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01 Nov 19. HMAS Brisbane kicks off combat system trials in US. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has confirmed a first for both the Australian and US navies, as Australia’s newest destroyer, HMAS Brisbane, completed a live missile engagement off the west coast of the US. Using remote sensor data from the USS Stockdale and the Cooperative Engagement Capability, the combat system was tested against a range of challenging targets and tactical situations.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the trials, which were held in the US over the past month, mark a ground-breaking milestone for Australia.
“This missile firing demonstrates the very highest levels of interoperability between our navies. It reaffirms the game-changing technology that the Aegis combat system brings to our Navy and the advanced capability of the Australian-built Hobart Class destroyers,” Minister Reynolds explained.
HMAS Brisbane is the second of three Hobart Class guided-missile destroyers, the most complex and capable warships Australia has operated. The ship, alongside HMA Ships Hobart and Sydney, will primarily provide air defence for accompanying ships, in addition to land forces and infrastructure in coastal areas.
Cooperative Engagement Capability provides a secure communications capability between Australian and US equipped ships, aircraft or land forces and allows a unit to detect and, if needed, engage a threat identified by another ship or aircraft.
HMAS Brisbane is in the US completing her combat system trials and is due to return to Australia in December. Australia’s Hobart Class guided-missile destroyers are based on Navantia’s F100 Alvaro De Bazan Class of frigates and incorporate the Lockheed Martin Aegis combat management system with Australian-specific equipment to ensure that the RAN is capable of defending Australia and its national interests well into the next two decades.
Minister Reynolds added, “By conducting these trials in the US, our Navy is able to access the world’s best expertise, instrumented ranges and analysis capabilities to provide confidence in how the ship will perform in combat.”
The Hobart Class’ Spanish counterparts entered service with the Spanish Navy beginning in the early 2000s, working alongside key NATO and US maritime assets.
When deployed to the Persian Gulf, the F100s became the first foreign Aegis-equipped ships to fully integrate into a US Navy Carrier Strike Group, while the class has also successfully deployed as the flagship of NATO’s Maritime Group Standing Reaction Force, highlighting the individual and interoperable capabilities of Navy’s new destroyers.
The vessels will be capable across the full spectrum of joint maritime operations, from area air defence and escort duties, right through to peacetime national tasking and diplomatic missions.
The Hobart Class combat system is built around the Aegis Weapon System. Incorporating the state-of-the-art phased array radar, AN/SPY 1D(V), will provide an advanced air defence system capable of engaging enemy aircraft and missiles at ranges in excess of 150 kilometres.
While based upon the Spanish F100s, the Australian vessels incorporate a number of modifications and Australian-specific structural/design and combat system modifications to provide a uniquely Australian surface combatant with international provenance. (Source: Defence Connect)
29 Oct 19. Lasers To Kill Cruise Missiles Sought By Navy, Air Force, Army. The Pentagon is pushing to double the power output of lasers, to over 300 kilowatts, so they can defeat a threat found in arsenals from the Russian army to the Chinese navy to Iran: cruise missiles.
“The current technology for laser sources is in that 100-150 kw class,” said Frank Peterkin, a senior scientist at the Office of Naval Research. “It’s not enough. Even if you take all the other elements of a laser weapon and have them be perfect” – the targeting, the cooling, the beam control — “we still don’t have enough power. It’s a common enough problem, it makes sense to [approach] it in a joint fashion,” Peterkin continued. “OSD’s Dr. Karr…. is leading a joint DoD-wide initiative to scale up power levels, because we all need more power.”
The original Dynetics/Lockheed concept for a 100 kW laser truck to kill drones and incoming rockets, artillery, & mortars. The Army is now pursuing a 250-300 kW weapon that could intercept cruise missiles.
As we’ve previously reported, former DARPA physicist Thomas Karr – the assistant director for directed energy under Pentagon R&D chief Mike Griffin – is leading an all-service effort to dramatically ramp up the power of laser weapons, with the Army looking to put the new technology on a truck for mobile cruise missile defense. What Navy and Air Force officials made clear today at the Association of Old Crows electronic warfare conference, however, is how eager their services are to kill cruise missiles as well.
The Air Force wants to put these future high-powered lasers on planes. “There’s great interest in … airborne capabilities for the counter-cruise missile [mission],” said Kelly Hammett, director of directed energy work at the Air Force Research Laboratory.
The Navy, which wants lasers on its ships, is probably the most enthusiastic of all. “The ability to take on cruise missiles — I’d say that is the predominant goal of the Navy’s current efforts …using lasers for ship defense against anti-ship cruise missiles,” Peterkin said.
