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Author: Subject: Royal Navy 2017 onwards
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[*] posted on 9-3-2020 at 11:24 AM


Rotary-Wing Assets Vital for UK Carrier Protection

Tony Osborne March 06, 2020


The Wildcat Weapons Wing offsets the weight of the weapons in cruise flight, giving the helicopter an impressive loadout.

Britain’s Royal Navy is pushing to have two vital rotary-wing programs ready for when its first Carrier Strike Group (CSG21) sets sail for the Far East in 2021.

Both the Crowsnest helicopter-borne early warning system and the arming of the naval version of the Leonardo AW159 Wildcat are vital components in the protection of the UK’s new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

- Wildcat To Get MBDA’s Sea Venom and Thales’ Sea Martlet
- Interoperability/Manned-Unmanned Teaming demo in April

But both programs have fallen behind schedule. Crowsnest, which fits Thales’ Searchwater 2000 radar onto the navy’s Leonardo EH/AW101 Merlin Mk. 2 anti-submarine warfare helicopters as a roll-on/roll-off kit, was due to be ready by year-end. But it has emerged in procurement reports that the program will now only “deliver an incremental capability” to support CSG21. Also, plans to fit both MBDA’s Sea Venom anti-ship missile and the Thales Light Multirole Missile (the Sea Martlet) onto the Wildcat have been affected by issues with the weapons and their integration onto the helicopter.

Crowsnest, led by prime contractor Lockheed Martin, has been challenged by “three different integration problems in one,” senior Royal Navy officers told a conference in London in February.

“We were taking a system that had some original parts; others needed a firmware upgrade; and some have needed replacing entirely because of obsolescence,” one officer said. “It has been a tough ride, but by CSG21 [deployment] we will have these platforms out and doing what they are supposed to be doing in terms of surveillance and control.”

Lockheed Martin was selected as the prime for the program because it performed the upgrade of the Royal Navy’s Merlins to HM2 standard and was selected to integrate the radar onto the helicopter.

Leonardo Helicopters is modifying all 30 of the Merlin HM2s in Royal Navy service to be ready to carry the Crowsnest system and is performing the flight testing. The UK Defense Ministry is buying 10 Crowsnest kits.

During the CSG21 deployment the Merlins will be primarily based on the aircraft carrier, but the Wildcats will operate from the decks of escorting frigates and air defense destroyers.

The carrier’s Merlins will include aircraft configured for airborne early warning and others for the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) mission.

To put the weapons onto the Wildcat, Leonardo has developed the Wildcat Weapons Wing. Its aerodynamic profile is able to offset the weight of the weapons while in cruise, with each wing delivering 360 kg (795 lb.) of extra lift. The wings are constructed of aluminum and carbon-fiber composites, and each features two pylons. Once fitted on the aircraft, the Wildcat can carry up to four Sea Venoms, each weighing around 110 kg, or four weapons carriers capable of carrying up to five podded Sea Martlets each, for a total of 20 missiles.

According to the government’s own defense procurement reports, planned initial operational capability for the Sea Venom is now 2022, while the introduction of the Sea Martlet is planned for the beginning of January 2021.

The Wildcat’s role in the Royal Navy is primarily anti-surface warfare rather than the ASW mission normally performed by the Merlin HM2.

Putting 20 Martlet missiles onboard is a result of “weapon effort planning and design,” says Louis Wilson-Chalon, maritime marketing manager at Leonardo Helicopters, speaking in Liverpool, England, at an exhibition aboard HMS Prince of Wales. The system is designed to deal with a swarm attack from fast-attack craft: “If you have 30 of them trying to attack your task force, you don’t need to destroy them all; 20 should be enough,” he says.

A similar mission with the Lynx helicopter that the Wildcat replaced would have resulted in a higher workload for crews and required more helicopters.

Wilson-Chalon says a mission to attack a small warship such as a corvette previously would have required at least two helicopters, but a single Wildcat with four missiles targeted to come in from different directions can overwhelm the close-in weapons system ships use to defend against such missiles. Leonardo has already flown captive carriage trials with weapons fitted to the wing. No firings have taken place yet, but these will likely occur later this year.

Meanwhile, Leonardo is also gearing up to demonstrate a manned--unmanned teaming capability from a British Army-operated Wildcat in support of the UK’s Defense and Security Accelerator technology program.

