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05 Dec 19. Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh has told France that New Delhi wants 8-10 Meteor air-to-air missiles delivered with the four Rafale fighters that are scheduled to reach home in May next year, local media reports . The contract for the jets and weapons had stipulated that the missiles were to be delivered several months after the jets are delivered home. An IAF induction team of pilots, engineers and technicians is currently undergoing training in France, which has so far handed over three Rafales to India. Meteor is an active radar guided beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) developed by MBDA. (Source: defenseindustrydaily.com)
06 Dec 19. Russia, Turkey working on new S-400 missile contract – Ifax citing official. Russia and Turkey are working on a contract for the delivery of a new batch of Russian S-400 missile systems, the Interfax news agency cited a senior official at a Russian military cooperation agency as saying on Friday.
Moscow hopes to seal a deal to supply Turkey with more S-400 systems in the first half of next year, the head of Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said last month.
Amid already strained bilateral ties, Washington has suspended Ankara from the U.S. F-35 stealth fighter jet programme, in which it was a producer and buyer, to penalise it for buying S-400 batteries this year. (Source: Reuters)
02 Dec 19. Meet the SP5: HK’s Newest Semi-Auto MP5 Pistol. In what can only be seen as a real “mic-drop” movement, Heckler & Koch just announced their new SP5, a semi-automatic pistol version of the indomitable MP5.
This is about as close to an authentic MP5 many people will get in a generation. Manufactured by HK in Germany, the SP5 has all of the look, feel and controls of an MP5 in a consumer-friendly commercial version.
There have been many attempts by a string of companies to bring a semi-automatic version of the MP5 to the American market including Heckler & Koch, but everything from questionable manufacturing overseas to deliberate action by U.S. officials has largely prevented this product from making a strong showing outside of movies, TV shows, and video games.
While it still has a couple of small, but telltale signs of being a civilian-oriented pistol, the SP5 is, for all intents and purposes, the most real version of a semi-auto MP5.
The main thing about the SP5 is that it’s made by HK, the original supplier of the MP5, and not a licensed replica or post-patent clone or knockoff. The receiver and grip module are slightly altered to make them incompatible with full-auto components, but unlike early HK semi-autos, have ambidextrous controls including the paddle magazine release.
Another small change is that the SP5 comes with a pistol rear sight turret, not a submachine gun sight. It is compatible with factory and standard aftermarket rear sights, though. Also, the SP5 comes with a modified 3-lug suppressor mount with 1/2-28 threads under a knurled thread protector.
The SP5 comes with a single point sling end cap and not a stock or pistol brace. While it seems like for now, HK isn’t interested in offering the SP5 with a brace or a stock sold separately, there is tons of aftermarket support already in place for people looking to install either, all NFA rules withstanding.
There is one catch. The SP5 is no budget range toy. Sure, it’s built to the same time-tested standard as the iconic MP5 and it will take a beating, but that doesn’t mean the SP5 is a cheap gun.
The suggested retail price for the SP5, with two 10- or 30-round factory magazines, a sight tool, a sling, and a carrying case is $2,799. While oftentimes pricing online and in stores is less, this is an authentic HK product and it will be in huge demand, especially at first, and prices are sure to be all over the map.
That is to say, if you see an SP5 available for sale, it’s probably going to sell to someone, and if you want one you’ll have to pay up. In time, when some of the new hotness of the SP5 wears off, better deals may be found, but at least for now, expect prices to remain high.
Additional 10-, 15- and 30-round magazines carry an $80 sticker price. The good news is that there’s a strong aftermarket for magazines, too. (Source: GunsAmerica)
05 Dec 19. USAF retires CALCM cruise missile. The US Air Force (USAF) has retired the Boeing AGM-86C/D Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missile (CALCM) that has been operational for nearly 35 years. The event, announced on 4 December, saw the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB) in Louisiana disassemble and decommission the final CALCM missile package on 20 November.
Having been developed from the 1960s, the CALCM was introduced into USAF service in 1988 and saw its first combat deployment in the Gulf War of 1991. In its more-than-three-decades of use, the cruise missile has been carried exclusively by Boeing B-52G/H Stratofortress bombers on operations Desert Storm, Desert Strike, Desert Fox, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom.
As noted by Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, the CALCM is a long-range, inertial-guided, cruise missile powered by a turbofan motor and armed with a 1,201 lb conventional blast/fragmentation warhead, replacing the nuclear warhead of the earlier AGM-86B ALCM. From 1986 to 2012, a total of 622 AGM-86B ALCMs were believed to have been converted to the CALCM configuration. (Source: Jane’s)
04 Dec 19. South Korea to advance development of indigenous long-range SAM system. South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on 4 December that it has decided to advance the development of an indigenous long-range surface-to air missile (SAM) system amid concerns about North Korea’s growing ballistic missile capabilities. Referred to as the L-SAM, the air-defence system is expected to be capable of defending against enemy aircraft and ballistic missiles, said the DAPA, adding that development work contracts are set to be signed with local companies this month. The development of the L-SAM, which comes after years of research into the project, is expected to cost KRW970bn (USD814.3m) and be completed by 2024, added the DAPA without providing further details. (Source: Jane’s)
04 Dec 19. Company to pay $1m for selling Army subpar grenade launchers. A Colorado weapons manufacturer has agreed to a $1m settlement for allegedly shipping subpar grenade launchers to the U.S. Army, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday. Capco LLC supplied the Army with M320 grenade launchers between July 2016 and March 2018 even though company officials knew the launchers’ barrels did not meet specifications, U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn said. The company also knew that two shipments included launchers with firing pins made of the wrong type of steel but did not tell the Army after conducting an internal investigation, prosecutors said.
“We entrust our defense contractors to manufacture equipment of the highest quality for the men and women who serve our country in the U.S. armed forces,” Dunn said.
Capco did not admit any liability in the settlement and said in a statement Tuesday it has no reason to believe its products were unsafe or ineffective.
