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17 Oct 19. Bids for US Army’s Next-Generation Squad Weapon break cover. Key Points:
- The US Army hopes to replace its M4 carbine and M249 squad weapon by 2023
- Textron Systems, GD-OTS, and SIG Sauer are competing for the Next-Generation Squad Weapon
The US Army plans to replace its 5.56 mm M4/M4A1 Carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon with a 6.8 mm Next-Generation Squad Weapon-Rifle (NGSW-R) and Automatic Rifle (NGSW-AR), respectively. Textron Systems, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS), and SIG Sauer have showcased their chosen offerings.
In August, the army announced that it had awarded those three bidders with NGSW prototype contracts, under which they are to begin delivering weapons and ammunition within 27 months, and the service plans to make a final downselect in 2022 to have NGSW-R and NGSW-AR ready for a first quarter 2023 first unit equipped date.
SIG Sauer uses a new 6.8×51 mm hybrid cartridge, Jason St John, strategic product manager for SIG Sauer, told Jane’s at the annual Association of the United States Army 2019 (AUSA 2019) conference in October. The round has a stainless-steel base, washer, and brass casing. The steel is lighter than brass and thus saves weight, and the combination enables SIG Sauer to get better pressure ratings.
St John explained that typical brass rounds can begin to fail at about 65-68 ksi, but the hybrid rounds regularly function at 70 ksi and have been tested at up to 103 ksi. This, he argued, means there is space for growth in the ammunition and the opportunity to develop larger rounds, or rounds that achieve more feet per second. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
16 Oct 19. Northrop Grumman Armament Systems wins key award for XM913 35/50mm Bushmaster canon for US Future Infantry Fighting Vehicle Requirement.
Northrop Grumman gave the Editor a brief during AUSA, following an order for 30 XM913 35/50mm Bushmaster canon for the US Future Infantry Fighting Vehicle Requirement (FIFV) or Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV). This follows an order for four developmental canons placed last year.
The XM913 is a development of the Bushmaster XM913 35mm canon using the same feed mechanism and cartridge sizes allowing development of similar ammunition types form KE, Training, AP to Airburst
The 50mm requirement came from a US Army study which showed that the US Army wanted a greater standoff range of 3 kms and overmatch defeat of the existing Mk 44.
Northrop Grumman’s Medium caliber cannons boast unrivaled reliability and effectiveness. When paired with Northrop’s exceptional training services, certified accessories, and OEM warranties, Northrop Grumman delivers best-in-class value and a guarantee of optimal performance. No matter what your mission critical objectives are; combat, peacekeeping, or training; we offer the necessary services to maintain your weapons systems at a fully mission capable rating and the ability to consistently sustain and optimize your fleet. Guns Segment Market The Gun Systems Market Segment exists to meet the ever changing demands of the warfighter through innovation in technology, program execution, lifecycle cost, and product delivery. The guns team is committed to becoming the undeniable global leader in medium caliber gun systems support, an agile competitor and respected worldwide as a pre-eminently responsive partner.
The XM913 35/50mm Bushmaster® Chain Gun® is a derivative of the combat proven M242 25mm Bushmaster automatic cannon. What’s more, it incorporates all of the battle-proven features of the 25mm Bushmaster cannon, with significant system commonality for low-risk, proven performance features.
Facts At A Glance
*Fires 35mm x 228mm ammunition and 50mm x 319mm Compact size facilitates easy upgrades of existing turrets Supports linked and linkless feed systems Proven safety, reliability and low life cycle costs Dual feed system Electronic and mechanical round counting capability.
*The weapon is capable of being converted to fire 50mm ammunition, creating an even more capable weapon system with increased firepower and range
The choice of the XM913 35/50mm Bushmaster for the US Future Infantry Fighting Vehicle Requirement (FIFV) or Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV), narrows the number of potential customers for the Anglo-/French CT40 canon which has been ruled out for this Requirement. Ironically Northrop Grumman owns the patents for CT40 in the USA, which was ruled out as a competitor for any UIS Requirement many years ago due to the complexity of the weapon and its complex ammunition feed system. The market for 40mm, as we reported many years ago, has never materialised to any volume. After the UK and France there are still no more firm orders for CT40 with Qatar and Saudi Arabia still considering a purchase.
17 Oct 19. BOOM: Lockheed Martin Tests Precision Strike Missile. PrSM will likely become the mainstay of future Army artillery brigades taking on everything from Russian anti-aircraft batteries to Chinese warships.
Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are vying to build one of the Army’s top priorities, a new long-range Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) to replace the Cold War ATACMS. While ATACMS goes 186 miles, PrSM was originally designed to fly 310 — right up to the INF Treaty limit of 500 km — and now that the INF Treaty is defunct, the Army is talking about much longer ranges for PrSM, as well as future upgrades to the targeting system so it can kill moving targets like hostile warships.
While overshadowed by the high-profile push for hypersonics, which use bleeding edge technology to strike targets more than 1,000 miles away, the simpler and shorter-range PrSM will probably be bought in larger numbers. That will likely make it the mainstay of future Army artillery brigades taking on everything from Russian anti-aircraft batteries to Chinese warships.
Lockheed Martin, as the builder of ATACMS, is the closest thing there is to an incumbent in this contest. Both contenders will test-fire their PrSM prototypes this fall, Raytheon in November and Lockheed in December. The Army will pick a winner in 2021.
