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25 Jun 20. Japan confirms it’s scrapping US missile defense system. Japan’s National Security Council has endorsed plans to cancel the deployment of two costly land-based U.S. missile defense systems aimed at bolstering the country’s capability against threats from North Korea, the country’s defense minister said Thursday. Taro Kono said the country will now revise its missile defense program and scale up its entire defense posture.

The council made its decision Wednesday, and now the government will need to enter negotiations with the U.S. about what to do with payments and the purchase contract already made for the Aegis Ashore systems.

Kono announced the plan to scrap the systems earlier this month after it was found that the safety of one of the two planned host communities could not be ensured without a hardware redesign that would be too time consuming and costly.

“We couldn’t move forward with this project, but still there are threats from North Korea,” Kono said at a news conference Thursday.

Japan will discuss ways to better protect the country and the people from the North’s missiles and other threats, he said.

The Japanese government in 2017 approved adding the two Aegis Ashore systems to enhance the country’s current defenses consisting of Aegis-equipped destroyers at sea and Patriot missiles on land.

Defense officials have said the two Aegis Ashore units could cover Japan entirely from one station at Yamaguchi in the south and another at Akita in the north.

The plan to deploy the two systems already had faced a series of setbacks, including questions about the selection of one of the sites, repeated cost estimate hikes that climbed to 450bn yen (U.S. $4.1bn) for their 30-year operation and maintenance, and safety concerns that led to local opposition.

Kono said Japan has signed contract worth nearly half the total cost and paid part of it to the U.S. He said Japan is trying to get the most out of what it has already paid, though he did not elaborate.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has steadily pushed to step up Japan’s defense capability, said last week that in light of the scrapping the government would need to reconsider Japan’s missile defense program and do more under the country’s security alliance with the U.S.

Abe said the government would consider the possibility of acquiring preemptive strike capability, a controversial plan that critics say would violate Japan’s war-renouncing Constitution.

Kono on Thursday also raised concern about China’s increasingly assertive activity in regional seas and skies. He said Chinese coast guard vessels are repeatedly in and out of Japanese waters around disputed East China Sea islands, and a Chinese submarine recently passed just off Japan’s southern coast.

“China is trying to change the status quo unilaterally in East China Sea, South China Sea and with Indian border and Hong Kong as well,” Kono said. “It is easy to make connections about those issues.” (Source: Defense News)

24 Jun 20. Northrop Grumman, Army Teams Preparing for Integrated Air and Missile Defense Weapon System Limited User Test Training and testing today to deliver transformational air defense to soldiers tomorrow.

Every day, Rafael Miranda leaves his hotel room before 6 a.m. to begin his long drive across White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in New Mexico.

Miranda is a military training manager for Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS). After tag-ups every morning with U.S. Army leaders and his team of trainers, Miranda visits each of six IBCS Engagement Operations Centers (EOCs) deployed at sites across the large expanse of the test range.

A Northrop Grumman produced Engagement Operations Center (EOC) and Interactive Collaborative Environment (ICE) which are demonstrated in realistic environments at Fort Bliss in preparation for the IBCS Limited User Test. [Source U.S. Army]

Inside the desert-tan EOCs and attached tents, soldiers of 3-43 Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Battalion and 3-6 Air and Missile Defense Test Detachment are mastering IBCS – the revolutionary next-generation U.S. Army air defense command and control weapon system. For decades to come, IBCS will protect them and troops around the world from a variety of aerial threats including cruise and ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

Miranda and the Northrop Grumman trainers are working with the soldiers, to ensure the IBCS operators learn everything about the system – from quickly setting up the system in a tactical environment, to operating IBCS against a simulated threat. His team ensures soldiers are adept in the latest version of software, and able to employ the revolutionary new capabilities of IBCS for maximum system performance and effectiveness.

Miranda knows the air defenders will depend on IBCS to keep themselves and their colleagues alive. “Train like you’re training your brother and sister,” he tells his team.

For months, these soldiers have received direct training at the controls of IBCS at Fort Bliss, Texas, and demonstrated the system to destroy two incoming cruise missile targets simultaneously during the sophisticated Flight Test 5 last December at WSMR. Now they are in the final round of preparation and training for the system’s most demanding trial yet: a multi-week Army Limited User Test (LUT) that begins in July.

LUT 101

The LUT is a pivotal milestone in the defense acquisition process. It determines whether a system will cross the threshold from the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase to the production and deployment phase through “Milestone C” – fielding the system to soldiers. It’s a realistic operational test intended to simulate real-world operations and places extraordinary performance stresses on the system to ensure it will perform as intended and under the most rigorous circumstances once deployed. Data collected during the LUT will inform senior Army leaders how effective, suitable and survivable the system is when operated by soldiers.

IBCS is the cornerstone of the Army’s IAMD modernization strategy – replacing legacy stove-piped systems with a next-generation, network-centric approach, integrating disparate radars and weapons for a far more effective IAMD enterprise. IBCS delivers a single integrated air picture, creating composite tracks with unprecedented accuracy and broadens surveillance and protected areas. With its open systems architecture, IBCS allows incorporation of current and future sensors and effectors and interoperability with the joint force and the ballistic missile defense system.

A LUT conducted in early 2016 was the first operational test of IBCS, and lessons learned then have resulted in a substantially improved system. Since 2016, IBCS has passed a number of important development milestones, including two groundbreaking flight tests, and numerous soldier and system integration check-out events, demonstrating the program’s objectives are achievable, the architecture is sound, and the system is mature. “This LUT is another major milestone for IBCS,” said Mark Rist, Northrop Grumman’s IBCS program director. “All the preparation and successful tests have led us to where we are now – clearing the final hurdles before this transformational system goes into production.”

