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18 Jul 19. ERCA prototype testing to begin in October, autoloader decision still to come. US Army leaders are preparing to begin testing an Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) prototype this October while they continue to weigh their options for developing an autoloader for the system.
Colonel John Rafferty, the head of the army’s Long-Range Precision Fires modernisation effort, spoke with reporters on 16 July about the way ahead for ERCA development. Just days earlier, the army awarded BAE Systems a USD45 million contract to help integrate the government-owned cannon onto a Paladin M109A7 self-propelled howitzer. “The earlier we bring [BAE Systems] in, the better; [and] they’re prepared to start making these things,” Col Rafferty said. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
17 Jul 19. 6,000 Obves upgraded AK-74s delivered to Russian Central Military District troops. The commanding officer of the rocket and artillery armament service of Russia’s Central Military District, Lieutenant Colonel Mikhail Kuzin, said on 8 July that the combined arms and reconnaissance units within his district have received “6,000 AK-74M assault rifles with the Obves upgrade kits”.
Lt Col Kuzin said that “the universal modernisation kit for the Kalashnikov assault rifles allows for the increase in the weapons effectiveness by one and a half times at 300 metres based on the ‘destruction rate’ criteria, at either day or night time and in different climates”.
He said the upgraded assault rifles issued to the reconnaissance units will be supplied with “a universal accessory for suppressed fire”.
The Obves upgrade kits are officially designated as the KM-AK, which stands for ‘komplekt modernizatsii – avtomata Kalshnikova’ or ‘upgrade kit – Kalashnikov assault rifle’.
The KM-AK Obves kits include many of the features that were introduced with the AK-200 series rifles. The AK-200 represents a further development of the AK-100 series and was initially designated as the AK-100M (‘M’ for modernised). It was rebranded as the AK-200 series in 2018. Most of the improvements introduced on the AK-200 series relate to ergonomics.
The KM-AK includes the AK-200 series’ multislotted combination flash suppressor and compensator (allocated a GRAU index code of 6Ch63.13), handguard, index finger operable fire-selector plate, left-side-folding telescoping buttstock, and finger moulded pistol grip – the last three items are also used on the AK-12 and AK-15 assault rifle series. In addition, a new sling and vertical forward grip are also supplied with the kits.
The handguard is made of two pieces. The upper piece, which fits over the gas piston shroud, is made of aluminium and has five elongated venting slots on either side. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
17 Jul 19. This is Knight’s Armament’s new machine gun suppressor. Knight’s Armament Company of Titusville, Florida, unveiled a new suppressor at this year’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference where members of the SOF community get to interact with vendors and industry partners to preview and try out the latest and greatest in special operations kit and gear.
KAC’s suppressor is designed primarily to be used with the company’s premier belt-fed Light Assault Machine Gun platform, chambered for 5.56 NATO and marketed more towards the SOF and private military contractor communities than to conventional infantry forces.
True to its name, the LAMG is indeed very light, weighing only 8.6 pounds unloaded. In comparison, the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon weighs in at 17 pounds unloaded.
According to KAC, one of the LAMG’s biggest selling points is its ability to put down a high volume of fire with a low cyclic rate of just around 575-625 rounds per minute, allowing the end user to maintain a greater degree of control over the weapon and concentrate accurate fire on target.
The suppressor, delivered in kit form, mounts to a threaded barrel included in the kit, and makes heavy use of a unique Pressure Reduction Technology system, which vents the gasses from each shot forward, preventing the gas from venting backwards into the shooter’s face.
Additionally — and probably its best feature — the PRT system allows the LAMG to keep its factory cyclic rates during sustained fire without any major dips. The LAMG is currently available to defense buyers, which means that the new suppressor will likely only be targeted towards military sales. At the moment, US SOCOM doesn’t list the LAMG in its belt-fed arsenal, though it’s possible that there are foreign SOF units that make use of KAC’s innovative light machine gun platform, and might potentially avail of a sustained fire suppressor. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://www.militarytimes.com)
17 Jul 19. £10m to make Royal Navy and RAF fighter jets faster and keep up with Russia. MOD invests in hypersonic propulsion systems with Rolls-Royce, Reaction Engines and BAE Systems. The Ministry of Defence is to take out a £10m contract to develop hypersonic propulsion systems that could potentially enable the fighter jets currently used by Royal Navy and RAF to travel at twice their existing top speeds.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, the UK’s Chief of the Air Staff, said he was “delighted” to announce the MoD is now working with Rolls-Royce, Reaction Engines and BAE Systems in developing hypersonic propulsion systems to increase aircraft performance and capability.
He told the 2019 Air and Space Power conference in central London: “These will be designed and tested over the next two years, paving the way for the UK to become a centre of excellence in this technology and contribute to meeting future UK defence needs.”
It is hoped that, at high altitude and depending on various factors such as payload, speeds of up to Mach 5 could be reached.
Sir Stephen would not give a specific time for when the technology could be introduced, but later told reporters “this is not an idea, (as) a lot of this technology now exists – what we are doing is providing additional investment and additional focus for that project so that we can deliver a military utility out of it”.
He said: “I want this technology, like all technologies, exploited as rapidly as possible. (Source: News Now/https://www.cornwalllive.com)
18 Jul 19. US Army looks at adapting the navy’s laser technology for ground systems. The US Army wants to employ laser technology developed by the US Navy on ground systems, according to a senior army official.
Speaking at the Association of the United States Army Institute of Land Warfare breakfast on Tuesday, the principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the army for acquisition, logistics and technology and director of the Army Acquisition Corps Lieutenant General Paul Ostrowski said: “The intent is to work with the navy, and we are doing that right now, in order to increase the power of that laser system from beyond 100kW up to maybe the 250k mark.”
The US Army is pushing for upgraded laser systems as part of its modernisation programme, in particular for systems designed to deal with aerial attacks from enemy aircraft and drone swarms without the need for expensive munitions.
