24 May 22. US MDA plans to turn on Polish Aegis Ashore site in June, after years of delay. The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is planning for a 5 June ‘light-off’ to turn on and test its long-delayed Aegis Ashore missile interceptor system in Poland, according to MDA Director Vice Admiral Jon Hill. US Navy sailors are ‘aboard’ the system in Poland and the radar arrays are up, and “full functional checks all through the system” will begin after 5 June, Vice Adm Hill said on 23 May at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Those checks and a series of certifications are to ultimately lead to official acceptance via the US chief of naval operations, US European Command, and NATO, so the timeline for the Aegis Ashore’s actual operation is unclear, he said. (Source: Janes)
24 May 22. Type 45 Ballistic Missile Defence upgrade to support more than 100 UK jobs. The UK will become the first European nation to operate a Maritime Ballistic Missile Defence capability that can detect and destroy Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles
- Type 45 Destroyers to receive significant upgrade as the UK to become the first European nation to operate a Maritime Ballistic Missile Defence detect and destroy capability.
- UK have joined tri-national ASTER Block 1 missile programme with France and Italy.
- Full upgrade programme worth more than £300m, supporting more than 100 jobs, including highly skilled roles in Stevenage, Cowes, Bristol and Bolton.
The UK is set to become the first European nation to operate a Maritime Ballistic Missile Defence capability that can detect and destroy Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles as it commits to a significant upgrade of Britain’s fleet of Type 45 destroyers.
The upgraded defence system, using the ASTER 30 Block 1 missile previously used only in French and Italian land systems, will help UK forces combat the increasing threats posed by anti-ship ballistic missiles at sea by developing the missile into a maritime variant.
The Ministry of Defence has placed an initial contract for this work with MBDA which, when delivered, will be worth more than £300 m and support more than 100 jobs across the UK – including highly skilled technology roles in areas such as system design and software engineering in Stevenage, Cowes, Bristol and Bolton.
Defence Procurement Minister, Jeremy Quin said: “As we face global uncertainty, alliances and greater defensive capability are more important than ever. Joining our French and Italian counterparts will see us collectively improve the cutting-edge technology our armed forces possess. It is another example of us delivering on the commitments from the Defence Command Paper, helping protect our service personnel when faced with the most severe threats.”
Upgrading the defensive capability of the Type 45 fleet was committed to in the Defence Command Paper, as part of the Integrated Review last year. Being able to defend against anti-ship ballistic missiles will add to the current capability of the Destroyers to defeat threats from the air.
The signing of the tri-national agreement is the first formal step in the upgrade of the six vessels, which will include converting existing missiles to the ASTER 30 Block 1 standard, as well as updates to the SAMPSON multi-function radar (MFR) and Sea Viper command and control missile system, under the full Sea Viper Evolution programme.
Sea Viper’s upgrade will boost the lethality of the Type 45 vessels, helping to ensure the Royal Navy remains poised to defend the surface fleet and the Maritime Strike Group against complex air threats both now and into the future.
DE&S CEO Sir Simon Bollom, said: “This demonstrates the UK commitment to delivering a cutting-edge maritime Air Defence Capability. Sea Viper Evolution will deliver a significant uplift in capability and brings to a close many years of detailed planning and activity by the Maritime Air and Weapons team in DE&S.”
The Sea Viper Evolution programme follows the recent contract awards to introduce the Common Anti Air Modular Missile (CAMM) into the Type 45, which will see the missile outload of the platform increased from 48 to 72 missiles.
The Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers are among the most advanced in the fleet and carry out a range of activity, including defence from air attack, counter-piracy operations and providing humanitarian aid.
23 May 22. Brazilian XMobots teams up with MBDA to build armed UAV. Brazilian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) specialist XMobots Aeroespacial e Defesa and Europe’s MBDA announced on 17 May that they are teaming up to develop a Brazilian-made weaponised UAV.
According to XMobots, the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in March to integrate the MBDA Enforcer Air, a precision-guided missile capability, with the XMobots Nauru 1000C UAV.
The Nauru 1000C is a fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) all-weather multimission UAV, powered by a hybrid propulsion system consisting of a Zanzottera Technologies 305HS 29 hp combustion engine and eight T-Motor 11.5 hp brushless electric motors.
The UAV has a 7.7 m wingspan, length of 2.9 m, height of 0.98 m, maximum payload weight of 18 kg, maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 150 kg, 10 hours of flight, cruise speed of 60 kt, service ceiling of 10,000 ft, and maximum range of 60 km, according to XMobots. (Source: Janes)
23 May 22. US Army terminates Strategic Long-Range Cannon science and technology effort. The U.S. Army has decided to cancel the science and technology research effort for a potential program to develop a strategic long-range cannon, the service confirmed.
Long-Range Precision Fires is a top priority for the Army when it comes to developing a modernized force capable of facing off against near-peer adversaries like China. The Strategic Long-Range Cannon, or SLRC, could provide a way to achieve artillery ranges of 1,000 nautical miles.
