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MISSILE, HYPERSONICS, ALLISTICS AND SOLDIER SYSTEMS UPDATE

Sponsored by Arnold Defense www.arnolddefense.com

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13 Oct 20. Arnold Defense announces two major orders for FLETCHER Land Based 2.75-inch Rocket Launcher. Arnold Defense, the St. Louis based manufacturer of 2.75-inch rocket launchers, announced the receipt of two major orders for their unique FLETCHER Land Based, Laser Guided Rocket Launcher. The FLETCHER precision guided 2.75-inch/70mm weapon system was first unveiled in 2017 at DSEi in London.

Arnold Defense is unable to disclose specific details regarding the new contracts in place however, one of the two orders has come from USSOCOM and the other is from an undisclosed European specialist unit. The timings, numbers, configurations and concepts of use are different for each customer, but Arnold and their integration partners will be delivering a combination of single (4-round) vehicle-mounted FLETCHER systems, as seen on display at numerous exhibitions and a new and unique twin-mounted (8-round) FLETCHER variant. Vehicle and static mounted FLETCHER systems give the user the ability to accurately engage targets from the ground at a range of over 5km.

Since the launch of the concept in 2017, FLETCHER has been showcased at a number of international exhibitions, generating exceptional levels of interest whilst Arnold Defense have continued with an ongoing development and investment program to broaden and prove the system’s already revolutionary capability. In April 2019 Arnold Defense announced the placement of the very first ‘proof of concept’ order for FLETCHER. In June of this year, BAE Systems announced the successful live firing of their APKWS® laser-guided rockets using the FLETCHER ground-based launcher. Arnold Defense are also working on some other revolutionary development projects for FLETCHER including a boat-mounted marine variant and further development of their 23-round MLHS ground-based system, first unveiled at DSEi in 2019.

With FLETCHER, Arnold Defense has made a bold departure from the traditional concept of use for 2.75-inch rocket systems; that of an area suppression weapon delivered by aviation assets.  Arnold’s innovative approach FLETCHER using advanced rocket-guidance technology to utilize ground-based launch platforms, meeting the demands of modern, vehicle-mounted and dismounted asymmetric warfare.

FLETCHER’s unique design allows for ease of operation, maintenance and sustainment.  It employs an existing suite of guidance modules, rockets and warheads, already used in well-known programs and readily available to global forces. As a result, the FLETCHER system is ‘rocket agnostic’ allowing the user to fire their existing in-service 2.75-inch rockets of choice.

Doug Wallace, recently appointed President at Arnold Defense said, “Arnold Defense is delighted to have signed these two contracts to supply our supremely capable FLETCHER surface-based rocket launcher.” He added, “FLETCHER has generated huge interest globally with its unique capability to deliver organic, long-range precision firepower to even the smallest tactical element.  It is great to see serious international interest developing into firm orders and we’re expecting much more to follow.”

13 Oct 20. Arnold Defense selling land-based 70 mm rocket launchers to Special Forces. US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and an undisclosed special mission unit in Europe are set to become the first customers capable of firing 70mm rockets from tactical ground vehicles, industry sources told Janes.

Arnold Defense is in the process of finalising a pair of contracts with both organisations for delivery of an undisclosed number of Fletcher land-based 70 mm rocket launchers.

Officials from the US-based company told Janes both customers would be receiving the Fletcher Laser Guided Weapon System, which will be integrated on board undisclosed special operations vehicles.

Arnold Defense declined to say which vehicles would be equipped with the launcher, although company president Doug Wallace said the Fletcher could be integrated on a variety of ground vehicles including the Polaris MRZR and DAGOR, Navistar SOTV, Nimr Ajban LRSOV, Oshkosh S-ATV, Supacat LRV400 and HMT600, and Jankel LTTV.

“The timings, numbers, configurations, and concepts of use are different for each customer but Arnold and their integration partners will be delivering a combination of single (4-round) vehicle-mounted Fletcher systems and a new and unique twin-mounted (8-round) Fletcher variant,” a company statement said. (Source: Jane’s)

15 Oct 20. AUSA 2020: Service still eyeing hard-kill APS but funding shortfalls, tech challenges remain. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is expected to complete Trophy active protection system (APS) deliveries for the US Army’s M1 Abrams main battle tank line this year, but the service is still facing funding shortfalls and technical challenges in its quest to outfit other ground combat fleets with similar capabilities.

Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Ramos, the project manager for vehicle protection systems, recently updated Janes on his portfolio ahead of this year’s virtual Association of the US Army (AUSA) conference. When it comes to the Trophy APS for the service’s Abrams line, the army is buying systems for four brigade combat teams. If all goes as planned, Rafael will deliver its final lot by the end of the calendar year, he said.

As for efforts to outfit the Bradley fleet with a similar capability to shoot down incoming threats such as low-cost, anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and rocket-propelled grenades, the army still has a requirement to field one brigade of these vehicles with the capability and Elbit Systems’ Iron Fist Light Decoupled (IFLD) remains the selected system. However, the service is awaiting additional finance to continue research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) activities with the system and the army has still not freed up funding to acquire the capability, Lt Col Ramos added. (Source: Jane’s)

15 Oct 20. The Army’s SAW and M4 replacement is headed to troops by 2022. The gun that will replace both the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and the M16/M4 rifle/carbine weapons — and add a new, widely distributed caliber to the U.S. military inventory for the first time in decades — is less than two years away.

The Next Generation Squad Weapon finished its first prototype test event in September. The three previously selected offerings came from Sig Sauer, Textron Systems and General Dynamics Ordnance.

Brig. Gen. David Hodne, Infantry School commandant and Soldier Lethality Cross Functional Team director, along with Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts, head of Program Executive Office Soldier, gave updates to Army Times ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition.

Concurrently, the Army in April has also selected two companies, L3 Technologies and Vortex Optics, to compete for the fire control for the weapons system.

