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02 Oct 20. Could the Northrop Grumman Bushmaster 44 save the UK armoured vehicle plan from meltdown? (See below: Industry blames CT40 Cannon for armoured vehicle delays). As the debate as to the future of the UK’s armoured vehicle fleet rages from the Armageddon scenario of the total scrappage of the WCSP fleet and the 245 Ajax turrets with Warrior and Scimitar 2 remaining in service until 2025, could a new canon save the day?
One senior source told BATTLESPACE this week that this was not a vehicle-centric problem but a canon-centric problem. BATTLESPACE readers know the Editor’s strong views on CT40 and 40mm in general!
40mm has never taken off across the world as the failure of Nexter to make any headway in CT40 overseas sales with Saudi and Qatar still failing to confirm sales. BAE Systems would be happy as they had gambled on huge ammunition sales and have only achieved 515 rounds for the UK, which Nexter has said it will buy back in the event of cancellation. The failure of the Nexter VBCI in Qatar in favour of Patria appeared to put a nail in the coffin of that prospect.
Nexter showed an anti-aircraft variant at Eurosatory in 2016, which had been demonstrated to Saudi Arabia, with nothing to show yet. So, with the MoD looking at an £80m write-off for the CT40 development costs along with the money written off by Lockheed Martin suggested at being over £50m and with the possibility of claims against the MoD for failure in the GFE CT40, could the compromise be to fit the Bush 44 into both turrets giving a growth path to 50mm for a new vehicle such as Lynx when Warrior comes out of service with Lynx being shoe-in with no money-wasting Trials Of Truth competitions!
The US has never believed that 40mm is the answer and rejected CT40 some time ago and resisted Linda Hudson, BAE’s US supremo, advances to push Ct40 for the Bradley replacement
Bush44 is a proven and affordable system and in service with the Royal Navy. Both GDUK and LM are believed to have done studies for installation into their respective turrets. BATTLESPACE believes that GDUK was quietly asked not to offer this solution as it may affect their Ajax bid! Quite clearly the CT40 procurement has been a disaster. DE&S should have procured a system not a canon as the French have done and carried out the trials and integration accordingly. Adopting Bush44 would lower the ammo costs considerably and give the British Army a NATO compatible system to quell the concerns in some quarters of the British Army running out of CT40 ammo in theatre without any re-supply available. Bush44 would also solve the power supply problems through the slipring as experienced by LMUK with WCSP and the huge reoil and wobble problems with the Ajax turret preventing a second hit round on target. Scrapping both Ajax and WCSP would be a very expensive and embarrassing situation.
01 Oct 20. Double the firepower: MQ-9 tests flying with eight Hellfire missiles. The Air Force last month conducted the first flight of an MQ-9A Reaper that had been configured to carry eight AGM-114 Hellfire missiles — twice the number the drone normally carries.
The 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada conducted the flight test on Sept. 10, the Air Force said in a Wednesday release.
A software upgrade expected to be rolled out to MQ-9s by the end of the calendar year made the expanded Hellfire capacity possible, the Air Force said. In the past, Reapers could carry no more than four Hellfires, two on the outboard station of each wing.
But with the upgrade, stations that were previously used for fuel tanks or 500-pound bombs can be used for Hellfires.
Master Sgt. Melvin French, the program’s test system configuration manager, said in the release that the hardware and launchers that now can be used to carry Hellfires are the same as the original stations used.
“Aside from the extra hardware required to be on-hand, no other changes are required to support this new capability and added lethality,” French said in the release. “The Reaper retains its flexibility to fly 500-pound bombs on any of these stations, instead of the AGM‑114s, when mission requirements dictate.”
Adding the flexibility to carry more Hellfires will let the Reaper meet the needs of both Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operations Command, the release said.
In the past, the Air Force said, the Reaper has run out of firepower during its long missions, which sometimes resulted in waits for a freshly armed backup to arrive before a target could be struck.
The Air Force needs the Reaper to be able to find and immediately strike high-priority targets — some of whom are only vulnerable for fleeting periods of time — as well as defend friendly forces isolated on the ground. Giving the Reaper more firepower will allow it to keep engaging the enemy during its long sorties, which often go for hours on end.
