Mil Tech — U.S. Navy Commissions Fifth Littoral Combat Ship

Jan 04 2016

Published by under Technology

The U.S. Navy commissioned USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) in November 2015, its fifth littoral combat ship (LCS) and the third Freedom variant in the LCS class.

USS Milwaukee was designed and constructed by a Lockheed Martin-led industry team, which included shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine and naval architect Gibbs & Cox. The team already has delivered to the U.S. Navy two LCS Freedom-variants, USS Freedom (LCS-1) and USS Fort Worth (LCS-3).

Neil King, director of littoral ships and systems for Lockheed Martin Corp., says Lockheed Martin has 10 LCSs in its latest contract with the Navy, with USS Milwaukee being the first delivered, six others in various stages of production, and three in procurement. He notes the LCS-1 and LCS-3 deliveries were under a previous contract.

LCS is a fast, agile, focused-mission platform designed for operation in near-shore environments, yet capable of open-ocean operation, King notes. It is designed to defeat asymmetric anti-access threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines, and fast surface craft.

USS Milwaukee and the other LCS variants that Lockheed Martin builds “are intended to be a single-mission ship with a modular capability,” King says. “They will be able to handle antisubmarine warfare, mine warfare, and surface warfare. Those were the mission capabilities selected by the Navy that we had to integrate into the ships.”

The Navy’s LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom variant and the Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin for the odd-numbered hulls, while the Independence variant team is being led by Austal USA for the even-numbered hulls.

USS Milwaukee is designed on a mono-hull that is able to swap out different mission capabilities in two days, King says.

The LCS is 480 feet long and 56 feet on the beam and has a 12-1/2-foot draft. It weighs 2,200 metric tons. The current staffing of the ship of 76 personnel is expected to increase to 98 in the future, King adds.

“It’s designed to get to a lot of places that other Navy ships of that size can’t because of its shallower draft,” King observes.

USS Milwaukee is the fifth U.S. Navy vessel bearing that name. It will homeport in San Diego, where it will be integrated into the fleet, while the industry-Navy team conducts additional program testing and crew training.

Of the two previous Lockheed Martin developed LCS variants, USS Freedom conducted a successful deployment to Southeast Asia in 2013 and currently is operating out of her homeport in San Diego, while USS Fort Worth currently is deployed in Southeast Asia, serving in the U.S. 7th Fleet.

Detroit (LCS-7) is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in the first half of 2016. Little Rock (LCS-9) has been launched and christened, while Sioux City (LCS-11), Wichita (LCS-13), Billings (LCS-15), and Indianapolis (LCS-17) are in construction. St. Louis (LCS-19), Minneapolis/St. Paul (LCS-21), and Cooperstown (LCS-23) are in long-lead material procurement.

About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s the author of several books on historical military firearms; two historical mysteries, Full Moon and Asylum Lane, and his latest historical mystery to be published this spring, A Case of Dom Perignon, all available at www.amazon.com.

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Mil Tech — Lockheed Martin to Build More Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles

Dec 07 2015

Published by under Technology

Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Md., the builder of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM®) and the extended range version (JASSM-ER), has received a U.S. Air Force $305.4 million contract to continue production of both models of the missile.

JASSM

The Lot 13 contract includes 140 baseline JASSMs for U.S. and international partners and 140 JASSM-ER missiles, data, tooling, and test equipment. The Lot 13 award represents the largest JASSM-ER order to date and brings total missiles under contract to more than 2,300.

Jason Denney, program director of long-range strike systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, says Lockheed Martin has delivered more than 1,700 missiles to the U.S. Air Force though all production lots.

“JASSM and JASSM-ER have an important role in the United States’ and its allied partners’ long-term strategic defense plans,” Denney says. “The missiles delivered under Lot 13 will provide an effective and more affordable capability against anti-access/area-denial threats, thus providing a strategic deterrent for U.S. and international warfighters.”

JASSM is a long-range, conventional, air-to-ground, precision standoff missile designed to destroy high-value, well-defended, fixed, and relocatable targets. The missiles are fully integrated and in service with the F-16C/D, F/A-18C/D, F15E, B-1, B-2, and B-52 aircraft. JASSM-ER has been fully integrated on the Air Force’s B-1B.

“JASSM’s significant standoff range keeps aircrews well out of danger from hostile air defense systems,” Denney observes.

JASSM and JASSM-ER share the same physical dimensions. Both are 168 inches in length and categorized as a 2,000-pound class weapon — subsonic missiles that operate at various altitudes depending on mission. Both versions carry a unitary 1,000-pound blast-fragmentation and penetrator warhead that employs an infrared seeker and enhanced digital anti-jam GPS receiver to dial into specific points on targets.

