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27 Feb 20. Active protection fielding for Bradley vehicle uncertain after tech problems, budget cuts. The U.S. Army is working through when it can field an interim active protection system on the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle after fixing several technical problems that cropped up in testing and experiencing budget cuts in the recently passed fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
The issues identified in testing delayed the program by roughly a year, Lt. Col. Matthew Johnson, the Army’s program manager for the Bradley, told Defense News in a recent interview.
But the congressional budget cuts to the program for FY20 mean the Army won’t be able to simultaneously test and begin production on APS-equipped Bradley vehicles as planned, which has thrown the program further off course.
The Bradley APS program went through an Army Requirements Oversight Council review in November 2018 to decide whether it could proceed to field one brigade of the IMI Systems-made Iron Fist-equipped Bradleys by the end of the fourth quarter in FY20.
Due to performance of the system in the characterization testing, Johnson said, the program office presented a course of action to the Army council that would delay fielding by one year to address failures to the system.
While the Army is on a path to make those necessary fixes, Johnson said, the plan also laid out a process where the service would simultaneously test and produce Iron Fist-equipped Bradleys. That would have kept the Army on track, but with budget cuts, the program office had to make the hard decision to prioritize funding toward the fielding of the service’s Bradley A4 vehicle, Johnson said.
Roughly $200m across several budget cycles had to be shifted away from the Iron Fist program.
The Army can, for now, continue with its planned FY21 testing as well as execute the engineering and manufacturing development portion of the program, Johnson said. But the discussions are ongoing bout when production can begin — whether that’s in FY21 or FY22, he added.
“The Army has to manage its priorities, not just within Bradley but across all combat vehicles and programs for that matter, in general, as they plan the budget,” Johnson said. “We are working with the Army leadership to try to figure out ways to make this happen.”
Because the budget cuts didn’t happen for FY20 until the Army had finalized its FY21 request, the possible production delays for the Bradley APS program is not reflected in justification documents accompanying the FY21 request.
And since the Army is unsure when Iron Fist vehicles will enter production, the service at the end of January 2020 had to cancel its solicitation to industry, which it had posted in late 2019.
“We basically made a decision to pull the solicitation because the Army can’t really move forward in acting like it’s going to award a contract when there’s no money physically in the bank account to back it up,” Johnson said.
The Pentagon’s chief weapons tester issued a report earlier this year that laid out problems with Iron Fist in its characterization testing ahead of fielding.
The Army wrapped up the first phase of testing Iron Fist on Bradley in FY18, and the second phase of testing is scheduled for FY21.
The report notes the currently fielded Bradley A3 doesn’t generate enough power to operate the APS system, but that the Bradley A4 variant will support it. And while the APS system is the “Light Decoupled” version of Iron Fist, it adds approximately 1,543 pounds to the vehicle.
But the Bradley’s power problem and the added weight wasn’t the issue that caused the need for tweaking Iron Fist.
The first phase of testing revealed “an inconsistent capability” of the APS to intercept threats “largely due to countermunition dudding and power failures to the launcher,” the report stated.
The power failures to the launcher have nothing to do with the A3 version of the Bradley, Johnson said. “The test asset that we used for characterization testing was a modified A3 that was able to provide enough power to not only power the vehicle but to power the Iron Fist system as well.”
The power failures were actually internal to the Iron Fist system “in terms of a miscalculation of how much power the system needed to draw to orient itself to be able to engage the threat,” Johnson added.
Elbit Systems — which bought IMI Systems — and its partner General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems were able to identify the reasons for the misses — and/or dudding — “and they were able to propose some fixes that we actually took to the [Army Requirements Oversight Council] in 2018,” Johnson said.
The companies have largely addressed the concerns related to the inconsistencies in tests, and the Army is under contract to finish out the engineering and manufacturing development phase, which would allow the service to take several systems into testing, according to Johnson.
“As of right now, the system is performing as expected with those changes,” he said.
Bradley A4 coming soon
The A4 is an important upgrade to the Bradley that buys back capability lost over the years the vehicle has been in service, during which it increased in weight to add other capability, Johnson said.
The Army is anticipating taking receipt of the first Bradley A4, along with several others, by the end of the month, he said. The vehicles will go into production verification tests in April followed by an operational test in September, he noted.
Once testing is complete, the first 138 A4 vehicles will be in a position to be fielded to an Army pre-positioned stock location in Europe in the fourth quarter of FY21.
The first unit equipped with the A4 is scheduled for FY22. That unit is currently identified as the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia. The Army will spend 10 months training the unit.
The service plans to field the next brigade in less than a year toward the end of FY22 or the beginning of FY23. (Source: Defense News)
25 Feb 20. China rapidly advancing hypersonic weapons technology. A top US military official has claimed that China is developing an intercontinental range hypersonic weapons, which could challenge the ability of US detection systems to provide precise warning.
In his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on 13 February 2020, US Air Force General Terrence J O’Shaughnessy, commander of US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), noted that China is testing a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) similar to the Russian Avangard system.
Gen. O’Shaughnessy did not provide details of the Chinese testing, but other US officials have earlier expressed concern that China could overtake the US in fielding hypersonic weapons technologies.
