DMC and Produmax to drive new era in UK manufacturing

The Digital Manufacturing Centre (DMC) has announced a pioneering new partnership with  precision engineering company Produmax.

The agreement will enable the DMC to offer end-to-end component development and production for companies operating at the vanguard of aerospace, space, motorsport and automotive.

From engineering consultancy and design-for-manufacture to final machining and inspection, the DMC promises a complete, collaborative, and connected manufacturing solution. Combining the best in additive and subtractive manufacturing, alongside comprehensive engineering support and secure supply chains, the partnership is set to redefine UK manufacturing.

With AS9100 certification, Produmax brings a wealth of experience from working with leading, global aerospace companies. As part of the partnership, it will operate a satellite site at the DMC, including extensive machining and inspection services supported by engineering expertise from its UK headquarters. Capable of providing full inspection reports, including Production Part Approval Process (PPAP), it will support DMC’s extensive engineering talent and suite of leading-edge polymer and metal additive manufacturing solutions.

Aligning behind the Government’s innovation and manufacturing strategy, the announcement forms a critical part of the build-up toward the DMC’s March 2021 commercial launch.

Kieron Salter, Chief Executive Officer at the DMC, commented: “The partnership between the Digital Manufacturing Centre and Produmax signifies the coming together of two experienced teams and industry players, both investing in disruptive technology and the future of British manufacturing. The facility itself will be unique and a pioneer for many connected engineering and production technologies, but it is our key partnerships with highly regarded companies like Produmax that will help to fulfil the DMC’s true potential.

“With a well-earned reputation and an impressive track record within space and aerospace manufacturing, Produmax is an ideal technical partner as we work towards our 2021 launch. Their provision of on-site precision engineering, machining and inspection services will help us to deliver a complete end-to-end engineering-led solution for customers across a range of industries, with fully connected digital support and an uncompromising dedication to quality.”

Jeremy Ridyard, Managing Director at Produmax, added: “Partnering with the DMC was an easy decision for us to make. We share a vision and values, from encouraging young people into STEM fields to promoting advanced manufacturing. We see connected, additive manufacturing as a cornerstone of precision engineering’s future and the DMC is set to be a UK leader.

“For our customers, the partnership brings a wealth of additional expertise and innovative capabilities that will ensure we continue to exceed their expectations. Industry 4.0 and the almost limitless potential of additive manufacturing have come together in the DMC, creating a facility that will pioneer the future of British industry. We are thrilled to be an integral part of the DMC’s future and are eagerly anticipating the facility’s commercial launch early next year.”

 Part of the Silverstone Technology Cluster, the 2,000 square metre DMC is intended to realise the potential of additive and connected manufacturing. Providing serial production parts and technology solutions, the DMC was created by leading engineering company KW Special Projects and made possible through significant investment from the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP).

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MASS launches new specialist virtual learning platform

MASS, the defence and training support company, has launched a new online learning platform for its established cyber and Electronic Warfare (EW) training courses, offering an engaging learning experience in an accessible and COVID-secure way.

MASS’s team of experts used their extensive experience of training and working in the defence sector to develop a new online learning platform. The courses include:

  • Foundation level EW – this course is aimed at all levels of the military, enabling them to build and maintain an EW capability.
  • (Available from Feb 2021) Introduction to Joint Operations Planning – this course is aimed at military staff and will enable them to plan Joint operations at the Operational level of a Task Force HQ.

MASS also offers cyber training to all industries and sectors; the Cyberstars and Resilience Assessment courses are available on an individual or group basis and are designed to increase awareness and importance of cyber-security.

The MASS Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) provides the full mix of teaching methods, including virtual classrooms, group work and individual learning. Students get the usual five-star experience of a MASS training course but with added benefits the online platform brings.

Participants are able to access courses and learning materials wherever they are thanks to the secure Cloud environment; automated reminders make it easy to set up regular training periods and employers can track the learning progress of their employees. The training is flexible, which means it can accommodate as many attendees as required.

