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21 Mar 19. MBDA doubles down on tiny European laser-weapon project. Initiatives launched by the European Commission since 2017 are a “game changer” for European missile-maker MBDA, whose CEO Antoine Bouvier said those projects will “profoundly change the environment in which we work.”
Presenting the company’s annual results this week — revenue is up to €3.2bn (U.S. $3.6bn) in 2018, from €3.1bn a year earlier — Bouvier said the lineup of relatively small, European Union-sponsored activities has great potential.
“Commission initiatives have a much more structuring effect than their budgets might indicate, and have a real impact,” he said.
Asked by Defense News to clarify this statement Bouvier took as an example the TALOS (Tactical Advanced Laser Optical System), part of the so-called 2018 Preparatory Action on Defence Research projects, for which MBDA and CILAS have been selected. The ground agreement is still in preparation but the funds — as yet unspecified — have been approved by the European Commission. The project will be implemented by the European Defence Agency.
Bouvier said that although the project was only worth “a few million euros” it was important because it was the first time the European Union “has taken an initiative on this subject.” Bouvier explained that a “wide-ranging” team with input from the Netherlands, Poland and others would be set up. “This team will then be able to answer future European tenders,” he said.
Bouvier predicted that “this might be the embryo of a much more important initiative in the European laser sector.” The aim of this first, small project, he explained, “is to prepare a road map for the future.” For the pan-European company that he heads, it is “the guarantee that we will be well placed in the future when much more significant budgets are in play, starting in 2020,” Bouvier said (Source: Defense News)
21 Mar 19. With an eye to China and Russia, the US Navy plans a lethal upgrade to its destroyers. Facing ever-faster missiles and increasingly complicated air threats from China and Russia, the U.S. Navy is moving toward a major upgrade to its stalwart Arleigh Burke destroyer fleet.
The service is planning to buy a scaled version of Raytheon’s SPY-6 air and missile defense radar to replace the SPY-1D arrays on the Flight IIA destroyers, Defense News has learned. The upgrade will bolster the radar sensitivity and sophistication of the Flight IIA Burkes.
The move is likely prompted by the Navy’s concern about the proliferation of anti-ship cruise missiles with sophisticated evasive maneuvers and ever-increasing speeds, investments that China and Russia make no secret about pursuing.
In a statement, the Navy acknowledged it was pursuing the SPY-6 array upgrades as part of the 2020 budget.
“Per the President’s Budget submission for FY2020 Navy will begin procurement of 24 Radar Module Assembly (RMA) SPY-6 radar sets, and associated electrical and cooling equipment in FY2022, for installation in a DDG Flight IIA beginning in FY2025. The specific hull will be named later,” the statement reads.
The array is a smaller version of the SPY-6 intended for the Flight III DDG, the first of which is now under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries. The SPY-6 destined for DDG-125 will have 37 of what are known as radar modular assemblies, or RMA, which are 2-foot-by-2-foot-by-2-foot boxes that use gallium nitride technology to direct radar energy on air targets. The Flight IIA version will have 24 RMAs in the array.
A version of the radar planned for the FFG(X) future frigate is a nine-RMA configuration.
The Navy is aiming to upgrade all of its DDGs to Aegis Baseline 9 or higher with a ballistic missile defense capability and extend the service lives to 45 years as part of an effort to grow the fleet.
But the Navy is going to try to get 50 years out of its Flight IIA ships. The IIAs make up the bulk of the DDG fleet, with 46 total planned for the service — DDG-79 through DDG-124. DDG-127 will also be a Flight IIA.
That upgraded SPY-6 will be far easier to maintain than the current SPY-1D. Raytheon claims the radar can be maintained by simply removing an RMA and switching it out with a new one, with the rest of the work performed off-site.
In a statement, Raytheon’s head of naval radars, Scott Spence, said the upgrade would bring increased capability to the IIA ships.
“Upgrading Flight IIA ships with a SPY-6 radar will deliver unmatched capability to the surface fleet,” Spence said. “The benefits include a significant increase in terms of sensitivity and range, as well as simultaneous air and missile defense capability, all of which provides commanders with the operational flexibility to address current and emerging threat in ways never before possible.”
Bryan McGrath, a retired destroyer skipper and defense consultant, said that if the Navy follows through on the program, it would be a significant upgrade to the destroyer fleet.
“If indeed the Navy decided to [retrofit] the IIAs with SPY-6, it would greatly increase the sensitivity of the radar and allow the ship to track and engage targets with more difficult kinematics, moving at higher speeds and executing more difficult maneuvers,” McGrath said.
The SPY-6 and variants of it are becoming more widespread in the fleet, something else that would be an advantage, he added.
“It is essentially the same radar they are putting in the FFG(X) and in the Flight III,” he said. “That gives you the opportunity to execute some more advanced networked radar techniques and aids in life cycle cost management.” (Source: Defense News)
21 Mar 19. Rheinmetall Mission Master UGV qualified for firing 70mm rockets. Rheinmetall Canada’s Mission Master unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) fired Thales 70mm rockets during Rheinmetall Denel Munition’s Ammunition Capability Demonstration (ACD) 2019 at Denel’s Overberg test range on 20 March. The UGV, which is controlled by a single soldier through a personal digital assistant (PDA), fired a salvo of 14 rockets delivering 60 kg of explosives in 1.6 seconds, said Alain Tremblay, Rheinmetall Canada’s vice-president for business development.
Tremblay told Jane’s on 19 March that the Mission Master conducted trials at Overberg over the last month, firing individual rockets and entire salvoes, culminating in the system’s qualification for NATO and the South African National Defence Force. The UGV/70 mm rocket combination is now qualified under NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 4568 on unmanned vehicle interoperability. The Mission Master has two launchers for seven rockets each mounted on an adapted Rheinmetall remote weapons station and can fire 70 mm rockets with high explosive or high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warheads, according to Tremblay. He gave a range of 2 km for direct fire and 7km for indirect fire, with guided rockets extending this range to 9km. He said a soldier with a PDA could control the Mission Master through a radio at a range of 8km. In addition to being controlled with a man in the loop, the UGV can be operated semi-autonomously by pre-programming it so a “man on the loop” gives the final command before an action is taken. Tremblay expects the Mission Master to reach an initial capability to be operated fully autonomously without a man in or on the loop by early 2020. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 Mar 19. Arnold Defense awarded U.S. Department of Defense Contract worth up to $74.3m. Arnold Defense, the world’s leading supplier of rocket launchers, has been awarded a $53.8m contract for the delivery of 2.75-inch rocket launchers and sub components to support the U.S. Navy, Army and Air Force, along with foreign military sales to Australia. Recently announced by the U.S. Department of Defense, the contract includes options that, if exercised, will raise the cumulative total to $74.3m over a 4 year period, with final delivery expected to be complete in 2023. The Arnold Defense contract is for the delivery of a number of their core products; the 7-tube M260 and 19-tube M261 Hydra-70 Rocket Launchers used by U.S. Army helicopters; the 7-tube LAU-68 & LAU-131 series and 19-tube LAU-61 & LAU-130 series used by the U.S. Navy and Air Force; and various launcher sub-components such as Intervalometers and Tube Assemblies. Arnold Defense, founded in 1945 and based in Arnold, Missouri, are the world’s largest supplier of rocket launchers for military aircraft, vessels and vehicles. Since 1961 they have manufactured more than 1.1 million 2.75-inch rocket launchers for the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, and a number of NATO countries. Through innovation, dedication, technical expertise and warfighter-first focus, Arnold Defense continues to produce the very best rocket launchers in the world and are committed to manufacturing the world’s most reliable and affordable rocket launchers.
Jim Hager, President and CEO of Arnold Defense said “Unsurprisingly Arnold Defense are extremely proud to be delivering this contract for the U.S. Department of Defense. Our unerring focus remains on maintaining the highest standards of production quality to meet the exceptional demands of the U.S. Armed Forces and our Government’s foreign military sales.”
20 Mar 19. Turkey carries out vertical test fire of Hisar-A SAM. Turkey has successfully vertically test fired missiles for the locally developed short-range Hisar-A surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, the Presidency of the Turkish Defence Industries (SSB) announced on 20 March.
“Hisar-A, during its first vertical firing test from a missile launching system, scored a 100% success against a target aircraft flying fast at a high altitude. We plan to deliver Hisar-A in 2021 and [the medium-range] Hisar-O in 2022 to the Turkish Land Forces Command,” the SSB said in a tweet. Developed by Aselsan and Roketsan, the Hisar-A system will be carried by an ACV-30 tracked armoured vehicle and will have a range of 15km. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 Mar 19. Is the Pentagon moving quickly enough on hypersonic defense? As the Pentagon looks to catch up with China and Russia in the hypersonic arms race, there is a widespread acknowledgement that the technology to defend against weapons capable of reaching Mach 5 or higher simply isn’t there.