Congress directed the Army to stop funding the long-range cannon in its fiscal 2022 appropriations act, and “based on that direction, the Secretary of the Army decided to terminate the [SLRC] project this year,” Ellen Lovett, Army spokesperson said in a May 20 statement to Defense News.
The decision also “eliminates potential redundancy, and ensures we effectively use tax dollars to achieve modernization objectives,” she wrote. “Pursuing the effort could cost bns of dollars even if the science and technology effort succeeded because the Army would have to enter into a development program, procure the system, and create entirely new units to operate it.”
The Army still has four other long-range fires programs set to reach operational Army units in 2023: Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA), the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW), the Mid-Range anti-ship Missile (MRC) and the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM).
“Any unused funds originally allocated to LRC will be reapplied against other S&T projects in accordance with the direction of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisitions, Logistics and Technology,” Lovett stated.
During a House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee hearing last week, Army acquisition chief Doug Bush told lawmakers the decision to cancel the S&T effort for the SLRC was to avoid “redundancy” and “potential cost implications.”
While full cost estimates are not normally made for programs in the S&T phase, Bush said “we did feel we had sufficient information based on similar programs that are in development and to understand the rough scope of such an effort, and the secretary believes that was enough information to support her decision.”
Some work on the SLRC S&T effort was ongoing, but the Army had mostly taken a pause as it waited for a National Academy of Sciences report on the cannon’s technical feasibility, Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, who oversees the service’s long-range precision fires development, told Defense News in March 2021.
The independent study, congressionally mandated in FY20, was expected to be released last year, but has yet to be made public. Beginning in September 2020, the committee at the National Academy of Sciences held five meetings, the last of which took place in January 2021, according to its website.
According to FY21 budget justification documents, the Army had planned to spend roughly $70 m in FY22 on advanced development on the program, but subsequent documents from FY22 and FY23 showed no plan to continue funding the effort beyond FY21.
The Army spent $62 m in FY21 to assess various aspects of the technology needed for the long-range cannon. (Source: Defense News)
20 May 22. USAF to name newest hypersonic weapon maker by September. The Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile program, although nascent, is “going pretty well,” program executive Brig. Gen. Heath Collins told Breaking Defense in an exclusive interview.
The Air Force is gearing up to choose a company to develop and build a hypersonic cruise missile by the end of September, the service’s program executive for weapons told Breaking Defense in an exclusive interview.
Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Boeing are expected to complete preliminary designs for the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM) this fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30. That will give the Air Force enough information to decide which of the top missile manufacturers will move on to the next phase of the program, said Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, program executive officer for weapons.
“Later this summer or later fall, given all this data coming together, will be when we would be looking to make a decision,” he told Breaking Defense.
Because the Air Force is currently in “source selection” for HACM — a sensitive stage in the acquisition process where it is analyzing proposals from bidders — Collins couldn’t say much about the companies’ offerings. However, he said that the systems requirements review for the program completed on schedule last year and that the development effort, although nascent, was “going pretty well.”
Despite its senior leader’s public hesitancy regarding hypersonic strategy, the Air Force’s confidence in hypersonic cruise missile technology appears to be growing. The service requested $316.8 m in its fiscal 2023 budget submission — an increase of almost $257 m over its funding for FY22.
According to the budget, the HACM vendor will progress to the critical design review stage in FY23, where it will continue “the assembly, integration and test of subsystems for qualification testing, as well as prototype systems for system qualification, ground test and flight testing.”
Unlike the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) — a boost-glide hypersonic missile that is further along in development — HACM will use air-breathing propulsion such as a scramjet to reach five times the speed of sound. Hypersonic cruise missiles like HACM are expected to be smaller and less expensive than boost-glide variants, allowing the Air Force to fit more missiles onto a wider variety of aircraft.
In April, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown told lawmakers that the latest Boeing F-15EX model would carry HACM, while the budget states that integration of the weapon will first be done on the F-15E Strike Eagle to enable HACM to move quickly to flight tests.
ARRW Flies Forward Into Cloudy Skies
For the Lockheed Martin-made ARRW, which logged its first successful booster test earlier this week after three failed tests last year, its ultimate future is still uncertain.
Aussie election: Labor win not likely to mean big defense changes
During the May 14 test, the ARRW missile met all its primary and secondary objectives, which were focused on the performance of the booster and the missile’s separation from the B-52 that launched it, Collins said.
“All of that looks to have worked,” he said. “Of course, now the data crunching has to go on. The team is still very much taking a look into the inner workings of the details, but the flight path [and] everything looks good.”
If all goes well during a second booster flight test this summer, ARRW will progress into all-up round testing, where the missile will be tested in its final, fully-assembled form. A first all-up round launch is scheduled to occur by the end of 2022, Collins said.
While the Air Force plans to do four all-up round tests during the course of fiscal year 2023, it will technically have the data it needs to make a production decision by the end of December, after the first all-up round test and the completion of a Production Readiness Review that ensures that Lockheed and its suppliers are ready to manufacture the new weapon.
However, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has voiced concerns about the Defense Department’s approach to hypersonic weapons, stating that the Air Force should be careful not to replicate expensive capabilities that China and Russia have that may only marginally push forward the service’s advantage.