Current army laser systems use a Dynetics 100kW high energy laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator (HEL TVD) developed with Lockheed Martin. The systems are fitted on medium-sized vehicles for manoeuvrability but more powerful lasers could be fitted on larger systems.
Ostrowski added: “This is the… system that is meant to guard and provide air missile support to our operating bases… and airfields”
The HEL TVD is limited by its size which allows it to be movable but not easily ‘manoeuvrable’, making it better suited to defending fixed sites.
The army is also developing lower-powered lasers for deployment on the General Dynamics Stryker armoured vehicle platform. The vehicles will carry a 50kW multi-mission high energy laser (MMHEL) system for short-range air defence. Ostrowski said: “The intent is to field a platoon of four vehicles by 2022”.
One of the advantages of using laser systems is that ammunition is only limited by the power source, not the size and cost of munitions. Current air defence missiles are often far more expensive than their targets.
The army is also looking to use lasers for other purposes, including explosive ordnance disposal (EOD); this would see laser systems fitted onto tanks to allow them to counter a wider range of threats.
Ostrowski added: Rocket artillery, mortar and UAS [unmanned aerial systems] is just the beginning of where we see lasers going in the future.”
The army intends to integrate the navy’s laser systems around 2023, however it may not be possible to fully utilise it. Before it can use a system with double the power of those currently in development, the army will need to develop support systems capable of operating these higher-powered naval lasers.
“If you don’t have the power, you don’t have that unlimited magazine,” Ostrowski explained. “And that unlimited magazine makes a difference in this swarm environment where you have multiple targets. You have to be able to recharge quickly and be able to shoot them all down.”
Ostrowski also discussed modernisation efforts across the US military, saying the armed forces had prioritised ‘readiness’ due to being involved in active combat for the past 18 years. He added: “The fact that we have not been able to modernize has been detrimental across the board, and especially with respect to being able to maintain over-match [be stronger].”
The US Navy is planning to deploy Lockheed Martin’s HELIOS laser on destroyers by 2021 after a testing period where the weapon was successfully used to target and take down drones. (Source: army-technology.com)
12 Jul 19. China, Russia Hypersonic Programs – Real Progress or Bluster? China and Russia’s intention to pursue hypersonic weapons lit a fire under the U.S. military, forcing it to re-invigorate its own programs.
But just how far the two rivals have come in their own programs and whether or not they can penetrate the United States’ missile defenses is a matter of debate. Are they behind?
Have they caught up? Or are they ahead of the United States when it comes to this disruptive technology?
The answers are opaque, experts said.
When the United States began to shift its attention to counterrorism missions after the Cold War, Russia and China used it as an opportunity to bolster their air and missile portfolios, said Tom Karako, director of the missile defense project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“The Cold War ended, and we kind of patted ourselves on the back. And we said, ‘Aha, we’ve got air superiority,’” he said at the Hudson Institute. But Russia and China had begun to adapt, and they’ve begun to adapt especially with a spectrum of air and missile threats, he added.
Since then, the two countries have taken steps to invest in the research and development of hypersonic weapons as they face great power competition with the United States.
These platforms can reach speeds of Mach 5 or higher while maintaining their maneuverability, making them a strategic asset in missile defense.
China is already close to fielding hypersonic systems that can go thousands of miles beyond its shores to hit U.S. carriers and forward-deployed forces, according to Michael Griffin, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for research and engineering. He noted that the United States does not have systems to counter these weapons.
“Should they choose to employ them, we would be, today, at a disadvantage,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities in testimony last year. “It is among my very highest priorities to erase that disadvantage, creating our own systems to hold them at risk and to provide defense.”
The push to outpace the United States in weapons development is also reflected in Beijing’s defense budget. China’s military budget has doubled in the last decade, Griffin told the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on intelligence and emerging threats and capabilities in prepared testimony in March.
According to the Defense Department’s 2019 annual report to Congress, “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2019,” China’s military budget is expected to increase by an annual average of 6 percent, shooting it up to $260bn by 2022. However, a lack of accounting transparency makes it difficult to pinpoint how much of its spending is specifically geared toward hypersonic weapons development and other categories such as research and development and foreign weapons procurement.
“Assuming accurate economic projections and a steady defense burden, China will remain the largest spender in the Indo-Pacific region besides the United States,” the report said.
But Beijing still has obstacles to overcome for hypersonic glide weapon development. These systems require a large network of support infrastructure, some of which include navigation technologies and reliable data networks, according to a May report, “China’s Advanced Weapons Systems,” released last year by Jane’s by IHS Markit.
“Should China be able to combine these capabilities, it will have a weapons system with the potential to destabilize and arguably reshape regional and global security dynamics,” the report said. A hypersonic glide vehicle “will provide a leap forward in regional defense and increase the range of the missile.”
This would also potentially allow the Chinese to threaten surface ships out to the second island chain, which consists of ocean-locked land masses from Japan through the Mariana Islands, according to the document.
Tate Nurkin, the leading author of the report, said the “big area of development” for China is hypersonic glide vehicles, which are put on rockets and shot high in the air to reach high speeds while gliding back to Earth.
Between 2014 and 2018, all known tests of Beijing’s DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicles have been successful except for one, according to the report.
“Obviously we don’t know what the objectives of the tests are,” Nurkin said in an interview. “The systems seem to work. One of them failed fairly spectacularly.”
In August 2014, the glide vehicle experienced a suspected failure, the report said. James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said in 2017 that the system likely experienced a booster failure.
However, these glide vehicles are “a pretty disruptive capability,” Nurkin noted.
“The weapon is something that should cause the United States concern,” he said. “If it really is a weapon that can go Mach 5 … and defeat U.S. missile defense systems, that puts carriers at risk.”
