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09 May 19. Images emerge of DT-30PM based Magnolia artillery system. Images emerged on the internet on 7 May of what appears to be Russia’s developmental Magnolia self-propelled howitzer based on the DT-30PM articulated tracked vehicle.
The images show a DT-30PM, a large tracked articulated vehicle designed for use in the Arctic, with the rear module modified to carry a turret with a large calibre gun. The entire system was being carried by a heavy equipment transporter, and the rear module is mostly covered with a tarpaulin.
In November 2017, the TASS news agency cited the chief of the Russian Ministry of Defence’s missile and artillery department, Lieutenant General Nikolai Parshin, as saying the Magnolia 120 mm self-propelled artillery piece on an armoured articulated tracked chassis was among the equipment being worked on for units deployed in the Arctic. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
08 May 19. Pulat APS displayed on M60 main battle tank. To meet a Turkish Land Forces Command (TLFC) urgent operational requirement, Aselsan has developed the Pulat hard-kill active protection system (APS) that leverages technology from the Zaslon – Light (Zaslon-L) APS developed in Ukraine. Pulat APS is to be installed on TLFC M60TM main battle tanks (MBTs) that were previously upgraded under an earlier urgent requirement for deployment on the Turkish border. The example of the M60TM, shown at IDEF 2019 in Istanbul, was also fitted with an Aselsan telescopic mast-mounted sighting system on the left side of the turret with a stabilised sensor pod including day charge-coupled device (CCD) camera, thermal camera, and a laser rangefinder. It also had an Aselsan camera suite to provide situational awareness through 360°.
Pulat consists of a power distribution unit (PDU), control panel, and a so-called anti-threat module (ATM) that consists of a millimetre-wave radar and anti-threat munition. Aselsan has not released detailed technical capabilities of its Pulat APS.
The original Zaslon-L from the Ukraine, however, is claimed to provide 80% protection against rocket-propelled grenades with a single HEAT warhead, 80% against rocket-propelled grenades with a tandem HEAT warhead, 80% against all types of anti-tank guided weapon, 70% against artillery projectiles with a calibre of up to 125 mm, and 60% against tank-fired armour-piercing projectiles with a calibre of up to 125 mm with a maximum velocity of up to 1,200 m/s.
Method of operation is the same as Zaslon in that the radar detects the incoming threat and, when within range, the cylindrical munition is activated and neutralises the threat using a dense cloud of fast-moving splinters. The number of ATMs depends on the size of the platform, but to provide an MBT with 360° protection would typically require up to six modules. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
08 May 19. US Army to Put Laser Weapon on Stryker Combat Vehicles. The US Army’s acquisition chief Bruce Jette has confirmed that the U.S. Army has plans to equipped Stryker combat vehicles with a modern laser weapon systems. Soldiers at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, have already been able to take down small unmanned aerial systems with a laser at the 10-kilowatt level.
Mobile Expeditionary High Energy Laser (MEHEL), a Stryker equipped with a 5-kW laser, has successfully engaged targets, including unmanned aerial systems, during Maneuver Fires Integration Experiments at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and at the Joint Warfighting Assessment in Germany. At both MFIX-18 and JWA 18.1, the MEHEL was operated by Soldiers.
This is just one system, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s Technical Center is seeing positive results from its four efforts: High Energy Laser Mobile Test Truck, High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator, Mobile Experimental High Energy Laser, and Multi-Mission High Energy Laser.
Strykers with 50-kilowatt lasers will take a few more years to develop until they can begin to be fielded in 2024, Lt. Gen. James Pasquarette, the Army’s deputy chief of staff also added.
A 100-kilowatt laser on a larger vehicle, called the High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator, will also be tested against a variety of targets in fiscal 2022.
“When you try to shrink all that down and keep a continuous beam, it becomes very difficult,” Bruce Jette said. (Source: UAS VISION/Defence Blog)
08 May 19. Smart drones to command and launch smarter missiles. The future of war is a synergy in euphemisms, launched as a co-branding event. AeroVironment — maker of missile systems, including the one-way guided flying “switchblade” missile — announced May 7 that it is partnering with Kratos, maker of target and combat drones. The desired effect is cheap but smart drones to launch cheaper but smart missiles. It’s an attempt at answering a question that has plagued the United States since the dawn of the jet age: As the costs of piloted craft go up, can anything be done to restore a numerical advantage in the sky?
“AeroVironment tube-launched small unmanned aircraft and tactical missile systems to be integrated with Kratos high-speed, low-cost attritable drones to dramatically enhance situational awareness and system effectiveness,” reads the announcement. Switchblade is tube-launched, and it flies like a small unmanned aircraft up until the point where it hits its target and explodes. “Tactical missile system” is the formal term, though it’s also known as a kamikaze drone or a suicide drone. Its flight time is too short to lump it in with the larger category of “loitering munitions,” but they’re kindred spirits in function. As sensors got cheap and powerful and small, smart missiles with drone-like navigation systems became possible.
The high-speed low-cost attritable drone made by Kratos is the Mako, an adaptation of the company’s BQM-167 Aerial Target. Like the roughly $900,000 apiece target it’s based upon, the Mako is designed to be cheap enough that it can be fielded in numbers and replaced without straining the Pentagon’s budget. (In 2017, the combat-capable Mako was pitched as costing between $1.5m and $2m each. Not cheap in most senses, but relative to the going rate for a fifth-generation fighter, it’s a bargain.)
Taken together, the Switchblade and the Mako could be “attritable aerial assets,” flying things that are useful, but not so expensive that losing them drastically alters the ability of commanders to direct fights or of pilots to win them. Cheap and flying alone doesn’t win much on its own; the craft have to prove that they can actually perform the tasks assigned them.
Here, here is that crucial synergy.
