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30 Jan 20. UK releases Mobile Fires Platform key user requirements.
- The current 155mm ammunition suite for the UK’s artillery may lack the lethality for state-on-state warfare
- Rate of fire appears to be a major focus for MFP
The UK’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) equipment procurement agency issued a new document on 27 January refining key user requirements for the country’s Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) programme, following an initial request for information (RFI) from the defence industry.
The revised document, which was published on the MFP Early Engagement Portal that is run by DE&S, has a deadline for responses of 17 February. The document is to lead to a Command Acquisition Support Plan (CASP) between DE&S and the customer, which are to formally agree the outputs that DE&S will deliver. (Source: Jane’s)
31 Jan 20. Russia’s Kalashnikov starts to produce unguided aircraft missiles. The Kalashnikov group of companies bought 41% of the shares of the developer of the Novosibirsk Institute of Applied Physics (IAP) from the NPO Kurganpribor, learned BulgarianMilitary.com according the Kalashnikov press service statement.
“Attracting the Institute of Applied Physics” to the Kalashnikov group of companies will allow us to create a single life-cycle chain for high-precision products from development to mass production. We expect to expand the range of promising manufactured products, as well as to act as the lead executor of government orders for the supply of modernized unguided and correctable aircraft missiles,” RIA Novosti reports the words of the general director of Kalashnikov Dmitry Tarasov.
The press service added that the IAP is carrying out 15 research and development projects, three of which are carried out under the state defense order. The Institute of Applied Physics is the developer of S-8 and S-13 unguided missiles and fired jamming means to counter high-precision weapons. Missiles are installed on the ships of the Navy, objects of armored vehicles, Strategic Missile Forces, aviation.
The concern said that in 2019 Kalashnikov initiated a technical conference on the development of unguided aircraft missile weapons with the participation of specialists from the Ministry of Defense and interested enterprises of the military-industrial complex. During the conference, promising directions were identified for the development and modernization of unguided aircraft missiles (NAR) and their transformation into correctable aircraft missiles (CAR).
“A phased creation of the KAR was proposed as part of experimental design work to modernize NAR, which are in service and are mass-produced,” the press service said. (Source: News Now/https://bulgarianmilitary.com/)
30 Jan 20. Russian Pantsyr-S missile system used on terrorist vehicles in Syria. Russia’s air defence missile and artillery system Pantsyr-S has fought off ground targets, including terrorist vehicles, with its guns in Syria. The Pantsyr-S comprises 12 surface-to-air missiles and two 30mm guns, which can each fire up to 40 rounds per second, Russian news agency TASS reported.
Shipunov Design Bureau of Instrument Engineering Air Defense Systems chief designer Valery Slugin was quoted by the news agency as saying: “The Pantsyr can shield itself, for example, against an infantry fighting vehicle or a jihad mobile and this is how its guns were used in Syria and this use proved to be effective.”
Slugin said that the anti-aircraft missile / gun system is capable of hitting surface targets on the sea if it is installed on the coast, and can strike air targets mostly with missiles.
The system has been designed to target rockets of multiple launch rocket systems, mortar shells, cruise missiles, tactical ballistic and hypersonic weapons.
It features a new Mach 5 hypersonic missile that makes it more lethal compared to systems that have only subsonic missiles.
Two Pantsir-S divisions are deployed in Syria, one located at Hmeimim airbase in Russia, and the other in Syria.
Slugin further added: “I believe that Pantsyr will be able to attack surface targets on the sea, too. If placed on the coast, preferably as high as possible, the system will be able to attack surface ships ten kilometres away.”
Pantsyr-S’ radar station and missiles are capable of fighting mini-drones, according to Slugin.
Recently, Russia said it would deliver up to six Pantsir-S1 air defence missile systems to Serbia as part of a contract between the two countries. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
30 Jan 20. F-35’s List of Flaws Includes a Gun That Can’t Shoot Straight. It cites 13 ‘must-fix’ items before $22bn upgrade phase. Add a gun that can’t shoot straight to the problems that dog Lockheed Martin Corp.’s $428bn F-35 program, including more than 800 software flaws.
The 25mm gun on Air Force models of the Joint Strike Fighter has “unacceptable” accuracy in hitting ground targets and is mounted in housing that’s cracking, the Pentagon’s test office said in its latest assessment of the costliest U.S. weapons system.
The annual assessment by Robert Behler, the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation, doesn’t disclose any major new failings in the plane’s flying capabilities. But it flags a long list of issues that his office said should be resolved — including 13 described as Category 1 “must-fix” items that affect safety or combat capability — before the F-35’s upcoming $22bn Block 4 phase.
