EU launches new strategic airlifter effort

by Gareth Jennings

With the Strategic Airlift Capability (pictured) one of a number of existing NATO and European pooled airlift programmes, the EU is now looking to develop an outsized airlift capability via the SATOC effort. (NATO)

The European Union (EU) has launched an effort to develop a new strategic airlifter to fill a critical capability shortfall.

The European Council's Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) fund will support the development of such a capability under the Strategic Air Transport for Outsized Cargo (SATOC) project, included as part of a wider list of 47 existing and new projects announced on 16 November.

“The five-nation Project SATOC aims to fill the critical shortfall for strategic transport for outsized and heavy cargo, a crucial enabler for military missions and operations,” the European Defence Agency (EDA) said. “SATOC involves a gradual three-step approach, firstly by identifying a sufficient number of project members – with possible third state participation – harmonising requirements, and finally identifying and agreeing on a common European solution for the transport of outsized cargo.”

As noted by the EDA, the five nations involved in SATOC comprise Germany (project co-ordinator), the Czech Republic, France, Netherlands, and Slovenia.


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Japan's ATLA progresses railgun project

by Parth Shukla

ATLA has confirmed that the EM railgun achieved 2,297 m/s projectile speed during recent trials. (ATLA)

Japan is developing electromagnetic (EM) railguns to counter emerging threats including hypersonic weapons.

A spokesperson from Japan's Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) told Janes on 19 January that a study to develop the capability is expected to accelerate in 2022.

“Since financial year 2016 we have studied the underlying technologies of railguns. In the studies we have worked on increasing launch velocity and establishing material technologies for the rails, which have high current endurance characteristics,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that ATLA will launch studies of future railguns in 2022. These studies will aim to establish entire technologies necessary for early practical use for missile defence and anti-ship operations. The studies aim to achieve a high rate-of-fire and projectile flight stability for the railguns, said the spokesperson.

Janes has previously reported on a video shared by ATLA in July 2018, which showcased a small-calibre developmental EM railgun along with related support and test equipment.


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US Space Force eyes hybrid satcom architecture

by Carlo Munoz

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket lifts-off from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral, Florida with the US Air Force's Wideband Global SATCOM system. (ULA)

Members of the US Space Force's (USSF) combat requirements office are weighing options for the development of a hybrid, space-based satellite communications (satcom) architecture, as the US Air Force's (USAF's) premier research directorate is standing up a similar architecture for extra-terrestrial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations.

The notion of a hybrid satcom architecture is akin to how cellular data is transmitted during voice and video calls, as well as other means of electronic communication. A cellular signal can ping across any number of cellular provider networks and infrastructure, transmitting on to one network, then leapfrogging across other networks until the data reaches its destination. In terms of satcom, under a hybrid approach, data transmission can be initiated through a network at geosynchronous orbit (GEO), then jump onto a satcom network at medium-Earth orbit (MEO) or low-Earth orbit (LEO) – and potentially back up the orbital satcom chain – until the data transmission reaches the receiver.


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UK notes ‘considerable interest' in soon-to-be-surplus Hercules airlifters

by Gareth Jennings

With the UK set to retire its remaining 14 Hercules airlifters on 31 March 2023, the MoD told Janes that considerable interest has been received in the fleet form a wide range of parties. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

The United Kingdom has received “considerable interest” in its fleet of soon-to-be-retired Lockheed Martin C-130J/C-130J-30 Hercules airlifters.

A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson told Janes on 19 January that the sales campaign being run for the Royal Air Force's (RAF's) one remaining short-bodied C-130J C5 and 13 long-bodied C-130J-30 C4 variant Hercules airlifters has attracted a wide range of potential buyers.

“The situation on C-130J sales is that [the Defence Equipment Sales Authority] DESA continues to lead on a very active sales campaign with considerable interest being expressed by a wide range of interested parties,” the MoD said.


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The European Union (EU) has launched an effort to develop a new strategic airlifter to fill a critic...

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