The LUT is not just one, but a series of tests designed to assess the capabilities of the system in an operational environment. As a real-world test, there will not be many Northrop Grumman boots on the ground during the LUT, but teams will stand by and support any Army requests.

An interceptor missile is launched by U.S. Army soldiers at White Sands Missile Range during Flight Test 5 (FT-5), December 12, 2019. This test was 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.

Initial testing during the LUT will simulate air defense scenarios that could occur anywhere in the world. Multiple threat types, to include tactical ballistic missiles (TBM), anti-radiation missiles, unmanned aerial systems, fixed-wing and helicopters, will be live in the air or virtually inserted into the environment to observe how IBCS processes and tracks these air objects, and enables soldiers to select the most effective weapon system to engage threats. There will also be endurance runs in which the air defenders operate the system over multiple days, and flight tests – one similar to Flight Test 5 but conducted in an electronic attack environment, and another involving more aggressive targets such as a TBM.

A successful LUT will inform us with the areas of improvement that will drive the initial operational testing and evaluation and then fielding to ensure warfighters have the most capable system.

Getting to LUT

The Northrop Grumman trainers are busy now tailoring this pre-LUT phase of training to the soldier’s needs as they ready for the weeks of activities and exercises. Other Northrop Grumman teams are also involved in the complex pre-LUT activities, which include moving personnel and equipment into position at WSMR, and providing hardware and software expertise for pre-test integration and testing activities. The latest version of the IBCS software – produced under Northrop Grumman’s Agile methodology developed with the Army – has been loaded into the system hardware, and soldiers are now receiving training on improvements over the previous version.

Miranda and nearly all of his team of trainers had to drive more than 1,300 miles to New Mexico from Huntsville, Alabama, but are committed to being at the range with the soldiers to move IBCS forward. He expects to be on-site until September, to support post-test requirements and activities.

“We feel the sense of urgency,” Miranda said. “Many of us are former military, and we want the soldiers to have everything they need to be trained and ready through the LUT and ultimate fielding of this critical capability.”

24 Jun 20. ECA GROUP to detect buried sea mines – always moving one step ahead in naval mine countermeasures. ECA GROUP and SOACSY recently signed a licensing agreement giving ECA GROUP exclusive rights to exploit its developments using seaCHIRP® technology based on SAS (Synthetic Aperture Sonar) for the detection of buried naval mines.

Naval mines are a real threat for seafarers and a navy’s daily concern. They have various forms and can be either visible on the surface (moored or floating mines) or detectable underwater as bottom mines. Underwater mines can get buried by waves and currents in sandy bottoms or by impact in muddy soil. As a consequence, naval mines become undetectable by the usual conventional high frequency mine hunting sonars mounted on mine hunting vessels, as well as towed sonars or sonars mounted on AUVs.

ECA GROUP, specialized in robotics for naval mine countermeasures for over 50 years and which provides its solutions to over 30 navies worldwide, and SOACSY, company specializing in the development of innovative acoustic systems and survey service, have signed a licensing agreement in order to provide a precise and efficient solution for buried mines detection and classification.

With its innovative seaCHIRP® technology, SOACSY sets the new standard in sub-bottom profiling data quality, resulting in improved signal / noise, accurate interpretation of detected objects, and cost effectiveness.

For more than ten years, SOACSY has been developing the seaCHIRP® technology for precise and efficient buried objects detection and localization: Combining Super-Wideband technology with High Resolution Beamforming and Synthetic Aperture Sonar processing, which was designed for the purpose of precise and efficient sub-seabed exploration and assessment. Data are collected, processed online in Low Resolution and visualized for quality check purposes, using the proprietary seaCHIRP® Software. Then, the collected data are post processed and can be interpreted using the proprietary seaLOGS software.

Since 2014, when the first operational prototype was developed by SOACSY, the company performed different commercial operations which represent about 2400km of survey lines, with 1 Terabyte of data collected. The system was operated from 5 to 40m long ships. The main applications were detection of UXO (UneXploded Ordnance), boulders, debris, pipelines/cables, marine archeology and sedimentary studies.

The main advantages of the seaCHIRP® technology are full seabed coverage in minimized acquisition time, precise X, Y, Z contact positioning, contact size estimation, quick and easy set-up, as well as a compact, versatile and ruggedized system.

ECA GROUP will industrialize the seaCHIRP® technology in the frame of this license agreement in order to provide navies with a fully operational solution to detect and classify buried subsea mines. ECA Robotics Belgium (ECA GROUP)  will be in charge of the development and industrialization of the seaCHIRP® technology as part of IES commitment of Belgium Naval & Robotics contract for the supply of 12 MCM ships for the Belgium and Netherlands navies.

Leveraging on the synergy with ECA GROUP’s on-going works in high frequency synthetic aperture sonar, a real-time solution for data processing will be developed, using proprietary (patent pending) algorithms for efficient and accurate synthetic aperture processing.

The aim is to integrate buried mines neutralization capability within ECA GROUP’s UMISTM (Unmanned MCM Integrated System). This solution is a comprehensive drones based system for mine warfare operations, developed by ECA GROUP, for surveying and securing large or complex zones at sea as well as coastal areas. This modular solution is based on a wide range of unmanned vehicles such as USVs, UUVs (AUVs, ROVs, MIDS), towed systems (sonars, sweeps) and UAVs that can be configured according to the needs of the user and operational requirements. UMIS also integrates a comprehensive software suite UMISOFTTM allowing easy and complete management of the entire unmanned mission from preparation, planning and supervision, to data acquisition, processing analysis and management.

