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Hope everyone had a fine Passover, Easter or Spring Break…
Here is the round up for this holiday period.

See caveats at the end.
Thank you,
Stephen Elliott, Publisher


Babcock International, the Aerospace and Defence Company, and BAE Systems, have been awarded a five year contract extension by the Ministry of Defence to continue in-service support to the Royal Navy’s 4.5 Mk8 Medium Calibre Gun (MCG).

Pictured is HMS St Albans 4.5 inch gun, which has been the standard Royal Navy ship mounted gun for use against surface and shore targets. The latest Mark 8 version of the Naval Gun is semi-automatic, has a rate of fire of 25 rounds per minute and a range of 12 nautical miles. Photo: Royal Navy / Crown Copyright

The agreement is worth c. £43m and will see the continuation of in-service support to the 4.5 MCG across 19 Type 23 Frigates and Type 45 Destroyers as well as HMS Collingwood. The continued collaboration between Babcock and BAE Systems, the Gun’s designer, offers the capacity, proven capabilities and infrastructure to safely and effectively run in-service support.
Babcock has also opted to implement innovative Digital Twin technology to drive an increase in reliability and availability of the weapons system and work to extend its service life. The effort to increase efficiency will also see the roll out of BAE Systems’ design interventions.
The Digital Twin enables digital connection with the asset presenting near real time insight to the materiel state of the Gun. It combines Babcock proprietary data capture technology and data science capability, augmenting Babcock’s engineering pedigree in Naval Gun support.

The technology provides the on-board maintainer with the information they need to optimise maintenance and provides Babcock the foresight needed to predict future faults and proactively intervene to keep the asset operational and increase availability.
Will Erith, CEO Babcock Marine said: “The 4.5 MCG is a key weapons system on board the fleet, helping to keep personnel safe during operations. By creating a digital twin to better predict performance and define maintenance requirements, we are delivering real-world use of technology for our customer. It’s an exciting new era for the 4.5 MCG and with our proven track record, expertise and capability on this programme, it means we can effectively maintain asset availability for our customer.
“We look forward to continuing to deliver a first-class service package, in conjunction with BAE Systems, to the Royal Navy.”
The Mk8 MCG is a modern, semi-automatic variant and can rapidly fire high explosive
rounds against land and sea targets with pinpoint accuracy.

Babcock Announces Extension to Victoria Class In-service Support Contract
Babcock Canada is pleased to announce that the Government of Canada has opted to exercise two one-year contract extension options to the existing Victoria In-Service Support Contract (VISSC). Originally awarded in 2008, exercising the options will see VISSC extended to June 2023.

VISSC is one of the largest naval in-service support contracts in Canada and includes project management, technology integration, logistics, configuration and safety records management, engineering support, capability upgrades, refits and deep maintenance periods to support Canada’s fleet of four Victoria-Class submarines (VCS).

For over 12 years, Babcock Canada has collaborated with the Fleet Maintenance Facility (FMF) Cape Scott, the FMF Cape Breton, the Department of National Defence (DND), and Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to maintain, refit, and upgrade Canada’s VCS.

Mike Whalley, Babcock Canada’s President, said: “Through the hard work and dedication of our team, sharing knowledge and innovative solutions, we have helped Canada grow and strengthen its strategic submarine sustainment capabilities. This further extension to the contract underlines Canada’s confidence in our partnership with the Victoria Class Submarine Sustainment Enterprise. Babcock continues to invest in Canada’s strategic submarine capability, and through VISSC has helped generate over 2 billion dollars in GDP impact. Since 2008, Babcock has helped create and maintain over 2,000 jobs, both directly and through the establishment of a supply chain of over 450 Canadian businesses across the country.”

Huntington Ingalls Industries-GD Team Awarded Contract Modification For Construction of 10th Virginia-Class Block V Submarine Awarded by US Navy
Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE: HII) announced today that the shipbuilding team, which includes its Newport News Shipbuilding division, has been awarded a contract modification in support of construction of the 10th Virginia-class Block V submarine.

In December 2019, Newport News and teaming partner General Dynamics Electric Boat received a $22 billion contract to build nine Virginia-class submarines. The contract modification, which exercises an option for the last fast-attack submarine of the block, brings the total value of the contract for Newport News to $9.8 billion.

“We are pleased that Congress supported the restoration of funding for the 10th Virginia-class boat in Block V,” said Jason Ward, Newport News’ vice president of Virginia-class submarine construction. “We look forward to building and delivering the final boat of the block that maintains production at two submarines per year and continues to stabilize the industrial base.”