“History has proven the MQ-9′s ability to provide aerial continuity and attack support for air and ground forces during counter-insurgency and close air support,” said 556th commander Lt. Col. Michael Chmielewski. “Doubling the firepower of this high-endurance aircraft with Hellfires improves the lethality and agility of the MQ-9 over many combat roles, with an arsenal of highly versatile, accurate, and collateral-friendly weapons for all combatant commanders.” (Source: Defense News)
01 Oct 20. MDA and Army see successful Patriot and THAAD test after failure. After a failed test in February, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and the Army successfully intercepted a target in an Oct. 1 test using a Patriot air and missile defense system as well as a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system integrated together, according to an MDA statement.
In the test at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, the THAAD AN/TPY-2 radar detected and tracked a Black Dagger target missile and provided that information to the Patriot system. The Patriot launch system deployed a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement missile and destroyed the target.
In February, the AN/TPY-2 detected and tracked a Black Dagger and supplied the information to the Patriot system, but the missile missed the target “due to an interceptor software upgrade error,” according to the MDA statement.
The error “has since been corrected, as demonstrated by today’s successful intercept,” the statement noted.
The success of the test “validates the interoperability of the Patriot and THAAD weapon systems,” MDA Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill said in the statement. “This capability is vital to the Ballistic Missile Defense System to defend against rogue threats to our homeland, deployed forces and allies.”
“We’re proud to support the Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Army Program Executive Office Missiles and Space to provide this vital capability within the Ballistic Missile Defense System,” Scott Arnold, Lockheed Martin vice president of integrated missile defense in the company’s Missiles and Fire Control business, said in statement. Lockheed Martin manufactures the THAAD weapon system.
The missile tests this year meet a congressional requirement for the Army and the MDA to test integration and interoperability of the THAAD and Patriot weapon systems annually.
Last year, the first-ever test of THAAD’s ability to remotely fire an interceptor was a success, a significant milestone in proving the ability to decouple launchers from radars and fire control systems.
The Army’s work to integrate the Patriot and THAAD systems was born out of an urgent operational need on the Korean Peninsula.
The effort uses some of the principles of decoupling launchers and radars so an operator, for instance, can use a THAAD radar — which can see farther than a Raytheon-made Patriot radar — but decide to engage a Patriot interceptor depending on the threat picture.
The ability to use the THAAD radar also gets more out of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement weapon fired from Patriot units, which outperforms the organic Patriot radar.
In another test last year at White Sands, a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Cost Reduction Initiative interceptor took out an air-breathing threat at a record distance. That test also showed it can be integrated into the Northrop Grumman-made Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System, which is the command-and-control system of the Army’s future air and missile defense architecture. (Source: Defense News)
01 Oct 20. DOD Official Discusses Hypersonics Development. The Defense Department is developing hypersonic strike systems because of their unique warfighting aspects of range, speed, maneuverability, survivability and lethality, said the assistant director of hypersonics, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.
Those hypersonic attributes address the problem of area access and area denial, posed by potential adversaries, Russia and China, in particular, said Mike E. White, who spoke at a Defense One Hypersonics and Space panel.
Some of the research is going into reusable hypersonics vehicles, White added.
The Chinese and Russians have stated that they’re developing hypersonic systems for both nuclear and conventional weapons delivery, he said, adding that the DOD is focused on conventional systems.
The department is currently looking at designing hypersonic systems that are reusable, White said, meaning that once a hypersonic vehicle takes off, it doesn’t just explode like a missile, but rather, it can be used again, in certain ways similar to the reusable SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.
He said factors that will go into developing a reusable system include, developing suitable high-temperature materials; effective thermal management systems; and, turbine-based propulsion systems, as opposed to rocket-based, boost-glide systems or rocket-boosted scramjet-powered cruise missiles.
Reusable hypersonics is still in the maturation stage 1, he said, meaning that it’s still got a long way to go. System and subsystem integration is critically important in this regard, he added. “It’s a hard problem.”
Turbulence modeling using wind tunnels is useful but can only go so far, White said. It’s difficult to do that between mach 5 and mach 20 in the wind tunnel. The ultimate testbed may involve flying hypersonic test vehicles at that speed and evaluating the data, as weird things can happen at those incredible speeds that would otherwise be hard to predict.
Advanced modeling and simulation techniques being developed could address some of those concerns regarding testing, he added.
Interestingly, a number of small companies and venture capitalists are interested in trying to leverage the advantages of reusable hypersonics for various applications including military, satellite delivery and even human space transport. He said the department hopes to leverage those innovators.
The department is heavily investing in hypersonics and it’s a priority, White noted.
The hypersonics budget since 2016 has gone up by a factor of 10. This year, it’s about $3.5bn, and it’s expected to continue.
