18 Aug 22. US Army digs new sandbox for laser weapons. The U.S. Army opened the doors of a one-stop-shop for development and integration of directed energy capabilities at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, last week as the Space and Missile Defense Symposium kicked off.
The Directed Energy Systems Integration Laboratory, or DESIL, will help speed up and streamline laser weapons research and development as the Army seeks to incorporate the technology into combat systems.
Simulation, component and subsystem testing, and verification and validation of overall systems can all be done in one lab at one location, Lt. Gen. Dan Karbler, the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command commander told Defense News in an interview at the SMD Symposium. The lab’s capabilities will help reduce technical and schedule risk for programs.
And it’s not just a lab. Beyond two huge garage doors is a 400-meter outdoor range with an enormous mound of earth at one end which will serve as a test range. The large earth mound at the end of the range serves as a backstop to absorb the laser energy in testing.
Karbler is a former commander of Army Test and Evaluation Command, so he said he sees the value that a lab like the DESIL will provide to shorten the process of evaluating, developing and testing of new capabilities before fielding.
“I just go right out, I test it, and then I get to analyze the results right away and fix it right away versus going out to the range, maybe doing something, but then I have to bring it all back or ship all the [hardware] back. And then I own the range time,” Karbler said. “So it’s going to be a much tighter circle, tighter timeline, from concept, sub-component, component system testing, analysis, regression analysis to retesting if needed.”
The Army is outfitting its Stryker Combat Vehicle with a 50-kilowatt laser for Short-Range Air Defense and it is scaling up laser capability to deliver a 300-kilowatt laser on heavy truck as part of its Indirect Fires Protection Capability that will use a variety of effects to neutralize unmanned aircraft systems, cruise missiles and rockets, artillery and mortar threats.
The service also recently announced it would work to put a 20-kilowatt laser on a small Infantry Squad Vehicle to defeat small drone threats on the move.
Much of the industry helping the Army work on these efforts are based in the Huntsville area including Leidos-owned Dynetics and Lockheed Martin. The Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, which focuses on directed energy development, also is headquartered in town.
The new lab will be the place where all future laser weapon technology experiments can “become reality,” Nicole Olbricht, chief of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s Technical Center’s systems integration division, told Defense News on a tour of the new facility.
“Huntsville is kind of the center for the Army right now for this,” Olbricht said. “So we’re essentially co-located with the customers, with the developers, the testers, with the integrators.”
Redstone will be the home for project offices like the Directed Energy-Short Range Air Defense system (DE-SHORAD) and the IFPC program currently in development.
The laser analysis team will also be co-located with the lab. The Army had just begun to break ground on the facility that will be next door as Defense News toured the DESIL digs.
“Prior to firing the laser downrange the laboratory engineers will be able to define the quality of the laser system beam,” Olbricht explained, by firing a laser into an instrumentation system, capturing data, and evaluating results. Then the laser can be fired downrange and the results can be compared, she added.
The laboratory will serve as a key location to conduct modeling and simulation to support how laser systems might perform in battlefield scenarios and against a variety of threats.
Some of the capabilities that allow for indoor laser testing include the Robust Electric Laser Initiative that is capable of multi-kilowatt firing and helps prepare the lab to ensure laser instrumentation is ready.
The Army’s lab also houses a system called SMASH – or Small Measurement and Analysis System for High-energy laser systems. “SMASH measures the thermal properties and optics effects after the laser is fired for a short period of time,” Olbricht said. “From the results delivered from the shot profile, SMASH analysis can create a basis of beam quality.”
Another key piece of equipment in the lab is the High Power Laser Beam Dump, which absorbs “extremely high amounts of energy for a long period of time,” Olbricht said.
The system includes components capable of circulating 120 gallons of water per minute. The water is heated through the laser firing process and returns to a water tank through a closed-loop system that cools the water and purifies it through reverse osmosis. Impurities in the water can “lead to catastrophic events for the system during laser tests,” Olbricht explained.
The lab was constructed as a minor military construction project, costing less than $6m to build, an Army spokesperson told Defense News.
