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19 Dec 19. Philippines to order BrahMos missile system in 2020, defence secretary confirms. Philippine Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana confirmed on 16 December that his country is set to order the BrahMos supersonic cruise-missile system from India in 2020 as part of the military’s modernisation programme.
“Signing of the contract will be in 2020. Possibly on the first or second quarter,” Lorenzana was quoted by the state-owned Philippine News Agency (PNA) as saying, adding that Manila is looking to procure “two batteries” under a government-to-government deal.
A missile battery is equivalent to three mobile autonomous launchers with two or three missile tubes each, said the PNA. The defence secretary was also quoted as saying that, aside from the Philippine Army, the system can be used by the Philippine Air Force, adding that once delivered, the BrahMos will be “the first Philippine weaponry with deterrent capability”.(Source: Jane’s)
18 Dec 19. Portuguese Army seeks new 155mm howitzer. The Portuguese Army is considering procuring a new 155 mm artillery system to replace its M114A1 towed howitzers, an army staff source told Jane’s on 11 December. EUR18m (USD20m) has been allocated for the effort in the Portuguese 2019–2030 Military Programming Law. Towed lightweight and truck-mounted self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) are options to replace 18 M114A1 155 mm/23-calibre howitzers fielded by the Intervention Brigade’s field artillery group and which entered service in 1983. SPHs are the preferred solution, according to the source. Requirements for the future 155 mm artillery system include a ballistic computer and a link to an artillery command-and-control system. (Source: Jane’s)
17 Dec 19. Congress wants more clarity on space-based missile warning. Congressional leaders have questions about the Pentagon’s strategy to provide space-based missile warning, according to a new spending bill for fiscal year 2020, but provided full funding for multiple space programs that help fill that need.
Specifically, Congressional appropriators want to see a plan for how the Department of Defense will develop, acquire and provide hypersonic and ballistic missile detection and tracking from space.
“The Department of Defense lacks consensus on its space architecture plans to meet requirements for strategic and tactical missile warning, missile defense, and battlespace awareness mission areas,” reads the joint explanatory statements on the legislation, released Dec. 16. “Currently, the Air Force, Missile Defense Agency, Space Development Agency, and others, are planning to spend tens of billions of dollars pursuing various potential satellite constellations, with a variety of sensor types, constellation sizes, and orbits ranging from proliferated low-earth to geosynchronous and others. The Department has yet to synchronize or harmonize these proposals into a clearly articulated executable and affordable integrated enterprise space architecture.”
The conflict stems, in part, from ongoing confusion over the role of the Space Development Agency, an organization established in March to build a new military space architecture based around a proliferated small satellite constellation in low earth orbit. A core component to that new architecture is the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor, a series of sensors in LEO that will be able to address the unique challenges of tracking hypersonic weapons. The SDA is working with the Missile Defense Agency and DARPA to develop that system and integrate it into the broader LEO architecture.
That’s in opposition to the how the Air Force is working to fulfill missile detection and tracking capabilities from space. Today, the Air Force provides that capability through the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS). The Air Force is working on the follow-on to that system—Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next Gen OPIR). Like SBIRS, Next Gen OPIR will be comprised of just a handful of exquisite satellites operating in geosynchronous orbit. Unilke HBTSS, Next Gen OPIR will not include the same hypersonic weapons tracking capabilities.
SDA proponents—most notably Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin—have argued that the two approaches are not mutually exclusive and instead would create a much needed redundancy. In recent months, Air Force leadership have claimed that creating a multi-layered architecture with assets in LEO and GEO could make it more difficult for adversaries to destroy or disable the United States’ missile tracking capability, but lawmakers are clearly concerned that the parallel efforts could result in waste and duplication.
To allay those concerns, the legislation requires the Secretary of Defense to develop an integrated overhead persistent infrared enterprise architecture strategy that will lay out how the DoD plans to build the needed missile defense capability, what it will cost, how it plans to acquire it, and what agency or service will take the lead on each component.
