US Navy Department unveils annual 30-year shipbuilding plan

The US Department of the Navy has released the annual 30-year shipbuilding plan for FY2022 to FY2051 to help continue maintain US maritime superiority. The plan is outlined in the 'Report to Congress on the annual long-range plan for construction of naval vessels'.

US office of management and budget director Russell Vought said: “Our updated 30-year shipbuilding plan is a credible, affordable road map for achieving maritime supremacy, all while tightening our belts, and sending a strong message to our adversaries like China.”

The plan is based on the classified Future Naval Force Structure study and provides details on the force structure and funding required for the construction of naval vessels. It shows the proposed battle force reaching a level of 355 by 2030, including a bigger fleet of smaller ships and a more uncrewed vessels.

US defence deputy secretary David Norquist said: “The plan calls for a larger fleet of both manned and unmanned vessels prepared to face greater challenges on, above or under the sea by accelerating submarine construction, modernising aircraft, extending the service life of cruisers and increasing the number of destroyers.”

Prepared by the naval operations deputy chief for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities, the report shows the future fleet architecture to reach 406 battle force inventory by 2045, plus 119 uncrewed surface vessels and 24 uncrewed subsurface vehicles.

Norquist added: “To build this future force, the United States must expand its industrial base to support the fleet we need and not limit the future fleet to the capacity of the industrial base we have.”

// Image: USS Nimitz, USS John Paul Jones, and USS Princeton. Credit: US Navy


US DoD unveils Covid-19 vaccination distribution plan

The US Department of Defense (DoD) plans a phased distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine. The DoD is expected to receive 44,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by mid-December and aims to use the initial allocation to inoculate its uniformed service members, including active and selected reserve components.

The vaccination will also be open for National Guard members, dependents, retirees, civilian employees and selected contract personnel.

The DoD will be working the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the distribution, which will begin after the FDA approves emergency use of the vaccine in accordance with Operation Warp Speed guidance.


US hands over 12 military sites in South Korea

The US has officially agreed to return 12 military sites in South Korea amid concerns that further delays may hinder regional development efforts.

The handover was confirmed after officials from the two sides participated in the 201st Status of Forces Agreement Joint Committee virtual meeting.

According to a Reuters report, the 12 sites, which include some in central Seoul, were among 80 locations that US Forces Korea agreed to return in 2002. However, the handover faced several delays due to disagreements.

The US and South Korea are yet to finalise remediation responsibilities concerning the returned sites while discussion on clean-up costs are set to continue.


Dstl and NCC partner on future aircraft composites

The UK Ministry of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the National Composites Centre (NCC) have partnered to explore next-generation composite structures for future combat aircraft.

The partnership is launching a competition to find innovative ideas and capabilities that will determine the direction of the research and future funding for research projects.

Existing fighter aircraft such as the Eurofighter Typhoon are made from majority composite components. The UK’s Tempest Future Combat Air System will follow this trend, with the companies involved looking to develop new composites for the future jet.

The two main aims of the joint project are to develop airframe design concepts using trade studies and worked examples, and to systematically collate and develop the underpinning data upon which the airframe design trades are built.

Dstl and NCC are leading the research and development through a joint steering group and communities bringing in academia, defence primes, SMEs and groups from outside the traditional defence enterprise.

The research will look at everything from the overall structural layout of aircraft to manufacturing and assembly and the optimal combination of detail features, and material selection.


Lockheed Martin tests U-2 with distributed processing capabilities

Lockheed Martin has conducted a flight test of U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane using distributed processing software onboard via Kubernetes containerisation technology to establish a link with the ground station.

The test used a Kubernetes Cloud configuration, which was flown on the U-2 via an enterprise open system architecture mission computer, representative of the open mission systems computer currently being developed for the U-2 programme.

The test will help advance efforts to create a DevSecOps environment to deliver software capability to airborne assets in real-time.