“If war breaks out tomorrow, we’re probably not going to kill hypersonic boost glide missiles,” Mike Griffin, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of research and engineering, said during a March 20 speech. “The issue about the higher speed hypersonic systems, the boost glide systems, which are not air breathers, is that they are just so much faster. … By the time you can see it, they are inside our track loop.
“We are behind on hypersonic defense. We need to catch up, and we will.”
But this won’t be a quick process, and the defensive side of hypersonics isn’t a departmental priority.
Mike White, the Pentagon’s assistant director for hypersonics, told reporters during the fiscal 2020 budget rollout that the department sees a three-step plan for hypersonics, and it starts with investing heavily in offensive capabilities first, followed by defensive systems, and then finally, at least a decade away, reusable systems such as airborne vehicles.
“If you look at the portfolio and the time phasing on the portfolio, we are stepping out first on the offensive side as we study and asses the path forward to get a robust defensive strategy, and then I think you will see a commensurate increase in emphasis on the defensive side,” said White, who serves as the department’s de facto hypersonics czar under Griffin.
“It’s clear that we are stepping forward, currently in this submission, with an aggressive offensive portfolio,” he continued. “The defensive aspect, we’re making significant investment in the underlying technologies and the knowledge necessary to move forward aggressively to build a system, and I suspect that’s not very far behind.”
That discrepancy between offense and defense shows up in the dollar values in the FY20 request; while overall hypersonic investments come in around $2.6bn, defensive developments take up only $157.4m of that, according to the Missile Defense Agency’s request.
And that figure for defensive developments drops over the coming years, going to $142.3m in FY21, $116.9m in FY22, $119.7m in FY23 and $122.0m in FY24.
While other work relevant to defensive capabilities is undoubtedly being done elsewhere — the space sensor layer falls under the purview of the recently stood up Space Development Agency, for example — a road map laid out in the MDA’s budget justification book shows no system element tests planned through the next five years.
While warning not to read into that particular budget drop too much, Tom Karako, a missile defense expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, did note “it’s not a positive trend. It’s a bit at odds with the verbal priorities that they’re giving to that mission overall.”
Specifically, Karako was surprised to see the space sensor layer, which was identified by Griffin as the key to the department’s missile defense efforts for the future, receiving only $15m in FY20 to create “a prototype proliferated Low Earth Orbit (pLEO) communications and data transport layer,” per the Space Development Agency’s budget request.
“That’s just enough to build some paper satellites. That’s not prioritizing the space sensor layer as it needs to be — that’s kicking the can,” Karako said. “This isn’t the missile defense ‘masterpiece,’ this is ‘Masterpiece Theater.’”
“I think Mike Griffin has an idea of what’s the path forward. I would have liked to have seen some milestones for that path. But I don’t. It’s just not here. I expected to have more meat here in term of the budget submission,” he added. “It sure looks to me like somebody lost a battle there. They prioritized the offensive side, and that’s fine. But the counter-hypersonic architecture is going to take some time to design, develop and build.”
That offense will be the focus early on doesn’t mean industry isn’t eyeing what it expects will be a lucrative business on the defensive side.
Northrop Grumman, for example, recently launched a new website dedicated to advertising its hypersonic defense strategy. While light on details, the advertising push is a clear sign that the company sees a large potential market, even if down the road.
Joanna Cangianelli, Northrop’s director of business development for missile defense solutions and counter-hypersonics, said it was logical that offensive capabilities are getting the initial funding, as they are further along than defensive technologies. But the company wants to start investing now so it’s ready for when the department pluses up its defensive budget.
“If you look at it from a business development standpoint, 2022 and 2023 are not that far away. and you need to start investing in solutions now, in capabilities and technologies, and pulling those together in order to develop something that can be fielded in 2024 or 2025 when the money starts flowing,” she said.
Added Kenn Todorov, vice president of missile defense solutions and the lead for Northrop’s counter-hypersonic efforts: “We’re investing a lot of our own resources to give us a leg up and to do somethings so we’ll be ready, forward-looking as opposed to reactionary. We clearly are anticipating that those [budget] numbers will come, and we want to be ready for them and be out front when we do so we’ll be well-positioned.” (Source: Defense News)
21 Mar 19. MMP is cold weather qualified. In early 2019, the DGA (French Procurement Agency) and the French Army (STAT) organised a campaign to test the MMP land combat missile in extreme cold conditions. Performed on the Swedish state firing range at Vidsel, located near the Arctic Circle with temperatures between -15 °C and -30 °C, the cold weather campaign of the MMP was a complete success.
Three firing scenarios, representative of the operational uses of the MMP at long range, were successfully completed. In each case the missile successfully hit its target, confirming in particular the smooth operation of the system’s image processing algorithms under typical winter and subpolar conditions (snowy background).
- The first scenario was made in LOBL mode (Lock On Before Launch) on a vehicle moving at 70km/h.
- The second scenario successfully engaged a cave target in low trajectory and in LOBL mode.
- The third scenario, using the Beyond Line Of Sight (BLOS) mode, was made using GPS coordinates transmitted by the FELIN system (French Army Digitized Soldier System). Lock-on was achieved during flight against a tank not visible from the launch position. The tank was then successfully struck on its roof.
The campaign has confirmed the robustness of the equipment used in extreme conditions of negative temperatures. It also has confirmed the system’s ease of use and good ergonomics (compatibility with the cold weather infantry equipment for example), in highly demanding conditions for the equipment and for the user.
This campaign complements the technical and operational evaluation of the system conducted by the French army and the DGA since the start of deliveries at the end of 2017, in particular following the hot weather campaign carried out in Djibouti last August.
In service in the French army since 2018, the MMP is to date the only 5th generation land combat missile of the world to be deployed in military theaters of operations.
20 Mar 19. A DoD AI expert is coming – and that could mean big things for directed energy. A vacant Pentagon position on artificial intelligence will be filled “quite soon,” with a focus on cross-cutting artificial intelligence through various technologies, according to undersecretary of research and engineering Michael Griffin.
Griffin, speaking to the Directed Energy Summit March 20, was asked about how AI can be applied to directed-energy weaponry, which elicited him to say, “What I know about AI can be written on the back of a tiny postage stamp.”
Hence, Griffin said, the R&E team is “bringing on board a very capable person quite soon, I won’t name him here, to head up AI. He will, in fact, as one of the assistant directors, be reporting directly to us, and one of our goals … that we want him to explore [is] answering exactly the question you’ve posed: How do we integrate AI across the other priorities?”
The assistant director for artificial intelligence is a new role, created by Griffin in 2017 as part of the split of the legacy Acquisition, Sustainment and Logistics office into two new entities. Griffin carved out nine assistant director spots to focus on key technology areas, such as directed energy, hypersonics and AI.
How that assistant director for AI will coordinate with the Joint AI Center, located under the chief information officer and now led by U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, is not totally clear. But in Griffin’s mind, the assistant director’s role is to find ways to apply AI across other new technology areas, including directed energy at a time both technologies are hitting early maturation.
“Directed energy has or can have a very deep magazine and a very agile re-targeting capability — in many ways, and for many scenarios, much better than trying to fill the sky with metal against an incoming threat,” Griffin said, which is a ”particularly useful trade when you start to say, how are we going to deal with swarming UAV attacks?
“The fact that the hardware can accommodate a deep magazine and a lot of agility, now we require tracking and targeting mechanisms that are AI informed because you’re going to be way out in front of the headlights of any human fire control person. The question of which targets to go at, and in what order, is challenging.”
“So, we’re going to be looking for optimization strategies for how you do targeting of directed-energy weapons. That’s just one thing,” he concluded. “If we’re successful with [directed energy], I think we’re gonna need AI to help us use it properly. and I’m sure there’s 50 people out here who have ideas about how to use AI that haven’t yet occurred to me. How we integrate all these technologies, I don’t have a crisp answer for you. That’s part of our challenge.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
20 Mar 19. U.S., Israel Say Jointly-Developed David’s Sling Anti-Missile System Passed Test. A test of the David’s Sling anti-missile system succeeded in averting simulated threats, The Times of Israel reported Tuesday. The system, which is designed to intercept medium-range missile threats, successfully countered a series of threats, according to Israel’s defense ministry. A statement from the ministry said that David’s Sling successfully defended against a simulation of “future threats that the system may face in a confrontation.”
The simulated threats were not identified.
A statement released by the United States Missile Defense Agency (MDA), which conducted the test along with Israel’s Missile Defense Organization (IMDO), said that the David’s Sling system “successfully” completed a series of tests. David’s Sling was described as “a missile defense system that is a central part of lsrael’s multilayer antimissile array.”
It was the sixth test of the system.
According to the statement, engineers are reviewing data from the tests, which will be used “for ongoing development and fielding of the David’s Sling Weapon System.”
“The David’s Sling Weapon System project is a cooperative effort between the United States and Israel to develop a defense against large caliber rockets and short-range ballistic missiles,” the MDA statement concluded.