But wait: Chinese nationalists and Sinophobes alike have hyped up the threat of China’s DF-21D “carrier-killer,” which is a ballistic missile. In fact, the whole US missile defense effort since the days of Reagan’s Star Wars program has focused on stopping ballistic missiles, whose parabolic flight paths through the upper atmosphere and outer space allow them to fly much faster and further than cruise missiles, whose whole flight path is in the atmosphere. The American Soldier is evolving from low-tech grunt to high-tech warrior. For decades, the infantry have gotten the least investment in new equipment. Now that’s changing.
Precisely because cruise missiles fly through the air like planes, however they can maneuver much more unpredictably than ballistic missiles. That allows them to come in from unexpected angles and slip in under radar at low altitudes for surprise attacks. Historically, cruise missiles’ superior ability to steer also made them more precise, although cutting-edge (and expensive) ballistic missile warheads are becoming increasingly maneuverable as well.
All those factors make cruise missiles, not ballistic ones, the mainstay of anti-ship arsenals around the world. Even Lebanese Hezbollah managed to use one to cripple an Israeli corvette in 2006. Cruise missiles are also a major threat to fixed targets on land, like air bases, ports, and other infrastructure, as the Iranians proved with their recent crippling combo of cruise missiles and drones hitting Saudi oil fields.
The concern is not a single cruise missile, AFRL’s Hammett emphasized: “Scenarios [like] base defense, say, in the Pacific – it’s a large salvo or raid of missiles coming at you simultaneously, pretty similar to what happened in Saudi Arabia.”
Rather than set up your laser right next to what you’re defending, Hammett said, you could instead put it on an aircraft to intercept incoming cruise missiles much earlier in their flight path, when there’s more time to pick them off one by one. “If you sit at home plate and have 10 runners coming in simultaneously and you try to tag them all out, that’s not probably the winning solution,” Hammett said. “You want to get forward… with an airborne platform.”
Even so, shooting down that many targets fast enough will probably require some kind of artificial intelligence, Hammett went on, as well as laser weapons with enough precision and raw power to burn through each target quickly and move on to the next.
“We talk ad nauseam about power…because it’s the easiest, simplest metric,” Peterkin said. “It’s certainly necessary but not sufficient.
“We need to understand those targets better,” Peterkin continued, “because the advantage of a laser weapon is precision, and the disadvantage of a laser weapon is precision.” While a hit-to-kill missile like the modern Patriot will just crash into the target and smash it, a laser beam focuses precisely on a specific spot on the target and burns through. If you pick the wrong spot, you might not damage anything vital. If the spot you picked is tougher than your intelligence reports or your computer models said it was, you might not do enough damage in time.
That’s a particularly acute problem with supersonic cruise missiles, whose nose cones are already reinforced to survive the heat of friction from their rapid progress through the air. That makes these kinds of cruise missiles largely immune to a laser shooting them from dead ahead. It’s much more effective for the laser to shoot the incoming cruise missile from the side, which in turn means the laser shouldn’t be positioned right on top of the target, but nearby – for example on an escorting warship.
That’s why the service envisions its Surface Navy Laser Weapon System evolving in three stages, Peterkin said:
- Increment 1 is the 60 kW HELIOS laser being installed on ships to destroy drones and cripple small attack craft;
- Increment 2 will ramp up the power enough to take side shots against cruise missiles, so a ship with it installed can use it to defend other ships nearby, but not itself; and
- Increment 3 will be still more powerful, able to burn through the nose-cone in a head-on shot, allowing a ship with it installed to defend itself.
Making these weapons work in the real world will require more power, sophisticated computer modeling, and extensive field testing, Peterkin cautioned. But the potential is there to shift the balance between missile offense and missile defense for future wars at sea.(Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
31 Oct 19. Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) and Swedish aerospace and defense firm Saab successfully completed a series of guided flight tests for the shoulder-launched, guided Carl-Gustaf® munition. Tests were conducted at Saab’s Bofors Test Center in Karlskoga, Sweden, and at Mile High Range in Sierra Blanca, Texas. The Carl-Gustaf weapon system built by Saab is used by the U.S. Army and ground forces of more than 40 other countries. The new semi-active, laser-guided munition will allow militaries to accurately engage stationary or moving targets at distances up to 1.2 miles (2,000 meters).
“Raytheon and Saab have spent the last 12 months working together to develop a precision-guided munition that will penetrate multiple targets, such as light armor, bunkers and concrete structures, at extended ranges,” said Sam Deneke, Raytheon Land Warfare Systems vice president. “This lightweight round can overmatch potential adversaries while decreasing collateral damage, making it an ideal weapon when fighting under restricted rules of engagement.”
