UK confirms Sentinel sale to US

by Gareth Jennings

The UK has sold its retired Sentinel R1 fleet to the US, though the final completion of the sale is dependent on at least one of the five grounded aircraft being returned to full-flight status. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

The United Kingdom has sold its retired fleet of Raytheon Sentinel R1 Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR) wide-area ground-surveillance aircraft to the United States, it was confirmed on 30 November.

Answering questions in parliament, Minister of State for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin confirmed media reports that the aircraft retired by the Royal Air Force (RAF) earlier in 2021 had been sold, reportedly for use by the US Army. He qualified his statement, however, by noting that at least one of the five unairworthy aircraft has to be returned to a flight status for the deal to be completed.


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Hypersonix, Kratos, team to develop and fly DART AE hypersonic vehicle

by Richard Scott

The blueprint of the DART AE multimission hypersonic drone technology demonstrator. (Hypersonix Launch Systems)

US contractor Kratos Defense & Security Solutions is to provide the rocket booster motor for the DART AE multimission hypersonic drone technology demonstrator being developed by Australian company Hypersonix Launch Systems.

Announcing the agreement on 25 January, the two companies said they were aiming for a first flight of DART AE in 2023.

DART AE is being developed by Hypersonix as a multimission, hypersonic vehicle fully 3D-printed from high-temperature alloys and powered by a hydrogen-fuelled SPARTAN scramjet engine. Designed to operate at speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 12, SPARTAN is described by Hypersonix as a “fifth-generation, zero-emission, clean hydrogen scramjet engine with a publicly disclosable range of 500 km”.

Amiga Engineering has previously been contracted by Hypersonix for the additive engineering build of the SPARTAN scramjet. Manufacture is being undertaken under an Australian government grant, awarded in August 2020, covering the build of a flight-ready scramjet engine and fuel system.


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USMC stands up first operational CH-53K unit

by Gareth Jennings

A CH-53K King Stallion (foreground) and a CH-53E Super Stallion (background) are staged during a redesignation ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, on 24 January. The squadron received its first CH-53K King Stallion, and the ceremony signified the beginning of the US Marine Corps' modernisation from the legacy CH-53E to the CH-53K in support of the expeditionary warfare vision for future-force employment. (US Marines)

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has stood up its first operational unit for the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter, the service announced on 15 January.

Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 461 at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River, North Carolina, has been formally redesignated as the first fleet CH-53K unit, trading in its CH-53E Super Stallions.

“The CH-53K will allow the quick massing of combat power, agile manoeuvre, resilient logistics, and predictive maintenance, and be used in the Marine Corps' execution of expeditionary advanced base operations, a key component of the commandant of the [US] Marine Corps' force design,” the USMC said.


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Australia outlines space development priorities

by Oishee Majumdar

The Australian Space Agency (ASA) has published a new road map to support the development of the country's robotics and automation capabilities.

The ‘Robotics and Automation on Earth and in Space Roadmap' – published on 24 January – outlines a range of priorities for Australia during the 2021–30 timeframe in areas including defence and national security.

It lists national security as one of the “areas of high opportunity and enduring priority for the application of Australian space capability”. The ASA Roadmap also underlines the scope for potential in its collaboration with the Department of Defence (DoD) on the applicability of robotics and autonomous systems in military operations.

“Ongoing collaboration between the Australian Space Agency and DoD in these opportunities has significant potential, particularly with robotics and automated systems present in all defence domains,” the Roadmap states.

The ASA also points to the importance of such capabilities in developing Australia's defence industry. It notes that space, robotics, autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence are all identified by the DoD as sovereign industrial capability priorities.

The policy identifies six priorities: remote operations, interoperability, analogue facilities and services, robotic platforms, in-situ resource utilisation services (ISRU), and foundation services.


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The United Kingdom has sold its retired fleet of Raytheon Sentinel R1 Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTO...

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