11 Jan 23. Northrop demonstrates ultra-lite EA prototype’s key components. The scaled-down EA system is designed to provide anti-ship missile defence to smaller naval vessels. Northrop Grumman has recently carried out successful demonstration of its future ultra-lite electronic attack (EA) prototype system for the US Navy.
The demonstration was conducted in collaboration with the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), as part of the US Navy’s multinational exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).
The test series was conducted to assess and showcase several key components and capabilities of the ultra-lite EA system.
Conducted aboard a US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, the demonstration involved Northrop Grumman to evaluate various EA capabilities of its new transceiver technology, integrated with the NRL’s expeditionary EA antenna.
Northrop Grumman maritime electronic warfare advanced solutions director Monta Harrell said: “This at-sea demonstration proves Northrop Grumman’s future low-size, weight and power, scaled EA solution can effectively support US Navy missions.
“The lessons learned from the RIMPAC exercise provide real-world insights into our low-risk architectural solution for smaller ships that will revolutionise EA for the US Navy.”
The newly demonstrated system is a scaled-down, onboard EA system designed to provide anti-ship missile defence to smaller naval vessels.
In the next stage, the company will conduct other demonstrations later this month to validate additional concepts of the EA system. It will also examine and verify reliability and scalability of the system.
Northrop Grumman is also under contract to advance the electronic warfare (EW) capability of the US Navy.
In October 2020, the company was selected to provide AN/SLQ-32(V)7 Surface EW Improvement Programme (SEWIP) Block 3 systems for the US Navy.
This Block 3 system also underwent a formal land-based test later in June 2021. (Source: army-technology.com)
11 Jan 23. India conducts training launch of Prithvi-II ballistic missile. The nuclear-capable missile can intercept targets at a range of 350km. The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced the successful user training launch of the Prithvi-II short-range ballistic missile. The launch took place at the Integrated Test Range in Chandipur, off the Odisha coast.
In a statement, the MoD said: “The missile struck its target with high accuracy. The user training launch successfully validated all operational and technical parameters of the missile.”
The 9m tall, surface-to-surface, nuclear-capable missile is an integral part of the country’s nuclear deterrence.
The Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation developed the missile as part of the integrated guided-missile development programme.
Prithvi-II is a single-stage, liquid-fuelled missile, equipped with an advanced inertial guidance system. It can carry nuclear warheads ranging from 500kg to 1,000kg and has a strike range of 350km.
Since 2003, the weapon has been put through several tests. The missile was launched in June last year.
In a separate development, the MoD announced the procurement of HELINA anti-tank guided missiles, launchers, and associated support equipment, as well as the VSHORAD (IR Homing) missile system for the Indian Army.
The procurement announcement follows the approval of the Acceptance of Necessity by the Defence Acquisition Council.
The missile systems are being acquired under the Buy (Indian-IDDM) category.
The approved capital acquisition proposals also include the purchase of the Brahmos Launcher and Fire Control System for the Indian Navy.
The HELINA missile will be equipped onto the Advanced Light Helicopter to boost the army’s offensive capability while VSHORAD will offer air defence capabilities. (Source: army-technology.com)
12 Jan 23. Iran Unveils AD-08 Majid Air Defense Missile System on IVECO Daily 4×4 Truck. Iran unveils for the first time its new AD-08 Majid short-range mobile air defense (SHORAD) missile system mounted on an Iveco Daily 4×4 light truck during a military exercise. The AD-08 Majid is a short-range and low-altitude air defense missile system fully developed by the Iranian defense industry.
The missile system is designed to intercept and destroy UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Systems), cruise missiles, helicopters, and low-altitude aerial targets. The missile launcher station of the AD-08 Majid is mounted on the Iranian-made Aras-2 4×4 tactical vehicle. The AD-08 was unveiled in January 2022 but mounted on the ARAS-2, an Iranian-made 4×4 tactical vehicle that was developed based on the F-4. 5 Toyota Land Cruiser chassis.
The AD-08 Majid is fitted with a weapon station that has a traverse of 360° and two pods of four missile launcher canisters are mounted on each side. the center of the turret is fitted with electro-optical systems used to acquire targets and to guide the missile. The system is able to acquire aerial threats at a maximum range of 15 km with a traverse of 360° and elevation from 0 to 12°. It can four targets simultaneously. The missile used by the AD-08 Majid air defense system is equipped with passive imaging infrared (IIR) homing guidance system. It can hit targets with a range from 700 m to 8 km with an altitude from 20 m to 6 km. The missile has a diameter of 156mm, a length of 2,670 mm, and a total weight of 75 kg.
