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09 Jun 21. MADEX 2021: LIG Nex1, Hanwha Systems showcase competing designs for RoKN’s CIWS-II programme. South Korean companies LIG Nex1 and Hanwha Systems have showcased models of the close-in weapon systems (CIWSs) each of them is proposing to meet the Republic of Korea Navy’s (RoKN’s) ‘CIWS-II’ requirement.
Under the programme the RoKN aims to acquire a locally developed CIWS for use on its future warships, including the service’s light aircraft carrier, KDDX guided-missile destroyers, and FFX-III-class guided-missile frigates. Janes understands that South Korea is aiming to complete development of the system by December 2030 for about KRW320bn (USD287m), with Seoul formally opening the bidding process for the project in May.
To meet this requirement LIG Nex1 displayed a CIWS model featuring a 30 mm Gatling-type gun capable of firing 4,200 rounds per minute; a tracking active electronically scanned-array (AESA) radar; a non-rotating, four-faced AESA search radar; and an electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) at the 9–12 June International Maritime Defense Industry Exhibition 2021 (MADEX 2021) in Busan, South Korea.
While the radars will be locally designed and built, the weapon is not likely to be a locally developed one but rather the same GAU‐8/A Avenger seven-barreled autocannon used by the Goalkeeper CIWS, which is already in service with the RoKN.
Hanwha Systems displayed a CIWS model with a more stealthy design but with similar radar and EOTS features. It seems the Hanwha design would also employ the same GAU‐8/A Avenger seven-barreled autocannon.
It is possible that these firms will team up with foreign companies, such as Thales or Raytheon, to secure the development contract. (Source: Jane’s)
09 June 21. Official Says DOD on Track to Accelerate Delivery of Hypersonic Weapons. Hypersonics is a key element of the Defense Department’s modernization activity, delivering high-speed, long-range lethal effects that can take out high-priority targets on the battlefield, a key Defense Department official said.
Mike White, principal director for hypersonics in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, said hypersonics are effective because they fly at sustained speeds around Mach 5, and above, at very high altitudes and are maneuverable. This makes them difficult to intercept and able to reach high-priority targets from long range, in a very short time.
White told the Center for Strategic and International Studies that a lot of science goes into developing hypersonic systems. For instance, at speeds of Mach 5 and above, thermal protection systems are very important because of the heat generated, he said, adding that carbon-based composites are being developed to prevent overheating.
Besides offensive hypersonics, DOD is also working on defensive measures against a potential adversary’s hypersonic systems, he said, referring to Russia and China. Intercept measures are being developed to take out enemy hypersonics in all phases — such as launch, glide and terminal.
The hypersonic systems being developed, he said, include a family of hypersonic weapons that can be launched from the sea, land and air, as well as, a family of weapons to defend against adversary hypersonic capability. As such, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Missile Defense Agency are all developing these capabilities, in cooperation with organizations such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Sandia National Laboratories and industry. There are also initiatives with allies.
White mentioned that Congress and the administration have been very supportive of hypersonics development.
The DOD’s fiscal year 2022 budget request includes $6.6bn to develop and field long-range fires, including hypersonics, with a goal of testing and producing air, land, and maritime launched weapons by the early to mid-2020’s. (Source: US DoD)
08 Jun 21. Taiwan testing ship-borne ‘Sea Oryx’ short-range, air-defence system. Images have emerged online showing the Republic of China Navy’s (RoCN’) Kaohsiung (LCC-1) command ship (ex-USS Dukes County) being used to test the locally developed, shipborne ‘Sea Oryx’ short-range, air-defence (SHORAD) system. The images, which emerged in early June, show that the system – Taiwan’s version of the Raytheon RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile system – has been located on the stern of the ship, which is often used by the RoCN and the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) as a test platform for indigenous radar and missile systems. Taiwan also seems to be using the ship to trial an indigenous air-search active electronically scanned array radar system – located midships – but this is unrelated to the ‘Sea Oryx’ system. The photographs indicate that after six years of research and development, the ‘Sea Oryx’ has now entered the sea testing phase. The ‘Sea Oryx’ SHORAD system was first unveiled at the 2015 Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE). It incorporates an upgraded naval variant of the Tien Chien I (‘Sky Sword 1′) guided air-to-air missile used by the RoC Air Force. The missile design has undergone a number of modifications in recent years, including the addition of four fins to the original four for more stabilisation after launch. The missile has a maximum effective range of 9 km and can reach a maximum altitude of 3km. The ‘Sea Oryx’ is deployed from a pivoting multi-axis launcher providing rapid engagement of a number of targets. (Source: Jane’s)
08 Jun 21. RAAF flies F-35A fighter aircraft with full weapons load for the first time. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has for the first time flown the Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft carrying a full complement of internal and external weapons, the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) announced on 7 June.
