the service eliminated two of five aircraft it planned to buy this year due to the availability of airframes transferred from the Army.

The Naval Special Warfare Scan Eagle effort to operate unmanned aerial surveillance and attack aircraft in the Mideast received a boost of $8 million to buy replacement air vehicles and spare parts.

A Navy program restructuring effort paid off with a reduction of $4.8 million in the Aerial Common Sensor program.

The Marines Corps' Harvest Hawk effort to give a rapid-response fire support capability to KC-130J Hercules aerial tankers got a plus-up of $1.3 million for modernized avionics.

Accelerated procurement of the Transportable Radar Surveillance Model 2 radar (TPY-2) radar led to a new start addition of $191 million. The funds were available after delays were encountered in fielding batteries of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile.

An omnibus reprogramming request is sent to Congress each year. It is meant to shift funding to more urgently needed items. The request will be reviewed by the four congressional defense committees, who have the option to reject any of the requested changes.

According to the documents, $234 million is available in the Army's home station operation and maintenance accounts because several units deployed in Iraq were unable to return home due to "delayed Iraqi elections and the increased security posture in Iraq."

Alternatively, $70 million is available in Marine Corps operation and maintenance funds because their combat operations in Iraq were curtailed earlier than previously planned.

In the reprogramming, the Pentagon directs money toward equipment needed in Afghanistan, including Army helicopters, which are in high demand, as well as money to improve secure networked communications in the country.

The Pentagon is requesting $45 million for U.S. Central Command's Operation Earnest Voice (OEV) program, whose funding, according to the documents, was reduced by Congress in the 2010 budget.

"The OEV program is strongly endorsed by the Commander, USCENTCOM, and serves as USCENTCOM's primary and enduring non-kinetic weapon in its irregular warfare arsenal for countering adversary information operations."

The money will go toward "products to counter radical ideology and influence key audiences across the region via Internet or other mediums."

According to the documents, the program "provides the capability to engage audience on native language (Arabic and Urdu) web blogs, chat rooms, and social networks."

Kamis, Juli 08, 2010

Istanbul Shipyard reveals designs for submarine rescue vessels

The Turkish Navy's future Submarine Rescue Mother Ship (MOSHIP) will be able to evacuate the crew of a distressed submarine at depths up to 600 m, according to Istanbul Shipyard.

Details of the MOSHIP design given to Jane's on 26 June show the vessel is 91 m long, with a beam of 18.5 m and draught of 5 m. Space is provided for 131 personnel and it has a maximum speed of 18 kt and a range of 4,500 n miles at a speed of 14 kt.

The ship will also be able to perform rescue and towing operations for broken-down, wrecked or aground vessels. Equipped with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), diving units and an atmospheric diving suit (ADS), the ship can conduct underwater maintenance and wreck-removal operations.

The Future Carriers

The UK, China, Russia and the US have all embarked upon major carrier programmes that will transform their navies. Dan Heaton reports.

Four of the world's 10 largest navies are preparing for new classes of aircraft carriers.

The UK is getting ready to take a huge leap forward with the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the People's Republic of China is moving ahead with the Varyag, India is taking onboard the $2.34bn Admiral Gorshkov carrier and the US is changing its tactics with the Gerald Ford-class.

Royalty for the UK

When it comes to new carriers, the UK is arguably preparing to take the largest step forward. When it enters service, probably sometime in 2015, the HMS Queen Elizabeth will be the largest ship in the Royal Navy's long, long history.

"The British learned a lot in the Falklands war of 1982 where they saw the limitations of small aircraft carriers," Eric Wertheim, author and editor of the US Naval Institute's Guide to Combat Fleets of the World,says.

At 65,000 tons and just a bit smaller than an American Nimitz-class carrier, the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers (there will be two in total) are 284m long and can carry up to 50 aircraft. Replacing the Invincible class, the BAE-designed ships will use cheaper, integrated full-electric propulsion with Rolls-Royce Marine Trent MT30MW gas turbines.

"When it enters service, probably sometime in 2015, the HMS Queen Elizabeth will be the largest ship in the Royal Navy's long history."