The lab will be sustained “on a reimbursable basis in that the Directed Energy programs and related organizations pay a small reimbursable use fee to utilize the capabilities when required,” the spokesperson added. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
18 Aug 22. Serbian MoD develops armed version of Vrabac small UAV. A prototype armed version of the Vrabac (Sparrow) small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was unveiled during a display of domestic defence equipment held by the Serbian Armed Forces at the Military Academy in Belgrade. Speaking at the event on 15 August, Nenad Miloradović, assistant minister of defence for material resources in the Serbian Ministry of Defence (MoD), told attendees that the armed Vrabac can carry up to six grenades that have an effective range of five metres, and a delayed-action fuze that triggers once the grenade rebounds to a height of 1.5 m after initial impact. The prototype on display featured two small underwing pylons, each carrying three M22 40 mm grenades of two types – bounding high-explosive (HE) anti-personnel fragmentation (PFT) and bounding HE anti-armour fragmentation (PFTK). According to Miloradović, the development of the armed Vrabac is being led by the MoD’s Military Technical Institute (Vojnotehnički Institut). (Source: Janes)
17 Aug 22. Wheeled artillery – the way ahead? An increasing number of countries are now replacing their conventional tracked self-propelled artillery with wheeled SP, although each have their own advantages.
Wheeled SP artillery systems offer a number of advantages over their tracked rivals, including the fact that they are generally cheaper to procure, operate and maintain. However, there are a significant number of drawbacks not least in the amount of ammunition they can carry and are traditionally limited in the weight of weapon carried.
Most of the latest 155mm/52 calibre artillery systems have a 23 litre chamber which meets the Joint Ballistic Memorandum of Understanding (JBMoU) so have the same ranges. The range does however depend on the type of projectile and charge combination used as well as other factors such as altitude and weather conditions.
In terms of ammunition, the baseline French Nexter CAESAR (6×6) 155mm/52 calibre SP howitzer carries a total of 18 projectiles and charges with the mix depending on the mission but a typical ammunition load could be 12 high-explosive (HE), two smoke, two illuminating and to Bonus top-attack. By way of contrast the German Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) PzH 2000 tracked SP artillery system can carry a total of 60x155mm artillery projectiles plus charges.
In some of the wheeled SP artillery systems, the crew have to dismount from their cab in order to bring the system into action, load the ammunition (projectile and charge) and then carry out the fire mission. This makes them vulnerable small arms fire, shell splinters and nuclear/biological/chemical (NBC) attack when carrying out a fire mission.
Some of the more recent SP systems, such as the BAE Systems Bofors Archer 155mm/52 calibre system have a fully automated ammunition handling system (AHS) for and increased rate of fire and higher crew survivability.
In operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, there was no significant threat from counter battery fire, but in a more traditional peer-to-peer conflict, artillery systems would typically come into action, carry out a fire mission and then redeploy in well under five minutes in order to survive.
The French Nexter Systems CAESAR 155mm/52 calibre howitzer was originally developed as a private venture but was subsequently adopted by the French Army to replace its tracked AUF1 155mm gun system based on a modified AMX-30 tank chassis.
The French Army version is based on an Arquus Defense Sherpa (6×6) platform with the first versions having a standard truck cab, although the latest versions have a fully protected cab with a typical gross vehicle weight (GVW) of around 17.7 tons (18,000 kilograms).
The French Army took delivery of an initial order of five units in 2003 which was followed by a further order for 72 units. In early 2022 the Direction Générale de L’Armement (DGA) awarded Nexter a four year contract for the CAESAR MkII. In 2024 a decision will be taken as to whether to launch the production of 33 new CAESAR Mk II and refit the remaining 76 CAESAR currently deployed or purchase 109 brand new systems. Whichever decision is made it is expected that the French Army will receive and deploy 109 CAESAR MkII by 2031.
CAESAR MkII will feature a higher level of ballistic and mine protection, a new 460hp diesel engine coupled to an automatic transmission, the latest fire control system (FCS) and the next generation Thales Contact radio together with provision for Barage improvised explosive device (IED) jammer.
In addition to the French Army, export sales of the CAESAR have also been made to Thailand (six) and Indonesia (37 + 18), while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has uses a German Mercedes-Benz UNIMOG (6×6) chassis with 136 delivered.
