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20 Aug 20. Army 2020: Kalashnikov previews AK-19 assault rifle. The Kalashnikov Group unveiled a new variant of the AK-12 assault rifle family on its social media platforms on 17 August. Designated as the AK-19, the rifle is chambered in 5.56×45 mm NATO. The original rifle, the AK-12, is chambered in 5.45×39mm, the standard cartridge used by the Russian armed forces.
The AK-19, which is still in development, features a few notable differences compared to the original AK-12. These modifications include a redesigned polymer stock; the lower profile design can still be folded to the left-hand side and features telescopic adjustments to its length of pull. The new muzzle device consists of a multi-slotted birdcage type flash suppressor rather than the muzzle break fitted on the AK-12. The AK-19 flash suppressor appears to be able to support a quick detachable sound suppressor. Finally, the AK-19 employs new proprietary polymer magazines, which retain design elements from the AK-12’s magazines. This includes the angled ‘heel’ on the magazine floorplate and ‘witness’ windows set at regular intervals on the magazine walls. (Source: Jane’s)
20 Aug 20. US Air Force may have accidentally revealed interest in hypersonic nuke. The U.S. Air Force has issued, and quietly revoked, a solicitation to industry seeking technologies that would support a hypersonic glide vehicle capable of traversing intercontinental ranges, potentially signaling the military’s interest in a hypersonic nuclear weapon.
According to an Aug. 12 request for information first reported by Aviation Week, the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center sought ideas for potential upgrades to intercontinental ballistic missiles, including a “thermal protection system that can support [a] hypersonic glide to ICBM ranges.”
The items listed as potential ICBM upgrades were all marked “unclassified/for official use only,” which notes information that — while not secret — is not normally released to the public. The RFI was then withdrawn after Aviation Week began inquiring about it, the report noted.
Asked about the RFI on Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, said the service’s next-generation ICBMs — known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent — will not be available as a hypersonic variant when it is fielded in the late 2020s.
“With a weapon system that’s going to be fielded until the 2070 time frame, it’s hard to know exactly where we may go with that down the road,” he during an event hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. “Right now, though, the threshold warhead does not include hypersonic glide vehicles. I think I can say that safely without talking too much about what the warheads will look like.”
However, he noted that GBSD’s open-architecture backbone makes it able to adopt emerging technologies. He did not comment specifically on whether a hypersonic glide vehicle was under consideration.
As we bring the system online, we will ensure that we have the ability to roll different technologies in and to incorporate that into GBSD,” he said. “And that’s one of the, I think, best features … of GBSD, is that it’s going to give us that flexibility. So that if we decide down the road that there’s a particular technology that needs to be incorporated, we’ll be able to do that.”
As the sole bidder in the GBSD competition, Northrop Grumman is expected to win an estimated $85bn over the life of the program. A contract award is slated to occur by September, although Northrop CEO Kathy Warden said in April that she expected a decision this month. (Source: Defense News)
20 Aug 20. The U.S. Army successfully intercepted a high-performance, high-speed tactical ballistic missile (TBM) target and a cruise missile target during a flight test using the Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS).
The target missiles were part of the second of two live-fire tests during the Army’s IBCS Limited User Test (LUT) at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, and demonstrated the system’s ability to acquire, track, identify and engage diverse targets from various locations, speeds and altitudes.
“These two back-to-back successful test events are a testament to the commitment and partnership between the great men and women of the Army’s operational and acquisition communities and Northrop Grumman’s program team,” said Kenn Todorov, vice president and general manager, combat systems and mission readiness, Northrop Grumman. “We are committed to the mission of the U.S. Army and look forward to continuing that partnership in getting the game-changing IBCS capability into production and fielded.”
Like the first LUT flight test, the second test was conducted by soldiers from the U.S. Army 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Regiment. Their defense consisted of two battery and one battalion IBCS engagement operations centers, two Patriot and two Sentinel radars, and four Launchers with a mixture of Patriot Advanced Capability Two (PAC-2), Patriot Advanced Capability Three (PAC-3), and Missile Segment Enhanced (MSE) interceptors connected to the IBCS Integrated Fire Control Network (IFCN).
