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19 Mar 21. US Navy, armaments consortium forge partnership to solve energetics tech challenges. Amid fears about the strained industrial base for energetics, a key part of munitions and other conventional weapons, the Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division has forged an agreement with the National Armaments Consortium to accelerate tech breakthroughs over the next six to ten years.
Energetics is a broad category of materials found in rocket and missile motors, ammunition, warheads and fuzing. Because of thin domestic availability of workers and certain chemicals used to make energetics, munition supplies are at risk, according to successive defense industrial base studies.
Under the agreement, the Navy’s hub for developing energetics-related technologies will use a flexible, nontraditional “other transaction authority,” to task consortium members in industry and academia with solving its toughest challenges. Advanced Technology International, which specializes in managing OTA-based collaborations, is also a party to the deal.
The agreement to develop a new Naval Energetic Systems and Technologies Program covers 20 categories, like naval gun systems, warheads, propellants, propulsion systems, ordnance disposal and simulation in all the environments in which the Navy and Marine Corps operate.
Beyond the theoretical, NAC members would do prototyping, engineering development, acquisition and low-rate production for NSWC Indian Head. The contract’s first year is expected to yield 50 prototype projects totaling $50m, with unspecified growth in the out-years.
“You’re trying to make power matches much quicker than a traditional [acquisition] process might get there,” said NSWC Indian Head Deputy Technical Director Amy O’Donnell. “More so, you’re trying to make the right matches … And what’s really important is we’ve magnified our access to a community of performers out there in this category.”
NSWC Indian Head is a large, 130-year-old facility with a sweeping mission to research, develop, test, evaluate and produce energetics. At one point, 75% of all explosives deployed in U.S. weapons had been created there.
The NAC is made up of 900 companies, academic institutions, engineers and technologists. Its energetics subsegment includes some small niche entities and some as recognizable as BAE, Northrop Grumman and Pennsylvania State University.
“I can see all kinds of opportunities for prototypes, from ingredients to propellants, explosives ― and including demonstrating them at system-level, so gun systems, missile systems, rocket systems and underwater systems,” said NAC Executive Director Charlie Zisette. “This is really, I think, a groundbreaking move.”
Supply chain management will be another theme.
“It isn’t just about, ‘can I get rounds to go further.’ It’s also about having reliable sources of supply,” Zisette said. “If you look at the precursors we use to make energetic materials, in gun propellants, pyrotechnics, explosives, a lot of that chemical manufacturing has gone overseas. Part of this initiative is about ‘are we going to get back in that game and make sure our sources of supply and stable and robust.’”
The Navy and other services have reportedly seen a boom in the use of OTAs for cybersecurity and information technology, but this may not be the last one for energetics. In the 2020 defense policy bill, Congress directed the Pentagon create a long-term energetics plan to maintain U.S. technological superiority; research and use new technologies, and to maintain a robust industrial base and workforce.
Zisette said the OTA’s flexibility will allow collaboration both to define and answer new requirements. Those requirements will be presented and discussed at periodic Navy-hosted industry days.
“The key is innovation through collaboration,” he said. “It’s going to be more effective and faster, with the best ideas right up front.”
(Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)
19 Mar 21. The contract for the development of the SAMP/T NG (New Generation) for France and Italy has been signed today at OCCAR premises in France (Paris area) in the presence of the French Air and Space Force staff, the Italian Army staff, the OCCAR Director and National representatives of the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) and of the Italian Armament Directorate (SGD). OCCAR has awarded the contract, by delegation of DGA and SGD, to the Franco-Italian consortium eurosam; backed by its three shareholders MBDA France, MBDA Italy and Thales.
This contract complements the first contract signed in 2016 with the objective to enhance the SAMP/T systems operational in the French Air and Space Force and the Italian Army.
With this contract, eurosam is able to deliver an important enhancement of the SAMP/T system based on:
– An enhanced missile to enlarge the ASTER family: the ASTER Block 1 NT (new technology) with a new seeker and a new computer able to face the new emerging threats.
– An upgraded launcher featuring new electronic equipment.
– A new multifunction rotating Active Electronically Scanned Array radar.
– A command and control module based on upgraded open command and control software architecture and enhanced connectivity.
The SAMP/T NG is designed to achieve all Ground-Based Air Defense missions with enhanced
key capabilities. It is a long-range surface-to-air missile defense system able to:
– Operate in a dense civilian air environment, in cooperation with friendly military aircraft and fully integrated into air defense networks.
– Provide a 360-degree protection to armed forces and sensitive civil or military sites.
– Offer a dual capability to defeat simultaneously all types of targets, in any combination of types.
– Counter emerging and future threats as diverse as manoeuvring ballistic missiles, re-entry vehicle ballistic missiles, high-speed tactical missiles, UAVs and highly manoeuvring aircraft, in a saturation attack scenario and a challenging cyber environment.
– Deploy quickly with a limited number of personnel and integrate easily in an air-defense network.
With these enhanced features, SAMP/T NG will provide to France, Italy and any other customer, the capability to guarantee their airspace sovereignty, to protect their territory and population and to protect their troops in operations.
17 Mar 21. DOD Working With Norway to Develop High-Speed Propulsion Technologies. The Defense Department and the Norwegian Ministry of Defense jointly announced in April that they will partner on the development of an advanced solid fuel ramjet that could find use in supersonic and hypersonic weaponry.
The Tactical High-speed Offensive Ramjet for Extended Range, or THOR-ER, involves research by the U.S. Navy’s Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, California, and the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment and Norwegian industry partner Nammo Group to develop supporting technologies that in the future could be incorporated into a high-speed weapons program.
