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19 Sep 19. US Army Wants Long-Range Missiles for UAVs. The US Army is looking to acquire a Long Range Precision Munition (LRPM) for its rotorcraft and unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). The service wants a missile that is “ready for qualification [and] production, and suitable for integration on currently fielded and future” rotorcrafts and UAVs, it says in a request for information posted online on 10 September.
That means that in addition to being a possible munition on the Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV, such a weapon could arm the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift aircraft, including its Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft and Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft.
The US Army wants the LRPM to have a range of at least 18.6mi (30km) and capability to attack integrated air defense systems, lightly armored vehicles, command and control systems and personnel.
“The weapons system should be able to engage stationary and moving targets in day and night conditions, in adverse weather and [in] Global Positioning System-denied environments, with low collateral damage,” says the notice. The service’s requirements call for the missile to be capable of covering its 30km range in no more than 100s, which equates to an average ground speed of about 1,080km/h (671mph). The weapon should also be survivable against air defence and counter-precision guided munition systems and weigh no more than 91kg (200lb), including its container, says the US Army. (Source: UAS VISION/FlightGlobal)
19 Sep 19. Compact servo drive for ‘next gen’ airborne targeting technology previewed at DSEI. A compact servo drive for next generation airborne targeting technology was previewed at this year’s Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI).
Elmo Motion Control’s Platinum Bee single axis servo drive ensures high precision and high-reliability motion for the imagery components of targeting equipment. This enables targeting units to measure command and feedback signals at a high resolution, ensuring that actual movement of the optical head exactly matches commanded movements from the pilot.
With a volume ten times smaller than previous Elmo servo drives and the ability to provide 5.5kW at 90 A, the Platinum Bee has a high power to weight ratio, enabling the power use of the equipment to be increased as required.
The small size of Platinum Bee also means it can be sited much closer to the motor, reducing the need for cabling and cutting electrical noise that could interfere with the signals between the servo drive and the motor. Platinum Bee offers flexible networking, ranging from official motion fieldbus like EtherCAT and CanOpen to serial communications protocols such as RS232 and RS422. Serial communications, preferred by many companies in the defence sector for their robustness, have been increased in speed in the Platinum Bee from 150 kB to 4 MB per second.
Platinum Bee is part of Elmo’s harsh environment range of servo drives. Ideal for operations with high performance combat aircraft, the unit offers vibration resistance up to 2000 Hz, a service ceiling above 39,000 feet, an operational ambient temperature range of -40°C to +70°C and a mechanical shock resistance of up to 20G.
The Platinum Bee servo drive was developed in partnership with Rafael Defense Systems. Rafael has used several generations of Elmo servo technology in its airborne targeting systems over the years. Together the two technologies have logged over two million hours of flight time, flying with 27 air forces and on 25 types of aircraft.
About Elmo Motion Control
Elmo, a leading provider of cutting-edge motion solutions for more than 30 years, oﬀers intelligent, easy to implement, ultra-small and rugged servo drives and motion controllers for various harsh environment applications such as drones, UAV, missile guidance, turrets, and naval applications.
Elmo’s harsh environment products can operate in extreme environmental conditions with temperatures ranging from -40°C to +70°C, altitudes of up to 40,000 feet, and high mechanical shocks or intense vibrations up to 14 Grms. All products have consistently experienced no failures during the HALT test for accelerated temperatures, electrical cycles and thermal shocks, and vibrations.
The company is headquartered in Israel, employs more than 350 staﬀ worldwide, and has a dedicated presence in the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, China, Korea and Singapore.
17 Sep 19. MBDA and BDL agree to assemble missiles in India. MBDA, Europe’s leading missile manufacturer, has signed an agreement with Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) of India for the final assembly, integration and test (FAIT) of Mistral and ASRAAM missiles in India.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 12 September at DSEI in London, by George Kyriakides, Director of International Industrial Co-operation at MBDA, and Commodore Siddharth Mishra (Retd.), Chairman & Managing Director of BDL. BDL is a major Indian weapon systems integrator and has supplied more than 130,000 weapon systems and to domestic and foreign customers. MBDA has a long and highly successful history of working with BDL for the past 50 years, which has already seen over 50,000 MBDA-designed missiles manufactured in India.
George Kyriakides said: “This MoU marks the latest step on our true commitment to Make in India and our partnership with BDL, as we build the foundations for further new and exciting joint opportunities.”
Cmde’ Mishra, said: “We have enjoyed a long a fruitful relationship between Bharat Dynamics Limited and MBDA for many decades, and we so are very pleased to have signed this new agreement to deepen our strategic relationship for the future”.
ASRAAM is India’s New Generation Close Combat Missile. With its large rocket motor, and clean aerodynamic design, ASRAAM has unrivalled speed, aerodynamic manoeuvrability and range. The IAF’s Jaguar aircraft are the first Indian platform to receive this cutting-edge air-combat missile.
