10 Mar 23. Archer for Interim MFP? Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that BAE systems is positioning itself for the supply of the Mobile Fires (Protected) MFP UK Requirement with its Archer wheeled 155mm systems made in Sweden together with a number of 105mm Light Gun which, following actions in Ukraine is seeing a renaissance. The other contenders inclsuing Hanwha and Krauss-Maffei were sent RFIs for the Inerim Solution, but BATTLESPACE undersatnds that they wwere not replied to by the MoD. The Krauss-Maffei RCH155mm system mounted on the Boxer chassis has been ruled out as it is still in development and will likely form part of the next tranche of Boxer variants from 2027. BAE Systems’ ARCHER represents the next generation of wheeled artillery systems. The ARCHER is purpose-built to keep pace with fast moving land forces and deliver superior mobility, lethality, and survivability. The ARCHER design prioritizes soldier and platform survivability. Operators control the entire gun system from the safety of ARCHER’s armored cabin. ARCHER needs less than 30 seconds from the time the operators receive a call for fire, to stop the vehicle, position for action, and fire the first round. Less than 30 seconds after the mission is accomplished, ARCHER is on the move again. ARCHER can fire six rounds, displace, and move 500 m in less than 2 minutes, while the crew remains in an armored cabin. Fires both conventional artillery ammunition as well as BONUS Anti-armor and Excalibur Precision Guided Munition. ARCHER is in operational use, and was fielded to the Swedish Army 2016 on a 6×6 VOLVO articulated hauler chassis.
Whether the package will include upgraded AS90 SPH is not clear given the ammunition limitations and 52 calibre barrel. The choice of Archer will mean that the MoD will be able to work with BAE to develop the new range of advanced 155mm anmmunition which is a major part of the MFP Requirement. Souces state BAE Systems is slated to join the Hanwha Team Thuder programme.
On wider issues, BAE is growing its Barrow artillery facility where rumours persist of a new barrel making facility.
Hall & Watts, the St Albans-based artillery specialist is slated to be a key partner on the 105mm Light Gun project, which also includes the Portee version on the Jackal as shown at Eurosatory last year.
22 Feb 23. BATTLESPACE visited AARG (Advanced Armor Research Group) at IDEX. AARG’s SHIELD armor components have demonstrated superior performance in rigorous and punishing anti-ballistic tests. They have proved their effectiveness as measured by the NATO AEP-55 STANAG 4569 standards for “Protection Levels for Occupants of Logistic and Light Armored Vehicles” against strikes from kinetic energy, artillery, and IED blasts.
AARG’s technology is rigorously life-cycle tested, so it counters ballistic threats and withstands the twists and turns, vibration and corrosion of daily duty.
“Wherever Protection is Needed
For military vehicles – land, sea or air – Tactical, or Law Enforcement, AARG Shield can be engineered to your precise threat level and budget. Our in-house technical team knows the material technology and the manufacturing process. We work with you to strike the balance between price, weight, and performance that your application requires.” AARG President Douglas Davis told BATTLESPACE
The Advanced Armor Research Group is a privately-held American company that provides optimized engineered armor solutions for military vehicles and a range of other platforms and applications requiring reduced weight solutions.
06 Mar 23. Elbit announces howitzer, artillery system deals in Europe.
Israeli defense company Elbit Systems has announced several deals in Europe this month, including a $119m sale of ATMOS truck-mounted howitzers and a $133m contract for PULS artillery rocket systems.
The deals, which Elbit said are with a European NATO member country, come as several governments on the continent continue their shopping sprees to resupply their troops, having sent munitions from their own stocks to Ukraine, which is under invasion by Russia.
“We are witnessing a trajectory of an increased demand for advanced artillery solutions from militaries around the world, including European countries and NATO members, as part of their efforts to increase the effectiveness of their armed forces. Our operationally proven systems provide an advanced, cost-effective solution to meet that demand,” said Bezhalel Machlis, the CEO of Elbit.
Elbit says the ATMOS can fire “all NATO-certified 155mm projectiles” and that its range can exceed 40 kilometers (25 miles) with certain ammunition. “The ATMOS is designed for rapid deployment and operation enabling provision of fire support for a broad range of missions,” it added.
