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18 Jun 21. Rafael networks Python-5 short-range air-to-air missile with Global Link SDR. The Python-5 air-to-air missile mounted on the external stores of an Israel Air Force F-16I multirole combat aircraft. (Rafael Advanced Defense Systems)
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has enhanced its fifth-generation Python-5 short-range air-to-air missile (AAM) with a networked capability, enabling it to acquire targets in a tactical air-to-air environment from associate aircraft equipped with the company’s Global Link software-defined radio (SDR) system.
Based on Rafael’s proprietary BNET technology, Global Link is an advanced airborne multiband (VHF/UHF+L) high-automation IP MANET (mobile ad hoc network) SDR, designed to augment the exchange of secure information between modern fighter aircraft in tactical operations. MANET is a multihop, self-configuring, and autonomous network that uses intermediate mobile nodes as a router and transmits data between mobile devices.
Using Multi-Channel Reception (MCR) technology, Global Link simultaneously supports legacy (AM/FM) communication and advanced MANET waveforms with high-capacity data, digital voice, video, and automatic multiple relays to create a tactical network between fast-jets that not only delivers enhanced airborne situational awareness but also provides an uplink to Rafael’s Python-5 and other AAMs.
As a consequence, a modern fighter aircraft equipped with Global Link is able to launch a Python-5 AAM towards a target that is derived from the tactical network and not from its own radar, Yaniv Rotem, Marketing and Business Development director, Air-to-Air Missiles, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, told Janes. According to Rotem, no additional transceiver is required to be installed on the aircraft because the same SDR enables the uplink functions to the missile. (Source: Jane’s)
16 Jun 21. Russian Helicopters details Ka-52K shipborne rotorcraft. Rostec’s Russian Helicopters detailed its newest Kamov Ka-52K Katran, the first Russian shipborne helicopter, during an 11 June presentation.
The Ka-52K has a maximum take-off weight of 12,200 kg, being heavier by around 1,400 kg compared with the Ka-52 due to a more robust ‘marinised’ structure, the company said.
It carries a payload of 2,000kg, or 500kg less than the baseline rotorcraft. The Ka-52K is 13,900 mm long, 6,303mm wide, and 5,100mm high. The diameter of its co-axial main rotor reaches 14,500mm. Powered by two Klimov VK-2500/VK-2500P turboshaft engines with a power output of 2,500 hp each, the helicopter provides a top speed of 290 kmph, a cruise speed of 250 kmph, and a top climbing rate of 14 m/s. The Ka-52K also has a static ceiling of 3,600 m and a dynamic ceiling of 5,200 m. The rotorcraft can withstand a short-time overload of up to 2.5 g, according to Russian Helicopters.
Unlike the Ka-52 Hokum-B, the Ka-52K is fitted with two folding stub wings with two hardpoints for various weapons. Its co-axial main rotor has two propellers with three folding blades; it also carries a short-range radio-technical navigation system. The rotorcraft’s electronic protection is provided by the President-S system.
The Ka-52Ks are armed with a Shipunov 2A42-1 30 mm automatic cannon with an ammunition load of 460 rounds. The platform can carry up to 80 S-8-family rockets in four 20-cell pods. The helicopter’s guided missile armament comprises up to 12 9M120-1/9M120-1F Ataka AT-9 Spiral-2 or up to 12 9A-4172K Vikhr-1 AT-16 Scallion weapons. The missiles are mounted in two six-cell vertical (Ataka) or horizontal (Vikhr-1) pods. (Source: Jane’s)
16 June 21. US Army fires autonomous launcher in Pacific-focused demo. The U.S. Army fired an autonomous launcher in a June 16 demonstration at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, focused on how it might be deployed to take out enemy ships and other defensive systems in multidomain operations in the Indo-Pacific theater.
