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07 Apr 21. Raytheon awarded $15.5m to upgrade laser weapon. The U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon Technologies a $15.5m contract to deliver an upgraded version of its dune buggy-mounted laser weapon system, which the company says will inform requirements for a future program of record.
Raytheon has been rapidly prototyping its high-energy laser weapon system, or HELWS, for the military since 2019, when the Air Force Research Laboratory awarded the company a $23.8m contract for two prototypes. Later that year the company secured another $13.1m for a third prototype.
HELWS uses directed energy to destroy small unmanned aerial systems. The weapon is capable of defeating a drone within three kilometers by keeping its beam focused on the threat for five consecutive seconds. Operators control the weapon with a game-style controller and a laptop. The Air Force hopes directed-energy weapons like HELWS can help defend its bases from small drone threats.
Raytheon has delivered three prototypes to the Air Force, with the first deployed overseas for testing in early 2020 and the second deployed later that year.
“With thousands of operation hours under its belt, our HELWS system has proven its mettle,” Annabel Flores, vice president of electronic warfare systems at Raytheon Intelligence & Space, said in a March 31 statement. “Now we have the opportunity to build another, more robust laser system for the Air Force’s premier organization and take a key step toward defining an air base air defense program of record.”
While HELWS prototypes are attached to off-road vehicles, under the $15.5m contract the system will be delivered unmounted on pallets for potential use with different platforms.
This latest contract was issued by the Air Force Lifecycle Management Center, which will test HELWS to define requirements for future counter-drone production programs and make a recommendation to a procurement authority. Raytheon will support Air Force field assessments and help train operators. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
07 Apr 21. Program is on track for Initial Operational Capability (IOC) by 2029. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) successfully conducted the Integrated Baseline Review (IBR) for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) program, a critical milestone that sets the performance measurement baseline and keeps the program on track for IOC by 2029.
“Meeting our GBSD commitments is paramount,” said Greg Manuel, vice president and general manager, strategic deterrent systems division, Northrop Grumman. “Our team remains focused on delivering a modern strategic deterrent capability to keep pace with 21st century threats.”
IBR occurs within the first 180 days of contract award to set cost and schedule baseline, identify and quantify risks, and ensure mitigation plans are in place when executing the program. Early in the review, Northrop Grumman and the Air Force collaborated to develop a common understanding about the project’s baseline as it relates to technical, schedule, cost, resource, and management process risks and their impacts.
“Given the sheer size and importance of schedule integration, we had to be agile in meeting this critical milestone, there is no margin for delay,” said Steve Lunny, vice president, GBSD program, Northrop Grumman. “Early-on, we worked with the Air Force, shoulder-to-shoulder in a virtual setting, to engage at a deeper level and share critical insights throughout IBR to mitigate risks, arrive at a common baseline, and ultimately save time.”
Northrop Grumman was awarded the GBSD EMD contract in September 2020 to begin modernizing the nation’s aging intercontinental ballistic missile system. The EMD phase includes full system design, qualification, test and evaluation, and nuclear certification. Upon successful completion of EMD, the Northrop Grumman team will begin producing and delivering a modern and fully integrated ICBM system to meet the Air Force’s schedule of initial operational capability by 2029.
The GBSD program has also earned the e-Series designation by the U.S. Air Force, meaning the program has leveraged digital engineering principles to model and authenticate virtual designs and significantly shorten development timelines.
Northrop Grumman is leading a nationwide team that includes Aerojet Rocketdyne, Bechtel, Clark, Collins Aerospace, General Dynamics, Honeywell, Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, L3 Harris, Lockheed Martin, Textron Systems, as well as hundreds of small and medium-sized companies from across the defense, engineering and construction industries. Overall, the GBSD program will involve over 10,000 people across the U.S. directly working on this vital national security program. For more information, please visit: www.northropgrumman.com/gbsd.
07 Apr 21. Rafael marks 10 years since Iron Dome’s first combat interception. Rafael’s President and CEO: Iron Dome’s current capabilities are light years beyond its original design. With over 2,500 combat interceptions, at a success rate of 90%, and numerous lives saved, today marks the 10th anniversary of the first combat interception of Rafael’s Iron Dome Air Defense System.
