Classic F/A-18 gets new home: An F/A-18 Classic Hornet that has served the Royal Australian Air Force with distinction over three decades has received one of the nation’s highest honours – a place in the National Collection at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Defence, in association with Boeing Defence Australia, officially handed over F/A-18 Classic Hornet, A21-022, to the War Memorial’s Treloar Technology Centre in Canberra. The F/A-18 Classic Hornet, A21-022, will join other significant exhibits in the collection, including “G for George” – a Lancaster bomber that belonged to No. 460 Squadron RAAF Bomber Command during World War II. A21-022 was retired on 14 May 2020 after completing 30 years in service, including 6131.5 flying hours with the RAAF. F/A-18 Classic Hornet A21-022 was partially disassembled at RAAF Base Williamtown, NSW for road transport to Canberra. The RAAF’s fleet of 71 F/A-18 Classic Hornets is being progressively withdrawn as the Australian Defence Force transitions to a fleet of 72 F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters.
Rheinmetall takes over maintenance of German Air Force’s CH-53G: Rheinmetall has won an order from the German Bundeswehr to inspect, maintain and repair Sikorsky CH-53G transport helicopters. Starting in March 2021, the Düsseldorf-based Group will be operating two maintenance and repair bays belonging to the German Air Force’s 64th Helicopter Squadron at Diepholz in Lower Saxony. Worth a figure in the lower two-digit million-euro range, the contract with Rheinmetall Aviation Services GmbH runs for five years, with an option for a one-year extension. In Diepholz, the 64th Helicopter Squadron is responsible for larger maintenance operations in a separate remote squadron, with a total of five Bundeswehr-owned maintenance and repair bays for the CH-53G – an aircraft that has been operated in the Bundeswehr since 1972. An integrated high-tech enterprise dedicated to security and mobility, Rheinmetall’s proposal won the tender, so that its subsidiary Rheinmetall Aviation Services GmbH (RAS) will soon be in charge of maintaining and repairing Bundeswehr helicopters in Diepholz. RAS will draw on organisational and aeronautical regulatory support from its sister company Rheinmetall Technical Publications, an approved aeronautical company located at Bremen Airport.
Airbus primes FCAS Low Observability and leads New Generation Fighter in Spain: Spanish industry has signed the initial framework contract of the Future Combat Air System’s (FCAS) demonstrator phase, confirming Airbus as the lead in Spain for the New Generation Fighter (NGF) and prime contractor in the Low Observability domain of the European defence programme. This contract, signed with French and German industry partners, completes Spain’s onboarding as an equal nation across all FCAS activities. The signature closes a 10-month process of onboarding Spain as the third nation. Airbus, which has been dedicated over the last year to support this integration of Spain, welcomes this step and takes on a primary role at the heart of Spain’s participation in FCAS, working directly with European partners and wider industry in support of Spain’s contribution to the program. The contract covers initial work on developing the programme demonstrators and maturing cutting-edge technologies, with the ambition to begin the NGF demo flight tests in the second half of 2026. FCAS will provide the next generation of sovereign air power and represents the future of Spain’s aerospace and defence industry. Airbus will play a major role working closely with, and helping to develop, Spain’s industrial and technology capabilities.
AAR awarded US$148 million contract to continue C-40 contractor logistics support: AAR, a leading provider of aviation services to commercial and government operators, MROs and OEMs, was awarded a US$148 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity follow-on contract with Naval Air Systems Command. This expanded contract provides contractor logistics support required for operating and maintaining the C-40A aircraft, aircraft subsystems, appliances and support equipment, including depot-level, main operating base and supply support. This award also introduces additional requirements including new operating sites, commercial line maintenance, and scheduled engine overhauls. Heavy maintenance work on the C-40A aircraft will be performed at AAR’s MRO facility at the Oklahoma City airport, with line maintenance support conducted at two Naval Air Stations within the United States and logistics support at six Naval Air Stations. AAR will also use its landing gear repair facility in Miami and component repair shop in New York to support the Navy fleet.
Airbus concludes cooperative pilot phase with companies in Germany: Airbus has concluded a pilot phase of the “Innovations for FCAS” (I4 FCAS) initiative which aims at involving German non-traditional defence players, covering start-ups, small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and research institutes- in the development of Future Combat Air System (FCAS). This initiative which was launched in April 2020 was funded by the German Ministry of Defence. During the pilot phase, 18 innovative players worked on 14 projects in different areas, covering the whole range of FCAS elements: combat cloud, connectivity, new generation fighter, remote carriers, system of systems, sensors. Among these 14 projects, Airbus engineers have worked closely with SMEs and startups to achieve concrete results such as: A first flight-test approved launcher of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) from of a transport aircraft. This project is the result of a cooperation between Airbus as A400M integrator, Geradts GmbH for the launcher and SFL GmbH from Stuttgart for UAV integration and supported by DLR simulations. An agile design and development approach allowed for rapid prototyping and flight readiness in only six months; A secure combat cloud demonstrator: a first time transfer of secured operating systems into a cloud environment. Kernkonzept GmbH from Dresden together with Airbus CyberSecurity have shown how IT security can be used for highest security requirements on a governmental cloud system; A demonstrator of applied artificial intelligence on radio frequency analysis. Hellsicht GmbH from Munich trained their algorithms on Airbus-provided datasets, allowing for a unique capability of real time fingerprinting of certain emitters, such as radars. As Europe’s largest defence programme in the coming decades, FCAS aims at pushing the innovation and technological boundaries. Its development will bring disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, manned-unmanned teaming, combat cloud or cybersecurity to the forefront.
