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11 Feb 21. Mossad agents ‘used remote-controlled gun’ to kill Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Israeli Mossad agents smuggled a one-tonne automated machinegun into Iran piece by piece, used it to shoot the head of Iran’s nuclear programme 13 times and then blew it up to destroy the evidence, according to a wide-ranging account of the hit.
The Jewish Chronicle said it had confirmed that Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, 59, was assassinated outside Tehran in November in an operation involving a 20-member Mossad team. It added that it had been told the assassination was carried out, as was claimed by Iran at the time, by a remote-controlled gun that then self-destructed.
According to the account attributed to Israeli intelligence sources, the spy team, comprising Israeli and Iranian nationals, carried out the hit after eight months of surveillance.
“The team built up an extremely detailed, minute-by-minute plan,” a source was quoted as saying. “For eight months, they breathed with the guy, woke up with him, slept with him, travelled with him. They would have smelled his aftershave every morning, if he had used aftershave. They knew his daily route, speed and timing, and they knew exactly which doors they would use to get out.”
The account said Fakhrizadeh was killed by a burst of 13 bullets from the “hyper-accurate weapon” mounted on the back of a truck, as he travelled with his wife and a dozen bodyguards in Absard. Neither his wife, who was sitting ten inches to his side, nor any of his security team were harmed in the attack.
Iranian authorities said the scientist’s security chief was struck by four bullets as he threw himself across his boss — which was denied by the newspaper’s sources.
“There were several ways to operate but this one was the most accurate,” a source said. “It was the most elegant way to make sure that the target will be hit, and only him. The objective was to avoid harming anyone else.”
America was not involved, according to the sources, although US officials were given a “little clue” about the operation to “test the water temperature”. The weapon was so heavy because it included a bomb to destroy the evidence after the killing, the Chronicle said.
According to the newspaper’s sources, Fakhrizadeh’s assassination “hit the Iranians hard”, and had pushed back the regime’s “breakout” capability — the time it would take to assemble a nuclear bomb — by more than a year. “Tehran has assessed that it will take six years to find a replacement for Fakhrizadeh. Israeli analysis has now put the breakout time at two years. Before Fakhrizadeh departed, it was about three months.”
“The regime was humiliated and devastated. Even the Mossad was surprised by the huge impact,” a source added.
However, the UN’s atomic energy watchdog confirmed on Thursday that Iran’s nuclear programme has produced its first uranium metal, a key component of a nuclear missile warhead.
A statement from the International Atomic Energy Agency said it had verified the production of 3.6g of uranium metal at a manufacturing facility in the city of Isfahan.
The development is another breach of the 2015 nuclear deal, which banned the production of uranium or plutonium metals and alloys for 15 years. Iran has breached the deal in other areas, but this is seen as an important step as it represents a technological development the programme had not made before the deal was signed.
Iran has been gradually going beyond the limits of uranium enrichment set by the deal since Donald Trump pulled out of it in 2018 and reimposed harsh economic sanctions. President Biden has committed himself to restoring the deal, but his officials have stated that Iran needs to make the first move, which it has said it will not do.
The decision about what to do with Iran has become the most pressing issue of Biden’s foreign policy, even though, as with previous presidents, he has attempted to stress broader issues involving Russia, trade with China, and human rights.
While filling his foreign policy establishment with veteran Iran negotiators, he has also conceded to the demands of Washington’s Iran hawks that he needs to do more than simply re-enter the deal. They were unhappy about its time limits, and also about its failure to address Iran’s broader policies of supporting Shia militias across the Middle East, targeting American allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia.
That has led to an impasse, with Iran in the meantime continuing to supply Hezbollah in Lebanon with precision-guided missile technology, and its ally in Yemen, the Houthis, staging missile and drone attacks on Saudi airports. Israel has also hinted it will take matters into its own hands if it believes Iran is nearing the ability to build a nuclear device. (Source: The Times)
10 Feb 21. HMS Lancaster tests newly installed heavy machine-guns. The British Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster has tested its newly installed heavy machine-guns for the first time off the South Coast.
The vessel is equipped with .50 calibre heavy machine-guns, typically used by Royal Marines and navy helicopter crew, to increase its firepower while defending itself against small, fast-attack crafts.
The weapon can fire at 500-600 rounds per minute and has a range of up to 2,000m. The half inch/12.7mm diameter shells can penetrate light armour and will tear through plastics, such as RIB speed boats.
During the test, the gunners fired multiple rounds at various angles and in various directions from the bridge wing mountings. Additional such tests will be conducted soon to enhance firing accuracy and efficacy.
HMS Lancaster close-range weapons instructor leading seaman Mikey Benbow said: “I was eager to get on the mount as nobody on the ship had ever fired it before and although it’s within the confines of my job on board, it’s a new weapon to me and has given me another challenge and weapon to train with.
“When it actually came to firing, to be honest it didn’t have as much of a kick as I thought it would, but it really came into its own with the sound of each round leaving the gun.
“I can imagine it would be more intimidating than our current weapons for someone to hear if they were attacking the ship.”