Two fully laden F-35As, part of a group of 10 aircraft of the type, were deployed in May from RAAF Base Williamtown to RAAF Base Darwin to take part in the Exercise ‘Arnhem Thunder 21′ (12 May–15 June) – one of the RAAF’s largest domestic training exercises.
Besides an unspecified internal weapon payload, each of the two fighters carried four inert, laser-guided GBU-12 bombs attached to their underwing pylons during the training sortie. The bombs were dropped on ground-based targets at the Delamere Air Weapons Range, about 120 km south of Katherine, in the Northern Territory, said the DoD. The F-35As are expected to drop more than 50 inert GBU-12 bombs during the entire exercise, the DoD added.
According to Lockheed Martin, the F-35A can carry 5,700 lb when configured only with internal weapons (‘stealth mode’), while it can carry 22,000 lb when it carries both internal and external ordnances (‘beast mode’), including both air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions.
The DoD quoted the commanding officer of No 35 Squadron, Wing Commander Matthew Harper, as saying that the F-35A’s capability to carry a full load of internal and external weapons allows it “to be adapted to suit the threat environment and operational requirements”. (Source: Jane’s)
08 Jun 21. Norinco’s PCL-181 SPH in service with PLAGF’s 71st Group Army. Chinese state-owned media revealed on 6 June that an artillery brigade under the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force’s (PLAGF’s) 71st Group Army has been equipped with the China North Industries Group Corporation (Norinco) 155 mm PCL-181 wheeled self-propelled howitzer (SPH).
Footage released by broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) showed several examples of the SPH being used during indirect live-fire drills at an undisclosed location near the coastline. CCTV noted that is the first time the unit has conducted such a long-range indirect-fire exercise.
During the exercise the SPHs were set up behind a dam, and what appeared to be an ASN 209 Silver Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was launched for reconnaissance of the target area, which was reported to be on a hilly island off the coast. The UAV fed targeting data to the central command post and the SPH battery carried out a number of fire missions against the target area over a 10-hour period in which they faced fog, rain, and night conditions. The Global Times newspaper reported that during the first volley in the daytime, under fog and rain conditions, the artillery missed its targets. However, following adjustments the target area was successfully struck by the second volley. The drills eventually extended into night, and the troops carried out firing in dim light conditions. During this exercise the UAV is likely to have been a continuous presence above the target areas, feeding back information on targeting accuracy to the battery. (Source: Jane’s)
09 June 21. Latvia May Be Second NATO Ally to Buy Turkish Drones.
Latvia has signaled it could be the second European Union and NATO member state to acquire Turkish armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that have scored high-profile successes in the field, following last month’s purchase by Poland.
A delegation led by the nation’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Artis Pabriks arrived Monday in Turkey to discuss further cooperation in defense and the development of their military industry.
The delegation paid a visit to Turkish drone magnate Baykar Makina’s research and development (R&D) and production facilities in the capital, Ankara.
“Turkish industry has the highest world standards in research and development, and we value that very much as an ally in NATO,”
Pabriks said, replying to a tweet by Baykar that included a photo of the officials standing in front of the Bayraktar TB2 combat drone.
In a reply to a tweet that asked, “When can we expect Bayraktar TB2 to say ‘I am in Latvia’ (Es esmu Latvija)?” Pabriks wrote: “Hopefully soon enough.”
A message by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu Tuesday further boosted these prospects.
Çavuşoğlu met Pabriks at the ministry headquarters to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation opportunities in the defense industry.
“Will develop our cooperation with Latvia, our 2nd #NATO ally that shows interest in our UAV technology,” Çavuşoğlu tweeted following the meeting.
“It is in the interests of Latvia to promote constructive cooperation on mutually important issues with Turkey and its military industry,”
Pabriks wrote over his Facebook account Monday.
He noted that Turkey is their partner in NATO, saying he is sure that their joint cooperation will help strengthen Latvian defense capabilities as well as their local military industry.
Pabriks stressed that drones are the area “we are currently paying attention to and will continue to pay very much attention.”
“Drone systems create many additional options for Latvia, and they allow us to really increase our combat abilities,” he noted.
Turkish UAVs turning heads
Poland last month signed a deal to purchase 24 Bayraktar TB2 UAVs, marking the first time a NATO or EU member state acquired drones from Turkey.
European countries, including Hungary, Albania, Belarus, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, with whom Turkey shares good defense relations, are all said to be among potential customers of the UAVs.
