May's top stories: Canada’s $21.5bn vessels, Italian Navy’s $4bn order

Canada is set to construct up to 15 vessels under C$26.2bn programme, Fincantieri and Finmeccanica received a €3.5bn ($4bn) contract to build a total of seven naval vessels for the Italian Navy and Australia launched the first Hobart-class air warfare destroyer. Naval-technology.com wraps up key headlines from May.


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Canada to construct up to 15 vessels under C$26.2bn programme

Canadian officials have stated that the country is set to begin construction of naval ships under a C$26.2bn ($21.5bn) programme early in the next decade.

The project, which will see the construction of 15 vessels to replace three destroyers and 12 frigates, was originally announced by the Canadian Government in 2010.

The budget of this programme and number of combat ships are not still confirmed. Officials claimed that the plan was now to construct up to 15 vessels and the exact number would not be known for another few years.

Fincantieri and Finmeccanica to build $4bn patrol vessels for Italian Navy

Fincantieri and Finmeccanica and Raggruppamento Temporaneo di Impresa (RTI) have secured a joint €3.5bn ($4bn) contract to build a total of seven naval vessels for the Italian Navy as part of its fleet renewal programme.

Under the contract, the companies will construct one logistic support ship (LSS), six multipurpose offshore patrol ships (PPA), with four more in options, as well as one transport and landing vessel.

The Italian Navy will deploy the vessels for both standard military purposes and for civil protection and rescue at sea operations.

Fincantieri will be responsible for providing support for the vessels over the first ten years, while Finmeccanica, through its subsidiary Selex ES, will serve as the prime contractor for all of the new naval units' combat systems.

Australian Navy launches first Hobart-class air warfare destroyer

The Australian Royal Navy (RAN) has launched the first of three destroyers, Hobart, at the Port River wharf in Adelaide, marking a milestone in the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) programme.

The $8bn AWD programme, one of the largest defence projects ever undertaken in Australia, aims to deliver an affordable, effective, flexible, and sustainable air warfare destroyer platform to the RAN.

The AWD programme, known as SEA 4000, will deliver advanced multirole warships to replace the FFGs of the RAN. The remaining two vessels are Brisbane and Sydney.

USMC's F-35B Lightning II aircraft begin first phase of operational testing

F-35B

The US Marine Corps' (USMC) six F-35B Lightning II aircraft have commenced the first phase of shipboard operational testing (OT-1), landing aboard the amphibious assault ship, USS Wasp.

The first phase of OT will see the evaluation and assessment of the integration of the F-35B into Marine Corps aviation, while operating across different flight, maintenance and logistical operations.

During the test, the USMC will carry out demonstration and assessment of day and night flight operations in varying aircraft configurations, as well as day and night weapons loading.

Israel to purchase four German corvettes for nearly €430m

The Israel Ministry of Defense (MoD) has signed an estimated €430m contract with German shipyard ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) to purchase four advanced surface vessels for the Israeli Navy.

The new corvettes, which will be constructed at the German Naval Yards in Kiel and the vessels are expected to be delivered over the next five years.

For this project, Germany will provide a special grant of €115m, a third of the total cost.

North Korea reportedly tests new ballistic missile

North Korea has reportedly carried out a successful underwater test of a newly developed ballistic missile, increasing the country's defence capabilities.

According to country's official KCNA news agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was present to oversee the launch.

Kim Jong-Un said that the country has now possessed a: "world-level strategic weapon capable of striking and wiping out in any waters the hostile forces infringing upon (North Korea's) sovereignty and dignity."

Thales to provide radar and mission system for UK Royal Navy

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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Lockheed Martin have selected Thales to deliver the radar and mission system for the UK Royal Navy.

This is part of a contract that the MoD awarded to Lockheed Martin to design develop and demonstrate the Crowsnest airborne command and control system for the UK's future aircraft carrier capability.

The project is aimed to provide the navy with long-range air, maritime and land detection capabilities, as well as the ability to track potential threats.

With the new product, the navy will be able to replace the Sea King helicopter's airborne surveillance and control capability.

EU approves plans for naval operation to tackle migrant smugglers

The European Union has reportedly approved plans to conduct a military operation to tackle the human trafficking networks that smuggle migrants through the Mediterranean Sea.

With this new development, EU will be able to start using ships, drones, and helicopters in order to collect intelligence about smugglers.

The EU has plans to capture smugglers and destroy their boats off the Libyan coast to prevent increasing number of irregular crossing attempts. In order to implement this, the UN will have to give its approval to operate close inshore to a country.

The naval operation is expected to start in June this year.

US Navy's MQ-8C Fire UAV completes final developmental test flight

MQ-8C

The US Navy's Northrop Grumman-built MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has successfully conducted its final developmental test flight from Naval Base Ventura County at Point Mugu, US.

During the flight test, which was conducted on 29 April, the new, larger unmanned helicopter met all of its performance objectives.

The aircraft will now be prepared to begin operational testing, which will be planned by Northrop and carried out aboard an US Navy's littoral combat ship (LCS) later this year.

In December 2014, the unmanned helicopter successfully completed the debut flight on the navy's guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109).

US Navy achieves IOC for Block 2 Rolling Airframe Missile

RAM

The US Navy has successfully secured initial operational capability (IOC) for the Block 2 rolling airframe missile (RAM) aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24).

Claimed to be one of the most capable anti-ship cruise missile defence systems in the world, RAM is a 39-year US cooperative programme with the German Government that has yielded the American taxpayer more than $800m in cost avoidance.

The third generation RAM defensive weapon is integrated with improved kinematics, an evolved radio frequency receiver and enhanced control system, allowing the US force to counter advanced anti-ship cruise missile threats.