HMS Danae, during the latter part of World War II commissioned as ORP Conrad, was the lead ship…

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HMS Danae, during the latter part of World War II commissioned as ORP Conrad, was the lead ship of the Danae class cruisers (also known as the D class), serving with the Royal Navy between the world wars and with the Polish Navy during World War II.

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Air Force assisting DFAT with MH17 victims

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Royal Australian Air Force originally shared:

Air Force assisting DFAT with MH17 victims

The Royal Australian Air Force continues to contribute to Operation Bring Them Home, with C-17A Globemaster aircraft assisting with the DFAT-led repatriation of victims from the Netherlands to Australia.

The Australian Government continues to work alongside Dutch and Ukrainian authorities to ensure the identification and repatriation of victims of the MH17 tragedy.

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The Queen Elizabeth Class: How Innovative is the Design?


The Queen Elizabeth Class: How Innovative is the Design?

During the naming ceremony of HMS Queen Elizabeth on 4 July, the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the Royal Navy and the commercial consortium building the two carriers were at pains to emphasise the innovative nature of their chosen design. Much has been made of the weapons-handling system, significant automation, the two separated bridges and also the F-35B fifth-generation fighter component of the planned embarked air group. Whilst the platforms certainly retain a modernist edge, evolution rather than revolution appears the order.
Traditionally, aircraft carriers have had a single ‘island’ structure on the deck. This not only maximises the space for aircraft on the flight deck, but also helps integrate ship handling and aircraft launch/recovery requirements into one decision-making space. The new British design breaks this model and separates the specialist areas into two separate physical structures. This may be innovative, but the advantages –reduced disruptive airflow over the flight deck (which saves fuel by minimising drag) and separation for sensors and communications aerials – must be judged against the resultant loss of face-to-face engagement between flight control and ship manoeuvring personnel. This arrangement contradicts some mainstream principles of behavioural science about how people interact effectively; notably, it has not been replicated by any other carrier-operating nation.
The weapons-handling system is also new to the UK, although not to the naval world. The US Navy continues to spearhead automated munitions-handling systems – the Zumwalt-class destroyer design uses a palletised system for ammunition supply direct to the gun without any human involvement. The much-lauded ordnance handling system for the UK carriers is not quite as impressive, though it has reduced the number of people required for the process from 150 to around fifty.
The most important change in the Queen Elizabeth class is the open acknowledgement of the primacy of running costs at the heart of the project – manifest in crew numbers, unmanned monitoring and power generation. The UK carriers are platforms designed by economists, not warriors.
The largest costs for running maritime platforms are manpower and fuel. In terms of manpower, the Queen Elizabeth will have a crew of 650 with an additional thousand berths available for the air group. By comparison, the American Nimitz class and new Gerald Ford class, which displace around 40,000 tonnes more, are crewed by 6,000 and 4,500 personnel respectively. The French Charles de Gaulle, which in terms of tonnage is about a third smaller its British counterpart, carries a crew of around 2,500. The UK figures were driven by the necessity to avoid increasing the manpower bill of the Royal Navy. As such, the 650 figure is exactly the same as the preceding Invincible class. Allowing the same complement to effectively operate a vessel three times the size of her predecessor has forced some innovative thinking.
The use of automation and remote monitoring has been essential to meet the manpower restrictions. Cameras and monitoring equipment have been built into almost every system in the new ships. From machinery spaces to bilge areas, remote performance monitoring has allowed a marked reduction in the manpower requirements of the ships. Whilst this makes good sense in financial terms, it does not in terms of pure war-fighting capability. Naval vessels differ significantly from their commercial counterparts in terms of damage control and fire-fighting. These roles are remarkably manpower intensive. The experiences of major damage in the Falklands conflict have been reinforced at intervals by peacetime incidents on HMS Nottingham (2002) and Endurance (2008), which required the efforts of the full ship’s complement to remain afloat. The damage-control capabilities of the UK carrier platforms should, therefore, be a primary concern.
The Queen Elizabeth class has also been designed to minimise fuel operating costs. Whilst the US and France value the efficacy of nuclear reactors to maintain platform endurance at sea, these are expensive systems. The new British carriers operate a fully integrated electric system which supplies both life support services and main propulsion at around 114 MW. By comparison, the Nimitz class produce 1,100 MW for propulsion alone and the new reactors for the Gerald Ford class produce three times that amount, whilst French reactors are rated to around 300 MW. The UK has sacrificed speed and endurance – seemingly unimportant, until one takes into account an operating environment which requires a strong headwind to be produced in order to get fully armed strike aircraft off the deck. Here the UK could be found wanting in future interventions due to cost-driven compromises in the propulsion design.
The power plant for the UK carriers was designed to support an electromagnetic catapult launch system (EMALS) for fixed-wing aircraft. This would have been the greatest leap for the UK, but the project was deemed too high-risk in 2012. In consequence the carriers will initially operate with a ski-ramp. This reversal of the 2010 SDSR’s decision necessitated a switch back to the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant for the air-component. This has a smaller payload, shorter range and more complex engine arrangement than the F-35C carrier variant. Whilst the MoD maintains that this was the right decision, EMALS is working well on Gerald Ford in trials and might be retrofitted toQueen Elizabeth during a future refit. The decision, however, removed all flexibility in the types of strike aircraft that could operate from the Queen Elizabeth, and removed valuable potential interoperability with aircraft from the French Aéronavale and US Navy.
The final shift made in the Queen Elizabeth design has been a change from expressing carrier power in terms of number of aircraft carried, to the number of sortie rates that can be generated from the deck. This follows the US Navy’s latest thinking at a smaller scale. TheGerald Ford has a requirement to generate around 230 sorties per day at peak. The Royal Navy has specified around seventy per day at ‘surge’:  a relatively unambitious target given the size of the new platforms.
The Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship will look very different towards the end of their lives. Come 2060, both ships could be sailing the world’s oceans with an embarked group of micro drones, or perhaps some of the new BAE Systems concept aircraft described at the 2014 Farnborough Air Show. They might well have a much smaller manpower requirement due to breakthroughs in robotics, biotechnology or nanotechnology. Swarming drones, centrally managed and with a degree of artificial intelligence are also a possible weapon system during the next forty years. Assuming they are still in service by then, the Queen Elizabethcarriers will have the requisite space, infrastructure and freedoms to experiment and operate with these future technologies.
There is one further element that has not been well considered in the Carrier-Enabled Power Projection doctrine of the Royal Navy and the MoD. Protection of these assets from threats has effectively been taken ‘on-risk’, and against all operational analysis. The self defence capabilities of these ships are extremely limited. The provision of close-in weapon systems and automatic small-calibre guns does not guarantee adequate protection against a small scale naval threat, let alone a shore-based one. Naval doctrine instead requires protection of the carriers by destroyers and frigates. This is a cost-effective solution provided that the task group has the necessary units to provide such protection. But there is no evidence that the projected Royal Navy combined frigate/destroyer force could do so.
The Queen Elizabeth class is therefore an interesting example of innovation: rather than in the sense of equipment and capability, it might be more relevant to think about how risk to the platforms is being dealt with in an ‘innovative’ manner.

