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05 Mar 20. DOD Officials Describe Layered Missile Defense Progress. The mission of the Missile Defense Agency is defending the U.S., deployed forces, friends and allies from missiles of all sorts. “It’s a no-fail mission,” said its director, Navy Vice Adm. Jon A. Hill, speaking at the 11th annual McAleese Defense Programs Conference in Washington, D.C.
If there’s ever a war with a near-peer adversary, “missiles will be coming in fast and maneuvering. It’s a tough, tough world. It’s hard on sensor architecture and hard on fire control and hard on interceptors,” he said.
As such, MDA is planning to build next-generation interceptor and space-based sensors to track fast moving and fast maneuvering threats such as hypersonic weapons, he said.
The U.S. isn’t going it alone, he said. Partners and allies are important, such as the cooperative work taking place with Israel and Japan.
These partnerships are great for the U.S. and international industrial base, he said, adding that the Defense Department is looking for ways to share data, procedures, testing and operating.
Hill provided some examples of what MDA is working on.
A system called Command and Control Battle Management Communications is being built that will allow operators to pass control or tracking information between various ballistic missile systems, such as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, Patriot, Standard Missile-6 and Aegis.
SM3Block1B missiles are in production now, he said. These are designed for midcourse engagement from ships and Aegis ashore sites.
The SM3Block 2A, going into production just now, is a cooperative development with Japan, he said. It will be tested later this year against an intercontinental ballistic missile target.
Upgraded early warning radars are being built in Alaskal, he said.
Michael D. Griffin, undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, also spoke about missile defense.
The department issued three requests for information and two draft requests for proposals for the next generation interceptor, he said. That procurement will be out shortly. It will be the core of DOD’s ground-based interceptor system.
The department is also seeking to produce a more capable THAAD design, he said.
Griffin then turned to the topic of hypersonic weapons that fly five times faster than the speed of sound and are highly maneuverable and hard to track. Russia and China are currently producing these.
The Chinese hypersonic threat “is severe and increasing. They outrun and outrange our best radars,” he observed.
A problem is tracking these weapons, he said. The western Pacific can’t be populated with land radars because there’s mostly water, and locating them on islands would make them attractive targets.
So the target acquisition, tracking and fire-control problem solution will have to come from the space domain, he said, meaning sensors will have to be put into space to track these “very dim targets against the clutter of earth background.”
The science and research is being done collaboratively by MDA, Space Development Agency and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, he said.
The U.S. has its own plans to roll out hypersonic weapons, Griffin said.
The technology is nearly at the point of development of rocket-boosted hypersonic glide vehicles, he said. The next evolution will be producing air-breathing hypersonic vehicles, which can carry a heavier payload.
Key to hypersonic weapons will be the development of thermal protection systems that protect the vehicles when they enter the earth’s atmosphere from space at high speed and heat up, he said.
Also, the department is preparing for the day when hypersonic glide vehicles will roll off the assembly lines, he said.
“Frankly, adversaries are not going to be scared by production levels where we produce one a week,” he said. “Our adversaries are accumulating these by the hundreds of thousands.”
So the department will be making major investments in hypersonic weaponry at scale. It will be billions of dollars, he said, not wanting to be quoted on a number. (Source: US DoD)
05 Mar 20. Pentagon studying hypersonic weapons industrial base. The Pentagon has set up ‘war room’ to examine production of hypersonic boost-glide vehicles and cruise missiles in a bid to more efficiently prepare to scale efforts, according to US Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord.
Lord spoke to reporters on 4 March after the McAleese annual defence programmes conference about a wide range of weapon acquisition efforts, including one examining the hypersonic weapons industrial base.
“Knowing that hypersonics are so critical to our future [and] that we will probably want to scale rapidly, we need to understand the breadth and the depth of the industrial base for the new materials, for the engineering, for fabrication, and so forth,” Lord explained. (Source: Jane’s)
04 Mar 20. Next-Generation Interceptor request for proposals delayed but ‘imminent.’ The delayed request for proposals to industry for the Missile Defense Agency’s Next-Generation Interceptor has been anticipated for several months but, according to the agency’s director, its release is “imminent.” Vice Adm. Jon Hill laid out a complicated road in getting the NGI competition off the ground after canceling the Redesigned Kill Vehicle effort in August 2019. RKV would have upgraded the U.S. homeland defense system’s interceptors designed to go after ballistic missile defense threats.
The Pentagon decided that no more ground-based interceptors for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System (GMD) would be built and all future interceptors that are fielded as part of the GMD system will be the new interceptor.
The NGI acquisition plan, the request for proposal drafting and the creation of requirements have all been running parallel, Hill told reporters at the McAleese Defense Programs Conference on March 3.
The most important one is requirements, so we have to get that right,” he said.
In order to do that, Hill said, the agency went through the Joint Requirements Oversight Council rather than an Operational Forces Standing Committee, which is combatant command focused.
The JROC process led to the realization that “our requirements were almost so technical there was no way a war fighter would ever be able to understand them and say, ‘Yes, go for it,’” Hill said.
The agency decided to focus on what is needed from an operational perspective as laid out by U.S. Northern Command, and Hill said the COCOM’s number one need is to have an interceptor as soon as possible.
“I’m glad that came out in the discussions too,” Hill said. “We want to deliver the first round as soon as possible. That also means we can’t take shortcuts in the design or in the requirements or in the flight testing regime, because if you want to go save time that is what most programs will do, so we can’t afford that, but I will tell you that timeline will be driven by who we award to later.”
That means getting industry at the table and committed to determine a feasible schedule, he said.
The MDA has done its final reviews with the under secretary of defense for research and engineering and is “adjudicating the last few comments” ahead of approving an acquisition plan, Hill said.
Another JROC review will happen “within the next week,” he added.
Even though the RFP has been delayed, Hill said a possible NGI fielding timeline of 2030, which has been projected, is “unacceptable from a war fighter view” and “unacceptable to me as a program manager.”
Hill said once bids are on the table, the agency will be able to take a harder look at schedule and once an award has been made, it will hold industry accountable to meet “all the wickets.” If that happens, the schedule can be pulled to the left.
The Pentagon’s chief weapons tester, according to Hill, has endorsed a flight test program. “We have to fly an intercept before we go to production so that is the plan and we are going to go do that. You can take some risk and decide not to do that but that’s what we did all those years ago, you end up with too much risk in the program.”
The MDA was experiencing repeated test failures with its GBIs while simultaneously burying them in the ground in silos at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vanderberg Air Force Base, California. The problems with the GBIs in tests led to the agency’s desire to redesign the kill vehicle portion of the interceptor, which required upgrading GBIs already emplaced in silos.