Programs of record and fielding of hypersonics weapons should be in the middle of this decade, he added. (Source: US DoD)
01 Oct 20. Is Precision Fires back on the UK’s agenda? CGS General Sir Nick Carter and The Head of the Army General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith both stated the requirements for log-range precision fires in their future wish list for the forthcoming Defence Review. Some weeks ago Precision Fires was slated as being delayed for two years due to budgetary issues. But with some vehicle programmes rumoured for the chop, funds for Precision Fires maybe available. Bidders include Nexter with Cesar, BAE Systems with Archer and RBSL with a Boxer KMW RCH 155 solution along with Hanwha which is offering the K9 Thunder already sold to South Korea, Australia and Norway. This development may play into the hands of Hanwa where the UK is looking for offet opportunities for the Australian BAE Hunter frigate programme.
01 Oct 20. AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), today announced the introduction of its family of loitering missile systems, featuring the new Switchblade 600. Switchblade 600 builds on the battle-proven track record of Switchblade 300 to define a new category of extended range loitering missiles. The U.S. Army recently awarded AeroVironment a $76m contract award for Switchblade 300 system procurement and support as part of the Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System (LMAMS) program. Based on the same tube-launched, collapsible wing, electric propulsion architecture as Switchblade 300, the new, larger Switchblade 600 offers expanded capabilities for engaging larger, hardened targets at greater distances.
“Since pioneering the loitering missile category with Switchblade 300 more than 10 years ago, AeroVironment has worked with multiple new customers to develop scalable variants that could address new mission requirements,” said Wahid Nawabi, AeroVironment president and chief executive officer. “Now that Switchblade 300 has been adopted by the U.S. Army for its LMAMS program, our customers are eager to deploy Switchblade 600 because it can address larger, hardened targets in a more precise, rapid and cost-effective manner than legacy missile systems. We anticipate continued expansion of our family of loitering missile systems to help our customers proceed with certainty across a broader set of missions.”
Rapidly deployable, highly maneuverable, with high performance optics and scalable munition payloads, AeroVironment’s Switchblade loitering missile systems enable the warfighter to easily launch, fly, track and engage beyond line-of-sight targets and light armored vehicles with lethal effects and minimal or no collateral damage. A required man-in-the-loop arming sequence provides positive target confirmation, while AeroVironment’s patented “wave-off” feature and recommit capability delivers the unique ability for operators to cancel an attack within seconds of impact to avoid collateral damage, and then re-engage targets on command. In addition, each system’s small form factor, and low acoustic, visual, and thermal signature make them difficult to detect, recognize or track even at close range.
Weighing just 5.5 pounds (2.5 kilogram), Switchblade 300 is back-packable and can be deployed in less than 2 minutes via the launch tube in which it is transported, which can be easily integrated into land, air or sea platforms. Once airborne, Switchblade 300 can be remotely piloted or autonomously guided, providing up to 15 minutes of tactical reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA). Real-time video and cursor-on-target GPS coordinates provide situational awareness, information collection, targeting and feature/object recognition. Combining a dash speed of 100 mph with an advanced munition delivery, Switchblade 300 provides the warfighter with quick response and precise target prosecution against static or mobile threats, with low collateral damage.
This all-in-one, man portable, 50-pound (22.7 kilogram) solution includes everything needed to launch, fly, track and engage non line-of-sight targets with lethal effects and can be set up and operational in less than 10 minutes. Switchblade 600 deploys from the launch tube in which it is transported to allow the flexibility for ground, air or vehicle platform launches at extended stand-off range. This provides operators with superior force overmatch, while minimizing exposure to direct or indirect enemy fires. With a 115 mph dash speed and on-board anti-armor warhead, Switchblade 600 has the firepower to engage and prosecute hardened static and moving light armored vehicles from multiple angles with precise localized effects, while minimizing collateral damage.
Equipped with a high-performance EO/IR gimbaled sensor suite, precision flight control and more than 40 minutes of flight time, Switchblade 600 delivers unprecedented tactical reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA). This allows Switchblade 600 to transit up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) to a target area before conducting multiple confirmatory orbits, and engage in target prosecution – without the need for external ISR or fires assets. Should non-combatants be observed within the proximity of the target, Switchblade’s patented “wave-off” feature and recommit capability allows operators to abort the mission at any time, and then re-engage either the same or other targets multiple times based on operator command.
