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15 septembre 2015 2 15 /09 /septembre /2015 16:55
MMP missile - photo Laurent Guichardon - MBDA

MMP missile - photo Laurent Guichardon - MBDA


September 14, 2015: Strategy Page


In early 2015 a Swedish firm (Saab) agreed to design and produce warheads for the new French MMP (Missile Moyenne Portée) medium-range anti-tank missile (ATGM). Warhead deliveries are scheduled for 2017. This is a big deal for Saab, a Swedish company that is often a competitor when it comes to anti-tank weapons. Saab is often competing with the French manufacturer (MBDA) of MMP for ATGM business. The French military did the math and concluded that it was cheaper (and more effective) to buy certain key MMP components from the ATGM manufacturer with the best reputation. This was obviously cheaper and faster that having MBDA conducting their own research in that area.


MMP is a new generation of ATGM similar to the American Javelin or Israeli Spike but developed by a local firm because the French like to manufacture key weapons in France. The MMP will replace the older MILAN family of anti-tank missiles, which were also developed in France. The replacement effort goes back to 2009 when France rejected yet another Milan modernization proposal and in 2010 ordered 260 FGM-148 Javelin missiles from the United States. This purchase was quite a shock for French industry but also an incentive to develop an attractive locally made alternative to Javelin. This led to MMP and the Swedish warhead was seen as an asset, not a liability.


The MMP missile itself weights about 15 kg (33 pound), is 1.3 meters (51 inches) long 140mm in diameter. The weight of the firing unit, including tripod and battery, is another 11 kg (24 pounds). The missile can be fired from portable firing posts, vehicles and army aviation platforms (in the future). MMP features a dual-mode seeker incorporating an uncooled thermal and daylight television channel together with inertial reference unit. An uncooled IR seeker is especially useful, because it can be used very quickly, as opposed to cooled seekers like Javelin’s that require some time to become ready. The warhead is a 140mm caliber tandem shaped charge which according to producer is capable to penetrating any modern tank or two meters of concrete. The missile can engage targets 4,000 meters away. MMP also has a two-way datalink which provide fire-and-forget, man-in-the-loop and non-line-of-sight firing modes with either direct or top-attack (flying over a target and sending penetrator through the thin top armor). MMP can also soft-launch (be safely fired from confined spaces like buildings).


A heavier 8,000 meter version (called MLP) is in the works for helicopters and vehicles. MLP will replace the current HOT missiles.


MMP successfully conducted extensive test firings in early 2015. These included live-firing under various conditions. Some additional tests will take place before the end of 2015. The French Army had no doubt that the MMP effort would succeed and in late 2013 ordered 175 firing posts and 450 missiles, which deliveries beginning in 2017. The entire procurement contract for the French Army is for 2,850 missiles and 400 firing posts. MBDA expects MMP and MLP to be competitive export items.


Meanwhile the older (1970s) technology Milan has remained in production, mainly because it can still get the job done if used against lightly armored vehicles and older tanks. India is a major user (building Milan under license) because their likely opponents, until recently, only had tanks that Milan could handle. But now they have an aggressive China massing forces on the border and building much better protected tanks. The basic Milan is a 1.2 meter long, 125mm diameter, 7.1 kg (16 pound) missile. It has a minimum range of 400 meters and maximum range of 2,000 meters. At max range the missile takes about 13 seconds to reach its target. The missile is guided to the target by the operator via a thin wire. The launcher weighs 21 kg (46 pounds). The missile can penetrate about a meter (39 inches) of armor, making it effective against all but the most modern tanks (M-1, Challenger, Leopard 2). Since the 1970s, over 350,000 Milan missiles and 30,000 launchers have been built worldwide. More modern ATGM are wireless and require much less effort on the part of the operator but they are more expensive. Milans are now being phased out in favor of more modern designs although some will remain in service into the 2020s.

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9 février 2015 1 09 /02 /février /2015 12:20



6 February 2015 naval-technology.com


The US Navy is set to christen the third mobile landing platform (MLP) ship on 7 February at the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) shipyard.


USNS Lewis B. Puller is named in honour of lieutenant general Lewis "Chesty" Puller, who was awarded five navy crosses.