Kratos and AeroVironment are working together to see if the Mako can launch, communicate with and control Switchblades. The larger drone would serve as a node in a network between a human and the airborne munition. The exact location of control, between the drone and the flying munitions and the human directing them, is unclear. Would the Switchblades seek targets based on what the Mako’s sensors could spot? Would that information get relayed to the human controller in time to approve of or call off the strike? These are questions that can be answered in the course of a development. If the combination of drone mothership and munition wingmates works, it could reduce the overall material cost of conducting an airstrike, while likely leaving unchanged the potential human toll. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
08 May 19. The USMC has been looking at Israel’s Iron Dome to boost air defense. As the Marine Corps faces down advancing military capabilities from Russia and China and contends with the proliferation of drone tech among small terror groups the force is rapidly on the hunt for air defense systems.
To build its air defense arsenal the Corps is eyeing a number of technologies, including Israel’s Iron Dome system, known as SkyHunter in the U.S., according to Marine Corps briefing slides prepared for the Senate Armed Services Committee and obtained by Marine Corps Times via a Freedom of Information Act request.
Israel’s Iron Dome system is produced by both Raytheon and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. It has been in service in Israel since 2011, and since its fielding has a nearly 90 percent success rate, blasting more than 1500 targets, according to Raytheon.
According to the Senate briefing, the Marine Corps sought limited funding in fiscal year 2019 to begin testing and integration of the SkyHunter system with the Corps’ Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar, or G/ATOR.
The G/ATOR is a mobile short- and medium-range radar system capable of tracking air breathing targets, cruise missiles, rockets and artillery, and already is fielded by the Corps.
The briefing slides detailed that the Corps has considered mounting the launchers and Iron Dome’s Tamir rockets on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV, and Oshkosh’s Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement truck, or MTVR.
An MTVR configured launcher could support a mix of 20 missiles, and the smaller JLTV system would boast a mix of only four missiles but would be highly mobile, the briefing slides highlighted. No other details were available in the slides. The Marine Corps confirmed to Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement that it was interested in the SkyHunter system, but said it would not “discuss testing, its outcomes or future results at this time.”
The Iron Dome system has proven highly capable of countering incoming rockets and drone systems fired or launched from Gaza and Syria.
The system was just recently employed Friday and Saturday against a barrage of rockets that Israeli Defense Forces claim were fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas groups in Gaza.
A press release from the Israeli Defense Forces detailed that more than 240 of 690-plus rockets fired into Israel were intercepted by the Iron Dome. Four Israelis were killed and 130 wounded in the rocket attacks, according to the press release.
Defense News reported in June 2018 that Raytheon and Rafael were seeking U.S. markets for the Iron Dome system and were looking at emerging U.S. Army requirements for a maneuverable short-range air defense system.
At the Eurosatory defense exposition in June 2018, a Defense News story said Rafael showcased an Iron Dome system dubbed I-Dome, which incorporated the launcher, command system and radar onto a single vehicle.
The Iron Dome system underwent a demonstration at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, in September 2017, Defense News reported.
And in February the U.S. Army was considering buying two Iron Dome batteries.
The Marine Corps is also looking at Stinger-fired and directed-energy, vehicle-mounted, ground-based air defense systems.
Already fielded by the Corps is a Polaris MRZR mounted electronic attack and tracking system that can blast drones out of the sky. It is called the Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System, and already has deployed with the 13th and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Units. (Source: Defense News)
08 May 19. Can South Korea’s defense shield thwart the North’s new short-range missile? North Korea’s recent firing of a new type of short-range missile is raising questions about the feasibility of South Korea’s missile defense capability. On May 4, North Korea fired a salvo of rockets and tactical guided weapons near the east coast city of Wonsan, marking the first military provocation in 17 months, during a live-fire drill reportedly attended by its leader Kim Jong Un. The projectiles flew 70-240 kilometers before crashing into the eastern waters off the Korean Peninsula, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Shin Jong-woo, a senior analyst at the Seoul-based Korea Defense and Security Forum, analyzed photos of the weapons systems released by the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency a day after the test launch.
“The newly tested weapon, which had been made public during a military parade last year, appears to the Russian Iskander look-alike,” he said. “The design of wings and warhead shown in the photos resembles that of Iskander, and the North Korean missile seems to copy the solid-propellant, single-stage guided missile of the Russian precision ballistic missile complex.
“The number of wheels for the transporter-erector-launcher is also [the] same.”
Shin Won-shik, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the new ballistic missile type might be able to penetrate South Korea’s missile defense systems.
“The Iskander missile is known to be capable of maneuvering at different altitudes and trajectories during flight so as to evade anti-ballistic missiles,” the retired three-star general said. “The South Korean missile shield has been developed with a focus on coping with existing ballistic missiles, such as Scud and No Dong missiles, so there are questions if the current missile defense plans are fitted for thwarting the newer missile threat.”
South Korea is on track to build its own low-tier missile shield dubbed the Korea Air and Missile Defense system or KAMD — a network that includes Patriot Advanced Capability-2 and -3 interceptors, ship-based SM-2 missiles, and locally developed medium-range surface-to-air missiles. The U.S. Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system was deployed in the southern part of South Korea in 2007 to augment the low-tier, terminal-phase KAMD.
South Korea also has an operational plan to preemptively destroy key North Korean military targets should the North show signs of a missile launch or cross-border attack. The plan is part of the so-called Kill Chain program involving airborne early warning and surveillance assets, precision-guided missiles from fighter jets and ground-based systems.
“The Kill Chain is based on the premise that our military can detect, track and strike targets prior to [an] enemy’s real attacks,” Shin said. “Compared to liquid-fuel missiles, solid-fuel missiles could be fired faster and have greater mobility. In the worst-case scenario, the KAMD and Kill Chain systems may need to be redesigned to thwart the newer threats.”
North Korea’s new missile was likely upgraded from the North’s KN-02 Toksa missile, also modified from the Russian OTR-21 Tochka short-range ballistic missile, according to Shin Jong-woo.
“North Korea has long been developing Russian-origin missile technologies, [though] it’s unclear if the communist regime would have taken those technologies from a third country operating Iskander systems, such as Syria and Algeria,” he added.
Developed in the 1970s as a replacement for the Scud short-range ballistic missile, the Iskander is a road-based mobile launch system that can fire several models of ballistic and cruise missiles. It is said to have at least seven types of missiles with different conventional warheads, including a high-explosive fragmentation warhead and nuclear warheads.