In July, David’s Sling was activated when two ballistic missiles were fired from Syria into Israel, but it did not successfully intercept them.
Israel possesses a multi-tiered air defense system to counter varied threats, including defending itself against short-range, mid-range, and long-range missiles that can be fired from Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, and even Iran. Among the components of Israel’s air-defense system are Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow-2, and Arrow-3. (Source: theisraelproject.org)
20 Mar 19. More fire power: US Army sets out to develop new missiles in FY20. The U.S. Army is embarking on several new missile development programs while ramping up and accelerating other ongoing programs to deliver more fire power to the force at greater ranges, according to the service’s justification books for its fiscal 2020 budget request. The service’s No. 1 modernization priority is Long-Range Precision Fires, or LRPF, because the Army believes it is central to future operations in environments where access to terrain may be difficult or entirely denied, or where soldiers lack the territorial advantage to counter threats.
And the LRPF capability plays an important role the service’s emerging doctrine — Multidomain Operations — where the Army and its sister services will work more in concert across sea, land, air, space and cyber domains to overtake the enemy.
The Army plans to begin the development of three major missiles beginning in FY20: a land-based hypersonic missile, a mobile medium-range missile, and a future interceptor for medium-range air and missile defense.
The service also intends to spend several bn dollars over five years to get the programs well off the ground.
Land-based hypersonic missile
The service plans to spend $1.2bn across the next five years beginning in FY20 to develop a land-based hypersonic missile through Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Army Forces Strategic Command.
The project’s goal is to build a “prototype strategic attack weapon system to defeat Anti Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities, suppress adversary Long Range Fires and engage other high payoff/time sensitive targets,” the Army’s budget documents read.
Hypersonic projects within the Army have been kept relatively close, and little about the effort is public. The plan, according to the Army, is to integrate common hypersonic glide bodies with two-stage boosters into canisters to create an all-up round prototype. The Army would like to spend $228m in FY20 to conduct a systems requirement review and start a preliminary design review. A total of $181m is requested in FY21 to move through the preliminary design review, which will end in the first quarter of FY22.
In FY22, the Army will conduct a critical design review and then begin testing all-up rounds at the end of the fiscal year into FY23. The service has budgeted $137m in FY22 to accomplish those tasks.
The service will then move into full-system flight tests in FY23 using a $359m budget.
While the hypersonic weapons effort is not resident in the Army’s LRPF Cross-Functional Team, the CFT is closely watching the development, according to its director, Col. John Rafferty.
The service established CFTs as part of Army Futures Command, a new four-star command stood up last year to tackle the service’s top modernization priorities. Each CFT focuses on a different priority.
The Army’s new hypersonic program office will own the program, but the LRPF CFT will be “joined at the hip” with the office as well as Space and Missile Defense Command as the missile is developed. So many are involved because the technology will be useful in future development within the LRPF portfolio and is part of a “layered standoff” capability needed against future threats that the CFT is developing as a concept, Rafferty told Defense News in a March 19 interview.
Mobile medium-range missile
Over the next five budget cycles, the Army will spend nearly $1 bn on another new missile program it’s calling the mobile medium-range missile.
The missile has been called a variety of names in conversation, including the intermediate-range missile, the INDOPACOM missile and the land-based cruise missile; but its development is in response to a need in the Indo-Pacific area of operations to address a medium-range (1,000-kilometer) gap in capability there.
It’s unclear under what program office the MMRM would live, but it’s possible the LRPF CFT could host its development down the road.
According to the budget documents, the Army is developing the missile to provide the joint force commander a lower-cost strategic capability “that can attack specific threat vulnerabilities in order to penetrate, dis-integrate, and exploit in the strategic and deep maneuver areas,” and it mitigates an “extremely high risk” capability gap.
The Army is requesting $20m to get started in FY20. The service plans to develop acquisition and contract strategies, identify system requirements, and assess technology and component maturity.
In FY21, the service plans to move into the technology-maturation and risk-reduction phase, which will continue into the outyears beyond the Army’s five-year plan.
The service also plans to reach a milestone A decision point in FY21 to enter into the technology- and component-maturation phases.
An initial design review is scheduled for the end of FY22, and a preliminary design review at the end of FY24.
The Army is looking for its next missile for a medium-range air and missile defense system currently under development.
Though the service hasn’t chosen a new radar for the system, Northrop Grumman is continuing to build the brains of the system — the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System — which is expected to reach initial operational capability in FY22.
The Army’s legacy system — the Patriot air and missile defense system — fires a family of Patriot Advanced Capability missiles as well as the Guided Enhanced Missile used to defeat tactical ballistic missiles.
Not much is budgeted across the five-year funding plan — $232.9m — but the program will kick off in FY20, using $8 m to start a competitive selection of a future interceptor for its Integrated Air and Missile Defense system.
The service will conduct an analysis of alternatives in FY20 and plans to use other transaction authorities — a special contracting mechanism — to work on competitive concept developments.
The Army will make a materiel development decision in the second quarter of FY20, and will then take a year to conduct the analysis of alternatives.
The service will work on concepts over a two-and-a-half-year period, ending in the beginning of FY23. The service will simultaneously produce a future interceptor capabilities development document.
A competitive request for proposals will drop in midway through FY22 with a competitive downselect in the second quarter of FY23, when the Army will also reach a technology maturation decision point. (Source: Defense News)
20 Mar 19. Japan to develop long-range air-to-surface cruise missiles. Key Points:
- Japan will extend the range of its ASM-3 air-launched anti-ship missile
- The weapon will be used to extend Japan’s ability to defend its remote southwestern islands
Tokyo is planning to develop long-range air-to-surface cruise missiles to bolster the defence capabilities of the country’s remote southwestern islands, Japanese Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya said on 19 March.
Iwaya said the plan is aimed at boosting Japan’s deterrence by extending the range of its first domestically developed supersonic air-launched anti-ship missile (ASM), known as the ASM-3, to more than 400 km.
The ASM-3, which has an estimated top speed of Mach 3 and a maximum range of 200km, was jointly developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the Japanese Ministry of Defence (MoD) as a successor to Japan’s Type 93 series of missiles. It is expected to be carried by Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-2 multirole fighters.
Iwaya said Tokyo has already completed development of the ASM-3 but is still developing a new advanced mission computer (AMC) for the F-2, meaning the missile cannot yet be integrated with the platform that will carry it.
“We will make our best efforts to develop and introduce the AMC as soon as possible. In the meantime we aim to extend the missile range of the ASM-3,” Iwaya said at a press conference.
The minister added that domestic cruise missiles are also intended for use on new fighters that will replace the F-2, which will be retired in the 2030s.
Although Iwaya did not mention any particular country, it is apparent that this move is to respond to China’s growing naval activity in the East China Sea, which includes the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. The islands are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
20 Mar 19. SIG SAUER, Inc. announced the ultra-compact MPX Copperhead is now shipping and available in retail stores. The SIG MPX Copperhead redefines the sub-gun category with a new level of operator safety, in-field adaptability and proven reliability in the harshest environments with unconventional design, unmatched performance, and familiar AR handling. Completely ambidextrous, the SIG MPX is great for left- or right-handed shooters with its dual-sided selector switch, magazine release, charging handle and bolt release. The SIG MPX operates from a fully-closed and locked rotating bolt, offering enhanced reliability and safety in use. A short-stroke gas piston allows the SIG MPX to run all weights and brands of 9mm ammunition with no adjustments to the gas valve.
The MPX Copperhead features a monolithic elite Series Cerakote® finish upper receiver, with an integrated stock knuckle lower, and a 3.5” barrel with integrated muzzle brake. The MPX Copperhead comes equipped with the new, rapid deploy SIG SAUER Pivoting Contour Brace (PCB) giving pistol users a brace that easily adapts to the movement of the shooters arm with a patented swivel operation for perfect placement.
20 Mar 19. First Brimstone 3 missile firing “a tremendous success.” The Brimstone 3 ultra-high precision missile system has successfully achieved a major milestone by completing its first firing trial at the Vidsel Trials range in Sweden.
Whilst enduring extreme weather conditions with temperatures below -30°C, the missile was surface launched against a pick-up truck target.
All trials objectives were fully achieved with the missile proving, through a telemetry unit, full closed loop guidance with the seeker progressing into target acquisition and track.
Russell Jamieson, Chief Engineer, said: “The trial further proves Brimstone’s fully flexible platform approach, providing a “one missile, multiple platform” capability, for surface launch, fast jet, remotely piloted air systems (RPAS), attack helicopter, land and maritime platforms, all utilising the same missile. The result really was a tremendous success, and thanks to the hard work and determination of the whole team.”
The demonstrated surface to surface capability builds on the advanced guidance and targeting abilities developed during the Brimstone programme and from hundreds of successful operational firings against targets in structures, main battle tanks/armoured vehicles, maritime vessels, trucks, fast moving and manoeuvring cars/motorbikes and individual targets in the open.
