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13 June 19. US Air Force flight tests hypersonic missile on B-52 bomber. The U.S. Air Force successfully conducted a flight test of a hypersonic missile Wednesday at Edwards Air Force Base in California, according to a news release. The flight test collected data on drag and vibration impacts on the weapon and the B-52 Stratofortress carrying it. The AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon did not contain explosives and was not released from the aircraft, the Air Force said.
The service noted that such tests are required for all of its weapons systems during development.
“We’re using the rapid prototyping authorities provided by Congress to quickly bring hypersonic weapon capabilities to the warfighter,” Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, said in a statement. “This type of speed in our acquisition system is essential – it allows us to field capabilities rapidly to compete against the threats we face.”
The United States is working to catch up to adversaries Russia and China on hypersonic weapons technology. The Air Force awarded a contract to develop the hypersonic missile to Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in August 2018. The missile is scheduled to reach early operational capability by fiscal 2022. (Source: Defense News)
13 June 19. Arnold Defense to exhibit at the Paris Airshow for the first time with the State of Missouri. Arnold Defense, the St Louis based manufacturer of 2.75-inch rocket launchers, will be exhibiting for the first time at the Paris Airshow on the State of Missouri stand (Hall 3 #C-148). The 53rd International Paris Air Show will take place from 17 to 23 June 2019 at the Exhibition Center of Le Bourget, a few kilometers North of Paris.
Arnold Defense will be showcasing the ultra-lightweight LWL-12 rocket launcher weighing in at just over 60 pounds (27 kg) empty. The LWL-12 is a new 12-round 2.75-inch (70 mm) rocket launcher that is designed to save weight but also deliver more firepower. The LWL 12 launcher offers a lighter weight option to the M261 which is a 19-round 2.75-inch (70 mm) launcher primarily used on attack helicopters such as the Apache. The participation with the State of Missouri is a first for Arnold Defense.
Arnold Defense is the world’s largest supplier of rocket launchers for military aircraft, vessels and vehicles; they have manufactured more than 1.2 million 2.75-inch (70mm) rocket launchers since 1961 for the U.S. Armed Forces and a number of NATO customers. They design and manufacture rocket launchers that can be customized for any size, weight, capacity or form factor for platforms in the air, on the ground or at sea.
The State of Missouri offers many assets for companies and has recently been recognized as one of the fastest growing States in the union for technical job opportunities. It can offer a business climate that encourages growth to a highly skilled workforce and offers exceptional transportation and infrastructure. Missouri offers a variety of unique business advantages. It is considered to be first in offering corporate facilities and has won 3 awards for corporate investment. As part of an ongoing program to promote the companies based in the State, the Paris Airshow is one of many international exhibitions the State have been present at this year. All of this has helped make the State of Missouri one of the top performing states for export.
Jim Hager, President and CEO of Arnold Defense said “2019 has been a great year for Arnold Defense. Promoting our unique range of launchers at the prestigious Paris Airshow in collaboration with the State of Missouri, our home, will provide an excellent opportunity to showcase our continued innovation and dedication to providing only the best weapons systems to today’s modern warfighters”.
Meet the Arnold Defense team on stand # C-148 where you can see the LWL-12 and where Arnold Defense staff will be on hand to explain their systems to visitors and specific briefings and interviews can be facilitated.
13 June 19. Heckler & Koch — maker of the Marine Corps M27 — is in dire straits. For decades, German arms giant Heckler & Koch has served as the gold standard for military and civilian weapons manufacturing — building revolutionary and oftentimes game-changing rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers, submachine guns and pistols for a variety of customers including special operations forces, conventional infantry units and law enforcement agencies. After a lackluster 2018, reports indicate that H&K is now struggling to keep its head above water, with the hopes that boosting sales in FY2019 buys the company at least another year to come out of the red and fix the situation it’s in.
The Tactical Wire recently reported that German business journals have already predicted the end for what was once one of the most powerful arms manufacturers in the world.
In fact, the situation is so bad that, as The Firearm Blog reported just last month, H&K employees jointly voted to increase weekly work hours without paid overtime, as well as nixed a one-off payment of 400 Euros per head for the month of July, so as to provide their beleaguered company some form of relief.
A member of SEAL Team 8 wielding the iconic H&K MP5 submachine gun (US Navy photo by Milton Savage)
H&K’s financial woes stem primarily from diminishing sales, so much so that FY2018 would have seen the company tank had it not been for “two bridging loans from an unnamed major shareholder.”
As the company’s preexisting contracts with various international buyers are fulfilled, it has faced immeasurable difficulty generating new large-scale contracts with any of its products.
According to Neue Zürcher Zeitung, after KPMG conducted an audit of H&K in 2018, it was forced to insert a red flag warning that: “the lack of liquidity endangers the continued existence of Heckler & Koch.” KPMG went on to state that the only way H&K would survive going forward is to generate a considerable bump in revenue over previous years, or face bankruptcy.
