January's top stories: Irving $2.3bn AOPS contract, £100m Portsmouth investment
The Canadian Government awarded a $2.3bn DeWolf-class arctic offshore patrol ships (AOPS) construction contract to Irving Shipbuilding, the UK confirmed a £100m boost for Portsmouth Naval Base and the US Navy successfully launched its third mobile-user objective system (MUOS-3) satellite. Naval-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from January.
The Canadian Government awarded a $2.3bn DeWolf-class arctic offshore patrol ships (AOPS) construction contract to Nova Scotia-based Irving Shipbuilding.
The agreement, which is for six vessels, marks the start of the construction phase of the national shipbuilding procurement strategy.
Canada Public Works and Government Services Minister Diane Finley said: "This is further proof that our shipbuilding strategy is bringing jobs and prosperity to communities on our coastlines and across the country.
"It will sustain an estimated 1,000 jobs right here in Halifax and many more at suppliers across Canada."
The UK confirmed plans to invest £100m for new dock facilities at Portsmouth Naval Base, in a bid to ensure it is ready to serve the future Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
In addition to developing the port infrastructure, the investment will involve berthing and jetty improvements, as well as new power supply and distribution capabilities.
UK Royal Navy First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas KCB DSC ADC said: "The commitment to a new national shipbuilding strategy is not just a very significant investment in the UK's shipbuilding future.
"It is also a powerful statement that our nation's global interests will be protected by a credible, world-class navy, equipped with fast-jet aircraft carriers, submarines, destroyers and frigates, which will be the best and most modern in the world."
The first F-35C Lightning II carrier variant was delivered to the US Marine Corps (USMC) from the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, Texas, US.
It is the first of five F-35Cs that will be transported VFA-101 on Eglin Air Force base for training to support carrier-based operations.
US Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 501 detachment commander and F-35 pilot lieutenant colonel J.T. Ryan said: "It marks the beginning of our training in the carrier variant and puts us that much closer to standing up our first F-35C operational fleet squadron.
"Now, marine pilots will be flying the F-35C with the navy's carrier air wings while deployed aboard aircraft carriers."
The US Navy successfully launched its third mobile-user objective system (MUOS-3) satellite on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V evolved expendable launch vehicle (EELV) 551, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Space Launch Complex 41.
The Lockheed Martin-built satellite responded to subsequent commands.
Prior to achieving full operational capability in 2017, the system will go through multiservice operational test and evaluation in December, after which it will join MUOS 1 and 2 to deliver communications coverage to more than three-quarters of the world.
A&P Group was awarded a £15m contract by the UK Ministry of Defence to add high-end military capabilities to four new Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) tankers.
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said that the contract will create new jobs in Falmouth, UK, and provide job security to many others.
Called MARS, the four Tide-class tankers are being built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, and will replace the existing fleet of single-hulled tankers.
The French Navy successfully completed test-firing of the Aster 30 surface-to-air missile on Chevalier Paul, an air defence frigate.
The missile successfully matched friendly and opponent aircraft, and then engaged the opponent jet, confirming the outer limits of the field of discrimination.
Integrating a range of complex technologies and advanced military capabilities, the Chevalier Paul air defence frigate is the preferred escort for aircraft carriers, including France's Charles de Gaulle, and a range of US vessels.
The US Navy confirmed plans to rename 20 modified littoral combat ships (LCS) as frigates.
US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said: "It is going to be the same ship, same programme of record, just with an appropriate and traditional name.
"One of the requirements of the small surface combatant task force was to have a ship with frigate-like capabilities.
"Well, if it is like a frigate, why don't we call it a frigate?"
The US Navy's Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth joined USS Sampson on a mission to support the search efforts for the wreckage of AirAsia flight QZ8501.
The plane vanished when it was en route from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore on 28 December 2014.
In addition to the US and Indonesian navies, the search effort is being supported by a multinational task force of ships and aircraft, which have been searching the northern Java Sea and coastline of southern Borneo since the crash.
Raytheon successfully tested its APG-79 (V) X AESA radar system on the US Navy's F/A-18C/D Hornet fighter / attack jets.
Designed to extend the Hornet's relevance, the Raytheon-built radar system demonstrated extended detection ranges and simultaneous air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities.
Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems business tactical airborne systems business development director Mike Garcia said: "We put our latest AESA radar capability to the test and it exceeded our expectations.
"Our APG-79 (V) X combines the best features of our AESA portfolio to ensure low-risk and give F/A-18C/D a tactical advantage for the next 15 to 20 years."
The Chinese Navy commissioned a new 4,000t Huanggang guided-missile destroyer at Zhoushan Port in Zhejiang province.
The newest Huanggang-class Type 054A multirole frigate is claimed to be capable of attacking vessels and submarines, and will improve the medium-to-high altitude air defence potential of the army's East Sea Fleet.
Huanggang-class vessels have long-range detection and air defence capabilities, as well as a full displacement of more than 4,000t, Xinhua reported.
The US Navy announced it will allow enlisted female sailors to serve on submarines, following the successful integration of female officers.
It comes after Congress approved funding for the plan last year.
All ratings and enlisted classification codes to enlisted women will be opened for a two-phase integration aboard the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines, Ohio-class guided-missile submarines and Virginia-class attack submarines.
Enlisted women could begin their service as soon as 2016.