The legislation requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a report on how the military plans to integrate these programs into a unified OPIR architecture strategy within 270 days of the legislation becoming law.
Despite these concerns, the final bill provides funding for the major space-based missile defense programs in question.
The legislation budgets $108m for HBTSS. That money wasn’t included in the Pentagon’s FY 2020 budget request, although the Missile Defense Agency listed it as an unfunded requirement in a document sent to Congress in the spring.
The legislation also funds Next Gen OPIR Infrared at about $1.4bn. That’s $75m more than the roughly $1.3bn requested by the Pentagon. Members of the House had suggested they would provide just $1bn earlier this year, a move that prompted a letter from the White House saying that any cuts to the request could delay the program by years and cost more in the long run.
Released by the House and Senate appropriations committees Monday, the legislation must be approved by both legislative bodies by Friday, Dec. 20 at 11:59 p.m. to avoid a government shutdown. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
17 Dec 19. Turkey’s New Drone Comes with a Machine Gun. A drone with a machine gun attached can hit targets with high precision, according to its makers. Turkey is set to become the first country to have the drone, when it gets a delivery this month. The 25-kilogram drone has eight rotating blades to get it in the air. Its machine gun carries 200 rounds of ammunition and can fire single shots or 15-round bursts.
The new drone, called Songar and made by Ankara-based electronics firm Asisguard, is the first drone to be equipped with a firearm and be ready for service. Turkey expects the drones to be delivered before the end of the year.
It is hard for a drone to shoot accurately, partly because of the difficulty of judging range and angle, and partly because the recoil from each shot significantly moves the drone, affecting the aim for the next round.
Songar has two systems to overcome these challenges. One uses sensors, including cameras and a laser rangefinder, to calculate distance, angle and wind speed, and work out where to aim. The second is a set of robot arms that move the machine gun to compensate for the effects of recoil.
Asisguard claims Songar has an accuracy that corresponds to hitting a 15-centimetre area from 200 metres. That is accurate enough for every bullet to hit a human-sized target at that range. A human drone pilot picks the target by putting cross hairs on it using a screen on a remote control.
Asisguard says improvements to Songar’s accuracy mean it will soon be able to hit targets from more than 400 metres away.
Songar has night sensors for operating in darkness and has a range of 10 kilometres. It may also operate in groups. Ayhan Sunar at Asisguard says a swarm of three Songar can be flown using a single remote control, with all three firing at a target simultaneously.
Drones are extremely hard to stop. There is a concern that armed groups could copy the technology and produce their own improvised versions, says Robert Bunker at the US Army’s Strategic Studies Institute in Pennsylvania.
Songar may also open up new uses for drones, says Bunker. For example, he says that machine-gun drones could lay down suppressive fire to keep defenders’ heads down while other drones carry out attacks on more substantial targets such as infrastructure or vehicles. (Source: UAS VISION/New Scientist)
17 Dec 19. Thales Australia partners with innovative Aussie SMEs to enhance lethality. Thales Australia CEO, Chris Jenkins has formally signed three memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with AMOG Consulting, GRA and ECLIPS to support the lethality and capability of the Australian Army. Thales is committed to delivering capability assurance to the Australian Defence Force while reducing the total cost of ownership and increasing supply chain visibility.
Thales Australia is building on its longstanding technical partnership with AMOG consulting with this MOU facilitates collaboration for the delivery of technical, safety and engineering management services.
AMOG Consulting, GRA and Eclipse will add their expertise to Thales’ offer to deliver to Defence the best supplier engagement model for the upcoming LAND 159/4108 program.
AMOG has worked with Thales for over 15 years on multiple programs, including the recently announced sonar test facilities being investigated in Tasmania, and research into stealth technology for submarine periscopes and optronic masts.