The vessel, which is the first MLP afloat forward staging base (AFSB) variant for the navy, is designed to support special operations including airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM), humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, amphibious and other combat missions.

"Upon being commissioned, it scheduled for deployment to the Gulf theatre to replace USS Ponce."


The 837ft-long MLP ships can cruise at a maximum speed of 15k and have a range of 9500nm. They can accommodate a crew of 34 from military sealift command and weigh 60,000t.


USNS Lewis B. Puller completed launch and float-off at the NASSCO yard last year and will undergo sea trials before being delivered later this year.


Upon being commissioned, it scheduled for deployment to the Gulf theatre to replace USS Ponce, which is the current temporary AFSB operating in the region.


With a capacity to accommodate 250 personnel and a large helicopter flight deck, the MLP AFSB is a capable and affordable asset for the navy and US Marine Corps.


NASSCO started construction of USNS Lewis B. Puller in February 2014 and in March a $128.5m contract was awarded for detail design and construction efforts to transform it to an AFSB variant.

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6 avril 2014 7 06 /04 /avril /2014 19:20
New US Marine Concept Re-establishes Maritime Roots


Apr. 6, 2014 - By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS  - Defense News


WASHINGTON — The US Marine Corps is in a period of transition, working to reconstitute itself as a sea-based fighting force after more than a decade of fighting land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Corps is rolling out Expeditionary Force 21 (EF 21), a new construct intended to organize its forces to deploy and respond worldwide to whatever need it’s assigned to.


Key to the new plan is the Expeditionary Warfare Branch in OPNAV, the offices reporting directly to the US Navy’s chief of naval operations. As the N95 director, Maj. Gen. Robert Walsh is charged with determining and assessing the requirements for amphibious, mine and naval special warfare missions.


Q. What is EF 21?

A. EF 21 leverages a lot of the concepts we had earlier on, like operational maneuver from the sea, ship to objective maneuver. We have not had a concept like EF 21 since we had the Marine Corps Vision and Strategy 2025, which came out in 2008. That 2008 document was written heavily grounded in irregular warfare, it was in the heart of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. EF 21 is kind of coming back more to our maritime roots.

One of the key things in any aspirational vision is to project out to the future. To be able to start to develop and design capabilities, operating concepts and how they’ll work. The fleet getting out there and doing war gaming, experimentation, trying new things. How do we take proven concepts and make them work better by laying down what the aspirational vision would look like, then start designing what those capabilities would be able to do.

You start taking a look at the ships we have, being able to network in a much different way than we would have networked those ships in in the past. Our connecter strategy on being able to get the forces ashore using our sea-basing capabilities and where we want to go with that. The ability to operate away from shore in a disaggregated fashion, be able to quickly come together, it’s some of this operational design we’re taking into consideration.


Q. Is what you have today what you need to be able to do these things? Or is this something that is aspirational?

A. If we were given a mission, we’d use all the capabilities we have within the Navy and Marine Corps team to try to come together and execute that mission. We’ve got pretty solid capabilities. What I would argue is some of our concepts of operations are things we just haven’t looked at for a long time. When you’re focused on irregular warfare and operations in Afghanistan and Iraq for the last 10 to 12 years, you really haven’t had a renaissance in maritime thinking to try to get after these sort of issues.

Getting back into the maritime domain, we don’t know where we’re going to be at any one time in the chaos that’s throughout the world. It could be as we try to rebalance to the Pacific, we also have a new normal throughout the Middle East, Africa, that we’ve got to deal with. What’s our mission today as we start evolving?


Q. The traditional seagoing deployment structure of the Marine Corps and Navy has long been the Marine expeditionary unit (MEU) and the three-ship amphibious ready group (ARG), composed of a big-deck assault ship, an LPD amphibious transport dock and an LSD landing ship dock. EF-21 discusses the need to be able to split up or disaggregate the MEU during deployments. Is there thought being given to developing alternatives to the traditional MEU-ARG deployment structure?

A. Part of the expeditionary nature of the Navy and Marine Corps team [is] being able to quickly deploy, be forward deployed, come together quickly to be an enabler for the joint force. The EF 21 piece has these special-purpose Marine air-ground task forces (MAGTFs). It’s got the MEUs. It also focuses more on a Marine expeditionary brigade structure, a major piece of which is aggregation. So being forward deployed means land-based, it means being the special-purpose MAGTFs, it’s our ships that are forward deployed, and also the ability to surge more ships. It’s taking whatever we have available to us and using it.