The missile is known to have a range of up to 500 kilometers and controlled with gas-dynamic and aerodynamic control surfaces. It uses small fins to reduce its radar signature.
“The missile is potentially capable of conducting strikes on all areas of South Korea, including key American military installations,” according to Kim Dong-yub, an analyst at Kyungnam University’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies. “What worries most is the missile could carry a nuclear warhead with up to 500 kilograms.”
About 28,500 American forces are stationed in South Korea. The U.S. military’s main headquarters is based in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of the capital Seoul.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played down the North Korean missile threat in an interview with ABC News on Sunday, noting the missiles are “relatively short range” and “landed in the water east of North Korea and didn’t present a threat to the United States or to South Korea or Japan.” (Source: Defense News)
07 May 19. The US Navy is eyeing a big change to its new stealth destroyers. The U.S. Navy is considering a significant change to its new stealth destroyers, one driven by the change of mission announced in last year’s budget documents, the head of the program said May 7 at the Sea-Air-Space conference. The service has been struggling to find a use for the ship’s advanced gun system — the largest of its type fielded by the service since World War II — and now is considering stripping them off the platform entirely, said Capt. Kevin Smith, the DDG-1000 program manager at Program Executive Officer Ships.
The Navy sidelined the guns after the service truncated the buy to just three ships, and after the ammunition, called the Long-Range Land-Attack Projectile, ballooned in price to more than $800,000 per round.
“The guns are in layup,” Smith said. “We’re waiting for that bullet to come around that will give us the most range possible. But given that that is offensive surface strike, we’re going to look at other capabilities potentially that we could use in that volume.”
The ships shifted missions from land attack to ship-hunting and -killing last year. The Navy is integrating the SM-6 missile, which has a surface-attack mode, and are integrating the maritime strike Tomahawk to fill out the new capabilities.
In April testimony, the Navy’s top requirements officer, Vice Adm. William Merz, told Congress that the slow development of the Advanced Gun System was holding back the Zumwalt.
“Even at the high cost, we still weren’t really getting what we had asked for,” he said. “So what we’ve elected to do is to separate the gun effort from the ship effort because we really got to the point where now we’re holding up the ship.”
The Navy has touted the ship’s excess space, weight, power and cooling as advantages the service would want throughout the ship’s life. Everything from directed energy and electromagnetic rail guns to electronic warfare equipment has been floated as add-ons to the Zumwalt-class destroyers.
The Navy got in its present pickle with the 155mm/.62-caliber gun with automated magazine and handling system because the service cut the buy from 28 ships, to seven, and finally to three.
The AGS was developed specifically for the Zumwalt class, as was the LRLAP round it was intended to shoot. There was no backup plan, so when the buy went from 28 to three, the costs remained static, driving the price of the rounds through the roof.
The program itself is coming along, said Smith.
The Zumwalt is going through trials as its combat system installation wraps up; the Michael Monsoor is heading into the yards for its combat system installation; and the Lyndon B. Johnson is nearly 85 percent complete.
The remaining work on Johnson involves running cables, painting spaces and otherwise putting the finishing touches on the ship. The ship will then leave Bath, Maine, and head toward its home port of San Diego, California.
“We’re going to energize high voltage in September, lighting off the generators in the spring, then we’ll be going to test and activation for the [hull, mechanical and electrical systems], trials in the fall, then delivery.” (Source: Defense News)
07 May 19. AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), the leader in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and tactical missile systems (TMS), and Kratos Defense & Security Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: KTOS) Unmanned Systems Division, the leader in high-speed, tactical drone targets and unmanned aircraft, today announced a new strategic relationship to develop and demonstrate highly integrated and operationally effective multi-domain unmanned system solutions for near-peer, denied environments.
“AeroVironment’s small unmanned aircraft systems and tactical missile systems have transformed the way ground forces train, equip, plan and operate to deliver battlefield superiority,” said Trace Stevenson, vice president and deputy general manager of AeroVironment’s UAS business. “Working with Kratos, an innovative host aircraft partner, together we are developing and will demonstrate the integration of tube-launched UAS and tactical missile systems into long-range, high speed and low cost unmanned systems for their transport and delivery into near-peer, denied environments.”
“With sufficient onboard autonomy, sensors, payloads and an integrated system design, we aim to demonstrate the deployment of large quantities of smart systems that overwhelm and disable enemy systems, while bending the cost curve to make it financially prohibitive for unfriendly nations to challenge our armed forces,” Stevenson added.
“Kratos and AeroVironment offer complementary capabilities while sharing an intense focus on disruptive and affordable unmanned aircraft solutions for the DoD,” said Steve Fendley, president of Kratos Unmanned Systems Division. “Deploying AeroVironment’s tube-launched UAS and tactical missiles from Kratos’ highly survivable, long-range jet UAS creates an exciting opportunity to substantially increase the effectiveness and stand-off range of our existing technologies. Using internal funding, Kratos rapidly developed and demonstrated the Mako Tactical UAS in 2015, proving the speed advantage of the internal funding approach. By teaming together and investing in this capability in support of the American warfighter, Kratos and AeroVironment seek to further enhance our nation’s defenses with an affordable, comprehensive mission solution that will be ready in months, not years.”
Kratos and AeroVironment’s first collaborative project is designed to demonstrate the ability to launch, communicate with, and control a small, tube-launched loitering aircraft from a larger runway-independent unmanned aircraft. The overall system-of-system effectiveness will be evaluated for its ability to coordinate the effects of the smaller AeroVironment systems, relay useful information back to the Kratos mothership, and either pass information back to a ground control station or act upon that information to modify mission taskings.
07 May 19. Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) will integrate the Naval Strike Missile into the U.S. Marine Corps’ existing force structure under a $47.59m Other Transaction Authority agreement with Marine Corps Systems Command. A USMC NSM supports the 2018 National Defense Strategy and Commandant of the Marine Corps modernization efforts.