Thales and MHI Combine Forces to Develop Innovative Sonar Technology to Clear the Seas from Mines
Following the signature by the French Defence procurement agency (DGA) and its Japanese counterpart, the Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) of a Defence cooperation agreement, Thales and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) are joining forces to develop a Dual Frequency sonar demonstrator to be evaluated at sea both in Japanese and French waters.
This 5-year project is a stepping-stone for Franco-Japanese cooperation in mine action and further consolidates the existing partnership between MHI and Thales.
The partnership’s objective is to develop an improved autonomous mine countermeasures system capable of detecting, classifying and localising all types of mines.

Within the framework of the French-Japanese bilateral Defence agreement, France and Japan have signed a Project Arrangement for the second phase of the cooperation project consisting of the development by Thales and MHI of a dual frequency sonar demonstrator for mine countermeasures aboard an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV).

While mines or even the possibility of mines potentially threaten everyone at sea, dealing with them effectively is vital in keeping key trade corridors open and guaranteeing maritime access and force projection—this is especially important for countries with highly valuable assets or ports that have a high volume of commercial traffic. In response to the growing threat posed by bottom laid, semi or fully buried mines in coastal areas, DGA and ATLA have decided to cooperate in order to study the performances of innovative dual frequency sonar technology.

To achieve this, both countries have chosen to trust MHI and Thales, who share technological excellence and complement each other, strengthening through this agreement their continuous and successful collaboration. As a world leader in mine countermeasures with over 300 mine-hunting systems in service worldwide, Thales will provide its recognised expertise in sonar processing as well as its latest generation High Frequency synthetic aperture sonar, SAMDIS, with multi-aspect capability. MHI on its side will provide its Low Frequency synthetic aperture sonar and the OZZ-5 AUV.

The smart integration of the High Frequency & Low Frequency sonars, coupled with a combined automatic detection and classification function, will not only provide capability and performance enhancement into a single solution but will also mutually benefit each sonar’s processing and imaging. This will result in a unique autonomous mine countermeasure system capable of detecting, classifying and localising all types of mines from fully buried mines to ground mines.

This agreement kicks off a 5-year project for design, development and integration of the dual frequency synthetic aperture sonar processing, and at sea experiments (in Japan & in France). This is the materialisation of years of long cooperative efforts between the DGA, ATLA, Thales and MHI to jointly build a project that satisfies both French Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force requirements and allows France and Japan to stay at the forefront of innovation on unmanned mine countermeasure systems.

“Thales is very proud to be part, together with our partner MHI, of the very first Franco-Japanese Defence Cooperation project. We are really enthusiastic to bring our field proven expertise with our SAMDIS High Frequency sonar for the benefit of France and Japan national and foreign Defense forces through this successful unique cooperation for safer seas.” Alexis Morel, Vice-President Underwater Systems, Thales.

“In Japan, Thales is focused on building long-term sustainable partnerships with our key stakeholders. This extended partnership with MHI affirms our commitment to the country and to deepening bilateral ties between France and Japan. I am confident that our technologies and close collaboration can deliver unique and innovative solutions that will strengthen the capabilities of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force as they build local expertise for the future,” Cyrille Dupont, President and CEO, Thales Japan.

UK Dreadnought Submarine Programme Supports Tens of Thousands of Jobs
New research reveals that the UK’s Dreadnought Submarine Programme supports tens of thousands of jobs across the UK.  BAE Systems has for the first time revealed the significant contribution the Dreadnought submarine programme makes to the UK economy, supporting almost 30,000 jobs across the country.

While nearly half of these jobs reside in the North West of England, the supply chain for Dreadnought extends to every region of the UK. Working with partners Rolls-Royce and the Submarine Delivery Agency as part of the Dreadnought Alliance, BAE Systems estimates it will spend in the region of £7.5 billion with 1,500 supply chain companies over the life of the programme across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Dreadnought class boats will be the Royal Navy’s biggest, most powerful and most technically advanced submarines when they begin to enter service from the early 2030s and will play a pivotal role in the nation’s defence and security for decades to come. Work on the first two boats in the class is well underway at the Company’s shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

The research, which highlights the scale and influence the programme has on the UK’s industrial base and its contribution to the country’s economic prosperity, comes as the Government has reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining the UK’s Continuous At Sea Deterrent. Key findings of the research include £2.5 billion worth of contracts have already been placed with suppliers across the UK, including:

  • North West – £400m spent to date, including on power systems and sensors, supporting 13,500 jobs;
  • Yorkshire and Humber – £350m spent to date, including on gear boxes and steel, supporting 2,500 jobs;
  • South East – £235m spent to date, including on electrical systems, antenna systems and control panels, supporting 2,500 jobs;
  • Scotland – £215m spent to date, including on periscopes, supporting 2,000 jobs.