“First, I would like to recognize how exceptionally proud I am of the soldiers of the 3-43 ADA Battalion. This formation’s laser focus and steadfast dedication, starting with New Equipment Training last year through this Limited User Test live fire, will ultimately transform the Air and Missile Defense fight for our joint formations,” said Maj. Gen. Rob Rasch, Army Program Executive Officer, Missiles and Space. “It’s been amazing to watch our soldiers’ ability to successfully track, engage, and destroy multiple targets in a highly-complex live fire operational test, further demonstrating the IAMD’s game-changing technological advantage. As we continue to fine-tune system performance in order to fully demonstrate system requirements in the Initial Operational Test & Evaluation in Fiscal Year 2022, we maintain high confidence for success due to the great leaders and soldiers of the 3-43, who will ultimately become the first-ever IBCS-enabled battalion.”
20 Aug 20. JTACs go to sea to bring more firepower to the Gulf. The US military is training joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs) who usually operate on land to direct air support from ships and aircraft, US Central Command (CENTCOM) revealed on 17 August.
It said that marine corps, air force, and special operations JTACs under its command were stationed aboard a variety of US naval vessels and aircraft during a 9-12 August exercise.
The naval vessels involved included the expeditionary base ship USS Lewis B Puller, which also acted as a staging platform for helicopters from the United Arab Emirates’ Joint Aviation Command (JAC), as well as Cyclone-class patrol ships and MK VI patrol boats. JTACs also flew in an AC-130W Stinger II gunship.
From these platforms the JTACs directed live fire from the AC-130W and JAC helicopters at inflatable targets in the Gulf. (Source: Jane’s)
20 Aug 20. Northrop Grumman Armament Systems advances M-ACE development. Northrop Grumman Armament Systems is moving to verify the design and upgrade its Mobile Acquisition Cueing and Effector (M-ACE) system following a test event completed in July.
Conducted at the company’s private proving grounds, northwest of Armament Systems’ headquarters near Minneapolis, the event was aimed at demonstrating advanced predictive cueing integration between the M-ACE vehicle – which is equipped with radar, electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR), radio frequency (RF) sensors, and a command and control (C2) suite – and several Scorpion air defence (AD) vehicles fitted with 30 mm M230LF Bushmaster cannons.
M-ACE comprises a multi-mission ground and air security which can be tasked with counter-unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS) operations, company officials told Janes.
Northrop Grumman’s Business Development Director, Armament Systems C-UAS, Robert Menti, said the event successfully proved a fully “networked, integrated, full kill chain” capable of detecting ground and UAS threats at extended ranges.
“The advanced predictive cueing capability enables shortening the kill chain decision cycle (target identification, classification, and prioritisation) at near machine speed,” Menti explained. “This is accomplished through the fusion of sensors and autonomous/artificial intelligence capabilities of the system.”
The next test event is scheduled to be conducted at Big Sandy Range in Arizona in October which will see the Scorpion AD vehicles firing proximity fused ammunition from the M230LF to destroy UASs that are initially identified, tracked, and targeted by M-ACE. (Source: Jane’s)
20 Aug 20. Indian Air Force tests MICA air-to-air missiles. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has reportedly carried out successful testing of Beyond Visual Range (BVR) anti-air multi-target MICA missile, which will be integrated with the recently acquired Rafale fighter jets.
According to a New Indian Express report, the Indian Air Force conducted the tests, using the Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter jets off Odisha coast.
The fighter jet successfully destroyed an aerial target, using the MICA missile at low altitude.
A defence official said: “All mission parameters have been met as the target was destroyed validating the missile’s launch envelope. The missile will equip both Sukhoi and Rafale fighter jets.”
India acquired MICA missile system from France. It is a fire-and-forget short and medium-range missile system that can be launched from fighter jets, as well as ground units and ships.
The 3.1m-long missile, weighing approximately 112 kg, is capable of destroying targets within a range of 500m to 60 km. It has two variants guided by radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR).