Turkish drones have gained in popularity since the hardware was deployed in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan during conflicts that were prominently covered around the world.
The UAVs are currently in active use in Turkey, Qatar, Libya, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in March that Saudi Arabia was also interested in buying the drones.
Bayraktar TB2s played a vital role in the recent Azerbaijani victory against Armenia in the war for the liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Authorities in Turkey say the country has become the world’s fourth-largest drone producer since Erdoğan increased domestic production to reduce reliance on Western arms.
The Bayraktar – with its electronic, software, aerodynamic, design and sub-main systems fully designed and developed nationally – stands out as the world’s most advanced UAV system in its class with its flight automation and performance.
It has a record altitude of 27,030 feet for over 24 hours in the air and can carry 150 kilograms (over 330 pounds) of cargo. It can operate day and night with useful loads.
Performing active reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence flights, the Bayraktar has the ability to transmit the images it obtains to operation centers without delay and to attack targets with its munitions.
An onboard avionic suite with a triple-redundant avionic system encompasses units, enabling a fully autonomous taxiing, takeoff, landing and cruise.
The drone was first delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in 2014 and upgraded with armament for the first time in 2015. It is currently used by the Gendarmerie General Command, General Directorate of Security Forces and the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) in their operations. (Source: UAS VISION/ Daily Sabah)
08 Jun 21. UK confirms selection of JAGM over Brimstone for Apache. UK Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quinn has confirmed a decision by the UK to equip its new AH-64E Apache helicopters with the US-made Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) rather than the Brimstone missile made by MBDA in the UK.
Confirming the decision in a written response to a parliamentary question, Quinn said: “The Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) for the new AH-64E Future Attack Helicopter has been selected. This missile is designed for helicopter use and is already integrated within the aircraft, simulators and mission planning systems.
“In addition to JAGM, the Hellfire K1 and Hellfire Romeo missiles will also be fully qualified and integrated onto the aircraft.”
The decision prompted round criticism from defence commentators for going against the grain of the government’s prosperity agenda and not selecting a UK-made system.
Labour MP and Former Shadow Defence Minister Kevan Jones criticised the decision, telling Army Technology: “I am extremely disappointed to see Brimstone overlooked for this programme, especially as it was established back in 2016 that Brimstone could be effectively integrated into Apache AH-64E at low-risk.
“The Government must urgently restrain its tendency to ‘buy American’ and support UK PLC in maintaining these critical capabilities onshore.”
Current US figures put the unit cost of a Lockheed Martin-made JAGM at around $324,805 (£229,101) per missile; however, this figure is expected to fall significantly as production is increased, with the aim being a full-scale production unit cost close to that of the current AGM-114R Hellfire missile.
The cost of Brimstone would also decrease given large enough orders; however, Defence industry analyst and consultant specialising in land warfare Nicholas Drummond told Army Technology that it would be unlikely to go below £200K per missile.
Selecting Brimstone; however’ would have also incurred further integration costs, whilst the JAGM is already integrated onto the AH-64E. JAGM is also already integrated within the aircraft simulators and mission planning systems.
Commenting on the decision, a Ministry of Defence Spokesperson told Army Technology: “Following an assessment of all missile options for the new Apaches, the contract will be awarded based on design and integration within the aircraft systems.
“We remain committed to the Brimstone programme and have confidence in its capability as a cutting-edge weapon.”
Royal United Services Institute research fellow and editor of RUSI Defence Systems Justin Bronk told Army Technology said there were arguments for and against the use of either missile, adding that both would be ‘sufficiently’ capable against Russian main battle tanks for the foreseeable future for the helicopters core anti-tank role.
Bronk added that Brimstone currently has an edge against JAGM when it comes to the engaging of main battle tanks and that the missile offered benefits from anglo-french industrial engagement and commonality with the Royal Air Force.
Brimstone is already fitted to the Royal Air Force’s Typhoon fighter jets and is set to be integrated onto its new Protector Remotely Piloted Air Systems.
Reports of the UK’s decision to select JAGM were first reported by Aviation Week in May this year. In March, it was disclosed that the UK had purchased one JAGM from the US via a foreign military sales case. At the time, the acquisition was reported as being for testing purposes.
On JAGM, Bronk added: “On the flip side, JAGM offers a more flexible warhead for other targets such as troops in the open, dug in weapon positions and structures.
“It is also likely to be cheaper per missile in the long term due to the scale at which the US will produce the weapon, and offer significant logistics and stockpile resilience advantages in a major war due to commonality with US forces including the US Army’s own AH-64E units in theatre.”
