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17 Aug 23. Indian Air Force inducts Heron Mk II. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has inducted four Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron Mk II medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance operations in India’s northern sector, which has borders with both China and Pakistan, a senior officer of the service told Janes on 14 August.
The officer confirmed that the four Heron Mk II units will be equipped with long-range observation sensors and radars, and carry additional payloads related to electronic support measures (ESM), communications intelligence (COMINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT), and communication relay.
Developed by IAI, the Heron Mk II has a length of 8.5 m, wingspan of 16.6 m, and a payload capacity of 490 kg. According to company specifications, the UAV has a maximum take-off weight of 1,430 kg, an endurance of 45 hours, service ceiling of 35,000 ft, and a maximum speed of 150kt. (Source: Janes)
17 Aug 23. PLAAF developing new combat methods for UAVs. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has been developing new combat tactics and methods of operation for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including remote take-offs and landings at locations far from home base airfields and potential manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T).
According to a report by the state-owned broadcaster, China Central Television (CCTV), on 12 August a PLAAF UAV unit in the Western Theater Command (WTC) has been conducting these trials using Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) Wing Loong II (Gongji-2 or GJ-2) multirole medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAVs.
The Wing Loong IIs were used in a recent exercise in the “deserts of northwest China” to conduct “reconnaissance and strike training in a realistic combat scenario”, CCTV said.
During the exercise, the UAV operators were tasked with operating the Wing Loong IIs at long ranges using mobile ground control stations (GCSs), according to CCTV. Imagery of the three-vehicle GCS showed the employment of a satellite communications (satcom) antenna. (Source: Janes)
17 Aug 23. Turkey to arm 11 naval platforms with Atmaca missiles. Eleven of Turkey’s naval platforms will be armed with domestically produced Atmaca anti-ship missiles as part of a deal with state-controlled missile maker Roketsan and government-owned defense technology entity STM. Roketsan developed the Atmaca system with surface warfare in mind. The weapon is a high-precision anti-ship missile that can arm assault boats, frigates and corvettes.
Roketsan says the system is autonomous, has a low radar cross section, can operate in all weather conditions, and features resistance to countermeasures. The company also boasts a 3D mission planning capability as well as target-update and mission-abort features via data link.
The Atmaca can fall between 4.3 meters and 5.2 meters in length. It weighs 750 kilograms (1,653 pounds) and has a range of 220 kilometers (137 miles). The system’s warhead weighs 220 kilograms.
It uses both an inertial navigation system and global positioning system for guidance.
The Atmaca will replace Turkey’s aging inventory of more than 350 American-made Harpoon missiles. STM said the integration of Atmaca missiles to the naval platforms will be completed by April 11, 2027.
Turkey will likely equip I-class frigates, the upgraded Barbaros-class Meko 200 TN and Ada-class corvettes with the Atmaca, according to Ozgur Eksi, an Ankara-based defense analyst.
Roketsan won the development contract from the Turkish government in 2009. In 2018, Roketsan teamed up with military-electronics specialist Aselsan, Turkey’s largest defense firm, to jointly manufacture Atmaca, which incorporates features of the Harpoon weapon and the French-made Exocet missile.
The Turkish government is expected to save up to $500 million by choosing the Atmaca to replace its Harpoon missiles, as the homemade weapon is about half the price of the American-made option.
Atmaca’s land variant, known as the Kara Atmaca, is a jam-resistant, long-range cruise missile system launched on tactical wheeled vehicles. (Source: Defense News)
17 Aug 23. US Army prepares to deliver Mid-Range Capability. The US Army fired a cruise missile for the first time since 1944, completing the operational tests necessary to deliver the first Mid-Range Capability (MRC) weapon system by the end of fiscal year (FY) 2023, the service announced recently.
The US Army’s 1st Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF) worked with the US Navy to launch a Tomahawk Land Attack Missile from an MRC system on 27 June, according to an army release. The army is planning the prototypes’ delivery before the end of FY 2023, said Lieutenant General Robert Rasch, director of the army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO).
