20 Aug 20. A400M conducts first ‘wet’ air-to-air refuelling with a helicopter. An Airbus A400M transport/tanker aircraft has conducted a ‘wet’ air-to-air refuelling (AAR) contact with a helicopter, it was announced by the French Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) on 19 August.
The test campaign, which was actually flown from 20–31 July, and involved an A400M test aircraft commenting with a French Air Force Airbus H225M Caracal helicopter from 1/67 ‘Pyrénées’ squadron. The trials were aimed at assessing the two aircraft flight envelopes and the performances of the refuelling system, and showed that fuel could be transferred from the A400M to the H225M.
Up to now, only ‘dry’ contacts between the A400M and helicopters had been conducted in September 2019. (Source: Jane’s)
20 Aug 20. UK paratroopers deploy to Bosnia. A chartered Ukrainian An-124 airlifter has delivered British Army Foxhound armoured patrol vehicles to the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, ahead of the start of the annual reinforcement exercise by the EU Force (EUFOR) peacekeeping force in the Balkan country, dubbed ‘Quick Response 2020’.
The deployment, based on A Company, The Parachute Regiment, is the first time British Army troops will have participated in the event since the United Kingdom left the EU earlier this year.
Images of the vehicles being unloaded in Sarajevo from the An-124 were posted on the Royal Air Force (RAF) Brize Norton twitter feed on 10 August, as well as personnel and equipment being unloaded from an RAF C-130J. The headquarters of EUFOR’s Operation ‘Althea’ at Camp Butmir in Sarajevo also released images on its website of Land Rover ambulances, MAN trucks, and tow trucks being unloaded from the An-124.
Previewing the deployment, EUFOR said on its website on 3 August that the UK company would operate as part of its Multinational Battalion, alongside additional company-size elements from Austria, Bulgaria, Italy, and Romania. (Source: Jane’s)
20 Aug 20. Australian Army pushes engineering boundaries with metal 3D printing field trial. Australian Army soldiers attached to the 1st Combat Service Support Battalion (1CSSB) will deploy the WarpSPEE3D metal printer for the second time during a year-long trial between the Australian Army and Darwin-based tech company, SPEE3D.
Soldiers from 1CSSB will use the 4,500-kilogram 3D metal printing capability to print genuine military repair parts, using the patented cold spray technology developed by SPEE3D.
In addition to the printer, 1CSSB will deploy its improved machine shop facility for the first time, enabling post print machining and heat treatment in the field.
1CSSB Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Kane Wright, values the benefits of custom made solutions in the tactical environment.
“Custom made parts, designed and printed in the field means we can get our equipment back in action and return to our primary role on the battlefield,” LTCOL Wright said.
From 17 to 28 August, the engineering soldiers will test their new skills learnt during an intensive design program in collaboration with Charles Darwin University and SPEE3D, which began in February this year.
“Our tech savvy soldiers now have the skills, and the technology from SPEE3D, to lessen the administration and logistics burden – to be their own solution without reaching back to base or a traditional commercial manufacturer,” LTCOL Wright added.
SPEE3D CEO Byron Kennedy said the second field deployment proves the technology is a genuine solution for expeditionary metal 3D printing.
“This two-week trial demonstrates the WarpSPEE3D is a robust workhorse that is capable of printing real parts and solving real problems in the field,” Kennedy said.
“It also proves that soldiers can take control of the whole work flow of creating the spare parts they need, from design to printing and post-processing, right there where they need them.”
The printer is capable of printing large metal parts up to 40 kilograms, at a record-breaking speed of 100 grams per minute.
SPEE3D printers enable the most affordable metal additive manufacturing process in the world. They make metal parts the fastest way possible, leveraging metal cold spray technology to produce industrial quality metal parts in just minutes, rather than days or weeks.
The process harnesses the power of kinetic energy, rather than relying on high-power lasers and expensive gasses. And for the first time it allows the flexibility of metal 3D printing at normal production costs. (Source: Defence Connect)
19 Aug 20. Iran unveiled the upgrade it appears to be implementing for its T-72M1 main battle tanks (MBTs) when Minister of Defence Amir Hatami inaugurated the production line at the Bani-Hashem Armour Industrial Complex near Dorud on 13 August.
The Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) released photographs showing an upgrade that appears to borrow elements from the Karrar, which was presented as a new tank when it was unveiled in 2017, and a modified T-72 displayed by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in June.
The photographs showed several tanks being worked on as well as an upgraded T-72M1 being tested but gave no indication that any Karrars are being produced.
The upgrade appears to involve extensive modifications to the existing turret to thicken its frontal armour. The armour on the side of the turret is flat now rather than rounded. The commander’s cupola, machine gun, and hatch have been removed, with the latter replaced with a simplified forward-opening hatch.