Also new with Switchblade 600, AeroVironment introduces a touch-screen, tablet-based Fire Control System (FCS) with tap-to-target guidance and the option to pilot the loitering missile manually or autonomously. Combined with its built-in mission planner and training simulator, the FCS provides operators with an intuitive platform to easily plan and execute missions precisely, while reducing cognitive load. Additionally, on-board AES 256 digital encryption and SAASM GPS provide the security, resilient communications and signal integrity necessary to defend against electronic warfare capabilities employed by peer and near-peer adversaries in contested environments.
“Switchblade 600 delivers an unprecedented combination of precision, control and effects on target, addressing missions previously performed with ‘fire and forget’ legacy missile systems that represented more than $1bn in U.S. Department of Defense procurement appropriations in fiscal year 2020,” added Mr. Nawabi. “The result of our continued innovation at the intersection of robotics, sensors, software analytics and connectivity, Switchblade 600 offers next generation capabilities to our customers for operations against any adversary, in any threat environment.”
When precision counts, AeroVironment’s family of loitering missile systems provide the actionable intelligence and precision firepower needed to achieve mission success in a wide range of increasingly complex battlefronts. Flexibly deployed from fixed ground positions, combat vehicles with integrated precision fire controls, aerial or maritime platforms, AeroVironment’s loitering missile systems provide field commanders with precision lethality across multiple domains.
01 Oct 20. Industry blames CT40 Cannon for armoured vehicle delays. General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin have both blamed the government-furnished CT40 cannon for causing delays to the UK’s armoured vehicle programmes in evidence submitted to Parliament’s defence select committee.
In evidence to the same inquiry, KNDS – a Nexter-Krauss-Maffei Wegmann partnership – advertised the merits of the turrets saying it was offering the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) a variant of the Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) equipped with a CT40 cannon based turret installed on Nexter’s Jaguar armoured reconnaissance and combat vehicle.
The CT40 is built by a Nexter-BAE Systems consortium, CTA International, and is set to be installed on the French Jaguar vehicle, as well as the General Dynamics Land Systems – UK (GDLS-UK) AJAX armoured vehicle and Lockheed Martin Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP).
France is set to receive 300 Jaguar vehicles with first deliveries planned over the next few months. The UK has ordered 245 turreted Ajax variants of the AJAX vehicle, as Warrior CSP is still in development, no final numbers have been agreed on how many vehicles will be equipped with the new CT40 cannon.
In June 2020, Lockheed received an Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) from the MOD for the production contract for Warrior CSP.
One source told Army Technology said that delays to the UK armoured vehicle programmes using the CT40 cannon could be a result of poor integration, especially when compared with France’s success with the system.
In France, integration of the CT40 cannon was handled by MOOG, with Jaguar being part of the country’s wider Scorpion vehicle project that aims to deliver 6,000 vehicles before the end of the next decade.
UK industries’ complaints about CT40
In its evidence, GDLS-UK said that at the time it was awarded the AJAX contract, the CT40 cannon was still in development adding that the cannons ‘performance was not fully characterised and subsequent configuration changes were not fully reported’.
The company said that these issues resulted in ‘significant design changes’ to AJAX and further trials which it said led to additional costs and delays.
In trials, the GDLS-UK AJAX has fired 4,200 40mm rounds from the CT40 cannon. So far 157 vehicle hulls and 45 turrets have been built. The company says 60 of the planned 589 vehicles have been completed with 17 accepted by the MOD and 12 vehicles being put into service.
GDLS-UK said that at the time AJAX’s demonstration contract award in 2010 the cannon was still a development item and claimed that at the time of the production contract award in 2014 its design was not fully characterised.
GDLS-UK added: “The Interface Control Document issued to GDLS-UK for the contract did not fully represent the 40mm Cannon’s performance characteristics, leading to the need for design change.
“In addition to these design issues, the CT40 was issued to GDLS-UK significantly later than planned in the joint programme schedule, and at a different configuration to that in the contract documents, resulting in substantial redesign and consequential programme delays of around 18 months.”
The company added that a ‘stable and defined build standard’ was not finalised until the AJAX contract was recast in 2019. The company added: “There remains some outstanding characterisation issues with aspects of the CT40 cannon performance.”
Warrior CSP is designed to extend the in-service life of the Warrior armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) beyond 2040. The Warrior CSP programme is comprised of three parts; the Warrior Fightability Lethality Improvement Programme (WFLIP), Warrior Enhanced Electronic Architecture (WEEA), Warrior Modular Protection System (WMPS).
