UK Royal Navy selects Animal Dynamics' parafoil UAV for next phase of Heavy Lift Challenge

by Kate Tringham

A developmental Stork test vehicle going through flight trials. (Animal Dynamics)

Oxford-based Animal Dynamics' Stork STM parafoil unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has been selected by the UK Royal Navy (RN) to participate in the second phase of its Unmanned Aerial Systems Heavy Lift Challenge (UASHLC).

The Stork STM was selected following a pre-selection flying competition in late 2022, in which it demonstrated the ability to conduct beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations and carry a 135 kg payload over a distance of 400 km – meeting the RN's requirements for both intra- and inter-theatre resupply tasks.

The UAV will now progress to the next round of flight trials, which will be carried out over seven days at Predannack Airfield in Cornwall, South West England, starting on 27 March.

As part of the UASHLC effort, the Stork STM will undergo marinisation, including integration of secure satellite communications (satcom) and fitting a sonobuoy dispenser. It will also undergo additional wing development work that includes a retraction capability to make it safe for deck operations, Animal Dynamics said.


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US lawmakers grill US Navy officials on proposed shipbuilding budget

by Michael Fabey

US lawmakers question the US Navy request to fund only one Virginia-class submarine (pictured) in fiscal year 2025. (Janes/Michael Fabey)

Members of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee raised concerns about the proposed US Navy (USN) plan to pare down key shipbuilding programmes on 17 April during the subcommittee hearing on the USN's Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 budget request.

While the USN – as was the case with the rest of the Pentagon – was charged with keeping a lid on costs, lawmakers said they felt the USN went too far with some major programmes.

Connecticut Congressman and ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, Joe Courtney, set the tone with his opening statement.

“The Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), which [was] passed in May 2023 to avert a default on the full faith and credit of our nation's currency and bonds, mandated a 1% increase in the Department of Defense's budget request for fiscal year 2025,” Courtney said.


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Australia completes first prototype of Ghost Shark autonomous undersea vehicle

by Ridzwan Rahmat

The first prototype of Australia's Ghost Shark XL-AUV programme, which was unveiled on 18 April 2024. (Commonwealth of Australia)

The first of three prototypes to be built under Australia's Ghost Shark extra-large autonomous undersea vehicle (XL-AUV) programme has been completed, the country's Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy announced on 18 April.

The programme to develop the XL-AUV is being jointly developed and funded by a partnership between the Australian Department of Defence and Anduril Australia, a subsidiary of US defence technology company Anduril Industries.

Also working in collaboration with this partnership is a team from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

The Ghost Shark programme aims to develop a long-range AUV capability for the RAN's persistent intelligence gathering, surveillance, and remote strike requirements.

At a media event to disclose further details of the Ghost Shark programme, Conroy described the first prototype of the XL-AUV as a “combat-ready drone”.

“This drone is capable of doing intelligence-gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance and, importantly, delivering strike. So it has the ability to be fitted with weapons to deter potential aggressors”, Conroy added, without providing further details.


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Rauma Shipyard lays keel for first Finnish Navy Squadron 2020 corvette

by Kate Tringham

A keel-laying ceremony for first Fininish Navy Squadron 2020 corvette was held at Rauma shipyard on 11 April. (Rauma shipyard)

Rauma Marine Constructions (RMC) laid the keel for the first Squadron 2020 Pohjanmaa-class multirole corvette on order for the Finnish Navy during a ceremony at its shipyard in Rauma on 11 April.

Announcing the milestone the same day, RMC said the yard has been making good progress on the first ship since the first steel was cut on 30 October 2023. “It has been five months since the start of construction, and the operative phase has progressed efficiently,” RMC said.

RMC is delivering four Pohjanmaa-class multirole corvettes in total for the Finnish Navy under a EUR647.6 million (USD687.8 million) design and construction contract awarded in 2019 – with the build being carried out by its subsidiary RMC Defence. The corvettes are being constructed in a new covered assembly hall built specifically for the Squadron 2020 programme, measuring 180×40×30 m and with a floor area of about 13,000 m².

Under current planning, the lead ship is expected to start sea trials in 2026, with all four ships to be delivered by 2029.


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https://www.janes.com/defence-news/air-platforms/latest/uk-royal-navy-selects-animal-dynamics-parafoil-uav-for-next-phase-of-heavy-lift-challenge

Oxford-based Animal Dynamics' Stork STM parafoil unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has been selected by ...

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