Monday, October 27, 2008

New support contract for RAF Tristars

Marshall Aerospace has been awarded a support contract to maintain the RAF's fleet of Tristar tanker transports until they are replaced (hopefully) by Airbus A330s from 2011. Marshall have also been awarded a separate contract to develop a fuel tank inerting system for the Tristar C2s.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Everyone is on about nuclear missiles

Following the fall of Communism (and hence the end of the Cold War) and then the "War on Terror" that following 9-11 the ICBM and it's submarine launched cousin appeared to be as obsolete as the mace, at least to the uneducated and especially journalists but the fact is they are the ultimate guarantor of sovereignty. What was the first thing the Russians put money into and started to revamp once they got over the chaos of the fall of the USSR (hint : it wasn't tanks)?

No not phallic in the slightest

So a few articles on nuclear missiles to look at. Firstly Russia is looking to counter US anti-ballistic missile systems by improving it's Strategic Missile Forces. New types of silo and mobile ballistic missiles will be deployed including the 5th generation RS-24 and RS-12M2 Topol-Ms. The new generation of missiles will presumably include penaids designed to defeat missile defence systems.

The RS-24 is an interesting missile, which will be one of the main types of Russian ICBM up until 2050 replacing SS-18/19s and able to carry up to 10
independently targetable warheads and can be launched from a mobile launcher. Deployment will begin next year.

Russia has held test firings of the RS-18 ICBM, RS-12M and R-29RM SLBMs recently. India has begun a project to develop it's own missile that can travel over 5000km (which is into ICBM territory) known as the Agni-V project. Meanwhile China is looking into anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), conventionally or nuclear armed missiles that would be launched against high-value naval targets (such as aircraft carriers). Getting the required accuracy and terminal guidance sound like interesting problems.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

RAF receives first Tranche 2 Typhoon

Deliveries of the Tranche 2 Typhoon have begun to the RAF with the first of 89 (article says 91 though other sources, including the RAF's own site, say 89) aircraft being delivered to RAF Coningsby for final checks before flight trials begin. Tranche 2 aircraft will have new mission computers required for future weapons like Meteor and Storm Shadow.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vigilant begins overhaul

RN SSBN Vigilant has arrived at Devonport for a three-year long overhaul that will then allow it to remain in service until the 2020s. The overhaul will include refuelling of the submarine's reactor as well as a number of other improvements as the submarine is stripped and totally overhauled.

The future battlefield... in orbit?

I have written about space warfare before but it seems the Chinese may be getting interested in it. The recent Shenzhou-7 of course conducted the first Chinese spacewalk but maybe more interestingly the space ship passed very close to the International Space Station.

After launching a micro-satellite known as BX-1 Shenzhou-7 passed within 45km of the ISS. Worryingly BX-1 began drifting away from it's intended trajectory just after it was launched. Although still some way off this is close in space terms and the greater speed of BX-1 than the ISS makes it doubtful the ISS could react if BX-1 was sent on an intercept.

Photo of Shenzhou-7 taken from BX-1

There is speculation that the PLA, who co-run the Shenzhou programme with civil authorities, are testing BX-1 for it's suitability as a co-orbital ASAT weapon.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Farewell to Heron flight

The RN's Heron flight, the Fleet Air Army's operational support and communications unit, is being withdrawn in a cost saving measure. The flight's Jetstream T3 aircraft have been used for transporting personnel and equipment around the UK and Europe but now the MOD think they can save half a million pounds by personnel using commercial airlines instead. The aircraft have gone into storage pending disposal.

Turbulent returns to (hopefully calm) sea

Trafalgar class submarine HMS Turbulent has returned to the sea following a refit and upgrade. Turbulent received several key upgrades as part of the Warship Support Modernisation Initiative (WSMI) including new communications and IT systems. The communications update gratly improves interoperability with allied forces. Turbulent has also been fitted with Tomahawk Block IV and also has had improvments to it's sonar and command systems.

Lusty completes sea training

HMS Illustrious has completed her Operational Sea Training (OST) whch saw crews conducting training in aviation, warfare, damage control, seamanship and other operational duties. Illustrious will now take part in the NATO Joint Warrior exercise in the North Sea. In November she will go to London to take part in Remembrance Sunday.