Hill said it appears the goal for flight tests of the new interceptor will be held in the 2025 to 2026 time frame.
“The RFP is not out as early as I would want it to be,” Hill said. “It kind of eats our time and moves us to the right, but that is okay. It’s important to get the requirements right, get the RFO right and get the acquisition plan agreed to.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
04 Mar 20. US Army Doubts Iron Dome Can Kill Cruise Missiles. Israeli manufacturer Rafael says its anti-rocket system can now shoot down cruise missiles. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and acquisition chief Bruce Jette are saying, show us the data. Israeli armsmaker Rafael has been slow to provide critical data on how well its Iron Dome defends against cruise missiles and whether it can plug into existing US missile defenses, top Army officials said here today.
“The Israelis have been very good in working with us — for the most part,” the Army’s acquisition chief, Bruce Jette, told reporters at the annual McAleese defense conference. “We have come to some places where it becomes a little difficult to get the right data.”
“They have espoused, and to some degree demonstrated, the ability to deal with some cruise missiles,” Jette said of the Israelis. “The problem is we have to deal with all cruise missiles, and we don’t think we’ve gotten there yet.”
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“Could they modify it to make it be able to perform that way? Maybe,” Jette said. “Could we see it happening in all terrain? Maybe. In all electromagnetic spectrum situations [i.e. against radar and radio jamming]? Maybe.”
“All these things add up,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of things to test before we say, ‘yes, we’ve got the answer.’”
Congress compelled a reluctant Army to buy two batteries of the vaunted Israeli system – developed in large part with US funds – as an interim defense after the Army’s own Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) program ran into trouble. The Army has since rebooted IFPC, which will include both anti-missile missiles and high-powered lasers, and the service remains publicly skeptical about Iron Dome. But today was the first time we’ve heard senior officials explain why in such unsparing detail.
“For the IFPC requirement, we’ve got to be able to fight the cruise missile threat,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters at the conference this morning. “Iron Dome brings more capability than we have in our missile defense [force] today, but it doesn’t meet the full requirement.”
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“One of the things we need to work out is getting more data from the manufacturer. [It’s] proprietary from their standpoint, but if we don’t get it, we don’t know if we can make adjustments,” McCarthy explained. “If we get more of the data, we can make better decisions about if we had to re-engineer certain aspects of the weapon system [so] that it could actually prosecute cruise missiles.”
Show Me The Data
“Iron Dome’s a good system,” Jette said. “It’s designed really well to do what it does – which is [counter] rockets, artillery, and mortars, in a particular configuration, in a particular environment.” (Some studies would dispute Iron Dome’s effectiveness even against rockets).
“We have some different parametrics we have to pay attention to,” Jette said. “We have to operate in an extremely contested environment… If others have not already gotten there and can show us they can operate in those environments, then it causes us pause.”
In other words (our words, not Jette’s): It’s one thing to set up static positions to defend the land area of Israel – slightly larger than New Jersey, counting disputed territories – against unguided rockets fired by Hamas or Hezbollah, plus the possibility of an Iranian-made knockoff of an old Chinese or Russian cruise missile. It’s another thing to deploy anywhere in the world with the US Army, from the Norwegian Arctic to the South China Sea, from Kuwaiti deserts to Afghan mountains, against adversaries with high-power jammers to blind your radars and supersonic cruise missiles to outmaneuver your interceptors.
Interim & Partial Solutions
How could the Army not have figured this out already, one reporter asked, when the decision to buy Iron Dome was made over a year ago?
“Over a year?” McCarthy replied. “It was in the NDAA [the National Defense Authorization Act] a year ago — and then we had to go get them on contract and buy them. [There’s] more work to do with the manufacturer before you’re in a position to know what changes you’d make in the test regime.”
“It’s not like we’ve had them on hand,” he said. “I don’t think they’ve even made them yet.”
Even when the Israelis deliver the two Iron Dome batteries to the Army, that doesn’t commit the Army to buying more. “We leave our options open in the IFPC study that we delivered to the Hill a couple of weeks ago,” McCarthy said.
“Remember these were interim systems, interim solutions,” Jette said of Iron Dome. “They were not necessarily meant to be the final solution. That doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to being the final solution.”
(Yes, that wording is unfortunate for a discussion about Israel).
Maybe parts of Iron Dome can evolve into parts of the Army’s future Indirect Fire Protection Capability, Jette suggested. “We knew up-front part of our testing with Iron Dome would be to how can we break the pieces apart,” he said. “We’re going to give Iron Dome an opportunity to be a participant in that approach to producing an IFPC module.”
But figuring out how to integrate elements of Iron Dome – currently a self-contained system with its own missile, launchers, radars, and command posts – with US Army systems is going to require even more highly technical data.
“We already have a missile command center. IBCS [Integrated Battle Command System] is already firing all of our missiles; we need it to be able to fire their missiles,” Jette said. “How do we communicate with the radar? How can our radar work with their missiles? These types of things are all pieces we need to sort out.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
03 Mar 20. Putin boasts about new Russian weapons, calls them defensive. President Vladimir Putin says that Russia has developed unique offense weapons without the intention of starting a war with anyone but to maintain “strategic balance” and “strategic stability” in the world.
“We are not going to fight against anyone. We are going to create conditions so that nobody wants to fight against us,” Putin said in an interview with the state-run Tass news agency, a part of which was released Monday.
The three-hour long interview marks Putin’s 20 years in power and is being divided into 20 parts being released over a period of weeks and each dedicated to a separate issue. In episodes that have already been released, Russia’s leader talked about the recent government reshuffle, Ukraine, mass protests in Moscow this summer and the use of modern technology.
Russia has created “offensive strike systems the world has never seen,” and which are forcing the U.S. to try to catch up, Putin told Tass.
As an example, the president mentioned new “hypersonic offensive systems” — a weapon that can fly 27 times the speed of sound that became operational late last year. He said that in the past 20 years the share of modern equipment in the Russian military has grown from 6% to 70%.
“This is a unique situation,” Putin said.
Having these systems in place allows the Kremlin to “maintain strategic stability and strategic balance” that the U.S. tried to “upset” with their missile defense systems, the president added.
“It is essential not only for us, but also for global security,” Putin concluded.
The Kremlin has made military modernization its top priority as its relations with the West soured after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. Putin first mentioned developing some of the new hypersonic weapons in his state of the nation address in March 2018.