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USS Ingraham Stops 680 Kilos of Cocaine

USS Ingraham Stops 680 Kilos of Cocaine

Posted on Sep 17th, 2014 with tags .
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USS Ingraham (FFG 61) with Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 49 Detachment 2 and U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) personnel intercepted 680 kilograms of cocaine illegally trafficked in the 4th Fleet Area of Responsibility Aug. 21.

 
Ingraham, based in Everett, Washington, successfully tracked and intercepted a go-fast vessel in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The panga was fitted with two outboard motors, capable of speeds of more than 30 knots.
Upon detection of one of Ingraham’s SH-60B Seahawks, the crew of the vessel threw a significant amount of narcotics overboard. The panga was compelled to stop after warning shots were fired by a Coast Guard marksman aboard Ingraham’s helicopter.
The jettisoned bales were netted together, allowing Ingraham’s rigid-hulled inflatable boat to recover all of the discarded contraband. The seizure totaled approximately 680 kilograms of cocaine. The U.S. Coast Guard LEDET embarked the go-fast vessel and apprehended three illegal drug traffickers.
Ingraham has disrupted a total of approximately 7,188 kilograms of cocaine during her deployment. This is her fifth successful interdiction since arriving in 4th Fleet in support of Operation Martillo. Ingraham seized a self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) in May, a fishing vessel in June, and several other go-fast vessels.
Press Release, September 17, 2014; Image: US Navy