Mistral, with its unmatched success rate of over 96%, during all firings, has been selected by many forces around the world and has been offered to the Indian armed forces to meet their VSHORAD requirement. Working with HAL, integration of the Mistral ATAM system on the Dhruv helicopter and the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) has been very successfully completed.
17 Sep 19. USAF to Shift Billions of Dollars to Network Its Weapons. The clock is ticking on Gen. David Goldfein’s signature project. Last year, service leaders showed up to the annual Air, Space & Cyber conference near Washington with a big message: they need 386 squadrons — one-quarter more than currently funded — to fight and win wars against China and Russia, as prescribed in the National Defense Strategy. Asked for details — How many planes? What kinds of planes? — the leaders responded: wait till next year.
Now it’s next year, and the Air Force Association’s giant conference is once again underway. So about those answers? Service officials say they’re coming — yes — next year, in the Pentagon’s 2021 budget proposal to Congress.
But for Gen. David Goldfein, there is no next year, at least not as the Air Force chief of staff. Now in the last of four as the top Air Force general, Goldfein is hustling to cement his legacy. Speaking at the conference, he promised “radical changes” in coming years.
The Air Force is talking about creating a new battle network, fielding a new series of fighter jets every five years, and modifying existing weapons to make them more lethal and survivable. Goldfein also said the 2021 budget would contain “significant investment” in weapons that can strike heavily defended enemy targets.
Much of the money will be redirected from existing projects — echoing the Army’s year-old “night court” effort that is shifting $25bn over five years into higher-priority programs. At the conference, Acting Air Force Secretary Matt Donovan said his service was planning to shift tens of billions of dollars as well — in the same “ballpark” as the Army.
The Air Force calls its “night court” a “zero-based review.” It was used for the 2019 and 2020 budgets and now again for the 2021 budget plan, which is typically sent to Congress in February.
“We wire-brushed every program in the United States Air Force and we graded that against the National Defense Strategy,” Goldfein said in a Tuesday speech. “As a result, you’re going to see some of the largest movement of resources” in the 2021 budget “in probably the last two to three decades.”
That money, Goldfein said, will build “the Air Force we need to do multi-domain operations.”
The general called the 2020 budget, which Congress still hasn’t approved, “the first budget which has complete National Defense Strategy alignment.”
Throughout his tenure as the Air Force’s 21st chief of staff, Goldfein’s top priority has remained the same: pushing his service to ensure that all of its weapons can connect with each other, and with those of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and allies. He calls the concept multi-domain operations.
“This is going to be as hard for us culturally as it is technically to shift from a platform-centric orientation that we all grew up with to a network-centric orientation,” Goldfein said. “The question for us is: Can we look beyond the devices? Can we look beyond the trucks? Can we look beyond the platforms and actually focus on the highway we need to build for the future?”
He’ll need the support of lawmakers who tend to fund hardware projects — and constituents’ employers — before software and networking visions. And he seems to have made a good start: many lawmakers and staffers have expressed support for the initiative.
Explained Goldfein: “I’ve not yet met a highway-man who is on the Hill lobbying, but I sure have met a lot of truckers.”
Right now, the Air Force is trying to figure out how to build that highway.
“This is the challenge I face: I don’t know how to make through contract what I’m asking for truly profitable, which will then drive the incentives for industry to move out on what I’m asking [for] because the big money is actually in proprietary data, … [and] long-term sustainment contracts,” he said. “The big money is for us to buy weapon systems at a lethargic rate over long periods of time and the adversary and the threat is not going to allow us to stay in that environment.
“If we can figure out how to make this profitable, it will take off,” he added.
Goldfein believes he is making decisions that will shape the Air Force a decade from now.
“I spent a lot of time thinking about Chief 24,” he said. “Chief 24 is going to go to war in 2030 with the force that Goldfein built.”
But the clock is ticking. Goldfein’s term ends in July, and for the 21st chief of staff, there is no next year. (Source: Defense One)
17 Sep 19. Textron Shows Off Mine-Hunting Drone Boat Armed with Hellfire Missiles. A Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) equipped with a box-style launcher holding two Hellfire Missiles and a .50 caliber machine gun to make a mine-hunting mission package. Textron Systems displayed the proof-of-concept, surface-warfare mission package Modern Day Marine 2019.
Textron Systems is working with the Navy to turn a mine-sweeping unmanned surface vessel designed to work with Littoral Combat Ships into a mine-hunting craft armed with Hellfire missiles and a .50-caliber machine gun.
Textron displayed the proof-of-concept, surface-warfare mission package designed for the Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) at Modern Day Marine 2019.
“It’s a huge capability,” Wayne Prender, senior vice president for Applied Technologies and Advanced Programs at Textron Systems, told Military.com on Tuesday.
