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RAF Considers BriteCloud To Counter Radar-Guided Missile Threat
The Royal Air Force could be the first customer for a new radar-jamming anti-missile countermeasure following tests of the decoy on a Tornado strike jet.

The British arm of Finmeccanica said negotiations were underway with the British Ministry of Defence to supply their BriteCloud decoy following successful trials on a Tornado GR4 at a range in the United States in October.

“We’re currently in talks to supply BriteCloud to the UK MoD. No further trials have taken place as the October tests were deemed successful, although it is likely that further trials will take place to verify and extend the operational advantage,” said Jon McCullagh, the electronic warfare campaign manager at Finmeccanica’s Airborne and Space Systems Division. “We are hopeful that the UK will be one of the first nations to carry the new decoys into operations."

A spokesman for Britain’s MoD, however, said no decision on acquiring the capability had yet been taken.

“The MoD is currently planning a series of trials with the BriteCloud system, following very encouraging results from test flights in the USA in 2015. A decision on procurement will be taken in due course,” he said.

Analysts said the move comes at a time when Russia has been developing a new generation of radar-guided missiles for domestic and export use.

BriteCloud is a self-contained unit with a battery-powered digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) jammer. The company developed the system alongside the UK government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.

Finmeccanica said the decoy can be ejected from fighter aircraft in a straight swap for the existing 55mm flare to counter the threat from the latest air-to-air and surface-to-air radio frequency guided missiles.

Saab is already offering the decoy as an enhancement option for its range of Gripen fighters including the new "E" model due to be rolled out for the first time in mid-May.

McCullagh said the new decoy is not a replacement product for existing systems: “It’s a complementary protective system. It offers a very quick-to-activate decoy capability in circumstances where other countermeasures may not be suitable or as effective."

British fast jets already have the capability to counter radar-guided missiles with towed radar decoys, but Doug Barrie, the senior air analyst at the London-based think tank International Institute for Strategic Studies, said it was possible they would use BriteCloud in conjunction with the older system.

“If you don’t have a towed radar decoy already deployed, or you don’t have time to deploy it, you could pop off a BriteCloud. It may also give you greater freedom to maneuver if your decoy is not connected to the aircraft by a fiber-optic cable,” he said.

Barrie said radar-guided missiles have been around for a while, but now a new generation of weapons was being introduced by the Russians.

“The US and it’s allies had a pretty good idea how to deal with the old Soviet-era systems used by Iraq and Libya, but the SA-17 Grizzly missile operated by the Syrians is a much more modern radar-guided missile and would have constituted a considerable handful had the regime’s use of chemical weapons triggered airstrikes by the West,” he said.

