06 May 22. Saab Firings Showcase New Programmable Carl-Gustaf Munition. Saab’s programmable Carl-Gustaf® munition, designated HE 448, was fired for the first time in front of an audience at a live fire event in Karlskoga, Sweden.
The firings took place 3-4 May 2022 in front of an audience with representatives from 30 different nations and included shoulder-fired engagements demonstrating the capabilities of the new programmable High Explosive (HE) round. A new Fire Control Device (FCD), designated FCD 558, was also demonstarted at the event. The new HE 448 programmable round has the ability to communicate with the new Fire Control Device 558 via a new protocol known as Firebolt®. The HE 448 round provides the FCD 558 with the exact information on round type and propellant temperature and combines this with target distance entered by the operator to determine the best trajectory. This means that Carl-Gustaf operators will be able to quickly configure a chambered round and so increase their operational effectiveness.
“These firings indicates the increased battlefield capabilities of the HE 448 and that, together with the Fire Control Device 558, it is ready to be delivered to our customers. The HE 448 offers increased range and effectiveness against the target and has been developed drawing on our close customer relationships and our understanding of their requirements. The FCD 558 also gives users a new option for equipping Carl-Gustaf with a more efficient sighting solution than the baseline configuration,” says Michael Höglund, head of Saab’s business unit Ground Combat.
In December 2021, Saab was contracted to deliver the new HE 448 munition and Fire Control Device 558 to the Swedish Armed Forces.
05 May 22. US Army’s budget lacks plan to buy protection system for Bradley vehicles. The U.S. Army late last year was nearly done with required testing to integrate a protection system on its Bradley combat vehicle fleet, but the service still isn’t seeking money to buy the Iron Fist in its next budget. The Army had encountered technical problems and funding gaps in its effort to field the active protection system on the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, the program executive officer for Army ground combat systems, told Defense News in the fall that Iron Fist was nearing completion of the majority of required testing. According to fiscal 2023 budget justification documents, the Army planned to wrap up testing and integration work by the end of FY22, but the documents provided no further timeline or funding.
“We’re essentially reaching the point where we’re just waiting for resources, whether Army- or congressionally provided, to proceed into procurement,” Dean said.
The Bradley Iron Fist Light Decoupled program, or IF-LD, received additional FY22 congressional funding — a total of $16m — to continue a second round of testing and the completion of documentation in support of procuring a single brigade’s worth of IF-LD systems.
“No procurement funds have been identified to procure IF-LD systems at this time,” the Army’s Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems confirmed.
An Army spokesperson also told Defense News in a statement that the service “will review the IF-LD test data and look for opportunities in the future to fund this requirement.”
Iron Fist was developed by IMI Systems. Israeli firm Elbit Systems, which bought IMI, partnered with American company General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems to integrate the system to serve as an interim active protection system for the Bradley.
The system is meant to provide the Bradley with protection from rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank guided missiles and other threats. The Army Requirements Oversight Council in November 2018 opted to field one brigade by the end of the fourth quarter of FY20.
Despite the council’s decision, the Bradley couldn’t supply enough power to the launcher system, and the Iron Fist experienced counter-munitions dudding in testing. Those issues delayed the program by about a year.
In earlier testing, “we had some issues with Iron Fist, mostly maturity issues, and it’s centered around power within the Iron Fist system itself and a problem with the ignition train within the interceptor,” Tim Neaves, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems senior business development director, told Defense News last fall.
Coming out of those tests, Neaves said, the company worked with the Army to find a solution, which included internal investment to continue development and tests. The company has worked on that solution for the last 18 months.
“We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve demonstrated that we have fixed those issues, and we’ve gotten a significant maturity level and performance demonstration within the system,” Neaves said. The system, he explained, was put up against roughly 400 threats including single and dual-warheads, anti-tank guided missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and recoilless rifles.
In 2016, the Army determined it needed an interim active protection system for Abrams tanks, Stryker combat vehicles and Bradley vehicles, and so the service decided to rapidly assess off-the-shelf APS systems to fulfill that urgent need.
The Army has already fielded the Rafael-developed Trophy APS on Abrams tanks. Troops have used those in the European theater for more than a year now.
But the service also ran into problems finding an effective system that would work on the Stryker, and it is yet to decide on a way forward.
Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., recently cited the effective use of Javelin anti-tank guided missile systems against Russian tanks and armored vehicles in Ukraine. “The broad range of affordable, easy-to-operate ATGMs has certainly changed the calculus of armor on the battlefield,” he said May 5 during an Army posture hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“Other countries around the world, some of our allies, have embraced the solution and have been putting it on their armored vehicles in a pretty aggressive way,” Peters said of active protection systems. “The U.S. seems to be somewhat reluctant, with the exception of a small amount of our Abrams tanks that have the systems. Like, the Army doesn’t seem to have a plan to test and field anti-protection systems for the entire fleet of Strykers, for example, or other armored vehicles.”
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth responded that the service is closely watching the war in Ukraine and is “certainly very concerned about threats to our tanks.”
“I think that the protection systems that we have on our Abrams, on our Strykers are quite good,” she said, adding that she’s willing to look into more detail on the Army’s next steps. “There is a balance between how quickly we can modernize some of our enduring platforms, like Stryker, while also modernizing.”
The Army is working on a vehicle protection suite, according to FY23 budget justification documents, that will establish a variety of capabilities through a base kit, or VBK, to “develop configurable vehicle Survivability Sets that will mitigate existing protection gaps, allow for future technology insertion to meet evolving threats, and minimize the impact to the current capabilities hosted on Army ground combat and tactical vehicle platforms.”
The Army held a rodeo with vendors in 2021 for a laser warning capability for the system. It selected Danbury Mission Technologies’ AN/VVR-4 Laser Detecting Set in February. The company was part of Collins Aerospace but was spun-off during the United Technologies Corporation and Raytheon merger.
The laser warning capability is the first of its type to be integrated with the Army’s common interface and controller, which Lockheed Martin is developing after winning a contract in February.
Base kit integration is to take place through FY24 across Bradley, Abrams, Stryker and the Armored Multipurpose Vehicle. A procurement contract award will take place in the second quarter of FY23, according to budget documents.
Survivability improvements will roll into the capability through FY26, with a procurement decision on a way to defend against threats attacking from above — like drones — in the second quarter of FY24, and an integration decision on soft-kill capabilities in the first quarter of FY27, per the documents.
A trade study for the vehicle protection suite is ongoing and is expected to finish mid-FY23, budget documents noted. (Source: Defense News)
04 May 22. USAF destroys target vessel with ship-killing JDAM. The Air Force last week tested its new ship-killing guided bomb by using it to destroy a full-scale target vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. An F-15E Strike Eagle from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida on April 28 released a GBU-31 joint direct attack munition, or JDAM, that had been modified to strike a maritime target, the Air Force said in a release. This is the Air Force Research Laboratory’s second test of this maritime JDAM concept, called the QUICKSINK Joint Capability Technology Demonstration. The first test in August used dummy versions of the weapon to make sure the redesigned weapon could hit different points on a target once released.
It represents a major step forward in the Air Force’s ability to sink a ship. And it comes at a time of increasing concern about the potential for a conflict with a major power with a significant naval force.
The U.S. military is worried about China’s growing military capability and the possibility it could try to launch a swift invasion of the island nation of Taiwan.
And last month, the Ukrainian military sunk the Russian Black Sea Fleet flagship Moskva in a stunning strike with its Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles.
“QUICKSINK is an answer to an urgent need to neutralize maritime threats to freedom around the world,” Col. Tony Meeks, director of AFRL’s munitions directorate, said in the release.
The 2,000-pound GBU-31 JDAM is GPS-guided, but not self-propelled. After being released from an aircraft, the launching plane’s speed and gravity give the JDAM velocity while fins guide it toward its intended target. The maritime version is intended to be able to hit both stationary and moving targets on the water.
In a September 2021 interview with Military.com, Meeks said one of the bomb’s modifications was a redesigned nose plug. This is intended to keep the bomb from veering off in an unintended direction if it hits the water before the target, which Meeks likened to skipping a stone across the surface of a pond.
“What we’re trying to understand is the physics, the dynamics, to prevent a JDAM from skipping off the surface of the water,” Meeks said last September.
The Air Force is hoping this JDAM will give the service a new way to kill ships at a lower cost. Unlike traditional torpedoes launched by submarines, it would not travel under the water’s surface to a target.
“Heavy-weight torpedoes are effective [at sinking large ships] but are expensive and employed by a small portion of naval assets,” Maj. Andrew Swanson, chief of advanced programs for the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron at the 53rd Wing, said in the release. “With QUICKSINK, we have demonstrated a low-cost and more agile solution that has the potential to be employed by the majority of Air Force combat aircraft, providing combatant commanders and warfighters with more options.”