“I am very pleased with the prospects of this initiative,” said Morten Tiller, Norwegian National Armaments director. “Not only will it provide a game-changing capability for our armed forces, it also brings bilateral cooperation to a whole new level.”
Tiller explained that the THOR-ER development incorporates the results of long-term research and development on missile and rocket technology in Norway. ”Nammo Group’s contribution to the project along with its strong track record from partnering with U.S. missile primes make me optimistic with regard to the prospects for co-production,” Tiller commented. He also referred to Nammo Inc.’s U.S. presence as an asset in this connection.
The THOR-ER effort aims to cooperatively develop and integrate advancements in solid fuel ramjet technologies into full-size prototypes that are affordable, attain high speeds, achieve extended range, and culminate in flight demonstrations in operationally relevant conditions for land, sea and air applications, said Air Force Col. Corey A. Beaverson, director of Mission Prototypes, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, which is overseeing the project.
”THOR-ER also seeks to lay the framework for future co-production decisions. It’s important to engage on this topic early to remove any hurdles that will make co-producing – if that’s the route we take — prohibitive because we thought of the requirements too late,” he said.
”Solid fuel ramjets are a propulsion technology that enables supersonic speeds with long ranges in small packages so missiles can fit on most aircraft,” Beaverson said.
A ramjet uses the missile’s forward motion to compress the air for combustion without a compressor or moving parts, he explained. It is possible that ramjet technology could extend the range of a comparable-sized solid-fuel rocket by three or four times.
Dr. Gillian Bussey, the director of the Joint Hypersonics Transition Office in OUSD(R&E) stated, ”We are excited to provide support to THOR-ER and work with Norway because it aligns with the JHTO’s efforts to collaborate with key allies with significant expertise in crucial hypersonic technologies to close our most critical [science and technology] gaps to deliver game-changing hypersonic capabilities to the joint fight.”
Jeff Lipsky, Mission Prototypes, OUSD(R&E), said that “the COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest challenge we are facing. People and organizations around the world have had to adjust to a new normal that has included limited international travel. The THOR-ER team has embraced this challenge,” he continued.
“Stay-at-home orders encouraged the team to incorporate new virtual collaboration tools that have actually improved communication among the team. When remote access to some analysis tools was not possible, the team was able to reassign those tasks to teammates that were able to access those analysis tools. Trust and flexibility have been hallmarks of the THOR-ER co-development effort,” Lipsky said, adding that Tiller fully supported this assessment of the team’s ability to overcome challenges imposed by the pandemic.
COVID-19 has also tested bilateral commitment and ability to maintain security of supply, Tiller pointed out. ”The ability to deliver during a crisis provides valuable reassurance to prospective industrial partners and their future customers,” he added.
Lipsky noted that early development work started in late 2019, and current plans call for the program to conclude by the end of 2024.
“By 2024, we hope to be able to not only have a flight demonstration but be able to transition the technology to the warfighter,” he added. (Source: ASD Network)
18 Mar 21. US Army nears choosing first battalion for extended-range cannon. The U.S. Army is preparing to select an existing field artillery battalion to receive the first Extended Range Cannon Artillery system, according to Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, who is in charge of the service’s long-range precision fires modernization efforts.
Fielding will take place in 2023, but the Army will have to announce the unit with enough time to carry out a yearlong operational assessment, he said at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Next virtual event on March 16. The assessment will be critical for working through “the operational concept for how we fight with general support artillery fires and a division,” he said.
At the same time, the Army is synchronizing the delivery of ammunition to include propellant and course-correcting fuses for the operational assessment, he added.
The service plans to deliver real-time soldier feedback to the engineers who are working on the next battalion set of ERCA systems.
The Army will also evaluate concepts of sustainment during the assessment because “this really will impact a division’s ability to sustain and especially the fires war-fighting function, which we have already put a lot of pressure on our sustainment and logistics partners,” Rafferty noted.
The ERCA cannon hit a target 43 miles away — or 70 kilometers — on the nose at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, in December 2020 using an Excalibur extended-range guided artillery shell.
The Army is racing to extend artillery ranges on the battlefield to take away advantages of high-end adversaries like Russia and China. The ERCA weapon, when fielded, should be able to fire at and destroy targets from a position out of the range of enemy systems.
The ERCA system takes an M109A7 Paladin Integrated Management howitzer chassis and replaces the 39-caliber gun tube with a 58-caliber, 30-foot one. Combined with Raytheon-made Excalibur munitions and an XM1113 using supercharged propellant, the Army has been able to dramatically boost artillery ranges.
The path to fielding ERCA at this point, Rafferty said, is “not without risk.”
“But our team — we work together every single day to knock these problems down. Things like the rotating band — the copper rotating band on our traditional artillery projectiles — works great for a 20-foot gun tube, but when you add 10 feet to that gun tube, we found that that was causing excessive wear and getting some engraving on the side of the projectiles,” he said.
The Army team acknowledged the issue, according to Rafferty, and developed a new rotating band “in pretty short order.”
Rafferty said he anticipates the road ahead will still feature these types of hurdles but that the team is prepared to work through them.
Following the big shot in December, Rafferty said the coming year will be full of decisions, during which the Army needs to start “snapping the chalk line on a few things. We will snap the chalk line on the propellant, we will snap the chalk line on the projectile design and begin to look towards manufacturability, towards production.”
