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01 Aug 19. Jordan receives M119 howitzers. The United States has donated 12 howitzers and 24 Humvees to the Jordan Armed forces (JAF), the US embassy in Jordan announced on 31 July.
“Recently, the Jordan Armed Forces concluded a live-fire training with howitzers received from the US,” the embassy said in a video posted on its Facebook account that showed JAF personnel firing 105 mm M119 light howitzers. “The howitzers provide the JAF with a system that can be rapidly deployed in Jordan’s defence and are another example of the critical Jordanian-US military partnership.”It added that the howitzers would be used by the Quick Reaction Force, have a maximum range of 19.5km, and can fire up to six rounds a minute for two minutes or three rounds a minute for 30 minutes. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
31 Jul 19. GNPP Region unveils ISPUM-E unmanned MCM system. Russia’s GNPP Region, a subsidiary of the Tactical Missiles Corporation (KTRV), has unveiled its ISPUM/ISPUM-E (Integrated System for Search and Destruction of Mines) shipborne mine countermeasures system for the Russian Navy’s Project 12700 Alexandrite-class mine countermeasures vessel (MCMV) and its export-oriented variant, the Project 12701. The company demonstrated the system for the first time at the International Maritime Defence Show 2019, which was held in Saint Petersburg in mid-July. 1According to the manufacturer, the Alexandrite-ISPUM-E comprises an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) with a modular payload, a towed vehicle, marking buoys, control systems, a shipborne retractable ventral sonar, electrically driven wrench with optical-fibre datalink cable, and other support devices.
It can be operated by a three-person crew comprising the UUV pilot, mission systems specialist, and ship sonar operator.
The towed vehicle has been fitted with low- and high-frequency antennas and serves as an additional sonar that can be deployed in complex hydro-acoustic environments. An MCMV fitted with the Alexandrite-ISPUM-E can therefore employ three sonars, which are integrated with the platform, the UUV, and towed vehicle. The ship can employ its ventral sonar at the same time with the towed vehicle at a speed of up to 6 m/s, although this is reduced to 3 m/s when the UUV is operating. The towed vehicle and the UUV can operate at depths of 150 m and 300 m, respectively, while the latter has a control radius of up to 500 m and can function in Sea State 3 conditions. Both components have received multifrequency sonars, with the UUV carrying a 3D one. The UUV carries three front-mounted cameras that provide video data to the mothership and can be equipped with mine destructors or markers. It is also fitted with front-mounted wire cutters and searchlights. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
30 Jul 19. Is this Russia’s gateway drone to better armed robots? When it comes to armed autonomous robots, it is time to meet Russia’s Marker. The unmanned ground vehicle, demonstrated in early winter 2019, is set to undergo shooting trials by the end of July. While the vehicle itself has appeared quite capable in demonstrations, the Marker’s significance is as a transitional vehicle. It is likely the machine through which Russia’s military will develop its future combined arms incorporating robots.
“The Russian military doctrine with respect to UGVs is still under development,” said Samuel Bendett, an adviser at the Center for Naval Analyses. “That is, we know that some models may be used for breaching ops, others for guard duties, others for swarming tactics or demining operations, but we don’t yet have the same view as with UAVs — today, the Ministry of Defense is talking publicly about how its UAVs are used, where and for what reason.”
What we know of Marker so far comes from a winter demonstration, where the Marker’s turret followed the direction of a soldier as they pointed a rifle at targets. Following human-directed targeting in this way is interesting, though perhaps of somewhat limited utility if both the robot and the human controller cannot see the target. Autonomous capabilities would likely change that.
“If Marker is built to function in different environments, then actual shooting tests — especially with soldiers in a Manned-Unmanned-Teaming arrangement — become key,” said Bendett. “Can Marker function in a complex environment with many obstacles? Can it function under battlefield duress with all manner of counter-efforts directed at it?”
