March's top stories: UK’s Merlin contract, Sweden orders A26 subs

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded multi-million pound contracts for Merlin helicopter support and Successor submarine design work, the Swedish Navy is to procure two new A26 submarines from Saab, and delivery of the US Navy's first two Zumwalt-class (DDG 1000) guided-missile destroyers has been delayed. Naval-technology.com wraps-up key headlines from March.


successor sub

UK MoD awards £580m Merlin helicopter support contract to AgustaWestland

Merlin Mk2

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded a £580m contract to AgustaWestland, to provide maintenance support to the Royal Navy's Merlin Mk2 and Mk3 helicopters.

Under the new contract, the company will deliver the required support over the next five years and is expected to deliver more than £140m savings.

The majority of the work will be carried out at AgustaWestland's facility in Yeovil and at the Royal Navy Air Station Culdrose (RNAS) in Cornwall, UK.

Approximately 19 of 30 Merlin Mk2 anti-submarine helicopters have been delivered so far to the Royal Navy at RNAS Culdrose.

Swedish Navy to procure two new A26 submarines from Saab

Sweden's Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist officially announced the government's intention to authorise the Swedish Navy to procure two, next-generation A26 submarines from Saab.

In a statement released by the defence minister's office on 19 March, Hultqvist said that the total investment for two submarines will amount to Skr8.2bn ($945m).

The procurement of the A26 submarines will ensure Sweden's underwater capacity beyond 2030.

UK MoD awards £285m funding for Successor submarine design work

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded £285m in funding to continue design work for the UK Royal Navy's future nuclear deterrent Successor submarines.

BAE Systems will receive £257m, Babcock £22m and Rolls-Royce £6m, which will cover the final phase of design work.

The funding is part of the existing Successor programme's £3.3bn assessment phase and forms part of the MoD's commitment to spend £163bn on equipment and equipment support over the next ten years.

Delivery of Zumwalt-class destroyers delayed

zumwalt

The delivery of the US Navy's first two Zumwalt-class (DDG 1000) guided-missile destroyers was delayed.

The vessels are currently under construction at General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard.

USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) was originally scheduled to be delivered later this year, but is now expected to be handed over to the navy in November.

In a statement, navy acquisition directorate spokesperson commander Thurraya Kent said: "The schedule delay is due primarily to the challenges encountered with completing installation, integration and testing of the highly unique, leading-edge technology designed into this first-of-class warship."

Russia's second Mistral warship Sebastopol undergoes testing in France

mistral

France is reportedly carrying out sea trials of Sebastopol, Russia's second Mistral-class amphibious helicopter carrier.

The warship is said to be undergoing five-days of testing at the Saint-Nazaire port in western France, without the presence of any Russian Navy personnel aboard, reported AFP.

Sevastopol is one of two vessels built as part of a $1.5bn deal signed by France and Russia in June 2011.

Deliveries were suspended after criticism from the UK and US regarding Moscow's reported involvement in the Ukrainian crisis.

Indian Navy's first Scorpene submarine nears completion

The first of the Indian Navy's six Scorpene-class submarines successfully floated in water, marking the nearing of its completion at Mumbai's Mazagon Docks (MDL).

The Sunday Guardian quoted an unidentified Indian Navy source as saying: "Both the pressure and the outer hull of the first Scorpene are in place. Much of the internal fit is also progressing well.

"The submarine will now be placed on a pontoon, and tugged out of MDL docks to the nearby Indian Navy Dock. This will free one precious submarine-building dock at MDL, and thus help in meeting deadlines for subsequent Scorpenes. The remaining work on the first submarine, in particular the fitment of batteries, will be done in the naval dock."

Japan takes delivery of new Izumo-class destroyer

Japanese Defence Minister general Nakatani announced the delivery of the country's new Izumo-class destroyer at the Yokohama Shipyard Isogo Works, Japan Marine United Corporation.

Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Izumo destroyer is believed to be the largest warship Japan has built since the Second World War and is reportedly similar to the US Marine Corp's amphibious assault carriers in size and design.

Speaking during a press conference, Nakatani said that the warship features a very long and flat upper deck designed to be able to carry several helicopters for patrol missions as well as a huge hangar.

UK and France seek to develop new system to tackle underwater mines threat

MMCM

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and France's Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA) agreed to invest more than £17m to design a new maritime mine counter measures (MMCM) demonstrator, to better tackle the threats of underwater mines.

As part of the project, a contract has been signed by the international organisation OCCAR with a Thales-led consortium that includes BAE Systems.

Intended for use by the UK Royal Navy vessels, the design of a MMCM demonstrator will include an unmanned surface vehicle with sonar and an unmanned underwater vehicle.

The MMCM project aims to demonstrate the feasibility of using remotely-operated, unmanned marine vehicles and sensors to detect and dispose of sea-mines threat, while enhancing the maritime capability.

Northrop Grumman awarded SEWIP Block 3 contract

The US Navy awarded a $267m contract to Northrop Grumman to develop and manufacture the next-generation surface electronic warfare improvement programme (SEWIP) Block 3 system.

As part of the contract, the company will provide significant improvements for the shipboard AN/SLQ-32 electronic warfare attack system.

Northrop Grumman Navigation and Maritime Systems Division vice-president and general manager Teri Marconi said: "This is the first simultaneous, multi-mission enabler to be developed and deployed on navy surface ships."

DARPA selects AeroVironment and Northrop for Tern Phase Two prime contracts

tern darpa

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) selected AeroVironment and Northrop Grumman as the prime contracts for phase two of the tactically exploited reconnaissance node (TERN) programme.

Tern, a joint programme between DARPA and the US Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR), is aimed to forward-deploy small ships as mobile launch and recovery sites for medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

In the first and second phases of the programme, work will be focused on the preliminary design and risk reduction.