Friday, November 27, 2009

UK to not get JCA source code after all?

Despite apparently signing a memorandum of understanding that the UK, as the only Tier 1 partner, would get access to the source code of the F-35 JCA it now appears that no one will be getting access. Instead a reprogramming facility will be set up in Florida to develop and monitor upgrades. Maybe the US is afraid the British will lose the code on a bus? Well it seems they have a few problems hanging onto the JCA's secrets itself.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

UK Chinooks to be upgraded

The UK's Chinook HC2/2A helicopters are to be upgraded in 2 separate contracts. 21 new Titan 385ES-HD sensor turrets and to upgrade 4 existing turrets to HD standard. The turrets include "a High-Definition SLX Merlin medium waveband infra red camera" and other electro-optical sensors. Meanwhile additional cargo handling equipment will also be fitted to the Chinooks. Low friction rollers allow for more rapid unloading (which of course means the Chinook will on the ground and vulnerable for a shorter time).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

RN King Airs arrive in UK

The 4 King Air 350ERs which will replace the Royal Navy's Jetstream trainers have arrived in the UK and will now receive their mission equipment. This equipment will include a Telephonics 1700 search radar and a tactical mission training suite. The King Airs will enter service in 2011.

BAE Systems win contract for next stage of FSC

BAE Systems has won a £3.4 million contract to progress the design of the next generation warship for the Royal Navy, the Future Surface Combatant (FSC) which will replace the Type 22 and 23 frigates in the long run. Some more details about what exactly will be built will be welcome though.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Astute gets under way

Astute has begun it's sea trials by heading off to her home port of Faslane. Astute looks quite different to previous Royal Navy SSNs, compare here to the Trafalgar class it will be replacing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A400M begins final pre-flight checks

Final pre-flight checks are being carried out on the A400M prototype ahead of an expected first flight next month. Engine run-up tests, taxi tests and aborted take-off tests will be carried out over the next few weeks.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lynx Wildcat makes first flight

The next generation light transport and maritime strike helicopter for the UK the Lynx Wildcat has made it's first flight. ZZ400 took off from AgustaWestland's Yeovil site yesterday, two more test aircraft will join it next year. Entry into service with the Army is 2014 and the Navy 2015.

Astute prepares to go to sea

The first of the new Astute class of nuclear attack submarines is undergoing final checks and preparations before it heads out into the open sea for the first time. Astute will leave Barrow and head to Faslane which will be it's home port when it is a commissioned submarine. The trip will also be the start of sea trials which will last a number of months.

Mantis takes to the air

BAE's Mantis UAV prototype has taken to the air for the first time. The demonstrator, part of a joint BAE/MOD project, took off from the Woomera test range in Australia. Mantis is a "UK alternative" to the Predator/Reaper design and could carry out the reconnaissance and strike roles. The project will built confidence in a UK MALE (medium-altitude, long-endurance) UAS (unmanned aerial system) to use all the current acronyms.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Armistice Day

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month 1918 the guns finally were silenced in what was to be the end of the "war to end all wars". Of course it did not prove to be that way, indeed the fighting continued in Eastern Europe for a few years more as the 3 great Central & Eastern European empires collapsed. And in 1939 the world went to war again.

There has scarsily been a period of peace since then, somewhere in the world the guns rumble on. This year the British forces have lost more troops than at any time since the Falklands War. On this day we remember the fallen of the First World War and those who have served and fallen and been affected in conflicts ever since including those left behind to grieve and cope with the aftermath of warfare.

Trafalgar comes to the end

HMS Trafalgar, lead ship of the nuclear attack submarine class, has returned home for the last time following 26 years of service. The boat will now be decommissioned, the first of the class to be so. Trafalgar was the first British submarine to circumnavigate the globe and the first to fire a Tomahawk cruise missile. Much of the ship's company are likely to be assigned to HMS Ambush, one of the Astute class submarines which are replacing the Trafalgar class.

UK to buy 30 Chinooks

The MOD is to buy 30 Chinooks it has been reported in order to increase the number available in Afghanistan. The number of Chinooks in theatre will be increased to 20 if the overall fleet can be raised from 38 to 68. Just two minor problems remain, one being the MOD haven't yet said where the money will come from (which means something else may have to take the hit) and the second being the US will have to be persuaded to let the British "jump the queue" and take Chinooks intended for the US if they are to be got into service within 2 years. A change in strategy means the UK helicopter will be reduced to 4 types in the longer term (which makes sense) : Chinook, Merlin (which will all be "marinised"), Lynx and Apache. A competition for a new medium lift helicopter has been abandoned in favour of Chinook.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

HMS Talent completes LAMP

Nuclear attack submarine HMS Talent has been returned to the fleet on time following a 20 week maintenance period (LAMP - Long Assisted Maintenance Period). For the first time major work on the submarine's MG rotor and batteries was carried out while the submarine was berthed and not in dry dock as has happened before. This thus meant systems were still live while the systems were being worked on or replaced. Work was also carried out on the gearbox to fix a defect and some other updates. HMS Talent will be available again for deployment before Christmas.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

SAR network to be restored to old strength

The UK's Search & Rescue network of stations is to be restored back to 28 after being cut to 26 earlier. There had been plans to reduce the stations to 24 but this would have left coverage too light so the decision to reduce the network has been reversed. The extra 2 bases will be restored by next Summer. What is the catch? Well some bases will be closed to night-time operations to enable day-time coverage to be maintained. So if your ship decides to sink best make sure it happens in the daylight! Still overall a good news story, for a change.

Watchkeeper could be armed

The British Army's forthcoming new UAV, Watchkeeper 450, could be armed with a lightweight weapon. The UAV made by Thales UK and Elbit could enter service next year. The MOD is looking into the possibility of arming it with a weapon like LMM (Lightweight Multi-role Missile). Each precision-guided LMM weighs 13KG including a 3KG warhead.

Work begins on first JCA

Work has begun on the first F-35 JSF, or JCA in UK usage, for the UK. It is the first of 3 F-35Bs intended for the UK for use in testing and initial evaluation. Delivery is expected in 2011. As to how to build a JSF Flight International have this handy flowchart.