July's top stories: UK Trident renewal, Court rule on South China Sea

The UK Parliament voted to renew continuous-at-sea nuclear deterrent, an international court ruled against China’s sovereignty claims over South China Sea and delivery of the US Navy’s first Gerald R Ford aircraft carrier has been delayed again. Naval-technology.com wraps up key headlines from July.


UK Parliament votes to renew continuous-at-sea nuclear deterrent

The UK Parliament voted in favour of the Trident renewal programme, which is estimated to cost £40bn, to replace four Vanguard-class submarines that carry nuclear warheads.

The House of Commons backed the renewal by 472 votes to 117, a majority of 355 votes, according to media reports.

UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “We have voted to protect our nation from the most serious threats we may face in the 2030s, 2040s and 2050s.

“We will now get on with building the next generation of nuclear submarines to help keep the nation, and our allies, safe for decades to come.”

International court rules against China’s sovereignty claims over South China Sea

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, Netherlands, rejected China’s claims of sovereignty over stretches of South China Sea in a case filed by the Philippines.

China has been involved in territorial claims over disputes over almost all of the South China Sea region with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan.

The court unanimously concluded that "there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the 'nine-dash line'."

Delivery of US Navy’s first Gerald R Ford aircraft carrier delayed again

US Senator John McCain announced that the delivery of the US Navy’s first USS Gerald R Ford nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (CVN-78) will be delayed by another two months.

McCain said that the delay in the delivery follows as key systems of the vessel are yet to demonstrate expected performance.

US Navy spokesperson captain Thurraya S Kent was quoted by media sources as saying that the current expected delivery date of the carrier is in November this year, which is more than two years late, and could be revised if additional issues arise during testing.

The US Navy said that construction of the vessel was 98% complete as of last month.

Indian Navy to acquire four more P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft for $1bn

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) reportedly awarded a $1bn contract to Boeing to deliver four additional P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft for the Indian Navy.

The latest order is considered as a contract option to an initial $2.1bn contract awarded by India in 2009 to acquire eight P-81 planes from Boeing.

Sources familiar with the matter were cited by USNI News as saying that the contract option ‘would add the four aircraft as a direct commercial sale’.

Japan requests $821m sale of SM-2 Block IIIB Standard missiles from US

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the potential $821m foreign military sale (FMS) of Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) Block IIIB, equipment and support to Japan.

Under the FMS, Japan has requested for up to 246 SM-2, Block IIIB vertical launching tactical all-up rounds, RIM-66M-09.

The SM-2 Block IIIB missiles will be fitted on Japan’s two new Aegis-equipped destroyers, which are being built based on a modified Atago-class hull.

General Dynamics awarded $640m contract to build fleet oilers for US Navy

General Dynamics (GD) Nassco received $640m to design and build six next-generation John Lewis-class (TAO-205) fleet replenishment oilers for the US Navy.

The fixed price incentive firm target (FPIF) block buy contract amount includes line items for five follow-on ships between FY2018 and FY2022, and options for associated support efforts.

GD Nassco and Bath Iron Works president Fred Harris said: "We are pleased to be building the next-generation of oilers and participating in the future design efforts of the LX(R), two very important ship programmes for the fleet."

BAE wins $245m contract to deliver UK Navy’s Type 26 gun system

BAE Systems was awarded a $245m contract by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to provide a maritime indirect fires system (MIFS) for the UK Royal Navy’s next-generation Type 26 Global Combat Ship.

The UK's MoD selected BAE Systems as the preferred bidder last year after a competitive process. Under the contract, the company will design and develop three MIFS integrated gunnery systems (IGS) and one trainer system, as well as ammunition.

The contract also contains an option for five additional systems to be installed into the rest of the Type 26 fleet.

Currently, the Mk 45 is used by the US Navy and ten other allied nations. BAE Systems has delivered more than 240 Mk 45 guns to date.

North Korea reportedly constructing new larger submarine pens

North Korea is reportedly building two new covered docks (pens) that could be used to protect ballistic missile submarines (SSBs).

According to IHS Jane’s, Airbus Defence and Space satellite imagery indicates that construction of the base for the SSBs near Sinpo in North Korea started between August 2009 and November 2012.

The new findings reveal that the base is located 2.25km south of the Sinpo shipyard, close to the Mayang-do Naval Base on the country's east coast.

Leidos completes initial performance trials of US Navy’s first ACTUV Sea Hunter

Leidos completed the initial performance trials of the US Navy’s first unmanned surface vehicle Sea Hunter, built as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) anti-submarine warfare continuous unmanned vessel (ACTUV) programme.

The technology demonstration system trials were conducted off the coast of San Diego, California, US.

During the trials, the 132ft-long trimaran vessel met all performance objectives for speed, manoeuvrability, stability, seakeeping, acceleration / deceleration, and fuel consumption of the vessel.

The test also intended to evaluate the vessel’s mechanical system reliability while at sea.

Swedish FMV awards contract to upgrade and modify two Koster-class MCMVs

Saab been awarded an order from the Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV) to modify and upgrade the Swedish Navy's two Koster-class mine countermeasures vessels (MCMVs).

The Skr147m ($17.41m) contract covers the 2016-2017 period, and comes with options for additional orders between 2017 and 2018, which will amount to an extra Skr139m ($16.46m) if exercised.

Under the contract, Saab will perform mission system modifications and renovations, as well as enhance the propulsion system, including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) detection and protection functionality improvements.