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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Thales wins French-UK mine countermeasures contract

MMCM programmeOn behalf of the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) in France and UK MOD’s Defence Equipment & Support organisation, OCCAr has awarded the Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) contract to Thales, in collaboration with BAE Systems and their partners in France (ECA Group) and in the UK (ASV, Wood & Douglas, SAAB).

Initiated in 2012 under a cooperation agreement between France and the United Kingdom, the MMCM programme develops a prototype autonomous system for detection and neutralisation of sea mines and underwater improvised explosive devices (UWIEDs).

KEY POINTS
  • The MMCM programme is a key milestone in the transformation of mine countermeasures capabilities and the future operational use of unmanned naval systems.
  • This major French-UK programme will develop a key new industrial capability for underwater and robotic detection.
  • Split equally between the two nations, the programme will rely on innovations with an advanced level of technological maturity.

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Marines show off Osprey by landing on South Korean ship for the 1st time


The Marines showed off their most versatile aircraft to the South Koreans this week, landing two MV-22 Ospreys on the deck of the South Korean ship Dokdo.

The MV-22s, from the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 Reinforced, took off from the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard to perform a series of touch-and-go landings on the South Korean vessel.

The deck crew of the Dokdo guided the hybrid aircraft to a safe landing and then tied them down, as members of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and South Korean military looked on. Minutes afterward, they were released and the Osprey took off again.

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First Air National Guard theater security package deploys to Europe

F-15C Strike EagleThe U.S. Air Force deployed 12 F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft and approximately 200 Airmen as the first Air National Guard theater security package in Europe to support Operation Atlantic Resolve this week.

The aircraft and Airmen, from the 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard, Jacksonville, Fla., are set to be in place and fulfilling the TSP mission by mid-April.

The TSPs will augment U.S. Air Forces in Europe's existing efforts as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve by conducting flying training deployments and off-station training with NATO allies to further enhance interoperability.

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Crimea will place nuclear weapons on its territory on President’s orders - official

Tu-22M3 BackfireCrimea would support the placement of nuclear weapons on its territory once such a decision is made in Moscow, said the head of the republic, Sergey Aksyonov.

“If such an order comes from our commander-in-chief, we are going to support it,” Aksyonov said in an interview with the Sputnik news agency.

He added that he personally was sure that the nuclear weapons were perfectly safe for Crimea’s environment because Russian technologies in this field were the most advanced in the world.

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Missile crews complete two successful test launches in one week


The Air Force this week successfully launched two unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles over the Pacific Ocean.

At 3:53 a.m. Pacific time Friday, missileers from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, launched a randomly selected, unarmed missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The rocket flew for about 40 minutes and landed in the ocean near Guam about 40 minutes after launch, according to Global Strike Command.

The test was scheduled to verify the reliability of the Minuteman III rockets and provide data on how the missiles launch. The team included the 576th Flight Test Squadron at Vandenberg and the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom.

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Finally, Army to get Akash missiles from next month

Akash SAMThe Army will finally get some desperately-needed supersonic firepower to take on enemy fighters, helicopters, drones and sub-sonic cruise missiles after years of grappling with obsolete air defence weapons. What makes it even more significant is that the new weapon system is 96% indigenous.

The 1.13-million strong force will begin getting the Akash "area defence" missile systems, which have an interception range of over 25 km in all weather conditions, from next month.

Though quite late in coming, the Akash systems pack a formidable punch by being capable of tackling multiple aerial threats attacking from several directions simultaneously.

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Wildcat maritime attack helicopter takes to the seas

AW159 Lynx WildcatThe first Royal Navy Wildcat maritime attack helicopter has taken to the seas onboard HMS Lancaster.

The Type 23 frigate sailed from her home in Portsmouth on Saturday, March 21 for a routine nine-month Atlantic patrol tasking, waved off by hundreds of well-wishing friends and family.

HMS Lancaster is the first ship in the Royal Navy to deploy with the new Wildcat Helicopter and her crew is wearing the newest naval uniform in 70 years. She also takes with her the first ever Royal Marine chef to ply his trade on the ocean waves rather than on dry land.

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U.S. Rescues Saudi Pilots from Crashed Fighter Jet

F-15SA Strike EagleThe U.S. rescued two Saudi Arabian airmen from the Gulf of Aden after their two-seater F-15 fighter jet crashed Thursday, a U.S. defense official said Friday.

The jet appears to have been taking part in operations over Yemen, however, the defense official wouldn’t say why the airmen ejected from the F-15 or why the plane went down over international waters.

Saudi Arabia requested assistance on Thursday afternoon Washington time from the U.S. after the airmen ejected from their plane, the official said.

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Lightning jets that can't fly through lightning: Fears new £100m RAF fighter's fuel tanks could explode if struck by a bolt

RAF F-35B Lightning II RAF pilots have been banned from flying the new Lightning II fighter jets in a storm over fears the £100million plane could explode if struck by lightning.

The Ministry or Defence said that the stealth F35-B, which has been plagued by design flaws and technical setbacks, could not be flown within 28 miles of a thunderstorm.