“We’re just really co-ordinating the delivery of those already built missiles out to the bunkers that have been certified because we realised upfront we had to have a good bunker certification,” he told the audience at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium on 8 August. (Source: Janes)
17 Aug 23. US Administration Approves Historic Sale Agreement of Israeli Arrow 3 System to Germany. The Israeli Ministry of Defense, the German Ministry of Defense and Israeli Aerospace Industries will meet to sign the launch of the largest defense deal in the country’s history – $3.5bn (about 14bn NIS). The Minister of Defense, Yoav Galant, the Director General of the Ministry of Defense, Major General (res.) Eyal Zamir and the head of PAAT, Brigadier General (res.) Dr. Danny Gold, received a message tonight (Thursday) from the US State Department about the administration’s decision to approve the huge deal with Germany for the purchase of the Arrow 3 defense system. Jointly developed and produced by the ‘Wall’ directorate at the Israel Defense Forces and the American Missile Defense Agency (MDA), and led by Israel Aerospace Industries, Arrow 3 is the most advanced air defense system of its kind in the world, to intercept ballistic missiles in space, outside the atmosphere.
Following the approval of the US administration, senior officials of the Israeli and German defense ministries will meet for a signing ceremony on a letter of intent to start the deal. The commitment in the amount of $600m will allow immediate start of work on the project.
All the details of the contract have been agreed between the German Ministry of Defense and the Israeli Ministry of Defense and are being submitted for final approval by the German government and the legislature, the signing of the full contract is expected around November 2023. The negotiations for the sale agreement are led by Moshe Fatal, the head of the Wall Directorate at the Israel Defense Forces, together with the director general of the Aerospace Industry, Boaz Levy, and the head of the Arrow 3 project for Germany from the German side, Colonel Carsten Cooper.
Arrow 3 is an exo-atmospheric interceptor for intercepting ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere. The interceptor has a long-range interception capability, at a high altitude above the atmosphere, a capability that makes it the best interceptor of its kind in the world.
The principle of operation of Arrow 3 is based on direct physical damage to the target (HIT TO KILL). Israeli Aerospace Industries is the main contractor for the development of the weapon system, the Arrow interceptors and the radar detection system. Elbit Systems develops the control and monitoring system. The government company for rocket propulsion systems, Tomer, and the Rafael company are the main subcontractors for the development and production of the Arrow 3 interceptor. The American company STARK Aerospace, owned by Israel Aerospace Industries, is the main contractor in the USA.
Defense Minister Yoav Galant: “The American approval received tonight for the sale of the Arrow 3 interception system is an expression of confidence in the extraordinary capabilities of Israel’s defense industries. This is a significant decision that will help build Israel’s technological and economic power. In the eyes of every Jew, this has a special meaning that Germany helps to defend the State of Israel. We are proud of our ability to carry out the largest arms and technology deal in the history of Israeli industries.
“This is an opportunity to express our gratitude and appreciation to the people of the Israeli industry, the engineers of the aerospace industry, who, thanks to their creativity and talent, the aerospace industry and the defense system are breaking other records. Arrow 3 is a groundbreaking system, the most advanced of its kind in the world, and it is a force multiplier in the air defense effort in Israel. And soon in Europe as well. The cooperation with the American government was an important element throughout the development process of the system and the advancement of the giant deal. This is further proof of the strength of the security ties Between Israel and the United States, I thank my friend, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, for the central part of the United States in this process.”
Director General of the Ministry of Defense, Major General (Ret.) Eyal Zamir: “This is a historic agreement with far-reaching implications. The deal is another pillar in strengthening the strategic-security relations between Israel and Germany and recognizing the quality of the Israeli defense industry. The largest defense export deal in the country’s history will push Israeli defense exports, which only last year recorded a record of 12.5bn dollars, to a new peak.
“It will create hundreds of new jobs and bring additional momentum to the defense industries. The Arrow 3 deal further strengthens the deep alliance with the US, both at the strategic level and at the level The political-security with our partners in the Pentagon, the State Department and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and also in the industrial cooperation, since the system components that are produced for Israel today in the USA will be produced in the USA for the Germans as well.”