Increased range combined with the ability to fire at targets from inside structures, will offer troops greater protection.
“The guided Carl-Gustaf munition is the next step in the development of the Carl-Gustaf system,” said Görgen Johansson, who leads Saab’s Dynamics business. “It is the most advanced munition yet and will offer greater precision, minimize collateral damage and deliver outstanding performance.”
Raytheon and Saab began their partnership with the guided Carl-Gustaf munition in 2016, and expect to test an all-up round in 2020.
31 Oct 19. New Australian army rifle to be four times deadlier on the battlefield with biometric facial and fingerprint recognition.
- Lithgow Arms is developing a rifle of the future for Australian soldiers in battle
- It would feature a digital sensor to improve the accuracy of shooting targets
- The 2kg lightweight gun would also have high-tech biometric security features
Australian soldiers could soon be using a locally-designed digital rifle that is four times deadlier than the lightweight guns they now use in battle.
Lithgow Arms, which supplied the guns used by the Gallipoli Diggers in 1915, is developing a 21st century weapon that can significantly enhance a soldier’s accuracy when they fired their first shot.
It is working on a weapon, known internally as the Advanced Future Soldier Weapon System, that would feature a digital sensor that identified targets better than a skilled marksman.
This rifle would also be the world’s most modern gun and was expected to be ready within the next five years, as the Australian government focused on arming soldiers with better small arms, featuring advanced laser technology.
The 2kg gun would have biometric security features, that recognised faces and fingerprints and also digitally connected the soldier with his commander.
Thales Australia, the French parent company of Lithgow Arms, said the weapon was designed to take out computer-enhanced opponents.
‘Rapid advances in digital technology bring increasing threats as well as new capabilities,’ the group’s chief executive Chris Jenkins said.
‘Thales’s future weapon system accelerates the development process for an era of networked warfare.’
Australian Defence Association executive director Neil James, who spent 31 years in the Australian Army, said future rifles that enhanced shooting accuracy by four times, over an average range of 300 metres, would save a lot in training costs.
‘A four times increase in marksmanship is actually very impressive,’ he told Daily Mail Australia on Thursday.
‘You can train most soldiers, male or female, to be good marksmen but it does take time so any technical assistance you can give them to improve their accuracy is a big one because the train of them is expensive, particularly if they’re firing live rounds.’
Lithgow Arms has been manufacturing weapons at Lithgow, in the New South Wales Central West, since 1912, following a decision by the federal government to establish inland arms factories.
It has provided rifles to Diggers since the 1915 campaign at Gallipoli in Turkey, arming soldiers who did duty in the Korean, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
The British-designed Lee-Enfield bolt action .303 was first manufactured at Lithgow in 1912 before the onset of World War I and stayed in production until the early 1960s.
Mr James said that no matter how advanced a weapon was, a soldier still needed to operate it instead of a robot.
‘They’ll still need a human to pull the trigger, you’re not talking about doing anything with artificial intelligence for obvious reasons,’ he said. French defence and aerospace giant Thales in 1999 bought a 50 per cent stake in its former parent company, Australian Defence Industries, before taking over completely in 2008. (Source: Google/Daily Mail)
31 Oct 19. SEA has successfully completed sea trials of its innovative Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) System with the Portuguese Navy as part of Exercise REP (Maritime Unmanned Systems) 19. The KraitSense™ low-profile passive sonar system detected tracked and classified a submarine whilst deployed from a Portuguese Navy offshore patrol vessel (OPV).
An opportunity to test and evaluate the new capabilities for NATO countries, Exercise REP (MUS) 19 drew approximately 800 military participants from Portugal, the UK, Belgium, Italy and the USA alongside experts from both academia and industry. Exercise REP (MUS) 19 is a unique and collaborative project, which allows industry, academia and the military to test the latest surface and subsurface capabilities in real military operating conditions.
SEA’s KraitSense System is a complete anti-submarine warfare solution, featuring an innovative low profile miniaturised acoustic array suitable for towed and static applications on both manned and unmanned vessels. With low power consumption, drag and weight, the capability offers significant cost efficiencies when compared to traditional line and towed arrays making it suitable for smaller ships and unmanned vessels.
Peter Hodgkinson, Business Development Director at SEA said, “Exercise REP (MUS) 19 was the first end to end deployment of the KraitSense system and the feedback that we’ve received from military personnel at the event has been very positive. From the system’s ease of integration and installation to its unique operational configuration, the KraitArray’s flexibility, small footprint and ability to detect, track and classify a quiet electric submarine was a true demonstration of the solution’s capability.”