NSM is a long-range, precision strike missile that can detect and destroy heavily defended land and sea targets at long distances. In 2018, the U.S. Navy awarded Raytheon a contract to manufacture and deliver NSM as the Navy’s over-the-horizon weapon system for littoral combat ships and future frigates. The Marine Corps’ selection of the Navy’s anti-ship missile enhances joint interoperability and reduces costs and logistical burdens.
“This fifth-generation missile adds another dimension for sea control operations and for protection from adversary warships,” said Kim Ernzen, vice president of Raytheon Air Warfare Systems.
NSM is the latest product produced in partnership with Norway and its defense leader Kongsberg. A mobile, land-based NSM is deployed with Poland’s coastal defense forces.
07 May 19. DroneBullet is a Kamikaze Anti-Drone Missile. AerialX, a six-year-old company based in Vancouver, Canada, drawing on its expertise in areas like machine vision and unmanned aircraft, and combining that with its contacts in the defense world, AerialX has created a patent-pending anti-drone solution called the DroneBullet.
The DroneBullet is described by Kenig as a “hybrid between a missile and a quadcopter.” It is, in essence, a kamikaze drone which looks like a miniature missile, but boasts the maneuverability of a quadcopter. With a takeoff weight of 910 grams, this pocket rocket has a four kilometer range and is able to reach speeds of up to 350 kilometers-per-hour in a dive attack. It’s designed to lock onto enemy drones and then doggedly pursue them; ultimately crashing into them and knocking them out of the sky.
“We started out developing our own drones,” Kenig said. “At a certain point, we realized that the industry had become crowded. We then started working on counter-drone technologies. One solution we started working on was the drone forensic toolkit, which lets people retrieve crashed drones and analyze their flight information. We’ve also worked on detection systems for drones. Finally, we started work on the DroneBullet.”
The DroneBullet is launched by hand. All an operator needs to do to deploy it is to identify a drone target in the sky and then let the DroneBullet take care of the rest. Packed into its relatively small form factor are a camera and various neural net-based components, which allow it to do the necessary onboard number crunching to calculate things like the optimal trajectory and flight path it needs to hit its foes.
“It can track objects autonomously and will even work out exactly where to hit its target, depending on its speed and whether [its target is] a quadcopter or fixed wing drone,” Kenig continued. “That could be from above, below, or from the side. It works out where the weak spot is and goes after it. If it sees a small drone like a Phantom, it will hit it full-force from below. If it’s a bigger target, it can change the attack mode and attack from above. That’s usually the most sensitive part for drones, where the GPS module and multiple exposed propellers are housed.”
Designed for military and law-enforcement
Unlike a conventional missile, the DroneBullet doesn’t pack any explosives. All its devastating power comes from the kinetic energy supplied by its impact. Should it survive its initial collision (something which certainly isn’t guaranteed), it possesses the ability to recalibrate in order to pursue a second target or return to the ground.
“It can operate in two types of scenario,” Kenig said. “It can be both a standalone system and also work with third-party detection systems. That means that it could be linked to radar or vision-based systems, and then deployed autonomously.”
Last year, AerialX demonstrated its creation for the United States Special Operations Command (USSOC). This trial was carried out at the Fort Bragg, North Carolina military base.
“It involved showing the technology on various drones, from small-sized ones to much larger ones,” he said. “We demonstrated our DroneBullet’s capabilities to eliminate the aerial threats.”
Kenig said that the company has received purchase orders from both the military and law enforcement, in the U.S. and overseas. (It won’t, however, be available for consumer purchase — so abandon those dreams of using it to put paid to your annoying neighbor’s early Sunday drone flights!) (Source: UAS VISION/Yahoo Finance)
07 May 19. USAF tests laser weapon system to shoot down air launched missiles. The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has used a ground-based test surrogate laser weapon system to shoot down multiple air-launched missiles in flight. The demonstration represents a key milestone for the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) programme.
The service performed a series of tests of the Demonstrator Laser Weapon System (DLWS) at the High Energy Laser System Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range.
DLWS, acting as the surrogate for the SHiELD system, showcased its ability to engage and shoot down several air-launched missiles in flight during the tests.
The demonstration validates the effectiveness of the laser system against the target missiles.
Under the SHiELD programme, the US Air Force (USAF) is developing a directed energy laser system on an aircraft pod.
The system, which will be installed on an aircraft, is intended to demonstrate self-defence of aircraft against incoming surface-to-air (SAM) and air-to-air (AAM) missiles.
According to the USAF, the final SHiELD system will be much smaller and lighter. In addition, it will be ruggedised for an airborne environment.
AFRL Directed Energy Directorate director Dr Kelly Hammett said: “This critical demonstration shows that our directed energy systems are on track to be a game changer for our warfighters.”
High Energy Laser technology is expected to bring new capabilities to troops.
AFRL commander major general William Cooley said: “The successful test is a big step ahead for directed energy systems and protection against adversarial threats.
“The ability to shoot down missiles with speed of light technology will enable air operation in denied environments. I am proud of the AFRL team advancing our airforce’s directed energy capability.”
In November 2017, AFRL awarded a contract as part of the SHiELD programme to Lockheed Martin for the design, development and production of a high-power fibre laser to be tested on a tactical fighter jet. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
08 May 19. Israel Chafes As US Reported To Block David’s Sling Export Bid. The Swiss want a new anti-missile defense system and asked for bids. We’re hearing the US leaned on Israel so Rafael did not submit a bid. Israel, as this story makes clear, really does want to bid.
The United States has apparently pressured Israel to keep its David’s Sling anti-missile system out of a Swiss competition for an anti-missile system in favor of Raytheon’s Patriot system. The Swiss asked for bids and, we’re hearing, the US expressed concerns to Israel. As a result the Israeli maker of David’s Sling, Rafael, did not submit a bid. Israel, as this story makes clear, really does want to bid for the Swiss competition.
“This situation is only the tip of the iceberg,” a senior Israeli defense industry source told Breaking Defense on April 28. “Israel, with all its gratitude to the U.S, cannot surrender easily as was the case here,”
Behind the strange situation there is a very deep built-in and unresolved ambiguity, that is part of the vast and complicated defense relations between the U.S and Israel.
