September's top stories: US Navy's Triton UAS, France-Russia Mistral deal
The US Navy's MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS) successfully completed its first cross-country ferry flight, France reportedly cancelled its earlier plans to deliver two controversial Mistral-class warships to the Russian Navy and BAE started the assembly phase of HMS Prince of Wales. Naval-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from September.
The US Navy's MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS) successfully completed its first cross-country ferry flight from California to Maryland, US.
The flight was aimed at demonstrating its capability to perform operational missions in the maritime domain.
During the 11-hour, 3,290nm flight, the aircraft, which was controlled by a joint team from a ground station at the Palmdale Navy System Integration Lab at Patuxent River, ferried the broad-area maritime surveillance demonstrator from Palmdale to the Patuxent River.
France reportedly cancelled earlier plans to deliver two controversial Mistral-class warships to the Russian Navy, citing conditions as being 'not right' for deliveries amid conflicts in eastern Ukraine.
The latest decision is said to be one of the most concrete signs yet of the West's eagerness to take a more aggressive approach in dealing with Russia over Ukraine, despite fears that the European economy, which is already fading, could be hit by a dispute with Russia.
Russia has been criticised for its alleged role in the supply of anti-aircraft systems to rebels in eastern Ukraine, who allegedly shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, killing 298 people onboard.
BAE Systems successfully docked the hull sections of the UK Royal Navy's second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, at its Rosyth shipyard, marking the start of the carrier's assembly phase.
The latest move came within days of the announcement by UK Prime Minster David Cameron that HMS Prince of Wales will be commissioned, ensuring that Britain will possess an aircraft carrier, available from 2020.
Aircraft Carrier Alliance managing director Ian Booth said: "Every milestone in the carrier programme is hugely significant and the recent announcement that HMS Prince of Wales will enter service means there is a real sense of excitement as we start to bring the second ship together."
The US Navy's second Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS), USS Coronado (LCS 4), successfully test-fired the Kongsberg naval strike missile (NSM) during missile testing missions off the Southern California coast.
Launched from the deck, the Norwegian-made Kongsberg NSM successfully hit a mobile ship target.
US Naval Surface Forces commander vice-admiral Thomas Rowden said: "We are extremely pleased with the outcome of today's test onboard Coronado."
Raytheon was awarded a contract by the US Navy to procure Tomahawk Block IV tactical cruise missiles for the current fiscal year, along with an option for the following year.
Under the $251m contract, Raytheon will be tasked with the production and delivery of Tomahawk Block IV cruise missiles to the US Navy and UK Royal Navy.
US Navy Tomahawk programme manager captain Joseph Mauser said: "Tomahawk Block IV continues to be our nation's weapon of choice to defeat high-value targets and integrated air-defence systems."
General Dynamics (GD) Electric Boat received a contract from the US Navy to deliver planning yard work, engineering and technical support for the navy's nuclear submarines.
The latest $311m option forms part of a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, which has an overall potential value of $1.5bn if all options are exercised over five years.
As part of the agreement, Electric Boat will provide design, engineering, material and logistics support, in addition to research and development activities, for operational submarines and submersibles.
Russia successfully tested the new Bulava (SS-NX-32) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from the White Sea, aboard the yet-to-be commissioned new-generation nuclear-powered Borei-class submarine, Vladimir Monomakh, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
Conducted as part of the submarine's weapons and systems testing, the missile was launched from an underwater position and its warheads reached the Kura firing range in Kamchatka, Russian Far East.
Russia Naval commander-in-chief admiral Viktor Chirkov was quoted by Interfax as saying: "In October and November of this year, the naval fleet will carry out two more launches with two rocket cruisers equipped with ballistic missiles."
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a possible sale of 12 Mk-48 Mod 7 Advanced Technology (AT) torpedo conversion kits and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support to Canada.
The estimated $41m foreign military sale (FMS) programme also includes containers, spare and repair parts, weapon system support and integration, as well as publication and technical documentation.
The Mk 48 Mod 7AT torpedoes are expected to be deployed on the Royal Canadian Navy's Victoria-class submarines. Canada has already deployed Mk-48 Mod 4/4M and Mk-46 Mod 5A (SW) torpedoes.
Northrop Grumman, along with the US Navy, successfully completed the preliminary design review (PDR) of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aerial refuelling system, paving the way for the system's critical design review and its manufacturing phase.
Built as part of $226.7m engineering, manufacturing and development contract awarded in 2013, the system will be installed on the newly built E-2Ds and also retrofitted onto the US Navy's existing E-2D fleet to extend the aircraft's flight endurance.
Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems E-2 / C-2 programmes vice-president Bart LaGrone said: "The greater endurance provided by aerial refuelling provides the warfighter with enhanced surveillance and targeting capability and the persistence needed to accomplish this more effectively."
The Indian Navy officially commissioned the new generation INS Sumitra naval offshore patrol vessel (NOPV), built by Goa Shipyard (GSL), in Chennai, India, bolstering its maritime surveillance and coastal security.
To be deployed into the Eastern Naval Command at Chennai, the navy's largest OPV is powered by two SEMT Pielstick diesel engines that are capable of achieving a maximum speed of 25k while offering an endurance of approximately 6,000nm.
Based on GSL's in-house design, the new vessel is integrated with weapons, guns, heavy-calibre SRGM, rapid-fire Russian AK630 guns, chaff launchers Kavach and the EW system Sanket, in addition to several other electronic sensors.