Wednesday, September 11, 2013

News from DSEI 2013 - UPDATE



Type 26 frigate



The Type 26 design is progressing towards finalization, but there are nonetheless noticeable changes from what was showcased at Euronaval 2012: the most evident is change is the return of the Chinook-capable flight deck, which was a feature of the very first Type 26 design, but not of the 2012 variant, which instead had a shorter deck, limited to the Merlin. The larger flight deck comes with “wells” at the corners (again like in the very first design) to hide the docking equipment from the radar and to provide machine gun positions for self defence of the platform.

The return of the huge flight deck is not without consequences: the whole superstructure was moved ahead by a fair bit to accomodate a larger flight deck, and this means a more "cramped" bow. A raised protection to shield the VLS missile cells on the bow from the waves has in fact appeared, and the Strike Lenght cells have reduced in number, from 24 to 16.
If the large flight deck is a requirement on which the MOD is unwilling to make compromises, the price the pay is a reduction in VLS cells (and, but hopefully no, perhaps a reduction in the size of the mission bay too?). Frankly, while unpleasant, it is not that surprising. The Type 26 is no longer the 6 or 7000 tons leviathan once envisaged. It is only going to be some 3 to 4 meters longer than an italian FREMM, and it is supposed to displace up to one thousand tons less, while coming with a huge range (so lots of fuel), a 60 days logistic endurance and a mission bay for up to 11 containers or up to four 11.5 meter boats and a few containers, plus accommodation for some 190 people.
There is no space to spare, in other words. Fitting it all in 148 meters and 5400 tons is quite a big feat in itself.

BAE has released a fantastic new video which also shows us the very first official images of the boat area, showing the massive doors on the two sides, the four 11.5 meters boats, a storage module roughly equivalent to a couple of 20’ containers in the middle and “grabber” motion-stabilized cranes like those mounted on Type 45. The ones on Type 26, however, will obviously have different arms, different size and different lift capacity, all much greater than on the 45s.
A second, smaller opening in the port side of the ship is also visible, which might be an access point to the hangar and to the rest of the mission deck, but at the moment there are no details about it.




Another easily noticeable change is a modification in the arrangement of the CAMM missile cells in the funnel mast area. The number of cells (24) is unchanged, but they have been moved back towards the stern, to a position more “clean” of the funnel itself. 



The new images released by BAE, showing the current design


The changes are best seen in the model of the ship displayed at DSEI, which we can admire in the photos by Xav, up at Navy Recognition. So, go look right away: http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1228

Copyright Navy Recognition

The photos of the model on show at DSEI, by Navy Recognition, show the return of the Chinook-sized flight deck and the reduction in the number of the VLS Strike Lenght cells. Unchanged is the number of CAMM cells, 48 in total.
BAE Systems has chosen the first sub-contractors: Rolls Royce, as expected, is in to supply the MT30 gas turbine (1 per ship) and, together with Daimler as part of the TOGNUM joint venture, to provide the MTU diesel generators (4 per ship). The propulsion arrangement is confirmed as CODLOG.
David Brown Gear Systems Ltd will provide the gearbox and Rohde & Schwarz has been tapped for the integrated communications system: http://www.baesystems.com/article/BA...t-ship-awarded

BAE and the MOD are also planning to begin work on in-service support arrangements for the new frigate class before it is even built: significant economic efficiencies could be obtained by giving stone-like stability to the programme from the very start, ordering a full block of 13 sets of major subsystems and also agreeing a 10-year support deal. See: http://www.shephardmedia.com/news/mil-log/dsei-2013-bae-system-initiates-type-26-support/

There is growing foreign interest in the Type 26, too: talks are ongoing with 8 different countries, with combined requirements worth up to 30 vessels. Of course, it remains an uphill struggle for so many reasons, but I think it’s been a long time since a british warship has been so much at the center of international interest: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-0...-interest.html

UPDATE: Navy Recognition has a video interview with Geoff Searle, program director for the Type 26. In the interview, he confirms that the Mission Bay can be used to embark "around 10 containers", or four large boats, but it could also be used to extend the capacity of the hangar to support embarkation of UAVs.
A less pleasant news, not really surprising, is that there is not yet a clear plan for arming the Strike Lenght cells of the Type 26. Tomahawk remains an obvious option, but replacing Harpoon with a vertical launch, multi-role missile will have to become a priority in coming years, if we want these warships to actually be capable of doing their job.