“As a company, this chapter has made us smarter and stronger,” Capco CEO Cordell Bennigson said. He added that the company has improved its quality and compliance systems.
The government was alerted to concerns about Capco’s production process by James Cole, who was a quality engineer at the company. He told the company’s vice president of operations and a manager about the faulty parts in April 2017 but was ignored, The Denver Post reported.
Cole said Capco retaliated by laying him off five months later, according to a lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act in November 2017. He will receive about $235,000 of the $1,025,429 settlement. Capco’s statement did not mention Cole. Capco is based in the western Colorado city of Grand Junction. (Source: Army Times)
04 Dec 19. US Army seeking new soldier-worn sensors to monitor performance. On the future battlefield, US Army leadership wants to better measure soldiers’ and squads’ performance and are now on the hunt for new wearable sensors that can help them do just that.
In a November request for information (RFI), the service asked vendors to submit information about their wearable technologies that are capable of monitoring soldiers during training and combat missions for the Measuring and Advancing Soldier Tactical Readiness and Effectiveness (MASTR-E) effort. The goal is to identify systems and technologies capable of integrating “soldier research in training environments” within 24 months.
“The MASTR-E programme addresses the problem that the army has limited means to objectively and holistically measure soldier/squad performance, leading to sub-optimal operational, training, and acquisition decisions,” the army wrote. (Source: Jane’s)
04 Dec 19. Nomadic. In 2018 the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) launched the Naval Off-board Anti-Missile Active Decoy initiative, better known as the NOMAD programme. This intends to equip the RCN with an anti-missile system based on an Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV). In October 2019 Rheinmetall Canada, the prime contractor for the NOMAD initiative, selected Elbit Systems to provide the jamming payload for the Meggitt Hammerhead USV which constitutes the off-board element of NOMAD.
Armada Analysis approached Elbit regarding the Electronic Warfare (EW) systems it was offering to support NOMAD, but was told that the company could not comment on the programme. It is possible that the jammer to be provided by Elbit will be based on its Aqua Marine naval EW product. The firm’s literature states that this stretches from X-band (8.5 gigahertz/GHz to 10.68GHz) up to K-band (24.05 to 24.25GHz), adding that this can be extendable into millimetre wave frequencies of 30 gigahertz and above. This would give the decoy the ability to protect a vessel against Anti-Ship Missiles (AShMs) using X-band and K-band Active Radar Homing (ARH) seekers, with the 30GHz and above extension tackling Ka-band (33.4-36GHz) ARH-guided systems. Such wavebands could become increasingly popular for AShM developers due to the fact that the short wavelengths of Ka-band transmissions, typically of 90mm to 83mm, can depict targets with a high level of detail improving an AShM’s ability to discriminate its target from other vessels and decoys. The ability of a system like NOMAD to jam and spoof AShMs using ARH seekers transmitting in Ka-band thus becomes paramount.
The Hammerhead USV which accommodate the NOMAD jammers has been designed for naval training and is routinely used as a target drone. Arguably this makes it a good platform to simulate a naval vessel for the purpose of electronically attacking an anti-ship missile. The craft can reach a top speed of 40 knots (74.1 kilometres-per-hour) and has an endurance of circa 24 hours when travelling at speeds of 20 knots (37km/h). Up to four of the USVs can be controlled by a single operator. This would allow several NOMAD craft to protect a single vessel. These craft could inundate the ARH seeker of an AShM by simulating multiple, seemingly identical, vessels; all of which could appear as lucrative targets for the missile. Alternatively a single USV could be used to transmit deception waveforms to make the missile lose its lock and follow a more tempting, but false, target.
An official statement provided to Armada Analysis by the RCN stated that the NOMAD programme is initially focused on proving that an electronic countermeasure could be placed on an uninhabited platform to enhance the survivability of a ship: “Tactics will be developed once the NOMAD architecture is finalised.” The statement added that the test and evaluation period for NOMAD is expected to commence in mid-2021: “A determination to enter the NOMAD system into service will be made after that period.” (Source: Armada)
04 Dec 19. Radio Silence. ‘How could something so small be such big trouble for your enemy?’ asks Samel 90’s publicity material for its 152mm HF/VHF jamming artillery. Has a US Army initiative to develop artillery shells capable of jamming hostile communications already entered the prototype stage? The US Army has awoken to the potential of artillery shells which can emit RF (Radio Frequency) jamming signals. Back in 2016 the force revealed via a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) solicitation issued by the US Department of Defence interest in artillery that can deliver “non-destructive, non kinetic RF effects.” The rationale behind the initiative was to provide a jamming package enclosed within a 155mm shell which could be directed against hostile communications systems, be those civilian or military, jamming them, but not necessarily damaging their accompanying physical infrastructure. Such materiel would be especially attractive for operations where the army must neutralise hostile military or civilian radio, wireless or GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) networks but cause the minimum of physical damage. The original solicitation stated that the artillery would be used to neutralise “an adversary’s underlying industrial, civil and communications infrastructure.” This seems to indicate that the intended target of such jamming would be civilian/military critical infrastructure, as opposed to use on the battlefield. In a counter-insurgency context one or more of these shells could be fired into an area where insurgents are known to be prior to an operation taking place so as to neutralise their communications.
The use of RF jamming shells is not new. The Bulgarian Army pioneered them in the mid-1980s. Samel 90 now markets these R-045/046 Starshel (Hornet) 122mm and 125mm shells which cover a waveband of 1.5 megahertz/MHz to 120MHz, taking in the upper part of the High Frequency waveband (three megahertz to 30MHz) and the lower-to-mid part of the Very High Frequency (VHF: 30MHz to 300MHz) waveband. Five specific shells within the R-045 series cover segments of the 20MHz to 100MHz waveband, with eight specific R-046 rounds covering parts of the 1.5MHz to 120MHz waveband. Open sources state that these shells have a jamming radius of 700 metres (2,296 feet), using a one metre (three feet) antenna which deploys when the shell hits the ground, with sufficient battery power to perform one hour of jamming. The shells have a range of three kilometres/km (1.9 miles) up to 16.5km (10.3 miles).
