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25 Apr 19. Belarus develops new surface-to-air missile system. Belarus has developed a new surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, dubbed TRIO, to reinforce its air force’s strike capabilities and to combat unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the Belorussian state military and industrial committee announced on 22 April.
“The new surface-to-air missile system developed by specialists of BSVT – New Technologies has been created to provide air defence for military and industrial facilities, land troops’ units and formations, and also to strike small-size air targets, including unmanned aerial vehicles,” the committee said in a press release.
The system consists of an automated mobile command-and-control (C2) battle management station equipped with a photographic reconnaissance unit (PRU), a modernised 9K35 Strela-10 (NATO SA-13 ‘Gopher’) self-propelled mobile SAM system, a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (SPAAG) Shilka (ZSU-23-4), and a ‘Berserk’ remotely operated weapon station (ROWS). (Source: IHS Jane’s)
24 Apr 19. Ukraine’s Neptune anti-ship cruise missile ready for service. Ukraine has completed one of the final trials of its Neptune land-based cruise missile, designed for coastal defence, and plans to soon field it to Ukraine’s naval and land forces, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced in April. According to Poroshenko’s statement, the test was conducted at a state testing ground and supervised by 11 Ukrainian ships positioned in the Black Sea.
In a speech at the test, recounted by the state press service, Poroshenko said, “Today we are ready to complete the test and equip the navy and the land forces on my command, in an extremely short period of time.” He said students of the Odessa Maritime Academy had started training on the Neptune system so as “to drastically shorten the period that will allow combat use in the event of aggression against our state by the enemy”.
Neptune is an anti-ship missile designed to protect Ukraine’s coastal areas and to deter Russian naval actions in the area.
Four Neptune missiles are carried ready to fire on a KrAZ-7634HE 8×8 chassis. The entire complex consists of four launch vehicles, crewed by three personnel each, a 6×6 command-and-control vehicle, and two loading vehicles. The Neptune missile is armed with a 145kg high explosive fragmentation warhead and has a total weight of 670kg. Ukraine’s state-owned Spets Techno Export said the missile was designed to sink naval vessels with a maximum displacement of 5,000 tonnes. It has a range of 280km, which the company said is so the export model complies with the Missile Technology Control Regime. The missile could therefore have a longer range for Ukraine’s own use and improve. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
24 Apr 19. Russia to start deliveries of S-400 to Turkey in July – Ifax. Russia will start delivering its S-400 missile defence systems to Turkey in July, the head of Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said, according to Interfax news agency.
“Everything has been already discussed and agreed,” Alexander Mikheev told Interfax.
The United States has threatened to impose sanctions if Turkey seals its S-400 deal with Russia. Ankara has said its purchase should not trigger sanctions as Turkey is not an adversary of Washington and remains committed to the NATO alliance. (Source: Reuters)
23 Apr 19. Pakistan Navy flexes land attack capabilities in Arabian Sea. Key Points:
- The Pakistan Navy has conducted another test-firing of an indigenously developed cruise missile
- The weapon is being tested amid heightened tensions with India over the long-standing Kashmir dispute
The Pakistan Navy has conducted another test-firing of what appears to be a shipborne variant of an indigenously developed cruise missile.
The weapon was fired from its latest Azmat-class patrol craft, PNS Himmat (1027), in the North Arabian Sea, the Pakistan Armed Forces’ official media communications group known as the inter-services public relations (ISPR) office revealed on 23 April.
In January 2018, Himmat conducted a similar test-firing of the weapon. On both occasions, the ISPR office stopped short of disclosing the type of missile used in the firings, only noting that it has anti-ship and land-attack capabilities, and that the weapon has been developed in-country.
The test announced in April 2019 was also described as one that has “accurately hit its target on land”, but no further details were given on this, including the type of target deployed, and its distance from Himmat at the time of firing.