The Air Force also said last year the GBU-31′s GPS guidance system would be a major step up from the older GBU-24′s laser guidance. If a laser-guided bomb were released against a ship, the pilot would have to loiter in the area and continue to illuminate the target with the laser until it strikes. This could put the pilot at risk of being shot down by the targeted ship.
But after releasing a GPS-guided maritime weapon, the pilot could get out of the ship’s range right away. And the GBU-31′s GPS guidance would be able to work in all weather conditions, as opposed to laser-guided weapons, which can have difficulty operating in cloudy environments.
AFRL said its scientists and engineers are using the open systems architecture concept to develop the bomb’s seeker that guides it in to the target. By using open systems architecture, AFRL said, the service will be able to “plug-and-play” components from different manufacturers, which it hopes will keep costs down and improve performance. And any aircraft that can carry a standard JDAM will also be able to carry the modified maritime JDAMs, AFRL said last year. The test was carried out by AFRL and Eglin’s Integrated Test Team. (Source: Defense News)
04 May 22. BAE Systems, Pentagon question reports of howitzer delay for Taiwan. The U.S. government has asked Taiwan to accept a delay in the delivery of mobile artillery systems caused by a production backlog, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry. But instead, the island nation is considering alternatives that it could quickly introduce into service.
However, BAE Systems, which manufactures the M109A6 Paladin, told Defense News it has the capacity to build the systems for Taiwan.
The ministry said the request was to defer initial deliveries of the 155mm self-propelled howitzers to 2026. Deliveries were supposed to start in 2023, with the Taipei Times reporting that Taiwan would take delivery of eight Paladins that year, 16 in 2024 and a similar number in 2025.
The U.S. State Department in late 2021 cleared Taiwan to acquire 40 Paladins as well as associated support vehicles and equipment, in a sale potentially worth up to $750m. Part of that includes nearly 1,700 M1156 precision guidance kits, which converts standard 155mm howitzer shells into satellite-guided shells capable of highly precise artillery attacks.
“BAE Systems is ready to produce and provide M109 Self Propelled Howitzers for Taiwan once a contract has been finalized by the United States Government. Our production capacity can support the needs of the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense without compromising contract commitments with existing customers,” a company spokesperson wrote to Defense News in an email.
The U.S. Army is reducing its planned buy of the Paladin over a three-year period, which makes more room for other orders on the howitzer’s production line. The service plans to buy 79 Paladin howitzers from fiscal 2023 through fiscal 2025, according to recent budget justification documents. That is 54 less than the Army planned to buy across the same time period in its FY21 books, which was the last fiscal year the service released budget numbers across a five-year period.
The Army had planned to buy 16 more howitzers in FY23, 18 more in FY24 and 20 more in FY25, according to the FY21 documents, but the service scaled that back to what appears to be a return to more normal procurement levels of roughly 45 per year in FY26 and FY27 under the FY23 five-year plan.
While some media reports questioned whether the purported delay for Taiwan is due to efforts to supply Ukraine with weapons as it fights off a Russian invasion, Pentagon’s press secretary John Kirby pointed out that security aid is coming from U.S. military stockpiles.
“That is a different method of providing military articles than what is being provided through to Taiwan, and that’s all being done through the State Department,” he said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
05 May 22. Romania will produce missile interceptor SkyCeptor with Raytheon. The Romanian authorities signed, on May 4, a memorandum of understanding between the state company Romarm, its subsidiary Electromecanica Ploiesti and Raytheon Missiles & Defense, under which Electromecanica Ploieşti and Raytheon will manufacture in Romania the SkyCeptor missiles interceptor, the Economy Ministry said.
The SkyCeptor missiles interceptor is a long-range interceptor that has low costs and is developed to defend against ballistic and cruise missiles.
The memorandum is just a first step in developing the long-term strategic partnership between Electromecanica Ploieşti, Romarm and Raytheon, economy minister Florin Spătaru said during the signing ceremony.
“There are a few more steps we need to take so that production can start as soon as possible,” he added.
He explained that the interceptor missiles would be delivered to the domestic and foreign markets.
SkyCeptor is an advanced multi-mission interceptor designed for “plug-and-play” insertion into the Patriot or other air and missile defence systems.
Electromecanica Ploiești factory is focused on armoured, genius and artillery rocket technology. The equipment it produces is mainly military, such as anti-tank missiles, air-to-ground missiles, radio-controlled AA missiles, and partly civil, such as anti-hail missiles.