24 Jun 20. Indian Army may procure additional Excalibur ammunition. The Indian Army is reportedly planning to acquire additional Excalibur precision-guided ammunition for M-777 Ultra-Light Howitzer guns from the US. The decision to order more ammunition comes after the Government of India permitted the purchase of weapons under emergency procurements amid the India-China dispute in Ladakh.

During a 11-hour meeting held between India and China held earlier this week, the two parties reached mutual consensus on the disengagement of forces along the border. Under fast track procedures, the Indian Armed Forces have received financial support of up to $66.23m to acquire the required weapon systems. Once delivered, the procurement is expected to increase army mission readiness. The new capability, which was inducted last year, will allow the defence forces to hit targets with accuracy at long distances. The Indian Army tested it during a training procedure at Pokhran late last year.

An undisclosed defence source was quoted by ANI as saying: “Now the financial powers have been again given to the armed forces and there are plans to place repeat orders for the Excalibur ammunition used by the Ultra-Light Howitzers, which can be deployed with ease on high altitude mountains.”

In May-June last year, the Indian Armed Forces were given similar financial powers after the Uri attack and the Balakot operations against Pakistan. (Source: army-technology.com)

22 Jun 20. Japan aiming to develop prototypes of self-propelled mine system. The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) is aiming to develop two prototypes of a remotely operated, self-propelled mine system. The new systems, which were described by the MoD as “small expendable wireless unmanned underwater vehicles [UUVs]” carrying an explosive payload, are designed to be deployed to high-risk sea areas and loiter there until they are remotely detonated in the proximity of enemy vessels, an MoD spokesperson told Janes on 23 June.

The Japanese MoD is aiming to develop two prototypes of a remotely operated, self-propelled mine system, which it has described as a small expendable UUV for use in high-risk sea areas. (Japanese MoD)

In fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020) the ministry secured JPY7.5bn (USD70.1m) to order the two prototypes, but as of 19 June it had neither opened bidding for this project nor signed a contract with any company, said the spokesperson.

The revelation comes after the MoD’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) awarded Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) a JPY3.06bn contract on 27 March to conduct research on several UUV technologies, including the development of exchangeable modules and mission payloads, MoD documents obtained by Janes showed. Meanwhile, the ATLA awarded Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding (E&S) a JPY4.74bn contract on 31 March to develop a hardware-in-the-loop simulation system for UUVs. (Source: Jane’s)

23 Jun 20. Japan’s new missile defense destroyer starts sea trials amid Aegis Ashore saga. The last of Japan’s eight planned destroyers capable of intercepting ballistic missiles has started sea trials ahead of its commissioning, even as the country ponders its next move following its decision to suspend plans to introduce ground-based systems for that role.

The destroyer Haguro left shipbuilder Japan Marine United Corporation’s shipyard at Isogo, near Yokohama and south of the Japanese capital Tokyo, this morning for its first sea trials.

The ship is to be commissioned in 2021. It is 170 meters long, displaces 8,200 tons and is fitted with 96 Mk 41 Vertical Launching System cells that can fire a variety of missiles, including those used for ballistic missile defense.

Haguro is the second ship of two Maya-class destroyers for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and it’s the country’s eighth destroyer to be equipped with the Aegis combat system for air and ballistic missile defense.

The sea trials for the Haguro comes as Japan scrambles for a solution following its decision last week to suspend plans to deploy the Aegis Ashore system. Japan had planned to deploy two such systems, with one each at the north and south of its main island of Honshu, to provide early warning and interception coverage for the entire country against North Korean ballistic missiles.

However, Defense Minister Taro Kono announced last week that plans to deploy the Aegis Ashore were suspended. His ministry is now seeking alternatives to fill the ballistic missile defense gap.

Local media, citing various unnamed defense officials, have floated a number of different options, including the continuing use of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Aegis destroyers or placing Aegis Ashore onto floating platforms.

The former is unlikely to work in the long term, given that keeping three destroyers at sea at all times to provide around-the-clock ballistic missile defense for all of Japan is unsustainable, which was one of the key drivers behind the planned acquisition of Aegis Ashore.

National broadcaster NHK reported that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is likely to hold a meeting with the country’s national security community this week to withdraw the Aegis Ashore deployment plan and set a new direction for the country’s security strategy, possibly seeking an alternative to Aegis Ashore.

NHK added that one of the alternatives would be for Japan to increase its standoff strike capability to enable it to conduct retaliatory strikes against launch facilities used to conduct missile strikes against Japan. However, this is likely to face strident political opposition, including from the party with which Abe has formed a governing coalition.

The reason given for last week’s suspension was ostensibly due to the costs and technical issues surrounding the development of the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor. However, the local governments and residents of both locations where Japan had planned to build the Aegis Ashore installations had launched vociferous campaigns against the planned deployment. (Source: Defense News)

22 Jun 20. Rheinmetall Denel Munition to upgrade production unit. South Africa-based defence company Rheinmetall Denel Munition, a subsidiary of German group Rheinmetall, has won an industrial plant engineering contract.

Under the €13m ($14.6m) contract, the company is responsible for the upgrade of an undisclosed customer’s existing production plant. The client is an ‘established, longstanding customer’ of the company.

The Plant Engineering unit of the South-African based company designs, produces, deploys and commissions process equipment and industrial production plants.