Images of the launch released by the ISPR office suggest a weapon length of between 6 m and 7 m, when taken in relation to Himmat ‘s overall beam. Based on its visible markings, it is probable that the missile is the ‘Harbah’, which is shipborne variant of Pakistan’s indigenously developed Hatf 7 (Babur) short-range cruise missile.
Pakistan is known to be pursuing air-, ship-, and submarine-launched variants of the Babur cruise missile to complement its line-up of longer-ranged ballistic missiles. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
23 Apr 19. Lockheed Martin Working $2.5bn in Hypersonic Weapon Contracts. Lockheed Martin is working through $2.5bn in military contracts to develop a variety of hypersonic weapons in a bid to catch up with developments from China and Russia, company chief executive Marillyn Hewson said during a Tuesday earnings calls. The Pentagon has made moves to accelerate the development of hypersonic weapons in its latest guiding documents, and that has driven investment from the company, Hewson said.
“We have been investing in hypersonics for many, many years, and as a result of that, that’s why we’re leading in this trend of being able to bring capabilities forward. In terms in how the market is developing, it’s basically threat-driven, if you look at what was in the National Defense Strategy, Missile Defense Review,” she said.
“It’s clearly a need for us to not only address hypersonics but also counter-hypersonics as well.”
In the Tuesday morning call, Hewson highlighted the late-February contract with the Navy for development and testing of the service’s conventional prompt global strike concept that would notionally create a hypersonic glide vehicle that would ride a ballistic missile launched from a submarine down to its target.
“[We] received an order for over $800m from the U.S. Navy to design, develop, build and integrate technologies to support the flight test demonstration of a new hypersonic boost-glide weapons system. Lockheed Martin was awarded the Navy’s conventional prompt strike weapons contract and will provide flight articles and support equipment for the systems flight test,” Hewson said.
“This order follows three previous awards the corporation has received in hypersonic weapons: the tactical boost-glide contract; the hypersonic conservational strike, or HACKSAW program; and the air-launched rapid response, or Arrow, program. These wins are being performed in three of our four business areas with the cumulative value of our hypersonic strike weapon award now exceeding $2.5 billion across the corporation.”
The February award by the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) for the Intermediate Range Conventional Strike Weapon System is an early step in developing a hypersonic glide weapon body for all the services by 2025.
“We will explore several options to deploy this capability on various platforms and are working with the Army and Navy on deployment opportunities,” an SSP spokesperson told USNI News last month.
The Pentagon has stressed its lag against both the Chinese and Russians in hypersonics, and the Army, Air Force and Navy have pushed out to acquire the weapons. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/USNI)
24 Apr 19. If this rocket is so ‘dumb,’ how does it ram enemy drones out of the sky? The quadcopter is fine, rising above the landscape on its mission, but then something appears below it. And in the space of seconds the quadcopter is spiraling back to the ground. The object hitting the quadcopter looks almost like it is made of foam and cardboard. It resembles nothing so much as a model rocket, only instead of an ignition engine it’s powered into the sky by a single propeller. The simplicity, and the likely low cost of the parts involved, create a potentially new alternative for knocking drones out of the sky: instead of using expensive missiles or complicated jammers, why not send a one-use robot on a ramming mission?
“This is a ‘dumb’ rocket that has navigation that lets it hone in on the drone but no explosives — it just rams the UAS in the hope the damage is enough to bring it down,” says Samuel Bendett, an adviser at the Center for Naval Analyses. This rocket-inspired ram drone was developed by the St. Petersburg “Special Technology Center” (STTS), which is the same outfit that worked on Orlan-10 UAV, the workhorse of the Russian unmanned aerial fleet. The short six-second ascent features in part of a much longer video of Russian counter-drone technologies.
Recently, we’ve seen Russian companies explore a range of counter-drone options, including everything from a tail-sitting drone built around a shotgun to a technical-inspired ATV with an anti-aircraft gun on the back. Also featured in the anti-drone video are the Repellent C-UAS system, as well as a new rifle-style C-UAS weapon, that join existing Russian rifle-based anti-drone systems like Pischyal and Rex.