The number of software deficiencies totaled 873 as of November, according to the report obtained by Bloomberg News in advance of its release as soon as Friday. That’s down from 917 in September 2018, when the jet entered the intense combat testing required before full production, including 15 Category 1 items. What was to be a year of testing has now been extended another year until at least October.
“Although the program office is working to fix deficiencies, new discoveries are still being made, resulting in only a minor decrease in the overall number” and leaving “many significant‘’ ones to address, the assessment said.
In addition, the test office said cybersecurity “vulnerabilities” that it identified in previous reports haven’t been resolved. The report also cites issues with reliability, aircraft availability and maintenance systems.
The assessment doesn’t deal with findings that are emerging in the current round of combat testing, which will include 64 exercises in a high-fidelity simulator designed to replicate the most challenging Russian, Chinese, North Korean and Iranian air defenses.
Despite the incomplete testing and unresolved flaws, Congress continues to accelerate F-35 purchases, adding 11 to the Pentagon’s request in 2016 and in 2017, 20 in fiscal 2018, 15 last year and 20 this year. The F-35 continues to attract new international customers such as Poland and Singapore. Japan is the biggest foreign customer, followed by Australia and the U.K.
By late September, 490 F-35s had been delivered and will require extensive retrofitting. The testing office said those planes were equipped with six different versions of software, with another on the way by the time that about 1,000 planes will be in the hands of the U.S. and foreign militaries.
A spokesmen for the Pentagon’s F-35 program office had no immediate comment on the testing office’s report.
Brett Ashworth, a spokesman for Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed, said that “although we have not seen the report, the F-35 continues to mature and is the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter in the world.” He said “reliability continues to improve, with the global fleet averaging greater than 65% mission capable rates and operational units consistently performing near 75%.”
The Mattis Test
Still, the testing office said “no significant portion” of the U.S.’s F-35 fleet “was able to achieve and sustain” a September 2019 goal mandated by then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis: that the aircraft be capable 80% of the time needed to perform at least one type of combat mission. That target is known as the “Mission Capable” rate.
“However, individual units were able to achieve the 80% target for short periods during deployed operations,” the report said. All the aircraft models lagged “by a large margin” behind the more demanding goal of “Full Mission Capability.”
The Air Force’s F-35 model had the best rate at being fully mission capable, while the Navy’s fleet “suffered from a particularly poor” rate, the test office said. The Marine Corps version was “roughly midway” between the other two.
The Air Force and Navy versions are also continuing to have cracks in structural components, according to the report, saying, “The effect on F-35 service life and the need for additional inspection requirements are still being determined.”
The three F-35 models are all equipped with 25mm guns. The Navy and Marine versions are mounted externally and have acceptable accuracy. But the Air Force model’s gun is mounted inside the plane, and the test office “considers the accuracy, as installed, unacceptable” due to “misalignments” in the gun’s mount that didn’t meet specifications.
The mounts are also cracking, forcing the Air Force to restrict the gun’s use. The program office has “made progress with changes to gun installation” to improve accuracy but they haven’t been tested yet, according to the report. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Bloomberg)
29 Jan 20. UVision Air Ltd. – a global leader in the area of Loitering Munitions Systems of all sizes for a variety of missions‒ strengthens its presence in India and announces a joint venture with Aditya Precitech, an Indian company, for the manufacture and marketing of loitering munitions under the brand PALM (Precision Attack Loitering Munition) Hero Systems.
These systems are already in service and combat-proven. AVision, the company formed under the joint venture agreement, addresses the needs of the Indian defense and paramilitary sectors.
AVision will explore various opportunities in India for Loitering Munitions Systems with the intention of initiating a full range of activities including the design, manufacture, sales, maintenance, support, upgrading, and lifecycle management. The partners will also maintain a supply of spare parts for the warranty and post-warranty periods for current and future versions of the smart munitions systems.
AVision will be responsible for and will provide the following: design, development manufacture and maintenance support for all PALM Hero series, marketing strategy development and implementation; facilities for the new company’s operations; human resources and personnel; supply chain creation and implementation; platform integration; and, after-sale training and customer support services.
Commenting on the Joint Venture, Shane Cohen, VP Sales & Marketing at UVision and AVision Board Member, said, “We are very pleased to have partnered with Aditya, a highly respected company with extensive experience as development partner for many of India’s Defense Research and Development Organization’s (DRDO) most important projects. Aditya has a skilled team able to produce a wide range of complex components, and is an ideal partner for our innovative, cost-effective loitering munitions systems designed for the battlefield of the future.”
