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31 Mar 21. US Army Awards $50m Contract for New Special Operations Sniper Rifle. The U.S. Army just awarded a $50m contract to Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc. to arm snipers with the multi-caliber sniper rifle preferred by special operations forces.
The five-year contract will buy 2,800 MK22 Multi-role Adaptive Design, or MRAD, sniper rifles that can be chambered for .338 Norma Magnum, .300 Norma Magnum and 7.62×51 NATO ammunition, Army officials from Project Manager Soldier Lethality announced today in a news release. The contract was awarded March 30.
The award comes two years after U.S. Special Operations Command awarded a contract to the Murfreesboro, Tennessee-based firm for the new MRAD sniper system.
The new rifle will replace the M107 sniper rifle, also made by Barrett, and the M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle systems, Program Executive Officer Soldier spokesman Alton Stewart said in March 2020. The MRAD will allow Army snipers to shoot out to 1,500 meters with the barrel chambered for .338 Norma Magnum. That’s 300 meters farther than the M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle, chambered for .300 Winchester Magnum.
The MK22 is part of the Army’s Precision Sniper Rifle program, which also includes the Leupold & Stevens Mark 5 HD scope and a sniper accessory kit, according to the release.
The Marine Corps also has chosen the MRAD for its Advanced Sniper Rifle program. The MRAD is set to replace the Marines’ current Mk13 Mod 7 sniper rifle, chambered for .300 Winchester Magnum, and other bolt-action sniper rifles in the sea service.
The MRAD features a quick-change barrel system that allows snipers to switch to a different caliber in the field with a single tool, according to Barrett’s website.
When equipped with the 20-inch 7.62x51mm, the MK22 is 42.4 inches long and weighs 13.9 pounds. The .300 Norma Magnum configuration has a 26-inch barrel, measures 48.4 inches overall and weighs 15.2 pounds. In .338 Norma Magnum, the MRAD has a 27-inch barrel, measures 49.4 inches in length and also weighs 15.2 pounds, according to the site.
The MRAD also has a 10-round magazine and a folding stock with an adjustable cheek piece. The upper receiver is machined from 7000-series aluminum. The MRAD bolt rides in a unique enclosed polymer guide, which provides smooth, reliable operation in harsh conditions, Barrett’s website states. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military.com)
31 Mar 21. Thales Australia welcomes guided weapons announcement. Thales Australia welcomed the federal government’s announcement this morning regarding the creation of a sovereign missile weapons production capability. The announcement is expected to provide crucial support to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and create a new sovereign industry, creating jobs across Australia.
Chris Jenkins, CEO of Thales Australia noted that the announcement will support Australian self-sufficiency, will provide a deterrent to potential malicious actors.
“Thales Australia provides core industrial capabilities for guided weapons production including manufacture of high performance propellants and explosives for warheads, solid fuel rocket motor manufacturing and associated R & D and support services,” Jenkins said
“These critical munitions manufacturing capabilities are delivered by Thales Australia and our suppliers through the Commonwealth owned facility at Mulwala. Scaling up production of military-grade rocket propellant, high explosives, solid fuel rocket motors and boosters from Mulwala will be essential to achieve the ADF’s goal.
“The significant capital investment made by the Commonwealth in the Mulwala facility over the past decade, combined with Thales Australia’s multi-million dollar investment in R&D on advanced propellants means the facility can respond quickly to the accelerated plan outlined by the Prime Minister today.
“An expansion of the production capabilities at Mulwala is already underway with the acquisition of new production technology.
“We have well established relationships with international partners and an extensive local supply chain of more than 1300 Australian companies that will enable the expansion of these key industrial capabilities with additional investment. It will generate jobs in regional NSW and Victoria in addition to the more than 600 employees of Thales Australia across the Mulwala and Benalla munitions manufacturing sites.” (Source: Defence Connect)
31 Mar 21. Raytheon, Australia unveil new missile package. Australia has unveiled a new agreement with Raytheon to support the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System. The federal government confirmed that they have signed a $111m agreement with Raytheon Australia for the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAM), a joint venture by Raytheon-Kongsberg. Part of the LAND 19 Phase 7B, the agreement is expected to help Defence achieve its new short-range ground-based air defence capabilities.
The revelation comes following the unveiling of Raytheon Australia’s new Centre for Joint Integration in South Australia.
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton welcomed the announcement demonstrating the huge impact that it will have on Australia’s defence capabilities.
