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04 Apr 19. Greaves Describes MDA Salvo Test Success And RKV Delay. Director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) provided a Senate panel on Wednesday with additional details about a recent missile defense salvo test and the two-year delay to the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) program. Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves told the Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee that the recent salvo test, dubbed FTG-11, “was the most complex, comprehensive, and operationally challenging test ever executed by the missile defense agency.”
While the agency will be reviewing about nine months’ worth of data to gauge its success,
Greaves said, “the initial look says it was a complete success.”
He characterized the test as different from any MDA test in the past “because we launched, within a very short period of time two Ground Based Interceptors (GBIs), operationally released by the combatant commander using their operational processes, which was very important.” While the first GBI intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) threat-representative target, “what’s most important is that it created a debris field and this test has been 10 years and more in the making, and the importance of that was the trailing, the second interceptor
was able to discern the debris from the next most lethal object…and also intercept that object,” Greaves added.
He said the test proves the Ground-Based Midcourse (GMD) defense system cannot be confused or countered by an opponent “launching junk or debris.”
MDA conducted the test of March 25 with the test GBIs launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The ICBM-representative targets were delivered from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands (Defense Daily, March 26). While Greaves said the system can manage low-level distractions, he discuss its capabilities against higher level decoys and countermeasures.
When pressed by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Greaves first admitted the second GBI tracked and hit the biggest fragment from the first intercept debris. Then, he specified the second GBI engaged the next most lethal object, which is “the next object that most closely resembles a
The MDA director also classified the next step in the GMD system is to continue with the RKV program despite a two-year delay.
The agency’s FY 2020 budget said the RKV program was being delayed two years, pushing back the installation and deployment of 20 more GBIs that are set to use them. The agency is requesting $412m to continued development work (Defense Daily, March 12). The RKV is designed to improve the reliability of GBIs. There are currently 44 total, with 40
based at Fort Greeley, Alaska. The MDA plans to add 20 GBIs tipped with the RKV.
“As part of the disciplined acquisition strategy, we had very strict entrance criteria into what’s called a critical design review. The design did not meet it, so I assessed it and made the decision that we would not enter into it. So now we’re working actions to get back to the critical design review (CDR), but the top priority is to deliver that more reliable kill vehicle along the plan that we have submitted in the budget.”
The budget request said the CDR was being delayed from 2018 to 2020 while the first RKV controlled vehicle test is being pushed back to FY ’22, a first intercept test pushed to FY ’23, and a second intercept test to FY ’24.
Greaves said he could not discuss the details of the delay problem, but the same kind of issue would not have delayed the original exo-atmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) and GBIs. Indeed, while the first GBIs were deployed in 2004 as a limited deployment option, at that time there had been no successful flight tests of those interceptors. He explained in that earlier mindset a decision could be made to move ahead and deliver the best capability you can deliver now. In contrast, “the major difference here is that from the outset this acquisition strategy was
destined and intended to deliver a more reliable vehicle that followed a disciplined acquisition process to include robust design, robust testing, and a system that was more maintainable,” Greaves said.
He said this delay does not slow down the acquisition process “because of the unique acquisition authorities that both the Congress and the Department have provided to the Missile Defense Agency,” including giving him milestone decision authority. When pressed further by Sullivan, Greaves said the two-year delay could be adjusted by a few months and that it is a “technical issue.” “More likely shortened, but it could go the other way. I mean, when we delivered the developed the plan for up to 2 years, we took a best guess, almost worst case,” Greaves said. (Source: Defense Daily)
03 Apr 19. B83 Bomb Can Go 5-7 More Years Without Major Refurb, DoE Says. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) can only wait five to seven more years before beginning a potentially costly life-extension program on the megaton-class B83 gravity bomb, a senior agency official said Wednesday in a budget hearing. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) coaxed the estimate out of Charles Verdon, deputy administrator for NNSA Defense Programs, during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations
energy and water subcommittee. Feinstien, ranking member of the panel that writes the Senate’s first draft of the annual energy budget bill covering the NNSA, firmly opposes the B83, which on Wednesday she called
“dangerous and unnecessary.” In its 2018 Nuclear Posture Reivew, the Trump administration proposed reversing the Obama administration’s decision to retire the B83 and replace it — according to estimates from the Washington-based nonprofit Federation of American Scientists — with some 480 B61-12 gravity bombs. The NNSA is creating B61-12 from four separate versions of the old B61. According to the Nuclear Posture Review, NNSA will keep B83 in warm storage “at least until there is sufficient confidence in the B61-12 gravity bomb that will be available in 2020.” The NNSA quantified the expense of this about-face for the first time in the 2020 budget request released in March. The agency wants about $52m for B83 stockpile systems in 2020. That is about 45 percent more than the 2019 budget.