Named ‘Lightning II’, it was even at risk of its namesake while on the ground with pilots told to move it under cover if less than 11 miles away from a storm.

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Women to serve in Russian Navy submarines?

USS Wyoming (SSBN-742)Women may be able to serve on Russia Navy submarines after 2018, a source in the Ministry of Defence told InterFax News Agency earlier this month. However, the Russian Navy has denied this report raising questions, again, on the role and place of women in the Russian armed forces.

Women have served in the Russian armed forces since the Soviet era. The navy, which is discussing the future role of women in the service, insisted that discussing the role of women was not discriminatory. After all, the navy has women serving in communications units, medical units and on shore facilities.

However, in the cramped confines of a warship, and even more so, a submarine, it is extremely difficult to create conditions conducive for members of both sexes to function together professionally, a fact highlighted by scandals in the US Navy.

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This Camouflage Coating Hides Submarines From Sonar

USS Minnesota (SSN-783)Imagine a material that wicks sound across its surface like water droplets sliding over a windowpane. For submarines, such a coating would mean an entirely new way to slip past sonar without detection as sound waves pass harmlessly around the vessel.

Physicist Baile Zhang and his colleagues at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore think they may have found a way to design such a coating, which could work for any 3D shape—sharp corners included.

In a new research paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, he describes why this theoretical material could work and what you'd need to make it.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

'Type 093T' sub design breaks cover

Type 093T SSNA computer-generated image of a Chinese nuclear-powered submarine (SSN) has recently appeared on both news and social media websites. It illustrates a variant of the Type 093/Shang-class SSN carrying a docking hangar for a special forces swimmer delivery vehicle (SDV).

The accompanying text indicates the hangar can accommodate only about 2/3 of the length of the SDV (which it compares with the US Mk VIII SDV) and so remains flooded when the vehicle is docked.

Consequently, as transfer of personnel to the SDV cannot easily be achieved with the submarine dived, the graphic shows SF personnel being transferred to the submarine by helicopter. The article refers to this as a wet-deck system and the SSN variant as a Type 093T.

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Northrop Grumman Delivers Center/Aft 'Shipset' for First International EA-18G Growler

EA-18G shipsetNorthrop Grumman Corporation has completed and delivered to The Boeing Company a major subassembly of the first of 12 EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft ordered by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

The subassembly, also known as a chipset, comprises the Growler's center/aft fuselage section, twin vertical tails and all associated subsystems. It is the 115th Growler shipset produced by Northrop Grumman and the first to be produced for an international customer.

"We are honored to celebrate this significant milestone with the U.S. Navy and our industry partners," said RAAF Director General Capability Planning, Air Commodore Michael Kitcher. "I am confident that Growler will provide our air force with the most versatile and effective airborne electronic attack platform in the world."

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UK troops to train moderate Syrian opposition

Astor AEW Aircraft (Sentinel R1)As part of a wider package to ensure a robust international response to the threat of violent extremism in the Middle East, the UK will send around 75 military trainers and headquarter staff to provide training in areas such as the use of small arms, infantry tactics and medical skills.

Expected to start in the coming weeks, the US-led programme will train and equip thousands of screened members of the opposition over the next three years to help them defend Syrian communities against ISIL’s brutal attacks before leading offensives themselves.

Alongside the substantial training contribution, the UK will also provide headquarter staff to coordinate and develop the programme. The training will take place in Turkey and in other countries in the region that are members of the anti-ISIL coalition.

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Army tests missile launch demonstrator

Multiple-mission launcher systemThe tube integrity and missile stack integration of a demonstrator multi-mission launch system has been successfully verified in U.S. Army testing.

The testing involved the use of three missiles and was conducted by the Army's Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2-Intercept Product Office with support from the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center.

The Army said the three missiles launched included an Air Intercept Missile 9-X that intercepted an unmanned aerial vehicle after launch, a low-cost active seeker and a mini hit-to-kill interceptor.

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Al Nusrah Front video showcases more American-made TOW missiles


The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, has released another video showing its fighters using American-made TOW missiles.

As The Long War Journal reported earlier this week, Al Nusrah released a video featuring a TOW missile attack in the early hours of the jihadists’ newly-launched offensive against Syrian regime forces in the city of Idlib.

Al Nusrah continues to use the weapons against Bashar al Assad’s forces. Earlier today, Al Nusrah released the video shown above on one of its official Twitter feeds.

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Nigerian Air Force receiving additional Alpha Jets

Alpha fighter jetThe Nigerian Air Force has acquired at least two second hand Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet trainer and light attack aircraft as it continues to expand its aerial fleet.

One of the jets was seen passing through the United Kingdom on 25 March, having travelled from the United States via Iceland. It then continued to Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on its way to Nigeria, reports Air Forces Daily.

It was flown by Air USA Inc, which specialises in military air combat readiness training and flies Hawks, Alpha Jets, MiG-29s and L-59 Super Albatroses. The Alpha Jet seen transiting the UK was cancelled from the United States register on 19 March together with a second Alpha Jet, both originally flown by the Luftwaffe before operating in the States.