Additionally, the company offers courses in explosives engineering and training in understanding and familiarising the behaviour and characteristics of the product. This allows for safe use of the explosives.

The advanced capabilities of Rheinmetall Denel Munition in plant engineering allow it to support its customers to make effective, diverse and safe ordnance and demilitarised products.

The company has customers and partners in more than 30 countries.

Rheinmetall Denel Munition CEO Jan-Patrick Helmsen said: “We are proud of being able to meet the localisation requirements of our many partners worldwide, and of helping to create sovereign capabilities.

“This strengthens our relationship and long-term partnership with clients around the globe.”

The modernisation is expected to commence soon and conclude by next year.

Earlier this month, Germany’s Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) placed a major order with Rheinmetall for logistic vehicles.

Separately, Rheinmetall Canada and Lockheed Martin Canada joined forces to bid for the Canadian Army Land Vehicle Crew Training System (LVCTS) programme. (Source: army-technology.com)

22 Jun 20. Lawmakers threaten to move Missile Defense Agency as frustrations mount. The future chain of command for the Missile Defense Agency is up in the air, as legislators express their frustration with how leadership has handled a number of missile defense priorities, including a space-based sensor layer that could track hypersonic weapons.

The House Armed Services’ strategic forces subcommittee is threatening to move the agency away from Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin and place it within the portfolio of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, reflecting a growing rift between Griffin and lawmakers.

The subcommittee’s markup of the draft National Defense Authorization Act notes “that the budget of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has experienced a 650 percent decrease in funding for advanced technology efforts since being aligned to the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and that the majority of MDA programs would be acquisition category 1 efforts in the standard Department of Defense 5000 acquisition system.”

The agency has requested $9.2bn for fiscal year 2021.

“What you see here is frustration with the leadership above MDA, which is to say Dr. Griffin. That’s what this is,” said Thomas Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). “This has basically been going on since he got the job.”

Who’s in charge of the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor?

The latest row between lawmakers and Griffin has to do with development of a new space-based sensor layer designed to track hypersonic weapons.

Griffin and the Trump administration battled with Congress throughout 2019 over which agency under Griffin’s purview should be in charge of developing the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor, a proliferated constellation operating in low Earth orbit, capable of detecting and tracking hypersonic weapons. While Congress argued that MDA should take primary responsibility for developing and fielding the sensor, the While House argued that it was too soon to put one agency in charge, and instead it should continue to be a collaborative effort between MDA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Space Development Agency, all of which are under Griffin’s purview.

Congress ultimately won out, including language in the 2020 defense policy bill that directed MDA to take primary responsibility for the development and deployment of the system.

Despite that action, legislators are still concerned about who is in charge of the effort.

While MDA has moved forward with development of HBTSS, issuing four $20m contracts for prototypes in October 2019, the agency’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2021 shifts funding responsibility to SDA. Confused by this proposal in March, members of the HASC’s strategic forces subcommittee questioned MDA Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill over which agency was in charge of HBTSS and whether the effort was being adequately funded during a March hearing.

For his part, Hill unequivocally stated that MDA would remain in charge of sensor development for HBTSS. However, he argued that funding for that effort would be provided by the SDA in a new arrangement designed by Griffin to consolidate space funding under SDA. Both agencies are under his purview.

“He’s trying to consolidate the dollars for space, because it’s such an important capability that we need,” Hill told lawmakers at the hearing. “What I do recognize is a concern for the Congress is visibility into how those dollars are leveraged and making sure that MDA is in charge of building that sensor. There’s been no change in that strategy for MDA to remain the developer for that sensor and to provide that to SDA as part of their architecture.”

Hill’s reassurances do not seem to have convinced the legislators. The subcommittee’s markup of the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act reemphasizes Congress’ desire that MDA be responsible for the sensor payload. It also limits SDA’s operations and maintenance funding until the Secretary of Defense “provides certification that MDA is responsible for development of the HBTSS sensor payload.”

However, a defense official told C4ISRNET that requirement had already been filled, with Griffin certifying that MDA remains the lead on developing the sensor payload in a May 29 letter to Congress.

Still, the language remains in the draft legislation.

“There’s been some personality as well as some institutional factors that have gotten in the way of, frankly, a lot of agreement, or potential agreement, on the mission and on the vision,” said Karako. “I don’t see anybody that really completely rejects the idea of proliferated LEO for missile defense.”

Mounting frustrations

For Karako, the conflict over HBTSS is a microcosm of lawmakers’ frustration with MDA under Griffin’s leadership. Legislators are concerned MDA is not adequately investing in advanced technologies such as HBTSS. Hence the suggestion that it should be move to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment.

“You saw that in bipartisan frustration in the March hearing where both [Rep.] Mike Rogers {R-Ala.] and Chairman [Jim] Cooper, [D-Tenn.] both of them, said, ‘Hey, we just told you to keep it in MDA and you went and moved it to SDA in the ’21 budget,’” he said. “So I see HBTSS as kind of the canary in the coal mine for the future of MDA’s advanced technology work.”

The rift has been further exacerbated by Griffin’s decision to terminate the Redesigned Kill Vehicle program, which would have replaced the current Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), in favor of a new next-generation interceptor competition.

“Ending the program was the responsible thing to do,” said Griffin in August. “Development programs sometimes encounter problems. After exercising due diligence, we decided the path we’re going down wouldn’t be fruitful, so we’re not going down that path anymore. This decision supports our efforts to gain full value from every future taxpayer dollar spent on defense.”

