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28 May 20. Taiwan eyes further U.S. arms purchases with new anti-ship missile. Taiwan plans to buy land-based Boeing-made Harpoon anti-ship missiles as part of its military modernisation efforts, its defence ministry said on Thursday, the latest purchase from the United States to deal with a rising threat from China.
The United States, like most countries, has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but is bound by law to provide the democratic island with the means to defend itself.
China, which claims the democratically-ruled island as its own territory, routinely denounces U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
Answering questions in parliament, Deputy Defence Minister Chang Che-ping confirmed that Taiwan was planning to buy Harpoon missiles from the United States to serve as a coastal defence cruise missile.
If the United States agrees to sell the Harpoons, Taiwan should receive them in 2023, Chang added.
Taiwan has been bolstering its defences in the face of what it sees as increasingly threatening moves by Beijing, such as regular Chinese air force and naval exercises near Taiwan.
While Taiwan’s military is well-trained and well-equipped with mostly U.S.-made hardware, China has huge numerical superiority and is adding advanced equipment of its own such as stealth fighters.
The U.S government last week notified Congress of a possible sale of advanced torpedoes to Taiwan worth around $180m, further souring already tense ties between Washington and Beijing.
China has denounced the Trump administration’s increased support for Taiwan. Beijing believes Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is a separatist bent on declaring the island’s formal independence.
Tsai said Taiwan is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its official name. (Source: Reuters)
28 May 20. US Air Force looks to up-gun its airlift planes. Humble airlift planes like the C-130J Super Hercules and C-17 Globemaster III could become heavily-armed weapons trucks capable of airdropping large bundles of munitions that deliver a massive blast.
So far, the Air Force has conducted two successful tests of “palletized munitions” from the C-130 and C-17, said Maj. Gen. Clint Hinote, the deputy director of the service’s Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability cell.
“We are in discussions right now about how do we proceed to prototyping and fielding,” he said during a May 27 event held by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
Like the name suggests, palletized munitions are a collection of weapons strapped together onto a smart pallet, which would feed the munitions tracking and targeting information as they are dropped from an airlift platform. A request for information released in February characterized the technology as “a bomb bay in a box” that could allow mobility aircraft to stay out of a threat zone and launch a mass of standoff weapons.
“It’s all about capacity,” Hinote explained. “You’ve got to create enough capacity so that a long-range punch is really a punch. What we see is that no matter how big our bomber force is, the capacity that the joint force needs is always more and more. And so this is why we think that there is a real possibility here for using cargo platforms to be able to increase the capacity of fires.”
Air Force Special Operations Command conducted one demonstration of the technology on Jan. 28, when a MC-130J performed three airdrops of simulated palletized munitions at at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.
“In this case, munitions stacked upon wooden pallets, or Combat Expendable Platforms (CEPs), deployed via a roller system,” the Air Force Research Laboratory said in a May 27 release. “AFSOC aircrew released five CEPs rigged with six simulated munitions, the same mass as the actual weapons, including four Cargo Launch Expendable Air Vehicles with Extended Range (CLEAVERs) across a spectrum of low and high altitude airdrops.”
In response to questions from Defense News, AFRL clarified that simulated long-range cruise missiles were deployed from an off-the-shelf pallet system as well as an Air Force designed crate system. CLEAVER is a new weapon under development by the lab as part of a separate effort, though it may be used in palletized munitions in the future.
On Feb. 27, Air Mobility Command conducted a similar demonstration with a C-17, which conducted two airdrops of simulated palletized munitions, AFRL said.
In future demonstrations, AFSOC plans to release more advanced forms of simulated munitions as well as full-up weapons vehicles that can be configured with a warhead and terminal guidance system.
However, the Air Force is looking for other technological options. Through its request for information, which closed in April, the service sought data about new or existing palletized munitions concepts. The service hopes to use that information to inform future experimentation efforts, operational assessments or the acquisition palletized munitions systems.
Five companies responded to the RFI, AFRL said.
