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06 Feb 19. US Army buying two Iron Dome batteries, operational theatre not identified. The US Army is planning to buy two Israeli-built Iron Dome batteries to down potential short-range rockets and artillery, but says it has not decided where to field the systems. Army Futures Command Communications Director Colonel Patrick Seiber announced on 6 February that the service would buy two of Rafael’s Iron Dome batteries to fill a “short-term need” for an interim Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC).

“Protection of our soldiers is paramount, they deserve the tools needed to fight, win, and return home safely,” Col Seiber told Jane’s. “Iron Dome is a combat proven system that could be used to help protect our forces from a variety of indirect fire and aerial threats.”

First fielded in 2011, Iron Dome is a mobile short-range air-defence system designed to down weapons launched between 4 km and 70km away.

In response to a mandate in the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, Col Seiber confirmed that the service sent a report to Congress in October 2018 detailing plans to buy the Iron Dome batteries to fill an interim cruise missile defence capability.

“The army assessed several other systems as well, and determined that, based on cost, schedule, and performance, the Iron Dome system, which includes the Tamir missile, provides the best value for meeting the congressionally directed interim cruise missile defence requirement,” Col Seiber added.

To date, however, the army has not decided on when and where to field Iron Dome so soldiers can further assess the system, he added.

As for costs, the service did not disclose how much it would shell out for this buy, but noted that it is planning to spend USD1.6bn through 2024 to field an “enduring capability”, which may componentise portions of the Iron Dome system. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

07 Feb 19. Nigerian APKWS order announced. The Nigerian Air Force will receive the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), the US Department of Defense (DoD) confirmed in a 6 February contract announcement.

The USD225m contract awarded to BAE Systems covers APKWSs for all four branches of the US military, as well as the governments of the Netherlands and Nigeria.

The APKWS upgrades 70 mm air-to-surface rockets into semi-active laser-guided missiles.

In August 2017 the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) listed the APKWS and GBU-58 Paveway II guided bombs as weapon options for the 12 Embraer EMB 314/A-29 Super Tucano light strike aircraft requested by Nigeria. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

06 Feb 19. US Army Receives first Nano-UAS. The US Army has received approximately 60 systems nano-unmanned aerial systems as part of the Soldier Borne Sensor (SBS) Program. Soldier Sensors and Lasers (SSL), Rock Island Arsenal – Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center (RIA-JMTC), completed the first shipment of a new unmanned aerial system to the Warfighter. The Soldier Borne Sensor is a small, unmanned aerial system (UAS) used for aerial reconnaissance and surveillance. The lightweight system is designed to be hand-carried and used at the squad level.

“It’s a small UAS, for squad level, enabling Soldiers to get a picture of what’s around the corner, what’s over the hill,” said Nathan Heslink, assistant product manager, Product Manager Soldier Maneuver Sensors (PM SMS), Project Manager Soldier Sensors and Laser (PM SSL), Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier.

“The main purpose of this mission is to provide security, safety and alertness to the Soldiers where the enemy is at all times,” said Sunny Koshal, branch chief, Soldier Support Branch, RIA-JMTC. “Bottom line is it will keep the Soldier safe.”

RIA-JMTC SSL in conjunction with PM SSL, shipped approximately 60 systems, enough for one brigade, with another 2,000 planned for shipment beginning in the summer.

These SBS systems are another way the Army is moving forward in its modernization efforts.

“The equipment is getting smaller and the reason it’s getting smaller is so the Soldier can be equipped with this,” said Koshal. “This thing, you can really pocket it and just carry it. So, that’s part of the modernization. The equipment is getting smaller day-by-day and it’s really easy to handle, easy to maneuver and help a Soldier out on the battlefield.”

Before shipment, PM SMS personnel arrived at RIA-JMTC to review the shipment.

“We are here today to do operational checks of the Soldier Borne Sensor, the first shipment of the Soldier Borne Sensor,” said Capt. Kristopher Hartwell, assistant product manager, PM SMS, PEO Soldier. “We are making sure the equipment works before we field it to the Soldiers.”

RIA-JMTC SSL serves as the staging facility for sensors and lasers to be shipped to the Warfighter.

“It’s still in the first phase of this program and as we all know this is the staging facility for all sensors and lasers for the military,” said Koshal.

PM SMS conducted operational checks because this is the first phase of the program, but as with previous programs, the fielding will eventually be left in the hands of RIA-JMTC SSL.

“With previous programs we’ve gotten to the point where the personnel here take over contracting stuff. We would likely get to that phase in this program, too,” said Heslink. “We might still come visit, but we wouldn’t come to check everything because the people here gain that skill and then they take that over.”

RIA-JMTC SSL and PEO Soldier have built a strong relationship through projects like this one.

“It’s been a great relationship. PEO Soldier moved our staging facility to Rock Island in 2012,” said Heslink. “We had two previous staging facilities in the previous three years and had been bouncing around and we settled here so I think that’s an indication that we found a reliable and healthy partner.”