Sig Sauer’s design looks much like a conventional assault rifle while GD is using a bullpup design, which shortens the length by building the magazine feed into the weapon stock. Textron has built its weapon around the cartridge, which is unique to them, a cased telescope item that has the projectile inside of the casing to reduce weight.

Back in April, each of the companies provided 15 rifles, 15 automatic rifles and 180,000 cartridges using the government-developed 6.8mm projectile.

The 6.8mm projectile was chosen after decades of testing and evaluation showed that 5.56mm lethality at mid-ranges on the battlefield was inadequate and existing 7.62mm could be outperformed by the 6.8mm round and save weight for the soldier.

The new caliber also gives the soldier both a rifle and automatic rifle firing the same round, both effective past the 600m mark of existing light calibers.

Following the September testing, the companies will have six months until their next prototype test, scheduled to begin in February.

During the annual Maneuver Warfighter Conference at Fort Benning in Georgia, Maj. Wyatt Ottmar, project officer over NGSW for the Soldier Lethality CFT, laid out some of the recent developments and next steps for the weapons system.

Ottmar noted that Sig Sauer provided a combined steel lower and brass upper ammunition cartridge to reduce weight. A contract is expected to be awarded to one of the three companies this coming fiscal year with fielding to start in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2022, or sometime between August and October 2022, to Infantry, Stryker and Armor Brigade Combat Teams.

Ultimately, the weapon will be fielded to all close combat forces, including special operations forces, infantry, combat engineers and scouts.

The fire control is expected to field six months ahead of the weapon, Potts said. That will allow the NGSW producer to better integrate the optic with the weapon. (Source: Defense News)

15 Oct 20. DOD Establishes Joint Hypersonics Transition Office Systems Engineering Field Activity at NSWC Crane. Today, the Department of Defense established its Joint Hypersonics Transition Office (JHTO) Systems Engineering Field Activity at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane). Through this partnership, located in Crane, Indiana, the Department can leverage the growing suite of government, industry, and academic leaders associated with NSWC Crane. Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Dr. Mark Lewis, and JHTO Director, Dr. Gillian Bussey, announced the JHTO Systems Engineering Field Activity opening in a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 15th with Governor Eric Holcomb.

“The JHTO and its Systems Engineering Field Activity present a signature opportunity for the Department. Leveraging the capabilities at NSWC Crane, we can not only develop effective hypersonic technologies, but we can also develop them affordably at the speed of relevance to our warfighters. Proactive engineering for affordable upgrades is critical to the long-term sustainability of these systems,” said Dr. Lewis.

NSWC Crane has previously received recent DoD hypersonics awards to advance testing, verification and validation capabilities. This includes $150m in unique capabilities such as an underwater launch test complex, a missile technology evaluation facility, an integrated Hardware-in-the-Loop (HWIL) / Software-in-the-Loop (SWIL) test bed, and a Modeling & Simulation lab. More than three hundred people at Crane are working to advance hypersonic technologies and the enabling capabilities to make them possible.

“NSWC Crane has become a critical hub in the hypersonics development ecosystem,” says Rick Davidoff, Acting Director of the JHTO Systems Engineering Field Activity. “This exciting announcement is the culmination of the hard work and dedication of many people. The JHTO Field Activity at Crane will allow OSD to leverage earlier and ongoing investments at Crane to help all three Services improve their hypersonic weapons with more rapid, adaptable, and modular upgrades. Indiana and the larger Midwest will have a long-term, critical role in this important national security mission.”

The JHTO, headquartered at the Pentagon, was established by Congressional direction and its authorities were renewed in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. The JHTO is responsible for creating strategies and roadmaps to develop hypersonic technologies and transition them to operational capabilities, for coordinating with foreign allies and partners, and for bolstering the hypersonics workforce. Additionally, it is establishing a university consortium for applied hypersonics to leverage the nation’s academic community towards hypersonics-related research and workforce development.

The JHTO Systems Engineering Field Activity at Crane will perform detailed engineering activities to help execute the JHTO’s mandate. The Field Activity will coordinate architectures, interfaces, schedules, and plans to transition a more modular, affordable, and upgradable hypersonics portfolio of capabilities and technologies. The Systems Engineering Field Activity has four engineering focus areas: System Architectures and Guidelines, Science & Technology Management, Transition Management, and Modeling and Simulation. The Field Activity will also execute some workforce development initiatives, including sponsored research, curriculum development, and engagements with industry to create a growing pipeline of highly technical talent to enter the hypersonics workforce. (Source: US DoD)

15 Oct 20. AUSA: Textron Touts New Small Arms Technology. The US Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) intends to replace the 5.56mm M4A1 with both a new weapon and new 6.8mm ammunition.

Textron Defense’s Wayne Pender, senior vice president Applied Technology explained in an AUSA briefing this its NGSW offered “new yet well proved technologies in both areas”.  Drawing on a unique polymer cased telescoping (CT) ammunition developed as part of its earlier LSAT allows introduction of a number of advances in the weapon and its performance.

“Our design is purpose built,” he shared, “with shorter rounds allowing for a shorter, lighter and simpler operating weapon.”  Unlike traditional weapons it “ejects the spent case forward, with the new round pushing the fired case from the chamber thus eliminating the need to extract the spent case which can be a problem with polymers.”  In addition the design reduces heat build-up allowing safe high rates of fire.

The company has delivered 30 Prototype 1 weapons from which it has applied feedback from soldiers and independent experts to its PT2 weapons which are now being provided as well as ammunition.  “Initial trials by soldiers at the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum have been useful in directing refinements to the design, particularly regarding ergonomics” he said.