On the ARG and MEU, we have done this for many years where our ARG/MEU would go into a certain area of operations and conduct what we call doctrinally split-ARG operations. We train to operate as an ARG/MEU that works together as a three-ship ARG, and we deploy together, then we get over to theater and we get forced because of the problems that are out there to end up splitting.

So the split part would generally be how we define those split operations. You’re still working underneath the ARG/MEU commanders. They’re able to maintain control, but they’re in different locations. They’ve disaggregated, and in some cases, they’re operating under different combatant commanders, as in Operation Odyssey Dawn off Libya in 2011. The 26th MEU was doing contingency operations in the Red Sea, waiting for potential non-combatant evacuation missions or embassy reinforcement in Egypt or Lebanon, or potentially conducting piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. Operating under two separate combatant commanders, where that ARG/MEU commander, there was no way he was going to be able to keep control over that.

I think we’re under the realization that this is the way of the future. Because of that, we’re writing a concept of employment to disaggregate those ARG/MEUs. That will now be a tool set our amphibious forces will be able to read, understand, train to, and then be in a much better position to operate in a disaggregated manner.


Q. The LPD 17 San Antonio-class ships were designed specifically with disaggregated operations in mind, featuring enhanced command-and-control (C2) facilities and defensive systems. LX(R), the LSD replacement design, looks like it will be a much more austere version of LPD 17, not nearly as capable of independent operations. Are those factors figuring into the thinking about what an ARG/MEU can do?

A. Absolutely. When you compare LPD 17, even to our big-deck LHD assault ships, you’re seeing in some cases better capability than we have on the mother ship — not only is it a nice thing to have within your ARG, it also allows you to operate even as a single ship deployer. The LPD 17s have some of the best C2 capabilities in the amphib force. LPD 17 is very successful.

That said, we don’t really know today exactly where we’re going with LX(R). There are a number of different options we’re looking at in the analysis of alternatives. One of them was looking at an LPD 17 hull form that would be a different ship, but leverage some of the capabilities. That makes a lot of sense from a standpoint of commonality and affordability. We’re trying to get the affordability piece right, make sure we’re not increasing cost by trying to drive in increased requirements, and by working with industry to design in some of that affordability.

You start looking at the way those shipbuilding industries have moved out in designing for affordability with surface ships and submarines. They use a lot of higher technology to design in affordability; to be able to integrate, be more collaborative with the government in designing systems, more than we’ve been able to do in the amphib side. We’re not there. If we’re going to really drive down cost in the amphib fleet, we’ve got to be able to use somebody’s collaborative design tools that we have not used before. We’ve been in the 20th century where they’ve moved on to the 21st century.

As we kind of move into that LX(R) piece, we don’t necessarily want that thing to be tucked in with the mother ship, never can go and operate independently. So we did an operational planning team with the fleet. Both the Navy and the Marine Corps down in Norfolk, about two months ago, brought them all together and said let’s rack and stack all the capabilities that we think the LX(R) will need. One of the things that became clear was that independent operations are going to be a key part of that. So what are the right command-and-control capabilities? What are the right surface connector capabilities? Cargo is a piece of that.

LSDs now have two landing spots, but they don’t have a hangar on them. If you’re going to conduct independent operations, you’re going to need to have a maintenance detachment to bring that aircraft into a hangar and conduct maintenance. Otherwise, they’re just landing spots tied to the LPD or the LX(R). To be truly independent, the fleet decided, we need to have that capability.

As a resource sponsor, where I start to get nervous is when you start giving it to the fleet guys, and they’re going to look at all kinds of requirements that are going to add cost to your standard LSD truck. That’s where we’re looking at some cost trades — what are those things that if we design in new capabilities like new command and control, to be able to conduct independent operations, new hangar capability to be able to do aviation capabilities to support independent operations, where would those trades come from?