“What is that for?” Feinstein asked in Wednesday’s hearing.
“We’ve upped the surveillance on [B83] in order to meet the annual assessment requirements associated with … keeping it in the stockpile longer,” Verdon said.
California’s senior senator asked Verdon if the Pentagon wanted to keep the B83 in the NNSA’s active stockpile because its destructive yield was potentially so much greater than the B61.
Verdon said the Defense Department decision was “based on their need for targeting: what they need for targets that they’re provided that they have to hold at risk.”
When Feinstein asked how much a full B83 life-extension program would cost, Verdon said he did not have an estimate on hand. (Source: Defense Daily)
04 Apr 19. US Army Selects B&T APC9K for New Sub Compact Weapon. The U.S. Army announced Monday that it awarded a $2.5m contract to B&T USA for the Sub Compact Weapon solicitation. Multiple sources reported that the B&T APC9K was the winning sub-gun.
The Other Transaction Agreements (OTA) authority awarded a fixed amount, Production-Other Transaction Agreement (P-OTA) to deliver at least 350 subcompact guns, with an option to purchase an additional 1,000 sub-guns, with slings, manuals, accessories and spare parts, according to the announcement on fbo.gov.
Last year, Tactical Life reported the Army’s announcement that it was searching for a new submachine gun to presumably replace the MP5. We took a look at three likely candidates to win the contract, including submissions from SIG Sauer, HK and CZ USA. Additionally, Angstadt Arms, Global Ordnance, Shield Arms and Trident Rifles reportedly submitted sub-guns as well. Ultimately, we were wrong, and B&T took the bid.
“B&T USA confirmed their selection but noted that they are currently unable to comment beyond what information the Army has already released. Given the Army’s criteria for a weapon with a telescoping stock and a barrel no longer than 5.5 inches – B&T’s APC9 K is almost certainly the gun that won,” reported overtdefense.com.
While B&T currently offers little information on the winning entry, the APC9 Pro K, listed on the company’s website, is the civilian-legal semi-automatic-only variant that likely most closely resembles the Army’s new subcompact weapon. Additionally, it features a telescoping stock, Aimpoint Pro optics and operates on a closed bolt, blowback system. Finally, the sub-gun is versatile, bordering on highly concealable in certain applications, giving it lots of mission capability, in the tradition of the MP-5.
B&T APC9 PRO K Specifications
- Caliber: 9x19mm
- Operating System: Closed bolt, blowback system
- Operation: Semi-automatic
- Overall Length: 345mm
- Overall Width: 58mm
- Height: 292mm
- Overall Barrel Length: 110mm
- Overall Weight: 2.6kg
- Primary Sight System: Aimpoint Micro TL
- Secondary Sighting System: Flip-up emergency sight
- Suppressor Connector: 3-Lug or Thread
- Charging Handle: Ambidextrous, foldable, non-reciprocating
- Magazines: Translucent polymer; 15, 20, 25 and 30 rounds
02 Apr 19. US Army needs another year to pick protection system for Stryker. The U.S. Army plans to take another year to pick an Active Protection System for its Stryker combat vehicle, according to the military deputy to the Army acquisition chief.