Earlier this year, H&K completed production and delivery of the M27 IAR (a derivative of the HK416) to the US Marine Corps. However, contracts with countries in the process of revamping their small arms arsenals, such as Portugal, have failed to materialize with these countries opting for weapons from other manufacturers.
2019 has also seen the imposition of a multi-million dollar fine on H&K by a German court after it was discovered that the company violated Germany’s War Weapons Control Act through the illegal sales of rifles to Mexican states affected considerably by drug-trade violence.
H&K’s hopes more than likely rest in securing a massive contract yet to be tendered by the German government for the long-term replacement of the German army’s G36 assault rifles, another H&K product though one which didn’t necessarily live up to the next-generation hype that earlier surrounded it.
Whether or not H&K will win the contract is a completely different question altogether, as it’s also standard German defense procurement procedure to take into account the fiscal health and economic well being of the companies which have bid for larger contracts… and that’s not looking too good for H&K.
It should also be noted that H&K is currently in the process of reequipping the French army with HK416 rifles to replace the FAMAS bullpup rifle platform with an overall mass order of over 93,000 units. The Norwegian government also contracted the company to supply HK416s to the Norwegian Armed Forces earlier this year.
However, that might not be enough to save H&K.
Should H&K lose out on the German G36 replacement contract, this could spell the end for the 71 year-old German small arms producer, and a potentially new beginning for a restructured company in its place. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://www.militarytimes.com)
12 June 19. Iran unveils new SAM system. The Iranian military unveiled on 9 June a new surface-to-air missile (SAM) system named 15 Khordad: the Persian calendar date of an uprising in 1963. The Iranian Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) released coverage of an open-air ceremony attended by Defence Minister Amir Hatami who said the 15 Khordad can detect fighters at a range of 150 km and track them at a range of 120 km. The system can engage targets within a maximum range of 75 km and maximum altitude of 27 km. Hatami added that it can detect low-observable targets at a range of 85 km and engage them at ranges up to 45 km.
He also noted that the system can engage six targets simultaneously, is mobile, and can be brought into action in less than five minutes.
The MODAFL released photographs of the ceremony showing a single truck-mounted radar, as well as two launchers, each loaded with four missile canisters and with two different types of SAM displayed in front.
Although the SAMs’ names and alphanumeric designations were partially covered for the ceremony, they appeared to be a Sayyad-2 and a Sayyad-3: both types that have previously been unveiled. Hatami noted that the system uses the Sayyad-3 but did not mention the Sayyad-2.
Both the Sayyads have previously been identified as the missiles used with the Talash system. When its production line was inaugurated in July 2017, the missile was stated to have a maximum range of 120 km and a maximum altitude of 27 km. The shorter-range Sayyad-2 is one of at least two missile types that have been seen on the 3 Khordad system, which is similar to the Russian Buk-M2, with the missile launched from a rail instead of a canister. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
12 June 19. UVision Air Ltd. ‒ a global pioneer in the area of lethal loitering systems for a wide variety of missions ‒ will unveil the Hero-400EC’s Multi-Canister Launcher at the Paris Air Show. The new launcher is suitable for a wide range of land and naval applications. An advanced configuration of the Hero-120 with powerful multi-purpose warheads will also be introduced at the show.
Due to its long range and endurance capabilities, the Hero-400EC can be launched safely away from enemy lines from a modular multi-tube canister launcher mounted on a range of land or naval platforms. Weighing 650 kg including 6 munitions, the system can also be deployed in Forward Operating Bases and controlled from remote locations. Customers can choose from 4-12 lethal loitering munitions, which can be stored, transported and launched from the sealed canisters, making it a versatile asset on the battlefield.
The Hero-400EC is a long-range, high-precision Loitering munition system with a low acoustic, visual and thermal signature that can locate, track and strike static and moving targets with high accuracy, stealth and minimal collateral damage. Precision strike capabilities, extended endurance of up to 2 hours, and multi-purpose warhead ‒ including concrete piercing, anti-tank, and anti-personnel that handle different types of targets with exceptional accuracy ‒ enable long-range & versatile missions. Due to its exceptional maneuverability, the Hero-400EC provides an advanced mid-air abort capability that allows automatic re-entry into loitering mode, re-engagement, or return to the recovery area using a parachute.
According to Major General (Ret.) Avi Mizrachi, CEO of UVision, “As global leaders in the field of lethal loitering systems, we are constantly responding to urgent requirements from the field. The new, modular multi-canister launcher as well the new advanced edition of the Hero-120 were developed to answer those needs. These capabilities give combat forces better control on the battlefield and suit a wide variety of applications and scenarios.”