Of the 30,000 jobs which are sustained by the Dreadnought programme, nearly 8,000 are directly employed by BAE Systems, with 11,800 jobs in the programme’s supply chain and a further 10,200 (induced) jobs supported across the country.
Dreadnought will have a sustained and lasting impact on UK employment, supporting thousands of jobs reaching all UK regions to at least 2035.
Alongside Submarines colleagues, engineers at the Company’s Electronic Systems business in Rochester are taking decades of flight controls expertise underwater, adapting systems which are usually used in fly-by-wire aircraft and applying them to Dreadnought. The Active Vehicle Control Management system will oversee all major aspects of the submarines’ manoeuvring capability, controlling the heading, pitch, depth and buoyancy of the Dreadnought class among other critical elements.

The Dreadnought programme is delivering critical sovereign defence capability that is fundamental to our national security and makes an important contribution to the country’s economic prosperity. It will sustain thousands of jobs and generate billions of pounds of investment into the middle of the next decade, benefiting every region of the UK. Barrow may be the birthplace of the UK’s submarines, but the programme is truly a national endeavour that we, the suppliers who help deliver the programme and the whole country, should be proud of. Steve Timms, Managing Director, BAE Systems Submarines

The manufacture of the four boat fleet, each designed to remain undetected for months at sea, is one of the largest and most complex engineering projects in the world. It is estimated that it will take in the region of 150 million work hours to design and manufacture the four Dreadnought class submarines.

The business continues to invest in and develop its employees and recruit new talent to for this complex programme, with engineers from across 40 disciplines and specialisms needed to support the delivery of Dreadnought. More than 600 apprentices and 50 graduates are currently in training in the Submarines business and over the next five years, a further 200 graduates and 1,500 apprentices will be recruited.

We maintain and develop the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent to counter the most extreme threats to the national security and way of life of both ourselves and our allies. This sovereign showcase in science and engineering highlights the prowess of British industry whilst investing billions into the economy, supporting tens of thousands of jobs and benefiting 1,500 companies across the four corners of the UK. Rt. Hon Ben Wallace MP, Secretary of State for Defence

The findings, published in the year the Barrow shipyard celebrates its 150th anniversary, emphasises the vital role that the business continues to play, both strategically within the UK’s defence sector and to the wider economy. To maintain its position as the custodian of the UK’s submarine design and build capability, the Barrow site is being transformed to accommodate the new class of boat, with approximately £1 billion of investment in facilities and infrastructure. A further £450 million is being invested in new technology to optimise the design and manufacturing processes and enhance the capability of the submarine.

Flight Control Technology Set to Dive Underwater for Marine Mobility
BAE Systems is taking decades of flight controls expertise underwater on-board the UK’s next generation submarine, Dreadnought. This innovative approach involves adapting controls that are usually used in fly-by-wire aircraft and applying them in a marine environment. The complete Active Vehicle Control Management (AVCM) system will oversee all major aspects of the submarines’ manoeuvering capability to the highest levels of safety and reliability, similar to existing systems on modern air transport platforms.

With over 50 years of avionics experience, we already have a great understanding of how to develop complex, control systems for hi-tech platforms. However, taking our technology underwater brings exciting new challenges and we are proud to support the Dreadnought programme and play an important part in our national security effort. Jon Tucker, Director for Maritime Controls at BAE Systems Controls and Avionics

Similar to how fly-by-wire works for aircraft – whereby electronic systems are used to control the movement of aircraft – the Company’s engineers are developing electronics that control the heading, pitch, depth and buoyancy of the Dreadnought class among other critical elements with added safety benefits.

Work has already begun, supporting more than 130 highly skilled jobs in Rochester, UK, with the number expected to grow. The programme is one of the largest development projects taking place at the Rochester site and we have made significant investments at the site to create new labs and workspaces to support this exciting programme.