This project is only part of that relationship, but with plans for fielding to continue for the next two years, it’s built on a solid foundation. (Source: UAS VISION/divds)

06 Feb 19. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has successfully completed the development of the AQS-24C and delivered the first two systems to the U.S. Navy. The AQS-24C upgrade adds an in-stride volume search capability to the AQS-24B. The AQS-24C builds on the AQS-24B that was introduced to the fleet in 2017, which has continued to excel in naval operations from both the MH-53E helicopter and the mine hunting unit unmanned surface vehicle (MHU USV) platforms. The newly developed AQS-24C systems recently completed shipboard contractor testing and government helicopter testing on the MH-53E platform. Achieving this development milestone has resulted in the start of production to meet the fleet generated requirement for increased mine hunting capability.

“The AQS-24C is a cost effective upgrade to an existing system, providing long range volume search mine hunting while minimizing development costs and providing great value to the U.S. Navy customer,” said Alan Lytle, vice president, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman. “This new capability will keep sailors out of harm’s way and shorten the mine clearance timeline.”

Northrop Grumman is concurrently executing a separate contract for integration of the AQS-24 onto the U.S. Navy’s MHU USV, which will be evaluated for operational use from U.S. Navy surface platforms.

06 Feb 19. Europeans seek to provide strike capability to Aussie drones. European missile specialist MBDA is ramping up its presence locally to provide Australia’s yet-to-be-selected, armed UAS system with the next-generation strike capability that will keep Australian warfighters safe. Following the government’s announcement in late 2018 that General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) and its Reaper family of armed unmanned aerial systems (UAS) had been selected as the preferred medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) aircraft for the ADF, European missile and aerospace specialist MBDA has kicked off its mission to provide Australia’s fleet of UAS with a next-generation strike capability.

MBDA recently secured the contract to support the UK’s fleet of Reaper-based, MQ-9B SkyGuardian, ‘Protector Mk 1’, remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS), with the company’s Brimstone precision attack weapon.

Brimstone is a lightweight (50-kilogram) strike missile offering a unique capability of engaging a wide range of target types, including fast moving vehicles/vessels in both land and naval environments and in both direct and indirect modes. The Brimstone system provides a combat proven, low collateral, close air support weapon offering to the fast jet operator.

James Allibone, MBDA’s UK sales director, said at the time, “Brimstone is unique in its ability to be carried by platforms in all domains, land, sea and air, providing a common weapon that delivers both operational and cost benefits. Commonality is a key part of all MBDA’s latest systems, and is a major contributor to the £1.7bn in savings that the partnership approach between the UK MoD and MBDA has generated.”

Dave Postlethwaite, head of UAS and FCAS, air domain UK at MBDA, highlighted the capability of the Brimstone platform, saying, “Brimstone gives the operator the ability to prosecute a strike in otherwise restricted or constrained circumstances with confidence in the precision and low-probability of collateral damage.”

Combat aircraft armed with the Brimstone weapon offer reach, speed, flexibility, precision and the ability to engage multiple targets with a single mission load. When used from a fixed wing platform, Brimstone provides a rapid response for close air support (CAS) and counter insurgency (COIN) that is not possible from helicopters alone.

The introduction of the Brimstone on the SkyGuardian/Protector system presents a number of opportunities for closer operational, strategic and industrial collaboration between the UK and Australia. Russ Martin, head of TMO military adviser sales and business development, MBDA, told Defence Connect, “The Royal Air Force is looking to collaborate closely with the Royal Australian Air Force across areas like crew training, crew swapping across squadrons, shared weapons stockpiles which reduce cost, timeline and capability gaps for both forces.”

Building on this, Chris Wells, MBDA export sales manager, was quick to expand on the industrial opportunities for Australian industry. He told Defence Connect, “MBDA, which currently provides the ASRAAM for the RAAF’s Hornets, maintains and services the weapons at a specialist facility on the outskirts of Sydney.

“MBDA will look to replicate the success of the ASRAAM service and maintenance facility with the Brimstone by building on the key government-to-government relationships established through the ASRAAM contracts.”

Each of the Reaper variants are operated from a common ground control station and are air-transportable by RAAF C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster airlifters, or independently deployable, providing Australian expeditionary forces with a highly capable, reliable and persistent close-air-support, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance asset, no matter the variant chosen.

Project AIR 7003 Phase 1 is calling for a MALE UAS, colloquially known as self-piloted killer drones. Team Reaper Australia is an industrial team drawing on the expertise of companies including Cobham, Raytheon Australia, CAE Australia and Flight Data Systems, and now includes TAE Aerospace, Rockwell Collins, Ultra Electronics Australia, Airspeed and Quickstep Holdings.