At the Paris Air Show, UVision will also introduce for the first time the new configuration of the Hero-120 ‒ a portable, modular, customizable loitering weapon system which can be fitted with a range of powerful multi-purpose warheads. The versatile, precision, multi-operational system with a unique aerodynamic structure can carry out pinpoint strikes against mid-range hard targets ‒ vehicles, tanks, concrete fortifications and personnel ‒ in populated urban areas or remote locations with minimal collateral damage. Its high-speed transit flight and low-speed loitering, BLOS capability, and rapid reaction in response to time-sensitive targets deliver a critical advantage in confined and populated battlefields. The lightweight, compact, highly maneuverable man-pack configuration, with extended endurance of over an hour and a loitering range of up to 40 km, can be independently operated by frontline forces, precisely striking time-sensitive targets from a wide variety of angles. Featuring low acoustic, visual and thermal signatures and fully gimbaled and stabilized day/night tracking, the Hero-120 delivers critical situational awareness with its advanced data link and real-time intelligence. Providing advanced abort and target re-engagement capabilities, it provides a whole new range of operational possibilities. Despite being a highly advanced weapon system, the Hero-120 is cost affordable, due to its recoverable option, using a parachute, while securing the warhead.
At the Show, UVision will also highlight the HERO series of Lethal Loitering Systems and will demonstrate an advanced simulation system, allowing a hands-on experience for visitors. The HERO Simulator is used for training forces on the HERO systems, thus avoiding the costs, risks and constraints inherent in live-fire missions. The entire HERO family will also be on display at the event.
12 June 19. Thales Australia welcomes GD-OTS rocket-assisted projectile contract. General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS) has been awarded a US$15m contract for the prototype and process development of a 155mm XM1113 rocket-assisted projectile round, a decision that has been applauded by supply chain partner Thales Australia.
A partnering agreement signed between Thales Australia and GD-OTS last year means the munitions can be provided to the Australian Defence Force, with negotiations ongoing to make this a reality.
Thales Australia said that the contract could lead to additional exports from their operations at Benalla and Mulwala, potentially securing and increasing jobs and investment for Thales and its local supply chain.
The XM1113 round can enable artillery to fire to a range of 40 kilometres, more than a 30 per cent increase from the US’ current M549A1 round.
“Thales is delighted to be associated with GD-OTS, and through our partnership to potentially offer and deliver a world-class capability to the Australian Defence Force,” Corry Roberts, vice president land, Thales Australia, said.
“This announcement could lead to additional export opportunities, securing and increasing jobs and investment for Thales and our local supply chain.”
The agreement will see the continuation of the partnership between Thales Australia and GD-OTS, which are working at strengthening Australia’s identified sovereign industrial capability in munitions and small arms research, design, development and manufacture, and the decision was enabled by the US government’s expanded definition of its national technology and industrial base to include Australia.
The XM1113 RAP uses rocket technology to deliver greater thrust, with a maximum range of 70 kilometres when fired from the US’ planned future Extended Range Artillery Cannon.
“The XM1113 RAP brings enhanced performance to the battlefield, increasing lethality and extending range for the cannon artillery warfighter. We are proud to support the Army’s modernisation initiatives to provide overmatch capability to the warfighter; and look forward to meeting the operational needs of our international allies,” Jason Gaines, vice president and general manager of munition systems at GD-OTS, said (Source: Defence Connect)
11 June 19. CZ-USA introduces the next generation of the Bren, the Bren 2 Ms Pistol, offered in multiple barrel lengths and two chamberings. Whatever your tactical shooting needs, there’s a Bren 2 Ms Pistol model just right for you. The original Bren 2 was developed as a select-fire rifle for the Czech military. However, the new Bren 2 Ms Pistol is a clean-sheet design, with a modular forend (hence the ‘M’) and is offered in semi-auto only (‘s’). The other most noticeable change is the strict weight-loss regimen the Bren 2 Ms has undergone. With a trimmed-down aluminum receiver and a lower made from carbon fiber-reinforced polymer, the Bren 2 Ms Pistol is a robust but substantially lighter firearm than earlier versions. Easier to carry, quicker to get on target, and durable enough for the toughest duty: that’s the new Bren 2 Ms Pistol. The Bren 2 Ms Pistol has also done away with the reciprocating charging handle of the past, replacing it with one that stays stowed in the forward position until needed. This change means less chance of the handle getting snagged on clothing, vegetation, and other items. Swappable from side to side, the new charging handle does double duty as a forward assist. CZ-USA has also added is an AR-style bolt catch/release system to the Bren 2 Ms Pistol that is mirrored on both sides of the firearm. This ambidextrous system allows for a faster, more efficient charging of the pistol. There’s even a catch/release nestled into the front of the Bren 2 Ms trigger guard. The magazine release and safety are also ambidextrous and located in very familiar locations for the many shooters well-versed in the AR platform.
Depending on a shooter’s needs and preferences, the Bren 2 Ms Pistol is available in one of six variations:
- .223/5.56 with an 8.2-inch barrel
- .223/5.56 with an 11.14-inch barrel
- .223/5.56 with a 14.17-inch barrel
- 7.62x39mm with a 9.0-inch barrel
- 7.62x39mm with an 11.14-inch barrel
- 7.62x39mm with a 14.17-inch barrel
AR-15 style magazines are used for .223/5.56mm models; CZ factory magazines are used for the 7.62x19mm models to ensure last round hold-open and consistent feeding. The magazines are swappable within the same caliber no matter what the barrel length. Want even more modifications? The Bren 2 Ms Pistol features a flush rear plate that allows you to attach an AR-style buffer tube for the installation of an arm brace, cheek rest or similar pistol stabilizing device. For those who wish to SBR, a Carbine buffer tube and stock can be installed, or the entire rear plate can be removed and replaced with a factory folding/adjustable stock. Whatever your tactical needs or mission, the Bren 2 Ms Pistol has your shooting covered.