The testing has been conducted because the Indian armed forces have been engaged in a military standoff with China along the Line of Actual Control for the last three months.
Recently, IAF deployed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas on the western front. It moved the first squadron of the aircraft after China reportedly deployed two J-20 stealth fighter jets near the border.
The South Asian nation also received five Rafale jets Ambala Air Force Station (AFS) last month. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
19 Aug 20. Missile Defense Agency director lays out hurdles in path to layered homeland missile defense. The Missile Defense Agency is planning to develop a layered homeland intercontinental ballistic missile defense architecture, but it must clear a range of hurdles to get after an approach that addresses emerging threats and fills a gap while a next-generation interceptor is developed, according to the agency’s director.
The agency unveiled plans in its fiscal 2021 budget request in February to create a more layered homeland defense system that would include regional missile defense capability already resident with the Navy and Army to bolster homeland defense against ICBMs.
The plan would include establishing layers of defensive capability relying on the Aegis Weapon System, particularly the SM-3 Block IIA missiles used in the system, and a possible Aegis Ashore system in Hawaii. The underlay would also include the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. The Army is already operating a THAAD battery in South Korea and Guam.
The layered approach would buy time while the Pentagon scrambles to field a new interceptor to replace older ground-based interceptors — after canceling its effort to redesign the kill vehicle for the GBIs — in its Ground-based Midcourse Defense system located primarily at Fort Greely, Alaska.
With little detail conveyed in MDA’s budget request for a layered homeland missile defense plan, Congress is pressuring the agency to come up with a strategy and approach to putting the architecture in place in both the House and Senate passed FY21 defense authorization bills.
Much is riding on the success of an upcoming test of the SM-3 Block IIA missile, Vice Adm. Jon Hill said during a Heritage Foundation virtual event on Aug. 18. The missile has seen several test failures in the recent past.
“We’re going to really stress the SM-3 Block IIA outside its design space,” Hill said. “It was designed for medium and intermediate range. Now we’re going against long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles. The analysis says we’ll be successful, but nothing is real to any of us until we actually get the empirical data from being out in the flight range.”
The test will involve several time zones on several different ranges and the same ICBM target used in the most recent GMD test, Hill said.
And while the test is still on track to happen by the end of the year, Hill said, challenges in coordination and travel due to the coronavirus pandemic could possibly have an impact on schedule.
When the pandemic hit, “we were ready and postured to go to the Pacific to execute” Flight Test Maritime-44, Hill said, “so we did get the target on station. So the target’s out there in the Pacific and it’s ready to roll.”
Following FTM-44, the agency would like to execute another test against a very complex ICBM target unlike the “simple” one being used in the upcoming test. That target will have “a lot of separation debris and that has a lot of countermeasures,” Hill said.
“We want to make sure that the system in total, from the space assets to the radar to the engage-on-remote capability that passes that information to the ship, that ship can actually sift through all that and say, ‘That’s the [reentry vehicle] and that’s the where the missile’s going to go,‘” he added.
Success in the upcoming test doesn’t mean the agency’s work is done, Hill said. Upgrades will be required based on threats, combat system certifications will need to be conducted and work with the Navy to determine where Aegis ships would deploy will have to occur.
The agency will also have to determine how quickly it can ramp up its production line for SM-3 Block IIA missiles.
Then “if we succeed with Aegis, then we’ll go right down the path with THAAD,” Hill said.
The second big challenge, after ensuring all the parts work to provide layered coverage, is developing engagement coordination between the different layers, according to Hill.
“Let’s just say that step one is a ship off the coast as a complement to GMD. Those systems today talk already, but they’re not talking in terms of being layered defenders,” Hill said. “So if GMD, for example, decides he’s going to wait this first shot out and let the ship take it, we have to have the communication network to go do that. We have to have the technical architecture with the Command and Control Battle Management system, but in that context of layered defense and engagement coordination.”
