Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR FEB 2015 Contents INNOVATIONS
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 06 | FEB 2015
F-35-Joint Strike Missile integration continues
Lockheed Martin has received a US$35.6 million
(AUD$45.7 million) contract from the US Navy’s Naval Air
Systems Command to complete an integration study and
risk reduction activities with the Kongsberg Joint Strike
Missile (JSM) for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter on behalf of the
The objectives of the study are to further mature JSM
design and to ensure compatibility of the weapon system
with the F-35, particularly with regard to internal carriage.
Half the work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas and
at Kongsberg’s facilities in Norway, with a completion date
earmarked for March 2018.
In late February 2013, Lockheed Martin for the first time
successfully fitted a JSM to an external hardpoint on an F-35.
This formed part of a ‘fit check’ to confirm that the missile is
able to fitted for external carriage on the F-35.
This was followed four weeks later by a successful fit
check of the JSM in the internal weapons bay of the F-35.
As part of this second activity, the JSM was loaded into the
weapons bay and subjected to a series of tests to prove that
the physical characteristics of the missile comply with the
requirements for internal carriage.
– Matthew Mendenhall
US Navy tests
If ever there was hard evidence that science-fiction is fast
becoming military technology reality then US Navy (USN)
tests last December of a ‘swimming’ unmanned underwater
vehicle (UUV) might just be it.
Silent NEMO, a project set up by the Chief of Naval
Operations’ Rapid Innovation Cell, completed testing of
the GhostSwimmer UUV at Joint Expeditionary Base Little
Creek-Fort Story (JEBLC-FS) in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to
explore possible operational applications for biometric UUVs
in the fleet.
Funded by the Department of Homeland Security’s
Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate and developed
by Boston Engineering where it is known as BIOSwimmer,
GhostSwimmer gathered data at JEBLC-FS on tides, varied
currents, wakes and weather conditions for the development
of future tasks.
GhostSwimmer was designed to resemble the shape and
mimic the swimming style of a large fish, specifically the
tuna, according to the USN. At a length of approximately
1.5m and a weight of nearly 45kg, the GhostSwimmer
vehicle can operate in water depths ranging from 250mm to
A combination of unmanned systems engineering and
unique propulsion and control capabilities, GhostSwimmer
swims just like a tuna does by oscillating its tail fin back
Its bio-mimicry provides additional security to fleet
assets during low visibility intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance missions and friendly hull inspections,
while quieter than propeller driven craft of the same size,
according to Navy Warfare Development Command.
Long battery life enables the UUV to operate
autonomously for extended periods, where it is controlled by
a single operator via laptop. The operator control unit uses
an onboard computer suite for navigation, sensor processing
Commands are relayed via a 152m tether. The tether is
long enough to transmit information while inspecting a ship’s
hull, for example, but if operating independently (without a
tether) the robot will have to periodically be brought to the
surface to download its data.
GhostSwimmer can be customised on a per-mission basis
with interchangeable sensor payloads and reconfigurable
– Ian Bostock
AT A GLANCE
Billed as a true fifth-
generation weapon, the
Kongsberg JSM is a long-
range, low-observable, stand-
off precision strike missile for
sea and land targets. JSM
has been engineered to a
significant extent to equip
the F-35 and specifically
for internal carriage by the
F-35A and F-35C variants
(externally by the F-35B).
As such, several F-35
user nations are showing
formal interest in the JSM
as a potential alternative/
replacement to the AGM-84
Harpoon and other stand-off
strike weapons, including
Australia, Norway and the
United States. JSM has
also reportedly secured the
attention of Japan and South
F-35 fitted with a JSM on an external
hardpoint during fit checks in 2013.
The original BIOSwimmer UUV developed
by Boston Engineering, clearly exhibiting the
physical characteristics of a tuna fish.
Image: Boston Engineering
A JSM fitted in the internal weapons
bay of the F-35 to verify internal
Images: Lockheed Martin
Why does GhostSwimmer mimic the size and shape of a tuna?
Because the tuna has a natural body framework ideal for UUVs,
solving some of the propulsion and manoeuvrability problems that
plague conventional UUVs.
Tuna is one of the fastest and most maneuverable creatures on
the planet, having extraordinary abilities at both high and low speeds
due to their streamlined bodies and a finely tuned muscular/sensory/
Inspired by the real tuna, GhostSwimmer is a UUV designed for
high maneuverability in harsh environments, with a flexible aft section
and appropriately placed sets of pectoral and other fins. For those
cluttered and hard-to-reach underwater places where inspection
is necessary, the tuna-inspired frame is an optimal design. It can
inspect the interior voids of ships such as flooded bilges and tanks,
and hard to reach external areas such as steerage, propulsion and
sea chests. It can also inspect and protect harbours and piers,
perform area searches and carry out other security missions.
This has seen GhostSwimmer equipped with internal components
and external sensing systems which are designed for the challenging
environment of constricted spaces and high viscosity fluids.
“It’s all about distilling the science,” says David Taylor, program
manager at S&T’s Borders and Maritime Security Division. “It’s
called ‘biomimetics’. We’re using nature as a basis for design and
engineering a system that works exceedingly well.”
Designed to mimic a tuna, the GhostSwimmer UUV
undergoes testing at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek -
Fort Story on 11 December 2014. Image: USN
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