The service is already fielding the Rafael-made Trophy APS on its Abrams tank and has picked IMI’s Iron Fist for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle — both as interim systems until the Army can develop an advanced future system — but it had to go back to square one when its attempt to outfit Stryker with Herndon, Virginia-based Artis LLC’s Iron Curtain system failed.
The Army put out a request for possible systems to be qualified as an interim solution on the Stryker. Officials ultimately chose a Rafael and DRS team and a Rheinmetall and UBT team to participate in a live-fire rodeo last November to see if either system might work.
But while it was believed a decision would come soon after, Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski testified at an April 2 Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee hearing that it would take another year to make a decision.
“We have two companies that are in the process of competing for [APS on Stryker]. One is a venture between … Rafael and DRS and the other is Rheinmetall and UBT, so we are in the process of going through that,” Ostrowski said. “It’s going to take about a year, quite frankly, in order to put those systems on the vehicles, characterize them and make a determination as to whether or not to move forward with either one of the two vendors.”
Ostrowski added the service had asked each team to provide blueprints and to build their non-developmental APS systems to fit on Stryker. “They are in the process of doing that build,” he said.
“And once the build is put on the vehicle, it’s then a matter of testing in order to ensure that it works,” Ostrowski said, which is not unlike the process the Army went through to characterize and qualify APS systems on both Abrams and Bradley.
Israeli company Rafael and DRS submitted its Trophy VPS — a lighter version of Trophy — for the rodeo. Germany-based Rheinmetall partnered with Unified Business Technologies, based in Michigan, and submitted its Active Defense System — now renamed StrikeShield.
During the rodeo, participants did not perform a full installation of their systems on the vehicle. Instead, they set up test rigs in front of Strykers or hung their system off a Stryker in the evaluation.
Following the rodeo, the idea was to select one, possibly two systems, to begin some sort of installation characterization on a platform deemed most appropriate for the APS system, Col. Glenn Dean, the Army’s Stryker program manager who is also in charge of the interim APS effort, told Defense News in October 2018.
Meanwhile, Ostrowski said the Army bought 88 Iron Fist systems for Bradley in 2019 and planned to buy another 36 in the FY20 budget. The service is on a path to field four brigades of Abrams with Trophy by FY21.
The Army is also developing its own Modular Active Protection System, which is seen more like a digital integrated backbone that will be designed with an open-system architecture so that vendors can bring radars, optical sensors and hard- or soft-kill effectors and plug them in, according to Ostrowski.
The important thing is “to get a capability out there first. . . . Now it’s just a matter of moving beyond that,” he said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
02 Apr 19. The Army targets systems to ‘see’ 1,000 miles. Adversaries are creating systems to keep U.S. forces at bay, including long-range missiles, advanced radar equipment to sense incoming assets and non-kinetic means of engagement, such as cyber and electronic warfare. This has made the Army realize it needs a long-range penetrating capability to thwart these so-called anti-access area denial areas. But, in order to target accurately, the Army needs to be able to “see” thousands of miles to locate what it is shooting at.
“Right now, we have a challenge with sensing deep in the United States Army. The chief’s No. 1 priority for modernization is long-range precision fires,” Maj. Gen. Robert Walters, commander of the Intelligence Center of Excellence, said during a presentation March 26 at the AUSA Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.
Brig. Gen. Jennifer Buckner, director of cyber within the Army’s G-3/5/7, told an audience at a March 21 AFCEA conference in National Harbor that the need to see long ranges means sensing where missiles are firing, but also viewing activity in the virtual space.
To address this hybrid approach, Army officials have outlined a variety of efforts, including task forces and actual materiel solutions.
One is an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance task force created in 2018 by the Army’s intelligence directorate to optimize Army ISR capabilities for so-called multidomain operations, Cheryle Rivas, an Army spokeswoman, told C4ISRNET.
The task force will also enhance and capitalize on complimentary capabilities across the joint force and intelligence community.