CT40 is mandated by the MOD as the weapons systems for Warrior CSP.
In its evidence, Lockheed Martin said that the ‘final technical baseline and configuration’ for the cannon were not established until five years into the WCSP programme demonstration contract, first awarded in 2011. Lockheed Martin said this was three years later than ‘expected’.
Lockheed Martin said this delay resulted in a contract amendment as the company had to “reengineer the integrated turret system and re-design the Cannon Control Unit and its interfaces.”
For Warrior CSP, the CT40 cannon is managed and delivered by a separate Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) project team to the wider Warrior CSP programme.
Could the UK buy a CT40 equipped Boxer?
While GDLS-UK and Lockheed Martin raised issues with the cannon in its evidence, KNDS raised the prospects of the UK purchasing a CT40 equipped variant of the Boxer MIV, that it said could replace the need for Warrior CSP entirely. The consortium also made the case for the UK joining the combined Franco-German project to build a new Main Ground Combat System (MGCS).
In its evidence, KNDS raised the prospects of outfitting Boxer with the same turret designed for the Jaguar – dubbed Boxer T40 – claiming it is a solution to providing the British Army’s planned Strike brigades with direct fire requirement and that is a cost-effective alternative to Warrior CSP.
KNDS wrote: “Jaguar, like AJAX and WCSP in [the] UK, has the CT40 cannon as its main armament. With investment and support from UK MoD and the French DGA, referenced within the Lancaster House treaty, this battlefield dominating technology has been jointly developed and produced by Nexter (France) and BAE Systems (UK).”
KNDS says that Jaguar is, in essence, a wheeled equivalent of the AJAX platform. Unlike the UK companies that responded to the call for evidence, KNDS did not comment on any problems with the CT40 turret.
Nexter is keen on getting a chunk of the UK-market and its KNDS consortium partner Krauss-Maffei Wegmann already has a foothold in the UK Boxer programme through its subsidiary WFEL based in Stockport.
WFEL is set to take on a manufacturing role in the UK’s Boxer MIV programme alongside Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL).
KNDS wrote: “KMW, already operating through its UK subsidiary WFEL (Stockport), is taking a major role in delivering BOXER through the MIV programme to the British Army. Nexter will continue to seek an expanded role in the UK beyond the 40mm CTA programme for which it has operated a joint venture with BAE Systems since 1994.”
The consortium describes Boxer T40 as an ‘immediate’ solution it could offer to the UK. (Source: army-technology.com)
BATTLESPACE Comment: Don’t say BATTLESPACE hasn’t warned for years about the dangers and pitfalls in choosing the CT40 canon! It would take us thousands of words to review our coverage of this flawed Programme which BAE tried to silence BATTLESPACE with the threat of legal action for ‘irresponsible journalism.’ We would say that it is actually ‘irresponsible procurement!’ CT40 was a political choice made by David Cameron to support the Franco-British defence alliance and was backed up with flawed analysis from Qinetiq who did not include barrel wear or the 20,000lb recoil of CT40 in their study. The fact that the MoD chose to make the CT40 GFE means that if this is proven then LMUK and GDUK may have a case against the MoD for compensation for extra costs involved in CT40. BAE Systems claimed in 2005 that CT40 was cleared for turret operations. That was technically correct as the gun was installed in the joint UK-US Tracer vehicle which was later cancelled. However, the Traer turret was unmanned and therefore had no crew. Once manned trials started it was found that the obturation created by firing the weapon caused dangerous toxic fumes to egress into the turret which also degraded the germanium on the sights. Another problem was when a misfire happened on the final round in the chamber, the system could not push the round out. Solution – use a stick! This solution could not be used when the breech cover was welded over. When BATTLESPACE asked a Trials Engineer what he did when they had a misfire on the Range, “Run like f..k!” Was the reply! These were two of many reasons for the re-design of the upgraded Warrior turret offered by LMUK to a new turret. In the upgraded turret the breach access was welded shut to prevent egress which stopped any access to the breech in the event of a misfire. One of the biggest headaches which ahs still to be solved and may cause the eventual demise of the whole project is the power requirement through the WCSP Slipring ensure that the barrel remains stable. Given the design the CT40 canon overhang is greater than for such comparative weapons as the Northrop Bushmaster 44. Another problem believed to have been encountered on the Ajax turret was a wobble after firing due to the 20,000 lb recoil which prevented accuracy of the second and subsequent rounds hitting the target.