If the effort moves forward, one big question will be figuring out which entities in the Air Force have command over a mobility asset that is playing a combat role more similar to a fighter jet or bomber.
“Some kind of extremely streamlined command and control is going to be necessary, or else you must have an integrator somewhere,” said Hinote, who added that cultural barriers inside the Air Force could be harder to overcome than the technological challenges of creating palletized munitions.
Hinote also acknowledged that it currently may be hard to find the funding to move forward with a new program.
“We’re in the last year of an administration. We’ve had to turn in the budget early with not too many changes, and we’re looking at the possibility of a continuing resolution where new starts are going to be difficult to do,” he said. (Source: Defense News)
28 May 20. IM-SHORAD delayed by pandemic, but first unit equip date remains in place. The U.S. Army’s newest short-range air defense system is one of several projects that are facing delays due to COVID-19, but top officials insist that all major acquisition programs remain on track for their planned delivery dates to the field.
For programs in the two largest categories of acquisition programs, “we remain on track for first unit equipped for all the programs,” Bruce Jette, the Army acquisition head, said Wednesday.
However, “that doesn’t mean that some of the programs aren’t having adjustments to delivery schedules or adjustments to milestone. We’re making adjustments as necessary, and then working with the companies to try and catch up.”
One of the programs to fall behind is the Interim Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (IM-SHORAD) system, which had been scheduled to wrap up developmental testing by June. Last week, Janes reported that there were software issues with integrating the weapons package onto the Stryker combat vehicle-based system used for the IM-SHORAD design. The Army plans to procure 144 of the systems, which would be deployed in Europe.
“I think we flipped a few months to the right, based upon some software issues,” said Gen. Mike Murray, the head of Army Futures Command. “And matter of fact, I was just talking to the CEO today on the software issues, and we’re jumping on that and they got an update yesterday and we’re making great progress, but we did slide that a little bit to the right.”
In addition to the software challenge, Murray said the need for COVID-19 safety measures was causing a delay in testing, as well.
“When you’re working tests like that, the run up like that for the test, it’s almost impossible to maintain the 6 feet of social distancing. So it was getting the right [personal protective equipment] in place, and then the software issues we had,” Murray said.
The general declined to say which CEO he had discussions with on the program. General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) is the lead integrator for the program, with a mission equipment package designed by Leonardo DRS. That mission equipment package includes Raytheon’s Stinger vehicle missile launcher. The two officials appeared on a call hosted by the Defense Writers’ Group.
Jette said there is only one program that has had to make a “significant” change to its schedule, but described that program as an ACAT 3 level effort — the smallest acquisition category — with the delay a direct result of the small size of the company.
“The greatest sensitivities tend to be down in those programs which have connectivity to small companies, as their major source of technology, delivery services, etc. Because if one person gets sick in the company, you often end up with the entire company being in quarantine for 14 days. And then if they do it again, it gets worse,” Jette said.
“So with only one program having a major slip, and that being a small one, I think that’s a pretty good success and tells you a little bit about how hard industry is working to try and stay on track,” he added. (Source: Defense News)
28 May 20. Leonardo DRS Receives Contract to Digitize Army Howitzer Fire Control Systems. Leonardo DRS, Inc. announced today that it has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Army Contracting Command to provide mission-critical computing systems for the M777A2 Lightweight 155MM Towed Howitzer.
The indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract is worth up to $21,470,307 and was awarded on February 19, 2020 with the first delivery order worth $6,319,922.
Under the contract, Leonardo DRS will provide Chief of Section Displays and Mission Systems Computers. These computers host U.S. Government Digital Fire Control Software (DFCS) as well as provide the user-machine-interface for the platform. The DFCS controls a fully integrated digital onboard fire control system for the M777A2 that provides significant improvements to system accuracy, lethality, response time, and survivability.
The Mission Systems Computer is the centralized computing and integration hub that interfaces with onboard sensors and other Line Replaceable Units (LRUs). The MSC utilizes platform sensors, LRUs and user input in conjunction with integrated fire control software to automate howitzer operations.
