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17 Jan 19. Pentagon considers an ICBM-killing weapon for the F-35, but is it affordable? Over the next six months, the Defense Department will weigh whether to develop a new weapon for the F-35 fighter jet that will enable it to strike down an intercontinental ballistic missile in the early stages of flight. And it’s the Pentagon’s lead official for developmental technologies who is bullish on the prospect, telling reporters Jan. 17 that a new weapon could be both operationally effective and low cost.
“For certain regional geographies — North Korea comes to mind — we actually think it’s entirely possible and cost-effective to deploy what I will loosely call air-to-air interceptors, although possibly of new design, on advanced aircraft [and] using the aircraft as either sensor or weapons platforms to affect a missile intercept,” said Mike Griffin, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering. “We will, as the report implies, be studying that again, but I’ve seen recently any number of assessments, several assessments, which indicate that this is something we should be looking at.”
The Trump administration’s Missile Defense Review, released Thursday after months of anticipation, carves out an enticing new potential role for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The jet “has a capable sensor system that can detect the infrared signature of a boosting missile and its computers can identify the threatening missile’s location,” the review states. “It can track and destroy adversary cruise missiles today, and, in the future, can be equipped with a new or modified interceptor capable of shooting down adversary ballistic missiles in their boost phase and could be surged rapidly to hot spots to strengthen U.S. active defense capabilities and attack operations.”
The report gives the Air Force and Missile Defense Agency six months to deliver a report on how best to integrate the F-35 into the larger missile defense architecture. But with the armed services struggling to figure out how they can afford ramping up procurement as well as operating and sustaining the jets, it remains to be seen whether the Defense Department can afford having the F-35 as an ICBM killer.
While the review states that both new and modified interceptors will be evaluated as part of the study, Griffin said that a modified version of the AMRAAM — the Raytheon-made air-to-air missile that can be carried by the F-35 inside its weapons bay — probably won’t be able to do the job, necessitating the creation of a new interceptor.
Even if the Pentagon decides to forgo investment in an ICBM-killing weapon for the F-35, it may be able to leverage the fighter jet’s extensive sensor suite, added MDA head Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves.
“We have plans to integrate the F-35 into our missile tests, to assess that capability as part of the overall ballistic missile defense system or missile defense system,” he said.
Not all in the defense community are enthused by the prospect of involving the F-35 in missile defense.
When news broke Wednesday evening that the Pentagon will consider a role for the F-35 in intercepting ICBMs, some analysts in the arms control community balked. The broad consensus among those experts is that — although intercepting an ICBM with the Joint Strike Fighter could be technically feasible — it would be a poor use of the technology.
Throughout the Missile Defense Review, the Pentagon shows interest in developing boost-phase missile defenses, said Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association. However, he pointed to a 2012 report by the National Academy of Sciences that said such technologies are not practical or feasible.
“Long-standing challenges to effective boost-phase defense include the short time ICBMs are in powered flight, the need for the defense platform to be located very near launch sites, and the availability of faster-burning solid-fueled missiles as a countermeasure,” Reif said.
In short, F-35s, equipped with a new interceptor, would have to be located very close to missile launch sites to be within range of an intercept during the boost phase, and “it would be very expensive to keep the planes on extended patrol and take them away from other missions,” he said. “A drone would be a better option than the F-35. And even then there would still be big challenges as the 2012 National Academies report noted.” (Source: Defense News)
17 Jan 19. SIG SAUER Introduces P320 XCOMPACT to P320 XSERIES. SIG SAUER, Inc. is pleased to introduce the P320 XCOMPACT to the P320 XSERIES of pistols featuring a completely redesigned grip module with an improved beavertail and fastback profile, contoured magwell, and a deep trigger guard undercut.
“The P320 XCOMPACT redefines what a compact pistol should be by combining concealability with full size XSERIES features. Through extensive end-user feedback, the P320 XCOMPACT provides for smoother handling and optimizes the user experience,” said Tom Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President, Commercial Sales. “This expansion of the P320 series of pistols also adds to the unprecedented modularity, and depth of options available to the consumer already available with the P320 series.”
SIG SAUER P320 XCOMPACT is a modular, striker-fired pistol with a serialized trigger group that makes it adaptable to multiple caliber, size, and grip options. The P320 XCOMPACT is available in 9mm and features X-RAY3 day/night sights, a flat trigger, and night sight rear plate making it optic ready. The intuitive 3-point takedown of the pistol requires no trigger pull for disassembly, and safety features include a striker safety and disconnect safety. The P320 XCOMPACT comes standard with two 15-round magazines.
The P320 XCOMPACT and the entire SIG SAUER P320 series of pistols will be on display at the SIG SAUER Exhibition Booth at SHOT Show 2019 (#12240) in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 22, 2019 through January 25, 2019.
17 Jan 19. SIG SAUER Introduces the MCX Rattler Canebrake. SIG SAUER Inc. is pleased to Introduce the MCX Rattler Canebrake, the newest addition to the MCX family.