Aegis ships are already able to do engagement coordination among each other and the work the Pentagon is doing to get THAAD and the Patriot air-and-missile defense system to coordinate are “extensible to that problem,” Hill said, “but we still need to do that kind of engineering and that sort of architecture work.”
And while a layered missile defense architecture for the homeland is an intricate one, “you don’t have to solve the whole problem” at once, Rebecca Heinrichs, a missile defense analyst at the Hudson Institute, said during the Heritage Foundation event. But she cautioned that she did foresee challenges in establishing such an architecture on the political front rather than on the technical side.
“Congress always wants to vet these kinds of things, so even though it is Congress that wanted the SM-3 Block IIA test, whenever you start talking about which district it is going to be in, where it’s going to go and that kind of thing, that is a political challenge that takes a lot of debate and conversation.” (Source: Defense News)
18 Aug 20. USAF seeks information on ‘Mayhem’ expendable hypersonic air-breathing demonstrator. The US Air Force (USAF) is seeking information from industry on a possible expendable hypersonic multimission air-breathing demonstrator called ‘Mayhem’, according to a 12 August request for information (RFI) posted on the federal contracting website beta.sam.gov.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is interested in the design, fabrication, integration, and necessary research needed to enable a larger-scale, air-breathing hypersonic multimission flight demonstrator. The Mayhem System Demonstrator (MSD) will need to be capable of carrying larger payloads over distances farther than current hypersonic capabilities allow.
The payload bay will be modular and capable of carrying or delivering at least three distinct payloads in order to execute multiple Pentagon-defined mission sets. The AFRL has previously accomplished similar research under multiple efforts, including the Enhanced Operational Scramjet Technology effort, the Enabling Technologies for High-Speed Operable Systems concept, the High-Speed Strike Weapon Program, and the Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concept Program.
To increase industry involvement and benefit from focused tasking, the AFRL is considering using two multiple-award indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contracts to accomplish the Mayhem demonstrator effort. The two ID/IQ contracts would be split into groups, each encompassing one propulsion system development and vehicle development and integration.
Each ID/IQ contract group would share a single-cost ceiling with a multiple-award ID/IQ contract scoped to each of the two focus areas: large-scale propulsion development and flight-weight ground test; and air vehicle design and scramjet integration.
Follow-on awards would include fabrication, flight test, and vehicle modification for integration of various payloads. Multiple-award ID/IQ contracts would be planned under one solicitation. (Source: Jane’s)
18 Aug 20. Researchers develop multifunctional fabric for improved US Army soldier uniforms. Researchers at The University of Massachusetts Lowell are using sustainable green chemistry to improve the fabric the US Army uses for soldier uniforms.
Uniforms are currently made of a material that is inexpensive, durable and comfortable in all climates, however, it is neither fire-retardant nor insect-repellent.
The researchers focussed on these two properties in their experiments and are due to present their findings at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall 2020 Virtual Meeting & Expo this week.
Study leader Ramaswamy Nagarajan PhD said: “The Army presented to us this interesting and challenging requirement for multifunctionality.”
There are currently no existing materials that incorporate all of the properties necessary for safe uniforms. It is expensive to create a new material that is simultaneously multifunctional, easy to dye and consists of raw materials that the US produces.
The researchers, therefore, decided to develop an existing commercially available and inexpensive material made of a 50-50 nylon-cotton blend produced in the US.
The nylon in the blend makes the material strong and resistant to abrasion and the cotton makes it comfortable. However, the material does not repel insects and poses a high fire risk.
The researchers focussed on sustainable green chemistry in this study, using non-toxic chemicals and processes to imbue the material with fire-retardant and insect repellent properties.
The scientists first tried to make the cotton fire retardant. PhD student Sourabh Kulkarni explained:
“Cotton has a lot of hydroxyl groups (oxygen and hydrogen-bonded together) on its surface, which can be activated by readily available chemicals to link with phosphorus-containing compounds that impart flame retardancy.” The researchers chose phytic acid as their phosphorous-containing compound for its non-toxicity and abundance.