Before the shooting tests, Marker was run through multiple terrain tests, using both tracked and wheeled variants. Developed by the Advanced Research Foundation, Russia’s DARPA-esque agency, the vehicle is explicitly designed as a testbed for future explorations, rather than an operational and deployable model.
That’s of particular importance because Russia has also already tried some on-hand field learning with other uncrewed ground vehicles.
At the Army 2019 exposition in June, Russia arms makers showed off a series of uncrewed vehicles, boasting of the lessons learned in conflicts abroad. For a ground combat robot like the Uran-9, which was impressive in demonstration and less so in the field, the display became about how the design was adapted from failure.
“I think at this point, a lot of future Russian combat UGV developments will be influenced by issues encountered by Uran-9 UGV in Syria last year,” said Bendett. “Back then, Uran-9 suffered what can be described as a “system-wide” failure, so its logical to assume that lessons from that experience are built into Marker. That is why it shooting tests will be important — it is built not to just for solo work, but to cooperate with other unmanned systems and with soldiers.”
Doctrine for armed uncrewed vehicles working alongside armed humans is still new across the world, and testbeds are a valuable way to explore what, exactly, is the most effective way to apply that combination to battlefield objectives. Oh note, too, will be the degree to which the same autonomy that maneuvers the Marker into position is in charge of both targeting and firing. And how, exactly, will this testbed accommodate the role of humans in the loop. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
30 Jul 19. SAIC Will Not Compete to Replace the US Army’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle. After losing bids for Army and Marine Corps projects, the incoming CEO says the company will focus on upgrade work. SAIC will not bid to replace the U.S. Army’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle, but will continue to do upgrades on others’ armored vehicles, the company’s incoming CEO said on Tuesday.
The decision to stay out of the multi-billion dollar optionally manned fighting vehicle project marks a change in strategy for the company, which unsuccessfully bid to build light tanks for the Army and Amphibious Combat Vehicles for the Marine Corps.
“We’ve made the decision at this point to change course a bit,” Nazzic Keene, the company’s CEO-elect, said in a Tuesday interview. “We’re not actively pursuing any of the large programs of record of those natures.”
Keene did not name the Bradley replacement program — but it is the Army’s only major vehicle program for which the service is soliciting bids.
She will become SAIC CEO on Thursday, replacing Tony Moraco, who is retiring.
SAIC executives had long touted their company’s unusual approach to bidding on combat vehicles. Instead of building the vehicles and equipping them with high-tech electronics themselves, as General Dynamics and BAE Systems do, SAIC proposed to work with Singapore-based armored vehicle maker ST Engineering to customize foreign-made vehicles for the Army and Marine Corps. In an interview in January, Moraco said the company was still looking at vehicle modernization work.
“I still believe that we differentiate on complex technology integration programs more so than just staff augmentation across a wide dimension of areas,” he said. “It has to be compatible with our services business model.”
Keene on Tuesday said SAIC “leverage the core competencies” that led it to the armored vehicles market.
“We have just tremendously talented folks that are in the engineering realm and really helping the government think about how to engineer solutions [and] how to prototype solutions,” she said. “We’re focused on that aspect of that industry versus going after the large fixed-price programs of record.”
In March, the Army issued a request for proposals for the Bradley replacement, known as the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle. In June, BAE Systems told Defense News that it would not submit a bid to replace the Bradley. In October 2018, Raytheon has partnered with German-tank maker Rheinmetall to compete for the contract. Bids are duein September. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense One)
31 Jul 19. Serbia presents BRDM-2Ms gifted by Russia. Serbia presented 10 BRDM-2M armoured reconnaissance vehicles gifted by Russia at ‘Mija Stanimirović’ barracks in Niš on 29 July, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on its website. The presentation was attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić; Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin; the chief of general staff of the Serbian Armed Forces, General Milan Mojsilović; and Ambassador of Russia to Serbia, Alexander Bocan Harchenko.