The latest version of CAESAR for the export market is based on a the Tatra (8×8) platform which offers not only greater cross country mobility but the ammunition load has been increased to at least 30 rounds. A fully protected cab is fitted as standard and is also marketed with a load assist device. This version has a typical GVW of around 32 tons (3,250kg).
The first customer for this is the Danish Army who placed a contract for 13 systems which has since been increased to 19. More recently the Czech Republic has placed a contract for 52 howitzers based on the Tatra 8×8 chassis.
For the potential Indian market the complete CAESAR 155mm/52 calibre weapon has been installed on an Ashok Leyland Super Stallion (6×6) chassis with an unprotected cab.
The prime contractor for the German Army PzH 2000 155mm/52 cal tracked SP is KMW, with the actual barrel and suite of ammunition supplied by Rheinmetall.
Some years ago KMW developed the Donar SP artillery system based on a tracked chassis supplied by General Dynamics European Land Systems – Santa Barbara Sistemas, in Spain. On the rear platform was the 155mm/52 calibre AGM whose ordnance has the same ballistics as the PzH 2000.
This was subsequently installed on a Boxer (8×8) Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle (MRAV) platform with the crew seated in the drive module and the remote controlled AGM at the rear. Further development of this has resulted in the RCH 155 which is the latest version on the AGM and uses the Boxer (8×8) MRAV. The weapons is provided with 30x155mm rounds of ammunition.
The German Army is expected to purchase up to 108 RCH 155 to supplement, but not replace, its tracked PzH 2000.
Late in 2021 Rheinmetall unveiled a full scale mock-up of a new SP artillery system based on its latest HX (10×10) truck chassis with a fully protected cab. This has a remote controlled turret at the rear armed with a 155mm/60 calibre weapon fitted with an automatic AHS which has 40x155mm projectiles and modular charge systems. Before firing, four stabilisers are lowered to the ground and the weapon loaded, aimed and fired from within the cab.
For many years Soltam Systems was the artillery and mortars system house of Israel but was taken over by Elbit in 2010. The Elbit ATMOS 155mm system has been marketed with 155mm39 calibre and 52 calibre ordnance and with various fire control and ammunition handing options. Known customers include Rwanda, Thailand and Uganda.
It has been integrated onto the rear of 6×6 and 8×8 truck chassis from various contractors and with the option of a fully protected cab and different AHS.
To meet the potential requirements of Romania, the ATMOS 155mm/52 calibre system (know as the ATROM) was integrated onto the rear of a locally designed Roman (8×8) chassis but this has yet to enter production.
Elbit systems is now developing the SIGMA 155mm/52 calibre SP artillery system to meet the requirements of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and to start to replace its currently deployed upgraded M109 155mm howitzers.
SIGMA is based on a 10×10 cross country chassis with the remote controlled turret at the rear and the 155mm/52 calibre ordnance being fed by an AHS which will enable a high rate of fire to be achieved from the total of 30x155mm projectiles and charges carried.
Late in 2021 Elbit announced that an export customer in the Asia Pacific region had placed a contract worth $106 m for an undisclosed number of SIGMA systems for delivery by 2025.
Serbia has continued to develop its NORA B-52 155mm SP artillery system for the home and export markets and has already make a number of significant export sales of complete artillery systems to countries including Bangladesh, Kenya and Myanmar. Export sales of Serbian military equipment are handled by Yugoimport.
Their latest model feature a fully protected crew cab at the front and the fully protected turret at the rear with the 155mm/52 calibre weapon being provided with 24x155mm projectiles plus associated charges.
To meet future requirement Serbia has developed the Aleksandar MGS25 which also uses an 8×8 chassis and mounted at the rear is a remote control turret armed with a 155mm/52 calibre ordnance which can have a 23 or 25 litre chamber with a fully automated AHS There are additional rounds to the immediate rear of the protected cab. This chassis is also used as a platform for artillery rocket systems.
While wheeled SP artillery systems are the latest vogue it is often forgotten that the then Czechoslovakia developed the 152mm Dana based on a Tatra 8×8 platform in the late 1970s. This systems was built in large numbers for home and export markets which included Libya. Development continued after the breakup of Czechoslovakia and today Excalibur of the Czech Republic has marketed upgrades of these systems.