The Army will continue its soldier-centered design effort to ensure the configurations for the propellant and charge are things the soldiers can handle and that they don’t affect the rate of fire, he added. The configuration of projectiles and propellant also has to be optimally stowed in a howitzer to maximize the number of kills onboard.
As the ERCA program transitions to a fielded system, Rafferty said, the Army will move the system from Army Combat Capabilities Development Command at the Armament Center to the program manager for self-propelled howitzers.
“As I told the chief of staff of the Army recently, it’s kind of symbolic, right? But it’s an important step to transition it, but really we go to that supportive, supporting relationship,” Rafferty said.
The Armament Center and industry partners will continue the process of testing and fixing all the way to delivering the ERCA cannon in 2023.
The Army is also working on a government-designed autoloader for ERCA and plans to host a live-fire test for that at Yuma Proving Ground at the end of March.
(Source: Defense News)
17 Mar 21. US Army demos Spike NLOS on Apache. The US Army has demonstrated the Rafael Spike Non-Line-Of-Sight (NLOS) electro-optical missile system aboard a Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter.
The demonstration, announced on 17 March, took place at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida in February.
“The US Army’s new Spike missile completed a demonstration last month here thanks to the 780th Test Squadron,” Eglin AFB said. “The 96th Test Wing squadron was responsible for planning and executing the maritime (over water) demonstration of the non-line-of-sight, multi-purpose weapon using the US Army’s AH-64E Apache helicopter.”
As noted by the US Air Force (USAF), the four-day demonstration saw the Israeli-built missile tested on an Apache supplied by the US Army Futures Command Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team and the Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center.
“Day 1 – Modifications were made to the aircraft and the weapon was set up. Testers checked all flight and ground systems to make sure they were working correctly and with the weapon and any test telemetry added to the aircraft.
“Day 2, 3 – The test teams went through rehearsals and performed practice shots. This benefited the pilots and test support teams to make sure everyone knew where to be and what would most likely happen during the actual test. It also ensured all systems were working in flight and allowed the team to plan for any unforeseen emergency procedures. (Source: Jane’s)
16 Mar 21. TE Connectivity expands its micro circular connectors portfolio for U.S. Army’s Nett Warrior systems. The O.C.H. micro circular connectors add seven-pin design for enhanced signal. TE Connectivity (TE), a world leader in connectivity and sensors, has expanded its O.C.H. micro circular connectors to include a seven-pin design that can enhance a soldier’s ability to communicate from the battlefield.
Driven by military battery pack applications, the new design’s seventh pin can be used for grounding or as an extra signal line. The connector was designed to meet the needs of the broadening range of applications within the U.S. Army’s Nett Warrior soldier systems, a program developed to provide ground soldiers with instant situational awareness and communications capability by directly connecting them to the Army’s tactical network.
Seven-pin O.C.H. micro circular connectors are designed to operate in rugged, harsh combat environments, and feature push/pull quick disconnect coupling. The aluminum alloy shell and thermoplastic inserts make the circular connectors lightweight and compact, which is ideal for soldiers to wear in battlefield conditions. Although primarily designed for battery packs, this seven-pin connector can be utilized in a broad range of soldier systems applications such as soldier’s vest cables, communication and power hubs, radios and military vehicles
The new connector is smaller and lighter to help alleviate weight from a soldier’s back. It also complies with certain U.S. Army mechanical and performance standards, including MIL-STD-810G. For more information, visit www.te.com/usa-en/plp/o-c-h-micro-circular-connectors/Xpr8mr.html
16 Mar 21. Typhoon fires Storm Shadow operationally for first time. The Eurofighter Typhoon has launched an MBDA Storm Shadow for the first time on operations, with the announcement on 15 March that the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) had used the cruise missile against the Islamic State in Iraq. The strike on 10 March was against a cave system south west of the city of Erbil in northern Iraq, marking the first combat use of the Storm Shadow from the Typhoon since it was cross-decked from the Panavia Tornado GR4 as part of the wider Project Centurion in 2018.
“The strikes […] saw the use of Storm Shadow missiles, which were selected as the most appropriate weapons for the task. A preceding check of the area confirmed that there were no signs of civilians in the area who might be placed at risk. Following the mission, the Typhoon’s weapons were confirmed to have struck their targets precisely,” the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.
The Typhoon can carry two of the 1,300 kg Storm Shadow missiles on underwing pylons. As noted by Janes Weapons: Air-Launched, it is designed for the launch at long stand‐off ranges from the target, using pre‐planned mission data. The turbojet-powered Storm Shadow ingresses to the target at a very low altitude using continuously updated inertial navigation. The airframe has ‘stealthy’ design features to cut down its radar cross section, and uses low-probability-of-intercept (LPI) transmitter modes for its radar altimeter. The Storm Shadow missile has a published range ‘in excess’ of 250km. (Source: Jane’s)
16 Mar 21. US Navy issues, then cancels, ‘Screaming Arrow’ solicitation. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) Department for Aviation, Force Projection, and Integrated Defense in early March issued a Special Notice (N0014-21-S-SN06) soliciting proposals for the development and testing of an air-launched hypersonic, air-breathing controlled test vehicle (CTV), which it designates ‘Screaming Arrow’. While responses to the solicitation were initially required by 8 April, the Special Notice was promptly cancelled, without public explanation, on 5 March – shortly after its issuance three days earlier.
The stated objective of the Screaming Arrow Innovative Naval Prototype (INP) programme, which leverages ONR funding starting in Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021), is “to demonstrate an aircraft carrier (CVN) compliant, air-launch, of an air-breathing propulsion controlled test vehicle (CTV) (cruiser, inter stage and booster) that is compatible with an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.”
