February's top stories: UK's £859m Type 26 GCS deal, India's $16bn navy projects

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded a £859m contract to BAE Systems for Type 26 frigates, the Indian Government approved nearly $16bn worth of projects to construct seven stealth frigates and the Australian Government announced the acquisition strategy for a new submarine fleet. Naval-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from February 2015.


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UK MoD awards £859m contract to BAE Systems for Type 26 frigates

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed a contract worth £859m with BAE Systems for the UK Royal Navy's next-generation Type 26 Global Combat Ship programme.

The investment is expected to sustain around 1,700 jobs at sites across the country, including Derbyshire, West Yorkshire, Manchester, Cheshire, Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Hampshire.

BAE will use the investment to purchase essential long-lead items for warships and shore testing facilities, as well as key equipment for the first three ships, including gas turbines, diesel generators and steering gear.

Australia announces acquisition strategy for future submarine programme

The Australian Government announced the acquisition strategy for the future submarine programme, providing further details of the competitive evaluation process for a new submarine fleet.

According to the government, it is the largest defence procurement programme in the country and represents an investment of $50bn.

The new fleet is expected to fill a capability gap in the mid-2020s, when the Collins-class submarine is scheduled to retire from service.

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 in Mumbai and three at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers in Kolkata.

US Navy and MDA successfully test Aegis BMD 4.0 weapon system

Aegis

The US Navy and Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully tested the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) weapon system at Nasa's Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, US.

During testing, three short-range ballistic missile targets were launched over the Atlantic Ocean. They were then acquired and tracked by two Aegis BMD destroyers.

Designated Flight Test Other (FTX)-19, the test represented the first assessment of the system's ability to simulate engagements consisting of three short-range, separating ballistic missile targets.

Russian Navy ships granted access to Cypriot ports

Russia signed an agreement to dock its naval vessels at Cypriot ports, amid escalating tension with the West over the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

Signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades, it will allow Russian ships participating in counter-terrorism and anti-piracy missions to make regular port calls in Cyprus.

President Anastasiades told the Tass News Agency that the country will explore ways to advance defence cooperation with Russia, including the possibility of Russian warplanes using a Cypriot air base near Paphos for humanitarian relief missions.

Rolls-Royce wins $442m F-35B Liftsystem production and support contracts

Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce received three contracts worth $442m from US aerospace firm Pratt & Whitney to produce and support LiftSystems technology for F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

To be built as part of a series of deals agreed between the companies, the contracts cover low-rate initial production (LRIP) of 17 LiftSystems for F-35B fighters, together with support for two contract periods, LRIP seven and eight.

Featuring an extremely stable and dependable in-flight capability, the LiftSystem consists of a LiftFan, 3-Bearing Swivel Module and a roll post under each wing, as well as a shaft connected to the F135 engine.

UK's first F-35 Lightning II starts operational testing in US

F-35

The UK Royal Air Force's 17(R) Squadron started testing and evaluation of the country's first F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base in California, US.

The operational testing will enable the squadron to put the aircraft through its paces at an operational tempo.

The JSF is scheduled to carry out operations aboard the Royal Navy's two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, from 2020.

France deploys Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier for operations against IS

French forces

The French Navy's Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier was deployed in the Gulf to take part in a campaign against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said: "This is a strong political signal that reinforces the determination of France to overcome this barbarism Daech (IS) represents."

The Charles de Gaulle strike group includes an attack submarine, a French anti-aircraft frigate and HMS Kent, a UK anti-submarine frigate, as well as 2,000 sailors on the carrier.

DCNS signs Egyptian MoD's FREMM frigate delivery contract

The Egyptian Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded a contract to DCNS to supply a FREMM frigate.

The agreement followed the signing of a deal for four Gowind 2500 corvettes in July 2014.

DCNS chairman and chief executive officer Hervé Guillou said: "With this historical agreement, DCNS is pursuing a policy of long-term partnership with the Egyptian Navy and its shipyards, with whom we plan to invest in the long-term to develop their skills and industrial facilities.

"In addition, strengthening our relations opens new perspectives for the sale of vessels."

DARPA's LRASM prototype successfully completes flight tests

LRASM

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), together with the US Navy and Air Force, successfully completed flight tests of the long-range anti-ship missile (LRASM).

As part of the test from the Sea Test Range in Point Mugu, California, US, the joint-service team, known as the LRASM deployment office (LDO), assessed the missile's low-altitude performance and obstacle avoidance.

LDO navy programme manager captain Jaime Engdahl said: "We are very pleased with how LRASM performed today and we are looking forward to continuing integration efforts on the air force B-1, followed by our navy F/A-18, over the next few years.

"We have a clear mission to deliver game-changing capability to our warfighters in theatre as quickly as possible."

US Navy and Raytheon trial moving target capability of Tomahawk cruise missile

Tomahawk cruise missile

The US Navy and Raytheon conducted two successful flight tests of the Tomahawk cruise missile, demonstrating its moving target capability.

The first test demonstrated a Tomahawk cruise missile that was synthetically guided to hit a mobile ship target, while the second was a reduced mission planning time in a realistic call-for-fire scenario.

Raytheon Air Warfare Systems vice-president Mike Jarrett said: "The combat-proven Tomahawk is unmatched in its capability.

"Raytheon and the US Navy are working together to enhance Tomahawk and provide the warfighter with even more options in the battle space."