A concept video shows C-130 transport aircraft landing on a strip in an island in the Pacific Ocean. The Autonomous Multidomain Launcher, or AML, comes off the C-130′s ramp while a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, drives out of the other aircraft. The two launchers deploy as a manned-unmanned team to strategic points on the island. One launcher fires a simulated Precision Strike Missile, or PrSM — the future Army Tactical Missile System replacement — to hit an enemy ship detected in the nearby ocean. The other fires an extended-range version of PrSM to take out an air defense system located on an enemy-occupied island.
Once the missiles destroy their targets, the launchers head back to the bellies of the C-130 and the aircraft takes off while U.S. fighter jets deploy during the window of opportunity created by the destruction of those enemy targets.
In the demonstration, according to Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, who is in charge of the Army’s long-range precision fires modernization effort, the AML repeated the process and subsequently deployed to two other islands following the first scenario.
The 1.25-hour mission was led by soldiers from the HIMARS platoon in the18th Field Artillery Brigade based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Overall, the Army fired seven rockets simulating the PrSM’s future range capability from roughly 500 kilometers to well over that distance, and the service also demonstrated a shorter-range rocket capability in the third island scenario to reflect a more tactical fight in support of divisions and corps, Rafferty told reporters in a phone call directly after the demonstration.
The AML is an adapted HIMARS with technology to include leader-follower autonomy, autonomous waypoint navigation and drive-by-wire capability.
The science and technology effort came together several years ago when the Long-Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team within Army Futures Command joined up with the service’s Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Aviation and Missile Center and Ground Vehicle Systems Center to develop the prototype launcher.
The AML is equipped with a remote launcher turret and fire control system that enables compatibility with current munitions like the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System and future weapons like PrSM.
The demonstration showed the soldiers trying it out that the autonomous launcher could help them pass off current activities within operations that are dangerous or that can’t be done with systems today.
Feedback showed soldiers felt the capability could keep them in the fight longer and offered more protection and increased lethality such as a deeper magazine since the cab of the HIMARS can be replaced to accommodate more munitions.
“You can have all kinds of different configurations of missiles depending on what kind of fight you want to go into,” Jeffrey Langhout, the Aviation and Missile Center director, said during the call with reporters. “Easily one of the biggest things it does is it just physically gives us more room without having to go spend gazillions of dollars to buy a whole new launcher. It enables us to kind of use what we have and do some minor modifications to it, which gives us options moving forward on however the Army chooses to move forward with the missile fleet.”
That could include using missiles from other services, Langhout noted, and integrating those into the launcher as well.
The program also uses technology efforts already under development within the Army such as the robotic technology kernel that will be used in future robotic combat vehicle capability, other mature technology-enabling leader-follower autonomy and the war-fighter machine interface.
The effort has cost roughly $10m so far — some of which came through congressional plus-ups — to create the prototype and demonstrate its capability, Rafferty said.
The Army has yet to decide whether an autonomous launcher will be a part of the future force, but the demonstration marks a starting point. Rafferty said the Army will continue to work with the operational force in the Indo-Pacific theater to develop the concept, and the service will continue to mature the technology.
The service received approval to move forward on a Joint Capabilities Technology Demonstration and will partner with the Indo-Pacific combatant command and the Aviation and Missile Center to explore the capability through early prototyping and participation in robust operational exercises in theater over the next several years.
The Army will also spend the next year, according to Rafferty, working on a transition agreement with the acquisition side of the house to develop what might eventually become a program of record. “We’re not there yet. It’s still pretty early in the [science and technology], and this concept development was really to show our acquisition partners and AFC leadership what we think we could do and what could be.”
(Source: Defense News)
15 June 21. USAF finalises Ground Based Strategic Deterrent Test EA/OEA. The GBSD programme is aimed at modernising the ageing US land-based ICBM Minuteman III system.
The US Air Force (USAF) has finalised the environmental assessment/overseas environmental assessment (EA/OEA) for the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) test programme.
The service has also signed the ‘Mitigated Finding of No Significant Impact’.
According to the Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), the GBSD programme is the replacement for the ageing US land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) LGM-30 Minuteman III system.