CAMM missile production order 
The MOD, in the meanwhile, has placed a 250 million contract to begin the production of the CAMM missile, which will arm the Type 23 frigates from 2016 as a replacement for Sea Wolf, and will then move on to the Type 26: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/r...ns-500-uk-jobs


MBDA and Lochkeed Martin announce successful CAMM launch from MK41 cell

In record time, MBDA and Lochkeed Martin have made a successful CAMM launch from a MK41 VLS cell using the Extensible Launching System (ExLS)

MBDA's Tweet below: 
Announcing successful first missile launch from a MK41 launcher using ExLS

The ExLS launcher is built of lightweight composite structure attached with drop-in/snap-in connectors and mechanical interfaces as the existing canisters. The launcher features Open System Architecture and Open Software and Cell Based Electronics for rapid interface with the ship's combat management system.
This design enables the rapid deployment of completely assembled weapons and munitions, such as the Nulka, developed BAE Systems Australia, RAM Block II short range air defense missiles or Precision Attack Missiles (PAM), to augment traditional weapons designed for the VLS missions – such as the Standard SM-2 and 3 and Tomahawk, Evolved Sea Sparrow (ESS) and Anti-Submarine VL-ASROC weapon.
Computer graphic image of ExLS modules carrying: 4x NULKA countermeasure rounds, a NLOS-LS missile launch box and RAMBLK2. The ExLS is slotted inside normal MK41 VLS cells and allows the speedy integration of different missile systems with their own All-Up Round canisters. CAMM has now been demonstrated in a similar arrangement, with four missiles packed into a MK41 cell.

A stand-alone ExLS three-cell launcher for CAMM is being developed for ships too small to employ MK41 VLS systems, so MBDA and Lochkeed are both evidently convinced they are in for significant international interest.

There is still time to remove the "CAMM-only" missile cells from the bow silo of Type 26 frigates and replace with 16 more MK41 cells... If there is enough space (depth-wise, critically) in the Type 26 hull for doing it, adding sixteen more MK41 Strike lenght cells would be a dramatic improvement and increase in flexibility. 6 quad-packed cells could still take all of the planned 24 CAMM rounds, and still offer 10 more cells for other weapons, including Tomahawk.




A decision on the new Royal Navy's Medium Gun should be made next year

The MOD has received the two final offers, one by BAE / United Defense with the MK45 Mod 4 127/62 mm gun, and one by Oto Melara / Babcock with the 127/64 LW.
BAE's offer includes the Standard Guided Projectile; and Oto Melara counters with the VULCANO guided long range family of shells, along with the highly automated ammunition magazine.
For details of the guns and ammunition, see here: http://ukarmedforcescommentary.blogspot.it/2013/07/a-new-golden-era-for-naval-guns.html

Report by AviationWeek: http://www.aviationweek.com/Blogs.aspx?plckBlogId=Blog:27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3ad3e6ae5f-fc91-4f63-ae93-7b57c99bb5ba


Planning for Carrier Enabled Power Projection 

The Royal Navy is finalizing new plans for the Air Wing packages for the new aircraft carriers, keeping in mind the (hopefully only initial) size of the F35 fleet and the need to integrate the LPH role in the tasks of the carrier.
This means coming up with a "Fleet Carrier" package which would include 24 F35B, 9 Merlin HM2 in ASW role and a further 4 or 5 in AEW role; as well as with a Littoral Maneuver / LHA package which would add to a squadron of F35Bs the support of Merlin HC4, Chinook, Wildcat and Apache helicopters.

This planning work affects the final organisation of the flight deck. Helicopter operations spots, once planned to be only in six huge areas will be rearranged to achieve up to 10 spots to aid the ability to launch a reinforced company of Marines (up to 250) in a single wave of medium helicopters (Merlin HC4).

Report: http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_09_11_2013_p0-615007.xml


Important contracts expected in the fighter jets arena 

Ministers at DSEI indicated that they expect to confirm the first large order for F35B jets for the first frontline squadron (617 Sqn RAF) in the coming months.


Always in the "coming months" they expect that a contract for the launch of actual AESA radar initiative for the Typhoon will be finally signed and announced.


In addition, minister Dunne downplayed the possibility of the UK adopting a split-type order of F35s jets, when quizzed about the speculated british interest for the F35A variant.


Typhoon AESA contract due in the coming months. Land-attack capability "must be there when Tornado is retired"

Much needed reassurances about Typhoon have been given by minister Dunne and by important RAF officers:



Speaking at the DSEI 2013 defence and security exhibition in London, Minister for Defence Equipment & Technology Philip Dunne - who is heading to a meeting of his counterparts from Germany, Italy and Spain on 13 September - described the E-Scan radar as the "essential prerequisite for successful export of Typhoon".

"We are working with our partners in four nations and the [industrial] consortium to button this down," said Dunne on 11 September. "I am confident we will achieve success and get a contract in a reasonable time frame, not many months from now."

Eurofighter executives had hoped to secure agreement of the formal launch of the Captor-E AESA radar - which is currently being developed by a consortium led by Selex Galileo, containing Cassidian and Indra - last year but the four Eurofighter partners could not agree on how to proceed. The UK has launched its own AESA radar demonstrator project with Selex Galileo, dubbed Bright Adder, as a fallback solution but it is now expected to be subsumed in the Captor-E project after it is formally launched.