Brimstone 3 is the product of the Brimstone Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP), announced in March 2018, that will provide new Brimstone missiles for the UK Armed Forces in order to replenish the country’s inventory and to maintain the UK’s battlefield edge into the future. It will also provide the ability to fully meet current and future export supply needs
The new-build Brimstone missiles will incorporate all of the improved functionalities offered by the spiral upgrades of Brimstone that have taken place over recent years which include the highly capable Dual Mode semi-active laser (SAL)/millimetric wave (mmW) seeker, enhanced autopilot, and the new insensitive munition compliant rocket motor and warhead, all combining to provide unique performance capabilities of Brimstone against the most challenging of targets. The new hardware standard will also enable the addition of further capability upgrades in the future.
20 Mar 19. Northrop Grumman awarded AARGM-ER EMD contract. The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has awarded Northrop Grumman a USD322.5m contract for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range (AARGM-ER) development programme. A USD17.2m preliminary design contract for AARGM-ER was awarded to Northrop Grumman in November 2017. This work was completed in February 2019. The EMD effort – awarded o 7 March and scheduled for completion by December 2023 – includes the design, integration, and test of a new solid rocket motor for the AARGM-ER for use on the US Navy’s (USN’s) F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, and F-35A conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) and F-35C carrier variant platforms. AARGM-ER could potentially equip the US Air Force (USAF) F-35A, which has the same bay dimensions as the F-35C. The AARGM-ER development is part of the evolution strategy of the in-service AGM-88E Block 1 AARGM, and it leverages existing subsystems and components from the in-service AARGM, including the sensors, electronics, and warhead. Northrop Grumman’s AARGM-ER design introduces a new aft actuator control system – designed by Northrop Grumman Missile Systems – with the mid-body wings on the legacy AARGM removed. This not only enables a form fit capability internal to the F-35 but also improves manoeuvrability and reduces drag. The company has introduced side-body strakes that deliver lift during the missile’s flight. To assist the required range increment, the existing mid-body control section componentry is repackaged to deliver additional space for propulsion, while the airframe is tapered up from aft of the seeker section to deliver an approximate 10% increase in diameter, with consequent additional volume for propulsion. A new solid propellant rocket motor for the AARGM-ER will be designed and integrated by Northrop Grumman Missile Systems. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
20 Mar 19. Conversion Kit For Glock Pistols. With a conversion kit for Glock pistols, the shooting performance with the pistol can be approximated to that of a rifle. The U S W – G 1 7 conversion kit from B&T AG consists of a stop stock, into which the pistol can be installed in a few simple steps. The shooting performance can be further increased by adding an Aimpoint ACRO P-1 sight.
The c a r b i n e c o n version system c a n be used for the Glock pistols of generations 3, 4 and 5. After t h e conversion, the gun can be used like a pistol with the stock folded. When the stock is unfolded – and with an additional visor – the pistol carbine can achieve sufficient accuracy even at great distances. Thus the pistol can be used both as a personal defence weapon (PDW) and as a long-range weapon in terrorist situations. This is particularly important for patrol officers who may unexpectedly find themselves in a terrorist situation and often have only moderate shooting experience. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
20 Mar 19. Supersonic and Hypersonic Missiles Market Worth $11.1bn in 2019. This new report, now available on ASDReports, Supersonic and Hypersonic Missiles Market Report 2019-2029 indicates that the global Supersonic and Hypersonic Missiles systems market will see $11,151m in spending in 2019. The lead analyst of the report said: “Supersonic and hypersonic missile technology is being increasingly looked at by military and defence forces across the world owing to successful testing such weapons systems by countries such as China and Russia. Significant investments are also being made in research and development of these missile systems by the United States and France among other countries as they seek to contend the threat posed by the proliferation of these technologies would drive the growth in this market. According to reports, China has conducted more hypersonic technology tests than the US along with significant investments in developing hypersonic wind tunnels and other related infrastructure. The successful testing and deployment of supersonic and hypersonic missile systems by Russia and China would enable these countries to emerge as key suppliers of these weapons systems to other countries owing to a lack of export controls in the form of MCTR like agreements.”
The 166 pages report contain 91 tables and 75 figures that add visual analysis in order to explain developing trends within the Supersonic and Hypersonic Missiles market. Visiongain provides sales forecasts for the period 2019-2029 for the 3 domain segments, namely aerial, land based, and naval platforms. The 166-page report offers market forecasts and analysis for 8 countries’ markets and the rest of the world market. In addition, the report contains a dedicated leading companies’ chapter covering 12 companies leading the field in supersonic and hypersonic missile systems technology.
The Supersonic and Hypersonic Missiles Market Report 2019-2029 report will be of value to anyone who wants to better understand the Supersonic and Hypersonic Missiles systems market and its various segments. It will be useful for businesses who wish to better comprehend the part of the market they are already involved in, or those wishing to enter or expand into a different regional or technical part of the Supersonic and Hypersonic Missiles industry. Find data and information on this market in our new defence report Supersonic and Hypersonic Missiles Market Report 2019-2029. (Source: ASD Network)
19 Mar 19. Boeing to integrate nuclear-tipped cruise missile on B-52. The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded Boeing Defense Space & Security a $250m contract to integrate the nuclear-tipped Long Range Stand-Off Cruise Missile (LRSO) on the B-52H bomber. The indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract is for aircraft and missile carriage equipment development and modification, engineering, testing, software development, training, facilities, and support necessary to fully integrate the missile on the strategic bomber, says the USAF.
Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are developing competing versions of the LRSO, with the USAF scheduled to award a production contract around 2022. The service plans to start fielding the missile in the late 2020s.
The LRSO is a replacement for the Boeing AGM-86 air-launched cruise missile, which was designed in the mid-1970s and first fielded in 1982. The new missile is also to be integrated on the USAF’s forthcoming Northrop B-21 stealth bomber. Integration work will be performed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and is expected to be complete by the end of 2024, says the USAF. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Flightglobal)
19 Mar 19. US Army Sets 2023 Hypersonic Flight Test; Strategic Cannon. To take out Russian and Chinese targets from a thousand miles away, the US Army wants two very different weapons: a hypersonic missile and a giant cannon. The Army plans a “system flight test” for its Land-Based Hypersonic Missile in fiscal 2023, according to recently released budget documents. The service plans to spend $1.18bn on prototyping through 2024, starting with a $228m request in 2020.
The missile will use the same Common Hypersonic Glide Body as the Air Force and Navy — which are working on variants to be launched from aircraft, ships, and submarines — fitted to a two-stage rocket booster. Hypersonics are a top priority for the US military. Pentagon R&D undersecretary Mike Griffin sees them as essential to counter advanced Russian and Chinese weapons, preferably by spotting and destroying them before they even launch.
The budget also funds a complementary system, the Strategic Long-Range Cannon, which would use a gun barrel to launch missiles one thousand miles. Effectively the super gun replaces the first-stage rocket booster, sending the missile on its way, at which point the projectile’s own built-in rocket motor kicks in.
SLRC funding is a little harder to figure out, because it’s split among multiple budget activities, but it looks like the Army plans to spend $305m to refine and prototype the super-gun and related technologies over 2020-2022. I can’t find any funding for the cannon after ’22, but that probably just means the Army’s waiting on initial studies before it commits to further development.
Together, the hypersonic missile and the strategic cannon are the longest-ranged, most technologically demanding pieces of the most urgent of the Army’s Big Six modernization priorities: upgrading its long-neglected artillery force for great power war.
A Day Without Airpower?
The two weapons are intended to work together. The hypersonic missile will be more expensive, flies faster and hits harder. The long-range cannon projectiles should be less expensive — since you’re launching them with a reusable cannon barrel, not expending a full-size booster rocket with every shot — so the Army can have more of them, but they’ll have less raw speed and kinetic energy. So the hypersonic missiles will be reserved for the hardest and high-priority targets, such as hardened command bunkers, while the cannon will take out more numerous but softer targets, such as mobile anti-aircraft batteries. Between them, the Army’s thinking goes, the two weapons should rip holes in Russian or Chinese layered defenses.
Today that’s a mission for jet aircraft. The Air Force in particular is investing in stealthy planes — the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and the B-21 bomber — to penetrate advanced anti-aircraft defenses unseen. But the relatively short-ranged F-35s will require either airbases or refueling tankers, both much easier targets for the enemy than the stealth fighters themselves, while the long-ranged bomber is still in development and will never be built in the numbers a fighter would be. The Army’s increasingly anxious that it won’t have air support on-call 24-7 in a future war the way it did in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s why it’s investing heavily in artillery from upgraded howitzers to all-new hypersonics, collectively known as Long Range Precision Fires, the service’s No. 1 modernization priority.
In the nightmare scenario where the enemy figures out how to target our stealth aircraft — something Russia and China are working hard to do — land-based Army missile launchers and cannon, dispersed and camouflaged against enemy strikes, may be the only long-range firepower the US has left.
