Sponsored by Arnold Defense www.arnolddefense.com
12 Mar 20. EXPAL Systems to introduce in-house guidance systems for mortar and artillery ammunition. Spain’s EXPAL Systems has begun the joint development of an in-house guidance system for ballistic munitions with the Spanish Ministry of Defence. This development is beginning with 120mm mortar ammunition, with the intent to make the technology available to 155 mm, the company said in a 10 March statement. EXPAL Systems has thus far used guidance systems from other members of the defence industry for its munitions whether powered in flight, or unpowered ammunition such as howitzer/field gun, and mortar ammunition. The company has now however announced its intent to develop an organic capability to fit its own guidance systems to its own munitions. (Source: Jane’s)
12 Mar 20. Japan developing new anti-surface warheads for future hypersonic missiles. Japan is developing two advanced anti-surface warheads that will be fitted onto two hypersonic weapons that are currently also under development, as indicated by several documents obtained by Jane’s from the Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Tokyo.
The MoD’s Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency (ATLA) plans to arm these weapons, namely the Hyper Velocity Gliding Projectile (HVGP) and the Hypersonic Cruising Missile (HCM), with the ‘Sea Buster’ tandem-charge warhead and a multiple explosively formed penetrator (MEFP) warhead, according to the documents. The warheads are designed to “attack warships and military vehicles deployed around/on the small islands and their surrounding sea area” according to one of the documents in a possible reference to Japan’s more remote islands in the East China Sea. The ‘Sea Buster’ warhead is being specifically developed to target enemy surface vessels, most likely larger warships, according to the documents. It is composed of a main warhead, which carries armour-piercing high-explosive shells and a nose fuze, and a precursor warhead that uses shaped charges. Artist renderings depicting this warhead targeting large surface vessels have appeared in several ATLA documents and pamphlets obtained by Jane’s. For instance, last year the ATLA published its ‘R&D Vision’, which contained an artist’s rendering of the HCM targeting an enemy aircraft carrier. A text accompanying the image referred to Japan’s development of an advanced highly effective penetration warhead that can damage the deck of an aircraft carrier or be used for “area suppression”. The MEFP warhead is being designed to engage surface vessels and both stationary and mobile ground targets, with the ATLA saying in one of the documents that one such warhead will be able to release dozens of hypervelocity metal fragments capable of striking several targets. (Source: Jane’s)
13 Mar 20. HMAS Arunta tests missile system following upgrade. Following a 20-month upgrade, Royal Australian Navy warship HMAS Arunta has fired its first Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) off the coast of Western Australia. The Anzac Class frigate is the first of her class to undergo the Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Program (AMCAP) upgrade at Henderson, Western Australia, as part of Australia’s Warship Asset Management Agreement (WAMA) Alliance.
The ESSM is a surface-to-air weapon that uses radar homing guidance to counter fast-moving anti-ship missiles, forming part of Arunta’s air defence capability.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds welcomed the milestone achievement, saying the missile firing was an important part of testing the ship’s upgraded capabilities.
“This successful missile firing demonstrates the success of the AMCAP upgrade, which enhances the frigate’s self-protection, communications, and command and control capability,” Minister Reynolds said.
She added, “It’s also testament to the WAMA Alliance, a partnership between the Australian government, BAE Systems, SAAB Australia and Naval Ship Management Australia. AMCAP is part of this government’s $1.2 billion Anzac Class sustainment program with Australian defence industry, which directly employs more than 140 workers while providing ongoing opportunities for small businesses in Henderson.”
The aim of AMCAP is to upgrade and update the capability of the Anzac Class frigates to maintain relevance, and to ensure the class remains effective until the introduction of the Hunter Class frigates.
Homeported at HMAS Stirling in WA, Arunta is a long-range frigate capable of air defence, surface and undersea warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction.
She is one of seven Anzac Class frigates progressively undergoing AMCAP upgrades, with HMAS Warramunga’s upgrade currently underway.