Textron is developing the mine-hunting package with the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NAVSEA) Dahlgren Division and Solutions Development Corporation at Dahlgren. The CUSV was originally intended to carry mine-sweeping packages for LCS vessels.
The Navy continues to test the CUSV and work toward a Milestone-C, full-rate production decision, Prender said.
“It was designed to be deployed and recovered from the Littoral Combat Ship to perform the mine-sweeping mission,” Prender said. “Since that initial concept, it has grown legs.”
This new effort pairs the CUSV with NAVSEA’s Battle Management System and a remote weapons station that features a box-style launcher that holds two vertical-launched Hellfire missiles, as well as a .50-caliber machine gun, he said.
The system is designed to “operate autonomously, identify potential targets and threats, and then pass that to the remote weapons station,” Prender said.
Textron demonstrated the system in July at the Navy’s Advanced Naval Technology Experiment at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
“We would certainly like to see the Navy take what we have worked on and move that into a longer-term exercise,” Prender said.
The system is also being tested for use with Navy expeditionary-based vessels, he said.
“It was originally envisioned to be an LCS mission module; it has proven itself to be far more than just that,” Prender said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/military.com)
17 Sep 19. Scoring recent development contracts, Lockheed bets on hypersonic missile production. Lockheed Martin has placed its bets on hypersonic missiles, using golden shovels to break ground surrounded by cotton and corn fields in Alabama on Sept. 16 for new facilities to develop, test and produce the weapons.
Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson, who drove her shovel into dirt front and center at the company’s ground-breaking ceremony, reported earlier this year that the firm’s hypersonic contracts with the U.S. military amounted to more than $3.5bn and included contracts to develop the Air Force’s Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon program and the Navy’s conventional prompt strike hypersonic effort as well as the tactical boost-glide contract and the Air Force’s Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) program.
Also at the ceremony were Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, and Republican Reps. Robert Aderholt and Mo Brooks of Alabama, showing political support for the effort.
Lockheed most recently won a contract to integrate a hypersonic weapon onto a ground-launched mobile platform for the Army and is part of a Huntsville, Alabama-based Dynetics team to build a common hypersonic glide body prototype, also for the Army.
The Army’s No. 1 modernization priority is long-range precision fires, and hypersonic development falls into that category. The other services are also placing that capability high on their priority lists to counter rapid hypersonic weapons development by Russia and China.
As Lockheed scoops up hypersonic development contracts, it chose Courtland, Alabama, as its central location for hypersonic strike work. The expansion will bring two new buildings to support the portfolio and create 72 jobs in Courtland as well as 200 in Huntsville over the next three years.
The company “has a strong partnership with the state of Alabama that dates back several decades and includes research and development on rockets” — the state is the birthplace of the American rocket — and “space launch vehicles, tactical missiles, space exploration and air and missile defense targets,” according to a Lockheed statement.
For Lockheed, the plans to expand its facility at Courtland and elsewhere in the United States, such as Troy, Alabama — where the ARRW capability will be produced — is a calculated bet given the firm’s track record in scooping up hypersonic missile development and prototype contracts. But when it comes to production, the services must still decide what companies will mass produce the various components of the missile’s capabilities.
“This is where we are going to put the hypersonic production capability for all three services for all of the programs we have been talking,” said Eric Scherff, Lockheed’s vice president of hypersonic strike within the company’s Space division.
Ultimately, the company has planned four missile assembly buildings. “We will have significant capacity to support this demand,” Scherff said, and Courtland will be considered the company’s corporate hypersonic center of excellence.
While Dynetics and Lockheed are getting a first crack at learning to build the common hypersonic glide body for the services, the Army plans to award more contracts to other teams and companies to learn the same over the next year or so.
One of the biggest challenges in fielding hypersonic weapons is the ability to manufacture them; the industrial base does not exist.
McConville told a few reporters traveling with him on his flight down to Courtland for the ceremony that it’s going to be important to create a competitive environment to ensure the military gets leading-edge technology at the best price.
“I want to be able to field the system at a reasonable cost because we have a lot of other priorities that we also want to accomplish,” McConville said.
The Army, as part of a joint effort to develop and build hypersonic weapons, is in charge of producing the Navy’s common hypersonic glide body for all of the services.
Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office director, told reporters at the ceremony that the service plans to award several contracts to other teams, and is preparing to award another contract to a company to learn to build the glide body. Thurgood is also in charge of hypersonic development for the Army.
The method to build a competitive industrial base is unique and uses other transaction authorities — a congressionally approved mechanism to rapidly award contracts for prototyping or other development. The authorities will be used to award contracts to multiple companies in a rolling fashion. Sandia National Laboratories, a federally funded facility, is teaching each team awarded a contract to build glide bodies for hypersonic missiles.