“The MCX Rattler Canebrake was created for those that desire the MCX as a suppressed system and eliminates the need to purchase additional components to do so,” said Tom Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President, Commercial Sales, SIG SAUER, Inc. “The Rattler Canebrake comes with a factory installed inert training device, making it operable right out of the box while NFA paperwork and waiting periods are completed, and then is easily convertible to run suppressed.”
The MCX Rattler Canebrake comes as a suppressor ready platform with an SD handguard and inert training device that mimics the size and weight of the SIGSRD762 suppressor and assures all muzzle flash is past the shooter’s hand when reaching out on the handguard during operation without a functional suppressor installed. With the MCX Rattler Canebrake there’s no need for the purchase of a shorter barrel kit and SD Handguard to have a suppressed MCX system, simply unthread the inert training device, install your suppressor, and select the appropriate gas setting for your ammunition. Additional features of the MCX Rattler Canebrake include a 2-stage flat-blade match trigger, Cerakote E190 finished upper and lower, a folding coyote-tan PCB, and comes with one 30-round polymer 300BLK Magpul™ magazine.
MCX Rattler Canebrake:
The MCX Rattler Canebrake and the entire MCX series will be on display at the SIG SAUER Exhibition Booth at SHOT Show 2019 (#12240) in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 22, 2019 through January 25, 2019.
17 Jan 19. HAL’s Light Combat Helicopter Completes Weapon Trials. HAL Light Combat Helicopter: The helicopter is equipped with helmet mounted sight and a forward looking infrared sighting system, allowing its pilots to detect and destroy any target on ground or in the air. The Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) developed by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has completed weapon trials and is ready for operational induction, it said on Thursday.
“The LCH achieved a milestone by carrying out air-to-air missile firing on a moving aerial target,” the city-based defence major said in a statement.
The weapon trials were recently conducted at the integrated test range in Chandipur on Odisha coast, by test pilot Wing Commander (retired) Subash P. John, HAL’s flight test engineer Col. Ranjit Chitale (retired) and test pilot from Indian Air Force (IAF) Group Captain Rajeev Dubey.
“During the tests, a direct hit on the aerial target was achieved, destroying it completely,” the statement noted.
The attempt was claimed as the first time in the country a helicopter carried out air-to-air missile engagement by the defence behemoth’s chairman and managing director R. Madhavan.
“With this, LCH has completed all weapon integration tests and is ready for operational induction,” he said in the statement.
LCH also has 20mm turret gun and 70mm rockets as its other weapons, for which the firing trials were held in 2018.
“LCH is the only attack helicopter in the world capable of operating at altitudes as high as Siachen Glacier (in the Karakoram mountain range of the Himalayas),” the company said.
The helicopter is equipped with helmet mounted sight and a forward looking infrared sighting system, allowing its pilots to detect and destroy any target on ground or in the air.
“Using these sights, pilots can launch a missile onto any target without having to turn the helicopter,” it said.
The ‘fire and forget missile’ is effective against all kinds of aerial threat, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and microlight aircraft, the defence and aerospace major added.
“Capable of operating from dispersed locations and flying at ultra-low levels, LCH can provide a protective umbrella from all aerial threats,” it said.
The Defence Acquisition Council has approved the procurement of first batch of 15 LCHs — 10 for IAF and five for Indian Army, HAL added. (Source: Google/https://www.ndtv.com
16 Jan 19. Trump to use federal funds to prop up US bomb makers. U.S. President Donald Trump has approved direct federal investment for suppliers of American bomb parts and chemicals, part of as much as $250m in direct investments by the Pentagon to fix supply chain vulnerabilities, Defense News has learned. The government funding for those suppliers, under the Defense Production Act, is meant to lift a subsector of the defense-industrial base that the Pentagon deems weak. It’s also a significant step in broader plans within the administration to remedy fragile markets and foreign dependencies among the military’s suppliers.
“There will be many more of these to come to address gaps and vulnerabilities in the defense-industrial base,” Peter Navarro, director of the White House Office of Trade and Industrial Policy, said in an exclusive interview Wednesday. “This is exactly what we should be doing and an example of how the administration is more attentive to the issue.”
“A lot of these companies have only one customer, and they became fragile due to sequestration,” Navarro said. “The need this package addresses is to move to advanced manufacturing where some of the processes in use are from 60, 70, 80 years ago.”
The White House announced Wednesday that Trump signed four memos that the Pentagon would take action to strengthen the supply chain for precursor materials, inert materials, energetic materials and advanced manufacturing techniques for the production of chemicals.
It’s the latest move since more than a dozen working groups from across government completed a study of how to reinforce gaps in the defense-industrial base.
Which companies in the munitions subsector would receive the funding and how much would be available were unclear, but Navarro said the total would be in the “hundreds of millions, not the billions — which is a lot of money when you’re targeting sub-tiers of the supply chain.”
The Pentagon did not immediately provide details in response to requests from Defense News.
Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, told reporters in December that the Pentagon plans to invest $250m over the following 12 months to remedy industrial base weak points. The funds would be authorized through the Defense Production Act’s Title III, as well as the manufacturing technology and industrial base analysis and sustainment programs.