“These upgrades will ensure the frigates remain one of the most advanced in the world, until the Hunter Class frigates enter service,” Minister Reynolds said.
There are three major elements of the upgrade, that is, a new communications suite, the new air search radar and the platform systems remediation (PSR). The PSR will see the upgrade of systems such as the propulsion control, fridges, waste management and water production.
The WAMA partnership was launched in 2016 to support the Anzacs and includes BAE Systems Australia, Saab Australia, Naval Ship Management and the Commonwealth of Australia. It’s worth more than $2 billion over eight years.
The Henderson-based Australian Marine Complex (AMC) is integral to Australia’s frontline defence and is an important asset in maintaining the RAN fleet. The Common User Facility (CUF) has facilitated major works and repair programs for RAN’s Collins Class submarines, Anzac Class frigates and supply tankers.
The AMC-CUF is home to the world’s most technically advanced floating dock, which can lift vessels of up to 12,000 tonnes out of the water for service. Its four wharves can accommodate vessels of up to 300 metres in length and provide adequate berthing space for major works, including ship conversions, refits and repairs.
The AMC-CUF is also home to ASC West, which provides a purpose-built submarine repair facility and the WA headquarters of ASC, an Australian-owned prime defence contractor and builder of the Collins Class submarine and Hobart Class air warfare destroyer.
ASC’s through-life support contract will see the Collins Class submarines maintained at the CUF over the next 25 years. Warfare systems developer Raytheon Australia and other defence contractors, including BAE Systems, also reside within the AMC’s precincts. (Source: Defence Connect)
12 Mar 20. Lockheed Martin and US Navy to integrate HELIOS system on destroyer. Lockheed Martin and the US Navy are set to integrate the High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance (HELIOS) system onto an Arleigh Burke destroyer in 2021. The move comes after the laser system underwent the US Navy’s Critical Design Review (CDR).
Set to undergo system integration in Moorestown, New Jersey this year, the HELIOS system will then be tested at the Wallops Island Navy land-based test site. This is expected to significantly reduce programme risk prior to its delivery to a shipyard for integration into an Arleigh Burke destroyer.
Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems Advanced Product Solutions vice-president Hamid Salim said: “Our adversaries are rapidly developing sophisticated weapons and the threats to the US Navy’s fleet are getting more challenging.
“Our warfighters need this capability and capacity now to effectively counter threats such as unmanned aerial systems and fast attack vessels.”
HELIOS will become an integrated component of the destroyer’s Aegis combat system.
Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems HELIOS programme director Brendan Scanlon said: “HELIOS will provide an additional layer of protection for the fleet-deep magazine, low cost per kill, speed of light delivery, and precision response.
“Additional HELIOS systems will accelerate the warfighter learning curve, provide risk reduction for future laser weapon system increments and provide a stronger demand signal to the supply base.”
The system leverages technology from internal research and development projects that continue to advance the goal of the US Navy to field laser weapon systems on surface ships.
In March 2018, the US Navy awarded a $150m contract to Lockheed Martin for the development, production and delivery of two high-power laser weapon systems. (Source: naval-technology.com)
11 Mar 20. MBDA leverages Complex Weapons portfolio in support of British Army CF(L)35 initiative. MBDA Missile Systems is positioning a developmental surface-to-surface effector concept, along with exploiting derivatives of the Complex Weapons portfolio, to support prospective near- and longer-term Land Joint Fires requirements within the scope of the British Army’s new Conceptual Force (Land) 2035 (CF(L)35) strategy.
“We are looking to innovate and introduce, over the next decade, significant capability that we already have in the portfolio, to illustrate how MBDA can support the Army in the land battlespace, both for near-term opportunities where we have existing weapons like Brimstone, MMP, and Spear, and then in the longer timeframe – 2030 and beyond – where we can generate new solutions that leverage our existing products and technologies,” Andy Allen, MBDA Head of Land Domain (Army) told Jane’s .