The exercise took place in Lisbon on 8 – 27th September and saw SEA’s KraitSense installed onto a Portuguese OPV in just two days at the dockside. To enable the effective analysis of the ASW environment, SEA’s sonar analysis and integrated maritime awareness software (provided by OSI) was also installed to provide a fully integrated solution fully integrated with the vessel’s other data systems.
Peter added, “The trial was also an opportunity for SEA to test a new long tow cable to help reduce the impact of engine noise that is generated by smaller vessels. We’re pleased to say that this was extremely successful, further demonstrating that KraitSense provides a cost-effective ASW solution for navies of all sizes.”
30 Oct 19. New Russian submarine test fires intercontinental missile for first time. Russia’s most advanced new nuclear-powered submarine test-launched a Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time and hit a target thousands of kilometres away, the Defence Ministry said on Wednesday.
The test was carried out while the Borei-class vessel was submerged and comes amid arms control tensions between Moscow and the West following the demise of a landmark Cold War-era nuclear pact that has sparked fears of a burgeoning arms race.
The launch was conducted in the White Sea off Russia’s north with a dummy payload reaching a test site in the Far East Russian region of Kamchatka, the ministry said.
The Knyaz Vladimir submarine is the first upgraded 955A model to be produced in the Borei class of Russian nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.
It will enter service with Russia’s Northern Fleet at the end of this year once it has completed trials including weapons tests, the fleet’s commander, Vice Admiral Alexander Moiseev said according to TASS news agency.
The global arms control architecture erected during the Cold War to keep Washington and Moscow in check has come under strain since the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
The United States in August pulled out of the accord that banned the deployment of short and intermediate range missiles, accusing Moscow of flouting it, something Russia denies.
The last major nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States, the New START treaty, is due to expire in 2021. It limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads the world’s two biggest nuclear powers can deploy. (Source: Reuters)
28 Oct 19. Italy Withdraws SAMP/T Battery from Turkey. Italy has begun logistics activities to prepare for the withdrawal of the Italian Army SAMP/T anti-missile battery that it has deployed in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, since 2016 as part of NATO’s Operation ‘Active Fence.’ The announcement was made Oct. 24 by Undersecretary of Defense Angelo Tofalo during testimony before the Lower House’s Defense Committee and repeated in a post on his blog. When it voted on the deployment of the battery in 2016, the Italian Parliament authorized it until the end of 2019, Tofalo said, so the withdrawal is not tied to current events in the region. Tofalo and Italian defense minister Lorenzo Guerini were at pains to stress that the withdrawal has nothing to do with the current crisis between Turkey and its NATO allies. Italy has a significant defense industry relationship with Turkey, and provides technology and know-how for several Turkish defense programs, notably the A-129 ATAK attack helicopter, the T629 utility helicopter and a bigger attack helicopter now under development. Italy and France have also authorized Eurosam, the joint venture between MBDA and Thales which developed and produces the SAMP/T medium-range air-defense system, to help Turkey develop an anti-missile system of its own, and Italy clearly wants to avoid any disruption in its industrial cooperation with Turkey. By December 31, the Italian detachment comprising 130 soldiers will therefore return home. The deployment of the SAMP/T, Tofalo said, “falls within the framework of the defense system that NATO guarantees to protect the populations of European countries that are members of the Alliance.”
The Italian deployment began in June 2016, following the withdrawal of the American and German Patriots deployed in Gaziantep and Kahramanmaras. The battery was deployed exclusively with the missile defense mission to protect the latter, while “contributing to the security of the entire region.”
As for the conditions of the Italian military deployed there, Tofalo noted that “our contingent is more than 150 kilometers from the area affected by the present crisis,” and is not affected by it.
Tofalo’s statement echoed remarks made at the NATO summit in Brussels, where Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini stressed that the withdrawal of the SAMP/T battery has no connection with the Turkish offensive in Syria. It is not clear whether France will replace the Italian missiles with a similar SAMP/T battery as originally agreed, while Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles confirmed the extension for six months of the deployment of the Spanish Patriot missile battery.
Guerini summed up the Syrian question by noting that “there is a shared concern for the Turkish initiative. The security reasons are understood, but the humanitarian emergency that has emerged requires a political solution. The weapons must be silenced, and now politics need to take over.”