The AD-08 can be also integrated with the Kashef-99 radar, a 3D mobile phased array system with a range of 12 kilometers used to detect small aircraft. Kashef is a series of Iranian early warning radars developed by SAIRAN. Currently there are three versions in service, Kashef 1, Kashef 2 and Kashef 99. Kashef 99 is a 3D phased-array radar system that is carried on a vehicle, suitable for detecting small aircraft and objects and has a range of 12 km. Kashef-99 can detect 300 targets simultaneously. Iran has in recent years made great headways in manufacturing a broad range of military equipment, including air defense systems that use cutting edge technologies. Tehran has repeatedly stated that its military might is defensive in nature and poses no threat to other countries.
The Iveco Daily is a large light commercial van produced by the Italian automaker Iveco since 1978; it was also sold as the Fiat Daily by Fiat until 1983. Unlike the more car-like unibody Fiat Ducato, the Daily uses a separate ladder frame typical of heavier commercial vehicles. The Iveco Daily is produced at the Iveco Suzzara plant, near Mantova in Italy, where Iveco has recently made substantial investments to renew the production lines.
The Daily is also the longest-running vehicle of the Iveco production and in over 40 years have sold over three m units. Today it is marketed in 110 markets around the world. The third generation Daily was introduced in July 2014. Compared to the previous model, the vehicle has been completely revised; only the range of engines was retained. (Source: UAS VISION/MilitaryLeak)
10 Jan 23. Turkish Army receives Storm 155mm self-propelled howitzers. The howitzers will provide the country’s land forces with a significant fire advantage. The Turkish Armed Forces have received the first six new generation Firtina (Storm) 155mm self-propelled howitzers.
A ceremony was held to mark the delivery milestone, which was attended by President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other officials.
President Erdogan said: “We will increase this number to 140 in total, with new deliveries in the coming period.
“The new generation Storm howitzers have many advantages compared to the models currently in the inventory. As a result of the studies carried out, both the survivability and firepower of our howitzers have been increased.”
The howitzers will enhance the Turkish Armed Forces’ deterrence and mobility. The weapon system provides a ‘great fire advantage’ and will be deployed for counter-terrorism operations.
Erdogan added: “Additional capabilities include new generation fire control, automatic ammunition loading, driver vision, [and] automatic fire extinguishing.
“There are many critical elements such as air conditioning, remote-controlled weapons, renewed track suspension equipment, and a new generation auxiliary power group. With all these systems that add strength to the power of our storm howitzers, we also reduce our foreign dependency. We will complete it within the year.”
The president also noted that the howitzers will use the engine and transmission developed by BMC Power. In May, the Turkish forces are set to receive two new Altay main battle tanks, which will enter mass production in 2025 following the completion of tests. (Source: army-technology.com)
11 Jan 23. SMARTSHOOTER moving past the final milestone on ASD SO/LIC IWTSD’s Individual Weapon Overmatch Optic (IWOO) program using the SMASH advanced Fire Control System. Now ready for hands-on – New SMASH IWOO system combines an advanced optical system, including automated detection and targeting of traditional ground targets as well as small UAS hard-kill capability, all to make the force stronger, faster, more accurate and lethal. In February 2020, the Department of Defence ASD SO/LIC’s ’Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate (IWTSD) selected SMARTSHOOTER, a world-class designer, developer, and manufacturer of innovative fire control systems, to develop the solution for its Individual Weapon Overmatch Optic (IWOO) project.
This month, SMARTSHOOTER reached its final milestone by successfully passing the IWOO Technology Readiness Review (TRR). Two prototype systems were taken through a series of live-fire tests by IWTSD to ensure the system met the contract performance requirements. The systems performed well and were also tested at night using clip-on night vision devices. This means the IWOO final design configuration has been approved by IWTSD and will now move into low-rate production. In addition, the options for more IWOO systems under the contract with IWTSD were exercised.
The IWOO program was initiated by IWTSD to provide tactical operators with overmatch capability against long-range static and moving targets, both day and night. SMARTSHOOTER won the competition and began development using proven technologies from its SMASH line of Fire Control Systems and inserting new capabilities such as a variable x1- x8 zoom – all stitched together with combat-proven fire control algorithms to assure the hit.
The IWOO system automatically detects, highlights, and tracks potential targets – including drones – using a see-through display which enhances the user situational awareness. Built-in fire control processing continuously calculates the optimal firing solution to provide the user with clear, discreet guidance, firing only with the best chance of neutralizing the target, delivering first-round hit capabilities time after time.