The first big acquisition clash between the two countries was in the 1980’s when the U.S killed the Israel Lavi fighter aircraft program. This happened after Israel had built three prototypes and they were in advanced test flights.
Next came the proposed sale of the Israeli ballistic missile interceptor, the Arrow, to South Korea. Here again Washington said no. The South Koreans persisted and demanded that they be allowed to buy the system’s Green Pine radar. They succeeded.
The most recent example is when Britain decided to buy an advanced AEW systems. Israel offered a system made by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) integrated in a G-500 business jet. The British did not even consider this proposal and bought Boeing’s Wedgetail E-7.
In this latest tussle between the two close allies, when the Swiss government decided to procure new advanced aerial defense systems that can cope with medium range rockets and missiles it issued a tender. The RFI was sent to Rafael, to Raytheon and to the French company that makes the Eurosam.
The Swiss need advanced systems to replace the Bloodhound BL-64 surface-to-air missile.
Earlier this year Raytheon made an official proposal for its PAC-3 Patriot. Eurosam offered the SAMP/T system, using the Aster 30 missile. The Swiss government was surprised when it did not receive a Rafael proposal. This came after the company’s officials were told in non-official talks that the David’s Sling was “tailored ” to the Swiss operational requirements.
And from this point, the war began with the fighters hiding under the most advanced camouflage systems.
A senior Israeli rocket and missile defense expert, told Breaking Defense that there is no doubt that the Israeli system is the one that “fully” answers the Swiss operational demands.
He added that, as in the previous cases above, the signs are that Israel was “told” by Washington not to make an official bid.
“The Israeli system was developed with the help of the U.S FMF (Foreign Military Financing) funds, and in spite of the fact that Raytheon is the partner of Rafael in David’s Sling program, the U.S administration sees the interest of the American companies.”
Another source described this as “a very harming situation for the Israeli defense industries.”
While the publicly-held defense companies in Israel can try and resist such a “stay aside” demand, government defense companies such as Rafael can’t. Sources in some of the companies said there were ways for Rafael to join the Swiss competition but the Ministry of Defense “simply failed to use the opportunity.”
The Defense Ministry spokesperson was reluctant to comment on the situation, as was the spokesperson for Rafael.
Top defense sources told Breaking Defense that there is a very “slight possibility” that Rafael will be given a chance to compete. The sources pointed to some urgent meetings between “involved parties” that took place recently as an indication that the situation might change.
This all occurs in light of changes the US is demanding from Israel in how it uses US aid.
In the past, when the US provided Israeli with grants under the FMF program, Israel could convert 25 percent of the aid from dollars into shekels to buy Israeli products and support local R&D. But under the new 10-year FMF agreement signed in 2017, that percentage will gradually drop over time to zero.
Under the new agreement signed in September 2016, the US will pay Israel $34bn over the decade from 2019 to 2028 — but eventually all FMF funds will have to be used for the purchase of US-made systems. Combine that with President Trump’s Buy America efforts and Israeli arms exports may face major obstacles in the future. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
06 May 19. Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) and the U.S. Navy completed a new round of successful Excalibur® N5 munition test firings. The precision-guided projectiles demonstrated various short-, mid- and long-range capabilities. Designed to be fired from the Navy’s five-inch guns, Excalibur N5 is the sea-based variant of the revolutionary, extended-range, precision munition used by ground forces around the globe. The Excalibur weapon provides accurate, first-round effects at all ranges in all weather conditions.
“Excalibur N5 answers the Navy’s need for a sea-launched, precision-guided projectile,” said Sam Deneke, Raytheon Land Warfare Systems vice president. “N5 doubles the range of the Navy’s big guns and delivers the same accuracy as the land-based version.”
Excalibur is a true precision weapon, impacting at a radial miss distance of less than two meters from the target. Widely used by U.S. and international artillery forces, Excalibur has been fired more than 1,400 times in combat. The precision-guided projectile was co-developed by Raytheon Company and BAE Systems Bofors.
Besides N5, Raytheon has developed other variants such as the laser-guided Excalibur S, Excalibur HTK and Excalibur Shaped Charged Trajectory.
09 May 19. Safeguarding the seas: top naval air defence systems. Protecting the naval surface fleet requires specialised naval air defence systems, which combine autonomous sensor technologies with weaponry to detect and destroy aerial threats. What are the best systems in development? Naval air defence systems protect ships from missiles fired by enemy aircraft and surface craft. The latest generation of naval air defence systems are fully integrated with a ship’s electronic warfare defence system and some have autonomous targeting and firing capabilities.
What are the top naval air defence systems and with which navies are operating them?
The Russian-developed Pantsir-M (exported under the designation Pantsir-ME) epitomises an autonomous naval air defence system.
With its large thorax-like body complete with two six-barrelled GSh-6-23 autocannons for arms, and eight missile launchers on its shoulders that are capable of firing Hermes-K and 57E6 missiles, the Pantsir looks like a comprehensive defensive weapon system. Its suite of phased array radars, electro-optical and infrared targeting and identification system allow the Pantsir to intercept sea-skimming missiles that can avoid traditional radar systems.
Pantsir-ME’s ability to fire at a rate of 10,000 rounds per minute from its autocannons, and up to a distance of 20km, makes it effective against enemy surface craft and aircraft. It also has a reaction speed of three to five seconds.
Rosoboronexport recently showcased the latest generation Pantsir-ME at the Intenational Defence Exhibition (IDEX) 2019 in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
General Dynamics’ Phalanx
Currently in use with 20 national navies including the US Navy and Royal Navy, the Phalanx Close-in Weapons System (CIWS) developed by General Dynamics is a comprehensive automated defence system that can protect against anti-ship missiles, aircraft, and hard-to-detect high-G and sea-skimming missiles.
Using its M-61A1 Vulcan Gatling gun that can fire at a rate of 4,500 rounds per minute, in tandem with the Ku-band radar and forward-looking infrared radar (FLIR) imaging system, the Phalanx can automatically detect, track, engage and fire on an enemy threat, be it an anti-ship missile (ASM) fired from a surface vessel or high-speed fighter jet.