Built by Boeing, the LGM-30 Minuteman III ICBM is used by the USAF Combat Command.
It is a vital component of the US strategic deterrent forces. The inventory is controlled by the Air Force Global Strike Command.
The USAF plans to modernise the ‘land-based leg of the nuclear triad, recapitalising its ICBM fleet’.
It also plans to upgrade the weapon system technology, supporting infrastructure, as well as command and control functions of ICBM.
AFGSC noted that the test programme-related actions would occur primarily at Hill Air Force Base (AFB) in Utah, and at Vandenberg AFB in California.
These tests will include conducting missile launches from Vandenberg AFB with flights over the Pacific Ocean in the Western Test Range.
Other test support activities would also take place at US Army Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.
AFGSC in a statement said: “The environmental assessment also includes analysis of the proposed GBSD Formal Training Unit/Schoolhouse at Vandenberg AFB.
“The GBSD and Minuteman III test demonstrations are proposed to occur at US Army Garrison–Kwajalein Atoll and within the Republic of the Marshall Islands territorial waters.
“The analysis of overseas environmental impacts is also included in the assessment. Test activities would comply with the US Army Kwajalein Atoll environmental standards.”
In February, the USAF released the draft GBSD test programme environmental assessment. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
16 June 21. NP Aerospace Awarded NIJ Certification for New Bomb Disposal Suit. NP Aerospace has announced that its new 4030 ELITE Bomb Disposal Suit has been certified to NIJ 0117.01, the US National Institute of Justice Public Safety Bomb Suit standard, by the Safety Equipment Institute.
The official report was received this week after an intensive 18 month development and testing program – opening up opportunities to sell the suit in the US and other global markets requiring NIJ certification. NP Aerospace is one of only two manufacturers in the world to have been awarded this level of certification on a bomb disposal suit.
James Kempston, CEO, NP Aerospace: “NP Aerospace Bomb Disposal Suits are world leading in blast mitigation, survivability and overall comfort and ergonomics. Adding NIJ certification to an already world leading product is a significant accolade for our business and our overall EOD product line. As a global armor manufacturer with over 40 years’ experience in ballistic protection we are well versed in complex testing programs, however reaching this milestone in just 18 months is a major achievement. Users who require NIJ certified Bomb Disposal Suits now have the choice for a highly comfortable, ergonomic option with best in class survivability.”
The 4030 ELITE suit is now part of several program tenders – attracting significant interest from defense and law enforcement organizations. Users at recent US EOD events have commented on the suit’s flexibility and fit at a low weight, advanced blast protection and ability to configure the base suit with a wide range of accessories. Communications, cooling and CBRN systems can be easily added to the suit without costly system upgrades.
EOD and Tactical Search suits are part of the NP Aerospace high-performance defense systems range which includes Ballistic Helmets, Shields, Body Armor Plates and Composite Armor for vehicles, vessels or aircraft.
15 June 21. US Army to fund extended-range Precision Strike Missile starting in FY22. The Army wants to fund ways to extend the range of its Precision Strike Missile – which is still under development – out to 1,000 kilometers or more in fiscal 2022, according to documents accompanying the service’s budget request.
The service wants to spend $5m to begin the effort that will investigate and develop “critical technologies” that would extend the range of the PrSM capability while increasing its survivability, the documents said.
While a timeline is not outlined, this is the first funding the Army would receive to pursue such a project.
The Lockheed Martin-developed PrSM missile has had four flight tests as part of the program so far and broke a range record in May – flying out to 400 kilometers or roughly 250 miles.
The missile is a priority program for the Army and is intended to replace the Army Tactical Missile System to play an important role in the service’s future deep-strike capability.
While PrSM was developed to fire out to 499 kilometers, the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty has spurred a drive to enhance the missile’s range capability. The INF Treaty prevented the development of missiles that ranged between 499 and 5,000 kilometers.
The Army now plans to see how much farther it can fire PrSM in a test planned for August this year out at Vandenberg Air Base, California.
