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22 Jul 21. India’s DRDO tests Akash-NG and Man Portable Anti-tank Guided Missile. The flight tests of both the missiles were conducted on 21 July.
The Akash-NG missile has been successfully tested at DRDO’s integrated test range (ITR) in Chandipur, Odisha, India. Credit: Ministry of Defence/Press Information Bureau/Government of India.
India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has conducted the flight tests of Man Portable Antitank Guided Missile (MPATGM) and the New Generation Akash Missile (Akash-NG).
Both missiles were launched on 21 July. Akash-NG was fired from DRDO’s integrated test range (ITR) in Chandipur, Odisha, India.
It was conducted from a land-based platform with all weapon system elements, including multifunction radar, command, control, and communication (C3) system and a launcher.
To capture flight data, ITR centre deployed several Range stations such as, electro-optical tracking system (EOTS), radar and telemetry systems.
The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) noted that the weapon system showcased high manoeuvrability needed for neutralising aerial threats.
Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) also took part in the test trials.
Akash was developed by DRDO as part of the integrated guided-missile development programme (IGMDP). The missile was introduced into the Indian Army as a short-range surface-to-air missile (SRSAM).
The missile will be a major boost to the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) air defence capabilities.
Separately, the indigenously developed low weight, fire and forget MPATGM was launched from a troop-portable launcher integrated with a thermal site.
This missile hit a mimicking tank target in direct attack mode and destroyed it.
The test, which met all mission objectives, validated the minimum range of the missile. MPATGM features a miniaturised infrared imaging seeker and advanced avionics. Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has congratulated DRDO and the industry for both the successful flight tests. (Source: army-technology.com)
29 Mar 21. US Army Demonstrates Auto-loading Artillery. The US Army’s Picatinny Armaments Center recently highlighted its progress toward developing automated loading for its self-propelled howitzers. These efforts are receiving increased attention as a part of the Extended Range Artillery Cannon (ERCA) project a key component of the Long Range Precision Fires a priority initiative in the Army’s modernization.
The lethality and operational benefits of auto-loaded self-propelled howitzers has been well established in its field use in the German PzH2000, Russian 2S19 “Msta-S”, and Swedish Archer. ERCA XM1299E1 auto-loading integration on to the M109A7 requires not simply new ammunition handling but also a new breech, gun positioning, and ammunition and fuse selection and setting. Achieving a rate of fire of 7 rounds per minute has been demonstrated in Army evaluations, though these employed a limited capacity loader. The next step for the ERCA Integration Team is preparing a full-capacity autoloader and optimized turret system for two demonstrations planned for 2021. These will further validate autoloader technologies and increased rates of fire.
Mr. Josiah Fay, Armaments Center Project Officer for ERCA, explained ERCA from the turret bearing up is a 100-percent Armaments Center-developed system. The armament and munitions have been thought about and innovation applied to them by the engineers at the Armaments Center for the XM1299, which gets’ you the range, and XM1299E1, which gets you the rate of fire capability.
A major challenge is having the ability to load and manage the range of legacy and emerging fuses, propellant charges and projectiles of different shapes, sizes, and weights to execute a fire mission.
In addition, ideally the auto-loader technology should also be able to be applied to the other M109A7 155mm 39 caliber self-propelled howitzers that make up the vast majority of the fielded inventory. (Source: Armada)
20 Mar 21. Higher Caliber. Western manufacturers are now seeing increasingly successful small arms designs emerging from Asia.
The weapon carried by every soldier not only impacts on their effectiveness in combat but also makes a statement becoming a part of the overall identity of a country’s military. The selection of that weapon can also be a matter of national pride with the development, production and fielding of an indigenous design to equip one’s military. There is also a constant push to stay current with the latest technology and weapon design trends. In addition, the level of modernisation of a country’s individual weapons can be viewed as a reflection of the efficiency and indication of the combat capabilities of its military. As a result, a significant attention can given to the arming of the soldier, as well as to the procurement or local development of state-of-the-art modern weapons. This trend has been equally true by nations in the Asian-Pacific region with a number of these designing and fielding their own world class weapons. The region is today not only a market for advanced weapons but an exporter of individual arms in their own right.
Given the national prestige associated with having local small arms and the specific requirements of military it is not surprising that some facilities are government supported and even government owned or affiliated. Yet, many of their designs have come to reflect state-of-the art designs utilising current material technologies. Their configurations reflect and draw upon the latest trends and design approaches including the bullpup, AR, AK, SCAR, as well as combinations of various proven features. Rather than replicating other weapon designs these are often incorporated into their own well- thought-out innovative features. The ability of these facilities to manufacture and offer their weapons at highly competitive prices has positioned them as an attractive weapon source for many world armies.