Lockheed and Dynetics will likely be one of several teams competing to build hypersonic missiles in the United States, and it’s not a given that Lockheed or any other company will win the opportunity to manufacture hypersonic missiles at scale.
One of the biggest challenges is the pace at which the services want to test and field a hypersonic offensive capability. The Army wants a mobile land-based capability fielded around 2023, according to McConville. That means the service will likely choose manufacturers to build hypersonic missiles in a year or two.
Lockheed did not say when its hypersonic facility will be completed.
The Navy, according to Vice Adm. Johnny Wolfe, director of the service’s Strategic Systems Programs, wants its ship-launched capability fielded in 2023 followed by a submarine-launched missile in 2024.
The Air Force wants to field its air-launched version in 2022, said Yvette Weber, the service’s deputy program executive officer for weapons.
The services are planning a series of flight tests starting next spring, Thurgood said. (Source: Defense News)
17 Sep 19. Boeing wants government to force Northrop to partner on ICBM replacement. Months after announcing it would not bid on the Air Force’s ICBM replacement program, Boeing is officially lobbying both Congress and the service to force a shotgun marriage with Northrop Grumman, against the latter company’s will.
Frank McCall, Boeing’s director of strategic deterrence systems, told reporters Tuesday that the company was actively seeking “government intervention” on the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program, one which would require Northrop to add Boeing as at least a major sub-contractor, if not a co-equal partner.
“We think clearly it’s time for the Air Force or other governmental entities to engage and direct the right solution. Northrop has elected not to do that,” McCall said during the Air Force Association’s annual conference. “So we’re looking for government intervention to drive us to the best solution.”
Technically, GBSD is still an open competition. However, Northrop stands as the only competitor still making a bid. Lockheed Martin was knocked out in late 2017, and Boeing dropped out of the competition in July. Boeing claimed Northrop’s acquisition of solid-fueled rocket motor manufacturer Orbital ATK, now known as Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, gave the competitor an unfair advantage.
Boeing has since made overtures toward Northrop, arguing that a partnership involving the two companies would benefit the development of GBSD. But Boeing on Friday announced that Northrop had rejected any teaming attempts. Now, it seems, the company has decided to stop playing nice and start getting real.
McCall reiterated that Boeing would not be bidding as a prime on the GBSD request for proposal as is. He also would not rule out the possibility of launching a protest with the Government Accountability Office, should the Air Force not force Northrop to accept Boeing as part of its team.
“I’m not spending any time thinking, ‘what if it doesn’t work.’ We’re going to make it work,” he said.
Both Boeing and Northrop are currently under contract for a tech maturation phase, which runs into next year. Asked whether the company was worried whether its TMRR contract could be cancelled early given its stance that it will not bid, McCall said: “Certainly that’s a concern.”
However, “the service is maintaining our work,” he added. They continue to accept our deliverables, continue to fund our contract. So, I think we’re in good shape with the service.”
Because both teams are under that development contract, McCall argued that the Air Force should take the two teams and let them begin sharing information, with the service making the final decision on what pieces of each bid would work best when combined.
“What I am suggesting is the Air Force pull us in a room together and say ‘you’ve got 30 days to go figure out what is the right integrated baseline for the country to move forward with,’” he said. “While we have offered to Northrop a menu of things to choose from, we think the Air Force is really in a better position to go through that menu, go through the Northrop menu, and select the best option for the future.”
Should the Air Force not choose that route, McCall was open that Boeing has begun engaging members of Congress to circumvent the Pentagon and force its hand.
He pointed to Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama as someone who has already started pushing the issue with colleagues. McCall declined to name others, but should this turn into a legislative fight, it could come down to Boeing’s supporters – with strongholds in Alabama, Washington and Missouri – versus those of Northrop Grumman.
A wild card may come in the form of Lockheed Martin, who was announced as part of a ten-company national team for Northrop’s bid earlier this week; as the world’s largest defense firm, Lockheed could bring to bear significant firepower in Congress, and would likely be happy to knock Boeing out of the ICBM game.
The Boeing executive declined to say what specific parts of the GBSD program Boeing was targeting should it end up with Northrop, but indicated that nuclear command and control — part of Lockheed’s workshare under Northrop’s planned team — would be one aree where Boeing’s experience could come into play.
Asked what percentage of workshare on the program Boeing would be satisfied with should the team-up happen, McCall declined to give a number, saying: “We told Northrop, we don’t care if you’re the prime or we’re the prime. We’re not dictating a workshare percentage.” (Source: Defense News)
16 Sep 19. CTA International shines light on new munition for 40 CTAS. Speaking to Jane’s at the 2019 Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition (DSEI 2019), CTA International managing director Sylvain Richy showed off its General Purpose Round – Kinetic Energy – Tracer (GPR-KE-T) ammunition for its 40 mm Cased Telescoped Armament System (40 CTAS). The low-cost projectile of the GPR-KE-T round is inert and weighs 980 g (2.2 lb). CTA International states that this round is optimised for engaging lightly armoured vehicles, non-coherent structures, and low-value targets. The inert nature of the projectile renders the munition useful for certain training applications as well.