While the Army is planning to initially field the capability in 2023, it will incrementally add more capability including an enhanced seeker, increased lethality and extended range. The priority for PrSM in the nearer term is to pursue a maritime, ship-killing capability as well as enhanced lethality.
Lockheed expects the service to make a decision on whether to go into the engineering and manufacturing development phase this summer, possibly as soon as this month, and hopes to be awarded a contract for that phase as well as an early operational capability set of missiles in the third or fourth quarters of FY21.
And while the Army launches its effort to extend the range of the PrSM missile, it is rapidly acquiring a smaller number of medium-range missile to fill the gap between PrSM’s current capability and hypersonic missile ranges.
According to budget documents, the Army plans to buy 110 PrSM missiles for a total of $166.3m in FY22, should it have a favorable decision this year to move forward.
The Army is also requesting $188.5m in research and development dollars for PrSM that would support the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the program and the integration of the Land-Based Anti-Ship Missile (LBASM) seeker.
The service had originally planned in its FY21 budget to spend $145.6m in FY22, but gave it a boost this year in order to cover the new development costs associated with adding the seeker capability, according to the budget documents.
The technology maturation and risk reduction phase of the program will wrap up halfway through FY22 while the EMD phase will pick up in the last quarter of FY21, according to budget documents.
The initial operational test and evaluation for PrSM appears to have slipped from the end of FY24 to the first half of FY25 followed by a full-rate production decision in the third quarter of that fiscal year, according to a comparison of budget documents from FY21 and FY22. In FY21 budget documents, the Army had planned to make a full-rate production decision by the end of FY24.
PrSM will reach initial operational capability in the fourth quarter of FY25. It is unclear from the documents why the schedule is delayed. (Source: Defense News)
14 June 21. US Army sets timeline to design new long-range weapon. The U.S. Army is launching a new effort in fiscal 2022 to design and develop a long-range precision munition for its future aircraft and will choose industry-born designs to move forward into a roughly five-year development program in fiscal 2023, according to FY22 budget documents.
The service is requesting $29.2m to ramp up the development effort while it fields its interim solution — Israeli company Rafael’s Spike non-line-of-sight missile — that will deliver long-range lethality to the current fleet. Spike has a 30-kilometer range and was extensively demonstrated on foreign and U.S.-owned AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.
Long-range munitions for the service’s future aircraft will be critical to engage the enemy’s defensive positions from a comfortable standoff — or out of range of enemy detection.
“Army aviation requires a Long Range Precision Munition (LRPM) that is integrated with the firing platform that can provide leap ahead capability in the penetration and dis-integration phases of Joint All Domain Operations,” the budget documents stated. “LRPM will provide Army aviation with an improved long range munition system that can rapidly respond in a combat environment in order to improve the survivability of the warfighters and weapon systems, including aviation platforms in an [anti-access, area-denial] A2AD and positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) denied environment.”
The funding in FY22 will set up a demonstration and validation of munition systems “with capability to complete the assigned mission in environments that could include cyber-attack, countermeasures, counter precision guided munition systems and anti-access area denial environment,” the documents noted.
The Army plans to conduct technical assessments, concept studies and risk-reduction efforts as well as technology maturation, engineering design and development, and prototype hardware testing and integration in the first several years of the program.
The service will conduct a shoot-off in the fourth quarter of FY22 with selected vendors. The designs will inform the LRPM capability development document.
After the shoot-off ends, the service will select “one or more vendors” to refine, mature and qualify the munition in the fourth quarter of FY23.
The munition’s development phase will last until the third quarter of FY28, according to budget documents. The Army does not lay out the schedule farther than the development phase in the documents reviewed.
In the meantime, the Army plans to buy 179 Spike NLOS missiles in FY22 for $44.7m. The service bought 170 of the missiles in FY21 for $38.1m.
