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Report on the Royal Navy equipment exhibition 1989; a low-key event with no discernible main themes.

Report on the Royal Navy Equipment Exhibition 1989

A Low-Key Event With no Discernible Main Themes

The first major announcement made at the show was the teaming of Racal Radar Defence Systems with Thomson-CSF and Telefunken System Technik to bid for the EW suite for the NFR-90 frigate. This is claimed to be the first international consortium put together specifically to bid for the NFR-90. The consortium's chances, however, may be harmed by the British Ministry Defence's decision to pull out of the NFR-90 project, announced on 29 September.

Rolls-Royce announced on Press Day that the uprated SMIC variant of the Marine Spey 20 MW gas turbine will be installed in HMS "Brave" in early 1990, replacing the SMIA Marine Speys installed in the frigate when she was launched four years ago. She was the first RN ship at sea with the navalized Spey, although a Japanese destroyer was the first to take the unit to sea. The SMIC has been designed and developed by Rolls-Royce in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence. As there is no difference in size and weight the SMIC will be able to replace existing SMIA units as required.

Vosper Thornycroft Ltd. unveiled two new products. The 18-metre Viper is a multi-mission craft designed for patrol and intercept missions, particularly protection of local shipping and prevention of smuggling. Smooth-water speed would be 50 knots but the standard armament consists two 12.7 mm machine-guns only. Alternative armaments offered are turret-mounted machine-guns or light SAMs. The second product was the patrol mine countermeasures craft (PMC), a GRP twin-hulled craft which can be equipped for minehunting or minesweeping within 24 hours. It meets NATO requirements for shock, magnetic and acoustic signatures. Its weapons include a single 30 mm gun and two single 20 mm. Peacetime roles include coastal escort and mine clearance. There is a large clear deck on which modular weapon systems can be mounted.

GEC Group exhibitors ranged from shipbuilding to avionics. Yarrow Shipbuilders had little to add to their range of developments of the Type 23 design, but the outcome of the battle between Dowty-Sema and Ferranti to provide the command system for the "Duke" class must help Yarrow's efforts to market the Type 23 and its derivatives. These range from straight diesel to the full CODLAG installation, but with alternative weapon fits.

Marconi Underwater Systems had little new to say about the Spearfish heavyweight torpedo or the Stingray lightweight. The entry of the Spearfish into service is running behind the original estimates, but manufacturer sources point out that the present success of the Tigerfish Mod.2 bridges the gap for RN submarines until the Spearfish is fully operational. The Tigerfish Mod.2 received fleet weapon acceptance last June, under a consolidation programme

managed by Marconi since 1984. The Stingray continues to be successful as a successor to the long-serving Mk.46 acoustic ASW torpedo for aircraft and ships. It has been sold to Egypt and Thailand and the Egyptian Navy has accepted it into service this year. Ministry of Defence sources suggest that Norway may buy it, and that Belgium is in the market as well. More than 1000 of the total RN and RAF order for 2500 have been delivered.

Marconi Underwater Systems is also expanding its mine warfare capability with the creation of a mine warfare systems centre. The cancellation of the Anglo-American Advanced Sea Mine late in 1988 was a severe blow but the British manufacturer has the Stonefish in production and its anti-invasion variant Dragonfish under development.

Dowty Maritime Systems' Communications Division demonstrated its range of sonobuoys. The company won an order in excess of [pounds] 10 million for Directional Frequency Analysis Recording (DIFAR) buoys from the British Ministry of Defence in August. Over 600,000 sonobuoys have been delivered to navies and air forces around the world, including 50000 DIFAR SSQ-954B buoys. This makes Dowty the largest European manufacturer by a considerable margin.