The company confirmed that the French Army would be acquiring the GPR-KE-T round for training purposes (replacing the TP-T) as well as for operational use. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
16 Sep 19. Decades late, the B-52 is getting a new nuclear weapon. The B-52 bomber first flew in 1952, but remains a vital part of America’s nuclear deterrent. Now, to keep the bomber relevant for its nuclear mission, the U.S. Air Force is preparing to spend billions of dollars to develop a new air-launched cruise missile. The B-52’s nuclear option of choice is the AGM-86B air-launched cruise missile, commonly referred to as the ALCM. Fully loaded, the B-52 can carry 20 of the weapons. But like the plane that launches them, the weapons are on the older side, having been produced in the early to mid-1980s.
“A lot of this stuff predates the airmen I have working on ’em,” said Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Abrams-Trust, the cruise missile flight chief for the 2nd Munitions Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Interviews at Barksdale were conducted by journalist and Defense News contributor Jeff Bolton.
“So while it was extremely sophisticated at the time, it’s fallen out of favor. Some of that technology’s requiring service-life extensions where we identify maybe some high-failure areas, things that we need to replace,” Abrams-Trust said.
The ALCM “had an initial service life of 10 years,” Abrams-Trust added. “It was really only meant to go to early to mid-’90s, be replaced by the advanced cruise missile. And while we fielded that, advanced cruise missile had some challenges logistically, maintenance was difficult. So we’ve pushed through the ALCM even further.”
Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are currently on contract for $900m as part of a four-and-a-half-year technology-maturation and risk-reduction phase to design the new weapon (the full cost of the heavily classified program is unknown). In fiscal 2022, the Air Force plans to choose between the designs. The service intends to integrate the weapon with its nuclear-capable bombers — the B-52, B-2 and B-21 — with initial fielding slated for the late 2020s.
Along with the newly designed ALCM is a newly designed warhead, known as the W80-4, currently in the early design stages with the National Nuclear Security Administration. Because the warhead is being designed at the same time as the delivery system — the first time in 30 years the two projects have been done in parallel — the program faces “unique” risks, according to NNSA’s most recent annual report to Congress.
The first production unit of the W80-4 is expected to be delivered in FY25, with completion of the production run by FY31. Costs are expected to range between $6.7bn and $10.3bn between FY18 and FY32; however, the warhead program experienced “a loss of $120m in productivity due to delays associated with Continuing Resolutions since the beginning of FY 2016,” according to the NNSA report.
For a few years, it looked like the LRSO program might be in for a rough ride from congressional Democrats. But the introduction of even newer nuclear weapon systems through the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review appears to have taken the heat off the new cruise missile. And for advocates of the air-based leg of the nuclear triad, keeping the B-52 as up to date as possible is a good thing.
“When we say nuclear modernization, we are merely replacing the current triad. We are not expanding our capabilities, we’re not violating a treaty, we’re not developing a new capability. It’s a very reasonable response to the threat,” Robert Soofer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy, said during the 2019 Defense News Conference.
With Russia and China modernizing their nuclear arsenals, and the U.S. engaged in what the Pentagon has termed as a renewal of “great power competition,” Soofer described the overall nuclear modernization efforts as “sensible,” “reasonable” and “affordable.”
But keeping the nuclear deterrent viable doesn’t just involve technology, noted Lt. Col. James Daily, deputy commander of the 2nd Operations Group at Barksdale.
“The bomber is that flexible, visible and recallable arm of the triad, and one of the things that we’re looking at is how do we do [operations] better everyday based on the environment,” Daily said.
“Back in the day, it was a two-player game during the Cold War. Now you’ve got multiple players, different environments and different considerations to include. We talk about extended deterrents for allies and things like that, so how do we better posture the force, is what we’re look at everyday.” (Source: Defense News)
16 Sep 19. Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) is developing a new medium-range, air-launched weapon called the Peregrine™ missile that is half the size and cost of today’s air-to-air missiles, yet delivers greater range and effect. Developed to strengthen the capabilities of current fighter aircraft, the new, smaller Peregrine missile is faster and more maneuverable than legacy medium-range, air-to-air missiles, and doubles the weapons loadout on a variety of fighter platforms. Its sophisticated, miniaturized guidance system can detect and track targets at any time of day and in any weather condition.
“Peregrine will allow U.S. and allied fighter pilots to carry more missiles into battle to maintain air dominance,” said Dr. Thomas Bussing, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president. “With its advanced sensor, guidance and propulsion systems packed into a much smaller airframe, this new weapon represents a significant leap forward in air-to-air missile development.”