Iron Dome’s development began in December 2007, and was completed in less than 3 years.
Within less than a month after being deployed in Israel, on the evening of April 7, 2011, the system was challenged in combat for the first time. A rocket that was launched from the Gaza Strip was detected by Iron Dome’s radar. Within seconds, the data transmitted to the BMC (Battle Management Center) was processed, and the battery operators needed to decide whether to activate an interceptor against the threat. With precise impact location provided by the BMC, pointing to the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, with a population of more than 130,000 civilians, the crew decided to launch an interceptor, and made combat history by intercepting the threat, preventing civilian injuries and significant damage to property.
Iron Dome’s first massive and dramatic performance took place during operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, when it intercepted over 500 different threats fired from the Gaza Strip onto different parts of Israel, including heavy rocket barrages.
Iron Dome had become a game-changer, earning it the Israel Security Award in 2012.
Iron Dome has played an instrumental role in every conflict since then, by stopping thousands of rockets from hitting Israel, spanning small to large mortars and rockets with varying ranges and warheads.
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 provides robust, yet selective defense. Its ability to discriminate between threats headed towards a populated area and those that will fall into the sea or open fields, reduces costs, and limits unnecessary interceptor launches. A single battery can protect a medium-sized city.
Iron Dome’s development has continued throughout the years, and its capabilities today include wider coverage, providing protection against a broader spectrum of threats, the ability to handle simultaneous threats, very high-volume salvos, and much more.
In August 2019, Israel’s Ministry of Defense and the US Defense Department signed an agreement for the purchase of two Iron Dome batteries for the US Army. Both batteries have now been delivered to the US.
In May 2020, Rafael and Raytheon Technologies Corporation signed a joint venture agreement to produce Iron Dome interceptors and launchers in an all-up-round facility in the US. The partnership is called Raytheon Rafael Area Protection Systems (R2S).
Rafael has developed additional variants of the Iron Dome system, to form a family that consists of the naval variant C-Dome, providing protection of strategic naval and land assets against advanced ballistic, aerial and surface-to surface threats, including saturated attacks. C-Dome is operational with the Israeli Navy. Iron Dome is also offered as an integrated, all-in-one air defense (I-Dome) system for maneuvering tactical forces in the field on a single vehicle.
Rafael’s President and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Yoav Har-Even: “Iron Dome is a household name in Israel, and has become synonymous with excellence. We are proud of our teams of scientists and engineers who developed this extraordinary system and are continuing to do so on a daily basis. Thanks to them, Iron Dome’s capabilities are light years beyond its original design. We have seen it turn from a blueprint into a true game-changer, saving lives, preventing escalation, enabling military and political decision-makers to make calm and collected decisions. It has allowed Israel to carry on its daily routine, even while being targeted by an indiscriminate enemy. We are thankful to our teams, to the Israeli Ministry of Defense and to the IDF, to our partner industries ELTA, our subsidiary mPrest and others. We are especially thankful to current and past American administrations for their support in the manufacturing of the system.”
06 Apr 21. Hypersonic Missile Fails Test-Launch From B-52 Bomber.
The Air Force called the ARRW failure “a setback.”
The U.S. Air Force called the failure of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon a “a setback in demonstrating its progress in hypersonic weapons.” The U.S military has been racing against China and Russia to field numerous types of hypersonic weapons, which can fly at more than five times the speed of sound.
The ARRW was to launch from the B-52 over the Pacific Ocean. Instead, “the test missile was not able to complete its launch sequence and was safely retained on the aircraft which returned to Edwards AFB,” the Air Force said in an emailed statement.
“While not launching was disappointing, the recent test provided invaluable information to learn from and continue ahead. This is why we test,” Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, Armament Directorate program executive officer, said in the statement.
The Air Force wants to have operational ARRW missiles “in the early 2020s,” according to the statement.