Initiated by Executive Committee of the Army Board (ECAB), CF(L)35 is an Army future-planning programme which explores the transformations – including organisation, doctrine for new ways of prosecuting warfare, and exploitation of new and emerging technologies – required by the Army to meet evolving battlefield threats and challenges.
According to analyses conducted since 2014 by the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) under the Agile Warrior (AW) initiative, and also drawing on other Dstl and allied sources, British Army surface-to-surface/land joint fires are outranged and outgunned by peer adversaries. Key weaknesses, and consistent themes, include range (of both target acquisition and weapon), target effect mass, weapon lethality, platform and sensor survivability, and the speed of the sensor to shooter link; fires systems should also be interoperable with allies.
“The Army needs to be able to attack enemy high value targets which are protected by air defence systems, electronic guidance jamming and manipulation systems, directed energy systems and non-lethal and traditional protective countermeasures,” the Army notes in Agile Warrior Quarterly 2019 Edition 2. (Source: Jane’s)
12 Mar 20. Construction commences on Qld munitions facility. Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions (RNM) has announced that BADGE Constructions has been appointed as the builder for a $60m state-of-the-art munitions facility in Maryborough, Queensland. The announcement is a boon for local business, with up to 100 full-time jobs slated for the Fraser Coast community.
Onsite works will begin this week for a forging facility that will produce munitions for supply to the Australian Defence Force and for export to allied nations around the world via Rheinmetall’s global supply chain. BADGE estimated local industry content for the project at approximately 70 per cent of the project’s work. A large grant from the federal government has seen $28.5m committed towards the facility from the Regional Growth Fund.
“It’s exciting to take the next step in this project with the first site works about to commence,” said Werner Kraemer, chairman of Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions.
“We opened our Project Office last year in Maryborough in preparation for a facility that we hope will have a long-term positive impact on this region. Regional jobs and the building of sovereign capability are extremely important for RNM.”
Robert Nioa, managing director of NIOA and director of RNM, said the component of work to flow to the local region was an important factor when the successful builder was chosen for the project.
“We underlined the importance of local input for this work when we appointed a local in Jeff Crabtree as our project manager. We want to create as many local opportunities as possible and we’re excited to reach this next step,” Nioa said.
He thanked the federal member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien for his continued support while also acknowledging the contributions of the Queensland state government through its Jobs and Regional Growth Program and the Fraser Coast Regional Council.
BADGE Sunshine Coast manager Andrew Lanskey said the construction firm would bring its commitment to the highest-quality work to this project.
“We are delighted to be appointed to a project that will be so important to its local community,” Lanskey said.
“We estimate that, at the peak of construction, we will have 90 workers on site each day, with many coming from the local region.”
The forging facility, including an office and warehouse, will be fully operational by 2022 on a four-hectare site. Hyne and Son’s timber – grown locally in the region – will be used to construct the office, to reduce the project’s carbon footprint. (Source: Defence Connect)
11 Mar 20. SIG SAUER, Inc. Wins Patent Infringement Case from Steyr Arms. SIG SAUER, Inc., a leading provider of firearms, optics, ammunition, suppressors, and training is pleased to officially announce the company has prevailed in the patent infringement lawsuit from Steyr Arms in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire. Judge Joseph DiClerico, Jr. granted SIG SAUER’s motion for summary judgment, finding that SIG SAUER did not infringe Steyr’s patents, and dismissed all motions.
11 Mar 20. Ukraine evolves thermobaric rockets, grenades. Based on lessons learned from fighting in the Donbass region, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence (MoD) is seeking new thermobaric rockets and has introduced new grenades. Domestic development of thermobaric rockets had been initiated in 2016, with UkrOboronProm (UOP) announcing in 2018 that the State Research Institute of Chemical Products had begun serial production of the RPV-16, a 93 mm shoulder-fired thermobaric rocket.