Another notable Chinese effort includes the development of the dongfeng-17, a medium-range ballistic missile designed to hold a hypersonic glide vehicle. The missile is anticipated to reach initial operational capability by 2020 and is estimated to have a range between 1,800 and 2,000 kilometers, according to CSIS’ Missile Defense Project.
China Times reported in January that eight of the missiles would be able to destroy a U.S. aircraft carrier. The weapon is based on Beijing’s dongfeng-16B medium-range ballistic missile, the outlet stated, but has a better range and warhead.
China state media has also reported the development of a hypersonic wind tunnel that would be used to test aircraft that can travel up to Mach 25. Han Guilai, a researcher with China’s State Key Laboratory of High Temperature Gas Dynamics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told China Central Television that the researchers in Beijing have already used another wind tunnel to test a hypersonic plane at ranges of Mach 5 to 9.
“The new tunnel will aid the engineering application of hypersonic technology by duplicating the environment of extreme hypersonic flights,” Guilai said last year. “Once issues are discovered during these ground tests, they will be ironed out before test flights begin.”
China has set its eye on developing hypersonic weapons to target the “gaps and seams” of the United States’ defenses, Karako noted.
“They’re trying to fly beneath and around our ballistic missile defense architecture — turns out we’ve gotten pretty good at that over the past couple of decades and getting better all the time,” he said.
When asked if China’s advancements are credible or just propaganda, Nurkin said it is difficult to tell.
“I sort of take somewhere between the alarmist and dismissive approach on China,” he said. However, Nurkin noted that he leans toward taking China seriously, given its large amount of effort on hypersonic weapons.
It would be best to frame China’s hypersonic weapons development as “reaching parity” with the United States missile defenses, he added. Washington will need new ways to shoot these down, he noted.
“I don’t know if China is significantly ahead in hypersonics,” he said. “I don’t think they are, but I think that they have cut the gap to such a degree that it’s a real and pressing challenge for the U.S. defense community to maintain advantage.”
For Russia, claims about its hypersonic weapons development should be taken with a “grain of salt” until there is more flight testing, said Paul Schwartz, an analyst at CNA who specializes in the Russian military.
“They’ve touted these weapons and — from open sources — they seem to be actively pursuing them,” he said in an interview. However, the Russians “are notorious about advertising one particular date and then having that date slip and then slip again and then slip again.”
One of the country’s systems includes an anti-ship missile called the Zircon, according to TASS. In April 2017, the Russian outlet reported that the missile reached a speed of Mach 8 and can be shot from a 3C14, a universal launching platform. The weapon is said to have a range of 400 kilometers and is slated to be launched from a ship for the first at the end of this year, the outlet reported in March.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interest in hypersonic technology is not new, Schwartz said. Many of the country’s efforts to develop these weapons have experienced starts and stops, he noted.
However, these initiatives have caught the United States’ attention in an era of great power competition, said Tom Callender, a senior research fellow for defense programs at the Heritage Foundation.
“Russia is not going to … play nice in Europe,” Callender noted.
During the Stalin era, the country examined the possibility of using long-range hypersonic bombers as a delivery vehicle for an atomic weapon. However, “ultimately ballistic missiles prevailed as the most effective means of proceeding and hypersonics sort of languished for many years,” Shwartz said.
Interest was renewed after U.S. President Ronald Reagan proposed the “Star Wars” initiative, he noted, which was a space-based 1980s anti-ballistic missile program. It experienced a roadblock following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and hypersonic weapons development was shelved again.
“It looks like these programs were dusted off and then continued, restarted or reinvested and then reinvigorated,” he said, basing his opinion on open-source reporting.
For instance, Russia’s Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle appears to be a successor of earlier programs, he said. Putin revealed the weapon in March 2018. He later stated that the boost-glide system is scheduled to be delivered to the military this year. Avangard has a range of over 6,000 kilometers and can change course while mid-flight through the atmosphere, according to Russian state media.
“The glide vehicle is capable of flying at hypersonic speed in the dense layers of the atmosphere, maneuvering by its flight path and its altitude and breaching any anti-missile defense,” TASS reported. One unit equipped with the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle is slated to go on combat duty by the end of the year, reports have said.
Additionally, the RS-28 Sarmat — Russia’s new intercontinental ballistic missile — may be able to carry Avangard, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr. said in May at the Hudson Institute.
An air-launched hypersonic missile called the Kinzhal, or, “Dagger,” is also said to be in the works. The system is said to have a range of 1,500 to 2,000 kilometers and can carry a nuclear or conventional payload of 480 kilograms, according to CSIS. RT, a Russian international television network, stated in May that Putin stopped by Akhtubinsk, a southern city in Russia, to examine a MiG-31 jet with a Kinzhal missile.
Although Russia has been working on these weapons for some time, the United States is paying more attention to Moscow’s hypersonic weapons efforts now because of great power competition, Callender noted.
Putin appears to have the budget to fund the research and development of these programs, Shwartz said, but moving the weapons into production “is another matter.”
“It depends on how many they might want to produce and so forth,” he said. “But I would not count out their ability to actually continue with R&D efforts at least.”
Callender said a decline in Russia’s economy could subsequently lead to a decline in its military capabilities, similar to what the country experienced post-Soviet Union. The Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Index of Economic Freedom noted that low oil prices, the annexation of Crimea and the push to revamp the military have “strained” Russia’s public finances. Even if Moscow does purchase hypersonic weapons, he noted, they may not be able to afford as many systems as China can.
“They’re gonna have a hard time sustaining this,” he said. “That might be part of the reason why they’re trying to tout any of these tasks as [a] big success,” he added. Putin may be “trying to create the image of this capability as a deterrent even when they may not have them.”
The strategy includes publicizing their hypersonic weapons development through the internet and making public announcements, he noted.
“They’re putting stuff out there,” he said. “They’re making their own announcements with cool videos and everything.”
Both Russia and China are very good at information warfare, he added.