Navarro said these investments would not be “ongoing aid” but more akin to “venture capital and seed money” to help munitions manufacturers, in some cases, make the leap to advanced manufacturing techniques.
“We don’t give away money to companies,” he said. “There is a bidding process, and the winning bid will receive the seed money.”
Though the Pentagon has made massive bomb purchases in recent years, suppliers have been strained by the start-and-stop nature of procurement over the last two decades and the lack of new designs being internally developed.
Among other issues, the Pentagon relies on single suppliers for solid-propellant rocket motors, thermal batteries and small turbine engines, while excess capacity has weakened fuze makers. For products in the second and third tiers of the munitions supply chain, 98 percent are single or sole-source.
The Pentagon’s Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy reported earlier this year that some key suppliers are foreign-owned, with no indigenous capability to produce vital parts and materials.
Dechlorane Plus 25, a component in the insulation of weapons, is solely supplied by a Belgian firm, and the Chinese manufacturer of a precursor chemical is going out of business. Dimeryl diisocyanate, a key propellant ingredient in systems like the AIM-9X and AMRAAM missiles, has one producer — and it informed the Pentagon it was about to exit the business.
Navarro, known for his hard-line views on China and trade, said the U.S. is “heavily dependent on foreign countries, particularly China, for chemicals.”
Whereas President Barack Obama ramped up precision-guided munition production for the Air Force and allies to support suppliers, the Trump administration’s approach will likely be to directly incentivize U.S. firms to reintroduce U.S. sources of materials or products.
Navarro lauded the president for accessing the tools at his disposal, reckoning Trump has the best appreciation of the defense-industrial base of any president since President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“This was in President Trump’s National Security Strategy, that economic security is national security,” Navarro said. “When we close the gap in munitions subsector, we’re not only improving capabilities for the war fighter but creating good jobs and good wages for the American economy.”
Pentagon officials have said that this year the administration would remediate as many as a third of the 300 gaps and vulnerabilities identified in a defense-industrial base study, ordered by Trump and released in October.
Those weak spots were a mix of sole-source suppliers who could disappear from the market, suppliers that have already decided to leave the defense market and suppliers that are foreign-owned and could potentially pull the plug at a critical time.
When that report was released, the administration announced it would invest $70m for a plant that produces gun components to launch modernization and risk-mitigation programs and $1m to a facility that produces the Abrams tank, to procure better tooling.
Defense Production Act authorities are intended to help ensure the nation has an adequate supply of, or the ability to produce, essential materials and goods necessary for the national defense, as outlined by a recent Congressional Research Service report.
Under the statute, the president may provide appropriate financial incentives to develop, maintain, modernize, restore and expand the production capacity of domestic sources for critical components, critical technology items, materials and industrial resources essential for the execution of the U.S. National Security Strategy. (Source: Defense News)
16 Jan 19. Space-based interceptors and drones with lasers: the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Review wish-list revealed. The long-delayed Missile Defense Review, which will be formally introduced by President Donald Trump at the Pentagon Thursday, will call for research and investments to ensure America’s security for the next several decades: laser technology, the F-35 as an ICBM killer, and potentially putting interceptors in space.
Trump will roll out the report at 11 a.m. Thursday as part of his third visit to the Pentagon since taking office.
Expected to attend the rollout is a who’s who of national security officials, including vice president Mike Pence, national security adviser John Bolton; Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan; Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson; Army Secretary Mark Esper; Pentagon policy head John Rood; Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord; Pentagon technology head Mike Griffin; and Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, a leading advocate for missile defense.
A senior administration official, speaking to reporters ahead of the report’s release, confirmed a number of new technologies that Defense News has learned are highlighted in the report. The official told reporters that overall, the review looks at “the comprehensive environment the United States faces, and our allies and partners face. It does posture forces to be prepared for capabilities that currently exist and that we anticipate in the future.”
It’s been a long road for the MDR to finally emerge. Pentagon officials originally said the document would be released in late 2017 — then February, then mid-May and then late in the summer. In September, Rood, who as undersecretary of defense for policy is the point man for the MDR, indicated the report could come out in a matter of weeks. And in October, Shanahan, then the deputy secretary of defense, said the document had been done “for some time.”
There is also widespread speculation in the missile defense community that the review has been delayed, at least in part, because of the warmed relations between the Trump administration and North Korea. Notably, the mid-May time frame for release, which was floated by Shanahan in April, lined up President Donald Trump’s planned meeting in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. While that meeting was canceled and then eventually happened in June, there was a sense the Pentagon did not want to do anything that could jeopardize those talks, such as releasing a report discussing how the U.S. could counter North Korean capabilities.
Ironically, Trump will be rolling the report out just hours before a high-level North Korean delegation is expected to arrive in Washington for talks with the administration. However, Sung-Yoon Lee, a Korean expert with Tufts University‘s Fletcher School, doesn’t expect that to impact any negotiations.