Commissioned in 1992, HMS Lancaster began this year by undergoing some maintenance. The ship has a range of around 7,800 miles and a top speed of 28 knots. (Source: naval-technology.com)
10 Feb 21. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency LongShot Award Supports Initiative to Increase Weapon Range and Effectiveness.
Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) Tactical Technology Office (TTO) to develop an advanced technology weapon concept designed to significantly increase engagement range and weapon effectiveness of U.S. Forces against adversary air threats.
“Our collaboration with DARPA is the critical first step in the development of innovative operational concepts and solutions that will enhance our warfighter’s combat capability against a rapidly growing threat,” said Jaime Engdahl, program director, kinetic weapons and emerging capabilities, Northrop Grumman. “The LongShot program enables us to combine our digital engineering skillset with our extensive knowledge in advanced technology weapons, autonomous systems and strike platforms to increase weapon range and effectiveness.”
Spurred by rapid technological advancements and an ever more dangerous and disruptive battlefield, DARPA’s LongShot program will explore new lethal engagement concepts by leveraging multi-modal propulsion, weapon systems that can be operationally deployed from existing fighters or bombers.
DARPA’s advanced aerospace systems activities are focused on utilizing high pay-off opportunities to provide revolutionary new system capabilities, as opposed to incremental or evolutionary advancements, in order to achieve undeterrable air presence at dramatically reduced costs.
The LongShot program enables Northrop Grumman to combine its expertise in weapon system design, survivability, autonomy, advanced mission systems and rapid prototyping to deliver advanced solutions that help to maintain a competitive military advantage in highly contested environments.
09 Feb 21. Hypersonic Debates Shaped By Politics: Aerospace. “In some ways, it’s too early to say ‘game changer,’ or ‘nothing.’ And I would say, just to put it starkly, each of those positions is probably likely to be untrue or inaccurate,” CSBA’s Tom Mahnken says.
The intense debate over the capabilities of hypersonic missiles divides US scientists and experts along political lines and that is complicating the Pentagon’s investment decisions, finds a new study by the non-profit Aerospace Corporation.
Indeed, in many ways, today’s debate about hypersonic missile tech echoes the ideological (some have said practically religious) wars over missile defense in the 1980s that still resonate across the US national security community.
“This is not, in some ways, a new technology,” said Sam Wilson, author of the Aerospace Corporation’s new study, “The Hypersonic Missile Debate.” “More than 40 years ago we, we launched a high-tech glider that traveled at hypersonic speeds, which was called the Space Shuttle. … There’s a lot of information about the technology; it’s just there’s just very different assessments. … just extremely different characterizations of the technology.”
Tom Mahnken, president of the respected Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), cautioned against early conclusions. “People should kind of step back from this a little bit, and kind of see where we are in the development of hypersonics,” he said at a panel discussion today about the report. “In some ways, it’s too early to say ‘game changer,’ or ‘nothing.’ And I would say, just to put it starkly, each of those positions is probably likely to be untrue or inaccurate.”
The basis for such extremely polarized views of whether hypersonic missiles are a revolutionary capability or not a leap at all lies in widely disparate views about our strategic relations with Russia and China, Wilson explained in an interview. Those on the right-wing of the political spectrum believe the US can, and should, try to out-compete Russia and China — including eating into their nuclear deterrent capabilities. Those who lean left believe the goal should be to dampen strategic competition, including through improved resilience and arms control.
That strategic debate extends even to opposing views about what historical lessons were learned from the Cold War, Wilson said. Right-leaning pundits assert the US outspent and out-innovated Russia to ‘win’ that 50-year ideological conflict; left-leaning ones contend it proved there can never be a winner in an expensive arms racing.
Most recently, as Breaking D readers were first to know, the debate broke out with the Pentagon’s director of hypersonic research, Michael White, pushing back publicly against a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) criticizing the effectiveness of hypersonic missiles. (UCS scientists were among the early critics of the Reagan-era ‘Star Wars’ program’s efforts to build myriad space-based missile defenses — technology that 40 years later still has not been deemed cost-effective by the Pentagon.)
The study found four discrete viewpoints, from right to left on the political scale:
- Get Ahead. The United States should seek to lead in offensive hypersonics capability and use hypersonics to achieve strategic advantages over Russia and China.
- Shields Up. The United States should invest in new capabilities to track adversarial missiles (conventional and nuclear) during their flight and intercept them before they reach their target.
- Draw the Line. This approach emphasizes defense against conventionally armed hypersonics, drawing the line between conventional and nuclear hypersonic weapons.
- Avoid the Race. The United States should rely on nuclear deterrence to address hypersonic threats and avoid a costly action-reaction cycle.
Participants informally polled online during today’s seminar — mainly DoD officials, military leaders, defense industry representatives and defense-related think tankers — fell into Category No. 1.