In addition, Textron has been coordinating to assure the interface between the weapon and the advanced fire control system for which development contracts have been awarded to L3 Harris and Vortex Optics. The NGSW uses a battery powered “smart rail” integrated into the weapon itself a new approach.  The Textron CT is one of three NGSW candidates the Army is evaluating with Sig Sauer and General Dynamics-OTS also in the competition.  The Army is pushing for a 2020 initial fielding. (Source: Armada)

15 Oct 20. US Army engineers use 1950s breaching tech; robots might solve the problem. Soldiers tasked with breaching a minefield or similar obstacle now rely on state of the art equipment and techniques — from the 1950s. The Army aims to get those humans out of one of the most dangerous battlefield scenarios through a combination of better ways to neutralize mines or obstacles, better detection of said mines or obstacles, and robots to do the job.

Early versions of this are underway in some testing scenarios but likely won’t hit deploying units until 2028. And a full-fledged solution isn’t expected until 2035, according to a panel at this year’s Association of the U.S. Army conference.

Army engineers, along with technology centers for ammunition, night vision and sensors, are tackling this thorny problem.

The 2028 timeline would add semi-autonomous machines to the kit, while also improving detection, neutralization, fire control and munitions for engineers encountering these complex problems.

The 2035 solution would combine air and ground autonomous platforms to essentially do the job for soldiers.

And this planning isn’t for a one-off, rare occurrence.

“The more you distribute a force in our multi-domain operations concepts, the more likely you are to have to do breach missions as adversaries respond to this construct,” said Maj. Gen. David Hill, deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Command.

That’s because as units disperse, adversaries will want to rapidly deploy minefields or other such obstacles to isolate and channel the attackers, such as a battalion or even brigade formation on the move.

Running into a minefield creates a choke point while also stalling the advance. That creates time for targeting and precision long range fires to take effect.

Earlier this year, the Army ran a platoon-size robotic wingman breach, remotely controlling a vehicle from cover at a distance.

Army researchers used upgraded Bradleys, dubbed Mission Enabler Technologies-Demonstrators, or MET-Ds. Those upgrades include a remote turret for the 25mm main gun, 360-degree awareness cameras and enhanced crew stations with touchscreens

Right now, human soldiers in infantry units employ a Bangalore torpedo, a handheld, tube-section charge that allows them to snake an explosive, one section at a time, through an obstacle to blow it and create a path.

The automated, longer range options are essentially mechanized versions of this that have been around since the 1970s. Soldiers launch a string of explosives through the air that lands on the obstacle and is denotated quite close, as much as 100 yards, from the impediment.

This just won’t do in an area of ever-present drone coverage and precision fire on all sides.

Once blown through, a human engineer team marks the obstacle with signs and flags so the next unit can find its way through the treacherous territory.

But in recent years, more attention has been given to the development of smart mines that can move themselves around the battlefield and reconfigure. If an adversary has this technology, it would render lane marking useless. In fact, the markings could make the situation even more dangerous by giving a false sense of security to oncoming friendly forces.

The Army’s efforts to address all these battlefield problems also apply to other methods of maneuver and threats, such as asymmetric improvised explosive devices in common use for the past two decades. Breaching and route clearance also mimic wet gap crossing, Brig. Gen. Mark Quander noted.

“In both cases we’ve got to try and figure out, ‘How do we sense and detect where the obstacle’s at?’” Quander said.

That means better sensors and better ways of getting that data to the right place at the right time.

That means better aided target recognition and machine learning, said Michael Grove, principal deputy for technology and countermine night vision and electronic sensors at the Army’s Communications-Electronics, Research and Engineering Center.

Adding artificial intelligence into the mix will help find the obstacles when, or before, they’re reached, giving commanders more options on how to avoid or handle them. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Army Times)

15 Oct 20. SMASH 2000 being evaluated by the U.S. Army under Foreign Comparative Test (FCT). SMASH 2000 underwent intensive live fire testing by U.S. Army at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds (APG) to evaluate its Fire Control capabilities compared to standard rifle sites.

[October 15, 2020]: Between the 14th and 24th of Sept, 2020, Product Manager Individual Weapons, under PM Soldier Lethality, supervised the live fire testing and evaluation of the SMASH 2000 fire control enabled rifle Sight.  The testing at APG was funded by OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense) under a Foreign Comparative Test program designed to determine if international mature technologies can fill U.S. military operation gaps.

Thousands of rounds were fired by soldiers at APG outdoor range for the purpose of recording data that compared the target hitting capability of the SMASH 2000 against standard U.S. Army issued optics. Targets ranged from 25 meters to 400 meters in a variety of fixed, pop-up, and moving target scenarios.

“Testing the SMASH 2000 is another example of how OSD continues to evaluate foreign technologies that could fulfil specific DoD operational needs,” said William Everett, U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, who is responsible for sponsoring many such comparative tests. “We also sponsored a VIP day to give U.S. uniformed officers and Foreign dignitaries the opportunity to fire the SMASH 2000. That opportunity was well received and the event went well,” he added.

Bob Phung, Project Officer, Product Manager Individual Weapons:  “Our job in the PM office is to look for and evaluate promising technologies to support our warfighters.  The SMASH 2000 is one of those promising systems that could significantly improve the soldier’s lethality, especially under duress. We will have to collect the data and determine next steps.”

SMASH is a combat-proven family of Fire Control Systems which are designed, developed, and manufactured by SMART SHOOTER to ensure each round finds its target, in both day and night conditions, as well as keeping friendly forces safe. SMART SHOOTER’s proprietary target acquisition and tracking algorithms are integrated with sophisticated image-processing software into a rugged hardware solution, providing an easy to use and cost-effective solution that creates the required overmatch. SMART SHOOTER’s fire control solutions are designed to give soldiers and law enforcement officers a decisive tactical edge in almost every operational scenario, maximizing force lethality and operational effectiveness throughout every engagement.

Michal Mor, Smart Shooter CEO, added: “It’s very exciting to know that the U.S. Army is interested in our SMASH products to meet their individual weapons needs. SMART SHOOTER’s solutions are already in operational use by the U.S. Army in various missions, and we look forward to continued cooperation”.