While few specifics regarding technology are yet known, the ship is expected to far outclass the Invincible, and offer the Royal Navy a strategic push forward in naval warfare.

China chooses Soviet power

China is also moving ahead with a carrier and may be nearing entry into the world's flat-top club. After years of speculation about what exactly is happening with the incomplete former Soviet carrier the Varyag, the Chinese navy may be only a year or so away from beginning sea trials. The Varyag was an Admiral Kuznetsov-class carrier, but construction was halted in 1992 with the break-up of the Soviet Union. The ship eventually became property of the Ukraine, which later sold it to China, supposedly with the stipulation it would never be made operational as a carrier.

An August 2009 US Department of Defense report on the state of the Chinese navy stated the carrier is expected to become operational between 2010-2012, and will likely be used to develop basic proficiencies in carrier operations. "Speculation is that the new Chinese carrier will carry an air wing of either [Sukhoi] SU-33 or a derivative of [Shenyang] J-11 aircraft," it said. Jane's reported in 2008 that the Chinese carrier will be called the Shi Lang.

Although there's been no official announcement of any kind from the Chinese government, Wertheim said a domestically produced Chinese carrier is likely "sometime after 2015". The Japanese news network Nippon reported in January that development work on one or two 50-60,000-ton new Chinese carriers is underway at a military facility in the city of Wuhan, with future construction planned at a Shanghai shipyard.

India and Russia team up

India, meanwhile, is preparing to accept a Russian carrier.

In a visit to the country in mid March, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed three defence contracts with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh. In the largest agreement, India agreed to pay Russia $2.34bn for the 45,000-ton Admiral Gorshkov carrier.

The Admiral Gorshkov was first commissioned by the Soviet Union in 1987, but since a 1994 boiler room explosion it has been unused, with the exception of a period between late 1995 and early 1996 when it briefly returned to service with the Russian fleet. In 2004, the Indians agreed to purchase the ship for $974 million, but the Russians later negotiated the sales price upwards in return for making modifications to the long-dormant carrier. It is expected to be delivered in mid-2012. Once accepted by the Indian Navy, the ship will be known as the INS Vikramaditya.

"The Indians have some very impressive plans for the future, but are seeing very slow progress on their carrier programmes," says Wertheim. "I think they are far too reliant on Russia and this is costing them domestic shipbuilding expertise in the long run."

The two other agreements signed by Putin and Singh were a $1.2bn deal for India to purchase 29 more Mig-29K aircraft from Russia and a $600.7m cooperative venture on a new transport aircraft.

In a December 2009 news conference, India's top admiral, Nirmal Verma, told reporters that the Indian Navy will launch a 40,000-ton domestically built carrier sometime in 2010. However, while the keel of that ship was laid down in March 2009, the Indian Navy has now called for a commissioning date of 2014, although many analysts are sceptical that even this revised deadline can be met.

India’s lone existing carrier, INS Viraat, will mark its 50th year of active service later this year.

The US's 'evolutionary' Gerald Ford class

The US is taking an "evolutionary step" with the new Gerald Ford class. Similar in size to the Nimitz class, the 100,000-ton Ford is due to enter the US fleet in 2015 and will be able to accommodate the new F-35 multi-role fighter. With two higher-power nuclear reactors and a design created to reduce the ship's radar profile, the Ford will give its commanders new flexibility and capability, says Wertheim.

"Improvements such as better catapults allowing for greater launch potential, increased sortie rates, smaller crew size and decreased maintenance requirements will give a more capable platform that is also easier to maintain and keep on station then previous carrier designs," Wertheim says.

The US Navy currently maintains a fleet of 11 carriers – 10 Nimitz class and one Enterprise class. Wertheim says he expects the fleet to be relatively stable in size for the next decade or so.

"I see the number of large-deck US Navy carriers remaining relatively stable during the next 10 years, but decreasing slightly, perhaps by 20%, during the next 20 years," he says. "The carriers are getting more expensive to build and there is simply not enough aircraft to fill their flight decks anymore."