Regarding this partnership, Aditya’s representative and Avision’s CEO, Col. (ret.) Anil Yadav, remarked, “This Joint Venture is a major step forward enabling India to achieve significantly higher levels of self-sufficiency in the defense sector with the transfer of state-of-art cutting-edge technologies for the futuristic loitering munitions. We look forward to producing the full range of loitering munitions, which will be offered to India’s military, paramilitary forces as an effective response to multiple threats with minimal collateral damage.”
The PALM HERO Series and Simulation System will be showcased at the AVision booth Hall 1 R48
At Defexpo, we will also display the entire PALM HERO Series of Lethal Loitering Systems highlighting the high-precision PALM Hero-30 and the Long-Range PALM Hero-400EC as well as the recently launched PALM Hero-120 a modular, customizable loitering weapon system fitted for a variety of missions. The company will also demonstrate its advanced, user-friendly simulation system, allowing a hands-on experience for visitors. The PALM HERO Simulator is used for training forces on the HERO systems, thus avoiding the costs, risks and constraints inherent in live-fire missions.
28 Jan 20. Pentagon Seeks a Way to Shoot Down Putin’s ‘Invincible’ Hypersonic Missiles. A $13m DARPA contract will get Northrop working on the problem. Vladimir Putin calls Russia’s Avangard hypersonic missile “invincible.” The U.S. military is looking to prove him wrong.
On Tuesday, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced that it had awarded $13m to defense contractor Northrop Grumman for its Glide Breaker program, an experimental effort to develop interceptors to take out highly advanced and highly maneuverable hypersonic missiles.
The U.S. military regards the burgeoning class manueverable hypersonic missiles as a strategic challenge. Shooting down even a conventional missile traveling at five times the speed of sound is hardly easy. “If you’re going Mach 13 at the very northern edge of Hudson Bay, you have enough residual velocity to hit all 48 of the continental United States and all of Alaska. You can choose [to] point it left or right, and hit Maine or Alaska, or you can hit San Diego or Key West. That’s a monstrous problem,” Paul Selva, a former Air Force vice chief of staff, said last year.
Monstrous is different from invincible.
The Glide Breaker program “Intends to advance the United States’ (U.S.) means to counter hypersonic vehicles” by developing the enabling technology critical for an advanced interceptor” that can do the job, DARPA wrote.
One way to think about intercepting a hypersonic missile is to imagine it as more like an aircraft than a conventional ballistic missile, said Thomas Karako, a senior fellow with the International Security Program and the director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “This is essentially advanced air defense. It’s not seen as a magical kind of a challenge. We’re good at it,” Karako said.
In one way, it’s even easier that in conventional air defense, where it can be difficult to tell an enemy aircraft from a friendly one. But If you’re going to track a maneuverable hypersonic you need to do it from above. “That’s why I’m banging the drum on the space sensor layer all the time,” he said, referring to the Pentagon’s push for a new satellite constellation. “You have to see it before you can kill it.”
Says Karako, “It’s important to remember that these things, traveling at high speeds under a lot of thermal pressure, are far from invincible. They have a lot of vulnerabilities.” You might be able to bring together a mix of different approaches, including cyber or electronic warfare effects, to take one down.
To intercept a conventional ICBM, the U.S. would use one or more of its ground-based midcourse defense missiles: 44 in Alaska, four in California. Those don’t have warheads on them, so the intercept has to be incredibly precise.
To shoot down hypersonic missiles, the United States may use exploding warheads, reducing the need for precision. He cited the Arrow 2, SM-6, and PAC-2 interceptors. “Those aren’t hit-to-kill. They’re high explosive. It may be that you want to put a shotgun blast in front of [the hypersonic threat.] You may only need to do a little damage in this fancy control surface, to have an effect,” he said.
Russia made headlines with its claim that it has already deployed the Avangard. Karako says that the U.S. has to take the threat seriously, but “we have to ask the question: What exactly is it they can do that they couldn’t do before?” It’s a niche capability, he said. According to the press reports I saw, they were only deploying two of them.”
If you worry about those hypersonics one day hitting your hometown, Karako notes, recall that Russia has far more than enough conventional ICBMs for that purpose. The real value of a hypersonic weapon is a rapid strike in a conflict closer to either China or Russia.