The ram-drone is perhaps the most interesting, and not just for the novelty. A small, hand-launched tool that navigates toward its target could prove easy to outfit with infantry and simple to employ. If the ram-drone goes to production and includes collapsible wings, units could even carry a few, ready to disable any overhead surveillance encountered while out in the field. Apart from the sensor and navigation system, about which we know little, the parts of this ram-drone seem like the sort of thing a hobbyist could put together in a garage on the cheap.
Russia-backed forces have encountered cheap commercial drones adapted as weapons and scouts in both Syria and Ukraine, and has found few answers anywhere near as cheap as the drones they’re designed to destroy.
“This is something Russia may have picked up in Syria,” says Bendett, a fellow in Russian studies at the American Foreign Policy Council. “Using simpler projectiles to counter adversary unmanned aerial vehicles without explosives in case it has to crash near friendly forces.”
The lack of an explosive on the ram-drone means less potential risk when fired close-by, which is where cheap drones tend to operate. The relative silence of just a single propeller makes it a discreet tool for disabling hostile robots. The ram-drone is undergoing testing with the Russian military. If the military finds it useful, the latest counter-drone design may be rocketing ahead at ramming speed. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
23 Apr 19. The U.S. Army awarded Lockheed Martin a $362m contract to recapitalize 50 of the U.S. Army’s Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) launchers. The U.S. Army’s MLRS recapitalization effort will eventually upgrade its existing fleet of 225 MLRS M270A1 launchers, and 160 decommissioned M270A0’s slated for de-militarization, to M270A2s.
In partnership with the Red River Army Depot, these launchers will be completely refurbished as “zero time” launchers with new engines, transmissions, Launcher-Loader Modules, Improved Armored Cabs and the new Common Fire Control System.
“This investment to upgrade the MLRS launcher fleet reflects our customers continued confidence in our ability to provide a combat-proven precision strike system from the ground up,” said Gaylia Campbell, vice president of Precision Fires and Combat Maneuver Systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “These launchers will be returned to an “as-new” condition and serve our Army customer through 2050.”
MLRS is a heavy tracked mobile launcher, transportable via C-17 and C-5 aircraft, that fires Guided MLRS rockets and Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles. MLRS will also be able to fire the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) and Extended-Range GMLRS rockets, both currently in development.
For more than 40 years, Lockheed Martin has been the leading designer and manufacturer of long-range, surface-to-surface precision strike solutions, providing highly reliable, combat-proven systems like MLRS, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), ATACMS and GMLRS to domestic and international customers.
23 Apr 19. Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) completed a successful static test of the new DeepStrike® missile rocket motor, which moved the advanced, surface-to-surface weapon closer to its maiden flight test later this year. The company is offering the DeepStrike missile for the U.S. Army’s Precision Strike Missile, or PrSM, program to replace the aging Army Tactical Missile System that is approaching the end of its service life.
“Testing shows us how initial data assessments line up and validates them for the next phase in development,” said Dr. Thomas Bussing, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president. “This test confirms our design for the DeepStrike propulsion system is solid and moves us one step closer to extending the Army’s reach and doubling the load-out of long-range fires.”
The rocket motor test at Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in West Virginia is the latest in a series of milestones for the DeepStrike missile. Raytheon recently concluded a successful preliminary design review for the weapon.
Raytheon’s new, long-range precision strike missile features an innovative, two-in-the-pod design and will fly farther, faster, and give the Army twice the firepower at half the cost per missile. It is also more maneuverable and has a modular, open architecture to simplify system upgrades.
“With our expertise in advanced weapon systems, Raytheon is best positioned to provide an affordable, low-risk solution that gives the Army an overwhelming advantage over our nation’s adversaries,” Bussing said.
The DeepStrike missile will defeat fixed land targets 60-499 kilometers away, and get there faster than current systems.