However, Karako said, “Putin is a good marketer, but I think the consensus is that there’s a lot of truth to the assertion that the threat is real here.” (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
16 Jul 19. Official: Army To Ramp Up Hypersonic Booster Tests In ‘21, First High-Powered Lasers Arriving In ’22. The Army will roll out initial capabilities for both its 50 and 100-kilowatt laser programs in 2022 as well as pushing toward a hypersonics capability by 2023 with plans to test missile booster stacks every six to nine months, a top service acquisition official said Tuesday.
Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, the principal military deputy to the Army acquisition chief, told attendees at an Association of the United States Army event the force is focused on building “movable” hypersonics and directed energy assets, while also exploring a potential 250 kw laser capability.
Ostrowski specifically noted that the Army, in cooperation with the Navy, will transition to using a 34.5-inch missile stack booster for its hypersonics test following an initial demonstration with a 50-inch capability in the second quarter of FY ’20. The move to a 34.5-inch stack is more compatible with the Army’s heavy tactical vehicles as well as the Navy’s ships and subsurface systems, according to Ostrowski. The joint services are collectively working on the hypersonics effort, signing a memorandum of agreement last June, with the Army taking on the task of producing the glide body. Ostrowski reiterated that the Army is set to field one battery of the Long Range Hypersonic Weapon in FY ’23, which officials have said will consist of four vehicles each outfitted with two missiles (Defense Daily, June 4). For the 50kw laser program, the Multi-Mission High Energy Laser (MM HEL), the Army is looking to demonstrate an initial prototype in 2021 before fielding an initial set of four Stryker mounted systems in 2022.
“The advantage of the laser, in this case what we’re calling the MM HEL, is that we have the ability to have an unlimited magazine when it comes to unmanned aerial systems, as well as rockets, artillery and mortars. Before, we were shooting $100,000 missiles at $7,000 UASs,”
Ostrowski said. “This put us in a position where we’re not spending that kind of money to do that. We’re taking those targets down in a much more rapid and cheaper fashion.”
Ostrowski called the 100kw High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator the “bigger brother” to the MM HEL, noting that its integration on Family of Medium Tactical Vehicle trucks will allow the Army to get after a “moveable asset.” In May, the Army selected a team of Dynetics and Lockheed Martin [LMT] to develop and test the 100 kw laser system with a goal to deliver a technology demonstrator in August 2022. Army officials are also exploring 250 kw laser opportunities with the Navy, according to Ostrowski.
“The intent is to work with the Navy, and we are doing that right now, in order to increase the power of that laser system from beyond 100 kw into maybe the 250 kw mark,” Ostrowski said. (Source: Defense Daily)
17 Jul 19. USAF to Award Big ICBM Manufacturing Contract By End of Summer 2020. The Air Force plans to award a contract sometime between July and September of 2020 to build the U.S.’ next nuclear-tipped, intercontinental ballistic missile, the service said Tuesday. The Air Force plans to buy more than 600 Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) missiles, about 400 of which will go into silos starting in 2028 or so to replace the aging, Boeing-built Minuteman III fleet. Either Boeing Co. [BA] or Northrop Grumman [NOC] will design GBSD.
The planned GBSD Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract will have options for five batches, or production lots, of missiles. That will include manufacturing and deploying the missile. Boeing and Northrop Grumman are in the final year of a competition, under three-year Pentagon contracts awarded in 2017 and respectively worth about $350m and $330m, to design the next-generation missile. The Air Force estimates it will spend between roughly $85bn and $100bn to procure GBSD, according to the Washington-based nonprofit Arms Control Association. GBSD will carry W87-1 warheads provided by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The W87-1 will be a new manufacture of an old design: the W87 warhead used on Minuteman III. Minuteman III also uses W78 warheads, but the Pentagon plans to replace these with W87-1 on GBSD. W87-1 will cost between $10bn and $15bn over the 20 years ending around 2040, NNSA estimated last year.
In addition, NNSA plans to spend $30bn over several decades beginning this year on specialized plutonium-manufacturing infrastructure needed to produce the pits, or triggers, for W87-1 warheads. NNSA plans to begin producing W87-1 pits at the Los Alamos National Laboratory beginning in 2024. The civilian agency then plans to upgrade pit facilities at Los Alamos and build a new pit plant in South Carolina to ramp up production of W87-1 cores to 80 a year by 2030. However, multiple internal NNSA studies concluded the agency probably will not hit its target throughput by its target date. House Democrats, meanwhile, want to slow down the GBSD program. In defense authorization and spending bills passed this summer, the lower-chamber’s minority proposed funding cuts for both the Pentagon and NNSA side of the program. The House-passed bills would authorize and appropriate $490 million for GBSD in fiscal 2020: nearly 15% less than the $570m the White House requested. For W87-1, the bills would provide under $55m for 2020, which is less than half of what the White House requested. The measure would fund NNSA’s pit-funding, Plutonium Sustainment account at about $470m: nearly 35% below the request. House Democrats are essentially alone on the Hill in their desire to slow GBSD. While the Senate has yet to write any appropriations bills, the upper chamber authorized $590m for GBSD in fiscal year 2020 in a National Defense Authorization Act that cruised through the Senate with plenty of support from Democrats. The Senate also authorized the requested 2020 funding for NNSA’s plutonium programs. (Source: Defense Daily)
17 Jul 19. USAF issues RFP for EMD phase of GBSD ICBM programme. The US Air Force (USAF) has issued a request for proposals for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of its ground-based strategic deterrent (GBSD) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) weapon system programme. The RFP includes five production lot options to produce and deploy the weapon system. Boeing and Northrop Grumman are set to take part in the competition for the EMD contract. These two companies are also contractors for GBSD’s ongoing Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction phase under which both firms received nearly $350m. The EMD contract is anticipated to be awarded in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020. The USAF’s Boeing LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM first became operational in the mid-1960s. The service intends to replace the ageing platform with the GBSD. The legacy platform has been maintained over the years through upgrades to some components and subsystems. In May, US undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment Ellen Lord called for the purchase of advanced nuclear capability to maintain a deterrence edge. Stating that keeping the existing Minuteman III ICBMs alive by continuous upgrades is not financially feasible, Lord emphasised the need to operationalise the new GBSD.