DoD is pumping huge sums of money into research on both offensive hypersonic missiles and defenses agains them. As Sydney and I first reported, the Pentagon asked Congress for $2.9bn for hypersonic weapons in 2021, up not quite 14 percent from a 2020 total of $2.5bn. For hypersonic defense, the department requested another $207m in 2021, up from $157m in 2020, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
A CRS report, Hypersonic Weapons: Background and Issues for Congress, noted that the Pentagon hasn’t really committed to long-term efforts to build offensive hypersonic missiles. So far, there aren’t any hypersonic programs embedded in the budget as a program of record.
“At present, the Department of Defense (DOD) has not established any programs of record for hypersonic weapons, suggesting that it may not have approved either requirements for the systems or long-term funding plans,” the report says. “Indeed, as Assistant Director for Hypersonics (Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering) Mike White has stated, DOD has not yet made a decision to acquire hypersonic weapons and is instead developing prototypes to assist in the evaluation of potential weapon system concepts and mission sets.”
Therefore, CRS recommends that Congress ask DoD pointed questions about “the rationale for hypersonic weapons, their expected costs, and their implications for strategic stability and arms control.”
The Aerospace study is agnostic regarding technological reality. Wilson said the study’s goal instead is to help policy-makers sort through why opinions are so divided, and figure out how to methodically work through that divide.
“I think that it’s really important to try to unpack the strategic from the technological, because I think these things are so entwined,” he said.
Another important step, Wilson added, would be for the incoming Biden administration to look very seriously at what the end goals are vis-a-vis US relationships with Russia and China writ large.
“What do we want from the relationship with Russia and China? How much of our focus should be on preparing for high-intensity major conflict with Russia and China, and what are the parameters of that conflict? I think by starting to ask those questions we can get a better understanding of where hypersonic missiles could fit in,” he said. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
10 Feb 21. Lockheed Martin UK unwraps future anti-armour concept. In an exclusive interview during International Armoured Vehicles (IAV) 2021, Lockheed Martin UK future concepts lead Mike Dalzell lifted the lid on the company’s future anti-armour concept designed to support future mounted close combat operations.
Key to the concept is the combination of a modular armoured vertical launch system – that could in future be carried on an 8×8 armoured vehicle like the British Army’s newly acquired Boxer – and integration with a Battle Management Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (BMC4I) solution that would allow the handoff of targets from forwarding reconnaissance vehicles, helicopters or potentially fighter aircraft like the F-35.
Designed for line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight engagements, Dalzell explained how the anti-armour concept could sit within the formations like the British Army’s armoured infantry or Strike brigades bolstering their firepower and engaging adversary armour from a safe distance.
Another aspect of the concept is that it is designed to support future operations that could see a numerically smaller British force dispersed across a larger location. This is key to the concept’s network aspect, as the launch system will not always be the vehicle to find a potential target.
Dalzell said: “What we’ve been doing is future-gazing to a certain extent, to understand what the future anti-armour needs of our army customers might be. In the UK we are looking to the British Army but, we are aware that there are customers in other countries who may have similar requirements.
“We are looking very much beyond where we are at the moment and understand where the needs might be within the next ten years onwards and trying to answer some of these particular challenges that are out there, and I think some of them have been explained already to a certain degree within the context of the IAV conference.”
Examples of the challenges Dalzell mentions are concepts like multi-domain operations – with forces working together across air, land, and sea. More importantly, for this concept, being able to shoot without being seen and the need to link ‘shooters’ to counter adversaries might bring more vehicles to a battlefield.
Explaining the requirements of the concept, Dalzell said: “One is the ability to carry a very large magazine with the ability to potentially salvo-fire that magazine very quickly and concentrate that firepower on a particular area, or to disperse it across the battlespace as required.
“Key to that is the ability to conduct third-party engagement or beyond the visual line of sight. That means there are many cases in which the launch vehicle would not be the vehicle which physically identifies the target and designates it. (Source: army-technology.com)
09 Feb 21. US Army Taking Serious Look at Composite Cartridges. The US Army’s next-generation squad weapon program is experimenting with composite-cased 6.8 mm ammunition, which may help lighten soldiers’ loads. Ammunition manufacturer True Velocity in early January finalized delivery of more than 625,000 rounds of the company’s proprietary composite-cased 6.8 mm ammo to the U.S. Army for consideration in the program. The Army is looking to replace the standard 5.56×45 mm round, according to a company statement. Its “composite cartridge provides significant logistical advantages over traditional brass-cased ammunition and gives end users unmatched accuracy, repeatability and reliability, all in a light-weight cartridge,” the statement said.
The product offers a “30 percent weight reduction, improved accuracy, optimized muzzle velocity and increased ballistic efficiency,” it added.
For a typical infantryman’s load of seven 30-round magazines, that would amount to him being able to carry an additional 90 rounds, a company executive told National Defense at the 2019 Shot Show.
Composite casing also reduces heat produced during the firing process, the executive noted. That in turn diminishes wear and tear on the gun. The composite material is a heat insulator while brass is a conductor.
The Army will test the ammunition in a variety of settings throughout 2021 before issuing a final decision on contracts related to NGSW participation, the company said.
Its composite-cased rounds are currently being offered to other public agencies, with plans to offer them to general public consumers later. The Australian Defence Force is also experimenting with the ammunition, a separate statement said.