“The Centre for Joint Integration will contribute to the development of some of Australia’s most important defence capabilities,” Minister Dutton said.
“It will serve as Raytheon’s main site for the manufacture, assembly and systems integration in Australia and will play a pivotal role in supporting and sustaining the new short-range ground-based air defence capability.”
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price outlined that the investment was part of the government’s $270bn windfall for the defence industry.
“The construction of the Centre for Joint Integration has created 200 construction jobs since the sod was turned in March 2019 and Raytheon expects that a further 300 ongoing jobs across the defence industry will be created by the facility,” Minister Price said.“We already recognise Raytheon’s outstanding contribution to the Royal Australian Navy’s capabilities in South Australia.
“This new facility will not only build on that foundation, but now also deliver and support critical capabilities for the Australian Army.”
(Source: Defence Connect)
31 Mar 21. Taiwan to buy new U.S. air defence missiles to guard against China. Taiwan has decided to buy an upgraded version of Lockheed Martin Corp’s Patriot surface-to-air missile, the air force said on Wednesday, as the island bolsters its forces to guard against a rising threat from China.
Chinese-claimed Taiwan has complained of repeated incursions by China’s air force in recent months into the island’s air defence identification zone, as Beijing seeks to pressure Taipei into accepting its sovereignty.
Taiwan’s Air Force told Reuters it had decided to buy the Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles, with deliveries to start in 2025 and deployment the following year.
The Air Force did not disclose how many missiles Taiwan was planning to buy, citing the sensitivity of the matter.
“These purchase plans were made based on the threat from the enemy,” an Air Force spokesman told Reuters, adding it will continue to “boost defence capacity”.
The spokesman said the Air Force is “cautiously optimistic” about the progress of the purchase.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry, in a report to parliament seen by Reuters, said the decision to obtain the newer Patriots was made during a 2019 meeting with the United States during the previous administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s government has not announced any Taiwan arms sales since taking office in January, though it has pledged its “rock solid” commitment to the democratically-governed island.
U.S. arms sales to Taiwan always anger China, which has demanded they stop.
In July, China said it would put sanctions on Lockheed Martin for involvement in a $620m upgrade package for existing Patriot missiles Taiwan operates.
China has announced similar sanctions before on U.S. companies for Taiwan arms sales, though it is unclear what form they have taken.
The United States, like most countries, has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but Washington is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
Washington has been pushing Taiwan to modernise its military so it can become a “porcupine”, hard for China to attack. (Source: Reuters)
30 Mar 21. Aerobotix Introduces Automated Hypersonic Missile Production Line. Aerobotix, an AS9100 certified FANUC robotics integrator and metrology company, is currently operational with the next generation hypersonic production line. A robotic assembly line scans, sands, paints, and measures complex missile components achieving critical tolerances required for hypersonic flight. This process will allow for consistent application of MINTEQ’s FIREX RX-2390 ablative coating to shield the missile structure from the extreme temperatures of hypersonic flight.
Augmented Reality Structured Light Thickness Projection on production parts.
Due to the hypersonic nature of the missile, both thermal protection and aerodynamic consistency are paramount. The process starts with an automated Shape Fidelity Scanner which records each component’s as-built dimensions. This data is then used to generate a custom path to scuff sand each component for optimal coating adhesion. An explosion-proof paint robot then applies dozens of layers of MINTEQ’s FIREX RX-2390 ablative coating. To make sure the coating is within tolerance, the robot utilizes a non-contact measuring tool to record the wet coating thickness.
“Our robotic process allows us a tolerance of one mil or one thousandth of an inch,” Kent Pfeifer, Process Engineering Manager said. “To put that in perspective, we can essentially spray half the thickness of a sheet of paper consistently across an entire missile. Repeated over dozens of layers, we can achieve a level of accuracy that is physical impossible with the traditional method of spraying by hand.”
Aerobotix is dedicated to pursuing quality through automation and continual improvement. Let us help you implement automation to protect your workforce, schedule, budget, and market share. Contact us for more details.
Aerobotix, Inc. (now merged with Shape Fidelity), is an innovative leader in turnkey FANUC robotics solutions for the aerospace and defense industries. Headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, we specialize in the creation of cutting-edge automated robotic solutions for high-value, high-precision components, aircraft, and vehicles. Aerobotix has over 130 robotic systems installed in the US and abroad providing exceptional results and savings for our clients. (Source: PR Newswire)
30 Mar 21. Three companies make a joint run for Germany’s new air-defense program. German contractors Rheinmetall, Hensoldt and Diehl Defence have teamed up to bid on the country’s envisioned short-range, air-defense program, the companies said Tuesday.