Phalanx is said to have an average firing range of approximately 3.5km and a muzzle velocity of 1,100m/s.
The Russian Navy’s Kortik CIWS (export designation Kashtan) is designed to protect ships against ASMs, anti-radar missiles, aerial threats from aircraft, and can also engage smaller vessels and ground targets.
The upgraded Kashtan-M variant features two 30mm six-barrel GSh-6-30K rapid-fire cannons, which can intercept approaching air targets at distance of up to 10km with missiles, and closer engagement with the gunfire at up to 4km away, according to a Rosobornexport factsheet.
The Kashtan-M’s integrated control system tracks targets and guides missiles through its 9M311-1E missile system, of which it has eight, plus the capacity to hold 24 missiles in total.
It is also equipped with a thermal imaging system for improved operability in adverse weather conditions. The Russian Navy will eventually replace the Kashtan-M with the Pantsir-M.
Thales Nederland’s Goalkeeper
The Goalkeeper CIWS developed by Thales Nederland (formerly Signaal) is an autonomous CIWS with short-range ASM defence capabilities. It is particularly advantageous against highly manoeuvrable missiles, fighter aircraft and fast attack surface vessels.
A key feature of the Goalkeeper is its two radar systems – the I-band search antenna and the I-band and K-band track radar – that work in tandem to prevent an enemy threat from detection to destruction.
Goalkeeper uses a 30mm seven-barrel GAU-8/A Gatling gun with missile-piecing discarding sabot ammunition that is fired at a rate of 4,200 rounds per minute, giving it enough power to destroy missile warheads.
In March last year, the Goalkeeper CIWS officially passed sea acceptance trials with the Royal Netherlands Navy.
Raytheon/Diehl Defence’s RIM-116 RAM
Developed by Raytheon and Germany’s Diehl Defence, the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) is an ASM system described by Raytheon as a “supersonic, lightweight, quick-reaction, fire-and-forget weapon”. Fire-and-forget missiles do not require further guidance after launch and can hit targets that are not necessarily in the line of sight of the launcher.
The RIM-116 RAM uses an MK49 guided missile system, which can hold 21 missiles, and an MK44 guided missile round pack. Together, these two components make up the MK 31 guided missile weapon system. It is supported by an M601A1 Gatling gun.
One of the key advantages is its versatility, as it can be integrated to a range of existing ship sensor suites.
It is currently in use on more than 165 ships belonging to 11 countries, on fast attack craft and aircraft carriers alike. The SeaRAM variant combines Raytheon’s RAM guidance technology with the Phalanx CIWS, which replaces the M601A1 Gatling gun in this variant.
MBDA’s Sea Ceptor
The Sea Ceptor is part of MBDA’s common anti-air module missile (CAMM) that includes a land and air variant. The naval version incorporates the latest electronic warfare and weapons system technologies to provide defence against all known air threats.
Sea Ceptor missiles are 3.2m in length and weigh just under 100kg. They provide 360° coverage and can cover a range of more than 25km at speeds of up to Mach 3 (3,704.4km/h).
The UK Ministry of Defence have been developing the Sea Ceptor to work on the Royal Navy’s Type 23 and Type 26 frigates, as the principal air defence capability. The Sea Ceptor officially entered service with the Royal Navy in May 2018. (Source: naval-technology.com)
07 May 19. Lockheed Martin anticipates HELIOS CDR in early 2020. The critical design review (CDR) for the Lockheed Martin High-Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler with Surveillance (HELIOS) system is planned for the first quarter of 2020, the company confirmed on 1 May during a press briefing in advance of the Navy League Sea-Air-Space conference between 6 and 8 May. HELIOS is to provide US Navy (USN) surface warships and other platforms laser weapon and other directed energy capability. The USN in March awarded the company a USD150m contract – with options worth up to USD942.8m – for the development, manufacture, and delivery of two high-power laser weapon systems, including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and counter-UAS capabilities, by fiscal year 2020. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
06 May 19. Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) successfully tested a hot fire rocket motor for DARPA’s Multi-Azimuth Defense Fast Intercept Round Engagement System, or MAD-FIRES.
The MAD-FIRES interceptor is designed to provide a robust and affordable self-defense capability that defeats multiple waves of anti-ship missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as other threats.
“The Navy is asking for leading-edge capabilities that can take out rapidly approaching targets, and Raytheon’s interceptor for the MAD-FIRES program will deliver,” said Dr. Thomas Bussing, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president. “This test shows Raytheon is right on track to provide an affordable, advanced technology to the fleet.”
If fielded, this capability will combine the speed, rapid fire and depth of a gun weapon system with the precision and accuracy of guided missiles.
06 May 19. Raytheon mine clearance package moves ahead with AQS-20C sonar, Barracuda effector. The US Navy (USN) now has 10 production Raytheon AQS-20C mine-hunting sonar units in the fleet, as the service hopes these can help shift to single sortie detect-to-engage (SSDTE) mine clearance missions. The AQS-20C has gone through testing but Raytheon and the USN are continuing to learn about how to use it, Randy Brandenburg, Raytheon’s seapower business development executive, told Jane’s. He expects there could be another competition for another production run, but the navy has not yet finalised or announced such a decision.
The C-model differs from the earlier AQS-20A largely through changes to the software, the forward-looking sonar, and some reliability improvements, Brandenburg said. The towed body is 3.2 m long, 39.2 cm wide, weighs 442.3 kg (outside of water), and provides 2.5 kW power.
The AN/AQS-20C is fitted with a Wide Band Forward Looking Sonar (WBFLS), a Gap Filling Sonar (GFS), and high-resolution side-scanning Synthetic Aperture Sonars (SASs).
Combined, the WBFLS, GFS, and SASs are designed “to detect and classify mine-like objects from the sea floor to the near surface in a single pass”, Raytheon said. “The high-resolution acoustic ID Sonar, with advanced Automated Target Recognition [ATR] capabilities, operates in conjunction with the electro-optic sensor to provide the identification capability essential to support a true autonomous, single sortie detect-to-engage mission.”
