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25 Jul 19. Turkey’s First S-400 Shipment Complete, Second Planned for Ankara: Officials. Russia has completed delivery of the first shipment of its S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Turkey and a second shipment is now being planned, Turkish military officials said on Thursday. Turkey began taking delivery of the advanced Russian air defense system earlier this month, prompting the United States to remove NATO ally Turkey from the F-35 jet program over security concerns.
Washington has also threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey, though Ankara has dismissed the warnings. It has instead put its trust in sympathetic comments from U.S. President Donald Trump, who has said that Turkey was treated “unfairly”. At a briefing in Ankara, military officials said on Thursday that Turkey was still discussing where exactly to base the first S-400 shipment. U.S. officials are concerned that the stealth capabilities of the F-35 Lockheed Martin fighter would be jeopardized if deployed together with the S-400s. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Reuters)
25 Jul 19. Boeing drops from next-generation ICBM competition. Boeing has announced its withdrawal from the $85bn Ground Based Strategic Deterrent competition, potentially leaving Northrop Grumman as the only contender vying to replace the Air Force’s Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.
“After numerous attempts to resolve concerns within the procurement process, Boeing has informed the Air Force that it will not bid Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) under the current acquisition approach,” reads a Boeing statement. “We’ve evaluated these issues extensively, and determined that the current acquisition approach does not provide a level playing field for fair competition.”
Boeing Defense CEO Leanne Caret detailed the company’s issues in a July 23 letter to Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper, which was obtained by Defense News and other outlets.
“Throughout the procurement process, Boeing has been transparent with the Air Force about its concerns with the competition,” she wrote. “The final RFP released on July 16 made only modest changes to the draft RFPs that had been previously released. As relevant to the concerns Boeing had raised, the final RFP extended the proposal submission deadline by 60 days, from 90 days after the RFP’s issuance to 150 days, and allowed offerors to submit ‘an alternative proposal in addition to their principal proposal,’ that could include ‘a single, combined proposal’ from both competitors.”
But Caret said that those changes did not address Boeing’s primary concern: that Northrop Grumman would have an unfair advantage in the competition due to its recent acquisition of solid rocket motor manufacturer Orbital ATK, now known as Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems.
NGIS is one of two U.S. manufacturers of solid rocket motors, alongside Aerojet Rocketdyne, but both Boeing and Northrop had chosen Orbital as its supplier for GBSD prior to the merger.
According to Caret, Northrop only recently — as of July 3 — signed off on an agreement that would firewall Boeing’s proprietary information from Northrop’s own GBSD team as Boeing negotiates with NGIS for solid rocket motors. Even though an agreement has now been reached, Caret contends that Boeing does not have enough time to negotiate a competitive price for the motors.
Caret said the current acquisition approach gives Northrop “inherently unfair cost, resource and integration advantages related to SRMs,” adding: “As I said in my July 8 letter, we lack confidence in the fairness of any procurement that does not correct this basic imbalance between competitors.”
Even the Air Force’s accommodation that would allow Northrop and Boeing to submit a joint bid “is not a workable solution to these issues,” she said.
“Because the final RFP does not address Northrop’s inherent advantage as a result of its control of SRMs, Northrop retains the ability to compete on unequal terms against either a Boeing or a joint ‘alternative’ proposal — and as a result, would not be incentivized to devote the significant resources required to develop such a proposal,” Caret said.
Additionally, Caret said it is “not realistic” to expect that Boeing and Northrop could develop a competitive joint bid in the five months before proposals are due, given that both companies have been working on their separate proposals for more than two years.
An Air Force spokeswoman declined to comment on the news, as the competition is currently in source selection.
Boeing’s decision comes a week after the Air Force released its final request for proposals on July 16. A contract for the engineering, manufacturing and development phase is expected to be awarded by the end of 2020.
Lockheed Martin had previously competed for the contract, but was ousted in August 2017, when the service awarded technology maturation and risk reduction contacts to Boeing and Northrop.
It’s unclear how Boeing’s departure will affect the ultimate price of the GBSD program. (Source: Defense News)
25 Jul 19. Laboratory Tests for Ammunition Safety. Under the auspices of the European Defence Agency (EDA), the European Network of National Ammunition Safety Authorities (ENNSA) has launched the annual Robin Round Test (RRT) to improve laboratory procedures. Nine laboratories from seven EDA member States (Germany, Finland, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Cyprus) and Norway have received samples from
the same batch of explosives and are required to carry out identical tests, all relating to explosion sensitivity and thermal stability. Starting from equivalent results from different laboratories, the aim is to disperse the data and to achieve reliable results with a given standard (within a certain range of tolerable errors) under different conditions. Therefore, what is evaluated in an RRT is the standard itself and not the performance of the laboratories. A successful
RRT gives the assurance that the standard used iscapable of achieving ‘reproducible’ results. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
24 Jul 19. Belarus to develop new MLRS rocket. Belarus’ Precision Electromechanical Plant (ZTEM), together with BelVneshPromServis (BVPS), is scheduled to complete a research and development (R&D) programme later this year relating to the manufacture of an upgraded 9M524MB short-range effector to equip the Belarussian Armed Forces’ (BAF) Soviet-era BM-21 ‘Grad’ and BM-21A ‘BelGrad’ 122 mm multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), the country’s Military-Industrial Complex, GosVoenProm announced in July.