During the past year Dowty has put three designs of sonobuoy into production -- the latest versions of the SSQ-906 Jezebel, the SSQ-954B DIFAR and the SSQ-936A CAMBS. The Jezebel and DIFAR types are less than half the size of their American counterparts. Dowty has just won a second contract from the French Defence Ministry for SSQ-906 buoys. The US Navy has ordered 20 Type 3010 for COOP mine countermeasures craft, underlining the company's growing role in undersea warfare. A new development is a minehunter/sweeper claimed to cost one-tenth the price of a conventional minehunter, about 4 million [pounds]. The Small Minehunter/Sweeper (SMHS) is based on a rugged 26-metre glass-reinforced plastic hull designed by Halmatic, shock-tested against underwater explosions. The SMHS would be equipped with the Type 3010 minescan sonar, a Dowty QUILS II mission support computer system, and either an ECA PAP-104 Mk.5 remote-control mine disposal system or a BAJ Type 105 Oropesa wire sweep with explosive cutters. A 20 mm gun would be fitted for self-protection or patrol duties. The SMHS would carry out missions similar to the US Navy's COOP craft, providing MCM craft in large numbers at low cost.

The former Hall Russell shipyard at Aberdeen, which produced the successful "Island" and "Castle" class OPVs and "Peacock" class patrol vessels for the RN, is under new management. In February 1989 the yard was acquired by the maritime industries group Highland Participants plc, and now operates as A & P Appledore (Aberdeen) Ltd. A & P Appledore's main naval product is the "Loch" class light frigate, developed to meet the OPV Mk.3 requirement. It offers economic and reliable fulfilment of a wide range of peacetime and wartime roles. Low first costs and through-life costs are achieved by building to commercial standards and selecting proven systems and equipment.

MEL has for many years been the British defence arm of Philips, specialising in electronic warfare, airborne maritime surveillance, secure HF/VHF communications for special forces and amphibious assault troops, and the logistic support of hardware and software. Electronic Warfare equipment demonstrated at the outside exhibit included the Sceptre "O" and "X" range of ESM equipments. The company is bidding for the ESM fit for the Australian "ANZAC" frigate project and has sold its Manta ESM set to the Royal Navy for the updated "Oberon" class SSKs.

MEL's Avionics Division showed the Super Searcher pulse compression airborne radar. Also on show was the Escorter, an all-weather ASV/ASW radar suite which can be adapted to a wide range of equipment mixes and system configurations. An advanced multifunction display and control console, a 1553B databus and video inputs provide a "core" building block around which to configure systems involving FLIR, data-link and stores management to control air-to-surface missiles, sonobuoys, etc.

Astra Holdings plc displayed the 30 mm GCM AO3-2 and 20 mm GAM BOI guns, as well as the GECAL 50 Gatling gun. Most interesting was an item not well publicised, a 4.5-inch base-bleed shell developed jointly by the Belgian PRB subsidiary and Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering. It promises a cheap method of improving the ballistics and range of the Royal Navy's 4.5-inch Mk. 8 gun. Particulars of the new High Effect/Extended Range (HE/ER) round are: * Round length: 1.92 m * Round weight: 37.30 kg * Shell weight: 20.90 kg * Muzzle velocity: 869 m/sec * Maximum range: 27.5 km * Mean chamber pressure: (at 213 [degrees] C) 370 MPa

Undaunted by an apparent lack of Ministry of Defence and Royal Navy interest the partners are convinced that they have a winner. The objective of total compatibility with the existing 4.5-inch Mk. 8 has been achieved.

Trials have shown that the round can be handled and loaded automatically. Astra has announced that it took orders worth more than 10 million [pounds] during RNEE. One order, worth 3 million [pounds], is for KCB ammunition for the twin 30 mm GCM gun which equips Royal Navy frigates and destroyers. The other is for GCM twin 30 mm and GAM COL single 30 mm gun mountings for new Royal Thai Marine Police patrol craft building by Italthai Marine in Bangkok.

Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd. exhibited two new submarines designed to meet small navies' needs. One is based on the Type 2400, but tailored to less demanding missions, the other is driven by fuel cells for a displacement of only 1400 tonnes. The Ocean Capable Patrol Craft (OCPC) design for an OPV shows that Vickers are still looking for surface warship work to exploit their massive capacity.