Bren 2 Ms Pistol (six models) Specs
- Calibers: 223/5.56NATO or 7.62x39MM
- Barrel Lengths: 8.26 to 14.17 In.
- Overall Lengths: 19.9 to 25.8 In.
- Finish: Black
- Standard Mag Cap: 30 rounds
- Weight: 5.4 to 5.86 Lbs.
- MSRP (all models): $1,799.00
10 June 19. Active protection systems demo hits dead end for Stryker, Army evaluating next steps. After evaluating two active protection systems in a demonstration late last fall and determining neither were the right fit for the Stryker, the Army is now evaluating how to protect one of its critical combat vehicle.
“Unfortunately for Stryker, we have not found a system that is suitable for the platform,” Col. Glenn Dean, Stryker project manager told Defense News in a June 7 interview.
The Army has found interim APS for both its Abrams tank and Bradley infantry fighting vehicle but has struggled to find one for Stryker. The service has moved quickly to field combat vehicle protection against rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles while it develops a future system. The service originally considered Herndon,Virginia-based Artis Corporation’s Iron Curtain APS for Stryker, but decided in August 2018 not to move forward in fielding it to Stryker units.
In an effort to expand its search for an appropriate system, the Army then decided to host a demonstration in late fall last year of two additional systems: Rafael’s Trophy VPS and Rheinmetall’s Active Defense Systems.
Signs the demonstration wasn’t proving fruitful cropped up in March, when the service said they’d need extra time — an entire year — to evaluate options for Stryker. Dean said the Army was hoping they’d see promise in one of the systems at the end of the demonstration and be able to carry it through more complex characterization for better evaluation in order to make a decision.
But as the demonstration wrapped up, the Army decided neither would work.
“Both Rheinmetall and the medium-weight Trophy, both have maturity challenges, but the bottom line is that they turned out to not be a suitable fit for Stryker,” Dean said.
“We did see some potential in systems,” Dean said, adding, “it is our desire to continue to evaluate them further so we can understand them at a greater level of detail.”
Neither system received the same level of testing as Rafael’s Trophy on Abrams, IMI’s Iron Fist on Bradley or Iron Curtain, Dean said, and the systems could end up being the right fit for some future effort to outfit other vehicles such as the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle program’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, Mobile Protected Firepower and the Armored Multipurpose Vehicle, “none of which we have identified APS solutions for yet,” Dean said.
Through continued evaluation “maybe we will eventually learn something that brings us back to Stryker,” he added.
Unlike Bradley and Abrams, Stryker is a relatively light-weight platform, Dean said. “It has challenges in its space, weight and power integration. It has proven difficult for us to find a system that is entirely suitable for integration.”
And while no operational APS system evaluated so far seems to work for Stryker, the Army is still looking into ways to protect it as its value on the battlefield only increases with the addition of bigger guns and more expensive weapon systems.
Under the Vehicle Protection System (VPS) program office, the Army is working on reactive armor improvements focused on Bradley and AMPV, but that could be of particular value for Stryker, Dean said.
The Army’s laser warning program that is tied to the Modular Active Protection System (MAPS) program could also contribute to Stryker protection.
MAPS is a system under development with the Army featuring a common controller into which hard-kill and soft-kill protection can be plugged.
And the Army will be conducting a demonstration with layered hard-kill and soft-kill protection capability later this year as part of culminating exercise for its MAPS program, according to Dean.
“The soft-kill may ultimately prove to be particularly well suited for Stryker,” Dean said.
Those soft-kill systems are jammers and smoke systems that help obscure and tend to take up relatively little space and are less expensive then hard-kill APS that require the reloading of countermeasures.
The service is also studying what it may need for a future APS and plans to initiate a program in the late part of the next fiscal year, which could also be an opportunity to develop something more suitable for Stryker, according to Dean.
While the Army does have plans to protect its combat vehicles from rockets and missiles, in a June 6 letter sent to Army Secretary Mark Esper, a group of 13 House lawmakers expressed concern the service isn’t doing enough to outfit its current fleet with APS and asked the Army to explain why it hadn’t requested any further funding for APS upgrades in the budget
According to Dean, for Abrams and Bradley, “we are resourced to meet the requirements that we have on an urgent basis to outfit a limited number of brigades. We are doing analysis right now to support development programs of record in active protection.”
