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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

15 March 2016

Today's Headlines

First Compartments of New UK Flagship Handed Over

The Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) has successfully signed over the first compartments of HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH to her crew, over a year ahead of when the ship is due to be delivered to the Royal Navy.

The Aircraft Carrier Alliance, the industry consortium that is prime contractor for the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers, is gradually handing over the ship to the Navy, compartment by compartment, while it fits out in Rosyth, Scotland. (Photo: ACA)

The six large compartments are the first sections of the ship the crew has taken ownership of and marks an important step towards delivering the nation's flagship. The compartments are part of the dry storage areas for the catering teams and will be used to train the ship’s company in damage control including fire-fighting, flood and medical emergencies. Over the longer-term the catering teams will also use these compartments to train their people in using stores equipment, such as the portable electric transporters and lifts.

HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and her sister ship HMS PRINCE OF WALES are being delivered by the ACA, a partnering relationship between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock, and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). The carriers will be the centrepiece of Britain’s maritime capability. Each 65,000t aircraft carrier provides the armed forces with a four-acre military operating base for an air group of up to 40 aircraft, which can be deployed worldwide. The vessels are designed to be used for operations ranging from supporting war efforts to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

The carriers, supported by our £178 billion investment in equipment for our Armed Forces, will spearhead Britain’s sea power for the next five decades, protecting UK interests both at home and abroad,” Minister of State for Defence Procurement, Philip Dunne, said.

SAIC Delivers First AAV SU to USMC Ahead of Schedule

Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) has delivered the first Assault Amphibious Vehicle Survivability Upgrade (AAV SU) to US Marine Corps (USMC) Base Quantico on 4 March. Transported from SAIC’s integration facility in Charleston, SC/USA, this is the first of 10 landmark AAV SU vehicles scheduled to be delivered for testing to the USMC by May.

Years after the AAV's intended successor, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, was cancelled for insufficient performance and exploding costs, the USMC is upgrading its ancient AAVs to SU standard, of which SAIC has delivered the first example. (Photo: SAIC)

Following the initial delivery of the AAV SU, the Marine Corps Program Executive Officer (PEO) Land Systems will have approximately 12 months to test and evaluate SAIC’s solution. SAIC is currently under contract with the USMC to perform initial upgrades to 10 AAV SU prototypes. During the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase, older AAV-P7 models were stripped down to the hull and rebuilt from the underbelly up with survivability upgrades.

Subsequent to the EMD phase, additional options, if exercised, will lead to developmental testing and low rate initial production (LRIP) of the AAV SU vehicles.

Our employees and partners worked tirelessly to deliver this solution to the Marine Corps two months ahead of schedule,” Tom Watson, SAIC senior vice president and general manager of the Navy and Marine Corps Customer Group, said. “We are honoured to support the Marine Corps in this historic endeavour to upgrade vehicles that have not been significantly modernized in more than 30 years.”

BAE Systems and SAIC beat out three other manufacturers in a competition to build EMD development prototype vehicles for the USMC's next-generation Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV), which will ferry troops ashore and into battle. SAIC has partnered with nine other companies to put together the pieces of the AAV SU. SAIC’s partner, ST Kinetics, built the hundreds of TERREX 1 vehicles currently used by Singapore. BAE's contract is for $103.8 million, while SAIC's is for $121.5 million. The 16 vehicles they each build will endure rigorous tests over the next two years. The winner selected in 2018 will deliver 204 vehicles, valued at $1.1 billion, by 2020. All vehicles are to be assigned to six battalions by the summer of 2023. The Corps also plans to modernise enough AAVs to outfit another four battalions. That would give the service the ability to put 10 battalions ashore during a forcible entry operation.


Indigenous LCH Fires Rockets for the First Time

After successful completion of basic performance flight testing and outstation trials for cold weather, hot weather and hot & high altitude testing in the year 2015, the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) has achieved yet another milestone by satisfactory firing of rockets (70 mm) from its prototype, TD-3 in weaponised configuration. LCH is a 5.5t class, combat helicopter designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It is powered by two Shakti engines and inherits many technical features of the Advanced Light Helicopter. Special features of the LCH are its sleek and narrow fuselage, tri-cycle crashworthy landing gear, crashworthy and self-sealing fuel tanks, armour protection, and nuclear and low visibility features, which makes the LCH lethal, agile and survivable.

HAL’s Light Combat Helicopter has for the first time fired rockets as it progresses through its operational tests; it will now take part in this years ‘Iron Fist’ exercise, which kicks off 18 March 2016. (Photo: HAL)

The LCH TD-3 is integrated with Electro-Optical (EO) System, Solid State Digital Video Recording System (SSDVR) and 70mm rocket system in conjunction with an updated glass cockpit software to cater for rocket firing. The LCH is also fitted with Self Protection Suite consisting of Radar/Laser Missile warning systems and Counter Measures Dispensing System (CMDS).

The first prototype helicopter had its inaugural flight on 23 March 2010. The second and third prototype had their first flight on June 28, 2011 and Nov 12, 2014. LCH TD4 completed its maiden flight on December 1, 2015 and will participate in IAF’s `Iron Fist 2016’ exercise on March 18, 2016.


New Floating Dock Enables Offshore Warship Repairs for Chinese Navy

China's first self-propelled floating dock HUACHUAN-1 has successfully repaired warships in a mock war zone, expanding the navy's warship repair scope far from the coast, according to military sources on Thursday. While traditional floating dry-docks lack a propelling system and have to be dragged slowly to its destination, HUACHUAN-1 is equipped with a dual-engine system and designed to sail open sea areas by itself, changing a long-time practice that ships have to reach designated spots on the shore first before getting repaired.

China’s new floating dock can repair ships displacing up to 30,000t anywhere it is required, freeing the PLA Navy from the need to use fixed dockyards. It could prove of particular value in the outlying islands China has annexed.

Equipped with boarding sections, high-stability maintenance facilities and a defence system against air and pirate attacks, the new dock is able to provide maintenance on moving ships amid treacherous weather, thus shortening a vessel's maintenance cycle and facilitating the navy's open sea operations. The dock is capable of conducting maintenance for all vessels with the navy, except aircraft carriers, as well as civilian vessels with a displacement under 30,000 tonnes.

Alexander Kolberg