“North Korea has the upper hand and is playing hard to get,” Lee said, and so won’t make a big deal out of the MDR’s statements on North Korea.
“Their propaganda machinery at home may issue a statement a couple of days later, but [lead North Korean official Kim Yong Chol] would be foolish to address it while he’s in D.C,” he added.
Much of the technology discussed in the MDR will require many years of development, and in some cases will never come to fruition. But the following points give a good sense of the let’s-try-everything approach the Pentagon is putting forth with the report:
Turn the SM-3 and F-35 into ICBM killers: The SM-3 Block IIA ship-launched interceptor is designed for dealing with regional threats. But the Pentagon intends to test the weapon as a counter-ICBM system in 2020, as part of a goal of creating an extra layer of protection for the homeland. In essence, the department wants to offer as many options as possible, scattered around the globe, for making sure nothing gets through the safety net.
The department has previously said the F-35 could be used in some capacity for missile defense, but the MDR calls for the testing and development of a new or modified interceptor which could shoot down a ballistic missile in the boost phase; expect early R&D funding for such a weapon to be in the FY20 budget request. There is also the possibility of using the F-35, equipped with its array of sensors, to hunt and track mobile missile units, which is a key part of North Korea’s doctrine.
Lasers on drones: The idea of using directed energy weapons, more commonly known as lasers, to take out a missile in the boost phase is not new, but it has received a boost in the past year in comments from technological leaders inside the building. In theory, putting a drone equipped with a laser high in the air at around 60,000 feet would keep it safe from any missile defense systems, while providing overwatch on potential launch sites. However, this idea feels more far-flung than others, in part because both the scaled up laser that would be needed for such capabilities has yet to be invented, let alone paired with a system that would be able to stay that high for long periods of time.
In the meantime, DoD is developing a low-power laser demonstrator to evaluate and test what technologies would be needed to make such a system a reality, despite the fact that airborne laser weapons are perhaps the hardest directed energy system to develop.
Space-based sensors: In the FY19 defense authorization bill, Congress required the missile defense agency to fully study and prototype ways to increase the space-based sensor layer. It’s been another focus area for Griffin during his time in the Pentagon.
“A space-based layer of sensors is something we are looking at to help give early warning, tracking and discrimination of missiles when they are launched,” the administration official said. “We see space as an area that’s very important as far as advanced, next-level capabilities that will help us stay ahead of the threat.”
Just what that layer looks like, however, remains to be seen. Expect some form of disaggregated architecture, relying on many smaller systems rather than the expensive, highly-capable systems that the U.S. has traditionally relied upon. Hosting sensor payloads on commercial satellites could also be in play.
The hope is to demo some form of space-based sensor layer by early in the 2020s.
Space-based interceptors: Perhaps the most controversial of the ideas being considered in the document comes from the idea of having interceptors placed in orbit to take out ballistic missiles. Picture a satellite equipped with 10 rockets that, when triggered by the sensor net, can target and launch against an incoming missile.
The MDR does not call for investment in space-based interceptors at this point. Instead, the department will launch a study, lasting perhaps six months, to look into the most promising technologies and come up with estimates for cost and time; after the study is done, the department will look to move forward if it makes sense.
But don’t expect lasers in space anytime soon, with the administration official saying nothing has been determined, only that “we’re going to study it and we’ll see whether or not it’s feasible.”
Countering hypersonic weapons: A Defense Intelligence Agency report released this week said that China is leading the world with hypersonic weapons, systems capable of going at Mach 5 and able to move too quickly to be defeated by current generation missile defenses. Russia has also invested heavily in that technology. So it’s no surprise the MDR calls for investments in ways to protect against such weapons.
Third missile defense site: Right now, the U.S. has two homeland missile defense sites for its Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, in Alaska and California. Could a third site be considered?
“That’s something we have been considering,” the official said. “We’ve done environmental impact study on three potential sites. So we’re ready to move forward if its determined that that’s something that would really enhance our posture with respect to Iran. But no decision has been made about a third interceptor site yet.”
One option noted in the MDR is to temporarily or permanently operationalize the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Center in Kauai, Hawaii. That system is currently used just as a test facility.
The document, as ordered by Congress, must include milestone targets for developing new capabilities. It requires statements of five- and 10-year programmatic goals for developing capabilities, “as well as desired end states and milestones for integration and interoperability with allies, and a statement on the role of international cooperation,” per congressional guidance.
However, the new technologies presented as option in the report are not broken down in great detail in the report; those details are more likely to appear in the FY20 budget requests that correspond with the new capabilities.
Homeland versus regional strategies
A large potential change from the 2010 MDR that had been closely watched was whether the new document would call for a homeland defense capability that could defeat Russia and China.
Traditionally, America’s approach has been to focus on the ability defend against rogue states like Iran and North Korea, which could launch at most a handful of missiles at the homeland, or against one-off mistakes launched from Russia and China. To try to counter the overwhelming number of ICBMs those two nations could launch would be cost-prohibitive and, advocates of this approach argue, destabilizing.