Chris Stanley, Managing Director of MASS, said: “MASS has been delivering high quality training for many years and I’m pleased to say we’re now able to offer the same service online. It offers a safe, flexible and easy way to train your teams while still benefiting from our in-house experts.”

image courtesy of MASS

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Lockheed Martin awarded F-16 Depot Sustainment Program

The US Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth $900 million to provide sustainment support and depot-overflow services for F-16 aircraft.

The contract value is estimated over a total of 10 years and includes depot-level maintenance activities, predefined programmatic work, aircraft modification and unplanned drop-in maintenance.

As the F-16 Fighting Falcon’s Original Equipment Manufacturer, Lockheed Martin is uniquely positioned to provide the most comprehensive knowledge of the aircraft and tailored sustainment solutions to optimise the F-16 fleet for greater capability, readiness and performance.

Work on this contract will be performed at the company’s site in Greenville, South Carolina, which is equipped and ready to support F-16 operations for years to come. Lockheed Martin’s team of F-16 experts are on-site and prepared to meet the service’s most challenging problems, partnering between Production and Sustainment operations, giving full life cycle coverage for the F-16.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon offers advanced interoperable capabilities that enhance partnerships with allies across the world. It has been proving its effectiveness for decades and continues to remain the best value among 4th generation jets for its capabilities and affordable lifecycle costs. To date, a total of 4,588 F-16s have been produced and are currently operated by 25 countries.

image courtesy of Lockheed Martin

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Honeywell secures contract for US Army Chinook fleet

Honeywell  has won a five-year IDIQ (Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity) contract for the repair and overhaul of its T55-GA-714A engines that operate on the US Army’s CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

This contract award will ensure that the U.S. Army’s Chinook fleet has spare engines to sustain its future missions and overall readiness. The engines will be serviced at Honeywell’s new maintenance facility at the company’s Aerospace global headquarters in Phoenix.

Honeywell remains committed to supporting the T55 engine and the CH-47F Chinook program with improved maintenance practices, expanded repair capacities and engine modernisation improvements that will meet the helicopter’s needs for years to come,” said Dave Marinick, president, Engines & Power Systems. Honeywell’s unparalleled T55 repair and overhaul facility was designed to provide the highest level of support for the US Army’s needs today and in future missions. Every aspect of the layout and design of this new facility was carefully planned to ensure operational efficiency with US Army mission readiness in mind.”

Completion of the new facility means repair and overhaul work on the T55-GA-714A engine will now be in the same location as new engine production. This move allows the workforce to share resources between both engine lines, for a potential surge output of 20 engines per month that can be delivered to the US Army, foreign military and commercial customers.

 “We’ve made substantial improvements to the shop layout and process flow of the T55-GA-714A maintenance lines,” said Lesley King, senior director, ISC Operations, Honeywell Aerospace. “So we can double our capacity in the shop and take advantage of our engineering resources on-site to ensure we are meeting our delivery commitments to the Army.”

As a world leader in heavy lift, the CH-47F Chinook helicopter is used by the US Army to support domestic and foreign operations by hauling troops and cargo all over the world. Since 1961, Honeywell has improved the horsepower of the T55 engine by 133%. Each improvement has decreased the engine’s fuel consumption and lowered the maintenance burden to increase aircraft readiness.

Honeywell is executing one such engine improvement program for the T55, which will increase shaft horsepower from today’s 4,777 to 6,000. This engine enhancement will allow the CH-47F to increase its useful load at higher density altitudes and will further reduce maintenance hours with the introduction of a newly designed compressor and accessory drive gearbox.

image © BlueBarronPhoto / Shutterstock.com

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Elbit Systems to provide helicopter systems to the US Army

Elbit Systems of America has been awarded an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity (ID/IQ) contract with a maximum value of approximately $50 million to produce spare parts in support of the Aviators’ Night Vision Imaging System Head-Up Display system (“ANVIS HUD”) of the US Army.

The contract, that will be performed by Elbit Systems over a period of five-years, was awarded on behalf of the United States Army, by the Defense Logistics Agency. An initial order for $17.9 million was recently placed under this contract, to be supplied until 2023.