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) enjoy the continued support of ST Engineering in addressing many of its needs. This has been particularly the case with its small arms. The company began with license production of the M16, referred to as the M16S1, as well as the SAR80 which was licensed for export. However, around 1995 the company began its own development. The resulting SAR-21 (Singapore Assault Rifle – 21st Century) was fielded by its army in 1999 and remains in service. The SAR-21 is a bullpup design utilising 5.56×45 caliber with a Stoner operating system, a high impact polymer body, and translucent magazine. It is compact at 805mm (31.7 inch) length in the assault rifle version and 640mm (25.2in) in the carbine facilitating its handling in tight situations such as urban areas, jungles and inside vehicles. The original design incorporated an integral 1.5 power optical sight (or 3x) and battery powered laser aiming device, but it has subsequently been provided with a Picatinny mounting rail. A lighter 3.2 kilogram (7lb) SAR-21A model was introduced in 2006. In addition to the SAF, the SAR21 has been adopted by seven militaries especially special forces units.
In 2018 ST Engineering debuted the production design of its BMCR (Bull-pup Multirole Combat Rifle) subsequently designated the BR18, developed to replace the SAR21. A company spokesperson shared, “BM18 builds off the SAR21incorporating lessons learned and user inputs on the earlier weapon.” The receiver incorporates both an upper and lower Picatinny Rail, with the later able to mount a forward grip while the transparent magazine is retained. Overall, the weapon is an even more compact package with the assault model having a length of only 640mm (25in) and 2.9kg (6lb) weight. These characteristics make the BR18 a suitable choice for infantry, mechanised troops, paratroopers, or Special Forces without need for significant modifications.
PT Pindad (Perindustrian Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Darat (Indonesian Army Industries) has been manufacturing weapons since 1808 and began the licensed production of the FN FNC rifle which was adopted by the Indonesian military in 1994 as the SS1. A number of variants of the 5.56mm rifle have been designed and fielded including the SS1-V5 with a 252mm barrel, 3.37kg (7.4lb) weight and foldable butt for use by artillery, rear-echelon troops and special forces. The M Versions are used by the Indonesian Marine Corps with a special coating process to protect against salt water corrosion. In 2005 the company introduced its SS2 which improves on the SS1 design. It includes a folding stock and Picatinny Rail and like the SS1 is offered in a number of variants.
The Australian Army adopted the Steyr Mannlicher bullpup style F88 Austeyr assault rifle manufactured under license by Thales Australia. Their rifles, as well as those of the New Zealand Army which also use the F88, have a 1:7 twist rifling optimised for firing the NATO 5.56mm SS109 round. The last variant, the F88SA2, can be fitted with different sights including the standard 1.5x ring-sight, the Advanced Combat Optic Gunsight (ACOG) or night weapon sights, as well as laser aiming devices and other accessories that attach to a Picatinny rail. The assault rifle version weights 4.8kg (10.5lb) with a full 30 round magazine and has an overall length of 790mm (31.6in) but is also available in a shorter close-quarters battle (CQB) carbine, longer barrel marksman, and heavy barrel automatic weapon versions.
In 2015 the Ministry of Defence awarded a contract to Thales for the Enhanced F88 (EF88) also offered for export as the F90. EF88 incorporates a number of improvements including a folding cocking handle, modified hammer to improve reliability, extended ejection port and improved port covers, upgraded gas plug adjustment, bolt release catch and a modified trigger guard grip access. Of immediate notice is the elimination of the integrated optic sight from the original F88. Instead, extended Picatinny rails allowing for the use of various optics, laser aimers, and the mounting of a grenade launcher. The EF88 is being fielded by the Australian Army in both the standard assault rifle and CQB versions. The F88 is used by 30 militaries including Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and elements in the Philippines.
The Australian forces chose to improved its existing bullpup style F88 Austeyr assault rifle manufactured by Thales Australia. The EF88 has higher reliability, better ergonomic and the elimination of the integrated optic sight for a extended Picatinny rails.