“We are dedicated to continue delivering quality, mission-critical computing systems for platforms such as the M777A2 to ensure our warfighters have the most modern technology for protective fire during combat operations,” said Bill Guyan, senior vice president and general manager of the Leonardo DRS Land Electronics business. “Leonardo DRS has a proven record of producing, delivering and sustaining digital fire control computers for the U.S. Army and we are proud to continue this partnership,” Guyan said.
Work on these systems will be conducted by the Leonardo DRS Land Electronics business unit in Melbourne, Florida.
27 May 20. Live nuclear testing could resume in ‘months’ if needed, official says. A live nuclear test could be arranged within “months” if requested by the president, a top defense department nuclear official said Tuesday, following a report that the Trump administration has discussed the first American nuclear test in decades.
However, Drew Walter, performing the duties of deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear matters, stressed that there “has been no policy change” when it comes to avoiding live nuclear testing.
Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that there have been high-level discussions around the possibility of doing a live nuclear test for the first time since 1992. Since that time, the United States has relied on simulations and non-explosive testing to assess the health and capabilities of the nuclear arsenal; the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semi-independent branch inside the Department of Energy, currently oversees that effort through its Stockpile Stewardship program.
Walter said it was his understanding that “a very quick test with limited diagnostics” could occur “within months” if ordered by the president for technical or geopolitical reasons. “I think it would happen relatively rapidly.”
However, the data gathered from such a test would likely be minimal, given the need to quickly set it up; a fuller test, to gather large amounts of useful data, might be more likely to take years, he said at an event hosted by the Mitchell Institute.
Under presidential guidance going back to 1993, NNSA is required to maintain a capability to conduct a nuclear test within 24 to 36 months, according to an agency document. However, “Nuclear test response time depends on the specific details of the test.”
Walter added that he believes the NNSA has a spot picked out in Nevada where it could do underground testing.
There is no legal block on live testing, as America has not formally ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which fell just short in the Senate in 1999. Like the U.S., China has signed onto the CTBT but not ratified it, and while Russia has, the U.S. has publicly questioned whether Moscow is fulfilling its promise not to do testing. (Public data has not substantiated those claims.)
Walter hinted in that direction Tuesday, saying there is “widespread concern about the major disparity in the way Russia and China appear to interpret and adhere” to the CTBT guidelines. He added that the U.S. “should be mindful of the implications over the long term of what other countries will learn, maybe not today but in the long term, if they conduct” live nuclear tests.
Eric Gomez, director of defense policy studies at the Cato Institute, argued that a U.S. resumption of testing would backfire, with China and Russia freed from pressure to avoid openly testing.
“America’s stockpile stewardship program is much better than Russia’s or China’s — there is more we can figure out about weapons from not testing them compared to our adversaries,” Gomez said. “Therefore, a U.S. test would reveal relatively little unique information to us, while Russian and Chinese tests that would likely follow ours would be very valuable for their own weapon designers.”
Gomez also raised practical questions about testing, noting that the public in Nevada or Utah would likely be unhappy with the prospect of nuclear explosions in their states, no matter how far underground. In addition, testing is expensive — and could splinter the current bipartisan nuclear balance in Congress, he warned. (Source: Defense News)
27 May 20. Watch the Army and Northrop Grumman’s IBCS simultaneously destroy multiple threats in test. It’s a cold December morning at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, and two surrogate cruise missile targets have just been launched, one after the other. They are flying separate courses among the jagged San Andres and Sacramento mountains toward soldiers in a U.S. Army Air and Missile Defense unit at a test site called TAC-2 – Tactical Command Post 2.
These sophisticated targets precisely mimic real cruise missile threats and can take advantage of this terrain to hide from the radars and sensors commanders have positioned in the area. This can create gaps in tracking that make the job of interceptor missiles or other defensive weapons more difficult – you can’t hit what you can’t see.