Wells told Defence Connect, “We believe that both the Protector and Brimstone package will provide a significantly capability enhancement for Australia, enabling closer collaboration and partnerships across industry and operational grounds.” (Source: Defence Connect)

05 Feb 19. Sweden receives self-propelled mortars. Sweden has received its first four Granatkastaranscarband 90 (Grkpbv90) self-propelled mortars, the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV), announced on 1 February. A total of 40 Grkpbv90s were ordered from Utveckling, a joint venture between BAE Systems Bofors and BAE Systems Hägglunds, for SEK575m (USD68m) in December 2016. The Grkpbv90 is a CV90 armoured vehicle with BAE Systems’ Mjölner (hammer of Thor) turreted twin 120 mm smoothbore gun system installed and will provide indirect fire support to Swedish Army mechanised battalions. The FMV said the first four vehicles are pre-production vehicles, which will be used for training, testing, and validation, to be followed by production versions starting in August, with deliveries ending in 2020. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

05 Feb 19. Images emerge of new Chinese 8×8 assault gun. Images have emerged showing what appears to be a new Chinese 8×8 assault gun equipped with a 105 mm main armament and a remote-controlled weapon station reportedly being trialled at what local media identified as the Baicheng Weapons Test Centre in northeastern China. First released in late January by state-owned China Central Television (CCTV), the images show that the platform’s chassis appears to be based on a new development of that used in the Type 09 (the export version of which is known as VN1) family of wheeled armoured vehicles supplied by China North Industries Corporation (Norinco). In November 2018 an image had emerged on Chinese online forums showing the new chassis armed with a radar-directed 35mm anti-aircraft cannon. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

05 Feb 19. SIG SAUER, Inc. announced that the M18, the compact variant of the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS), has successfully completed a recent Lot Acceptance Test (LAT) with zero stoppages during the required MHS Material Reliability Testing.

Historically, Lot Acceptance Testing would include testing handguns to 5,000 rounds and allow for up to 12 stoppages to pass.  The recent MHS Material Reliability Test consisted of firing three M18 pistols to an unprecedented 12,000 rounds each, and in an extraordinary display of reliability, the M18 performed with zero stoppages. Additionally, despite undergoing this level of strenuous testing the M18 passed a parts interchange test, met all of the stringent accuracy and dispersion requirements, was tested for firing pin indent and trigger pull measurements to ensure consistency, and conformed to all workmanship standards.

The success of the MHS program, and the performance of both the M17 and M18 pistols, was further confirmed in the recently published Director of Operation Testing and Evaluation (DOT&E) Annual Report, which provides an independent review and analysis of the U.S. Department of Defense weapons systems.  The report states that, “the MHS meets or exceeds requirements for accuracy, lethality, ergonomics, and safety,” in addition to stating that, “both the XM17 and the XM18 are operationally effective and suitable.”

Ron Cohen, President & CEO of SIG SAUER, Inc., began, “the results of this testing for the M18 pistol is truly impressive. The M18 withstood the harsh testing and performance requirements set forth in the MHS contract and has set a new standard for reliability in service pistols.”

The M18 is a 9mm, striker-fired pistol featuring a coyote-tan PVD coated stainless steel slide with black controls. The pistol is equipped with SIGLITE front night sights and removable night sight rear plate, and manual safety.

After one of the most rigorous and highly competitive selection processes in the history of military firearms, SIG SAUER was awarded the Modular Handgun System (MHS) contract for the full-size M17 and the compact M18 with the P320-based pistol platform. Both the M17 and M18 pistols are being adopted by the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The MHS contract was awarded to SIG SAUER in January 2017 for delivery of 480,000 pistols over a period of ten years; to date SIG SAUER has delivered over 20,000 pistols.

“For this testing the U.S. Army set very high standards for quality and performance, and at SIG we relish the opportunity to meet a challenge and exceed expectations. The performance of the M18 not only surpassed the U.S. Army’s testing requirements, its performance was simply outstanding and nothing short of perfection,” concluded Cohen.

05 Feb 19. German Veto on Meteor Missile Sale to Saudi Hampers Cooperation. Just days after France and Germany signed a treaty in which they agree “to develop a common approach to arms exports with regard to joint projects,” the German government has blocked the sale of Meteor air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia. The Meteor, developed and produced by Paris-based MBDA but with German components, is not the target of a specific German veto, but rather its export to Saudi Arabia is being blocked by the German government’s embargo on all arms sales to the desert kingdom, decided in late November. An MBDA spokesman this morning would neither confirm nor deny the veto, and the German embassy in Paris, which is closely involved in bilateral negotiations on joint arms exports, was unable to comment.

“There is a vast majority of Germans who reject any military export to Saudi Arabia, even before the Khashoggi [murder], but Germany disrespects French/UK sovereign export decisions,” said a Germany industry executive. “The moral high ground is a new form of nationalism, and [will raise] questions about any form of military cooperation.”

The ban, first reported by the French website La Tribune, will initially hit European missile manufacturer MBDA, but will probably also affect the sale of other weapon systems which include parts or components manufactured in Germany, such as the Eurofighter Typhoon. BAE Systems is negotiating the sale of 48 additional Typhoons to Saudi, including for the first time Meteor long-range, ramjet-powered air-to-air missiles that the Saudis also plan to retrofit to their earlier Typhoon batches as well as, possibly, to their US-manufactured Boeing F-15 fighters.  This is the second time that MBDA export contracts have been hit by third-party embargoes, as the sale of a second batch of Dassault Rafale fighters to Egypt was blocked by the United States because the MBDA Scalp that Egypt wanted includes a small number of US-made parts. At the French government’s request, MBDA is now developing a French source for these parts, so as to escape further obstacles.  A German veto, however, is impossible to sidestep as a large proportion of French weapon systems are developed jointly with Germany, and the proportion of German, components is too high to replace.