The Peregrine missile benefits from military off-the-shelf components, additive manufacturing processes and readily available materials to offer an affordable solution for countering current and emerging airborne threats.
16 Sep 19. Making Northern Alabama its central location for Hypersonic Strike Work. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) will establish a new facility for the assembly, integration and testing of hypersonics programs and locate the management and engineering workforce for many of these programs in Huntsville. The Courtland expansion will bring two new buildings in support of Lockheed Martin’s portfolio of hypersonics programs. This decision brings 72 new jobs to Courtland and 200 new jobs to Huntsville over the next three years with additional job growth expected.
During an official ceremony in Courtland today, Marillyn Hewson, Chairman, President and CEO for Lockheed Martin, with speakers Senator Richard Shelby, Governor Kay Ivey, Congressmen Robert Aderholt and Mo Brooks, and Rick Ambrose, Executive Vice President of Space for Lockheed Martin, spoke to the shared commitment it takes to expand operations in Northern Alabama and the collaborative effort between government and industry to provide this advanced capability to the warfighter. Rick Ambrose will host an event, later today in Huntsville, to celebrate the increased workforce expansion as part of this effort.
Officials representing the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, US Air Force, US Army and US Navy were in attendance to mark the occasion for the future site of the next hypersonic production facility.
Lockheed Martin has a strong partnership with the state of Alabama that dates back several decades and includes research and development on rockets and space launch vehicles, tactical missiles, space exploration and air and missile defense targets.
Lockheed Martin’s Courtland and Huntsville employees are an established part of the community and weaved deeply into the fabric of the economy. The company employs over 2,000 people in the state of Alabama, who support local businesses, charitable organizations and volunteerism to multiple schools for STEM outreach and education.
“The decision to bring hypersonic manufacturing to this region would not have been possible without the support of the State of Alabama, our local partners including Lawrence and Madison counties, the cities of Courtland and Huntsville and Tennessee Valley Authority as well as those elected representatives in Congress,” said Scott Keller, vice president and general manager for Strategic and Missile Defense for Lockheed Martin. “On behalf of Lockheed Martin, we are honored to expand our presence in Northern Alabama and watch as the next cohort of innovators take advanced defense technology to levels we once thought were impossible.”
“Lockheed Martin has a longstanding relationship with the state of Alabama, and I am proud to see that strengthen even more as they make our state the flagship location for their hypersonic programs,” said Governor Ivey. “Both Courtland and Huntsville will gain new jobs, which is always welcome news. I am proud and confident that Alabamians will help advance Lockheed Martin’s goals as we begin working towards the advancements of the future.”
Lockheed Martin is proud to be an industry leader in the development, testing and fielding of hypersonic systems. Hypersonic Strike capabilities have been identified by the U.S. government as a critical capability that must be addressed in support of the U.S. National Security Strategy. Lockheed Martin is honored by the partnerships established with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and DARPA on key programs to meet this critical mission need.
16 Sep 19. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) today announced a nationwide GBSD team, comprised of hundreds of small, medium and large companies. Northrop Grumman’s team, if selected, is ready to deliver on a national security priority to develop a modernized ICBM capability for the U.S. Air Force. This Northrop Grumman nationwide GBSD industry team includes Aerojet Rocketdyne, BRPH, Clark Construction, Collins Aerospace, General Dynamics, Honeywell, L3Harris, Lockheed Martin, Parsons and Textron Systems, along with hundreds of other small, medium and large businesses across the United States.
Nationwide team brings together hundreds of small, medium and large companies, with extensive ICBM missile systems expertise, ready to deliver on modernized strategic deterrence mission for the nation.
“Northrop Grumman has assembled a nationwide team of partners from across the defense, construction and engineering industries – rich in ICBM missile systems expertise – that is ready now to design, build and deliver a modernized strategic deterrence capability for our nation and its allies,” said Greg Manuel, vice president, GBSD enterprise leader, Northrop Grumman. “We are confident this GBSD team we have so carefully assembled over the past four years is positioned to deliver a safe, reliable and affordable GBSD system on schedule.”
“Our team will bring with it the capability, capacity and commitment to address this national security priority and deliver on this critical mission for our customer,” added Manuel.
On Aug. 21, 2017, Northrop Grumman was one of two companies awarded a three-year Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction contract for the new GBSD weapon system program. In July 2019, the Air Force released its final request for proposals for the next phase of the program, with an expected award date in the third quarter of 2020.
Last month, Northrop Grumman broke ground on a new facility, near Hill Air Force Base, to serve as a future headquarters for its workforce and nationwide team supporting the GBSD program, with the opportunity to add thousands of jobs in the state of Utah. Overall, the GBSD program will involve over 10,000 people across the United States directly working on this vital national security program.