According to the ONR, ”The specific use case of Screaming Arrow is Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare [OASuW]. The threshold target set includes, but is not limited to, surface combatants and capital ships. The need for Screaming Arrow technologies arises from a capability gap in propulsion solutions for servicing adversary targets at range within a compressed time of flight, which is not achievable with today’s sub-hypersonic weapon approaches.”
The navy intends a ‘programmatic approach’ to the Screaming Arrow development, leveraging previous and current hypersonic air-vehicle/propulsion cruiser developments with limited design changes. This will culminate in a Technical Readiness Level (TRL) 6 demonstration (land-based flight tests) that will be used to determine the technical success of the INP. According to the Special Notice, “the specific technology approach chosen shall be selected based upon cost, schedule, and analysis of meeting a series of maturation criteria, which include key kinematic and physical characteristics, critical component maturity validated through tests, and concept design compatibility with CVN usage.
16 Mar 21. Hanwha Defense integrates Redback IFV with Spike ATGM and Iron First APS. Hanwha Defense Australia announced on 16 March that it has achieved the integration of two Israeli-made systems with its new Redback infantry fighting vehicle (IFV).
The company said in a statement that integration of the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems’ Iron Fist active protection system (APS) with the Redback was successfully demonstrated in late 2020, while several Spike LR2 anti-tank guided missiles – also made by Rafael – were successfully test-fired from the IFV in early February.
The company said that both tests, which it referred to as “key milestones in the validation of the Redback’s offensive and defensive protection systems”, were conducted in Israel.
The Redback, which is currently competing with Rheinmetall Defence Australia’s Lynx KF41 for the Australian Army’s AUD18.1–27.1bn (USD14–21bn) IFV requirement, is being offered with the new T2000 two-man, 30 mm turret developed by Australian company Electro Optic Systems (EOS).
The main armament options of the T2000 range from a 25 mm to a 50 mm cannon, a 7.62 or 5.56 mm co-axial machine gun, an integrated, shock-isolated pop-up launcher that can deploy a single Javelin or two Spike LR2 anti-tank missiles, and an EOS R400S Mk 2 HD remote weapon station (RWS) that can mount weapons up to and including the M230LF 30mm lightweight cannon. An alternative RWS is the EOS R150 capable of mounting 5.56mm to 12.7mm machine guns. (Source: Jane’s)
16 Mar 21. Rafael and Israel Missile Defense Organization Complete Successful Series of Advanced Tests of Iron Dome System. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) in the Israel Ministry of Defense, have successfully completed a test campaign of the Iron Dome Weapon System (IDDS). This campaign, along with two recent Iron Dome tests, demonstrated a significant upgrade of the system’s technological capabilities. The Iron Dome was tested through a range of complex scenarios and successfully intercepted and destroyed targets, simulating existing and emerging threats, including the simultaneous interception of multiple UAVs, as well as a salvo of rockets and missiles.
This campaign took place in a testing site in southern Israel, with the participation of IAF soldiers. The new version of the Iron Dome system will be delivered to the IAF and the Navy for operational use and will strengthen Israel’s multi-tier missile defense capabilities. The prime contractor for its development is Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. under the IMDO in the Israeli Ministry of Defense. The system’s MMR radar is developed by ELTA, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and the Battle Management Center (BMC) is developed by Rafael and mPrest, a Rafael subsidiary. With over 2,500 combat interceptions, at a success rate of 90%, Iron Dome’s development began in December 2007. Iron Dome serves as highly mobile, dual mission systems, designed to defeat Very Short Range (VSHORAD), as well as rocket, artillery and mortar (C-RAM) threats, aircraft, helicopters, UAVs, PGMs, and cruise missiles.
Iron Dome’s development has continued throughout the years, and its capabilities today include wider coverage, a broader spectrum of threat interception, the ability to handle very high volume salvos, and much more.
Israeli Defense Minister, Mr. Benny Gantz, “The technological capabilities developed by defense industries, including the Iron Dome and the multi-tier missile defense array, are central to the defense of the State of Israel. In the face of emerging and rapidly changing threats, these new capabilities provide the political echelon and defense establishment with the operational flexibility that is critical to our national security. I would like to thank the IMDO and Rafael engineering teams – thanks to them, the citizens of Israel can sleep peacefully at night.”
Head of the Israel Missile Defense Organization in the Ministry of Defense, Mr. Moshe Patel, “Thirty years after the first Gulf War, which led to the establishment of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, and ten years after the Iron Dome’s first operational interception, we have achieved a significant leap forward in the technological capabilities of the Iron Dome system. In the three test campaigns conducted in the last few months, the Iron Dome system demonstrated outstanding capabilities against evolving threats, including successfully intercepting salvos of rockets and missiles as well as intercepting multiple UAVs simultaneously. The new configuration of the Iron Dome system will be delivered to the IAF for operational use, and will further strengthen the State of Israel’s multi-tier missile defense array.”
Brig. Gen. (Res.) Pini Yungman, EVP, general manager of Rafael’s air and missile defense division, “Rafael and IMDO have been continuously upgrading Iron Dome’s capabilities over the last decade, constantly improving its technological and operational performance, and our forward-looking approach allows us to address projected threats that are emerging around us. The capabilities that were demonstrated in this last test will ensure additional protection to the State of Israel.”
15 Mar 21. Turkey eyes directed-energy weapons as key priority. Turkey’s top military commanders are pushing to prioritize directed-energy weapon programs following a decade’s worth of industry development in the field, a senior military officer has told Defense News.