Swan Hunter Shipbuilders continue to concentrate on the fleet auxiliary and amphibious ship sector, and have recently won a contract to refit the badly damaged destroyer HMS "Southampton". The acquisition last year of the Singapore-based Vosper-QAF shipyard gives Swan Hunter a useful springboard into South-East Asia. Plans are to set up a forward support centre, linked to the main design facilities in the United Kingdom by data-link. The name is to be changed shortly to reflect membership of the Swan Hunter Group.

Ferranti International, despite its recent troubles, remains a potent force in the United Kingdom's naval industry. On show was a range of products reflecting the company's wide interests. On show were two computer-aided command system (CACS) consoles illustrating the system's suitability for handling local area anti-air warfare and mine countermeasures. A third console illustrated real-time scan converted radar graphics, a joint development with Computing Devices of Canada. Ferranti's System 500 was unsuccessful in the bid for the Royal Navy's new command system for the Type 23 frigate, but is on offer to smaller navies. A major supplier of sonar systems to the RN, Ferranti Computer Systems showed a graphic panel of component subsystem illustrating the application of the Type 2075 sonar to the second batch of "Upholder" class submarines. Ferranti has succeeded in displacing Thomson Sintra, whose Eledone sonar is the primary sensor in the first four ships of the class.

A working model of the Royal Navy's new Type 2050 (FMS 21) surface ship sonar was exhibited outside in a transportable container. In all, 34 Type 2050 sonar systems will replace the Plessey Type 2016 in Royal Navy carriers, destroyers and frigates during the next few years.

Perhaps the most interesting exhibit was the non-penetrating optronic periscope exhibited by the Barr & Stroud division of Pilkington Optronics. The company has a contract worth A $ 75 million to supply eight periscopes for the Royal Australian Navy's new Type 471 submarines.

Redifon exhibited the Grapevine system, a revolutionary concept in internal communications. Developed for a wide range of applications, from major warships to civil airports, Grapevine distributes information by hard wire or optical fibre.

Other equipment on show included the ICS6, an integrated communications system developed for the Type 23 frigate, and the ICS25, adopted by the Royal Navy for minor warships such as MCM craft. ICS6 has a common aerial working subsystem combining the outputs of several HF transmitters, enabling simultaneous transmission from a single antenna. ICS25 makes extensive use of fibre-optic technology and can interface with customer-preferred radio equipments.

ML Wallop Defence Systems introduced its Super Barricade shipborne chaff/IR decoy dispensing system. The biggest change is from 57 mm calibre to 102 mm, to accommodate more payload to produce a greater decoy effect. The 12 barrels can deploy 2.5 to 5 kg of chaff in a circular cloud which is more effective than the cigar-shaped cloud generated by piston-extruded chaff. The Stockade round has a range of 1800 metres and a payload of 2.5 kg, while the Palisade round has a 900-metres range and 5 kg payload.

The original partner of ML Wallop, Widney Aish (now in partnership with Astra Holdings) still produce the original launcher, now adapted for 76 mm munitions as the Warrant. Also shown at RNEE was the embedded cathodic protection system, and its new power conversion equipment.

Enbray Controls Ltd. exhibited shockproof DC starters, adopted for the first four "Upholder" class SSKs. They are used to start bilge and ballast priming pumps, battery exhaust fans, main blower motors. HP air compressors, the slow-speed propulsion set. LP blower and HP bilge and ballast pump. The company also supplies starters for the new RFA "Fort Victoria" building at Harland & Wolff's Belfast yard.

Dorset-based Aeronautical & General Instruments (AGI) Ltd. showed its latest dual-axis sonar/EM ship's log system designated Vector log. It comprises three basic elements: * a combined underwater sensor with quadruple Janus-configured doppler sonar and dual-axis EM transducers * a main electronics unit * a remote electronics unit and user interface

Also shown were the Agilog and Microlog EM log systems, the Agilink ship's data transmission system and solid-state ship's repeaters and displays.