Originally deployed to protect Turkey from possible Syrian missile attacks when the Allied coalition began its Counter-ISIS operations in Syria, the missile defense batteries deployed by various NATO allies have never been tested as no missile attacks ever materialized. (Source: Defense-Aerospace.com)
27 Oct 19. Inside the Army’s Quest for a Revolutionary New Bullet. As Army weapons officials near the end of a bold effort to arm close-combat units with Next Generation Squad Weapons, new details have emerged about the program’s elusive 6.8mm ammo, designed to pierce enemy body armor. The Army’s long-standing effort to develop this revolutionary round, capable of taking on a sophisticated peer enemy on the battlefield, has required gunmakers to challenge design assumptions and innovate. Now that plans to develop and field the bullet are taking shape, it remains to be seen whether it will live up to its promise to transform the fight for infantrymen.
Just recently, the three gunmakers selected for the final phase of the effort have presented a much clearer picture of the three distinctly different cartridge designs. Both Army and industry officials have disclosed concrete information on the composition of the 6.8mm projectile and how gunmakers have designed their NGSW auto rifle and rifle candidates to cope with potential problems created by the new high-velocity ammunition.
The New General-Purpose Projectile
Since the program took off two years ago, Army officials have refused to discuss specific details about the new 6.8mm bullet and the performance it’s capable of producing.
“We want to make sure we are not divulging things at some point that would give our adversaries some ideas of the things that we are trying to do,” Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts, the commander of Program Executive Office Soldier, said recently.
The stance is quite different from the openness the Army showed when it unveiled its M855A1 5.56mm Enhanced Performance Round in 2011 and, later, the M80A1 7.62mm EPR. Two Army officials with knowledge of the new 6.8mm General Purpose Projectile confirms to Military.com that it is very similar to the composition of the M855A1 and M80A1, consisting of an exposed steel penetrator that sits on top of a copper slug and is partially encased in a copper jacket.
But so far, neither Army officials or the gunmakers involved in the effort will talk about the muzzle velocity of the 6.8mm round, or the extended range it’s designed to achieve to be lethal against a modern, peer adversary.
The choice for 6.8mm emerged out of a 2017 research initiative: the Small Arms Ammunition Configuration Study. That report convinced Army leaders that infantrymen need a round that would penetrate enemy body armor much more effectively than the current M855A1 EPR round.
“It was the precursor of the Next Generation Squad Weapon program,” said Brig. Gen. David Hodne, director of the Soldier Lethality Cross Functional Team and chief of infantry at the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia. To date, the unclassified version of the study has not been released to the public.
Program officials have said that the NGSW effort is different from past Army small arms programs because it began with the ammunition, and not the design of the weapons.
“If you want to build a new innovative weapon, you start with the ammunition; you don’t start with the weapon and try to back into the ammunition — that is not the most effective means to do it,” Potts said. “In the end … there is no secret, it’s all about energy on target. So, we have to understand the targets that we are going after, we have to understand how much energy it takes to defeat that target at that distance, and we have to build a system that delivers that.”
From the start, this ambitious performance goal created concerns in the firearms community — particularly penetrating body armor would require much higher velocities than the M855A1 EPR’s 2,970 feet per second. Higher velocities often come with higher chamber pressures, which can cause premature parts wear and reliability problems over time.
“If you have a terminal performance objective that includes body armor, there is no doubt you are going to have to raise the pressure to increase velocity because that is a key factor … in overcoming the body armor,” said Trevor Shaw, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who has worked in the firearms industry for more than 15 years. “The more velocity you’ve got, the better armor penetration you are going to have.”
The three gunmakers selected by the Army for the final phase of the NGSW effort are approaching the problem in different ways.
General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems Inc. teamed up with True Velocity to produce a composite-cased 6.8mm cartridge. For gun-making expertise, GD joined with Beretta USA, which made the U.S. Army’s M9 pistol for decades before the Sig Sauer Modular Handgun System was chosen in 2017 to replace it.
The team was fully aware of the dangers of higher pressures when it designed its automatic rifle and rifle prototypes, said Dave Stouffer, director of business development for the GD-OTS team.
“Higher pressures in the weapon drive all sorts of unsavory things — barrel wear … the stresses that go back on the bolt face, extraction [problems], premature part wear — there’s all sorts of unfavorable things higher pressure drives,” he said.
The GD team chose a bullpup design — which puts the magazine and bolt-carrier group behind the pistol grip and trigger group — to avoid the problem and still meet the Army’s requirements, Stouffer said.
“One of the benefits of a bullpup-style weapon is that you can run much lower pressures and still achieve the desired velocities because you have a longer barrel,” Stouffer said.
GD’s rifle variant features a 20-inch barrel, while the AR version has a 22-inch barrel, said Kevin Sims, senior director of business development at GD-OTS, adding that the rifle variant is shorter than the M4A1 and the AR is shorter than the M249. Fully extended, the 33-inch M4A1 has a 14.5-inch barrel, and the M249’s 36-inch para version has a barrel length of just over 16 inches.
