16 Dec 22. India test-flies Agni-V ballistic missile. India’s Strategic Forces Command (SFC) has conducted a flight test of the Agni-V intermediate‐range ballistic missile (IRBM) from APJ Abdul Kalam Island off the northeastern coast of Odisha, the Indian Army said.
A senior Indian Army official told Janes that the SFC validated the maximum operational range of the missile with the test. “The test was conducted to validate the new lightweight equipment on the missile,” the official said.
“The lightweight equipment was fitted to increase the range of the missile. The SFC evaluated the missile at a full operational range of 5,500 km with the test,” the official added.
He said that the test was “successful and established the accuracy” of the Agni-V missile. A Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) official told Janes that the flight test conducted by the SFC was a “service test and not a trial conducted by the DRDO”. (Source: Janes)
15 Dec 22. Rheinmetall and UVision develop Hero-R rotary-wing loitering munition. Rheinmetall and UVision are developing Hero-R rotary-wing loitering munition, officials from the two companies told defence journalists in Berlin on 7 December.
Dirk Wecker, head of strategic programmes/mission systems at Rheinmetall Electronics, said the multirotor Hero-R can be launched from a mission pod on a vehicle and has a 10-minute flight time. An example he gave of its employment was landing Hero-Rs in the corners of trenches to destroy them.
He told Janes after his presentation that Hero-R would be ready for evaluation by potential customers by the end of 2023.
Dagan Lev Ari, UVisionʼs sales and marketing director, told Janes
15 Dec 22. Israel tests Iron Fist APS on Eitan. The Elbit Systems Iron First active protection system (APS) has completed a successful series of live-fire trials on the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF’s) new Eitan armoured personnel carrier (APC), the Israeli Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on 12 December. A joint statement from the ministry’s Tank and APC Directorate, IDF Ground Forces, and Elbit Systems Land Division said an Iron First installed on an Eitan “intercepted anti-tank threats in various challenging scenarios”.
“The Tank and APC Directorate is currently completing its preparation for the delivery of the self-developed Eitan advanced 8×8 wheeled APC to the IDF,” the statement quoted the directorate’s head, Brigadier General Oren Giber, as saying. “The Iron Fist system is an important part of this project. It is currently in advanced stages of development and deployment to the Eitan APC and the bulldozer, undergoing rigorous trials to ensure its suitability for the battlefield.” (Source: Janes)
16 Dec 22. Black Sky launches practice missile. Black Sky Aerospace (BSA) has successfully fired an Australian-first training rocket for use by Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel as a cheaper alternative to the original missiles that can cost tens of thousands or millions of dollars apiece.
Black Sky Aerospace Chief Executive Officer Blake Nikolic said the locally designed and built practice rockets can be used to teach and qualify trainees on real rockets without having to eat into war stocks.
“Black Sky is accelerating the development of sovereign Australian guided weapons with the successful firing of a training rocket to support systems like the high mobility artillery rocket systems acquired by the Australian Defence Force and allies,” Nikolic said.
“ADF personnel need to experience firing real rockets without the Commonwealth paying the original price tag. Our aim is to provide a product that can help as many people qualify on systems as quickly as possible but at a fraction of the price.”
The firing comes less than a month after the Queensland-based rocket company fired nine guided weapons at their private range in outback Queensland.
Designated the TM-229, the training missile measures 229mm diameter x 4m long and has a maximum range of 15km. The warhead bay is ballasted with non-explosive material.
TM-229 uses Black Sky’s Australian-made solid rocket propellant and is an extension to its sovereign missile development program. Initial trials utilised a reduced power motor proving out logistics, infrastructure and processes, with full capacity trials planned to commence early 2023 from Black Sky’s private launch range in southwest Queensland.
“Black Sky Aerospace is already two and half years into its independent development of sovereign guided weapons, with many milestones already delivered,” Nikolic said.