While this raises questions about the tank’s ability to acquire targets as the commander’s TKN-3 sight has been removed with the cupola, he probably operates the new remote weapon station (RWS) that sits on what may be an auxiliary power unit (APU) attached to the back of the turret. Armed with a 7.62 mm machine gun, this will presumably have its own electo-optical system, although one couldn’t be seen in the photographs. (Source: Jane’s)
19 Aug 20. Alcon is selected by BASE to become braking system partner for specialist vehicle axle projects. Alcon Components Ltd, world-class specialists in brake and clutch systems, has been selected by BASE, the Turkish manufacturer of complete drivetrain packages including independent suspension drive axles, transfer cases as well as rolling chassis solutions to become their preferred supplier of specialist vehicle braking systems. Under this partnership, Alcon will provide BASE with bespoke solutions to meet the demanding requirements of specialist axles for use in harsh environments such as off-highway, defence, security and other demanding applications. The partnership will also be working on new technology areas such as hybrid and all-electric vehicle installations.
With braking being such an important part of an integrated independent suspension axle system, Alcon’s proven track record in both off the shelf and bespoke designed specialist braking systems will see them being involved from concept through design, development and test, to manufacture and support. Already working together on some undisclosed defence and security vehicle projects, BASE and Alcon will ensure the braking performance and technical parameters of the axle system are met with an integrated and fully compliant braking solution.
Alcon braking solutions have been sought out by some of the world’s finest specialist vehicle and axle manufacturers. Aside from Alcon’s iconic motorsport business, 4 major axle manufacturers have selected Alcon to deliver bespoke specialist braking systems including BASE, Meritor and PRM Newage. On the vehicle side, over 20 specialist OEMs are currently using or assessing Alcon braking systems, including Patria, Supacat, BAe, Ricardo and Jankel. Across these specialist axle and vehicle markets, design and manufacturing companies are turning to Alcon for the delivery of bespoke braking systems that fully meet their demanding requirements.
Jonathan Edwards, Group Sales Director at Alcon said: “this is an important partnership for Alcon and one we’re very proud of. Once again, a global axle manufacturer has turned to us for specialist support to ensure their products meet the demanding requirements of the defence, security and off-highway vehicle markets”. He added: “we’re unable to comment on the specifics of the projects we’re currently working on with BASE but suffice to say, we’re working at the forefront of the technology envelope, delivering some innovative solutions to enhance the performance of the vehicle systems, through the development phase on onwards towards production”.
19 Aug 20. Konica Minolta, MiR selected for 36 Squadron automation role. No. 36 Squadron RAAF (36 SQN) has opted for two international outfits – Japan’s Konica Minolta and Denmark’s MiR – to deliver an innovative new automation solution incorporated into their logistics operations.
Operating out of RAAF Amberley, the new MiR200 was introduced at 36 SQN as phase one of an innovation program to automate the manual movement of aircraft parts from the logistics section to the technician. Nicknamed SARAH – short for Supply Assistance Robot, Autonomous Hardware – the robot was acquired by RAAF Amberley Squadron Leader Evan Smith as a way to “free up the team’s time to focus on tasks that they as intelligent, trained, highly experienced people can do, and let a robot do the mindless manual handling tasks”.
“36 SQN was interested in exploring whether there were ways to simplify or automate this task to free up the team’s time for higher value tasks and let a robot do the mindless manual handling tasks,” he said.
At the time, SQNLDR Smith reached out to Plan Jericho, a strategy designed to transform the RAAF by capitalising on future high technology systems. The proposal laid out the vision for automated delivery of parts and equipment, phasing it from the simplest part of the problem to the end-state complete vision, resulting in two-thirds of phase one being funded by Plan Jericho.
Martin Keetels, national manager of robotics and innovation, Konica Minolta, said, “The 36 SQN was looking for innovative ways to be safer and more efficient. MiR introduces efficiencies by automating a simple part of the supply chain to free up people to do what only people can do.
“SARAH now travels 850 metres a day on average, fulfilling 20 missions. She’s also reducing the risk of injury from lifting and pushing heavy parts.
“The cost benefit analysis has shown savings of more than $27,000 per year. Plus, the team is learning new transferable skills through working with artificial intelligence (AI) creating a real buzz around innovation.”
Another unexpected benefit is that SARAH has assisted the team with social distancing.
David Cooke, managing director, Konica Minolta Australia, said, “Konica Minolta has enjoyed an exceptional relationship with Defence over many years. From this we know that RAAF has a strong culture of innovation and transformation. Konica Minolta is proud to offer this solution to the 36 SQN, which is delivering tangible, measurable benefits.” (Source: Defence Connect)
18 Aug 20. US Army seeks vendor to disassemble remaining AH-64D attack helos. The US Army has issued a request for information (RFI) for the ‘depopulation’ of its remaining Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters.