However, the review does not shift the approach, saying instead that “United States still relies on nuclear deterrence to deter a potential Russian or Chinese nuclear attack,” the senior official said.
At the same time, the review pledges that the U.S. will not accept any limitation or constraint on the development or deployment of missile defense technologies the administration feels are needed to secure the safety of the American public – a line which may be seized upon by Russia or China as proof that the administration intends to impinge upon their own sovereignty.
While its homeland defense posture is very similar to the 2010 Obama review, the document presents a more aggressive posture with regional defense, calling for greater integration of missile defense into the strategic thinking abroad. Specifically, the review notes that missile defense systems can shape an adversary’s views of how effective missiles can be against the U.S. or its allies. The report calls for the ability to surge missile defense at times of crisis.
Infographic: Ballistic missile ranges from North Korea
Fundamentally, the reports rests on the idea that missile defense systems are stabilizing forces, which change an opponent’s calculus and reduces the risk. That has been a controversial opinion in the past, with nonproliferation advocates like Laura Grego of the Union of Concerned Scientists saying missile defense systems simply encourage adversaries to try to top them.
“For every defensive measure, the adversary will take steps to overcome those defenses,” Grego said. “A potential adversary is likely to increase the numbers and types of nuclear-armed missiles if worried about missile defense undermining the credibility of their nuclear deterrent.”
“Militaries plan decades in advance for what they think they need, and China and Russia will likely plan for the worst-case scenarios, where there’s no treaty constraint or political constraint on US missile defenses,” she said.
However, advocates of missile defense such as Rebeccah Heinrichs of the Hudson Institute, believe the absence of strong U.S. defenses emboldens potential adversaries and gives them a bargaining chip over America.
“Missile defense can contribute to deterrence if they can increase our enemies’ uncertainty in their ability to successfully hit their intended target. The more we can convince the enemy that their initial attack will not be worth the cost, the more effectively we can deter that attack in the first place,” she said. “Plugging that gap has a stabilizing effect, remaining vulnerable is not a stable situation and it gives our adversaries an advantage we should not allow them to have.”
In both regional and homeland defense, the review calls out Iran and North Korea as bad actors who must be countered both regionally and for homeland defense. (Source: Defense News)
16 Jan 19. US Navy to convert AGM-154C-1 JSOWs to AGM-154C configuration. The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Precision Strike Weapons Program Office (PMA-201) announced on 2 January that it intends to award a firm-fixed price (FFP) sole-source contract to Raytheon Missile Systems to convert 242 AGM-154C-1 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) all-up rounds (AURs) to the AGM-154C configuration. JSOW is a joint US Navy/US Air Force (USN/USAF) programme with the USN as the lead service. Developed and manufactured by Raytheon Missile Systems, the JSOW AGM-154C is a medium-range air-to-surface precision-guided glide weapon employing a GPS/inertial navigation system and a terminal imaging infrared seeker, designed principally for the engagement of fixed land targets. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
16 Jan 19. India’s MoD reissues RFI for carbines and LMGs. India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has invited responses by 4 February to its supplementary request for information (RFI) regarding the planned acquisition of 360,000 5.56×45mm close quarter battle (CQB) carbines and 40,000 7.62×51mm light machine guns (LMGs) for the country’s armed forces. The RFI, which is addressed to local manufacturers, was issued on 4 January and follows similar RFIs released in October 2017 and August 2018 for both weapon types. “Any vendor who did not respond to the RFI earlier may express interest for seeking the request for proposal (RFP),” the document stated. Both weapon types are being acquired under the ‘Buy and Make’ category of the MoD’s Defence Procurement Procedure-2016. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
15 Jan 19. Who is China targeting with its armed drones sales? China is cashing in on the demand for armed drones, according to a new Department of Defense report. China was the fifth largest arms supplier in the world between 2012 and 2016, the report, titled “Assessment on U.S. Defense Implications of China’s Expanding Global Access,” said. The Chinese completed more than $20m in sales with the country’s second largest arms sales going to the Middle East and North Africa “likely due to the demand for armed” unmanned aerial vehicles. The report, dated December 2018 but made available Jan. 14, is mandated by law. The report notes that the drone and armed drone market is a niche market but China is one of the world’s few suppliers. In large part to China’s apparent willingness to export such technology to other nations, the number of nations across the globe with armed drones has grown significantly in recent years. The United States was the first nation to use this technology in combat zones. However, the United States has historically been limited in sharing its technology with other nations and partners due to export rules, much to the frustration of friendly nations, though the Trump administration has sought to change that.
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva said previously that U.S. export policies denying the sale of certain systems, such as large unmanned systems, creates a self-limiting factor.
The United States has allies and partners who want to buy MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones, so they go to the Russians, the Chinese, the Israelis, the French — all whom are more than willing to sell their technology to others, he said. So the United States ends up with an ally that has systems that are not interoperable with U.S. systems, noting “that’s a problem.”
As a result, China faces little competition to sell these systems given most nations that produce armed drones are restricted from selling the technology as signatories of the Missile Technology Control Regime and/or the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, the DoD report notes.