Differing positions on arms exports between France and Germany could also disrupt future joint programs to develop new combat aircraft, a new maritime patrol aircraft and a new main battle tank, which the two governments are launching during the first half of this year. The first contract, to develop an architecture for the Next Generation Weapon System and its main component, the New-Generation Fighter (NGF), was awarded Jan. 31, and the others will follow by June.

This political debate between France and Germany is influenced by an ongoing controversy, as the German SPD and the Green political parties have clearly stated their intention of imposing Germany’s restrictive export policies on France.

“For joint armaments projects, we need to agree restrictive rules with France for future exports, otherwise Germany cannot participate in such cooperation,” the SPD spokesman for defense issues, Thomas Hitschler, said in the lead-up to the French-German Treaty of Aachen, signed last week in that German city.

France, on the other hand, wants Germany to drop export controls on the weapons that it develops and produces with European allies, but this is clearly not on the cards. Beyond the technical and financial issues, this is probably the most urgent aspect of French-German weapons cooperation that the two must clearly agree before launching their ambitious range of next-generation weapons.  (Source: Defense-Aerospace.com)

05 Feb 19. Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) and the U.S. Navy have successfully completed the first-ever, live fire test of the latest generation of the Ship Self Defense System, or SSDS, Integrated Combat System on the Self Defense Test Ship. The test, conducted for USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), the first of the Navy’s newest class of aircraft carriers, successfully engaged an unmanned aerial vehicle target off the coast of California. The CVN 78 SSDS Integrated Combat System incorporates several elements including Raytheon’s:

  • Dual Band Radar: This technology searched for, located and tracked the target. DBR then provided radar illumination to the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile to support missile guidance.
  • Cooperative Engagement Capability, or CEC: The capability validated and processed the Dual Band Radar data for SSDS. CEC is responsible for providing a single, integrated air picture, fusing data from multiple sensors to improve track accuracy.
  • Ship Self Defense System: SSDS processed the CEC data, determined the appropriate engagement ranges, passed launch commands to the missile, and scheduled Dual Band Radar support for the engagement.
  • Evolved SeaSparrow Missile: The interceptor successfully engaged and defeated the target.
  • Rolling Airframe Missile: The RAM interceptor was successfully scheduled by SSDS, but not required, since the target was destroyed by the ESSM.

“The design of our Ship Self Defense System enabled seamless integration of the sensors and missiles with the CVN 78 combat system during this first-of-its-kind test, proving the ability of the system to defend our sailors,” said Mike Fabel, Raytheon’s SSDS program manager. “This integrated combat system success brings Ford [herself] one step closer to operational testing and deployment.”

Further integrated combat system live fire events will take place during subsequent developmental and operational testing planned for 2019.

05 Feb 19. NATO Project Land Battle Decisive Munition.  NATO announced that Denmark, France and the Netherlands have received the first shipment of new anti-tank weapons under the multinational NATO project Land Battle Decisive Munition (LBDM). This delivery follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by Defence Ministers at the NATO Summit in July 2018. The LBDM project allows NATO nations to acquire land munitions, including mortars, artillery shells, rockets, and missiles, in a more cost-effective and flexible way. The fast delivery timeline demonstrates that multinational cooperation can enable allies to tackle shared requirements in a cost and time efficient way. The munitions were delivered through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) after only six months. So far, 16 NATO members have joined this effort: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. NATO partners Austria, Finland, and Macedonia are also participants. (Source: ESD Spotlight)

04 Feb 19. Indian MoD approves procurement of 72,400 SIG Sauer rifles for IA. India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) will acquire 72,400 assault rifles for the Indian Army (IA) from small arms manufacturer SIG Sauer for an estimated USD72m. Senior IA officers told Jane’s on 3 February that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had authorised the procurement of SIG Sauer’s SIG716 7.62×51mm rifle in late January under the MoD’s Fast Track Procedure (FTP) after the company’s bid of USD990 per rifle emerged as ‘L1’, or the lowest among those submitted by three competing vendors. Abu Dhabi’s Caracal International had priced its CAR817 rifle at USD1,200 per unit, while Israel Weapon Industries set a price of USD1,600 for each of its ACE1 models, according to industry sources. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

04 Feb 19. Russian Navy has new weapon that makes targets hallucinate, vomit: report. The Russian Navy reportedly has a new weapon that can disrupt the eyesight of targets as well as make them hallucinate and vomit. Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported that a Russian military contractor has installed the weapon on two Russian warships.

The weapon fires a beam similar to a strobe light that affects the target’s eyesight, making it more difficult for them to aim at night. During testing, volunteers reportedly used rifles and guns to shoot targets that were protected by the weapon. The volunteers reported having trouble aiming because they couldn’t see.

Additionally, about half of the volunteers said they felt dizzy, nauseous and disoriented. About 20 percent of the volunteers reported experiencing hallucinations.

The weapon, called the Filin, has reportedly been installed on the Admiral Gorshkov and Admiral Kasatonov, two Russian warships. The weapon is expected to be installed on more ships that are currently being built.

