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29 Nov 18. With nod to Paris, MBDA claims lead on EU tank-killing missile. Missile-maker MBDA is banking on a new European Union project to help boost wider adoption of its Missile Moyenne Portée anti-tank weapon on the continent. The confidence by executives stems from last week’s European Council approval of a Beyond-Line-of-Sight Land Battlefield Missile System. The project is one of 34 efforts under the union’s new Permanent Structured Cooperation scheme, or PESCO. The framework is meant to unify military capabilities of the member nations with an eye toward establishing the EU as a military player on the world stage. The new missile project offers an glimpse into PESCO’s nascent process for turning political ambitions into actual hardware made by national vendors. Such is the case here, says MBDA, which released a statement saying its MMP anti-tank weapon had been “endorsed” by the EU even though the official, one-paragraph project description makes no mention of a specific weapon.
Company executives told Defense News that the MMP is what defense officials in France — which has the project lead together with Belgium and Cyprus — had in mind from the start when offering the project under an EU umbrella.
The weapon, they argue, is the natural choice because it is already in service with French forces and because it is the sole wholly European option available. (MBDA is a joint venture of Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo.)
A spokeswoman for the French delegation to the EU in Brussels did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The guided MMP, which boasts a range of 4 kilometers, can be fired by dismounted soldiers or from vehicles. Its competitors include the American-made Javelin and variants of the Spike, designed by Israel’s Rafael. The Israelis market their offering through the Germany-based company Eurospike, and the missiles are produced in that country.
But MBDA argues the “design authority” for both competitors lies outside of Europe, which means the joint venture would be ineligible for a role — and funding — under PESCO or its associated funding stream, the proposed €13bn (U.S. $15bn) European Defence Fund.
It remains to be seen whether the apparent PESCO blessing can help propel the MMP weapon to greater popularity in European armies. There is already lower-hanging fruit included in the partnership with project co-sponsor Belgium: Brussels plans to buy a new fleet of armored combat vehicles from France’s Nexter, a portion of which stands to be equipped with an anti-tank weapon.
That’s where EU funding support could come into play. Players of any PESCO project can get EU co-financing for the modification work required to make one weapon interoperable for several partner forces.
On paper, the EU missile project has ambitious goals. The weapon eventually chosen — presumably the MMP — “is intended to be integrated on an extensive variety of platforms,” a PESCO project overview states. “The project includes joint training and formation aspects. A dedicated ‘users club’ is envisioned develop a common European doctrine on BLOS firing.”
Industry officials expect an initial kickoff meeting of the partner nations to hammer out a way ahead, though the timing is unclear. At that point, there could be a formal commitment to the MMP weapon.
MBDA, for its part, is painting a purely altruistic picture of what’s to come for the missile. “France is opening a collaborative approach for how to use it,” a spokesman told Defense News. (Source: Defense News)
29 Nov 18. Update: Qatari air defence commander says Patriot is operational. Qatar has at least one operational Patriot air-defence system, Major General Hamad al-Dawai al-Nabit, the commander of the recently formed Qatar Emiri Air Defences Forces (QEADF) told journalists during a visit to his headquarters on 27 November.
“Patriot is already in position,” he said, adding that all the fire units ordered by Qatar will be “totally fielded in the next two years”. He declined to comment on the number of fire units currently operational or their locations.
The Patriots are initially being operated with the assistance of US personnel, but Qataris will gradually take over as more trained QEADF operators become available, Gen Hamad said.
When asked if there are plans to withdraw the US Army Patriots currently at Al-Udeid Air Base as the QEADF stands up more units, he said this was entirely a US decision.
Qatar’s Patriot original request was outlined in a notification to Congress released by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) in November 2012. It consisted of 11 fire units, each with four launchers, with a mix of Raytheon PAC-2 GEM-T and PAC-3 ‘hit-to-kill’ missiles.
Raytheon received a USD2.4 billion contract to deliver ten Patriot fire units to Qatar in December 2014.
Gen Hamad said there had been some changes to the deal outlined by the DSCA, including the acquisition of GEM-T missiles and both the Cost Reduction Initiative (CRI) and longer-range Missile Segment Enhanced (MSE) variants of the PAC-3. He said the QEADF is the second operator of the MSE after the US military.