RAF officers are relieved the deadlock and delay that had dogged the Typhoon AESA project is coming to an end, and hope the progress will open the way to further upgrades to the aircraft. This includes the integration of additional air-to-ground weapons and sensors on the Typhoon, beyond the existing suite of Raytheon Paveway multi-mode guided bombs and Rafael Litening III advanced targeting pod.

The RAF is simultaneously working to align its budget and plans for upgrading the Typhoon with the international Captor-E project. Speaking at DSEI on 10 September, Air Commodore Guy van der Berg, Assistant Chief of Staff Capability (Planning) at Headquarters RAF Air Command, said: "We are looking to make progress on the E-Scan radar in this planning round and will be briefing industry in the next financial year."

Air Commodore Gary Waterfall, commander Typhoon Force at RAF Coningsby, said that in an "unpredictable world" it was important that the Typhoon stays at the heart of the RAF.
"When the Panavia Tornado GR.4 retires at the end of the decade, the Typhoon has to be ready to replace the Tornado GR.4's capability. Typhoon needs the same capability as the Tornado GR.4 today," stated Air Cdre Waterfall.

"We don't have a fixed date [for additional capabilities to be integrated on Typhoon] to keep the programme as flexible and adaptable as possible. We are working hard to get the MBDA Storm Shadow [stand-off missile] and a smaller family of weapons with low collateral damage capabilities on Typhoon."

This later weapon is understood to be the MBDA Brimstone missile and the enhanced derivative, the Selective Precision Effects At Range (SPEAR) Capability 2 Block 1 weapon (known as Brimstone 2). This is undergoing development and scheduled to enter service by the end of the year on the Tornado GR.4. It will then migrate to the Typhoon.






Is there a british army future for Warthog? 

Still some hope for British army’s Warthogs? STK believes there are,. But Viking, BV206 already used in those roles. BV206 does need a replacement, both in the British Army and with the Royal Marines. That's Warthog best chance. But will money be there?


James Fisher Defence presents new swimmer delivery vehicles for special forces

These new toys will sure have the eye of SEAL and Special Boat Service personnel: http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_09_10_2013_p0-615021.xml


Retaining ISTAR capability: Sentinel R1, Shadow R1, Reaper 

Chief Air Staff Andrew Pulford seems to be well aware of the critical importance of the ISTAR fleet the RAF has built up during the Iraq and Afghanistan operations. Along with air vice-marshal Stuart D. Atha, he has provided some very strong evidence of his intention to preserve and bring into core the various capabilities. Sentinel R1, Shadow R1 (a sixth airplane is on the way to entry in service) and Reaper are all capabilities that the RAF needs and wants. Holding on to them will be a big objective for the service. 

UPDATE: in order to secure funding for the Reaper, the RAF is considering whether it can meet the SCAVENGER requirement, while also studying the possibility of adapting the platform's sensors to make them useful for surface maritime surveillance, helping in closing the situational awareness gap left by the loss of Nimrod.  

Another option is to get the MOD and Treasury to agree on making Reaper an element of the long-term british presence in Afghanistan, to be known as Operation TORAL, at the end of the current HERRICK operations. If Reaper was ordered to stay in support of the ANA and of the british and allied presence in the Helmand province, UOR funding might continue. See the report by AviationWeek here: http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_09_11_2013_p0-615465.xml&p=1


Maritime Patrol Aircraft: sights set on the SDSR 2015

The lack of an MPA capability is recognized as the most serious gap in capability, and the SDSR 2015 must look at the issue and make choices.
If an MPA programme is launched by the SDSR, Seedcorn will be inglobated within the project to prepare the crews for the new platform, otherwise it will be terminated by 2016.

Multi-mission capability and role flexibility are seen as major requirements for the new platform: http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_09_12_2013_p0-615385.xml&p=1


Sentinel R1 offered as a maritime surveillance asset

Raytheon and the RAF are becoming "allies" in campaigning for software mods that would enable the Sentinel R1 radar to survey surface maritime targets, including very small, very hard to see objcts such as periscopes.
They are also campaigning to add more sensors (probably an electro-optic sensor turret, i'd guess) to "expand the capability of the airplane". But since the Sentinel R1 had to make do without the once-planned Air to Air refuelling probe because of weight issues, we can safely warn that weight growth margins are very tight.

In any case, there's no way to add ASW capability and the pylons for the employment of any kind of anti-sub torpedo and/or anti-ship missile, so the solution would be very, very limited.
This looks more like a way to secure long term funding for the Sentinel R1 than a genuine attempt to solve the MPA problem.

My readers know that my position is clear: Sentinel is precious and MUST be retained.
But it is not and will never be an MPA, and the RAF shouldn't sell it as such just to secure the funding, while leaving the Navy in trouble with the remaining gap in ASW long-range surveillance.