Lord said: “There is no margin to do another service-life extension programme on Minuteman III, because not only would it be more expensive than developing GBSD, but you would not have the resiliency in the capability because you would not have the modern equipment, you would not have the actual capabilities from a functional range point of view (or) warhead capability. So we need to, by 2028, start replacing (ICBMs).”
Her call to replace Minuteman III with the new weapon system is echoed by senior USAF leaders.
At a congressional committee hearing in April, USAF Chief of Staff general David Goldfein said: “If you look at the threat that we face, Russia just completed their modernisation of their triad this year…because they know they cannot defeat us, and certainly can’t defeat Nato, conventionally.
“So, our modernisation and recap of the triad is just in time because in the missile leg, key parts of that programme expire right about the time that we bring on the new GBSD to replace it.”
Air Force will start GBSD deployment in 2027. The weapon system is expected to remain in service through 2075.
Last week, Textron received a contract modification for the Minuteman III multiprobe antenna procurement. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
16 Jul 19. Israel and India sign defence deal worth $50m. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Israel’s national defence contract company has signed a $50m contract with India, Reuters reported on Wednesday, 17th June. The contract will see Israel provide Naval Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM) systems to the Indian navy, and to the Mazgaon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd. (MDL) company. The company will also provide a complementary system to the existing Air Defence Systems. In its press release, the IAI said the contract was a follow-up on providing maintenance support for the company’s naval medium-range surface-to-air missiles’ sub-systems currently used in Indian naval roster.
As such, as per the terms of the contract agreement, Israel Aerospace will provide necessary maintenance support and other ancillary service support to the IAI’s operational naval MRSAM systems. Speaking to Reuters about the agreement, Israel Aerospace’s General Manager Boaz Levi said, “This contract is a breakthrough as it advances us from system development and delivery to looking after the operational needs of our customers. IAI’s partnership and strong relationship with the Indian Navy are reflected in all activities with our partners in India.
Only recently we have successfully completed a multi-system trial in India that demonstrated the advanced technological centralised management capabilities of the air defence system to the utmost satisfaction of our Indian partners.” (Source: Google/https://www.financial-world.org)
16 Jul 19. Brazilian Navy test-fires final MANSUP prototype. The Brazilian Navy test-fired the third and final prototype of the locally developed MANSUP (Míssil Antinavio Nacional de Superfície) surface-to-surface anti-ship missile on 10 July. The missile was fired from one of the two ITL-10 twin missile launchers on board the Niterói-class frigate F Independência (F44) against the hull of the former tugboat RbAM Tridente (R22) in the maritime area between the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Cabo Frio in State of Rio de Janeiro. The launch was originally due to take place on 18 June against the hull of former Inhaúma-class corvette Cv Inhaúma (V30) but the operation was aborted due to a malfunction with the ammunition canister, supplied by local company Avibras Indústria Aeroespacial.
The first prototype was launched from corvette Cv Barroso (V34) on 27 November 2018 and the second by F Independência on 20 March 2019. The prototypes were fitted with a telemetry warhead developed by SIATT – Engenharia, Indústria e Comércio, comprising an embedded telemetry transceiver and a safe and arming device.
Defence sources have indicated that the navy will procure the first batch of production combat missiles later in the year for delivery from 2020 onwards. The combat variant will be furnished with a 144 kg high-explosive blast/pre-fragmented warhead. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
17 Jul 19. Northrop Grumman Submits Proposal For Army’s LTAMDS Program. Northrop Grumman [NOC] has submitted a proposal for the Army’s Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) program to find a replacement for the Patriot system’s radar, ahead of a prototype contract likely to be awarded this fall. The announcement arrives after Northrop Grumman completed a demonstration of its radar offering for Army officials during a two-week “sense-off” event at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in May.
“Our solution is ready today for tomorrow’s threats. It leverages significant government and industry investment in proven, fielded programs of record to deliver a 360 degree, full-sector GaN based sensor that is architected to meet the U.S. Army’s urgent requirements while enabling significant capability growth for the future,” Christine Harbison, vice president of Northrop Grumman’s land and avionics C4ISR division, said in a statement. The LTAMDS program will look to replace the Patriot radar after Army officials determined incremental upgrades may not provide the necessary capability to handle future threats. Raytheon [RTN], which builds Patriot and its current radar, announced Tuesday it had submitted its own bid for LTAMDS (Defense Daily, July 16). Lockheed Martin [LMT] is also slated to participate in the radar competition as well. Northrop Grumman has previously noted its LTAMDS offering also includes embedded logistics capability to enable improved sustainability of the radar over the course of the program. (Source: Defense Daily)
16 Jul 19. RAF sets out hypersonic weapons and propulsion plans. The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has outlined near-term plans for the development of hypersonic weapon and propulsion technologies for its current and future fleets of combat aircraft. Speaking at the Chief of the Air Staff’s Air & Space Power Conference (ASPC) in London, senior service leaders on 17 July announced initiatives to equip the service’s current crop of combat aircraft with a hypersonic weapons capability, as well as developing hypersonic propulsion technology that can be retrofitted to existing aircraft or built into new ones. Mach 5 is the commonly defined threshold for hypersonic speed.
On the subject of hypersonic weapons, Air Vice Marshal Simon ‘Rocky’ Rochelle, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) chief of staff for capability and force development, said that he has directed the recently created Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) to begin an effort within the next four years to develop a Mach 5 air-to-air weapons capability that can be carried by the RAF’s 4th Generation fighter fleet so as to augment its 5th Generation and future 6th Generation fleets.