The head of the Ministry of Defense, Brigadier General (ret.) Dr. Daniel Gold: “The American approval is a significant milestone in the strategic relationship between the State of Israel and the United States in the field of missile defense. A joint venture with the USA, the advanced Arrow 3 defense system strengthens the defense partnership with Germany and expands to new areas. This cooperation strengthens the national resilience of the State of Israel on a variety of levels and will create new opportunities at the same time as preserving the technological-security superiority and the qualitative advantage of the State of Israel.”
CEO of IAI, Boaz Levy: “IAI happily received approval from the US Department of Defense, our partners in the project alongside the Israeli Ministry of Defense, to develop the best air defense system in the world – Arrow 3 – for Germany. We thank the German Parliament for the trust it expressed in us in choosing a system manufactured by Israeli Aerospace Industries.
“There is no doubt in my mind that being equipped with this system will be the best answer to the needs of security and protection of the citizens of Germany and its environment. The Aerospace Industry has already started implementing the first stages of the deal, together with the ‘Wall’ directorate at MPA, in accordance with the target set by the German Parliament, and in coordination with our American partners.’ (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Israeli Ministry of Defense)
17 Aug 23. Kupol Plant to Manufacture TOR-M2 Anti-Aircraft Missile Systems for Russian Armed Forces. The Russian Defence Ministry has signed a contract with Kupol Izhevsk Electromechanical Plant for the supply of Tor-M2 anti-aircraft missile systems. Lieutenant General Anatoly Gulyaev, Head of the Russian Armed Forces’ Main Armament Directorate, and the Kupol’s Director Fanil Ziyatdinov signed the relevant document on the margins of the ARMY 2023 Forum.
‘Tor’ (NATO codification – Gauntlet) is a short-range anti-aircraft missile system, manufactured by Kupol IEMZ (part of JSC Concern VKO ‘Almaz-Antey’). It is designed to cover the first echelons of land formations from the strikes of anti-radar and cruise missiles, planing bombs, aircraft, helicopters and UAVs, including those combined in swarms.
The complex has been upgraded three times during its lifetime: to the Tor-M1 level in 1991, Tor-M2U in 2009, and Tor-M2 in 2016. Starting with the Tor-M2U, the complexes are capable of engaging targets while moving at speeds of up to 40 km/h with the defending forces on the march or in mobile combat without restricting their manoeuvre.
The ADMS can independently control the airspace in the area of responsibility and shoot down all air targets not recognised by the friend-or-foe system. The latest modification, the Tor-M2, has 16 vertical-launch anti-aircraft missiles with a range of up to 12 kilometres and an altitude range of up to 10 kilometres. The upgraded radar system is capable of detecting air targets at a distance of up to 32 km, and the radar detects even aircrafts with stealth technologies.
(Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Russian Ministry of Defence)
15 Aug 23. Brazil issues request for proposals for self-propelled artillery system. The Brazilian Army released its long-awaited request for proposal (RFP) and request for tender (RFT) for a 155 mm self-propelled wheeled artillery system on 2 August, a major milestone for the service’s effort to replace part of its M114A1 howitzers.
The Brazilian Army Commission in Washington (CEBW) issued the document on behalf of the Logistics Command that intends to meet self-propelled, wheeled 155 mm howitzer armoured combat vehicle (VBC OAP 155 mm SR) project requirements, part of the Army Strategic Program Armoured Forces (Prg EE F Bld).
The project aims to acquire two initial vehicles for evaluation at the Army Evaluations Center, and later another 34 systems in different tranches to arm three field artillery groups. No details on the acquisition schedule were provided in the initial documents.
The latest edition of the operational, technical, logistical, and industrial requirements for the VBC OAP 155 mm SR project was published in July. (Source: Janes)
09 Aug 23. US Army ups the ante with yearslong campaign to test integrated fires. The U.S. Army will embark on a yearslong effort this fall to ensure various weapons capabilities work in sync and are tailorable for combatant commanders, the service’s program executive officer for missiles and space said Tuesday at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium.