Morfax is a precision engineering firm which serves a number of defence contractors. Illustrating this range of activity was a 1:4 scale working model of the Goal-keeper close-in weapon system, for which Morfax makes the major structural parts, including the below-deck assembly. The company is also closely involved in the BAE Versatile Exercise Mine System (VEMS) and the Strachan & Henshaw Submarine Weapon Ejection System (SWES). British Maritime Technology (BMT) is an independent national research organisation and naval design bureau. BMT Defence Services recently completed a six-month project-definition study for the Royal New Zealand Navy's new Logistic Support Ship (LSS). The study involved a range of ship sizes and types to meet the Royal New Zealand Navy's unique requirement for a ship capable of providing logistic support to remote islands. Six concept designs were prepared, with a comprehensive assessment of capability and through-life costs for each design.

BMT Cortee's new Real-Time Bridge Aid to Navigation and Training (REMBRANT) ship's navigation simulator was launched at RNEE '89. Small enough to be installed on board, it allows deck officers to practice entry and exit procedures for any port, in varying weather and tidal conditions. It can also be used to demonstrate the suitability of a variety of vessels for a given port. At RNEE the REMBRANT was used to demonstrate navigating a "Leander" class frigate from Outer Spit buoy to a berth in Portsmouth Naval Base in all weather conditions.

RNEE on the Move?

Over 100 members of the Defence Manufacturers Association (DMA) took part in RNEE, 20 on the corporate stand and the remainder on their own stands. DMA is a non-profit making trade association representing some 500 companies supplying products and services around the world.

There are many who predict that this will be the last RNEE held at the Old Whale Island Gunnery School in Portsmouth as the land is required for redevelopment. Many, however, hope that RNEE stays where it is. The site has many advantages, not least security. It is isolated from dry land by a single causeway, making the task of saboteurs or protesters to gain access extremely difficult.

Another important advantage is Whale Island's accessibility for boats. Many exhibitors wish to demonstrate small boats, something that could only be done with difficulty at a standard industrial exhibition site. But above all is the supreme advantage of being able to point to real warships. Within full view of the exhibition are the ships belonging to the main customer of the British naval industry.

A case can be made for moving RNEE to a purely commercial site such as the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. Certainly permanent and properly designed facilities would lend an added element of glitz to RNEE, but it is difficult to see how overseas naval delegates would be impressed by a naval exhibition so far from the sea.

PHOTO : HMS "Upholder" is the first of the new VSEL-built RN diesel-electric submarines.

PHOTO : ML Wallop's 12-barrel Super Barricade decoy launcher uses 102 mm rockets to boost its

PHOTO : payload and decoy effect.

PHOTO : Dowty Maritime System's Type 3010 sidescan sonar has attracted USN interest.

PHOTO : Exhibited for the first time at the RNEE was PG & M's nuclear-hardened and shock-proof

PHOTO : marine generating set.

PHOTO : Dowty Maritime Systems and Halmatic are marketing a joint proposal for a Small

PHOTO : Minehunter/Sweeper (SMHS).

PHOTO : Dowty-Sema showed consoles for both the Surface Ship Command System (shown here) and

PHOTO : submarines.

PHOTO : HMS "Campbeltown", one of the RN's newest frigates, was built by VSEL's Cammell Laird

PHOTO : subsidiary at Birkenhead.

PHOTO : An important step in Saudi plans to build a modern MCM force: launch of the minehunter"

PHOTO : Al Jawf".

PHOTO : Several exhibitors featured equipment for the new RN Fleet Auxiliary AORs "Fort Victoria"

PHOTO : and "Fort George".

PHOTO : HMS "Sandown", the new RN single-role GRP minehunter built by Vosper.
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Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Preston, Antony
Publication:Armada International
Date:Dec 1, 1989
Previous Article:AUSA 89: focus on firepower; some major up-and-coming programmes in the pipeline.
Next Article:Westland sharpens its blades.

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