In October 2019 UOP stated that it had supplied 400 RPV-16s to the Ukrainian armed forces, and the system is reportedly in demand because the extant method of defeating positions in the Donbass is to use Soviet-era anti-tank guided missiles that are typically less accurate as a result of long storage times, according to fighters from the area. (Source: Jane’s)
11 Mar 20. USN to launch MALD-N production. The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is to launch production of the Raytheon Miniature Air Launched Decoy – Navy (MALD-N), with a notification for an impending sole-source award posted on 10 March.
The notification on the beta.sam.gov website states that NAVAIR is to issue a cost plus incentive-fee contract to Raytheon Missile Systems (RMS) for the commencement of low-rate initial production (LRIP) for the naval derivative of the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) ADM-160C MALD-Jammer (MALD-J) system.
No potential contract value, timeline, or MALD-N numbers were disclosed, although Jane’s has previously reported that the first LRIP contracts for 250 MALD-N systems is expected to be placed in fiscal year (FY) 2021 and 2022.
In its baseline form, the MALD system is designed to mimic the radar and flight signature of a manned fighter or bomber, thereby confusing enemy air-defence systems. The MALD-J provides for an additional electronic warfare capability to actively jam enemy air defences, and is the basis for the US Navy’s (USN’s) MALD-N derivative.
As previously related to Jane’s by RMS officials, the MALD-J has an operational range of about 900 km after launch, with its flight characteristics able to be pre-programmed to better represent a particular manned type. Its single Hamilton Sundstrand TJ-150 turbojet engine powers it to a surge speed of Mach 0.9 or an endurance speed of about Mach 0.6.
The MALD can be launched from any aircraft that can carry the Raytheon AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), which would enable the MALD-N to be carried by the USN’s Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) platforms. (Source: Jane’s)
11 Mar 20. Hi-Point Firearms is known for tough, reliable, accurate, affordable firearms. Take Hi-Point’s carbine top it off with a great red dot and the fun really begins! www.Hi-Pointfirearms.com. Responding to many requests, Hi-Point is offering standard black colored carbines topped off with a Crimson Trace 20mm diameter CTS-103 four MOA red/green variable intensity adjustable “red” dot sight. This is an OEM only offer and not available separately from Hi-Point. The incredibly popular all American-made Hi-Point Carbines are used by consumers and law enforcement worldwide in 9mm, 40 S&W, .45ACP and 10MM. Hi-Point’s .45 ACP and 10MM carbines are legal for big game hunting in some states and coupled with this sight will make for an excellent thicket or forested country rapid reaction reduced range game hunting combination. Lifetime warranted Hi-Point carbines can match or exceed the accuracy, reliability, and durability of more expensive carbines in the same caliber.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices:
.40 S&W………. $415
10 Mar 20. Lockheed Martin’s PrSM Demonstrates Pinpoint Accuracy in Second U.S. Army Flight Test. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) successfully tested its next-generation long-range missile designed for the Army’s Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) program at White Sands Missile Range, NM. All objectives were achieved in a flawless second performance following the missile’s inaugural flight last December.
Lockheed Martin successfully tested its next-generation long-range missile designed for the Army’s Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) program March 10, 2020, demonstrating a flawless second performance following the missile’s inaugural flight in December 2019, shown here.
“Today’s flight test further demonstrated the reliability, precision and critical capabilities Lockheed Martin is building into the PrSM,” said Gaylia Campbell, vice president of Precision Fires and Combat Maneuver Systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “The missile performed exactly as expected and successfully engaged the target with pinpoint accuracy.”
PrSM was fired from Lockheed Martin’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS™) launcher and flew a nominal trajectory approximately 180 kilometers to the target area, culminating in a highly accurate and lethal warhead event.
Test objectives included confirming the missile’s flight trajectory, range and accuracy from launch to warhead event, as well as warhead lethality, HIMARS launcher integration and overall missile performance.