He added, “What we are buying is not the end of APS activity, but it is the urgent requirements we have been given.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
11 June 19. EOS Defense Systems USA in race to enhance US Army Strykers. The US subsidiary of Canberra-based EOS Defence Systems has secured funding to support the development of an up-gunned turret as part of the US Army’s Stryker Lethality Design Integration Study. Advances in Russian designed armoured fighting vehicles and tanks have prompted the US Army to initiate a series of modernisation and capability enhancements for its Double V-Hull A1 (DVH A1) Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles, which centre on the introduction of a specialised 30mm Medium Calibre Weapon System (MCWS). Based on an urgent operational need out of Europe, the Army was provided emergency funding from Congress in 2015 — a little over US$300m — to rapidly develop and field a Stryker with a 30mm cannon specifically for the US Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which is permanently stationed in Germany. This emergency funding also covered upgrades to 83 production vehicles plus spares. The US subsidiary of Canberra-based EOS Defence Systems; EOS Defense Systems USA has secured US$81,940 as part of the Stryker Lethality Design Integration Study alongside General Dynamics Land Systems, Kollsman, Leonardo DRS, Raytheon and Pratt & Miller Engineering and Fabrication. The companies have to come up with integration designs using a government-furnished XM813 gun on a government furnished Stryker DVH A1 hull. The MCWS program will be carried out in two phases that will culminate in equipping a Stryker DVH A1 brigade in fiscal year 2022, according to the Army.
The US Army’s request for quotation (RFQ) solicits contractors to perform a design integration study (DIS) to integrate a weapon station using a government-furnished XM813 gun. The XM813 is based on the Mk44 Bushmaster II designed and manufactured by Northrop Grumman and is offered as an upgrade for M1126 Stryker and M2 Bradley vehicles, as well as having been a contender to be the primary armament of the GCV infantry fighting vehicle.
Improvements include a one-inch longer barrel, integral mount to increase first round hit probability by up to 10 per cent, a dual recoil system to enhance accuracy and cope with future hotter propellants, and a Meggitt linkless dual feed ammunition system.
The 30mm chain gun can fire Mk310 Programmable Air Burst Munition rounds to attack targets in defilade. The US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command helped enhance the XM813 mainly for safety and turret integration, additionally, by changing five parts, the gun calibre can be increased to 40mm.
While the US Army plans to initially procure three brigade sets of the Stryker MCWS DVH A1 — a total of 83 vehicles per brigade — the service could procure systems for additional brigades at future decision points.
Unrelated to this opportunity in the US, EOS in Australia has tendered their T-2000 turret for the Australian Army’s LAND 400 Phase 3 project with partner Hanwha. The company’s T-2000 turret system is a collaborative development between EOS and Israeli Elbit Systems, providing a next-generation, medium-calibre turret and incorporates a number of key technology and capability enhancements, including:
- Unprecedented firepower with 30-40mm high performance cannon, 30mm lightweight cannon, and up to two 7.62mm GPMG;
- 21st century situational awareness, including see-through armour, laser warning and 360-degree radar;
- Integrated active protection;
- Anti-tank guided missile fully integrated and protected;
- UAS (unmanned aerial system) management port for UAS deployment and operation, as well as counter-UAS systems;
- Embedded training and crew procedural simulation; and
- A manned version, or unmanned version with no hull penetration. (Source: Defence Connect)
04 June 19. USS Preble to be first US Navy destroyer equipped with counter-UAS laser. The Pearl Harbor-based USS Preble will be the first US destroyer to be equipped with the Lockheed Martin high-energy laser to counter surface craft and unmanned aerial systems, say numerous press reports. The Preble will be outfitted in 2021 with the High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler With Surveillance system, or HELIOS ( https://www.unmannedairspace.info/counter-uas-systems-and-policies/us-navy-awards-lockheed-martin-usd150-million-contract-anti-drone-systems/).
This will be the first HELIOS deployment, with the all the US Navy’s destroyers to be equipped with the weapon system over the following years. The US Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a USD150m contract in March 2018, 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-Unmanned Aerial System (counter-UAS) capabilities,
“The HELIOS program is the first of its kind, and brings together laser weapon, long-range ISR and counter-UAS capabilities, dramatically increasing the situational awareness and layered defense options available to the U.S. Navy,” said Michele Evans, vice president and general manager of Integrated Warfare Systems and Sensors. “This is a true system of capabilities, and we’re honored the Navy trusted Lockheed Martin to be a part of fielding these robust systems to the fleet.”
HELIOS combines three key capabilities, brought together for the first time in one weapon system:
- A high-energy laser system: The high-energy fiber laser will be designed to counter unmanned aerial systems and small boats. The energy and thermal management system will leverage Lockheed Martin experience on Department of Defense programs, and the cooling system will be designed for maximum adaptability onboard ships. In addition, Lockheed Martin will bring decades of shipboard integration experience, reducing risk and increasing reliability.
- A long-range ISR capability: HELIOS sensors will be part of an integrated weapon system, designed to provide decision-makers with maximum access to information. HELIOS data will be available on the Lockheed Martin-led Aegis Combat System.
- A counter-UAS dazzler capability: The HELIOS dazzler will be designed to obscure adversarial UAS-based ISR capabilities. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
10 June 19. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. unveils it has successfully tested and demonstrated a new ATR (Automatic Target Recognition) capability for its SPICE-250 air-to-surface munition.