About SMART SHOOTER

SMART SHOOTER is a world-class designer, developer, and manufacturer of innovative fire control systems that significantly increase the accuracy and lethality of small arms. With a rich record in designing unique solutions for the warfighter, SMART SHOOTER technology enhances mission effectiveness through the ability to accurately engage and eliminate ground, aerial, static or moving targets during both day and night operations.

Designed to help military and law enforcement professionals swiftly and accurately neutralize their targets, the company’s combat-proven SMASH Family of Fire Control Systems increase assault rifle lethality while keeping friendly forces safe and reducing collateral damage. With a unique technology that makes it possible for every battlefield element to be connected with every other battlefield element, SMASH creates a micro-tactical network that dramatically enhances real-time situational awareness and ensures that the entire platoon shares a common operational picture.

The company’s experienced team of engineers combine electro-optics, computer vision technologies, real-time embedded software, ergonomics, and system engineering to provide cost-effective and easy-to-use solutions for modern conflicts.

Fielded and operational, Smart Shooter SMASH family of solutions provides end-users with a “One Shot – One Hit” capability across multiple mission areas, creating a significant advantage for the infantry soldier and ultimately revolutionizing the world of small arms and optics.

SMART SHOOTER’s U.S. Operations is located Gaithersburg, Maryland with headquarters based in Yagur, Israel.  Smart Shooter also has an office in Düsseldorf, Germany.

14 Oct 20. After yearlong delay, the US Air Force is ready to field Raytheon’s new smart bomb. After about a yearlong delay, the U.S. Air Force has begun fielding the Small Diameter Bomb II, a new Raytheon-produced smart weapon approved for use on the F-15E Strike Eagle jet, the service confirmed Oct. 13.

The decision, made by Air Combat Command on Sept. 23, paves the way for integration with the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter jet later this year. Following that milestone, the weapon will be fielded on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“The SDB II StormBreaker is ready for operational use after undergoing extensive development and flight testing,” Col. Jason Rusco, the Air Force’s SDB II program manager, said in an Air Force statement. “The fielding milestone is the culmination of years of incredible work conducted by our joint military and industry teams. This capability is unmatched and is a game-changer for national defense.”

SDB II was designed with a tri-mode seeker that includes a millimeter wave radar, an infrared imaging capability, a semi-active laser, GPS and an inertial navigation system. Those guidance systems allow the weapon to engage moving targets in all weather conditions, including environments where visibility is obscured by dust and debris.

The weapon — which has a range of more than 40 miles — is smaller than many legacy munitions, meaning that aircraft can carry more bombs and hit a larger number of targets per sortie, the Air Force said in the release.

Air Force test units at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, conducted 138 developmental and operational flights to certify the weapon for the F-15E. But the development of the weapon was beset by technical difficulties, including a yearlong stoppage in production as Raytheon corrected a problem with the clips used to hold the bomb’s fins in place.

Although the weapon’s fins never inadvertently deployed during flight tests due to other components that help keep them contained, a Raytheon audit found that the fin clips were suffering vibration fatigue.

If deployed too early, the fins could become damaged, inhibiting the performance of the bomb. They could also cause damage to the jet carrying the weapon — an especially dangerous hazard for the F-35, which will carry SDB II in its internal bomb bay, the Government Accountability Office said in a June report.

As a result, the company paused production in July 2019 to redesign the component and retrofit the 598 bombs already delivered to the Air Force and Navy. It restarted production about a year later.

The production stoppage put the program another year off its scheduled declaration for initial operational operating capability, which was planned for September 2019.

In a news release hailing the latest announcement, Raytheon officials said SDB II will give pilots more options to strike targets on the ground or at sea.

“The weapon has proven itself in many complex test scenarios, against a variety of targets in extreme environmental conditions, and is now ready to fly,” said Cristy Stagg, StormBreaker program director at Raytheon Missiles and Defense. (Source: Defense News)

14 Oct 20. Nigeria to get more armed UAVs from China. The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) will soon receive eight armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), according to its commander, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.

The chief of air staff revealed the acquisition during a visit to an air component deployed at Katsina in the northwest of the country on 8 October, according to a NAF statement. It did not identify the UAVs but revealed their source when it cited AM Abubakar as saying about 70 personnel have been selected to travel to China to be trained to operate and maintain the new aircraft.

He added that the UAVs would be deployed in Katsina, Gombe, and Gusau.

A ground-breaking ceremony for a new airbase in Gombe was held on 7 September, when the NAF said it will be the home of the new 203 Combat Reconnaissance Group (203 CRG), which will operate UAVs and other air assets it did not identify.

Gusau in Zamfara state, west of Katsina, does not currently have a paved runway, although the NAF deployed ground forces to the city earlier this year in the form of a Quick Reaction Group.

The NAF has operated Chinese-made CH-3 UAVs that can carry guided weapons since at least January 2015, when photographs of one that crashed revealed their acquisition.

General Stephen Townsend, the commander of the US military’s Africa Command, said in April 2019 that the NAF used its CH-3s infrequently due to their “poor quality”.

“Low-cost and short delivery timelines entice African partners to purchase Chinese equipment but these purchases frequently do not address the underlying military need, complicating US security force assistance [to African countries],” Gen Townsend told the Senate Armed Services Committee. (Source: Jane’s)

13 Oct 20. CT40 Cannon: proven system or cause of delays? Both the UK and France have adopted the CTA International CT40mm Cannon for their respective Armoured Vehicle development programmes. While the French vehicle has gone from contract to service in six years, its UK equivalents AJAX and the Warrior Capability Sustainment (CSP) have faced delays.

In recent evidence, given to the Defence Select Committee, General Dynamics Land Systems – UK and Lockheed Martin UK both laid some blame for delays to their programmes at the door of the CT40 cannon.

However, in evidence to the same enquiry KNDS – a consortium of Nexter and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) – advertised the cannon as a solution for a turreted Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV).