Lockheed’s already conducted extensive testing of scale models in wind tunnels (see photo) and of the warhead’s explosive in an “arena” setup wired with high-speed measuring devices (see video above). We talked to Lockheed Missiles & Fire Control VP Gaylia Campbell about the program. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
16 Oct 19. Combat systems testing starts for French FDI frigate. Combat management system (CMS) and sensor trials for the French Navy’s future Fregate de defense et d’intervention (FDI) frigates are set to start next month, the Direction générale de l’armement (DGA) has confirmed.
During a 27 September briefing, the DGA said the SETIS CMS and sensors are currently being fitted in the SESDA [Site d’expérimentation des systèmes de défense aérienne] shore integration facility in Saint Mandrier, on the southern coast of France. Naval Group, Thales, and the DGA will start testing the systems in November, ahead of the delivery of the first FDI in 2023, a DGA spokesperson said.
The FDI’s principal long-range sensor is the four-face Thales Sea Fire active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The first AESA face was delivered to Saint Mandrier in July and has been operational since September. Only two arrays will be tested on the DGA test site, with the second to be delivered in November.
An FDI integrated mast – developed by Naval Group – has been erected at the facilities to host the Sea Fire radar. This will also host the four identification friend or foe (IFF) arrays, electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) sensors, and electronic warfare (EW) antennas.
Other systems that will be integrated at the SESDA test site include Safran’s Paseo XLR EO/IR multi-sensor system, a common fire installation provided by MBDA (the hardware and software programming a missile’s launch), EW equipment, and a Thales Bluegate IFF system. Although the integrated mast has been built on top of a ridge about 20-40 m above sea level, some equipment, such as the EO/IR sensors, will be tested at sea level for more realistic conditions.
The SETIS CMS supplied by Naval Group will also be tested. One of the FDI’s innovative features is a control room dedicated to self-protection against asymmetric threats; 360 cameras and augmented reality will provide operators with a synthetic view of the frigate’s surroundings. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
15 Oct 19. US Army solidifying plan for long-range precision munitions for future vertical lift. The Army is pushing its document related to long-range precision munitions requirements for the future vertical lift modernization effort through the approval pipeline. And you can expect it to be finalized by the end of the year, according to Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen, who is in charge of Army aviation modernization.
Long-range munitions for the service’s future aircraft will be critical to engage the enemy’s defensive positions from a comfortable standoff, out of range of enemy detection.
The service recently evaluated the Rafael-manufactured Spike non-line-of-sight missile, firing it from an AH-64E Apache attack helicopter most recently at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. The missile also had test shots in Israel. So far the missile has hit 100 percent of its targets, Rugen told Defense News in an interview shortly before the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference.
The last missile firing resulting in the weapon hitting a moving target in the dark, Rugen said.
The evaluation helped the Army define requirements for long-range precision munitions, but now the service will have to decide what it buys and how many.
“When we look at what our critical path is, right now we’ve focused our critical path on the penetration phase of multidomain operations,” Rugen said, referring to the Army’s war-fighting concept designed to go up against adversaries with strong defenses.
“We think that the quantities of these capabilities to conduct a penetration are going to be lower than, let’s say, our munitions requirement for Hellfire or Joint Air-to-Ground Munitions,” Rugen said. That latter weapon, JAGM, is the replacement for the Hellfire missile currently fired from manned and unmanned platforms in the Army’s fleet.
“At the end of the day, once we penetrate and start dis-integrating, we can bring forth those current capabilities to conduct more dis-integration and exploitation,” he said. “There is a layered aspect to this, and when we look at our munitions strategy, where we do need some great sophistication, greater capability, we don’t think we need the quantities” like Hellfire, JAGM or rockets.
The Army isn’t just focused on longer-range munitions for its future aircraft; it is also evaluating lighter-weight munitions for unmanned aircraft systems.
The service evaluated lightweight precision munitions recently but did not find anything that satisfied requirements. But the Army did successfully fire a Dynetics-made precision glide munition from an extended-range Gray Eagle drone during a demonstration at Naval Station China Lake, California.
Even more broadly, the Army is focused on an entire air-launched effects, or ALE, portfolio that is to include munitions and a variety of unmanned aircraft that can perform surveillance and reconnaissance, or serve as a weapon itself.
Rugen said ALE will go through an Army Requirements Oversight Council review in the coming weeks.
An ALE capability will see increasingly complex demonstrations in the coming year at Defender 2020 in Europe, at the RIMPAC exercise in the Pacific and at a western test range. An ALE concept was recently demonstrated at Yakima Air Base during the Joint Warfighting Assessment in May where an unmanned aircraft was launched from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to perform surveillance and reconnaissance for a ground robotics combat breech exercise happening on the ground below.
In the demonstrations coming up, “scenarios will be a bit more complex with more integration of more sensors and more shooters,” Rugen said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
15 Oct 19. US Army Signals Israel’s Iron Dome Isn’t The Answer.
“It was developed for a very specific threat and it does incredible things…we intend to operate it differently — in support of an Army on the move. It’s not just going to be static.”