Those are some of the things we’re looking at, such as survivability trades. How can we drive in better survivability to be able to drive down cost? We looked at things like speed. If you come off the speed requirements of the ship by only 2 knots, you reduce cost tremendously. So those are some of those trades that we’re looking at to be able to get independent capability, what could we trade out? At the end of the day, affordability is going to be a major driver in this. We have got to do everything we possibly can to make that ship affordable.


Q. There is a great deal of talk about alternative platforms for operations, basing and theater security operations. The mobile landing platform (MLP) and its afloat forward staging base (AFSB) derivative are two platforms frequently discussed. Where do these new ship types stand today?

A. This piece with alternative platforms has been very interesting to watch within the Navy and the Marine Corps. Those alternative platforms really aren’t different — it’s using vessels we already have for sea basing or developing them in alternative ways. These ships have to go into harm’s way just like any other Navy ship that’s part of the battle force, and to be able to, in a lot of ways, conduct some very high-end missions, in some cases the closest to the threat, as they come in to conduct amphibious operations.

So the Marines’ concern with that is hey, wait a minute. We don’t want to take a ship and replace a warship with an alternative platform to do the mission. So what we started seeing is we started getting into the concept development. The chief of naval operations has been pushing us to look at all the different ships that we’ve got.

With some of these — T-AKE dry cargo ammunition ships, LMSR large, medium-speed roll-on/roll-off ships, the MLP — how can we use them so they’re not just sitting there waiting for the big one to occur? How can we use them on a more routine basis? Another piece of that is the joint high speed vessel, looked at initially as a cargo-passenger mover. Now we’re looking at it to use it in many different ways, in many different vignettes.

The MLP has a lot of capabilities. We’re looking at what other incremental capabilities we could put on that ship. Things like berthing capabilities, can we get utility landing craft aboard, could we get aircraft on board?

The AFSB is another example of how we moved in another direction very quickly. Looking at the [interim conversion ship] Ponce, we took an LPD and put it out there for both mine countermeasures mission along with special ops capability missions. That’s an old LPD, where we don’t know how many more years that it’s got on it, but it’s certainly given that mine countermeasures mission a mother ship to work from. That’s a requirement we have today, to be able to operate our MCM capabilities off that.

The CNO’s got us looking at the Ponce and determining if we really want to decommission that ship after we put some significant effort into it, in money, and we’re seeing this increased demand for AFSBs across the globe. And as we bring more AFSBs, we’re not sure whether that’s going to necessarily stay there in 5th Fleet or the Ponce would stay there, or whether we may keep all three and use them in different ways.

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15 mars 2014 6 15 /03 /mars /2014 17:20
L'addition s'alourdit pour les bases flottantes avancées (AFSB) de l'US Navy

15.03.2014 par Philippe Chapleau - Lignes de Défense

Pour remplacer le vénérable USS Ponce, l'US Navy a décidé de transformer en afloat forward staging base (AFSB) deux mobile landing platform (cliquer ici pour voir mon dernier post sur ce sujet). Ces AFSB sont présentés comme des plateformes low cost disposant d'une zone de poser pour hélicoptères, de capacités pour accueillir 250 personnes etc. 

La construction des ex-MLP3 et MLP4 et futures afloat forward staging base, a été confiée à General Dynamics qui planche toujours sur la nouvelle configuration de ces navires. Les travaux ont toutefois commencé en novembre dernier (cliquer ici pour lire un article à ce sujet et voir la photo ci-dessous).


Le premier, l'USNS Lewis B. Püller (MLP-3/AFSB-1), devrait remplacer le Ponce au Moyen-Orient; le second devrait être déployé dans le Pacifique.

La question du coût pourrait resurgir. General Dynamics a déjà bénéficié de rallonges, entre autres en juin 2013 (11,2 millions), en décembre (21,4) et le 12 mars dernier (128,5 millions) comme le montre l'avis ci-dessous:

General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $128,500,000 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-09-C-2229) to accomplish the detail design and construction of the Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) 3 Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB). This modification will provide the detail, design and construction efforts to convert the MLP 3 to an AFSB variant. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif., and is expected to be completed by October 2015. Fiscal 2012, 2013 and 2014 national defense sealift funds in the amount of $95,093,500 will be obligated at time of award. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

On notera que l'avis parle toujours de "detail, design and construction".