The procurement plan for Spike beyond FY22 is unknown based on the available budget documentation from both FY21 and FY22. The Army did not supply its five-year budget plan with the release of its FY22 budget request and will not release another five-year plan until the FY23 budget request comes out. (Source: Defense News)
10 June 21. ECA GROUP today announces the fulfilment of the first milestone within the modernisation programme of three mine countermeasures vessels belonging to the Latvian Navy, eight months after winning the contract for the modernisation of the Navy’s MCM capabilities. This first milestone consists of disassembling the legacy equipment of mine countermeasures vessels. Following this successful phase, and the Critical Design Review of ship architecture, teams will begin installing the new, upgraded equipment in October 2021.
ECA GROUP will install and configure its UMIS Unmanned Mine Countermeasures Integrated System on the three vessels. The UMIS Toolbox is a comprehensive suite of state-of-the-art technology for unmanned, mine clearance operations, while removing the need for the ship to enter the minefield (stand-off concept). For the Latvian Navy, ECA GROUP will replace the vessels’ conventional mine detection systems based on a hull sonar with a more compact, mobile and evolutive unmanned system UMIS, consisting of AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) A18-M drones fitted with the latest generation ECA GROUP synthetic aperture sonar UMISAS for detection, and several underwater robots, the Seascan MK2 and K-STER C for mines identification and neutralisation. The new Ultra Short Baseline positioning system installed in place of hull sonar enables not only tracking but also acoustic communication, replacing the previous acoustic modem which had to be launched from the deck.
ECA GROUP will modify the vessels to accommodate the new equipment with the support of its subsidiary MAURIC, specialised in naval architecture, and Latvian industrial partners, in order to install these new generation mine countermeasures systems. Several Latvian companies have been consulted for the supply of equipment and coordination of on-site activities and works. Other Latvian companies will also be consulted for procurement of racks, trolleys, launch and recovery systems of drones. MAURIC will make a valuable contribution in ensuring the operability of the equipment installed on board, guaranteeing enhanced performance of the ships following their upgrades.
An integral part of the upgrade by ECA GROUP and MAURIC will be the complete renewal of the Combat Room to integrate cabinets and consoles necessary for operating the new navigation systems (WECDIS, USBL positioning system and Inertial Navigation System by iXblue), new Autopilot (by SIREHNA), and ECA Group’s UMISOFT software suite for Mission Management, Data Management and Drone Control. A new Iridium and Wi-Fi antenna will be installed on each ship for communicating with the A18-M drone at the surface.
Naval forces around the world are faced with economic restrictions and the need to rationalise resources whilst enhancing their capabilities in order to fulfil their increasingly challenging missions of fighting threats and protecting populations. By upgrading mine warfare equipment on existing vessels, ECA GROUP brings state of the art capabilities to navies while enabling them to prolong the life of their fleet already in service. (In the case of the Latvian Navy, they had acquired their vessels from the Royal Netherlands Navy in 2006.) The UMIS Toolbox can also be installed on other models of conventional mine countermeasures vessels or on ships that are not used for mine countermeasures.
ECA GROUP offers this modernisation solution to all navies that intend to keep and optimise their conventional mine countermeasure vessels or consider the acquisition of pre-owned vessels.
Arnold Defense has manufactured more than 1.25 million 2.75-inch rocket launchers since 1961 for the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and many NATO customers. They are the world’s largest supplier of rocket launchers for military aircraft, vessels and vehicles. Core products include the 7-round M260 and 19-round M261 commonly used by helicopters; the thermal coated 7-round LAU-68 variants and LAU-61 Digital Rocket Launcher used by the U.S. Navy and Marines; and the 7-round LAU-131 and SUU-25 flare dispenser used by the U.S. Air Force and worldwide.
Today’s rocket launchers now include the ultra-light LWL-12 that weighs just over 60 pounds (27 kg.) empty and the new Fletcher (4) round launcher. Arnold Defense designs and manufactures various rocket launchers that can be customized for any capacity or form factor for platforms in the air, on the ground or even at sea.
Arnold Defense maintains the highest standards of production quality by using extensive testing, calibration and inspection processes.