“We are delighted to announce that the SMASH IWOO system, developed uniquely for the US Department of Defense IWTSD Individual Weapon Overmatch Optic project, has completed another milestone, and is now ready to move into low-rate production. Based on the unmatched capabilities of the SMASH Fire Control Systems, the SMASH IWOO solution will enhance force’s lethality, survivability, and situational awareness” Ms. Michal Mor, CEO of SMART SHOOTER said.
“It was good to see the first two IWOO prototypes in action,” said Michael Trexler, Special Operation Forces Combat Support Coordinator / Tactical Offensive Support Program Manager, at IWTSD. “There are a few minor adjustments being made to optimize performance; we are pleased with the progress demonstrated and look forward to conducting operational testing and evaluation using the dual-capabilities of IWOO prototypes in 2023 against ground targets at increased ranges and to take-down drones.”
09 Jan 23. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) will assume production of rocket motors for the U.S. Army’s Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS), fulfilling the full contract production quantity. The company recently delivered its 15,000th rocket motor and 20,000th warhead to Lockheed Martin for final assembly.
“We are proactively investing in production facilities and technologies in support of producing even higher rates of rocket motors faster and more affordably to meet our customer’s anticipated demand,” said Jim Kalberer, vice president of missile products, Northrop Grumman. “We are leveraging our capacity and modern manufacturing facilities to deliver critical military needs.”
The propulsion system, once delivered to Lockheed Martin’s Camden, Arkansas, final assembly facility, will be integrated into GMLRS missiles – a ballistic rocket designed to engage targets from 15 to 70 kilometers. Northrop Grumman’s safety enhancing insensitive munition provides the system structural integrity under extreme conditions such as heat, shock and adjacent detonations. The ignition safety device further improves the weapon system’s safety characteristics by preventing unwanted combustion.
“Northrop Grumman is a trusted supplier of GMLRS rocket motors with robust manufacturing capacity to meet the demands of our customer,” said Jay Price, vice president of Precision Fires for Lockheed Martin.
Northrop Grumman designed and constructed a purpose-built manufacturing facility at the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in Rocket Center, W. Va., using lean manufacturing and digital engineering techniques which enables a robust and resilient Defense Industrial Base. The facility provides for the efficient design, development and production of this critical weapon system component.
Northrop Grumman is a technology company, focused on global security and human discovery. Our pioneering solutions equip our customers with capabilities they need to connect, advance and protect the U.S. and its allies. Driven by a shared purpose to solve our customers’ toughest problems, our 90,000 employees define possible every day.
06 Jan 23. Colombia picks Elbit’s Atmos howitzer over Nexter’s Caesar.
Colombia has ordered 18 units of the 155mm howitzer Atmos from Israel’s Elbit Systems in a deal worth $101.7 m, military sources in Bogota told Defense News.
The decision came as a surprise for some observers who expected the contract to go to the Colombian Army’s preferred choice, the six-wheel drive Caesar made by French company Nexter.
During final negotiations, Nexter informed Colombia that the value of the potential deal would be $114 m, according to the military sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to talk to the media. That price was deemed too high compared to funding allocated to the acquisition program.
Nexter did not respond to a request for comment.
Colombia ultimately turned its attention to the Atmos, and the parties reached an agreement within budget.
The procurement of long-range howitzers is a key component of the military’s modernization efforts, with Colombian land forces lacking this kind of weapon. The Atmos is a truck-mounted, six-wheel drive, 155mm/52-caliber howitzer featuring a computerized fire control system with automatic modes.
“After decades focused mainly in counterinsurgency and fighting drug traffickers, Colombia is now engaged in upgrading and modernizing the conventional capabilities of its armed forces — in this case field artillery — at a breathtaking pace,” independent analyst Emilio Meneses told Defense News.
“The advances in detection and counter-battery fire nowadays demand that artillery systems must have a high mobility for fast deployment and immediate [movement] to a new position after firing to avoid the reaction of the enemy. Only wheeled howitzers provide such a high level of fast mobility,” Meneses added, noting that other regional nations will likely follow suit. (Source: Defense News)
06 Jan 23. Pentagon racing to restore US superiority in hypersonics.
In 1959, the U.S. Air Force and Navy partnered with NASA to fly a piloted hypersonic test aircraft, the X-15, for the first time.
During that flight, the high-speed vehicle designed to travel at speeds of at least Mach 5 was dropped from under the wing of a B-52 bomber flying over the Mojave Desert in Southern California. Pilot Scott Crossfield carried the aircraft to an altitude of 52,341 feet and reached a peak speed of Mach 2.11.