The Army doesn’t want to buy any more Iron Dome air defense systems, but if it may have to buy more of the Israeli-made system if it can’t get its own program up and running by 2023.
The purchase of the Israeli system this summer was meant to fill a gap the Army has in defeating shorter-range missiles, but Congress imposed a 2023 deadline in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act for the American service to develop its own system or it would have to buy more Iron Domes.
The purchase was made, “because we had nothing else out there,” Brig. Gen. Brian Gibson, Air and Missile Defense Cross Functional Team director told reporters today. “We needed some immediate capability above the tactical level.”
The Army rebooted its main air and missile defense program, the Indirect Fire Protection Capability to refocus on higher-end threats like cruise missiles and was left without coverage against the sort of shorter-range missiles such as those fired at Israel’s cities.
Gibson doesn’t want to make buying the Rafael-made Iron Dome a habit, and he’s making plans to use the system differently than Israel does. To do that, he plans to pull it apart and integrate it with his other air defense battle management systems.
Israel parks the mobile system at key locations to protect towns and cities from Hezbollah rockets, but Gibson made clear that the Army’s push to become leaner, and capable of packing up and moving on the fly will extend to the new system.
“It was developed for a very specific threat and it does incredible things,” he said, but “we intend to operate it differently — we intend to operate it in support of an Army on the move. It’s not just going to be static.”
So, the US Army will buy Iron Dome if it has to, but it really doesn’t;t want to. “As a long-term enduring solution, absolutely not,” Gibson said of the Israeli capability. It “would be fundamentally wrong” to keep buying Iron Dome and would go against “everything we’re trying to achieve.”
The Army seeks a next-generation armed scout helicopter with increased speed, range, survivability and even autonomy – not just a conventional helicopter.
He stressed that Iron Dome is great at what it does, but the Army wants a system to slot directly into the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS), the network backbone designed to work with every anti-aircraft, counter-drone and missile defense system in the future.
Northrop Grumman announced in May it had delivered the first “production-representative” command post for the IBCS, opening the door for test shots latter this year and the system’s crucial operational test in 2020.
Gibson is willing to look under the Iron Dome’s hood to see what he can keep, however. He said he wants to “see what we can harvest, componentize, and see if we can take a very credible weapons system at a component level and integrate it into our architecture without making significant changes.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
15 Oct 19. BAE Nears U.S. Army Approval of $10bn Howitzer Project After Years of Flaws. BAE Systems Plc may win U.S. Army approval as soon as next month for full-rate production of self-propelled howitzers after the $10bn program was hobbled by several years of delays over defects.
The company has been assembling the weapons system since October 2013 under low-rate contracts as it produced the vehicles late and with numerous welding defects. Deliveries were halted for six months in 2017 because of welding flaws that required the return for repairs of 50 of 86 vehicles already delivered.
Since then, London-based BAE has invested $200m in improvements at its factory in York, Pennsylvania.
The 155mm Paladin howitzer and the ammunition carrier that accompanies it are the centerpiece of the Army’s artillery plans as it shifts its focus to countering Russia after 18 years of emphasizing the defeat of terrorists. It’s part of the service’s “Long-Range Precision Fires” capability, which tops its list of modernization priorities. The weapon is scheduled to be upgraded in the next few years with a new Extended Range Cannon designed to match Russian systems in Europe.
BAE Systems “is slowly making progress” by “providing high quality vehicles at improved production rates,” Army spokeswoman Ashley John said in an email. “Our confidence is increasing that” it “will continue to consistently deliver quality vehicles at increased production rates through the fall to support” a decision on full-rate production by year’s end, she said.
The Army’s senior leaders meet monthly and program managers meet daily with BAE Systems leadership “to continuously assess” progress, John added.
Full-rate production is the most lucrative phase for a contractor. Last year, the Army last year increased planned quantities of the howitzer by 109 vehicles to 689. The Army plans to spend $8.9bn on vehicle procurement for the Paladin Integrated Management program, or PIM, the system that consists of the howitzer and the ammunition carrier that accompanies it. About $3.9bn has been appropriated to date.
BAE spokeswoman Alicia Gray said in a statement that the company “in partnership” with the Army and the Defense Contract Management Agency has leveraged “substantial capital investment” in “the team’s continuous improvement and production expertise.”
“We are delivering high-quality vehicles at improving production rates as we prepare for full-rate production later this year,” Gray said.
Then-Army Secretary Mark Esper said in March that BAE had “made progress, but they’re still not at the point where they’ve convinced us they are prepared to go into full-rate production.” Esper, who’s now defense secretary, said that phase would have to wait until the BAE showed “both a consistent rate and a consistent level of quality.”
A month later, program officials in their annual Selected Acquisition Report for Pentagon officials and congressional committees marked “For Official Use Only” were privately less optimistic about BAE.
“At this time the Army does not have confidence when BAE will be able to deliver a quality product repeatedly,” according to the document in mid-April. The “Army chief of staff does not recommend certifying the PIM program until BAE demonstrated the ability to produce quality vehicles on schedule,” it said.
Mark Woodbury, spokesman for the Defense Contract Management Agency, said in a statement last week that “at this time BAE is making deliveries of compliant vehicles.” He said the agency “has observed quality improvements, a positive culture change within the facility, and a leadership team that is committed to correcting issues and delays.”
