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02 May 19. Lockheed Martin ‘Sidekick’ development offers six internal AIM-120s for F-35A/C variants. Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control has disclosed development of a new internal weapons rack to increase the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) internal loadout on the A and C variant F-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter multirole stealth aircraft.
The F-35A and F-35C are equipped with two internal weapons bays that allow the platforms to carry two AIM-120 AMRAAMS, or a single AMRAAM and a larger air-to-surface precision-guided munition such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), in each bay. A Lockheed Martin internally funded development, designated ‘Sidekick’, will allow both F-35 variants to carry three AIM-120s in each bay for a total internal AMRAAM load of six missiles. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
02 May 19. Turkey’s New Generation Firtina SPH unveiled. Turkey’s First Main Maintenance Factory Directorate displayed the New Generation T-155 Firtina self-propelled howitzer (SPH) for the first time at the IDEF defence exhibition in Istanbul, taking place between 30 April and 3 May.
According to officials representing the directorate, the Turkish Army has signed a contract for serial production of the vehicle pending a final series of tests. Turkish company Aselsan is one of the leading subcontractors for the project and provided a new fire control system (FCS) for the vehicle. Aselsan stated in a press release that development of the NG Firtina was initiated as a result of feedback from recent Turkish operations in cross-border and ‘counter-terror’ operations.
Externally the most notable change from the original Firtina SPH is the installation of a SARP remote weapon station (RWS) from Aselsan on the roof of the vehicle. According to Aselsan representatives, the RWS serves the dual role of being a close-range weapon for engagements against infantry as well as functioning as a direct-fire sight for the 155mm main ordnance. Additionally, the SPH’s gun control equipment has been converted from a hydraulic to an all-electric system, designed to improve crew safety and maintenance. The loading system, which was semi-automatic on the original Firtina, has been upgraded to an entirely automated system, which also allows the gunner to select from any one of four ammunition types at will. Furthermore, the ammunition system is modified to introduce temperature-controlled stowage and a vacuum system intended to improve the safety of the stored charges. The temperature of the propellant is fed into the Aselsan FCS to provide a more accurate ballistic solution. Situational awareness for the crew of four is improved through the addition of personal consoles, as well as a driver’s vision system with thermal and daylight channels. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
02 May 19. Armadillo TA-2 70mm rocket launcher set for qualification trials. A prototype of the Armadillo TA-2 70mm mobile tactical rocket launch system, which was developed by Brazilian privately owned company Mac Jee Indústria de Defesa, will undergo qualification at the Brazilian Army Evaluations Center (CAEx) in Rio de Janeiro later this year.
The activity will include mobility and fire testing. The Armadillo TA-2 system was unveiled at LAAD Defence & Security 2019 exhibition in Rio de Janeiro in early April, where it was displayed mounted on a modified AM General M1152 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). The weapon system is designed to installed on any new-build 4×4 tactical vehicles, or adapted to an existing type fielded by the customer. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
01 May 19. Lockheed Martin: Sixth-Generation Fighter Could Have Laser Weapon. Lasers to counter unmanned aerial vehicles and sensors to scan the horizon, scrambling an adversary’s electronic equipment while relaying information to other systems – all packaged in a stealthy airframe – could be possible for a sixth-generation fighter, according to experts at Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin officials provided the media a view of electronic warfare in the near future during a media briefing Wednesday. The High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance (HELIOS) system is at the core of Lockheed Martin’s electronic warfare work.
The company expects to field a ship-based HELIOS system aboard an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer in 2021. However, technological advances are helping the company shrink the size of HELIOS from what is due for installation aboard a ship to what can possibly fit onto an airframe, said Tony Wilson, a Lockheed Martin F-35 test pilot.
“Being a tactical pilot in today’s age is really exciting. During my time, I’ve seen the leap from fourth-generation to fifth-generation, with the integration of stealth and sensor fusion,” Wilson said. “What I’m really looking forward to is the next generation leap. That’s a sixth-gen fighter, where we not only take stealth and sensor integration, but we start adding things like directed energy weapons, drone swarm control.”
For Lockheed Martin, their HELIOS pitch to the military includes how the system offers an infinite magazine, is powered by the ship’s existing power-generation system, is a precision low-cost-per-kill weapon and will be integrated with the Aegis Combat System, said Brendan Scanlon, Lockheed Martin’s HELIOS program director.
“From a fighter’s perspective, we always want more gas, more weapons,” Wilson said.
Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin experts are taking a close look at how adversaries conduct electronic warfare, with the intent of developing capabilities to be shared by the service branches and used on various platforms, said Steve Allen, Lockheed Martin’s Information Operations and Solutions Director.
The recent conflict between Russian and Ukrainian forces provided Lockheed Martin experts a wealth of information, Allen said. The company was able to evaluate the Russians’ communications-jamming and electronic attack capabilities and glean what type of radar technologies they use for offensive purposes.
With a new understanding of how Russian capabilities have grown and what technologies they’re using, Allen said, “we’ve looked at that and said, okay, what are the capabilities or the products we have now that are strategic?” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/USNI)
01 May 19. Aselsan reveals Gökdeniz naval close-in weapon system. Aselsan unveiled its new close-in weapon system (CIWS) for naval platforms at the International Defence Industry Fair 2019 (IDEF 2019) exhibition, held in Istanbul from 30 April to 3 March. The CIWS carried the designation ‘Gökdeniz’, although it was previously known as the Korkut-D CIWS, after the Korkut land system from which it is derived. The company stated in a press release that the system completed firing trials in May 2018 under the supervision of Turkey’s Presidency of Defence Industries and the Turkish Naval Forces Command. During the trials the system was used to autonomously engage a high-speed target drone designed to represent a sea-skimming anti-ship missile. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
01 May 19. IBCS advances toward operational capability. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has delivered to the U.S. Army the first production-representative engagement operations center (EOC) for the Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS). Northrop Grumman has delivered to the U.S. Army the first production-representative engagement operations center for the Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS).
“This milestone is testament of the significant progress toward operational capability that will make pivotal differences to warfighters, commanders and acquisition officials,” said Dan Verwiel, vice president and general manager, missile defense and protective systems, Northrop Grumman. “We will be delivering more EOCs as well as IBCS integrated fire control network (IFCN) relays in the near future. These articles will be used for initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E), which informs future production decisions.”
The delivered IBCS EOC has completed all functional configuration audits for major configuration items and system verification review, and is representative of the production configuration for hardware and software that will undergo qualification testing before IOT&E. Northrop Grumman is on pace to deliver 11 EOCs and 18 IFCN relays for the IBCS program by the end of the year.
“Northrop Grumman will continue to closely collaborate with our customer and user communities to realize the groundbreaking vision of IBCS and its transformative impact on the air and missile defense mission,” said Verwiel.
IBCS is a paradigm shift for IAMD by replacing legacy stove-piped systems with a next-generation, net-centric approach to better address an evolving array of threats. The system integrates disparate radars and weapons to construct a far more effective IAMD enterprise. IBCS delivers a single integrated air picture with unprecedented accuracy as well as broader surveillance and protection areas. With its truly open systems architecture, IBCS allows incorporation of current and future sensors and effectors and enables interoperability with joint C2 and the ballistic missile defense system.
IBCS is managed by the U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
30 Apr 19. Dutch army acquires new mortars. The Dutch Ministry of Defence (MoD) published a request for information (RFI) for the procurement of 81mm mortars on 23 April. A long-term framework agreement is to be signed covering the entire operational life of the weapon system for about 20 years. The initial requirement is for 122 mortars, several types of 81 mm ammunition, initial spare parts, documentation, training, and sighting equipment, including 39 automatic aiming systems for armoured infantry.
The deadline for bids is 24 May, to be followed by the invitation to be sent to the selected candidates on 21 June. The evaluation criteria for bids are weighted as follows: 60% fulfilment of requirements, 30% component certification, and 10% price. The RFI for 81mm mortars followed the Dutch MoD’s signature of a framework contract with Hirtenberger Defence Systems of Austria on 17 April for 60mm mortar ammunition. The new mortar rounds are scheduled to be delivered in May, and the contract covers the next five to seven years. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
01 May 19. NIOA growth surges on back of export order confirmation. Queensland-based NIOA has welcomed joint venture partner Rheinmetall Waffe Munitions’ (RWM) announcement that the first orders for artillery shells produced in Queensland have been confirmed by the German Bundeswehr. Earlier in the month, RWM announced a five-year, $173m contract for the supply of 32,000 rounds to the German Defence Forces. The framework of the contract allows for an option of a further 11,000 rounds worth $58m.
Under the joint venture agreement between RWM and Brisbane-based NIOA, the two companies will form a consortium to invest in a $60m facility in Maryborough, Queensland and create up to 100 direct, long-term and highly skilled jobs in the Maryborough and Fraser Coast region.
