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31 Jul 18. Russian FACs receive Uprava-Kord RCWS. The Russian Navy’s newest fast attack craft (FAC) are being fitted with the Uprava-Kord marinised remote controlled weapon station (RCWS), a military source told Jane’s.
“The cutting-edge Russian FACs, namely, Project 03160 Raptor and Project 12150 Mangust [Mongoose], are being fitted with Uprava-Kord unmanned weapon stations,” the source said.
“The dual-axis stabilised RCWS features an integrated electro-optic (EO) suite, and a separate gyrostabilised EO station can also be used,” he said.
The Uprava-Kord RCWS has a height of 1,100 mm, a maximum turning radius of 1,355mm, and a maximum weight of 200kg. It has a traverse angle of 200° and an elevation angle varying between -20° and +80°. The module’s EO suite incorporates a thermal imager, a wide-angle colour TV camera with variable focus, and a laser target illuminator. The Uprava-Kord can be armed with a Vladimirov KPVT 14.5 mm heavy machine gun (HMG), Kord 12.7 mm HMG, or Kalashnikov PKT 7.62 mm general-purpose machine gun.
“The RCWS integrated with the Project 03160 Raptor FAC is armed with a KPVT, while that of the Project 12150 Mangust features a Kord machine gun,” the source said. The station can be fitted with an automatic target tracker and a ballistic calculator. “In the full configuration, the Uprava-Kord is capable of engaging low-flying aerial targets, such as unmanned aerial vehicles,” the source said. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
01 Aug 18. The Bahrain requests improved targeting systems for TOW missiles. The US State Department has approved the sale to Bahrain of Raytheon Improved Target Acquisition Systems (ITASs) for Tube-launched Optically-tracked Wire-guided (TOW) anti-tank missiles, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on 30 July. It said the proposed sale is estimated to be worth USD80m and includes 32 TOW ITASs (four being spares), support equipment, and services.
“The proposed sale of the TOW ITAS and technical support will advance Bahrain’s efforts to develop an integrated ground defence capability,” it said. “The ITAS will increase target detection, acquisition, recognition, and engagements ranges for TOW anti-tank missiles.” The DSCA announced in September 2017 that Bahrain had requested 221 TOW missiles (107 BGM-71-4B-RF wireless, 77 BGM-71F Aero top-attack, and 37 BGM-71-FI-RF wireless bunker-buster variants) at an estimated cost of USD27m. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
31 Jul 18. Israel activated its David’s Sling missile system for the first time. Will more sales start booming? Israel’s first-time activation of its David’s Sling Weapon System could serve as the catalyst for export marketing efforts. The missile defense system was fired July 23 to counter a missile threat. It launched two interceptors to counter two SS-21 ballistic missiles that had been fired by Syrian government forces during fighting against rebels near the Golan Heights. The Syrian missiles fell within Syrian territory. One of the interceptors self-destructed over the Golan Heights. According to The Jerusalem Post, the event is being investigated to determine if the system operated successfully. With Iron Dome shown to be successful and an Arrow missile used to down a Syrian surface-to-air missile in March 2017, all the layers of Israel’s advanced missile defense have been put to use. David’s Sling was co-developed by Raytheon and Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Raytheon was chosen in 2004 as a partner by Israel’s Ministry of Defense, and the company worked to develop the system’s Stunner interceptor missile, which is designed to intercept missiles, drones, aircraft and other ordnance. In contrast to Israel’s Iron Dome system and its Tamir missiles, the Stunner uses hit-to-kill technology, which is designed to maneuver and strike an incoming threat, rather than detonate in proximity to it. The first-time use of David’s Sling may increase the ability to sell and export the system if it can be shown to be successful. Recently, Rafael signed a cooperation agreement with Romania that involves Iron Dome, which could potentially lead to more sales. Ballistic missile threats launched by Houthi rebels in Yemen at Saudi Arabia, as well as uncertainty on the Korean Peninsula, offer other potential markets. David’s Sling includes an active electronically scanned array, multimission radar, which works to identify an incoming threat, target and guide the interception. The radar was designed by Elta Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries. Elisra, a subdivision of Elbit, developed the command-and-control components. The system was tested to confront groups of threats that might emerge, such as a salvo of rockets and ballistic missiles. In May, 20 Iranian Grad and Fajr rockets were fired at Israel from Syria and intercepted by Iron Dome. The David’s Sling was designed to be one part of Israel’s expanding multilayered missile defense. Operating at longer ranges than the Iron Dome, it is designed to confront medium-range threats from 40-155 miles, while the Arrow confronts longer-range threats. Israel is eyeing a new 10-year, $8bn plan to bolster its missile defenses. According to Raytheon, “teams in nearly 30 U.S. states across the U.S. are dedicated to producing the [David’s Sling] missile and its firing unit.”