“If we are to get ahead of the lead-times required for sovereign missile development, companies like Black Sky and our partners need to start work while the Government makes its decisions on next steps for Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance.” (Source: Google/ADM)
14 Dec 22. South Korea allocates additional funding for KF-21 air-to-ground missile. South Korea has allocated additional funding to continue the development of a new air-to-ground missile being built for the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KF-21 Boramae fighter jet.
In an announcement on 12 December, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said that it will invest KRW190 bn (USD146.07 m) in the project. DAPA told Janes that the funding will enable the development of a system for the use of the domestic long-range missile.
According to information held by Janes , the South Korean Agency for Defense Development (ADD) began development of this missile in 2019. In September 2021, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced that the missile had undergone an aircraft separation flight test from a Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) F-4E Phantom II aircraft.
With the initial phase of development having been completed in 2021, the new contract will continue development of the missile from December 2022. The investment will cover development up to 2028, DAPA added. (Source: Janes)
14 Dec 22. Spain to equip Eurofighters with Brimstone missile.
The Spanish Air Force (Ejército del Aire Español: EdAE) is to equip its Eurofighter Typhoon (C.16 in national service) combat aircraft with the MBDA Brimstone air-to-surface missile, a senior officer told Janes and other defence media on 13 December.
Speaking at Los Llanos-Albacete in central Spain, the Air Group Chief of Ala 14 (Wing 14), Lieutenant Colonel Jesús M Salazar Ortiz de Landázuri, said that the decision to equip the Eurofighter with the low-yield missile had been made in recent days, with the first deliveries to take place by the end of 2023.
“We [at Ala 14] were told less than a month ago, and so we don’t even know ourselves yet which version of the Brimstone we are to get,” the commander said, adding that the UK Royal Air Force (RAF), which already equips its Eurofighter Typhoons with the Brimstone, will assist the EdAE with its integration work. (Source: Janes)
13 Dec 22. US Army pushes ahead with landmine that attacks from above, with European theater in mind. Textron Systems received two Army contracts in 2022 for anti-tank munition development and production. Eventually, the service wants to network such top-attack weapons with a bottom-attack landmine, a Textron exec told Breaking Defense.
Bns of dollars of US weapons continue to flow into Ukraine as the land war nears the start of its second calendar year. But while much ink has been spilled about high-profile platforms like Stingers, Javelins and long-distance munitions, also included in these US aid packages are an undisclosed number of M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel landmines to help Ukraine control Russian troop movement.
Perhaps considered a relic in the popular imagination, such anti-personnel and anti-armor mines are not only applicable to modern combat, but the US Army is now moving full steam ahead with the development of new top-attack, anti-tank landmines, with the European theater in mind. This summer the service tapped Textron Systems to begin producing the interim XM204 weapon and then in early December the company announced that it had also been selected to design a more lethal version with a remote command-and-control function as part of the Army’s long-term Close Terrain Shaping Obstacles Increment 1 program.
Both versions of the weapon are designed to launch a munition into the air before it rains down on ground combat vehicles, rather than striking the vehicle’s protected underbelly from below like traditional mines. And if the production and development proceeds as planned, the interim XM204 weapon may be bound for European soil in the hands of US forces and potentially allies in the coming years — though not necessarily Ukraine. Since the Army wants to design the weapon to be compliant with the Ottawa Convention that prohibits the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines, it could be easier for the US to field it or sell it other nations.
“There is a significant interest in Eastern European NATO allies that are familiar with the new system and are interested in acquiring some [XM204],” Henry Finneral, the company’s senior vice-president for weapon systems, told Breaking Defense in a Dec. 6 interview after the company provided new details about the latest contract. “There are no FMS [Foreign Military Sales] orders yet but there is a lot of interest, and we continue to anticipate that that would be a part of where many of these systems would go.”