Some lawmakers, however, remain frustrated by the terminations of that program. Cooper, the subcommittee chairman, cited both HBTSS and the RKV decision in an assault on Griffin’s tenure June 22, although he did not call out the under secretary by name.

“The mark continues to mandate and support a space sensor layer that is capable of tracking both advanced ballistic and hypersonic missile threats, despite the Department’s astonishing lack of focus on this effort over the past four years,” said Cooper in prepared remarks. “In addition, after the failure of the Redesigned Kill Vehicle program, we are carefully monitoring the Next Generation Interceptor. In addition, to acknowledging that missile threats are real and that the programs to defeat them are significant acquisition efforts that require extensive oversight, our mark requires the Secretary of Defense to re-evaluate the alignment of the Missile Defense Agency within the Department.”

22 Jun 20. Stryker weapons upgrades face scrutiny under House proposal. Under a proposed defense policy bill, the U.S. Army would have to brief Congress on plans to upgrade weapons for the Stryker combat vehicle amid the service’s efforts to reassure industry the competition to equip them with a 30mm cannon is “healthy.”

The House Armed Services Committee is expected to use the 2021 defense policy bill to order a briefing on any Army plans for Stryker weapons-station commonality between the developing air defense system and separate cannon upgrade. The news Monday comes in the wake of at least two of six competitors dropping out of the competition to design the Medium Caliber Weapon System, or MCWS.

In a conference call with reporters Monday, HASC aides said the language reflected concerns from industry about the openness of the competition for the MCWS.

“This is one of those situations where there is some question about whether the competition will consider the range of options that might be available out there in industry to meet the Army’s requirement,” one aide said.

Earlier this month, the Army awarded General Dynamics Land Systems a $2.48bn contract to produce an upgraded version of its double-V hulled Stryker armored infantry carrier vehicle.

The Michigan-based contractor, under the seven-year contract, would provide 331 double-V hull A1 (DVHA1) vehicles to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, which is based at Fort Carson, Colorado. The Army is converting it into a Stryker brigade along with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss, Texas.

Developmental testing of the Army’s Interim Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense, or IM-SHORAD, system for the Stryker — initially due to wrap up this month — has been delayed by challenges linked to the coronavirus pandemic and the software development process.

Under development by Leonardo DRS, the IM-SHORAD equipment package includes Raytheon’s Stinger vehicle missile launcher.

The Army is also upgrading more of its DVHA1 vehicles from an exposed 12.7mm machine gun to the turret-mounted 30mm MCWS. The service awarded $150,000 to six companies for design contracts ahead of a program of record, but two have since exited.

In a call with reporters June 16, Col. Bill Venable, the project manager for Stryker brigade combat teams, fielded questions about the health of the MCWS competition, but declined to identify at this sensitive stage which companies dropped out. He said he is satisfied the Army will have options when it begins the next phase of the MCWS competition on Aug. 10.

“I will say this a healthy competition,” Venable said. “We’re going to present a variety of choices to the source-selection authority to evaluate.”

“I know that one of the vendors chose to drop out because it wasn’t on a good technical glide path to achieve the requirements of the solicitation ? and the other one was affordability,” Venable added. “They didn’t think the investment required was going to result in a good chance to win.”

Leonardo DRS, the developer of the IM-SHORAD system, is among the original competitors for MCWS, along with General Dynamics Land Systems, Kollsman Inc., Raytheon, Pratt & Miller Engineering, and Fabrication Inc. The competitors were each given a Stryker and an XM813 cannon, but they must provide their own turret and fire control system.

The next stage for MCWS involves a series of tests, including a live-fire test and an armor test, with results due to an evaluation board in January.

The legislative language in the House expresses support for the weapons upgrades and noted both the IM-SHORAD and MCWS systems “would be based upon an unmanned but accessible turreted vehicle weapons station.” It’s included in the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee’s portion of the bill, which the subpanel is expected to approve Tuesday.

“In this regard, the committee is interested to know what advantages, if any, the Army could gain by developing as much commonality as possible between both systems with turret hardware and fire control software,” the bill text read. “Commonality has the potential to reduce the overall acquisition and life cycle management costs of both weapons systems.”

Furthermore, the Army secretary would have to brief the House Armed Services Committee by Feb. 1 “on the potential and plans, if any, for achieving commonality of the MCWS and IM-SHORAD weapons stations.”

One HASC aide said the language was deferential to the Army, would have no impact on its current strategies, and that it was aimed at ensuring a free, fair and open competition. “The Army can come back to us and just indicate there really aren’t any plans because it’s not feasible or it’s not justified,” the aide said. (Source: Defense News)

17 Jun 20. Agency to Procure Support from Industry for NATO Ballistic Missile Defence Capabilities. The NATO Communications and Information Agency has released an Invitation for Bids to provide system engineering, integration and testing support to NATO’s Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Programme until 2029. The €60m contract will have a duration of four years (with an option for a further four) and also include a preliminary transition period of up to six months to guarantee business continuity and enable a winning bidder to familiarise with the programme. The support will be used in the ongoing development and fielding of NATO’s BMD capabilities with the bid invitation having been issued on 3rd June and closing on 1st September 2020 before the agency awards the contract in the second quarter of 2021.