Today, though, their maneuvers won’t enable them to evade detection. This is Flight Test 5 (FT-5), the most sophisticated and difficult development test yet for the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS), developed by Northrop Grumman.
High above the range, sensors aboard U.S. Air Force F-35 fighter aircraft see and acquire the two surrogate missiles. IBCS integrates the aircraft sensor data with that of available ground sensors, including Sentinel, Patriot weapon system and U.S. Marine Corps TPS-59 radars. All share information via the IBCS Integrated Fire Control Network (IFCN). As one sensor loses sight of the threats – and each will at some point – the targets are acquired by other sensors on the IFCN, enabling IBCS to create a precise, uninterrupted composite track of each missile’s movements.
With data from every sensor, IBCS produces a single integrated air picture on the screens of the air defense soldiers at TAC-2. They see every change in altitude and direction as the two surrogate missiles paint tracks across their screens. Because IBCS enables joint weapons as well as joint sensors, the defenders at the controls can select the best effector to use against these targets. Today, the soldiers are about to launch two Patriot Advanced Capability 2 (PAC-2) interceptor missiles.
“Without IBCS, all those different sensors operate independently, creating opportunities for threats to avoid detection as they fly to a target,” explained Northrop Grumman IBCS Program Director Mark Rist. “Without being integrated onto a network, these sensors produce a more ambiguous, less-clear air picture, making engagements of threat systems more challenging.”
He is monitoring FT-5 from miles away, in the test’s mission control room. The soldiers at TAC-2 can be heard on the radio, calm but urgent voices reporting “target acquired” by airborne sensor, and talking of the “IP” or intercept point, and “kill box.” It’s only been moments since the threats were launched, but now comes “Free to engage … Missile away … Missile away …”
One, then another PAC-2 interceptor missile is launched by the soldiers. IBCS is not only able to launch the missiles, but also plays a critical role in the engagement by actively closing the fire control loop and providing in-flight updates as the PAC-2s converge on their targets. The surrogate cruise missile targets are closing in and can now be seen on video in the control room – and then suddenly they can’t: One, then the other disappears in a ball of fire as the PAC-2s destroy them.
Cheers erupted in the control room, and those of Rist and his team may have been loudest among the many generals, colonels and visiting officials that day at White Sands. After years of effort, working closely and constantly with soldiers, FT-5 fully demonstrated IBCS’s unprecedented capability to integrate sensors and effectors to detect, track and simultaneously engage multiple targets in flight.
“Information is ammunition, and IBCS is providing soldiers with more,” Rist said. “We brought a lot of things together in this development test. It was the first including joint operations with the Air Force F-35 and Marine Corps radar systems, the first with Air Defense Artillery soldiers at the controls, and the first involving software developed using our Agile methodology.”
FT-5 was the latest in a series of test successes, and further evidence of the program’s maturity as soldiers train on IBCS equipment in preparation for an important Limited User Test (LUT) this spring.
“I’m very proud of these soldiers and of the system’s performance,” said Colonel Phil Rottenborn, Army IAMD project manager. “This was the first time soldiers conducted a live engagement using IBCS in a developmental test, and they showed we are ready to go into the operational test phase.”
“Success!” said Col. Tony Behrens, Army Capability Manager for the Air and Missile Defense (AMD) Command, and a nearly 26-year career Air Defense Artillery (ADA) officer. “It showed me that an Army operator – not an engineer or software developer – can sit at that console and do his or her job. I am very comfortable and confident about the path we’re on.”
IBCS enables soldiers to be even more effective by integrating all the systems’ data and providing a common command-and-control (C2). Soldiers will only need to learn to use the IBCS C2, instead of spending time becoming specialists on only one or two of a dozen different sensor and weapon systems. That enhances IBCS’s already impressive battlefield survivability, because soldiers will be capable of using any of the available sensors with any available weapon systems at any command post connected to the self-connecting, self-healing IFCN.