The ANVIS HUD is a day and night display system that connects to the helmets of Army helicopter pilots, allowing the pilots’ heads to remain upright and looking out of the aircraft, with all applicable information presented in front of the pilots’ eyes, instead of looking down or inside the cockpit to view information from various sensors.

Raanan Horowitz, President and CEO of Elbit Systems of America, said: “Provisioning ANVIS HUD spares enables U.S. Army pilots to have the equipment available to support aircraft readiness. Elbit Systems of America has a long history of supplying the ANVIS HUD, and we are dedicated to continuing to supply these systems that aid performance, increase operator situational awareness, and ultimately warfighter safety.”

image courtesy of Elbit Systems

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Royal Marines accommodation in Lympstone reaches milestone

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) project to build new accommodation for personnel at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) in Devon has celebrated a major milestone.

The socially distanced topping out ceremony held at the Royal Marines’ principal training centre in Lympstone means that the building’s framework has now reached its highest point. The event was held in line with the current Covid-19 guidelines.

Representatives from the Royal Marines, DIO and its contractors Galliford Try and AECOM attended a socially distanced event to mark this achievement and to view progress on the building.

The project is worth approximately £10 million in total and will see the creation of a 181-bed block for junior ranks as well as supporting facilities, such as a communal area and administrative offices, at the site near Lympstone.

The accommodation will comprise of 21 eight-bed rooms and one ten-bed unit plus three single Duty of Care rooms for supporting staff. All rooms have been designed so that they can be allocated to either male or female occupants.

The new blocks will house Royal Marine recruits who have either been injured in training or are undergoing remedial professional military training.

Progress has carried on at this important facility in accordance with strict Covid-19 guidelines.

Simon Jones, DIO Project Manager, said: “This is an incredibly exciting milestone for the project and one we are pleased to be working on with Galliford Try and with our technical support providers Aecom.

“This purpose-built facility will provide modern and essential accommodation to personnel as they recover from injury and undergo rehabilitation on site.

“We are delighted with the progress on the facility to date especially in these challenging times and we look forward to celebrating its completion.”

Mark Wusthoff, Area Director for Galliford Try Building West Midlands & South West, said: “We were delighted to be able to welcome our partners on site to signify this important milestone, demonstrating the progress we have safely made despite the challenges presented by the pandemic.

“Defence is a key sector for our business and we are looking forward to the successful completion of this project, demonstrating the breadth of our offering to the sector and our capabilities within it.”

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GA-ASI selects 18 companies for Virtual Blue Magic Belgium

As part of the second annual “Blue Magic Belgium” industry engagement event hosted by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), 18 Belgium-based companies have been selected to present their ideas and cutting-edge capabilities to a panel of GA-ASI technical experts.

The panel will evaluate the companies in a virtual interview setting and make decisions on which capabilities can support the development of MQ-9B SkyGuardian®, the GA-ASI Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) selected by Belgian Defense.

The presentations will be held during the week of September 21st and unlike the first Blue Magic Belgium (BMB) industry outreach event in 2019, this year’s event will be held virtually due to travel and in-person meeting restrictions stemming from the coronavirus.

“We’re very excited to host our second Blue Magic Belgium event,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “Our first BMB event was a great success as we identified four Belgian companies who are now part of our SkyGuardian development team. We look forward to the same success this year. We know that attracting new Belgian businesses means more jobs for Belgium and it helps GA-ASI produce the best RPA for Belgian Defense and all NATO countries.”

As part of last year’s event, AeroSimulators Group (ASG), AIRobot, ALX Systems and Hexagon joined Team SkyGuardian, which already included these five Belgium companies: SABCA, Thales Belgium, ScioTeq, ST Engineering and DronePort. GA-ASI is working with these companies now to generate next-generation capabilities for their RPA.