Mines That Attack From Above
Army officials have been working on a multi-pronged initiative to replace what is known as the Family of Scatterable Mines (FASCAM) that they deem to be nearing the end of useful life. This plan includes the interim XM204 that was born, in part, out of a US Army Europe operational needs statement which led the service to issuing systems requirements in 2020.
In mid-2022, the service awarded Textron Systems with a XM204 production contract worth up to $354m, and initially ordered 117 XM204 units and 38 trainers. As the military emerges from the counter-terrorism era and pivots toward a focus on near-peer conflicts, new needs are coming to the fore around aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. The company is now “pulling together” the first production run for the Army and expects to have the first units ready for product verification testing in mid-2023, Finneral said.
If and when this top-attack capability is fielded, the idea is for soldiers to hand place each XM204 module either alone or in a pattern on the battlefield. They then use a “control knob” to set the timer for how long the weapon will be active — either for four hours, 48 hours or 15 days. If the weapon has not been activated during this window, it self-destructs to minimize the risk of civilian deaths.
As for each module, they are approximately two feet by two feet in size, weigh 79 pounds, and each contains four common anti-vehicle munitions (CAVMs), sensors, a Doppler radar and the self-destruct mechanism.
The device is designed to use acoustic and seismic sensors to detect approaching heavy-wheeled and tracked vehicles within a 100 meter radius. Once detected, the radar determines where the incoming vehicle is located before one of the airborne submunition with an additional sensor is fired to help determine the best aim-point. The submunition’s explosively formed penetrator will then strike the top of the vehicle.
“Numbers matter, as does interceptor quality, but a mix of GBIs and NGIs alone does not provide a comprehensive approach to missile defense,” write a trio of retired general officers. “We need to deploy our quality and quantity in a layered defense construct.”
“Our systems have redundant capability to ensure that they detonate,” Finneral said. “If we launch a submunition and the target has changed direction or if it does not detonate. It’ll self-destruct before it hits the ground.”
Once the attack sequence is completed, the landmine module remains activated for the remaining amount of time and can repeat the attack sequence three more times with the remaining munitions.
V2.0: A Networked Approach
As the Army prepares to test out this new anti-tank device, its plan doesn’t stop there. Instead, it’s eyeing a longer-term project to network together a more complex top-attack munition with a future bottom-attack landmine as part of its incremental Close Terrain Shaping Obstacles (CTSO) program.
“The XM204 is kind of like the base building block for CTSO Increment I, which adds capability to XM204 in terms of command and control, it provides connectivity to the soldier so it has kind of a man in the loop,” Finneral said.
Under the Army’s long-term, the three-pronged CTSO strategy begins with an enhanced top-attack capability under Increment I, then adds in a new bottom-attack capability in Increment II before tying them together in Increment III. For now, though, the Army is focusing on CTSO Increment I and in early November announced Textron would develop the capability as part of a five-year $162 m contract.
“It’s going to be a new system,” Finneral explained. “The XM204 has its own set of requirements; it has its own performance capabilities. We take that as a basis, and we’re adding new capability to it.”
The initial vision is for soldiers to still set up the future top-attack modules like will do with the XM204, but these modules will also include “radio communication” so that soldiers using a “handheld device” can disable the munition box, he said. This is meant to allow “friendly forces” to move through the area or for soldiers to retrieve the modules and move them to different locations. But the added capability comes with added complications.
“The command-and-control piece will be very important,” Finneral added. “Whenever you introduce radios, you’ve got to make sure that you have protected them against external threats… . It’ll be critical to ensure that the software provides for a very safe system and it’s protected from cyber [threats].”
If development proceeds as planned, Finneral said the weapon could be ready for operational test and evaluation before the five-year development contract ends in 2027.
Looking further ahead, Finneral said the company is eyeing future opportunities to work with the Army CTSO Increments II and III, and explore alternative ways to place the weapons on the battlefield, perhaps via ground robots or aircraft. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense.com)
12 Dec 22. A Series of Interception Trials in the “Porcupine Arrow” Defense System Was Successfully Completed. The Directorate of Vehicles and Armaments (MNATC) in the Ministry of Defense, the Military Intelligence Department in the Land Arm and the Land Division at the company ‘Elbit Systems’ announce the completion of a successful series of tests of the active defense system “Dorvan Arrow.”