(Source: News Now/https://www.romania-insider.com/)
03 May 22. Taiwan to seek ‘alternative options’ after delay to Paladin procurement. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) said in a statement on 2 May that its procurement of 155 mm M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) from the United States has been delayed and that it will now seek “alternative options” to meet the capability requirement. A statement by the MND on 2 May said Taiwan’s acquisition of the M109A6 SPH had been impacted by a “crowded” production line. It added, “Other precise and long-range options are currently under careful evaluation.”
The MND did not elaborate but said that following its evaluations of options to replace the M109A6 it will submit to parliament a new budgetary proposal for the procurement.
The state-run Central News Agency (CNA) said the US government had told the MND that current production schedules meant the M109A6 could not be delivered to Taiwan until 2026.
Citing the MND, the CNA also reported that the US had offered to instead supply Taiwan with weapons including Lockheed Martin’s M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). (Source: Janes)
03 May 22. US army considers Israeli-made Firefly loitering mini-drone.
Developed by Rafael, the small Spike-Firefly is designed to be operated by a single soldier.
TEL AVIV: The US army is considering adding an unusual, miniature new drone to its arsenal: the Israeli-made Spike-Firefly.
The drone, which maker Rafael calls a “miniature electro-optical tactical loitering munition,” was among those tested at the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment, which wrapped up last month.
The Army is now analyzing the drone’s performance and is expected to decide soon on whether it’ll buy in.
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Standing about 16 inches tall and weighing less than 5 pounds, the tube-shaped Firefly takes off vertically with coaxial rotor blades and can carry 350 gram warheads. The munition includes an advanced multispectral seeker with both uncooled IR sensor, high-definition CMOS day sensor as well as a proximity sensor allowing the system to detect, identify, track and home on very agile targets, Rafael says. The drone can be used by a single operator, and its interface is designed to be as simple as possible to cut down on cognitive load — perhaps a strong selling point to a military struggling with data overload.
According to Gal Papier, vice president of business development at Rafael USA, during the assessment over a two-day period, seven infantry squads were qualified in operation of the weapon system using inert rounds and an embedded trainer (simulation of operation as part of the Firefly control unit). After training, the Firefly was used in urban area exercises.
As part of the assessment the operators fired an inert firefly munition at a simulated enemy sniper position in an upper floor of a structure.
Maj. Pete Guo, who attened the US army trials, said British soldiers could envision scenarios in which the Firefly and other robotic solutions could save lives.
“Developing this type of technology will potentially allow commanders to place robotics and loiter munitions in harm’s way before committing humans, posing novel dilemmas for our adversaries whilst protecting our soldiers,” he said, particularly in an urban environment.
The Israeli military already uses the Firefly, after reportedly acquiring the weapon in May 2020. Sources said that the IDF has used it in operations against terrorists firing at IDF soldiers from buildings.
As for the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment, 2022 marked the 18th year for the exercise, conducted annually at Fort Benning in Georgia. It’s designed now to “inform” Project Convergence, the Army’s sprawling contribution to the Pentagon’s Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) effort. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
04 May 22. India completes validation trials of ATAGS gun system. India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has concluded validation trials of the indigenously developed 155 mm/52-calibre Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) for the Indian Army.
Co-developer of the gun system, Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), said in a tweet that ‘Preliminary Service Quality Requirements’ (PSQR) evaluations of the ATAGS were conducted on 2 May.
The DRDO said the PSQR trials were held at its Pokhran field firing ranges in Rajasthan, northern India, from April 26 to May 2. According to both the DRDO and TASL, the trials were successful at proving the reliability and performance of the gun system.
An official from the DRDO was quoted by The Hindu newspaper as saying that further trials of the ATAGS are scheduled for May – for electromagnetic compatibility and for the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) Directorate General of Quality Assurance – before possible issuance of a request for proposal (RFP) document later this year. (Source: Janes)
02 May 22. How Well Do the US Army’s New Guns Perform? That’s Classified, But Soldiers Will Carry More Weight, Less Ammo. The new guns and ammunition the Army just married and is expected to issue to combat arms units within the next decade will require soldiers to carry an even heavier load.
But information on how those weapons should outperform the guns they’re replacing — the justification for troops to shoulder extra weight on top of mountains of gear already injuring soldiers — is classified.
In April, the Army announced that Sig Sauer will produce replacements for the M4 rifle and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, or SAW, starting with a trial run of about 40 new guns late next year. Production is expected to ramp up when the Army opens a new ammo plant to produce the new 6.8mm rounds for those weapons around 2026.