The consortium is also seeking support from the Queensland government to finalise arrangements around the new facility. Rheinmetall and NIOA have a significant partnership across a range of munitions products and services in Australia including delivery of Rheinmetall’s Future Family of Artillery Ammunition under the LAND 17-1C2 program.
Visiting the Maryborough site this month, Werner Kraemer, CEO Rheinmetall Waffe Munition and chairman of RNM, announced that the shells for the order will be supplied from the soon to be constructed RNM Maryborough factory.
“Australia is, for us, one of the three major export markets we’ve looked at. We get huge support from the government side, not only in supporting the investment, but also going for the export business,” Mr Kraemer said.
Robert Nioa, managing director of NIOA and director of RNM, said, “We want to create a sustainable sovereign munitions manufacturing capability here in Australia and this first order for the Maryborough Forging Plant, being for export to the German Defence forces really underpins this vision.”
Construction of the $60m state-of-the-art munitions forging facility in the regional Queensland city of Maryborough is expected to commence in the second half of 2019 and be fully operational by 2022. In full production, the facility is expected to create up to 100 new jobs in the Fraser Coast region.
NIOA is an Australian-owned company and one of the largest suppliers of munitions to the Department of Defence. The company has partnerships with many of the world’s leading munitions manufacturers, including Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems (previously Orbital ATK), Vista, Day and Zimmerman, Junghans, and Nitrochemie. NIOA maintains and exercises reach-back arrangements with engineering and technical support partners to provide specialised design, analysis and test services for the weapons systems we supply and support. NIOA facilities are unique in Australia and provide specialised services and products to Defence and law enforcement agencies across Australia and New Zealand. (Source: Defence Connect)
30 Apr 19. Qatar to arm F-15QAs with Harpoon Block 2 anti-shipping missile. Qatar is to equip its recently procured Boeing F-15QA Advanced Eagle combat aircraft with the Boeing AGM-84L Harpoon Block 2 anti-shipping missile, it was disclosed on 29 April. The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Precision Strike Weapons Program Office (PMA-201) said that it is to issue Boeing with a sole-source contract to conduct the integration work on behalf of the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF). A contract award for the procurement of a test asset is anticipated for the fourth quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2021, and work is anticipated to last for 26 months. Qatar has ordered 36 F-15QA aircraft as part of a wider build-up of its combat aviation capabilities. Production began in August 2018, with deliveries set to run through to the end of 2022.
Measuring about 4.5m in length and weighing close to 700kg, the turbojet-powered Harpoon has been around since the mid-1970s. The Harpoon Block 2 specifically is designed to engage a wide variety of targets, both on land and at sea, such as coastal batteries, surface-to-air missile sites, aircraft and airfields, port or industrial facilities, as well as ships tied up in harbours.
The missile is guided by a Global Position System (GPS) and an Inertial Navigation System (INS) and is reported to have a range of 124km. As noted by Jane’s Air Launched Weapons , for littoral anti-surface warfare against targets close to land, the missile would receive shoreline data before launch; GPS guidance during the mid-course flight; and during the terminal phase of the attack the seeker would ‘blank’ land returns to acquire the target. For attacks upon targets in port or on land, the missile would be launched and make its usual low-level approach, but would place greater reliance on the GPS-aided INS to avoid land or ships in a course that can incorporate up to eight waypoints. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
30 Apr 19. Raytheon Company’s (NYSE: RTN) advanced high power microwave and mobile high energy laser systems engaged and defeated multiple unmanned aerial system targets during a U.S. Air Force demonstration. The mature HPM and HEL technologies offer an affordable solution to the growing UAS threat. The HEL system, paired with Raytheon’s Multi-spectral Targeting System, uses invisible beams of light to defeat hostile UASs. Mounted on a Polaris MRZR all-terrain vehicle, the system detects, identifies, tracks and engages drones.
“Countering the drone threat requires diverse solutions,” said Stefan Baur, Raytheon Electronic Warfare Systems vice president. “HEL and HPM give frontline operators options for protecting critical infrastructure, convoys and personnel.”
Raytheon’s HPM uses microwave energy to disrupt drone guidance systems. High power microwave operators can focus the beam to target and instantly defeat drone swarms. With a consistent power supply, an HPM system can provide virtually unlimited protection.
“After decades of research and investment, we believe these advanced directed energy applications will soon be ready for the battlefield to help protect people, assets and infrastructure,” said Dr. Thomas Bussing, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president.