In 2005, the North Atlantic Council approved a capability package to provide NATO-Wide Theatre Missile Defence and in 2010, Heads of State and Government agreed to expand the programme beyond the protection of NATO deployed forces to also protect NATO European populations, territory and forces. In 2016, Allies declared the Initial Operating Capability of NATO’s BMD capability, which offers a stronger capability to defend Alliance populations, territory and forces against potential ballistic missile attacks. This capability will keep providing the necessary support to NATO as the Agency works to deliver the next expected capability declarations, while it also expects to release another Invitation for Bids under the programme this summer to an estimated value of €11m.

This contract will cover certain services for the BMD Integration Test Bed, which supports test and exercise events at both the system and architecture level. The Test Bed is responsible for ensuring that technical requirements are met and that operational interoperability with other NATO and national systems is assured with bidders free to bid for one, or both, of these contracts. (Source: ESD Spotlight)

19 Jun 20. BrahMos Air Version ‘War Ready.’ The Indo-Russian BrahMos Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) variant has received combat clearance. The 2.5 tonne missile has a range of around 300 km (186 mi.), can be dropped from 500 to 14,000 metres and can travel at a speed of Mach 2.8, nearly three times that of sound. The ALCM is around 0.65 tonnes lighter and 50cm shorter than the ground-launched version, though the integration of the weapon onto the aircraft has been a very complex process involving mechanical, electrical and software modifications on aircraft, a BrahMos official said.

“The IAF became the first air force in the world to have successfully fired an air-launched 2.8 Mach surface attack missile of this category on a sea target on 22nd Nov 2017,” an IAF official said. Another test on 22nd May 2019 was the second such live launch of the missile from an aircraft and a large fleet of jets equipped with missiles under the BrahMos-Su-30MKI weapon-platform integration programme are ready for deployment, the official added.

The software development of the aircraft was undertaken by the IAF engineers, while the state-run aerospace Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd carried out mechanical and electrical modifications on the aircraft. The BrahMos ALCM provides the IAF with a much-desired competence to strike from large stand-off ranges on any target at sea or on land with pinpoint accuracy by day or night and in all weather conditions.

The Indian government approved a US$1.5Bn proposal in 2012 to procure over 200 ALCMs, which included money to be spent on integration and testing of the missile with the Su-30MKI aircraft. The capability of the missile coupled with the superlative performance of the Su-30MKI aircraft gives the IAF the desired tactical influence, defence experts say. (Source: ESD Spotlight)

18 Jun 20. Russia to parade new ISDM remote minelaying system on Red Square. Russia’s new ISDM remote minelaying system was recently spotted while being transported to Moscow for the Victory Day parade trials, government newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta reported on its website on 14 June. The system will debut at the Victory Day parade, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported on 3 March before it was postponed from 9 May to 24 June.

Designed by Tula-based company Splav, the system consists of a combat vehicle, a transport-loading vehicle, and transport-launch containers with ammunition that can be equipped with various types of mines, then company CEO Vladimir Lepin told Interfax news agency in June 2016. The combat vehicle and transport-loading vehicle are based on the 8×8 Kamaz truck chassis, according to Lepin. Both vehicles have armoured cabins with filter ventilation systems and air conditioners. (Source: Jane’s)

18 Jun 20. Spanish IFV firing trials due to start in July. Spain’s new 8×8 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) is due to begin firing trials next month and the first vehicles are expected to be operational in 2022, Secretary of State for Defence Ángel Olivares stated on 17 June.

Speaking after a meeting at General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) Santa Bárbara Sistemas’ plant in Alcalá de Guadaira near Seville, where he watched driving trials of the prototypes, he described the vehicle as “one of the essential pillars” of Spain’s national defence.

“Without it the armed forces could not participate in international peacekeeping operations,” he was quoted as saying in a Ministry of Defence (MoD) press release on 17 June. (Source: Jane’s)

22 Jun 20. UVision’s Hero-30 Passes a NATO Navy Trial with Flying Colors. Successfully withstanding all trial objectives, the system demonstrated compatibility to naval missions and applications, including remarkable performance in GPS denied environment. a global leader in Loitering Munitions Systems of all sizes for a variety of missions – proves its Hero-30 compatibility to naval missions and demonstrates its outstanding capabilities. The high-precision, light-weight portable Hero-30 loitering munition system was evaluated by a naval force of a major NATO member and proved its remarkable capabilities. The systems demonstrated remarkable abilities of high-precision strikes, tracking and lock-on on a moving target in various operational naval scenarios and mission-abort capabilities. The trial demonstrated the Hero-30 versatility and adoptability to various missions in a maritime environment.

“Proving our system’s remarkable capabilities for naval applications to a strategic NATO member is an additional step in UVision’s expansion of its customer base”, says Major General (Ret.) Avi Mizrachi, CEO of UVision. “We are proud, time and again, to present our systems’ incorporated high precision attack level and abort capabilities, with operation simplicity, allowing for front-line NAVAL forces to quickly respond while eliminating any immediate threat that arises.”

The Hero-30 portable tactical combat proven system is deployable within minutes, is capable of speeds of up to 100 knots and is ideal for missions that require no collateral damage assurance. Weighing only 3 Kg, it carries a 0.5 Kg warhead and reaches a range of up to 40 Km.  With an electrical silent and stealth engine and a canister that allows launching from a variety of existing platforms, it provides extreme mission flexibility for the troops.

The climax of the sea trials was a strike on a moving target. The simulated threat of a suicide speedboat laden with explosives was executed with extreme precision and the moving target (speed of 20 knots) was struck with the inert training round amidships. All was performed in a completely GPS denied environment.

22 Jun 20. Royal Australian Navy’s upgraded Phalanx CIWS achieves IOC. The Royal Australian Navy’s upgraded Mark 15 Phalanx Close-in Weapon System (CIWS) has achieved initial operating capability (IOC) for HMAS Sydney, representing a key milestone.