The range on the JASSM is greater than 200 nautical miles, Denney points out, while the JASSM-ER variant is capable of greater than 500 nautical miles.

In terms of propulsion, the JASSM uses a turbojet engine, while the JASSM-ER model gets its increased range from a turbofan engine, Denney says.

The contract represents the fifth production lot for JASSM-ER, which received full-rate production approval last year. The missiles are produced at the company’s manufacturing facility in Troy, Ala.

The next evolution of the JASSM-ER is under way in the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) program for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Denney says. “LRASM is a highly-precise, all-weather, day-or-night, stealthy and survivable cruise missile designed to engage maritime targets.,” he notes. “It offers new strike-weapon capability that enables deep strike in previously denied battle environments and effectiveness against robust target defense systems.”

In parallel with the JASSM and LRASM contracts, Lockheed Martin also is investing company dollars into a surface-launch variant of LRASM, Denney adds, to be used by the U.S. Navy Vertical Launch System currently in the fleet.

About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s the author of several books on historical military firearms; and two historical mysteries, Full Moon, and his latest novel, Asylum Lane, all available at www.amazon.com.

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Mil Tech — Researchers Create Firefighting Humanoid Robot

Nov 03 2015

Published by under Technology

Researchers at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Biorobotics Program, Virginia Tech University, and the University of Pennsylvania have built a humanoid robot the size of an adult that was able to fight a live fire aboard a U.S. Navy ship.
Named the shipboard autonomous firefighting robot (SAFFiR), the robotic firefighter is made out of aluminum, weighs 165 pounds, and stands 5 feet 10 inches tall.
Tom McKenna, Ph.D, program officer for the ONR Biorobotics Program, says that SAFFiR uses three types of sensors to navigate the spaces of a ship and locate the source of a fire.
“SAFFiR has a digital camera, a thermal imaging unit to see through the smoke and to detect heat, and a scanning radar to allow for accurate mapping,” McKenna says. “The robot has 33 degrees freedom of movement [and] can walk, bend its legs, swivel its head, and hold a hose and operate it with its hands.
ONR demonstrated the SAFFiR unit recently aboard the USS Shadwell, a U.S. Navy experimental facility that has a fire control laboratory where suppression technologies can be demonstrated on live fires.
During the demonstration, SAFFiR carried a one-inch hose line and nozzle to suppress the fire with a concentration of water and foam. The robot also can carry a backpack fire suppression unit and, as its abilities are developed, toss fire suppression grenades when necessary, McKenna points out.
“SAFFiR has not been fire-hardened yet,” McKenna notes. “The robot was standing at the door of the compartment when it was suppressing the fire on USS Shadwell. But all the personal protection equipment that human firefighters use to fight fires can be applied to the robot too.”
McKenna points out  SAFFiR is still a research project that has to meet certain benchmarks to make it a viable technology.
“We have to meet Technical Readiness Levels,” he says. “We will continue to make the robot more robust in locomotion to take into account the rocking of a ship and give it the ability to use hand holds. We also will pursue a better human-robot interface and focus a bit more on better manipulators.”

About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s the author of several books on historical military firearms; and two historical mysteries, Full Moon, and his latest novel, Asylum Lane, all available at www.amazon.com.

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Mil Tech — U.S. Army Engineers Adapt Technology to Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems

Oct 05 2015

Published by under Technology

The U.S. Army’s engineers the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., are continuing research into how to adapt current technology to counter the threat to soldiers from unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
“The key to a system of protection is command guidance,” says Manfredi Luciano, ARDEC project officer for the Extended Area of Protection and Survivability system.
What began as a system to develop technology that could counter rocket, artillery, and mortar fire, has expanded into a system that looks at the threat that UAVs, or drones, could pose to soldiers in the field, Luciano says.
Using a medium caliber 50-mm gun that could fire out about 3 kilometers, Luciano and his team put together a demonstration that tracked a threat, launched an interceptor, maneuvered toward the threat, and command-detonated the interceptor to disable or destroy the threat.
The team recently shot down a class 2 UAS at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona using command guidance and detonation of a 21-inch-long warhead weighing about 6.2 pounds.
“We were successful in twice shooting down a UAS,” Luciano points out. “Both times we intercepted the UAS at 1,500 meters range.”
Luciano says the interception round has a transceiver that talks back and forth with a ground station computer that figures out the maneuvers the round must make and its detonation time.
“The system’s radar can track to sub-meter accuracy,” Luciano says. “It computes the maneuver and detonation point for intercept and uplinks the command to the warhead through a radio frequency.”
The firing platform is based on the Bushmaster 3 but uses a longer breech and the same barrel.
“From here, the Army has to come up with a requirement for us to pursue,” Luciano says, “as well as an optimum range and caliber for the weapon. If the Army wants a smaller caliber than 50-mm, we would have to shrink some components on board the cartridge and warhead.”
Luciano notes  the project interested him because it had several objectives.
“The most notable was being able to maneuver a single bullet to where you want it to go,” he says. “We expect to fund more technology developments in the command guidance area and then miniaturize the round as needed. We also are considering applying this to artillery, so we could get larger in addition to smaller. The drone threat is huge, and command guidance could be one answer to that threat, depending on the range and the type of solution needed.”