Ben Clark, AMOG chief executive, welcomed the announcement: “AMOG is very proud to continue our long association with Thales and join them on this bid to provide new equipment and systems to enhance the fighting capability of our troops on the ground.”
ECLIPS is a world-leading logistic systems engineering company, with an ethos of research and development. The MOU signed with Thales enables deeper collaboration on automated identification technology.
GRA is an expert consulting firm specialising in supply chain and logistics strategy, planning and execution. The agreement will harness this expertise for supply chain and fleet management.
Steve Bray, partner at GRA, said that the company is excited to join Thales’ LAND 159 team.
“Leveraging a mixture of ADF technology and new data capture and visibility technologies, GRA will bring alternate acquisition and sustainment operating models, highly skilled ILS practitioners and best practice process and methodologies, to better manage capability assurance, cost and risk,” he said.
With Thales one of three shortlisted companies, it is anticipated that the full request for tender will be released in early 2020, as part of a staged program spanning a number of years.
Thales in Australia is a partner of the Australian Defence Force and is also present in commercial sectors ranging from air traffic management and ground transport systems to security systems and services. Employing around 3,900 people, Thales in Australia recorded revenues of more than $1.39bn in 2018 and export revenue of over $1.6bn in the past 10 years.
17 Dec 19. Naval Group inks several MOUs for RAN countermeasure solutions. Naval Group has signed nine different memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with local companies to manufacture its countermeasure solutions for the Royal Australian Navy.
The French company’s subsidiary, Naval Group Pacific, has proposed a “breakthrough in anti-torpedo countermeasures for Australia’s submarine and surface ship programs with CANTO, the latest countermeasure generation based on dilution/confusion multi-effects”.
The solution applies the “dilution/confusion concept to defend high value and mission essential units by generating high-level acoustic signals over 360-degree, covering the full frequency range of the attacking torpedo”.
The anti-torpedo is currently in service with the French Navy, as well as other foreign navies.
“This capability will provide navies with a combat-proven solution and if manufactured in Australia, will provide transfer [of] new technology and skills to local industry,” said Francois Romanet, CEO of Naval Group Pacific.
The full list of MOUs signed, as well as a description on their works, is listed below:
- Archer Enterprises: precision CNC machining, fabrication, assembly and testing of complex mechanical components, assemblies and sub-systems, including electrical control integration for performance critical applications;
- Axiom Precision Manufacturing: an experienced manufacturer of complex, precision electro-mechanical components and assemblies for the defence and aerospace industries whose Defence secure facility expansion provides a unique capability for sensitive Defence projects into the future;
- Baron Rubber: a contract manufacturer, specialising in build-to-print moulded components and assemblies made in silicone, rubber, composites and engineering grade polymers;
- BB Engineering: specialising in naval and military applications for precision CNC machined and turned components;
- Campagno Engineering: specialised in precision engineering and machining;
- GPC Electronics: based in western Sydney and Australia’s leading dedicated contract electronics manufacturer for build to print printed circuit board assemblies (PCBA), box build and mechanical sub-assembly of electronic products;
- Land Air Sea Space: specialists in design manufacture and repair of high-quality electrical cable assemblies, wired enclosures and interconnecting systems;
- MacTaggart Scott Australia: providing support and engineering services to meet the requirements of the Royal Australian Navy, in particular for the Collins Class submarines and the two LHDs. The facilities in Adelaide offer a significant engineering capability as well as increasing design services; and
- Verseng Group: a wholly South Australian owned and operated engineering and precision manufacturing organisation specialising in the manufacture of CNC machined components, fabrication, complex assemblies for the defence, mining, heavy industrial, marine and agricultural markets. (Source: Defence Connect)
16 Dec 19. Indian Army acquires Spike LR ATGMs. India has procured the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Spike LR (long-range) anti-tank guided-missile (ATGM) system to meet Indian Army (IA) operational requirements.
