The Baltic shipyard launched the stern section of Vladivostok, the irst Russian Mistral class helicopter carrier, at St Petersburg on 26 June. The hull section was subsequently towed to Saint Nazaire in France for integration with the near complete bow and island sections. Final completion of the hull is scheduled for mid-October, after which it will be towed back to Russia for itting out.
The timely launch contradicted public remarks made by a senior defence oficial that the shipyard would be unable to meet its contract obligations. Negativity has been evident since the deal to purchase foreign warships was irst announced. One rumour even suggested that the ships would not be able to operate in low temperatures. A number of senior political igures in Russia, including President Putin, have criticised the domestic shipbuilding industry.
Royal navy • The UK MoD has awarded a £30 million contract to Boeing Defence UK for the supply and operation of ScanEagle UAVs until March 2015. The drone, which has a three metre wingspan and weighs only 22kg, will be deployed on surveillance and reconnaissance missions from the flight decks of RN and RFA ships. The eye-in-the-sky can remain airborne for up to 18 hours and send back live hires images via satellite link from ranges of more than 100km.
Republic of Korea • South Korea’s Aegis destroyer fleet is to be upgraded with the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) from 2016 as part of wider efforts to bolster missile defences against North Korean ballistic missile threats. The SM-6 has a range of 320-400km, more than double the current SM-2 surface-to-air missiles, making it more effective at intercepting North Korea’s low-altitude ballistic missiles. The move is part of a plan to develop an independent low-tier missile shield called the Korea Air and Missile Defense System.
Indian navy • INS Taragiri, the last of six British-designed Nilgiri class frigates, has been decommissioned after 33 years’ service. The Nilgiri class were a modified variant of the RN’s Leander class, built at Mazagon Dock in Mumbai. Later the same week, on 29 June, the Indian Navy commissioned INS Trikand at Kaliningrad. The Talwar II vessel is the last of a second batch of three ships built in Russia that feature a number of Indo-Russian systems, such as the Brahmos missile system.
Us navy • The next pair of Littoral Combat Ships, a Freedom class monohull and Independence class trimaran respectively, are to be named USS Billings (LCS 15) and USS Tulsa (LCS 16). The next three Joint High Speed Vessels will be called USNS Yuma (JHSV 8), usns Bismarck (JHSV 9) and usns Burlington (JHSV 10). All are named after American cities, with Bismarck, Burlington and Billings being used for the first time.