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08 Dec 16. Robotic targets make debut. Australia’s Marathon Targets revealed new versions of its autonomous robotic targetry at the 2016 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) exhibition in Orlando, Florida, in December. The T30 robot joins the existing T40. It maintains the same fundamental design of a 3-D mannequin mounted on a four-wheel platform, but is slightly smaller and has a smaller engine and is therefore cheaper. The platform is armoured, which enables it to better withstand automatic fire, but it retains all the autonomous features of the T40, including the ability to avoid obstacles, react to fire, move at varying speeds, and replicate fire and manoeuvre. Marathon has also developed the T4 target mechanism, which can be mounted on T30 and T40 platforms. This includes a ‘peeking’ movement as well as the conventional ‘pop-up’, which provides a more realistic replication of an individual peering from behind cover and then withdrawing. Ralph Petroff, Marathon’s president in North America, told IHS Jane’s that Marathon Targets were now in use with all the combat brigades in the Australian Army as well as at the School of Infantry and in recruit training. They are also used by the US Marine Corps, the US Air Force Special Operations Command at Melrose Air Force Base, in various unspecified NATO countries, and in the United Arab Emirates. He said that Marathon now had target systems that were in demand for “training as a service” – for example by the US Army Reserve – available “on three continents”. This was a better model for many customers, he observed, because budgets for training provision were often more flexible than those for capital investment in range facilities. Pratt & Miller showcased its prototype Trackless Moving Target, a four-wheeled intelligent reactive target platform. This is driven by an electric motor, has a top speed of 35 mph, and follows a pre-defined GPS-based path. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
07 Dec 16. India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has ordered 36 homemade Pinaka Mark-1 multi-barrel rocket launchers (MBRL) at a cost of $490m, despite complaints of problems related to its ammunition. Pinaka-1 was developed by state-run Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO). The additional order of two regiments (one regiment equals 18 launchers) was given last week to four different prime contractors: state-owned organizations Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) and Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), as well as private sector defense companies Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Tata Power SED. Under the contract, BEML will supply a variety of vehicles for the MBRL, while L&T and Tata Power will supply the launcher systems and OFB will supply an unspecified number of rockets.
“Serious shortcomings have been noticed in the Pinaka-1 rockets as in a recent exercise; reports of the rockets exploding midair and at the firing port have been received. This indicates that the explosive used in the rockets may have been defective. This will put a question mark on the further production and induction unless the defects are overcome,” said Rahul Bhonsle, a retired Army official and defense analyst.
An MoD official said the Army is satisfied with the Pinaka-1 but “that is not to say that the system is perfect, it is on the path of evolving to a better system, and for the moment, the present versions are acceptable. Room for improvement, however, exists.”
An Indian Army official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there are technical faults with the two Pinaka-1 regiments currently in operation, but would not go into detail or identify specific faults. According to the official, the rocket ammunition is “not dependable in range and consistency.”
“The production of Pinaka-1 rockets is on hold after some quality-related is