23 Apr 19. Indian Army looks to Russia for assorted weapons and ammunition.
The Indian Army (IA) is in advanced negotiations with Russia to acquire assorted weapons and ammunition to overcome enduring shortfalls and ensure operational preparedness along India’s restive border with Pakistan.
Official sources told Jane’s that the IA is seeking launchers and missiles for its 9K338 Igla-S (SA-24 ‘Grinch’) man-portable air-defence systems (MANPADSs), 300 mm rockets for Smerch multiple rocket launch systems, and 125mm Mango armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot ammunition for T-90S tanks.
Military sources said the equipment and ordnance is expected to be acquired directly by the IA, without Ministry of Defence (MoD) approval, under the recently enhanced financial powers delegated to the vice chiefs of staff of all three Indian military services. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
23 Apr 19. Belarus Anti Small Drone Air Defense Missile System. Belarus has developed a new air defense missile system dubbed TRIO to fight small-size drones, the republic’s State Military and Industrial Committee said on Monday.
“The new surface-to-air missile system developed by specialists of BSVT – New Technologies has been created to provide air defense for military and industrial facilities, land troops’ units and formations, and also to strike small-size air targets, including unmanned aerial vehicles,” the committee said.
The TRIO system comes as a response to the rapidly developing sphere of small-size drones in the world, considering that “a number of existing air defense systems are unable to fight them efficiently,” the company explained. The specialists developed the new system using the modernized combat vehicle of the 9K35 Strela-10 short-range missile system and the ZSU-23-4 Shilka self-propelled surface-to-air missile complex. They also added the Berserk robotized machine-gun system based on quick-firing aerial guns.
“The TRIO’s guns supplement each other, which allows it to efficiently destroy small-size air targets of various types, including mini-drones,” the developer company said.
The new system’s weapons are mounted on the tracked chassis, which enables it to move confidently across terrain with different types of soil. As its specific feature, the new air defense system features an information and computer complex that allows making the operation of a team of a platoon (battery) command post and its combat control fully automated. The system’s radar can carry out an all-round search for air targets in real time within the angles of site ranging from minus 7 to plus 70 degrees while the round-the-clock optical-electronic station is capable of spotting and tracking targets in the passive mode at a range of 20km.
The developers have also adapted the TRIO for firing modernized air-to-air airborne missiles capable of striking targets with a dimension of no less than 30 x 30cm. The robotized machine-gun module with a firing range of up to 500m and the firing rate of 12,000 rounds per minute is also designed to strike small-size drones.
The Belarusian specialists have called the TRIO air defense missile system “a relatively cheap complex with high combat potential.” The new system will be demonstrated at the Milex-2019 arms show in Minsk in May. (Source: UAS VISION/TASS)
22 Apr 19. Indiana State Police Adds SIG SAUER P365 as their Back-Up Duty Firearm. SIG SAUER, Inc. announced that the Indiana State Police have adopted the SIG SAUER P365 as their back-up duty firearm for their full complement of troopers. The Indiana State Police is a statewide law enforcement agency comprised of more than 1,250 troopers across fourteen districts throughout the state of Indiana.
18 Apr 19. Future Hypersonics Could Be Artificially Intelligent. Sandia to Lead Academic Coalition to Develop Autonomy for Aerospace. A test launch for a hypersonic weapon — a long-range missile that flies a mile per second and faster — takes weeks of planning. So, while the U.S. and other states are racing to deploy hypersonic technologies, it remains uncertain how useful the systems will be against urgent, mobile or evolving threats.
Sandia National Laboratories, which has made and tested hypersonic vehicles for more than thirty years, thinks artificial intelligence and autonomy could slash these weeks to minutes for deployed systems. To prove it, Sandia announced today the formation of Autonomy New Mexico, an academic research coalition whose mission is to create artificially intelligent aerospace systems.
“AutonomyNM is a gathering of some of the best minds in autonomous systems technology in a uniquely oriented, collaborative environment,” said Sandia’s Michael Burns, associate labs director for national security programs. “We expect it to make important impacts on a number of research areas.”