The PULS can fire both free-flying and precision-guided rockets as well as missiles at ranges of up to 300 kilometers.
Who’s the customer?
Elbit did not get more specific in identifying the customer — a common practice among Israeli defense contractors.
Notably, in January, Denmark’s Ministry of Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organisation said it was searching for a supplier to “quickly deliver new equipment to the Armed Forces” to close a capacity gap. The country is sending 19 Caesar artillery systems to Ukraine.
The PULS deal announced by Elbit includes rockets and missiles, as well as two batteries of the system. “The PULS launcher is fully adaptable to existing wheeled and tracked platforms, enabling a significant reduction in maintenance and training costs,” the company said. “The contract will be performed over a period of three years.”
The ATMOS deal will be performed over two years.
According to the Danish ministry’s statement in late January, its acquisition agency had “started negotiations with the manufacturer Elbit Systems for the delivery of ATMOS artillery pieces and PULS rocket launcher systems as soon as possible. The rocket launchers complement the new artillery systems, as it is initially not possible to get sufficient artillery delivered quickly enough to meet the Defence’s operational needs.”
“The acquisitions are also important to be able to retain our soldiers at the artillery and for the continued development of the 1st Brigade,” Defence Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen had added.
The report cited Elbit Systems as a possible supplier that could this year deliver “sufficient ATMOS and PULS systems for Denmark to continue to register an artillery unit for the NATO Readiness Initiative.” The NRO is a group of units that provides the alliance with rapid-response capabilities.
According to the ministry, the main purpose of the acquisition effort is to bolster “the deterrence against Russia and reassure the eastern NATO Member States.”
On Jan. 19, days before the Danish statement mentioning Elbit, the Ukrainian Defence Ministry noted that “Denmark will transfer to Ukraine 19 CAESAR ACS,” and that the “donations will lead to a delay in strengthening Denmark’s 1st Brigade. Therefore the government [of Denmark] is now considering opportunities to quickly acquire new systems.”
The 1st Brigade is based in Holstebro and is part of the rapid-reaction force. It’s artillery battalion requires several Caesar self-propelled howitzers, which were acquired in 2017 and recently introduced to the force. But with Danish Caesar weapons on the way to Ukraine, Denmark is attempting to keep the 1st Brigade fully “manned and deployable” by replacing the systems by January 2024, according to the Sweden Defence Research Agency, which conducts defense research for the Swedish government.
Reports from 2017 had said Elbit’s ATMOS was one of the systems Denmark considered in a tender at the time, which eventually resulted in the Caesar acquisition. Tatra Trucks noted in March 2017 that “in the final phase, the choice was between the Caesar howitzer on a four-axle Tatra chassis and the Israeli-type ATMOS made by the Elbit Corporation, also mounted on the Tatra chassis.”
The sales in Europe come as Elbit announced a deal via its Romanian subsidiary, Elmet International, to supply $120m worth of unmanned turrets, remote controlled weapon stations and mortars for the Piranha V combat vehicle over a three-year period. (Source: Defense News)
06 Mar 23. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is pleased to continue supporting the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) LongShot program. LongShot changes the paradigm of air combat operations by demonstrating an unmanned air-launched vehicle capable of employing air-to-air weapons.
Current air superiority concepts rely on advanced manned fighter aircraft to provide a penetrating counter air capability to effectively deliver weapons. It is envisioned that LongShot will increase the survivability of manned platforms by allowing them to be at standoff ranges far away from enemy threats, while an air-launched LongShot unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) efficiently “closes the gap” to take more effective missile shots.
After a successful Preliminary Design Review (PDR) in February 2022 at the end of Phase 1, GA-ASI was selected by DARPA to continue into Phase 2 in March 2022. During Phase 2, detailed designs are being completed and ground tests conducted to decrease program risk.
A key test event completed early in Phase 2 was multi-body wind tunnel test, characterizing the LongShot air vehicle and air-to-air weapon separation. Critical Design Review (CDR) for the program is planned for early 2023, which will complete the Phase 2 portion of the program. GA-ASI is currently generating a proposal response for the third phase of the program.
“GA-ASI is committed to the successful flight demonstration of the LongShot air vehicle,” said GA-ASI Senior Director of Advanced Programs Michael Atwood.