DoD’s report notes, however, that Chinese arms are lower quality and less reliable than those offered by top international arms suppliers.
“Most of China’s customers are developing countries that prefer less expensive Chinese arms,” the report states. “These arms generally come with few end-use restrictions, which is attractive to customers who may not have access to other arms sources for political or economic reasons.”
For example, China’s ability to remain one of the top five nations in global arms sales hinges on continued strong sales to Pakistan and demand for their armed drones, the report says. The report points out key developments for China recently include sales of armed drones to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. (Source: Defense News)
15 Jan 19. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) demonstrated advanced Vehicle Active Protection System technologies against Anti-Tank Guided Munitions during the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development Engineering Center (TARDEC) sponsored Soft-kill Rodeo in Huntsville on Oct. 5-31. The month-long government sponsored “rodeo” was developed to demonstrate and test soft-kill capability against real world threats. Using its Passive Infrared Cueing Sensors system, Northrop Grumman successfully generated threat warning of inbound ATGMs and provided a cue for the soft kill countermeasure system (SKCM).
The Northrop Grumman SKCM system, known as the Multifunction Electro-Optical System (MEOS), successfully countered the ATGM and defeated it in real-time. The MEOS identified and countered all types of threats fired at its APS system, making this the fourth consecutive time the system has performed well in field tests to defeat threats.
“This solution is an example of leveraging significant investment in aircraft protection to rapidly provide similar capabilities to ground vehicles,” said Mike Meaney, vice president, advanced missions, Northrop Grumman. “We look forward to working with the Army to deploy an affordable end-to-end Vehicle APS system that can defeat a variety of anti-tank guided munitions.”
14 Jan 19. Op. Barkhane: First Operational Deployment of the New MMP Medium-Range Missile. From December 10 to 22, the Picardie Battle Group carried out an operation in the Three Borders region of southeastern Mali, during which the new medium-range missile (Missile à Moyenne Portée) was deployed and used for the first time in-theater. Arriving in the operations area at dawn, the soldiers of Picardie BG leapt from their armored vehicle to set up the MMP on top of a ridge. Within the group of six soldiers, each has a definite role: commander, gunner, loader, rear gunner, a radio/marksman and driver. The MMP is now in place. Sergeant Nicolas and the gunner begin to observe their surroundings, and the terrain appears in detail in the MMP’s sight. The operator scans each specific point, using the built-in zoom to refine his search. For Sergeant Nicolas, “the MMP is an exceptional weapon system for observation by day and night. The “fusion” mode detects heat sources and allows us, for example, to detect an individual hiding in a grove or behind a tree. ”
This new missile is a true digest of electronic innovations: with a range of over 4,000 meters, it can be used both as for anti-personnel and anti-vehicle strikes as well as against fortifications and high-value targets. This is an interesting innovation in the Sahelo-Saharan the theater of operations, where the flanks of some rock formations can be used as shelters by members of armed terrorist groups.
On a technical level, the MMP is easy to use, as the sergeant demonstrated: “To switch from anti-personnel mode to anti-infrastructure mode, I just go to the MMP firing station’s drop-down menu and check the corresponding box. Then, since the system’s core is located in the missile itself, after firing my gunner sees in his sight exactly what the missile seeker sees. He can therefore switch targets at any time, thanks to the optical fiber that connects the missile to his console. The missile is equipped with a camera with vision day and night of a remarkable quality,” he adds.
Before their deployment, Sergeant Nicolas and his gunner underwent specific training on the MMP at the French Army’s Infantry School in Draguignan. A major innovation developed for army infantry and light cavalry units, the MMP is the successor of the Milan system. Now deployed for the first time on combat operations, it will gradually equip the majority of first-line units. Led by the French armed forces, in partnership with the G5 Sahel countries, Operation Barkhane was launched on August 1st, 2014. It is based on a strategic approach based partnership with the main countries of the Sahel-Saharan strip (BSS): Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina-Faso. It brings together some 4,500 military personnel whose mission is to fight against armed terrorist groups and to support the armed forces of partner countries so that they can take engage this threat, notably within the framework of the joint G5 Sahel force which is being established. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/French Armed Forces Ministry; issued Jan 14, 2019)
14 Jan 19. Indian Army develops armed quadcopter. The Indian Army (IA) has announced the development of what it described as an armed quadcopter prototype to partially meet its operational requirements along India’s disputed borders with China and Pakistan. Designed by two IA soldiers and displayed at the Army Technology Seminar-2019 in New Delhi on 11 January, the mini quadcopter has already been successfully employed in “live” operations along the Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed northern region of Kashmir, army officials told Jane’s on 14 January. The quadcopter was initially developed as a day and night surveillance platform in 2015 by Gurpreet Singh and Amrik Singh of the IA’s 21 Sikh Regiment, but has subsequently been modified to carry a 2kg payload that can consist of ammunition, first-aid kits, improvised bombs, or up to three grenades. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
12 Jan 19. What to look for in the upcoming Missile Defense Review. The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Review is in the final stages of pre-release, sources tell Defense News, after more than a year of release delays. The review, a congressionally mandated document looking at the status of America’s missile defense capabilities, could be unveiled as soon as the next week, although it has yet to be briefed to Congress, sources say. And while there appears to be significant momentum to actually releasing the document soon, the release has seemed imminent in the past, only to be pulled back at the last minute.