ZTS of Slovakia developed a 155mm/45 calibre version which has been sold to Cyprus and Slovakia as the Zuzana and more recently a new system has been developed by ZTS called ZuzanaA2 which has a 155mm/52 calibre ordnance that meets the NATO JBMoU with 40x155mm projectiles and associated charges carried. The first customer for this is Slovakia.
During fighting in the then South West Africa, today Namibia, the South African Army found themselves out-ranged by Angolan forces who were equipped with Russian artillery.
This led to the development of two artillery systems by Denel Land Systems; these were the G5 155mm/45 calibre towed artillery system which was also fitted with an auxiliary power unit (APU), followed by the G6 (6×6) fully protected 155mm/45 calibre SP system.
A total of 43 G6s were built for the South African Army with export orders being placed by Oman (24) and the United Arab Emirates (76). The G6 is the most well protected wheeled SP artillery system in the world and has a GVW of 47 tons (47,750kg).
The G6 is an unusual design with the driver seated at the front in a protected compartment with an arrowhead front which has been designed to allow the G6 to operate in the bush. The diesel power pack is in the middle with the fully protected turret armed with a 155mm/45 calibre howitzer at the rear.
This was followed by the G6-52 with a 155mm/52 calibre ordnance and a new AHS with 50x155mm projectiles and associated charges carried.
Denel Land Systems has also developed a 155mm/52 calibre truck mounted (8×8) artillery system called T5 Condor, with the first customer being South Africa ordering six systems. This is based on a Tatra (8×8) chassis with a forward control cab and the 155mm/52 calibre ordnance at the rear with the fire mission normally being carried out over the rear arc.
A total of 14×155 mm projectiles and charges are carried and a semi-automatic loading system is fitted. A version with a 155mm/45 calibre ordnance has also been marketed.
The Swedish Army did deploy the Bandkanone 155mm tracked SP artillery system but this was phased out of service as were all towed artillery systems.
Under a joint Norway/Sweden programme, each country was to take delivery of 24 BAE Systems Archer 155mm/52 caibrel SP artillery systems based on a Volvo (6×6) all terrain chassis.
Unlike most wheeled SP artillery systems, the Archer is loaded and aimed from within the protected cab as it has a fully automated AHS with 21 rounds of ready use 155mm ammunition, projectiles and charges. The 155mm/52 calibre ordnance has a 25 litre chamber so ii does not meet the NATO JBMoU.
In the end, Norway pulled out of the programme and purchased the Hanwha 155mm/52 calibre K9 tracked artillery system from South Korea which was originally developed to meet the requirements of the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) but has since been adopted by an increasing number of countries including Finland and Norway. The Swedish Army will now take all 48 Archer and in the future another 24 to bring its total up to 72 units.
Archer has also been tested in the USA to meet the US Army requirement for a wheeled howitzer for is Stryker brigades which at present deployed the 155mm/39 calibre M777A2 towed weapon.
For trials purposes the complete Archer 155mm weapon and its ammunition handing system has also been installed and tested on the rear a Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles HX series (8×8) truck chassis with a fully protected cab.
The latter is to meet the UK requirement for a Mobile Fires Platform to replace the currently deployed AS90 155mm/39 calibre SP artillery system which was first deployed in 1993. The UK has not stated as to whether the MFP should be tracked or wheeled.
While this article has concentrated on 155mm wheeled SP artillery systems there are also some 105mm systems normally based on a 4×4 platform.
AM General of the US has been marketing the Hawkeye 105mm soft recoil SP based on an AM General High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle (4×4) platform and this has been demonstrated in the US and overseas.
AM General Hawkeye is based on an AM General High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (4×4) chassis and shown here in deployed position with 105 mm weapon elevated. (Christopher F Foss)
A 155mm/39 calibre low recoil system has also been demonstrated and installed on the Oshkosh Family of Medium Tactical Vehicle (FMTV) (6×6) platform.
Yugoimport of Serbia is also marketing a number of 105mm and 122mm wheeled self-propelled artillery systems on the export market.
For many years China remained with the Russian 152mm and 122mm calibre for its artillery but today China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) is marketing a number of 155mm, 122mm and 105mm wheeled SP artillery systems for the export market. The largest of these is the SH1 155mm/52 calibre system which is based on a 6×6 cross-country chassis with a protected cab with the power operated weapon at the rear.