Last year, he described a buildup of NATO’s forces near Russia’s western borders and the U.S. withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty as being among the top security threats to Russia. (Source: Defense News)
03 Mar 20. Avon Rubber wins armour plates supply contract from US Army. Technology group Avon Rubber has secured a $265m contract from the US Army to supply Vital Torso Protection (VTP) X-Side Ballistic Insert (XSBI) body armour plates. Under the four-year dual-source framework contract, the company’s business unit Avon Protection will supply next-generation armour plates to the army. Avon Rubber expects initial orders to start in its financial year ending September 2021 after securing product approvals.
Avon Rubber CEO Paul McDonald said: “This is another significant, multi-year contract for Avon Protection and demonstrates our position as a leading provider of next-generation body armour to the US Armed Forces.
“This further strengthens the medium term outlook and visibility for Avon Protection and represents encouraging momentum in our newly acquired ballistic protection business.”
Together with the existing $704m framework contract to supply Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert and X-Small Arms Protective Insert body armour plates to the US Army for four years, the latest contract underpins Avon Protection’s expected medium-term revenues.
The XSBI plates are one of several VTP body armour products developed by 3M’s ballistic-protection business, which was acquired by Avon Protection in January this year. 3M completed the sale of the business to Avon Rubber in a deal valued at $91m. Depending on the outcome of pending tenders, further contingent consideration of up to $25m is payable.
The business comprises ballistic helmets, body armour, flat armour, and related helmet-attachment products serving government and law enforcement. Avon Rubber provides advanced chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear respiratory protection systems for military, law enforcement and fire customers. (Source: army-technology.com)
03 Mar 20. Serbia Received first Pantsir SHORADs from Russia. According to the sources in Belgrade and Moscow Serbia received the first two Pantsir-S1 vehicles as a part of the Russian-Serbian contract on one battery (six units) of this most advanced Russian SHORADs.
The vehicles were delivered by the Russian An-124 Ruslan airplane. It looks like the vehicles came from the stock as the contract itself was signed recently and was announced on January, 2020.Pantsir-S1 is among the Russian best-selling products being delivered to a number of Russian alloys and friendly nations including Belarus, India, Venezuela, Ethiopia and several Middle East nations. In fact, the system was developed on request of United Arab Emirates by the Tula-based Shipunov KBP Design Bureau, now a part of High-Precision Weapons Holding.
It has been successfully tested in combat missions in Syria being at service with both Syrian Army and the Russian expedition corp as a part of the Khmeimeem air base and Tartuss naval base complex air defence.
Pantsir-S1 is titled as air-defence missile-gun system with a combined missile and gun armament that allows to create an entire engagement zone of up to 20 km in range and up to 15 km in altitude. The vehicles mounted system can employ an automatic operation with a capability to fire on the move and from short stops. Each vehicle can work independently or under joint command. It enjoys a short reaction time of 4-6 sec with tracking of up to 40 targets simultaneously. It employs a search radar and high-precision target designation by multi-channel tracking radar and optronic system operating in decimetric, millimetric and infrared wavebands. The vehicle is able to fire simultaneously against four targets within a sector of ± 45 ° in azimuth and elevation. Serbia was severely bombed in March-June 1999 by the NATO combat aircraft and seems to look forward to extend its air defense capability to be independent from the West. In October, 2019 during the Slavonic Shield joint Russian-Serbian exercises the Republic Serbia President Alexander Vucic stressed his interest to obtain the Russian long-range ADS Triumph as well. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
02 Mar 20. Hypersonic Missiles: Plethora Of Boost-Glide & Cruise.
Hypersonic missiles will be deployed across the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, not as “niche” weapons but as a broad new capability, according to DoD’s two top officials charged with managing department wide development efforts.
“It’s not going to be one or two hypersonic weapons,” Mark Lewis, director of modernization at DoD’s Research and Engineering office headed by Mike Griffin, told reporters here today. “Hypersonics isn’t a single thing. It’s a range of capabilities. It’s intermediate range. It’s long range. It’s things coming off of ships. It’s things coming off of trucks. It’s things coming off the wings of airplanes and out of bomb bays.”
Lewis said the Pentagon’s focus this year on hypersonic weapons — weapons that can fly faster than Mach 5 — will be on transitioning from science and technology development work to prototype weapons that can be used in the field by all of the services.
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Hypersonic weapons, and the technologies to counter them, are one of 11 cross-cutting modernization priorities that Lewis is managing. The Army, Navy, Air Force and DARPA all have at least one, if not more, efforts to build hypersonic missile capabilities. The Missile Defense Agency and the Space Development Agency (both of which fall under Griffin’s oversight) are working on technologies to detect and target enemy hypersonic missiles.
“I don’t know of any other part of the modernization portfolio where I see such close coordination between the services and the agencies,” said Lewis.
For example, DARPA’s Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapons Concept (HAWC) — an air-breathing cruise missile — is first going transition to the Air Force, said Mike White, Lewis’s assistant director for hypersonics. “But we’re also looking at some other configurations that have a broader range of capabilities.” Indeed, Sydney reported way back in 2018 that DARPA has been hoping to interest the Navy in the concept as well.
White said one of the advantages of the Air Force having canceled its the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW), which was being designed as a boost-glide system rather than a cruise missile, is that the service can now focus on transitioning the HAWC program into an Air Force program of record.
White said that the advantages of an air-breathing cruise missiles are that they are smaller, more affordable and fit on a wider range of platforms. Thus, they can be carried on fifth-generation fighter jets and bombers in large numbers. Finally, he said, it is easier to put a seeker on a cruise missile.
On the other hand, Lewis added, the boost-glide variants have longer ranges. “That’s why at this point we don’t want to see an either/or — we actually want to see both technologies pursued,” he said.
Indeed, DoD also hopes DARPA’s Tactical Boost Glide will find its way into the arsenals of services besides the Air Force, even though the primary transition program is the Air force’s Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon.
“There is DARPA work going on to look at using alternative launch platforms and alternative basing needs for the TBG,” White said.
Lewis said DoD’s hypersonic efforts further include figuring out how to build up an industrial base that can “produce hypersonic capabilities at scale.”
To that end, DoD acquisition czar Ellen Lord has put together a “hypersonic war room” headed by Lewis and her assistant secretary Kevin Fahey that is now in the midst of a study to look at “what is the state of our base, is it positioned to produce at the scales that we are anticipating?” The study also will look at where DoD needs to invest to ensure that the base is ready. That study, Lewis said, should be done within “the next couple of months.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
02 Mar 20. Soldiers Test Israeli Tech To Stop Friendly Fire. US and UK soldiers tried out the Israeli-made Safe Shoot in field exercise at Fort Benning. The results were mixed.
Red light on your rifle? Don’t shoot. Green light? Fire at will. The Israeli-made Safe Shoot device is that simple — in theory. In field exercises here at Fort Benning, it proved a little trickier.