“This second consecutive successful flight test of Lockheed Martin’s PrSM validates our missile technology and confidence that Lockheed Martin is uniquely positioned to deliver this important, cost-effective capability to meet our U.S. Army customer’s priorities,” Campbell said.
The next-generation precision-strike, surface-to-surface weapon system will deliver enhanced capabilities for attacking, neutralizing, suppressing and destroying targets at depth on the battlefield and give field artillery units a new long-range capability while supporting brigade, division, corps, Army, theater, Joint and Coalition forces.(Source: PR Newswire)
11 Mar 20. New Technology Autonomously Tracks UAS from Land, Sea. US Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) scientists and engineers have developed a system to autonomously detect, track, and classify unmanned aerial systems (UAS) from the land or sea.
The Threat Tracker is a detection system comprised of commercial off the shelf 3D radars and optical sensors.
“What makes the Threat Tracker unique is that it incorporates machine learning algorithms to autonomously process radar detections, analyze thermal images to assist in video based tracking, and classify tracked targets to determine if the object is a UAS,” said Marvin Peardon, NSWC PCD Threat Tracker program manager. “This is important because it can decide on its own if it is a bird or an actual UAS.”
Another unique feature is the Threat Tracker’s Gyro-stabilized Marine Platform.
“We developed this system with the ability for it to be mounted on a boat or vehicle,” said Jeremy Johnson, NSWC PCD Threat Tracker systems manager. “The Gyro-stabilized Marine Platform will prevent the imagery from being distorted and possibly misclassified.”
Once the imagery is classified, the information is sent to the user’s command and control (C2) system of choice.
“We developed this program to be able to provide the information collected to any C2 system,” said Peardon. “The user at that point can make a determination about the next step.”
Threat Tracker successfully performed during a recent exercise, but Peardon and Johnson said they hope to conduct operational testing this year.
“Threat Tracker is not currently a program of record but we will continue to improve the capabilities with the intent that the Navy or another service will find utility in the system,” said Johnson. (Source: UAS VISION/ US Naval Sea Systems Command)
09 Mar 20. The USMC May Want a Version of Army’s Next-Gen Squad Weapon. A top Marine Corps modernization official recently told lawmakers that the service is interested in the Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) as a potential option for ground-combat units. Army Futures Command is evaluating three prototype designs for the NGSW, which includes automatic rifle and rifle variants designed to fire a special 6.8mm projectile, capable of penetrating enemy body armor at ranges well beyond the current M855A1 5.56mm round. The Army plans to select a final design for both weapons from a single company in the first quarter of 2022 and begin fielding them to an infantry brigade combat team in the first quarter of 2023, Army modernization officials have said.
NGSW is a top Army modernization priority and came up at a recent hearing before the House Armed Services Committee’s tactical air and land forces subcommittee.
Related: Bullpup or Belt-Fed? Prototypes for Army’s Next-Gen Squad Weapons Finally Revealed
Vicky Hartzler, R-Missouri, asked Marine modernization officials whether the Corps is working with the Army on the effort since the services make up the bulk of the U.S. military’s ground-combat forces.
“Right now, we are in step, coordinating closely with everything from the Modular Handgun System all the way up to the Next Generation Squad Weapon with the Army,” said Lt. Gen. Smith, head of Marine Corps Combat Development Command and deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration.
“What we are committed to is the best weapon system that the Marines can have, so what we will do is to continue to coordinate with Army Futures Command in all the testing and the requirements development,” he said.
Smith added he has not seen anything so far about the NGSW that would have to be changed to make it suitable for the Marine Corps as a naval-focused force.
The Corps wasted no time in deciding to field the Army’s new Modular Handgun System, made by Sig Sauer, as a replacement for the Cold War-era Beretta M9 9mm pistol.