Upcoming Phase 2 ground tests will demonstrate the viability of key subsystems. Phase 3 would initiate the prototype manufacturing and flight testing phase of the program. Flight testing would begin in 2024.
06 Mar 23. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) conducted its first full-scale static test fire of the Sentinel stage-one solid rocket motor at the company’s test facility in Promontory. This development test will further prove the Sentinel team’s design approach and gain confidence to move to the next stage of testing. The motor fired for the anticipated duration and met performance parameters and objectives within expected ranges.
“This static fire highlights the advances we’ve made in digital engineering and gives us confidence in our ability to translate that into hardware build and test as we continue to make progress on the path to flight testing,” said Sarah Willoughby, vice president, Sentinel, Northrop Grumman. “The results allow us to validate and anchor our stage-one motor performance before entering qualification testing and completing system analyses, key to lowering risk as we mature the Sentinel design and advance towards critical design review.”
Northrop Grumman also leveraged advanced testing equipment that allowed for increased data collection to better understand motor characteristics.
“Our investments in digital design, test and advanced manufacturing help to ensure we develop this next-generation missile more affordably and with innovation at its core, delivering to the Air Force a safe, secure, reliable and flexible capability,” added Willoughby.
The Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile weapon system is the U.S. Air Force’s program to modernize the land-based leg of the strategic triad, replacing the Minuteman III system that has been in service for more than half a century.
The Sentinel missile features a three-stage booster, with Northrop Grumman producing stages one and two. The booster is a new design, using the latest materials and design technologies to ultimately improve performance, reliability, safety and sustainability.
03 Mar 23. US Army to seek multiyear munitions buys in next budget. The U.S. Army’s 2024 budget will request authority to buy more munitions in bulk over multiple years as the U.S. and its allies work to refill their inventories and help Ukraine’s forces defend themselves.
Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Doug Bush on Friday said the Army is harnessing authorities Congress granted last year to begin multiyear munitions buys and to secure new sources for chemicals used to produce munitions.
“In these ramp-ups, the reason we’re taking a really maximalist foot on the floor all the way down approach is that we don’t know how long the conflict will last, we don’t know how low our stocks will be, we don’t know the full amount we will have to help replenish,” Bush said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Bush noted the Pentagon is expected to raise peacetime munitions stockpile targets.
“I believe our requirements for stockpiles will be higher after these conflicts, after we’ve done the analysis; I think there will be work to do,” Bush said.
The Pentagon doesn’t publicize the levels of its munitions stockpiles, but the U.S. is running low on some high-end weapons systems and ammunition, according to multiple reports. Defense officials say U.S. donations to Ukraine from its own inventories have not compromised readiness.
The volume of deliveries to Ukraine, which is burning through ammunition faster than the U.S. and NATO can produce it, has upended assumptions about how much ammunition gets used to fight wars.
European Union leaders are considering whether, as a bloc, to buy 155mm artillery shells, and Reuters reported last month NATO is expected to increase its targets for munitions stockpiles.
The U.S. Army meanwhile has sped up modernization plans for government-sponsored factories that make conventional munitions and is is investing in private-sector facilities to accelerate production.
“The long-term challenge is how much of that capacity can we sustain over time, post-conflict,” Bush said.
Pentagon officials are mulling the pre-war requirements cognizant that larger stockpiles mitigate production lead times, but stockpiles are expensive to build, maintain and track. The appropriate size of stockpiles for precursor chemicals and other raw materials that go into the munitions is also under discussion.
“All this costs money, but I think how big are our war reserves is a really good policy question that’s being asked and being worked. I know it’s also of interest on [Capitol] Hill,” Bush said.
Still another question is how to strike a balance between industry’s efficiency and affordability ― and its ability to surge in a crisis.
“We of course, expect our defense companies to be efficient and provide their goods at good prices,” Bush said. “If we want them to have excess capacity, we will have to partner with them and work with them to pay for part of that excess capacity that’s not being used.”
Washington must also strike a balance between surging flexible funds and overseeing of taxpayer dollars. Amid a stepped up Congressional oversight push, Bush offered assurances that while Congress has accommodated the Army’s efforts, he and lawmakers take their oversight role seriously.
