October's top stories: US sails in South China Sea, Saudi's $11.2bn MMSC ship sale

The US Navy sent warships within 12nm miles of the China’s artificial islands, the US State Department approved $11.2bn sale of MMSC ships to Saudi Arabia, and BAE Systems introduces new unmanned technology for naval forces. Naval-technology.com wraps up key headlines from October 2015.


malabar Top

US Navy sails warships near China-built artificial islands

USS Lassen

The US Navy sailed its warships within 12nm miles of artificial islands built by China in the disputed South China Sea.

The US earlier said they will send warships in the disputed area to contest Chinese territorial claims to the artificial islands, where China has reportedly begun military construction.

According to US officials, the navy's Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen performed the patrol, sailing near the Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly archipelago.

Sikorsky completes first flight of USMC's CH-53K helicopter

CH-53K helicopter

Sikorsky Aircraft successfully completed the first flight of the US Marine Corps' (USMC) CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter prototype.

Known as engineering development model-1 (EDM-1), the helicopter prototype completed a 30-minute flight, marking the beginning of a 2,000 hour flight test programme using four test aircraft.

During the test, the aircraft performed hover, sideward, rearward and forward flight control inputs while in ground effect hover up to 30ft above the ground, the company stated.

Raytheon wins Phalanx system production contract from US Navy

Ratheon

Raytheon secured a $159.9m contract from the US Navy to manufacture, inspect and test Phalanx Close-in Weapon Systems (CIWS).

The latest contract covers support equipment for the Phalanx and SeaRAM Weapon Systems, Block 1B radar upgrades, and kits for reliability, maintainability, and availability.

In addition, the contract includes overhaul of four land-based Phalanx Weapon Systems, the company stated.

US approves $11.2bn foreign military sale to Saudi Arabia

The US State Department approved a possible foreign military sale worth approximately $11.2bn to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for multi-mission surface combatant (MMSC) ships, associated equipment, parts and logistical support.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency has notified Congress about the possible sale.

Aimed to support Saudi Arabia's naval modernisation programme, the proposed deal covers the delivery of four MMSC ships that incorporate five COMBATSS-21 combat management systems.

UK Royal Navy sends HMS Richmond to tackle migrant smugglers

HMS Richmond

The UK Royal Navy deployed its Type 23 frigate HMS Richmond to support the European Union-led mission to tackle migrant smugglers in the Mediterranean Sea.

In May, the EU approved plans to conduct a military operation to tackle human trafficking networks using ships, drones, and helicopters.

With the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2240, navy personnel will be able to conduct enforcement action on the high seas.

US, India and Japan complete naval exercise Malabar 2015

The US, India and Japan successfully completed the naval exercise Malabar 2015.

The exercise featured maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, surface and anti-submarine warfare, air defence exercises (ADEX) and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations.

This year's Malabar Exercise marked the participation of Japan as a permanent member in the annual drill. Japan joined the exercise in 2007, 2009, and 2014 as a foreign invitee.

Russia to upgrade Indian Navy's Kilo-class submarines

The Indian Navy reportedly signed an Rs50bn ($679.26m) contract with Russia to extend the service life of its Kilo-class submarines.

As part of this development, the navy has finalised a contract with Russian shipbuilder Zvezdochka to upgrade the underwater vessels to keep them in service for a period of 35 years, The Economic Times reported.

Under this project, the refit of one submarine will be performed in Russia, while the remaining will undergo renovation in India.

US Navy reintroduces celestial navigation to counter cyber attacks

The US Navy is reportedly returning to the use of celestial navigation as a back-up plan during potential Global Positioning System (GPS) attacks by hackers.

The navy is reinstating celestial navigation classes for all new recruits, enabling them to rely on the centuries-old practice to better serve the force in critical situations.

The Naval Academy is currently teaching trainees to work with sextants, a reflecting instrument, which uses mirrors to calculate angles and plot directions.

BAE Systems tests unmanned naval boat

Unmanned boat

BAE Systems introduced a new technology, which will enable naval crews to perform high-speed reconnaissance and remote surveillance using unmanned boat.

The new unmanned technology will allow the boat to operate autonomously for up to 12 hours at a time.

The vessel can be operated in a pre-planned route or using remote control.

Nato begins military exercise Exercise Trident Juncture

Nato commenced its largest exercise since 2002, Trident Juncture, bringing armed forces from more than 30 allied nations together.

Being conducted in Italy, Portugal and Spain, the five-week exercise will see the participation of around 36,000 international troops, including 230 military units, 140 aircraft, and more than 60 ships.

Trident Juncture will test the Nato Response Force (NRF), demonstrating Nato's readiness, flexibility