“Cooling relations with Moscow has prompted recognition that the radar-guided threat has not by any means gone away. In terms of what the Russians have been doing in regards to air-to-air and particularly surface-to-air missiles they have a new generation of weapons becoming available. These missiles are also available on the export market and pose more of a capability threat than we have seen in the last 20 years,” Barrie said.
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Merlin news:
New Royal Marines Battlefield Helicopters Get Their Sea Legs Aboard HMS Ocean
The new wings of the Royal Marines have been getting their sea legs ready to carry commandos into action around the globe.
The green Merlins of 846 Naval Air Squadron joined Britain’s flagship HMS Ocean off the south coast for basic, but vital, amphibious training.
With the veteran green Sea King now retired – the legendary helicopters conducted a farewell fly-past around the South West – the burden of flying commandos into battle falls squarely on the Merlin.
The battlefield Merlin is bigger, faster, more powerful, has a greater range and is easier to board/disembark than the helicopter it replaces.
But it’s also designed for operations over land (unlike the grey submarine-hunting Merlins the Navy has flown for the past 15 or so years) … and marines fight by land and sea.
Since transferring from the RAF, the helicopters have received a mini upgrade – the Merlin iMk3 (‘i’ for interim) is better suited to supporting the green berets on amphibious operations than the ‘basic’ model thanks to a folding main rotor head, strengthened undercarriage and communications upgrades.
“The iMk3 has a number of modifications to allow us to operate at sea, day and night, as well as the ability to conduct various other tasks such as the fast roping of troops to the deck of a ship on the move,” explained pilot Lt Cdr Alex Hampson.
It plugs the gap until the truly ‘marinised’ version of the battlefield Merlin, the Mk4, is delivered in late 2017. With an enhanced avionics suite, automatic folding main rotor head and folding tail, it’s perfect for operations at sea.
846’s Commanding Officer Lt Col Del Stafford said that the few days embarked on the helicopter carrier would serve the Commando Helicopter Force well: first sea time for the iMk3; first green Merlins landing on assault ship HMS Bulwark; ferrying loads between ships on the move at sea; and air and ground living and working in the confines of a warship.
“The aircrew, engineers and aircraft have been undergoing the transition process from Sea King for several years,” said Lt Col Stafford.
“Even though this short embarkation on HMS Ocean may seem like a relatively minor achievement, it marks an extremely important milestone for all that have been living and breathing Merlin operations for the last few years.”
Lt Cdr Hampson added: “The efforts of so many people involved in the transition are now coming to full fruition as we see the first Merlin iMk3 on the deck of a Royal Navy warship at sea.
“The small team of engineers and aircrew that we brought on board with us understand this perfectly and are rightly proud to be the first to do so.”
Two squadrons of Merlins are assigned to the green berets – 845 NAS will shortly move from RAF Benson in Oxfordshire to Yeovilton – plus reconnaissance Wildcats of 847 NAS.
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all I can say is God Save The Queen:
Why the Royal Navy has just been cut by another 2 ships
"There has been no official announcement but in early 2016 the surface fleet was effectively reduced by a further two ships.

HMS Dauntless, in commission for just 6 years has been reduced to harbour training ship statusand unlikely to go to sea for some time. Dauntless has suffered the most from the propulsion defects that have plagued the Type 45s. ... HMS Lancaster has been put into “mothballs”, or in MoD double-speak, “extended readiness”. ..." the source:
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Lieutenant General
Registered Member
RAF to field retained Tranche 1 Typhoons as stand-alone air defence force

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) is to field as a separate air defence force the Tranche 1 (T1) Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft that are to be retained in service beyond their original retirement date.

The 24 T1 aircraft that were extended from 2019 to the wider Typhoon out-of-service date (OSD) of 2040 in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) of November 2015 will be formed into two distinct air defence squadrons, rather than being mixed with other T2 and T3 aircraft in other multirole units, Deputy Commander of Operations Air Marshal Greg Bagwell told reporters on 30 March.

"The issue was how to operate the Tranche 1 alongside the Tranche 2 and 3 as there is very little spares commonality between them, so it was decided that the plan [should be] for two new squadrons of Tranche 1 Typhoons," AM Bagwell said.

Given the software limitations of the T1, the RAF has decided not to try and upgrade these particular platforms with the Phase Enhancement upgrade packages that will afford the T2 and T3 platforms with the full swing-role capability set. As such, they will be used solely for air defence duties, and perhaps for adversarial air combat training for other RAF aircraft types.

"The Tranche 1s will be used purely for air defence, as an upgrade [for swing-role] will be prohibitively expensive. The two squadrons of Tranche 1 Typhoons will own the air defence role, and we are also looking at using them for 'red air' along with the Hawk," AM Bagwell noted.

The UK bases its Typhoons at RAF Coningsby in England (Quick reaction Alert [QRA] South) and at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland (QRA North). It also has a detachment of four air defence aircraft permanently stationed in the Falkland Islands.

In terms of the UK QRA, AM Bagwell said it has not yet been decided where the T1 Typhoons will be based but he did note that from a support perspective it would make sense that they should all be at one location

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all I can say is God Save The Queen:
Why the Royal Navy has just been cut by another 2 ships
"There has been no official announcement but in early 2016 the surface fleet was effectively reduced by a further two ships.