The system was tested five times between 2012 and January 2017 before being declared fully operational in April 2017. It was initially developed to counter threats from Hezbollah’s arsenal, including the Zelzal, the Iranian Fajr-5 and Fateh 110, and Syria’s M600, as well as Scud missiles. Hezbollah’s rockets had fallen on Israel with impunity in the 2006 conflict, and Israel’s Defense Ministry indicated in 2013 that it had high hopes for David’s Sling to give Israel the ability to “deal with threats with far higher efficiency.” However, after the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, Israel became concerned about a potential Iran-backed threat emerging in Syria as well as other missile threats launched by additional groups in the region amid the instability of the last several years.
A month of interceptions
The July 23 incident came amid fighting in southern Syria. In late June, the Syrian regime launched a major offensive against Syrian rebels, and by mid-July the rebels and Islamic State militants were occupying an area near the Golan Heights and the 1974 cease-fire line between Israeli and Syrian forces.
On July 11, Israel used a Patriot missile to shoot down a drone from Syria that flew six miles over the cease-fire line. Patriot was again used to shoot down a second drone July 13, and yet again to target a Syrian warplane on July 24.
On the morning of July 23, David’s Sling detected two incoming SS-21 Tochka ballistic missiles. The SS-21 has a range of 100 miles and it was projected to fall within Israel near the Sea of Galilee, six miles from the cease-fire line. After the interceptors were launched, the system determined the SS-21 would fall in Syria, and so one interceptor was programmed to self-destruct while the other fell in Syria. The use of the system comes four months after members of Congress sought $705.8m in funding for U.S.-Israel cooperation on missile defense, including David’s Sling, Arrow and the Iron Dome. Of that, $183m was destined for David’s Sling, the latest in $1.39bn that the U.S. has contributed, according to the Congressional Research Service. The current funding will go toward upgrades, such as “extending the system’s range, improving its seeker capabilities and addressing cruise missile threats,” according to a statement from the office of Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., who co-chairs the House Republican Israel Caucus. (Source: Defense News)
31 Jul 18. Japan withdraws PAC-3 missile interceptors as North Korea-related tensions ease. The Japanese Ministry of Defence (MoD) has withdrawn the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) air defence systems that had been deployed at five prefectures across the country since August 2017 to counter the threat posed by North Korean missile launches. The MoD removed the PAC-3 systems from Hokkaido, Shimane, Hiroshima, Ehime, and Kochi prefectures on 30 July and returned them to their respective Japan Air Self-Defense Force bases, a ministry official told Jane’s on 31 July. The ministry also withdrew a PAC-3 battery deployed at its Tokyo headquarters in Ichigaya. Justifying the move, the official said North Korea would be unlikely to fire ballistic missiles as tensions between Washington and Pyongyang have eased following the landmark summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on 12 June on Singapore’s Sentosa Island. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
31 Jul 18. Iran Has Cloned America’s Phoenix Missile. The Phoenix was first deployed in 1974 and retired in 2004, joined a few years later by the Tomcat itself as the Navy moved on to the F-18. Iran has begun mass production of a long-range air-to-air missile. And if it looks familiar, it should. The Fakour 90 is Tehran’s knockoff of the U.S. AIM-54 Phoenix missile, once the prime weapon of the U.S. Navy’s F-14 Tomcat fighter. Before the Shah of Iran was deposed by Islamic revolutionaries, the U.S. sold vast amounts of advanced weaponry to Iran, including F-14s, F-4 Phantoms, M60 tanks and Phoenix missiles. Iran’s new “Death to America” government analyzed and reverse-engineered the U.S. weapons (it also sent some to the Soviet Union for examination). Gripped in a devastating eight-year war with Iran, and embargoed from new Western arms, Tehran became expert in keeping its American weapons going through black-market purchases (such as the Iran-Contra affair) and homemade spare parts. The Phoenix was an achievement in its day, a 13-foot-long missile with a 100-mile range. Coupled with the F-14’s long-range AWG-9 radar, the Tomcat/Phoenix was supposed to shoot down Soviet bombers before they could get within range of the fleet. The Phoenix was first deployed in 1974 and retired in 2004, joined a few years later by the Tomcat itself as the Navy moved on to the F-18.