Even in less extreme situations, the land-based weapons could provide a useful supplement to airpower, working together as part of the emerging Multi-Domain Operations concept for coordinated action by all services on land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. Airplanes can be more responsive, since they can circle over a suspected target and drop a smart bomb as soon as they spot something. But land-based launchers can provide large salvos around the clock without having to go back to base to refuel and rearm — indeed, without needing a vulnerable airbase at all.
By The Numbers
This is all R&D money, not procurement. Specifically, most of the funding for the hypersonic missile and strategic cannon are in Budget Activity 4, “advanced component development and prototypes,” with some cannon funding in BA 3, “advanced technology development.” (The Pentagon recognizes seven stages of Research, Development, Test, & Evaluation before procurement proper begins).
One confusing factor is that strategic cannon funding not only shows up in two places, but in one of those it’s bundled with other shorter-range artillery. It’s also always possible we missed something in the masses of budget documents, in which case we’ll update and correct this story.
The hypersonic missile is relatively simple:
$20m of the 2020 money is administrative overhead for the Army; the other $208m will go to contractors. Note the spike in spending in ’20, to get the program started, and another spike in ’23, when the Army plans to do flight testing.
The strategic cannon is more complicated:
Note that funding started back in 2018, although back then the strategic cannon was just a sub-item among many for something called the Advanced Lethality & Survivability Demonstration. Only this year does the cannon break out as its own budget item, which is why the Army’s counting it as a new start rather than a continuation of an existing program.
Most of the 2020 money is definitely for the cannon itself, but $16m is actually for sub-items listed as Extended Range Cannon Artillery — specifically automatic loaders and projectiles — and an experiment with shoulder-fired Stinger missiles. ERCA is an upgrade to existing howitzers, which will still be much shorter-ranged than the strategic cannon, but it’s entirely possible some of these technologies can be transferred, especially since the Army describes the strategic cannon as scaling up proven artillery technology. The Stingers are more puzzling, since they are aren’t offensive weapons (Army Priority No. 1, Long-Range Precision Fires) but defensive (Priority No. 4, Air & Missile Defense); the connection could be that the Stingers are a last-resort weapon for artillery crewmen defending their batteries from air attack, but that’s speculation.
We’ll work to get more clarity on the cannon. As a purely Army initiative, the cannon is going to be lower-profile than hypersonics, which are a Pentagon-wide priority. That also means the cannon’s more likely to fall by the budgetary wayside if something goes wrong. But there’s tremendous military potential in a cheaper way to launch massive salvos of missiles in a major war. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
19 Mar 19. Belarus to adopt extended-range missile for V-300 Polonez-M MRL system. The Belarusian armed forces are set to adopt an extended-range missile for the new V-300-M Polonez multiple rocket launch (MRL) system, a source from the Belarusian defence industry told Jane’s .
“The development of a longer-range missile for the upgraded V-300 Polonez-M system is nearing completion, with the army planning to adopt the missile with [an] updated MRL system later this year,” said the source.
Compared to the baseline V-200 Polonez, the modernised V-300 Polonez-M system features a range enhancement to 300 km and a larger proportion of Belarusian-made components. The upgraded missile will receive the NB1600 jamming-resistant combined GPS/GLONASS/inertial guidance unit developed by the Minsk-based Precision Electro-Mechanics Plant (ZTEM). (Source: IHS Jane’s)
20 Mar 19. World’s most powerful laser developed by Thales and ELI-NP achieves record power level of 10 PW.
The Thales system has generated its first pulses at a world record power level of 10 petawatts.
ELI-NP now has the world’s most powerful laser system.
The Extreme Light Infrastructure for Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP) project in Romania has recently reached a significant milestone: the ultra-high intensity laser system developed by Thales has successfully generated its first pulses at a peak power level of 10 petawatts (1015 W).
After an initial development and production phase and preliminary verification of subsystem performance in France, Thales began delivery and installation of the world’s most powerful laser system at the Măgurele facility near Bucharest in late 2016. This system is designed to generate twin laser beams of 10 PW each and will be the core instrument of a unique new advanced technology and fundamental research facility in nuclear physics. The Thales system is now fully integrated and tested, with successful demonstration of a power level of 3 PW with each laser in 2018.
Since the start of 2019, the Thales team of French and Romanian engineers has been working on finalising and scaling up the system, progressively increasing its pulse energy and peak power level. After demonstration of a beam delivering pulses of 7 PW for more than 4 hours continuously, the Thales system generated its first pulses with a record power level of 10 PW on 7 March 2019. Thales has thus achieved an unprecedented level of performance, which means that the Romanian National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering (IFIN-HH) and ELI-NP now have the most powerful laser in the world. With €3bn invested in R&D every year, Thales has made innovation a strategic priority. The company joined the Extreme Light Infrastructure for Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP) programme in 2013 to develop the High Power Laser System (HPLS), the most powerful system of its kind in the world.
This laser will support research in nuclear physics and help advance human understanding of the physics of matter.
“10 PW is a tenfold leap from the power level demonstrated at the start of the project. It’s been a huge challenge for Thales and Romania — on a par with a lunar landing, where failure is not an option. I’ve hardly been able to catch my breath in the last two years. Hats off to Thales and Romania. Congratulations and thank you, because now the science community will be able to make use of this truly remarkable instrument!” – Professor Gérard Mourou, winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics and initiator of the ELI infrastructure. About the ELI project
The purpose of the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) project is to establish a European laser research facility for the investigation of high-intensity light-matter interactions and their potential applications. With a budget of around €850m, the project will create a world-class laser research capability for the international scientific user community. It will be based at three sites: ELI-ALPS (Hungary), ELI-Beamlines (Czech Republic) and ELI-NP (Romania).
19 Mar 19. Northrop launches hypersonic defense push. With the Pentagon making hypersonic weapons a priority, Northrop Grumman is throwing its hat into the ring in an attempt to claim space in the still-early hypersonic defense market. The company last week launched a new campaign website focused on hypersonic defense as part of a broader push into the business area, where the Pentagon expects to spend more than $10bn in the next five years to develop offensive and defensive capabilities.
Hypersonic defense is significantly behind hypersonic offense, something Kenn Todorov, vice president of missile defense solutions and the lead for Northrop’s counter-hypersonic efforts, acknowledged in a March 19 interview. That means there is a lot of room for experimentation in how to tackle the issue.
“What we’re hearing from our customer is: ‘We want to reach out and touch this thing as far forward into the battlespace, giving the war fighter as much battlespace as possible,’ ” he said. “This threat spends most of its time in the glide phase, and I think that’s where we want to reach out and touch it, both kinetically or with” non-kinetic means.
Northrop has benefited by eschewing subtlety for direct advertisements. In 2014, when the Air Force asked competitors on the Long Range Strike Bomber program to keep a low profile, Northrop instead launched a TV, radio and print advertising blitz. Despite angering some in the service with that move, the company eventually won the contract for what has since become the B-21 bomber.
How aggressive the company intends to be with this campaign remains to be seen, but the fact that Northrop launched the site around the same time as the fiscal 2020 budgetrelease, and then reached out to reporters, indicates the company hopes to establish itself in the hypersonic defense market ahead of potential competitors.
As to the strategy, Todorov and Joanna Cangianelli, the company’s direct of business development for missile defense solutions and counter-hypersonics, laid out a four-tiered layer for the company’s approach:
- A sensor layer based in space.
- Kinetic interceptors, which will be built off existing capabilities within the company and work for both the terminal and glide phases.
- Non-kinetic capabilities, primarily cyber, electronic warfare and directed energy.
- The command-and-control systems to make it all work.
Development-wise, expect a focus first on the space-based sensor layer, per the Pentagon’s focus. The other systems will follow, building off existing technologies on which the company has already been developing, said Cangianelli.
The two executives declined to go into technical or strategic details for competitive reasons, including whether the non-kinetic capabilities could be part of a “left of launch” defense — that is, a capability to take out a hypersonic weapon before it can get into the air.
But at various points they acknowledged that Northrop’s addition of Orbital ATK has added “extensive” capabilities relevant to hypersonic defense, that the firm has seen “breakthroughs” in the non-kinetic options, and that they see close allies as “potential partners” for the hypersonic defense mission, either as contributors to developing technology or as participants in the broader defense network.
In addition, Todorov insisted several times that the idea of taking an existing interceptor and modifying it simply won’t work, given the physics of hypersonic weapons.
“As a company, we’re investing a lot of our own resources to give us a leg up and to do some things so we’ll be ready, forward-looking as opposed to reactionary,” he said. “We clearly are anticipating that those numbers will come, and we want to be ready for them and be out front when we do so we’ll be well-positioned.” (Source: Defense News)
19 Mar 19. DRDO successfully test fires MPATGM. India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully test fired the Man-Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) for the second time in the ranges of the Rajasthan desert on 14 March. According to the Indian MoD, all the mission objectives were met during the tests, with the missiles hitting their designated targets precisely at different ranges.