“In recent months there have been briefings to update the top command on DEW efforts. Satisfied with where we stand, the command has recommended to establish an understanding to give priority to DEW programs,” the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Several state-controlled and private Turkish companies have worked on direct-energy technology since 2010, and the positive results have impressed military planners.
“Turkish companies are relatively new in this specialized field, but their work so far has been spectacular,” the officer said. “The first 10 years was relatively challenging. The next decade will see exponential technological sophistication.”
Ozgur Eksi, an Ankara-based defense analyst, said that from an operational point of view, directed-energy weapons are meant to increase fire power, serve as a deterrent, and complement armed and unarmed drone warfare development.
“Drone warfare architecture may be the most critical operational use, especially for asymmetrical warfare inside Turkey or in cross-border operations [in Syria and Iraq],” Eksi said.
Turkey has been fighting Kurdish insurgents since 1984 — a conflict that has seen nearly 50,000 people die, including civilians. The Turkish military maintains an operational presence in northern Iraq and Syria, where Kurdish militants maintain strongholds.
As each Turkish-made directed-energy system becomes combat-proven, export potential will increase, a procurement official told Defense News. He said potential foreign customers include Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Qatar and some Southeast Asian countries.
“Turkish companies initially followed achievements of Chinese and Israeli DEW specialists,” according to a senior directed-energy weapons engineer working for a local state-controlled company. “But now their programs tend to evolve technologically independent. The next phase will focus more on advanced models and new systems.”
State-controlled missile-maker Roketsan unveiled in 2019 its first homemade directed-energy weapon, the Alka, that can destroy or disable hostile drones. Company officials say the effort was part of a response to the surge in drone attacks targeting Turkish troops.
The Alka is equipped with both a 50-kilowatt laser and electromagnetic systems to either destroy or disable drones. It purportedly uses automatic target recognition with both electro-optical and radar detection to simultaneously track multiple targets. The system is touted as being able to disable a swarm of drones at a range of 4,000 meters; destroy a target with a laser at 500 meters; and destroy a target at 1,000 meters with its electromagnetic weapon. It can also reportedly track targets at speeds as high as 150 kph with a precision of 8 milimeters from 1,000 meters away.
It took Roketsan five years to develop the system. Its engineers are now working to integrate the Alka into a portable system so it can be moved around with a dedicated truck.
“The mobile unit will be ideal to protect troops and operations, while the stationary system will offer protection for headquarters, bases, ships and other strategic points,” a Roketsan engineer said. One Alka unit has already been deployed to protect Roketsan’s production facility near Ankara.
On Aug. 4, 2019, an Alka system mounted on an off-road armored car shot down a Chinese-made Wing Loong II UAV in Misrata, Libya. In the Libyan civil war, Turkey supports the internationally recognized Government of National Accord.
Meanwhile, military electronics specialist Aselsan, Turkey’s largest defense company, has developed the LSS laser defense system. The LSS primarily targets mini- and micro-drones up to 500 meters away as well as improvised explosive devices up to 200 meters away. The stationary system can be used on naval platforms, power plants, air bases, border patrol stations and convoy routes.
Some of the system’s features include infrared and high-definition cameras, a laser range finder, an optical focuser, a multiple target-tracking capability, laser blanking signal output (used to benefit radio frequency capabilities), and laser masking (meant to protect a system from residue left behind after a laser is used).
“LSS was developed and manufactured nationally without being subject to any license or export permit from a foreign manufacturer,” an Aselsan official said. “Soon the system will be in intense use in the Turkish military, especially in anti-insurgency operations in Syria and Iraq.”
In 2019, Aselsan inaugurated its Electromagnetic Launch System Development Laboratory, equipped with a flash X-ray capability, a ballistic projectile recovery tank for high-energy tests, a high-speed camera system, sensors and local power supplies.
That same year, the locally developed, vehicle-mounted fiber laser system ARMOL completed its acceptance tests and entered the military’s inventory. The 400-kilogram (881-pound) laser system was mounted on a Cobra armored vehicle, along with target acquisition hardware and a control terminal.
In 2020, the governmental procurement agency Presidency of Defence Industries spearheaded efforts to launch the now-operational Laser Technologies Center of Excellence — another sign of Turkey’s growing footprint in the field of directed energy. (Source: Defense News)
15 Mar 21. Two down, more to go? With hypersonic weapons already in the field, Russia looks to improve features. Hypersonic weapons are a top priority for the Russian government, a defense analyst with the state-run think tank IMEMO has told Defense News, and with two now fielded, the country is looking into further improving the technology.
“The so-called hypersonic technology is essentially an evolutionary development. However, it provides new, combined abilities for missile weapons: increased speed and maneuverability, and improved accuracy,” Dmitry Stefanovich said. “I can’t imagine a person who is responsible for the decision-making in the country and who wouldn’t be interested in improving all those features.”
By creating hypersonic technology that can overcome missile defense systems, Russia maintains “strategic stability and strategic balance,” President Vladimir Putin once told Russian news agency Tass in March 2020.
For Russia, hypersonic technology is also a way to avoid a quantitative arms race like the Soviet Union went through during the Cold War, said Viktor Litovkin, a retired colonel and military analyst with Tass. “We have no money to get involved in a quantitative arms race. You need to have a little, but the highest quality, which will restrain the adversary,” he said.
There are currently two hypersonic missiles with the Russian military: the Avangard and the Kinzhal. The former is a nuclear-capable missile reportedly able to fly faster than 20 times the speed of sound. The first Avangard infrastructure was set up in December 2019.