Iran claims it has improved Fakour improves on the Phoenix with “a superior guidance system, enhanced range and greater speed,” according to defense site Military Watch . “The new guidance system is approximately 30 percent smaller, and based on the reduced weight of the more modern systems and potential for added propellants the missile’s range can be estimated to have increased by approximately 15 percent relative to the original AIM-54, allowing it to hit targets at distances of 220 kilometers (137 miles). A superior fuel grain composite could potentially increase this further. The Fakour’s cone also hides a sophisticated Iranian- built guidance system similar to that used on the Mersad surface to air missile, giving the platform seek-on ECM and seek-on radar capabilities.”
Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami boasted that Iran had managed to mass-produce the missile despite U.S. sanctions against Iran’s missile industry. “Today, we live in an environment, where we are surrounded by shameless enemies and mischievous people like the current rulers of the United States, and some of its allies, who do not understand anything other than the language of force,” Hatami said.
Still, there are a few questions about Iran’s wonder weapon. For example, which aircraft will carry it? The Phoenix was built for the F-14 and its long-range radar, which was operated by a backseat weapons officer that guided the Phoenix close enough to the target until the missile’s onboard radar took over. Iran has still kept some of its 45-year-old F-14s flying, an impressive feat analogous But effectively utilizing a missile with a hundred mile range, against 21st Century aircraft with advanced countermeasures, will require a sophisticated radar (though Iranian media reports that the missile can function independently of the launch aircraft’s radar, according to Jane’s). Most interesting is that of all the weapons to resurrect, Iran chose the Phoenix missile, whose record in U.S. service was hardly unblemished. The Phoenix saw combat thrice, when the U.S. Navy fired three AIM-54s at Iraqi aircraft in 1999. All three missed. While the Phoenix had long range, it was a heavy, expensive missile that lacked maneuverability against agile targets like fighters. The current U.S. AMRAAM radar-guided missile has half the range of the Phoenix, but is far more maneuverable. Iran did claim numerous Phoenix kills during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War. Even if true, that tally was hardly scored against the most proficient of air forces. If the U.S. attacks Iran with slow, unwieldy bombers like the B-52, then perhaps the Fakour will have its day. But against F-35s and F-18s? The Fakour may turn out be a faker. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://nationalinterest.org)
30 Jul 18. The US Army’s top modernization priority is in jeopardy. Both congressional authorizers and appropriators have made moves to cut funds for the U.S. Army’s top modernization priority — Long-Range Precision Fires — as the service looks to find ways to accelerate the development of a new precision strike missile as part of that effort. The new Precision Strike Missile, or PrSM, is meant to replace the Army Tactical Missile System while providing increased standoff range that will be important in a fight against an adversary that is able to effectively deny access to territory. The service made headway on the PrSM program in 2017, awarding Raytheon and Lockheed Martin a three-year period of performance to design and build missile prototypes in the technology-maturation and risk-reduction, or TMRR, phase. But in the fiscal 2018 budget request, the Army pushed the engineering and manufacturing development phase that follows TMRR back by a year. Both companies have