“If it’s a better regional, tactical, kind of thing, that’s more worrisome. If they can arms that puts on our heels in a regional conflict, that’s more likely to lead to escalation,” he said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense One)
28 Jan 20. John Cockerill Defense’s PWS Gen 2 completes trials. Belgium’s John Cockerill Defense (previously CMI Defence) has confirmed that its private venture Protected Weapon Station Generation 2 (PWS Gen 2) finished trials in late 2019 and is now at Technology Readiness Level 7 (TRL 7), meaning it is an operationally demonstrated prototype.
According to Simon Haye, chief marketing officer at John Cockerill Defense, “The PWS Gen 2 has now undergone successful firing trials integrated onto a French Arquus Vehicule de l’Avant Blinde [VAB] 6×6 Mk 3 armoured personnel carrier [APC] [and] targets were successfully engaged while the platform was moving, followed by engagement of moving targets while the platform was moving.” (Source: Jane’s)
28 Jan 20. Russia completes delivery of second S-400 regimental set to China, says report. Russia has completed delivery of the second regimental set of the Almaz-Antei S-400E Triumf self-propelled surface-to-air missile (SAM) system to China, according to a 27 January report by the TASS news agency. Quoting an unnamed military diplomatic source, TASS reported that the regimental set consisted of “two divisions of launch devices, radio-location stations, energy and service equipment, spare parts, and instruments”, adding that “the client [China] also received more than 120 advanced anti-aircraft guided missiles of two types”. (Source: Jane’s)
28 Jan 20. Taurus Armas and Jindal Defence to produce small arms in India. The new JV company in Haryana will manufacture carbine, assault rifle, pistols and revolvers. Brazil’s firearms manufacturer Taurus Armas has signed an agreement with Indian company Jindal Defence to produce small arms. Under the agreement, the companies will form a new joint venture (JV) company at Hisar in the Indian state of Haryana to produce different kinds of firearms. The JV company will manufacture carbine, assault rifle, pistols and revolver in the country. Jindal will hold a 51% stake in the JV and the remaining 49% stake will be owned by Taurus.
PTI quoted Jindal Group as saying in a statement: “The JV company will manufacture small arms in India based on the transfer of technology from Taurus to achieve localisation of production in accordance with the defence procurement procedures.”
The company noted that the partnership between Taurus and Jindal is aimed at increasing existing domestic opportunities in the small arms manufacturing sector.
It will offer significant support to the ongoing and future modernisation plans of the Indian Armed Forces, particularly the army, para-military, and state police forces.
Jindal Defence promoter Abhyuday Jindal told media sources: “To further strengthen the make in India vision, our collaboration with Taurus Armas will support self-reliance in strategic small arms manufacturing.
“The JV envisages creation of world-class infrastructure along with adoption of best manufacturing practices to achieve perfection in design and engineering, and achieve high quality standards.”
Furthermore, the partnership aligns with the Indian Government’s vision of participation by greater private sector in defence hardware manufacturing.
Last month, Taurus USA opened its 200,000ft² manufacturing centre and corporate headquarters in Georgia. (Source: army-technology.com)
28 Jan 20. Shotgun-like Ammo Could Shield LCS from Drones. Littoral combat ship Little Rock (LCS 9) is underway during a high-speed run in Lake Michigan during acceptance trials. Naval ordnance experts will be testing heavy weapons precision ammunition, that could hit enemy drones “like a shotgun blast,” offering a counter-unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS) shield for littoral combat ships (LCS).
Rogue civilian drones and enemy attack and surveillance UAS are a growing concern across the military, especially after swarms of drones attacked Saudi Arabian oil facilities last September. Two months earlier, a Marine Corps anti-drone system downed an Iranian UAS that got within 1,000 yards of a Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz.
“There’s a lot of interest in the Navy now for a counter drone system,” said Kevin Knowles of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. “How do you shoot down these quadcopters? Trying to hit them with a round is not that easy,” he added.
Northrop Grumman, which makes mission modules for the LCS, is exploring something called precision air burst munition for the twin 30 mm guns in one of the Surface Warfare Mission Modules. A laser range finder on the gun determines the range.
“There’s a modification that would need to be made to the gun to fire the round,” Knowles explained Jan. 16 at the Surface Navy Association convention. “It actually programs the round to fly out a certain distance. And then it blows up almost like a shotgun blast,”
he said, noting the point-and- shoot proximity round can actually detect the target and gets about a certain distance away before exploding.
The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) is slated to run tests on the proximity rounds in the Spring, he said.