More recently, the Corps earmarked money in its fiscal 2021 proposed budget to buy the Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc. Multi-Role Adaptive Design Rifle (MRAD) after U.S. Special Operations Command selected the bolt-action weapon, which can be converted to fire 7.62x51mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum and .338 Norma Magnum ammunition.
At the beginning of the hearing, James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, told lawmakers that the Marine Corps ground modernization program is committed to “executing my favorite form of [research and development] — “rip-off and deploy.”
“If somebody else has it and we can get into the hands of the Marines faster, that’s the way we are going to do it and that is working exceedingly well,” Geurts said. (Source: Military.com)
10 Mar 20. Russia’s Beriev seeks to patent airborne carrier for laser weapon. Russia’s Beriev has registered an industrial design patent for a “carrier aircraft for airborne laser system”.
The document filed in February and viewed by Jane’s presents only illustrations of the patented aircraft and does not contain additional information. However the new aircraft is a conversion of an Il-76MD-90A heavy transport and the mirror system, by which the laser is directed on to the target, is placed inside a large drop-shaped fairing on front of the fuselage behind the crew cockpit.
NPO Almaz, a developer of Russian anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, has been working on an airborne combat laser for more than 40 years, changing both the configuration and the purpose of the system several times. As part of these projects, the Beriev aircraft design bureau in Taganrog has been responsible for designing and building the A-60 laser-gun carrier itself, hosted on an Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft.
In 1981 the A-60 (izdeliye 1A) was built as a balloon interceptor within the Dreyf (drift), later renamed Ladoga program, with a carbon-dioxide laser gun housed in the cargo hold. On 27 April 1984 the A-60, while flying at an altitude of 10,000 m (32,808 ft), damaged a balloon over the Volsk aerostat research centre, 700 km southeast of Moscow. In 1988 the test aircraft was burnt in an accidental fire at the Chkalovsky test airfield near Moscow. In 1991 the second experimental aircraft, A-60/2 (izdeliye 1A2), was flown; after two years, however, the trials were suspended because of a lack of funding. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Mar 20. Malaysia receives first batch of Nexter 105mm LG1 light towed artillery systems. Malaysia has taken delivery of the first six of 18 105mm LG1 light towed artillery systems ordered in 2018 from French defence company Nexter. The air-portable guns, which were delivered in kit form in early February to Nexter’s Malaysian partner, Advanced Defence Systems (ADS), are currently being assembled in the southern state of Johor ahead of delivery to the Malaysian Army, a defence official told Jane’s on 9 March.
All 18 artillery pieces were originally expected to be handed over to ADS by February 2020, but deliveries were delayed, as the Malaysian government that took over following the May 2018 general election ordered a review of defence contracts signed by the previous administration.
As a result, the contract for the LG1 howitzers was re-approved earlier this year following the review, with the remaining 12 guns now expected to be delivered to ADS in two batches later this year.
The LG1 howitzers will be operated by the Malaysian Army’s 1st Royal Artillery Regiment, which currently fields Oto Melara Model 56 105 mm pack howitzers. Six other artillery regiments are also equipped with these Oto Melara guns, of which about 100 units are estimated to be in service.
The contract for the guns was signed on 18 April 2018 at the Defence Services Asia exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. The contract includes the supply of fully digitised 105 LG1 Mk III Light Guns, the BACARA compact portable ballistic computer (for use at battery level), as well as a first batch of 105mm high-explosive, base-bleed, extended-range G3 ammunition (105mm HE BB ER G3), which can be fired to a range of up to 17km. (Source: Jane’s)
08 Mar 20. Ukraine unveils new RAM loitering munition. Ukraine has unveiled a new lightweight catapult-launched loitering weapon system, dubbed RAM. Developed by Ukrainian company CDET, RAM was jointly showcased by Ukraine’s Spetstekhnoexport and the UAE’s International Golden Group at the recent UMEX 2020 show held in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on 23-25 February.