The weapon was developed by Ruselectornics, a Russian state-owned developer of electronics and other technologies. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://thehill.com)

04 Feb 19. Brazil details M109A5+ BR howitzer delivery. The Brazilian Army’s field artillery capability is set to improve in mid-May when 32 M109A5+ BR 155mm self-propelled tracked howitzers are scheduled to arrive at the Rio Grande port, the army told Jane’s. The move comes after the Brazilian Army and the US Department of Defense inked a letter of offer and acceptance in December 2014. Under the terms of a USD54m Foreign Military Sale contract, BAE Systems began upgrading 32 M109A5s with the Kearfott MILNAV series reference unit, Weibel MVRS-700 muzzle velocity radar, display units, a remote travel lock system, GPSs, provisions for a Harris Falcon III radio, a Thales SOTAS IP intercom, an IMBEL Gênesis V command-and-control system, and more. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

05 Feb 19. CTA barrel wear problems still a problem? Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that the CTA canon still has continuing problems regarding barrel wear. It appears that one of the reasons for the US turning down the system was that, at the time of the assessment each barrel could only take 600 rounds before a change was required. The UK MoD is believed to have ordered two barrels per canon. Another problem identified in the US assessment was the fact that the canon generates 20,000lbs of thrust, hence the requirement to strengthen the Warrior turrets, which increased the overall weight of the vehicle. The Ajax turret is also believed to require strengthening. As CTA is GFE, the MoD has to bear all cost overruns!

01 Feb 19. Pentagon Studies Post-INF Weapons, Shooting Down Hypersonics. The Pentagon has almost completed a study of how to shoot down hypersonic missiles. It’s also developing new offensive weapons — conventional, not nuclear — whose deployment will become legal with the end of the INF Treaty. A Pentagon study on how to counter counter hypersonic missiles – which China, Russia, and the US are all developing – is in final review and will be out soon, the director of the Missile Defense Agency said today. The Analysis Of Alternatives (AOA) looks at both existing interceptors and new designs, as well as directed energy weapons such as lasers, Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves said at the Center for Strategic & International Studies this afternoon.

Countering hypersonics is a high priority, but hardly the only one, in the administration’s recently concluded Missile Defense Review, which says increasingly dangerous and diverse threats will require the US to develop both new defenses and new offensive weapons. It’s an approach that holds up well now that the administration is withdrawing from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty after years of Russian violations, the deputy undersecretary for policy, David Trachtenberg, said at CSIS.

Stopping Hypersonics And Streamlining Acquisition

Hypersonic missiles could slip through current defenses because they fly much faster than traditional cruise missiles but much lower and more maneuverably than ballistic missiles. So, the Missile Defense Agency director said, “the agency, with the department, has completed an Analysis Of Alternatives looking at hypersonic defense.”

“Fast interceptors… are one option, directed energy is another, and there are some other options in there,” Greaves elaborated. “It’s essentially assessing the current suite of available interceptors to see if they’re fast enough to get to the target and win the tail chase…. We have worked with industry to assess available interceptors as well as potentially new interceptors to execute that mission.”

“I cannot say today that definitively we need a new interceptor. I will await the results of the analysis of alternatives,” Greaves emphasized. “That AOA is now in final coordination and review within the department and should be released soon.”

Greaves is being cautious here, but given that his own experts helped write the report, he probably both knows and agrees with whatever it recommends — he just can’t say publicly what that is before his bosses have signed off.

When that recommendation does come out, it’ll be up to MDA to execute it as the Defense Department’s lead agency for countering hypersonics. It’s the kind of high-tech, high-stakes, high-risk work the agency was created for. MDA’s unique legal authorities and funding let it bypass much of the usual acquisition bureaucracy – but critics have argued that just lets the agency “rush to failure” by fielding inadequatelytested technologies. So should MDA be brought under the standard DoD 5000 regulations?

“I absolutely oppose that. It’s wrong,” Greaves said bluntly. “I spent quite a bit of time in the Air Force” – in the regular acquisition bureaucracy – “underneath the 5000 principles and processes. I’ve spent time equally in the National Reconnaissance Office and the Missile Defense Agency,” which both have exemptions from that process. “Having qualified people in responsible positions with the authority to make those decisions, that is the secret sauce,” he said.

Ending INF But Not Deploying Nukes

The big news of the day on arms control was the administration’s formal announcement that it will withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, starting tomorrow. But undersecretary Trachtenberg argued that the end of the landmark 1987 accord doesn’t require any revisions to the Missile Defense Review: To the contrary, he argued, it vindicates it.

“I don’t think the demise of the INF treaty really affects the approach that we’ve taken in the MDR at all, because the MDR’s presumption is we need to defend against a growing proliferation of missile threats, period,” Trachtenberg said.

“The demise of the INF treaty — let’s be clear about this — is because the Russians have violated it and repeatedly violated it for years…. That is indicative of part of the problem [that is] captured in the MDR.”

In particular, the review puts a new emphasis on cruise missiles, not just ballistic missiles. (Cruise missiles fly low and slow through the atmosphere, but can maneuver; ballistic missiles fly at blinding speeds but in predictable trajectories, much of the time through space). Hence the name Missile Defense Review, as opposed to previous administrations’ Ballistic Missile Defense Reviews. The Russian weapon that allegedly violates INF, the Novator, is a cruise missile.