The CT40 Cannon was mandated by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) for both AJAX and Warrior CSP.

In France, Nexter’s Jaguar, part of the country’s Scorpion land vehicles programme, uses the same weapon as AJAX and Warrior CSP. Jaguar was contracted in 2014 and is due to enter service at the end of this year. France is also working on three other systems using the CT40 Cannon, including a rapid fire naval version.

So, why have UK vehicles faced delays while France has progressed at speed?

Same cannon, different subsystems

The CT40 cased telescoped armament system is a 40mm cannon built by a Nexter-BAE Systems consortium, CTA International. The weapon system is composed of the cannon and thermal sleeve, gun mount, ammunition handling system, CTAS controller and the gun aiming system.

The adoption of the full system is part of the reason that Nexter has had success with Jaguar, while the UK has faced delays.

Related Report

In the development of its turret for Warrior CSP, Lockheed Martin did not take all the components from CTA International, instead choosing to develop its own ammunition handling system that feeds from the side rather than the bottom of the weapon.

Lockheed Martin told Army Technology that it chose to develop its own ammunition handling system in order to fully separate ammunition storage from the crew compartment of the vehicle. Something the company said maximises crew safety and space inside the vehicle. In doing so, however, Lockheed Martin added development time to the vehicle.

The Ammunition Handling System (AHS) for Warrior CSP and the Lockheed turret was contracted to Meggitt, with the latter awarded a production contract for the AHS in 2015.

Between 2006 and 2008, the UK and France contracted CTA International to conduct two technical demonstrator programmes (TDPs) of the cannon, to demonstrate to turrets – the crewed ‘Manned Turret Integration Programme’ (MTIP) and uncrewed turret (TOUTATIS).

Nexter told Army Technology that both of these trials were conducted on Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) chassis and were ‘specifically’ aimed at addressing the ‘integration risks’ of the CT40 cannon.

Nexter added that as a direct result of these trials, the company chose to adopt the entire CT40 system, including all the components listed above. The French company said that Jaguar benefited from the trials by leveraging the risk reduction achieved by the 2006 and 2008 trials.

In the development of its turret, Lockheed Martin told Army Technology that in order to ‘[achieve] required fire control system performance and safety’ the company chose to develop its own ‘integrated systems’ from UK suppliers. The company added that this allowed them to develop a modular system used on both AJAX and Warrior CSP.

For CT40, MOOG is the supplier of the gun-laying system, and worked on the earlier CT40 qualifications in 2006 and 2008 for the MTIP and TOUTATIS demonstrators. On the integration front, Nexter is understood for Jaguar to have done this all in-house.

The company told Army Technology: “Nexter is a system company. We know turrets, medium calibre to main battle tanks, helicopters, aircraft and naval mounts. We are an ammunition, weapon and turret manufacturing company with decades of background in all theatres.

“Our engineering teams are fully integrated across these domains and understand the challenges of turret development. Nexter has now been contracted by DGA with Thales to develop the naval version of the RAPIDFIRE.”

At an oral evidence session of the UK Parliament’s Defence Select Committee, Francis Tusa, Editor of Defence Analysis told MPs: “The problems we have had, in the UK, with the 40 millimetre cased telescoped ammo have not been replicated in France, where they have taken the system, all of it, as designed. It is now in full-scale production.

“They now have a turret that would fit if we wanted to, just for the sake of argument, put it on to a Boxer. It works absolutely fine. Yes, there have been problems along the way, without a shadow of a doubt, but it works. That is because they had a much more coordinated approach to the development, design and then how they were going to put it into production.”

Problems along the way in the UK

In earlier evidence, reported on by Army Technology, both General Dynamics Land Systems UK and Lockheed Martin UK, laid blame at the door of the cannon for delays, writing to MPs that qualifications and changes to the cannon meant their respective programmes had faced delays.

Lockheed Martin told Army Technology: “No specific aspects of the cannon have proven to be a particular problem for WCSP. Instead it was a lack of suitable design definition (interface information) from CTAI and changes to the design definition made by CTAI as a result of the CT40 qualification programme that caused challenges.

“This is because the design definition changes required rework and updates to the WCSP design to accommodate these changes.”

During the development process, Army Technology understands that in 2014, Lockheed Martin raised concerns about CT40 cannon’s torque, however, these issues were resolved at the time.

Lockheed, in written evidence, wrote that a final ‘technical baseline and configuration’ for the CT40 cannon was not established until December 2016, five years into its Warrior CSP development contract with the MOD. Lockheed Martin added that this was three years later than expected and resulted in a contract amendment which saw Lockheed ‘reengineer the integrated turret system and re-design the Cannon Control Unit and its interfaces.’

In the UK, the CT40 Cannon is overseen by a separate Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) contract to the AJAX and Warrior CSP vehicles.

General Dynamics echoed Lockheed Martin, in blaming the cannon for some problems with its AJAX programme, writing: “At the time of AJAX contract award, it [CT40] was a development item; its performance was not fully characterised and subsequent configuration changes were not fully reported. It was also delivered late to the programme.

“These issues resulted in significant design changes on AJAX and further trials, leading to additional costs and delays.”

The demonstration contract for AJAX was originally issued in 2010, with a production contract issued in 2014, the same year Nexter was contracted by France to build the Jaguar. At this stage, the British Army has yet to take delivery of a turreted AJAX variant.

General Dynamics added: “The Interface Control Document issued to GDLS-UK for the contract did not fully represent the 40mm Cannon’s performance characteristics, leading to the need for design change.

“In addition to these design issues, the CT40 was issued to GDLS-UK significantly later than planned in the joint programme schedule, and at a different configuration to that in the contract documents, resulting in substantial redesign and consequential programme delays of around 18 months”

In its evidence, General Dynamics also said that a ‘stable and defined build standard’ was not realised until the AJAX contract was recast in 2019.