Still, Woodbury said, even though BAE “has made significant progress in the delivery of contractually compliant products” it “is still experiencing manufacturing issues” and “trying to mitigate parts shortage issues and return to an on-time delivery schedule of deliveries.”
Sections of the howitzers are initially produced at the Pennsylvania facility with final assembly in Elgin, Oklahoma. The program has a strong advocate in Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Bloomberg)
16 Oct 19. US Army-developed multimission launcher ‘off the table.’ The US Army spent years internally developing its own multimission launcher for the Indirect Fires Protection Capability program — designed to counter threats like rockets, artillery and mortars as well as cruise missiles and unmanned aircraft systems. But that grand plan is now officially off the table.
The service has purchased two Rafael-made Iron Dome systems as an interim solution to get after the cruise missile defense capability gap, but it’s taken a step back to rethink its enduring IFPC program strategy.
While much is up in the air, it’s certain that the launcher that will ultimately be part of the IFPC program won’t be the MML.
“It’ll be something different that we will develop,” Brig. Gen. Brian Gibson, who is in charge of the Army’s air-and-missile defense modernization, told Defense News at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference.
As of 2016, the Army had spent $119m to build MML prototypes, which included owning the technical data rights. The cost of developing the system outside of the Army would have been about three times as much according to the service at the time.
Over the course of its development, the launcher was able to defeat a cruise missile target and an unmanned aircraft system using an AIM-9X missile at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, and fired the Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK) and Tamir missiles as well.
The U.S. Army had awarded three $2.6m contracts in the summer of 2018 for the first phase of a program to find a second interceptor — the Expanded Mission Area Missile (EMAM) — for the MML. Also already selected was the first interceptor for the launcher, the Sidewinder.
Lockheed Martin’s MHTK missile and two missiles from Raytheon were chosen to be qualified for the launcher: Sky Hunter, the U.S. version of the Iron Dome missile Tamir; and the Accelerated Improved Interceptor Initiative missile.
The effort to qualify the MHTK has been paused, Scott Arnold, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and deputy of integrated air-and-missile defense with the company’s Missiles and Fire Control business, said at AUSA.
The company did not have an intercept test, but was able to move the MHTK missile through some testing prior to the Army’s decision to pause the program.
The Army may take technologies developed as part of the MML effort and spiral them into a future launcher, “but there were a lot of things, with all the right reasons, that launcher turned out the way it did,” Gibson said. An assessment of the launcher determined it was not sufficient for an enduring capability, he added.
“All the variables of when you define a new piece of hardware matter and, for air defense, it really comes down to angles you launch things at, whether it’s vertical or whether it’s horizontal, and the applicability of how many different interceptors potentially you can put in,” Gibson said. “Those are all lessons learned from MML and it matters on the threat set.”
The one-star added that he is confident the Army is capable of developing something appropriate on the right timeline when it comes to a launcher for the enduring IFPC plan.
And while the service doesn’t want to buy beyond the two batteries of Iron Dome already purchased, the Army is considering the feasibility of taking its launcher and missiles for the future IFPC program.
The Army has until the end of 2023 to field an initial enduring capability or, by law, will have to buy more interim Iron Dome systems.
15 Oct 19. Turkey’s low-altitude air defense system ready for production. Turkey’s first indigenous, low-altitude air and anti-missile system, Hisar-A, has successfully passed field tests and is ready for production, top Turkish officials said.
In parallel statements Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and top procurement official Ismail Demir said the government would place an order for the serial production of Hisar-A.
The system is expected to be delivered to the army in 2021. The autonomous system is co-produced by military-electronics specialist Aselsan and missile maker Roketsan.
Aselsan, the prime contractor, has developed all radar, fire-control, command-and-control and communication systems for the program while Roketsan has acted as the executive subcontractor.
The Hisar-A system provides protection against all kinds of airborne targets thanks to its vertical launch capability. The system is mounted on a self-propelled armored vehicle and can be fully autonomous by means of 3D radar, an electro-optic sensor suite, and fire control.
It will provide protection for military bases, ports, airports and mobile troops. The system targets fixed- and rotor-wing aircraft, drones, cruise missiles and air-to-ground missiles.
Aselsan and Roketsan are also developing Hisar-O, the system’s medium-altitude version. Hisar-O is expected to enter the Turkish military’s inventory in 2022.
Hisar-O is composed of one battalion headquarters and three batteries, each of which has a sufficient amount of launchers, missiles, radars, command-control and communication systems and other support equipment.
When combined, Hisar-A and Hisar-O will destruct threats at low and medium altitudes. The Hisar program involves the development and production of two types of ground systems, self-propelled armored and wheeled vehicle mounted air defense missile systems, and the missile.
Turkey’s procurement officials hope to export Hisar-A after it enters the Turkish inventory. “Potential export markets are friendly states,” said one procurement official. “They may include Azerbaijan, Qatar, Pakistan and some of the Central Asian republics.”
15 Oct 19. AUSA 2019: GDLS, Kongsberg team for Stryker improvements. General Dynamics Land Systems has teamed with Kongsberg to jointly pursue the US Army’s next phase of Stryker lethality improvements and production.