Despite the benefits of using JAGM from a cost perspective, Drummond said it made ‘no sense’ for the UK not to integrate the Brimstone missile onto Apache, adding that this process would cost an estimated £70m.
As Brimstone is more effective at engaging armoured targets and JAGM more cost-efficient for engaging non-armoured targets, Drummond added that it would have been beneficial to have the flexibility and potential of using both weapon types.
JAGM is set to be used widely by the US Army and US Marine Corps, and its adoption ensures interoperability with US forces moving forward.
Drummond added that part of the logic behind using JAGM was the belief that in a major conflict the US would provide the UK with significant stocks of missiles.
In a high-intensity conflict scenario, it assumed that the British Army’s 1st Aviation Brigade would be firing around 768 missiles a night.
Despite the belief that the US would supply the UK with sufficient stocks, Drummond added that the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic had shown that if a country does not have the domestic capability to manufacture key products, in an emergency scenario it would be at the back of the queue to buy what it needs.
Drummond concluded: “We absolutely must retain an ability to manufacture missiles locally. So we seem to have made a bad strategic decision for an important capability when it delivers very limited savings.
“It’s like not saving money on the Challenger 2 LEP [Life Extension Programme] by not buying one of the 120 mm ammunition natures.” (Source: army-technology.com)
07 June 21. USAF completes tests of swarming munitions, but will they ever see battle? The U.S. Air Force has wrapped up the first phase of its Golden Horde demonstration effort, putting the service one step closer to developing swarming smart weapons that behave semi-autonomously and use algorithms to seek high-priority targets.
But the technology won’t immediately move into a program of record, said Gen. Arnold Bunch, who leads Air Force Materiel Command. Instead, the service intends to conduct virtual experiments with collaborative munitions as it decides what elements of Golden Horde to further develop.
“We can determine what the gain out of that system may be, and then we will look for future ways that we can morph that into a program of record at a later time,” he told reporters during a Defense Writers Group event on June 4. “Right now, it is not moving into a program of record.”
The final demonstration, held May 25 at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, allowed the service to complete all three objectives associated with the Golden Horde program, the service said in a news release. Golden Horde is one of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s four major Vanguard efforts, which aim to drive transformational technologies using prototyping and experimentation.
During the event, two F-16 jets from the 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, launched six Collaborative Small Diameter Bombs — modified versions of Boeing’s Small Diameter Bomb. The six CSDBs established a communications link with each other and a ground station. This accomplished the first objective: connecting six weapons using a the L3Harris Technologies-made Banshee 2 radio network, after previous tests with two and four weapons.
To complete the second objective, the Air Force sent an in-flight target update from the ground station to the swarm of CSDBs, directing the bombs to abandon their current trajectory and go after a new target.
For the last objective, two CSDBs conducted a synchronized time-on-target strike of a single mark, while two other collaborative bombs attacked two separate targets.
The demonstration showed the CSDBs could be connected into the Air Force’s broader command-and-control enterprise, and it validated Georgia Tech Research Institute’s algorithm for synchronized time-on-target attacks, AFRL said in a statement.
“These technologies are completely changing the way we think about weapon capabilities, much like the laser-guided bomb did several decades ago,” said AFRL commander Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle. “Golden Horde and technologies like this will enable the Department of the Air Force to overcome many of its current and future challenges, and we’re just beginning to unfold all the possibilities.”
But exactly what technologies will be enabled by the work pioneered in Golden Horde is still yet to be seen. The Air Force significantly narrowed the scope of the effort since it was first announced as a Vanguard program in 2019. Originally, the service had hoped to make a second collaborative weapon based on Raytheon Technologies’ Miniature Air-Launched Decoy, which would be flown alongside CSDBs in a complex scenario originally slated for 2022.
Ultimately, the Air Force scrapped those plans. Bunch declined to comment on whether the Air Force would pursue a collaborative version of the Raytheon decoy.
For the next phase of the effort, AFRL’s Munitions Directorate and the service’s program office for weapons plan to jointly build “The Colosseum,” which will use digital engineering and virtual modeling to develop and test future networked, collaborative and autonomous weapons.
Live testing “becomes costly, and it could become labor intensive,” Bunch said. “If I could create a virtual environment where I could try out new ideas and hone those, and then try to do the open air things, it makes it more efficient and more effective in the long term.”
Even though the collaborative bombs developed for Golden Horde won’t become operational weapons, Bunch maintains that the demonstration effort allowed the Air Force’s weapons program office and its research lab to collaborate on new technology — a practice that is unique to Vanguard programs.
“And there may be certain parts of what we found in Golden Horde that we can take out and put into another weapon or put in another system,” he added. (Source: Defense News)
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