“It’s a lot of money; there does need to be boundaries on it,” Bush said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
05 Mar 23. A Royal Air Force Chinook from RAF Odiham has been conducting live firing training at a range in Lincolnshire. A Royal Air Force Chinook from RAF Odiham has been conducting live firing training at a range in Lincolnshire. During the exercise, the Chinook fired twin M134 Miniguns and single M60D General Purpose Machine guns at a mix of purpose-built targets.
The firing is done by the onboard Weapons System Operators, who are required to conduct this training regularly to ensure they maintain their skills and safety qualifications. Firing from a moving helicopter is particularly difficult and the accuracy of the firing was assessed as part of the training. The training includes responses to various threat scenarios, such as self-defence when the aircraft is taking-off and landing.
After completing the daylight firing serials, the aircraft landed at RAF Coningsby to refuel and replenish the ammunition. It then completed the same training at night, with the crew using night vision goggles.
Operating the aircraft and airborne gunnery at night requires additional skills, especially when ambient light levels are low. Whilst operating over the sea on a dark night at 200 feet above the water, the crew have very few references outside of the aircraft with which to gauge their height or attitude.
Precision air-to-ground firing requires exceptional teamwork. The pilots must position the aircraft accurately and provide a stable platform from which to employ the guns. Red tracer rounds are used to gauge accuracy and are especially vivid at night as they leave long trails across the sky until they burn out.
Royal Air Force Chinooks conduct a wide variety of tasks from carrying troops and equipment, transporting injured service personnel from the battlefield to medical care and supporting wider-Government efforts in times of national crisis.
More recently, Royal Air Force Chinooks have been deployed to Estonia as part of the bilateral agreement between the Defence Ministers of Estonia and the UK. Whilst in Estonia they supported NATO’s enhanced forward presence in the region. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
02 Mar 23. UAE looks to Europe for help to bolster its vital air defence systems. Greater UAE defence industry integration as the Gulf country looks to shore up its air defence systems with Rheinmetall Air Defence’s multi sensor unit. Nations are feeling the pinch of the current security situation across the world, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is no exception. Part of the Gulf country’s plan to look globally to shore up its defence has led to greater global industry collaboration, which has been largely executed by leveraging the country’s state-owned defence and security conglomerate: EDGE Group.
Bottom of Form
EDGE Group’s most recent partnership confirms this. It was announced that EDGE entity HALCON, a regional leader in the design and production of guided weapon systems, has partnered with Swiss-based Rheinmetall Air Defence (RAD), a subsidiary of Rheinmetall and a leading manufacturer of air defence and anti-aircraft systems on 28 February.
The partnership will see RAD develop and qualify the truck mounted Oerlikon Multi Sensor Unit (MSU). It will work in conjunction with the UAE’s own HALCON SkyKnight counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) missile system.
This modular integration will see the Skynex system adapted to the C-RAM which is specifically designed to counter hard-cased targets such as precision guided munitions and large artillery shells.
The MSU itself is a remote controlled, rapidly deployable sensor unit. It features a 4D active electronically scanned array search radar, covering 360° and is capable of automatically classifying detected targets and handing the generated tracks over to the most suitable gun or missile launcher autonomously or by the push of a button.
The need to bolster UAE air defences
Marco Parisi, sales director at Rheinmetall Air Defence, stated that this partnership “shows both companies’ commitment to providing the UAE with leading edge air defence systems. The Oerlikon Skynex air defence system paired with HALCON’s SkyKnight Missile is the ideal solution for the protection of UAE’s most vital infrastructure.”
This modular air defence system will be a more effective solution to the regional strife the UAE faces in the Gulf. The UAE’s total forecasted investment of $129.3bn over the period 2024-28 reflects the country’s plans to equip itself with advanced defence equipment.
The purpose of this expenditure is primarily to deter Iran from taking an aggressive posture and to fortify its national security against strikes from the Houthis, an Iran-backed Yemeni insurgent group.
It is reasonable to believe that the partnership with RAD goes some way to providing the UAE with newly enhanced air defence capabilities to prevent Iranian/Houthi missile strikes against the country and its infrastructure.
The growth of modularity
The current security situation sees modularity standardise weapon systems, establishing greater defence industry integration the world over, as seen with the UAE-Swiss partnership.