Also, less time will be spent in recurrent training, making more time available for teaching operators defense strategy and how to fight. The IBCS “every sensor; best effector” concept gives commanders greater flexibility in defense design, allowing them to position resources for greatest coverage in far less time essentially helping to change the way soldiers see and fight air battle.
Northrop Grumman’s open-architecture system-of-systems approach to IBCS eases the integration of any new or legacy sensor and effector systems, which is important for U.S. joint operations and to foreign governments. Poland has an agreement with the U.S. Army to purchase IBCS for modernization of the nation’s WISLA medium-range air defense system, and other countries have expressed interest as well.
With the success of FT-5, Northrop Grumman will now focus on the Army’s Limited User Test planned for later this year, followed by the low-rate initial production and full-rate production phases of the system, to field IBCS to Army air defenders in fiscal year 2021.
Behrens said the Army must have the IBCS capabilities to be effective and successful in future combat operations. “To me, it’s beyond critical,” he said. “We’re not just giving soldiers a new piece of equipment, a new piece of gear. We’re going to give them an entirely new way of operating on the battlefield that is so much more efficient. But it has to start with the system that enables you to do that.”
IBCS may also be the Army’s first big step toward multi-domain convergence – the next level above integration.
“Enabling multi-domain – or more accurately, all-domain – operations is vital to ensuring battlefield advantage and superiority,” said Brig. Gen. Brian Gibson, director of the Army’s AMD Cross-Functional Team, at an Association of the U.S. Army event in early March. “When successfully fielded, IBCS will be one of the Army’s pathfinder capabilities into what is becoming a top priority for our military leaders: joint, all-domain command and control.”
26 May 20. Kongsberg Awarded Contract to Provide Remote Weapon Stations to the Canadian Army Worth 500 MNOK. Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace has signed a contract with General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada for delivery of the Protector Remote Weapon Stations (RWS) to the Canadian Army valued 500 MNOK. The PROTECTOR RWS will be integrated on Canada’s fleet of Armored Combat Support Vehicles. Canada signed their first Protector RWS contract in 2005 followed by additional contracts in 2012 and 2014.
“We are very pleased to be chosen again as the supplier of Remote Weapon Stations to the Canadian Army. This confirms the strong position of Kongsberg’s Protector RWS, and continues the close relationship between Kongsberg and the Canadian Army and General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada,” says Pål E. Bratlie, executive vice president, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace AS.
“In the midst of the most uncertain and difficult economic times in our lifetime, we are very pleased to win this order in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our business base is long-term and solid, with an order backlog that provides a strong foundation for continued operations into the future,” says Eirik Lie, President Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace AS.
Kongsberg has, for more than two decades, been the leading global supplier of Remote Weapon Stations. Leveraging millions of hours of operational use in all conditions, based on 20,000 delivered systems for 23 countries. The Protector RWS has continuously evolved to meet increasingly demanding requirements, utilizing technological advancements in order to meet new threat scenarios.
The Canadian Army will receive the latest generation Protector RWS, a Remote Weapon Station prepared for wireless control, counter UAS capability, multi-sensor fusion, as well as other new functions required by the expanding user community. The systems for Canada will be produced in parallel with five other programs, creating synergies in supply base and project execution for the benefit of the customers.
KONGSBERG (OSE-ticker: KOG) is an international, knowledge-based group that supplies high-tech systems and solutions to customers in the merchant navy and oil & gas, defence and aerospace industries. KONGSBERG has almost 11,000 employees in 40 countries.
25 Ma 20. USS Portland Conducts Laser Weapon System Test. USS Portland (LPD 27) conducts a Solid State Laser – Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) test in the Pacific, May 16.
Amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27) successfully disabled an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a Solid State Laser – Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) MK 2 MOD 0 on May 16.
LWSD is a high-energy laser weapon system demonstrator developed by the Office of Naval Research and installed on Portland for an at-sea demonstration. LWSD’s operational employment on a Pacific Fleet ship is the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser. The laser system was developed by Northrop Grumman, with full System and Ship Integration and Testing led by NSWC Dahlgren and Port Hueneme.