Without speaking to specifics, Stouffer said, “one of the advantages of this style of weapon is that you can have a much longer barrel in a weapon that is generally shorter.”
“If our magazine was in front of the trigger group, this weapon would be 12 to 13 inches longer than it is right now,” Stouffer said. “So, you can have the lightest-weight, shortest, most compact weapon that gives you greater capability than you would out of a traditional setup.”
True Velocity’s lightweight cartridge is a little shorter than the 7.62x51mm round but slightly fatter, so it will require redesigned magazines, Sims said.
Textron Systems teamed up with Heckler & Koch, the maker of the Marine Corps’ M27 infantry automatic rifle, and Olin Winchester for its small-caliber ammunition production capabilities.
Textron’s case-telescoped 6.8mm cartridge emerged out of the U.S. Army’s Lightweight Small Arms Technology program. The technology uses a plastic case rather than a brass case to hold the propellant and the projectile, resulting in a 30% weight savings, Wayne Prender, senior vice president for Applied Technologies & Advanced Programs at Textron, told reporters at AUSA.
The operating system in Textron’s prototypes was designed to prevent heat buildup in the system, Prender said.
“Heat and plastic generally don’t like each other; we don’t have a problem because of the design elements that have been put into the system,” he said. “We have a … rising chamber that allows us to take care of any potential latent heat that may exist in the barrel.
“We do not have any sort of heat problems. The systems have gone through extensive testing.”
The CT cartridge is also slightly shorter than the 7.62x51mm round, but because of its cylindrical shape, it will require specially designed magazines for rifle variant.
Sig Sauer developed its 6.8mm cartridge, which is a more traditional design that features a stainless-steel base joined to the brass case to save weight, Paul Snyder, product manager for belt-fed systems at Sig Sauer.
“Since you are making them both independently, you can thin them — that gives you the weight savings that you need, and it also gives you the increased powder charge that you need to go that velocity that you need,” Snyder said. “I can save anybody 20% in weight, case for case; we have patented this technology.”
Sig added steel inserts at certain places inside its M4-style design for the rifle prototype to deal with the higher pressure of the 6.8mm round, he said.
“Everywhere there is a wear point, we have reinforced that wear point with stainless steel — chamber, feed ramp,” said Snyder to deal with that “increased velocity of the bolt carrier group.”
“These things are going a lot faster. It’s a lot more violent. Everything increases when you have a higher chamber pressure round.”
Snyder also said Sig included “barrel advancements” to prevent premature wear caused by the 6.8mm round.
“It’s an abusive explosion right at the chamber, so barrel wear was a challenge for all competitors, not just Sig,” he said.
Sig’s cartridge is the same length as 7.62x51mm and can be used in many existing styles of magazines, Snyder said, stressing that the cartridge — because it’s a traditional design — will not require special machines to produce.
“We can sell the case to anybody and they can load it conventionally, so Lake City [Army Ammunition Plant] does not have to come up with any other tooling to load that cartridge; that is huge,” Snyder said.
An Ammo Producer is Chosen
The 6.8mm ammunition for the NGSW will be produced at the Lake City, Missouri, plant. Aside from being on Textron’s NGSW team, Olin Winchester recently won a $28m Army contract to manage the plant for the next decade, according to a Sept. 27 contract announcement.
Military.com reached out to the Army and Olin Corporation to discuss the issue but did not receive a response by press time.
Orbital ATK currently manages Lake City until Olin Winchester takes over Oct. 1, 2020. Under these agreements, the Army pays for upgrades to the facility, but the managing firm invests money as well, according to Whitney Watson, spokesman for Orbital ATK.
“As part of the contract, when a bidder comes in, they will say we will invest X number of dollars into the facility as well, so there is government money that goes in and there is the operator money that also is contributed,” said Watson, who added that his firm had invested “a sizeable amount of money” over the past 18 years.
The agreement has allowed Orbital ATK to keep 2,000 people employed while it produces small arms ammo for the U.S. military as well as a sizable amount for the civilian market, Watson said.
Velocity Systems’ Next Generation Squad Weapon’s 6.8mm cartridge that features that has replaced the traditional brass case with a polymer design. (Velocity Systems)
The U.S. military puts in its yearly ammunition orders and awards a contract to the managing firm, which buys the cases, powder and bullets from suppliers to produce the ammo to meet strict government guidelines, Watson said.
The Army announced earlier this year that the service has selected a firm to oversee the architecture and design of the new Lake City facility that will produce the 6.8mm ammunition for the NGSW, Watson said, adding that the Army Corps of Engineers will manage the project.