Rivas noted that the task force performs a complimentary and enabling role to the Army’s eight cross-functional teams, which sit under Futures Command and are associated with the service’s six modernization priorities: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicles, future vertical lift, the network, air and missile defense and soldier lethality.
Rivas added that intelligence is central to the Army’s ability to conduct lethal strikes that are not hampered by the denial strategies of near-peer competitors.
“The ISR TF is working with long-range precision fires, assured precision, navigation and timing, and future vertical lift cross-functional teams to optimize existing intelligence capabilities, as well as to identify critical collection requirements from the Space to the Terrestrial Layer that can provide targetable data in support of long-range precision,” she said.
On the materiel side, Walters outlined a variety of capability — from the space to the terrestrial layer — that the Army is pursuing to get after the challenges of sensing deep into enemy territory.
The first is something called the multidomain sensing system. This is designed to be sensor-centric as opposed to platform-centric and will include everything from tethered antennas to high-altitude balloons to low-orbit satellites in space, Walters said.
“We want smart sensors that are tied down to shooters to close that gap to when we see the enemy to when we kill the enemy,” he said.
Part of the multidomain sensing system includes sensors, such as synthetic aperture radar and moving target identification sensors enabled with artificial intelligence, that can detect enemy movements on the ground to strike them.
“The intent of this aerial layer of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance is to enable us to sense deep so that we can provide the intel support to targeting, but we can also provide electronic warfare capabilities deeper into the enemy’s formations,” Walters told the audience, adding that this includes electronic attack.
“We have to be able to sense that far to provide that to the shooters for them to engage the enemy,” he told C4ISRNET. “We have to do it rapidly. That’s why we want the smart sensors in the sky and we can program them so we know what the enemy’s order of battle looks like.”
A program called TITAN will change four different ground systems that receive overhead information into one, Walters said, the intent being to capitalize on national assets, commercial capabilities and capabilities possessed by sister services.
According to a slide during his presentation, TITAN will allow for the conduct of deep targeting in a contested environment and enabling “cross-domain fires with AI shortened kill-chains.”
Walters also included the Terrestrial Layer System in this discussion of providing sensing capabilities deep into enemy territories. TLS is a combined signals intelligence and electronic warfare system that will be mounted on ground platforms.
Walters told C4ISRNET that the ultimate intent for the Army is to provide all these capabilities at all echelons.
TLS will be at the brigade combat team level, as well as expeditionary military intelligence brigades, while the TITAN will be at all echelons and ground stations. The multidomain sensing system will likely be a division and above asset, he told C4ISRNET. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
02 Apr 19. Switzerland ready to buy Cobra 120mm mortar systems. Following extensive trials, the Swiss Army is expected to place a contract for a new 120mm self-propelled (SP) mortar system in the next 6-12 months, according to Captain Lars Kristian Lehman of the Swiss Armed Forces.
Capt Lehman revealed the forthcoming contract in March at the Omega Conferences & Events’ Mortar Systems Conference in Bristol, UK. A contract signing has been expected since the Swiss Army first began firing trials with the system in May 2016. When fielded, the 120mm SP mortar system will fill a gap in the army’s indirect firepower capability, between its 81mm mortar systems and its 155mm/47-calibre upgraded M109L47 series self-propelled artillery systems.
The Swiss Army plans to order 32 RUAG Defence 120mm Cobra turntable-mounted smoothbore mortar systems that are to be mounted in the rear of new General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS)-MOWAG 8×8 Piranha 3+ armoured vehicle (Piranha 4 in Swiss service). RUAG Defence is to supply the 120mm mortar systems to GDELS-MOWAG, who will integrate them into the newbuild Piranha 4 8×8s that have a slightly raised roofline to the rear to accommodate the mortar. That work will be undertaken at the main GDELS-MOWAG facility at Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, where the Piranha family of vehicles is manufactured. The system is to have a crew of four (driver, commander, and two ammunition loaders), a maximum gross vehicle weight of up to 30 tonnes, and a maximum road speed of 90km/h.