Gen Hamad added that construction of the QEADF’s strategic early warning radar has begun. The DSCA announced in July 2013 that Qatar had requested the AN/FPS-132 Block 5: an upgraded version of the AN/FPS-123 ‘Pave PAWS’ ultra-high frequency long-range radar that is used by US Strategic Command to provide early warning of intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles approaching the US.
29 Nov 18. Turkey pursues survivability for its tank fleet. The Turkish armed forces have selected the Pulat hard-kill active protection system (APS), a local joint development of Aselsan and SSB, as part of an urgent operational requirement to improve survivability for its tank fleet following experience against anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) during Operation ‘Euphrates Shield’ and Operation ‘Olive Branch’. During those operations, the Turkish Armed forces lost several main battle tanks (MBTs) and lighter vehicles to ATGMs. SSB officials said Turkey ordered an initial batch of 40 M60T MBTs to be fitted with the Pulat APS, with integration on the M60T planned for the fourth-quarter of 2018 and deliveries of the Pulat-equipped vehicles due by the first quarter of 2019. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
29 Nov 18. Teijin Aramid, leading manufacturer of premium aramid, has expanded its development support for customers of the defense and security industry. A completely new, first-class shooting range, based on the latest standards in technology and software, has been created in its Application Competence Center (ACC) close to the EMEA sales office in Wuppertal, Germany. This new state-of-the-art shooting range will allow customers to develop their new products designed to counter specific threats.
For over 30 years, Teijin Aramid supports customers in the development of tailor-made solutions used in soft and hard ballistic applications for police, army, and VIP environments. Changing threats and individual demands are challenging development requirements. At the EMEA Application Competence Center (ACC), Teijin covers a wide range of testing standards for safety and defense applications. Their aramids Twaron®, Teijinconex®, Technora® and the ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMW-PE) Endumax® are tested in individual customer solutions and partly even with other products or components. The different tests and developments in the ACC take place in order to generate protective solutions against heat, open fire, cut, stab and ballistics.
The ACC is a strategic location for development support and testing. Customers from all regions benefit from the long term experience in aramids and polyethylene, their converting and the broad offering of testing possibilities. Efficiency was one of the major drivers for this investment. A combination of work process optimization and implementation of new technology and testing software, turns the new shooting range into a first-class testing facility. The range length was increased to 17 meters and is compliant with various soft ballistic and hard ballistic testing standards, including helmet testing. This latest technology protects operators and the environment from ballistic threats, pollutions, etc. For the near future, additional enhancements are planned, e.g. a back face measurement performed via automatic scanning, providing information on depth and volume of deformation. Depending on market needs, an increased threat spectrum will be considered, as well as providing video streaming capability allowing customers around the world to witness ballistic testing live.
29 Nov 18. Fourth Battalion of S-400 Systems Assumes Combat Duty In Crimea Near Border with Ukraine. The fourth battalion of S-400 air defense missile systems has assumed combat duty in Crimea near the Russian-Ukrainian border, the Black Sea Fleet’s press office reported on Thursday.
“Today, the combat teams of S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems from a large air defense unit of the Southern Military District’s Air Force and Air Defense Army have assumed combat duty to provide for Crimea’s air defense,” the press office said in a statement.
The S-400 crews moved to their positions, deployed launchers, determined their location and guidance on the ground and started detecting and tracking targets in their combat mission on Thursday for the Crimean Peninsula’s air defense. As was reported earlier, the third S-400 battalion assumed combat duty in Crimea’s Yevpatoria in September to protect the Russian airspace. The similar air defense missile systems went on combat duty in Feodosiya in January 2017 and in Sevastopol in January 2018 to protect the Russian airspace in Crimea. The S-400 Triumf mobile multi-channel air defense missile system is designed to defend vital military facilities and infrastructural installations and features better capabilities compared to its S-300PM predecessor. Russia’s S-400 Triumf is the latest medium-and long-range surface-to-air missile system that went into service in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, and can also be used against ground installations. The S-400 can engage targets at a distance of 400km and at an altitude of up to 30km. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/TASS)
28 Nov 18. Zumwalt Close to Losing Gun, But Open to EW and Directed Energy. The once-revolutionary prospects of the Navy’s Zumwalt-class destroyer continue to be whittled away. Having lost some of its touted stealth capabilities and suffered a series of engine and electrical problems, now it’s likely to ditch its long-troubled gun.