said it’s possible to accelerate the program from a fielding timeline of 2027. And with the Army’s inception of a new four-star command — the Army Futures Command — which seeks to bring rapidly online modernized capability, the service has been more than open to moving quicker. The command outlined six top modernization priorities, and LRPF sits at the top of the list. The one-star general who was leading LRPF modernization earlier this year, Stephen Maranian, said the service is developing a plan to accelerate the timeline from 2027 to an initial capability in the force by late 2022 or early 2023. The FY19 National Defense Authorization Act released July 23, which will be voted on by both the House and Senate shortly, cuts the $186.5m in funding for the program in FY19 by $27m. Despite this cut, a summary of the NDAA released by the House Armed Services Committee said the HASC supports the president’s budget request for the Army’s PrSM program. Both House and Senate appropriators have followed suit, with cuts in both versions of the FY19 defense spending bills to the program. The House cut $51.23 m and the Senate version lines up with the NDAA cut of $27m. The difference in the cuts between appropriations bills will be worked out in conference committee.
In the House version of the bill, the committee does not lay out the reason for the cut and simply says in an explanation that it is “encouraged by the Army’s development of a maneuverable long-range precision fire missile,” urging the service to look into design tools and additive manufacturing technologies that can be integrated into the production of a new LRPF in order to advance the capability and reduce cost. Industry sources said they are unsure as to why lawmakers have made the cuts, noting that legislators only cited “excess to growth” as the reason for the decrements. Should the cuts stand as part of an FY19 appropriations bill, less funding could affect the next phase of the PrSM program as both companies prepare to wrap up the TMRR phase of the program. According to a source familiar with the program, if Congress cuts funding for PrSM development, the Army could downselect early to one competitor, or delay the TMRR phase until enough funding is injected into the program to move forward.
Both options have the potential to increase risk and may delay the availability of the LRPF capability, the source added. While both sides of the aisle have cut funding for the PrSM TMRR program, Senate appropriators did dramatically increase funding for other LRPF efforts. Senate appropriators injected $101.8m in weapons and munitions advanced technology development for LRPF, as well as $25m for the Army’s LRPF cross-functional team within Army Futures Command to work on hypersonics development as part of its prototyping efforts. At the same time, Senate lawmakers cut another $38m from the LRPF cross-functional team’s advanced prototyping effort to restore “acquisition accountability” and “lack of strategy.”
While the Army is engaged in the PrSM program, that is not the only program that falls in the LRPF modernization effort. The Army is also working to evolve the M109A7 self-propelled howitzer — also known as the Paladin Integrated Management — into extended-range cannon artillery. The service is also working to rapidly develop long-range strike capabilities and sees the possibility of hypersonics and ramjet projectiles being demonstrated in the next couple of years, possibly starting even in 2019, according to Maranian. (Source: Defense News)
30 Jul 18. China prepares to test S-400 SAM system. China plans to test for the first time the Almaz-Antei S-400 Triumf self-propelled surface-to-air missile (SAM) system it recently received from Russia, according to a 27 July report by the TASS news agency.