01 Oct 20. Boxer turret competition? Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that the UK is looking at a turreted version of its Boxer MIV vehicle as a new variant and adding additional vehicles to the 508 already slated for the British Army. The contenders will be Lockheed Martin. Ampthill, using the turrets offered for WCSP, Nexter T40 and Rafael using the Sampson 30 turret already chosen for the Lithuanian and Australian Boxer and could be made by Leonardo in the UK. Whether CT40 will be mandated again as a GFE item or mothballed, is not clear or will the MoD look at another calibre? The Northrop Grumman Bushmaster 30 and its ammunition is qualified in the UK as the RN Type 45 has it. The turret will also require an ATGW option. This news comes as sources suggest that the MoD is soon to announce the demise of the WCSP programme and all or some of the Ajax Programme. The Rheinmetall Lynx looks a likely contender for a replacement vehicle for both projects particularly the IFV and recce role. A likely sop for LMUK would be using the Warrior chassis for the ABSV role when the exiting Warriors come out of service.
01 Oct 20. GDLS moves forward with USD1.2bn IM-SHORAD deal. The US Army has greenlit initial production of an Interim Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (IM-SHORAD) system, and awarded General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) with a USD1.2bn contract to build the new vehicles.
The service announced the deal on 30 September and said it will run through the end of September 2025. However, the army did not provide additional details about the number of vehicles that will be produced under this deal.
GDLS declined to discuss the programme but Don Kotchman, the vice president and general manager, told Janes the company is “pleased to be able to partner with the army to bring this much-needed capability to US soldiers”.
Soldiers from 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment – an army unit headquartered on Shipton Kaserne near Ansback, Germany – have been testing out a prototype at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. Janes joined senior service leaders for a trip out to the desert on 20 August to listen to soldiers’ initial feedback. Although they had not yet fired the prototype, they praised the weapon’s capability and noted only a few minor tweaks they would like to see, including one to a controller. They also told Army Vice Chief of Staff General Joseph Martin and Undersecretary James McPherson that the weapon was best suited for wide-open spaces, for example, vast land in Syria versus more populated European cities with narrow streets and bridges. (Source: Jane’s)
30 Sep 20. Japan pushes forward with JNAAM co-development. As part of its budget request for fiscal year 2021, Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has asked the Ministry of Finance in Tokyo for JPY1.2bn (USD11.4m) to push ahead with the co-development of a Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM) with the United Kingdom.
This funding request is for the trial production of a prototype of the JNAAM, an MoD official confirmed during a 28 September press briefing.
The joint programme transitioned to a prototype stage in FY18 and is expected to finish trial production of the prototype during FY 2022, according to MoD documents. Following this, the two countries will evaluate the performance of the missile and then decide whether to put the weapon into mass production.
The current joint Japan-UK research project, initiated by the two nations in 2014, is scheduled to conclude by the end of FY 2023, which is March 2024 in Japan.
Janes understands that the UK missile technologies included in the programme relate to MBDA’s Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM).
On the Japanese side, the MoD is looking to integrate advanced radio-frequency (RF) seeker technologies developed by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation for the AAM4B missile, with the aim of enhancing the accuracy and performance of the BVRAAM and supporting the development of the JNAAM.
Both Japan and the UK could prospectively integrate JNAAM with their respective Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II multirole fighter aircraft fleets. (Source: Jane’s)
30 Sep 20. The Israel Ministry of Defense has Delivered an Iron Dome Battery Developed by Rafael to the U.S. Army. The Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO), in the Directorate of Defense R&D (DDR&D), of the Israel Ministry of Defense, delivered the first of two Iron Dome Defense System batteries to the U.S. Army. On this occasion, a symbolic event was held at the Iron Dome production line of defense contractor, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
Israeli Defense Minister, Benny Gantz: “The Iron Dome system, as a part of [Israel’s] multi-layered missile defense system, reflects the strength of the Israeli defense establishment. As a result of the effectiveness of this system, many deaths were prevented on the home front of southern Israel, and it has a significant impact on the battlefield. I am proud that this advanced system will also protect U.S. Army troops. This is an extraordinary achievement for both the Ministry of Defense and for Israel’s excellent defense industries.
Last week I visited the United States and met with senior officials in the U.S. Department of Defense and the military. Among other things, we discussed procurement and information sharing in the field of technology. The completion of this agreement serves as further proof that the defense alliance [between the U.S. and Israel], is based on common values and interests, which are stronger than ever.”