The MoD announced on its website on 27 July that the BRDM-2Ms, plus spares, had arrived in Serbia by Russian air transport.
Vučić said during their presentation on 29 July that Russia had paid for the upgrade of the donated vehicles. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
29 Jul 19. Thailand approved to acquire Stryker infantry carriers. The U.S. State Department has approved a possible foreign military sale to Thailand of 60 Stryker infantry carrier vehicles, potentially making the southeast Asian kingdom the first non-U.S. user of the wheeled armored vehicle. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency issued a notification to Congress of this possible sale on July 26, 2019. It would also include equipment and support, with an estimated cost of $175m. The principal contractor for the Stryker vehicle will be General Dynamics Land Systems, which is also the manufacturer of the Stryker. These additional equipment and support include 60 M2 Flex 50-caliber machine guns, four M6 smoke grenade launchers per vehicle, the AN/VAS-5 Driver’s Vision Enhancer, the AN/VIC-3 vehicle inter-communications system, spare parts, special tools and test equipment, and other related elements of logistics and program support.
David McKeeby, a spokesman for the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, told Defense News that “most if not all” of the Strykers destined for Thailand will be refurbished vehicles.
Reports in May indicated the 60 vehicles Thailand requested will be made up of 37 refurbished U.S. Army M1126 Stryker eight-wheel drive infantry carrier vehicles, with the remaining 23 to be given under a military assistance program. The reported cost varied between $80m and $94m.
Thailand, a U.S. ally in the region, has in recent years bought a number of armored vehicles from China, including tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. Major U.S. arms sales to the kingdom have been in limbo due to a military government being in power following a coup in 2014, only transitioning to a civilian government following elections in March this year. (Source: Defense News)
26 Jul 19. ST Engineering Land Systems unveils unmanned NGAFV variant. The Land Systems division of Singapore defence prime ST Engineering has revealed an unmanned ground combat vehicle development based on its 29-tonne tracked Next-Generation Armoured Fighting Vehicle (NGAFV) platform.
The prototype vehicle was unveiled in a July video documenting Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen’s visit to ST Engineering Land Systems’ facility in western Singapore, which featured the unmanned NGAFV manoeuvring with an armed 4×4 unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) and quadrotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
Several visual distinctions between the baseline manned NGAFV- which was earlier commissioned into service on 11 June as the Hunter AFV following a 10-year development programme by the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), ST Engineering, and the Singapore Army – and the unmanned platform can be clearly seen in the video, including a revised exhaust placement to the rear of the hull as opposed to the front, a GPS/GNSS antenna and positioning and orientation sensor package behind the turret, as well as a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensor on either side of the glacis plate. It is also equipped with a comparable suite of cameras around its hull, which originally supported closed-hatch operations but is now exploited to enable machine vision.
The unmanned NGAFV is also seen with the ST Engineering Land Systems Adder M30 remote weapon station (RWS) that has been employed aboard earlier examples of the manned vehicle, although the RWS has since been replaced by the anti-tank guided missile (ATGM)-capable Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Samson 30 Integrated RWS for the in-service Hunter AFV variant. The vehicle is also seen manoeuvring with the 4×4 Weaponised Probot UGV, which is based on Israel’s Roboteam 4×4 Probot (Professional Robot) chassis – measuring 1.4m long, 1.21 m wide, and 0.58 m high – and equipped with ST Engineering Land Systems’ Adder RMG remote control weapon station (RCWS). (Source: IHS Jane’s)
Millbrook, based in Bedfordshire, UK, makes a significant contribution to the quality and performance of military vehicles worldwide. Its specialist expertise is focussed in two distinct areas: test programmes to help armed services and their suppliers ensure that their vehicles and systems work as the specification requires; and design and build work to upgrade new or existing vehicles, evaluate vehicle capability and investigate in-service failures. Complementing these is driver and service training and a hospitality business that allows customers to use selected areas of Millbrook’s remarkable facilities for demonstrations and exhibitions.