The flight trial will see the helicopter’s mission commander, in the left-hand seat, take control of an unmanned aircraft system and prove a Level of Interoperability of 4, allowing the crew to control and monitor the UAV and its payload, but not perform launch and recovery. The trials are focused on studying crew workload during the UAV’s operation.
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[*] posted on 11-3-2020 at 09:25 PM


Weapon-winged Wildcat Unveiled as Sea Venom Advances

by David Donald - March 10, 2020, 6:35 AM

A Wildcat HMA2 flies a test mission fitted with the weapon wing. It is carrying four Sea Venom representative rounds. (Photo: Leonardo)

Leonardo has shown the Wildcat Weapon Wing for the AW159 naval Wildcat HMA2 helicopter for the first time. The wing, which permits the Wildcat to launch missiles, was displayed during a week-long public engagement exercise in Liverpool by the UK’s latest aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales (deck number R09).

Graphics of the weapon carrier were first made public by Leonardo in February 2018, but the design has been enhanced aerodynamically since then, adding 360 kilograms (794 pounds) of lift to help offset the extra weight of the wing and its missiles.

Made from aluminium and carbon-fiber composites, the wing has four hardpoints, each of which can carry a cluster of five Thales Martlet lightweight laser-guided missiles in their launch tubes, or a single MBDA Sea Venom. Other weaponry carried by the Wildcat includes the BAE Systems Stingray torpedo, Mk 11 depth charges, and pintle-mounted 0.5-in (12.7-mm) machine-gun.

Full development and implementation of the weapons wing is scheduled to meet the requirements of the initial deployment by HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), the first of the UK’s two new carriers. That first operational voyage is due next year and is known as Carrier Strike Group 2021, or CSG21. The cruise is planned to sail to the Middle East and Pacific, and will include Lockheed Martin F-35Bs from both the joint Royal Air Force/Royal Navy No. 617 Squadron and aircraft from a U.S. Marine Corps unit. Navy Merlin helicopters will also be aboard. In CSG21, the Wildcats are due to operate from the Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers that will be part of the carrier group, providing force protection and anti-surface capabilities.

The Wildcat will initially deploy without the Sea Venom missile, which is scheduled to attain operational capability in early 2022. Until that weapon enters service, the Wildcat’s precision attack capability will be met by the 13-kg (29-lb) Martlet, of which up to 20 can be carried. The Martlet was previously known as the Lightweight Multi-mission Missile (LMM).

The recent Sea Venom qualification test was undertaken off the southern French coast. The target was containers aboard a vessel. (Photo: DGAEMT-Armées)

Developed by MBDA, the 110-kg (240-lb) Sea Venom is being procured by both the Royal Navy and the French Marine Nationale for anti-ship attack, with the capability to lock on to its target both before and after launch. In French service it is known as the Anti-Navire Léger (ANL) and is intended to arm the Airbus H160M Guépard.

The program recently took a significant step forward with the successful conclusion of the first qualification trial, following three developmental test firings. Fired at low level from a Dauphin helicopter over the DGA Essais de missiles test site at Île du Levant on February 20, the missile flew out at sea-skimming height before attacking its target. In the terminal phase, the launch crew refined the weapon’s aimpoint using imagery datalinked back to the helicopter from the missile’s imaging infrared seeker.
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[*] posted on 19-3-2020 at 09:40 PM



Image via BMT.

Plans for LSS and FSSS vessels may be scrapped in favour of MRSS

By George Allison - March 18, 202029

Plans for Littoral Strike Ships and Fleet Solid Support Ships may be scrapped in favour of more numerous ‘Multirole Support Ships’, the UK Defence Journal has learned.

An inside source that asked not to be identified recently attended a briefing at the Commando Training Centre, also known as CTCRM, discussing information relating to future UK amphibious and littoral capability

Over the last few months, the competition for the Fleet Solid Support Ship was halted and nothing has been heard about the Littoral Strike Ship programme, now it seems there is good reason.

I was told “LSS and FSSS likely to be sacrificial lambs at forthcoming review in order to get MRSS in larger numbers”.

“Ellida will require some tweaks but would appear to reflect the requirements of littoral strike and needs of Carrier Strike”, the source added.

The deletion of FSS and FSSS in favour of smaller but more numerous MRSS vessels fits with current views, “thinking is larger number of smaller targets”.