“It worked great until it fell off,” one US soldier, standing in the Georgia woods with his squadmates as they went over their last mock assault.
All the devices in an area form a wireless network, sharing their positions and orientations. Then, if the software on your gun calculates you’re aiming dangerously close to another user – even if you can’t see them through (for example) foliage or walls – it displays a red warning light.
There’s also an optional warning buzzer, which you can turn down or off entirely if you’re trying to be stealthy.
Company representatives here emphasized that the device does not prevent the soldier’s from firing his weapon. The human being always has full control over whether or not to shoot. They also emphasized this is an early version, which they brought to the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) here, as well as to an earlier Marine Corps event in Quantico, to get feedback from real riflemen.
The feedback on the device was lively, unfiltered — and mixed.
“When I’m in contact, it’s the last thing on my mind,” scoffed a visiting British section leader. The warning light is nigh-impossible to see in daylight, even in the shady woods, he told the US Army NCOs and civilians gathering feedback. In any case, he added, in a small team, you should all know each others’ locations anyway, and you should never fire without positively identifying that the target in your sights truly is a hostile.
Maybe tanks could use it, he added. (Indeed, the Israelis offer a long-range version that goes on armored vehicles). Not infantry.
It’s too bulky, another UK soldier said. It gets in the way.
What if, one of the Americans asked, instead of a separate device you mounted on your rifle, the Safe Shoot function was built into your gunsight?
The British soldiers said that’d be much better.
What if friendly drones were added to the network, so the Safe Shoot device could tell you which ones not to shoot down?
Yes, the section leader said. That’d be useful.
Now, the UK participates in the AEWE exercise – and the US sends soldiers to the equivalent in the UK – precisely to give each Army an alternative point of view. It’s worth noting that the British Army prides itself on a tradition of marksmanship more than a century old, decades of experience in counterinsurgency from Iraq to Ireland, and, in many quarters, a disdain for American dependence on gadgetry.
US soldiers’ reactions were more enthusiastic. They, too, told the exercise observers they’d rather have Safe Shoot as a feature built into their existing gunsight rather than as a separate device: Getting it attached to rifles already festooned with scopes and rangefingers, and getting it to stay attached, were chronic problems. (Not everybody got the message, a company rep told me, that you have to mount it on the left side of your Picatinny Rail). And there weren’t enough to issue one to every soldier in the exercise. But even so, one American squad leader told me, he and his men definitely found it helpful to have this extra layer of protection against friendly-fire incidents.
That’s a topic the US military takes very seriously. After an American squad rushed a building occupied by “enemy” roleplayers, the air filled with green clouds from smoke grenades and the high-pitched whine of soldiers’ MILES gear – a kind of militarized laser tag – telling them they’d been shot. An observer-sergeant dissected the squad’s performance afterward. You had your SAW machinegunner in the wrong position, firing past your assault element, the sergeant said, and he didn’t have Safe Shoot. It’s entirely possible he shot some of you, not the enemy.
This problem is only going to get worse if we fight the Russians, one Fort Benning expert told me over the whine of MILES alarms: They’ve started using a camouflage pattern almost indistinguishable from ours.
Over 25 percent of soldiers killed or wounded in recent wars were hit by “friendly fire” by their own side, former IDF Brig. Gen. Amir Nadan told our Israeli correspondent, Arie Egozi. Nadan, who commanded elite paratroopers and units on the volatile northern border with Lebanon and Syria, is now Safe Shoots’ CEO.
The company offers versions of the underlying technology, called Green Shield, for ground vehicles, helicopters and drones, as well as infantry soldiers on foot, Nadan said. (There’s even a version being marketed to hunters in the US). That allows the whole force to form a network that alerts them when they’re accidentally aiming at one another. “Once the infantry, who are practically the most venerable elements, are identified,” he told Arie, “all the other units, weapon and forces will have to consider and refer to their position.”
The goal isn’t to slow operations down, but to speed them up without increasing the risk of friendly fire. “By eliminating the need to hesitate when making shoot/don’t shoot decisions, the Safe Shoot [device] offers greater freedom of operation,” Nadan said. “In general, knowing where your troops are significantly improves overall situational awareness, command flexibility and effectiveness.”
The company’s already working to miniaturize the system even further, its representatives at Fort Benning told me, showing me a sample of the next-gen system. That version splits the current rifle-mounted gadget into two smaller devices: a seven-ounce transponder worn on the soldier’s vest, which broadcasts his location; and a tiny gadget on the rifle barrel, weighing less than two ounces (50 grams), that determines exactly where your weapon is aiming.
For now, the Safe Shoot reps acknowledged, their device does depend on GPS – or its Russian equivalent, GLONASS. That’s a major limitation, because the Global Positioning System signal can be blocked by enemy radio-frequency jamming or by physical obstacles. Here at Benning, for example, it didn’t work inside the reinforced-concrete buildings of the mock village, only in the woods.
But the company is working on pulling together data from a “wide range of sensors,” Nadan said, so future versions won’t rely on GPS. For the US version specifically, the goal is to integrate it with the current Nett Warrior network, the new FWS-I digital gunsight, the future Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) goggles, and an overarching Adaptative Squad Architecture now in development. That will eliminate the need for a separate gadget on the soldier’s rifle, they say, and allow the device to tap into all the new Assured Position, Navigation, & Timing (APNT) technologies the Army’s vigorously developing as alternatives to GPS.
Ultimately, one company rep told me, Safe Shoot won’t be a physical thing at all. It’ll be software, just one more app on the soldier’s standard-issue electronics. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
25 Feb 20. EOS, Milrem show joint display of counter drone technology. EOS Defence Systems joined with Milrem Robotics at the Singapore Airport to display lightweight counter drone technology. EOS supplied its R400S-Mk2 remote weapon system with a 30 mm ATK M230 LF cannon, and the Rada Radar aCHR compact all-threat air surveillance radar system, mounted on Milrem’s THeMis unmanned ground vehicle. The Defence Technology Institute of Thailand plans to evaluate the THeMIS this year to determine its suitability as a supply transport and unmanned remotely operated weapon for the Royal Thai Army. EOS is collaborating on that project with its R400S-MK2. The R400S remote weapon system is in service with the Republic of Korea Armed Forces and with the Indonesian Army. Its R600S RWS with dual weapon configuration, meanwhile, is in service with the Singapore Armed Forces. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
28 Feb 20. US Army Ramps Up Funding For Laser Shield, Hypersonic Sword. Research and development spending on hypersonics will nearly double in ‘21, and it will triple for lasers, as the service rushes to deploy combat-ready prototypes.