Anyway, report here, by Jane's 360: http://www.janes.com/article/26917/dsei-2013-raytheon-proposes-maritime-patrol-sentinel-r-1


Scan Eagle will take longer than expected

Despite being a Contractor-Owned and Contractor-Operated system, the Scan Eagle detachments procured as UOR for the Royal Navy will still require at least a small number of trained RN personnel, to provide a safety certification of contractor operations and, crucially, to analyze the data and picture coming in from the unmanned vehicle.
The Navy currently has almost no personnel at all experienced in UAV operations, and training even the small number needed is likely to require more than the six months once planned.
According to evidence provided by minister Robathan to the defence committee, Scan Eagle should enter service on the Bay-class LSD used as MCM mothership in the Gulf only by January 2014.

See report by AviationWeek on the manning challenge: http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_09_10_2013_p0-614962.xml&p=2


AgustaWestland concept for a RWUAS

AgustaWestland's stand shows a concept for a new Rotary Wing Unmanned Air System. The Royal Navy has a requirement for the future acquisition of a machine of this kind, and has signed a contract with AgustaWestland which will result in trials of the SW-4 SOLO optionally piloted helicopter on a Type 23 frigate in October 2014.
This concept art shows how a more mature RWUAS might look by around 2020, when the RN would like to acquire this capability. Report by AviationWeek: http://www.aviationweek.com/Blogs.aspx?plckBlogId=Blog:27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3a79a838cf-118b-471b-9840-0a1650e93d41


Synthetic training call; next SDSR must resolve maritime patrol capability problem

Pulford also signals that next SDSR needs to take wise decisions regarding national ambition and, with it, decisions on restoring the invaluable Maritime Patrol Capability lost with Nimrod.
See: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/art...reaper-390425/ and: http://www.shephardmedia.com/news/defence-notes/dsei-2013-air-chief-looks-increased-synthetic-trai/


More Foxhounds

The british army will get a further 24 Foxhound vehicles, bringing the total of machines on order to 400. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/more-foxhound-vehicles-for-british-army


ACCOLADE decoy round development 

Image by THALES showing the firing trial at Salisbury Plain
THALES reports that good progress has been registered by the ACCOLADE joint UK-France programme for the development of a new ship-launched active radar decoy for protection against anti-ship missiles: http://www.thalesgroup.com/Press_Releases/Markets/Defence/2013/Thales_and_Blue_Bear_reach_major_milestone_in_the_ACCOLADE_programme/


Unmanned minesweeping: moving towards MHPC

THALES and ASV have showcased their HALCYONE optionally-manned boat. This 11.5 meters craft, capable of speeds of roughly 30 knots, is meant to carry and/or tow mine-detection sonars. It can also be fitted with a launch and recovery system that can put into the water Unmanned Underwater Vehicles both for search and for disposal of mines. The HALCYONE shown at DSEI is coupled with SAAB Seaeye UUVs for the underwater search and identification of mines, and with the SAAB Hydra which is a multi-shot mine neutralization UUV.

The Hydra can neutralize up to three mines in a single mission, at the end of which it can be recovered and reloaded for a subsequent mission: a big improvement over the current Seafox C, which self-destructs in order to neutralize a mine, after the re-usable Seafox I round has found and identified them!

HALCYONE can also two combined influence sweep equipment. These capabilities make HALCYONE a perfect fit for the MOD requirement (dating back to 2005 in its first form!) to promive a stand-off replacement sweep capability to make up for the withdrawal from service of the combined sweep kit once part of the Hunt-class equipment. 

HALCYONE (top) and the SAAB Hydra
The MOD has earlier explored and trialed an unmanned boat with similar roles and capabilities, under a 2007 contract with ATLAS: the resulting craft, based on a Combat Support Boat, has been trialed since 2009 under the name Flexible Agile Sweeping Technology (FAST). 

FAST during a recent demonstration. Born to tow sweeping kit, FAST has evolved a lot, and here is fitted with a launch system for the SEAFOX disposal drone. Image by Mer et Marine


An old image showing the proposed modification for the Hunt minesweepers. Two FAST crafts would be carried, with a crane for launch and recovery. HALCYONE would most likely be carried in this same general arrangement.

HALCYONE, FAST, or a system closely related to them, is expected to be part of the MHPC solution planned to start entering service in 2018. The MOD plans to modify the current Hunt minesweepers with the capability to launch and recovery a couple of such unmanned surface vehicles, while wholly new vessels for the replacement of Hunt and Sandown minesweepers are not expected before 2028.

UPDATE: always at DSEI, ATLAS is indeed responding with the Remote Combined Influence Sweeping System (ARCIMS), a similar system, optionally manned, 11 meters long and with a declared speed higher than 4 knots. ARCIMS has already received an order for two crafts, by an as-yet unnamed customer.

ARCIMS, in a photo by Shepard




BAE 146 now is an air tanker too

BAE Systems announced that it is possible to convert the BAE 146 into a cheap tactical / training air tanker, equipping it with a centerline system in the fuselage for the deployment of one hose. BAE says that a lightweight boom could also be developed, on request.