The event was conducted in the presence of Israeli Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, Minister of Economy, Amir Peretz, Head of the DDR&D, Dr. Dani Gold, Head of the IMDO, Moshe Patel Rafael Chairman, Dr. Uzi Landau, and Rafael CEO, Yoav Har-Even. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was conducted in accordance to regulations set by the Ministry of Health.
In August 2019 the United States and Israel signed an agreement for the procurement of two Iron Dome Defense System batteries (IDDS-A). The first battery was delivered in record time, and the second battery will be delivered in the near future within the framework of the agreement. These batteries will be employed in the defense of US troops against a variety of ballistic and aerial threats.
Head of the IMDO in the DDR&D of the Ministry of Defense: “In the coming year, The Iron Dome system will complete ten years of operational activity, with over 2,400 interceptions. This activity has saved thousands of lives. It is a great privilege for the State of Israel to deliver the first out of two Iron Dome batteries to the U.S. Army, for the protection of American troops. The very fact that we are handing over the first battery, a year after the agreement was signed, is an achievement in itself- alongside production for the benefit of the State of Israel, we have met the requirements of the U.S. military.”
Rafael Executive Vice President and Head of Air and Missile Defense Division, Pini Yungman: “The Iron Dome system which will serve the U.S. military is tailored according to U.S. requirements. This being said, its performance capabilities, as seen in Israel, will remain the same. We began the project with a series of tests and demonstrations in the ‘White Sands’ testing field in the US. To date, we have conducted three demonstrations and intercepted targets chosen by the U.S. Army for the Iron Dome system.”
The Iron Dome system has been operational in Israel since 2011 and has demonstrated its outstanding capabilities with over 2400 successful interceptions of incoming threats. It is an integral part of Israel’s multi-layered defense array developed by the IMDO. The defense array includes the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 weapon systems.
The prime contractor for the development and production of the Iron Dome is Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. The MMR radar is developed by ELTA, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and the command and control system (BMC), is developed by mPrest.
30 Sep 20. PLAGF testing new 122mm CTL181A-based self-propelled howitzer. Chinese state-owned media has confirmed that the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) has been carrying out field tests and evaluations of a new lightweight 122 mm self-propelled howitzer (SPH) based on a modified Dongfeng Mengshi 6×6 CTL181A armoured vehicle.
The PLA’s China Weapon Tests website reported on its WeChat page on 29 September that the new SPH, the designation of which was not disclosed, recently underwent rigorous testing with PLAGF troops in China’s southern Yunnan Province to assess both the performance and “battlefield effectiveness” of the weapon system under realistic combat conditions as well as varied terrain and weather.
The report, which showed images of at least two units of the new SPH – painted in army camouflage – taking part in the field trials, said the test results will be used to “further improve” not only the weapon system’s capabilities but also the way these can best be applied to a battlefield environment. (Source: Jane’s)
30 Sep 20. US Army scraps ERCA autoloader plans, heads back to the drawing board. Weight and mobility challenges have forced the US Army to abandon a government-designed autoloader for its Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) programme and the service is now looking for help from six tech companies.
Brigadier General John Rafferty, the head of the Long-Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team, spoke at a virtual Fires Conference on 29 September and provided an update of programmes under his purview. One notable change is an army’s decision not to move forward with an autoloader that it had been developing for the new weapon based off BAE Systems’ Paladin M109A7 self-propelled howitzer.
“The integration challenge for [it] was too much of a trade with mobility and durability, and some of the results from putting 3,000 miles on a combat vehicle [out at Yuma Proving Ground] weighted up with the centre of gravity issue that we had,” the one-star general told the audience. “It was an easy decision to say that we can’t do that.”
Instead the army is looking to a group of six companies previously picked to help find artillery munition resupplying solutions – Actuate, Apptronik, Carnegie Robotics, Hivemapper, Neya Systems, and Pratt Miller. Although Brig Gen Rafferty did not provide in-depth information on the path ahead, he noted that a future capability may not be an autoloader at all.
”I’ve learned that it was really stupid to go into this saying, ‘Hey, we want an autoloader’. I don’t want an autoloader; What we want is an improved rate of fire,” he added.
”What I told them is I don’t care if there’s cannoneer there setting fuses if we’re able to get the six to 10 rounds a minute,” Brig Gen Rafferty furthered. (Source: Jane’s)
29 Sep 20. IRGC announces longer-range anti-ship ballistic missile. A longer-range anti-ship missile variant of Iran’s Fateh-110 family of solid-propellant ballistic missiles was shown for the first time when the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) opened the National Aerospace Park in Tehran to display the military equipment it has developed.