The SBIR solicitation stressed that the programme was to follow three phases: The first would see the design of a jamming payload which could outfit a 155mm shell, with the intention to later miniaturise these jamming payloads so that several could be accommodated in one shell, presumably to increase the number of bandwidths which can be attacked. Phase 2, meanwhile, covers the development of the phase one technology into a prototype which can be used for tests and evaluation. Finally, phase three covers the transition of the shell from a prototype into a production system. It can be assumed with some confidence that development of the shells is continuing and that prototype testing may have even commenced. That being said the US Army is reluctant to discuss the programme telling Armada Analysis that it cannot provide any further details due to operational security. A US army spokesperson told Armada Analysis that “achieving overmatch against potential enemy combatants saves lives, deters war and most importantly, provides US forces the ability to win decisively the wars of today and tomorrow.”
Given the original remit of the initiative, it would be reasonable to assume that any artillery shells developed as a result of the programme could cover a 30MHz to six gigahertz waveband. This would ensure that they would have the potential to jam all military and civilian communications transmitting across VHF and Ultra High Frequency wavebands. It would be imperative that such electronic attack payloads can perform jamming in such a fashion to ensure that friendly communications are not adversely affected. Given the preference for insurgents to use GSM transmissions to activate IEDS, the shell’s jamming payloads may have the added benefit of neutralising such devices within a specific area. Regarding the lack of information concerning the project, at the operational and tactical levels it make sense to keep one’s cards close to one’s chest regarding the status of such technology. It is certain, however, that an artillery-delivered jamming capability would be an important addition to a force already performing an energetic and overarching enhancement of its EW capabilities. (Source: Armada)
03 Dec 19. US Army seeking new ATGM technology to counter explosive reactive armour. On the hunt for ways to defeat tanks outfitted with explosive reactive armour, the US Army is seeking vendor input on anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and associated technologies that will be ready within eight years.
The move comes at a time when the service is modernising its ground combat vehicles and missile arsenal, in preparation for a large-scale conflict with the likes of Russia or China. To do so, in part, the service is soliciting White Papers for ATGM weapons and technologies for its modernisation programmes, according to a 27 November request for information. Specifically, the service is interested in kinetic energy missiles, ATGMs with chemical energy warheads, and “manoeuvrable” missiles. (Source: Jane’s)
02 Dec 19. Killing Cruise Missiles: Pentagon To Test Rival Lasers. DoD is finalizing contracts for three competing demonstrators, aiming for a 300-kilowatt weapon by 2022 and 500 kW by 2024, laser R&D director Thomas Karr told us. The Army, Air Force, and Navy may be only three years away from a 300-kilowatt laser weapon, one powerful enough to shoot down cruise missiles — using the same basic technology as the checkout counter at your local supermarket.
“We are in the process of negotiating contracts with three different performers for three different electrically powered laser concepts,” Thomas Karr, who works for Pentagon R&D chief Mike Griffin as assistant director for directed energy, said. (DE includes both lasers and high-powered microwaves). These will be demonstration models for testing, not prototypes of operational weapons, he emphasized in an interview with Breaking Defense.
Industry has proposed several designs that “have all been demonstrated at lower power levels, 50 to 150 kilowatts,” Karr said. Those power levels are enough to burn through drones and rockets, but not larger, faster and tougher targets like cruise missiles.
“We want to have a 300-kilowatt laser by 2022. We’d like to get up to 500 kilowatts by 2024,” he said, “and then, if we still haven’t hit the limit of anything, it’s on to the megawatt class.
From Tanks of Chemicals to Commercial & Competitive
“Those are aggressive objectives,” Karr acknowledged, “[but] we have high confidence that one or more of these different fiber or slab approaches will scale up to 300 or beyond. I don’t think we’ve seen the limit yet.”
The Army seeks a next-generation armed scout helicopter with increased speed, range, survivability and even autonomy – not just a conventional helicopter.
The Pentagon actually flew and test-fired a one-megawatt Airborne Laser in 2009-2011, but that system required a 747 full of toxic chemicals, hardly practical in a war zone, not to mention a very easy target. By contrast, today’s designs build on widely available and rapidly advancing commercial technologies.
“The electrically-driven lasers we’re scaling up exploit a lot of commercial technology,” Kar told me. “They’re all pumped by semi-conductor diodes, which is a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s not just off-the-shelf. It’s not the semiconductor laser that’s in your supermarket scanner, but we’re building off that huge investment in commercial industry.”
Two of the three demonstrators Karr plans to build use bundles of fiber-optic cables – like the ones probably connecting your computer to the internet as you read this – to channel beams of coherent light, which are then combined into a single powerful blast. “There’s a large commercial industry in these fiber lasers for cutting, welding, material processing,” Karr said, “and they’re up to kilowatts and very good in quality.”
The third demonstrator will use small lasers to “pump” energy into slabs of specially formulated material that amplify their power. “Again, that’s been scaled up to the point where we think we’re ready to go,” Karr said. “We believe we can add additional amplifier stages and each amplifier adds more power [and can] still maintain the beam quality.”
Karr made clear he doesn’t need all three designs to work. In fact, the project might survive all three failing, because he’s put out another request for proposals for designs in the 300-500 kW range. “We have three good proposals to start with,” he said, “[but] we think we will add additional contractors in the future.
“We have enough money to fund multiple competing technical concepts, as well as multiple performers,” Karr said. (The effort’s 2019 budget was $70m; the 2020 budget remains in limbo). “The POM [five-year Program Objective Memorandum] number is adequate to carry multiple contractors over the finish line to 300 [kW] level.”
“When we do reviews, every performer will see, on the key performance metrics, where they rank compared to their competitors,” Karr said, although no competitor will get to see details of its rivals’ performance. “You’re in the green zone or you’re in the red zone…. It will stimulate competition.
“Most of my career has been in the private industry, more in private industry than in government. I love competition,” he said. “I like the fact that we have lots of competition in this program.”