About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s the author of several books on historical military firearms; and two historical mysteries, Full Moon, and his latest novel, Asylum Lane, all available at www.amazon.com.

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Mil Tech—Excalibur Ib Projectile Offers Extended Range Precision

Sep 07 2015

Published by under Technology

Raytheon Co. and the U.S. Army successfully have fired two Excalibur Ib projectiles from a M109A2/A3 howitzer during tests at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz.

Courtesy Raytheon

Paul R. Daniels, the Raytheon business development lead for the Excalibur program, says his company has fielded the 155-mm projectile in support of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq because of a need to extend the range of artillery and to deliver very precise fire.

“The Ib is the third version of the Excalibur projectile,” Daniels points out. “As a former Army artillery officer, I’m astounded by its capability to fire out to 40 kilometers, the longest range-cannon fire ever fielded.”
During the recent tests at Yuma Proving Ground, the Excalibur Ib projectile was used in a M185 cannon with a M119A2 propelling charge. Both rounds tested guided precisely to their targets more than 20 kilometers away, Daniels says.

The M109A2/A3 is an early variant of the M109-series howitzer that is operated by armed forces around the world. Daniels says that based on the test results, those forces now are able to use the extended-range precision capability provided by Excalibur Ib.

While Daniels would not discuss the circular area probable for the projectile, he says, “We can talk about how much Excalibur Ib might miss by. It’s as accurate as the best GPS location and the average miss distance is 2 meters from a precisely located target.”

Excalibur 1b is a precision-guided, extended-range projectile that uses GPS guidance to provide accurate, first-round effect capability in any environment. It is 43 inches long and weighs 100 pounds. The projectile doesn’t travel in a ballistic path like a typical projectile, Daniels points out but rather flies a guided flight after reaching apogee.

Once Excalibur’s GPS signal is acquired, it deploys canards at apogee that project from the front of the round to guide its flight and induce added range, while fins on the back of the projectile stabilize the round.

“At the end of the flight, the round turns down sharply and approaches the target at a near vertical angle,” Daniels says. “That optimizes the lethality of the warhead and also reduces the risk of having effects where other things are hit other than the target.”

Daniels adds that with unguided rounds, they might fall short, left, right or over the target. But because of Excalibur’s precision, it can be deployed within 75 meters of friendly forces.

The Excalibur Ib can be fitted with three types of fuses – point detonating, point detonating delay (to allow it to penetrate concrete structures), and height burst, where it explodes above a target.

The Excalibur Ib projectile went into full rate production by Raytheon in June of last year, Daniels notes.

“The Army calls it a model program,” he says. “We’ve met the schedule and the weapon system gives fantastic performance in terms of all the requirements for accuracy and reliability.”

Daniels says that Raytheon is working on the Excalibur N5 for use in the U.S. Navy’s 5-inch gun (approximately 127-mm).

“The Navy has Mark 45 5-inch guns on all its destroyers and cruisers, which can fire a maximum of 13 nautical miles or approximately 20 kilometers,” Daniels says. “At 13 nautical miles it is a very inaccurate gun because its maximum effective range is eight or nine nautical miles.

If we introduce Excalibur in the 5-inch gun, it will be able to get out to 26 nautical miles or more, which would double the gun’s maximum range and more than triple its effective range, all with less than 2 meters miss area.”

Raytheon has invested internally in a program to conduct a live fire demonstration with the U.S. Navy of the 5-inch naval gun version of Excalibur at Yuma Proving Ground late in September.

About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s the author of several books on historical military firearms; and two historical mysteries, Full Moon, and his latest novel, Asylum Lane, all available at www.amazon.com.

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