Modularity has become a way to cut costs for defence equipment, while countries seek to narrow their defence spending in on the latest and greatest weapon systems.
The UAE, like the rest of the world, has seen inflation hike up to 5.20% according to GlobalData’s macroeconomic analysis of the country’s economy, and all the while the UAE is expected to see a cumulative defence investment throughout the 2024-28 period.
UAE defence spending goes toward modernised equipment, as opposed to spare parts and affordable equipment to bolster the count of their platforms and weapon systems.
Akash Pratim Debbarma, aerospace and defence analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The UAE’s efforts to develop its domestic defense capabilities encourages foreign defense companies to start joint ventures with domestic companies”.
The UAE’s globalised approach to bolstering its defence industry demonstrates a greater need for modularity to allow for flexible adaptation of their modern systems with foreign components like the MSU. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
02 Mar 23. UK mulls ways to rectify dwindling ammunition stockpiles.
Some manufacturing lines for UK equipment donated to Ukraine have closed, with little prospect of a restart without significant investment.
As the Ukraine war continues to draw upon the resources of NATO’s western European member states, the UK’s focus is attempting to ensure that domestic stocks are replenished as economies adapt from the just-in-time delivery philosophy.
While western European ammunition stockpiles are generally kept to an amount required to maintain military requirements and replenish out-of-date munitions, war has highlighted the fact that most NATO states engaged in a conflict as Ukraine is against Russia, supply would quickly run short.
The UK is no exception to this. Having donated thousands of Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapons (NLAW) to Ukraine, it has had to turn to manufacturer Saab to restart a cold production line.
Thales, the manufacturer of another system delivered to Ukraine, the Starstreak High Velocity Missile system, ceased production at its Belfast site a few years ago, with recent comments made during UK Defence Committee hearings stating that just 60 are left in UK stock. It is not clear whether this refers to Starstreak stock kept at the industry level or units in service with the British military.
Army Technology approached Thales for comment on Starstreak stock and production lines but at the time of publishing had not received a response.
Both Starstreak and Stormer air defence armoured vehicles have been donated to Ukraine.
Speaking before the UK’s Joint National Security Committee on 27 February, Tim Barrow, National Security Advisor at the Cabinet Office, said that the UK “clearly” needed to restock its ammunition.
“We are very conscious of the need to restock,” said Barrow, adding that there was a consideration in not only working with established industrial and national partners, but also those “we haven’t worked much with in the past.” (Source: army-technology.com)
03 Mar 23. US Army V Corps launches European HIMARS Initiative. The EHI aims to build the lethality, field artillery expertise, and interoperability of the alliance forces. The US Army V Corps has announced the launch of the European High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) Initiative (EHI).
This multi-faceted effort is being developed in close collaboration with the Nato allied nations and several other US stakeholders including US Army Europe and Africa, US Army Field Artillery School, and Programme Executive Office-Missiles and Space.
It will also involve support from the 56th Artillery Command, 41st Field Artillery Brigade, 4th Security Forces Assistance Brigade, 41st Field Artillery Brigade, Division Artillery, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and 4th Infantry Division.
The EHI primarily aims to build the lethality, field artillery expertise, and interoperability of the alliance forces. Scheduled to commence this summer, EHI will focus specifically on rocket artillery.
Under the EHI approach, field artillery experts from various Nato and allied nations, particularly those who either own/operate HIMARS launcher systems or are interested in acquiring them, will be brought together.
The initial stage will see a senior leader summit that will help the associated key leaders to understand, in detail, more about the capabilities, effectiveness, training sustainment, and deployment of HIMARS launchers.
After the summit, associated stakeholders will take part in various leader engagement activities to further hone their knowledge on HIMARS’ operations and sustainment.
It will be held across several central and eastern European nations and will also include an apprenticeship programme that will integrate multinational soldiers with the US’ units.
V Corps commanding general lieutenant general John Kolasheski said: “HIMARS allow Nato allies and partners to rapidly mass fire from a distance, creating decision space, flexibility, and operational momentum to locations that would otherwise be difficult to achieve.”
In addition, ‘New Equipment Training’, under the fielding package, will be provided to the nations that have received HIMARS systems from the US.