“And so, assuming that test goes well, then we’ll start putting those rounds in the magazines” of the 33 mm guns on both the Freedom and Independence variants of the LCS. Because the 30 mm gun has a dual ammunition feed, the high explosive rounds the guns now fire could be loaded in one feed while the precision air burst proximity rounds could be fed into the other. “That will give the LCS a counter UAS capability,” Knowles said. (Source: UAS VISION/Seapower)
24 Jan 20. Esper: Big Boost for Hypersonics Funding in 2021 Budget. The big increases in research-and-development dollars going toward hypersonics research will be getting even bigger, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Jan. 24.
“The department nearly doubled its long-term investment — almost $5bn more in FY 2020 — in hypersonics alone in the next five years. And our 2021 budget will be even stronger,” he said during a talk at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
The Defense Department and its agencies — along with the Air Force, Navy and Army — have significantly ramped up flight testing and other hypersonic experiments “so we can accelerate the delivery of this capability in all its forms to our warfighters years earlier than previously planned.”
Esper did not reveal any numbers for the R&D boost. The Trump administration’s 2021 budget proposal is expected to be released Feb. 10
The renewed focus on hypersonics over the past few years has come as rivals Russia and China have reported progress developing their own systems, which have required the Pentagon to boost both its research into offensive and defensive capabilities. Russia last fall announced that its Avangard nuclear-armed hypersonic missile would be operational in December, according to news reports. It claimed it could fly 20 times the speed of sound.
Hypersonic technology is loosely defined as systems that can fly at speeds of more than Mach 5 and also be highly maneuverable, making them difficult to detect and defeat.
Long-range fires is one of the Pentagon’s top technology development priorities, he said. “Winning future conflicts requires us to stay ahead of our competitors growing anti-access/ area denial capabilities,” he said, and hypersonics is a part of that push.
Despite the budget boosts and news reports detailing progress on the technology emerging from Russia and China, Esper denied that there was a hypersonics arms race. It did not resemble the Cold War, an era in which he came of age, he said.
“Hypersonics are just another weapons system that have unique features,” he said. “I don’t see an arms race, per se. … We are always competing against the next generation of weapons systems and this is one of them.”
The United States had early breakthroughs in the field, and now needs to “double down on that,” he said.
“I think it’s another arrow in our quiver that we need to have and we need to develop and modify. And based on the needs of our combatant commanders, we will deploy them in close consultation with our partners and allies,” Esper said. (Source: glstrade.com/NDIA)
24 Jan 20. Hybrid Protection Against Multiple Threats. At the International Armoured Vehicles Conference in London, the newly formed Rheinmetall Protection Systems GmbH (RPS) presented an optimized combination solution for protection against various threats on today’s battlefield. RPS brings together the competencies and capabilities across the entire spectrum of passive and active protection that have been developed in various Group companies. RPS operates as an independent systems house for protection in the market and supplies not only the internal sister companies Rheinmetall Landsysteme (RLS) and Rheinmetall Military Vehicles (RMV) but also numerous external system manufacturers (OEM) worldwide.
Under the name Strikeshield, the hybrid protection solution combines passive protection against kinetic projectiles and fragments in accordance with AEP 55 and active protection against hand-held anti-tank weapons in accordance with AEP 62 in a single module, with their effects being better coordinated. In particular, the residual effects of defeating handheld anti-tank weapons have been systematically recorded and are taken into account in the design of passive protection. This exceeds well the currently valid verification procedures of AEP 55 and thus breaks down the distinction between passive and active/reactive protection still existing in the AEP and TL.
“It’s great to experience how we create something new,” says Stefan Kruselburger, CSO of RPS. “Over the years, the separate standards have been optimized in the committees. In our view, the necessary interaction between active protection and passive protection in real scenarios was not sufficiently taken into account. This is where we come in with our complete know-how and now, under the umbrella of RPS, we are taking a relevant new step in protection technology – true to our motto: we will protect life better”.
In the field of heavy battle tank protection, the large-calibre penetrator of a kinetic projectile can be actively defeated by deflecting – and thus reducing the penetration depth – and breaking. The residual energy and debris must be absorbed by the passive base armour. This concept will provide effective and reliable protection against the latest 125mm KE penetrators in the classic duel situation of tank against tank, especially in the frontal area. Even in the case of shaped-charge weapons, the passive armour must also absorb the remains of the projectile. These can be remnants of a hollow-charge spike, but also the kinetic energy of the approaching rocket motor or high pressure peaks when the explosive deflagrates or the fuel of a guided missile explodes. RPS systematically uses these different effects to improve the design of hybrid protection, thereby breaking new ground.