While Karr is encouraging industry to compete, he’s also getting the armed services to cooperate. “In the past, every service that wanted to scale up a laser, it picked the laser and it invested to try to scale that up,” he said. “Now… we have for the first time a unified laser scaling program that’s led by OSD [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] with the concurrence and participation of all the services.
“I think it’s much more efficient,” he said. “Maybe it’s not one size fits all. Maybe there’s two or three sizes, but there’s a limited number of government-controlled interfaces… common standards that all of the services could agree to,” governing such things as how to couple the laser to its external power source and cooling.
“One of the things that OSD wants the whole community to move towards is a more open architecture for all these systems, so that there are interchangeable or at least similar major subsystems, instead of everything being custom designed,” Karr told me.
There are definitely opportunities for the services to share, he said. “They face a lot of similar challenges,” he said, “so there’s a lot of exchange of information between Army, Navy, Air Force, and DARPA or SOCOM [Special Operations Command].”
“One of the nice things about sitting in OSD is I can look down the stovepipes to all the services and see there’s a lot in common,” Karr said, “particularly in beam control” – the difficult science of getting the laser beam from the weapon to the target without losing power or focus. “There’s room for a joint beam control experiment [that] everybody can spin off.”
At the same time, there are definite differences between putting a laser on an airplane – as the Air Force and SOCOM plan to do – versus a ship or a vehicle.
“The airflow over these systems introduces some special challenges that the Air Force Research Lab is moving on,” he said. “The absorption of the beam in the maritime environment” – with lots of humidity and salt – “is different than you would have in a land environment.
“Size, weight, and power efficiency requirements are most stressing for the airborne cases,” he summed up. “It’s somewhat easier on land vehicles and on ships, but it still is not a trivial issue.
But the military’s existing aircraft, ships, and vehicles were never designed to carry weapons that suck up hundreds of kilowatts of power in seconds and emit much of that as heat. “We’ll learn how to manage that,” he said, but it will require a customized solution for each ship, plane, and ground vehicle.
Military lasers have made major advances since the Navy field-tested its Laser Weapon System (LaWS) aboard a ship in the Persian Gulf five years ago. The 30-kilowatt LaWS was basically six commercial lasers bolted together, their six separate beams converging on one spot. Today’s lasers are still built of multiple modules, but they combine the beams from those modules into a single coherent laser, and their overall power is much higher.
“We have laser technology getting onto platforms in the 50-60 kilowatt class,” Karr said, such as the Navy’s HELIOS, the first laser fully integrated into a warship’s combat systems. “Those are adequate for engaging small boats, small UAVs [drones], bringing those down or blinding the sensors.”
Then, in cutting edge experiments, he went on, “we have electrically powered lasers in the 150-kilowatt class. One has just been lifted onto a ship in San Diego harbor[:] the Laser Weapon System Demonstrator.
“The next level of targets is harder, faster things like cruise missiles,” Karr continued. “They move a lot faster, you have to engage farther away. So you need, we believe, a 300kw class [laser] – that’s sort of a consensus across the services… to start doing those harder, longer range missions.”
“That’s why everybody agreed, let’s try for 300 kW in 22,” he said.
“There will be some challenges to cleverly handle all of this additional power,” Karr acknowledged. “You’ve got more heat, you’ve got more thermal loading, [and] typically the way people deal with that is that they’ll make stuff bigger. We don’t want to grow the size and mass of things arbitrarily. We want to keep things small and compact as possible.”
As OSD and the services strive to scale up electrical lasers, will they hit a point of diminishing returns, beyond which further power increases are unaffordable or impractical? At some point. But Karr thinks he get to viable missile defense lasers first.
“If I look back over multiple decades, [across] many different concepts – starting with CO2 Laser, CO lasers, chemical lasers, free-electron lasers, chemical oxygen-iodine,” Karr said, “every one of those… at some point we hit a level where problems were very, very challenging.”
“I don’t know where that will be with electrical lasers,” Karr said. “We haven’t hit that yet.” (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
03 Dec 19. US Missile Defense Agency awards HBTSS Phase IIa contracts. Northrop Grumman is developing a highly capable, affordable, survivable and extensible space-based sensing solution for hypersonic and ballistic missile defence. The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has awarded contracts to Northrop Grumman, L3Harris, Raytheon, and Leidos for the second phase of the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) programme. MDA received 12 proposals for the Phase IIa Prototype Payload Design and Signal-chain Processing Demonstration.
Under the other transaction authority award, Northrop Grumman and the other three firms will demonstrate a prototype payload design for the HBTSS programme. The payload design is meant for a proposed satellite constellation to provide the US military with the capability to track hypersonic and ballistic missile threats. The HBTSS Phase IIa will run for a period of 12 months. Selected companies will demonstrate critical technologies to help track hypersonic missiles from space. In a press statement, Northrop Grumman stated that it will demonstrate its agile and affordable approach to enable large-scale manufacturing of space-based sensors.
Northrop Grumman Missile Defense Solutions vice-president Kenneth Todorov said: “We are a leading technology company that has for decades been supporting the space and missile defence missions of our government customers. HBTSS is an important undertaking that allows us to see advanced threats like hypersonic missiles in ways we haven’t been able to before. If you can see the threats, you can take them out. Through the HBTSS programme, we’re leveraging our broad base of talent and technology to develop an affordable and extensible solution for this critical component of our nation’s missile defence system.”
The company said that work under the contract will be performed at different locations within the US. The latest contract will allow the firm to advance the concepts developed during the first phase of the programme. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
02 Dec 19. Pentagon Report Predicts Rise of Machine-Enhanced Super Soldiers. By 2050, the U.S. military could have the ability to implant sophisticated machine technology into combat troops for enhanced performance capabilities such as super eyesight and advanced brain function for controlling unmanned drones and other weapons systems, according to a recent Defense Department study.