SPICE (250, 1000, 2000) is a family of stand-off, autonomous, air-to-ground weapon systems that attack targets with pinpoint accuracy and at high attack volumes, without depending on GPS navigation in GPS-denied environments. SPICE-250 has a standoff range of 100 kilometers, and can be equipped with either general purpose or penetration 75kg class warhead. This new and unique ATR capability is part of SPICE-250’s array of technologies which includes Automatic Target Acquisition (ATA) and Moving-Target-Detection homing modes, all of which are based on autonomous electro-optic Scene-Matching Algorithms. The newly-unveiled ATR feature is a technological breakthrough, enabling SPICE-250 to effectively learn the specific target characteristics ahead of the strike, using advanced AI and deep-learning technologies.
During flight, the pilot selects the target type to be attacked and allocates a target to each weapon. The weapons are launched towards the vicinity of the targets, using their INS for initial navigation. When approaching the target area, the weapons use the ATR mode for detection and recognition of the targets. Each weapon homes-in on the pre-defined target, either autonomously or with a human-in-the-loop, aided by the ATR algorithm. The combination of the increased loadout of SPICE-250, the unique homing methods for various scenarios, and the effective 75kg warhead, enables a high volume, autonomous and precise strike capability against multiple target types, with an assured very low collateral damage.
SPICE-250 uses a common aircraft interface and sophisticated Smart Quad Rack (SQR) which simplifies the effort needed for aircraft integration. Four SPICE-250 weapons are carried on each SQR. SPICE-250 can be directly mounted on light attack aircraft store stations, thanks to its small size and light weight. SPICE is combat-proven with the Israeli Air Force and in operational service with a number of international customers.
05 June 19. South Korea completes development of new 30mm SPAAG system. South Korea has completed development of a new 30mm self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (SPAAG) system based on the chassis of the Hyundai Rotem K808 8 x 8 armoured vehicle. The country’s Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) announced on 5 June that the system, development of which began in 2015, has successfully met all the requirements set by the South Korean military following final tests and evaluations. Developed by Hanwha for the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) under a KRW55bn (USD46.8m) project, the turret mounted on the vehicle is armed with a pair of stabilised and podded 30mm cannons, and features an electro-optical/infrared system enabling automatic day/night target tracking. The system has been designed to increase the force’s capabilities to engage aerial targets at low altitudes and to provide mobile and localised air-defence support for ground troops. According to the DAPA, the new SPAAG is not only more accurate but its range is also 1.6 times greater than that of the 20mm M167 Vulcan Air Defense System in service with the RoKA. According to Jane’s Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery & Air Defence, the M167 VADS has a maximum range of 2.2km and a maximum effective vertical range of 1.2km. Moreover, the induction of the new 30mm wheeled SPAAG, which can be integrated into a wider air-defence network, is expected to help reduce the number of RoKA personnel required to operate anti-aircraft systems. The DAPA pointed out that five major local defence companies as well as 200 small firms participated in this project, adding that more than 95% of the SPAAG system was made using indigenous technologies. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
07 June 19. Ukraine boosts mortar capability with four new systems. Ukraine’s defence industry has developed and begun building several new mortar systems, details of which were briefed at the recent Omega Mortar Systems Conference in Bristol, UK, by Major Petro Koliennikov, senior lecturer at the National Army Academy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
New mortars introduced by Ukraine include the 60mm M-60 Kamerton, 60mm KBA-118, 82mm KBA-48M, and 120 mm M120-15 Molot. These are now being offered for export. These mortars are of a similar design, consisting of a smoothbore barrel, circular or square baseplate, and bipod and sighting system. The 82mm and 120mm mortar systems feature a device on the muzzle to prevent double loading, which is also a feature of most Russian mortars. According to Maj Koliennikov, Ukraine has completed trials of the Bars 8 4×4 light armoured vehicle (LAV) fitted with the Spanish everis Aerospace and Defence and New Technologies Global Systems Alakran 120mm mortar system mounted in the rear, which can be rapidly deployed over the rear of the platform onto the ground. The actual mortar barrel is from the local M120-15 with the square baseplate.