The companies participating in Blue Magic Belgium the week of September 21st will be Airobot , AKKA BENELUX, Altran Belgium, ALX Systems, Any-Shape, Cenaero, Feronyl, Hexagon Geospatial, IDRONECT, Lambda-X, ML2Grow, Moss Composites, Optrion, Oscars, ScioTeq, Siemens, VITO-Remote Sensing, and von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics.

image courtesy of GA‑ASI

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GA-ASI Signs SkyGuardian Contract for Belgium

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has signed a Foreign Military Sales contract with the US Air Force for Belgian Ministry of Defense to acquire the MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS).

The SkyGuardian contract covers the design, development, integration and production of the RPAS with its EO/IR video and SAR/GMTI surveillance payloads, as well as Certifiable Ground Control Stations (CGCS), Portable Pre-Flight/Post-Flight Equipment (P3E), ground support equipment and spares. First delivery is expected in 2023.

Linden Blue, CEO of GA-ASI, said: “We look forward to providing our RPAS to meet Belgium’s mission requirements, while also supporting the NATO Alliance.

“Through our Belgian R&D seed-funding initiative, we are connected with many Belgian companies interested in further improving the capabilities of the SkyGuardian system.”

SkyGuardian has garnered significant interest from customers throughout the world. The UK Ministry of Defence selected SkyGuardian for its MQ-9B Protector program, and recently concluded the production contract for deliveries to the Royal Air Force. SkyGuardian was also selected by the Australian Defence Force under Project Air 7003.

MQ-9B is GA-ASI’s most advanced RPAS. GA-ASI named its MQ-9B aircraft SkyGuardian, and the maritime surveillance variant SeaGuardian, which is fitted with a multimode 360-degree field-of-regard Maritime Patrol Radar and optional sonobuoy capability.

MQ-9B development began in 2014 as a company-funded program to deliver an RPAS to meet NATO’s stringent airworthiness type-certification standard (STANAG 4671). STANAG certification will enable SkyGuardian to operate in civil airspace and better perform border patrol, fire detection and firefighting support, maritime patrol, and resource monitoring missions. MQ-9B is provisioned for the GA-ASI-developed Detect and Avoid System (DAAS) to enhance safety of operations in civil and military airspace. The MQ-9B is built for all-weather performance with lightning protection, a damage tolerant airframe, and a de-icing system.

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Defence Secretary sets out package of support to Lebanon

Royal Navy survey ship HMS Enterprise will sail to Lebanon as part of a wide-ranging package of military support made available by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

The survey vessel will travel to Lebanon to assess the damage of Beirut’s port following last week’s explosion and help return it to normal operations. The deployment of the ship will complement an immediate package of military and civilian support and £5 million worth of aid.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “At the request of the Lebanese Government I have authorised the sending of HMS Enterprise to help survey the Port of Beirut, assessing the damage and supporting Lebanon rebuild this vital piece of national infrastructure.

We have a close and enduring friendship with the Lebanese people, our military is ready to support them in their time of need.”

The Port of Beirut is crucially important for the economic stability of Lebanon and receives the majority of the country’s imports.

HMS Enterprise is currently docked in Limassol and will make her way to Lebanon in due course. The UK is working with the Lebanese authorities to determine the optimum time for the ship’s deployment.

The UK Armed Forces is also deploying a small team to the UK Embassy in Beirut to help identify requirements and coordinate the package of wider support to the Lebanese Armed Forces. This includes the offer of tailored medical support, military air transport assistance and engineering and communications capabilities.

The UK’s Chief of Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter called General Joseph Aoun, Commander of Lebanon’s Armed Forces, on Tuesday evening to offer his condolences.

image © MOD Crown Copyright

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Centre of Excellence for Laser and RF Directed Energy Weapons (DEW)

Team Hersa, the MOD Centre of Excellence for Laser and RF Directed Energy Weapons (DEW), have released an Expression of Interest request for Project Ealing.  This project is the integrated C-UAS and C-Mobility RF DEW element of Team Hersa, and will be released through the Weapons Sector Research Framework (WSRF).  Those companies interested in participation who are not signed up to WSRF should contact WSRFdelivery@qinetiq.com immediately for further information on the process.