Designed for both attack and reconnaissance missions, the munition can be equipped with three modular variable weight (2 to 4kg) warheads: a high-explosive fragmentation warhead with 150 submunitions (designed for engaging infantry in the open, and soft-skin vehicles in a 45 m² radius); a thermobaric explosive device (intended for destruction of field installations in a 15m² radius); and a high-explosive anti-tank warhead with an armour-piercing capability of 40mm.
CDET claims that the RAM can be employed in an urban environment with “the lowest collateral damage possible”. A representative of Spetstekhnoexport told Jane’s that the RAM has a circular error probable of no more than 1m, and can engage moving targets.
Powered by an electric engine with a low acoustic signature, the RAM loitering munition has a launch weight of between 8-10 kg, a wingspan of 230cm, a maximum operational range of 30km, and a top speed of 50kph. The munition has a loitering duration of 30 minutes with a 4 kg warhead, 60 minutes with a 2.5kg warhead, and 150 minutes in a reconnaissance configuration. (Source: Jane’s)
06 Mar 20. New US Army Cannon Doubles Range; Ramjet Ammo May Be Next. BAE will deliver the first 18 ERCA vehicles by 2023 – but the Army is already working on further upgrades. The latest version of the 57-year-old M109 armored howitzer just threw two different types of shell 65 kilometers downrange, just over 40 miles, in a test today at Yuma Proving Ground. That’s more than twice the range of the current model, even using rocket-boosted ammunition. And the Army’s Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) program is already working on further upgrades, including shells with built-in ramjets for yet greater range.
“The platform that was showcased today, we’re already on contract with BAE for that,” with 18 howitzers – a full battalion – entering service in 2023, Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, modernization director for Long-Range Precision Fires, told reporters this afternoon. “The Increment 2 version will be separate contract.”
The Army will hold an industry day for companies interested in Increment 2 “probably in the next three to four months, once we get the acquisition strategy approved,” Rafferty continued.
But companies aren’t waiting for that day of briefings to work on new technology.
“One of our industry partners will demonstrate ramjet capability later this year,” he said. “The ramjet is something that we’re looking at for a longer-range 155 [millimeter] projectile. There’s ramjets, there’s hypervelocity projectiles [originally developed for Navy railguns], there’s competitors for that [longer-ranged round]. We’re looking at what’s next.”
What was test-fired today was a prototype of the tank-like mobile howitzer the Army’s calling the M1299. It’s actually a direct descendant of the M109 howitzer that first entered service in 1963, but at this point, every component of the original design has been replaced with something new at least once, much like the parable of Lincoln’s axe. BAE already rebuilt the chassis and automotive components completely in M109A7 PIM version currently in production, but the gun in the turret remains the same as on the A6 Paladin model; the M1299 takes the PIM chassis and puts a new weapon on top.
The most obvious feature of that weapon is a 49 percent longer barrel (58 calibers instead of 39), which contains the rapidly expanding propellant gasses longer so they can accelerate the projectile to greater speeds before they exit the muzzle and dissipate. But the propellant itself – in layman’s terms, the gunpowder – is also different, what one officer called “super-charged,” which required redesigning the howitzer to handle the higher pressure.
In today’s test, the new ERCA weapon fired two different projectiles: the latest version of the battle-tested Raytheon Excalibur, a precision-guided shell used in Afghanistan and Iraq; and the all-new General Dynamics XM1113 Rocket Assisted Projectile, replacing the Cold War-era M549. Both used the super-charged propellant, and both successfully flew 65 km, but the Excalibur also hit a precision target, Rafferty said, without adding further details.
One big piece missing from today’s demonstration: the auto-loader mechanism meant to replace human loaders, who swiftly grow fatigued and injury-prone after manhandling multiple 95-lb shells. It will grab the desired type of shell from the ready rack, add the appropriate amount of propellant (in pre-measured bags) for the desired range, and even set the fuse, a task which currently requires two soldiers working together under the supervision of a sergeant. The autoloader will increase the howitzer’s rate of fire as high as 10 rounds a minute, the Army says – that’s one shell every six seconds.
