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18 Jun 20. Hypersonic Glide Vehicle Test Kicks Off Long ‘Test Season’ of Evaluation. The March 19 test of a hypersonic glide body at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii is just the start for the Defense Department, the assistant director for hypersonics in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering said, and after ample flight testing, the department will move toward developing weapons from the concepts it’s been testing.
“Over the next 12 months really what we will see is continued acceleration of the development of offensive hypersonic systems,” Michael E. White said today during an online panel discussion hosted by Defense One.
Hypersonic weapons move faster than anything currently being used, giving adversaries far less time to react, and they provide a much harder target to counteract with interceptors. White said DOD is developing hypersonic weapons that can travel anywhere between Mach 5 and Mach 20.
The March test of the hypersonic glide body successfully demonstrated a capability to perform intermediate-range hypersonic boost, glide and strike, he said. That test, White added, begins a “very active flight test season” over the next year, and beyond, to take concepts now under development within the department and prove them with additional tests.
“A number of our programs across the portfolio will realize flight test demonstration over the next 12 months and then start the transition from weapon system concept development to actual weapon system development moving forward,” he said.
Also part of the department’s efforts is the defense against adversary use of hypersonic missile threats — and that may involve space, said Navy Vice Adm. Jon Hill, director of the Missile Defense Agency. Land-, silo-, or air-launched hypersonic weapons all challenge the existing U.S. sensor architecture, Hill said, and so new sensors must come online.
“We have to work on sensor architecture,” Hill said. “Because they do maneuver and they are global, you have to be able to track them worldwide and globally. It does drive you towards a space architecture, which is where we’re going.”
DOD is now working with the Space Development Agency on the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor to address tracking of hypersonics, the admiral said. That system is part of the larger national defense space architecture.
“As ballistic missiles increase in their complexity … you’re going to be able to look down from cold space onto that warm earth and be able to see those,” he said. “As hypersonics come up and look ballistic initially, then turn into something else, you have to be able to track that and maintain track. In order for us to transition from indications and warning into a fire control solution, we have to have a firm track and you really can’t handle the global maneuver problem without space.”
Hill said the department already has had a prototype of such satellites in space for some time, and is collecting data from it. In the early 2020s, he added, additional satellites will also go up to demonstrate tracking ability. (Source: US DoD)
19 Jun 20. Bisalloy signs MoU with Aussie defence contractors. Wollongong-based specialist armoured steel manufacturer, Bisalloy has announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Axiom Precision Manufacturing and K-TIG to jointly develop a sovereign capability in welding for the Australian defence industry.
K-TIG is a technology company deploying a full commercialised industry-disruptive high-speed welding technology, Axiom Precision Manufacturing is an Australian advanced manufacturing provider with significant defence and aerospace industry experience.
Development of an Australian sovereign capability in the welding of specialist defence steels will allow Australian Industry to maximise its participation in upcoming Defence procurements, such as the LAND 400 program, that will see the Australian Defence Force’s existing Australian Light Armoured Vehicle and M113 armoured personnel carrier (APC) fleets replaced with new vehicles that deliver improved levels of firepower, protection and mobility.
Bisalloy chief executive and managing director Greg Albert welcomed the signing of the MoU, saying, “Bisalloy have a long history of successfully collaborating with partner companies to develop new and innovative solutions in steels.
“Our capabilities extend far beyond product supply, it extends to technical and product development assistance. As such, we are committed to offering our customers everything they need for future success.”
K-TIG chairman Stuart Carmichael echoed Albert’s comments, saying, “We are delighted to be expanding into the Defence market and partnering with Axiom Precision Manufacturing and Bisalloy Steels, two established Australian Department of Defence contractors.
“K-TIG will be responsible for the development of a keyhole TIG welding process for high carbon steels typically used in the defence industry.”
Bisalloy Armour steel has become a leading product for defence applications in Australia and abroad and is specified for hulls in APCs, light armoured vehicles (LAV), Collins Class submarines and the Bushmaster infantry mobility vehicles in Australia, along with many APCs and LAVs worldwide. (Source: Defence Connect)
18 Jun 20. Iran says it successfully tests new naval cruise missile. Iran said on Thursday its navy had successfully fired a new locally made cruise missile during war games in the northern Indian Ocean and near the entrance to the Gulf.