AeroVironment introduces new antenna: AeroVironment, a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), announced the introduction of its Extended Range Antenna (ERA), the latest addition to AeroVironment’s growing line of network connectivity solutions. The ERA is a lightweight, portable antenna array kit designed to integrate seamlessly with AeroVironment’s standard RF head antenna to support a diverse range of missions. The ERA add-on kit narrows the antenna beam width, extending the command and control range up to 40 kilometers (24.9 miles) with minimal impact to its size, weight and power (SWAP) footprint. Similar to the standard RF head antenna, the ERA is manually positioned. The included RF Unit switch allows users to toggle between omnidirectional mode, for short-range operations, and extended range mode, for longer-range operations. The ERA supports both M1/2/5 and M3/4/6 Digital Data Link (DDL) operating bands. By adding the ERA kit to their existing AeroVironment RF antenna, UAS flight operators can immediately expand their operational capabilities, gaining actionable battlefield intelligence at greater stand-off range to maximize their stealth and safety. When used in combination with other AeroVironment network connectivity options, the ERA provides an enhanced level of operational flexibility. This enables teams to coordinate command and control transfer of UAS, such as Puma LE, easily over greater distances, maximizing the aircraft’s multi-mission capabilities, in day or night operations, across dynamically changing environments.
BMT celebrates a year of ship design achievements: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, BMT has continued to work collaboratively with its maritime customers and partners to deliver a near business-as-usual service, and as the year draws to a close the business is celebrating a year of successful and diverse ship design project milestones and contract awards from across the globe. From concept and design through to in-service support, throughout 2020 BMT has provided engineering consultancy for national governments on their naval procurement programmes. This includes helping to define specifications or requirements for maritime assets and reviewing evolving designs; in September, BMT was awarded a contract to conduct industry studies to advance the design of the next generation of US Navy Auxiliary General Ocean Surveillance Ship (T-AGOS(X)). BMT is the Prime Contractor partnered with Philly Shipyard. BMT and Vard Marine also celebrated the acceptance of HMCS Harry DeWolf, an Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel, as it was delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy during the summer. As the prime contractor for the original Design, Engineering, Logistics and Management Support (DELMS) services contract, BMT assisted Canada’s Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship Program Management Office in the project Definition Phase and assembled a Canadian-led design team that comprised Canada’s foremost Arctic marine designers. BMT has continued to work with commercial shipyards as a design partner, including participation as a member of ‘Team Resolute’ with Harland & Wolff and Navantia in the imminent UK Fleet Solid Support ship competition. BMT is also in partnership with Marine Specialised Technology (MST), who were selected by the UK Ministry of Defence to provide two state-of-the-art high-speed fast patrol vessels; BMT is providing the design as well as an Integrated Logistics Support package for this programme. Looking back at past successes, a notable highlight in the year was a ceremony on board HMS Prince of Wales which celebrated the alliance, including BMT’s role as a designer, in the construction of two Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.
US Navy and Royal Navy partner in London Tech Bridge: The United Kingdom’s Royal Navy and the United States Navy announced a new partnership to accelerate the adoption of novel ideas and technologies, marking a unique chapter in the historic relationship between the two nations. A newly established London Tech Bridge—with both nations as full partners—will serve as a command post for innovation for the two Navies as they work toward interchangeability in everything from technology development to deployment and operations. Royal Navy Second Sea Lord Vice Adm. Nick Hine, and the Hon. James “Hondo” Geurts, US Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, announced the official partnership. “The London Tech Bridge will form a significant upgrade to the US/UK maritime partnership and will enhance the Royal Navy’s already significant investments in technology and innovation,” said Hine. “Collaborative problem-solving will allow us to advance from operating alongside our partners in an interoperable manner, to truly working with them in an interchangeable manner.” Initial focus areas will be Unmanned and Autonomy, Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology, Space, and Directed Energy and Lasers.
Australia government releases catalogue on shipbuilding courses: The Australian government’s Naval Shipbuilding College has released a catalogue of education and training courses to help job seekers secure employment in the growing shipbuilding sector. Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the increasing list of shipbuilding and Defence focused courses would provide direct pathways to thousands of job opportunities created by the government’s unprecedented naval investment. “The new catalogue contains 80 short courses from 28 national education and training providers, including bridging and specialist courses,” Price said. “It also includes 600 entry-level courses that are offered in universities or TAFEs in every state and territory. The Naval Shipbuilding College has worked with major shipbuilding contractors to align these courses with a range of job roles in the naval shipbuilding industry.” The Naval Shipbuilding College, established in 2018, provides jobseekers with tailored career and training advice. This includes referrals to courses across an extensive national education and training provider network, with more than 900 jobseekers being referred to additional training. Education or training providers who wish to contribute to the Naval Shipbuilding College’s course catalogue should visit: www.navalshipbuildingcollege.com.au.