August's top stories: Scorpene data leak, $2.5bn Virginia-class submarine

The US Navy has taken delivery of new $2.5bn Virginia-class submarine, Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Illinois (SSN 786), India and France launch probe over Scorpene submarine data leak. Naval-technology.com wraps up key headlines from August.


US Navy receives new $2.5bn Virginia-class submarine

The US Navy took delivery of the 13th Virginia-class submarine, Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Illinois (SSN 786), ahead of the initial contract schedule.

The $2.7bn SSN-786 is the ninth consecutive Virginia-class submarine to be delivered early to the navy. Expected to enter service in October this year, Illinois is the third of eight Virginia-class Block III submarines.

The Block III submarines have a redesigned bow, which replaces 12 individual launch tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes, each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles.

India and France to launch probe over Scorpene submarine data leak

Indian and French authorities will launch an investigation into the reported leak of documents related to Scorpene submarines.

The leaked documents describe the combat capability of six submarines, which were designed by French shipbuilder DCNS for the Indian Navy as part of a $3bn deal, the Hindustan Times reported.

The leak has raised fears in Australia, as DCNS has been awarded an A$50bn ($38.06bn) contract to build submarines for the country.

Raytheon wins $523m contract to deliver SM-3 Block IB missiles to US Navy.

Raytheon received a $523m contract from the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to produce, test and deliver Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB interceptors.

Under the order, which follows MDA exercising a fiscal 2016 contract option, Raytheon will supply 47 SM-3 interceptors for operational testing and deployment.

The SM-3 guided missiles are used by the US Navy to protect the country against short-to-intermediate-range ballistic missile threats.

US Navy to name John Lewis-class ship after gay rights activist Harvey Milk

The US Navy indicated that it is set to christen a new John Lewis-class oiler ship (T-AO-206) after the gay rights activist and San Francisco politician Harvey Milk.

The ship will be the second Military Sealift Command fleet oiler that will be constructed by General Dynamics Nassco. In January, Mabus announced that the first ship of the class would be named after US Representative and civil rights leader John Lewis.

Harvey Milk served the country as a diving officer during the Korean War, and was the first openly gay politician from California to be elected to office. He was killed in 1978.

Northrop Grumman to produce second E-2D Advanced Hawkeye for Japan

Northrop Grumman was contracted by the US Navy to start production work on the second Japanese E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning (AEW) and surveillance aircraft.

The company will make use of the same multiyear production line used for US aircraft to manufacture the Japanese E-2D.

The first Japanese E-2D is in production and is expected to be delivered in 2018.

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is the latest and most technologically advanced variant of the E-2 Hawkeye airborne early warning command and control (AEW&C) platform.

US Navair tests 3D printed, safety-critical parts on MV-22B Osprey aircraft

The US Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) conducted a successful demonstration of a flight-critical aircraft component, which was built using additive manufacturing (AM) techniques.

For the test flight, which was performed using the standard V-22 flight performance envelope, a MV-22B Osprey aircraft was outfitted with a titanium, 3D printed link and fitting assembly for the engine nacelle.

Six additional safety-critical parts have been identified for manufacture. Three parts will be composed of titanium, while the other three will be of stainless steel.

These parts will be tested over the next year for three US Marine Corps rotorcraft platforms, the V-22, H-1 and CH-53K.

Lockheed completes flight tests of new Dual Mode Plus laser guided bomb

Lockheed Martin successfully completed two flight tests of its new Dual Mode Plus laser guided bomb (LGB) at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, California, US.

During the tests, two Mk-82 (500lb) inert warheads fitted with the Dual Mode Plus guidance kits were launched from an F/A-18 Super Hornet.

The Dual Mode Plus maintains the existing physical dimensions of Lockheed’s Paveway II Plus laser guided bomb (LGB) to offer a low-cost, all-weather direct attack capability for the US Navy.

US Navy and Australia sign cooperation agreement to develop alternative fuels

Australia’s Queensland and the US Navy signed a cooperation agreement to support and advance projects and initiatives related to alternative fuels development.

The development is part of the Great Green Fleet initiative, which outlines the US navy’s commitment to source 50% of fuel from renewable sources by 2020.

According to the agreement, the US Navy and Queensland will discuss the research, development, supply and sale of alternative fuels, with an aim to enhance operational flexibility and save energy.

New Zealand Government approves purchase plans for new naval ship

The New Zealand Government approved plans to acquire a new ship for littoral operations, in a bid to enhance the country’s naval capability.

A request for tenders will soon be issued by the Ministry of Defence and New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), revealed Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee.

Under the littoral operations support capability project, the new ship is expected to support the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) in performing hydrography, deep diving and mine countermeasure activities.

US Navy’s first F-35C fleet soon to complete final at-sea developmental test phase

The US Navy’s first fleet of seven F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft is set to successfully complete the third and final round of at-sea developmental testing, DT-III, aboard the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73), on 1 September.

In 2014, the F-35C aircraft conducted its first shipboard test flights aboard USS Nimitz, followed by developmental testing aboard nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Dwight D Eisenhower.

The US Navy is expected to declare the initial operational capability of the F-35C aircraft in 2018.