The team next tried to make the nylon insect-repellent. They collaborated with LaunchBay to attach a non-toxic insect repellent called permethrin to fabric through a method known as plasma-assisted deposition, where plasma is generated between the repellent and the fabric that helps it attach as a thin film.
The study revealed that the adapted material performed 20% better than untreated material in heat tests and was over 98% more effective in standard insect repellence tests with live mosquitos.
The researchers plan to experiment further with a non-toxic substance other than phytic acid to achieve greater flame retardancy. They are also considering attaching antimicrobials to prevent infections from bacteria and dyes that remain durable. (Source: army-technology.com)
18 Aug 20. Cameroon modifying helicopters with Ukrainian ATGMs. Cameroon has taken delivery of Ukrainian-made Bar’er-V helicopter-launched anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) systems, according to Russian and Ukrainian reports. A Russian defence blogger initially made the claim on 7 August, saying the delivery took place from Hostomel Airport to the Cameroonian Air Force in December 2019. Worth USD2.41m, it included 38 RK-2V Bar’er-V ATGMs, two 524-RE electro-optical targeting systems, and two KM-01V Adros active protection systems for countering infrared-guided missiles.
No source was provided but Ukraine’s Defense Express magazine reported exactly the same details on 12 August, sourcing the information to 52wmb.com, a Chinese website that describes itself as an international trade data service. The Ukrainian story included a screenshot showing the relevant 52wmb.com entry and added that the shipment also included two KTK-1M missile test sets.
The RK-2V is the version of the laser-guided Bar’er ATGM that the State Kyiv Design Bureau (Luch) developed as an upgrade for Mi-24/35 and Mi-8/17 helicopters. The 524-R/RK-2V combination is reportedly already fitted to Azerbaijan’s modified Mi-24G attack helicopters. (Source: Jane’s)
18 Aug 20. South Korea selects companies to develop gliding graphite bomb. South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development (ADD) has completed the selection of companies that will be tasked with developing a non-lethal, gliding, graphite-based ‘blackout bomb’ for use by the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF).
Speaking to Janes about on 18 August a South Korean official said on condition of anonymity that Poongsan Corporation will build the weapon’s case, LIG Nex1 will be in charge providing the guidance kit and integrating the system, and Hanwha will develop the fuze.
The budget for developing the stand-off weapon, which is based on computer-generated imagery provided by Poongsan will feature what appear to be two folding wings on its upper surface and at least five sweptback rectangular fins on its tail section, “is in the range of tens of billions of KRW”, with contracts for prototype development set to be signed in September, according to the official.
Development of the weapon is expected to be completed by November 2024. (Source: Jane’s)
17 Aug 20. New footage of Iran’s Khorramshahr missile test released. New footage has emerged showing a Khorramshahr, Iran’s most powerful ballistic missile, being tested with the small re-entry vehicle (RV) that extends its range and possibly its accuracy.
The Fars News Agency released the footage on 16 August and reported that it showed the missile’s RV hitting a 40 m2 target area.
The launch appeared to take place at a different location from the Khorramshahr test seen in footage that appears to have been first shown at the Eghtedar-40 exhibition held in Tehran in February 2019. The missile was painted in the same colours in the two videos, which were filmed from different angles, but the background terrain was not the same.
France, Germany, and the UK submitted a joint letter to the Security Council in March 2019 saying a Khorramshahr with a small RV had been publicly displayed in Tehran the previous month. (Source: Jane’s)
14 Aug 20. MBDA and LM Submit Proposal for Germany’s Next Generation Integrated Air and Missile Defense System.
- TLVS Will Ensure Defense Against Advanced Future Threats
MBDA Deutschland and Lockheed Martin (LM), the TLVS bidders consortium (TLVS JV), have submitted an updated proposal to the German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw). The proposal includes development, test, certification and delivery of Germany’s future Integrated Air and Missile Defense system.