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Army officials have touted that the new XM5, the M4’s replacement, and XM250, set to replace the SAW, pack a much harder punch and will improve the combat performance of ground troops. But thus far, the service has declined to disclose evidence that those weapons outperform the M4 and SAW, including how far they can shoot accurately. And it’s unclear whether the Army has verified the ranges at which those new weapons can engage an enemy before committing to a multim-dollar contract.
“During the prototyping phase of the program, the [weapons] demonstrated the ability to significantly outperform the M4A1 and M249 with lethal effects at all ranges,” Lt. Col. Brandon Kelley said in a statement. “Following production qualification testing and operational testing, the Army will establish and validate the maximum effective ranges.”
Prototyping and the Army’s selection of which vendor would supply its new weapons took only 27 months. For comparison, the service spent more than a decade developing its new fitness test.
A spokesperson for Sig Sauer declined to comment, directing Military.com to the Defense Department regarding questions on its weapons.
Information on the maximum distances other Army weapons can engage targets is no secret; it’s one of the first things a new recruit learns and is easily searchable online. According to Kelley, the new weapons’ capabilities eventually will be disclosed, but there is no clear timetable.
The M4, the Army’s current standard-issue rifle used in the post-9/11 wars, can effectively engage targets at 500 meters. The SAW can suppress targets at around 800 meters.
For comparison, the standard-issue rifle for the Chinese military is the QBZ-95, which has a maximum effective range of 400 meters for a target.
Those distances are critical for troops to be able to confront an enemy force accurately, and anything less could alter U.S. soldiers’ effectiveness and even require changes to tactics. An Army report in 2009 on U.S. troops’ performance in ground combat in Afghanistan found that the average gunfight was well beyond 300 meters and that any training or equipment not built for at least 500 meters would be “inappropriate.”
But holding those details close to the chest before weapons are distributed to the force might be done out of fear of the Chinese government getting a sneak peek at the new guns.
“You don’t want the Chinese getting it,” Kelley told Military.com. “They steal tech all the time. Let’s get ahead while we can.”
The plan is for the new weapons to be issued only to troops in combat arms units, such as infantrymen and cavalry scouts. The Army plans to buy 107,000 XM5s and 13,000 XM250s for active-duty soldiers and National Guardsmen. But that total purchase could take the rest of the decade. Eventually, the XM5 will be renamed the M5, and the XM250 will be designated the M250.
Yet when soldiers eventually get those new guns, they will carry significantly less ammunition, given the 6.8mm is much heavier than the 5.56mm rounds the M4 and SAW use. The idea is those heavier rounds will be more effective against body armor and light vehicles. However, the Army has not disclosed any evidence on that being the case.
The XM5 weighs 8.38 pounds, or 9.84 pounds with the suppressor, much heavier than the 6.34-pound M4. That new rifle will also use 20-round magazines, smaller than the 30-round magazines troops currently use. A soldier’s basic combat load will be seven of those 20-round magazines, a total of 140 rounds, weighing 9.8 pounds altogether.
The M4’s combat load, also seven magazines for a total of 210 rounds, is 7.4 pounds. In total, a rifleman with the XM5 will carry roughly four pounds more than today’s M4 rifleman.
“Hopefully, these are worth the bang for the buck,” one Army infantry sergeant major told Military.com on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press on the subject. “Asking [soldiers] to carry anything more than they already do, and having less ammo, that is a hard pitch.”
How ground troops pack is meticulously planned, with even an extra single ounce taken into account as their total load has ballooned in recent decades. Soldiers often carry between 30 and 80 pounds, or possibly more depending on the mission, lugging around batteries, radios, water, food, protective gear and grenades.
“Soldiers will carry less ammunition, but the performance of that ammunition provides an increase in lethality, accuracy and range across a broader range of targets,” Kelley added in a statement.
The XM250, however, weighs less, at 14.5 pounds, than the SAW, which weighs 19.2 pounds. That XM250 weight includes its bipod and suppressor.
But like the new rifle, light machine gunners will still carry that heavier 6.8mm ammo, and less of it. That could be a challenge, given a SAW gunner’s job is to fire a lot of rounds, quickly, to suppress enemy movement.
A soldier with an XM250 will carry a basic load of four 100-round pouches of ammo, weighing 27.1 pounds. SAW gunners carry three, 200-round pouches, weighing 20.8 pounds.
In total, future light machine gunners will carry 200 fewer rounds of ammunition and about one extra pound when accounting for the weapon and its ammo. It is unclear what the spare barrels for the XM250 weigh. (Source: Military.com)