In “Cyborg Soldier 2050: Human/Machine Fusion and the Implications for the Future of the DOD,” the Biotechnologies for Health and Human Performance Council study group surveyed several current and emerging technologies designed to augment human performance to present the feasibility, military uses, and ethical, legal, and social implications of the technology.
“The [study group] predicted that human/machine enhancement technologies will become widely available before the year 2050 and will steadily mature, largely driven by civilian demand and a robust bio-economy that is at its earliest stages of development in today’s global market,” the report states.
The report’s analysis states that the development of “direct neural enhancements of the human brain for two-way data transfer would create a revolutionary advancement in future military capabilities.”
The study group predicted that by the half-century mark, special neural implants would enable operator’s brains to interact with battlefield assets such as weapon systems and reconnaissance drones as well as personnel within “proximity or across distances through hierarchical relays with a central network.”
“The potential for direct data exchange between human neural networks and microelectronic systems could revolutionize tactical warfighter communications, speed the transfer of knowledge throughout the chain of command, and ultimately dispel the ‘fog’ of war,” the report states.
The procedure for implanting such technology could be “invasive and involve methods that use microelectrodes directly implanted into regions of the brain or extended across the surface of the brain,” according to the report, which adds that noninvasive methods such as using electrodes on the scalp can also be used.
“The level of invasiveness of early iterations and the potential irreversibility of these implants may limit acceptance by military personnel and society, although specialized teams (Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, etc.) may be more inclined to accept these technologies if they could provide significant improvements in capability, lethality, survivability, and overall battlefield superiority,” it continues.
The study group also predicted that the technology for enhanced vision will also be available by 2050, offering operators “enhanced computational capabilities, which would allow for target identification, selection, and data sharing with other individuals or military systems,” the report states.
Like the neural implants, the procedure for vision enhancement, in some cases, would be invasive.
“The eyeball itself is completely replaced, and data feeds pass directly into the optical nerve bundle behind the eye,” according to the report. “The sensory input for visualization would be completely mechanical or electronic in composition, which would allow data feeds of all types and across all spectra including those previously not capable of being visualized by humans.”
The development of high-bandwidth, implantable interfaces that stimulate nerves at the single-neuron level will facilitate two-way data transfer that is not currently possible, the study group predicted.
“In essence, the eye would be completely artificial and capable of pulling in any manner of sensory data and feeding it directly into the brain for interpretation,” the report states.
The report includes a disclaimer that stresses the study group’s findings “are not an official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.”
The Defense Department should develop legal, security and ethical frameworks for this emerging technology, the report states.
The Pentagon should also support research to validate human-machine fusion technologies, the group recommended, “before fielding them and to track the long-term safety and impact on individuals and groups.”
The report acknowledges that using such technology to enhanced human beings may not be accepted by the public.
“Across popular social and open-source media, literature, and film, the use of machines to enhance the physical condition of the human species has received a distorted and dystopian narrative in the name of entertainment,” the report states. “Efforts should be undertaken to reverse negative cultural narratives of enhancement technologies.”
The report’s authors ultimately recommended that the Pentagon should conduct global assessments of societal awareness and perceptions of human-machine enhancement technologies.
“A generalized perception exists in the United States that our adversaries are more likely to adopt technologies that U.S. populations are reluctant or unwilling to field because of ethical concerns,” the report concluded. “However, the attitudes of our adversaries toward these technologies have never been verified.”
The study group recommended that a “more realistic and balanced (if not more positive) narrative, along with transparency in the government’s approach to technology adoption, will serve to better educate the public, mitigate societal apprehensions, and remove barriers to productive adoption of these new technologies.” (Source: Military.com)
02 Dec 19. Aertec Solutions offers armament-capable Tarsis 25 UAV. Aertec Solutions of Spain is promoting its armament-capable Tarsis 25 light tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to potential customers.
Rodrigo Valdivieso, company aerospace and defence systems business development director, told Jane’s on 2 December at the Expodefensa trade show that the 25 kg Tarsis 25 features six hours of endurance with a 5 kg payload capacity. The aircraft also has different communications range configurations, from 40 to 150 km from the ground station. The Tarsis 25 has six hours of endurance with a 54 kt cruise speed.
The Tarsis 25 is designed for observation, surveillance, and light weapon missions. The aircraft can be used with Aertec-developed semi-active laser guided micro missiles that have a range of about 5 km. Valdivieso said these missiles are meant for soft targets such as automobiles and railroad tracks.
These micro missiles feature 4 kg of munition with capacity for 5 kg. Valdivieso said a customer would need two Tarsis 25 aircraft for a strike mission with one aircraft performing the designation and the other performing the strike. Aertec’s larger Tarsis 75 model can simultaneously perform both the designator and strike mission, he said.
Aertec develops its own payloads for the Tarsis 25, allowing customisation for potential customers. Valdivieso said the standard Tarsis 25 payload is an observation gimbal but the company can add a laser telemeter. He said the larger Tarsis 75 can integrate a laser designator to be used with the micro missiles. (Source: Jane’s)
02 Dec 19. MAC ramps up production of .50 calibre polymer ammo. MAC, based in Mississippi, is expected to start delivering its latest .50 calibre (12.7×99 mm) polymer cased ammunition to the US Marine Corps (USMC) in 2020, according to Joe Gibbons, the company’s plant manager.
This .50 calibre ammunition was originally developed with funding from the US Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Title III programme and the USMC, but the first user was US Army Special Operations Command, which received its first production batch in 2015, said Gibbons.
The polymer round consists of a short conventional brass head and polymer case body that contains the propellant with a polymer link. According to the company, this reduces weight by up to 30% depending on the type of case and configuration.
Ballistic characteristics are the same as the standard .50 calibre round and meet MIL-STD-10196 performance requirements.
The round can be fired from various .50 calibre machine guns (MG) and rifles including the still widely deployed M2 HB (heavy barrel) and vehicle mounted weapons.