“More than 80 subcontractors will support the TLVS program. At peak performance, more than 6,000 highly qualified employees will benefit from the implementation of TLVS, with the majority in Germany. A broad spectrum of industrial capabilities is to be involved covering system of systems engineering, cybersecurity, digitization, as well as cutting edge radar, optical and electrical engineering including small and medium suppliers. With these capabilities the TLVS program will ensure defense against advanced and future air and missile threats,” said Thomas Gottschild, managing director MBDA Deutschland. “In the last months we made progress in further detailing the Integrated Master Schedule, relevant specifications as well as performance simulations to de-risk the future contract.”
Current threats demand a mobile IAMD system that is full 360-degree capable and based on an open network-centric architecture. Only the TLVS system has these capabilities and the ability to rapidly adapt to the ever-changing threat environments.
“Supporting Germany’s essential security interests, the TLVS Joint Venture between MBDA Deutschland and Lockheed Martin builds on our proud legacy of partnership with Germany to create jobs, share technical expertise and deliver capabilities to benefit industry on both sides of the Atlantic,” said Scott Arnold, vice president, Integrated Air and Missile Defense, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “TLVS is a demonstrated, modern system that can transform Germany’s defense capabilities and enable Germany as the NATO Framework Nation for Air & Missile Defense.”
Designed to replace Germany’s aging, sectored Patriot systems designed in the late 1960s, the 2020 TLVS proposal provides protection from a broader threat spectrum with two mission-specific effectors, significantly enhanced sensor capabilities for long range engagements and a new communications and Battle Management system to support enhanced interoperability, data fusion and cyber resilience. TLVS will transform Germany’s defense capabilities and set an important precedent in how neighboring nations address persistent global threats for years to come. (Source: ASD Network)
17 Aug 20. China reveals details about 500kg gliding sub-munitions dispenser. Chinese state-owned media have revealed details about a 500 kg unpowered, gliding sub-munitions dispenser developed for use by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft.
In a 15 August news report the China Central Television 7 (CCTV 7) channel stated that the guided stand-off weapon, which is very similar in appearance to the Y6-J (also known as CS/BBC5) Guided Glider Aerial Bomb displayed at the Airshow China 2018 defence exhibition in Zhuhai, has a gliding range of about 60 km and has been designed as a fire-and-forget weapon that is capable of delivering at least six different types of sub-munitions to strike a variety of targets.
CCTV 7 reported that the aerodynamically shaped dispenser, which resembles the US-made AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW), can carry up to 240 sub-munitions. Just like the AGM-154, the Chinese weapon has two folding wings on its upper surface and its tail section features six fixed, sweptback rectangular fins.
CCTV 7 also released footage showing the glide bomb being dropped from what appeared to be a PLA Air Force (PLAAF) JH-7 fighter-bomber during trials, although it was not revealed when these took place. The platform had previously been seen conducting flight tests with the weapon. (Source: Jane’s)
17 Aug 20. New partnerships formed in quest to snag US Army Stryker up-gunning deal. Industry is bracing for surprise entries and team changes in the US Army’s up-gunning competition with at least one big switch up: Pratt Miller partnering up with Rafael Defence and Oshkosh Defence.
After a two-and-a-half-month deadline extension, all Medium Calibre Weapons System (MCWS) programme proposals and bid samples are due to the army on 24 August. Although many vendors are remaining tight lipped over whether they are still competing, Janes has confirmed with multiple, wholly separate, sources that Pratt Miller is no longer teaming up with CMI Defence and is now saddled up with Rafael and Oshkosh for its bid.
The service declined to comment on any team changes and said specific vendor information, including system performance and on-going participation, are considered “source selection sensitive”.
“The US [government] does not and has not provided vendor direction on who to partner with or what systems to utilise to protect the integrity of the competition,” Ashley John, director for public and congressional affairs for the Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems, told Janes on 12 August. “Each vendor partnership is independent of government input and has been developed directly from party to party.”
Under the competition, the army wants to select a team to outfit Stryker vehicles with 30 mm cannons. Service plans called for a two-phased, concurrent approach involving a design integration study phase to help inform requirements development and the acquisition strategy, and a separate Stryker MCWS request for proposal (RFP). (Source: Jane’s)
14 Aug 20. USAF seeks information on maritime strike weapon. The US Air Force (USAF) is conducting market research into kinetic weapons capable of engaging and defeating maritime surface vessels, according to a 24 July request for information (RFI) posted on the federal contracting website beta.sam.gov.