Standard equipment will consist of a remote weapon station armed with a .50 M2 HB machine gun and banks of electrically operated smoke grenade launchers. In addition to the Cobra systems, the Swiss Army also plans to buy 16 Piranha II 8×8 armoured personnel carriers that will be rerolled into the command post role, 12 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles, and 36 flat rack ammunition containers. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
02 Apr 19. UK releases RFI for new self-propelled howitzer. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has released an initial request for information (RFI) for a new 155mm self-propelled howitzer (SPH), known as the Mobile Fires Platform (MPF), which could be introduced into service as early as 2026. According to the RFI, the MFP will be able to deliver an all-weather, day and night, 24/7 indirect fire capability, enabling “kinetic effect” at extended range in support of the British Army’s deployable warfighting division, as well as increased range and mobility for supporting Strike and armoured infantry operations. MFP falls under the MoD’s Close Support Fires Programme and has been approved for concept and assessment phases as a category A project. (Source: News Now/IHS Jane’s)
01 Apr 19. Lockheed clinches $2.4bn deal for sale of THAAD missiles. Lockheed Martin Corp was awarded a $2.4bn Pentagon contract on Monday for THAAD interceptor missiles, some of which are slated to be delivered to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Reuters had reported Lockheed was nearing the deal earlier on Monday. In November, Saudi and U.S. officials signed letters of offer and acceptance formalizing terms for Saudi Arabia’s purchase of 44 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense launchers, missiles and related equipment. The Pentagon said the Saudi government would pay $1.5bn of the $2.4bn. The November deal was inked amid concerns about the role of the kingdom’s leadership in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi critic who lived in the United States and was a columnist for the Washington Post. Representatives for Lockheed Martin declined to comment. (Source: glstrade.com/Reuters)
01 Apr 19. US Army’s New Marksmanship Qualification Test Ramps Up Difficulty. The Army is about to release its new training strategy for a challenging marksmanship qualification standard that all soldiers will have to use to qualify annually with their M16 rifles and M4 carbines.
The new course will replace current, Cold War-era marksmanship qualification course with one that requires soldiers to engage targets faster and to operate as they would during an enemy engagement. In the current qualification course, soldiers take many instructions from the range tower, such as when to change magazines and firing positions.
“What has changed specifically is, soldiers will change their magazines on their own … in the past it was kind of an administrative thing,” Sgt. 1st Class John Rowland, marksmanship program director at Benning’s Infantry School, told Military.com.
“They change positions on their own. … We incorporated the use of cover and or external support to drive home that tactical mindset of, don’t be in the open when you have available cover around you, and incorporate things around you to stabilize your shot.”
The new, four-phase course also adds standing firing positions, Rowland said.
“Phase Number One is a react to contact, meaning they are going to start standing and the first engagement will present itself, and they will engage that from the standing unsupported position,” Rowland said. “Then they will drop to the prone supported position.”
Soldiers will then to go an unsupported prone position for Phase Two. Phase Three has soldiers engaging targets from the kneeling supported position.
Soldiers will then return to a supported standing position for phase four of the course, Rowland said.
“There will be sandbags out there like always … and the common thing is going to be a barricade for the kneeling supported and the standing supported positions,” Rowland said.
All of the information about the new course of fire will be in the new manual, TC 3-20.40 “Training and Qualification Individual Weapons.” It’s awaiting final approval at the Infantry Center, so it can be published and sent out to the active Army and National Guard and Reserve components, Rowland said.
Training officials at Benning said that there is no deadline for the Army to begin using the new marksmanship qualification standard. Unit commanders will have a year to provide Benning with feedback on any challenges they have with putting the new standard into operation on their home-station ranges.
The new course of fire will force soldiers to engage multiple targets at a time compared to the current qualification course that has a lot of single-engagement target exposures, Rowland said.
“The updated qualification has quite a few triple-engagement exposures, some quadruple-engagement exposures and a lot of doubles,” he said. “This is to reinforce situational awareness, critical thinking and problem solving.
“It also saves time; the old qualification took about 20 minutes; this one takes like four minutes to execute.”
