The assorted relevant news of today from the MOD.
Apache success - Apaches flew 13 missions over Libya totalling a combined 30 sorties by 3 July, said Lt Col Phillip Cook, SO1 of the Joint Helicopter Command's air manoeuvre planning team.
During this time they engaged regime targets on a total of 39 occasions, using their Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire laser-guided air-to-surface missiles, unguided rockets and 30mm cannon. Targets included ground vehicles, main battle tanks, vehicle checkpoints, coastal radar sites and patrol boats being used by pro-Gaddafi forces to deploy mines, Cook said.
A fifth Apache is also now aboard HMS Ocean, having been transported to the region using a Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel. The AAC detachment on board totals almost 90 personnel.
The Apaches are flown in either a two- or four-aircraft package, with the AAC also having worked in conjunction with French army Eurocopter Tigers flown from the French navy command ship the Tonnerre. They have also received support from RN Westland Lynx HMA8 helicopters and Sea King 7 airborne surveillance and control system aircraft, and from coalition intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms. I was not aware of Baggers being on board HMS Ocean, but if they are, they are only welcome.
Rivet Joint acquisition progresses – despite being worrisomely indicated as one of the possible (indeed one of the “easiest”) cuts to come with the new study into the MOD’s finances, the Rivet Joint made an important step forwards with the signing of the “near USD 1-billion” contract for the support and updates of the 3 planes, set to be acquired under a deal signed last year. The new deal ensures a place for the UK planes into the US scheduled maintenance periods and obsolescence-removal interventions, up to 2025.
With the MOD study might not deliver its results before October, I’m hoping that the signing of such an important contract is backed by objective hopes of seeing the programme survive.
Work begins at HMS Raleight – work has begun on the new experimental/training RAS facility at HMS Raleight base, under the terms of a 25 million pound contract with Rolls Royce. The new “Heavy RAS” system is targeted at use on the next RFA ships, built/acquired as part of MARS.
The Heavy RAS rig being erected at Raleigh – just a stone’s throw from the existing set-up – will trial new equipment allowing up to five tonnes of stores to be transferred at a time, instead of the existing two. The increase in transferable bulk and weight will be of particular use to sustain carrier operations at sea, and it will also solve a problem recently disclosed publically: the F35’s engine in its transfer container is too heavy and bulky for the current RAS equipment used in the world. Luckily, the RN already has a solution.
The aim is for 25 five-tonne pallets/loads to be moved per hour – all while two ships are steaming perhaps 50 metres (165ft) apart, travelling at 10kts, by day and night, in all but the most extreme weather conditions.
“The Heavy RAS will undergo a series of rigorous trials to ensure it is capable of transferring the heavier loads from RFA ships to warships, including the next generation aircraft carrier, the Queen Elizabeth class,” explained Raleigh’s Commanding Officer Capt Steve Murdoch.
“Once proven the equipment will provide a permanent state-of-the-art training facility to teach sailors how to carry out what is one of the most hazardous seamanship tasks the Royal Navy engages in.”
The complex will be dominated by a 25-metre-high (82ft) steel mast and surrounding structures replicating what would be found on an RFA – or supply ship from an Allied navy – while the rigs, a series of steel cables and winches are suspended. There will also be a classroom block as part of the new facility where the theory of replenishing at sea will be taught.
Building work on the project, which is being led by Rolls-Royce, is due to complete in 2014.
General Dynamics contracts Thales UK for FRES Scout’s sights - General Dynamics UK, the prime contractor for the Ministry of Defence’s Scout SV programme hasselected Thales UK to supply the primary and secondary sighting systems for Scout, the reconnaissance variant of SV. Lockheed Martin UK, the Scout SV turret sub-contractor, will integrate the sights onto the turret for the Scout SV programme.
The primary sight is mainly for the use of the vehicles’ commander. It enables the commander to maintain a 360° view of his surroundings has a thermal imager to identify targets and has a Wide Area Search And Detect (WASAD) capability that automatically detects and tracks potential targets from their thermal signature, alerting the crew to their presence. The primary sight also includes provision for an optional Laser Target Designator (LTD) and the Scout SV demonstration phase will mark the first use of a vehicle-mounted, under-armour LTD by the British Army.
The secondary sight is for the gunner and gives him the ability to detect and identify targets at extended ranges and accurately engage targets at the full range of the main armament. It also includes a high-definition colour TV camera for daylight use, as well as a long-range day optical channel.
Both sights are integrated with a Sensor Processor Unit which, combined with the sights’ stabilisation systems, enables the vehicle’s turret to be rapidly traversed onto the target whilst on the move, providing an unsurpassed hunter-killer capability for vehicles in this class. Both sights have fully digital video outputs, in accordance with the UK MoD’s new Vetronics Infrastructure for Video Over Ethernet (VIVOE) standard, facilitating connection into the vehicles’ electronic architecture for onward distribution.