The announcement comes days after defense officials in Berlin announced they had shelved a more comprehensive defensive system against sophisticated ballistic missiles, dubbed TLVS for short, in favor of counter-drone and anti-aircraft weapons at closer ranges.
The German military’s planned lower-tier defense system – abbreviated as LVS NNbS – is meant to intercept aircraft, combat helicopters and cruise missiles. It features Diehl’s Iris-T SL-M missile to be fired out of truck-mounted, vertical launchers, the same type that was eyed as a lower-cost option to the Lockheed Martin interceptor in TLVS, according to a Diehl spokesman.
Also included in the three companies’ offer is a Hensoldt tracking radar, mounted on a separate truck, and a notional armored vehicle that can shoot an air-to-air variant of the Iris-T missile while on the move, the spokesman explained.
“The three companies aim to provide a national, low-risk solution that will be quickly available thanks to the use of commercially available systems and system components,” read a joint statement by the contractors.
The companies played up their strictly German arrangement, arguing jobs and know-how would remain local if the team were picked for the program.
It is still unclear how the defense ministry will approach the competition, and whether there is money for it in the first place.
Tobias Lindner, the Green Party’s point man in parliament on defense issues, last week criticized Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer for failing to push urgently needed weapon programs to completion, including a mobile air-defense system for protecting deployed formations.
“It is telling that a new short-range, air-defense system is not included in budget plans, even though it would cost only a fraction of TLVS,” reads a statement Lindner released when defense leaders announced a new emphasis on shorter-range threats. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
30 Mar 21. Australia’s new sovereign hypersonic capability. BAE is expected to invest another $5m throughout 2021 to research creating an Australian-based hypersonic missile capability.
BAE Systems Australia confirmed on Tuesday that it is looking to develop Australian based hypersonic weapons capabilities.
Dubbed “Project Javelin”, BAE Systems is looking to leverage Australia’s existing academic and industry knowledge to develop an Australian hypersonic capability. This announcement comes following $11m of investment into researching hypersonics in Australia over the last 10 years.
BAE Systems will invest $5m to expedite hypersonic research over the coming year, and is hoping to support the Australian Defence Force’s missile capabilities.
In addition to the weapons systems, BAE outlined that it would also be investing in defensive capabilities against these weapons systems.
Gabby Costigan, CEO of BAE Systems Australia welcomed the announcement.
“That Australia has a solid foundation of research built over decades means that the rapid integration of newly developed weapons into the force structure is achievable,” Costigan said.
“BAE Systems has a rich history of working closely with defence companies and defence customers around the world, particularly US primes on weapons programs.
“Australia’s future investment in high-speed weapons systems, including hypersonic long-range strike and hypersonic and ballistic missile defence, provides the opportunity for the nation to create an enduring sovereign capability and position the country as a major global contributor in this disruptive technology field.
“It’s so important that the Intellectual Property of new weapons technologies resides with Australia so that as well as developing a sovereign capability, we can continue our work to evolve these technologies over time.” (Source: Defence Connect)
29 Mar 21. New Bundeswehr air defence system: Rheinmetall, Diehl and Hensoldt are lining up together. Rheinmetall Electronics GmbH of Bremen, Diehl Defence GmbH & Co. KG of Überlingen and Hensoldt Sensors GmbH of Taufkirchen have signed a joint agreement to cooperate in a special partnership known as an “Arbeitsgemeinschaft”, or ARGE. Under the framework of ARGE NNbS, the three companies will submit a tender for the future German short-range and very short- range air defence system, the LVS NNbS.
The NNbS project bridges a current capability gap when it comes to protecting ground troops during deployed operations as well as securing tactical operation centres and other assets against short- and very short-range aerial threats.
The three companies aim to provide a national, low-risk solution that will be quickly available thanks to the use of commercially available systems and system components. The conceptual system design of ARGE NNbS relies primarily on proven systems and subsystems, including integration of components already in use by the Bundeswehr.
A further advantage of ARGE NNbS is comprehensive logistical support in Germany for the short-range and very short-range air defence system.
Thanks to the complementary core competences of the three national bidders, the ARGE possesses the prerequisites, qualifications and expertise to meet all of the customer’s needs.