Japan has been manufacturing its own individual weapons since the formation of the Japanese Self Defense Forces. Following the U.S. move from 7.62mm to 5.56mm the Defense Agency followed suit and selected Howa, which had the license for the Armlite AR-18, to design a new rifle to replace the Type 64. This was the Type 89 assault rifle which uses standard magazines and has a selector for semi-auto, three-shot burst, and full automatic firing. In 2015 the Defense Agency began evaluating rifles to replace the Type 89 and in August 2020 announced its selection of the Howa Type 20. It is 780mm (30.7in) long and weighs 3.5kg (7.7lbs). It is ambidextrous with controls on both sides of the rifle and the charging handle can be swapped. The weapon has a full-length Picatinny top rail and an MLOK fore-end, with MLOCK slots. Special coatings have been applied to counter salt and corrosion. The Type 20 has been viewed with a DECON 1×8 power variable scope optic and has metal back-up iron sights. There is a forward grip and a an adjustable telescoping stock. The rifle can mount the Beretta GLX-160 grenade launcher. It is understood that the Type 20 will be issued first to those in the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade on the Nansei Islands.
Republic of Korea
Taking a path similar to other countries in the region the Republic of Korea chose to develop and manufacture its own combat rifle drawing from a proven operating system, in this case that of the Stoner AR-18. The resulting K2 is manufactured by S&T Motiv (formerly Daewoo) and was introduced in 1984. Its gas operation was slightly modified based on the AKM to increase reliability while the weapon also employs a stamped and welded sheet steel construction thereby simplifying manufacturing. The weapons 970mm (38.8in) length is reduced to 780 mm (31.5 in) with its folding. It is designed for selective fire and is chambered for NATO 5.56x45mm ammunition using the standard 30 round magazine. Over the years the K2 has been updated and improved with the K2A having a different foregrip and a full-length Picatinny rail that accepts various optics and accessories without blocking its iron sights. There is also a shorten carbine version, the K2C. The K2 has been accepted by Bangladesh, Fiji, Indonesia, Lebanon, Nigeria, Peru and Senegal.
Early in 2020 S&T Motiv and Poongsan, the largest ammunition producer, announced that they are together developing a new generation assault rifle using a new 6.8mm ammunition. According to Hong Hui-beom, of the Korean magazine Platoon, the objective is to achieve increased accuracy, longer 500m plus range and better penetration than the current 5.56mm. S&T have suggested their intent is to have a prototype within 24 months although the Korean Army has yet to layout its plans for a new rifle.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
In line with many other countries that were within the sphere of the former Soviet Union, North Korea adopted the AK-47, the AKM and finally the AK-74 which they began to manufacture. These models were given a local Type designation with the later renamed the Type 88. They further introduced their own modifications to the weapons. The helical ammunition magazines were first seen in 2010. Much larger the standard 30-round ‘banana’ magazines, it is estimated that these hold between 100 and 150 rounds. Their use increases the loaded weapon weight from 3kg (6.6lb) to around 5kg (11lb), a significant load to carry. However, this large capacity magazine might well have a particular application by allowing sustained fires without having to change magazines. Thus, a single soldier using the AK-74 with a helical magazine could by himself provide suppressive fires in support of a unit’s manouvere. Given the scale of North Korea’s previous rifle production – as high as 150,000 annually – the country is a major player in the small arms.
The Combined Logistics Command of the Republic of China Armed Forces has developed individual weapons since 1976. The first in the 5.56 caliber was the T65 patterned after the Armalite AR-18. However, the design sought to improve the AR by utilising a short stroke gas piston thereby improving the rifle’s reliability. T65 resembles the U.S. M16 with a sight block instead of a carrying handle although the carrying handle returned in the T65K2 improved model. A carbine version like the M4 is also fielded. The T65 has proved popular in Central America and is fielded in seven countries.
In 1998 the development of the T86 Combat Rifle was completed as a replacement for the T65. The T86 further improves on the T65K2 and features an M4 carbine style polymer telescopic stock and buffer mechanism and polymer handguard. However, the T86 has seen only limited fielding and has been largely superseded by the T91 which entered production in 2002. The T91 is even shorter at 800mm (32in) with the stock collapsed. It also incorporates multiple Picatinny rails with the standard carrying handle able to be removed allowing optics to be mounted.
In 2009 the Ministry of National Defense displayed its XT97 5.56 assault rifle as advanced a new multipurpose rifle development. It departed from previous designs by utilising the AK bolt. The weapon also features a stock that is both retractable and foldable. This allows the weapon length to change from 850mm (34in) stock extended, to 770mm (30.8in) stock retracted, to only 580mm (23.2in) stock folded. This characteristic clearly enhances the utility of the weapon for use in a range of soldier applications. The rifle also incorporates Picatinny rails for mounting various optical scopes. In 2015, a version was added that could be provided with three different barrel lengths.