Along with the new round, the Army is also reviewing True Velocity’s manufacturing processes and infrastructure. A production cell that occupies 2,640 square feet can produce as many as 27 million rounds per year, the statement said. The company occupies a 66,000-square-foot facility in Garland, Texas.
Company CEO Kevin Boscamp said: “True Velocity rounds will not only give warfighters a significant advantage in the field, but we believe our products and processes will save institutions such as the Department of Defense millions of dollars in logistics costs.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/NDIA.org)
09 Feb 21. US Army begins equipping first unit with hypersonic capability. The U.S. Army expects to deliver — in a little more than 200 days from start to finish — the first hypersonic weapon capability to a unit, a service official said.
The Army has already started to send that unit the equipment it needs to prepare for a rigorous training program, according to Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, director of the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO).
While the Army has been working with industry to build the hypersonic weapon glide body industrial base, it has also been producing the launchers, trucks, trailers, and battle operation center needed to put together a ground-launched hypersonic weapon battery.
“By the end of this fiscal year, which is in September, all of the equipment that the unit needs plus training will be delivered to the unit,” Thurgood told Defense News in a Feb. 8 interview.
Lockheed Martin is the weapon system integrator for the Army’s hypersonic capability that will be launched from a mobile truck and Dynetics has been chosen to build the hypersonic glide body portion of the missile.
While Thurgood declined to name the specific unit chosen to take on the first hypersonic battery, he said the company, battalion and brigade commanders have all been selected.
The only element that won’t be delivered to the unit until fiscal 2023 is live rounds. However, on March 8, Thurgood said he will personally deliver the first two training canisters for the unit to use for end-to-end kill-chain training.
Once that unit has the equipment it needs, it will begin training in October to prepare for the first joint flight campaign test that’s scheduled with the Navy for the first quarter of FY22, Thurgood said. They will also prepare for subsequent tests in the fourth quarter of FY22 and the second quarter of FY23.
The unit will not participate in the hypersonic flight test scheduled for the third quarter of FY21.
Thurgood said he could not detail the upcoming test profiles because those details are classified. However, the first test of the Common-Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB), took place in March 2020 when a missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii and hit its target within six inches, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in October.
Hypersonic weapons are capable of flying faster than Mach 5 — much faster than the speed of sound — and can maneuver between varying altitudes and azimuths, making it harder to detect. The C-HGB is made up of the weapon’s warhead, guidance system, cabling and thermal protection shield.
The U.S. is in a race to field hypersonic weapon capability as well as develop systems to defend against hypersonic missiles as both China and Russia are actively developing and testing their respective hypersonic weapons.
Meanwhile, Dynetics is preparing to build the first hypersonic glide bodies at its facility in Huntsville, Alabama, after learning how to do so from the federally funded Sandia National Laboratories. These glide bodies will be the first ever produced within the U.S. industrial base.
“The transition is going well,” Thurgood said. Dynetics has spent almost 18 months at Sandia learning how to build the glide body and also taking a crack at building it themselves at the laboratory with Sandia looking on and offering guidance where necessary.
Sandia representatives will be at the Dynetics’ facility when the glide body building begins there to continue to look over the shoulder of those doing the work.
“Transitioning production technology is not as easy as people might perceive it to be,” Thurgood said. “Production, especially high-end production, is part engineering and part art and so the engineering piece you can learn through drawings and those kind of things, but the art of it is always the hardest part, so that’s why we chose an in person, face-to-face, leader-follower [strategy]; that institutional knowledge that everybody has in every profession that’s never written down” he added.
The other challenge in building the industrial base, Thurgood noted, is creating an entire supply chain, and not just focusing on the top tier, like Dynetics. This kind of work has meant an almost daily focus on how the pieces are coming together, Thurgood said.
And the pressure to move quickly to build glide bodies is demanding given the rigorous test schedule ahead.
Building a new industrial base for hypersonic missiles would be difficult in a normal world, but having to do so under coronavirus pandemic restrictions has been even more challenging, Thurgood said.
But, one key, he added, is that the companies involved have been “innovative” in terms of what can be done from home such as working on drawings which would have traditionally been done at a facility. Where touch labor is necessary, workers are spacing themselves out accordingly and wearing protective equipment as well as adjusting shifts, Thurgood described.
“You know, some smaller companies are challenged, we’re watching that every day,” Thurgood said. “You know, it might have been a week delay here, we make it up by shifting process around, shifting sequence around, but, this is one situation where American ingenuity has really come to light.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
09 Feb 21. British Army using small grenade-launched drone in Mali. The British Army has deployed to Mali with the small DefendTex Drone40 that can be launched from 40mm grenade launchers and is capable of being used as part of a swarm.
The British Army has deployed to Mali with the small DefendTex Drone40 that can be launched from 40mm grenade launchers and is capable of being used as part of a swarm.
The Drone40 system is capable of carrying several payloads and can be used as a loitering munition, however, it is only being used by the British Army for surveillance and reconnaissance as part of its deployment to Mali.