The Advanced Gun System on the Zumwalt never lived up to its billing. When the Navy decided the Zumwalt design had grown too expensive and it would restart production of the tried-and-true Arleigh Burke class instead, slashing of the Zumwalt class from 32 ships to just three pushed up the price of the planned projectile to almost $1m a round. But there’s another issue: It was never able to shoot as far as the Navy wanted it to.
“We just cannot get the thing to fly as far as we want,” Vice Adm. William Merz, deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems, told the Senate Armed Services Seapower subcommittee on Tuesday.
The ship “is a very capable platform with or without that gun,” Merz assured the senators. “We will be developing either the round that goes with that gun or what we are going to do with that space if we decide to remove that gun in the future. The ship is doing fine, on track to be operational in 2021 in the fleet.”
As initially planned, the Zumwalt class would have been equipped with two 155mm guns built by BAE Systems which would fire Lockheed Martin’s Long-Range Land-Attack Projectile. The projectile was eventually found to be too costly, so it was canceled.
But the ship will sail on anyway. “We determined that the best future for that ship is to get it out there with the capability that it has and separate out the Advanced Gun System, leaving everything else in place,” Merz said.
The Navy decided last year that the entire mission for the ship would change, scrapping plans to have it operate in the littoral (coastal) environment lobbing missiles inland and supporting ground troops, instead making it into a ship-killer.
Each of the three planned Zumwalt-class ships features 80 Mk 54 Vertical Launch System cells capable of firing
- the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile, which is being modified to hit ships at sea;
- the anti-air Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM);
- or Standard Missile family — including the SM-3 for ballistic missile defenseand the multi-purpose SM-6, capable of hitting aircraft, both cruise and ballistic missiles, or even ships;
- Future upgrades might add the new Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile as well.
Merz said that “those VLS cells are larger than any other surface ship VLS cells, so that opens up an aperture of more weapons options for that ship.”
Asked by Sen. Angus King of Maine whether the Zumwalt class might be able to play other roles in the future Navy, such as hosting directed energy weapons, Merz had some good news, predicting that the ship has enough space, weight, power and communications ability to allow the Navy “to expand this ship over time. She is going to be a candidate for any advanced weapon system that we develop.”
In the longer run, the Navy is looking at an all-new destroyer or cruiser design built around the massive electrical requirements of future laser weapons, railguns, and other power-hungry systems such as radars.
While the original Zumwalt (DDG 1000) continues to undergo combat system tests en route to its 2021 entry into the fleet, the second Zumwalt-class ship, the USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) continues to grind through sea trials out of Bath Iron Works in Maine. But even there, things haven’t gone as planned. The ship suffered a massive engine failure that required the replacement of one of its $20m Rolls Royce MT30 gas turbines. It also suffered electrical malfunctions last December that required it again to return to port for repairs.
USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002), the third and last ship in the vanishingly small class, is under construction.
The Navy might not build as many Zumwalt-class ships as originally planned, but its nascent frigate program — designed to make up for the failures of the Littoral Combat Ship program — is on track, Navy leaders said. (To show how serious the Navy is about missiles, while they haven’t yet chosen the winning frigate design, a Vertical Launch System is mandatory — a capability that was lacking on LCS).
And overall, despite public discussion of delays, the plan for a 355-ship Navyremains in place, the Navy leaders told the SASC.. The Navy is planning to release a new Force Structure Assessment next year, and 355 hulls will remain the floor for what the service will budget and plan for.
“We have seen nothing from the combatant commands to date, or from Secretary Mattis’ National Defense Strategy, that will give us any indication we’ll be coming off that 355-ship in composition or in total numbers,” Merz said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
28 Nov 18. MBDA completes initial Marte ER test flight. MBDA has successfully completed the first test flight of a prototype Marte ER anti-ship missile.