Indian Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik told parliament on 11 December that the Israeli-made, man-portable, fourth-generation system, which can engage targets in ‘fire-and-forget’ and ‘fire-observe-and-update’ modes, will “enhance operational flexibility and crew survivability”.
Naik did not specify the number of ATGMs procured or provide any details regarding the delivery schedule or contract value, but official sources told Jane’s on 16 December that the deal included the import of 260 Spike LR missiles and 12 launchers.
They were purchased under the newly enhanced financial powers of India’s Vice Chiefs of Staff that permit them to acquire goods and materiel worth INR5bn (USD70m) without prior Ministry of Defence (MoD) approval to meet “urgent operational requirements”.
The IA had decided to acquire the Spike dual-seeker ATGMs during the bi-annual Army Commanders conference in New Delhi held in April. Thereafter, in late November, the IA successfully test-fired two Spike LR II ATGMs at the Army War College in Mhow, in central India, up to a range of 4 km using a charge-coupled device seeker for daytime and an imaging infrared (IIR) seeker for night time use.
The procurement announcement comes more than two years after the MoD scrapped a USD1bn tender in November 2017 to import more than 5,500 Spike missiles and 275 launchers via an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) between Tel Aviv and New Delhi.
The terminated IGA also included a transfer of technology to India’s state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) to licence-build 30,000 ATGMs to meet the IA’s overall requirement for 68,000 ATGMs to arm its 360-odd infantry battalions. (Source: Jane’s)
16 Dec 19. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) supported a demonstration flight test conducted by the U.S. Air Force, in partnership with the Strategic Capabilities Office, of a prototype conventionally-configured, ground-launched ballistic missile on Dec. 12.
The missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and displayed Northrop Grumman’s capability for rapid development and launch in support of urgent requests from the Department of Defense.
“We pride ourselves on being the team that can rapidly design, develop and launch missiles contributing to the protection of the United States and its allies,” said Rich Straka, vice president, launch vehicles, Northrop Grumman.
Data collected from the test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities.
14 Dec 19. Ukraine could get new, deadlier missiles, thanks to Congress. The U.S. Congress is poised to allow the sale of coastal defense and anti-ship weapons as part of future security assistance packages to Ukraine, through the 2020 defense policy bill.
The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House this week and is expected to be passed in the Senate next week; President Donald Trump has already announced he will sign the sweeping policy bill.
The change comes as U.S. military aid is at the center of impeachment proceedings playing out against Trump in Washington. The impeachment has dragged Ukraine into the spotlight at a time the European nation continues to struggle with ongoing military activities from Russia.
Speaking at the German Marshall Fund on Friday, Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, indicated that the weapons would be ideal fits for a pair of Island-class patrol boats Ukraine has received from Washington.
Those boats were “supplied without anything on them,” said Kuleba, the first member of the current Ukrainian government to visit Washington. “So we will continue working on obtaining more boats of that class, and hopefully with some of the equipment you mentioned.”
Kuleba added that he had overall positive meetings with members of both chambers of Congress, as well as a trio of meetings with administration officials. He said the latter were “constructive, put it that way, in the sense that NDAA is adopted, the president will sign it and we will be working with the administration on making sure these provisions become reality.”
The Ukrainian official acknowledged that his visit comes at a unique time for Washington, with discussions between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky forming the core of an impeachment push by Democratic lawmakers. But Kuleba argued that Ukraine provides a useful security partner for the U.S. and its NATO allies, particularly along the Black Sea, and expressed his belief that the impeachment situation should not impact the relationship between the two nations.
“We don’t want to be shamed and named. We just want a fair, balanced look at what Ukraine has accomplished, where Ukraine stands, and where Ukraine is moving to. On all three points I believe we have no fundamental differences with the United States,” he said. “Ukraine is a natural ally for the United States in the world. In the global struggle for power that we are observing now, Ukraine is part of this world now.”
The language authorizing the missile sales coincides with similar legislation proposed in May by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and ranking member Michael McCaul, R-Texas.