The Kinzhal (or “Dagger” in English) is a nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile fielded in December 2017. Before entering the military’s inventory, it was tested with the MiG-31 fighter jet. Putin has said the weapon can exceed 10 times the speed of sound, but some missile experts have cast doubt on that capability.
Russian media previously reported the Kinzhal physically resembles the 9M723 ballistic missile developed for the Iskander tactical missile system. “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck,” Stefanovich said of the similarity.
Russia is also testing its 3M22 Zircon anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile, expected to be installed on the modernized submarine-killing ship Marshal Shaposhnikov. The vessel is undergoing its owns tests. The head of Tactical Missiles Corporation JSC, Boris Obnosov, told Tass last month that the Zircon’s testing is going according to schedule.
The first launch of Zircon from the nuclear-powered submarine Severodvinsk will take place in June, industry officials said, according to reports from Tass this month. If testing goes well, the Zircon will be delivered to the military in the first half of 2022.
Obnosov has said hypersonic projects are among the top priorities for his company, adding that there are “several dozen” hypersonic efforts ongoing in partnership with the country’s several research and development institutes. He said a center dedicated to hypersonic technology efforts could be established to oversee the projects, without providing further information.
Tactical Missiles Corporation is Russia’s leading developer of hypersonic technology, so it might also be behind a recently tested prototype of an air-to-surface hypersonic missile meant for the Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jet. However, the company did not respond to questions from Defense News regarding its hypersonic projects.
15 Mar 21. Drone-killing, dune buggy-mounted laser gets tested overseas. The U.S. Air Force is testing whether lasers mounted on the backs of dune buggies could be the counter-drone weapon the military needs.
The High Energy Laser Weapon System, or HELWS, uses directed energy to defeat incoming unmanned aerial systems — a threat that military leaders are increasingly concerned about. Drones can be small and incredibly mobile, making them difficult to hit with traditional weaponry. That’s why the Air Force and others are looking to emerging technologies including lasers and microwave weapons as possible drone-stopping solutions.
The Air Force Research Laboratory awarded Raytheon Technologies a $23.8m contract in 2019 for two HELWS prototypes, granting $13.1m later that year for a third prototype.
HELWS includes a laser module that generates the beam, a magazine that provides enough power for dozens of shots, and thermal systems to keep the whole system at the right temperature. But the most expensive component — and the one with the longest lead time — is the hybrid electro-optical infrared sensor/beam director.
“[We] inserted an optical path that allowed us to fire the laser out the primary aperture while we are sensing,” explained Evan Hunt, Raytheon’s lead for high-energy laser business development. “So the thing you are looking at is exactly the thing that your laser beam hits, which is one of the great features of the system.”
For the weapon to work, the system must keep the laser on the target throughout the engagement while directing enough energy over the distance to destroy or disable it.
“It takes us roughly 5 seconds to shoot down a drone within 3 kilometers or so,” said Hunt.
The whole system is controlled via a game-style controller and a single laptop.
“Our customers don’t really want to stand up entirely new job professions within the Air Force or the Army — to make a corps of laser weapon operators,” said Hunt. “So we very deliberately designed the interface to be easy to learn.”
Raytheon has delivered three different versions of the system to the Air Force, with the Directed Energy Combined Test Force announcing recently that HELWS2 was tested overseas beginning in September 2020. The first HELWS system was deployed in early 2020.
“They’ve been rapid prototyping, so each system we build is an iterative development,” said Hunt. “All three kind of look very similar. They’re all currently on the back of a Polaris MRZR.”
The changes aren’t massive, but each successive prototype is a little more ruggedized, better packaged, more serviceable and more powerful, said Hunt. All three iterations will likely be tested at different overseas operational locations.
“This is an operational experimentation campaign right now with these three systems. This is really Air Force SPDE [Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation] — which is Air Force Materiel Command and Air Force Research Lab — working together to prove that lasers are ready to transition to production programs,” said Hunt.
Raytheon is competing for follow-on opportunities, aiming for HELWS system to be selected for the Air Force’s programs of record, such as Air Base Air Defense and Agile Combat Deployment. Hunt noted that while Army is taking the lead on systems to counter small drones, the Air Force is the lead for demonstrating the efficacy of directed-energy weapons for counter-drone missions.
The company also wants HELWS to vie for programs of record for counter unmanned aircraft systems pursued by the Army’s Joint C-SUAS Office, which trying to reduce duplication across the services by selecting a limited number of systems for development and fielding. (Source: Defense News)
15 Mar 21. Where does NATO fit into the global hypersonic contest? The global race to build hypersonic capabilities is only getting hotter, as several NATO members — including the United States, France and the U.K. — develop their own technology along with competitors Russia and China.
NATO is considering how it might best contribute to the hypersonics cause. It’s unlikely that a cruise missile or glide vehicle will emerge straight out of Brussels in the near future, but it appears senior alliance leaders and analysts migth stitch together the efforts of 30 member nations.
Hypersonic technology was deemed one of seven major emerging and disruptive technologies at the 2019 defense ministers meeting, per NATO’s March 2020 report “Science & Technology Trends 2020-2040.” The declaration came as an increasing number of countries with highly developed research and development capabilities as well as big defense budgets sprint to field their own capabilities ahead of their adversaries.
Though hypersonic technology is considered a disruptor, “the process where hypersonic technology is coming from is not, per se, a disruptive environment,” said David van Weel, NATO’s assistant secretary general for emerging security threats.