“I’d almost call it the main effort for our [program executive office],” Brig. Gen. Frank Lozano told Defense News in an interview. The so-called Integrated Fires Test Campaign has become “the centerpiece of what we’re trying to achieve from an offensive and defensive integrated-fires capability.”
The plan is to conduct the campaign through at least fiscal 2027, Lozano said, to incrementally identify how best to bring together capabilities as new systems come online.
The program executive office already conducted its first integrated fires test during the Northrop Grumman-made Integrated Battle Command System’s initial operational test and evaluation that began last year and ended earlier this year.
The Integrated Battle Command System was cleared for full-rate production in April. The Army IBCS with the RTX-developed Patriot air defense system and the Sentinel A3 radar, Lozano said.
IBCS was originally meant to serve as the brains for the Army’s future Integrated Air and Missile Defense system but has since received an expanded mission to connect a wide variety of sensors and shooters on the battlefield.
This fall, the Army will up the ante, integrating IBCS with the service’s future Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor, or LTAMDS, which will replace Patriot’s radar with a more comprehensive, 360-degree threat-detection capability. RTX delivered LTAMDS prototypes to the Army this year for testing.
In FY24, the Army will integrate IBCS, LTAMDS and the Indirect Fires Protection Capability. The latter is a system in development with Leidos-owned Dynetics that will help the Army defend semi-fixed and fixed sites from cruise missiles, rockets, artillery, mortars and possibly drones.
The Army’s upgraded Sentinel A4 radar, made by Lockheed Martin, will be tied into the test campaign in FY25. In FY26, the service will bring in the Army Long Range Persistent Surveillance, or ALPS, system — a battlefield sensor that uses different signals to track threats and is “a little less detectable” and “provides us a higher level of survivability,” Lozano said.
Also in FY26, the Army will integrate the Remote Interceptor Guidance-360, which can connect radars to launchers outside of its normal range, closing gaps and extending the battlefield.
The Lockheed Martin-designed RIG-360 is an antenna mounted on a trailer and easily deployable, Lozano said. It was approved to move into technology development in January but has already been used in a major live-fire test within the IBCS initial operational test and evaluation.
“It’s prototyped enough to know it works; now we just have to ruggedize it,” he said.
As the Army moves forward with the test campaign, much of what comes out of the integration work will feed directly into its contribution for the air and missile defense architecture under development for Guam. The test campaign also aligns directly with the operational fielding schedule for the Guam architecture.
The plan for Guam, according to former Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill, is to have the architecture operational by 2026. Hill retired last month.
The architecture will include Army systems such as IBCS and LTAMDS as well as the Navy’s Aegis system and the SM-3 and SM-6 missiles.
The Missile Defense Agency plans to deliver the first wave of capability for the architecture in 2024. (Source: Defense News)
08 Aug 23. UVision stresses Hero munitions in cold weather and high-altitude tests. Israeli loitering munition specialist UVision has conducted a series of cold weather and high-altitude test flights in the Arctic and Himalayas.
UVision confirmed to Janes it had successfully satisfied “winter battlefield requirements in the Arctic region”, although company officials were unable to provide specific details because of customer sensitivities.
Officials confirmed Hero-120 – the company’s medium-sized loitering munition, which features a multi-purpose warhead with both anti-tank and anti-personnel capabilities – had conducted a “series of flight missions in the Arctic region as part of a field evaluation under extreme winter environmental conditions”.
“Attended by representatives from several militaries with Arctic warfare capabilities, this evaluation was the concluding phase of a lengthy process, which included earlier test flights in the region, as well as extensive laboratory environmental tests, simulating the extreme temperatures, winds, and humidity conditions of the Arctic winter,” a spokesperson told Janes. (Source: Janes)
15 Aug 23. UK AS90 turret trainer hits 100,000 firings milestone. The UK’s fleet of AS90 15mm self-propelled howitzers is being phased out, with nearly half gifted to Ukraine for combat operations against Russia.
The British Army’s AS90 turret training system has reached a significant landmark having recently reached 100,000 simulated firings since its introduction into the UK Armed Forces in 2005, reportedly saving around £230m ($293m) according to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Procured and support by UK Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), the AS90 turret training system is used to develop operational practices and skillsets of the commander, gunner, and loader of the 155mm self-propelled howitzer, which has been in British Army service since 1992.