Raytheon’s HEL and HPM were the only directed energy systems that participated in this Air Force experimentation demonstration. The event expanded on previous directed energy demonstrations such as a U.S. Army directed energy exercise held in 2017.
30 Apr 19. Aerojet Rocketdyne begins development of solid rocket motor facility. Aerojet Rocketdyne has commenced the development of a 17,000ft² engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) facility in a continuing expansion of its Camden, Arkansas, US, solid rocket motor centre. The facility is expected to open next year and will expand Aerojet’s solid rocket motor production capability in Camden.
It will serve as the developmental gateway to future large solid rocket motor projects, including the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent programme, hypersonics and missile defence targets.
Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president Eileen Drake said: “Once open for business, the EMD facility will be the newest and most modern rocket development facility in the nation.”
The expansion is supported by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Calhoun County and the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said: “We’re thrilled to see Aerojet Rocketdyne continue to grow in Camden, and we appreciate the investments they make in South Arkansas and in our nation’s security.”
With a workforce of 800, Aerojet manufactures 75,000 solid rocket motors per year for a range of programmes, including tactical missiles and missile defence. The company has been operating in Arkansas since 1979.
Aerojet announced in August last year that it would increase the workforce to 900 over the next three years.
Drake added: “Our longstanding partnership with the great state of Arkansas continues to yield impressive results.”
Aerojet Rocketdyne is a provider of propulsion systems and energetics to space, missile defence, tactical and strategic systems areas.
In March last year, the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) tested an upgraded insensitive explosive developed by it in partnership with Aerojet to support the Mk-82 500lb and Mk-83 1,000lb general purpose bombs. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
29 Apr 19. Australia wants to sell India its next CQB rifle — here’s what they’re offering. Since 1989, the Australian Army has used a domestically produced version of Steyr Arms’ Armee-Universal-Gewehr (Universal Army Rifle, or AUG), officially known as the F88 Austeyr, as its standard-issue service weapon. A joint partnership between Thales Australia and the Kalyani Group now plans on offering the Indian military an export version of the F88 for the country’s new carbine requirement.
India is currently in the midst of a massive rearmament program that will see its army phase out older weaponry in favor of a combination of newer westernized hardware, popular with NATO member states, as well as Indian-designed and produced guns and kit.
Gear Scout earlier reported that India would be buying 72,400 SIG716 battle rifles and an unknown number of Caracal CAR816 carbines as part of a $503m contract. Later on, The Firearms Blog reported that the expected tally of CAR816s was just around 95,000.
The F88 export variant, dubbed the F90, was originally offered as a competitor to the CAR816, but will now be entered into a separated competition geared towards supplying the Indian Army with a new closer quarters battle (CQB) carbine.The F90 with an optional SL40 40mm grenade launcher (Photo Lithgow Arms)
According to the solicitation posted by the Indian Ministry of Defence, the CQB carbine needs to be chambered in 5.56×45 mm NATO, must possess a minimum effective range of 200 meters (218 yards), and has a 5 Minute Of Angle accuracy or better, out of the box.
Thales Australia and the Kalyani Group hope that the F90 will be exactly what the Indian military is looking for. Built under license from Steyr by Lithgow Arms, the F90 is designed to be highly modular and can field a 40mm SL40 under-barrel grenade launcher as well as a slew of other accessories and optics on its Picatinny rails.
The F90 comes with three barrel lengths — 360 mm, 407 mm and 508 mm. Thanks to its bullpup layout, the maximum length of the gun with its longest barrel is 802 mm. For a comparison, the M4 carbine comes in at 840 mm with its standard 370 mm barrel. A two-stage trigger gives the operator the ability to fire in either a semi-automatic mode with the first stage of the pull, or a 3-round burst with the second stage.
A considerable part of the Australian decision to buy and field the original Steyr AUG as the F88 was the fact that it’s a bullpup rifle, meaning that the receiver, firing mechanism and magazine were located behind the pistol grip and trigger. This allows for a longer barrel to be used on a more compact frame, making the gun far more maneuverable and accurate.
As revolutionary as the F88 may have been at the time of its adoption by the Australian Army, it hasn’t exactly gone without criticism, especially from Australian special operations units.
In fact, the rifle was so poorly received by the country’s elite Special Air Service Regiment, modeled after the UK’s top-tier SAS, that the unit opted to buy more M4 carbines and limit their usage of the F88.
Special operators found themselves tangling with a rifle that wasn’t ergonomically suited towards being comfortably wielded by an end user kitted out with body armor, thanks to the F88′s oversized butt stock.