“It is not something that’s being done by small startups [or] university labs,” van Weel said in an interview with Defense News. “It is still a game of classical defense actors, or state actors investing in technology.”
The U.S. Defense Department has several programs in development across its armed services, including a hypersonic missile battery for the Army and multiple missile efforts being led by the Air Force and the Missile Development Agency. In recent years, the United Kingdom, France, Japan and Australia have initiated new hypersonic research programs, while Russia and China have each recently announced successful tests and development.
For now, any future hypersonic platform development is more likely to come from NATO members’ existing air and missile defense communities as well as major industry partners, van Weel noted. Eventually, NATO will develop a strategy regarding how it should specifically address hypersonic technology. “But we’re just not there yet,” he said.
It makes sense for the alliance to connect with smaller, innovative companies and with academic institutions within its member nations, and support their individual technological efforts, said Nicholas Nelson, a nonresident senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington.
NATO could play a larger role in a “coordinating function” for its members, pulling together the disparate projects happening across borders, Nelson said. It can also take a special focus in drawing out contributions from smaller states that may be incapable of launching their own hypersonic weapons programs, but may still boast high-tech sectors or manufacturing capabilities that can better enable those systems.
That includes technology areas such as modeling and simulation, sophisticated analytical tools, miniaturization, energy storage, and novel material manufacturing like 3D printing. The alliance’s science and technology trends report highlighted all of these areas as key to harnessing hypersonic technology over the next decade.
“NATO is really uniquely placed to work across its members to identify these efforts, communicate priorities and how they fit into ongoing programs or efforts,” Nelson said.
For now, the alliance has several ways it could react to an adversary reaching full operational capability of hypersonic missiles, van Weel said. NATO could start its own multinational development program, which would include contributions from individual member states combined into “the NATO toolbox.”
The alliance could also focus more on countermeasures, he added, or instead on a combination of offensive and defensive hypersonic capabilities that could be used as threat deterrents.
Developing counter-hypersonic systems is an area prime for innovation and alliance focus, Nelson noted. One of NATO’s key objectives is to ensure interoperability, and its members need “interlocking” air and missile defense systems to counter hypersonic threats, he explained.
The alliance could do well in this role by actively encouraging and supporting the development of emerging and disruptive technologies that contribute to hypersonics as well as capabilities “that can track, target, and/or finish” incoming threats moving at Mach 5-plus speed, he said.
Beyond building cruise missiles, sensors and glide vehicles, NATO could also support and coordinate testing efforts, he added.
Hypersonic test bed aircraft are less expensive to develop than the actual weapons and could be a better fit for NATO’s more limited budget structure while providing critical flight research and testing data.
“They’re really true dual-use capabilities because they enable both R&D and experimentation across defense uses, but also civil and commercial use cases,” Nelson said.
Per NATO’s science and technology trends report, any hypersonics program within a NATO nation should include efforts to work out interoperability issues — due to the capability disparity among allies — and command-and-control issues associated with integrated tactical warning and threat assessment systems.
A NATO hypersonic strategy, whenever it is crafted and endorsed by defense ministers, would go a long way toward ensuring all of the member nations are “reading from the same sheet of music,” Nelson said.
Will NATO ever have a role to play in contributing to hypersonic cruise missile or glide vehicle development? Does it make more sense to focus the headquarters’ efforts on ancillary, enabling technologies? “The jury’s still out,” van Weel said.
“In the meantime, the scientific world, the private sector, and also the air and missile defense communities here at NATO will engage further on the topic,” he continued. “But where it will end up is difficult to tell now.” (Source: Defense News)
15 Mar 21. Britain’s ‘Dragonfire’ ship laser gun to get accuracy boost. A ship-borne laser weapon being developed for the U.K. is edging closer to achieving pinpoint accuracy, and it is all being done with mirrors.
Launched in 2017, the U.K.’s Dragonfire laser program, led by missile house MBDA, will reach a milestone this spring when team member Leonardo delivers technology to the group to ensure the beam can strike a tiny target miles away.
While QinetiQ is building the fiber-based laser itself and prime contractor MBDA is handling command-and-control and image-processing capabilities, the U.K. arm of Italian firm Leonardo is handling the so-called beam director.
“Beam director technology can sometimes be overshadowed by the system’s multi-kilowatt laser source, however, it is critical to the overall system because it facilitates the ultra-precise tracking and pointing accuracy required to generate a damage effect,” Andrew Sijan, Leonardo’s head of advanced targeting campaigns told Defense News.
“In simple terms, the challenge of a Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) system is getting maximum laser power onto an extremely precise point. This is because you need extremely high laser power density to cause a physical effect and you need to do so at long ranges,” he added.
Key to Leonardo’s work are so-called “Fast Moving Mirrors” (FMMs), known in the United States as Fast Steering Mirrors (FSMs), which are used to rapidly and precisely maintain the laser beam on target, even when the target is moving, the ship carrying the laser is moving and there is atmospheric interference in between.
“To enable this, the beam director is closely coordinated with high-resolution, fast frame rate cameras with advanced algorithms to provide feedback to the beam director, so that the mirrors can make extremely fast and precise movements to keep the beam on-target,” said Sijan.
The challenge has been to build mirrors which will not be destroyed by a laser beam which is designed to punch holes in hostile vessels or drones miles away.
“We’ve solved this with special low-absorption coating technologies and by carefully choosing the materials used in mirror construction,” said Sijian.