NORINCO is marketing the SH1 as part of a complete battalion of 18 units plus battery and battalion command vehicles, reconnaissance vehicles, artillery location radars and ammunition. In addition to being deployed by the China it has also been exported to Pakistan.
While this article concentrates on wheeled SP artillery systems, there will always be a market for tracked SP artillery systems as well as for towed artillery systems, with the latter being of particular use by rapid deployment type forces or use in counter insurgency operations.
Although the type of SP artillery selected is open to national and operational preference, the key element to any artillery piece is the ammunition, FCS and target acquisition. (Source: Armada)
17 Aug 22. USAF seeks to extend winning streak in hypersonic weapon tests. The U.S. Air Force expects to fly its hypersonic Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon at least once more this year, following a pair of successful tests. ARRW has flown twice in the last four months, first in May and then again in July. The July test completed the booster test phase and positioned it to enter all-up-round, or full system, testing. The successes follow a string of three failures in 2021, which drew criticism from lawmakers, who cut $161m from the effort in fiscal 2022.
Gen. Duke Richardson, the head of Air Force Materiel Command, told reporters the upcoming test will be “a big one” for ARRW.
Hypersonic systems can travel at speeds above Mach 5 and maneuver in flight, which makes them harder to track and target. The U.S. has prioritized hypersonic weapons development in recent years, largely in response to the progress Russia and China have made in demonstrating the technology.
Speaking with reporters Aug. 10 at AFMC’s Life Cycle Industry Day event in Dayton, Ohio, Richardson said he’s been pleased with the Air Force’s progress on ARRW and characterized the early failures as “burps.”
Acknowledging that test failures are often accompanied by programmatic delays and time-consuming reviews, he said the service learns a lot from its missteps and he thinks Congress is starting to see the value of those lessons as well.
“There is more of an appetite now for test failure. It’s part of the process,” he said. “What we need to do is figure out . . . how do we get through failure faster? Because we’re going to fail.”
What’s next for ARRW testing?
Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense company according to the recently published Defense News Top 100 list, is the prime contractor for ARRW. Brian Shappacher, the company’s deputy program manager for the effort, said during an Aug. 13 podcast hosted by the Mitchell Institute the next phase of testing is structured to be more difficult than the booster test series.
“We’re still going to focus on booster, of course, but we’re going to shift some additional focus on to the glider performance,” he said.
The Air Force wants ARRW to reach early operational capability in 2023, and Shappacher noted that meeting that target will be a challenge.
“We have more missiles to build and more flight tests to get through and complete than we’ve had at any other time in this program, with the goal of reaching early operational capability in 2023,” he said. “There’s just a lot going on. It’s an extremely aggressive schedule. So, you know, that keeps me up at night, just making sure we can meet all of those commitments.”
‘Riding two horses’ in hypersonic development
The Air Force is pursuing two major hypersonic weapon programs: ARRW and the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile. ARRW is an air-launched, boost-glide missile system that releases its payload once it has reached high speeds. That payload then separates from the rocket and “glides” to its target. HACM is a smaller, less expensive cruise missile that relies on air-breathing propulsion. The service requested a total of $577 m for its hypersonic research and development efforts in fiscal 2023.
On HACM, Lockheed is competing with Raytheon and Boeing, the second and third ranked companies on the Defense News list. Breaking Defense reported in May the Air Force expects to award a contract for HACM later this summer or in the fall.
The Air Force hasn’t said how long it plans to continue to fund both programs, and Richardson said that by “riding two horses” in terms of hypersonic development, the service has set itself up for a dilemma should it need to select a single effort for future investment.
“I actually like them both, personally,” he said. “We may have to get to this position where we have to choose one or the other. That remains to be seen. I’m not in a position to answer how that’s going to come out.”
(Source: Defense News)
16 Aug 22. USAF conducts nuclear missile test delayed amid China tension. The U.S. Air Force early on Tuesday carried out a test of an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile, which was already delayed 12 days to avoid inflaming tension with China.
Air Force Global Strike Command said in a release that the Minuteman III missile was launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California by the 576th Flight Test Squadron a little before 1 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.