In a statement Friday, Engel called the additional assistance vital to Ukraine’s security as it stand against defend against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to undermine its sovereignty and territorial integrity: “Ukraine is on the front lines of the fight against Russian influence and Russian aggression … I am proud that Congress continues to maintain its strong, bipartisan consensus in its support to Ukraine.
The U.S. has committed more than $1.5bn in security assistance to Ukraine since 2014, when Russian-backed separatists began driving tanks through eastern Ukraine. That funding has included sniper rifles, Humvees, unarmed drones, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, counter-artillery radars, electronic warfare detection and secure communications, night vision equipment, and military medical supplies and treatment.
The only missiles cleared for sale to Ukraine have been Javelin man-portable anti-tank weapons. (Source: Defense News)
14 Dec 19. With Boeing no-bid, Northrop is the likely maker of US Air Force’s next-generation ICBMs. Boeing declined to bid on the U.S. Air Force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program by the deadline of Dec. 13, leaving Northrop Grumman as the de facto winner of the contract.
At play is an $85bn award to design the Air Force’s next-generation intercontinental ballistic missiles, which will replace the Minuteman III. Northrop and Boeing each were awarded contracts in 2017 for the technology-maturation and risk-reduction phase of the program — meaning Boeing’s departure leaves the Air Force with only Northrop as an active bidder.
“Boeing is disappointed we were unable to submit a bid to the GBSD solicitation,” the company wrote in a statement. “We have been proud and honored to contribute to the ICBM mission for more than 60 years. Boeing continues to support a change in acquisition strategy that would bring the best of industry to this national priority and demonstrate value for the American taxpayer.”
In a statement, the Air Force confirmed that it had received only one proposal. A spokesman for Northrop Grumman confirmed the company had bid on the competition.
“To date, the competitive Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction phase has provided the DoD with an unprecedented amount of technical and cost knowledge,” wrote Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Cara Bousie in a statement. “The Air Force will proceed with an aggressive and effective sole-source negotiation. We remain on track for a contract award in the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2020.”
Boeing’s no-bid on the competition was not surprising. The company announced in July that it would not bid on GBSD unless the Air Force made changes to its acquisition strategy. Specifically, Boeing claimed that Northrop’s purchase of one of the only two U.S. solid-fuel rocket motor manufacturers — Orbital ATK, now known as Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems — gave the company an unfair advantage in terms of being able to offer the lowest-cost system.
It called on the Air Force to level the playing field. “We lack confidence in the fairness of any procurement that does not correct this basic imbalance between competitors,” Boeing Defense and Security head Leanne Caret stated in a July 23 letter, adding that the current acquisition strategy gave Northrop “inherently unfair cost, resource and integration advantages.”
Boeing then pushed the Air Force to mandate a joint bid with Northrop. Ultimately, the Air Force declined to intervene, and Northrop chose its own industry team, which did not include Boeing as a supplier.
Then, in October, the Air Force stopped funding Boeing’s technology maturation and risk reduction contract. (Source: Defense News)
13 Dec 19. US tests previously banned ballistic missile. The US has conducted a flight test of a prototype conventionally-configured ground-launched ballistic missile. Credits: DOD. The US Air Force yesterday tested a prototype conventionally-configured ground-launched ballistic missile capable of flying at ranges previously banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
The prototype missile test saw the conventionally-configured missile travel for 500km before being ditched in open waters.
In a release, the US Department of Defence said: “On Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time, the US Air Force, in partnership with the Strategic Capabilities Office, conducted a flight test of a prototype conventionally-configured ground-launched ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
“The test missile exited its static launch stand and terminated in the open ocean after more than 500 kilometres of flight. Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defence’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities.”
The US suspended the INF Treaty this year, accusing Moscow of repeated non-compliance the terms of the agreement which banned both the US and Russia from operating missiles that could travel between 500 and 5,500km. After the US announced it was suspending the treaty Russia followed suit, leaving just the NewSTART treaty as the only active nuclear arms treaty left in force.