“Shovels haven’t even turned dirt yet,” he said. “It will be the first new building since the Vietnam era, so Winchester, working with the Corps of Engineers, will be able to determine what that building looks like and the technology that will be required to produce what the government wants.”
Currently, Lake City only has the capability to produce traditional, brass-cased ammunition, said Watson, who added that “as far as what we have been told” the Army has not decided what type of new equipment it will need to produce the 6.8mm ammunition.
Army officials said in July that the service won’t select the winning firm’s weapons and cartridge design until sometime in the first quarter of 2022.
“The ammunition for the Next Generation Squad Weapon will be produced at Lake City, we know that for sure,” he said. “And since Winchester has won contract to operate Lake City, we know Winchester will be producing the ammunition for the 6.8mm.
“The picture will become much clearer once the Army has selected, for sure, the design of the Next Gen Squad Weapon. Once they have picked a design, then the dust will settle, and they will determine what that round is going to look like.” (Source: Military.com)
28 Oct 19. Technology to enhance the skill of Aussie minehunter operations. The combination of next-generation technology and skills is helping a Royal Australian Navy task group consisting of the Sydney-based minehunters, HMA Ships Diamantina and Gascoyne, as they participate in the Multinational Mine Warfare Exercise (MIWEX 19) off the coast of the Republic of Korea.
Following a brief respite in Busan, South Korea, both the vessels, along with a Task Group Command team, have joined in MIWEX 19 to test and demonstrate their mine warfare skills in a new environment. A key piece of technology utilised in the Mine Warfare task is the Double Eagle MkII mine disposal vehicle (MDV), with each of the RAN minehunters deployed with two of these vehicles.
These tethered submersibles are capable of acquiring suspect bottom objects, verifying those objects and, if required, disposing of those objects confirmed to be underwater mines.
Gascoyne deployed her MDVs on numerous occasions during the exercise to verify mine-like objects and then prosecute mines during the exercise.
Further enhancing each vessel’s mine warfare capability are the Mine Clearance Divers embarked as part of the crew who also provide positive identification and neutralisation of mines.
Diamantina’s Operations Officer, Lieutenant Justin Raward, said that the ship’s divers are braving the cool waters off Namhae, Republic of Korea, to locate and identify underwater mines and obstacles.
LEUT Raward explained, “Our success here is evidence of our quality training and preparation for this exercise. This is a terrific opportunity to demonstrate our skills to our regional partners and share knowledge in the Mine Warfare arena.”
The Royal Australian Navy’s Huon Class minehunter coastal vessels are fitted with a pair of electrically powered Saab Double Eagle MkII ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) for mine disposal.
Commanding Officer of HMAS Diamantina, Lieutenant Commander Darren McDevitt, has highlighted the significance of the RAN unit’s involvement in the exercise.
“The Republic of Korea Navy units out here with us know that we are here to share skills and experience in Mine Warfare operations. It is a privilege to join our regional partners here, and I am proud of the capabilities we have on show,” LTCMDR McDevitt said.
Diamantina, Gascoyne and the Task Group Command team are taking part in the Multinational Mine Countermeasure Symposium and MIWEX 19 in Korea as part of a four-month North East Asian Deployment.
The Double Eagle is equipped with a searchlight, closed-circuit low-light television camera and an onboard close-range identification sonar. Commands are relayed via a fibre optic link inside the vehicle’s 1,000 metre tether, which also relays sensor images for display on the ship’s multifunction console in the operations room.
Each Double Eagle ROV is fitted with either a disposal charge slung beneath or an explosive or mechanical cutter designed to sever the wire rope or chain holding moored mines. (Source: Defence Connect)
24 Oct 19. Israel Boasts New Operational Cruise Missile Defense. According to updated intelligence, the Iranians are investing big sums to upgrade their cruise missiles and build new ones. Israel has been worried for some time by this threat and improved its Barak-8 air defense missile systems to try and minimize any capabilities gaps.
Israel has an operational system to protect against cruise missiles like the ones used by Iran to attack the Saudi oil installations, Breaking Defense has learned.
The Barak-8ER system, developed by Israel Aerospace industries (IAI), was recently upgraded and is now operational.
Boaz Levy, IAI’s VP and general manger of its missiles and space division, told me that the Barak-8 extended range version will add to the Israeli capability to protect itself from cruise missiles. The new version has enhanced anti-tactical ballistic missile capabilities. “The Effective Warhead can kill many types of missiles,” Levy said, adding that the missile features high immunity to electronic countermeasures.