The system has been delivered on schedule and will be progressively rolled out until late 2023 across the navy’s destroyers, amphibious ships, and new supply class tankers.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the Phalanx CIWS delivers improved lethality and a broader range of protection for navy ships in fast-moving combat situations.

“The first system, which incorporates the upgrade to Block 1B Baseline 2 of the Phalanx system, has already been installed into HMAS Sydney which will ensure she enters service as Australia’s most potent and capable warship.

“The system significantly boosts HMAS Sydney’s self defence capability, providing new generation technology to navy vessels and ensuring the highest levels of protection from modern systems.”

Reynolds further added that this achievement reflects Australia’s shipbuilding capability and demonstrates the success of the government’s $90bn Naval Shipbuilding Plan.

The upgraded Phalanx CIWS is expected to create opportunities for Australian businesses to benefit from the government’s investment in a sovereign shipbuilding capability. Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Last year, the second unit of the upgraded system was delivered. It will be used to provide comprehensive training in the country with support from local industry and increasing self-reliance in the training pipeline.

This year, Australia started a Diploma of Digital Technology shipbuilding course as part of the Naval Shipbuilding Plan. It will help connect workers and information systems to build the $35bn Hunter Class Frigate Programme. (Source: naval-technology.com)

22 Jun 20. Hypersonic Technologies: Timeline. A key economic advantage that hypersonic weapons could bestow is the ability to produce export versions of a product. Currently, the economic focus of the hypersonic industry is on the development and testing of weapons. This will change in the coming years as testing become more successful and the procurement stage begins. Contracts will be awarded to companies for mass production of hypersonic weapons. Current contracts are limited to either hypersonic development or subcontracts to develop or test specific materials, but as the sector expands, the diversity and quantity of contracts will increase.

Listed below are the major milestones in the hypersonic weapons industry, as identified by GlobalData.

1929 – The first liquid-fuelled rocket was launched. This launch was conducted by Dr. Robert H. Goddard who used liquid oxygen and gasoline to propel the rocket. He had obtained a patent for a rocket using liquid fuel in 1914 and is considered the father of modern rocket propulsion.

1956 – The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter flew for the first time. The Starfighter was a single-engine supersonic aircraft, at the time it was the fastest aircraft ever, and was also able to climb exceptionally high.

1958 – The X-7 reached Mach 4.3. The X-7 was an unmanned test-bed developed by Lockheed and was designed only to operate for a short time before detaching and landing without damage so it could be re-used.

1959 – The first flight of the X-15 took place. The X-15 was operated by the US Air Force, and whilst being piloted managed to fly to the edge of space. The X-15 eventually managed to achieve speeds of Mach 6.

1969 – Concorde took its first flight. Concorde was the first supersonic jet Aircraft, it could achieve speeds of Mach 2.4 and could cross the Atlantic in four hours. Concorde stopped flying after a major crash in 2003.

1964-1998 – The SR-71 Blackbird attained speeds of Mach 3. The SR-71 was an aircraft developed by Lockheed as part of a classified project. It was designed to operate at high speeds and altitudes in order to evade threats.

2004 – Nasa successfully flew an X-43A using a scramjet engine, the flight only lasted 10 seconds but also included a 10-minute glide period

2004 – Russia tested its first hypersonic vehicle. The UR-100N UTTH was an improved version of the UR-11N which was in use with the Soviet Union and had hypersonic capability.

2007 – Project Blackswift was commissioned by DARPA. This project was developed with the aim of creating a reusable unmanned hypersonic device, which was projected to reach Mach 6. However, this project was cancelled in 2009.

2008 – The Pentagon used funding from its prompt global strike program to fund a hypersonic glide vehicle, which it planned to attach to a ballistic missile to achieve hypersonic speeds on re-entry.

2011 – There was a failed attempt by DARPA to produce a vehicle that could reach Mach 20. The HTV-2 was an experimental hypersonic glide vehicle, but after multiple test failures, DARPA shelved the design.

2013 – Boeing’s X-51 Waverider was successfully flown. This was an unmanned vehicle capable of reaching speeds of Mach 5 and the technology may be utilised for hypersonic weapons.

2016 – Russia conducted the first test of its Avangard missile, an advanced hypersonic weapon.

2016 – China successfully tested the DF-ZF, a hypersonic missile with a potential speed of Mach 10.

2018 – Russia tested the hypersonic ‘Khinzal’ (Dagger) missile, and released a video of the missile being launched from a MiG-31 fighter jet.

2019 – Russia deployed the Avangard Missile, which it claims can travel at speeds of Mach 27 and hit targets up to 6,000km away.

2020 – The High-Speed Strike Weapon (HSSW) was cancelled, with the US shifting focus to the Air-Launched rapid response weapon (ARRW) which is capable of speeds of up to Mach 20.

2023 – The LRHW is scheduled to be ready for deployment, a program which is being delivered by Lockheed

2023 – ARRW missiles are scheduled to be ready for deployment; they are currently in development by Lockheed.

2028 – The CPS is scheduled to be ready for deployment, this is a program that is currently in development by Lockheed and will be deployed on Virginia-class submarines.

2040 – Both Boeing and Hermeus have stated that they could potentially have functioning hypersonic commercial technology, though this is the earliest possible date.