Singapore picks Aermacchi

Singapore has reportedly shot down Korea Aerospace Industries and chosen Alenia Aermacchi for military jet trainer aircraft, DefenseNews reports from Seoul.

The report, quoting anonymous industry sources, said the decision to buy Italian M-346 trainers was the second major loss to the Italians for KIA. Last year the United Arab Emirates also chose the Italian planes over KIA's T-50 Golden Eagle, which are built in partnership with Lockheed Martin.

The deal with the United Arab Emirates for 48 aircraft was worth $1.3 billion.

"I've been told that the T-50 suffered another defeat apparently, as the M-346 has been picked up as the preferred bidder for the trainer jet contest in Singapore," the report quoted an unidentified industry source. "The Singapore government has yet to make public the result of its decision and is expected to announce it soon."

The report said KAI spokesmen were unavailable for comment and an Aermacchi spokesman offered no information. A spokesman for Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration couldn't confirm the report.

The South Korean government owns a 30.5 percent share of KAI.

The report last week said the Italian deal with the United Arab Emirates has yet to be finalized over a side agreement on joint development of unmanned aerial vehicles and KAI is hoping to reopen talks with the country over its trainers.

Royal Marine Commandos clear busy street of explosive devices in Sangin

Royal Marines from Charlie Company, 40 Commando Group have carried out an operation to clear improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from a busy market street in the village of Pylae in the Sangin valley. Working in conjunction with colleagues from the Counter-IED Task Force, the marines put in place a cordon around the suspect street to prevent locals from endangering themselves during the clearance and to limit interference from insurgents.

“Today, we’re conducting an IED clearance operation. My call sign is taking arcs out to the south. We’ve just occupied a roof top that has good arcs, and will remain here while the IED clearance team carry out their business,” said Lieutenant Doug Spencer, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines.

The village of Pylae and its patrol base is on the front line of enemy troops, with patrols from 40 Commando identifying several IEDs in the village and surrounding area over recent weeks. Operations have been mounted to remove the devices but often the Taliban move them to new locations under the cover of darkness.

On this occasion, a residential street where several IEDs had been confirmed was targeted by Combined Force Sangin. The road had been out of bounds to ISAF troops and locals until the operation went in.

8 Troop of Charlie Company took up positions on the roof of a compound close to the road, allowing them to have arcs of view over the area. Using a range of small arms weapons, including the new Sharpshooter rifle, the marines created an observation post so they could speak to civilians to warn them of the danger as well monitoring possible insurgent positions.

Royal Marine Brandon Hubbs, from Toronto said,

“This morning we’ve got two troops to come down from FOB [forward operating base] Jackson to our position. We’ve moved out with the ATO [Ammunition Technical Officer] to clear an IED. Our multiple has come into this compound to create a southern most cordon from the FLET [forward line of enemy troops] which is about 80 metres to my rear. Up on the roof here we have a few lads who are covering down, we’ve got linkmen and the medic as a cas-e-vac group out behind me – and right now I’m just manning the net [radio] and relaying any messages, whilst still providing over-watch to our rear.”

Lieutenant Spencer said,

“We all have a bit of rudimentary Pashtu which we have been shouting at the locals as they come towards us. In addition we’ve got our ‘terp’ who also shouts. Some have been coming past on motorbikes quite fast and ignoring our shouts, so we’ve had to fire mini flares into the air above the motorbikes as they come by - that usually stops them.”

During the course of the operation, which lasted several hours, the marines and Army bomb disposal experts were fired upon twice with shots landing a few meters from the ATO. Despite this, bomb disposal experts moved forward to deal with three suspected devices, which were confirmed along the walled road. To get to the devices safely, the disposal team had to manoeuvre over several roof tops. In addition, marines from 8 Troop created a smoke screen to let the ATO move forward under cover.

“After the IED team went forward to the fist device, they believed there to be a second. However, it was felt there was quite a significant threat. So it was necessary for us in the cordon to throw smoke and provide them with a bit of cover while they went forward. There they found another device and placed a charge on it to clear it,” commented Lieutenant Spencer.