Countering both companies’ evidence, the MOD told Army Technology: “Qualification of the weapon has continued in parallel with the development of the platforms. Whilst this did require some change and resultant schedule impact, the slippage due to CT40 was not a significant contributor to the delays in the development of the platforms themselves.

“The CT40 design was fixed for cannon production in March 2015 and the interface has not changed; in 2015 CT40 was sufficiently characterised for integration.”

General Dynamics Land Systems–UK vice president Carew Wilks recently told the Defence Committee: “There were some delays around the introduction of the cannon and the changes to configuration. That caused some early delays to the programme, which had a knock-on through to where we are today.

“Secondly, the cannon, which I know has been discussed previously today, is an item that has been supplied to us by the MoD for the vehicles. There were some delays around the introduction of the cannon and the changes to configuration. That caused some early delays to the programme, which had a knock-on through to where we are today.”

A source also told Army Technology that by 2019 cannon qualifications were done and added that during the development process Lockheed Martin made little effort to work with CTA International, instead preferring to work with the MOD on issues with the cannon as it is supplied as government furnished equipment (GFE).

Army Technology understands that the MOD mandated the cannon as AJAX and Warrior CSP’s main armament but did not mandate the weapons subsystems, hence Lockheed’s decision to develop its own.

Development of Warrior CSP was also delayed, as a result of the government supplying Lockheed Martin with Warrior hulls for the demonstration programme that were not up to standard.

Speaking to MPs, Lockheed Martin Ampthill vice president and managing director Lee Fellows said: “For me, the cannon change caused some disruption that we had not anticipated. I would like to have seen a closer commercial link between us and the cannon provider to the Ministry of Defence. We would call that a joint change board.

“That would have helped us to understand the quantum of change that was going to affect the development programme. Bearing in mind that I have just heard two witnesses beforehand talk about the desire for future change in armoured fighting vehicles, my recommendation is a very close scrutiny and review, so that, if there is a desire to change requirements that are outside of the core contract, the coherence is closely maintained.”

What’s next for Warrior, AJAX and Jaguar?

As it stands, all three vehicles featuring the CT40 cannon have largely ironed out development issues and are making good progress. Lockheed Martin expects a production contract to be signed for Warrior CSP next year, General Dynamics has finished production of 60 AJAX vehicles, and Jaguar is slated for deliveries late this year.

On the General Dynamics front, 157 hulls, 45 turrets, and the first 60 vehicles have been built as of August 2020, with the MOD having accepted 17 vehicles and 12 delivered into service. The AJAX contract is worth £4.6bn for a total of 589 vehicles across six variants that will replace the in service fleet of CVR(T) vehicles.

Nexter for its part is offering the MOD a Boxer MIV module fitted with the turret used on its Jaguar vehicle. The system dubbed Boxer T40 would fill a requirement for direct fire capability for the British Army’s planned STRIKE Brigades.

Image: Nexter

In evidence, KNDS said: “Jaguar, like AJAX and WCSP in [the] UK, has the CT40 cannon as its main armament. With investment and support from UK MoD and the French DGA, referenced within the Lancaster House treaty, this battle field dominating technology has been jointly developed and produced by NEXTER (France) and BAE Systems (UK).

“By leveraging this successful investment and technology lead, within which UK is already part, KNDS can offer UK ARMY the opportunity to equip their BOXER MIV with the JAGUAR CT40 turret technology as a solution for STRIKE Direct Fire (BOXER T40) and/or a cost effective alternative to WCSP.”

A question mark has been placed over the Warrior CSP programme, with one source telling Army Technology that the vehicle is in the most doubt as the UK looks to reassess its forces in an upcoming integrated review of defence security and foreign policy. Earlier this year it was reported by the Times that the UK was assessing options to axe its entire fleet of Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) and IFVs.

Last week, Army Technology reported that a production contract for Warrior CSP, based on the upgrade of 275 vehicles, would be worth around £1bn to the UK economy. The figure comes from a KPMG report commissioned by Lockheed ahead of an expected production contract next year. Lockheed Martin has previously said 80% of the Warrior CSP solution in its current configuration is sourced from British suppliers.

The KPMG report added that a production contract for the vehicles could deliver 100 annual Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) jobs and up to 2,000 annual FTE jobs through the supply chain and direct employment at the peak of production. KPMG also found that a production contract would generate £278.9m in direct GVA, £484.3m in indirect GVA from the supply chain and £280.4m in GVA created through Lockheed Martin employees spending Warrior CSP-related wages.

At Ampthill, Lockheed Martin is also manufacturing 245 turrets for the British Army’s AJAX reconnaissance variant.

(Source: army-technology.com)

BATTLESPACE Comment: BATTLESPACE would urge caution in praising French engineering prowess over UK mistakes! Whatever the French say, both the UK and French CT40 canons are the same gun with the same recoil, 20,000 lbs and the same barrel wear. BATTLESPACE understands that the obturation and barrel wear issues have been solved for both French and UK canons but the jury is out as to whether the Jaguar turret can withstand the 20,000 lb recoil force or the quick-firing naval version slated for the French OPVs. France has a history of pushing its products into the export market unproven as can be seen from the VBCI which, in spite of huge marketing efforts has not seen an export sale.AS we said last week, CT40 has yet to see an overseas sale at a time when most armies are looking at 30mm or 500mm options.

13 Oct 20. Russia’s Combat Helicopters to Get Suicide Drones. A modular cluster of unguided aviation missiles, developed by the research center Zaslon (Screen) for the helicopter gunship Mi-28NM, will allow helicopters to fire mini-drones and suicide drones from the missile launch tubes, a source in the defense-industrial complex told TASS.

Zaslon’s module B8V10-UV is different from the current ones in several respects. The number of missile tubes can be adjusted for each specific task. Also, it boasts weapons programming instruments.