The Barak-8 interceptor is part of the Barak MX System. The interceptors boast vertical launch capabilities supporting 360-degree coverage, quick reactions, short minimal ranges and an active high-end RF seeker for targets with low radar cross sections (RCS) and high maneuverability.
As Breaking Defense readers know, the cruise missiles used in the attack on the Saudi oil installations were Qudas 1s, powered by jet engines built in Iran based on a Czech engine. In addition, there were eight loitering weapon systems. They were developed in Iran based on technology acquired in other countries.
According to updated intelligence, the Iranians are investing big sums to upgrade their cruise missiles and build new ones. Israel has been worried for some time by this threat and improved its Barak-8 air defense missile systems to try and minimize any capabilities gaps.
The newest member of the Barak-8 family is the ER version. The regular ship-based Barak-8 has an effective range of 70km. The ER version, with its add-on booster, has the range of 150km.
Levy said that the Barak-8 protects against a variety of aerial platforms and munitions including aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aircraft and sea-skimming missiles. It is based on a sophisticated missile (developed with Rafael), a phased-array multi-mission radar, two-way data link, and command and control system.
The system’s radar delivers an accurate, high quality, real-time arena situation picture and extracts low Radar Cross Section (RCS) targets even in the toughest environmental conditions. Barak-8 can operate day and night, in all weather conditions, and can deal with simultaneous threats engagements even in severe saturation scenarios.
A Barak-8 system is deployed on an Israeli navy’s SAAR -5 missile ship and will be one of the systems on the Israeli navy’s new SAAR -6 ships being built in Germany. Some of the Barak-8 systems aboard the Israeli navy ships will be capable of protecting Israeli cities from cruise missile, Levy said.
Israel already has deployed systems to counter the other threat the Iranians demonstrated: armed drones.
Elta, IAI’s electronic subsidiary, has developed the Drone Guard System that blocks an enemy system’s communication capability without compromising the communications of nearby civilians. Drone Guard uses 3D radars that trace the targets, electro-optical and COMINT sensors, and a dedicated UAS flight disruption system.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. has the Drone Dome, a radar and laser-beam system for detecting and destroying drones. Drone Dome can also disrupt communications between the drone and its operator. Drone Dome’s range reaches several miles, but causes minimal interruptions to other systems in nearby urban areas. A laser weapon is optional. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
24 Oct 19. BAE Systems now meeting monthly howitzer programme goals, assembly line challenges remain. Striking the right balance between antiquated combat vehicle manufacturing practices and injecting robots into the mix is an ongoing point of discussion between the US Army and BAE Systems’ York, Pennsylvania facility. For now, the company has rebounded and is meeting its monthly goals producing the M109A7 self-propelled howitzer, according to Bruce Jette, the service’s assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics, and technology.
Jette spoke with reporters on 16 October at the Association of the US Army 2019 (AUSA 2019) annual conference in Washington, DC, about an array of topics including production challenges with the Paladin integrated management (PIM) programme, an upgrade of the M109A7 Paladin. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
24 Oct 19. NSM operations highlight LCS upgrades. (LCS 10) fires a Naval Strike Missile. The recent successful deployment of the US Navy (USN) Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) with a Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM) to Asia Pacific underscores a recent series of upgrades for LCS vessels, especially for surface-warfare operations. Gabrielle Giffords on 1 October fired an NSM during ‘Pacific Griffin’, a biennial exercise conducted in the waters near Guam by the Republic of Singapore and US navies.
The deployment on Giffords, USN officials noted, was the first in the Asia-Pacific region for the NSM, a long-range, sea-skimming, precision strike weapon with a range of at least 100 n miles that also features an advanced seeker and has terrain-following capability.
First demonstrated on USS Coronado (LCS 4) in 2014, the NSM “meets and exceeds the USN’s over-the-horizon requirements for survivability”, the service said in a statement. “LCS packs a punch and gives potential adversaries another reason to stay awake at night,” said Rear Admiral Joey Tynch, commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific, who oversees security co-operation for the USN in Southeast Asia.
Thanks to the successful ‘Pacific Griffin’ NSM operations, Kongsberg is getting ready to up-gun other LCSs in a similar fashion.
“We are working on the actual delivery of the weapon systems, including missiles to the rest of the LCS fleet,” Steve Schreiber, Kongsberg senior director of Special Platforms and Missile Systems in the US, told Jane’s. “We’re heavy into that now. We’re making sure we’re on time or early in production and deliveries.”
Kongsberg and Raytheon Missile Systems of Tucson, Arizona, in 2018 received a USD14.9m firm-fixed-price contract for over-the-horizon (OTH) missile systems for NSMs to be used for LCSs. The contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the contract to USD847.6m. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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.