No further details were available with the public version of the RFI, which had a version classified secret by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) armament systems development division. USAF spokesperson Ilka Cole said on 10 August that while the specific capabilities sought are classified, the service seeks information on any kinetic weapon capable of engaging and defeating maritime surface vessels.
An expert believes that this RFI is the USAF’s effort to capture weapons compatible with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) that are not the Lockheed Martin AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) nor the Raytheon-Kongsberg Defense Systems Joint Strike Missile (JSM) air-launched anti-ship weapon being developed for the F-35. Bryan Clark, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute think tank in Washington, DC, told Janes on 31 July that the LRASM will probably not be compatible with the F-35 as the stakeholders have not been able to integrate it on to the aircraft for internal carriage due to the weapon’s large size.
Lockheed Martin spokesman Brett Ashworth said on 12 August that the company is investing in F-35 integration efforts for LRASM and the AGM-158B Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER). He said there is operator interest in both weapons and the company is working to ensure outstanding weapon stand-off and effects. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Jul 20. UK shoots for new laser weapons against drones, missiles. Britain is planning to invest up to $162m developing three directed-energy weapon demonstrators, including one aimed at killing drones, the Ministry of Defence has announced.
The MoD said it had notified industry this week, in what is called a Prior Information Notice, of its intention to procure two laser-based demonstrators and a radio-frequency weapon to “explore the potential of the technology and accelerate its introduction onto the battlefield.”
The British look to start the procurement process later this year and hope to have the new systems ready for trials in 2023.
A spokesman for the MoD said it’s too early to talk about any other timelines or exactly how the weapons development work will be procured.
In a statement the MoD said it was forming a new joint program office and is now recruiting personnel to manage the program.
The demonstrators are part of the MoD’s ‘Novel Weapons Programme,’ which is responsible for the trial and implementation of innovative weapon systems. The new arms are expected to reach the frontline within 10 years.
The British already have a laser-based technology development effort underway. A £30m ($37m) technology demonstrator program known as Dragonfire was awarded to an industry consortium in 2017.
Missile maker MBDA, Qinetiq, BAE Systems, Leonardo and others are involved in the industrial effort.
The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory is leading the effort from the MoD side. Initial trials on Dragonfire are scheduled to take place this year.
The spokesman said that while Dragonfire is about “assessing the viability of the technology, the new work will be looking at issues like size, functionality and exactly how they integrate on existing platforms.”
The new program will include two high-energy laser demonstrators. One onboard a ship for air and surface defense applications and a similar laser mounted on a land vehicle for short-range air defense and counter-surveillance applications.
The third program is aimed demonstrating a high-power radio frequency weapon mounted on a land vehicle against aerial drones and to counter enemy movements. The weapon is designed to disrupt and disable an adversary’s computers and electronics.
The MoD statement said Britain already has over 30 years’ experience in radio-frequency and directed- energy weapons “during which time the UK has become a world leader in developing new power generation technologies and a global hub for the performance testing and evaluation of these systems.”
“The new systems are expected to be trialed in 2023 on Royal Navy ships and Army vehicles but, once developed, both technologies could be operated by all three services. The armed forces will use these exercises to get a better understanding of DEW, test the systems to their limits, and assess how they could be integrated with existing platforms,” said the MoD.
The MoD released images of the laser weapons mounted on a Type 26 frigate and a Wildcat naval helicopter.
The new program still leaves the British playing catch-up in the deployment of laser weapons. The U.S. Navy trialed a laser weapon on an operational warship several years ago and is now planning to install a high-energy laser and integrated optical dazzler with surveillance system on the destroyer Preble in 2021.
On the land side, German defense contractor Rheinmetall has been developing a laser weapon for several years and recently undertook comprehensive trials with a weapon station suitable for mounting on a platform like a Boxer armored vehicle. (Source: Defense News)
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.