“The Marte ER missile flew for more than 100 km on a planned trajectory that included several waypoints and sea skimming flight, successfully testing all flying phases,” MBDA said in a press statement. The ground-launched test was conducted on 9 November at an unspecified Italian test range, which Jane’s has identified as the Joint Armed Forces test range at Salto Di Quirra in Sardinia. Jane’s understands that the missile canister was installed at an ashore coastal test facility, with the flight conducted over the Salto Di Quirra test range area at sea to achieve the missile’s intended range. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
27 Nov 18. CMI Defence to complete CPWS Gen 2 in late 2019. Belgium’s CMI Defence expects to complete the first example of its latest Cockerill Protected Weapon Station Generation 2 (CPWS Gen 2) in the last quarter of 2019. Export marketing for the system has begun and a full-scale mock-up was recently shown fitted to the latest Indonesian PT Pindad Komodo 4×4 armoured personnel carrier (APC). CPWS Gen 2 will have a turret structure of all-welded ballistic aluminium armour with a single piece hatch cover that can be raised into a number of positions depending on the operation environment. These are fully closed, removed when carrying out Operations Other Than War (OOTW), partly raised for observation through 360°, and fully open to enable the gunner to rapidly exit the vehicle. The CPWS Gen 2’s mantlet was designed to be fitted with weapons ranging from a stabilised 12.7mm machine gun (MG) up to 25mm or 30mm cannon, with the latter having up to 155 rounds of ready-use ammunition. A 7.62mm MG can be mounted co-axially and banks of two or four electrically operated smoke grenade launchers can be mounted either side of the turret. As an option, a pod of two anti-tank guided weapons (ATGWs) can be installed on the right side of the turret to enable main battle tanks (MBTs) and other targets to be engaged beyond the main armament’s range. Traverse is all electric through 360°, with weapon elevation from -10° to 60°. The system has flexibility in regard to sighting systems, which can include day/thermal sights incorporating laser rangefinder or a panoramic sighting system.
With normal protected weapon stations, the operator is generally still vulnerable when aiming the weapons or when carrying out reloading operations. In the CPWS Gen 2, however, the gunner could be fully protected when carrying out these functions. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
28 Nov 18. Previously unknown Chinese HQ-22 SAM deployments revealed. Key Points:
- The HQ-22 SAM system is entering service with the PLAAF in increasing numbers
- Replacement of extant HQ-2 batteries with HQ-22 systems will complete China’s transition to a modern, mobile, strategic SAM force
Satellite imagery captured between 2016 and 2018 reveals 13 HQ-22 medium-range strategic surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries operational within the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). The batteries are largely occupying former HQ-2 strategic SAM positions within the PLA’s Central, Northern, and Western Theatre Commands.
The first battery to receive the HQ-22 was the 96th Battalion at Yixian southwest of Beijing. The site was observed operating the HQ-22 in imagery captured in September 2016. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
27 Nov 18. UK sends last stored Apaches to United States for CSP ‘harvest.’ The last 2 of 14 UK Army Air Corps Apache AH1 attack helicopters previously held in storage will be delivered to the United States in December for dismantling and component recovery to support the build of new AH-64E variants under the Apache Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP).
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has committed to buy 50 new-build AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters to meet the Apache CSP requirements. In May 2017 Boeing was awarded a USD488m Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract to remanufacture an initial 38 Apache AH1 attack helicopters; a contract for a further 12 AH-64Es is planned to be included within a follow-on US Army contract, according to the MoD.
Under the FMS contract, the Army Air Corps will receive AH-64E helicopters to the same standard being delivered to the US Army. Being built at Boeing’s Mesa, Arizona, plant, the new helicopters will marry new airframes, engines, rotor blades, and avionics with high-value components recovered from the legacy Apache AH1 inventory. These include the fire-control radar mast-mounted assembly, the Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M-TADS/PNVS), the main rotor hub and other transmission elements, and some structural components.
Additionally, the defensive aids system (DAS) from the Apache AH1 is being migrated into the new AH-64E airframe. The DAS embodiment is being re-architectured and updated by Leonardo under parallel contracts with Boeing and the MoD.
