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La Grande-Bretagne sur le point de choisir le futur système AEW pour son groupe aéronaval entre Thales UK et Lockheed Martin

La Grande-Bretagne sur le point de choisir le futur système AEW pour son groupe aéronaval entre Thales UK et Lockheed Martin | Newsletter navale | Scoop.it

The British MOD is set to select soon the future Airborne Early Warning (AEW) system to be deployed on the future Royal Navy (RN) Queen Elizabeth II aircraft carriers. The Crowsnest airborne surveillance and control (ASaC) program set to become operational in 2019, will providing the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers an organic air surveillance and battlespace management for the carrier strike force from 2020.

Thales UK and Lockheed Martin submitted final offers for the Crowsnest solutions last month, competing for the £500 million ($761 million) contract. Although the two radar systems proposed by the companies are designed for the Royal Navy AgustaWestland EH101 Merlin Mk 2 ASaC helicopters, they are profoundly different in their mission approach, future capabilities and cost. As part of the U.K. defense ministry’s assessment of the two options, both have been flight tested on a MerlinMk. 2.

As the Sea King family helicopters is due to retire in 2016, MOD is extending the service of a number of the Sea King helicopters operated by 849 Naval Air Squadron through 2018, to prevent a capability gap between the withdrawal of the Sea King ASaC.7 and the introduction of Merlin ASaC.2. 10 of the Merlin helicopters are to be modified to accept the Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC) system, configured as ‘roll on/roll off’ kit.

Leading a £750 million ($1.15 billion) upgrade to 30 of the Royal Navy’s legacy Merlin HM1 helicopters, Lockheed Martin UK has been awarded a £24 million contract to run a competition to design, develop and demonstrate Crowsnest. As the company is also one of the competitors for the tender, the Merlin team has to be ‘firewalled’ to prevent leaking commercially sensitive information to Lockheed Martin UK.

The solution proposed by Thales UK recapitalizes existing the Searchwater 2000 radars currently providing the AEW mission for the Royal Navy on board HMS Ocean. These helicopters carry the mechanically rotating radar in a retractable drum-shaped dome lowered into position below the helicopter after takeoff. Positioned below the fuselage, the rotating radar gains unobstructed view of the hemisphere below, thus covering effectively 360 degrees. Thales plans to utilize this system for the new platform, using a modernized and updated radar along with its associated Cerberus mission system – both are currently used on the Sea King ASaC7.

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La Grande-Bretagne prolonge ses hélicoptères Sea King ASaC.7 de guet aérien jusqu'en 2018

La Grande-Bretagne prolonge ses hélicoptères Sea King ASaC.7 de guet aérien jusqu'en 2018 | Newsletter navale | Scoop.it

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has disclosed plans to run on a limited number of Royal Navy (RN) Westland Sea King ASaC.7 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) helicopters beyond the March 2016 out-of-service date (OSD) previously set for the UK's entire Sea King fleet.

The move all but closes the gap between the retirement of the ASaC.7 and the introduction of the Crowsnest role-fit for the AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin HM.2.

Sea King HAR.3/3A helicopters are used by the Royal Air Force for search and rescue (SAR); and by the RN for commando support (HC.4), SAR (HU.5 SAR) and AEW&C (ASaC.7). It was previously planned that the entire inventory would be retired by the end of March 2016 under plans set out in the MoD's future rotary-wing strategy.

Announcing the decision to keep a number of ASaC.7 helicopters running beyond that date in a Defence Instructions and Notices bulletin, the MoD said: "The Sea King Mk 3/3A, Mk 4 and Mk 5 will cease operational flying and be withdrawn from service by 31 March 2016. A limited number of Mk 7s will continue operational flying until the third quarter of 2018."

IHS Jane's understands that seven ASaC.7 helicopters, to be operated by 849 Naval Air Squadron, will remain in service with the RN through to the second half of 2018. With the current Sea King Integrated Operational Support contract ending in 2016, the MoD is putting bespoke contractual arrangements in place with AgustaWestland and Rolls-Royce for continued support of the ASaC.7 to its revised OSD.

The MoD earlier this year confirmed plans to accelerate the replacement Crowsnest programme to achieve an initial operating capability (IOC) in 2019, ensuring organic air surveillance and battlespace management for Carrier Strike from 2020. Current planning assumptions call for the acquisition of 10 roll-on/roll-off Crowsnest kits, with all 30 Merlin HM.2 helicopters receiving 'fit-to-receive' modifications to enable the rapid installation of the ASaC mission package.

Lockheed Martin UK Integrated Systems, prime contractor for the Merlin HM.2 upgrade, last year received a GBP24 million (USD41 million) Assessment Phase 3 contract from the MoD to manage a competition between Thales UK and a separate 'firewalled' Lockheed Martin UK team for the design, development and demonstration of the Crowsnest radar and mission system solution. A Main Gate approval is planned for 2016.

An MoD spokesperson said: "The decision to extend the life of [the] Sea King Mk 7 was taken in January 2014 and will have no impact on the migration of equipment systems to Merlin or on Crowsnest."

No details of the costs associated with the ASaC.7 extension have been released.