“In 2030, more than 80% of the NATO ORBAT [Order of Battle] will be made up of 4th Generation aircraft,” AVM Rochelle said. “Now, imagine all those aircraft firing thousands of Mach 5 missiles into the fight!”
As AVM Rochelle explained, the RAF isstarting to look at hypersonic weapons technology specifically to keep its 4th Generation fighter relevant against more advanced air and ground-based threats. The RAF’s combat force currently comprises the 4th Generation Eurofighter Typhoon and has begun receiving the first of its 5th Generation Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning aircraft. The service also plans to field the 6th Generation Tempest fighter sometime in the 2030s. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
17 Jul 19. Keep small arms export approval with State Department, says House. The United States Senate is considering an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would retain State Department control over small-arms exports. A proposal by the Trump administration to shift this responsibility to the Department of Commerce was defeated in the House of Representatives on 12 July.
“This doesn’t prevent or create any new restrictions on arms exports,” Democratic Representative Norma Torres said in a 16 July statement. “It simply protects congressional oversight, protects national security, and keeps deadly weapons from falling into the hands of drug cartels and terrorists.”
The Trump administration floated the idea of relaxing small-arms export controls in 2017, arguing that it would make US gun manufacturers more competitive in the global marketplace. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
16 Jul 19. Royal Navy’s new anti-ship missile bang on target. A target boat took a direct hit in the Irish Sea as the Royal Navy successfully tested its new missile to defeat terrorists and suicide bombers. HMS Sutherland fired four new Martlet missiles at a fast-moving speedboat off the Welsh coast to see whether the weapon could be launched from a ship as well as a helicopter.
Martlet – also known as the Lightweight Multi-role Missile – was originally designed to be fired by Wildcat helicopters to take out small boats which posed a threat to the Fleet, alongside the heavier Sea Venom for dealing with larger warships.
But recent incidents where both merchant and military shipping have been attacked by manned and unmanned surface and air systems armed with explosive devices, underlined the risks faced by Royal Navy units deployed in danger zones.
All ships are armed with a series of machine-guns and Mini-guns (manually-operated Gatling guns) to fend off small craft, while some are also equipped with Phalanx automated guns which spew out a hail of bullets at incoming aircraft, missiles and threats on the surface.
The Royal Navy wanted to add to those defences and turned to the new missile system, modifying it so a launcher could be fitted to the existing 30mm automatic gun.
Just five months after the idea was mooted, the Plymouth-based frigate was off the Aberporth Range at the southern end of Cardigan Bay facing a fast inshore attack craft tearing across the water.
After first proving that the gun could still fire accurately with the missile fitted – 120 rounds obliterated a large red ‘killer tomato’ target – and that the sensors behind Martlet could track its radio-controlled foe at ranges of up to five kilometres.
Finally, four missiles were fired – one to test the effect of the Martlet ‘blasting off’ from its launcher on the gun mounting and the side of Sutherland (the missile accelerates to one and a half times the speed of sound in an instant), three packed with telemetry to measure the missile’s accuracy (ordinarily the weapon carries a 3kg warhead).
All was recorded by high resolution cameras so the team from manufacturers Thales and military scientists could analyse the effects in minute detail.
“The current defence against fast inshore attack craft, the 30mm gun, is highly effective for closer range engagements,” said Lieutenant Commander George Blakeman, HMS Sutherland’s Weapon Engineer Officer.
“By adding the missile to the gun mount it is anticipated it will extend the reach of the ship’s defensive systems – key to successful defence against fast craft using swarm attack tactics.
“The Fighting Clan has always had a reputation for being at the forefront of innovation and we were delighted to be chosen to support this trial.”
The frigate’s Commanding Officer Commander Tom Weaver added: “The impressive result of this trial was achieved through the hard work and cooperation of a wide array of industry and defence partners and it was rewarding for Sutherland to have played such a key role in its success.”
Malcolm McKenzie from the missile’s manufacturer Thales said: “The rapid integration of Lightweight Multi-Role Missile on to the 30mm gun demonstrates how Thales can quickly develop cost-effective high capability solutions to meet the evolving threats faced by our naval forces.
“The success of the trial was a true team effort and delivery was only possible due to the outstanding contributions of HMS Sutherland crew.” (Source: U.K. MoD)
16 Jul 19. USAF to proceed with next-gen area attack weapon production. The US Air Force (USAF) is to shortly move ahead with production of its next-generation area-attack weapon, with the disclosure on 15 July that it is to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for manufacture of the BLU-136/B warhead. A pre-solicitation notification posted by the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) on the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) website says that the service will issue an RFP for production of an undisclosed quantity of BLU-136/B warheads on or about 31 July. No contract value was given.
“The Direct Attack Munitions Branch (AFLCMC/EBDA), Direct Attack Division (AFLCMC/EBD), Armament Directorate (AFLCMC/EB), Eglin [Air Force Base] AFB, Florida, plans to award a firm-fixed price multiple award indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract for the production of the BLU-136/B area attack warhead,” the solicitation said.
The notification comes about four months after Jane’s reported the USAF’s plan to more than double the number of BLU-136/B warheads it is to procure to replace the cluster munitions it is obligated to retire. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
16 Jul 19. Russia unveils export-oriented Rubezh-ME coastal defence missile system. The Typhoon JSC Research and Production Enterprise/Kaluga Instrument-Making Plant (part of the Morinformsystem-Agat Concern) unveiled a new export variant of the Bal-E (SSC-6 Sennight) mobile coastal anti-ship missile system – designated Rubezh-ME – at the International Maritime Defence Show (IMDS) in Saint Petersburg, Russia, from 10-14 July.
“The Rubezh-ME system is an internally funded development and is intended for littoral states with limited budgets that are not able to acquire more expensive western coastal defence systems,” a senior Taifun representative told Jane’s.