Le montant déjà engagé pour ces trois "modifications" citées plus haut s'élève à 161,1 millions. Une somme à ajouter aux 359 millions de dollars d'un contrat de février 2012 pour le MLP-3. On a donc déjà dépassé les 500 millions, somme qui était jugée rentrer dans les critères du low cost par certains spécialistes.

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13 mars 2014 4 13 /03 /mars /2014 12:20
General Dynamics delivers second mobile landing platform to US Navy

US Navy's second mobile landing platform, USNS John Glenn (MLP 2), underway off the California coast. Photo: courtesy of US Navy.


13 March 2014 naval-technology.com


General Dynamics NASSCO has successfully delivered the second mobile landing platform (MLP) ship, USNS John Glenn (MLP 2), to the US Navy.


The second MLP ship has been named to honour the former US Marine Corps pilot and US senator John Herschel Glenn, who is also the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth.


General Dynamics NASSCO president Fred Harris said: "We are delivering this ship with the quality, innovation and capability needed to support the future missions of the nation's fleet and uniformed men and women around the world."


The 785ft-long MLP is a new class of auxiliary vessel being designed for the US Navy to serve as a floating base for amphibious operations and a transfer point between large ships and small landing craft.


Powered by a twin-screw diesel electric propulsion system integrating four MAN/B&W medium-speed diesel engines, the new MLP ships will enter service with three maritime prepositioning force (MPF) squadrons to support a wide range of missions including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, amphibious and other combat missions.


The third ship of the class, MLP 3, is currently under construction by NASSCO and will be configured as an afloat forward staging base (AFSB).


MLP 3 is expected to be delivered to the US Navy in the second quarter of 2015.

"MLP 3 is expected to be delivered to the US Navy in the second quarter of 2015."


Separately, the US Navy has placed orders with General Dynamics for maintenance and modernisation of the Virginia-class attack submarine, USS Minnesota (SSN-783).


Under the $57m contract, the company will perform a post-shakedown availability, which consists of maintenance work, repairs, alternations and testing to ensure the submarine is operating at full technical capacity.


Scheduled to be completed in February 2015, work under the contract will be conducted at the Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, US.

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14 novembre 2013 4 14 /11 /novembre /2013 08:20
CRS Update: Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans

November 13, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Congressional Research Service; issued Nov. 8, 2013)


Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans

The Navy’s proposed FY2014 budget requests funding for the procurement of 8 new battle force ships (i.e., ships that count against the Navy’s goal for achieving and maintaining a fleet of 306 ships). The 8 ships include two Virginia-class attack submarines, one DDG-51 class Aegis destroyer, four Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs), and one Mobile Landing Platform/Afloat Forward Staging Base (MLP/AFSB) ship.

The Navy’s proposed FY2014-FY2018 five-year shipbuilding plan includes a total of 41 ships—the same number as in the Navy’s FY213-FY2017 five-year shipbuilding plan, and one less than the 42 ships that the Navy planned for FY2014-FY2018 under the FY2013 budget submission.

The planned size of the Navy, the rate of Navy ship procurement, and the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans have been matters of concern for the congressional defense committees for the past several years. The Navy’s FY2014 30-year (FY2014-FY2043) shipbuilding plan, like the Navy’s previous 30-year shipbuilding plans in recent years, does not include enough ships to fully support all elements of the Navy’s 306-ship goal over the long run.

The Navy projects that the fleet would remain below 306 ships during most of the 30-year period, and experience shortfalls at various points in cruisers-destroyers, attack submarines, and amphibious ships.

Click here for the full report (92 PDF pages) on the FAS website.

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7 novembre 2013 4 07 /11 /novembre /2013 08:20
Keel Laid for Future USNS Lewis B. Puller



Nov 6, 2013 ASDNews Source : US Navy


General Dynamics NASSCO held a keel-laying ceremony for the U.S. Navy's third mobile landing platform, the future USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP 3), Nov. 5


A keel-laying traditionally represents the formal beginning of a ship.


Although the fabrication of ship components often begin months earlier, authentication that the keel is "straight and truly laid" remains a key shipbuilding and ceremonial milestone.


The keel of MLP 3 was authenticated by Elizabeth Glueck, wife of Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command.


Read more

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