The transferable fuel carried is, of course, far, far away from the well over 100 tons on a Voyager: 7000 kg of fuel can be passed on if only the standard fuel tanks are employed, rising to around 18.000 kg if additional tanks are installed in the cargo cabin.

The RAF has got two Bae 146 Mk3 now, in Quick Change configuration: they can be fitted with seats for troops, or used for the transport of pallets of cargo, or a combination of seats and cargo. They have been procured as UOR to support operations in Afghanistan, and as such, they currently can’t say to have a safe, certain future: they might be simply scrapped as soon as operations in Afghanistan end and UOR funding from the Treasury dries up.

The RAF has also a future problem at hand, however: replacing the C130 and tanker permanently based on the Falklands. Of course, deploying one Voyager and one A400 is a possible solution, but it looks quite expensive both in terms of money, logistics and sheer number of assets (the Falklands based assets would have to come from fleets of just 9 core tankers and just 22 transports, after all). Another possible solution would be two A400, with one AAR kit on one of the two, which would present some serious logistics advantages, but not really solve the problem of having too few assets of all types.

That’s where the Bae 146 MK3 might get a chance: if the range and transferable fuel capability of the BAE 146 are assessed as sufficient, there might be an interesting future post-afghanistan for the two MK3s, in the Falklands. See:
http://www.shephardmedia.com/news/mi...ng-variant-ba/


Support deal for Apache and Merlin engines


A new 6-year deal for the maintenance and support to the RTM322 engines powering Merlin and Apache helicopters in british service has been announced, promising 300 milion in savings compared to earlier deals: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/military-helicopter-support-contract-awarded


Ceramic armor research and production in Wales

A new centre of excellence for research and production of ceramic armor is to begin operating in Newport, in southern Wales. It will be the largest centre of its type in Europe: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-armour-research-and-development-centre-announced


UPDATE: FRES SV progress and problems; Mobile Test Rig on show

The Mobile Test Rig is undergoing rigorous, demanding tests, and will have to demonstrate its worth and reliability before the six planned SV Family prototypes are produced and rolled out for testing.
Unfortunately, no news on whether the MOD did expand the "Block 1" family, as proposed in the Planning Round period, to include the Ambulance and Command Post variants (initially part of the Block 2 family of vehicles, that would only follow on later).
Army Recognition has the photos and the details: http://www.armyrecognition.com/dsei_2013_show_daily_news_coverage_report/general_dynamics_uk_unveils_mtr_mobile_test_rig_precursor_of_prototype_sv_specialist_vehicle_1109131.html

Defense News is reporting that development has hit issues, including excess weight that will have to be shaved off the vehicle. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130914/DEFREG01/309140009/GD-Pay-Lockheed-Millions-Over-Vehicle-Requirements-Delay


SELEX ES contracts

SELEX ES and ULTRA CSS will deliver thermal, day-night cameras for the Situational Awareness fit on Warrior CSP. The current contract is for 13 sets, to be used on the Warrior upgrade prototypes. SELEX will supply the Driver's Night Vision System 4 (DNVS4), while ULTRA CSS will deliver HUBE situational awareness day-night cameras that will be installed on the upgraded Warrior to provide 360° field of view around the vehicle, day and night.

SELEX ES has also been contracted for supporting the GSA8 gunfire direction system installed on the Type 23 frigates. This optical sensor turret includes the General Purpose Electro-Optics Director (GPEOD) which is used to direct the fire of the 4.5 inch MK8 Mod 1 main gun. The GPEOD is also used as a general purpose situational awareness day-night sensor.

Finally, SELEX ES will provide the Royal Navy with 18 Hawk - S medium-wave thermal imaging cameras that will replace the ALBATROSS sensor on part of the DS30M Automated Small Calibre Gun System turrets.
The Hawk-S is a new generation thermal imaging product, that will provide enhanced capability to the 30 mm gun mounts on some of the RN ships. It is fair to expect further orders in the future if the product proves its worth.


THALES provides demonstration of Generic Vehicle Architecture advantages

Thales has displayed a representative "pod" fitted with the basic GVA-compliant system used on British Army Foxhound, and demonstrated how easy it is to readily add and integrate additional capabilities, adding RWS, mast-mounted sensor, more powerful cameras for 360° Situational Awareness and other devices.
The GVA project of the british army is a major technological effort to ensure that new platform can be constantly upgaded and given new capabilites through life, while containing the time and expenses needed. See report: http://www.shephardmedia.com/news/digital-battlespace/thales-showcases-electronic-architecture-gva/



C-Trunk unveils the THOR

This catamaran craft could be a contender in the race for supplying the Royal Marines with a Force Protection Craft, which will also replace a part of the LCVP Mk5 fleet.

THOR as demonstrated at DSEI, in a photo by navyrecognition.com


Kelvin Hughes showcases new SharpEye solutions

KH has made a major effort on showcasing new applications and solutions for the SharpEye navigation and surveillance radar. The Royal Navy has already selected this powerful radar for installation on the new MARS FT tankers, and is working to validate it as NASAR (Navigation and Surveillance Radar), for the future replacement of the Type 1007 navigation radar across the whole fleet.