The document has been the focus of intense speculation from both the missile defense and nonproliferation communities, with a wide expectation that the document will call for investments in new missile defense technologies and, potentially, a notable change in America’s missile defense posture toward Russia and China.
For years, America has maintained that missile defense systems capable of defeating major strategic systems are being designed and deployed not at another great power, but only at rogue actors — chiefly Iran and North Korea — who might seek to strike at the U.S. or its allies.
The National Security Strategy — the overall security guidance released by the Trump administration in late 2017 — underlines this thinking, stating that “the United States is deploying a layered missile defense system focused on North Korea and Iran to defend our homeland against missile attacks. This system will include the ability to defeat missile threats prior to launch. Enhanced missile defense is not intended to undermine strategic stability or disrupt longstanding strategic relationships with Russia or China.”
But analysts, such as Thomas Karako of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, have argued that in an era of great power competition, as illustrated in the National Defense Strategy, it’s foolish to lack a plan for defending American assets and allies against China and Russia.
“For so many decades we’ve been standing there like Samson, pushing apart Russia and China on the one hand and missile defenses on the other, saying they’re not related,” Karako said. “So in some ways, that implicit connection [from previous reviews] could become much more explicit and pursued more aggressively, and really it should be.”
Citing a need to defend against Russian and Chinese weapons is simply stating a need to defend against a major challenger. But China particularly seems to grow as a concern year over year for the U.S. government; it’s notable that acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan’s message to his staff upon taking over the top job at the Pentagon was to focus on “China, China, China.”
Members of the nonproliferation community, such as Laura Grego of the Union of Concerned Scientists, argue that the technology needed to ensure America can defeat a major nation’s use of strategic weapons is so expensive and technically challenging that getting to that point will divert funding from better projects. That spending decision would also encourage potential adversaries to invest more, not less, in nuclear weapons to counter America’s perceived missile defense improvements, the argument goes.
“Even absent a specific policy to take on Russia and China more explicitly, planned missile defense plans continue to be made in patterns that Russia and particularly China will not be able to ignore,” she said. “Trying to counter China and Russia’s strategic deterrent with missile defense is of course a fool’s errand and gets us further from reducing nuclear weapons, not closer. I hope that wiser heads prevail.”
It is important to differentiate between regional missile defense systems being placed to defend allies against Russia or China, and the bigger homeland defense mission, said Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association. For example, based on congressional guidance, it is expected the review will include ideas for countering hypersonic weapons, a threat currently originating from only Russia and China.
“If the review goes so far as to broaden the role of missile defense to defend the U.S. homeland against Russian and Chinese missile attack[s], that would mark a major and radical change in U.S. policy,” Reif said. “The United States, Russia and China aren’t taking into account the concerns the others have about their offensive and defensive developments sufficiently seriously to avoid increased risks of instability.”
While the great power competition may be a key driver, it is unlikely to be the only new aspect of the report.
Karako hopes to see a layout for how missile defense capabilities fit into America’s overall deterrence strategy, noting: “All capabilities are finite. So how is it that finite active missile defenses can contribute to deterring a Russia or China?”
“Everyone knows if they want to, they could overwhelm a given defense. But it really comes down to how do certain capabilities deter aggression, opportunism, limited strikes, all these kind of things,” he said. “So I’ll be looking for the articulation of how it contributes to overall deterrence for ourselves and our allies.”
He’s also keeping an eye out for how the document defines “integrated” missile defense systems, and whether planners can avoid stovepiping capabilities.
Reif, for his part, is looking to see if there are increases in the Ground-Based Interceptor force in Alaska and California, or the creation of an East Coast missile defense site.
Technologically, the report is expected to push for so-called left-of-launch technologies — capabilities that can take out a potential missile threat before it even leaves the launcher.
“If you can see it early, you can kill it early,” Gen. John Hyten, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, said in August. “Driving that equation to the left has huge operational advantages because to actually shoot down a missile that somebody launched that comes back down on their head, do you think they are going to shoot another one? I don’t think so. They are not going to shoot another one because it’s just going to come right back down on their head, and so they stop shooting. Isn’t that the whole point?”
It’s also expected the MDR will call for investment in laser systems, with Michael Griffin, the Pentagon’s research and engineering head, saying in November that “you’re going to see in upcoming budgets for missile defense a renewed emphasis on laser scaling across several” technology areas.
In addition, expect talk of a space-based layer for missile defense, although that may be primarily focused on sensors rather than intercept capabilities — at least for now.
Asked about space-based interceptors, Reif said: “Like a zombie that can’t be killed, the idea keeps coming back. Pursuing space-based interceptors would be unaffordable, technically dubious and highly destabilizing.”