Additionally, magazine changes often pried away the user’s eyes from the fight due to the awkward positioning of the mag well.
These issues could potentially pose a threat to the F90′s candidacy. However, should the F90 be successful, the Indian government plans to buy over 360,000 rifles, all of which would hypothetically be produced in Indian factories. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military Times)
29 Apr 19. Is autonomy the next frontier for hypersonic vehicles? Yuri Gagarin, first human to travel to space, is less well known as the holder of a second record from that same flight: the first human to travel at hypersonic speeds through the earth’s atmosphere, which he accomplished on the descent. Hypersonics, the broad term for anything moving through air at Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, has been a field about established trajectory, about enduring and returning and landing where intended from launch. On April 25, Sandia National Laboratories announced a proposal to add autonomous navigation to hypersonic vehicles.
Hypersonics themselves are hardly new technology. At White Sands in 1949, the United States pushed a modified V-2 rocket to a speed of 5,150 miles per hour, making it likely the first human-produced object to reach hypersonic speed, though the rocket was destroyed in the testing. By 1981, Albuquerque’s Sandia Labs had conducted the “Sandia Winged Energetic Reentry Vehicle Experiment,” which yielded information about hypersonic vehicles if not useful prototypes. Sandia also worked on the Strategic Target System program from 1985 into the 1990s, which explored guidance systems at hypersonic speeds, and has worked on other hypersonic projects in the years since.
The latest initiative, then, is less about the physics of hypersonic flight, and more about the software guiding flight decisions at hypersonic speeds.
“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. Sandia Labs is looking to AI as a way around the difficulty of planning hypersonic flight in advance of launch.
The announcement comes nestled in a release about a new research coalition that the Lab is spearheading, called Autonomy New Mexico. Broadly focused on AI for aerospace systems, the coalition includes 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.
As envisioned, the artificial intelligence aboard a hypersonic vehicle tackles the complex problems of superfast navigation and offers options to human controllers, who remain in the loop.
“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 Sandia Labs release read. “A human monitoring the flight could regain control by turning off the course-correcting function at any time.”
As with all autonomous systems, hypersonic autonomy will require a robust combination of sensors and onboard processing. Complicating matters will be the fact that a hypersonic vehicle is designed to operate at speeds usually reserved for astronaut atmospheric reentry. Incorporating meaningful communication between a human controller and the hypersonic vehicle is not impossible, but it is largely a task that risks being subsumed by autonomy. If the machine can already suggest the courses of action a human operate will want it to take, it isn’t hard to imagine humans trusting the autonomous machines, and then surrendering the role of human decision-making in the launch.
Is it possible for in-the-loop control to endure at hypersonic speeds?
Further implementation questions abound for Sandia Labs and Autonomy New Mexico, after they’ve tackled if autonomous sensing and navigation is possible in a vehicle hurtling over 3,836 mph. That’s to say nothing of the difficulty in identifying and adjusting trajectories to hit new targets. There’s a long road ahead for hypersonic autonomy, and it’s unclear if the entire premise is sound. (Source: Defense News)
29 Apr 19. Russia to develop CTAS for combat vehicles. The Russian defence industry has begun working on a cased telescoped armament system (CTAS) for light- and medium-armoured combat vehicles, a domestic defence industry source has told Jane’s.
“Rostec design bureau, TsNIITochMash, has already launched a programme to develop a CTAS. The terms of reference for the new gun are now being drafted and will soon be confirmed. The bureau has defined the calibre of the new gun; it is planned to fire a newly developed 45 mm-cased round,” said the source.
Preliminary work to develop a Russian-designed CTAS began in early 2010, according to the source. “Unfortunately, it temporarily ceased and now TsNIITochMash has to evaluate this technological experience and embed it in the new programme,” the source added. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
28 Apr 19. Belarus unveils Buk-MB3K SAM system. Belarus-based defence industrial group TSP OKB announced on 15 April its latest surface-to-air missile (SAM) system Buk-MB3K. According to the Belarusian state military and industrial committee, the system has a self-propelled firing unit equipped with a newly developed S-range solid state phased array AESA radar capable of detecting air targets at ranges up to 130km. The radar can perform automatic target detection and tracking, measuring the primary data of an aerial target, including azimuth and range, and the radial speed in both active and passive modes.
The system is capable of automatically classifying targets such as helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, cruise missiles, balloons, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and can produce bearing data on different jamming sources. The system uses its radar and electro-optic equipment to automatically carry out all-round air targets searches and classification.