With adversaries amassing long-range precision weapons, the Army is asking Congress for more than $1bn in 2021 to develop hypersonic missiles for offense and missile-killing lasers for defense. Hypersonics funding is up 86 percent from last year and high energy lasers soared a stunning 209 percent.
The aim of all this money is to move technology out of the lab and into mass production, so the service can field its first 50-kilowatt lasers on Stryker armored vehicles in 2022, its first truck-launched hypersonics in 2023, and truck-mounted lasers in the 100-300 kW class in 2024.
The Army wants these technologies so urgently it’s devoted a unique unit to developing them, the Rapid Capabilities & Critical Technologies Office. RCCTO’s priority is so high that its director, Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood, told me he speaks to the Amy’s civilian acquisition executive, Bruce Jette, and the head of Army Futures Command, Gen. John “Mike” Murray, “multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times a day.” As for the Army’s top four leaders – Sec. Ryan McCarthy, Undersec. James McPherson, Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, and Vice-Chief Gen. Joseph Martin – Thurgood meets with them “multiple times throughout the month.”
Why so much urgency and high-level attention?
Strategic Offense, Operational Defense
“Our potential adversaries have created the A2/AD environment,” Thurgood told me in an interview. That’s short for Anti-Access/Area Denial, the Pentagon term of art for the dense layered defenses of long-range weapons – anti-aircraft, anti-ship, and ground attack – that Russia, China, and even North Korea and Iran are building to keep US forces at bay.
“In order to move forces into that, you’ve got to create lanes of penetration,” Thurgood said. “Hypersonics is a strategic weapon that does that.”
The Army wants hypersonics for precision non-nuclear strikes against high-priority linchpins of the enemy defense, like hardened command posts and anti-aircraft systems. That should rip open seams in the A2/AD zone through which other forces – not just Army but Air Force, Marine, and Navy as well – can advance in what’s called a Joint All Domain Operation, much like how Panzers and Stukas led the way for German infantry during the blitzkrieg. But the US must also protect its own forces from the enemy’s long-range missiles. Today, that’s the role of missile defense systems like Patriot, THAAD, and Aegis. But shooting down a missile with another missile is an expensive proposition. An interceptor that can hit another missile in flight is much more sophisticated and expensive than a missile that can hit a target on the ground: A Patriot costs $3 m, about the same as three Scuds. So a well-resourced attacker like Russia or China can “flood the zone” with cheap offensive missiles until the missile defenders run out of shots.
Hence the attraction of laser weapons, which not only shoot at the speed of light – making an intercept much easier – but also can keep shooting as long as they have electrical power. Lasers have their limits, however. Bad weather bothers them more than it does missiles, and their energy output is still too low to defeat most targets, although the Pentagon has an urgent joint effort underway to ramp up power.
At least for the near term, while hypersonics are what the Army is calling strategic fires, “directed energy is much more on that tactical/operational side,” Thurgood told me. Those are very much for what we would call a point defense or an area defense. Not really at this point do we have lasers that are strategic weapons. My assessment is that technology is still advancing towards that end game.”
Timelines & Transitions
The most tactical system, with the lowest power and the earlier fielding date, is the roughly 50-kilowatt weapon being developed to go on the Stryker armored vehicle. This laser goes by the acronym DE-SHORAD, which is mercifully short for Directed Energy – Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense. The Army is already building MSHORAD Strykers that will use guns and missiles to shoot down enemy drones, helicopters, and even low-flying attack jets. But it is eager to add laser weapons to the mix, starting with an initial platoon of four vehicles in 2022. While 8×8 Stryker can keep up with frontline mechanized forces over rough terrain, it can’t carry a laser large enough to defeat cruise missiles. That’s the role of the IFPC High Energy Laser, a roughly 300-kW weapon mounted on a heavy tuck.
As with MSHORAD, there are other versions of IFPC, the Indirect Fire Protection Capability, that use more conventional weapons such as missiles. IFPC will hang back behind the front, covering command posts and other crucial targets that aren’t constantly on the move.
“The DE-MSHORAD is on a Stryker there because they go with the maneuver force,” Thurgood said. “IFPC’s on a truck for fixed and semi-fixed locations.”
Thurgood’s role at RCCTO is to field combat-capable prototypes of these technologies – an initial platoon or battery of each to prove out the technology, experiment with tactics, and if necessary fight.
As each weapon matures and moves into the field, he explained, his RCCTO will hand it over the Army’s normal acquisition organization, the Program Executive Office for Missiles & Space, led by Maj. Gen. Robert Rash. Rash’s PEO already has a transition team embedded with Thurgood’s RCCTO for each weapon to smooth the handover. If all proceeds as planned, then each weapon will move from RCCTO to the PEO a year after its initial fielding and become a formal Program Of Record:
- The first platoon of 50-kW Strykers will enter service in 2022, and the DE-SHORAD effort will transition to PEO Missiles & Space in 2023.
- The first battery of Long-Range Hypersonic Weapons will enter service in 2023, and the LRHW effort will transition to the PEO in 2024.
- The 300-kW truck-borne laser will enter service in 2024, and the IFPC High Energy Laser effort will transition to the PEO in 2025.
Show Me the Money
If you look at the recently released budget request for 2021, you’ll see funding in the Research, Development, Test, & Evaluation (RDTE) accounts for all these weapons. Most of it falls under Advanced Technology Development and Advanced Component Development & Prototypes: These are levels 3 and 4 respectively on an scale from Budget Activity 1, Basic Research, to Budget Activity 7, Operational System Development.
What you won’t see is the procurement funding for the PEO to actually start mass-producing hypersonics or lasers once Thurgood hands them over.
“They’re working on that,” Thurgood told me. “You’ll probably see that in about ’22” – that is, as part of next year’s budget request for fiscal 2022. But before the Army can nail down those numbers, he said, the service’s headquarters staff in the Pentagon has to figure out how many batteries it wants of each, which in turn depends on how the new technology fits into its evolving concepts of future conflict and specific joint war plans.
That said, the RCCTO is laying the groundwork for mass production. The challenge here is that, while there are plenty of private companies building lasers for industrial cutting, and a fair number of defense contractors building booster rockets that can get a hypersonic weapon up to speed, there is no industrial base to mass-produce hypersonic glide bodies, the part of the weapon that actually strikes the target. The technology is too new and its manufacture too challenging.
In fact, the Common Glide Body that both the Army and Navy hypersonic missiles will use was developed and is still being built, not by any defense contractor, but by Sandia National Laboratory, a government-owned facility most famous for research on nuclear weapons. Starting last year, the Army has contracted with private-sector companies like Dynetics to build facilities for mass production. Those companies now have teams at Sandia learning about the technology from its inventors.