HMS Dauntless, in commission for just 6 years has been reduced to harbour training ship statusand unlikely to go to sea for some time. Dauntless has suffered the most from the propulsion defects that have plagued the Type 45s. ... HMS Lancaster has been put into “mothballs”, or in MoD double-speak, “extended readiness”. ..." the source:
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Don't know what the problem is with HMS Lancaster but the issue with HMS Dauntless I believe is connected to its electric propulsion system. Their 2011 study states that "no single cause for the low reliability but rather a large group of unconnected individual causes" would suggest to me that the design itself is unstable. This is the price that you pay when going for a IEP technology that has yet to mature. By the way, the USS Zumwalt is basically using similar electric propulsion technology but given that that design is later in the timeline some of the design issues might have been addressed. Time will tell.

LONDON — Engine failures on Britain’s Type 45 destroyers have been substantially reduced, but a final solution to the problems awaits implementation of a yet to be approved power improvement plan, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said in a letter to the parliamentary Defence Committee.

Fallon declined to publicly detail the extent of the problem with the destroyers' power plant but said in the letter March 23 that remedial action to date meant that: “In broad terms, current failure rates are one third of those experienced in 2010.”

Fallon was responding to a letter from Defense Committee Chairman Julian Lewis, who requested an explanation after concerns were raised in Parliament and elsewhere over the reliability of the integrated full electric propulsion system (IFEP) used on the Royal Navy’s most powerful warships.

The Ministry of Defence is having to put millions of pounds aside to fix the problem on the almost-new warships. The solution includes installing an additional diesel engine to the two gas turbines and two diesels already fitted.

The six-strong fleet of destroyers built by BAE Systems has suffered a catalog of engine problems, most publicly in 2009 when the recently commissioned first-of-class HMS Daring lost power in the Atlantic Ocean.

The BBC reported in January it had seen an email from a serving Royal Navy officer saying that "total electric failures are common" on the destroyers earmarked to help protect Britain’s new 65,000-ton aircraft carriers when they enter service later in the decade.

The Type 45s were the first complex warships to employ an IFEP system, which uses gas turbines and diesels to power electric motors, which turn the propellers.

Problems with the innovative system emerged during shore testing in 2005 and have been denting reliability of the destroyers' power system ever since.

The Type 45s are powered by two Rolls-Royce WR21 gas turbines and two Wartsila supplied diesels.

Rolls-Royce secured the power plant deal in partnership with Northrop Grumman in a competition with General Electric’s LM2500.

A Rolls-Royce spokesman said: "We continue to work alongside industry partners on making improvements to the propulsion system."

Part of the WR21 package is an intercooler recuperator, which recovers exhaust and recycles the gas into the engine, improving fuel efficiency.

The website for
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reports the intercooler unit has a design flaw that occasionally causes the WR21s to fail.

“When this happens the electrical load on the diesel generators can become too great and they trip out leaving the ship with no source of power,” according to the website.

Fallon’s letter said a study in 2011 established there was no single cause for the low reliability but rather a “large group of unconnected individual causes.”

The MoD and contractors have been working to resolve the reliability issue for years.

A series of enhancements have been implemented across the fleet that have helped reduce the scale of the reliability technical issues by two-thirds.

But, Fallon said, “we know now that reliability improvements alone will not enable us to realise the potential of the class [of warship]. Rather, the performance and design of the power and propulsion system is simply not able to deliver the resilience and reliability required."

Part of the solution is to add another diesel engine.

“A power improvement plan (PIP) will improve system resilience by adding upgraded diesel generators to provide the electrical generation capacity required to meet many propulsion and power requirements without reliance on WR21,” the letter said.

The MoD is talking with four contractors to assess the technical options, and the letter said an assessment phase would likely be launched later this year to consider detailed technical proposals ahead of seeking approval to proceed with the program.

Fallon said the cost and implementation timetable would not be known until the final design solution has been selected.

The work is likely to be built into major refit programs planned for the destroyers starting at the end of the decade.
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