Announced by the US Army Program Executive Office – Aviation on 17 August, the Apache AH-64D Attack Helicopter Depopulation RFI seeks to identify potential sources that possess the expertise, capabilities, and experience to meet the requirements necessary to depopulate (disassemble) hundreds of the service’s remaining helicopters.
“This RFI is to obtain qualified vendors to provide plans, procedures, production information, and reports addressing the depopulation of three to seven AH-64D aircraft per month. Additional work scope includes minor repairs in order to maximise reuse of components for production of the AH-64E [Apache Guardian]. The period of performance for this work is from January 2022 through December 2027 with the first delivery required in June 2023 and the last delivery required in March 2027,” the US Army stated on the beta.sam.gov government procurement website. (Source: Jane’s)
18 Aug 20. DMTC contract extended for research, supply chain development. The Morrison government has signed a $3.9m contract extension with DMTC that will help put cutting-edge capabilities into the hands of Australia’s service men and women.
Announced Monday, the contract extension is intended to help build a vibrant and competitive innovation sector within defence industry.
Minister for Defence Industry Mellissa Price said DMTC had a strong track record of delivering for Defence and industry, from partnering with industry primes and their supply chains in sovereign capability areas, to building research networks and supporting future generations of researchers.
“I had the opportunity to visit DMTC in late 2019 and was impressed by their focus on making a positive impact across the defence and national security sectors,” said Minister Price.
“It is partnerships with organisations like DMTC that help Defence identify innovative technologies being developed by Australian businesses.”
Defence stipulated that the contract extension will include $1.65m for research and development and innovation activities, as well as $1.1m in support of DMTC’s supply chain development activities.
“It is great to see Defence and industry working together to provide opportunities for businesses based in regional Australia,” Minister Price said.
DMTC CEO Dr Mark Hodge said DMTC’s collaborative model would continue to leverage contributions from industrial partners at all levels of the supply chain and from Australian universities and research organisations.
“Our commitment is firm, and has been since we were established over a decade ago, to generating industrial capability for Australia in areas identified as priorities by Defence,” Dr Hodge said.
“Collaboration is about doing real work with shared purpose. That is true of DMTC’s collaborations with all our partners from across industry and government.”
First established in 2008 under the Australian government’s Defence Future Capability Technology Centre Program, DMTC’s role in the Defence innovation system, specifically through the Defence Innovation Hub, was confirmed and extended through the 2016 Defence Industry Policy Statement.
The news also follows shortly after a $1.87m investment from the Australian Department of Health into the DMTC Medical Countermeasures (MCM) Initiative, which looks to develop a novel query fever vaccine. (Source: Defence Connect)
17 Aug 20. BAE Systems Australia secures Army APC support, sustainment contract. Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has announced a $5.3m contract extension with BAE Systems Australia to provide technical support to the Army’s Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) fleet for another three years, securing continued employment for 20 Adelaide staff.
Minister Price said the contract extension was a win for South Australia’s defence industry as it allows BAE Systems Australia to continue to provide vital engineering services to the remarkable APC fleet.
“This engineering services contract ensures the operation of the APC fleet for several more years until its replacement is provided under the LAND 400 Phase 3 – Land Combat Vehicle System project,” Minister Price said.
She added, “The contract extension with BAE Systems Australia represents continued investment and confidence in the highly technical and experienced Australian workforce. It is also recognition of the company’s highly valued expertise in supporting the APC vehicles over many years.”
BAE Systems Australia will continue to employ 20 staff at their Edinburgh site, in Adelaide’s north, to support the APC capability.
The M113 APCs have provided the Australian Defence Force with a protected mobility and armoured fighting capability since the Vietnam War. The M113 AS4 will be replaced in coming years by the infantry fighting vehicle capability being delivered under Project LAND 400 Phase 3.
The M113 APC is an all-terrain vehicle designed to protect and transport its crew and up to ten infantry personnel. The M113 incorporates armour resistant to small arms fire, ballistic plating for mine blast protection and spall curtains to maximise passenger survivability.
Logistically, the vehicle is capable of rapid deployment by road, rail, sea or air. The M113 is designed for highway, off-road and cross-country travel while combat laden.
The M113 family of vehicles includes seven variants – the APC, armoured fitters, armoured recovery vehicle light, armoured ambulance, armoured mortar, armoured command vehicle and armoured logistic vehicle.
The diverse family of M113 vehicles provides an essential capability for maintaining and supporting armoured assets in the field with minimal logistic support.
The APC family of vehicles are used by Army units across the country, including in Queensland at Townsville and Brisbane, South Australia at Adelaide, and Victoria at Puckapunyal. (Source: Defence Connect)