Berlin Security Conference 2021: Lockheed Martin confident STH timeline for Germany can still be met

by Gareth Jennings

The CH-53K was displayed at the last ILA Berlin Airshow in 2018. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Lockheed Martin is confident that the Bundeswehr's latest schedule for its Schwere Transporthubschrauber (STH) heavy-lift helicopter programme can still be met, should the protest being heard in the German courts progress in a timely manner.

Speaking to Janes at the Berlin Security Conference (BSC) 2021, company officials said that the timeline of a contract signature in 2023 and deliveries beginning in about 2026 is still tenable should the High Court in Dusseldorf issue its written judgement in the coming weeks on Lockheed Martin's protest at the programme being cancelled in September 2020.

“The timeline depends on how the Bundeswehr moves forward, but a 2023 contract date is still realistic,” Director International CH-53K Programs, Elizabeth Parcella, said on 25 November. Sikorsky's International Business Development official, Christian Albrecht, added, “We would be able to support a transition [to the CH-53K King Stallion] from 2026 onwards, as we will have the production capacity at out Stratford site in Connecticut”.

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Infantry takes big hit in British Army reorganisation

by Tim Ripley

Nearly 20% of the British Army's infantry soldiers are to be lost as a result of the Future Soldier reorganisation, UK defence secretary Ben Wallace announced on 25 November.

Wallace confirmed the strength of the British Army would be reduced by a total of 9,000 posts overall, with its infantry branch taking the biggest cut.

Under the plans, the British Army's infantry branch will be reduced by 3,000 posts from its current total of about 5,000 soldiers, according to senior UK defence sources. The remainder are being spread across the other branches of the army.

The bulk of the infantry personnel cuts will come from infantry units previously assigned to conventional armoured warfighting roles. Two battalions of the Mercian Regiment are also to be combined into a single battalion, saving about 650 posts, Wallace announced on 25 November.

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UK aims to downsize British Army to 73,000 soldiers

by Tim Ripley

UK defence secretary Ben Wallace told parliament on 25 November that the British Army would be reduced by 500 soldiers to a target strength of 73,000 by the middle of the decade. Pictured: soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment training in Oman in October. (Crown copyright)

Proposals to reduce the size of the British Army have been scaled back by 500 troops, UK defence secretary Ben Wallace announced on 25 November.

Wallace told the UK parliament that the British Army would now be reduced to 73,000 by the middle of the decade. When the Defence Command Paper (DCP) was published in March, the target strength of the army was set at 72,500 trained soldiers, down from the 82,000 hitherto planned.

Wallace revealed a series of changes to the organisation and deployment of the British Army's major units, confirming the new brigade combat team structure set out in the DCP in March.

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Speed bump: USN focus on speed in littorals created engineering headaches

by Michael Fabey

Naval engineers have described the Freedom-class propulsion plant as the most complex non-nuclear plant in the US Navy fleet. (Janes)

The US Navy (USN) is restarting Freedom-class ship deliveries, however, propulsion plant issues have curtailed vessel operations.

Perhaps no one stated the difficulty in solving the propulsion plant design flaws on the Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) more than Admiral Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations. Summing up the design problem, he said, “The issue with the combining gear is probably the most challenging engineering problem that we've seen on any class of ship since I've been in the navy.”

“We really forced industry to go back to the drawing board with respect to the fidelity of their engineering work, to do significant and rigorous shoreside testing before we approve that final [re]design,” Adm Gilday told reporters on 17 November.

Navy engineers who have studied the plant, operated the ships, and dealt with the issues that have sidelined some Freedom-class operations have told Janes thatthe plant is the most complex non-nuclear set-up in the USN – designed and developed specifically to sate the navy's need for speed in the littorals.

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Lockheed Martin is confident that the Bundeswehr's latest schedule for its Schwere Transporthubschra...

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