As a defensive measure, elements of RPS’s familiar ADS range-active protection system are used, if required with a different effector that is also effective against KE projectiles. The prerequisite for timely activation is a fast and reliable sensor fusion between radar and an E/O sensor. The radar constantly monitors the surroundings and, if a threat is detected, activates the E/O sensor, which verifies the position of the projectile and precisely directs the effect of the countermeasure. Response times of less than one millisecond for the sensor/evaluation combination enable reliable detection of the threat at short range (less than ten metres) and its destruction without endangering the crew or vehicle. In the hybrid protection module, active protection against shaped charge weapons is integrated into the passive additional protection and coordinated with the passive (basic) protection that may be available. This makes the overall system more powerful as well as lighter and smaller. In particular, integration is made considerably easier, since the modules can be attached to the vehicle or removed again in the same way as passive protection modules.
The hybrid protection element combines active protection against large-calibre kinetic ammunition and against shaped-charge weapons, and its effects are better coordinated with each other and with the passive (basic) protection built around them. This makes the system overall more powerful as well as lighter and smaller.
If the passive protection system is already taken into account in the design phase of the vehicle, further weight advantages can be achieved. Exploiting and assessing these effects requires a comprehensive knowledge of protection technologies under one roof, such as Rheinmetall Protection Systems, in order to unlock the synergies – ultimately to the benefit of the protected soldiers. As a supplement to hardkill protection, the softkill system ROSY (Rapid Obscuring System) can be used. ROSY interrupts the line of sight between enemy and own vehicle with a rapidly fired IR-covering smoke screen. The hardkill system triggers ROSY and allows the vehicle in risk to safely avoid the enemy. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
29 Jan 20. UK and France’s MCM ITP fund invites missile technology proposals. A joint British and French-sponsored research fund is inviting fresh ideas and proposals with potential applicability in missile systems. The Materials and Components for Missiles, Innovation and Technology Partnership (MCM ITP) programme is open to all Anglo-French companies and academic institutions.
Both previous participants and new organisations, as well as individual and collaborated proposals, are welcome. All UK and French industry, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), research institutes and academia can also take part. This year’s Innovation Call research activities are focused on emerging and low technology readiness level (TRL) technologies and innovations that support the future missile system capabilities. The latest innovation call is for relatively small-scale, short-duration research activities. The proposals for the programme have to be sent before 6 March.
The MCM ITP is headed by MBDA and funded by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and French defence procurement agency Directorate General of Armaments (DGA). Launched in 2007, the MCM ITP aims to consolidate the Anglo-French Guided Weapons capability. Up to €13m annually is available for the research projects conducted under the programme, which is split into eight research domains.
MBDA said in a statement: “Research topics relevant to the MCM ITP Technical Domains (as listed above) are welcome, but we are also interested in any potentially ground-breaking, disruptive and innovative ideas and areas of research that could be relevant. These may include areas that are being pursued in other industries and have the potential for direct read-across.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
23 Jan 20. BAE Systems Bofors begins trials for HX2-based Archer. A Swedish BAE Systems Bofors Archer 155mm/52 artillery system integrated onto a German Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV) HX2 (8×8) platform – aimed at the export market – has begun initial firing trials at the Bofors Test Center in Karlskoga, Sweden, the company told Jane’s.
To meet potential export customer requirements, BAE Systems Bofors integrated the complete Archer elevating mass with 155 mm/52 calibre ordnance and its associated automatic ammunition handling system onto the rear of a RMMV HX2 truck. The Archer stabilisers are also fitted and are lowered to the ground on either side before firing.
“By basing Archer on a Rheinmetall MAN Military HX2 8×8 platform, it will appeal to a wider potential export customer market,” said Ulf Einefors, director for marketing and sales at BAE Systems Bofors.
The 155 mm/52 calibre ordnance has a double baffle muzzle brake and is laid onto the target from the cab by remote control. It is coupled to an onboard computerised fire control system (FCS) that can receive information direct from the forward observer or from a battery command post, according to BAE Systems Bofors.
A muzzle velocity radar is also fitted and feeds information to the FCS. A Global Positioning System supported inertial navigation system provides for accurate navigation and positioning information to the FCS.
Elevation limits of the 155mm/52 calibre ordnance are from -1° to 70°, with a traverse of 85° left and right.