The US Army Requirements Oversight Council decided in the spring to apply the 30mm Medium Caliber Weapon System to the Stryker A1. This more mobile and better protected vehicle will serve as the basis for the future Stryker fleet; and the army has decided to outfit three brigades of Double-V Hull Stryker A1 Infantry Carrier Vehicles with the 30mm turrets.
General Dynamics Land Systems and Kongsberg originally developed a Stryker with a 30mm turret for the US Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Germany under an urgent operational need in 2017. The companies have upgraded the system according to the customer feedback, and will now offer the solution as a lethality improvement to the army’s Stryker fleet. (Source: Shephard)
14 Oct 19. Strategic, long-range cannon preps to jump its first tech hurdle. The U.S. Army is wading into a major science and technology development area to build a strategic, long-range cannon — one that can shoot a projectile 1,000 nautical miles — and plans to put the program through its first test soon, according to Col. John Rafferty, who is in charge of executing modernization efforts for the service’s top priority, long-range precision fires.
The Army is working with the Research and Analysis Center at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, as well as the Center for Army Analysis to confirm the service can accomplish what is expected from such a system, Rafferty told Defense News in an interview ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference.
The Army wants to demonstrate a prototype of the long-range cannon in 2023, after which it will make a decision on whether to begin a program of record.
The program is structured to pass through “big technology gates,” Rafferty said. “We’re about to knock down one of those gates with a test at [Naval Support Facility] Dahlgren, [Virginia], here very soon.”
If the program passes through that first gate — which Rafferty described as “early ballistic tests” — a report will go to Army leadership for approval.
But the technology needed to achieve such a capability is so cutting edge that it’s unknown whether that specific distance can be achieved at a cost that won’t break the bank.
For the Army, range will be king in operations against adversaries like China and Russia, who have each invested in defensive technologies. The combination of long-range air defense systems, artillery and coastal defenses with seamless integration of long-range, over-the-horizon radars will be difficult to counter, according to Rafferty.
“That integrated system challenges even our most sophisticated aircraft and challenges our most sophisticated ships to gain access to the area,” he said. “That layered enemy standoff at the strategic level was really the fundamental problem. One of the ways to solve that problem is to deliver surface-to-surface fires that can penetrate this [anti-access, area-denial] complex and disintegrate its network and create windows of opportunity for the joint force to exploit.”
That surface-to-surface capability can be delivered by the Army, he added.
There are two complementary systems that would be designed to penetrate enemy territory. There’s the hypersonic missile, which is technologically exquisite, will be expensive and the force “will probably never have enough of those,” Rafftery said. Then there’s the strategic cannon, which “will be able to deliver a volume of more affordable projectiles,” possibly 12, 16 or 20 in shorter order, to destroy a target, Rafferty said.
Each of the technology gates through which the Army will try to pass serves as a chance to assess if the capability is meeting lethality and cost goals. “This idea of volume and affordability and lethality is first and foremost in our minds,” Rafferty said.
“A lot of that comes down to cost,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told Defense News in a recent interview. “If we are able to develop the strategic, long-range cannon system, the rounds may be only $400,000 or $500,000 compared to multimillion-dollar rounds. Cost does matter, and we are concerned about cost. There are some, definitely, physics challenges in doing these types of things, and that is the trade-off.”
The Army is “trying to be innovative, but what they have to do is demonstrate the capability at each phase along the way. And if that doesn’t happen, we are not doing it,” McConville added. (Source: Defense News)
14 Oct 19. Major missile defense command system heads toward a critical test. The U.S. Army’s major missile defense command-and-control system is headed toward a critical test in 2020 that is essentially a redo after the system was unsuccessful in its first attempt at entering production in 2016. The Integrated Battle Command System, or IBCS — the brains of the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense System — is critical to the success of the service’s future layered air-and-missile defense mission. The goal is to tie any radar, sensor or shooter into the IBCS to create an intricate web of capability to go after a wide variety of current and emerging threats. The program’s past is plagued with failures and schedule delays, but in recent years the system saw several successes, teasing out the potential of such a capability if all goes well.
Software problems discovered during the Army’s first limited-user test of the system in 2016 resulted in schedule delays of nearly four years. The Army originally planned to reach initial operational capability in fiscal 2019, but those plans slipped to the third quarter of FY22, according to FY18 budget documents.
“The intent for the program remains pure and the approach to try to get unbridled, uncoupled weapons systems that really seek to maximize the combination of mission command sensors and shooters in a different way,” Brig. Gen. Brian Gibson, who is in charge of air and missile defense modernization for the Army, told Defense News in an interview shortly before the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference.
“IBCS requirements have stayed valid since 2016,” he said, noting the failed limited-user test caused the Army to reset the baseline of the program, though the requirements stayed the same. “We didn’t fail because of the requirements the first time; we failed because of technical feasibility of where the product was at the time. Really, it was a stability issue.”
The Army’s second attempt is expected to happen roughly around the beginning of the third quarter of the fiscal year, Gibson said. That will allow the Army to analyze the results and then make a production decision for IBCS.
Gibson is confident that the limited-user test will be successful due to recent test events including demonstrating the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s ability to send data to the IBCS system during the Orange Flag Evaluation 19-2 at Palmdale, California, and Fort Bliss, Texas, in June.
Recent soldier checkouts used to prepare IBCS for the limited-user test have also been declared a success.