Withdrawing from the treaty means the US can legally build INF-banned weapons of its own: ground-launched missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km. (That’s 310 to 3,417 miles, a range band chosen because of the peculiar geopolitics of the Cold War in Europe). But skeptics point out any such weapons would have to be based on the soil of European allies, many of whose citizens protested bitterly the last time the US tried such a move, back before the INF accord was signed.

Trachtenberg dismisses the comparison. The controversial Pershing ballistic missiles and Ground-Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCMs) of the 1980s were nuclear weapons, but the new ones will be precision-guided conventional weapons.

Deploying new nukes to Europe, “we have no plans to do that,” Trachtenberg emphasized. “What we have been planning to do and have been doing is …research and development of conventionally armed systems within the range that is currently banned by the treaty.”

The US Army, in particular, sees such long-ranged (but not intercontinental) precision-guided weapons as vital tools to take apart high-tech defenses, especially anti-aircraft weapons, radars, and air defense command posts that would otherwise keep American airpower at bay. The INF Treaty bans such systems almost as an afterthought — conventional long-range missiles were irrelevant at the time because, before precision guidance, it took a nuclear warhead to guarantee a hit on a target hundreds of miles away — but they have become increasingly central to a new era of warfare. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)

04 Feb 19. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. has released a video from a firing test of the SPIKE NLOS launched from a light buggy (TOMCAR). SPIKE NLOS is a 30 km Precision Guided Missile, part of the 5th generation electro-optical SPIKE Family, operational today in 31 countries worldwide. Last year, RAFAEL unveiled a light, modular launcher for the SPIKE NLOS missile, integrated on a light buggy (e.g. TOMCAR). The SPIKE Launcher used in this test weighs only 1350 kg, including 8 rounds – providing armies and Special Forces with a low-weight, maneuverable, precision element that can be easily air-deployed deep into enemy territory and used to attack point targets (static & mobile) with very high precision, and with no dependence on GPS.

04 Feb 19. US Navy to remove hard-kill torpedo defence from carriers. The US Navy (USN) will remove the prototype ‘hard-kill’ torpedo defence system from nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs), the Pentagon’s Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) has revealed.

Designed to detect, classify, localise, and neutralise threat torpedoes, the Surface Ship Torpedo Defence (SSTD) system was introduced to redress a torpedo defence capability gap on CVNs and high-value combat logistics force vessels. Five engineering development model (EDM) systems were delivered between fiscal year 2013 (FY 2013) and FY 2017, with USS George H W Bush (CVN 77) receiving the first fit.

An initial operational capability was planned for 2019. However, the latest DOT&E annual report has revealed that the USN took the decision in September 2018 to suspend its effort to develop the SSTD system, and will remove hardware from those CVNs currently equipped. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

04 Feb 19. Iran – Defence Ministry claims cruise missile test on 40th anniversary of 1979 Islamic Revolution. On 2 February, Iran claimed to have conducted a test launch of a new cruise missile named the ‘Hoveizeh’, with a purported range of 800 miles (1,300km). The claimed cruise missile test occurred during celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and analysis of the video indicates the launch likely took place near the city of Qom with an impact location in the desert area south of Semnan. Our analysis indicates there were no active NOTAMs in place covering cruise missile launch activity from Qom or or areas south of Semnan for FIR Tehran (OIIX) covering the test date/times, altitude restrictions and/or geographic area affected. Multiple safety of flight concerns emanate from a situation where a missile malfunctions during the boost phase or initial cruise phase of flight. Such an event would cause the cruise missile to fly an unplanned trajectory and altitude profile which could expose overflying aircraft to mid-air collision, route diversion and or debris splashdown issues.


The US FAA has a standing notice and background information advising operators to exercise caution when transiting Iranian airspace due to unannounced military activity and missile launches (NOTAM KICZ A0016/18). Unannounced rocket and missile launches that transit airspace used by civilian aircraft pose a nascent but credible hazard to flight operations at all altitudes. Iran previously conducted a test of a Soumar cruise missile from the launch site near Qom during March 2015, without issuing appropriate NOTAMs prior to the event. On 10 January, Iran announced plans to launch two satellites into space via domestically produced rockets within in the ‘coming weeks’ and the first of which was conducted unsuccessfully on 15 January, despite recent warnings from the US against carrying out the tests. Additional Iranian missile launches in the Strait of Hormuz area or space launch rocket vehicle tests within designated areas in Semnan Province, as well as operational strikes into Syria or Iraq, are likely during 2019, with a specific flash-point being the late-February time-frame. We continue to assess Iran to be a MODERATE risk aviation and airspace operating environment at all altitudes.

Risk area recommendation: Stringent risk mitigation measures

  • Overflight possible with the following measures in place
  • Security and operational risk-based identification of pre-planned divert airports
  • Access to reliable and redundant communications with an established communications plan
  • Fully-coordinated and robust emergency response plan


Approvals: Operators are advised to ensure flight plans are correctly filed, attain proper special approvals for flight operations to sensitive locations and obtain relevant overflight permits prior to departure. In addition, ensure crews scheduled to operate to or over the country in the near term are fully aware of the latest security situation.