The company claims that the radar can effectively operate against active counter fire and intensive electronic counter-countermeasures.
The system features an automated mobile command-and-control battle management station that is fully integrated within the air-defence network, ensuring communications and data sharing between the different components of the air-defence missile system and its control system and radar. It also features a control network that ensures reliable operation of all systems, as well as automatic diagnostics of equipment.
The system is mounted on a four-axle truck MZKT-69225 produced by the Belarusian automobile company MZKT. The truck can carry up to 17,300 kg loads and travel at a speed up to 60 km/h.
“The Belarusian system’s reconnaissance, firepower, and manoeuvring parameters are on par with modern competing medium-range air-defence missile systems while the value for money ratio is rather attractive for a number of countries, which do not produce such weapon systems,” Belarusian state media said. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
28 Apr 19. TARANIS For Swiss Mortars. For the “8.1 cm mortar 19”-project, Switzerland has chosen the TARANIS Swiss Mortar System (TSMS) solution developed by ESG Elektronik System und Logistik GmbH as the future fire control system. TSMS is based on the German artillery’s ADLER III command and weapon control system (FüWES), which has proven its worth in the Bundeswehr for decades. TSMS ensures effective digital networking between observation, fire control, command and control and the “8.1-cm mortar 19” weapon system. The system integrates various sensors, such as thermal imaging and laser range finders, whether wireless or wired, as well as various means of communication. According to the armament programme 2019, Armasuisse intends to procure the mortar system “8.1cm mortar 19” between 2021 and 2023. Components are 81cm mortars from EXPAL, ammunition from Saab Bofors Dynamics and the TSMS fire control system from ESG described above. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
28 Apr 19. AK-12 At Victory Parade. According to news from Rostec the new AK-12 was noticed at the rehearsal of Victory Parade. Therefore it will be presented along with other new weapon systems at Red Square on May 9.
“This model belongs to a totally new level, it is reliable and has improved ergonomics, advanced combat qualities and is already being delivered to the military forces,” Rostec, to which the Kalashnikov concern belongs, stated. This model was developed within the framework of the Ratnik programme, that originally sought new tactical and combat equipment for Russian special forces, as an element of modernised version of weapon system for the Russian military troops and should gradually replace the AK-74M in the military forces.
The first batch of 2,500 AK-12 was delivered at the end of December 2018 to the Russian Ministry of Defence. In the next three years, the Russian Army will receive 150,000 AK-12 and AK-15 assault rifles. Both assault rifles, the 5.45mm AK-12 and 7.62mm AK-15, were officially approved and recommended by the Russian Ministry of Defence for use in infantry, airborne and naval infantry troops of the Russian armed forces in January this year.
Both rifles have modern ergonomics, increased hit probability and capabilities to effectively use all modern accessories, from red dot, night and IR sights to underbarrel grenade launchers, forward grips, lasers and flashlights, sound suppressors and more. AK-12 and AK-15 rifles share most of their assemblies, with key differences being in the ammunition used. AK- 12 is chambered for Russian Army standard issue 5.45×39 ammunition, while AK-15 is chambered for older, but still very popular 7.62×39 ammunition. www.kalashnikov.com (Source: ESD Spotlight)
28 Apr 19. IDE And Raytheon Team For Patriot. IDE announced the extension of its cooperation with Raytheon for the manufacturing of subsystems for the Patriot air defence system by signing new contracts. The new work allocated to IDE is worth $61,5m and scheduled to be completed by June 2021. A significant part of the project will be allocated by IDE to other Greek companies, thus positively contributing in the local industrial production and the financial strengthening of the country. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
26 Apr 19. The US Army is reworking enduring plans for indirect fires protection system. The U.S. Army has been on a path to incrementally develop an indirect fires protection capability to defend against rockets, artillery and mortars as well as cruise missiles and drones. But this year it plans to experiment with the makeup of an enduring system to map the way forward, according to the service’s project manager for cruise missile defense systems with the Program Executive Office Missiles and Space. There have been efforts to develop certain capabilities within the greater system, such as qualifying interceptors and internally developing a Multi-Mission Launcher, but the Army has decided to take a breath to evaluate its direction, Col. Chuck Worshim told Defense News in a recent interview.
The Army is shifting around its pots of funding within the IFPC program to pay for two Iron Dome systems — manufactured by Israeli company Rafael and American firm Raytheon — to fill an urgent capability gap for cruise missile defense on an interim basis. Congress mandated the Army deploy two batteries by fiscal 2020 in its fiscal 2019 budget.