AI could accelerate flight planning
A hypersonic boost-glide vehicle — the type tested by Sandia — launches into space aboard a rocket, then detaches and uses only its momentum to sail across the upper atmosphere before finally plunging back to Earth and its target.
“At extreme speeds, the flight is incredibly challenging to plan for and program,” said Alex Roesler, a senior manager at Sandia who leads the coalition.
In theory, artificial intelligence could generate a hypersonic flight plan in minutes for human review and approval, and in milliseconds a semi-autonomous vehicle could self-correct in flight to compensate for unexpected flight conditions or a change in the target’s location. A human monitoring the flight could regain control by turning off the course-correcting function at any time.
Autonomous technologies, such as self-driving cars, are designed to perform complicated tasks without human intervention. They require a broad range of technologies that work in tandem, including advanced computing, artificial intelligence and machine-learning algorithms, sensors, navigation systems and robotics.
The Sandia-led collaboration integrates leading expertise from throughout the country in these areas with its own knowledge in high-performance flight vehicles. Sandia makes hypersonic glide vehicles for research purposes and operates a hypersonic wind tunnel.
Members collaborating with Sandia represent the Georgia Institute of Technology; Purdue University; the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; the University of New Mexico; Stanford University; Texas A&M University; The University of Texas at Austin; and Utah State University.
AutonomyNM assembles for first conference
The coalition is converging today on the University of New Mexico campus for its first general meeting. For two days, members will present experimental results, propose new ideas and discuss progress toward their shared goals.
“The research objectives of AutonomyNM are similar to those being studied for self-driving cars and other autonomous system technologies, and we’re building off that groundwork,” Roesler said. “Unfortunately, you can’t put an algorithm developed for a car into a high-speed aircraft, so we’re working with our partners to create new technologies for a new application.”
AutonomyNM’s broader ambitions are to serve as a wellspring for other industries by developing ideas that could lead to safer, more efficient robots in, for example, autonomous transportation, manufacturing, space or agriculture. If the group reaches its goals, it will have created computing algorithms that compress 12 hours of calculations into a single millisecond, all on a small, onboard computer.
Sandia is aiming to complete the foundational technologies of new autonomous flight systems by 2024. In addition to hypersonic flight systems, AutonomyNM plans to explore other applications of autonomy in aerospace, emphasizing solutions to national security challenges.
AutonomyNM is partly patterned after similar collaborations formed by other government agencies, like the Defense Department. The Sandia-led organization differs in its focus on academic partnerships and its objective to develop autonomy customized for hypersonic flight.
Funding for AutonomyNM research is provided by Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development and Academic Alliance programs. (Source: ASD Network)
17 Apr 19. North Korea Tests New ‘Tactical Guided Weapon.’ North Korea has tested a new “tactical guided weapon,” the latest display of Pyongyang’s military capabilities, state media reported Thursday.
Kim Jong Un supervised and guided the Wednesday test, calling it an operation of “very weighty significance,” the official Korean Central News Agency said.
The KCNA report did not elaborate on the type of weapon tested, but the phrase “tactical” suggests it is not a ballistic missile. Still, the test could be seen as a warning to the United States, amid an impasse in talks over North Korea’s nuclear program.
“Kim is trying to make a statement to the Trump administration that his military potential is growing by the day, and that his regime is becoming frustrated with Washington’s lack of flexibility in recent negotiations,” says Harry Kazianis, director of Korean Studies at the Center for the National Interest.
A U.S. military official said late Wednesday the Pentagon is aware of the reported test, but has no further comment. North Korea has not carried out a nuclear or long-range missile test for well over a year, since Kim began talks with the United States and South Korea. Instead, the North has carried out smaller provocations. In November, Kim oversaw the test of what KCNA also referred to as a newly developed “high-tech tactical weapon.” U.S. officials later played down the significance of that test.
Nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea have been stalled since a February meeting in Hanoi between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump ended in no deal. Trump wants Kim to completely abandon his nuclear weapons program in exchange for sanctions relief. Kim has only offered limited steps toward denuclearization. Last week, Kim said he was open to another summit with Trump, but warned he would only give the U.S. until the end of the year to change its “approach” to the negotiations. A North Korean official said last month that Kim is considering resuming missile tests and pulling out of the talks with the United States.
What did North Korea test?
It isn’t clear the weapon North Korea tested Wednesday was even a missile. KCNA referred only to a “tactical guided weapon.”
Regardless, the weapon doesn’t appear to have been nuclear-capable, since usually such arms are referred to as “strategic,” rather than “tactical.”
“The design indexes of the tactical guided weapon, whose advantages are appreciated for the peculiar mode of guiding flight and the load of a powerful warhead, were perfectly verified at the test-fire conducted in various modes of firing at different targets,” KCNA said.
“It is likely to be a new cruise missile” with a limited range, says Kim Dong-yub, a North Korea specialist at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies. “If it is a cruise missile, then it has no relevance with the current sanctions. Existing sanctions only apply to ballistic missiles.”
Increase in provocations? Even though North Korea’s latest test is not likely a ballistic missile, it is still meant to send a message to Trump, said Vipin Narang, a nuclear expert and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The test amounts to “calibrated signaling to remind us where things can go if we don’t moderate our negotiating position,” Narang says.
It isn’t clear how Trump will respond to North Korea’s latest test. Earlier this week, Trump said talks with North Korea “are moving along just perfectly.”
Meanwhile, commercial satellite photos from last week showed increased activity at North Korea’s main nuclear site, according to a U.S. research organization.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies noted the presence of five specialized railcars at the Yongbyon nuclear complex. “In the past, these specialized railcars appear to have been associated with the movement of radioactive material or reprocessing campaigns,” the report said.
Also Wednesday, Kim carried out a public inspection of a military unit for the first time in several months, reviewing a flight exercise of the Korean People’s Army. Kim is expected to meet next week with Russian President Vladimir Putin. With U.S. negotiations stalled, Kim is likely to push Putin to provide economic aid and sanctions relief. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Voice of American News)
17 Apr 19. Brazil eyes first MANSUP missile acquisition. The Brazilian Navy is looking to purchase a pre-production batch of 10 MANSUP (Míssil Antinavio Nacional de Superfície) combat surface-to-surface anti-ship missiles, an industry source familiar with the programme recently told Jane’s. The navy wants to sign a contract in late 2019 and begin production in early 2020, the source added. Unlike earlier test missiles, this tranche of missiles will be the first to include a warhead.
Two qualification missiles, which also are designated as prototypes, fitted with a telemetry unit were launched in November 2018 and March 2019 from Barroso (V34) corvette and Niterói-class frigate Independência (F44), respectively. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
17 Apr 19. MBDA discloses development of SPEAR variants. Typhoon platforms. MBDA in the UK has disclosed details on the development of two prospective air-launched missile variants evolved from its baseline SPEAR stand-off, air-to-surface developmental weapon system: SPEAR-EW (electronic warfare) and SPEAR-Glide. Still in its development phase, the SPEAR weapon is MBDA’s solution for the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) 100 kg class Selective Precision Effects At Range Capability 3 (SPEAR Cap 3) requirement. The MoD awarded MBDA a GBP411m (USD536m) four-year SPEAR Cap 3 Development Phase contract in March 2016 for critical design and development work to tailor the SPEAR weapon for use within the internal weapons bay of the UK Royal Air Force and Royal Navy F-35 Lightning multirole stealth aircraft. Integration of SPEAR onto the Eurofighter Typhoon is also a programme of record for the RAF.
SPEAR is a long-range missile powered by a Pratt & Whitney TJ-130 turbojet engine to deliver a given range of over 140 km, according to MBDA. Designed to operate as an all-weather capability, SPEAR introduces a significant evolution of the terminal guidance seeker package developed for the Brimstone missile, featuring a combined radio frequency (RF) imaging sensor and a semi-active laser (SAL) seeker with an enhanced algorithm and processing capability that enables the missile to ‘see’ and record images of the target area through the RF imaging element of the seeker.