The British Army acquired the Drone40s through Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) Future Capability Group Buy And Try at Scale (BATS) procurement method, which allows the armed forces to trial equipment before committing to a long-term procurement programme.
Commenting on the system’s use, a Ministry of Defence (MOD) spokesperson told Army Technology: “UK Armed Forces deployed in Mali for UN peacekeeping operations are equipped with the DefendTex D40 and other state-of-the-art Unmanned Aerial Systems to give them the best possible situational awareness.”
The Drone40 system weighs 190 grams and is capable of flying for 30 minutes to an hour. The system is marketed as being expendable or reusable. The British Army was first spotted using the drone last year during the Mission Rehearsal Exercise for the Mali deployment.
While the system is capable of being launched from an under-barrel grenade launcher, the system being used by the army in Mali is hand-launched. Drone40 has a range of over 12 miles.
The 300 strong UK task force arrived in Mali last December, with personnel primarily drawn from the Light Dragoons and the Royal Anglian Regiment. The forces are deployed as part of the wider United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
The UK has also deployed three Chinook helicopters to Mali as well as 100 logistics personnel in support of the French Operation Barkhane – which is separate to the UN mission. (Source: army-technology.com)
08 Feb 21. Rafael details challenges of defeating APFSDS long rod penetrators with APS. Defeating advanced anti-armour rounds with active protection systems (APSs) would mark a step change in vehicle defences, but such technology must still overcome notable hurdles. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems detailed the technical challenges of engaging armour piercing fin stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS) long rod penetrators with APS during a 3 February presentation at the 2021 International Armoured Vehicles online conference.
Protection technology in the West has prioritised anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) and rocket propelled grenades for a considerable time, reflecting common threats in the US led operations in Iraq and Afghanistan throughout the past two decades. The apex of this technological path has been the development and gradual fielding of hard kill APSs that are able to defeat such projectiles in flight, prior to them reaching the defended platform. In recent years the priority has been refocused on the threat presented by conventional armour, particularly the APFSDS rounds fired by medium calibre cannons and large calibre tank guns. In this regard, APS technology is still in the early stages, as the inherent act of detecting, tracking, engaging, and defeating an APFSDS long rod penetrator is an enormous technical challenge. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Feb 21. DARPA selects LongShot teams. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has contracted three companies for the first phase of its LongShot programme to develop an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of employing multiple air-to-air weapons. DARPA announced on 8 February that General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI), Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman had each been contracted for preliminary Phase I design work.
“The objective is to develop a novel UAV that can significantly extend engagement ranges, increase mission effectiveness, and reduce the risk to manned aircraft,” DARPA said. “Current air superiority concepts rely on advanced manned fighter aircraft to provide a penetrating counter air capability to effectively deliver weapons. It is envisioned that LongShot will increase the survivability of manned platforms by allowing them to be at stand-off ranges far away from enemy threats, while an air-launched LongShot UAV efficiently closes the gap to take more effective missile shots.”
DARPA did not disclose contract values, nor did it provide a timeline for Phase 1 or for any other elements of the LongShot programme. The only other details provided by the agency noted that under the later phases of the programme a flight will be conducted of a full-scale air-launched demonstration system capable of controlled operations, before, during, and after weapon ejection under real world conditions. (Source: Jane’s)
08 Feb 21. British Royal Navy’s HMS Talent tests upgraded Spearfish torpedo. The British Royal Navy’s Trafalgar-class attack submarine, HMS Talent, has conducted trials of the upgraded version of Spearfish torpedo off the west coast of Scotland.
The British Royal Navy’s Trafalgar-class attack submarine, HMS Talent, has conducted trials of the upgraded version of Spearfish torpedo off the west coast of Scotland.
The three-day trial was conducted near the Isle of Skye to procure important data and support the final stages of the upgraded torpedo’s development before it enters service.
During the trial, HMS Talent fired four Spearfish torpedoes, the first of which was launched at a targeted vessel. The remaining three were pitched against the submarine itself to assess the risks of the vessel torpedoing itself.
The torpedoes were subsequently recovered to study the data and determine the next course of programme as the torpedo moves towards Initial Operating Capability.
HMS Talent commanding officer commander Paul Jamieson said: “Talent has been the host platform on two occasions for this trial and my team are proud to have had a role in this important programme.
“The Spearfish upgrade will ensure the submarine service continues to possess a very credible weapon system, capable of dealing with potential future threats.”
The Royal Navy has been using Spearfish as the heavyweight torpedo for nearly 30 years. The torpedo is capable of breaking the back of frigates, destroyers and destroy other underwater threats.
The improved version is equipped with a new warhead, new fuel system, advanced electronic components and a fibre-optic guidance link with its parent submarine to improve accuracy and lethality.
The British naval forces aims to equip all front-line Royal Navy submarines with the operational version by 2025.
Last month, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced an investment of £230m ($315m) for the maintenance of Royal Navy’s Spearfish and Sting Ray torpedoes. (Source: naval-technology.com)
08 Feb 21. Russia to develop ATGM to destroy unmanned aerial vehicles. Russian state-owned conglomerate Rostec has announced plans to develop a multi-purpose anti-tank guided missile system (ATGM) that will be capable of neutralising unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).