Its range depends on the projectile/charge combination, but BAE Systems Bofors said its maximum ranges were: 30,000 m for high-explosive (HE), 40,000m for HE extended-range (HE ER), 35,000 m for Bonus top attack, and 50,000m for M982 Excalibur. All of those rounds have been qualified. (Source: Jane’s)
BATTLESPACE Comment: BAE Systems showed Archer at DSEI as a potential for the UK’s AS90 replacement. This trial points the way to the next stage of the process.
25 Jan 20. US Army picks 6 to work on autoloader for extended-range cannon. The Army has picked six companies to work on concepts and designs for an autoloader for the service’s future Extended-Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) program currently under development, according to a Jan. 24 Army Futures Command statement. While the first ERCA cannons will be fielded in fiscal 2023, the goal is to begin fielding the system with an autoloader just one year later.
The companies — Actuate (formerly Aegis Systems, Inc.); Apptronik, Inc.; Carnegie Robotics LLC; Pratt & Miller Engineering; Neya Systems, LLC and Hivemapper, Inc. — will work under the Army Capability Accelerator and the Army Applications Laboratory (AAL) as part of the Field Artillery Autonomous Resupply (FAAR) “cohort” and will come up with novel, outside-of-the-box concepts for the autoloader.
AAL is part of AFC, the Army’s new four-star command in charge of rapid modernization that will align with the service’s new developing doctrine.
The cohort began work on Jan. 13 in Austin, Texas, where the AAL and AFC reside, and will wrap up work with capability presentations on April 2, the statement notes.
“Sourced from across the country, the selected companies represent a range of technologies and expertise all aimed at developing autonomous resupply capabilities,” the statement reads.
Among the companies selected, Actuate specializes in artificial intelligence focusing on computer vision software that turns any security camera into an “intruder- and threat-detecting smart camera,” the release states.
Apptronik is a robotics company spun out of the Human Centered Robotics Lab at the University of Texas at Austin.
Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Robotics specializes in robotic sensors and platforms for defense, agriculture, mining, infrastructure and energy applications and was founded out of Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center.
Pratt & Miller’s focus has been on addressing technology challenges in the motorsports, defense and mobility industries.
Neya Systems, also from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is another robotics company focused on advanced unmanned systems, off-road autonomy and self-driving vehicle technologies.
Through mapping, visualization and analytic tools, Hivemapper uncovers changes normally missed by the human eye and uses that technology to assess damage after disasters, manage construction and build situational intelligence during military operations.
The AAL has become the face of doing business with the Army in the startup community and has set up shop in the heart of Austin within an innovation incubator hub called the Capital Factory. Anyone can walk through an open garage door and pitch ideas to the Army and the service. But the Army is also going out to companies and trying to convey problems they need solved on the battlefield in the hopes of finding new and novel solutions.
“Designed for small businesses and companies that don’t typically work with the federal government, the program connects qualified companies that want to grow a new line of business into the DoD with Army stakeholders who want to speed capability development, transition to a program of record, or de-risk and inform requirements,” according to the statement.
“We’ve spent the past year working to introduce commercial business models that translate to the Army and can help evolve its approach to capability development,” Porter Orr, product innovation lead at AAL, said. “We’re helping nontraditional companies build a new line of business into the government. And that’s important, but it’s just as important that we’re giving Army leaders a choice between writing a large check or doing nothing. This is a way for them to get more insight—more confidence—in a solution before purchasing it. That will mean a higher probability of success in the field.”
Cohort participants receive $150,000 to complete a 12-week program ending in a pitch to the Army.
FAAR is the pilot effort of likely many attempts to bring in non-traditional businesses to help solve some of the Army’s problems both big and small. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
24 Jan 20. Rafael integrates Firefly loitering munition with vehicles. Rafael displayed a more refined version of its Spike Firefly loitering munition during the International Armoured Vehicles (IAV) 2020 conference held in London on 20-23 January, and revealed it has been integrated with vehicles. When it was unveiled in 2018, the Spike Firefly was presented as both a recoverable mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and a loitering munition that enables dismounted soldiers to perform reconnaissance and engage targets beyond the operator’s line of sight.
During IAV, the Israeli company showed footage of trials that took place in the summer of 2019 of the system integrated with its testbed vehicle for the Israeli military’s Carmel programme, which is developing technologies for next-generation armoured fighting vehicles.
Rafael said the Spike Firefly is now ready for integration with other vehicles. It showed computer models of a newer version of its Samson 30mm turret that can carry a multi-mission payload that could include multiple Spike Firefly munitions.