“Built-in instruments transmit information from the helicopter’s weapons control system to the payload, be it controlled detonation missiles, guided missiles, mini-drones or suicide drones. For instance, it can charge the drone’s battery, transmit the activation command, and turn the drone on to send it on a pre-programmed mission,” the source said.

Originally, the new unguided aviation missile cluster was designed for the helicopter Mi-28NM, but it will be usable on all of Russia’s combat helicopters equipped with a weapons control system, such as Mi-28, Ka-52 and attack configurations of the Mi-8.

“Roughly speaking one flash drive is capable of reprogramming the weapons control systems for using not only ordinary unguided aviation missiles, but also smart weapons,” the source explained.

The block of weapons B8V10-UV with modular cassettes K8V10-UV and K8B5-UV (index 9-A-5013) was created by the research and development center Zaslon in the process of upgrading the helicopter Mi-28NM. For the first time the product was presented at the forum Army-2018. The caliber of the launch tubes is 80 mm.  (Source: UAS VISION/TASS)

13 Oct 20. US-developed hypersonic missile hit within 6 inches of target, says Army secretary. U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy reported in his speech at the Association of the U.S. Army conference that the Pentagon’s hypersonic missile hit within 6 inches of its target.

“Hypersonic missiles are hitting their targets with a variance of only a mere 6 inches,” he said during his speech at the virtual opening ceremony Oct. 13.

McCarthy was referring to the Army and Navy’s successful hypersonic glide body flight test this year, which launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, on March 19, an Army spokesperson confirmed.

The Common-Hypersonic Glide Body, or C-HGB, launched and flew at hypersonic speed to “a designated impact point,” according to a statement issued the day of the test.

Hypersonic weapons are capable of flying faster than Mach 5 — much faster than the speed of sound — and can maneuver between varying altitudes and azimuths, making it harder to detect.

The C-HGB — made up of the weapon’s warhead, guidance system, cabling and thermal protection shield — will serve as the base of the Pentagon’s offensive hypersonic missile. Each of the services are developing appropriate launching systems.

The Army is developing a ground-launched capability and plans to field a battery-sized hypersonic weapon to soldiers by 2023.

Lockheed Martin is serving as the lead weapons integrator for the system onto a mobile truck, and Dynetics Technical Solutions is the first to learn how to build the glide body for production.

The Army is gearing up for another flight test in the third quarter of fiscal 2021 followed by a second flight test in the first quarter of fiscal 2022, Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood told Defense News in an interview ahead of the AUSA conference. Then there will be two more flight tests in the third quarter of FY22, Thurgood added.

“So we’ll start the sequence now where we really accelerate our flight testing,” he said.

The Army plans to deliver a hypersonic missile and launcher to a unit in the fourth quarter of FY21. Six days ago, Russia reported a successful test launch of its Zircon hypersonic missile, saying it hit a target in the Barents Sea, according to The Associated Press. (Source: Defense News)

13 Oct 20. Raytheon Missiles & Defense’s StormBreaker® smart weapon approved for fielding on the F-15 Eagle. F-15E squadrons set to carry the precision weapon. Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business (NYSE: RTX), today announced the StormBreaker® smart weapon has been approved for use on the F-15E by the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command. The fielding decision means that F-15E squadrons can now be equipped with StormBreaker and deployed for missions.

“StormBreaker delivers an unprecedented capability to pilots in the field,” said Paul Ferraro, vice president of Raytheon Missiles & Defense’s Air Power business. “The weapon gives airmen a significant advantage – the ability to strike maritime or land-based maneuvering targets at range in adverse weather.”

StormBreaker features an innovative multimode seeker that guides the weapon by imaging infrared, millimeter wave radar, and semi-active laser in addition to or with GPS and inertial navigation system guidance.

“The weapon has proven itself in many complex test scenarios, against a variety of targets in extreme environmental conditions, and is now ready to fly,” said Cristy Stagg, StormBreaker program director at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “With its multimode seeker and datalink, StormBreaker will make adverse weather irrelevant.”

StormBreaker’s small size lets fewer aircraft address the same number of targets compared to larger weapons that require multiple jets. It can also fly more than 40 miles to strike mobile targets, reducing the amount of time that aircrews spend in harm’s way.

The smart weapon’s initial fielding on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for the U.S. Navy later this year and integration for fielding on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are next for the program.

10 Oct 20. North Korea displays apparently new ICBM at military parade: analysts. North Korea displayed what analysts said was a previously unseen new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at a military parade in Pyongyang on Saturday. Edited footage shown on state television showed an ICBM on a transporter vehicle with at least 22 wheels, larger than anything previously displayed by the nuclear-armed country.

It was the first time since 2018 that North Korea has shown ICBMs at a military parade. (Source: Reuters)

12 Oct 20. India’s Nirbhay cruise missile test fails. The flight test of India’s homemade 1000-kilometer-range cruise missile failed Monday following technical problems. Nirbhay — an intermediate-range subsonic land-attack cruise missile with terrain hugging — is an Indian version of the American Tomahawk and the Russian Club SS-N-27 cruise missiles.

Defense scientists in India said the test failed within 8 minutes of the launch due to technical issues in the engine. They gave no further details.

The Nirbhay missile is currently powered by the Russian Saturn 50MT turbofan engine. Its local development began in 2007 with the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

A senior DRDO scientist said Nirbhay is a stealthy missile capable of delivering different warheads and is capable of loitering and attacking multiple targets.

“The cruise missiles like Tomahawk and Nirbhay (when successful) do not follow a ballistic parabola but are terrain-hugging in their path. Therefore, they are more difficult to detect by conventional radars. And hence more lethal and thus required by Indian Armed Forces,” an Army official said.

Weighing 1,500 kilograms with a height of 6 meters and a speed of Mach 0.7 Mach, the missile can carry up to 300 kilograms of conventional and nuclear warheads.

Nirbhay is a two-stage missile. Its solid-fuel rocket motor serves as its first stage and accelerates the missile after launch to cruise speed, when a turbojet engine in the second stage takes over.