16 Sep 19. MAIR makes first flight. Leonardo’s Multiple Aperture InfraRed (MAIR) missile warning system has made its first test flight, company officials revealed at the DSEI 2019 trade show in London. The system underwent two hours of flight testing in July off the Ligurian coast between La Spezia and Genoa on a testbed helicopter. The location was chosen over the usual testing ground of Sardinia because of the climactic conditions of warm air meeting the Alps, as well as highways, and a rugged coastline.
The system was also tested using plumes from industrial chimneys, which can give a similar signature to missile launches against a skyline.
During the test, the system demonstrated its ability to gather and process information from multiple sensors simultaneously, while recording data for further evaluation and testing. Further flight tests are to take place to fully trial the system’s full range of capabilities.
The company is close to performing trials of the system on a fixed-wing aircraft to complete its qualification campaign ahead of a potential production launch in the second half of 2020. The fixed-wing market is targeting the military transport and cargo market in the first instance and may expand to the fighter aircraft and civil aviation sectors in the future. UAV integration is also under consideration. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
16 Sep 19. AFSOC’s ‘Ultimate Battle Plane’ Now Operating in Afghanistan. The new AC-130J Ghostrider gunship, described by Air Force Special Operations Command as “the ultimate battle plane,” has been “performing magnificently” in its initial combat missions in Afghanistan, AFSOC commander Lt. Gen. Jim Slife said Monday.
The Ghostrider, with internal and external weapons systems including a 105mm artillery piece, is replacing the AC-130U version, which has provided close-air support for AFSOC “for many, many years,” Slife said at the Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.
The AC-130Js have a similar fire support system to the AC-130Us, he said, but the Ghostriders boast higher altitude ceilings and longer endurance.
AFSOC started taking delivery of the Ghostrider in the spring. The aircraft began deploying to Afghanistan over the summer to replace AC-130Us on a “one-to-one basis,” Slife said.
“It’s higher mission-capable rates across the board” with the Ghostriders, he said. “It’s been an improvement in our ability to provide close-air support to our ground teams.”
In addition to the 105mm artillery piece, the Ghostrider has a 30mm GAU-23/A cannon and carries on its wing pylons GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.
Slife said AFSOC plans to put a laser weapon aboard the AC-130Js within five years.
“It’s got an open architecture system inside the airplane that kind of allows the addition of sensors and weapons systems as they become available,” he said. “And so we haven’t seen any particular challenges with integrating” lasers on the Ghostrider.
There are “a number of technical integration challenges that we’re working our way through,” Slife added, but “so far we haven’t seen anything to cause us to think we’re outside that time frame” of developing a laser for the aircraft within five years.
“We’re not experiencing any delays in the deliveries” of the Lockheed Martin AC-130Js, said Slife, who declined to say how many of the aircraft are in Afghanistan or where they’re based.
He gave a different assessment of the status of the CV-22, AFSOC’s version of the Marine Corps’ MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
There are “readiness challenges” with the CV-22, said Slife, former director of operations for the 20th Special Operations Squadron and commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing, who took over at AFSOC in late June from Lt. Gen. Brad Webb.
He said the Osprey readiness challenges are “pretty common across the Air Force and the Marine Corps,” and involve maintenance and the failure of components he did not identify.
“Our experience with the V-22 — when it’s deployed and when it’s sustained by a responsive supply system, we generate a lot of flight hours,” Slife said. “When the airplanes fly, they fly pretty well, but what we are seeing is some components that are failing at a higher rate than expected.”
The components’ failure rates “are driving additional maintenance workload and putting pressure on our supply system,” he added.
Slife also said that the Air Force is still looking into the possibility of mounting a weapon on the CV-22 that could fire forward.
“Engineering work continues on that,” he said of the long-sought weapon, either a machine gun or a cannon.
“It’s just a matter of the trade-offs in terms of the space, weight, power and drag that an externally mounted weapon system would cause the airplane,” Slife said, adding that the Air Force isn’t ready to say “whether we’re willing to do that or not.”
“So we haven’t made a final decision on fielding a forward-mounted weapon on the V-22, but there are a number of designs that are under consideration,” he said.
As the new AFSOC commander, Slife said one of his main priorities is integrating women into the command, pointing to the example of 1st Lt. Chelsey Hibsch, a security forces officer assigned to the 821st Contingency Response Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, California.
Hibsch made history recently by becoming the Air Force’s first female airman to graduate from the U.S. Army’s Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia.
“That’s the caliber of airman” AFSOC is seeking, Slife said, adding, “We’re anxious to see our recruiting efforts bear fruit” to put women in the ranks of AFSOC.
Currently, there are no women in AFSOC. Last month, the first enlisted woman to attempt the Air Force’s special operations weather career field — now known as special reconnaissance (SR) — was not selected to proceed further in her training, according to Air Education and Training Command. (Source: Military.com)
17 Sep 19. Hypersonic weapons could give the B-1 bomber a new lease on life. It’s been a rough stretch for the U.S. Air Force’s fleet of 62 B-1B Lancer bombers, with a pair of fleet shutdowns over safety concerns and the confirmation of plans to start retiring the plane as the new B-21 comes online, even as the much older B-52 remains in service.