The project marks the first time that major Royal Navy work has taken place in the Medway Towns since the Chatham Dockyard closure more than 25 years ago. The Dockyard itself was synonymous with the building of ships and submarines for centuries, up to the Royal Navy Submarine, HMS Ocelot, being built there in 1962.

The innovation has been developed in Rochester with engineers in our Electronic Systems business working closely with colleagues across the Company’s Maritime and Air sectors to develop a world-class system as part of our Active Vehicle Control One-Team.

Elbit US Subsidiary Completes the Acquisition of Sparton Corporation
Elbit Systems Ltd. (NASDAQ: ESLT and TASE: ESLT) (“Elbit Systems” or “the Company”) announced today, further to the Company’s announcement of 23 December 2020, that its US subsidiary, Elbit Systems of America, LLC (“Elbit Systems of America”), completed the acquisition of Sparton Corporation (“Sparton”) from an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. for a purchase price of $380 million. The closing follows receipt of all the required approvals, including receipt of US Government and regulatory approvals.

Headquartered in De Leon Springs, Florida, US, Sparton is a premier developer, producer and supplier of systems supporting Undersea Warfare for the U.S. Navy and allied military forces.

Bezhalel (Butzi) Machlis, Elbit Systems President & CEO, commented: “The growing importance of the maritime arena and the market position and technological strength of Sparton make this acquisition significant to our long-term growth strategy, with a particular focus on the U.S. We believe that the completion of this acquisition will be beneficial for both Elbit Systems’ and Sparton’s employees and customers.”

New Vision and Analysis Capability Improves Autonomy and Safety of Elbit’s Seagull USV
Elbit Systems introduces new technologies on-board the Seagull Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) further enhancing its capability to operate autonomously in a busy maritime environment and to overcome communication challenges.

A 360-degrees Panoramic Video System with an Automatic Target Recognition capability and a patented Automatic Navigation System, complement the USV’s Sense and Avoid capability, enabling the vessel to operate in compliance with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGs). This enables the Seagull USV to operate safely in dense harbors, at sea with heavy traffic and autonomously complete missions even without communications with the control station.

Seagull is a multi-mission USV that features a modular mission payload suite supporting Anti-Submarine Warfare, Mine Countermeasure missions, Electronic Warfare, Maritime Security, underwater surveys and other missions using the same vessel, mission control system and data links.

The Seagull USV is in service with the Israeli Navy since 2017 and is currently in the production and deployment phase internationally.



GDMS Delivers 1st Knifefish Surface Mine Countermeasure UUV System
General Dynamics Mission Systems recently delivered the first Knifefish surface mine countermeasure unmanned underwater vehicle (SMCM UUV) system under a contract awarded by the Navy on Aug. 26, 2019. The contract, awarded immediately after a successful Milestone C decision and approval to enter low-rate initial production (LRIP), calls for the procurement of five Knifefish systems (10 total UUVs) and support equipment.

Knifefish SMCM is a medium-class mine countermeasure UUV intended for deployment from the Navy’s littoral combat ship and other Navy vessels of opportunity. Knifefish SMCM will reduce risk to personnel by operating within minefields as an off-board sensor while the host ship stays outside the minefield boundaries.

“Together with the U. S. Navy’s Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants, our Knifefish team has worked to deliver critical mine countermeasure mission capabilities to protect our Sailors,” said Carlo Zaffanella, vice president and general manager at General Dynamics Mission Systems. “We designed Knifefish using an open architecture concept that can be quickly and efficiently modified to accommodate a wide range of missions.”

General Dynamics Mission Systems is the prime contractor for the Knifefish program. The company designed the tactical UUV using an open architecture concept that can be quickly and efficiently modified to accommodate a wide range of missions. The Knifefish SMCM UUV is based on the General Dynamics Bluefin Robotics Bluefin®-21 deep-water autonomous undersea vehicle.

French Navy Strengthens Anti-submarine Warfare Capabilities With SonoFlash Sonobuoy from Thales
The French defence procurement agency (DGA) has awarded Thales a contract to develop, qualify and manufacture the SonoFlash air-droppable sonobuoy.
Complementing the other anti-submarine warfare systems in service with the French Navy, this new-generation sonobuoy is a strategic asset that allows France to have a sovereign solution in high-performance sonobuoys.
Manufactured in France with local SMEs, the SonoFlash buoy features an innovative design and advanced technology to bring naval aviation units best-in-class performance.

The French Navy has selected the SonoFlash new-generation sonobuoy from Thales. Unveiled at the Euronaval show in October 2018, SonoFlash will enable France to reach its strategic capability goal for acoustic sensors.