Navigation is delivered through anti-jam GPS combined with a Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS)-based inertial measurement unit sourced from UTC Aerospace Systems. The missile also features an insensitive munition-compliant multieffects warhead – sourced from TDW – with multiple fusing options that provides a low collateral footprint and allows for tunable effects to the target; and a two-way datalink.
Weighing less than 100 kg and 1.8 m in length, MBDA’s SPEAR solution features a circular 180 mm cross-section airframe, dorsally mounted fold-out wings (folding rearward for stowage), a revised intake arrangement with twin side inlets, and three folding tail surfaces. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Apr 19. US halts recent practice of disclosing nuclear weapon total. The Trump administration has halted, without explanation, the recent U.S. government practice of disclosing the current size of the nuclear weapons stockpile. The decision was revealed in a recent Department of Energy letter to the Federation of American Scientists, a private group that studies nuclear weapons issues and advocates for government openness on national security issues. The Obama administration, in May 2010, had declassified for the first time the full history of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile from its beginning in 1945. It revealed that the warhead total stood at 5,113 as of Sept. 30, 2009, approximately the number that private experts had estimated and about 84 percent below the official peak number of 31,255 warheads in 1967. As recently as last year, the Trump administration had disclosed that the stockpile consisted of 3,822 nuclear warheads as of Sept. 30, 2017, down 196 warheads from the year before. The 2017 figure was made public in response to a request by the scientists group, which asked for a 2018 update last October.
“After careful consideration … it was determined that the requested information cannot be declassified at this time,” the Energy Department wrote in an April 5 letter responding to the federation’s request. The department provided no explanation for the decision, which it said was made by the Formerly Restricted Data Declassification Working Group, consisting of officials from the departments of Defense and Energy.
“Formerly Restricted Data” is a category of classification that pertains to information such as nuclear stockpile quantities, warhead yields and locations. The Russian government does not disclose its nuclear stockpile total. The Federation of American Scientists estimates Russia has about 4,350. (Source: Defense News)
17 Apr 19. MDHI reveals Griffin-armed MD 969 combat helo. MD Helicopters Inc (MDH) has equipped its recently revealed MD 969 Combat Explorer with a precision-guided munition (PGM) capability. The capability, which was showcased at the 2019 Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit held in Nashville from 14–16 April, is a first for a helicopter and involves the internal installation by Systima Technologies of a seven-shot Common Launch Tube (CLT) system for the Raytheon AGM-176 Griffin PGM. The missiles are ejected out of the main cabin rear access hatch.
The Griffin is a relatively lightweight (15kg) and low-yield (5.9kg) missile equipped with a dual-mode INS/GPS and semi-active laser (SAL) seeker. Developed by the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) under its Stand-Off Operations Precision Guided Munition (SOPGM) Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) programme, the missile has been integrated for use on the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) Lockheed Martin AC-130W Dragon Spear/Stinger II and the US Marine Corpsʼ (USMC) Lockheed KC-130J Harvest HAWK gunship platforms, and has been trialled on other aircraft, such as the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor. There are currently two versions of the Griffin missile in production, with the version carried by the MD 969 being the Griffin A, which is designed to be rear-launched from ramp-equipped aircraft (the Griffin B is a forward-firing missile). The MD 969 Combat Explorer is a military derivative of the twin-engined MD 902 Explorer that was first showcased at the HELI-EXPO event in early March. The Griffin missiles add to an already powerful weapons package for the MD 969, which is carried on four hardpoints mounted on an integrated weapons plank. The helicopter at HELI-EXPO was displayed carrying a mix of 70mm rocket pods and 12.7mm heavy machine gun pods, while a promotional video released by MDHI showed it fitted with AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and 7.62 mm door-mounted Gatling-guns. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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