According to Gibbons, the first rounds fielded by the US Department of Defense (DoD) were configured in a standard polymer-linked 4/1 configuration, with four MK211 multi-purpose (MP) projectiles and either one M20 armour piercing incendiary – day tracer or one MK257 armour piercing incendiary – night tracer. MAC said it can load any standard .50 calibre projectiles including precision sniper grade projectiles.
The company focuses on developing and commercialising lightweight, polymer-based solutions for the aerospace and military markets, the company said. (Source: Jane’s)
02 Dec 19. USAF eyes high-power microwave for directed energy weapons as tech advances. Marked advances in development of high-powered microwave (HPM) technology in recent years could pave the way for near term breakthroughs in next-generation directed energy weapons and systems, as the US Air Force eyes a potential HPM programme of record.
Specifically, ongoing research and development work focusing on disruptive directed energy (DE) weapons utilising HPM has matured much faster than some other DE technologies, according to Billy Schaefer, business manager for Directed Energy programmes at Leidos.
“HPM technology is more mature, the development of the [weapons] technology is a little bit more mature right now,” compared to development work on laser-based or RF jamming-based DE platforms, Schaefer told Jane’s during a November interview.
Recent advances toward “solid state technologies for source development” of HPM systems have reduced cost and complexity for programmes under development, Schaefer added, noting such advances are moving developers incrementally closer to an operational, HPM-based DE weapon system.
The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) teamed with Liedos to explore “HPM source technologies” for disruptive DE capabilities, Schaefer said, but declined to comment on the specifics of company’s recent work with the service research lab.
Still, he said the company’s work on the air force’s Tactical High-Power Microwave Operational Responder (THOR) programme is nearly ready to advance from the testing laboratory to the battlefield, Schaefer claimed.
THOR, an HPM-based directed energy platform developed in conjunction with the air force, BAE Systems, and Verus Research “is very, very close to becoming a Program of Record,” Schaefer said. “I think the six to 12 to 18-month timeframe is probably realistic, depending upon how this is pushed along through the [acquisition] process – which is not straightforward,” he noted. (Source: Jane’s)
03 Dec 19. Companies Developing Lethal Autonomous Weapons, As Groups Seek Ban. Dozens of defense companies are developing lethal autonomous weapons (LAWS), as humanitarian groups seek to build international support for a treaty to ban them, according to a recent report.
LAWS, so-called “killer robots,” would rely on artificial intelligence (AI) to remove the human from targeting decisions, but how close such systems are to mature development and deployment readiness is a matter of debate in technology circles.
“As part of an imminent arms race to develop increasingly autonomous weapons, states rely on and involve arms producing companies in those efforts,” according to Slippery Slope: The Arms Industry and Increasingly Autonomous Weapons by the Dutch non-governmental organization, PAX for Peace. “While digital technology, especially artificial intelligence, can be beneficial in many ways, countless AI and robotics experts have warned that the technology must not be used to develop lethal autonomous weapons. The research however shows the clear proliferation of increasingly autonomous weapon systems. Not only is there a growing number of companies in a growing number of countries developing such weapons, these technologies are also applied to an ever-expanding range of military systems, in the air, on the ground and at sea.”
The United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) has been discussing LAWS’ concerns and is to start devising a “normative and operational framework” for such weapons at meetings in Geneva on June 22-26 and August 10-14. But humanitarian groups are frustrated that CCW has not progressed further in its work on the issue and that CCW has not brought up a legally binding document to stop or significantly restrict LAWS.
In a message to CCW’s Group of Government Experts convened for a meeting on emerging LAWS technologies last March, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres wrote that “autonomous machines with the power and discretion to select targets and take lives without human involvement are politically unacceptable, morally repugnant and should be prohibited by international law.”
“This reflects what I see as the prevailing sentiment across the world,” Guterres wrote. “I know of no state or armed force in favor of fully autonomous weapon systems empowered to take human life.”
Last February, Russia’s ZALA Aero Group, the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) division of Kalashnikov, unveiled a “kamikaze” drone — the KUB-BLA — at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi.
The small UAS is designed to have a maximum speed of about 80 miles per hour, an endurance of 30 minutes, and an explosive payload of 7 pounds against “remote ground targets.”
Loitering munitions can have a dwell time up to six hours and are equipped with sensors to allow the drones to detect and attack targets independently. Early 1980s-era examples include Israel Aircraft Industries’ Harpy suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) drone and the U.S. Air Force AGM-136 “Tacit Rainbow” SEAD system by Northrop Grumman — a $4bn development program canceled in 1991.
“Especially significant are the developments related to loitering munitions, which are able to operate for longer amounts of time and over larger areas in order to select and attack targets,” according to last month’s PAX for Peace report. “Major efforts related to swarm technologies multiply the potential of such weapons. These developments raise serious questions of how human control is guaranteed over these weapon systems.”
The Turkish state-owned firm STM is “improving the capabilities of its KARGU loitering munitions through using AI, including facial recognition,” the report said. “According to the company, the KARGU can ‘autonomously fire-and-forget through the entry of target coordinates.’ It has been suggested that these systems will be deployed on the border with Syria.”
A September article in The New Scientist magazine reported that KARGU positions Turkey “to become the first nation to use drones able to find, track and kill people without human intervention.” The Turkish newspaper, Hürriyet, has said that some 30 STM “kamikaze” drones will be deployed early next year to the Turkish-Syrian border region.
The PAX for Peace report on LAWS listed 30 “high concern companies,” as the latter “work on increasingly autonomous weapon systems and do not appear to have a policy in place [to ensure meaningful human control over such weapons] and did not respond in a meaningful way to our survey.”
Such companies include Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon in the United States; China’s AVIC and CASC; Russia’s Rostec; Israel’s IAI, Elbit Systems, and Rafael; and Turkey’s STM, according to the report. (Source: UAS VISION/ Avionics Today)
03 Dec 19. Rheinmetall StrikeShield active close-in protection system selected for substantial testing by U.S. Army. The U.S. Army has awarded a contract valued at 11MioUSD (roughly 10 MioEUR) to the team of Rheinmetall Protection Systems and Unified Business Technologies (UBT) for significant testing of the StrikeShield Active Protection System to begin in October 2020 at Redstone Test Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The Army’s recently formed Vehicle Protective Systems (VPS) program office will evaluate StrikeShield as part of a larger effort to characterize APS performance against a wide variety of anti-armor threats. This significant contract award represents the first funded APS testing the Army will undertake of the StrikeShield system. It provides a pathway to potential utilization of the system on vehicles in the current Army vehicle fleet as well as vehicles fielded in the future.