The Army is getting ready for another test in December “where we seek to up the ante,” Gibson said. “Sort of our final test before we move forward going into the limited-user test next year. That test will have a broader range of threats from ballistic missiles and cruise missiles and air-breathing threats for us to counter. We will also integrate some joint air assets.”
“I think the success in our testing program, other than the traditional developmental tests and operational tests … that’s been a very positive outcome on this road since the failed one,” Gibson said.
Additionally, IBCS has been designated, among just a few programs and with congressional direction, to adopt an agile software-development process that allows the system to be frequently updated with software upgrades or patches, as opposed to big software drops that potentially happen only once a year.
“So you get a more agile development framework and a more adaptive and flexible and responsive work outcome to then allow the Army to decide on a faster timeline whether to make changes or not,” Gibson said. “I think it really puts the program at a different place than where it was when we failed the [limited-user test].”
While the Army is attempting to speed up the schedule to get to an initial fielding of IBCS, the Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General recently released a report that expressed concern that there might not be enough time between the end of the limited-user test and the scheduled Milestone C production decision to analyze the data and address potential issues.
“That’s a future decision in front of us,” Gibson said. “We certainly are going to wait and assess and report and analyze our performance in the [limited-user test]. And regardless of what the program says today and what we’ve told people, we certainly are not going to shortsight our assessment of whether or not this program met the threshold requirements we are trying to meet.”
If that means the Army has to consider a slip in the schedule “by a week, a month, two months, three months,” the service will do so if the limited-user test shows there is reason to, according to Gibson.
“Given where this program has been, that’s important to make sure we’re confident where it’s at,” he said, “But secondly, this program fundamentally changes our air and missile defense force, so we better make sure how we employ that force, we better make sure that we are confident to proceed. This isn’t [the] time for a quick decision.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
14 Oct 19. Booz Allen Hamilton debuts new Digital Soldier platform. Booz Allen Hamilton is marketing its new Digital Soldier platform as an underlying open-architecture backbone designed to amalgamate and analyse data and then present it to soldiers as actionable or informative information. The architecture is meant to be “a new approach to the next-generation battlefield that combines immersive training technology, AI [artificial intelligence] analytics, and elite human-performance management on a secure, open-system architecture (tech agnostic with no vendor lock-in)”, the company said.
Digital Soldier would not be a material solution, but rather an underlying open-architecture backbone that could digest data collected from a range of sensors or inputs and then present it for various purposes, Joel Dillion, Booz Allen Hamilton’s vice-president for soldier solutions, told Jane’s before the annual Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, DC. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
15 Oct 19. General Dynamics unveils revolutionary weapon system for the first time. General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, a global aerospace and defense company, has disclosed the development of Next Generation Squad Weapons (NGSW) consist of the NGSW-Automatic Rifle (NGSW-AR) and the NGSW-Rifle. The U.S. defense contractor released Monday short video showing its variant of new weapon systems designed as a replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in Brigade Combat Teams, echelons above Brigade Sapper and Mobility Augmentation Companies.
The NGSW will combine the firepower and effective range of a machine gun with the precision and ergonomics of a rifle, yielding capability improvements in accuracy, range and lethality. The weapon will be lightweight, fire lightweight ammunition and have reduced acoustic and flash signature. Soldiers will employ the NGSW-AR against close-, mid- and extended-range targets in all terrains and conditions.
The NGSW-AR will replace the M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon, or SAW, in the Automatic Rifleman Role, and the NGSW-R will replace the M4/M41 Carbine in Brigade Combat Teams.
The U.S. Army recently chose General Dynamics-OTS Inc., AAI Corporation Textron Systems and Sig Sauer Inc. to deliver prototypes of both the automatic rifle and rifle versions of the NGSW, as well as hundreds of thousands of rounds of special 6.8mm ammunition common to both weapons.
The NGSW is planned for fielding 2021 or 2022. Versions of the weapon are intended to be equipped with sophisticated technologies such as ballistic calculation, intelligent targeting and tracking capabilities, wireless communication and advanced camera-based capabilities. (Source: News Now/https://defence-blog.com)
15 Oct 19. BAE Systems develops new countermeasure system to shield ground vehicles from missiles. BAE Systems, a global leader in electronic warfare, unveiled the new RAVEN countermeasure system designed to protect ground vehicles from anti-tank missiles. The RAVEN is a proven directable infrared countermeasure capable of defeating anti-tank guided missiles, protecting ground vehicles and their crews, and improving mission effectiveness without the use of kinetic countermeasures.
The new laser-based RAVEN countermeasure system defeats incoming threat signals to protect ground vehicles from inbound missile attacks.
“The RAVEN Countermeasure system is part of a layered defense, and is easily tailored to any vehicle, mission, or budget,” said Ryan Edwards, business development manager for Soldier and Vehicle Electronics at BAE Systems. “Our vehicle protection systems improve crews’ situational awareness and survivability, regardless of their vehicle or the threats they face.”
The RAVEN Countermeasure system, is a rugged, reliable laser-based countermeasure capable of defeating a variety of guided missile threats. The system is lightweight, modular, and scalable, and provides armored forces with efficient vehicle protection in a small, cost-efficient package. It is specifically designed for capability growth to address future threats as they emerge.