Based at Larkhill Garrison in Wiltshire, crews can use the trainer to practise routine firing drills and turret operating procedures without the expense of live firing, providing a significantly reduced training cost.
Based on a real AS90 turret, the trainer uses an electro-mechanical system to replicate a complete firing cycle. This includes the weight and size of the artillery rounds and the noise and turret movement on firing.
According to the MoD, the AS90 turret training system has also been used to train Ukrainian soldiers as part of the wider package to equip them with the skills to fire AS90 guns gifted to them by the UK.
As part of DE&S’ wider support of Ukraine against Russia’s 2022 large-scale invasion, 32 AS90 platforms have been provided to Ukrainian forces, 20 of which were battle ready plus 12 to be used for spares and replenishment.
The turret trainers were developed and manufactured by Van Halteren Technologies (VHT). The company has also delivered more than 100 systems for other guns such as the M101, M119, M198 and FH70.
UK AS90: out with the old
The provision by the UK of 32 AS90 155 self-propelled howitzers represented a significant proportion of the country’s existing fleet of around 80 platforms. Although increasingly outgunned by more modern counterparts, the AS90 is still considered to be a viable fire support platform on the battlefield.
In addition, a further 64 artillery guns have been granted to Ukraine, comprised of 28 M109 155mm self-propelled guns, and 36 L119 105mm guns and ammunition.
The gifting of the 32 AS90s to Ukraine served to expedite the UK’s initial plans to replace its long-range fire support capability through the Mobile Fires Platform by 2030. An interim solution was announced in March this year with the acquisition of 14 Archer 155mm artillery systems from Sweden and is expected to be fully operational by April 2024.
The wheeled Archer 6×6 is equipped with an automated, self-propelled 155mm main gun designed for rapid deployment, with a firing range of 50km using extended range ammunition – doubling the AS90’s 25km range.
In 2022 the UK also initiated attempts to double the size of its M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) fleet, which stands at around 40 vehicles, with efforts also including the apparent consideration of platforms in museums or acting as gate guards. The UK had early on the Ukraine war donated a total of six M270 MLRS to Kyiv, across two delivery batches. The British Army will also spend £250m to upgrade the M270 fleet to keep the system in service until 2050. Upgrades will see 44 launchers get a new armoured cab and upgraded automotive and launch mechanism components. (Source: army-technology.com)
16 Aug 23. Elbit Systems announced today that its partner in the Australian Land 400 Phase 3 project (the “Project”), Hanwha Defense Australia (“Hanwha”), has reported that it was downselected by the Australian Government, as the preferred tenderer for the Project, with final Government approval to be sought at the conclusion of contract negotiations. Hanwha further reported that Elbit Systems is a key partner to Hanwa to deliver the Redback Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) under the Project. The Redback integrates the Redback Turret which is based on the latest generation of Elbit Systems’ 30 mm manned turret with the COAPS gunner sight, additional electro-optic systems, Iron Fist active protection system, Elbit Systems’ Iron-Vision advanced situational awareness head mounted display system and Elbit Systems’ ELAWS laser warning system. The anticipated contract between Hanwha and Elbit Systems is also contingent upon completion of negotiations between both parties and the Company expects the contract to be in an amount that is material to the Company.
14 Aug 23. Russia to equip new nuclear submarines with hypersonic missiles. Russia is in the process of equipping its new nuclear submarines with hypersonic Zircon missiles, the head of Russia’s largest shipbuilder told the RIA state news agency in an interview published on Monday.
“Multi-purpose nuclear submarines of the Yasen-M project will … be equipped with the Zircon missile system on a regular basis,” , Alexei Rakhmanov, chief executive officer of the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), told RIA.
“Work in this direction is already underway.”
Yasen-class submarines, also known as Project 885M, are nuclear-powered cruise missile submarines, built to replace Soviet-era nuclear attack submarines as part of a programme to modernise the army and fleet.
The sea-based Zircon hypersonic missiles have a range of 900 km (560 miles), and can travel at several times the speed of sound, making it difficult to defend against them.