Why not just keep the work in the lab? “Labs are great, they do wonderful work, but they’re not necessarily great producers of multiples of things,” Thurgood said. “We’ve got to get out of the craftsman lab approach into a commercialized approach. That’s what’s happening right now.”
“There’s not a single prime doing all this work,” he added. “It’s actually about four or five major contracts and then a bunch of minor contracts.”
In the interests of speed and efficiency, there’s a marked amount of inter-service cooperation underway. The Army manages the contract to build the Common Glide Body – the most technically challenging piece of the weapon – and gets reimbursed out of the Navy budget for glide bodies that go the sea service. Conversely, the Navy manages the contract to build the rocket booster or “stack”– which, while less bleeding-edge, is still literally rocket science – and gets reimbursed out of the Army budget for boosters that go to the ground force. Each service then customizes its combined glide-body-and-booster to be launched either off trucks or naval vessels.
The Air Force wants to launch its hypersonic missiles off airplanes, which is a very different technical problem, and it’s also exploring the most advanced technology – such as “air-breathing” hypersonic cruise missiles that fly under continual thrust like a jet plane, instead of having a rocket booster launch a glide body. So the Air Force has its own separate programs. But all three services come together on a Common Hypersonic Glide Body Board of Directors, which meets at least quarterly – the most recent time was last week – with each service taking a turn as chairman – last week was Thurgood’s turn.
“The joint coordination has been phenomenal,” he told me. “In the past, you might have seen we each had our own contract for each of these things. That’s too slow and too expensive.”
So when you look at the $801 m for “Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon” under RDTE Budget Activity 4 in the Army budget request for 2021, that includes funds the service is transferring to the Navy to buy boosters.
But that $801m in Research & Development isn’t everything the Army is spending on hypersonics. There’s another $30 m in Science & Technology. UPDATE Helpful Army budgeteers have pointed out another $20m or so we missed — we’ll update this story when we nail down the numbers. UPDATE ENDS
“While we’re doing this, you can’t also walk away from the future, so there’s still S&T work going on,” Thurgood said. After the initial version is fielded, he said, “What is block two? What is block three?….You keep modifying, based on what the threat is doing.”
There’s joint cooperation on high-energy lasers as well, led by Thomas Karr, the Pentagon’s assistant director for directed energy. Within the Army budget for 2021, the biggest item by far is $212.3 m under Budget Activity 5 — System Development & Demonstration (SDD) – for the Stryker-mounted 50-kW laser, DE M-SHORAD. (That figure isn’t in the budget, but it’s the laser-specific portion of a larger $284.2m line item for M-SHORAD overall, Army officials explained).
But, as with hypersonics, there are multiple budget lines for lasers at different stages of RDTE, totally another $66 m. To break it down, the ’21 request asks for $28.2m in Applied Research (Budget Activity 2), $29.7m in Advanced Technology Development (BA 3), and $8.1m in Advanced Component Development & Prototypes (BA 4).
That’s actually less than the total appropriated — $90m — for High Energy Lasers in those three categories in 2020. Why? Because more and more, these technologies are moving up the scale from early research to prototyping and, soon, production. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
01 Mar 20. Flexibility On The Fly: Joint Strike Missile Has Abilities That Give Pilots The Upper Hand. With an advanced navigation system, imaging infrared seeker and two-way data link, Raytheon’s long-range, multi-mission solution is changing the game — and securing the sky.
Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace to build a long-distance aerial weapon with a standoff range of more than 150 miles, meant to keep pilots and their aircraft out of harm’s way. The Joint Strike Missile travels at low altitudes and high subsonic speeds, and can rapidly change course to strike threats on land or at sea. Development of JSM comes as China begins to roll out missiles with greater speed, agility and punch.
“As a former fighter pilot, I can tell you that the ability to hit your adversary before being seen, before you’re exposed to the threat, is an incredible tactical advantage,” said Kurt Neubauer, a retired U.S. Air Force major general and now, a business development lead for Raytheon Air Warfare Systems.
Some of the modernized technology wired into the JSM includes an infrared seeker to detect threats on its own, ability to fly low under the radar, and a navigation system that can change course in flight to avoid the enemy. Because decisions in the thick of battle are waged in seconds, not minutes, the JSM’s two-way data link offers pilots flexibility to alter or scrap a mission.
“The Joint Strike Missile’s agility, pinpoint accuracy and stealthy shape allow it to penetrate enemy air defenses, while minimizing pilots’ exposure to the threat,” Neubauer said.
The JSM is the only fifth-generation cruise missile designed to be carried internally by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. It’s adaptable to multiple platforms and can be fitted externally on legacy aircraft.
Raytheon tapped its 50-year partnership with Kongsberg Gruppen to deliver the JSM, an evolution of the Naval Strike Missile originally developed for Norway’s Navy. The NSM is a long-range, precision strike weapon that seeks and destroys enemy ships at distances greater than 100 nautical miles.
In 2018, Raytheon was awarded a U.S. Navy contract to manufacture and deliver NSM for over-the-horizon defense of littoral combat ships and future frigates. NSM launcher and missile production takes place at the company’s factory in Louisville, Kentucky, with final assembly and testing being performed at its Tucson, Arizona, facility.
The two companies also partner on the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, or NASAMS, which comprises the Sentinel radar, Kongsberg Fire Distribution Center and AMRAAM missile. NASAMS helps pilots quickly identify, engage and destroy enemy aircraft, drones and cruise missiles.
The JSM partnership, struck in 2014, could save the U.S. a decade of development work. This approach aligns with the National Defense Strategy, which calls for mutually beneficial partnerships to provide a strategic advantage over competitors.
Norway’s Ministry of Defence successfully test-fired a live JSM from an F-16 Fighting Falcon in 2018. Operational testing will continue on the system in 2020.
Raytheon and Kongsberg expect to reach initial operating capability — the final stage of development — and deliver JSM to the Royal Norwegian Air Force in 2023. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
01 Mar 20. AFA Winter 2020: USAF picked ARRW hypersonic weapon for size, producibility. Key Points:
- The US Air Force chose to proceed with the ARRW hypersonic effort instead of HCSW for size and industrial base reasons
- The service was pleased with the HCSW’s progress, but it was simply deprioritised in the budget
The US Air Force (USAF) chose to move forward with the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) and not the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) due to the ARRW’s smaller size and because the service wanted to accelerate finding a second supplier, according to the USAF’s top acquisition official.