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Navy Taps Industry in Quest For Next Generation Fighter

Navy Taps Industry in Quest For Next Generation Fighter

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Updated: September 10, 2014 10:05 AM
A Boeing artist's conception of a potential design for F/A-XX. Boeing Photo
A Boeing artist’s conception of a potential design for F/A-XX. Boeing Photo
The U.S. Navy has formally asked the defense industry to participate in a series of exchanges to provide technical insights into the next-generation replacement for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the EA-18G Growler in the 2030s.
The exchanges, which have been dubbed Technical Interchange Meetings (TIMs), are a precursor to a full-up analysis of alternatives (AOA) for the F/A-XX strike fighter aircraft replacement program that is expected to start in 2015.
The meetings are expected to focus on several areas including affordability and modifying current jets like the Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin F-35C to meet the F/A-XX requirement according to a posting on the Federal Business Opportunities website. Other options that the Navy will explore include a completely new aircraft design or a family of systems (FoS) approach. There will also be meetings to discuss mission systems, avionics and new next-generation weapons systems for the F/A-XX.
Navy officials are already planning on meeting with advanced development teams from Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman. But the Navy is not limiting itself to consulting just the traditional engineering teams, the service is going out of its way to think outside the box in an effort to not only reduce the cost of a future F/A-XX fighter, but also to make it more effective.
“The platform itself may or may not be a new one, nor focused on manned or unmanned,” one Navy official said.
“Rather it truly is going to look at filling a void from a FoS approach informed by future budgets.”
One of the options that the Navy will likely explore is a minimum cost approach F/A-XX that would carry high cost, very high performance weapons that could defeat the most dangerous projected future threats.
Under the Navy’s vision for its Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) battle network, an individual platform would not necessarily need to have a full suite of sensors—rather it could rely on off-board data. Data-linked information from another platform in the air such as the Northrop Grumman E-2D or at sea like an Aegis cruiser or destroyer could provide targeting information or even guide a weapon launched from a platform like a future F/A-XX.
“So the F/A-XX may show up as something that is a Hornet-like aircraft with new weapons that can strike further and allow the Navy to fight its way into an AOR [Area of Responsibility] – maximizing the range of its weapon systems with linked fire control,” a Navy official said.
“As it stands now with NIFC-CA not implemented yet, our missiles can go further than we can tell them to.”
Thus, the F/A-XX air vehicle might be more of a “truck” carrying a “payload” rather than a fully integrated weapons platform like a Super Hornet or F-35 that can find, fix, track, target, engage, and assess on its own.
That would be in keeping with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert’s mantra of “payloads over platforms.”
That said, in late 2013, Rear Adm. Mike Manazir, the Navy’s director of air warfare, told USNI News that the F/A-XX would carry missiles, have the required power and cooling for directed energy weapons and sensors target the smallest radar cross-section targets. Manazir also said the F/A-XX family of systems might incorporate the use of cyber warfare capabilities at a tactical level—which the Navy is currently exploring.
The Navy is working closely with the U.S. Air Force, which is also working on its own next-generation F-X tactical aircraft program to replace the Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor and Boeing F-15C Eagle air superiority fighters. While the two services are working closely together, there are still significant differences that need to be overcome.
One example of where there is significant disagreement is engine technology. The Air Force is very bullish on the performance of next-generation adaptive-cycle jet engine technology, but the Navy is not. Naval Air Systems Command engineers are not convinced that the Air Force Research Laboratory’s claims about the advantages of adaptive-cycle engines will scale to meet the Navy’s requirements or provide any real benefit for a carrier-based fighter. Meanwhile, the Air Force is all but convinced that adaptive-cycle engines are the way of the future.

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The Tourville was a French Duquesne class heavy cruiser that served during World War II.

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The Tourville was a French Duquesne class heavy cruiser that served during World War II.

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