“The weapon system is designed to provide the ability to destroy high-value, time-sensitive targets,” the Air Force said. “It will also expand precision-strike weapon systems’ capabilities by enabling rapid response strikes against heavily defended land targets.”
Missile maker Lockheed Martin declined to comment about Monday’s flight test and referred all questions to the Air Force “due to the classified nature of the program.”
Lockheed is developing several hypersonic weapons for the U.S. military. At the end of 2020, the company had “north of $3bn” in hypersonic-related orders, Lockheed CEO Jim Taiclet said on the company’s last quarterly earnings call in January. Taiclet estimated Lockheed getting another $1.5bn in hypersonic weapon orders this year.
“By the middle of the decade, it’s conceivable that that number could be closer to $3bn,” he said. “You’ll start to see some of these limited rate production programs happening. Some of these programs will actually start going into full-scale production.”
New-generation weapons—like ARRW—are among a number of key upgrades planned for the B-52 in the coming years. These improvements will allow the half century-old Cold War-era bombers to remain an important piece of the Pentagon’s arsenal for decades to come. (Source: Defense One)
02 Apr 21. This week Estonian Artillery Battalion instructor staff fired the first test shots from the new K9 Kõu (Thunder) on the central training area. ”Today, the instructor staff of the artillery battalion passed their maturity exam and did so with a grade of five,” said Lieutenant Colonel Marko Tomentšuk, Commander of the Artillery Battalion, adding that the Artillery Battalion is currently preparing a K9 instructor staff.
During the firing, the Tooru fire support system was also successfully tested, which allows commanders to transmit their fire orders digitally directly to the armed squadron’s armed crew, thus significantly reducing the time required to transmit a fire order. The development and deployment of such a system will make the artillery battalion an even faster and more effective force on the battlefield.
The in-depth training that preceded the launch of the K9 self-propelled howitzer began in September last year in South Korea, where a weapons user level course was held. The training will continue until mid-April in Tapa, where a weapon maintenance and repair course is underway, which will be attended by almost 20 employees.
“Cooperation with South Korean instructors has been very fruitful and smooth,” said Lieutenant Kristjan Katmann, commander of the mobile artillery battery.
The K9 Kõu self-propelled howitzer has high throughput, tracks, good armour protection and high fire power. The lifespan of weapon systems is 45 years, which means that Estonian artillery can use these weapon systems for at least another 30 years. Because the artillery cannons are armoured and self-propelled, this increases the protection of the artillery crew and allows for faster manoeuvring, which increases immunity and firepower. The weapon system is simple and reliable, suitable for use by both conscripts and reservists. (Source: http://www.joint-forces.com)
01 Apr 21. UK launches MLRS project. The United Kingdom has launched a five-year programme to upgrade the British Army’s M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS). The British Army has announced that its MLRS will be upgraded over the next five years. (Janes/Patrick Allen)
The project, the launch of which followed an agreement with the US Department of Defence, will begin next year with the installation of improved armoured cabs on the first of 44 launcher vehicles, the British Army announced on its website on 31 March.
In addition, upgraded automotive and launch mechanism components will be installed at the US Army’s Red River Depot in Texas and Lockheed Martin’s facility in Camden, Arkansas.
“The upgrades will ensure that the army’s land deep fires capability remains strong for the next three decades and that the British Army has the technological capability to quickly meet the threats of today and tomorrow,” the British Army said. “The upgrades will keep the equipment in service until 2050.”
The British Army also aims to fit UK-specific systems to its improved launchers, including composite rubber tracks, a vehicle camera and radar system.
“The 44 updated launchers will also be able to fire the US Precision Strike Missile (PrSM), which has a range of 499km and is expected in service from 2024,” said the announcement. The PrSM is the proposed replacement for the US MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). “These weapons will place the British Army at the cutting edge of global deep fires capability, ready to respond to long-range air defence and missile threats presented by hostile actors.”
The British Army said the Extended-Range Guided MLRS, which will extend its reach to 150km, should be in Royal Artillery service by 2025. (Source: Jane’s)
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.