“There is a new strategy working for the enduring IFPC program and we have some Army decision points along the way, based off of experimentation, that we are planning on doing this summer and into the fall,” Worshim said, “and that is going to help inform that enduring IFPC solution. What you will get is a new program strategy for that enduring IFPC program.”
From an experimentation perspective, the Army is looking at what are the best components that can be integrated into the IFPC system from sensors to shooters — essentially “what is the optimal mix?” Worshim said.
“Those components could be some of the Iron Dome components or they could be American components, whether it be the Sentinel radar and things like that,” he said.
Iron Dome uses its Multi-Mission Radar, and the Army is upgrading its Sentinel radar from the A3 version to the A4 version down the road to add capability.
But at the heart of IFPC will be the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System — or IBCS — which is a command-and-control network into which sensors and shooters can plug.
IBCS is already under development for the Army’s future Integrated Air and Missile Defense system that will replace the Patriot air and missile defense system. The service is also in the process of choosing the right sensors and shooters for the new air and missile defense system.
The IBCS will allow sensors and shooters to easily be plugged in or swapped out down the road, but it’s still in the development and testing phase. It’s expected to reach initial operational capability in FY22, which is roughly a four-year delay from its original schedule, but accounts for the added IFPC mission.
Through experimentation, the fate of some efforts within the program will be determined. The Army has spent years developing its Multi-Mission Launcher, but could end up choosing something else.
The Multi-Mission Launcher “could be a component,” Worshim said, “but it could also be the missile fire unit from Iron Dome … but it could also be a yet-to-be-determined-or-defined launcher that is developed.”
The Army is continuing with its effort to qualify future interceptors for the IFPC program. “We are still looking at potential candidates, and it’s actually going through a tech verification phase right now,” Worshim said.
The service awarded three $2.6m contracts in the first phase of the Expanded Mission Area Missile program that aims to qualify a second interceptor for IFPC, having already chosen one interceptor — the AIM-9X Sidewinder missile. Lockheed Martin will develop its Miniature Hit-to-Kill missile, and Raytheon will work to qualify SkyHunter — otherwise known as Iron Dome’s Tamir missile — and an interceptor based on the Accelerated Improved Interceptor Initiative.
Most of the experimentation will take place at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, through lab-based work combined with predictive analysis, Worshim said.
“We have a very limited time to do this experimentation, to come back and … inform Army senior leaders and make a recommendation of what that optimal mix looks like moving forward, and that really sets the basis for the enduring program,” he said. (Source: Defense News)
26 Apr 19. US Air Force provides X-60A hypersonic flight test details. The US Air Force (USAF) plans to use the first two test flights of its X-60A GOLauncher1 (GO1) hypersonic flight research vehicle as capability demonstrations before using further test flights for experimentation, according to a key official.
Doug Dolvin, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) research leader for hypersonic flight research and experimentation, told Jane’s on 25 April that the first test flight will perform sustained Mach 5 speeds while the second test flight will exceed Mach 6. The capability demonstrations, he said, will be used to validate system engineering.
Dolvin said the first two flight tests will be performed at the Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville, Florida, and will fly south off the coast of Cape Canaveral. The USAF, he said, will have radar track and telemetry capture on the ground from the 45th Space Wing located at Cape Canaveral.
The USAF, Dolvin said, planned its first X-60A test flight for March 2020 and its second flight six months later. The goal, he said, is to deliver a much higher cadence level, perhaps four flights per year.
“This will enable us to be much more responsive,” Dolvin said during AFRL’s 2019 Lab Day at the Pentagon. “If one of the weapon system development programmes has an element they cannot address and falls through the gap, we can grab that technology and get to flight on the order of 4-6 months.”
The X-60A can fly to a test condition, throttle back and hold that test condition, and engage in a different test condition all in the same flight. Dolvin said these test capabilities include the altitude, the Mach number, and aerothermal conditions. He said the X-60A’s active control system also allows the air force to deliver different trajectories and conditions and induce different missions. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
25 Apr 19. Off the Eastern Seaboard, a US Navy missile test could make big waves. A test announced in late March could herald an enormous change in the way the Navy modernizes its ships, while making a once prohibitive cost of maintaining older ships attainable.
The Navy destroyer Thomas S. Hudner participated in a live-fire missile exercise using an Aegis “virtual twin” system, which the service is developing to significantly reduce the hardware footprint inside a ship needed to run the Aegis combat system.