But speaking at the Air Force Association’s annual conference Monday, Gen. Timothy Ray, the head of Air Force Global Strike Command, seemed to throw his support behind keeping the B-1 around for quite some time. In fact, in Ray’s mind, the B-1′s capabilities might expand.
Several times throughout the speech, Ray emphasized that while the B-21 is slowly spinning up, he can’t afford to lose any capability. Indeed, Ray seemed to posture toward keeping the B-1 over the long term, according to John Venable, a senior defense fellow at the Heritage Foundation and former F-16 command pilot.
“One of the major takeaways [from the speech] is that the B-1 is not going to go away nearly as soon as people thought,” Venable said, “and that’s a good thing.”
Under the Air Force’s stated goal of 386 squadrons, the service’s force mix requirement is about 225 bombers. The service currently has 156, Ray said, and even with the B-21 coming online sometime in the 2020s, planned retirements to the B-1 and B-2 would keep the bomber force under 200.
Ray’s belief in the B-1 spans from two broad assessments. First, freed from the heavy workload of B-1s performing regular close-air support activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, the fleet will experience less wear and tear, and hence survive longer than projected.
“We’re just flying the airplane in a way we shouldn’t have been flying it, and we did for far too long. The good news is we’re resetting that entire team,” Ray said.
“What we thought was a very sizable load of structural issues” ended up being a “fraction” of issues to deal with, he added.
Those structural issues have become particularly visible in the last 16 months, with the entire B-1 fleet grounded twice for mechanical issues. In June 2018, the fleet was grounded for two weeks following the discovery of an issue with the Lancer’s ejection seat; in March 2019, another ejection seat issue grounded the fleet for almost a month. Members of Congress have since expressed serious concerns about the B-1’s readiness rates, a number that was just more than 50 percent in 2018.
Ray expressed optimism about the mechanical issues, saying that any fallout from the ejection seat shutdowns will be completed by the end of October, which is “must faster” than the service predicted.
The second reason Ray believes there’s still life in the B-1? The idea that there are modifications to the Lancer that would add new capabilities relevant in an era of great power competition.
In August, the Air Force held a demonstration of how the B-1 could be modified to incorporate four to eight new hypersonic weapons by shifting the bulkhead forward from a bomb bay on the aircraft, increasing the size inside the plane from 180 inches to 269 inches. That change allows the loading of a Conventional Rotary Launcher, the same system used inside the B-52, onto the B-1.
According to an Air Force release, first reported by Military.com, the bulkhead change is temporary, giving the B-1 flexibility based on its mission. Overall, the internal bay could be expanded from 24 to 40 weapons, per the service. In addition, the testers proved new racks could be attached to hardpoints on the wings.
“The conversation we’re having now is how we take that bomb bay [and] put four potentially eight large hypersonic weapons on there,” Ray said. “Certainly, the ability to put more JASSM-ER [Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range] or LRASM [Long Range Anti-Ship Missile] externally on the hardpoints as we open those up. So there’s a lot more we can do.”
Said Venable: “I think it’s a great idea. Increasing our bomber force end strength, we’re not going to get there just by buying B-21[s] and retiring the B-1s.”
“Adding a new rotary [launcher that] he was talking about, just behind the bulkhead of the cockpit of the B-1, freeing up the pylons to actually manifest more longer-range weapons and give it a greater penetrating strike capability — those are great takeaways from this particular event,” the analyst added. (Source: Defense News)
17 Sep 19. South Korea to develop laser-based anti-aircraft weapon. South Korea will invest KRW88bn (USD74m) to develop a laser-based anti-aircraft weapon system, according to a 17 September statement by the country’s Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA).
The system, referred to as Block-I, is expected to be capable of detecting and tracking small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and neutralising them at close range by using its laser, said the DAPA in a statement. Each ‘shot’ of the Block-I, which is expected to be ready for operational deployment by 2023, will cost around KRW2,000, it added. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
19 Sep 19. Czech SHORAD procurement delayed. The Czech Ministry of Defence (MoD) has delayed the Army of the Czech Republic’s (ACR’s) CZK10bn (USD427m) short-range air defence (SHORAD) system procurement. Deputy Defence Minister Filip Říha told Jane’s recently that the contract would be concluded at the end of 2020, a year later than the originally planned end of 2019.
The delay is due to a CZK800m cut in the 2020 defence budget following ministry savings negotiations over the summer. Říha said the SHORAD procurement was the only strategic project delayed.
The ACR plans to procure four batteries of new SHORAD systems mounted on Tatra 815-7 8×8 platforms and transportable by C-130, C-17, or A400M aircraft. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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