Michael Griffin, Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, earlier remarked that China has completed 20 times as many hypersonic tests as the US, and told reporters that “responding to that would be my highest technical priority”.
Hypersonic Waverider Xing Kong 2
The state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) claimed in August 2018 that it had successfully developed and tested China’s first experimental hypersonic waverider, called Xing Kong 2 (Starry Sky 2).
CASC stated in its official social media account that the test vehicle had been in development for three years and was launched in northwestern China. Following a 10-minute ascent via a booster rocket and separation, the waverider successfully performed independent flight for over 400 seconds and attained a maximum speed of Mach 6 (4,000 knots / 7,408 km/h) and ceiling of 98,000ft (30km) before being recovered whole at a predetermined landing zone.
Hypersonic Glide Vehicle DF-ZF
China has conducted at least seven tests of another experimental HGV known as the DF-ZF (and previously the WU-14) since 2014. These have typically employed a booster launcher derived from an existing ballistic missile to launch the test vehicle.
The latest known test of the DF-ZF occurred in November 2017, were it was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre (JSLC) in Inner Mongolia. The HGV payload reportedly travelled approximately 756 nautical miles (1,400km) following its atmospheric re-entry phase, achieving speeds of 6,082kts (11,265km/h) during its flight test.
In May 2018, China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) displayed an air-launched, scramjet-powered hypersonic missile development called the Lingyun-1, which is believed to have been first tested in 2015. (Source: AMR)
27 Feb 20. Russia conducts first ship-based hypersonic missile test – TASS. Russia successfully test-launched its Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic cruise missile from a military vessel for the first time early last month, the TASS news agency said on Thursday, citing two military sources.
President Vladimir Putin talked up hypersonic missiles in a March 2018 speech, saying they were part of a new generation of Russian weapons that could hit almost any point in the world and evade a U.S.-built missile shield.
State television presenter Dmitry Kiselyov said in February 2019 that the Tsirkon missile could hit targets in the United States in less than five minutes if launched from submarines.
“In accordance with the Tsirkon’s state testing programme, in early January this year, the Admiral Gorshkov (ship) carried out the test launch of this missile from the Barents Sea to a ground target in one of the military ranges in the northern Urals,” one source told TASS. The next stage in the Tsirkon’s development after tests from the Admiral Gorshkov were complete would be a test launch from a nuclear submarine, the source said.
The successful launch of the missile, whose January flight exceeded 500 kilometres (310 miles) according to another source, increased Russia’s military capabilities. In August, the United States pulled out of a landmark strategic arms accord, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), adding to tensions between the two former Cold War adversaries, but giving both countries the opportunity to expand their nuclear arsenals with increased impunity. Putin oversaw the launch of a different hypersonic missile, the Kinzhal (Dagger), which is air-launched, from a naval vessel in the Black Sea near Crimea in January. (Source: Reuters)
27 Feb 20. First batch of F21 torpedoes delivered to Brazil and France. Naval Group has delivered a first batch of F21 heavyweight torpedoes to the Brazilian and French navies.
Announcing the deliveries during a press conference in Paris on 21 February, Naval Group said a first batch of six torpedoes was handed over to the French Navy in November 2019, in addition to an undisclosed number to the Brazilian Navy.
The F21 heavyweight torpedo is being developed by Naval Group for the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) under the auspices of the Artémis programme, which was launched in 2008. It will replace the F17 Mod 2 heavyweight torpedo that equips the French Navy’s current inventory of submarines. The system will also be operated by the Brazilian Navy on its new Scorpène-class diesel-electric submarines.
Naval Group has been contracted to deliver 93 F21 torpedoes to the French Navy.
The F21 has an overall length of 6 m and weighs 1,320 kg. The propulsion system is powered by a silver oxide-aluminium primary battery enabling a maximum speed of more than 50 kt over a maximum range in excess of 50 km.
Initial sea trials with a prototype were carried out in the Mediterranean in the first quarter of 2013. From 2013-14, about 10 test launches were conducted, after which launches were interrupted for a time.
Launches resumed in 2017. In June that year the F21 completed a successful qualification in the Mediterranean, and in May 2018 Naval Group announced that it had been launched from a nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) at DGA’s underwater test range off the south coast of France. According to Naval Group, the F21 used for this trial was identical to those under production for the French Navy. A launch from France’s first Barracuda SSN, Suffren, is expected to take place in 2020, Naval Group officials told Jane’s . (Source: Jane’s)
26 Feb 20. Russian VKS deploys first S-350 air defence system. Russia’s Aerospace Forces (VKS) has deployed its first S-350 Vityaz air defence system to a training centre in Gatchina in the Leningrad Region, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced in a press release on 26 February.
“The system’s crew has already conducted simulated firings and moved the weapon to a new position,” said the MoD, adding that the S-350 had conducted live firings of missiles as part of its acceptance procedures. The first S-350 was handed over to the MoD in late December 2019.