“By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator against potential threats,” said Capt. Karrey Sanders, commanding officer of Portland.
The U.S. Navy has been developing directed-energy weapons (DEWs), to include lasers, since the 1960s. DEWs are defined as electromagnetic systems capable of converting chemical or electrical energy to radiated energy and focusing it on a target, resulting in physical damage that degrades, neutralizes, defeats, or destroys an adversarial capability.
Navy ships face an increasing number of threats in conducting their missions, including UAVs, armed small boats, and adversary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems. The Navy’s development of DEWs like the LWSD, provide immediate warfighter benefits and provide the commander increased decision space and response options.
“The Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator is a unique capability the Portland gets to test and operate for the Navy, while paving the way for future weapons systems,“ said Sanders. “With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy.”
Portland is the 11th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship. While it is the third ship to bear the name ‘USS Portland,’ it is the first ship to be named solely after the largest city in Oregon.
The test of the Northrup Grumman-developed weapon comes three months after a Chinese destroyer shot a weapons-grade laser at a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft in a recent move that U.S. Pacific Fleet dubbed “unsafe and unprofessional.”
The incident happened on Feb. 17 in the Philippine Sea about 380 miles west of Guam while the Poseidon crew was “operating in international airspace in accordance with international rules and regulations,” a Navy statement said.
A sensor on the Poseidon detected the laser, which was invisible to the naked eye, according to the statement. (Source: UAS VISION/Stars & Stripes)
22 May 20. Royal Navy Helicopter unleashes new missile to protect carriers. Royal Navy helicopter crews have proved their ability to protect the UK’s aircraft carriers with a new missile system.
As sailors and marines support the current national fight against COVID-19, the Yeovilton-based Wildcat Maritime Force is focused on ensuring the UK is prepared for future global threats.
Blasting from a Wildcat helicopter, the new Martlet missile was this week tested on a range off the coast of Wales.
In 0.3 seconds, the missile detached from the Wildcat HMA Mk2 helicopter, accelerating to one and a half times the speed of sound.
The trials mark an important milestone in the testing of the new system which will arm the Wildcat helicopters that deploy as part of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s maiden operational deployment next year.
Commander Matt Boulind Royal Navy, the Wildcat Maritime Force Commander, said: “This test firing shows the Wildcat helicopter will be ready to help defend our Queen Elizabeth-class carriers and their strike groups for years to come.
“The Royal Navy and Army introduced Wildcat helicopters into service five years ago and the firing of the Martlet this week is a very significant milestone and represents a huge success for the joint industry and MoD team.
“This firing underpins future Royal Navy offensive capability and the defence of the surface fleet.”
Managed by the Lightweight and Medium Attack Systems and Wildcat delivery teams at DE&S, and manufactured by Thales, the laser-sensor missile can be used against stationary and moving targets.
Captain Mark Langrill, DE&S Wildcat Delivery Team Leader, said it was important these trials went ahead.
“These firings mark a vital step forward in the integration of the uniquely flexible Martlet missile into what is already an outstanding helicopter to provide the Royal Navy with a world-class capability,” he added.
“I am grateful to all those, across industry and the Ministry of Defence, who have worked so hard to achieve this milestone.”
The preparation for the firing was conducted in line with current government social distancing rules due to the coronavirus, adding an unexpected hurdle for the teams involved to overcome.
Martlet, also known as the Lightweight Multirole Missile, has already been successfully launched off frigate HMS Sutherland so the latest firing was to test it in its primary role.
The firing was captured with high resolution cameras so the teams from both Thales and the Wildcat lead Leonardo Helicopters can analyse the system in minute detail.
Philip McBride, general manager of Integrated Airspace-protection Systems as Thales UK, said: “Martlet will ensure the Wildcat has the best-in-class offensive capability to protect the carrier strike group. With each helicopter capable of carrying up to 20 missiles, the Wildcats deployed will be a significant deterrent to anyone wishing to interfere with UK interests.”