The flight kicked off a robust testing effort, and over the next nine years, three X-15 aircraft flew 199 times. The program eventually surpassed performance targets and achieved what is still the nation’s the fastest piloted hypersonic flight at Mach 6.72, or 4,520 miles per hour. Though it ended in 1968, discoveries from the program continue to inform the government’s hypersonic vehicle research.
In a 1964 report detailing the program’s accomplishments, NASA researcher Wendell Stillwell wrote: “As long as Earth’s atmosphere exists, wherever men fly that fast, they will be traveling in a region whose secrets the X-15 was first to probe.”
More than a half century later, the X-15 remains the Defense Department’s most rigorous hypersonic testing endeavor — a testament to the program’s success, but also a result of periods of restrained investment in high-speed vehicle research. Whereas in the 1960s the X-15 flew an average of one airborne test every 18 days, today the department only supports about a dozen hypersonic flight tests in a good year.
Despite early technological breakthroughs, the U.S. has viewed operational hypersonic technology as a future capability and debated its role in the military arsenal. In the meantime, China and Russia have made progress in recent years developing and fielding hypersonic systems.
Those advances are driving a sense of urgency within DoD to field hypersonic weapons of its own and boost funding for enabling technology, including advanced materials and propulsion systems. The Pentagon expects to spend $15bn on hypersonic programs between 2015 and 2024 across 70 different efforts, according to estimates from the Government Accountability Office. Its fiscal 2023 budget called for $4.7bn for hypersonic weapon development and $225.5m for hypersonic defense.
As part of the strategy, Principal Director for Hypersonics Mike White wants to bring back that former testing rigor. The more programs test, he told C4ISRNET, the more they learn and the faster they’ll deliver.
“We really want to open the aperture to allow the national team to learn at the pace of discovery and not at a pace limited by the availability of flight-test range windows,” he said in an interview.
Last year, White gave the defense testing community a challenge: Increase the hypersonic test cadence to one flight per week. The target sounds ambitious, but that’s the point, he said. While the shift won’t happen overnight, the hope is that setting a stretch goal will push the enterprise to change the way it operates.
“The goal of one test per week was established to drive us toward a paradigm shift with respect to how and where we test, versus trying to just do more of what we’re doing,” White said. “To get there will take some time, but we are already well on our way.”
Focused on flight test
Over the last year, DoD has made some pointed moves toward improving its hypersonic testing capabilities and moving toward a more regular flight-test cadence.
Those initiatives include a Defense Innovation Unit program called Hypersonic and High-Cadence Airborne Testing Capabilities, which is leveraging commercial technology to develop a test aircraft that could fly in the next two years.
The Test Resource Management Center — a Pentagon-level office that supports test events and infrastructure across the department — also partnered with the Navy to develop the Multi-Service Hypersonics Test Bed, which will make it easier to demonstrate and validate hypersonic technology. And TRMC made progress expanding its SkyRange program, which is converting 24 decommissioned Global Hawk drones to support hypersonic testing.
Along with these new programs, the department is working to expand its access to hypersonic test ranges. According to the Congressional Research Service, DoD has 11 open-air ranges that can support test flights, and White said DoD is partnering with industry and international allies to increase that number.
The department has also upped its investment in its notoriously under-resourced test infrastructure. In a report to Congress this year, the Pentagon identified a $5.7bn funding gap for lab and test infrastructure, including some $817m in unfunded hypersonic military construction projects.
While TRMC’s annual funding request doesn’t clearly identify hypersonic testing budgets for security reasons, director George Rumford told C4ISRNET the organization is prioritizing funding for that work.
To illustrate this, he pointed to a section of TRMC’s budget that identifies testing resources for strategic technologies like artificial intelligence, cyber and hypersonics. In fiscal 2018, the department’s five-year forecast predicted TRMC would need just $470m to support strategic technology testing in fiscal 2022. TRMC’s actual fiscal 2022 funding came in around $1.5bn, more than three times what it forecast. That includes funding for ground testing infrastructure such as wind tunnels and labs to support hypersonic development.
That growth wasn’t accidental, Rumford said, but was part of a concerted effort to boost testing support for key technology development areas.
“Within the last five years, the department has made a strategic plan to triple the amount of investment in test infrastructure to accelerate the national defense strategy,” he said. “Hypersonics is the big player in that.”
According to White, these focused initiatives and investments are starting to pay off. In July, three U.S. hypersonic programs conducted successful tests: the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Operational Fires missile and its Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Concept and the Air Force’s Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW. Over a period of about three months, between November and the end of January, the department expects to conduct seven flight tests, he said.