Russian air defence units are set to receive 144 S-350 launchers before the end of 2027. “Under the current State Armament Programme for 2018-2027, VKS air defence troops will receive 12 S-350 battalions with 12 launchers each,” said the MoD. (Source: Jane’s)
26 Feb 20. Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) and the U.S. Navy successfully flight tested the first SM-2 surface-to-air missile from the company’s restarted production line. The SM-2 Block IIIB missile launched, flew and provided accurate telemetry data to the range, and engaged an airborne Navy target.
SM-2 allows navies to defend against anti-ship missiles and aircraft. Raytheon and the Navy restarted the production line to meet global demand. The program invested in new equipment and improved manufacturing processes to increase efficiencies.
“The SM-2 is in high demand because of its advanced capabilities and history of more than 2,700 successful flight tests from U.S. Navy and international ships,” said Dr. Mitch Stevison, Raytheon Strategic and Naval Systems vice president. “Navies worldwide have relied on this missile and it will continue to provide fleet protection for decades to come.”
Raytheon has delivered over 11,000 SM-2 missiles to customers worldwide. In 2020, the company will begin to provide Australia, Japan, South Korea and the Netherlands with more than 280 missiles from its latest production batch.
21 Feb 20. Military Leaders Discuss Hypersonics, Supply Chain Vulnerabilities. The nation’s top military leaders today discussed challenges to getting hypersonic weapons from blueprint to production during a question-and-answer session at a Washington think tank.
Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy said hypersonic weapons — which can travel at five times the speed of sound — are a growing national security threat. To mitigate that threat, the Defense Department will need a low-earth orbit satellite architecture, much wider arrays and the ability to queue targets very quickly, along with a joint command and control system, said McCarthy.
McCarthy, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly, and Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
McCarthy said hypersonic weapons are of joint interest to each of the military services. He said the secretaries meet regularly to discuss how they can be employed and how they can be financed, and they share information, including test data.
“How they’re used and employed by the services will be very different because the means are different,” McCarthy said, adding that there should be enough similarities that there will be some cost savings.
Barrett said hypersonics are a joint effort. “If we did it separately, there would be duplications and inefficiencies that we couldn’t afford,” she said.
Modly said moving hypersonics from design and testing to production is a big leap. “We’re going to have to send some strong signals to industry that that’s the direction we’re headed. …We’re trying to send those signals,” Modly said.
Supply Chain Vulnerabilities
Modly said supply chain vulnerabilities are a big concern. “It’s not so much the top tier suppliers, but it’s the second and third tier suppliers that have a lot of vulnerabilities that we’ve discovered,” he said.
Adequate information technology security is a big investment for small companies to make, Modly said.
“We need to work with them and the primes [contractors] to come up with a better way to protect information,” he said. “Our adversaries are coming at us through that channel. And, they’re able to fish their way right up through that channel. It erodes our competitive advantage.”
The Navy did a study on this about a year ago and implemented a lot of changes to address this, Modley added.
McCarthy also discussed another concern about the supply chain: the origin of components used in weapons systems and how they could compromise those systems. He said an example is semiconductors.
“We really don’t make those in America anymore, and they’re in everything,” he said.
The DOD needs to find a way to help protect that and other U.S. markets, he said. DOD needs to know where those components are made and who’s making them.
He added that the problem goes back decades.
Barrett said the Air Force is facing the same supply chain vulnerabilities as the Army and Navy. (Source: US DoD)
20 Feb 20. US Navy Leverages Workforce; Delivers C-ISR Capability Rapidly to Surface Fleet. The U.S. Navy recently installed the first Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN), a laser weapon system that allows a ship to counter unmanned aerial systems. The first system was installed on the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105), during her recently completed Dry-Docking Selected Restricted Availability. ODIN’s development, testing and production was done by Navy subject matter experts at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren Division in support of Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems. Their work on the laser weapon system known as LaWS, positioned them to be designated as the design and production agent for ODIN.
During his recent visit on USS Dewey, Mr. James F. Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research development and acquisition (ASN (RDA)) was impressed with the rapid progress made by the team. Geurts stated, “This is a great example of our organic talent at the warfare centers all working together with ship’s company to deliver a system which will provide game-changing capability. Bravo Zulu to the entire ODIN team on being mission-focused and delivering lethal capability to the warfighter.”
Going from an approved idea to installation in two and a half years, ODIN’s install on Dewey will be the first operational employment of the stand-alone system that functions as a dazzler. The system allows the Navy to rapidly deploy an important, new capability to the Navy’s surface force in combating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) threats. UAS production and employment has increased significantly, and ODIN was developed to counter these threats.
“The Pacific Fleet Commander identified this urgent Counter-Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance need and the Chief of Naval Operations directed us to fill it as quickly as possible,” said Cmdr. David Wolfe, Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems Directed Energy office. “The NSWC Dahlgren Division team did an amazing job addressing challenges and keeping our accelerated schedule on track and moving forward to deliver this capability.”
Within the next couple of years, the ODIN program will have all units operational within the fleet providing a safer and more technically advanced capability to the US Navy. Lessons learned from ODIN’s installation on Dewey will inform installation on future vessels and further development and implementation of Surface Navy Laser Weapon Systems. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/US Navy)
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