In the series of tests, the system placed on the ‘Eitan’ armored personnel carrier intercepted anti-tank threats in different and challenging scenarios, with which the system may deal with in different combat scenarios.
The ‘Durvan Arrow’ system, developed by Elbit Systems, is an advanced active defense system that provides 360-degree coverage against threats from different ranges in open and built-up areas.
In addition to the defensive capabilities, the ‘Dorvan Arrow’ also allows the RCM team the ability to locate the sources of fire for the purpose of closing a circle of fire alongside the ability to deal with a battle arena saturated with threats.
The system consists of an advanced sensing suite that includes launchers and interceptors, which allow threats to be neutralized at a safe distance from the vehicle.
Brigadier General Oren Giber, Head of the Vehicle and Armored Vehicles Directorate (MNTAK), said: “MNTAK is currently completing its preparation for the delivery of the Eitan advanced 8×8 wheeled APC, the result of self-development, to the IDF. The ‘Dorvan Arrow’ system is part of this project and is in the advanced stages of development and integration with Eitan and the bulldozer, undergoing trials in this framework in order to ensure its suitability for the battlefield.
“Dorvan Arrow” is planned to bring a leap forward in the level of solid protection and ensure the vehicle’s ability to move in threatened areas while protecting its fighters.
Brigadier General Aviram Sela, RMT of the Land Arm, said: “The ‘Durvan Arrow’ system is part of the Land Arm’s effort to increase the ability to protect the maneuvering forces on the battlefield. The system is expected to expand the operational capabilities of the combat teams fighting on the wheeled Ethan and the D9 bulldozers.
“The successful series of tests is a significant milestone in the joint development process for the land arm, from the Ministry of Defense and Elbit Systems.” (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
(Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Israel Ministry of Defense)
13 Dec 22. Rheinmetall stepping up delivery of combat helmets to the Bundeswehr: quality inspection successfully concluded. Rheinmetall has reached another milestone on the road to equipping the German military with a new combat helmet. On 6 December 2022, Christine Lambrecht, the German defence minister, took official delivery of the first items of military clothing and personal equipment ordered by the Bundeswehr in response to the abruptly changed security situation in Europe. The equipment includes the new combat helmet being supplied by Rheinmetall. Quick off the mark, Rheinmetall had already successfully concluded formal qualification of the tactical headgear as well as quality inspection of the first three lots of subsequent procurements.
In November 2020 the Bundeswehr placed an initial order with Rheinmetall for an advanced combat helmet. The framework agreement encompassed delivery of up to 20,000 “Combat Helmet, Special Forces, Heavy”. A first call-off of 5,000 helmets came the same month. The helmets were initially earmarked for special operations forces and specialized troops with an expanded basic capability for conducting special operations, as well as for equipping NATO’s VJTF 2023 spearhead force. In March 2022, spurred by the dramatic turn of events in Europe, the Bundeswehr significantly expanded its order. The new helmet model would now be known as the “Combat Helmet, Armed Forces”. In all, the follow-up order encompasses some 300,000 helmets, which will be supplied to the German military during the period 2022-2025. Rheinmetall is cooperating in this programme with two strategic partners. Total order volume exceeds €200m. Providing improved protection and more comfortable to wear, the new combat helmets feature decibel-independent hearing protection and a night observation device. They will substantially enhance the combat effectiveness of German infantry forces. Since 2020, nearly 34,000 helmets have been supplied. By the end of the year, a further 11,000 will reach the troops. The order was won by Rheinmetall Soldier Electronics of Stockach, Germany. A specialist supplier of laser light modules, the company is extremely well-connected in the soldier systems segment.