As with the current system, the minimum score to pass in the new qualification is 23 hits out of 40. Soldiers must hit 23 to 29 targets for a Marksman rating, 30 to 35 for Sharpshooter and 36 to 40 for Expert, Rowland.
There are new requirements, however, for achieving Sharpshooter and Expert rating.
“In the past, soldiers did not have to engage, let alone hit, a 300-meter target to get an Expert rating,” Rowland said. “Now there are five exposures of 300-meter targets, so in order for a soldier to get an Expert rating, they must hit at least one 300-meter target. … To get Sharpshooter, a soldier must hit at least one target that’s 250 meters or beyond.”
Army training officials have spent the last two years refining the new course of fire, visiting units around the service to have soldiers run through it. Soldiers from the Wyoming Army National Guard’s Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment (Forward) were the first to try out the new test at Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center in early March, according to recent Army news release. The unit qualified using the Army’s current qualification standard and then got a chance to try out the new course of fire, without any train-up on the new standard.
Sgt. Sol Griffith, a fire team leader with the Afton-based infantry company, demonstrated the new test for the rest of the unit.
“Now you have three or four targets up at the same time, and you have to transition between them very thoughtfully,” Griffith said in the release. “It’s not like it was with someone yelling what target is coming up.”
Griffin, who normally scores 40 out of 40 on the current standard, hit 22 out of 40 targets while demonstrating the new, course of fire, according to the release.
About half of the soldiers in the unit met the minimum standard of 23 out of 40 hits, and 32 was the highest score on the new course of fire.
Marksmanship officials said the new manual will provide units with what they need to be successful on the updated standard. The training strategy for the new qualification course is broken down into six tables in TC 3-20.40:
Table 1: Preliminary marksmanship instruction and evaluation
Table 2: Pre-live fire simulation training
Table 3: Drills such as magazine changes and going to the prone position
Table 4: Basic grouping and zeroing
Table 5: Practice qualification
Table 6: Qualification
“It’s no different from what successful units have been doing for years,” Rowland said. “It’s just laid out in a manner that units don’t have to think about what they need to do to be successful. It’s right there in the book … which is a huge improvement for the past, where standards and training resourcing and what not were largely disjointed or nonexistent.”
The new publication also requires units to perform the first three training tables before they go the live-fire tables, according to Melody Venable, training and doctrine officer for the Infantry School.
“It creates the reps and sets that we need amongst the force when it comes to increasing lethality,” she said. “The biggest challenge that we see is change; accepting change. We are doing something different in their minds.” (Source: Military.com)
01 Apr 19. NIOA develops test and evaluation services for small arms. NIOA has confirmed it has helped a number of agencies to develop internal standard operating procedures and equipment for the evaluation of the safety and performance characteristics of various small arms weapons. Agencies have sought out NIOA’s “specialist knowledge, equipment and facilities to deliver efficient, value for money risk mitigation activities, test and evaluation programs”.
NIOA confirmed it recently conducted extensive testing and evaluation of various Glock pistols in its 100-metre indoor firing range, and said they “characterised the performance of the Glock pistol set with integrated ancilliaries and demonstrated Glock pistols’ inherent safety and reliability, tested under the specified service conditions and extreme induced environmental conditions”.
“NIOA’s conduct of this recent test program demonstrates our proven ability to support our clients in verification of their system requirements,” a release from NIOA said.
“This strengthens Australian defence industry expertise for support through test and evaluation.”
The company confirmed it is also investing in “new test capabilities”, after acquiring specialist equipment to support further test and evaluation programs.
NIOA’s capabilities and resources include:
- Bespoke remote weapon firing mounts;
- Ballistic chronograph and electronic acoustic target measurement systems;
- Environmental temperature and humidity conditioning chamber; and
- NATA calibrated metrology equipment.
“NIOA’s engineering and equipment capabilities are constantly growing to meet the current and future verification requirements of various agencies around Australia and New Zealand,” the company added in its release. (Source: Defence Connect)
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