The ICBM was equipped with a test reentry vehicle, the release said, which splashed down about 4,200 miles from its original launch point in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, the command said. The command added the test verified the Minuteman III is accurate and reliable, and produced data that will help ensure the nation’s nuclear deterrent is safe, secure and effective.
Squadron commander Col. Chris Cruise said in the release that the test shows the nuclear triad — which also includes the ability to launch nuclear weapons from submarines and drop them from nuclear-capable bombers such as the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber — is the “cornerstone” of national security for the U.S. and its allies.
“This scheduled test launch is demonstrative of how our nation’s ICBM fleet illustrates our readiness and reliability of the weapon system,” Cruise said. “It is also a great platform to show the skill sets and expertise of our strategic weapons maintenance personnel and of our missile crews who maintain an unwavering vigilance to defend the homeland.”
The test launch was originally intended to take place Aug. 4. But on that day, the White House announced the delay amid a controversial visit to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. China objected to Pelosi’s visit, and on Aug. 4 had launched roughly 11 missile strikes near the coast of Taiwan, which China considers a rogue province and has threatened to take back control by force if necessary.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said at the time that delaying the test launch was “the responsible thing to do” and condemned China’s missile launches as irresponsible and provocative.
“A strong, confident, capable nuclear power can afford to wait a couple of weeks for a test to make it clear — not just in word but in deed — how serious we are when we say we have no interest in escalating the tensions,” Kirby said in an Aug. 4 press briefing at the White House.
It was the second time this year a Minuteman III test had been delayed. The first came in March, when Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin postponed another test to avoid further ratcheting up tension with Russia in the early days of its invasion of Ukraine.
The most recent delay drew objections from some Republicans, such as Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the ranking GOP member on the House Armed Services Committee.
“These weak-kneed pearl-clutching attempts at appeasement hurt our readiness and will only invite further aggression by our adversaries,” Rogers said in a statement at the time.
Global Strike Command said the test launch involved months of preparation. Airmen from the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming and the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota also assisted with the launch as part of a task force.
The 576th typically tests four Minuteman III ICBMs from Vandenberg each year, and Global Strike Command said more than 300 of these tests were previously carried out.
Maj. Armand Wong, commander of the task force, said test launches are scheduled well in advance and are not carried out in response to recent world events. (Source: Defense News)
16 Aug 22. Midcourse Defense, Guam, Hypersonics Lead Issues at Missile Defense Agency. Last year, the Missile Defense Agency awarded contracts to Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin to advance development of its next generation interceptor, or NGI program — a key component of its ground-based midcourse defense, or GMD, system. Both companies have said they are on track to deliver faster than what the government initially asked, according to the director of the Missile Defense Agency.
“I will tell you both companies are saying they can get to first emplacement earlier than the government reference schedule of 2028,” said Navy Vice Adm. Jon A. Hill, during a virtual discussion Friday with Defense News. “I will tell you that there is a long road between now and then. And so, we’ll just keep on path. Both are performing very well. Two different designs, both incorporating multiple kill vehicles — that’s where the threat drives us.”
The GMD is a part of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system, which is meant to engage and destroy limited intermediate- and long-range ballistic missile threats in space. Part of the GMD are ground-based interceptors, which are the missiles that engage and destroy incoming threats to the United States. The NGIs will be advanced interceptors designed to protect the nation against intercontinental ballistic missile attack from rogue nations.
Continued development of the GMD program is the top priority for MDA, said Hill. Also on his list of priorities are the defense of Guam and countering the threat posed by hypersonic missiles.
On Guam, the MDA is working with the Army on the initial steps of placing missile defense capabilities on the island, Hill said. Plans for that system are included in the president’s 2023 budget submittal.
“The nice thing about PB23, it does lay down the basic architecture of the systems that will go on to Guam,” Hill said. “The department did fund us at a level that allows us to start environmental impact surveys. That allows us to do the sighting work.”
Last week, MDA finished a “sighting summit” and was able to visit each site in Guam which has been proposed as a location for elements of missile defense there, Hill said.
“It’s not final, but we have a very good feel for at least technically and operationally where things should go in order for it to function as a system,” he said.