SharpEye has been fitted to RFA Argus, where it has demonstrated its capability in controlling and directing helicopter operations as well. Another SharpEye set is being evaluated on board RFA Fort Victoria to specifically assess its capability in detecting FIAC-type surface threats.

Report: http://www.sourcesecurity.com/news/articles/co-10726-ga.11725.html


Important news on CROWSNEST

While the Thales proposal remains the same (retaining CERBERUS mission system and Searchwater AEW radar), the Lochkeed Martin VIGILANCE offer is making progress, but does not yet include a firm choice on the radar. Lochkeed, in fact, has test-flown the Mission System and the pods destined to contain the radar antennas and IFF system on a Merlin HM2, but the Northrop Grumman AESA radar which was expected to be inside the pods was not there. Northrop's radar, a development of the AN/APG-80 radar (which might or might not include features of the AN/APG-81 radar used on the F35) remains a contender, but Lochkeed has not yet firmly decided which radar will be offered inside the pods.
The MOD, on its part, has ordered both Thales and LM to consider four different radars: Searchwater, the Northrop AESA, an unspecified Selex ES product and an ELTA radar.

The most welcome news is that the RN is working hard to try and obtain a significant speed up of the whole program. While Main Gate remains officially expected in 2017, the RN is hoping to revert the planned date back to 2014, with a system selection in 2015 and entry in service in 2018.
There would still be a capability gap of some two years in this way (the Sea King ASaC is to bow out of service in 2016), but the AEW skills of the current crews would be preserved and employed in the CROWSNEST development and validation, instead of being lost.
A Main Gate in 2017 would come too late to avoid the loss of precious AEW skills honed by years of operations, including in Afghanistan, unless a new Seedcorn initiative is developed, sending navy crews abroad, or at least on RAF Sentry aircrafts.

Report by AIN Online: http://ainonline.com/aviation-news/ain-defense-perspective/2013-09-13/contenders-vie-british-aew-helicopter-system?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter




35 comments:

  1. Thank you Gabriele

    The most important point for me is Sentinel, Shadow, Reaper.

    Confident Reaper was always going to be kept but critical Sentinel and Shadow kept too.

    Does the Type 26 have any ASM weapons like Harpoon?
    Or any CIWS?

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    1. Type 26 is visibly fitted with 2 Phalanx 1B mounts. Whether they will be fitted for real, it is too early to say.

      As for ASM weapons, the hope appears to be that Harpoon will be replaced by a vertical launch missile, with land-attack capability as well, to be fitted into the VLS Strike lenght cells.

      Delete
    2. The Shadow R1 has now been brought into the RAF's core budget, it is now safe (amongst other things, its seen as important in SF support)

      Delete
  2. Hi Gabriele

    T45 is 152.5m long and @8000tons, type T26 is 148 and @5400..? er 4.5m = 2600tons get out of here, the MOD/RN are being economical with the truth, T26 must surely have a full load in the 7-8000t range at least.

    Rear Admiral JR Hill in "the royal navy today and tomorrow" state invisible as 16000t, "today royal navy" Jeremy Flack states invisible as 20000t, today royal navy website has Illustrious at 22000t these ships have not had structural alteration that increased thear displacement, it was politicla suicied to say the invincibles were over 20000t in the 70s and today losers have complained the t26 are"gold plated" and magiclay the tonnage has dropped 200ot when the ship its self is in fact slightly larger than origanaly stated. BAe stated the ship was 141m and 6850t, so we are now expected to beliv it got 7m longer and lost 1400t in weight, my arse it did! And the first design had a low silhuet and the new version is built up, so its longer more built up andmagicaly waaaaaaay lighter, 5400t is political tons not real ones.
    90inFIRST

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  3. I can't count 16 from the photo or youtube video--are you sure it is 16 VLS?

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    1. Absolutely. Visit again the Navy Recognition gallery: Xav took a new photo, from a different angle, and removed all doubts. http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1228

      At the moment, the photo is the 8th one in the list.

      Delete
    2. Eagles eyes needed. It's not HD enough for me

      Delete
  4. Hi Gabriele,

    Thanks for the post, highly informative esp the interview, it is very telling, no land attack or anti-ship missiles are scheduled in the initial design just FFBNW AGAIN!!. No wonder the RN is a laughing stock, i know logically it makes sense - no immediate threat,rules of engagement etc etc, but it just embarrassing and someone else has pointed out, the type 26 is just a huge OPV now.

    Ian

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    1. I'm not pleased to hear it myself, but i'm not surprised, and i'm not without hopes. Entry in service is years away, and at the moment what matters is getting the ship, and getting it fitted with the MK41 cells.
      BAE won't likely know more than this.