DARPA tests airborne retrieval of Gremlin UAVs with C-130

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has attempted to attach X-61A Gremlins uncrewed air vehicles to the docking bullet of a C-130 aircraft as part of a flight test series that commenced in October. 

The agency said during its testing of airborne retrieval, the UAVs came within inches of connecting on each attempt, but not close enough to engage the recovery system. 

According to DARPA, hours of data has been collected over three flights as part of the testing, including data on aerodynamic interactions between the docking bullet and the X-61A Gremlins air vehicle.


US develops testbed to support designing future tiltrotor aircraft

A team of US Army researchers and industry partners has built a testbed to help with designing a stable tiltrotor aircraft.

The researchers will use the TiltRotor aeroelastic stability testbed (TRAST) in a massive wind tunnel at the Nasa Langley Research Center to assess the effectiveness of modern tiltrotor stability models.

The US is working to develop a tiltrotor aircraft for future operational requirements. Such aircraft can hover in the air and travel in great speeds, combining the advantages of a helicopter and an aircraft. However, they face severe stability issues as they are designed with heavy engines with large rotors on the end of the wings, a feature that generates strong aerodynamic forces which can cause aircraft failure.

The TRAST will help the researchers in developing new analysis software that can help in exploring different design possibilities of tiltrotor aircraft.


Elbit Systems to upgrade Romanian Air Force IAR-99 aircraft

Israel’s Elbit Systems has secured a contract to support a programme that involves upgrading the Romanian Air Force’s IAR-99 Standard trainer aircraft. Under the $27m contract awarded by Avioane Craiova, Elbit will deliver advanced avionics systems, live training embedded virtual avionics system and close air support and air-to-air capabilities for the aircraft.

Lockheed Martin wins USAF F-16 depot sustainment contract

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics has won a $900m contract to provide depot sustainment support for the US Air Force (USAF) F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. Under the contract, the company will provide depot overflow services, depot-level maintenance activities and predefined programmatic work.

Rheinmetall and Galvion to supply combat helmets to Bundeswehr

Rheinmetall and Galvion have secured a contract to deliver advanced combat helmets to the German Armed Forces. The contract, with a ‘lower two-digit million-euro range’ value, involves the delivery of up to 20,000 helmets, specifically the Combat Helmet, Special Forces, Heavy variant.

Missions Systems Australia to deliver night vision systems to ADF

Missions Systems Australia has secured a contract to deliver at least 5,500 helmet-mounted fused night vision systems to the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The capability is expected to be rolled out by 2023, supported by a A$173m ($130.9m) investment by the government.

Sweden orders Saab's integrated ground based air defence solution

Saab has received a contract to deliver an integrated sensor and command and control system to Sweden and help in enhancing ground-based air defence capabilities. Awarded by the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, the contract is valued at around $250m for the 2020-2025 period. 

US Army orders L3Harris Falcon IV AN/PRC-163 handheld radios

The US Army has placed a $57m order with L3Harris Technologies for Falcon IV AN/PRC-163 two-channel handheld radios, as well as associated equipment and services. The AN/PRC-163 serves as a key component of the US Army’s Integrated Tactical Network enabling troops to share information across the chain of command.

L3Harris to deliver EO/IR sighting systems to Swiss Armed Forces

L3Harris Technologies has secured a contract from Armasuisse to deliver electro-optical/infra-red sighting systems for the Swiss Armed Forces’ TASYS tactical reconnaissance system. L3Harris will deliver around 100 WESCAM MX-RSTA EO/IR systems to be installed on General Dynamics’ European Land Systems fleet of EAGLE 6×6 vehicles.

BAE Systems wins USMC FRP Lot I contract for 36 ACVs

BAE Systems has won a $184m Lot I full-rate production contract from the US Marine Corps for 36 amphibious combat vehicles (ACV), following the declaration of the ACVs’ initial operational capability in November. BAE Systems has been in low-rate production on the personnel carrier variant in the ACV family since 2018. Lot I is planned to increase to 72 vehicles early next year, with the options to grow to 80 vehicles per year over five years.