Even if ARRW moves through its next two test launches smoothly, Kendall could choose to wait until all flight tests are complete before committing to making ARRW a program of record.
And even if ARRW is successful in all future testing, Kendall could still opt to cancel the program if it doesn’t match the service’s requirements or budget, Collins acknowledged.
“He wants us to execute and buy down the risk and show that we we’ve demonstrated capability. [But] a lot of the questions he’s been asking in public and within the Air Force is, what are the unique target sets that ARRW holds down and is it worth the cost of the rounds?” he said. “He’s asking for the business case.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
23 May 22. Production of the Marine Air Defense Integrated System (MADIS) Remote Weapon Station (RWS) has successfully moved from Kongsberg, Norway to Kongsberg Protech Systems USA in Johnstown, Penn. with the inaugural system completing assembly and testing in March. Additional systems are also being built for MADIS as part of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Ground Based Air Defense (GBAD) modernization effort.
“Kongsberg’s Johnstown facility consistently yields remote weapon station manufacturing excellence, having produced more than 20,000 systems over the last 15 years. Our highly trained and skilled staff partnered with engineers and staff from Norway to successfully transition the production of all MADIS RWS to the Pennsylvania facility as part of our schedule and contract with the U.S. Marine Corps,” said Jason Toepfer, project manager, MADIS RWS, Kongsberg Protech Systems. “The successful build of this inaugural system exemplifies our rigorous processes, joining the 5 prototype and test assets we’ve produced for the Marine Corps in Norway. This also kicks off MADIS RWS production here in the U.S., a move that allows us to better support this customer and deliver this critical lethality enhancement.”
The KONGSBERG RS6 RWS for MADIS RWS includes the XM914E1 30mmx113mm percussion-primed cannon with a co-axial M240C (7.62mm) machine gun, an integration kit for the STINGER Air-To-Air Launcher (ATAL) and provisions for future C-UAS defeat systems. MADIS is part of the U.S. Marine Corps’ plan to upgrade their two active Low Altitude Air Defense (LAAD) battalions. The first 30mm remote weapon system to be qualified on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle platform (JLTV), MADIS RWS mounts on JLTVs and fights as a complimentary pair, designated as Mk1 and Mk2. The MADIS Mk1 features STINGER missiles, and neutralizes fixed and rotary-wing aircraft. Mk2 fulfills the Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System (C-UAS) mission requirement, while also providing radar and command-and-control for the pair.
The U.S. Marine Corps awarded Kongsberg the indefinite delivery / indefinite quantity other transaction authority (OTA) production contract in Sept. 2021. It has a ceiling of $94 m and includes a series of Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) systems, full-rate production units, spares and training. This production contract award followed a Sept. 2020 OTA contract award from the USMC to KONGSBERG for test articles and activities, which included Design Verification Testing (DVT), after a competitive process.
The KONGSBERG RS6 RWS for MADIS leverages technology and competence drawn from multiple counter-unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS) and air defense programs. The system leverages commonality with the family of PROTECTOR RWS delivered and fielded with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps.
23 May 22. Northrop Grumman Test Fires Hatchet from TUAS. Northrop Grumman has declared the development of its Hatchet miniature precision strike munition ‘finalised’ following a series of end-to-end live all-up round (AUR) tests at an undisclosed US government test range on 11 May.
During the US Department of Defense (DoD)-sponsored live-fire event, multiple Hatchet AURs were released from an undisclosed Group 3 tactical unmanned aircraft system (TUAS) against a static target, simulated by an ISO container. The tests involved both point-detonated engagements and proximity initiations.
“These were the first Hatchet release demonstrations using a live warhead,” a Northrop Grumman spokesperson told Janes. “The purpose of the tests was to evaluate the capability of live AURs delivered from a tactical platform. The multiple drops proved 100% reliable for the warhead function, with an ISO container ‘target’ utilised to enable our engineers to evaluate the pattern of fragmentation from a live release. Hatchet is designed for precision strike engagements of two metres or less, and this was also verified in each of the releases.” (Source: UAS VISION/Janes)
20 May 22. USSOCOM progresses Maritime Precision Engagement-Munition programme. US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is preparing to conduct development tests with the Altius 700 airframe as part of the Maritime Precision Engagement-Munition (MPE-M) programme, officials have confirmed.
Addressing delegates at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) on 17 May, representatives from the Program Executive Office (PEO) of Special Operations Forces (SOF) Warrior said the Area-I Altius 700 – a new 30 lb kinetic payload solution – would support Block 1 of the MPE-M programme.
The news follows the completion of software and integration risk reduction activities for the Altius 600 payload for MPE-M.
Block 1 of the MPE-M programme includes integrating a .50 cal remote weapon station. However, AeroVironment is also supporting MPE-M test and evaluation with a variant of its Switchblade 600 loitering missile system, following a USD26 m contract awarded in April 2021.
AeroVironment’s vice-president for tactical missile systems, Brett Hush, told Janes. (Source: Janes)