It is equipped with a domestically made ring laser gyroscope inertial navigation system, a GPS-enabled guidance system and a Russian seeker system.

In July, the Ministry of Defence’s procurement body moved to purchase about 300 Nirbhay cruise missiles for the three armed forces.

At least 20 more tests will occur before the missiles are inducted, another DRDO scientist said, which could take three to five years.

The weapon is manufactured by the state-owned firm Bharat Dynamics Limited, and each Nirbhay missile system will cost about $1.5m. (Source: Defense News)

12 Oct 20. Israel hopes to collaborate with US on anti-missile lasers. Israel’s Missile Defense Organization is looking to develop directed-energy capabilities, and is in early talks with the Pentagon about collaborating on those efforts, according to agency director Moshe Patel.

“Directed energy is something that we — I can tell you it’s playing a major role for the future in Israel, [and in] the U.S. also. And we are looking for ways to do some more cooperation with the U.S. on that,” Patel told Defense News during an Oct. 9 interview. “We need to overcome some classification issues, some policy issues, and hopefully we can enlarge those capabilities together as well.”

The U.S. and Israel have a history of collaboration on missile defense programs. The two teamed to co-develop the Arrow and David’s Sling systems, and while the Iron Dome system was developed by Israel, the U.S. government helped finance production. The Arrow is a collaboration between Israel Aerospace Industries and Boeing; the latter two efforts are a collaboration between Israeli firm Rafael and American company Raytheon.

Patel noted there is a 10-year agreement in place for collaboration between his office and the American Missile Defense Agency, focused on the three current programs, including hardware and software changes. But what may be most interesting going forward are what he described as “some new initiatives, together with MDA, that may prove to be part of their interest.”

Asked what those might look like, Patel said some of the work is classified and “we have just started the dialogue. But I think that you could imagine, you know, where the world is going to. And what is important. We have some ideas that we are sharing with MDA, you know, some of the technologies already are well developed and we just need to modify them so they will fit the future threats.”

But, he acknowledged, directed energy seems an obvious area of collaboration, particularly given what he described as continued interest from members of Congress.

“Everything is open for [the MDA]. Everything is open,” Patel said. “There on the table some other topics that they might consider, and we will be more than happy to assist.”

Tom Karako, a missile defense expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that directed energy “has to be part of the overall solution to countering the increasing number and types of air and missile threats.”

“Both the U.S. and our allies will benefit from incorporating directed energy into composite air defense units, as well as for strike capability,” he said. “There will need to be a mix of kinetic and non-kinetic, and different types of DE. The diversity and intensity of the threat demands it.”

Karako added that the 10-year agreement between the MDA and Israel could serve as a viable baseline for the two sides working together on the technology, saying it should be easy to shift some of the annual money toward directed-energy programs.

Another area for potential collaboration that Patel flagged is hypersonic missile defense. As both the U.S. and Israel are in the early stages of developing that capability — the MDA in August hit pause on a plan to develop a hypersonic interceptor — there would be clear advantages to partnering up.

Patel said he is “sure” there will be a future dialogue on hypersonic defense with the MDA, potentially including discussions about space-based assets to deal with that threat. But he also indicated that while hypersonic weapons are all the rage as a talking point, the true threat is still a ways out.

“OK, we are hearing about the threat, but the threat is a little bit, you know — we have some time to develop our capabilities,” he said. “It’s something that can be solved.” (Source: Defense News)

12 Oct 20. US Army hones in on solution for new mid-range missile pursuit. The U.S. Army’s new pursuit for a mid-range missile will be finalized by the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office by the end of the year, the office’s director told Defense News in an interview ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference.

The service has set a goal to field the chosen missile in less than three years — by the fourth quarter of fiscal 2023 — which means it can’t start from scratch, said Lt. Gen. James Thurgood.

“You might be able to take something that’s in the [science & technology] world already and do something with it,” he said. ” You might be able to take an existing joint service program and do something with it. There are lots of opportunities. I don’t think that ’23 is an unrealistic outcome.”

The RCCTO received the mission in July following a strategic fires study conducted by the Army’s force development arm earlier this year. The development team had found a gap in the service’s ability to reach enemy targets in the 500-2,000-kilometer range.

Defense News first reported the Army’s plan to pursue the mid-range missile in September.

“We’ve had it for, you know a hundred days or so. But we’re very narrowed in on a couple of very specific solution sets right now,” Thurgood said, “and trying to figure out: OK, what is it? If we do this, what are the rest of the things that we have to do? So I think we’re relatively close on that outcome.”

Thurgood said once the Army chooses a material solution, it will remain in the classified realm “for some time.” The service plans to take this approach “until we’re comfortable that we’re on the right path and the technologies we need are protected. We’ll be pretty careful.”

The mid-range missile will fit in the Army’s fires portfolio between its Precision Strike Munition, designed to hit targets out to 499 kilometers, and ground-launched hypersonic missiles.

“We need to pursue this with great speed and really make ’23 a year that changes everything in both [the European and Pacific] theaters,” Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, who is in charge of the Army’s long-range precision fires modernization effort, told Defense News in an interview last month.

“You can see in the Pacific where that would be so valuable, having the mid-range capability that can attack maritime targets,” he added. And in Europe, “you hold the adversary’s assets at risk in depth.”

Having a deep portfolio of range capabilities in the Pacific provides a large mix of options because there are so many different locations from which to fire missiles. Mixing and matching ranges from a wide variety of locations “creates an incredible dilemma for the enemy,” Rafferty said.

The RCCTO also leads the development and fielding of a ground-launched hypersonic capability for the Army. The Army and Navy performed a successful flight test of its co-developed hypersonic glide body in March. The next flight test will take place in the third quarter of FY21, followed by a second flight test in the first quarter of FY22 and a third flight test in the third quarter of FY22, Thurgood said. (Source: Defense News)

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