The autoloader is currently under development at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, where the Army says it’s making rapid progress. By the end of the year, it will undergo a test – in the lab, not in the field – to qualify for what’s called Technological Readiness Level 6, demonstrated to work in a “relevant environment.” A field test (TRL 7) will follow in 2021, getting the autoloader ready to be fielded with the ERCA cannon and the M1113 shell in 2023.
A separate program is developing a robotic vehicle to carry spare ammunition. This rapid schedule is the result of the Army’s new urgent, streamlined approach to modernizing against Russian and Chinese threats, said the service’s Vice-Chief of Staff. In contrast to decades-long development timelines in the past, Gen. Joseph Martin told reporters on the call, “this was hatched in 2018; by 2023 we’ll have a battalion.”
And that’s not just 18 howitzers sitting in a motor pool somewhere, Martin emphasized, but a functioning artillery unit manned by soldiers trained and organized to use the new weapon to the fullest. That will give division commanders a new option for long-range attack alongside their existing drones and helicopters, which are vulnerable to enemy anti-aircraft systems in a way that artillery shells are not.
The howitzer and other new Long-Range Precision Fires weapons, like the Precision Strike Missile and hypersonics, will in turn be part of a much larger ecosystem of complementary technologies. The Army’s working on artificial intelligence and wireless networks so its weapons can receive targeting data, not only from the service’s own next-generation drones, but from Air Force, Navy, Marine, and Space Force reconnaissance assets as well.
“We’re going to continue to innovate – crawl, walk, run over the next three years – integrating more and more Army developed capabilities that mature and joint capabilities,” Gen. Martin said. “[It’s] our contribution to JADC2 [Joint All-Domain Command and Control]. We’re building ours from the ground up.” (Source: Defense News)
06 Mar 20. MBDA’s Sea Venom/ANL missile succeeds in first qualification firing. MBDA has successfully carried out the first qualification firing trial of the Sea Venom/ANL anti-ship missile at the DGA Essais de missiles (DGA EM) test site at Ile Du Levant on 20 February 2020, another significant milestone for the Anglo-French co-operation programme.
The missile was launched from a Dauphin helicopter close to the minimum release height, reaching its cruise phase whilst sea skimming at very low height. During its terminal phase, the aircrew used images from the infrared seeker – transmitted through the datalink – to perform a successful manual aim point refinement. The missile has then followed this designated point until hitting the target with a very high degree of accuracy.
This latest firing builds on two previous ones that have all tested the missile to the very edge of its capability. The previous firings demonstrated Sea Venom/ANL’s lock on after launch (LOAL) and lock on before launch (LOBL) capabilities. They also validated its low-altitude sea-skimming flight and its autonomous guidance capability using images from its uncooled imaging infrared (IIR) seeker.
Sea Venom/ANL is a purpose-built anti-ship missile for the French and UK navies’ shipborne helicopters, and is suitable for a wide range of platforms. It will safely engage hostile vessels amongst civilian assets, even in congested littoral environments and will defeat a broad spectrum of targets including small fast-moving craft through to larger ships – at sea or in port – as well as coastal land targets.
Éric Béranger, MBDA CEO, said: “Sea Venom/ANL is the first Anglo-French co-operation programme to take full advantage of our centres of excellence, created following an Inter-Governmental Agreement ratified by both nations’ Parliaments in 2016. MBDA is putting full effort into the successful implementation of the Sea Venom/ANL programme, recognising it should exemplify the benefits of the close co-operation UK and France are sharing in defence – enhancing both nation’s sovereign capabilities in armaments while reducing costs.”
The UK Royal Navy will use Sea Venom/ANL on its AW159 Wildcat, replacing Sea Skua, while France’s Marine Nationale will operate the missile from its future Guépard Light Joint Helicopter (HIL – Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger).
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.