President Vladimir Putin said earlier this year that Russia would start mass supplies of Zircon missiles as part of the country’s efforts to boost its nuclear forces.
The Russian multi-purposes frigate Admiral Gorshkov, which has tested its strike capabilities in the western Atlantic Ocean earlier this year, has been already equipped with Zircon missiles. (Source: Reuters)
14 Aug 23. Russia supplying S-400 air defence systems to India on schedule – defence official. Russia will deliver an order of S-400 anti-aircraft systems to India within the agreed timeframe, Interfax news agency quoted a senior Russian defence export official on Monday as saying.
India is the world’s biggest arms importer and still mostly uses Russian technology for traditional arms, but officials in New Delhi have expressed concern that Russia’s war in Ukraine could delay planned deliveries of weapons and equipment.
“The production of S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile systems is being carried out according to schedule,” Interfax quoted Dmitry Shugaev, head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, as saying.
“The delivery of the equipment of the S-400 Triumf system is expected to be completed within the agreed time frame,” he said in comments made during an armed forces event.
India purchased the S-400 Triumf air defence system units in 2018 for $5.4bn. Three of the systems have been delivered and two more are still awaited.
The deliveries are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2024, according to Interfax.
The Indian Air Force said in March that the war in Ukraine was holding up vital defence supplies from Russia.
New Delhi has been seeking in recent years to diversify imports or replace them with home-built hardware.
It is buying French fighter jets, Israeli drones and U.S. jet engines. But Russia still accounted for $8.5bn of the $18.3bn India has spent on arms imports since 2017, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. (Source: Google/Reuters)
11 Aug 23. US Army working through challenges with laser weapons. The U.S. Army is working through a variety of challenges with directed-energy weapons for air defense, including how to affordably manufacture the high-tech capability and sustain it on the battlefield, according to service officials with knowledge of the effort.
But more importantly, according to the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office director, the service must figure out how it will fight with the systems.
With other efforts in his portfolio like hypersonic weapons and midrange missiles that are rapidly transferring to programs of record and already being fielded to units, “we knew what those capabilities were and trained the soldiers how to use it. We had a plan doctrinally,” Lt. Gen. Rob Rasch told Defense News in an Aug. 10 interview at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium.
“Directed energy is an area that we didn’t know as much, not just from how to make them but how we’re going to employ them,” he added.
When Rasch took over the Army office a year ago, he determined he needed to keep a prototyping effort to build a directed-energy weapon on a Stryker combat vehicle for short-range air defense in his portfolio longer than planned. It was expected to head to the service’s Program Executive Office Missiles and Space.
Rasch’s organization is waiting to receive the last of four prototypes it is required to deliver as a first platoon set. Two of the prototypes successfully underwent testing with soldiers at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, this year.
“What we don’t yet know from directed-energy systems, necessarily, is how to fight [with] them, how to fight [with] lasers on the battlefield, how to integrate kinetic and non-kinetic effectively, like directed energy and other traditional air defense missiles, into the battlespace,” Rasch told an audience at the SMD Symposium.
The first platoon will begin developing tactics, techniques and procedures as well as training guidance, then conduct an operational assessment before Rasch turns the effort over to the program office in fiscal 2025.
The effort to put a laser on a Stryker vehicle equipped with a Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense system began in mid-2019, when the Army awarded KBR subsidiary Kord Technologies a contract to integrate a laser system onto the vehicle.
As the program’s prime contractor, Kord subsequently awarded subcontracts to Northrop Grumman and RTX teams to develop the laser module.
The competition between Northrop and RTX to produce the laser module was intended to culminate in a shoot-off between the two teams. But Northrop took itself out of the running ahead of the event in early 2021 after problems with the power and thermal management system resulted in a fire and smoke damage to the laser system and other components.
RTX completed the shoot-off and was awarded a $123m contract to supply the laser weapon.
Building a base
The Army is now grappling with how to ensure directed-energy systems can be manufactured affordably. Rasch is now trying to drive competition into various components.