When the Navy built its Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, installing the Aegis combat system into the hull required a large suite of hardware — computers, servers, consoles and displays — designed specifically to run Aegis software. Any significant upgrades to the suite of systems already installed, or to the Aegis system in general, required cutting a hole in the ship and swapping out computers and consoles — a massively expensive undertaking.
The virtual twin upends that model. According to a Naval Sea Systems Command news release, the virtual twin system is carried on the ship in rugged cases that, when stacked up,” are small enough to fit under a dining room table.”
“Thomas Hudner’s crew operated the Virtual Twin to fire a missile against an incoming target, proving the Virtual Twin can control radars and missiles to execute an engagement,” the release read. “Using virtualization technology, this system is able to run the AEGIS Weapon System code in a fraction of the original hardware space.”
Packing Aegis onto a handful of computers to control radars and sensors on the ship is a game-changer for the surface fleet and gets it closer to a goal that has eluded it for years: rapidly upgrading its combat system with the latest updates for far less money.
“The cost of Aegis baseline upgrades is outrageous,” said Thomas Callender, an analyst with The Heritage Foundation and a retired submarine officer.
The surface fleet, Callender said, is moving toward a system embraced by the submarine community that focused on rapid technology insertions into the combat system.
“We got away from the ’60s computer technology, where you had computers that took up an entire room, and moved towards cheaper and faster upgrades,” he said. “And if I can take out all that old equipment and swap it out for gear that takes up less space, I have space, weight, power and cooling now for other things like lasers.”
The model might also drive down the cost of modernizations. When the cruiser Normandy was equipped with the full Aegis Baseline 9 suite, which included new displays, consoles and a computer room full of powerful blade servers, it cost the Navy $188m and cost the ship a year pierside.
Common combat system
The virtual twin model also could move the Navy closer to putting a single combat system on every ship.
What the surface fleet wants is a single combat system that runs on every ship, and runs everything on the ship, and one that isn’t particular about the hardware running it, so long as enough computing power is available.
The goal here is that if a sailor who is trained on a big-deck amphibious ship transfers to a destroyer, no extra training will be necessary to run the equipment on the destroyer — all the systems and functionality will be the same.
“That’s an imperative going forward — we have to get to one, integrated combat system,” Rear Adm. Ron Boxall, the chief of naval operations’ director of surface warfare, said in a December interview at the Pentagon with Defense News.
The Navy is moving in that direction with the Common Source Library. Developed by Lockheed Martin, the CSL is essentially the operating system of an iPhone: The Navy can use it to program applications that run sensors and weapons systems. So if the Navy has a new missile system it wants to use, the software application to run it will be designed for use on the CSL — and ships with the CSL will be able to rapidly integrate it, just like downloading the latest navigation or gaming software for a smartphone. But the issue is that CSL requires specific hardware to function, said Tony DeSimone, chief engineer of Lockheed Martin’s Integrated Warfare Systems and Sensors unit.
“One of the challenges the Navy has, the constraints, is the hardware and infrastructure to support a [common integrated combat system],” DiSimone said during a roundtable with reporters late last year.
“So while we are marching forward with the capability to be open and take in apps, there is an antiquated architecture out there, and there is hardware that doesn’t support it,” he said. “You can’t run [integrated operating] systems today on UYK-43s. You’re just not going to be able to do it. So let’s gut them and put some blade servers in, and we’ll work with you.” The UYK-43 was once the Navy’s standard 32-bit computer for surface and submarine platforms.
Enter the virtual twin.
If the Navy can replicate all the form and function of a larger Aegis Combat System suite on a few computers that can be carried on a ship, and that system is hooked in with the Common Source Library, it has the potential to make upgrading older equipment on older ships less expensive by using much less hardware that can be carried on as opposed to having to cut a hole in the ship to install it. And it could allow those ships to run the latest and greatest Aegis software.
Lockheed designed the CSL to work in the virtual twin, noted Jim Sheridan, vice president of naval combat and missile defense systems at Lockheed.
“Everything we build for the Common Source Library is designed so the architecture is applicable to a virtual environment,” he said in an April 24 telephone interview.
Practically, that means that older ships can run their older systems with a virtual twin, while also getting the latest functions for newer Aegis versions, which are all packed into the Common Source Library.
There will still be a role for combat systems integrators, however, if the Navy adopts a virtual twin construct, especially when dealing with older platforms with older systems.
“I think it’s important that we not walk away from the system engineering required to make sure it has the redundancy that’s required, making sure we don’t leave any legacy interfaces behind as we go forward with virtual environments on ships,” Sheridan said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
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