      The RN and MOD, on the other hand, know that getting Tomahawk on surface ships is desirable (Libya and Sirya have provided new and very tangible arguments to bring to the table, that even politicians will now readily understand) and that a VL replacement for Harpoon is very much needed in the 2020s.

      There is time, from now to then, to make sure the VLS cells do not stay empty.

      Delete
  5. The watering down of the T26 is sadly predictable, I just hope that we don't see further compromises and cost cutting with the design before things are finalized and production starts (around 2015?).

    Good news elsewhere though with a decision on the new medium caliber gun moving along and Sentinel/Shadow/Reaper looking more secure. It's a relief to see that MPA hasn't completely disappeared from peoples thoughts and will probably get taken into consideration during the 2015 SDSR as well.

    The idea of a split buy of F35 A and B has probably been downplayed simply because it's ludicrously far away to seriously consider at moment. We need to get a decent fleet of F35B into service first!

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  6. Gabriel,

    I could not agree more, the strangest thing about T26 at the moment is the VLS arrangement. Deleting the 48 CAMM only cells and replacing them with an additional 16 Mk41 or Sylver would be far more logical, not just for the RN but also for export customers.

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    1. I'm pretty sure that the 24 CAMM cells near the funnel could never be replaced with MK41. Surely not with Strike Lenght cells, at least. So i'd leave them as they are.

      But, hopefully, there is space in the hull to replace the 24 CAMM cells on the bow with MK41. We should never forget that Strike lenght cells require a 7 to 9 meters well below the deck, that's what makes it hard to integrate them on certain vessels.
      AviationWeek reports that Type 26 is capable of up to 24 Strike Lenght cells: if they are right this means there is room for at least another row of 8 cells. We might not have seen the whole, final story yet, even though the design is getting frozen and filling up with the details.

      Delete
    2. I think 32 cell set up is a good idea, x16 for the Land attack/ASM (as per your previous posts, i think the RN wants a combined system, ROE prevents the use of ASM only in extremis, so a land attack with a ASM capability is the way to go). x8 cells for 32 CAMM and x8 cells for a guided ASROC (again as per your posts).
      Don't like the idea of having to rely on a helicopter, watched a program about HMS Ocean and a Merlin sprung a hydraulic leak and they just could not find it, every time they started the helo it just pissed fluid everywhere and had to be stripped right down to the airframe to resolve.

      As a sidenote CAMM's short range always bothered me i wonder if it possible to fit a booster to it, to increase its range to match the latest ESSM. I am not talking all of them perhaps 10 or so

      Delete
    3. Gabriel,

      Apologies for not being clear enough, I was thinking of deleting the amidships CAMM VLS outright as a weight/space sacrifice to help with the additional 16 Mk41 up front rather than directly replacing them.

      Delete
    4. I don't think it would help at all. Considering their sizes and their position, even if you removed them, you'd make no real difference. It's not like it would shorten the superstructure. To do that, either the flight deck or the mission bay would have to be shortened.

      Delete
    5. Gabriel,

      Checking the model again, in terms of space you are absolutely correct.

      Delete
  7. I've asked before about the apparent delay to Scout SV. GDUK website still states that the first actual scout prototype would be delivered to Bovington in January 1913 to start trials.

    Now construction of the six hasn't even started and only the MTR is at DSEI. This follows on from control of the project being passed to the US. What is going on?

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    1. Unfortunately, we don't know, i fear. I certainly don't.
      I know that the latest Planning Round had put interesting options down on the table for FRES SV, but i don't know which decision were in the end taken and we might have no way to know before the NAO projects report 2013, unless a news release comes out earlier for a reason or another...

      The option i know of did include a slow down in the demonstration phase (which would have in any case no real consequence on entry in service, which was delayed itself as a consequence of SDSR 2011 anyway) but, in exchange, the demonstration scope would be expanded to include the Ambulance and Command Post variant.

      Delete
    2. I also wondered whether the extended testing might indicate problems with meeting the specification?

      Also if the prototypes are being constructed in Spain why give oversight to the US and not to General Dynamics European Land Systems which has it's HQ in Madrid? Lack of trust?

      Ian

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    3. I don't think there are problems with meeting requirements, we would probably have heard about it in that case. I think it has more to do with financial plans.
      As for the oversight decision, i have no idea what kind of reasoning has been made.

      Delete
    4. Just read your retweet from Defense News.

      These problems are potentially very serious for the whole project.

      Ian

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    5. We first got wind of this delay a while back, to me this screams the following:

      GDUS was told by the GDUK guys that they had sold a 1,300 vehicle programme with production starting in 2014/15 which was a dream; overseas revenue offsetting domestic retrenchment- exactly what the shareholders dream about. Then the UK guys broke the news that it was now a 400 vehicle programme with production not starting until 2016/17 (because the MoD is attempting to smooth its budget line) and the US leadership took one look at the UK business and realised that the programme was now too expensive to justify the costs so started slashing jobs.

      Delete
    6. We?