The MPATGM features an advanced imaging IR radar seeker with integrated avionics. It uses a detachable command launch unit and it weighs around 14.5kg. The missile’s range is between 200m and 2.5km, and it can also conduct soft launches from enclosed spaces. (Source: Shephard)
19 Mar 19. Anglo-French FC/ASW Missile Programme Successfully Passes Its Key Review. Two years into the FC/ASW (Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon) Concept Phase, MBDA announced the successful achievement of its “Key Review”, jointly conducted with Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the British and French armament procurement agencies.
The conclusion of this Key Review makes it possible to select the most promising missile concepts in order to meet the requirements expressed by both nations’ armed forces. More in-depth studies will now be conducted on these concepts with the aim of identifying the solutions that will be selected at the end of the concept phase in 2020 in order to answer both nations’ requirements for long range anti-ship missions, suppression of enemy air defences and deep strike.
The conclusions of this study will also make it possible to establish the road maps for maturing the technologies required, and to launch any follow on assessment phase. This new phase will demonstrate the necessary maturity of the weapon system and its key components, to be followed by the development and production phase in the 2024 timeframe, so that current weapons systems can be replaced in accordance with required timescales.
The FC/ASW programme was born from converging requirements expressed by both France and the UK for a long range anti-ship capability – to deal with the possibility of a confrontation on the high seas, a capability to neutralise the most advanced air defences, and a deep strike capability that can penetrate defences and hit long-distance hardened targets.
The FC/ASW aims to replace Storm Shadow/ SCALP air launched cruise missile in operational service in the UK and France as well as Exocet anti-ship missile in France and Harpoon anti-ship missile in the UK.
Equally funded by France and the UK, the FC/ASW Concept Phase is a product of the very close defence relationship set out between both nations by the Lancaster House treaties.
Valued at €100m, the current Concept Phase was launched in 2017 for a duration of three years and is split 50/50 in terms of both quantity and quality of content between the UK and France. The effort will see MBDA mature systems and technologies that will increase the survivability, range and lethality of anti-ship and deep strike missiles launched by both air and naval combat platforms.
The FC/ASW Concept Phase is the latest step in the two countries’ highly successful co-operation on missile technologies through MBDA. This joint work already enabled the two countries to develop a range of world-class missile systems, such as Storm Shadow/SCALP, Meteor, and Sea Venom/ANL; to rationalise the development and production of missiles through the ‘One MBDA’ organisation; and to harmonise the research and technology efforts of both nations across their entire missile industrial sector through the MCM-ITP (Missile Components and Materials – Innovation and Technology Partnership) programme.
19 Mar 19. US Army outlines Strategic Long-Range Cannon investment. The US Army has laid out plans to spend USD228m over the next three years to develop a Strategic Long-Range Cannon programme that will increase the reach of its artillery forces. In fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020) budget documents, the service broadly outlines plans to move forward with a Strategic Long-Range Cannon initiative that will encompass the weapons and munitions arena to provide soldiers with a future “deep strike” capability. “It will demonstrate revolutionary performance to support long range fires by further developing, integrating, and demonstrating enhanced lethality and range extension solutions for cannon system performance with maximum effects,” the army explained. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
19 Mar 19. Ethiopian Pantsyr-S1 revealed. Ethiopia is operating at least one Russian-made Pantsyr-S1 short-range air defence system, local television news footage has revealed. The system was displayed during an event marking Defense Force Day in February, but its presence only became apparent after Ethiopian television news coverage was posted on the internet by a Russian user on 16 March.
Filmed at the airbase outside Bishoftu, the footage showed an improved Pantsyr-S1 with the bi-directional phased array search radar: a variant that was first exported to Algeria in 2010-12. A legacy S-125 air defence system and ‘Spoon Rest’ and ‘Tin Shield’ surveillance radars – all of which were previously known to be in Ethiopian service – were also displayed during the event. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Mar 19. Lacroix modifies Galix for integrated vehicle survivability. France’s Lacroix has integrated a laser warning system into a Galix grenade launcher vehicle-based survivability system. No sales are yet booked, but the system has been integrated on the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE’s) Nimr Ajban 477A 4×4 vehicle. Designed for a main battle tank (MBT), infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), or armoured personnel carrier (APC), this automatic Galix system would include up to 24 launch tubes to cover 360°, an automatic system control unit (SCU) connected to the vehicle’s electronic architecture, a threat detection system consisting of laser warning receivers and potentially other types of sensors, a global positioning system/and or compass, meteorological sensor, and vehicle harness kit. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Mar 19. Raytheon awarded TBG concept maturation contract. As the United States continues to ramp up its efforts to field a hypersonic weapons capability – and close the gap with its peer adversaries – the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Raytheon a follow-on contract to mature its air-launched Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) weapon concept.
Awarded on 1 March, the USD63.3m contract provides for Raytheon to progress its TBG concept from the preliminary design review (PDR) phase to the critical design review (CDR) phase.
“This funding is to take our TBG concept from basically a PDR level to a CDR level; after CDR DARPA will decide whether to progress to a full test program. That would be their decision at that point – but we are certainly prepared to support a flight test programme if they elect to go that way,” Dr Thomas Bussing, vice-president, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems told Jane’s.
The 1 March award builds on an initial USD20.5m prototype research contract, awarded to Raytheon in April 2015, to develop and demonstrate technologies to enable a TBG concept; Lockheed Martin was awarded a parallel USD147.3m contract in September 2016 to develop its TBG concept solution.
Launched in 2014, the TBG programme is a joint DARPA/US Air Force (USAF) initiative to develop and demonstrate technologies to enable future air-launched, tactical-range hypersonic boost glide systems. In a boost glide system, a tactical payload is boosted to a high endo-atmospheric altitude at hypersonic speed, separates from its booster, and glides down to its target. Bussing declined to disclose specific detail of Raytheon’s TBG concept solution, noting, “Typically the outer mould lines and the performance of the system [and] how it would be used is classified. What I can say is that we are developing a hypersonic glider – the Tactical Boost Glide weapon – which has a very high-lift-over drag ratio. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Mar 19. HENSOLDT enters into Framework Agreement with Airbus Helicopters for Self-Protection System. At the end of 2018, HENSOLDT and Airbus Helicopters signed a framework agreement for the delivery of the Airborne Missile Protection System (AMPS). Initially, the agreement will have a term of ten years without any minimum purchase requirement being set. Now the first order has already been placed.
HENSOLDT will deliver a total of 20 complete AMPS systems for the military multirole helicopter H145M in 2019/2020. “The present framework agreement allows us to supply our airborne self-protection system for all Airbus Helicopters platforms without having to prepare an offer in advance. This reduces the amount of administration between the former sister companies considerably and defines clear conditions for project processing,” explained Daniel Ehbauer, Project Manager at HENSOLDT.
At the moment, HENSOLDT offers AMPS in two standard configurations for different applications. The customers choose the modules of their systems and the number of sensors needed to meet their requirements. The standard modules include MILDS (Missile Launch Detection System), MILDS Block 2 and ACDU (Advanced Control and Display Unit). Moreover, the agreement has provisions for a gradual extension by means of additional equipment. This means that the agreement also creates the general conditions required for extending the systems and functionalities. Since the system can theoretically be used on all Airbus Helicopters platforms, the one-off costs will turn out to be much lower for the customer, or such costs may even not be incurred at all.
HENSOLDT’s AMPS is already deployed on Airbus Helicopters’ H225M and H135M platforms. Furthermore, the initial AMPS-M project was carried out with great success on H145. The first H145M platforms were also equipped with AMPS for further customers. (Source: ASD Network)
13 Mar 19. Industry waiting on any new UK anti-ship missile requirement. As the UK MoD considers a requirement for a next-generation anti-ship missile system – intended to bridge the gap between the withdrawal of the Harpoon system and the joint UK-France Future anti-ship missile – industry will likely be keeping a close eye for future developments.
On 5 March a prior information notice for a potential next-generation Surface Ship Guided Weapon (SSGW) requirement detailed that any system would be for use within training and operational roles with the Royal Navy. According to the notice, first delivery of missiles would be required by December 2023. The potential contract will be for four years, with the potential of up to nine option years to follow.
The contract would cover the manufacture and delivery of the weapon system which would be delivered in FY2023/24, installation and technical support. The next possible step would be the issuance of a contract notice with more precise requirements while industry would be invited to complete a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ). Evidence would be required at the PQQ stage to demonstrate the ASuW system can meet the MoD’s requirements. An estimated value of any contract would be £100-200m ($131-262m).
A Royal Navy spokesperson told Shephard: ‘The Royal Navy is investigating options for a Harpoon replacement which will provide a modern, long range, heavyweight anti-ship weapon for our fleet until a long-term replacement is secured.’