The complete Rubezh-ME system, which is mounted on a KAMAZ-6560 8×8 all-terrain chassis, includes a four-cell launch unit for Tactical Missiles Corporation Kh-35UE (‘AS-20 Kayak’) anti-ship missiles (ASMs), an over-the-horizon radar, and a fire control unit. “The system is compact and entirely self-contained, requiring no external target designation or cueing system,” the representative added.
The Kh-35UE ASM weighs 670 kg, including a 145 kg warhead, and is capable of engaging a surface target at ranges between 7 km and 260 km. The missile produces a subsonic speed of M 0.8-0.85, flying at an altitude of 10 m-15 m and descending to 4 m prior to engaging the target. The Kh-35UE is furnished with INS/GLONASS navigation, with an active-passive radar for terminal stage guidance.
The KAMAZ-6560 weighs 26 tonnes, produces a road speed of 75km/h, and has a cruise range of up to 1,000km. The system is controlled by a two-person crew and can be supplied with either the Mineral-ME1 active radar or the Mineral-ME2 passive radar to detect surface targets at distances out to 250km and 750km respectively. Mineral-ME radars can simultaneously detect up to 200 targets. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
16 Jul 19. Thales tests FASGW(L) weapon system for Royal Navy. Thales has performed firing trials for the Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (Light) (FASGW[L]) programme for the British Royal Navy. Conducted at Royal Artillery Air Defence Range at Manorbier in Pembrokeshire, the trials are part of the FASGW(L) programme’s integration testing phase. The programme includes testing of all parts of the FASGW(L) weapon system, including Thales’ lightweight multirole missile (LMM), the launcher system and all key equipment of the Royal Navy’s Agusta Westland AW159 Wildcat helicopter. In June 2014, Thales won a contract to develop, qualify and integrate the FASGW(L) system for the Navy’s Wildcat helicopter. The system consists of a five-barrel launcher and a laser guidance system. Set to enter service in 2020, LMM is a precision strike missile capable of being fired from a variety of land, sea and airborne tactical platforms. The missile will be called Martlet in the Royal Navy. It is designed to defeat mobile maritime threats such as small ships and inshore attack craft.
LMM will offer improved protection for Royal Navy personnel and important sea assets, such as the Queen Elizabeth Carrier.
During trials, Thales fired six LMMs at a small boat target at sea at a distance of 4.5km.
The missiles feature telemetry software to facilitate collection of test data. Information will be used to analyse the performance of the Thales-designed launcher, the guidance system and missile.
In a statement, Thales said: “The FASGW(L) system accurately guided all missiles to the targets and provided extensive data on the excellent performance of all elements of the ground set-up and inflight performance of the missile.
“The successful achievement of the ground firings is a major milestone and key to progressing to future testing including air firing trials later in 2019 and culminating in qualification and verification in 2020.”
The Royal Navy is also fielding Sea Venom/ANL helicopter-launched anti-ship missile to address its FASGW(H) requirements. MBDA is delivering the Sea Venom/ANL missile under a contract jointly awarded by the UK and France. (Source: naval-technology.com)
15 Jul 19. BAE gets green light to build extended-range cannon prototype for US Army. BAE Systems has been given the go-ahead to build the U.S. Army’s Extended Range Cannon Artillery prototype through a $45m contract award, according to a July 15 company statement. Under the Army’s program, BAE will increase the range and the rate of fire on the current and future M109A7 self-propelled howitzers — otherwise known as Paladin Integrated Management. The ERCA program is one of the Army’s near-term efforts within its No. 1 modernization priority — long-range precision fires — as adversaries have developed their own cannon artillery that out-ranges American capability. The service stood up Army Futures Command roughly a year ago with cross-functional teams assigned to carry out the service’s top six modernization priorities as a means to break free from historically sluggish procurement habits. The Long-Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team has focused heavily on extending the range of cannon artillery.
BAE’s M109A7 howitzers will, in part, convert to ERCA cannons through the development of “power distribution software and hardware integration solutions,” according to the company statement.
The current 38-caliber turret will be replaced with a 58-caliber version to accommodate a 30-foot gun barrel from which the ERCA projectile will be fired. The program aims to extend the range of artillery “while maintaining the weight found in current systems to minimize performance impacts to the chassis,” the company statement notes. BAE is also under contract to develop precision guidance kits with anti-jamming capabilities, which is compatible with existing and new long-range rounds to include the M109 howitzer. The company will work on the prototype at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, and BAE’s facilities in York, Pennsylvania; Sterling Heights, Michigan; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Other efforts within the ERCA program include developing an improved projectile that can reach beyond 40 kilometers in range. The Army is developing the XM113 rocket-assisted projectile to answer that call, which could end up in soldiers’ hands in less than a few years.
The Army also has its eye on an autoloader for the cannon, which would dramatically increase its volume of fire.
The service tested a modified M109 Paladin at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, in December 2018 designed to carry more propellant with a roughly 30-foot-long cannon. The ERCA cannon is a step ahead of a bigger program to develop a strategic, long-range cannon that could shoot 1,000 nautical miles, or 1,852 kilometers. (Source: Defense News)
15 Jul 19. Russian SAM Troops deputy commander dubs S-350 ‘cruise missile killer.’ The deputy commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) Troops, Colonel Yuri Muravkin, has told the Ministry of Defence (MoD) newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda that the newly adopted S-350 Vityaz SAM system that is to replace the medium-range S-300PS system in the current SAM Troops inventory is a “cruise missile killer”.
In an interview to commemorate SAM Troops Day on 8 July, Col Muravkin said that a single S-350 transporter erector launcher (TEL) is armed with three times as many missiles as a single S-300 or S-400 SAM TEL and that the S-350 is capable of repelling simultaneous attacks from any direction. The colonel also stated that the S-350’s capabilities make it a priority to equip SAM units stationed on borders and coasts with Vityaz and that a regiment will be retrained for the system in 2020.