According to GosVoenProm, the upgraded 9M524MB effector will feature a more powerful high-explosive (HE) fragmentation (frag warhead), will have a maximum range of up to 15 km, and will be able to effectively engage adversary lightly armoured platforms, artillery and mortar batteries, command posts and deployed personnel. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
23 Jul 19. US Army Seeking Industry Support For Joint Munitions Command’s Transition To AI Tools. The Army is looking for industry solutions and support services that will assist Joint Munitions Command’s (JMC) transition to artificial intelligence and machine learning-driven processes. A new “Sources Sought” notice released Monday details plans to find an industry partner to develop tools, including robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning, as well as consulting on projects to improve JMC’s predictive analysis capabilities.
“The ultimate deliverable will be to work with JMC process owners to apply automated processes that improve predictive analysis capabilities and data quality/reliability,” officials wrote. “The contractor will provide JMC with an overarching artificial intelligence plan of action incorporating both RPA and ML technology implementation and sustainment.”
The Army is likely to award a three-year contract for the work, with JMC set to provide a list of its prioritized use cases for AI-powered tools to the selected vendor.
An eventual contractor will also be tasked with building a ML-powered platform to assist JMC with moving its systems into a cloud computing environment.
“The underlying goal of the of this contract will be to posture JMC utilizing cutting edge technological tools sets to both help efficiently utilize our resources and to make all of our data work together,” officials wrote.
JMC is a subordinate command of Army Materiel Command oversees management of the armed forces’ ammunition plants. (Source: Defense Daily)
22 Jul 19. India’s Nag ATGM ready for series production, says MoD. India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 19 July that the locally developed Nag (Snake) anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) is ready to enter series production after the Indian Army (IA) successfully completed summer user trials with the ‘third-generation’ fire-and-forget weapon.
“Completion of summer user trials will now pave the way for production and induction of the missile system into the army,” said the MoD in a statement from the Indian government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB), adding that New Delhi had already granted ‘acceptance of necessity’ in April 2018 to fast-track the procurement of the ATGM.
The trials were conducted between 7 and 18 July in firing ranges at Pokhran in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan, and included six “missions” that were conducted “under extreme temperature conditions”, said the MoD. All of the tested missiles met the mission objectives, “including minimum range, maximum range, in direct attack as well as top attack modes, and achieved a direct hit onto the target”, it added.
The MoD also released video footage showing that the tested missiles were launched from the tracked Nag Missile Carrier (NAMICA) vehicle, which is capable of carrying up to six Nag ATGMs.
Developed by the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) the Nag ATGM, which also cleared winter user trials in February 2019, has been developed to engage “highly fortified enemy tanks in all weather conditions with day-and-night capabilities and with a minimum range of 500 metres and maximum range of four kilometres”, according to the MoD.
The Nag missile system, which uses a locally developed, high-resolution imaging infrared seeker in ‘lock-on-before-launch mode’, has been under development since the 1980s by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) and the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) – part of the DRDO – to meet the operational requirements of the IA for both a vehicle- and a helicopter-launched anti-tank weapon system. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
19 Jul 19. US Army Sets It Sights On 2023 For Major Long Range Precision Fires Programs. The Army is looking to 2023 to field initial capabilities for its major long-range precision fires (LRPF) programs, including the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) and a hypersonic strategic weapon, while acknowledging upcoming challenges to ensure mobility for the signature systems and finalize plans for a first-of-its kind auto-loader. Col. John Rafferty, director of the LRPF Cross-Functional Team, told attendees at a Thursday CSIS event in 2023 the Army will deliver an initial capability for the PrSM missile, roll out a technology demonstration for the Strategic Long Range cannon program and field the first battalion with the Extended Range Cannon Artillery capability. “2023 is a big year for us, and, like I said, there isn’t a moment to lose,” Rafferty said. PrSM is the Army’s program to replace its legacy ATACMS missiles, with Raytheon [RTN] and Lockheed Martin [LMT] competing to deliver the new weapon set to reach ranges of 499 kilometers. Rafferty said a downselect decision is set for 2021, with the first flight tests for PrSM to start this November with one vendor, followed by a test with the second vendor in December. Flight tests, originally scheduled to begin this summer, were pushed back due to a technical issue with one of the vendors that caused the delay, Rafferty said.