The notice has no expiry, rather it is an indication of a potential need, serving to make industry aware ahead of any formal contract or continuation of the programme. To that end, industry is likely to be monitoring the notice and awaiting publication of a PQQ.
An MBDA spokesperson, manufacturers of the Exocet missile, said: ‘We are aware that the UK MoD has issued a contracts notice regarding surface ship guided weapons, announcing its intention to issue a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire. We will, of course, consider our response when we see the detail.’
A Boeing spokesperson stated that the company ‘was aware’ of the PIN issued and that it ‘looked forward to the opportunity of offering a solution’ should technical requirements be met.
The spokesperson continued: ‘Boeing has several options for advanced anti-ship capability that would be a fraction of the cost of introducing a new missile system for the relatively short time period identified as a gap. As a close ally to the United States, it is understandable that the UK would desire a net-enabled weapon like Harpoon Blk II+ that is interoperable with the US fleet and provide greater distributed lethality.
‘The other advanced features of this weapon could potentially meet interim needs, without the burden of purchasing the infrastructure required of a new weapon system, allowing the UK the opportunity to better align funding toward the development of their Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW).’
Other potential providers of guided missiles had either not responded to Shephard or stated that it was too early to comment.
Possible options could include Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile, MBDA’s Exocet system, the RBS15 from Saab or Boeing’s Harpoon capability (pictured). Any future requirement would have to be configurable to a range of current and future escorts in service with the RN.
With the system potentially in service between 2023 and 2036, it would in theory have to be configurable for the Type 23, 26 and 31e frigates and Type 45 destroyers. The Type 23 and Type 45 platforms operate the Harpoon missile system, which was due to leave service in 2018 but given a reprieve out to 2023.
The Type 26 frigate will feature the Mk 41 VLS which would be able to accommodate the Tomahawk cruise missile, which the UK is upgrading to the Maritime Strike Tomahawk variant, which would provide its own ASuW capability.
It is not known what, if any, ASuW missile capability the future Type 31e frigates will have, although given the limitations in size and cost of the platform it would have to be a canister-launched solution. The timeframe for the introduction of any future SSGW does coincide with the intended arrival of the first-of-class of the Type 31e platforms. (Source: Shephard)
18 Mar 19. UK begins integrating next-gen weapons for F-35. BAE Systems has begun integrating the next tranche of UK-specific weapons onto the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning combat aircraft. The company announced on 18 March that it had been subcontracted by Lockheed Martin to begin integrating the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) and the Selected Precision Effects at Range (SPEAR) air-to-surface missile aboard the aircraft.
The Meteor, which has been developed by France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the UK, has a speed of more than Mach 4 and a range in excess of 100 km. Whereas similar-type missiles have a relatively short boost-phase after launch, after which they glide to the target while bleeding energy, the Meteorʼs ramjet means it is propelled up to the point of impact. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
13 Mar 19. Hypersonics Won’t Repeat Mistakes Of F-35. The Pentagon’s pushing hard on hypersonics. There’s $2.6bn in the 2020 budget for R&D. The services are sharing technology and flight test data. But what the military does not want is a massive multi-service program like the F-35.
“It’s a joint interest program, not a joint program,” Army undersecretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters this morning on the sidelines of the McAleese/Credit Suisse conference here. “We don’t want a big kind of program office like you had for” — he paused — “other major defense acquisition programs.”
“We share office space,” McCarthy said. “We will learn from each other’s tests, [and] we will potentially buy components together, [but] not either slow each other down or tweak the requirements.”
“The deployment of the weapons system is fundamentally different, and we respect that,” McCarthy said: The Army needs to launch its hypersonic weapons from trucks and tracked vehicles, the Air Force from jets, the Navy from aircraft, surface ships, and submarines. While the services are eager to share the costs of developing new technologies and to buy common components where they can, he said, none of them wants to have to compromise its unique requirements — the official to-do list of how the weapon has to work — to produce a single weapon all three can use.
(Interestingly, the massive Future Vertical Lift initiative — now split into at least two separate Army programs, the FARA scout and the FLRAA transport — went through this “let’s not be like F-35 stage” almost five years ago).
Yes, the F-35 Joint Program Office did produce three different variants: the Air Force’s F-35A can only operate off runways, the Navy’s F-35C can also fly from aircraft carriers, and the Marines’ F-35B can even take off and land vertically on helipads and highways. But enough key components were shared that what one service wanted often impacted the others, adding complexity or cost for features they didn’t want..
For hypersonics, by contrast, the Defense Department is trying “about half a dozen” independent programs across the services and DARPA, said Mike White, the Pentagon’s assistant director for hypersonics. The exact number, he told reporters yesterday, depends on how strictly you define “hypersonic” — literally, it just means moving through the air Mach 5-plus — and whether you clump smaller contracts together or count them separately.
Six Missiles, A Little Defense, & Some History
White didn’t provide a list, but based on our own research, we’d tentatively identify six, though designations keep changing and some of these programs may be different names for the same thing or spin-offs of common ancestors:
- Navy: Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS).
- Army: Land-Based Hypersonic Missile.
- Air Force: Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) and Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) — both, incidentally, Lockheed Martin products, like the F-35.
- DARPA & Air Force: Tactical Boost-Glide (TBG) and Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC).
Note these are all offensive hypersonic missiles. Defense against hypersonic missiles, which is much harder and probably requires new tracking satellites, is currently the job of the Missile Defense Agency. MDA is only getting $157m for that purpose in 2020 — less than a sixteenth of the offensive funding — but White said defense is laying the technological foundations and is “not very far behind” offense. In third place, he said, is reusable hypersonics: not missiles, which fly one way, once, but actual hypersonic aircraft, manned or unmanned.
White’s spent four decades researching hypersonics and other missile technology, and three months ago he became the chief hypersonics coordinator for the chief fan of hypersonics, Undersecretary for Research & Engineering Mike Griffin. In that role, White said, he handles “vision,” “strategy,” and “integration” of the different programs — but he doesn’t own them. They’re owned by the services, which signed a Memorandum Of Agreement coordinating their efforts last spring.
White said he hasn’t seen any resistance from the services to overall DoD direction, only “an unprecedented among of collaboration.”
“We have multiple programs sharing a common booster, for example,” White said, but with “different hypersonic front ends.” Three of the programs, he added, derive from the Navy-led Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS), which in turn evolved from the Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW), which itself evolved from Sandia National Laboratory’s Sandia Winged Energetic Reentry Vehicle Experiment(SWERVE).
CPS had its first test flight in 2017 and will have another “in about a year,” White said. Across all the programs, “you will see a dramatic increase in the number of flight tests we conduct over the next several years,” which will require a corresponding ramp-up in the nationwide testing infrastructure.
How much? The current five-year spending figure for hypersonics across the Future Year Defense Plan (FYDP) is $10.5bn, but that’s clearly a placeholder. ($10.5 bn divided by five years gives an average of only $2.1bn, which makes no sense when this year, the first year, is already $2.6bn and that figure is only going to go up). Plus Congress may plus-up funding well above the request, as it did last year, when it increased hypersonics to a total of $2.4bn.
A big source of uncertainty: We’re still experimenting. “Right now…. there are not acquisition programs of record,” White cautioned. “Those programs are flight demonstration prototype programs and weapons systems prototype programs.” The decision to start a formal acquisition program of record, he said, is still “a number of years” away.
The ultimate goal? “A family of systems,” White said, “[using] air, sea, and land launch, that can handle both medium ranges and more intermediate ranges — think coastal attack and deep inland attack.”
(White didn’t explain his terms, but this is presumably from the perspective of US forces firing from the sea or island bases at an opponent on the mainland of Eurasia, like Russia or China: Shorter-range weapons can only hit the coast, longer-ranger ones can go “deep inland.” The reference to “intermediate” ranges suggests somewhere between 500 and 5,500 km, the ranges covered by the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty from which the administration is now withdrawing).
White wouldn’t get more specific about ranges, understandably, except to say “it’s not intercontinental.” That’s significant, because previous efforts on what was called Prompt Global Strike were scuppered by fears that a sufficiently fast and long-range conventional missile would be mistaken for a nuclear ICBM, potentially triggering a nuclear war. (Even the original Navy/Air Force concept to break through China’s layered defense, AirSea Battle, faced deep concerns about how strikes on the Chinese mainland might escalate).
But that previous program envisioned weapons with ICBM-like ranges and flight paths, White said, firing from ICBM launch sites. In fact, one candidate was simply a Navy Trident ballistic missile with the nuclear warhead replaced by a conventional one.
Today’s hypersonics programs, however, will have shorter ranges and different flight paths. They’ll also be unique systems that were developed solely to carry conventional warheads, without a nuclear variant. Said White: “Any adversary who’s got the capability to detect [them] will quickly understand the difference.” (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
14 Mar 19. Indonesia to receive ZOKA torpedo countermeasures for Nagapasa submarines. Key Points:
- Indonesia’s Nagapasa-class submarines will be equipped with jammers and decoys from Turkish company Aselsan
- The equipment will provide the vessels with protection and deception capabilities against hostile torpedoes
Turkish defence electronics company Aselsan is supplying its ZOKA range of acoustic torpedo countermeasure jammers and decoys for the Indonesian Navy’s (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL’s) submarines, a spokesperson from the company has confirmed with Jane’s .