Russian state-owned conglomerate Rostec has announced plans to develop a multi-purpose anti-tank guided missile system (ATGM) that will be capable of neutralising unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).
KBP Instrument Design Bureau, a part of High Precision Weapons holding company of Rostec, has initiated the development of the ATGM. Rostec claimed that currently there is no active anti-tank weapon system in the world that is capable of shooting down small-sized UAVs.
Rostec industrial director Bekkhan Ozdoev said: “KBP has started developing new ATGMs. The new design is no longer solely a highly specialised anti-tank weapon, but a multipurpose defensive and assault weapon capable of effectively hitting both traditional targets such as tanks or armoured vehicles, but also a whole range of previously unattainable targets such as unmanned aerial vehicles.”
The new missile system will leverage thermal and optical seeker technologies to identify aerial threats and will operate on the fire-and-forget principle.
However, the name of the new weapon system was not specified by the company.
Separately, KBP is working to enhance the technology of manufacturing warheads for ATGM missiles. The work will help in delivering improved compositions of explosives.
Recently, Russia defence ministry signed an agreement with its counterpart in Myanmar to deliver a batch of Pantsir-S1 self-propelled anti-aircraft missile and gun systems. These systems can destroy fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, ballistic and cruise missiles, precision-guided munitions and small UAVs.
Under the agreement, Myanmar will also receive Orlan-10E unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and radar stations. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
08 Feb 21. Elbit Systems to equip Netherlands CV90 with Iron Fist APS. BAE Systems Hägglunds has awarded a contract to Elbit Systems to support the Royal Netherlands Army’s (RNLA) CV90 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) modernisation programme.
BAE Systems Hägglunds has awarded a contract to Elbit Systems to support the Royal Netherlands Army’s (RNLA) CV90 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) modernisation programme.
Under the $82m contract, Elbit Systems will provide its Iron Fist Active Protection Systems (APS) and Commander Open Architecture Panoramic Sights (COAPS) for the Netherlands CV90 IFVs.
Elbit Systems Land general manager Yehuda (Udi) Vered said: “We are pleased with the opportunity to cooperate with BAE Systems Hägglunds and to support this important modernisation programme of the RNLA.”
Work under the contract will be carried out for four and a half years.
Since 2015, BAE Systems Hägglunds and the RNLA have been working on integrating the Iron Fist APS onto the CV9035NL.
The lightweight Iron Fist system is designed to deliver the required crew protection as it allows to combat threats from a safe distance. It makes use of optical sensors, tracking radars, launchers and countermeasure munitions.
COAPS modular dual-axis stabilised sight facilitates long-range target acquisition both day and night.
In January, BAE Systems secured a $500m contract to upgrade the Netherlands’ CV90s.
In a separate contract, Elbit Systems has been contracted to supply VBTP 6X6 wheeled armoured personnel carriers (APCs) to an undisclosed Asia-Pacific army customer.
As part of the $46m contract, the vehicles will be fitted with the company’s turrets and subsystems.
Some of the Elbit systems that will be integrated include TORCH-X battle management systems, E-LynX software-defined radio systems, fire control systems, gunner and commander sights and more.
The vehicles were developed by Iveco Defence Vehicles in partnership with the Brazilian Army.
Vered stated: “We are pleased with our continuous co-operation with Iveco, particularly with our capacity to contribute to the export efforts of the Brazilian defence industry. We believe that our strong portfolio of subsystems positions us advantageously to lead procurement programmes of armoured vehicles, especially as the missions they are tasked with become more diverse and increasingly networked.”
The company is expected to complete the contracted work over a three-year period. (Source: army-technology.com)
09 Feb 21. New Laser Pod to Be Fitted on Chinese Aircraft. It is meant to shoot down incoming missiles. Here’s What You Need to Remember: For the U.S. military, airborne lasers are more than a potentially useful weapon to fry enemy aircraft, or protect American planes from anti-aircraft missiles. They could also be a key component of ballistic missile defense: manned aircraft or drones, armed with high-powered lasers and flying North Korea and other nations, could disable ballistic missiles during the initial boost phase of their flight.
China is developing an airborne laser weapon.
The Chinese military’s procurement Web site recently posted a notice about a laser attack pod, according to the state-run Global Times newspaper. The details of the project were listed as confidential, something the U.S. military does when it publishes notices for sensitive projects on the FedBizOps procurement site.
“If equipped on aircraft, the laser could potentially protect against incoming missile attacks and dominate in close-range combat,” Global Times said.
Chinese media noted that the laser attack pod indicated that the device was probably an airborne tactical laser: if it had been a laser designator to guide smart bombs, it would have been called a laser guidance pod.
Weihutang, a military affairs program on Chinese state television, claimed that China has already developed a prototype 100-kilowatt airborne laser weapon. It pointed to a paper, titled “Study on Energy Storage and Power Supply of Airborne Laser Weapon,” written by the state-owned AVIC Manufacturing Technology Institute and the Military Resident Representative Bureau of Special Equipment of the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force.
