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ROYAL NAVY: Type 26 off target
Tuesday, 06 January 2015 00:00

A key deadline for the award of a construction contract for the Royal Navy’s upcoming Type 26 frigate will be missed, as the Ministry of Defence and the UK’s sole warship builder have failed to reach an agreement. The so-called Main Gate approval, the main investment decision committing to the full cost of the programme, had been expected by the end of 2014.

With a general election and the next strategic defence review taking place in 2015, the start of a planned 13-ship build project to replace the RN’s Type 23 frigates could now be delayed by up to a year.

BAE Systems had wanted to cut the first metal at a new £200 million facility it hopes to build in 2016, but the Defence Equipment & Support organisation has opted to further review the cost of the project.


US NAVY: Lightning strikes twice
Tuesday, 30 December 2014 00:00

The F-35C Lightning II has impressed during sea trials aboard USS Nimitz. US NavyThe F-35C Lightning II has impressed during sea trials aboard USS Nimitz. US Navy

The carrier variant of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II strike fighter has successfully completed initial sea-based development testing during two weeks of trials aboard USS Nimitz. Two F-35C test aircraft completed 124 catapult launches, 222 touch-and-go landings, and 124 arrested landings, with no missed attempts to catch an arresting wire on the flight deck with its redesigned tail hook.

The test pilots reported such confidence in the aircraft’s automated control systems, which are designed to help pilots capture and maintain a safe approach and trap, that they were able to test in less than ideal weather conditions and even conduct night operations ahead of schedule.

The F-35C, which is scheduled to replace carrier-borne F/A-18A, B, C, and D Hornets from 2018, has larger wings and tail control surfaces than the other two variants, making it more stable at the lower airspeeds which are required for landing on a flight deck. It also has stronger landing gear and a tail hook.


US NAVY: Fighting top added
Friday, 19 December 2014 09:25

The future USS Michael Monsoor takes shape. GDBIWThe future USS Michael Monsoor takes shape. GDBIW

The second of the Zumwalt class destroyers, Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), achieved a major construction milestone overnight on 13-14 November 2014 with the addition of her prefabricated superstructure.

The installation of the composite deckhouse, which will house the bridge, radars, antennae and intake/exhaust systems, one of the more complicated evolutions in the construction of the futuristic warships, it was successfully carried out during a snowstorm. With the 900-tonne structure held in place by four cranes, the hull of the ship was rolled into position underneath. Once the superstructure had been lowered into place, the entire ship was moved back out to the main construction location in a delicate operation, which took ten hours to complete.

The third and final Zumwalt ship, Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG1002), also under construction at Bath Iron works, will differ from her sisterships in having her deckhouse made from steel rather than carbon-fibre to reduce spiralling construction costs, currently estimated at US$3.5 billion per ship.


ROYAL NAVY: Small ships, big ticket
Tuesday, 09 December 2014 00:00

The RN’s Batch 2 River class OPVs are to be named Forth, Medway and Trent. BAE SYSTEMSThe RN’s Batch 2 River class OPVs are to be named Forth, Medway and Trent. BAE SYSTEMS

The names and details of equipment Šfit of the Royal Navy’s upcoming River class Batch 2 OPVs have been revealed as construction got under way on 10 October. The ships will feature 29 changes to the standard design in service with Brazil. These include a reinforced flight deck, uprated helicopter in-flight refuelling arrangements, an IMO-compliant waste treatment plant, additional accommodation for embarked military detachments, and improved watertight integrity and fire-fighting provisions to meet Naval Authority standards.

The vessels will mount a single 30mm main gun and two Mk 44 miniguns. The ships will also have a variant of the CMS-1 combat management system along with a SCANTER 4103 I-band radar as the primary air/surface surveillance sensor. The improved specification does not account for the extra cost of the ships in comparison to exported versions. The £348 million deal for the Batch 2 ships equates to £116 million each versus the £50 million unit cost sold overseas.


AUSTRALIAN CUSTOMS: The Cape crusaders
Tuesday, 02 December 2014 00:00

Cape class patrol boats are named after geographical capes in each Australian State and Territory. AUSTALCape class patrol boats are named after geographical capes in each Australian State and Territory. AUSTAL

Austal has launched another Cape class patrol boat destined for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) at their main facility in Henderson, Western Australia. Cape Jervis is the fifth of eight 58m aluminium monohulls being provided for the ACBPS as part of a A$330 million design, build and maintenance contract awarded in August 2011.

Similar in appearance and size to the Royal Australian Navy’s often-maligned Armidale class patrol boats, the unarmed Capes have greater range and endurance, as well as being able to operate in more severe sea conditions than the current ACBPS fleet of 38m Bay class vessels, which are nearing the end of their planned operational life.

Designed for unsupported patrols of up to 28 days, out to the full extent of the Australia’s 200nm Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the Cape class will carry out the full gamut of maritime security duties. All eight are to be operational by late 2015.


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