Patrick H. 's insight:

L'hélicoptère AEW britannique de nouvelle génération Merlin MK2 Crowsnest du futur PA Queen Elizabeth est annoncé avec environ 18 mois d'avance sur le planning initial, mais il ne devrait être opérationnel au mieux qu'en 2019 :

http://www.scoop.it/t/newsletter-navale/p/4015286843/2014/02/03/l-helicoptere-merlin-mk2-aew-crowsnest-du-futur-pa-queen-elizabeth-devrait-etre-livre-avec-18-mois-d-avance-sur-le-planning

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L'hélicoptère Merlin Mk2 AEW Crowsnest du futur PA Queen Elizabeth devrait être livré avec 18 mois d'avance sur le planning

L'hélicoptère Merlin Mk2 AEW Crowsnest du futur PA Queen Elizabeth devrait être livré avec 18 mois d'avance sur le planning | Newsletter navale | Scoop.it

Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers will get helicopter-borne early warning systems 18 months earlier than planned, saving £22 million.

Following renegotiation of the aircraft carrier contract to deliver savings to the taxpayer, the Defence Secretary has accelerated the Crowsnest airborne surveillance and control programme to ensure it is operational by 2019.

Using high-power radar to provide long-range air, maritime and land tracking capabilities, Crowsnest will be an integral part of future carrier operations. It will be fitted to the Royal Navy’s fleet of upgraded Merlin Mk2 helicopters, including those to be embarked on the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers.

The decision to bring forward the Crowsnest programme has been made as part of the annual review of MOD’s 10-year equipment plan. The plan, worth £160 billion, includes unallocated funding to support equipment requirements that may arise as threats emerge or priorities change.

The shorter delivery time for Crowsnest will lead to a significant reduction in costs, as specialist industry personnel will be required for a shorter period of time.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:

Crowsnest will provide vital surveillance and intelligence to protect the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.

The introduction of Crowsnest 18 months early will ensure HMS Queen Elizabeth has the full range of capabilities when it enters service.

Lockheed Martin UK, which designs the Merlin helicopters, has been awarded a £24 million contract to run a competition to design, develop and demonstrate Crowsnest.

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L'hélicoptère naval britannique Merlin Mk2 entre en service opérationnel à l'issue de l'exercice Deep Blue

L'hélicoptère naval britannique Merlin Mk2 entre en service opérationnel à l'issue de l'exercice Deep Blue | Newsletter navale | Scoop.it

Exactly one year ago, the first of the UK’s fleet of next-generation, anti-submarine maritime patrol Merlin helicopters was being delivered to the Royal Navy. The delivery of the five helicopters to the Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, upgraded as part of a £750M Lockheed Martin contract, marked a significant milestone. But that was just the beginning.

It has been a year of achievements for the Merlin helicopters, which entered service and achieved full operational capability in May. Seventeen aircraft have been delivered to Naval Squadrons 824 and 820 at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, and an additional four are in trials and test at Qinetiq Boscombe Down airfield.

In mid-June, the HMS Illustrious set sail with nine Merlin Mk2 aboard, to participate in a sub-hunting exercise called Deep Blue. Aircrews and engineers worked round the clock alongside pilots and aircrew operating on a non-stop “sleep-eat-fly-sleep” rotation. The relentless pace supported three aircraft aloft at all times with two on ready status.
merlin-2

The Merlin Mk2 are fitted with a state-of-the-art glass cockpit and improved aircrew console and avionics with advanced touch-screen displays and an improved ability to detect and track targets and share data with other aircraft and ships while airborne. These improvements enable the helicopters to carry out counter-piracy and casualty evacuation missions.

Lockheed Martin is converting thirty Merlin MK1 helicopters to the Mk2 model. Commodore Andy Lison, RN, responsible for the Merlin, Lynx, and Sea King teams for the MOD’s Defence, Equipment and Support Organization has called the Merlin Mk2 a “truly exceptional aircraft.”

Bob Kramer, vice president and group managing director, Lockheed Martin UK Integrated Systems said the Merlin Capability Sustainment Program “represents a magnificent team effort…to provide the Royal Navy with unrivaled capability to carry out its anti-submarine patrol and policing requirement.”

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Premier déploiement du nouvel hélicoptère Merlin Mk 2 sur une frégate Type 23 britannique

Premier déploiement du nouvel hélicoptère Merlin Mk 2 sur une frégate Type 23 britannique | Newsletter navale | Scoop.it

The Merlin Mk 2 is the Navy’s new-and-improved version of the world’s leading anti-submarine helicopter, conducting its initial trials with the Royal Navy’s first line of defence against the threat from underwater foes: the Type 23 frigate.

The Merlin has been in service with the Royal Navy for more than a decade, but is in the middle of a £750m revamp which will see the fleet of helicopters, all based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall, ready to take the fight to submarines until the end of the 2020s.

Although it looks almost identical outwardly, inside the Mk 2 Merlin is an entirely different beast, fitted with a state-of-the-art touch screen, integrated command system for both flying and fighting.

In its normal configuration, the rear of the helicopter is a mini operations room that uses numerous sensors to detect and identify both submarines and ships on the surface. Those hi-tech consoles can also be quickly removed by Merlin engineers to convert it into a troop carrier or flying ambulance.

For now, Lancaster is focusing on the basics of working with the new helicopter in the Channel.

So once the helicopter from 829 Naval Air Squadron – which supplies Type 23 frigates with Merlin’s, aircrew and engineers for operations around the world – was embarked, numerous exercises began.

Crash on deck exercises were practised that run out the ship’s emergency response organisation, while the Merlin conducted numerous sorties and secondary duties, such as winching a casualty from the frigate’s forecastle....

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Two of the Royal Navy’s four Merlin squadrons have now converted to the upgraded helicopter, which has deployed overseas for the first time (an anti-submarine exercise off Norway).

The biggest test yet for the new Merlin will be a huge submarine hunt led by HMS Illustrious in June, when eight Mk 2’s are lined up to join the veteran carrier for Exercise Deep Blue in the Atlantic.

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