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January 2012 Issue

Women to Serve on Royal Navy Submarines by 2013
After two decades of at-sea service in the U.K. Royal Navy, women have finally been given the green light to serve on submarines, U.K. defense officials announced in December. The move comes more than a year after the U.S. Navy instituted a similar policy change that will allow women to serve on submarines.

U.K. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the first female sailors would go to sea with the Silent Service by the end of 2013. Previously, women were not allowed to serve on submarines because of concerns that higher levels of CO2 could harm their health, defense officials said.

The Vanguard class of nuclear deterrent boats will be the first to carry female submariners, beginning with a small number of officers. Women will begin serving in the Astute-class hunter killer submarines by 2016 after the necessary modifications have been made.

Thales Integrated Mast Installed on Patrol Vessel
The Integrated Mast IM400, designed and built by Thales Nederland (Hengelo, Netherlands), successfully passed factory acceptance tests in November. The mast was then shipped to Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (Vlissingen, Netherlands) and installed on the Royal Netherland Navy's first-in-class patrol vessel Holland.

The IM400 is made up of a central mast structure that houses the radar, optronic and communication sensors and antennas as well as all cabinets and peripherals. The mast contains Thales sensors, including SeaMaster 400 radar; a nonrotating S-band radar with four faces for air and surface surveillance; Gatekeeper, a 360° panoramic electro-optical surveillance and alerter system; ICAS (Integrated Communication Antenna System); and the NR IFF (nonrotating identification friend or foe) cylindrical array.

The company is building a second IM400, which it plans to install on the second patrol ship Zeeland in early 2013.

NRL Railgun Marks 1,000th Successful Firing
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Materials Testing Facility demonstrated in late October the 1,000th successful firing of its electromagnetic railgun since it was first fired at 0.5 megajoules in March 2007. In the four years since, firing about 15 shots a week, scientists have brought the launch energy to 1.5 megajoules, or about the amount of energy of a one-ton vehicle moving at 128 miles per hour.

To deal with the tremendous heat from high currents and friction, Navy researchers have pioneered multiple barrel and armature designs that minimize or mitigate this damage.

The railgun group on October 31 received the NRL Award of Merit for Group Achievement in recognition of its work on the program.

Bluefin to Provide UUVs for LCS Mine Warfare
Bluefin Robotics (Quincy, Massachusetts) was chosen to engineer and manufacture the Surface Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (SMCM UUV), part of the littoral combat ship (LCS) mine warfare mission package.

The company received the subcontract from General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems (Fairfax, Virginia) in November, with options for the production of up to five low-rate initial production systems (a total of 10 UUVs) as well as other options. Work will be performed in Quincy.

The SMCM UUV system will include two Bluefin-21 UUVs in addition to launch and recovery equipment, a support container and support equipment. Bluefin said the system will provide the fleet mine warfare commander and sailors with enhanced mine-hunting capability and address the U.S. Navy's need to reliably detect and identify buried mines in high-clutter environments. The vehicle will also include an advanced sonar payload developed by the General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems Team.

LCS AMNS Completes First Live Fire Test
Program Executive Office, Littoral Combat Ships, in October successfully conducted the first detect-to-engage sequence for the airborne mine neutralization system (AMNS) in Panama City, Florida, demonstrating the system's ability to fire an Archerfish destructor against an inert target.

AMNS, a critical component of the LCS mine countermeasures mission package, is designed to explosively neutralize mines located during mine-hunting operations. Delivered from an MH-60S helicopter, the system deploys up to four expendable neutralization vehicles. The vehicle is controlled from a console on board the helicopter through a fiber-optic cable. It performs positive identification of a mine before warhead detonation. Five low-rate initial production systems have been delivered to the U.S. Navy, with the sixth system scheduled to be delivered in January 2012.


2013:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC
2012:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC

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