The electro-optics identification capability provides high-definition images of bottom mines using Streak Tube Imaging Laser (STIL) technology, Raytheon said. “The STIL technology provides the operator with both range and contrast data for post-mission analysis to aid in mine identification.”
The AQS-20C can be operated in four modes: Single Pass Shallow (SPS) for bottom and moored mine coverage in a single pass, Single Pass Deep (SPD) for moored mine coverage in deep water, Volume Mine (VOL) for coverage at four times the area search rate, and Identification (ID SPS) mode for bottom and moored mine coverage in a single pass with optical imaging of bottom mines. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
06 May 19. BAE Systems Sensor Technology Guides Next-Generation Missile to Readiness. BAE Systems worked closely with Lockheed Martin to deliver Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASM) to the U.S. Air Force, achieving Early Operational Capability (EOC) for the B1-B bomber ahead of schedule. The Air Force accepted delivery of production LRASM units following successful simulation, integration, and flight tests that demonstrated the missile’s mission readiness.
“We’re quickly delivering critical capabilities to warfighters to meet their urgent operational needs,” said Bruce Konigsberg, Radio Frequency (RF) Sensors product area director at BAE Systems. “Our sensor systems provide U.S. warfighters with a strike capability that lets them engage protected, high-value maritime targets from safe distances. The missile provides a critical advantage to U.S. warfighters.”
BAE Systems’ long-range sensor and targeting technology enables LRASM to detect and engage protected ships in all weather conditions, day or night, without relying on external intelligence and navigation data.
BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin are working closely together to further mature the LRASM technology. The companies recently signed a contract for the production of more than 50 additional sensors and are working to achieve EOC on the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in 2019.
The advanced LRASM sensor technology builds on BAE Systems’ expertise in electronic warfare (EW), signal processing, and targeting technologies, and demonstrates the company’s ability to apply its world-class EW technology to small platforms. The successful LRASM sensor program demonstrates the company’s ability to quickly deliver advanced EW technology to warfighters.
As part of the company’s electronic warfare capacity expansion initiatives, it locates key programs where they will be optimally staffed to quickly transition from design to production, accelerate deliveries, and improve product affordability. The company’s work on the LRASM program is conducted at state-of-the-art facilities in Wayne, New Jersey and Nashua, New Hampshire, where it benefits from highly skilled EW engineering and manufacturing workforces. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
03 May 19. US Army Will Cull Hypersonic & Laser Weapons Portfolios: Jette & Murray. While Congress wrestles with CH-47 cuts, Army leaders are already looking ahead to hard decisions on high tech. The US Army has let 100 high-tech flowers bloom on directed energy and hypersonics. It is now time to start pruning. After a two-hour House hearing on the service’s 2020 budget plan, the Army’s pointmen on modernization gave reporters a sneak preview of the 2021 budget, for which planning is already well advanced. While subcommittee chairman Donald Norcross focused on critiquing proposed cuts to venerable CH-47 Chinook helicopter — built at a Boeing plant just half an hour’s drive from his New Jersey district — the Army leaders he had grilled are already thinking about cuts yet to come on much higher-tech programs.
Offense, Defense, & Dollars
“We are looking across the entire investment portfolio for hypersonics and trying to figure out how we are going to start doing some consolidation,” said Gen. John “Mike” Murray. He was the Army’s funding guru — the deputy chief of staff for programming (G-8) — before becoming the first-ever chief of the newly created Army Futures Command last August.
“It’s too early for me to say ‘this program, that program, this program,’” he said, “but we know that hypersonics are going to be very expensive, and we’re going to have to make a decision on the exact path we’re headed down pretty quick.”
Is anything untouchable? “We’re not committed to anything at this point,” Murray told reporters, “until we figure out how we’re going to streamline the investment and make sure we’re investing against the No. 1 priority.”
Murray’s referring here to what the Army calls Long-Range Precision Fires — in essence, artillery, from howitzers to thousand-mile missiles — which is at the very top of the Army’s Big Six modernization priorities. Army artillery, called a “dead branch walking” at the nadir of Afghanistan and Iraq, is urgently upgrading to counter Russia and China, which have massive numbers of both field guns and non-nuclear missiles.
Besides shooting our own Mach 5-plus hypersonic weapons at the enemy, the Army also needs a better approach to missile defense — priority No. 5 — which is where laser weapons come in. While Star Wars-style blasters are a long way off, there’s near-term promise in defensive lasers to shoot down enemy drones, shells, rockets, and cruise missiles at a fraction of the cost-per-shot of a Stinger air-to-air missile, let alone a Patriot.
The Army’s seeing “great success” with experimental low-powered lasers to kill drones, Gen. Murray told the House Armed Services subcommittee, and the Army hopes to deploy a more potent weapon on the 8×8 Stryker circa 2023. It’s also developing a much larger and more powerful weapon on a heavy truck.
In fact, there are enough initiatives underway in directed energy — which includes high-powered microwaves as well as lasers — that it’s time to start culling the herd, the Army’s civilian chief of acquisition told reporters.
“In some cases, we have multiple programs; the issue then is to figure out how to bring them together,” said Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology (ASAALT). That does mean some programs will go away, he confirmed, caveating that “we don’t want to be too strict in that process at this point because … there’s still opportunities in more than one path.”
The Army is further along in figuring out its hypersonics portfolio than it is with directed energy, Jette said, because it started on hypersonics about two months earlier.
For both lasers and hypersonics, Jette went on, the Army is working with the other services — because they have to. “There’s not enough money to see if we can compete with the Air Force, the Navy, and DARPA,” he said. “The issue is we ought to find a way to leverage each others’ efforts to get to the right solutions for us.”
While the underlying technologies are the same, the implementation is going to be very different for the Army. “I don’t have a giant ship or a bomber,” Jette said. “I have to deal with it from the ground.”