“There were a couple of technical issues that caused us to delay about 90 days for the test flight. It puts both our competitors on the same path again. There was a mishap at a facility that caused some of the delay, followed my Mother Nature that made the repair of that facility near impossible for a period of time,” Rafferty said.
The PrSM program, which was accelerated from 2027 to 2023, may also see potential adjustments as the U.S. readies to pull out of the INF treaty with Russia, allowing the Army to explore extending the range of the missile beyond 499 km.
“I’m going to beat someone to the INF question. We’re expecting the cooling off period to end sometime soon, and if it does and when we’re directed we’ll look at adjusting the objective [range] requirement for the PrSM missile,” Rafferty said, adding that both vendors have indicated they’re capable of meeting requirements for extended ranges. The Army’s strategic fires project consists of the Strategic Long Range Cannon and Long Range
Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) programs, which Rafferty noted are both in the process of finalizing operational requirements including intended levels of mobility.
“We see the Long Range Hypersonic Weapon being used against the fixed-site strategic infrastructure, hardened targets, and the strategic cannon delivering a volume of more affordable projectiles against the area targets,” Rafferty said.
LRHW is currently being worked under the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, with an initial prototype capability set to roll out in FY ’23. Rafferty said the ERCA program to upgrade the Army’s self-propelled howitzer to reach ranges of up to 70 km and deliver six to 10 rounds per minute is on pace to reach an initial capability in 2021 before fielding to the first battalion in 2023. Last week, BAE Systems received $45m for work on ERCA prototype integration. The LRPF CFT is currently working through finalizing design plans for an ERCA auto-loader while ensuring the system retains mobility after upgrading the howitzer’s current .39 caliber-length cannon to a .58-caliber length capability.
“I’m very confident in 2023 for the Increment 1, as we call it, with the .58-caliber gun tube. We have a long way to go for 2024 and getting the auto-loader,” Rafferty said. “It’s important to remember we don’t have one now, so we shouldn’t kid ourselves into thinking this is going to be an easy challenge to overcome.”
To test ERCA’s mobility, the Army recently ran the self-propelled howitzer with the extended gun tube through a mobility characterization site at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, according to Rafferty.
“What they found is there wasn’t significant loss of mobility. It can get loaded on and off the C-17, they did that there,” Rafferty said, while adding there were challenges navigating up slopes and adjustments could be made for the cannon to travel in a more elevated position. (Source: Defense Daily)
19 Jul 19. Russia’s Central Military District receives AK-12 assault rifles. Russia’s Central Military District (CMD) has begun receiving Kalashnikov AK-12 5.45mm assault rifles, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 17 July.
“The first 8,000 [AK-12] assault rifles have been delivered to the CMD’s units and formations. The AK-12 is a new platform, based on which a range of military and civilian weapons of various calibres will be produced,” the MoD said.
According to the military, CMD personnel will soon undergo weapon handling and preliminary marksmanship training with the new rifles at several combined arms ranges in the Novosibirsk, Samara, Chelyabinsk regions, and Altay Krai. However, the CMD units to which the AK-12s have been issued have not been disclosed. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
19 Jul 19. UK DASA to launch ‘Don’t Blow It’ competition Phase II. The UK Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is set to launch the second phase of the ‘Don’t Blow It’ competition. DASA has called on organisations to submit expressions of interest for the competition’s launch event on 1 October this year. The ‘Don’t Blow It’ competition seeks to safely eliminate chemical and biological munitions on the battlefield.
The UK Ministry of Defence-backed government organisation is looking for proposals for novel technological solutions and approaches to access, disable and / or permanently destroy munitions. The competition will cover chemical and biological munitions, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) containing chemical and biological agents, and containers of bulk agents.
DASA completed Phase I of the competition and a Collaboration Day was conducted in May. Under Phase II, the organisation will provide up to £1.5m to fund emerging innovations at technology readiness level (TRL) 3 upwards to enable the development of full-scale prototypes.
In a statement, DASA said: “Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, all member states are obligated to destroy any chemical weapons they own or possess, or that they abandoned on the territory of another member state.
“Whilst destruction technologies exist for this purpose, they are not appropriate for use in all circumstances. Recent events have increased focus on developing a toolkit to enable rapid and effective disablement or irreversible destruction of smaller caches discovered in resource-limited environments.”
The solutions should be able to ultimately enable rapid, effective and flexible destruction methods, and reduce logistical support requirements.
Furthermore, the solutions are required to deliver other enhancements such as optimising ease of operation, transportability and ruggedness of the equipment.
Participants in the second phase of the competition should focus on a system solution.
To achieve this, companies are welcome to collaborate with other partners.
‘Don’t Blow It’ is jointly funded by the UK Ministry of Defence and the US Department of Defense. (Source: army-technology.com)
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