Aviation Safety: Aviation safety incidents have the potential to cause follow-on disruption to airport security operations. Operators are advised to review internal and external mechanisms for aviation safety reporting. Any revisions to processes should account for air and ground safety occurrence provisions as part of a wider aviation risk management strategy to protect aircraft, passengers and crew. In addition, ensure emergency response and communications plans are up to date to enhance continuity during times of crisis. (Source: Osprey)

04 Feb 19. US Navy canvasses industry for GLGP seeker options. US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has released an initial Request for Information (RFI) to assess potential seeker options for the US Navy’s (USN’s) next-generation Gun-Launched, Guided Projectiles (GLGP), which are planned to be fired from the MK 45 5-inch guns that equip the service’s cruiser and destroyer fleet.

The RFI was released on 29 January and states that the USN is interested in a “variety of seeker solutions”, particularly radio frequency (RF) and passive optic seeker types for terminal guidance. “These two seeker families have been emphasised because they minimise platform modifications while providing system capability against raids and enabling over-the-horizon terminal operation,” the RFI stated.

Mid-course guidance could be provided by the AN/SPY-1/6 air- and missile-defence radar along with a “platform-to-projectile” two-way datalink. This mid-course guidance could be used to reduce field-of-view (FOV) requirements, with the navy noting that it is interested in gimbaled and body-fixed seekers. A gimbaled seeker could add cost and complexity but would reduce FOV requirement “significantly” compared with body-fixed examples.

The GLGP will have “significant volumetric limitations”, according to the RFI, with the seeker size ultimately affecting warhead size. “The available volume of a high-velocity guided projectile is very limited, which emphasises the importance of high-energy density power sources,” it said.

The proposed seeker location is expected to be in the front of the projectile, which enables the forward aperture to acquire and track targets. Despite this, the navy is still keen to keep the front “relatively dense” to maintain aerodynamic stability. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

01 Feb 19. Raytheon Sees Future Business In Hypersonic Defense Technology. Defense officials routinely tout the hypersonic weapons they hope to develop and field, but Raytheon’s leadership sees anti-hypersonic defensive technology as the better long-term business bet. Raytheon is very interested in expanding its hypersonics business, especially hypersonics defense capabilities, Raytheon chief executive Tom Kennedy said during a Thursday conference call with Wall Street analysts.

“We think the hypersonic defense market is larger than the hypersonic market,” Kennedy said.

There is a market for creating an offensive hypersonic attack system, Kennedy said. However, developing a hypersonics defense system involves creating the sensors used to track incoming hypersonic weapons and creating a vehicle that can successfully intercept the incoming projectile.

Raytheon considers developing hypersonic technology a crucial part of its Missile Systems business’s ability to compete for future government contracts. With 2018 sales of $8.3bn, Raytheon’s Missile Systems business is the largest division by sales, representing about 30 percent of Raytheon’s total $27.1bn in sales for the year, according to the company’s recently filed fourth quarter financial report. In 2019, Raytheon expects the Missile Systems business to record sales of between $8.9bn and $9.1bn.

In the meantime, Kennedy said Raytheon is pleased with the rollout of its new Naval Strike Missile (NSM). The Navy awarded Raytheon a $14.8m contract for the first order of NSM, which will be used by both the Freedom and Independence variants of the Littoral Combat Ship. The contract has options that would total $847.6m.

“Our goal with NSM is to replace the existing domestic and international inventory of Harpoon and other international surface-to-surface missiles, making this another multi-billion franchise opportunity for the company,” Kennedy said.

Raytheon also is marketing its Standard Missile-3 Block IIA missiles, which Kennedy said are the only such missiles that can be fired from land or sea and intercept a missile in space. The SM-3 Block IIA was jointly developed by the U.S. and Japan. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/USNI)

01 Feb 19. DOT&E says F-35A gun accuracy issues remain.

Key Points:

  • The F-35A continues to have issues with gun accuracy as identified in last year’s DOT&E report
  • The programme is considering options for re-boresighting and correcting gun alignments

The Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) conventional variant’s gun accuracy issues from fiscal year 2017 (FY 2017) remain to the point that the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester, based on testing through September, considers them unacceptable.

The FY 2018 report by the Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), released on 31 January, said that F-35A gun accuracy during system design and development (SDD) failed to meet the contract specification. Although software corrections were made to the F-35 mission system software to improve the stability of gun aiming cues, no software or hardware corrections have been implemented to correct the gun accuracy issues.

Investigations into the gun mounts of the F-35A revealed misalignments that result in muzzle alignment errors. As a result, the true alignment of each F-35A gun is not known, so the programme is considering options for re-boresighting and correcting gun alignments.

F-35A operational test pilots received intermittent “unsafe gun” cockpit alerts while attempting gun attacks during air-to-air gun testing. These alerts occurred with two different aircraft and the root cause is under investigation. The air-to-ground accuracy results from the gun pod on the US Marine Corps (USMC) F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant and the US Navy (USN) F-35C aircraft carrier variant have been consistent and meet the contract specifications. They do not show the accuracy errors of the internal gun on the F-35A. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

01 Feb 19. Here’s what the M16 and M4 and Squad Automatic Weapon replacements will look like. Army officials have released a detailed request for prototypes of the planned replacements for both the M16/M4 and M249 Squad Automatic Weapons. And a battery is included.