This is an edited extract from the Hypersonic Technologies – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research. (Source: army-technology.com)

19 Jun 20. Hypersonics Testing Accelerates. 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: ASD Network)

22 Jun 20. RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. is participating in Poland’s “Ottokar-Brzoza” tender (formerly known as “Tank Destroyer”) in co-production with local Polish Conglomerate PGZ, which is competing, in part, with BWP-1 and KTO ROSOMAK Armored platforms. Recently, RAFAEL has unveiled its new multi-missile launcher design including eight ready-for-launch SPIKE NLOS missiles.

With a standoff range of 32km, SPIKE NLOS is the longest range variant of the SPIKE Family, featuring all-weather performance, enabling the weapon to effectively prosecute enemy tank formations. One SPIKE NLOS battery can cover very large operational areas, creating a significant tactical footprint. SPIKE NLOS is a 5th Generation ATGM, which includes a highly advanced electro-optical guidance unit, enabling passive target engagement (no laser emission, radar signals or GPS-dependence). The unique combination of standoff and EO guidance allows a SPIKE NLOS unit to launch stealth salvo attacks, engaging multiple armored targets simultaneously, breaking the enemy’s momentum.

The system is capable of engaging line-of-sight and non-line-of-sight targets, with a choice of engagement modes using digital targeting data provided over standard secure military networks, fully interoperable with NATO.

To meet a key requirement of the Tank Destroyer program in Poland, the standoff weapon of choice must be able to cope with any type of terrain, including urban, as normally invading formations will use urban areas for quick supply. SPIKE NLOS, with its real-time data link and high quality EO seeker, facilitates engagement in urban terrain with pinpoint accuracy that is hard to obtain with laser-guided or radar-guided missiles, thereby minimizing the potential of collateral damage and allows significantly better discrimination among  targets as friend, foe or uninvolved.

Another major differentiator of the EO guidance is the ability to discriminate real-time high value targets (as the missile approaches the target area) such as enemy command & control assets, air-defense launchers and others, whose removal from the operational area dramatically affects the opponent.

The SPIKE NLOS missile is in service with numerous armed forces around the world, including several NATO members, and has been fired thousands of times in combat, from armored platforms, light Special Forces (SF) vehicles, maritime platforms, as well as from attack helicopters. The SPIKE NLOS is slated to compete in the future “KRUK” Program of the new Polish Attack Helicopter.

The new SPIKE NLOS launcher is based on a stand-alone multi-purpose launcher that can be integrated onto any current or future Polish platform as the Polish BWP-1, the KTO ROSOMAK or the Future Borsuk IFV. An important feature of the SPIKE NLOS launcher is the compatibility to other SPIKE Family members in service in the Poland Armed Forces SPIKE LR or SPIKE LR2 allowing the unit to utilize the thousands existing in-stock SPIKE rounds from the same launching system.

The successful use of the SPIKE LR by the Polish Defence Forces and the fact that this missile is produced in Poland by MESKO, a PGZ company, lays the infrastructure for the future Polish production of the SPIKE NLOS missile as well the launchers.

As part of its general vision and particularly now at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a dramatic effect on all industries and economies, RAFAEL is continuously working to leverage industrial cooperation by contributing and operating with local industries, sharing its knowledge and expertise, in order to implement advanced technologies in the industry and in the Polish Armed Forces, to maintain its edge in today’s modern battlefield.

19 Jun 20. Germany to procure MG4 A3 from 2021. Amid continued efforts to improve the lethality of the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr recently released images of paratroopers from Zweibrücken training with the new 5.56x45mm MG4 A3 light machine gun in early May.

A spokesperson for the German MoD confirmed to Shephard that there is no fixed contract yet to procure these weapons from Heckler & Koch (H&K), although the acquisition is planned for 2021-2022.

The procurement will include 623 MG4 A3 with a supplemental kit and 272 modified kits for use of the weapon in training simulation systems.

‘The MG4A3 will, in some cases, replace the old MG3 versions. In all other cases it will extend the existing weapon mix with a light machine gun,’ the spokesperson noted.

It is envisaged that these machine guns will equip the German Army, Navy and Air Force, plus the Joint Support and Enabling Service that is responsible for logistics. However, the MoD spokesperson could not disclose details about the estimated cost of the procurement.

H&K expects the German MoD to prepare a contract as early as Q3 this year, after mission tests are completed, and a company official told Shephard: ‘The delivery of the serial [production] weapons is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of the next year.’

Ten sample MG4 A3s have been handed over for tests with German troops. ‘The operational test is currently underway. It is expected to be completed by the middle of this year,’ said the H&K spokesperson.

Paratroopers have fired the MG4 A3 light machine gun for three weeks on the combat shooting range in Baumholder during a shortened operational test.

This test, which involved shooting at fixed and moving targets, simulated combat in an urban area or difficult-to-access terrain between an enemy and paratroopers deployed on foot.

The MG4 A3 weighs 8.6kg with a maximum combat range of 1,000m, although the optimal range is shorter at 600m. A magazine pouch holds 100 rounds and the maximum rate of fire is 825 rounds per minute.

The new light machine gun has been adapted to resemble the MG5 and has a shoulder rest similar to the MG5 A2. In the absence of handguard protection there is a picatinny rail ‘for the attachment of the tactical shroud’, the H&K spokesperson pointed out.

The European Defence Procurement Special Report forms part of Shephard Media’s drive to provide readers with free-to-view content previously served by cancelled or postponed events.

Focusing on and promoted to specific markets, our Special Reports include a dedicated microsite with a range of editorial features, video production, email marketing, social media exposure and branding opportunities. (Source: Shephard)


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.


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