Conventional mortars take time to come into and out of action, as they normally must be unloaded from the vehicle and then assembled, and dissembled or dug out after use. This version of the Bars 8 is also referred to as the Mobile Mortar Complex (MMC). When compared to currently deployed mortars used by Ukraine, this mortar system appears more survivable against counter battery fire, and its onboard computerised fire control system coupled to a land navigation system would make it more accurate. Ukraine has marketed the Guided Mortar Armament System but it has not been confirmed if this has been deployed. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
10 June 19. DARPA issues BAA for OpFires Phase 3 Integrated Weapon System design. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Tactical Technology Office (TTO) on 5 June issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Phase 3 of the Operational Fires (OpFires) Integrated Weapon System programme. OpFires is a joint DARPA/US Army three-phase development initiative for a mobile, ground-launched tactical weapon delivery system capable of carrying a variety of payloads to a variety of ranges, underpinning which is a current imperative to develop and exploit hypersonic weapons technologies. According to DARPA, “the overarching goal of the OpFires programme is to develop and demonstrate a novel ground-launched system enabling hypersonic boost-glide weapons to penetrate modern enemy air defences and rapidly and precisely engage critical time-sensitive targets”. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
07 June 19. Belarus unveils upgraded Polonez-M MRL system. The Belarusian Armed Forces have begun receiving the upgraded Polonez-M multiple launch rocket (MRL) system. The modernised V-300RK Polonez-M MRL was shown at the recent MILEX 2019 exhibition in Minsk with an eight-cell launcher and a full-size mock-up of the upgraded A300 tactical surface-to-surface missile. The Polonez-M is being developed by the Minsk-based Precision Electromechanics Plant (ZTEM), in co-operation with an undisclosed foreign state, which Jane’s understands to be China.
Belarus’ State Committee for Military Industry (GKVP) has already confirmed that the modernised system has passed firing tests, including the launch of a missile at a distance of 298.5 km in October 2017 in the Gomel Region of eastern Belarus.
According to industry sources, the A300 missile has already entered the development phase and will be finalised in 2021. “The upgraded missile features low radar cross-section and high manoeuvrability, flight speed, and diving speed in terminal phase,” said a spokesperson for GKVP, commenting on the results of the tests.
The Polonez-M is mounted on a modernised MZKT-7930-3013 8×8 heavy chassis, which is equipped with a new gearbox and life support system, and has heavier payload capacity. The vehicle typically carries eight canistered A300 missiles, which have a range of between 120 km and 290 km with a circular error probable (CEP) not exceeding 30m. However, it is also capable of firing the earlier A200 munition, the firing range of which lies between 50km and 200km. Accordingly, the Polonez-M can simultaneously engage up to eight targets in a 20km x 20km area. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
07 June 19. SERDAR anti-tank missile launching system completes qualifying trials. Developers of the first Ukrainian-Turkish anti-tank missile launching system, known as ‘SERDAR’, have completed the qualifying trials of the remote weapon station. Trials were performed in Ukraine and set the stage for serial supplies within the existing contract with an unidentified foreign customer. SERDAR is a joint development of the Turkish company Aselsan with Ukroboronprom enterprises Luch Design Bureau and SpetsTechnoExport. Aselsan and its partners expect that the system will draw interest from the defence ministries of Ukraine and Turkey.
The Turkish firm handled the development and integration of the system, including components such as stabilisation system, fire control systems, targets detection and tracking system, infrared / video imagers and laser range finder.
SpetsTechnoExport is responsible for the supply and integration of ‘SKIF’ anti-tank guided missiles developed and produced by Luch Design Bureau. The company also provides guidance and control systems.
SERDAR is a remotely controlled and stabilised weapon system that can be used to perform defensive and offensive operations against ground targets. The system is suitable for day, night and adverse weather conditions. The system features a mobile version of SKIF with two launchers for RK-2S missiles. The 130mm calibre precision missiles can hit and destroy the target at a distance of 5km and break through 800mm-thick armour. Additionally, SERDAR is fitted with a 12.7mm machine gun as the main rifle and a secondary 7.62mm gun. SpetsTechnoExport noted that the missile launching system can be customised to include launchers for RK-2M 152mm calibre precision-guided missiles. This will help increase the combat range of the missiles to 5.5km. In a statement, SpetsTechnoExport said: “The system is lightweight, low volume and suitable for integration with a variety of existing or new armoured high mobility fighting vehicles, considerably upgrading their lethality.
“It allows the system to be operated from inside the vehicle with a high degree of precision to protect the gunner or / and commander.” (Source: army-technology.com)
30 May 19. Berkeley Lab-Built Electron Gun Fires Up for LCLS-II X-Ray Laser Project. A new electron gun, designed and built at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) to supply electrons for a next-gen X-ray laser at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, has fired its first electrons. The X-ray laser is part of the LCLS-II project, which is an upgrade of SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser. Located at the front end of LCLS-II, the gun is part of the injector, which will generate a nearly continuous stream of electrons to drive the production of powerful X-ray beams at a pulse rate 8,000 times faster than LCLS to date.
The successful production of electrons was the culmination of 15 months of work, during which teams have installed and tested parts of the injector at SLAC, building on design and testing done over the past few years at Berkeley Lab.
“This is a critical milestone for the LCLS-II project, and for the Berkeley Lab team that designed and built the gun and low-energy beam transport for the project,” said John Corlett, who serves as Berkeley Lab’s interim project management officer and has also served as the senior team lead for Berkeley Lab’s contributions to the LCLS-II project.
SLAC accelerator physicist Feng Zhou, who is in charge of LCLS-II injector commissioning, said the latest milestone in producing electrons “shows the complex injector system is working and that allows us to begin the crucial task of optimizing its performance.” He added, “The injector is a very critical system because the quality of the electron beam it creates has a huge effect on the quality of X-rays that will ultimately come out of LCLS-II.”