The “prototype opportunity notice” on the government business website fedbizopps.gov offers three companies the chance to build the prototypes under a lengthy list of requirements and testing evaluations in the coming years. While an Army program it has been closely watched and involved feedback and participants from both the special operations forces community and Marine Corps.

The Next Generation Squad Weapon program has evolved in recent years, honing down to two variants, the NGSW-Automatic Rifle, or SAW replacement, and the rifle/carbine replacement, NGSW-Rifle. Both will be chambered in 6.8mm, a new intermediate caliber not currently in the general purpose forces.

An existing prototype competition for the NGSW-AR is set to have test fires this summer.

But once information is gathered from those tests, which involve four companies, that program will end and the combined NGSW-AR and NGSW-R program will continue with the selection of three companies to build those prototypes and supply a variety of ammunition for testing. Those companies have until May 30 to submit their samples. Army officials are expected to select the three by the end of the summer. Each company will need to deliver 53 NGSW-R, 43 NGSW-AR, and 845,000 rounds of ammunition. And that ammo may not look like what soldiers currently carry.

With pressure on all sides to lighten the dismounted soldier load, Army officials are open to accepting polymer casings, traditional brass, cased-telescoped ammunition or other hybrids that produce the necessary terminal performance while also reducing weight. Once, they will have 27 months to get the prototype ready. That timeline will include “soldier touch points.” Those will include likely multiple squads assessing mobility, user acceptance, control and suitability and effectiveness for combat operations.

The scheduling means that the Army could have a weapon to down select, further develop and begin limited fielding by as soon as 2021. Once selections are completed, the winning company may be asked to build up to 250,000 weapons and supply up to 150 million rounds of ammo. Much of what’s being asked for is similar to what’s on current small arms and machine guns such as ambidextrous controls, flash hider, removable suppressor and rails for attaching accessories.

What’s slightly different is the Army wants both battery and non-battery versions to power an advanced fire control system that is providing much of the “leap-ahead” tech that the Army hopes will make shooters more lethal.

The battery submission needs to work with both rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries that are integrated into the rifle system. The battery weight will not be included in overall weapon weight, though.

Officials want the submission to have new fire control capabilities built into one device — a laser range finder, ballistic computer, atmospheric sensor suite and disturbed reticle.

The system will give shooters an in-scope digital overlay that produces an adjusted aim-point for the weapon/ammo combination, according to a separate Army posting on the Squad Fire Control system for the NGSW.

And all of those features need to fit within a package that weighs no more than 2 pounds. Those capabilities are only the first increment of the fire controls. In the not too distant future, the Army wants to incorporate all of those marksmanship items into its night vision, heads-up display technologies and include squad location and biometric info into the same screen on a device the size of a pair of ruggedized sunglasses. (Source: Army Times)

01 Feb 19. IAI to provide Indian Navy USD93m worth of missile components. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has signed deals worth USD93mi with the Indian Navy (IN) and India’s state-owned Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) to provide additional equipment for the IN’s Barak-8 air- and missile-defence systems. The company announced in a 30 January statement that it will supply “complementary systems for the air-defence system”, adding that the contracts “involve follow-up orders for a range of maintenance and other services” for the various sub-systems of the naval Barak 8. Industry sources told Jane’s on 1 February that Barak-8-series missiles with a 70-km range are intended for fitment onto INS Vikrant, the 37,500-tonne aircraft carrier on order for the IN that is under construction at CSL and scheduled to begin sea trials in 2020. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

31 Jan 19. Industry bidding to develop US Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon prototypes. The US Army is moving out with development and fieldling of two Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) variants with plans to award three prototyping contracts by the end of September.

In a 30 January notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities Website, the army called on companies to submit their plans to develop two weapons designed to fire 6.8mm ammunition – an NGSW-Rifle (NGSW-R) and a NGSW-Automatic Rifle (NGSW-AR).

“These prototype OTAs [other transaction agreements] will develop industry’s potential solutions/concepts through prototypes, user evaluation, and testing to ensure producible weapon systems that are safe, suitable, effective, and sustainable with a goal of delivering production representative weapon system(s) with ammunition,” the service wrote.

The NGSW-R is slated to replace the M4/M4A1 Carbine weapon, while the NGSW-AR is the marked as the replacement for Close Combat Force’s M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in the Automatic Rifleman role.

When it comes to weapon requirements, both the NGSW-R and NGSW-AR prototypes should include: suitability for ambidextrous operation; a flash hider, removable suppressor; a tactical carrying sling with quick release attachments; selection positions for safe, semi-automatic firing, and automatic firing modes; corrosion resistance; the suitability to operate in all-weather environments; interchangeable magazines between both weapons, if the NGSW-AR utilizes a magazine; replaceable battery configurations; and more.

As for the acquisition approach, the service intends to award three NGSW prototyping contracts by the end of fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) under which each company will be required to deliver 53 NGSW-R weapons, 43 NGSW-AR weapons, 845,000 rounds of ammunition, as well as additional equipment and engineering support. In total, the service envisions that contractors will spend up to eight years, through FY 2027, on the prototyping effort. (Source: IHS Jane’s)


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