The munition takes the form of a small UAV weighing less than 3 g and is powered by coaxial counter-rotating two-blade propellers that fold away for storage. It has a maximum speed of 60 km/h, can dive at 70km/h, and can fly in wind speeds of up to 36km/h.
An infantry system consists of three munitions, a ruggedised control tablet, and a backpack that together weigh under 15kg. A munition is pulled out of its transport container and set up on three retractable legs for launch.
The vehicle version has a three-tube launcher, with the munitions pushed out of the tube until their rotor blades deploy so they can fly out under their own power. The munition carries a removable payload, with an omnidirectional high explosive fragmentation warhead currently being the only option, although others may be developed. (Source: Jane’s)
24 Jan 20. UK Royal Navy gets set to start Wilton MCM route survey task. The UK Royal Navy (RN) plans to start operations in March with a new unmanned autonomous capability for peacetime mine countermeasures (MCM) tasks. Operating from HM Naval Base Clyde, the new capability – being delivered under Project Wilton – is due to achieve initial operating capability (IOC) in July. Seen as a trailblazer for the RN’s exploitation of maritime autonomous systems in MCM, Project Wilton will provide a portable route survey capability for operations north of the Dee-Humber line. The capability is being provided by a mix of assets – including manned and unmanned surface craft, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and sidescan sonar equipment – and a portable operations centre (POC) and associated communications. (Source: Jane’s)
24 Jan 20. India’s OFB set to begin series production of upgraded M46 field guns. India’s state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is about to begin series production of an upgraded variant of the Indian Army’s M46 towed field gun (IA) following successful user trials. Official sources told Jane’s on 24 January that the OFB’s Gun Carriage Factory (GCF) at Jabalpur in central India tested the upgraded 155 mm/45 cal variant – named Sharang – at the nearby Khamaria firing range out to a range of 39km, compared with the 27 km range achieved by the standard 130mm M46.
The upgraded variant, which weighs 8,450 kg, accurately hit four diverse targets from as many different angles and demonstrated its capability of firing three-round bursts per minute, as well as its ability to fire continuously for an hour, said the sources. (Source: Jane’s)
24 Jan 20. Elbit’s Iron Fist engages kinetic energy round. Key Points:
- An Iron Fist Light Kinetic (IFLK) round has successfully intercepted an APFSDS projectile in tests
- It is unclear how interchangeable the IFLK is with the Iron Fist Light Decoupled (IFLD) system ordered by the US and Israeli militaries
Elbit Systems’ Iron Fist active protection system (APS) has successfully engaged a 120 mm armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS) projectile under test conditions, Adam Griffiths, programmes and engineering director at Elbit Systems UK, told the International Armoured Vehicles (IAV) conference in London on 21 January.
The presentation included video footage of what Griffiths described as a “miss-to-kill” interceptor that was launched by the Iron Fist Light Kinetic (IFLK) system exploding near an APFSDS, thereby altering its trajectory. This would result in it hitting a vehicle fitted with the APS at a less-optimal angle, reducing the resulting penetration.
The development raises the prospect of armoured vehicles effectively defending themselves against main battle tanks as well as man-portable anti-tank weapons.
Griffiths said the IFLK is designed to intercept APFSDS and anti-tank guided missiles, while the Iron Fist Light Decoupled (IFLD), a system already ordered for the US Army’s Bradley and Israeli military’s new Eitan infantry fighting vehicles, is better suited to rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) and recoilless rifle projectiles.
He did not explain how the two systems differ or say whether the IFLK interceptor requires a different launcher.
He said Iron Fist includes a solution to the problem of APS radar emissions giving away the location of vehicles but did not explain how this has been achieved. The problem was touched on during a later presentation by Rheinmetall Protection Systems, which indicated that an APS with a 200 W-radar system could be detected from a range of 500 km by electronic intelligence assets. (Source: Jane’s)
23 Jan 20. LCS 3 gets set for key ASW mission module tests. The US Navy (USN) Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) will sail to Hawaii in February to begin developmental testing (DT) of the LCS anti-submarine warfare (ASW) mission package.
Testing in the waters of the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) will demonstrate performance ahead of an initial operational capability (IOC) declaration which is planned before the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. The LCS Escort Mission Module integrates the Raytheon AN/SQS-62 continuous active variable depth sonar, the TB-37 Multi‐Function Towed Array (MFTA), and AN/SQQ-89(V)15 system onboard processing to confer a capability for anti-submarine operations below the surface layer. (Source: 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.