An airborne laser wouldn’t be China’s first laser weapon. At a 2018 airshow in China, the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation unveiled the LW-30 air and missile defense laser, “which could use a directional-emission high-energy laser to intercept aerial targets such as photoelectric guidance equipment, drones, guided bombs and mortars,” the company told Global Times.
Other nations are working on laser weapons. Russia says its eventual sixth-generation fighter may be armed with a laser weapon, while in 2017, the U.S. Air Force awarded a $26m contract to Lockheed Martin for development of an airborne laser by 2021. The project, titled Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator, or SHiELD. would consist of a laser, a pod to supply power and cooling, and a beam-control system to focus the laser on the target.
For the U.S. military, airborne lasers are more than a potentially useful weapon to fry enemy aircraft, or protect American planes from anti-aircraft missiles. They could also be a key component of ballistic missile defense: manned aircraft or drones, armed with high-powered lasers and flying North Korea and other nations, could disable ballistic missiles during the initial boost phase of their flight.
But even Chinese media acknowledges the difficulties of creating a airborne laser cannon. “This genre of weapon has not yet seen wide deployment due to remaining technical difficulties including power supply and energy loss problems,” Global Times said.
The poster child of how not to design an airborne laser is the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s YAL Airborne Laser Testbed, an ambitious attempt to turn a Boeing 747 airliner into a flying laser cannon. Armed with a giant chemical laser powered by what was essentially highly volatile rocket fuel, the YAL was supposed to zap ballistic missiles. However, it proved so expensive and unrealistic – a 747 would have to fly close to enemy territory — that then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates scrapped the project in 2009.
However, the YAL concept dated back to the 1980s, and grandiose ideas such as Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” missile defense project. Today’s focus is on smaller, more practical laser weapons that can be mounted on a ground vehicle, or on a pod carried by an aircraft.
This still leaves questions, such as whether a sufficiently powerful laser beam can be focused long enough to destroy fast-moving targets such as aircraft, missiles and drones. Nonetheless, airborne laser weapons are moving closer to fruition. (Source: News Now/https://nationalinterest.org)
08 Feb 21. RBSL unveils ‘Telford Enhanced’ armour solutions. Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) revealed details of two new armour solutions, called the Telford Enhanced Spaced Armour (TESA) and the Telford Enhanced Ceramic Armour (TECA), during a 3 February presentation at the 2021 International Armoured Vehicles online conference.
TESA is a perforated armour, which utilises a novel geometry within the structure of the armour, to cause a projectile to interact with the armour plate at an oblique angle, Tony Wilkes, head of export sales for RBSL, explained during the presentation. It is currently in the final stages of development and the armour packs are being taken through validation trials, and a full product launch is anticipated later in 2021, Wilkes said.
An image on the Jane’s web site showed the TESA armour array, the fractured elements of a projectile have been caught by the armour plate to the rear. (RBSL)
The TESA can be specified to provide either STANAG 4569 level 4 or 5 protection, which requires the armour to defeat a 14.5 × 114 mm round fired from 200 m and a 25 mm armour-piercing discarding sabot (APDS) round fired from 500 m. Each armour pack is fully enclosed with a front and rear cover plate, meant to improve performance and reduce maintenance, Wilkes explained, adding that the armour could be made neutrally buoyant by filling the internal voids. The outer skin can also be used to limit the radar cross section, he said. The modular nature of the armour means that armour packs can be replaced or repaired in the field.
BATTLESPACE Comment: This is not a new development. British Steel obtained a government grant in the early 2000s to develop Super Bainite perforated steel. The company took a sample up to Hobson Industries’ range to test. The bullet went straight through the hole! A major redesign took place to make the hole oblong shaped. The pictures shown here suggest that RBSL could have made a similar mistake.
06 Feb 21. US Army sets first shoot-off for airborne, long-range precision munitions. The U.S. Army has set its first shoot-off for airborne, long-range precision munitions for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022, according to a Feb. 2 request for information that the service posted to a government contracting website.
Plans to acquire a long-range precision munition for the Army’s future fleet of helicopters have been in the works for several years, and the service has already picked Israeli company Rafael’s Spike non-line-of-sight missile as an interim solution to deliver long-range lethality from both current and future fleets after extensively demonstrating it on both foreign and American AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.
Spike has a 30-kilometer range, so competitors will likely have to meet that benchmark.
Long-range munitions for the service’s future aircraft will be critical to engage the enemy’s defensive positions from a comfortable standoff — or out of range of enemy detection.
The Army said last summer that it would conduct a few fly-offs to test possible long-range precision fires munitions as it worked to solidify its requirements and assess capabilities needed for a permanent solution.
The service is molding a future fleet for the early 2030s, acquiring two manned helicopters, a tactical unmanned aircraft system, air-launched effects and long-range precision munitions that will be networked together on the battlefield using a common digital, modular, open-systems architecture.
“It is the Army’s intent to conduct this demonstration to inform the LRPM capabilities development and to inform the selection of a single or multiple vendors to build, integrate, test, and/or qualify on Army aviation platforms,” the request for information stated.