As part of that recent string of tests, ARRW completed its first full prototype, or all-up round, flight test Dec. 9 in Southern California. The test extended a streak of successful flights for the program, which had three failures in a row in 2021.
White said the department has seen performance improvements across several of its hypersonic programs in the last year, which he attributes to greater systems engineering rigor from the companies developing those weapons.
“We have experienced a dramatic turnaround in our flight-test results,” he said.
Making the right investments
Former DoD officials and industry analysts say that while the department’s testing ambitions may be within reach, it needs to invest in the right areas.
Mark Lewis, director of the National Defense Industrial Association’s Emerging Technology Institute and an expert in hypersonic capability development, told C4ISRNET he’s optimistic DoD can reach its testing targets — and its history on the X-15 is evidence of that.
“We can, because we have in the past,” he said. “But if you’re going to test at that pace, you need to do it differently than the way we’ve been doing it so far in many of our hypersonics programs.”
Lewis has served in a number of roles within the Pentagon’s research and development and science and technology community, including director of defense research and engineering for modernization and Air Force chief scientist – positions that included oversight of hypersonic development efforts. He said he’s encouraged by TRMC’s investments, but thinks the department needs to put a greater emphasis on recoverability and creating more realistic testing opportunities.
On recoverability, Lewis said that while retrieving a full system after test would be ideal, even collecting parts of the vehicle has advantages for data analysis.
“I might want to test new high-temperature materials. If I can put them on the outside of the vehicle [and] if I can get that vehicle back, I can take them off. I can look at them. I can see how they survive,” he said. “Otherwise, I’m just relying on sensors and instrumentation.”
Realistic flight testing — or as Lewis calls it, “wind tunnels in the sky” — should also be a priority for the department. While ground-based wind tunnels that replicate the in-flight environment are an important part of a program’s test plan, they have limitations.
“Wind tunnels are always making some compromise,” he said. “The very fact that you’re in a tunnel and your model is sitting in a chamber and that chamber has walls — that’s different than a vehicle that’s flying out in the atmosphere.”
Lewis and White both noted that developing a more robust modeling and simulation infrastructure will lessen risk, but that it’s not a replacement for flight testing.
“The more you can test on the ground, the more you reduce risk for flight testing, but there is no facility that can fully simulate hypersonic flight,” White said. “So, we must fly.”
Roman Schweizer, an analyst at defense research firm the Cowen Group, said that while a “build and test and fail quickly” model is important if the department wants to move fast, frequency also comes with a cost — and there needs to be a push to reduce that even as the testing cadence picks up.
“You need to keep cost as a function of that,” he told C4ISRNET. “Whenever anyone has introduced new technology, but particularly the military, there’s just a lot of trial and error that goes into it. And if the trial and error are super expensive, you’re not going to be able to do a lot of it.” (Source: Defense News)
08 Jan 23. BAE Systems demonstrates APKWS-guided rockets destroy all targets including fast-moving drones. BAE Systems reports completion of additional ground-to-air test firings to prove the effectiveness of 70mm rockets guided by Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) guidance kits against Class-2 unmanned aerial systems (UAS) that weigh roughly 25-50 pounds and can travel at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour.
During the demonstration in Southern Arizona, five APKWS-guided counter-UAS rockets were fired from a containerized weapon system and destroyed all targets, including fast-moving drones. The test results further demonstrate APKWS guidance kits’ ability to enable low-cost, precision strikes against airborne threats, says the BAE press release.
“Militarized drones are becoming more prevalent in conflicts around the world, and we’re giving our customers an efficient way to counter them without wasting expensive missiles,” said Greg Procopio, director of Precision Guidance and Sensing Solutions at BAE Systems. “Our tests demonstrate that APKWS guidance kits have the flexibility to engage a variety of targets to meet the evolving mission needs of the warfighter.”
The 70mm rockets is designed to destroy Class-2 aerial drones by combining standard motors and warheads with APKWS guidance kits and proven proximity/point-detonation fuses. The resulting precision munition is a low-cost, supersonic, lock-on-after-launch strike weapon with a large 10-pound warhead that can destroy large drones in a matter of seconds with or without direct contact.
Combat-proven APKWS-guided rockets are effective against a variety of soft and armored stationary and moving targets. They can be fired by many different platforms, including jets, helicopters, trucks, boats, and weapon stations, and stowed APKWS guidance kits protect seeker optics from adjacent rocket fire, unlike nose-mounted seeker optics. APKWS guidance are available to all US armed forces, as well as US allies via Foreign Military Sales for 70mm laser-guided rockets.
APKWS guidance kits are produced at BAE Systems manufacturing facilities in Hudson, New Hampshire and Austin, Texas. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)