August’s top stories: US Navy’s X-47B, UK’s £348m OPV deal

2 September 2014 (Last Updated September 2nd, 2014 18:30)

The US Navy’s X-47B successfully conducted tests aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt, UK MoD awarded £348m patrol vessel construction contract to BAE and the US F/A-18 jets conducted air strikes on ISIS targets in Iraq. Naval-technology.com wraps up key headlines from August.

August’s top stories: US Navy’s X-47B, UK’s £348m OPV deal

august top

US Navy's X-47B successfully conducted tests aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt

x-47b

The US Navy's unmanned X-47B successfully completed a series of tests, operating safely and seamlessly with manned F/A-18s, aboard the navy's fourth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).

Based on previous experiences from its first test period aboard Theodore Roosevelt last November, the X-47B team focused on perfecting deck operations and manoeuvres with manned aircraft in the flight pattern.

US Navy Unmanned Carrier Aviation office programme manager captain Beau Duarte said: "Today we showed that the X-47B could take off, land and fly in the carrier pattern with manned aircraft, while maintaining normal flight deck operations."

UK MoD awarded £348m patrol vessel construction contract to BAE

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded a £348m contract to BAE Systems to construct three new offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the Royal Navy, formalising an agreement signed last November.

The new vessels will be built at BAE Systems' shipyards on the Clyde in Scotland, and will be designed to perform counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and anti-smuggling missions.

UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "UK warships are only built in UK shipyards.

"This multi-million pound contract shows our commitment to investing in new ships for the Royal Navy and maintaining in the UK the expertise needed to build the warships of the future."

US Navy F/A-18 jets conducted air strikes on ISIS targets in Iraq

f/a-18

The US F/A-18 jets dropped 500lb bombs on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) targets, near Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, on 8 August.

The F/A-18 Hornets, which belong to the navy's Carrier Air Wing 8, are assigned to the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) carrier group in the Persian Gulf.

Pentagon press secretary rear admiral John Kirby said: "The decision to strike was made by the US Central Command commander under authorisation granted him by the commander in chief.

"As the president made clear, the United States military will continue to take direct action against ISIS when they threaten our personnel and facilities."

HMS Enterprise evacuated British nationals amid worsening Libyan crisis

The UK Royal Navy's multi-role survey vessel HMS Enterprise was deployed to evacuate approximately 300 British citizens from Tripoli, amid worsening violence in Libya as rival militias vie for power.

The move followed the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) decision to temporarily shut down its embassy and other consular operations in Libya, after 22 people were killed on 2 August during a battle for control of Tripoli International Airport.

Urging British people to leave the north-African state, a UK Foreign Office spokesperson said: "We are currently carrying out an assisted departure. The majority of those being evacuated are British."

US Navy successfully tested surface-to-air standard missile-6

The US Navy successfully conducted a flight test of the new surface-to-air standard missile-6 (SM-6) at White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico, US.

The Juliet flight test wass the first of ten follow-on operational test and evaluation (FOT&E) events scheduled for SM-6's missile performance and demonstration.

Juliet was aimed at assessing the missile's potential to capture a subsonic, low-altitude target over land.

Australia sealed US deal for first four P-8A aircraft

The Australian defence minister senator David Johnston announced that a deal had been sealed with the US Navy for the procurement of the first four P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft.

As part of the Advanced Acquisition Contract for Australia's P-8A Poseidon aircraft, an initial payment of $159m was handed over to the navy for the production, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.

Boeing was awarded a $296m initial contract by the US navy to procure parts required for the production of 12 additional full-rate production (FRP) lot 2 P-8A aircraft, including eight for the US Navy and four for the RAAF.

BAE completed final hull section of HMS Prince of Wales

hms wales

BAE Systems completed the final section of the hull for the UK Royal Navy's second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales.

Dubbed Lower Block 02, the 6,000t section, which is set to be delivered to Rosyth, Scotland, will form the distinctive forward hull section of the aircraft's hull and was moved out of the shipyard on 2,000 wheels.

After the expected structural completion by July 2016, HMS Prince of Wales will embark on sea trials in January 2019, followed by acceptance tests in August the same year.

US Navy received latest version of RAM defensive missile from Raytheon

The US Navy received delivery of the first Block 2 variant of Raytheon's Rolling Airframe Missile system, which is designed to bolster vessel security against incoming airborne threats.

Delivered as part of the company's 2012 low-rate, initial production contract, the third generation RAM defensive weapon is integrated with improved kinematics, an evolved radio frequency receiver and enhanced control system.

Raytheon Missile System Naval and Area Mission Defense product line vice-president Rick Nelson said: "As today's threats continue to evolve, RAM Block 2's enhanced features give an unfair advantage to naval warfighters across the globe."

UK Royal Navy decommissioned HMS Illustrious

illustrious

The UK Royal Navy decommissioned the last Invincible-class aircraft carrier, HMS Illustrious, after it clocked up 900,000 miles on operations across the world in its 32-year service.

HMS Illustrious commanding officer captain Mike Utley said: "It has been a great honour to be the final commanding officer of HMS Illustrious."

HMS Ocean, which recently completed a £65m refurbishment, will replace Illustrious as the nation's helicopter carrier, before eventually being replaced by two new 65,000t aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

RAN's first Nuship Canberra LHD began final builder sea trials

canberra

The Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) first of two landing helicopter dock (LHD) vessels, Nuship Canberra, embarked on final builder sea trials, prior to its delivery to the Australian Government.

During the trials, that took place in both Port Phillip Bay and off the southern coast of New South Wales during August, the company tested the combat and communication systems, together with some platform system assessments.

BAE Systems Maritime director Bill Saltzer said: "This is the last major element of a very complex and comprehensive test programme to prove the capabilities of the ship and its systems prior to delivery to our customer."