The document, as ordered by Congress, must include milestone targets for developing new capabilities. It requires statements of five- and 10-year programmatic goals for developing capabilities, “as well as desired end states and milestones for integration and interoperability with allies, and a statement on the role of international cooperation,” per congressional guidance.
Getting the MDR published has proven to be a nearly Sisyphean task for the Trump administration.
Pentagon officials originally said the document would be released in late 2017 — then February, then mid-May and then late in the summer. In September, John Rood, who as undersecretary of defense for policy is the point man for the MDR, indicated the report could come out in a matter of weeks.
And in October, Shanahan, then the deputy secretary of defense, said the document had been done “for some time.”
There is also widespread speculation in the missile defense community that the review has been delayed, at least in part because of the warmed relations between the Trump administration and North Korea.
Notably, the mid-May time frame for release, which was floated by Shanahan in April, lined up President Donald Trump’s planned meeting in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. While that meeting was canceled and then eventually happened in June, there was a sense the Pentagon did not want to do anything that could jeopardize those talks, such as releasing a report discussing how the U.S. could counter North Korean capabilities. (Source: Defense News)
11 Jan 19. Russia reported to be developing longer-range Kalibr missile. Key Points:
- TASS reports that Russia is developing the new Kalibr-M sea-launched cruise missile with a range of 4,500km
- The news agency said that the new missile would be “significantly larger” than existing Kalibr missiles
Russia is developing the new Kalibr-M cruise missile with a range of 4,500km, the state-owned TASS news agency reported on 8 January, citing an industry source. The news agency cited the source as saying the Kalibr-M was included in the State Armaments Programme (GPV) 2018–27 and would be delivered to the Russian Navy by the end of the period it covers. TASS quoted the source as adding that the new missile would be “significantly larger” than Kalibr missiles currently in service, with a nearly 1 tonne conventional or nuclear warhead for land attack. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
10 Jan 19. Russia’s Lotos SPH to enter state trials in 2019. The Lotos (Lotus) self-propelled howitzer (SPH) being developed by Russia’s TsNIITochMash design bureau, a subsidiary of Rostec, for the Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) will enter its state trials this year, an industry source told Jane’s.
“The state trials of the Lotos SPH are scheduled for 2019. The vehicle will be tested alongside the Zavet-D mobile command-and-control post that is based on the chassis of the BTR-MDM armoured personnel carrier. The trials will be conducted at several test ranges. The prototype of the SPH is now being assembled at the TsNIITochMash,” the source said, adding that both platforms could be transported by airlifters and airdropped by parachute systems. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
11 Jan 19. Norway to procure Heckler & Koch HK416 assault rifles. The Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency has awarded a contract to German defence manufacturing company Heckler & Koch for the delivery of HK416 assault rifle sets. The HK416 modular assault rifle platform was first adopted by the Norwegian Armed Forces in 2017. The weapon replaced the AG3 rifle used by the armed forces. With 5.56 x 45mm calibre, the 781-933mm long HK416 rifle has a magazine capacity of 30,880m/s muzzle velocity and a rate of fire of 700-900 shots per minute.
It is used by soldiers from all divisions of the Norwegian Armed Forces. Featuring a red dot sight and a flashlight, the rifle can be installed on Nato rails. The contract has an overall value of nearly €22m and a period of performance of more than 36 months. Deliveries under the order will start this year. Designed for military users and law enforcement, the HK416 can be customised according to customer and mission requirements without having to reduce its accuracy and handling safety.
Several European armies such as Germany, France, Spain, Lithuania, Latvia and the UK have been equipped with a standard assault rifle by Heckler & Koch. Some of the rifle variants deployed by the aforementioned users are G36, HK416AIF and SA80A2/A3, in addition to HK416. Specifically created for the German Armed Forces, the lightweight G36 weapon is suitable for use by dismounted infantry and single fire in long-range combat.
Furthermore, one or more Heckler & Koch-manufactured weapon models are also used by many military and police commando units. (Source: army-technology.com)
10 Jan 19. Saudi Arabia’s Border Guard displays 120mm Alakran mortars. Saudi Arabia’s Border Guard has revealed itself as an operator of the 120mm Alakran rapid-deployment mortar when it displayed the system during the Al-Janadriyah Festival, an annual cultural event in the kingdom. Made by the Spanish company New Technologies Global Systems (NTGS), the system uses a mechanical system to lower the mortar to the ground so that it faces away from the rear of the vehicle. The operator can then automatically lay the barrel using the computerised fire-control system.
The system is available in 120mm and 81mm versions, with the former weighing 300 kg, enabling it to be carried by various types of light vehicle. NTGS has released a video showing the mortar being deployed, firing two rounds at different targets, and retracting, in just over one minute. A company representative said in October 2018 that the Alakran had been sold to three undisclosed Middle Eastern countries, one of which requested a cooling system that would prevent propelling charges from prematurely igniting in the barrel during sustained firing. NTGS came up with a solution involving a sleeve that generates water droplets to cool the barrel. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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