The test-firing comes as the United States is seeking an extension of a U.N.-imposed arms embargo against Iran, which is due to expire in October under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Washington withdrew from that pact.
“During the exercises, short-range and long-range coast-to-sea and sea-to-sea missiles were successfully fired from the coast and from decks of ships, hitting their targets with great precision,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.
The new generation cruise missiles, with a range of 280 km (175 miles) were tested during exercises by the Iranian navy in the Gulf of Oman, which lies next to the Strait of Hormuz waterway at the mouth of the Gulf, and the northern Indian Ocean, Tasnim said.
In April, Iran said it had increased the range of its naval missiles to 700 km. Western military analysts say Iran often exaggerates its weapons capabilities but concerns about its long-range ballistic missiles programme contributed to the U.S. decision to leave Iran’s 2015 deal to rein in its nuclear ambitions in exchange for an easing of economic sanctions. (Source: Reuters)
18 Jun 20. DOD Has Pedal to the Metal on Hypersonics. Hypersonic missiles are a technology the Defense Department must field to remain competitive with other great powers, said the director of defense research and engineering for modernization.
Mark J. Lewis, who spoke with Marcus Weisgerber at the Defense One Tech Summit yesterday, noted that Russia has announced fielding a hypersonic capability and that China is investing heavily in the technology.
Hypersonic missiles are fast — very fast — and agile in a way that ballistic missiles or cruise missiles are not. He said the U.S. goal is to have the technology fielded at scale by the mid 2020s.
The Defense Department has one main effort by the services, and DOD agencies have parts because hypersonics is more than just one thing, said Lewis, who holds a doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The Army and the Navy both have very active programs as well looking at ways to develop this technology,” he said. “Our key here is we want to deliver hypersonics at scale; and by that I mean, we want to go beyond the prototypes.”
That means bridging the proverbial “valley of death” between a research effort and a funded and viable service program that leads to a capability, he explained.
“We all have this firm, fixed goal of delivering capability,” Lewis said. “These are no longer science projects, are no longer things that are being confined to the lab. So with that mindset, across the range of activities that we’re involved in, I think we’re making headway in bridging that that valley.”
He noted that the Air Force is working with the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency on the Arrow program. Scientists in both organizations are working closely together and solving problems together and sharing information.
At one time, the United States had the lead in hypersonic research. He noted the Air Force X-51 program, which last flew in 2013 and then was discontinued. It was a different world then, Lewis said, and the decision at the time was to not invest in the technology.
“I think now we have leadership at all levels of the Pentagon — but coming from the front office — recognizing the importance of this technology, and realizing we need to put our foot on the proverbial gas,” he said. “That’s that’s certainly what’s driving this.”
What was once a walk in the park has become a race with near-peer competitors, Lewis said. “We kind of did the homework for the rest of the world,” he said.
U.S. researchers did the original work on hypersonics and early development. “And then, because we took our foot off the gas, other people were able to pick up on what we had done and build on our successes,” he said.
Those nations — Russia and China most obviously — recognized the importance of the technology and began their own programs.
Now, the United States must not only build an offensive capability, but also must handle the defensive portion, Lewis said. “The defensive part is absolutely critical as we go forward,” he added. “If I’m going to defend against hypersonic systems, there are a couple of key things that I need to do. The very first thing I need to do is to be able to detect a hypersonic weapon flying at me and respond quickly enough.”
DOD — via the Space Development Agency — is investing in this capability.
Once detected, there must be a response. “Let me not get into specific weapon systems, but I can say that depending on the hypersonic weapon … they each have their own responses,” he said. “It is very difficult to stop a hypersonic weapon. That’s why we want to pursue them. That’s why our peer competitors are pursuing them. But it’s not impossible.”
Some existing technologies may be used, he said, as may some technologies in development. “So there are answers, there are solutions, but it’s definitely an area that we see a need for increased effort,” he said.
(Source: US DoD)
18 Jun 20. Successful testing of rocket motor and warhead designs demonstrate progress toward flight testing. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) recently completed its Critical Design Review (CDR) following successful design verification tests of key components for the U.S. Navy’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range (AARGM-ER) program. The AARGM-ER program is leveraging the AARGM program currently in Full Rate Production. Design verification tests of the AARGM-ER rocket motor and warhead along with the CDR verified subsystem and system-level performance.