Will Roper, USAF assistant secretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics (AT&L), told reporters on 28 February at the Air Force Association’s (AFA’s) Air Warfare Symposium that both hypersonic weapons were on the path to successful flight testing and production, but that budget priorities simply forced the service to pick one over the other. (Source: Jane’s)
28 Feb 20. Australia accepts delivery of NUSHIP Sydney air warfare destroyer. The Australian Defence has accepted the delivery of the third Hobart-class guided missile air warfare destroyer (AWD), NUSHIP Sydney.
The Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance-built ship is the final of the Hobart-class for the Royal Australian Navy.
The alliance includes the Department of Defence, Raytheon Australia and ASC Shipbuilding supported by Navantia Australia.
NUSHIP Sydney was launched in May 2018 and underwent an upgrade at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia in March 2019.
The infrastructure upgrade was performed to support Sikorsky MH60-R Seahawk submarine-hunting helicopter.
It successfully completed sea trials in November last year.
Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said: “Today’s milestone demonstrates the success of the Morrison government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan.
“While the delivery of NUSHIP Sydney marks the end of this programme, it represents an exciting time for the National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise, as we continue to build upon the unique skills developed at this precinct and transfer them across the whole shipbuilding ecosystem.”
The vessel is currently travelling to its homeport at Garden Island in Sydney. It is expected to be commissioned later this year.
Following commissioning, NUSHIP Sydney will join its sister vessels HMAS Hobart and HMAS Brisbane.
Reynolds added: “I congratulate the 5,000 workers who have worked directly on this programme over the past decade, from the design phase through to the construction, integration and delivery of these magnificent ships.
“The significance of this success cannot be understated and is reflected in the truly world-class capability of these warships, and the naval shipbuilding and combat system integration skills that have been developed at Osborne.”
Designed based on the Navantia-designed F100 frigate, the ships feature Aegis combat system incorporating AN/SPY 1D(V) phased array radar and the SM-2 missile. (Source: naval-technology.com)
28 Feb 20. Japan confirms development of new air-launched anti-ship missile. Japan is developing a new air-launched anti-ship missile (ASM) to arm the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF’s) P-1 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense’s (MoD’s) Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency (ATLA) confirmed to Jane’s on 28 February. The new ASM, which will be the successor to the Type 91 ASM that currently arms Japan’s P-3C Orions and the P-1 aircraft, is set to be an extended-range version of the Type 12 ground-launched ASM in service with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF). Japanese media have reported that the missile’s range is expected to be extended to up to 400km. (Source: Jane’s)
28 Feb 20. US Navy’s Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) hits milestone C. The US Navy’s Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) programme, based on Textron Systems’ Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) will soon enter low-rate initial production (LRIP) after receiving a milestone C decision.
The US Navy said it would soon exercise options to procure the first three LRIP systems under an existing contract with Textron.
Textron senior vice president applied technologies & advanced programs Wayne Prender said: “The Textron and US Navy teams have worked diligently to reach this milestone C decision. We recognise the time on the water and dedication of the testing teams which enabled us to enter this phase of the programme.”
The system is designed to operate as part of the littoral combat ship (LCS) mine countermeasure (MCM) package. UISS consists of a mine countermeasure unmanned surface vessel (USV) and a towed minesweeping package that can detect magnetic, acoustic and combination mines. Although being designed for the LCS the systems can operate from other vessels or be launched from the shore.
Development testing of the system concluded last November, paving the way for the milestone C decision on Wednesday. UISS is the US Navy’s first USV programme of record and is capable of carrying interchangeable payloads for different mission sets.
Delivery of the first LRIP UISS systems is set for 2021. In trials, LCS detachment sailors tested shore-based launching and retrieval of the USV, operated the system, and carried out command and control, mission planning, and post-mission analysis. USV has also completed integration trials with Littoral Combat Ships and other undisclosed vessels. Testing included a number of end-to-end minesweeping missions, using simulated mine targets. UISS is based on Textron’s CUSV, a multi-mission surface vehicle designed to operate as a MCM, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform among others. (Source: naval-technology.com)
27 Feb 20. US Army, Marines want to make the Hellfire missile replacement more deadly at sea. The U.S. Army and Marine Corps are working to refine the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile’s software after it failed to achieve desired lethal effects on a maritime target during its initial operational test, Col. David Warnick, the Army’s program manager for joint attack munition systems, told Defense News in a recent interview.
The JAGM is to replace the legacy Lockheed Martin-made Hellfire missile used across the services.
A report from the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester released last month called out the less-than-lethal results during maritime testing of the new missile, which is also made by Lockheed. The initial operational test and evaluation, or IOT&E, was held at Fort Hood, Texas, and Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in April and May 2019.
The IOT&E consisted of six shots against stationary and moving targets in both land and maritime environments during the daytime. Following the two test shots that didn’t achieve desired effects, the program manager suspended further maritime testing to analyze results and tweak missile software to improve results, the report stated.
“What we had was a few shots that were taken, and we had impacts more toward the back of the boat than we would have liked,” Warnick said. “They were all successful in stopping the boats … but we would prefer to have a center mast hit, one that guarantees a little bit more high probability that we’re going to get the lethal effects desired.”
The team is incorporating changes into the next software build and is anticipating taking three more maritime shots this month at Eglin, Warnick said.
“Based off of how we’ve run the models, based off of the test readiness review that they just conducted this week, we’re confident that we’ve got it in there,” he added.
The Marine Corps originally planned to conduct its JAGM IOT&E in the second quarter of fiscal 2020, but that schedule has changed, according to Warnick. A new timeline for the testing should be ironed out soon, he indicated.
Still, the Army has overcome all of its earlier problems discovered in tests. In tests in 2017, JAGM missed two targets; and while 18 missiles were launched from an AH-64E Apache attack helicopter during tests, one of the four launches with a live warhead failed to detonate. The Apache’s targeting site and fire control radar passed “erroneous target velocities” to the missile, according to previous test reports.
The newest report from the Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation stated that JAGM “met hit performance and reliability requirements when launched by Version 4.5 and Version 6 AH-64E software,” even when targets were obscured by countermeasures or dust and proved more lethal than the legacy missile, particularly against an up-armored Russian T-72 [tank] and other light-armored vehicles.
“I think to date we’ve shot 103 JAGMs and really only had two that were near misses, and we are very pleased with the results at this point,” Warnick said. “Our costs are coming down the cost curve as we transition from that low-rate initial production that we’re in right now. And we will hopefully get a favorable full-rate production decision this May.”
The DOT&E Office provided more suggestions, including a recommendation that the Army develop, test and field a JAGM training missile. Warnick said the Army is funded in FY20 and FY21 to produce that asset.
The report also recommended the Army test JAGM in an environment where electronic warfare is a threat as well as against threats with active protection systems.