Previously stored at the Attack Helicopter Force’s Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk, the first four stored Apache AH1 helicopters to enter the reclamation process were air freighted to the US in February 2018. A further eight have followed, and the last two were scheduled to be flown out in early December. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
27 Nov 18. Joined up Procurement gone wrong? A number of readers have expressed surprise at the announcement of an €85m contract to upgrade the ageing British Army SA80 at a time when the US and the UK are looking at a new 6.5mm calibre round which would require a new rifle. BAE Systems are already manufacturing 300 Blackout rounds in preparation for the new change. During the Shrivenham Close Combat Symposium, SEA gave a brief about the Future Weapon System contract award which was also questioned as good application of funds when the current incumbent’s life was being extended? (SEE: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.20 ISSUE 48, 26 November 2018)
Modernisation Of British SA80. The SA80 assault rifle, introduced to the British armed forces from 1984, will be modernised to ensure its operational capability beyond 2025. The conversion has begun and first SA80 A3s have been in service since February. The newspaper Welt has announced that the order is now to be extended to a total of 44,000 weapons with an order volume of €85m. The modernisation will be carried out at the British Heckler & Koch subsidiary NSAF in Nottingham. The revised weapon is lighter, more durable, easier to handle than its predecessor and camouflaged with a new colour scheme. New processing methods have reduced the weight by 100g. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
26 Nov 18. DARPA awards OpFires Propulsion System development contracts. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Tactical Technology Office has placed separate awards on three contractors to design and develop advanced booster concepts as part of the Operational Fires (OpFires) development programme.
OpFires is a joint DARPA/US Army initiative for a mobile, tactical weapon delivery system capable of carrying a variety of payloads to a variety of ranges, underpinning which is a current imperative to develop and exploit hypersonic weapons technologies. According to DARPA, “the overarching goal of the OpFires program is to develop and demonstrate a novel ground-launched system enabling advanced tactical weapons to penetrate modern enemy air defenses and rapidly and precisely engage critical time sensitive targets.”
United States ground-based forces “are currently limited in effective range of surface to-surface precision fires. The OpFires program seeks to provide operational/theater level commanders with flexible capabilities to strike time sensitive targets while providing persistent standoff from unpredictable land launch positions. This flexibility would restore combatant commander options in force deployment and employment, enabling adaptable engagement at extended ranges,” the agency said.
DARPA issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) in March 2018 seeking innovative solutions for the OpFires Propulsion System, with the provision that “the successful performers for the OpFire Propulsion System programme will have recent, relevant, and significant experience and expertise in propulsion system design and development to include booster performance analysis and missile integration.”
According to DARPA, “OpFires Propulsion System focuses on the early development and demonstration of innovative booster solutions, including, but not limited to, liquid and hybrid propellant mixtures, pintle motors, variable thrust nozzles, pulse motors, re-ignitable propellants, and other technologies that vary thrust and manage energy at scale for large tactical missiles. Innovations such as these will need to maximize the operational range envelope of an integrated missile system and adapt to a variety of potential payloads.” (Source: IHS Jane’s)
25 Nov 18. Can automation alleviate the weight of war? The United States Marine Corps is considering using remotely piloted and autonomous vehicles as a solution for a classic warfare dilemma. Troops routinely carry massive amounts of weight to and from the battlefield. One study found that a typical infantry assault load, which can include kettlebell-sized batteries to bulky body armor, varies anywhere from 97 to 135 pounds. These overbearing loads can lead to injuries, logistical constraints and lapses in combat effectiveness. Today, the amount of weight troops are asked to carry continues to grow, while their ability to carry that load does not.
The Marine Corps Rapid Capabilities Office posted a request for information Nov. 15, notifying industry of its interest in “unmanned vehicle technologies to displace the load currently carried by Infantry Marines at the squad level.”
According to the posting, the MCRCO is primarily interested in systems capable of maneuvering alongside a foot-mobile squad of 12 Marines from the assembly area to the objective area. The autonomous systems would leverage artificial intelligence to “maintain accurate geo-location information for navigation in a contested/GPS-denied environment.” The post also notes a “significant interest” in systems capable of conducting intra-squad resupply missions.
“Capabilities of interest include ground vehicles with tele-operation capability, robotic applique capabilities on existing systems, and fully autonomous operation,” the post reads.
The performance requirements for such a system include the ability to operate on unimproved road and off-road terrains, with a capability of carrying a minimum of 500 pounds on unimproved roads and up to 100 pounds off-road. The robotic backpack would also need to be able to maintain 3.5 mph with a full combat load in all terrain environments.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency had a program in 2012 called Legged Squad Support System (LS3), which sought to develop semi-autonomous legged robots to be integrated with a squad. The machine that was developed from LS3 — through a $32m contract between DARPA and Boston Dynamics — was ultimately shelved due to noise concerns. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
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