RAVEN is compliant with the U.S. Army’s Modular Active Protection System (MAPS) program and is designed to integrate directly with threat detection and countermeasure cueing systems, including BAE Systems’ 360 Multifunction Vehicle Protection Sensor, a long-wave infrared situational awareness and warning system that serves as the eyes of the company’s integrated VPS suite. The 360 MVP Sensor can cue RAVEN to quickly and efficiently defeat threats and also provides 360-degree situational awareness for improved vehicle mobility, lethality, and integral survivability. As part of a layered vehicle defense system, RAVEN complements kinetic countermeasure systems with a virtually unlimited number of shots.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Army recommended the integration of the RAVEN Countermeasure system onto a Bradley Fighting Vehicle for the MAPS Program’s Layered Active Protection Demonstration, which took place in September 2019. The recommendation followed the Soft Kill Rodeo, a series of tests to determine which non-kinetic active protection system technology has the most potential.
BAE Systems’ integrated VPS suite builds on the company’s extensive experience developing aircraft survivability equipment. With decades of experience designing, delivering, and sustaining electronic warfare systems, the company has a deep understanding of the evolving battlespace and the solutions warfighters need to address emerging threats.
The company’s vehicle protections systems are developed at its manufacturing center of excellence in Austin, Texas. (Source: News Now/https://defence-blog.com)
14 Oct 19. 3M’s F70 helmet out for demonstrations. Minnesota-based conglomerate 3M has sent its new lightweight, mid-level protection helmet to law enforcement and special forces around the world for demonstrations and human-factors testing, a company official told Jane’s ahead of the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference, held in October in Washington, DC.
The F70 helmet was introduced in 2018 and has since been given to operators mainly in US law enforcement and European and Asian customers for trails and experiments, according to Terry Griffith, 3M’s global business manager for defence and law enforcement. The helmet has been designed with a night-vision goggle mount and mandible visor, and the company has seen interest in face protection from the mandible visor.
The helmet meets National Institute of Justice (NIJ) IIIA ballistic penetration protection standards, which includes protection against 9 mm rounds, the company said. It provides V50 fragmentation protection against 17 grain .22 calibre FSP at more than 840 m/s when tested in accordance with NATO STANAG 2920, 3M officials have told Jane’s .
The F70 uses a ‘boltless design’ so there are no through-holes in the polyethylene helmets. Drilling holes in polyethylene can degrade its protective properties so accessories would be mounted to the F70 via a screw into additional material on the helmet’s outer skin, instead of into the helmet’s shell.
In 2017 3M unveiled its Combat II Ballistic Helmet L110 for heavier protection, which was designed to protect personnel from blast fragmentations, certain rifle projectiles, handgun bullets, and blunt impacts. It provides protection against small arms bullets such as 7.62×51 mm FMJ (147 grain NATO M80 ball round) with a critical penetration velocity (V0) of 2,100 ft/sec (640 m/sec) and ballistic limit (V50) of greater than 2,400 f/s (>731 m/s), according to a company fact sheet. It provides fragmentation protection against 17 grain .22 cal FSP with V50 value greater than 3,281 f/s (>1,000 m/s) when tested in accordance to STANAG 2920, it added. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
14 Oct 19. SIG SAUER Ultra-Compact MPX Copperhead Now Available with New Features. SIG SAUER, Inc. is pleased to announce the ultra-compact SIG SAUER MPX Copperhead with new features, including a suppressor-ready barrel with A2 flash-hider, expanded 30-round magazine capacity, and a full-black finish is now available exclusively through the Bill Hicks distribution network.
The SIG MPX Copperhead is a sub-gun with in-field adaptability, unmatched performance, and familiar AR handling. Completely ambidextrous, the SIG MPX Copperhead is great for left- or right-handed shooters with its dual-sided selector switch, magazine release, charging handle and bolt release. The SIG MPX Copperhead operates from a fully-closed and locked rotating bolt, offering enhanced reliability and safety in use. A short-stroke gas piston allows the SIG MPX Copperhead to run all weights and brands of 9mm ammunition with no adjustments to the gas valve.
The MPX Copperhead features a monolithic elite Series black anodized finish upper receiver, a 3.5” threaded suppressor-ready barrel with A2 flash-hider, 2-position pistol contour brace with integrated brace knuckle, PDW pistol grip, a single-stage trigger, and ships with (1) 30-round polymer magazine.
Total Length: 14.5”
Barrel Length: 3.5”
Barrel Twist: 1:10
Finish: Black Anodized
Caliber: 9mm Luger
14 Oct 19. Lockheed Martin weighs options for achieving a 250-300 kW air-defence laser. Lockheed Martin is working with the US Army to determine an updated design for a forthcoming air-defence laser weapon, seeking to field a 250-300 kW laser.
The army in May selected a team of Dynetics, Lockheed Martin, and Rolls-Royce to develop an experimental 100 kW laser weapon system for its Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) under its High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator (HEL TVD) programme, a developmental effort to counter unmanned aircraft as well as rocket, artillery, and mortar (RAM) attacks. The three-year USD130m contract is to lead towards a critical design review, likely to be held before the end of the year, that will help determine the final laser design, Paul Lemmo, Lockheed Martin’s vice-president and general manager for Integrated Warfare Systems & Sensors, told Jane’s at the annual Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, DC.