“Rocket motor design verification tests represented a significant knowledge point and milestone for engineering and manufacturing development”, said Gordon Turner, vice president, advanced weapons, Northrop Grumman. “These tests were important to informing the critical design review and verifying performance of the missile. With our government partners, we are aggressively focused on achieving ‘speed to fleet’ while holding to program cost objectives.”
Design verification tests of the rocket motor were conducted at extreme cold and hot temperature conditions and successfully demonstrated required propulsion performance. Testing of the warhead successfully demonstrated lethality performance. AARGM-ER is being integrated on the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G, and will be compatible for integration of the F-35A/B/C. By leveraging the AARGM program, the AARGM-ER program with the new rocket motor and warhead will provide advanced capability to detect and engage long-range adversary air defense systems.
Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.
17 Jun 20. Spanish MoD signs development protocol for NGWS. The Spanish MoD on 16 June signed a General Action Protocol with national defence industry partners which establishes the mechanisms needed to protect industrial assets. The involved parties will work on technology demonstrations of the Spanish Next Generation Weapon System (NGWS).
The NGWS will arm the multinational European Future Air Combat System (FCAS) but it will be designed to ensure national sovereignty over the technology developed by the Spanish defence industry.
Angel Olivares, Secretary of State for Defence, said: ‘Spain must have the necessary financing to provide the Armed Forces with sufficient capacities to meet their commitments.’
Representatives from the following companies signed the protocol alongside Olivares: Airbus, GMV, Indra, ITP Aero, Satnus Consortium, SimLab, Sener and Tecnobit – Grupo Oesia. (Source: Shephard)
16 Jun 20. Lockheed Martin and US Army ink PrSM development contract. The US Army and Lockheed Martin have agreed on a new deal worth up to USD180.7m to continue developing the new Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) together.
On 12 June the service disclosed the dollar amount of the PrSM Enhanced Technical Maturation and Risk Reduction (ETMRR) effort that will be administered through Advanced Technology International (ATI).
“The ETMRR phase will include the build of four missiles, three flight tests, and subsystem qualification for PrSM,” a Lockheed Martin spokesperson told Janes on 15 June.
“We are currently working to produce the missiles in preparation for the flight tests that will take place in 2021,” the spokesperson added.
The company added that this next chapter will follow the Technical Maturation and Risk Reduction phase (TMRR) that is slated to be completed in the coming weeks.
Monica Guthrie, the communications director for the army’s Long Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team (LRPF CFT), noted that the upcoming ETMRR effort is designed, in part, to ensure that the PrSM achieves a technology readiness level 6 prior to entering the engineering, manufacturing, and development phase of the program.
“It includes an assessment of manufacturing feasibility, establishing a configuration baselines, full sub-assembly-level qualification of sup-assemblies, assessment of the missile’s survivability against threat systems and representative flight tests of the final configuration,” she wrote in a 15 June email to Janes. (Source: Jane’s)
16 Jun 20. Serbia test-fires indigenous pre-fragmented ammunition from PASARS SPAAG. Serbia’s second prototype of the PASARS 6×6 self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (SPAAG) test fired indigenously-developed 40mm pre-fragmented ammunition at ground targets on the Miokovci firing range on 9 June, the Serbian Ministry of Defence reported on its website later the same day.
Acting Assistant Minister for Materiel Resources Nenad Miloradović said new pre-fragmented projectiles with a standard shell casing and tungsten balls with high penetration were used in the testing.
Produced by the ‘Sloboda Company – Serbia’ munitions plant in Čačak, the ammunition has a new fuze through which it receives a radio command on when to explode from the electronic timing subsystem installed in the vehicle.
This ensures that all projectiles explode in the air above and in front of the target, which multiplies the effect of the projectile, significantly increasing the effectiveness of PASARS against aerial and ground targets, Miloradović explained. (Source: Jane’s)
13 Jun 20. Production of one of the F-35′s most anticipated bombs has been on hold for almost a year. Deliveries of a new precision-guided bomb under development by Raytheon for the F-35 and other fighter jets have been at a standstill for about a year as the company struggles to correct a technical problem involving a key component.