The MDA is working closely with the Army on the defense of Guam, Hill said. The MDA, he said, has funding in PB23 for both ballistic missile defense capability and hypersonic missile defense capability, while the Army has funding for cruise missile defense.
“What’s great is both systems kind of have a crossover in what they can do,” he said. “And so the integration of those into a command suite with command-and-control battle management on top of it is the basic architecture.”
For development of the glide phase interceptor, of GPI program, part of a defense against hypersonic missiles, the MDA in early 2021 initially chose three contractors to compete on the design. In June, the MDA narrowed it down to just two companies, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, said Hill.
“We developed the glide phase interceptor concept because when you look at that threat, its vulnerability occurs in the glide phase,” Hill said. “It’s through its ballistic boost, or its through its launch or it’s coming up as a cruise missile. But when it’s in that glide phase, that’s where it does broad maneuvers, that’s where it’s bleeding off heat, that is where it’s the most vulnerable. And you can track it, and you can see it and you can develop fire control on it. And we know that we can do that now. So what we’re missing is that weapon.”
Hill said following winnowing the selection from three companies to two, MDA is on path to a system requirements review later this year for GPI. (Source: US DoD)
15 Aug 22. Greensea Systems, Inc. and SeeByte Collaborate for ROV Autonomy. Companies work together to advance Maritime Expeditionary Standoff Response Vehicle. In response to the growing demand for true ROV autonomy within the field of maritime Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) robotics, two leading players in the industry, Greensea Systems, Inc., creator of the open architecture platform OPENSEA®, and leader in autonomy and automatic target recognition (ATR), SeeByte, announce an ongoing collaboration.
The two companies have previously operated as competitors, both fielding software for ROVs, but recently recognized that to satisfy the emerging needs of key maritime robotics consumers such as the US Navy, pooling intellect and experience through collaboration is the only way forward. As a result, for the first time, their complementary skill sets are working together under a DoD OTA (Other Transaction Agreement) led by the Defense Innovation Unit valued at $1.2m with a potential value of $4.2m.
“Autonomy is the right solution for the warfighter trying to use robots. True ROV autonomy for EOD robotics requiring advanced technology (over-the-horizon control, intervention autonomy, and automatic target recognition) will only happen at the pace customers demand through collaboration,” says Ben Kinnaman, Greensea CEO. “Knowing SeeByte has a great ATR product, which would complement our EOD product and integrate with OPENSEA, our robotics platform, I picked up the phone and asked SeeByte if they’d be interested in working with us on a Defense Innovation Unit solicitation. It has been fun and we are fielding an awesome solution.”
“It is rare that two small companies start out as competitors in one area and progress to being partners for the benefit of the end user,” states Leverett Bezanson, SeeByte Engineering Manager. “This collaboration has been beneficial for both companies, as well as the customer. It speaks volumes that the management and engineering teams at both Greensea and SeeByte were collectively able to carve out the best-of-breed technologies from both companies, providing the best possible solutions for our customer.”
Ben Kinnaman continues, ‘Smart companies realize that the future of ocean business is about collaboration, building networked systems, and technology integration. Both Greensea and SeeByte recognize this, and we are looking forward to working together on several future projects.’
12 Aug 22. Aerojet Rocketdyne demonstrates ISTB to test defence propulsion. The ISTB validated its ability to rapidly test key advancements in liquid propulsion system technologies.
US-based aerospace and defence company Aerojet Rocketdyne has successfully demonstrated an integrated system test bed (ISTB) to test advanced liquid rocket engine thrusters and system components.
The demonstration was conducted at the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) test facilities at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) in California.
The test of advanced defence propulsion was independently funded by the company.
It marks the completion of a multi-year, multi-m-dollar initiative by Aerojet Rocketdyne to design and develop an ISTB, which can be used for various programmes.
Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president Eileen P Drake said: “Aerojet Rocketdyne continues to innovate our design, development and testing capabilities for next-generation defence systems and components.
“With applicability to a variety of future programmes, the ISTB provides us the capability to quickly and efficiently test individual components, as well as complete systems.”
According to Aerojet Rocketdyne, the test bed can be used to evaluate a wide range of strategic system components, space launches and other missile defence programmes.
The latest test involved demonstrating a multi-thruster configuration, which is also pertinent to several ongoing development efforts. (Source: airforce-technology.com