Aselsan declined to reveal the submarine type that the jammers and decoys would be deployed from, but subsequent verifications by Jane’s with TNI-AL sources have established that the equipment will go on board the service’s Nagapasa (Type 209/1400)-class diesel-electric boats (SSKs)
The ZOKA line of effectors consists of jammers and acoustic decoys that can operate in active, passive, and combined modes. The jammers emit noises that have been designed to saturate the acoustic operating frequencies of known torpedoes, thus masking its host submarine’s movements from hostile munitions.
Meanwhile, its decoys can be programmed to simulate the acoustic and hydrographic characteristics of its host submarine, with the aim of deceiving and leading away torpedoes that may have locked on to the boat. These acoustic and hydrographic characteristics can be customised specifically to match those of the host submarine.
Indonesia acquired three Type 209/1400 boats from South Korean company Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) in 2011. The country has received two boats in the class, Nagapasa (403) and Ardadedali (404), and is awaiting launch of the final submarine, Alugoro (405). The platform has an overall length of 61.2m, an overall beam of 6.25m, and a hull draught of 5.5m. Each boat will be equipped with the ELAC KaleidoScope integrated submarine sonar suite from Wärtsilä ELAC Nautik. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
15 Mar 19. USSOCOM, AFSOC test Block 1 GBU-69/B SGM datalink variant. The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and the US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), in collaboration with Dynetics, have conducted a series of tests of the Block 1 variant of the Dynetics GBU-69/B Small Glide Munition (SGM) – an enhanced variant of the baseline SGM equipped with a Raytheon-developed X-Net two-way datalink.
Integrated into the Block 1 GBU-69/B under a collaborative effort initiated in 2017 between Raytheon Integrated Communication Systems and Dynetics, X-Net is a new small form factor, software-defined radio that meets the existing size, weight, and power (SwaP) allocations for the munition electronics in the Block 1 GBU-69/B. The system is designed to provide in-flight target updates (IFTUs) in order to improve weapon performance in dynamic targeting environments and to receive telemetry data for weapon performance and post-mission analysis. X-Net is MIL-STD-6016 compatible and supports the SGM’s range of more than 20 n miles. A Dynetics-designed deployable mono-pole antenna, which is folded down along the length of the body pre-launch and deploys post-launch, is the only external modification made to the Block I datalink variant.
The Block 1 GBU-69/B is a 60 lb (27.2 kg)-class precision glide munition, featuring a modular design that provides for multiple common variants and significant design flexibility. By mounting the seeker nose section, tail kit, and wing assembly directly on to the warhead case, the design enables different seekers, warheads, and other subsystems to be incorporated. With a diameter of about 11.4 cm and a wingspan of 71.1 cm, the Block 1 variant SGM incorporates a 36 lb (16.3 kg) blast-fragmentation warhead that can be detonated either on impact or using a variable height of burst sensor. Both the baseline GBU-69/B SGM, which is currently fielded, and the Block 1 variant incorporate the same 36 lb warhead. The munition offers an all-azimuth launch capability, while its deployable wing provides significant stand-off range resulting in a large weapon footprint and a corresponding increase in armed over-watch area. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
14 Mar 19. Are these the humble beginnings of an Iron Man suit?Both American and Russian special operations forces have made it clear they’re seeking game-changing technology to elevate their troops on the battlefield, but reality often tramples expectations. Going back to 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command sought proposals for its Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS. The system was quickly likened to an “Iron Man” suit, but in fact, it sought a range of technologies that would minimize traumatic brain injury, reduce electromagnetic and acoustic signature and protect against advanced rifle rounds. SOCOM threw water on the ambitious program in February, announcing that it would not be the “exoskeleton” they had boldly advertised, and it certainly wouldn’t be a feasible kit addition for troops in close quarters battle.
“It’s not the Iron Man. I’ll be the first person to tell you that,” SOCOM Acquisition Executive James Smith said at a defense industry forum.
Instead, what the project has reportedly yielded are load-reducing systems, like the ONYX exoskeleton. That will probably end up being useful for long road-marches, but not exactly the combat battle suit first envisioned.
On the other side of the world, the Russian Federation has been revamping its own special operations forces.
A Russian Iron Man?
The country’s “Ratnik” program is developing its third iteration of combat equipment — the first two versions of the program were basic gear for soldiers, according to Rob Lee, a former U.S. Marine Corps officer and doctoral candidate who focuses on Russian defense policy at King’s College London.
“They had a new helmet, new FLAK, new load-bearing vest, with a few higher-tech systems like a GLONASS [GPS alternative] receiver and a tablet for commanders,” Lee said. “It just gave them gear roughly comparable to what Western forces had, since their older equipment wasn’t really upgraded during the 1990s-2000s, but it wasn’t anyway comparable to the TALOS stuff.”
Ratnik 3 does boast some of the early TALOS promises: exoskeleton, a visor with a laser aiming system and integrated command-and-control technology, or C2.
Most of that is probably hype.
“As a reminder, most GRU spetsnaz brigade servicemen still aren’t equipped with optics on their rifles, and their most elite units generally prefer Western optics like Aimpoints or EOTechs,” Lee said.
In both training and during operations in warzones such as Syria, Russian spetsnaz are often pictured without any optics mounted on their rifles.
“They kind of remind me of infantry units going into [Operation Iraqi Freedom] when one guy per squad would have an ACOG [a common optic],” Lee said. “They are still behind us on NVGs and thermal optics, as well. So when I hear about any kind of super high-tech new personal equipment for Russian soldiers, I am skeptical.”
Ratnik does have potential in the C2 realm, though.
Russian media and defense firms have emphasized that the new combat equipment is designed for network-centric warfare involving drones and fire support.
Ratnik will be “mated” with small unmanned aerial vehicles and possibly unmanned ground drones for call-for-fire missions, according to Samuel Bendett, an analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses and a fellow in Russia studies at the American Foreign Policy Council.
Bendett and a colleague wrote an article in the The Strategy Bridge in February arguing that Russia has been growing its C2 capabilities for ground forces through systems like Strelets — a tactical reconnaissance device that shares information with both air and artillery assets.
This has already been seen in Syria, according to Bendett, where Russian forces have reported increased speed and accuracy when conducting call-for-fire missions in combat.
“In the near future, Russian soldiers may be able to ‘link in’ with a [unmanned combat aerial vehicle] to call in a strike — but that’s years away at this point,” Bendett said. “Today’s Ratnik 2 personal combat gear is still very basic — it’s the future plans for Ratnik 3 and 4 that are impressive.”
The overall goal is information fusion, allowing each soldier on the ground to be both the recipient and generator of data to share with all members of a unit using tablet computers. Russians are working toward this type of integration, but “I think Americans can do this much faster, on a more robust and proven C4ISR network,” Bendett said.
“A lot of these plans are still at concept stages, though Russian soldiers can use [tablets] already,” he added. “I also think a lot of Russian statements are influenced by what they they encountered in Syria — basically, one type of Russian military went in in 2015, and another one came out in 2018.”
American special operators, particularly those qualified in joint terminal attack control, already plan fire support missions and track forces using applications for tablets like the Android Team Awareness Kit.
Meanwhile, Russian military advances are tempered by the country’s declining defense spending.
Russia is increasingly dispensing with weapons programs that aren’t priorities. The country is procuring fewer T-14 Armatas, its next-generation main battle tank, in favor of upgrading existing T-72, T-80, and T-90 tanks, Harvard researcher Dmitry Gorenburg wrote in an Oxford Analytica brief in 2015.
“I have a feeling the same approach will govern procurement for new personal equipment for soldiers,” Lee said.
“They’ll probably improve the tablets and communications gear for improving C2 and maybe some other elements but not a new Iron Man suit,” he added. “A number of defense companies continue to show off new systems with hyperbolic claims about their capabilities, but ultimately Russia just can’t afford most of these.”
In addition to financial troubles, there’s also the problem of troop quality and command structures that Russian special operations leaders have been attempting to address.
Russia’s regular ground forces are still manned by a lot of conscripts. These troops only serve for one year and “are hardly the most motivated soldiers,” Lee said.
The various spetsnaz units scattered across the Russian defense ministry and even the interior ministry vary greatly in equipment and training.
While the Russians focus on large strategic exercises more than Americans, “I think the quality of the individual soldiers and small unit training is far behind ours,” Lee added.
After all, the country only publicly announced the formation of a unified command for its SOF troops in 2013, mimicking U.S. Joint Special Operations Command’s cache of tier one operators, which was set up roughly 30 years prior. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
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