To get the beam director ready, Leonardo has built on experience gained working on its Miysis Directional Infrared Countermeasure system (DIRCM). Designed to be used by aircraft, DIRCM turrets fire a laser at incoming missiles to disturb their infrared homing optics.
The beam fired by Dragonfire will be far more powerful than a DIRCM, which need only dazzle not destroy. MBDA has not released data on the laser’s performance, but officials on the program reportedly believe it has world-beating power and accuracy.
While accurate target tracking will be handled with mirrors, so-called “coarse tracking” is used to turn the laser towards the target, said Sijian.
“LDEW systems are large and the beam director needs to be cued to the targets very quickly to point the laser in the direction of the target before the ultra-fine tracking provided by the FMMs takes over,” he said.
Coarse tracking will likely involve linking the system to sensors on board, including radar.
As Leonardo works on Dragonfire, it is mulling how the technology can be put on an aircraft, namely Tempest, the U.K.-led, 6th-generation future fighter the firm is partnered on.
“LDEW is one emerging technology that could offer operational advantage for Tempest,” said Kenny McCormick, Leonardo’s head of Capability – Electro-Optics.
“This includes the ability to rapidly acquire targets and direct highly-focused energy with laser precision. In contrast to conventional weapons, the number of times it can be fired is limited only by the available power source, rather than magazine size.”
He added, “Within Team Tempest, Leonardo has been working closely with BAE Systems and MBDA to assess the feasibility of an airborne LDEW capability.”
He said, “This will build upon learning generated under the Dragonfire technology demonstrator program.”
The challenge? “Reducing the Size Weight and Power (SWaP) of an LDEW system for use in the airborne domain,” he added. (Source: Defense News)
11 Mar 21. India plans to purchase 30 armed drones from US. India is reportedly planning to purchase 30 armed drones from the US in a bid to enhance its defence capabilities across the land and maritime borders.
India is reportedly planning to purchase 30 armed drones from the US in a bid to enhance its defence capabilities across the land and maritime borders. The plan involves procuring 30 General Atomics-manufactured MQ-9B Predator drones as part of a $3bn deal expected to be finalised next month.
However, the Indian Defence Ministry did not respond to a request for comment on the potential deal.
The MQ-9B drone comes in land and sea variants. It is capable of flying for nearly 48 hours and can carry a payload of around 1,700kg.
It can also operate in adverse weather conditions and is designed to survive bird and lightning strikes.
The addition of this armed drone will enable the Indian Army to engage adversaries across the border, as well as provide the naval forces with improved capabilities to secure the seas against potential threats.
Currently, India’s arsenal includes drones that can only be used for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
The move comes at a time when India is emerging as a key defence partner for the US in the region.
US President Joe Biden is expected to participate in a virtual meeting with the leaders of India, Australia and Japan this week.
Additionally, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to visit India this month.
Last month, Indian and US soldiers participated in a joint military exercise in Rajasthan, India.
In a separate development, the Indian Army began a joint military exercise called DUSTLIK II with Uzbekistan Army. This is the second edition of this bilateral exercise.
This year, around 45 soldiers from each side will participate in counter-terrorism operations in mountainous / rural / urban scenario. (Source: army-technology.com)
12 Mar 21. CCTV shows footage of possible new ATGM for Chinese army. Chinese state-owned media revealed on 8 March what is described as a new, third-generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) with a top-attack capability meant for use by the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF). Footage released by China Central Television’s (CCTV’s) Weihutang programme shows the ATGM being launched from what appears to be a modified CSK181 4×4 armoured vehicle. The launcher is retractable, with the footage showing one missile fitted to a rail, although more missiles could be carried based on the size of the launcher.
The weapon, the designation of which was not revealed, is larger in diameter than previous ATGMs, and “can destroy soft and hard targets, including modern main battle tanks”, according to CCTV.
It is unclear whether the displayed CSK181 was modified just for use as a testbed. CCTV said that the new ATGM system is expected to be mounted “on a variety of chassis”, including one for new infantry fighting vehicles.
No further details were provided by CCTV, including whether the ATGM is already in PLAGF service or still under development. That said, the state-owned Global Times newspaper reported on 12 March that the new weapon is “now being deployed” by the PLAGF. (Source: Jane’s)
12 Mar 21. Raytheon launches Stinger missile from Javelin launcher. Raytheon has successfully demonstrated firing a Stinger missile from a Javelin Lightweight Command Launch Unit (LWCLU) in a test that saw the missile engage and defeat an uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV).
Raytheon has successfully demonstrated firing a Stinger missile from a Javelin Lightweight Command Launch Unit (LWCLU) in a test that saw the missile engage and defeat an uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV).
The LWCLU is traditionally used for launching the Javelin missile, however, Raytheon said the launcher’s optics make it suitable for standalone Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions.
During the test, conducted at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, soldiers from the Mississippi National Guard used a Sentinel radar simulator and a Forward Area Air Defence Command and Control (FAAD/C2) system to track the target UAV.
A gunner then engaged the UAV with a Stinger Block I proximity fuse missile launched from a networked LWCLU.
The ability to fire the Stinger missile from the Javelin launch unit means personnel can engage both aerial and ground targets without the need to carry multiple launch systems.
Raytheon Missiles & Defense Land Warfare & Air Defense vice president Tom Laliberty said: “Because LWCLU can defeat both land and aerial threats, it’s easier for soldiers to use in complex environments, It reduces the burden of carrying additional gear.”
The Stinger missile is in-service with 19 countries and has been credited with more than 270 fixed and rotary-wing intercepts. The Javelin system has been operated by 21 countries. (Source: army-technology.com)
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