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Dutch sign deal to buy eight Joint Strike Fighter jets

RNLAF F-35A Lightning IIThe Netherlands has confirmed its decision to purchase eight F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters that will arrive in the country in 2019, the Ministry of Defense announced today. The deal was signed in Washington DC last night.

“It is good that after 12 years of political debate there is now clarity about the successor of the F-16″, said Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert of Defense.

“This is the point of no return. The F-35 is the most modern fighter aircraft that can be used for various tasks. Several comparisons have shown that the device complies with the Dutch requirements. This unit is important for the entire armed forces. Men and women who are sent on mission, must have access to the best equipment. Air support is indispensable and the device’s good sensors will strongly improve the information position of troops on the ground.”

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Defending Russia delivers 4 fighter aircraft to Kazakhstan

Su-30SM FlankerDefending Russia said it has confirmed delivery to Kazakhstan of four Russian fighter aircraft Su-30SM.

The delivery marks the completion of the first phase of the order, which was announced in February and will see a total of 36 aircraft manufactured and exported to Kazakhstan, as the country looks to bolster its combat aircraft reserves.

The Su-30 project dates back to the Soviet period when, in 1988, the designing of an interceptor based on the combat trainer Su-27UB commenced.

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Manohar Parrikar to discuss next generation AWACS, French missile deal next week

Emb-145 AEW&CThe Defence Ministry is set to decide on going ahead with a Rs 5,200 crore strategic programme to develop a next generation of airborne warning and control systems (AWACS) that will act as a major force multiplier for the Indian Air Force (IAF), giving it a deep insight into enemy territory.

The large size AWACS programme, different from an ongoing Embraer-based airborne early warning and control system (AEWCS), is being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and will initially be for two aircrafts, an order that will be increased after successful development.

Sources said that the strategic project is set to come up for discussion with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at a key meeting this week in which DRDO will make its case for allocation of funds to go ahead with ordering a platform and initiating work.

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Big Deck Amphib Wasp Completes Combat Systems Qualification, Will Deploy Next Summer After 11 Year Pause

USS Wasp (LHD-1)After more than ten years without deploying, the big deck amphibious warship USS Wasp (LHD-1) is ready to ship out to lead an amphibious ready group (ARG) deployment next summer, the Navy said on Thursday.

The news comes as the ship and its crew completed a round of testing to prove repairs to Wasp’s troubled combat systems were successful.

“After a highly successful combat systems ship qualification trial (CSSQT), Wasp has sent a clear, concise and concussive message to the fleet: She is back in the fight,” read an enthusiastic press statement from the ship’s public affairs shop.

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Navy jets with extra fuel can't be launched off new carrier

EMALS generatorThe U.S. Navy's top warplanes can't be launched off its newest aircraft carrier if they're carrying fuel tanks needed to extend their flight range because the ship's high-tech catapults cause too much wear.

Military weapons testers view this as a deficiency that would "preclude the Navy from conducting normal operations" on the USS Gerald R. Ford until it's corrected, said Air Force Maj. Eric Badger, spokesman for the Pentagon's testing office, in an email.

The previously undisclosed troubles with the catapult system from San Diego-based General Atomics add to shortcomings for the first in a new class of aircraft carriers being built by Newport News, Virginia-based Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc.

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Egypt sent warships to Yemen's Gulf of Aden: Official

Ambassador MK III (Ezza) classEgypt has sent four naval vessels to Yemen's strategic Bab al-Mandab Strait amid a Saudi-led offensive against Yemen's Shiite Houthi group, an Egyptian official said Thursday.

"Two gunboats and two destroyers have crossed the Suez Canal en route to the Red Sea to help secure the Gulf of Aden and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait," a source from Egypt's Suez Canal Authority told The Anadolu Agency.

Earlier Thursday, the Egyptian government announced its "political and military" support for airstrikes launched by Saudi Arabia and several Arab countries – including most of the Gulf States – on Houthi positions in Yemen.

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Somerset-based AgustaWestland wins £580m MoD helicopter support contract

Merlin helicopterThe Ministry of Defence has awarded a helicopter support contract worth £580 million to Somerset-based AgustaWestland.

The deal, which will provide maintenance support to the Royal Navy’s Merlin Mk2 and Mk3 helicopters over the next five years, will also sustain more than 1,000 jobs.

The new contract is expected to deliver more than £140 million savings over that time.

Many of the jobs the contract will sustain are located at AgustaWestland’s facility in Yeovil and at the Royal Navy Air Station in Culdrose, Cornwall, where the depth maintenance and the Royal Navy's Merlin training system are located.

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S.Korea, U.S. Start Joint Maritime Training Exercises

Dokdo-class amphibious assault shipSouth Korea and the United States on Friday kicked off a large-scale joint maritime training exercise as part of the joint annual war game code-named "Foal Eagle," the South Koran Navy said Friday.

The six-day maneuver was launched in South Korea's southern port city of Pohang earlier in the day, mobilizing some 4,100 naval forces and 3,500 marines of the two countries.

The drill came as part of the ongoing "Foal Eagle" field training exercise, which began on March 2 and will run until April 24. The "Foal Eagle" involves some 200,000 South Korean troops and 3,700 U.S. soldiers.

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