The injector was delivered from Berkeley Lab to SLAC on Jan. 22, 2018 (see related article). During assembly, the injector underwent a rigorous cleaning process at Berkeley Lab to minimize the possible contaminants — tiny traces of dust and other particulates could affect the electron gun’s performance. Since delivering the hardware systems to SLAC, the Berkeley Lab team has had continuing involvement in preparing for the startup of the injector.
Berkeley Lab researchers have also been working on the low-level radio-frequency (LLRF) controls for the LCLS-II project, and in performing troubleshooting for hardware and related systems. The team is also looking forward to participating in the physics studies and optimization of the electron beam for the upgrade project, Corlett noted.
Making X-rays with electrons
X-ray lasers use pulsed beams of electrons to generate their X-ray light. These beams gain tremendous energy in massive linear particle accelerators and then give some of that energy off in the form of extremely bright X-ray flashes when they fly through special magnets known as undulators.
Berkeley Lab researchers are additionally responsible for overseeing the production and delivery of the undulators that are essential to the LCLS-II project.
Corlett said, “Berkeley Lab continues to execute its responsibilities in delivering undulators to the LCLS-II Project,” noting that the production of “soft X-ray” or lower-energy X-ray laser undulators is complete, and production of “hard X-ray” or higher-energy X-ray laser undulators is expected to be completed later this year.
The injector’s role is to produce an electron beam with high intensity, a small cross-section and minimal divergence, the right pulse rate and other properties required to achieve the best possible X-ray laser performance.
The electrons fired by the injector come from an electron gun. It consists of a hollow metal cavity where flashes of laser light hit a photocathode that responds by releasing electrons. The cavity is filled with a radiofrequency (RF) field that boosts the energy of the freed electrons and accelerates them in bunches toward the gun’s exit.
Magnets and another RF cavity inside the injector squeeze the electrons into smaller, shorter bunches, and an accelerator section, to be installed over the next few months, will increase the energy of the bunches to allow them to enter the main stretch of the X-ray laser’s linear accelerator. Spanning almost a kilometer in length, this superconducting accelerator will increase the speed of the electron bunches to almost the speed of light.
The million-pulse challenge
The most delicate injector component is the electron gun, and for LCLS-II the technical demands are bigger than ever, said John Schmerge, deputy director of SLAC’s Accelerator Directorate.
“The first generation of LCLS produced 120 X-ray flashes per second, which means the injector laser and RF power only had to operate at that rate,” he said. “LCLS-II, on the other hand, will also have the capability of firing up to a million times per second, so the RF power needs to be switched on all the time and the laser has to work at the much higher rate.”
This creates major challenges.
First, the continuous RF field produces a lot of heat inside the cavity. With a power equivalent to about 80 microwave ovens operating at full power at all times, it could damage the electron gun and degrade its performance.
To handle the large amount of power, the LCLS-II gun is equipped with a water cooling system. It is also much larger than its predecessor – several feet rather than inches in diameter – so heat is distributed over a larger surface area.
“The LCLS-II project got a flying start, profiting from Berkeley Lab’s experience designing and running this unique electron source,” said SLAC’s John Galayda, who until recently led the LCLS-II project. “It continues to be a great collaboration that is crucial in building the next-generation X-ray laser.”
Another challenge is the laser system, said Sasha Gilevich, SLAC engineer in charge of the LCLS-II injector laser.
“To produce electrons efficiently, we want to shine ultraviolet light onto the photocathode, but there is no commercial laser system capable of providing UV pulses with the unique properties required by LCLS-II at the rate of a million pulses per second,” she said. “Instead, we send the light of an infrared laser through an optical system containing non-linear crystals that convert it into ultraviolet light. But because of the heat generated in the crystals, doing this conversion at such a high pulse rate is very demanding, and we’re still in the process of optimizing our system for the best performance.”
New electron source, new challenges
LCLS-II’s unique capabilities will also rely on a high-efficiency photocathode to produce the initial electron burst. It consists of a flat disc – merely tens of nanometers thick and a centimeter in diameter – of a semiconductor mounted on a metal support. This allows the electrons to be produced about 1,000 times more efficiently than with the copper cathode used previously.
But the advance comes with a trade-off, said SLAC accelerator physicist Theodore Vecchione: “While the copper cathode lasted for years, the new one is not nearly as robust and may last only a few weeks.”
That’s why Vecchione has been tasked with setting up a facility at the lab to fabricate a stockpile of cathodes, which cannot be simply purchased off the shelf, and to make sure the LCLS-II cathode can be replaced whenever needed.
Now that the injector has generated its first electrons, the commissioning team will spend the next few months optimizing the properties of the electron beam and automating the injector controls. However, it won’t be until next year, when LCLS-II’s superconducting linear accelerator has been installed, that they will be able to test the full injector, including the short accelerator section that will boost the electron energy to 100 million electronvolts, and get it ready to do its job of generating some of the most powerful X-rays the world has ever seen. (Source: ASD Network)
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