The Army will request whitepapers around January 2023. Vendors who plan to compete for an award have to participate in the shoot-off demonstration at their own expense and submit a whitepaper, the RFI noted.
The LRPF munition is geared toward operability from a future attack reconnaissance aircraft. A demonstration of the munition type for the FARA platform is anticipated in FY26, according to the RFI.
The Army will need to finalize a preliminary design review across the board for assets within its future fleet in the 2023 time frame, so it has roughly three years to work with industry to settle on an LRPF capability and ensure it is interoperable with platforms. Those platforms are still on the drawing table, which presents a challenge. (Source: Defense News)
08 Feb 21. The Belgian-Dutch minehunter replacement programme carried out by Belgium Naval & Robotics successfully reaches the milestone “Preliminary Design Review.” On 18 December 2020, the Belgium Naval & Robotics teams reached a new contract milestone, the programme is still on track. This programme will supply the Belgian and Dutch navies with
twelve minehunters equipped with unmanned systems (toolboxes).
“Achieving the Preliminary Design Review confirms that the overall design meets all the client’s contractual requirements. Nearly 200 staff members, employed at the Naval Group sites in Lorient, Ollioules, Nantes-Indret, Angoulême-Ruelle and Paris, have been working hard for months to be able to come up with more than 80 deliverables by mid-November defining the ship and all her systems.” Explains Eric Perrot, Naval Group programme director. This milestone also marks the programme’s gradual transition towards the Kership teams. Naval Group is in charge of the preliminary design of the ships and works closely together with Kership. They will start on the detailed design of the ships as of February 2021, followed by their construction. The construction of the first ship will start in the summer of 2021 and the delivery is planned for 2024.
For the unmanned systems, the completion of this milestone was formalized by the delivery and acceptance of the documentation defining operational use concepts, functional and technical architectures as well as preliminary safety studies of each system (surface drone USV INSPECTOR 125, underwater drone AUV A18-M, towed sonar T18-M, inspection and neutralization drones SEASCAN MK2 and K-STER, aerial drone UAV, the sweep system and containers). “In the midst of the health crisis, more than 100 ECA GROUP employees have contributed to the completion of this important milestone in 2020. We remain fully committed to our customer to reach the following milestones and to start the production of the prototypes in 2021,” underlines Jean-Louis Sambarino, ECA GROUP programme director.
This milestone proves once again the resilience of the Naval Group and ECA Group teams. Despite the complex sanitary conditions imposed on the Belgian-Dutch programme just eighteen months after its launch, everything is well on schedule.
“Thanks to their diligence and expertise, Belgium Naval & Robotics managed to deliver all the documents of the Preliminary Design Review on time. The adjustments made by BNR as a result of our in-depth analysis, numerous comments and questions, have been swift and constructive. My binational project team and I are confident and look forward to the Critical Design Reviews.”, Captain Claude Bultot, rMCM programme director for the Belgian navy.
05 Feb 21. BAE, Safran, Nova Systems join forces for LAND 125 bid. The firms have formed a partnership to advance their bid for Defence’s Integrated Solider System program. BAE Systems Australia, Safran, and Nova Systems Australia and New Zealand have partnered to establish ‘Team SABRE’ — a co-operative formed to secure the contract for the Commonwealth government’s LAND 125 Phase 4 Integrated Soldier System (ISS) project.
Team SABRE aims to leverage BAE Systems’ robotic and autonomous platform capability, Safran’s experience supporting soldier modernisation projects, and Nova Systems’ ADF capability acquisition and realisation experience, to demonstrate suitability for the Defence program.
“Safran has decades of experience in delivering soldier modernisation projects of similar complexity around the world, including the French Army’s FELIN and CENTURION programs,” Alexis de Pelleport, Safran Pacific’s CEO, said.
“The SABRE solution will provide the Australian dismounted solider with a capability and decision-making edge over any adversary, now and into the future.”
According to Team SABRE, the firms’ LAND 125 bid is centred on harnessing new technology to respond to “rapidly changing threat environments”, reducing the burden placed on modern soldiers.
“There is no off-the-shelf or turn-key solution to this challenging and complex project,” Steve Robinson, Nova Systems CEO, said.
“Nova Systems brings our considerable experience and know-how in delivering C4ISREW capabilities in Defence, and our credentials as a 100 per cent Australian owned and operated company to the team.
“Importantly, the sovereign capabilities Nova Systems is growing through Team SABRE will remain in country and will support future ADF capability realisation across all domains.”
BAE Systems Australia chief technology officer Brad Yelland said the prime is well placed to provide support for the design, development and delivery of autonomous solutions across the air, land and sea domains.
“As the land autonomy lead for the TAS-DCRC and in partnership with Australian Army on the M113 OCCV program, our skilled engineers and specialists will deliver next-generation sovereign autonomy technology to Team SABRE,” he said.
“Our diverse range of autonomous technologies also include highly advanced navigation, mapping, vision and safety systems.”
Team SABRE has committed to offering ICN opportunities and collaborating with local organisations if selected for the program. (Source: Defence Connect)
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.