CAPITOL HILL: It’s been a rough 48 hours for the US Navy. Yesterday, the Littoral Combat Ship was battered by House appropriators and questioned by a leaked report. Today it was the Senate Armed Service seapower subcommittee’s turn to grill the Navy about its aircraft carrier and submarine programs. While the automatic 10-year budget cuts known as sequestration played a major role… Keep reading →
NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, MARYLAND: Most drones land the same way manned airplanes do, on a runway. But what if you don’t have a runway? Well, with an unmanned aerial vehicle called the RQ-21, Marines can string up a cable and snag the drone out of the sky.
The military and unmanned aerial vehicle maker Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing, pioneered the “skyhook” technique with a small drone called Scan Eagle that has seen wide service in Afghanistan and Iraq. But now they’re scaling that technology up with the larger and more capable Insitu Integrator, being developed for the Marines and Navy under the designation RQ-21A. Scan Eagle weighs 44 pounds, about as much as the average four-year-old boy; Integrator weighs 135 lbs, as much as a 14-year-old. That 300 percent increase in weight is literally a stretch for the crane-and-cable mechanism that snatches the drone out of the air in mid-flight. Keep reading →
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD: Trucks, not sports cars – that’s the Chief of Naval Operations’ vision for an affordable and upgradeable future fleet. And that’s good news for an array of programs, from the controversial Littoral Combat Ship, to the LPD-17 amphibious ship, to a Marine Corps initiative called Harvest Hawk that straps missiles to a KC-130J aerial tanker (pictured).
Historically, Greenert said in an address to the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space convention on Tuesday, when the Navy wants to bring a technology to the fleet – a radar, a sonar, a missile – it hardwires it into a ship or aircraft designed to carry that specific system. “The philosophy has been [that] we’ll design the capability to be integral inside the platform, and we’ll build a pretty high-end integrated sports car,” Greenert said, “but it’s integral and [so] it’s hard to change and it’s hard to update.” Keep reading →
Washington: The head of the Navy, Adm. Gary Roughead, has offered a pretty compelling story line in the last few months, arguing that the next decade will belong to his service as the U.S. withdraws from its land wars and is forced to rely on a steady global presence deliverable only by ship.
The Navy will grow — eventually — to 313 ships (or 325 for a while, according to Congressional Budget Office and CRS estimates) from its current fleet of 285. And no one thinks the service will downgrade its coverage of the Western Pacific, in particular, as China pumps money into its naval forces. But there is one big fat problem with all this, as became clear during a House Armed Services hearing yesterday afternoon: the current Navy is having trouble handling its current load. Keep reading →