The army recently reshuffled its directed energy programmes, and the HEL TVD capabilities are to be considered for a potential technology insertion to address the army’s Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) Increment 2 – Intercept Block 2 requirements. The army has said it envisions an IFPC laser in the 250-300 kW range. For HEL TVD Lockheed Martin is working as system integrator and providing the laser. Lemmo said the company is using spectrally beam-combined (SBC) fibre lasers specifically for reliability and scalability, so he believes scaling up to 300 kW is an achievable goal.
“It’s an engineering problem, not an invention problem,” Eric Karn, a programme manager at Lockheed Martin, told Jane’s at the same event. The laser can be scaled up to more power by adding more modules, an individual component that puts out a certain number of kilowatts. More modules can be combined as long as the prism can handle the load and the power and cooling systems can support it. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
14 Oct 19. Boeing and Saab ready to start production of ground-launched small diameter bomb after third test launch. After conducting a third test launch of the ground-launched small diameter bomb this month, Boeing and Saab now believe they have the data necessary to move the munition into production, company officials said Monday.
Next, the focus moves to nailing down a first customer for the munition.
With the U.S. Army focused on its Long Range Precision Fires program — which could see the service field a ground-based missile capable of striking targets up to 499 kilometers away — Boeing and Saab see international militaries as the most probable market for the ground-launched small diameter bomb, or GLSDB, which has a range of 150 kilometers.
“I think with this type of creative solution, it really fits across a broader customer set because we’re taking an existing capability, maximizing it and creating an opportunity [for those] that don’t have the ability to have a robust air force,” Jim Leary, Boeing’s director of global sales and marketing for its weapons portfolio, said during a briefing at the Association for the U.S. Army’s annual conference. “We’re looking mostly for us to help the U.S. military’s partners and grow some partner capacity.”
Several European countries have expressed interest in the capability, added Svein Daae, Saab’s director of business management for missile systems.
The GLSDB brings together Boeing’s GBU-39B small diameter bomb with the M26 rocket — an unguided cluster munition that has largely been phased out by militaries.
Boeing and Saab have positioned GLSDB as a low-cost option for countries looking for a precision weapon to replace cluster munitions, particularly for those that do not have large air forces capable of using the air-launched SDB.The munition fits into a standard launch container and could be fired from the Multiple Launch Rocket System, used by several U.S. allies and partner nations.
The companies first fired the GLSDB in 2015, testing the integration of the GBU-39 and M26 rocket. Another launch, in 2017, validated the guidance system of the weapon, Daae said.
The latest test, which occurred at Andøya Test Center in Andenes, Norway, verified that the system could hit a target 130 kilometers away, Daae said. It was also used to collect detailed flight data, as well as measure the weapon’s impact on the launch container. (Source: Defense News)
14 Oct 19. HMAS Brisbane to undergo combat system trials. The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Hobart-class air warfare destroyer, HMAS Brisbane, is ready to undergo combat system trials in the US.
The build-up to the trials involved a training period and months of combat system preparation. Personnel from the US worked on HMAS Brisbane in coordination with the ship’s company to optimise its combat system and perform operator training.
The Hobart-class air warfare destroyer participated alongside US Navy Destroyer Squadron 31 in Hawaii during the transit.
HMAS Brisbane commanding officer commander Josh Wilson said: “Having the US Navy Project Team onboard and working with Destroyer Squadron 31 in Hawaii provided an excellent opportunity for the crew to be exposed to complex training scenarios that have enhanced our knowledge of the Aegis Combat System.
“With the introduction of Aegis, we will be able to work closer and better integrate into joint exercises and operations.”
Brisbane is the second in the Hobart-class of destroyers. HMAS Hobart and Sydney are the other two vessels in the class. ASC is the primary shipbuilder for the A$9bn Hobart-class programme, while Navantia is the designer.
Commissioned in October last year, the 140m-long ship can provide an air defence system that can engage enemy aircraft and missiles at ranges exceeding 150km.
Deputy electrical engineering officer Lieutenant Michael Whanslaw said: “Since forming the crew in early 2017, the test and trials of the combat system have been our ultimate goal to progress the Destroyer capability.
“It is exciting that we have reached the culmination of 12 months of planning and hard work.”
HMAS Brisbane completed seaworthy assurance trials in March and will return to Australia in December. (Source: naval-technology.com)
Arnold Defense has manufactured more than 1.25 million 2.75-inch rocket launchers since 1961 for the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and many NATO customers. They are the world’s largest supplier of rocket launchers for military aircraft, vessels and vehicles. Core products include the 7-round M260 and 19-round M261 commonly used by helicopters; the thermal coated 7-round LAU-68 variants and LAU-61 Digital Rocket Launcher used by the U.S. Navy and Marines; and the 7-round LAU-131 and SUU-25 flare dispenser used by the U.S. Air Force and worldwide.
Today’s rocket launchers now include the ultra-light LWL-12 that weighs just over 60 pounds (27 kg.) empty and the new Fletcher (4) round launcher. Arnold Defense designs and manufactures various rocket launchers that can be customized for any capacity or form factor for platforms in the air, on the ground or even at sea.
Arnold Defense maintains the highest standards of production quality by using extensive testing, calibration and inspection processes.