Nick Whitney, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters, added: “This major milestone demonstrates that the combination of the AW159 Wildcat and Martlet missile will be a flexible and effective tool for the Royal Navy. Next year the Wildcat fleet will embark on Carrier Strike Group missions with HMS Queen Elizabeth on its maiden operational deployment. As the only British company to design and manufacture helicopters on-shore, we’re extremely proud to be equipping the UK Armed Forces with world-beating sovereign capabilities.’”
The Royal Navy is transforming into a force centred around carrier strike – supporting the ships as they conduct carrier strike missions, enforce no-fly zones, deploy Royal Marine Commandos, deliver humanitarian aid, and build international partnerships with our allies. (Source: Royal Navy)
22 May 20. US Warship Fries Drone With Powerful New Laser. In a first, the USS Portland took down a target drone with a new solid state laser this week, the first step in the Navy’s quest to get the powerful weapon on more ships in the future. The shot from the San Antonio-class landing platform ship tested out what’s known as the Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator, or LWSD, which has been aboard the ship for several months. The May 16 test, announced by the Pacific Fleet today, is the first public acknowledgement of the system being put to use.
The Northrop Grumman-made LWSD is a high-energy laser weapon initially developed by the Office of Naval Research, and its operational employment marks “the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser,” according to a Pacific Fleet release.
The test comes as the US, in bits and pieces, ramps up operations in the Pacific as a counterweight to China — moves which include new, ambitious B-1 bomber flights close to Russian and Chinese territory.
Just this week, the USS Ronald Reagan and Theodore Roosevelt carriers went back to sea from bases in Japan and Guam, respectively, while the USS Nimitz is getting its air wing up to speed off the coast of Washington state.
And earlier this month, two Navy ships sailed into the middle of an ongoing dispute between China and a neighbor in the South China Sea — steaming near a shadowing Chinese warship in Washington’s latest effort to show presence in an increasingly contested waterway.
The Littoral Combat Ship USS Montgomery and supply ship USNS Cesar Chavez sailed close to a Malaysian drillship, the West Capella, warning off Chinese warships who spent weeks harassing the commercial vessel in international waters illegally claimed by Beijing. Since the passthrough, both the Chinese and Malasyian ships have moved away from one another.
Late last month, the destroyer USS Barry cruised near the Paracel Islands, claimed by China, followed a day later by the cruiser USS Bunker Hill sailing near the Spratlys conducting freedom-of-navigation operations.
On April 30, a day after Bunker Hill’s transit, two B-1 bombers flew over the South China Sea.
These transits came just days after the USS America amphibious ship packed with Marine Corps F-35s passed through the South China Sea while conducting flight operations.
The laser test was much quieter, but no less significant in the long run.
“By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator against potential threats,” said Capt. Karrey Sanders, commanding officer of Portland.
The LWSD is thought to pack about 150kw worth of power, a step up from the smaller, 50kw laser that was tested on the USS Ponce starting in 2014. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
Arnold Defense has manufactured more than 1.25 million 2.75-inch rocket launchers since 1961 for the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and many NATO customers. They are the world’s largest supplier of rocket launchers for military aircraft, vessels and vehicles. Core products include the 7-round M260 and 19-round M261 commonly used by helicopters; the thermal coated 7-round LAU-68 variants and LAU-61 Digital Rocket Launcher used by the U.S. Navy and Marines; and the 7-round LAU-131 and SUU-25 flare dispenser used by the U.S. Air Force and worldwide.
Today’s rocket launchers now include the ultra-light LWL-12 that weighs just over 60 pounds (27 kg.) empty and the new Fletcher (4) round launcher. Arnold Defense designs and manufactures various rocket launchers that can be customized for any capacity or form factor for platforms in the air, on the ground or even at sea.
Arnold Defense maintains the highest standards of production quality by using extensive testing, calibration and inspection processes.