After the test-launch, US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper tweeted: “Today, US Air Force 30th Space Wing and DoD Chief Technology Officer Strategic Capabilities Office successfully tested a prototype conventional, ground-launched ballistic missile. Congrats to the joint government-industry team for going from concept to launch in less than 9 months!”
Esper added: “The test team began work after the US suspended its INF obligations in February 2019. It usually takes 24 months to plan and execute such a test. This achievement demonstrates America’s ability to respond to critical national security challenges.”
The Russian RIA News Agency reported that an official from the Russian Foreign Ministry in charge of arms control said: “It alarms us. Of course, we will take this into account.”
A spokesperson for the Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, as reported by TASS said: “We’ve said more than once that the United States has been making preparations for violating the INF Treaty. This [missile test] clearly confirms that the treaty was ruined at the initiative of the United States.
“I’m not in the position to make any comments [on the missile test] from the technical standpoint and the missile’s parameters and characteristics.”
Defense News reported that the missile used in the test was developed by Northrop Grumman, with the companies Innovation Systems wing acting as the “primary launch services contractor”. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
13 Dec 19. UNSW and Naval Group partnership demonstrates composite materials. Naval Group Pacific, in partnership with AMAC at UNSW Sydney, has successfully demonstrated how a carbon composite embedded with fibre optics could be used for structural applications in marine vessels.
The proof-of-concept test was designed to determine how a composite embedded with fibre optics could be used in the masts of marine vessels that may house vital equipment such as radars and periscopes.
The use of composites can decrease the weight of the mast, which in turn can reduce the vessel’s overall weight due to a lighter counterbalance being required.
By applying fibre optics that allow for structural health monitoring (SHM), it is possible to save vital maintenance time and resources over the lifetime of any vessel to which it is applied.
Professor Gangadhara Prusty, director of the ARC Training Centre for Automated Manufacture of Advanced Composites (AMAC), said, “The positive and rapid delivery of the composite test is an evidence of the innovation capabilities of our two organisations. AMAC’s vision is to benefit our strategic industry partners by delivering world-class composite R&D capabilities, typically achieving significant improvement in R&D cost and time overheads.”
Over the course of five days, AMAC and Naval Group successfully demonstrated how the composite embedded with fibre optic sensors can be used to assess the performance under mechanical loads. (Source: Defence Connect)
13 Dec 19. Boeing bows out of multibillion-dollar Minuteman missile replacement competition. Boeing Co (BA.N) has decided not to compete as a prime contractor to replace the Pentagon’s aging U.S.-based Minuteman III missile system, paving the way for Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) to win a contract worth tens of billions of dollars.
Friday marked the deadline to submit proposals to continue work on the replacement of the nearly half-century-old intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system as the military embarks on a costly modernization of its aging atomic weapons.
Boeing said in a statement that it was disappointed it was unable to submit a bid. Northrop said it had submitted its proposal. No other bidders were expected.
Boeing’s decision not to enter a bid as a prime contractor had been foreshadowed this summer in a letter from the chief executive of Boeing Defense Space and Security, Leanne Caret, to Air Force leadership, saying Northrop’s 2018 purchase of solid rocket motor maker Orbital ATK might make it difficult for Boeing to compete on cost.
Orbital is the top producer of the solid fuel rocket motors generally used in Minuteman III and similar missiles.
Upgrading the U.S. nuclear force was expected to cost more than $350bn over the next decade as the United States works to replace its bombs, nuclear bombers, missiles and submarines. Some analysts estimated the cost of modernization at $1trn over 30 years.
The Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office has said the total cost to replace Minuteman III could top U.S. $85bn.
In 2017, the Air Force awarded here Boeing and Northrop Grumman separate contracts for the early engineering phase of the program. (Source: Reuters)
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