A fix for the issue, which brought production of the Small Diameter Bomb II to a halt in July 2019, could be approved by the government as soon as July, said Air Force spokesman Capt. Jake Bailey in response to questions by Defense News.
However, a June report by the Government Accountability Office pointed out that continued technical issues have already caused a delay in fielding the munition, with Raytheon forced to redesign a key component and retrofit all 598 bombs already delivered to the Air Force and Navy.
The Small Diameter Bomb II — also known as the GBU-53 StormBreaker — was designed with a tri-mode seeker that includes a millimeter wave radar, imaging infrared and semi-active laser that allow the weapon to engage targets in all weather conditions and environments where visibility is obscured by dust and debris.
The Air Force and Navy plan to integrate SDB II with a range of fighter aircraft including the F-15, F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-35 joint strike fighter, but the munition has been mired in development for more than a decade.
This latest stoppage in production was prompted by internal audits by Raytheon, which found that the clips used to hold the bomb’s fins in place “suffered vibration fatigue over long flight hours,” Bailey said. The clips serve “as the backup fin storage device” used to keep the fins in place in case other components fail, noted Bailey, who added that there have been no incidents during tests involving the SDB II fins inadvertently deploying.
However, the GAO wrote that the premature deployment of the fins, which help guide the bomb in flight, could damage the weapon as well as cause a safety hazard for the aircraft carrying it.
“While this problem could affect all aircraft carrying the bomb, officials said the greatest impact is to the F-35, because the bomb is carried in the aircraft’s internal weapons bay and could cause serious damage if the fins deploy while the bomb is in the bay,” the GAO stated.
Raytheon declined to comment on this story, directing questions to the Air Force.
Raytheon plans on mitigating the issue with a newly designed clip that reduces the vibration of the fins, and will completely pay for developing the fix and retrofitting it on the bombs that have already been delivered, the GAO said. The Air Force confirmed that testing of the new device has already been completed and is going through final reviews.
But while Raytheon and the Air Force had hoped to restart production in April, travel restrictions caused by the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic contributed to further delays. The government now hopes to approve the fix in July, after which production will restart and the retrofit process for existing bombs will begin.
“The fin clip failure is the sole reason production was partially halted; once final government approval is obtained, ‘all up round’ production can resume,” Bailey said, using a phrase that describes a fully assembled weapon. The Air Force estimates that retrofits will be completed by August, as Raytheon’s supplier has already begun manufacturing the replacement component, which are easily installed on the outside of the weapon.
“Until production resumes, the total Lot 3 deliveries remain at 204 of the 312 assets on contract,” Bailey said.
All this puts initial operational capability at least a year later than the service’s original timeline, which predicted IOC would occur in September 2019. The Air Force declined to name a current estimate for when IOC would be achieved, but said it would happen after a separate milestone known as the “initial fielding decision,” which involves the approval of the head of Air Combat Command and is set for the third quarter of 2020.
The issue with SDB II’s fins is just one of several technical problems with which Raytheon is grappling. The program completed operational tests in 2019, but hardware and software changes are needed after 11 failures were reported. Two hardware fixes have already been put in place, and eight failures were related to software problems that will be addressed in future updates, the GAO said.
The sole outstanding issue involves an anomaly with SDB II’s guidance system. Fixing it could require Raytheon to redesign the component and conduct retrofits on all bombs already delivered, according to GAO.
A review board of the problem is in the “final stages of analysis,” Bailey said. The Air Force and Raytheon plan to establish whether a replacement component is necessary no later than June 30.
Although the weapon has not even been officially fielded, some components are already becoming obsolete. A Raytheon subcontractor that makes circuit cards used in the guidance system is expected to stop producing those components years sooner than anticipated.
As a result, that the Defense Department may have to order all circuit cards needed for the program of record before December, according to the GAO.
That timeline has now been extended to January 2022, “which provides ample time for program office action before the new deadline,” Bailey said.
Despite the bomb’s ongoing problems, Raytheon continues to rake in contracts for the program. In February, the Defense Department awarded a $15m increase to a previous SDB II contract for additional technical support. In September, the company received a $200m contract for lifecycle support during the bomb’s engineering and manufacturing development phase.
According to a Raytheon news release, the Navy recently completed the first guided release of SDB II from a F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. (Source: Defense News)
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