The threat posed by submarines is evolving rapidly. Three decades ago, only the superpowers had a true undersea warfare capability, but numerous countries now deploy modern submarine fleets. At the same time, forces increasingly operate in littoral waters, which are much more complex for sonar systems, rather than in the relative certainty of open-ocean environments.

Responding to this evolving threat environment, Thales developed the SonoFlash buoy, a new-generation sonobuoy with an unequalled performance-to-mass ratio that builds on decades of expertise in sonars and acoustic sensors to offer an ambitious new solution.

Its innovative design and advanced technology include a number of key features to deliver unrivalled performance. Today’s sonobuoys are either passive or active. By contrast, the SonoFlash buoy offers the best of both modes, combining a powerful, optimised low-frequency transmitter with a high-directivity passive receiver. With the combination of these two capabilities, and the added advantage of long endurance, the SonoFlash buoy is suitable for a wide array of deployment scenarios.

Fully compatible with the other families of Thales sonars, the SonoFlash buoy offers high tactical flexibility and opens up promising new opportunities for multistatic operation. Coupled with the FLASH dipping sonar, for example, the SonoFlash buoy enables an aircraft to expand its coverage area and respond with greater agility to evasive manoeuvres by a submarine. Thanks to its digitised signal and optimal communication range, the SonoFlash buoy data can be readily exploited by any piloted or remotely piloted aircraft, naval vessel or shore centre equipped with a sonobuoy processing system.

The French Navy will be the first operational user of the SonoFlash buoy, which will be deployed by the modernised Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft and NH90 Caiman tactical transport helicopters. It will be delivered to the Navy from 2025 and could be available in export markets to equip all modern maritime patrol aircraft and helicopters as well as all types of unmanned platforms, including autonomous surface vehicles and rotary-wing (VTOL) and fixed-wing UAVs equipped with a suitable multi-sonobuoy dispenser.

Manufactured in France with a network of SMEs such as TELERAD, SelhaGroup and Realmeca, the SonoFlash buoy relies on Thales’s expertise in acoustic sensor technology to contribute to France’s desire for independence in strategic industries.

“Thales has packed 10 years of innovation in hardware and digital technologies into a tube measuring 91.4 cm long and 12.3 cm in diameter. SonoFlash extends the range of a naval force’s anti-submarine warfare operations, outclassing all other sonobuoys in the market today and offering a versatile and easy-to-deploy solution for tracking submarines from any piloted or remotely piloted aircraft, frigate or unmanned surface vehicle. We are grateful to the DGA and the Navy for the trust they have placed in us and delighted to be working with French partner SMEs to bring this project to a successful conclusion and restore France’s sovereign capabilities in sonobuoys.” Alexis Morel, VP Underwater Systems, Thales.


NATO-led Anti-Submarine Warfare Exercise Dynamic Manta Concludes
The Los Angeles-class Submarine USS San Juan (SSN 751), a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft from Patrol Squadron (VP) 46 “Grey Knights”, and Arleigh Burke-class Guided Missile Destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), joined French Charles De Gaulle Carrier Strike Group (CDGCSG) for the NATO Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM)-led exercise Dynamic Manta 2021 from Feb. 22 – March 5, 2021

Maritime forces from France, Greece, Italy, Turkey, and the United States converged in the central Mediterranean Sea to participate anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare evolutions in a simulated multi-threat environment.

“Multi-National events like this are critical for preparation and really showcase the multiplied strength when NATO partners work together,” said LCDR Kyle Atakturk, one of VP 46’s top Mission Commanders

During the exercise, FS Charles de Gaulle (FS) maintained tactical control of USS Donald Cook, further emphasizing the enduring interoperability of NATO allies.

“The crew of Donald Cook swiftly demonstrated remarkable commitment and great skills,” stated French Admiral Marc Aussedat, commander of CDGCSG TF473. “France and the United States, the only nations having catapult and recovery nuclear aircraft carrier, take advantage of each exchange to consolidate their high-end interoperability. These opportunities directly contribute to strengthening our capacity to fight alongside one another.”

Dynamic Manta is designed to sharpen the antisubmarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASUW) skills of participating NATO nations in order to deter adversaries improve allied cohesion.

Each surface ship will had the opportunity to conduct a variety of submarine warfare operations. The submarines took turns hunting and being hunted, closely coordinating their efforts with the air and surface participants.

U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with joint, allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.

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