May's top stories: Sikorsky’s $1.24bn deal, HMS Artful submarine

Sikorsky signed a $1.24bn contract to build the new presidential Marine One helicopter fleet, BAE launched the third Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine, Artful, and the SM-3 block-IB guided missile completed its first land-based launch from the Aegis Ashore weapon system. Naval-technology.com wraps up key headlines from May.


HMS QE

Sikorsky signs $1.24bn deal to build new Marine One helicopter fleet

Sikorsky has signed a $1.24bn contract to build the new Marine One helicopter fleet for the Office of the President, which will replace the existing fleet.

The fixed-price, incentive-firm-target contract has been awarded by the US Navy for the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the presidential helicopter replacement programme.

In addition to the procurement of six test aircraft, the contract includes the supply of associated support equipment, integration of mature, government-defined mission systems, a training system, including a flight training device and a maintenance training device, logistics, engineering, and test and evaluation support.

Royal Navy's Artful submarine begins water trials at BAE's Barrow shipyard

HMS artful

BAE has launched the third Astute-class nuclear-powered Artful submarine into the dock at its Barrow-in-Furness shipyard in Cumbria, UK, marking the beginning of the next phase of its test and commissioning process prior to sea trials in 2015.

Designed and built for the UK Royal Navy, the 97m-long, 7,400t vessel is the third of seven highly complex Astute-class submarines.

BAE Systems Astute programme director Stuart Godden said the launch of Artful is another significant step forward in the programme.

Aegis Ashore successfully launches Raytheon's SM-3 missile

The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), together with the US Navy, has successfully completed the first land-based launch of Raytheon's Standard Missile (SM)-3 block-IB guided missile from the Aegis Ashore weapon system near the Pacific missile range facility (PMRF) off Kauai.

During the non-intercept test, called Aegis Ashore controlled test vehicle (AA CTV)-01, the land-based system successfully launched and controlled the missile against a simulated target.

The test was aimed at demonstrating the ability to offer proven defence capabilities against a ballistic missile threat.

US Navy moves ship into Mediterranean Sea for evacuations from Libya

USS Bataan

The US Navy has deployed the Wasp-class amphibious assault vessel USS Bataan, with 1,000 marines, into the Mediterranean Sea, in the wake of worsening unrest in Libya.

US officials claimed it was a 'precautionary' measure, ready to swing into action if the US Embassy needs to be evacuated.

In a simultaneous move, the US Department of State has issued an advisory to all Americans in Libya to leave the country immediately, as battles for power have pushed the country into anarchy.


HMS Queen Elizabeth prepares for launch in July

The UK Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth-class (QE) aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is set to be launched on 4 July, marking a major milestone in the programme.

She will be floated for the first time in the Babcock-operated dock.

Currently about 1,500 workers on the carrier are installing and trialling the systems to enable operations, which are similar to the navy's 22,000t Invincible-class carriers.

Irish Naval Service commissions Babcock-built LÈ Samuel Beckett OPV

Samuel Beckett OPV

The Irish Naval Service has officially christened and commissioned LÈ Samuel Becket, the first of two Babcock-built Samuel Beckett-class offshore patrol vessels (OPV).

The first vessel, which was ordered by the Irish Navy as part of a £81m deal signed in October 2010, was delivered to the service late last month upon completion of sea trials.

According to Babcock, it is designed to offer an operational capability for several years of service in the North Atlantic, which is its main area of operation.

Sikorsky unveils CH-53K helicopter for USMC

Sikorsky Aircraft has unveiled the CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter, which is expected to enter operational service with the US Marine Corps (USMC) in 2019.

Called 'King Stallion' by the USMC, the next generation helicopter is powered by GE Aviation's latest T408 engines, which reportedly offer 57% more power by consuming 20% less fuel than the CH-53E aircraft's T64 turboshaft powerplant.

Sikorsky president Mick Maurer said that the CH-53K introduces a new era in USMC aviation.

MUOS satellites secure first military-data connections in Arctic

muos

The US Navy has used mobile-user objective system (MUOS) satellites to provide high-bandwidth military-data connections in the Arctic.

During the navy's 2014 Ice Exercise (ICEX), MUOS satellites offered approximately 150 hours of secure data connections, and megabyte data files were transferred over stable satellite connections for the first time.

Researchers from Lockheed Martin, working on top of a floating ice camp above the Arctic Circle, were able to secure satellite communications during the annual Arctic submarine exercise.

Royal Navy's HMS Defender fires Sea Viper missile

The UK Royal Navy's Type 45, Daring-class anti-air warfare destroyer, HMS Defender, has successfully fired the Sea Viper weapon system for the first time.

After being launched, the 683lb anti-air missile system hurtled through the Atlantic skies at about four times the speed of sound and successfully smashed the target, a 13ft remote-controlled Mirach drone, which was travelling at 600mph.

The successful missile firing, which is the final act in two years of rigorous training by the ship's crew, means the destroyer is now ready to deploy on global operations, joining sister ships HMS Daring, Dauntless, Diamond and Dragon, which are already active.

New 'stealth' e-readers for US Navy sailors

The US Navy has released a new secure, custom e-reader, dubbed the Navy eReader Device (NeRD), which will be distributed among each active submarine fleet.

Developed by Findaway World and the navy general library programme (NGLP), the new device is an essential part of the navy's morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) programme.

NGLP programme assistant Nilya Carrato said: "Since we have the digital product available while sailors are on shore, we wanted to find a way to get digital accessibility while sailors are on ships.

"They can keep 300 books ... in their pockets now."