The Zolfaghar Basir missile was reported to have a range of 700 km, significantly further than the first anti-ship variant, the Khalij Fars, which was unveiled in 2011, uses an electro-optical seeker, and is said to have a range of 300 km. There are also radar-guided variants called the Hormuz.
The Zolfaghar Basir was shown with a small transparent dome on the end of its warhead section, implying it also uses an electro-optical seeker.
The tube-launched ballistic missile system unveiled during an exercise in July was also displayed, confirming it uses a Fateh-110-series missile. The tube can be buried in the ground to make the missile harder to find and destroy before launch.
The exhibition included almost all known Iranian ballistic missile types from the earliest ‘Scud’ that it acquired in the 1980s through to recent developments. The example of the Khorramshahr liquid-fuel ballistic missile, the IRGC’s most powerful weapon, that was displayed appeared to be an early example, perhaps one of the BM-25 Musudan’s that Iran acquired from North Korea. (Source: Jane’s)
25 Sep 20. PLAGF HQ-17A SHORAD systems armed with new missile, says report. Chinese state-owned television revealed on 27 September that since early 2020 the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) has been deploying a new surface-to-air missile (SAM) with at least some of its HQ-17A road-mobile short-range air-defence (SHORAD) systems.
Weihutang, a programme on military affairs from state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), released footage on 27 September showing the new air-defence missile being fired from an HQ-17A – a wheeled variant of the tracked HQ-17 system – during an exercise conducted in the Horqin Prairie of China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Weihutang said the HQ-17A that fired the missile is operated by an air-defence battalion within a combined arms brigade of the PLAGF’s 78th Group Army but gave no details about the capabilities of the new weapon. Moreover, no close-up images of the missile were provided.
That said, the soldiers operating the HQ-17As shown in the footage were seen wearing a new type of camouflage uniform: a development that is in line with an announcement made by China’s Ministry of National Defence (MND) on 31 October 2019.
The HQ-17A system is mounted on a 6×6 truck chassis by the DongFeng Motor Corporation that is based on the Belarusian MZKT-6922 chassis. The export version of the system, called the FM-2000, had been unveiled by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) during the Airshow China 2018 defence exhibition in Zhuhai.
The HQ-17A appears to be a more modern version of the Russian-made 9K330 Tor-M1/M2 SHORAD systems. For instance, the Chinese system features a different antenna array for its fire-control and surveillance radars. (Source: Jane’s)
24 Sep 20. US Marine Corps fields new M18 Modular Handgun System. The US Marine Corps (USMC) Systems Command (MCSC) has started fielding the new service-wide pistol replacement, M18 Modular Handgun System.
The US Marine Corps (USMC) Systems Command (MCSC) has started fielding the new service-wide pistol replacement, M18 Modular Handgun System.
The semi-automatic, striker-fired, 9mm pistol builds on the Sig Sauer Model P320. It will replace the M9, M9A1, M45A1, M007, and other pistols in the USMC inventory.
MCSC M18 project officer Brian Nelson said: “All Marine Corps units with a pistol will receive an M18.”
The first units to receive the M18 are the Formal Marksmanship Training Centers, Reconnaissance Battalions, Provost Marshall Offices, and Marine Corps Security Forces.
Deployment of the handgun system is expected to be completed by fiscal year 2022.
The M18 is lighter and has increased modularity compared to the previous pistols and does not feature two different trigger pulls.
Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia Weapons Training Battalion pistol programme manager sergeant Randall McClellan said: “For some marines, having two trigger pulls, like with the M9, is difficult to get used to because different forces are acting upon the gun.
“With the M18, the trigger is going to be the same weight every time.”
This pistol offers increased modularity and has interchangeable components to help it accommodate small, medium or large hands.
The M18 is part of the US Army-led project that also includes the M17 pistol.
The Marine Corps’ Combat Development and Integration partnered with the US Army to develop the requirements of the M18.
CD&I Infantry Weapon Capabilities Integration officer Billy Epperson added: “The M18 is unique in that it is a utility player capable of supporting a broad range of missions in which a handgun is required.
“Because of this versatility, the M18 will replace the four pistols in the Marine Corps inventory.”
Earlier this month, personnel from US Marine Corps (USMC) Base Camp Lejeune participated in the annual rifle qualifications (ARQ) at Stone Bay Bravo range. Last month, USMC announced plans to construct a new wargaming centre. (Source: naval-technology.com)
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