Saab to provide combat system for Bulgarian Navy’s patrol vessels

Saab has received a contract from German shipbuilder Lürssen to provide the combat system for the Bulgarian Navy’s multipurpose modular patrol vessels. Lürssen is the prime contractor to the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence for the construction of two new patrol vessels for delivery in 2025-2026.

SPARC secures US Navy contract for MISTR programme

SPARC Research has secured a contract from the US Office of Naval Research for work on the Missile Integration Science and Technology – Ramjet (MISTR) programme.The project aims to tackle barriers to the adoption of solid fuel ramjets.

BlueHalo secures contracts from AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate

BlueHalo has secured five contracts from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate to support the development of Space Domain solutions. The contracts, which include orders received through the acquisition of Applied Technology Associates, are valued at more than $130m with a ceiling of over $400m.


US Navy plans to use UAS for cargo transport

The US Navy is assessing the feasibility of using uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) for cargo transport between vessels or from ship to shore. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division has acquired a logistics UAS prototype to demonstrate the transfer of cargo over long ranges. The vehicle will be tested and upgraded for military sealift requirements.

Naval Group delivers first Suffren-class submarine to French Navy 

French shipbuilder Naval Group has delivered the first of six Suffren-class nuclear attack submarines for the French Navy. This delivery marks an important milestone in the Barracuda programme, which upgrades the submarine component of France's nuclear deterrent.

Iran unveils domestic ballistic missile launcher

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps has reportedly unveiled a domestically built ballistic missile launching system. Tasnim news agency reported that the air force manufactured thdine automated system, which is used for launching long-range ballistic missiles.


Australian Navy tests robots for counter-disaster operation

The Royal Australian Navy has tested robots in a simulated counter-disaster operation. As part of exercise Autonomous Warrior Genesis, the navy tested uncrewed land, air and sea vehicles in response to a simulated humanitarian relief scenario.

US and Japan complete exercise Keen Sword 21 

US Indo-Pacific Command units and the Japan Self-Defense Force have completed exercise Keen Sword 21, a joint-bilateral field training exercise in Japan. It involved maritime and air operations, amphibious landings, missile defence exercises, resupply, cyber and space operations.

Royal Air Force concludes Exercise Crimson Warrior 

The Royal Air Force has concluded Exercise Crimson Warrior, a three-week training operation involving fast jets, helicopters and unmanned air systems with involvement from the British Army, US Air Force and US Marines. Exercise Crimson Warrior has been adapted from Cobra Warrior with missiodinns being added to support the F-35B and helicopters that form part of the Carrier Strike Group Air Wing.

In brief

Fabri-Kal launches Recycleware Containers to expand sustainability

Food packaging solutions provider Fabri-Kal has expanded its sustainable product offerings with the launch of its new Recycleware Containers. Manufactured in the US, the products contain a minimum of 20-50% post-consumer recycled PET material and are recyclable.

Burger King and TerraCycle’s Loop to pilot new reusable packaging 

Fast-food chain Burger King has partnered with TerraCycle’s circular packaging service, Loop, to pilot new reusable packaging. The partnership is part of the brand’s Restaurant Brands for Good framework to help reduce packaging waste.

Stora Enso launches take-away bowls for food service packaging 

Pulp and paper manufacturer Stora Enso has partnered with wholesale company Tingstad to market its new food service take-away bowls, PureFiber. The packaging is designed to replace plastic on-the-go food packaging. It is free from plastic and PFAS.

H&M presents new Looop garment-to-garment recycling system

Swedish clothing-retail company H&M is introducing a garment-to-garment recycling system that helps transform old textiles into new ones. Known as Looop, the container-sized machine promotes circularity in fashion and keeps unwanted garments from turning into waste.