July's top stories: UK Type 26 construction, MBDA's Sea Venom / ANL missile

The steel for the British Royal Navy's Type 26 frigate was cut on the River Clyde, MBDA completed the first firing of its Sea Venom / Anti-Navire Léger (ANL) anti-ship missile and USMC's CH-53K aircraft completes its first extended cross-country flight test. Naval-technology.com wraps up key headlines from July 2017.


Construction begins of Royal Navy's Type 26 frigate

UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon cut the steel for the British Royal Navy's Type 26 frigate on the River Clyde, marking the beginning of the vessel's construction phase.

The ship is set to be the first in the British Royal Navy’s new generation of City-class frigates. Its name has been confirmed by the navy as HMS Glasgow.

First Sea Lord admiral Sir Philip Jones said: “The Clyde was the birthplace of some of the greatest fighting ships the world has ever known, and so cutting steel there today for the future HMS Glasgow is symbolic of a Royal Navy on the rise once again."


MBDA's Sea Venom / ANL missile completes first firing

MBDA successfully completed the first firing of its Sea Venom / Anti-Navire Léger (ANL) anti-ship missile at the Île du Levant test range in France.

The 100kg-class MBDA missile has been designed to offer an enhanced capability and will replace several existing and ageing anti-ship missile systems such as the UK-developed Sea Skua missile and the French-developed AS15TT missile.

The test firing of Sea Venom / ANL was carried out from a Dauphin test bed helicopter owned by the French defence procurement agency Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA).


US Navy test fires Tomahawk cruise missiles from new Virginia Payload Tube

The US Navy test fired two Raytheon-built Tomahawk cruise missiles from new submarine payload tubes on the Virginia-class naval vessel USS North Dakota (SSN-784) in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida.

The tests marked the first demonstration of the submarine's potential to load, carry and vertically launch Tomahawk missiles from the new Block III Virginia Payload Tube.

USS North Dakota's upgraded payload tubes feature fewer parts and are expected to be more reliable than previous models.


USMC’s CH-53K aircraft completes first extended cross-country flight test

The US Marine Corps' (USMC) CH-53K King Stallion successfully completed its cross-country flight from Sikorsky's West Palm Beach facility in Florida to Naval Air Station Patuxent River (PAX), Maryland.

The transition marked the first of several flights slated to take place during this year and 2018 as part of the CH-53K flight test programme.

Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky CH-53K Programmes vice-president Dr Michael Torok said: “This first movement of CH-53K flight testing to our customer's facility denotes that the aircraft has achieved sufficient maturity to begin transitioning the focus of the test programme from envelope expansion to system qualification testing."


Lockheed conducts LRASM launch from topside canister for first time

Lockheed Martin successfully completed the first launch of the US Navy’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) surface-launch variant from a newly designed topside canister.

The flight test was conducted at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, US, to validate the missile's ability to conduct an angled launch from a topside canister.

The LRASM, its Mk-114 booster and booster adapter used the same launch control and launch sequencer software during the test, which is currently employed by the Mk-41 Vertical Launch System (VLS).


EMALS team completes test to ensure safe aircraft launches

The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) completed testing a software fix that will ensure the US Navy's aircraft launches are conducted safely.

The launch system was tested at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, US.

A total of 71 launches were carried out by the EMALS team and the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 during the test period, in order to confirm F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft outfitted with wing-mounted, 480-gallon external fuel tanks (EFTs) could successfully launch without surpassing their respective stress limits.


US Navy to commission first Ford-class aircraft carrier CVN 78

The US Navy is set to commission its newest aircraft carrier, the future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), during a ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the first vessel of the US Navy’s new Gerald R. Ford-class, which in turn is the navy's first new class of aircraft carriers in more than 40 years.

The vessel's commissioning will begin the planned phased replacement of the US Navy’s current Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.


New P-8A Poseidon aircraft squadrons announced for UK's RAF

The British Royal Air Force's (RAF) No. 120 Squadron and No. 201 Squadron from Lossiemouth, Moray, are set to operate nine new P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

The P-8A Poseidon fleet will be primarily used to protect the British Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers and submarine-deployed nuclear deterrent.

P-8A Poseidon has been designed to conduct anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search and rescue operations, and intelligence gathering, and are expected to help enhance the country’s surveillance capabilities.


CAG criticises Indian Navy for delaying construction of anti-submarine warships

India's Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) criticised the Indian Navy for causing a delay in building four anti-submarine warships.

The CAG's report stated that two the four warships were not equipped with the requisite weapons systems upon delivery, and so could not perform to their intended potential. This report was also presented in Parliament.

The Navy's Directorate of Naval Design (DND) was also criticised for causing delays in finalising the design of the vessels.


Royal Navy ship HMS Astute returns to fleet after major upgrade

The British Royal Navy’s nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarine HMS Astute returned to the fleet after undergoing a major capability upgrade and sea training period.

The sea training process saw every aspect of the Royal Navy vessel's equipment and crew tested in order to ensure that it is ready to respond to emergency situations during high-intensity operations.

HMS Astute commanding officer said: “It has been a remarkable achievement getting Astute back to sea after a significant period."