UK Forces are deployed to Afghanistan in support of the UN authorised, NATO led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission and as part of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). UK operations in Afghanistan are being conducted under the name Operation HERRICK.

Task Force Helmand is the name given to UK-led forces in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan.

Rabu, Juli 07, 2010

Another Six Super Hornets Arrive at Amberley

Another six F/A-18F Super Hornets – Australia's first new air combat aircraft in 25 years – have arrived at RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland.

Today's touch down followed a four-day journey from Naval Air Station Lemoore in California.

The Super Hornets, affectionately known as 'Rhinos', will replace the F-111s which have been stalwarts of Australia's air combat fleet and will be retired at the end of this year.

While the new fighters share a strong resemblance with Air Force's existing F/A-18A/B 'classic' Hornets, they feature stealth characteristics, an enlarged airframe, more powerful engines, greater weapons and fuel payload, advanced avionics and state-of-the-art radar.

Twelve of the RAAF Super Hornets have now been delivered by Boeing. The first Super Hornet delivered, A44-201, remains in the United States conducting ongoing advanced software development trials with the United States Navy. It is anticipated that this will be completed later this year and the aircraft will be ferried to Australia before December to bring our in-service complement to twelve aircraft.

"The Super Hornet acquisition project continues to be a major success. It is delivering a quantum leap in air combat capability to Air Force, on-time and on-budget," Minister for Defence John Faulkner said."This project is a great example of what can be achieved through a strong Defence and Industry partnership."

"This is the culmination of the hard work and dedication of the Royal Australian Air Force, Defence Materiel Organisation, United States Navy, the Boeing Company and their industry partners, Raytheon, General Electric and Northrop Grumman," Senator Faulkner said.

"No. 1 Squadron's transition from operating the venerable F-111 to the highly sophisticated Super Hornet has delivered a new and potent air combat capability that will serve Australia for many years to come.

"When delivery is completed in 2011, Australia will have a total of 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets ahead of the transition to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

KD Tun Razak Submarine Enters Malaysian Waters

KD Tun Razak is a second Scorpene submarine for RMN

KUALA LUMPUR, (Bernama) -- KD Tun Razak, the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN)'s second of two Scorpene submarines, entered the national waters, Thursday.

The submarine, which was launched by Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah on Oct 8, 2008, is heading for the Lumut naval base for an official homecoming ceremony, Friday.

The ceremony will be graced by the Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah and the Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah who is also RMN captain-in-chief.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Armed Forces chief Tan Sri Azizan Ariffin will also be present.

Manned by a crew of 31, KD Tun Razak, which was named after second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, can reach diving depths of up to 300 metres.

KD Tun Razak left for home from Madrid after successful sea trials. The country's first submarine, KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, arrived at Port Klang on Sept 3 last year.

Malaysia acquired both Scorpene submarines at the cost of RM3.4 billion in 2002 and they were built jointly by France's Direction des Constructions Navales Services and Spain's Navantia.

Both diesel-electric powered submarines of the Perdana Menteri-class will operate out of their main base - Teluk Sepanggar in Sabah.

A crew of 142 underwent training at Brest, France to prepare them for Scorpene duties.

India Begins Testing Naval LCA

NEW DELHI - Defence Minister A.K. Antony was present July 6 when India tested the first prototype of its naval Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) on the ground in Bangalore.

The two-seat naval version of the indigenously developed trainer will now undergo extensive systems integration tests, ground runs and taxi trials before making its first flight later this year, a senior Indian Navy officer said. Another variant of the aircraft will roll out next year. The naval LCA is scheduled to be inducted in the Indian navy in 2015.

Designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency, Bangalore, and the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the naval LCA is equipped to operate from an aircraft carrier with ski-jump takeoff and arrested recovery. Its structure and landing gear have been modified from the existing Air Force version to cater to larger loads and arrested-recovery landings.

The Indian Navy last year placed an order for six naval LCAs and has committed to pay about $30 million for each.

The naval LCA is a small, tailless, multirole supersonic fighter aircraft. It will be deployed on the Air Defence Ship, India's indigenously built aircraft carrier, which is due to enter Navy service in 2014-15.