“It is planned that in late July/early August the unit of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army that underwent training in Russia will carry out the [test-]firing against a simulated ballistic target at a Chinese firing ground,” the Russian media outlet quoted an unnamed military/diplomatic source as saying. The news comes after TASS reported a day earlier that China had officially accepted delivery of the first batch of S-400s. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
31 Jul 18. India to spend $1bn on advanced air defense system from US. India has quietly approved a plan to the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System-II through a government-to government deal with United States. The moves comes before September 6 “2+2 dialogue” between defense and foreign ministers of India and United States here to bolster bilateral defense and strategic partnership. The apex defense procurement body, Defense Acquisition Council, headed by Defense Minister Nirmarla Sitaraman, has approved the buy of the NASAMS-II, manufactured by Kongsberg and Raytheon, at more than $1bn, a Ministry of Defense official confirmed. The new system will replace India’s aging Russian Pechora air defense systems that protect strategic assets and locations, said an Indian air force official. If this program is approved by the U.S., the deal will be expedited through foreign military sales. India is expected to issue the letter of request by end of this year. IAF official noted that NASAMS-II will have to be modified to India specific requirements and will integrated with the service’s integrated command & control system. (Source: Defense News)
29 Jul 18. French government approves MICA NG development. French government ministers on 24 July signed off their consent for industry to begin development of MICA NG (new generation) – a new variant of the MICA family of air-to-air missile (AAM). The MICA NG missiles will replace the current MICA medium-range infrared (IR) and radio frequency missiles – whose withdrawal of service is expected between 2018 and 2030 – on the Dassault Mirage 2000 and Rafale multirole combat aircraft of the French Air Force and French Navy. The new MICA NG effectors will be developed in two versions – IR and electromagnetic – and will be delivered to both services between 2026 and 2031. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
26 Jul 18. UK considers options for possible off-the-shelf Harpoon replacement. The United Kingdom may look to acquire an off-the-shelf surface-to-surface guided weapon (SSGW) to bridge the gap between the retirement of Harpoon and the planned introduction of a Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW). Providing evidence on 11 July to the joint UK House of Commons Defence Committee/French National Assembly inquiry for the FC/ASW programme, senior Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials confirmed that market survey activity was already under way. All 13 Royal Navy (RN) Type 23 frigates and three out of six Type 45 destroyers are fitted with the GWS 60/Harpoon Block 1C SSGW. The system, procured in the 1980s under Staff Requirement (Sea) 6548, had originally been planned to retire at the end of 2018, but the life of the weapon has now been extended to 2023. Intended to enter service in the 2030 timeframe, the FC/ASW is currently the subject of a three-year concept phase activity, jointly funded by the French and UK governments, being led by MBDA. The United Kingdom is in parallel looking at several off-the-shelf options as part of the concept phase to be informed of other potential solutions. Giving evidence to the joint committee hearing, Defence Equipment and Support Chief Executive Simon Bollom said that any further Harpoon life extension would be difficult. “The biggest challenges with this weapons system are the energetics, the propulsion system, and the warhead,” he said. “Here we come to difficult issues with finite lives and, clearly, its chemical compounds. Our assessment at this stage is that going beyond 2023 would be a challenge.” According to Lieutenant General Mark Poffley, deputy chief of the Defence Staff (Military Capability), a new SSGW has assumed a higher priority inside the equipment programme. “We know we would like a surface-to-surface weapon. We have got some choices to make about where it might come from, and we know there is a lot of pressure on the rest of the budget. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
30 Jul 18. First guided firing of Thales’s BAT-120 laser-guided lightweight munition prototype by French Air Force Mirage 2000D. In June 2018, a BAT-120 GL laser-guided lightweight munition prototype equipped with its guidance system was successfully fired for the first time from a French Air Force Mirage 2000D at the French defence ministry’s Biscarrosse test range in Western France. The firing was the first opportunity to test the BAT-120 GL prototype guided by a trajectory correction system derived from the laser-guided rocket developed by Thales. The munition was launched from the aircraft and corrected its trajectory in flight as anticipated in the test protocol. The BAT-120 GL is a lightweight (35 kg) munition that would provide forces with a highly effective precision-guided weapon ideally suited to modern conflict situations, particularly in urban environments. The key operational requirement is to reduce to a zero level the risk of collateral damage while increasing the weapon carriage capacity of combat aircraft This concept allows to take a larger number of ammunition than today with bombs from 250kg to 1000kg. Testing of the BAT-120 GL prototype will continue shortly with a guided firing of a metric-precision munition.
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