Rheinmetall’s Electronic Solutions and Vehicle Systems divisions bring expert technological knowledge and years of experience in developing and supplying defence systems, especially in the fields of vehicles, communication and integration.
Diehl Defence specializes in the development and manufacture of guided missiles. It has established itself in the international marketplace with modern system solutions for ground-based air defence.
As a supplier of key national technologies, Hensoldt will be contributing its expertise as well as battle-tested products such as radars. The company is noted for its comprehensive product commonalities, including product family concepts, especially in the spheres of airspace surveillance and target classification and identification.
29 Mar 21. Tokyo urged to increasingly focus on high-power microwave- and laser-based weapons. The Japan Ministry of Defense’s (MoD’s) National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) has urged Tokyo to increasingly focus on the development of advanced military technologies such as high-power microwave- and laser-based weapon systems to help counter the growing missile threat posed by neighbouring countries.
Such technologies will most likely become a “game changer” in the field of missile defence, enabling Tokyo to shoot down multiple missiles simultaneously while drastically lowering the cost per intercept attempt compared with current technologies, said the NIDS think tank in its ‘East Asian Strategic Review 2021’.
Japan currently fields a multi-layered ballistic missile defence (BMD) system, with upper-tier interception being provided by eight Aegis-equipped destroyers and lower-tier engagement provided by land-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) air-defence systems.
Nonetheless, Japan may face significant difficulties in countering the fast expanding missile capabilities of neighbouring countries, as China and Russia make huge strides in hypersonic weapons technology and North Korea develops new ballistic missiles designed to break through an adversary’s missile defences.
Japan’s Mid-Term Defense Program (MTDP) for fiscal years 2019–23, which was approved in December 2018, stated that the MoD and the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) would “swiftly promote the research and development of stand-off electronic warfare aircraft, high-power electronic warfare equipment, high-power microwave devices, as well as electromagnetic pulses (EMPs)”.
In July 2020 the MoD in Tokyo provided a few more details when it stated in its latest Defense White Paper, “High-power energy weapons, such as electromagnetic railguns, high-power laser weapons, and high-power microwaves, are being expected as a means to counter various airborne threats.” (Source: Jane’s)
26 Mar 21. Pakistan successfully test fires Shaheen 1-A nuclear-capable ballistic missile. Pakistan today conducted successful flight test of Shaheen-1A surface to surface ballistic missile, having a range of 900 kilometers. The test flight was aimed at re-validating various design and technical parameters of the weapon system including advanced navigation system.
The launch test was witnessed by Lieutenant General Nadeem Zaki Manj, Director General Strategic Plans Division, Dr. Raza Samar, Chairman NESCOM, Lieutenant General Muhammad Ali, Commander Army Strategic Forces Command and the scientists and engineers of strategic organizations.
Director General Strategic Plans Division congratulated scientists and engineers on the conduct of this successful test. He appreciated the technical prowess, dedication and commitment of scientists and engineers, who contributed whole-heartedly in making the missile launch successful.
President, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Services Chiefs have congratulated the scientists and engineers on successful conduct of today’s missile test. (Source: https://aerodefenseinternational.com/)
26 Mar 21. USN receives first Block V Tomahawk cruise missile. The US Navy (USN) has taken delivery of its first Tomahawk cruise missile recertified and upgraded to Block V standard. Raytheon Missile & Defense signed over the all-up-round – part of a first batch of Block IV missiles received for recertification – to the Naval Air Systems Command’s Tomahawk Weapons System Program Office (PMA-280) on 25 March in a virtual handover ceremony. The Block V variant embodies an upgraded navigation/communication (NAV/COMMs) package to deliver enhanced navigation performance and more robust and reliable communications.
Raytheon is conducting the mid-life recertification process at its Camden, Arkansas, facility. All current configured Tomahawk Block IV missiles in the USN inventory will be transitioned to Block V standard as they become due for their 15-year mid-life recertification (the recertification inventory objective is 3,992 missiles).
In addition, new-build Block V missiles from production Lot 16 are due to start deliveries later in 2021.
Prior to the start of the series recertification programme, an initial batch of five Block IV missiles was inducted to prime and prove the recertification kit embodiment process: one of these weapons is being retained as a process verification and laboratory support asset, with the other four allocated for activities to demonstrate the capabilities of the modernised missile.
Block V operational flight tests were performed off the US west coast late last year. The DDG-51 Flight IIA guided missile destroyer USS Chafee
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.