Furthermore, Rasch wondered, “given the thermal aspects of the directed energy, the heat that it puts off, how do we ensure that we get systems that are reliable?”
Rasch has launched a new round of prototyping that is taking another look at what industry could offer, such as laser modules and beam directors.
“We’ll be bringing in some different component vendors primarily to ensure that we have competition when we pass it over to PEO Missiles and Space,” Rasch said. “We want to make sure that we’re not giving them a vendor-locked solution. The competition helps drive affordability. … We’re trying to grow the industrial base across the board … so that competition just isn’t at the top, it’s at multiple levels within that supply chain.”
Reliability in the field
As the Army prepares to field laser weapons after decades of development, Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, who leads the Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office, said the biggest challenge in his view is ensuring sustainability in the field. He noted it’s been difficult to keep a few laser weapon systems up and running in U.S. Africa Command’s area of operations.
“We have to do better if we want to scale this across the force,” he said.
“Lasers are complicated,” Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler, the head of Space and Missile Defense Command, said at the symposium. “When you look at what you have to do to build a laser, and many of the main components … you’re not going to have a supply room or maintenance office full of repair parts.”
The Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office is working on how to design systems that can easily receive maintenance using “line-replaceable units” that can be quickly swapped in and out in the field, rather than needing a “clean room with scientists with gloves to do all that work,” Rasch said.
How the service ultimately fields its directed-energy M-SHORAD system is a “bigger Army decision,” Rasch added, “but working very closely with PEO Missiles and Space on that path, we’ve got it aligned there that allows us to do enough learning on the overall capability of that particular system, both from an operational perspective and a materiel developer perspective to help inform that decision collectively.” (Source: Defense News)
07 Aug 23. Estonian conscript and reservist artillerymen achieved their first live-fires when training with the K9 Kõu (Thunder) self-propelled howitzer. On Saturday, the conscripts of the fire battery and the reservists undergoing retraining got their hands and faces white when firing the K9 mobile cannon at the central training ground of the Defence Forces.
“I was satisfied with the performance of the soldiers and reservists. The gun crews showed a very good results, the fire was either on target or effective, and there was no time when the fire controllers wanted to make fire corrections,” said Major Kaspar Põder, commander of the fire battery. “The procedural matters were quite clear to the soldiers before the shots. But the shooting add a new dimension to the knowledge that comes from adding ammunition. In other words, all the nuances that arise when firing a weapon and that a soldier can only experience during firing – the machine moves a little out of place, rolls back, system warnings that come when the team forgets to make a certain movement.”
During the first shootings, the teams’ activities are controlled by active-duty military instructors, but after a while, the conscripts acting as a team must demonstrate their professionalism and skill by acting independently. According to Private Jass Kiisler, commander of the self-propelled artillery K9 team, the soldiers were ready for shooting: “I was satisfied with the teamwork – we had studied and drilled this thing hard, everyone fulfilled their role very well, and I can only praise them. The machine still needs learning and practice, but I believe that we will feel much more confident in the next shoots.”
While the conscripts were preceded by a three-month mobile artillery basic course with specialised courses, the reservists who participated in the shooting were able to improve their skills during the rapid retraining that took place in December of last year.
“I was in military service in 2010, at that time I was a calculator. During the shootings here, I could fulfil the role of both the aimer and the assistant aimer. It was a very proud feeling both when the battalion called and asked if I would be willing to receive training in a new weapon system and continue active reserve service, and today, when we were able to show a good result as a team again,” said Private Raiko Kaasik.
“Integrating reservists into shooting will be one of the most important goals in the future as well. To keep them informed about the developments of the unit, to develop their skills and so that the men who will go out together if necessary get to know each other,” said Major Põder.
K9 Kõu self-propelled guns have high penetration, on tracks, good armour protection and high firepower. The life of the weapon systems is 45 years, which means that the Estonian artillery can use these weapon systems for at least another 30 years. Since the mobile artillery is armoured and self-propelled, it increases the protection of the artillery crew and allows faster manoeuvring, which increases the resistance to destruction and firepower. The weapon system is simple and reliable, suitable for use by both conscripts and reservists. (Source: www.joint-forcescom)
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