The StrikeShield APS is a distributed, real time system which was developed to protect the carrying platform against anti-tank rockets and missiles. It therefore can operate in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle to be protected. Additionally in StrikeShield the technical requirements of large calibre Kinetic Energy (KE) defeat are addressed, which is a unique combination of threats to protect against and reason for the promising overall outlook.
The Army will carry out extensive live fire testing of the StrikeShield system that will take place over a period of several months. The objective of the Army tests will be to gather performance data that can inform future selection of APS technologies best suited for any particular platform. The Army expects the test results will inform APS pursuits for both its fielded vehicle fleets and new vehicle programs like Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV), Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) and the Optionally-Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV).
Rheinmetall and UBT have teamed for U.S. active protection programs since 2015. The companies are optimistic that this new Army testing program will lead to further vehicle integration opportunities on U.S. military vehicles and both firms are extremely pleased that the Army has selected StrikeShield for this important program.
“We are excited to enter into a new phase of partnership with the Army that will enable the Army to carry out extensive tests of the StrikeShield APS system,” said Stefan Haase, Rheinmetall’s head of the product unit Active Protection. “We are confident the system will perform very well in the testing and that possibilities for fielding the technology on Army vehicle systems will arise.”
“The StrikeShield system is a world class, mature APS system that will deliver tremendous capability for the U.S. Army,” said UBT CEO Michelle D’Souza. “UBT and Rheinmetall are proud to be teamed together as a partner to the Army in addressing the high priority requirement for APS technology.”
Hybrid Protection Module
Rheinmetall has also developed a modular hybrid configuration of its StrikeShield APS that combines the company’s active and passive protection technologies in a single integrated design. This new configuration was on display at AUSA 2019. The hybrid approach draws on Rheinmetall’s unique expertise as a provider of both APS and armor protection, and the company’s proven track record as a leading vehicle supplier and system integrator. The system’s hybrid and modular design is well suited for integration on both tracked and wheeled vehicles.
The hybrid protection module allows for an integrated approach: passive protection components simultaneously serve as interface and shield for the components of the active protection system. Conversely, the StrikeShield APS components comprise ballistic functions and characteristics. The external protection layer protects these components against shell fragments, small arms fire and other sources of mechanical stress. The StrikeShield countermeasures are embedded in the first protection plate from the outside and serve simultaneously as part of the first layer of passive protection. The sensors of the system are contained in the space in between.
The Rheinmetall and UBT team will engage the U.S. Army VPS team regarding the potential of the future hybrid module approach on U.S. vehicles as part of its funded testing.
02 Dec 19. Turkey says new Russian missile deal to happen before too long – RIA. Turkey’s presidential administration has said that the purchase date for more S-400 missile systems from Russia is just a technicality and that it thinks a deal will happen before too long, the RIA news agency reported on Monday.
Moscow hopes to seal a deal to supply Turkey with more S-400 missile systems in the first half of next year, the head of Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said last month.
Such a move could further strain ties between Turkey and the United States, which has suspended Ankara from the F-35 stealth fighter jet programme, in which it was a producer and buyer, to punish it for buying S-400 batteries earlier this year.
“The date of the purchase of a second set of S-400s is just a technical question. I think it will happen before too long,” RIA cited a security and foreign affairs official in the Turkish presidential administration as saying.
Rosoboronexport’s Alexander Mikheev told RIA news agency on Nov. 26 that Moscow and Ankara were actively discussing Ankara taking up an option in the original contract for it to receive more S-400 systems, with talks focussed on financial questions. (Source: Reuters)
29 Nov 19. North Korea fires unidentified rockets. North Korea has test-fired two rockets from its east coast into the sea after a brief lull in testing since the end of October, as the end of year deadline looms for denuclearisation talks.
South Korea’s Ministry of Defence confirmed the test took place; however, Pyongyang has yet to release a statement.
South Korea’s Defence Ministry said in a statement: “North Korea launched two unknown projectiles today at 16:59 in Yeonpo, South Hamgyong province, at about 16:59.
“Our military maintains readiness to track and monitor relevant trends in preparation for further launches.”
According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the rockets flew almost 400km before landing in the sea. The launches come amid a stall in nuclear de-proliferation talks between the US and the North.
Yonhap News Agency reported that South Korean Major General Jeon Dong-jin said: “Our military expresses strong regret over the acts and urge North Korea to immediately stop such moves.”
Speaking to reporters, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded to the test, saying: “Multiple missile launches by North Korea are a serious challenge not only for Japan but also international society.
“We will remain in close contact with the United States, South Korea and the international community to monitor the situation. We will increase our vigilance to preserve the safety and assets of the Japanese people.”
Time for an agreement between the US and North Korea is running out as both country’s approach an end-of-the-year deadline imposed by Pyongyang. North Korea recently signalled that it had lost interest in holding talks with the US.
Previously in a statement carried by state media, advisor to the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK Kim Kye Gwan said: “Three rounds of DPRK-U.S. summit meetings and talks were held since June last year, but no particular improvement has been achieved in the DPRK-US relations. And the US only seeks to earn time, pretending it has made progress in settling the issue of the Korean peninsula.(Source: airforce-technology.com)
29 Nov 19. Rheinmetall develops new long-range howitzer. Rheinmetall plans to develop and manufacture a new 155 mm gun with a significantly larger chamber and longer, 60-calibre barrel, the company said in a 27 November press release. Rheinmetall told Jane’s on 28 November that the company was exploring the possibility of building such a weapon for a wheeled self-propelled howitzer for the Bundeswehr’s Zukünftiges System Indirektes Feuer (Future Indirect Fire System).