Army heavy weapons are generally mounted on trucks or armored vehicles, which compared to bombers or warships have much less available space, weight, power, and — especially critical for lasers — cooling capacity. On the upside, ground vehicles don’t have to deal with either the constant vibration of an aircraft or the salty sea air that corrodes everything on a ship. All this makes for very different engineering, let alone tactics.
Reforms & Funding
To turn experiments into working weapons, the Army created a new Program Executive Office in December specifically for hypersonics, directed energy, and space programs (which for the Army means mostly satellite communications and navigation). It evolved from the Army’s two-year-old Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO), now reorganized, refocused, and renamed Rapid Capabilities & Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO).
Unlike all other Army PEOs, which have a one- or two-star director reporting to Jette, the RCCTO is led by a three-star officer, Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood, and answers to a high-level board consisting of:
- Jette, in his capacity as the service’s civilian acquisition executive;
- Murray, in his capacity as Army Futures Command chief;
- Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy, one of the most enthusiastic cheerleaders for reform;
- the Army Chief of Staff (currently Gen. Mark Milley, who’s nominated to chair the Joint Chiefs); and
- the Vice-Chief (currently Gen. James McConville, nominated to replace Milley as chief).
Once these six senior officials have approved a project, a RCCTO staffer said during a recent Association of the US Army conference in Huntsville, Ala., it’s exempted from a lot of the regular bureaucracy and protected from budget cuts.
To fund its new priorities, the Army has already cut back or cancelled outright some 186 programs in the budget plan, which covers 2020-2024. The service is now finishing up its proposal for 2021, said Lt. Gen. James Pasquarette, who succeeded Gen. Murray as G-8. The budget will go to the Office of the Secretary of Defense in August, then to the White House Office of Management and Budget, before finally being published and presented to Congress early next year.
The 2020-2024 proposal reallocated $33bn from lower-priority programs to the Big Six. That massive muscle movement required the Army’s top four leaders — Secretary Mark Esper, Undersecretary McCarthy, Chief of Staff Milley, and Vice Chief McConville — to spend over 60 hours in what staffers called “night court,” deciding the fate of every single Army program. Each hour for the four leaders, of course, required many hours of preparation and implementation by their subordinates — staff work Gen. Murray said he hopes to streamline with more use of computer models that automatically display the impact of each change.
The 2021-2025 plan will probably make smaller adjustments — but there will still be changes. This time, the top four leaders have delegated the program-by-program decisions to Jette and Murray. That puts them, more than ever, on point to make hard calls about the Army’s future. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
03 May 19. DARPA preparing to test fly two hypersonic weapons. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is eyeing flight tests later this year for two hypersonic weapons, and it is teaming up with the US Army on developing such a ground-launched capability. However, at the same time, army leaders are drafting plans to consolidate duelling lines of effort within their hypersonic weapons’ portfolio.
During a 1 May Defense Writers’ Group breakfast with reporters, DARPA Director Dr Steven Walker fielded questions about ongoing projects inside the Pentagon’s research arm including the development of two hypersonic weapons with the US Air Force (USAF) – the Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) and the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC).
“[They are] two very different concepts but when you’re talking hypersonic [weapons], it is good to have what I consider intended redundancy because it’s a hard technology, making materials and propulsion systems that last in 3,000° Fahrenheit temperatures is not easy,” Walker said.
The military envisions developing TBG as an air-launched rocket with speeds faster than Mach 5 and able to reach altitudes of nearly 200,000 ft. The HAWC is also designed to be air launched but is envisioned as a hypersonic cruise missile.
By the end of 2019, DARPA plans to flight test both weapons off a B-52 bomber. However, if qualifying challenges occur, Walker said the tests could extend into the early 2020 time frame.
“The bottom line is it is going to happen within a year from now and I think I’ll keep my fingers crossed for having some good success stories coming,” he added.
In addition to working with the USAF on TBG and HAWC, DARPA has partnered with the US Army on the Operational Fires (OpFires) development programme that is essentially a ground-launched capability with the TBG “front end”, Walker explained. As part of the effort, the agency and army have awarded three companies with Phase 1 base effort contracts, which include booster preliminary design and proof of concept testing to demonstrate key elements of the propulsion system. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
03 May 19. USAF test-launches Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. The US Air Force (USAF) has conducted a test-launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, US.
Equipped with a test re-entry vehicle, the Minuteman III was test-launched by a team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen from the 90th Missile Wing at FE Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, US. The objective of the operational test was to demonstrate the flexibility and readiness of the country’s nuclear deterrent against modern-day threats. A statement issued by the USAF noted that test launches are not performed as a response or reaction to world events or regional tensions.
Minuteman III’s re-entry vehicle comprised a high-fidelity package used for operational testing. The vehicle travelled nearly 4,200 miles towards a target positioned in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
The service stated that these test launches help it verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system.
Valuable data provided by the tests will ensure a ‘continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent’, the statement added.
576th Flight Test Squadron commander colonel Dave Kelley said: “The test launch is the culmination of months of hard work and preparation that involve multiple partners. I couldn’t be more impressed with the team that we partner with to successfully execute this mission.”
Boeing is the prime contractor and original equipment manufacturer for the Minuteman missile.
The ICBM is the land-based, silo-launched foundation of the country’s nuclear deterrence triad and began deployment in 1970.
The USAF intends to replace the Boeing LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM weapon system with the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD). Boeing expects deployment of GBSD to start in 2027.
Task Force commander major Travis Hilliard said: “Members of the 90th MW were selected for this task force based on their demonstrated commitment, dedication to the mission and proficiency in maintaining and operating the nation’s ICBM force.”
03 May 19. Roketsan develops Cida missile for urban warfare. Turkish company Roketsan has completed the conceptual development and verification phase of its Cida missile project. Designed for use in urban warfare, the shoulder-launched missile was displayed at the 14th International Defence Industry Fair (IDEF), held in Istanbul between 30 April and 3 May. Using semi-active laser guidance, Cida is intended to be a smart system that can be used at very short range, especially by troops who are facing ambush and improvised explosive devices in narrow streets, while avoiding collateral damage. The 70mm missile is 1 m long, weighs 7.5 kg, and has a range of 50-750m.
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