“We’ve got it planned and budgeted in [research, development, test and evaluation] to update the software every couple of years,” Warnick said, “and as that threat becomes closer in, we ensure that we stay ahead of it with implementing whatever changes we need to make sure we are capable of defeating it, so we’re on track at this point to stay ahead of threats, and I think we are comfortable with where the system is at this time.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
28 Feb 20. JSOW ER initial development contract expected Q3 2020. The United States Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is expected to award a sole-source contract to Raytheon Missile Systems (RMS) in the third quarter of 2020 for concept refinement and evaluation of an extended-range variant of the baseline AGM-154C-1 Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW) air-to-surface glide munition.
The US Navy (USN) has proposed funding in excess of USD700m up to fiscal year (FY) 2025 for the development and fielding of JSOW ER, with production commencing in fourth-quarter 2022. The US Department of Defense (DoD) has already conducted a number of successful technical demonstrations/test flights of this next-generation weapon system. (Source: Jane’s)
28 Feb 20. Jordan requests artillery C3 equipment from US. The Government of Jordan has requested to purchase up to 700 Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) software licence copies from the US.
Approved by the US State Department through a foreign military sale programme, the software licence copies and related equipment are valued at approximately $300m.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified Congress of the deal, which is designed to help Jordan modernise its military.
The AFATDS software licence copies will be customised with international ballistic kernel for Jordan.
The requested deal includes the delivery of approximately 200 laptops and table computers with battery kits and other hardware systems, including prints, scanners, network routers and modems, and communication hardware.
Other equipment requested includes 250 5kW auxiliary power units (APUs), 100 electrical generators, 50 7800-HF 150W high-frequency radios, 500 7850-MB 50W multiband (UHF&VHF) radios and 550 7850-MB IO-Watt multiband (UHF&VHF) radios.
In addition, the contract will include the required cables and components, as well as other installation services. Support will be extended for operations, integration and maintenance and contractor furnished support services. (Source: army-technology.com)
27 Feb 20. Lockheed Martin, Air Force Press Ahead On Air-Launched Hypersonic Missile. Lockheed Martin is designing what it calls a new Hypersonic Strike Weapon-Air Breathing (which goes by the awful acronym HSW-ab) for DARPA. John Varley, Lockheed’s VP for hypersonic weapons, wouldn’t provide details due to the program’s high level of classification. Lockheed Martin’s air-launched hypersonic missile will complete its critical design review (CDR) today, as the company and the Air Force press ahead on development, John Varley, vice president for hypersonic weapons at Lockheed Martin, says.
The company’s first contract for the Air Force’s AGM-183 Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW), inked in 2018, was set at $480m for concept development. In December 2019, it nabbed another contract, worth $998m, to bring its concept to CDR.
However, as reported by colleague John Tirpak, the service is expected to toss more development funding into the ARRW program after cancelling the second hypersonic missile program, the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW). Lockheed Martin Space had received a $928m contract in April 2018 for design work on HCSW.
In fact, all of the company’s ongoing hypersonic design programs will go through a design review or tests during the next 12 to 24 months, Varley told reporters yesterday following a tour of the Lockheed missile and fire controls factory here in Orlando.
Lockheed Martin’s hypersonic business is currently worth about $3.5bn, according to the company, with programs underway for the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as DARPA.
For DARPA, the firm is working on the Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) project to flight test technologies to enable a “tactical range” air-launched hypersonic missile — technologies intended to feed into the ARRW. DARPA granted a $147.3m contract to Lockheed Martin in 2016 for the program; competitor Raytheon was awarded a TBG concept maturation contract for $63.3m in 2019.
Asked about why ARRW is going through CDR before technologies have been flight tested under the TBG program, Varley provided few details — citing the “high-level sensitivities” surrounding TBG. He would only say that the two programs at one time “were more serial; now they are more parallel.”
Lockheed Martin is looking to design missiles that can fly at Mach 10, twice the Mach 5 threshold speed for what is considered a hypersonic missile. Varley admits that will be hard to achieve.
“We have a lot of challenges,” he said. One key problem is building a missile and subcomponents, such as communications gear, able to withstand the 4,000 degree Fahrenheit temperatures built up by that kind of speed. This means the US needs to develop innovative, heat-resistant materials as a foundational matter, he said. Other problems include maintaining maneuverability and accuracy, as well as sustaining communications connectivity with operators as the missile speeds along.
Besides working on air-launched hypersonic missiles, Lockheed Martin in August 2019 won a $347m contract to integrate the so-called Common Hypersonic Glide Bodies with guidance systems, rocket boosters, and protective canisters etc. into the Army’s ground-launched Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) launchers. The contract is part of the Army’s effort to rapidly field LRHW prototypes.
The Common Hypersonic Glide Bodies are being built by Dynetics for the Army and Navy under a $351.6m Army contract.
Lockheed Martin is also working with DARPA on the Operational Fires (OpFires) mobile ground-launched hypersonic missile, winning a $31.9 m contract for the Phase 3 Weapon System Integration program in January.
Lockheed Martin is working on design of what it calls a new Hypersonic Strike Weapon-Air Breathing (which goes by the awful acronym HSW-ab) for DARPA. Varley wouldn’t provide details due to the program’s high level of classification. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
02 Mar 20. North Korea conducts another short-range missile launch. North Korea fired two short-range projectiles towards the East Sea (Sea of Japan) on 2 March, marking Pyongyang’s first such weapon test this year.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement that both projectiles were launched in a north-easterly direction at about 12.37 h local time from an area near the eastern coastal city of Wonsan in North Korea’s Kangwon Province.
The projectiles, which were fired within a 20-second interval, flew a distance of about 240 km and reached an altitude of about 35 km, said the JCS, adding that South Korean and US intelligence authorities were analysing the exact type of projectiles fired.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency quoted a JCS officer as saying that Seoul “found some similarities in features between what it [North Korea] fired today [2 March] and those launched last year”.
Pyongyang conducted a total of 13 major weapon tests in 2019 that featured five new weapon systems: a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) referred to as the KN-23 (South Korean/US Forces Korea designation); another SRBM that is similar in appearance to some of the missiles used by the US Army Tactical Missile System; a large-calibre multiple-launch guided rocket system; the ‘super-large’ multiple rocket launcher (MRL), and a new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) called the Pukguksong-3 (also spelled Pukkuksong-3).
Except for the SLBM, which would have a range of about 2,500 km if fired on a minimum-energy trajectory, all the other weapon systems are short-range and road mobile.
According to South Korea’s JCS, Pyongyang’s latest missile test-firing, of which no images have yet emerged, appears to be have been conducted as part of the “joint strike drills” the Korean People’s Army (KPA) began on 28 February. (Source: Jane’s)
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