A G6 self-propelled howitzer with a 52-calibre gun (background) achieved the longest range ever attained with a conventional 155mm artillery round by firing it 76km, while a PzH 2000 52-calibre gun (foreground) fired a shell 67km at the Alkantpan test range in South Africa on 6 November. (Rheinmetall)
The company said in its press release that it planned to work closely with the German procurement authorities on a gun able to fire existing rounds compliant with the NATO standards set out in the Joint Ballistics Memorandum of Understanding (JBMoU) as well as new ammunition families. The new ammunition types will be optimised to withstand the stresses occurring in the new gun as well as being able to be fired from legacy JBMoU-compliant guns. The German procurement authorities have specified a maximum effective range of 75 km, according to Rheinmetall, which said it would use 83 km as the baseline as the course correction fuze necessary to achieve precision at these ranges reduces range by 10%.
The press release stated that Rheinmetall broke three maximum effective indirect fire range records during test firings at the Alkantpan test range in South Africa on 6 November. A new version of the Denel G6 howitzer with a 52-calibre gun achieved the longest range ever attained with a conventional artillery round by firing a non-JBMoU standard M9703 practice inert rocket assistance for enhanced range performance (V-LAP) 155mm artillery round with a modified top charge over 76km. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
29 Nov 19. Indian Army conducts test firing of Spike LR anti-tank missiles. The Indian Army has test-fired two Israeli-made Spike long-range (LR) anti-tank missiles that are capable of engaging targets at ranges up to 4km. The firing of the newly acquired fourth-generation anti-armour weapon system was performed at the army’s Infantry School at Mhow in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Spike LR provides the Indian Army with fire-and-forget and ‘fire, observe and update’ capabilities.
Developed and designed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the missile is equipped with an inbuilt seeker to allow firers to operate the system and engage targets during the day and at night.
During the testing, the Spike LR missiles successfully hit their targets.
The weapon system is expected to deliver significant firepower to the army when compared to the second-generation missiles that have been in use for more than 30 years.
The Indian Government released a request for proposal in 2011 for the procurement of more than 8,000 missiles, the Press Trust of India has reported.
Spike stood out as the lone missile that qualified to meet the requirement of the armed forces. Although the government completed negotiations for the purchase, the programme could not move further after the defence ministry decided to have a locally manufactured missile system. The Defence Research and Development Organisation is building a missile system in line with the government’s decision.
Rafael was quoted by Business Standard as saying: “Both the DRDO’s ATGM programme, as well as the invitation to Indian industry to develop a third-gen missile will need a rethink, as having a fourth-gen missile will put the plan for development of a third-gen missile questionable.”
The army procured 240 Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel to meet emergency needs. Earlier this week, media reports stated that the army will deploy the Spike missiles on its border with Pakistan. (Source: army-technology.com)
30 Nov 19. Russia tests hypersonic missile in Arctic – TASS cites sources. Russia’s MiG-31K interceptor jet carried out a test of the Kinjal (Dagger) hypersonic missile in Russia’s part of Arctic earlier this month, TASS new agency reported on Saturday, citing two military sources. The report came a day after Danish intelligence service warned of intensifying geopolitical rivalry in the Earth’s freezing North, and said that China’s military was increasingly using scientific research in the Arctic as a way into the region.
“The tests took place in mid-November,” TASS quoted one of its sources as saying.
The MiG-31K interceptor took off from the Olenegorsk airfield in the northern Murmansk region and fired the missile against a ground target at the Pemboi training ground in Russia’s Arctic Komi region, TASS reported. It did not provide any further detail. The Danish Defence Intelligence Service said in its annual risk assessment report on Friday that “a great power play is shaping up” between Russia, the United States and China, which is increasing the level of tension in the Arctic region. Russian President Vladimir Putin disclosed the Kinjal’s existence in March 2018 along with other missile systems he touted as unbeatable, describing how it could evade any enemy defences.
Russian media have said the Kinjal can hit targets up to 2,000 km (1,250 miles) distant with nuclear or conventional warheads and that the missiles have already been deployed in Russia’s southern military district. (Source: Reuters)
29 Nov 19. CAMM-ER completes major trials milestone. MBDA has successfully completed a series of trials of the CAMM-ER air defence missile, validating the high-performance of the system.
The trials have been conducted in the past months and saw a series of successful firings of CAMM-ER that proved the performance of the missile at extended ranges and high altitudes while conducting a number of challenging manoeuvres.
CAMM-ER is the extended range member of the new-generation CAMM air defence family of weapons. All members of the CAMM family share the same cutting-edge active radar seeker and soft-launch system, with CAMM-ER featuring a larger rocket motor to provide extended range out beyond 40km.
CAMM and CAMM-ER form the basis for MBDA’s Enhanced Modular Air Defence Solutions (EMADS) offering. EMADS brings together best-of-breed systems and technologies from across MBDA’s European base to save time, development costs and provide a flexible system for air defence provision. CAMM-ER, meant to replace the existing Aspide munition, is expected to be integrated in the Air Defence system of the Italian Air Force and Italian Army. CAMM-based air defence systems are known as Land Ceptor and Sea Ceptor by the British Army and Royal Navy. The Italian Navy is also evaluating how to include the missile family with its future surface combatants.
02 Dec 19. Norwegian Army MGBADS IOC by mid-2023. The Norwegian Army is scheduled to accept initial deliveries of a new mobile ground-based short-range air-defence system from prime contractor Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (Kongsberg) in late 2022, with all units expected to be delivered, and an initial operating capability (IOC), by mid-2023. The Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA), under the auspices of Investment Project 7628 Kampluftvern (Combat Air Defence), initiated the procurement process for the Army Mobile Ground Based Air Defence System, with the announcement, in February 2017, of a direct acquisition strategy with Kongsberg. The overall budget for Project 7628 is NOK948m (USD113.2m) – approved by the Norwegian Parliament in 2015. (Source: Google/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.