      You are ignoring the weight problem. One of the major selling points of the Ascod over the CV90 was supposedly its extra capacity (about 4 metric tonnes) for future upgrades.

      If it is significantly overweight it has little or no future stretch potential. And risks cancellation?

      Delete
    7. Electro-Optical / Thermal Imaging was mentioned several times by yourself above in relation to Sentinel, Warrior, GSA 8 and Hawk for DS30.
      You talk about a new generation E-O and I think with the major advantage to radar that it is passive I was wondering if you know of any write ups of the pros and con's this latest technology and why more r & d is not invested.
      Thanks in advance for any info.

      Delete
    8. I'm sure there have been studies made more than once on the advantages and merits of thermal imaging and electro-optical sensors, but at the moment i wouldn't know of one good document i can guide you to.

      Delete
  8. Hi Gabriele,

    Thanks for another great article.

    Why 24 foxhounds? Are this number needed to make up a unit?

    Still looking like 13 type 26? or is the cost going up?

    Regards
    Phil

    Regards
    Phil

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    1. For now, no change: 13 ships planned.

      As for 24 Foxhounds... they make up the figure of 400, which used to be the number floating around in the early days of the LPPV requirement, so that might be part of the answer. But if i have understood how the MOD works these days, Foxhound is one of the things that get ordered, in the numbers that can be afforded, at the end of each planning round, with the money left in the pockets after taking care of the other, larger voices of expenditure.
      The Army could, after all, use many more Foxhounds anyway, especially if the orders were expanded in the near future to cover the logistic and WMIK variants...

      Delete
  9. Gaby

    At least there might be some good news on Warthog. I found an item on the vehicle on Janes website under the heading "DSEI catch-up". Have a look.

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    1. Saw it this morning, and i have tweeted about it. Still not clear what role Warthog could cover... but i'll be glad if it stays and is used well.

      Delete
  10. Nice Explanation on Type -26, Including Type 26 many Naval Warships shared centre stage at Defense Security Equipment International (DSEI) 2013 which hosted record number of warships ever and brought together 30,000 people from the defense and security industry, in both formal and informal environments, to learn more about customers, markets, products and, importantly, the competition.

    Here is Review and few Pics... From DSEI 2013

    http://www.naval-technology.com/features/feature-review-naval-warships-take-centre-stage-dsei/

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  11. Gaby

    I thought I would just refer you to an article which has appeared recently in Janes.

    Apparently, the British Army’s two UAV regiments (32 and 47) will receive the Warthog vehicle after a decision to bring it into the core vehicle fleet. The Warthog’s role will be to transport Desert Hawk detachments and ISTAR tactical groups. The number of vehicles to be operated by the regiments has still to be decided. An MOD spokesman said that the 21 Viking BvS10s ordered to support Watchkeeper were expected to go to go into that role and that Vikings and Warthogs would operate alongside each other.

    Don't know whether it is worth a brief article but thought you should know. Rumour has it that money has also been found for Exactor in an Artillery role. Good news if both are true.

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    1. Thanks for the warning. But i have heard the news. Regarding EXACTOR, Jane's gives it for certain that it will be part of Army 2020: it will stay in Afghanistan in its current form to the very end of combat operations, while a new "more deployable" variant is about to come into service.
      I sadly don't have the details, but my interpretation is that the Army is looking at a different vehicle to carry the EXACTOR, to get rid of the 12 or 14 M113 vehicles it had to procure from Israel as part of the UOR.

      Nice news on Warthog, too. I've heard that the Army is also looking at transferring the MAMBA radar from the current BV206 vehicle base to the Warthog. I heard the suggestion that around 50% of the fleet (some 50 vehicles?) would be kept to work in the new roles, but again, no details, at least for now.

      If i manage to gather more accurate and certain information, i will write about it. Please share if you do come across further good info.

      Thank you,

      Gabriele

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  12. Gaby

    Thanks for the prompt reply. If I hear anything more, I shall let you know.

    I don't know why M113 should be regarded as not easily deployable as an Artillery weapon. Years ago I remember reading an article in "Soldier" about the M548 derivative, used as a re-supply vehicle for Tracked Rapier, and it was described as one of the Army's most mobile cross-country performers, if not the most (just before it was retired, that is!).

    No idea about what the new carrier vehicle might be, then?

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    1. "More deployable" is indeed relative, if not misleading, but they are the words used by Jane's. I suspect it is actually about putting EXACTOR on a vehicle platform that is already in service with the british army, so there are no logistical problems. Since the M113 is found nowhere else in the british army, the deployability problem comes from logistics.

      I have no idea which platform will be used. Foxhound would already be big enough to take SPIKE NLOS, in theory. Since it will be part of batteries using GMLRS, one option to my eyes is using surplus M270 vehicle bases.
      But there are surplus Stormer chassis, too, which could do.

      Delete
  13. Gaby

    Right, ta very much for that info.

    ReplyDelete

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