2015: The year's biggest Naval Technology stories

Egypt to buy French helicopter carriers for $1bn, Australia allocates $65bn for naval shipbuilding projects while India approves naval projects worth around $16bn. Naval-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from 2015.


Mistral helicopter carrier

Egypt to buy French helicopter carriers built for Russia

Egypt reportedly agreed to purchase two Mistral-class helicopter carriers, which France had built for Russia, in a €950m ($1bn) deal.

Last month, France and Russia terminated a €1.2bn ($1.3bn) contract for these carriers over the Ukraine crisis.

According to a French defence ministry source, the deal also includes training for 400 Egyptian Navy personnel, and delivery of the warships is expected to be in March next year.

Australia to invest $65bn on naval shipbuilding projects over 20 years

Australia announced plans to invest A$89bn ($65.5bn) in frigates and submarines over the next 20 years, in a bid to strengthen the domestic naval shipbuilding industry and national security.

As part of the plans, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced an investment of A$40bn ($29.44bn) into surface naval shipbuilding.

The surface warships projects will see the construction of SEA5000 Future Frigate and the SEA1180 offshore patrol vessels.

US Navy's X-47B conducts first autonomous aerial refuelling

X-47B

The US Navy's X-47B unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) successfully conducted the first autonomous aerial refuelling (AAR).

The refuelling marks completion of the final test objective under the navy's Unmanned Combat Air System demonstration programme.

US Navy Unmanned Carrier Aviation programme manager captain Beau Duarte said: "The ability to autonomously transfer and receive fuel in flight will increase the range and flexibility of future unmanned aircraft platforms, ultimately extending carrier power projection.


Indian Government approves new projects for navy

The Indian Government approved approximately $16bn worth of new projects for the Indian Navy, including the construction of stealth frigates and nuclear-powered submarines.

Seven frigates and six submarines will bolster the navy's overall deterrence potential in the Indian Ocean Region, which is a key area of strategic interest, spanning from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Strait.

The Times of India reported that Project-17A, valued at more than $8bn, will include the construction of four stealth frigates at Mazagon Docks (MDL) in Mumbai and three at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers in Kolkata.

US approves $11.2bn foreign military sale to Saudi Arabia

The US State Department approved a possible foreign military sale worth approximately $11.2bn to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for multi-mission surface combatant (MMSC) ships, associated equipment, parts and logistical support.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress about the possible sale.

Aimed to support Saudi Arabia's naval modernisation programme, the proposed deal covers the delivery of four MMSC ships that incorporate five COMBATSS-21 combat management systems.


HMS Queen Elizabeth crew switch on its radar for first time

HMS Queen Elizabeth

The crew of the UK Royal Navy's Elizabeth-class (QE) aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, switched on the vessel's S1850M radar for the first time.

The flashing up of the long-range radar was part of ongoing preparations to ready the warship for sea next year.

Weapon engineers PO Ian 'Mac' McDonald said: "Having been a part of the long range radar programme since it was delivered to Rosyth back in October 2013, it's very satisfying to see it turning and burning, a milestone nearly two years in the making.


Canada to construct up to 15 vessels under C$26.2bn programme

Canadian officials stated that the country is set to begin construction of naval ships under a C$26.2bn ($21.5bn) programme early in the next decade.

The project, which will see the construction of 15 vessel to replace three destroyers and 12 frigates, was originally announced by the Canadian Government in 2010.

However, officials have claimed that the programme could end up below target and over budget.

US conducts first live fire intercept test of Aegis Ashore

The US Navy, the Missile Defense Agency and Lockheed Martin successfully completed the first live fire intercept test of Aegis Ashore at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), demonstrating the system's Launch on Remote capability.

During testing, Aegis Ashore used information from another radar system to launch an intercept missile before switching to its own SPY-1 radar to guide that missile to the target.

Lockheed Martin Aegis Ashore programmes director Brendan Scanlon said: "This Launch on Remote capability helps broaden the reach of Aegis systems by allowing individual Aegis units to use data from networked sensors to track and engage threats.

Four US Marines killed in Chattanooga shooting, including gunman

chatanooga shooting

Four US Marines were killed and one sailor injured during a suspected terrorist shooting at the US Navy's Operational Support Center (NOSC) in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The shooter, identified as Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, was reportedly carrying 30 round magazines when he opened fire, and was armed with an AK-47-style weapon at the time of the attack, according to law enforcement sources.

Abdulazeez was born in Kuwait with a Jordanian citizenship, and was a naturalised US citizen, according to media reports.

French aircraft carrier conducts first operations against ISIS

The French Defense ministry announced that the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle launched operations against ISIS targets in Iraq for the first time.

With 26 fighter jets on board, the 38,000t, nuclear-powered French aircraft carrier group, which includes frigates, a submarine, and a fleet auxiliary supply ship, was deployed last week to the eastern Mediterranean to support coalition operations in Iraq and Syria.

Four Rafal fighter jets took off from the aircraft carrier and reportedly destroyed two targets while flying over the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Mosul.

US Navy's newest littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee breaks down at sea

The US Navy's newest Freedom-class littoral combat ship, USS Milwaukee (LCS 5), has experienced a loss of propulsion at sea.

The $360m LCS was enroute to Little Creek, Virginia, US, when it broke down approximately 40nm off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia.

USNS Grapple (T-ARS 53) towed the ship to Joint Expeditionary Base (JEB) Little Creek-Fort Story.

US Navy's first Zumwalt-class destroyer sails for maiden sea trials

USS Zumwalt

The US Navy's first Zumwalt-class (DDG 1000) guided-missile destroyer sailed out to sea from shipbuilder General Dynamics Bath Iron Works for the first time to begin its maiden sea trials.

The futuristic USS Zumwalt will be tested for its performance and seaworthiness during the builder sea trials, before delivering it to the navy next year.

The destroyer was originally scheduled to be delivered in 2015.