“It’s a solution that fits the new doctrine. LSS was going to be a 40,000t conversion of merchant ship, big poorly protected target.”

How will this be paid for?

One option appears to be gapping the capability currently provided by the Albion class.

“Probably be a capability gap taken with Albion and Bulwark too as amphibiosity doesn’t fit with littoral strike requirements.

Neither were mentioned in the brief other than saying that through “disinvestment” there would be gaps to pay for new capability.”

Please note however that this not a solid plan, merely an option.

What is Ellida?

The ELLIDA concept is a 195m multi-role support and logistics vessel designed to provide the capabilities needed in “future global operations, offering the flexibility of a large hull, with internal vehicle and stowage decks, weather deck stowage and additional accommodation”.



It has the utility to transport and deliver troops, vehicles, equipment and supplies from anywhere in the world in support of amphibious warfare and littoral manoeuvre. Its mix of ship-to-shore offloading and logistics capabilities allow support to naval operations through landing craft, boat operations, multi-spot aviation and replenishment at sea.
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[*] posted on 28-3-2020 at 08:02 PM


Royal Navy Shadows Seven Russian Warships in the Channel and North Sea

(Source: Royal Navy; issued March 26, 2020)


HMS Tyne spent over a week monitoring Russian ships passing through the English Channel; they included three Steregushchiy-class corvettes, two Ropucha-class landing ships and two Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates with their supporting auxiliary ships and tugs. (RN photo)

As the Royal Navy prepares to help the NHS and other government departments deal with the response to the coronavirus outbreak, nine British ships have been shadowing seven Russian vessels in waters around the UK.

The Navy has completed a concentrated operation to shadow the Russian warships after unusually high levels of activity in the English Channel and North Sea.

Type 23 frigates HMS Kent, HMS Sutherland, HMS Argyll and HMS Richmond joined Offshore Patrol Vessels HMS Tyne and HMS Mersey along with RFA Tideforce, RFA Tidespring and HMS Echo for the large-scale operation with support from NATO allies.

Lieutenant Nick Ward, HMS Tyne’s Executive Officer, said: “As the Armed Forces are helping the NHS save lives in the UK, it’s essential the Navy continues to deliver the tasks we have always performed to help keep Britain safe.

“This is very much part of routine business for HMS Tyne and represents one of the many roles our patrol vessels perform in support of the Royal Navy’s commitments.

“This is our core business and represents an enduring commitment to uphold the security of the UK.”

As the Navy’s logistics specialists and military planners work with the wider Armed Forces to help the coronavirus response effort, Royal Navy sailors and aircrew were monitoring every movement of the Russian ships using state-of-the-art radar, surveillance cameras and sensors, allowing them to track their course and speed as they passed the British Isles.

They were supported by Merlin and Wildcat helicopters of 814 and 815 Naval Air Squadrons.

Portsmouth-based HMS Tyne spent more than a week working in the English Channel, in often challenging seas, keeping a close eye on the Russian vessels as they pass the south coast.

Three Steregushchiy-class corvettes, two Ropucha-class landing ships and two Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates were observed during the operations, plus their supporting auxiliary ships and tugs.

HMS Sutherland, fresh from a demanding period of Arctic training on Exercise Cold Response, watched over the Russian presence as part of her duties with NATO’s Standing NATO Maritime Group One – a very high readiness task group made up of frigates and destroyers which patrols northern European waters to provide a reassuring presence.

The Devonport-based frigate’s Merlin helicopter carried out a number of intelligence-gathering sorties over the Russian ships as they passed through the Channel.

HMS Sutherland’s Operations Officer, Lieutenant Hannah Lee, said: “Our successful integration into the maritime group proves our ability to adapt to task group operations at short notice.

“Having proved we can work together and contributed once again to NATO operations, we now look to return to UK national tasks in support of the very highest defence priorities.”

NATO duties also saw HMS Sutherland support the French carrier strike group led by aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in recent weeks.

HMS Sutherland, working alongside French, Norwegian, German and Danish ships, then carried out surface and air defence exercises as well as carrying out joint gunnery training.

-ends-
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[*] posted on 28-3-2020 at 08:03 PM


It must instill great confidence in the Russian mariners, for them to know they will always have Tugs with them! :lol: :no:
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