April's top stories: X-47B UCAV’s first AAR, $3.17bn Indian Navy deal

The US Navy's X-47B unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) conducted first autonomous aerial refuelling (AAR), GRSE won $3.17bn Indian Navy contract to build three new stealth frigates and UK-led Exercise Joint Warrior 2015 successfully concluded. Naval-technology.com wraps up key headlines from April.


top april

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 marked the 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."

During the test, the X-47B connected to an Omega K-707 tanker aircraft and received more than 4,000lb of fuel using the navy's probe-and-drogue method.

GRSE wins $3.17bn Indian Navy contract to build three new stealth frigates

The Indian Navy awarded an INR200bn ($3.17bn) contract to defence public sector unit (PSU) Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers to build three new advanced stealth frigates.

Under the contract, GRSE will be responsible for the construction of three ships, out of a total seven Project 17A-class frigates ordered by the Indian Navy.

GRSE plans to begin the construction of the ships once the final design is ready. It is estimated that the first ship will be complete by 2023.

Huntington Ingalls receives $604.3m contract modification for US Navy's DDG 121

DDG 121

Huntington Ingalls Industries' (HII) shipbuilding division secured a $604.3m contract modification to fund construction of the Arleigh Burke-class (DDG 51) Aegis guided missile destroyer DDG 121 for the US Navy.

The unnamed vessel is the third in a series of five DDG 51 destroyers. HII received this five-ship contract in June 2013 as part of a multi-year procurement in the DDG 51 programme of US Navy.

The multi-mission Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are capable of a variety of operations from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection.

US approves $275m sustainment support for Australia's Hobart-class destroyer

hobart-class

The US State Department approved a potential foreign military sale to Australia for Hobart-class destroyer sustainment and associated equipment, parts and logistical support.

The proposed sale will help Australia enhance its capabilities in current and future coalition efforts, using the improved capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defence.

For this project, the principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Washington, District of Columbia.

Indian Navy's first Scorpene submarine Kalvari successfully undocked

The Indian Navy's first Scorpene-class stealth submarine, Kalvari successfully undocked at the Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL), marking a major milestone in Project 75.

The vessel is part of the INR187.98bn ($4.16bn) Project 75 contract to build six Scorpene-class submarines, awarded to DCNS in October 2005.

The first Scorpene-class vessel was originally scheduled for delivery in December 2012.

Following its final fit-out, the Kalvari submarine will now undergo harbour and sea trials to validate its weapons firing capability before its scheduled commissioning in 2016.

US Navy's ships successfully complete participation in Exercise Joint Warrior

Participants of the UK-led Joint Warrior exercise completed their final task, concluding a two-week training exercise off the coast of Scotland.

The semi-annual training programme included several air, sea and ground assets from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, as well as participants from the UK and the US.

As part of the training exercise, participants took part in scheduled scenarios, such as small boat attacks, boarding operations, air defence, antisubmarine warfare and ship manoeuvrability tasks.

HMS Prince of Wales' Forward Island section to arrive at Rosyth

hms prince of wales

The UK Royal Navy's second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier's 680tn Forward Island section set sail from BAE Systems to Rosyth.

The Forward Island, also known as upper block 07, contains the bridge and approximately 100 vital mission systems compartments for the HMS Prince of Wales.

This section of the aircraft carrier has up to two metres tall deck-to-deck windows, which will ensure a level of visibility far beyond previous aircraft carriers.

Construction of the ship is scheduled for completion in July 2016. The Prince of Wales will the begin sea trials in January 2019, followed by acceptance in August of the same year.

Russia will 'not impose penalties or fines' against France over Mistral, says Putin

mistral-class

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Russia would not impose penalties or fines against France over its decision to suspend the delivery of the two Mistral-class amphibious aircraft carriers.

Speaking during an annual televised call-in show, Putin said: "We are not planning to demand any penalties or exorbitant fines, but all expenses should be returned.

"Of course not delivering the ships according to a valid contract is a bad sign, but from the point of view of supporting our defence capabilities, to tell you frankly, this has no importance."

The two Mistral-class vessels form part of a $1.52bn deal signed in 2011 and have been built by DCNS at its Saint-Nazaire shipyard.

German Federal Security Council approves export of fifth Dolphin submarine to Israel

Germany's Federal Security Council reportedly gave clearance to the export of a new Dolphin-class submarine to the Israel Navy.

According to the council's report to the parliamentary economics committee, the vessel is the fifth of six submarines that were agreed by Germany for delivery to Israel.

The sale is part of an agreement between the two nations that included an option to allow Israel to request another subsidised submarine.

Set to replace the ageing Gal-class submarines, the new vessel will join the Israeli Navy's existing Dolphin-class submarine fleet which are capable of conducting long-range security missions along national borders.

Rand issues new report on Australia's naval shipbuilding industrial base

The $2.5m Australian Department of Defence (DoD) sponsored report on the country's naval shipbuilding industrial base was published by Rand Corporation.

The report titled 'Australia's Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise: Preparing for the 21st Century' was conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the Rand national security research division (NSRD).

According to the report, domestic production of naval ships in Australia currently carries a price premium that is estimated to be between 30% and 40% compared with similar ships built overseas.