Col Muravkin claimed that the Pantsir-S short-range air defence (SHORAD) system had been used to “deal effectively with” Grad rockets fired by the BM-21 multiple rocket launcher system, small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and quadcopters over the last year and a half and had countered air-to-surface missiles and aircraft for a “long time”.
The colonel added that the recently unveiled Pantsir-SM will counter future threats such as hypersonic missiles and UAV swarms, stressing that in addition to a new radar, greater processing power, and missiles with greater speed, range, and payload, the Pantsir-SM will use artificial intelligence.
Col Muravkin also stated that because of the proliferation of precision-guided munitions (PGMs), the focus is shifting from area to point air defence with Pantsir systems, while S-400 SAM systems will deal with aircraft before they launch PGMs. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
15 Jul 19. DE&S awards the first tranche of innovative contracts for General Munitions. The first tranche of innovative contracts has been signed as DE&S looks to continuously improve the way it buys general munitions for our armed forces. These contracts, secured by the Defence General Munitions (DGM) project team at DE&S, have been negotiated with suppliers in Germany and Canada – Rheinmetall Waffe Munition and General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems. It means 40 different types of munition previously tried, tested and used by the armed forces can be repeatedly bought during the next five years including small and medium calibre ammunition, impact rounds and grenades and could result in reductions in price of high quantity purchases by as much as 50 per cent. Further contracts, including for specialist small arms munitions, countermeasures, explosives, flares and pyrotechnics, will collectively deliver up to £400m of munitions in the interim period whilst a long-term munitions strategy is developed and implemented.
Brigadier Richard Spencer, Deputy Director Weapons, said: “These contracts represent a flexible commercial approach with industry for the supply of munitions. “In contrast to historic approaches where DE&S makes firm commitments to a supplier for the quantity of munitions required over defined periods, these contracts provide the flexibility to place orders on an annual basis that keep pace with customer demand.” The British Army is expected to be the greatest beneficiary of the contracts, as they use such munitions in combat and training situations. The contracts will also support Front Line Commands such as the Navy with the supply of rounds for defence against anti-ship missiles as fired from the Phalanx Weapons system installed on Royal Navy and RFA ships, including Type 45 destroyers, Bay class landing ships and Wave class tankers. The project team is currently assessing different options for buying munitions from 2023 and these new contracts provide a range of early benefits. Edd Davies, Assistant Head Commercial, added: “The contracts provide a stable set of terms on which to do business and offer savings made possible by closely aligning specifications and ordering processes with industry standards.” Paul Opie, DGM team leader, added: “The new pricing approach is driving a change in behaviours by informing customer decisions such as when and how many munitions to buy in any given year. (Source: U.K. MoD desider)
15 Jul 19. India delivers first batch of indigenous lightweight torpedoes to Myanmar. India has delivered the first batch of Shyena advanced lightweight torpedoes to Myanmar as part of a USD37.9m deal that New Delhi signed with Naypyitaw in early 2017. Official sources told Jane’s on 15 July that an undisclosed number of these torpedoes, which were designed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), had been transferred to the Myanmar Navy (MN), or Tatmadaw Yei, in early July. Inducted into the Indian Navy in early 2012, the electrically propelled 2.75 m long, self-homing Shyena weighs 220 kg, is packed with 50 kg of explosive, and can be launched from triple-tube launchers on surface ships and helicopters, according to DRDO sources. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
15 Jul 19. Australian Army prepares for rollout of new handheld mortar computers. The Australian Army has readied for the rollout of the new A1 handheld mortar computer, which will replace the older M32 variant. It won’t be long before 81mm bombs will be sent downrange by new mortars guided by modern handheld computers set to rollout this year.
Lieutenant Colonel Michael Chapman, Acting Program Director – Indirect Fire Support, said the current M32 was nearly obsolete.
“We didn’t have many spares left and they were in need of an overall replacement,” LTCOL Chapman said. “M32A1 possess all of the same functions, but it also allows receipt of digital messages. A battalion can still conduct independent operations with its organic mortar support and mobile fire controllers, but in a brigade setting, the mortar platoon can be networked with the rest of the fire support. [Controllers and observers] will be able to use whatever indirect weapons are within range of a target – whether the mortars or 155 howitzers – and the system will pick the right unit for the fire mission.”
The old F1 mortars are set to be replaced with new American-made M252A1 mortars featuring tubes that are 2.1 kilograms lighter, firing the same bombs. There was nothing wrong with the F1, they’re still working just fine, but there’s a focus on reducing the weight burden,” LTCOL Chapman said. “Army was looking at all the options to reduce weight for dismounted combatants. The tube is very similar; the main difference is the design of the bipod, going from a K-frame to an A-frame, saving 2.6 kilograms. The base plate also looks similar, but it’s about 1.2 kilograms lighter, all up saving just under six kilograms.”
The new computers have arrived in Australia with rollout expected to begin this month. The first batch of mortars have also arrived and expected to be delivered to designated units in the second half of 2019, enabling initial operational capability to be declared by the end of the year. Final operational capability is expected by the end of 2020. (Source: Defence Connect)
12 Jul 19. High Precision Systems delivers Palma AAGMs to Russian Navy, foreign customers. Russia’s holding company High Precision Systems, a subsidiary of Rostec, has completed deliveries of 10 Palma naval anti-aircraft gun-missile (AAGM) systems to the Russian Navy and foreign customers, a company representative told Jane’s at the International Maritime Defence Show 2019 (IMDS 2019) in St Petersburg on 10 July.
“The Palma has been [certified and tested] with 12 of the newest classes of [Russian] naval ships with displacements ranging from 250 tonnes to 5,400 tonnes. Ten AAGM systems are now being operated,” he said, adding that the deliveries of the systems to the Russian Navy and foreign navies had started in 2011. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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