Peoples Republic of China
In 1995 Norinco began series production of its Type 95 (also referred to as QBZ-95), an entirely new local bullpup design that would replace the Type56, an AK-47 copy, that had previously been used. Chambered for the 5.8×42mm DBP87 intermediate cartridge it is designed as a family of weapons including the assault rifle, a carbine, and a light support weapon (LSW) or Squad Automatic Rifle (SAR). The rifle weight is 3.25kg (7.2 lb) with overall length of 745mm (29.3in). Its integrated carrying handle has mounting fixtures to accept a Y/MA95-002 telescopic sight. With selective fire, including full automatic, the weapon was designed around and to optimise the accuracy and performance of the 5.8x42mm caliber. The PRC claims its choice is superior to both the NATO 5.56x345mm and the Russian 5.45x39mm with a flatter trajectory that retains its energy to greater ranges. However, the military has introduced a new heavier DBP10 round in the same caliber that further enhances performance and increasing the effective range. This new ammunition necessitated modifications to the QBZ-95 which is designated the QBZ-95-1 as a heavier, longer barrel and a redesigned muzzle brake. The rifle is widely issued including to security forces and militia.
As early as 2017 reports surfaced of a newly developed assault rifle reflecting a return to previous magazine forward configuration. In late 2019 this rifle appeared with troops in the 70th anniversary parade. It appears to be 5.8x42mm using the DBP10 round. It is designated the QBZ-191 (Qingwuqi Buqiang Zidong – light weapon, rifle automatic). The layout includes a top full Picatinny-type rail that has been seen mounting the QMK-152 3X light-gathering fibre optic sight. It further incorporates a four-position adjustable buttstock, removable forward grip and can add a bipod. The 30-round curved magazine appears to be modified for secure hold and easier installation. Several barrel lengths have been seen including a 267mm (10.5in) carbine and 368mm (14in) infantry rifle, while an even longer heavier barrel QBU-191 with a digital variable scope ‘precision marksman’ version was revealed in May 2020. The QBZ is part of a broader PLA program toward introducing an Integrated Soldier System.
The very size of the US military’s small arms requirements assures that its fielding decisions can have worldwide impact. Its adoption of the 5.56 caliber influenced the move by NATO and other militaries. Currently, the U.S. Army is in the process of evaluating three candidates for its Next Generation Squad Weapon. A new 6.8 caliber projectile is directed; however, competitors can match this with any ammunition approach. Three competitors are being considered: Sig Sauer, General Dynamics – Ordnance and Tactical Systems, who use polymer case but conventional round configuration, while Textron Systems employs its cased telescope round design. The later round design allows for an entirely new receiver and forward ejection approach. With a 2023 initial fielding objective the influence of this caliber shift and the introduction of new ammunition designs as well as weapons will be a development to watch.
New World Class Small Arms
The Asian-Pacific small arms industry which had established its credentials as a manufacturer some years ago is now displaying its expertise as a world class designer and developer as well. The implications of this, particularly with the increasing incorporation of electronics and processing into weapons, technologies in which these countries lead, may well set the stage in arming future soldiers. (Source: Armada)
21 Jul 21. New launcher fitted to just one of the UAE’s Ghannatha boats. The new launcher that was previously seen on one of the UAE Navy’s Ghannatha fast troops transport boats has not been fitted to the other five yet, a video released by the state WAM news agency on 20 July showed. The UAE Navy originally ordered 12 Ghannathas, which were later modified by Abu Dhabi Shipbuilding. WAM reported in February 2015 that six had been armed with Patria’s 120 mm NEMO automatic mortar and Leonardo’s Hitrole-G weapon station with 12.7 mm machine guns. The other six were armed with Rheinmetall’s 27 mm MLG 27 weapon station and a Hitrole-G while retaining the ability to embark 40 troops, it said. One of the latter, L205, was seen fitted with a new launcher and a mast-mounted electro-optical (EO) system, but without a Hitrole-G, when it escorted visiting naval vessels to the IDEX defence show held in Abu Dhabi in February. The same type of 12-tube launcher was seen fitted to the UAE Navy’s new landing ship Al-Saadiyat that was commissioned during the show. The video released on 20 July showed senior officers visiting various military facilities for Eid al-Adha, including one that could be identified as the Ghantout Naval Base on Abu Dhabi’s northern coast, where all six of the Ghannathas that were not armed with the NEMO could be seen moored. Only L205 was seen with the new launcher, possibly indicating it was used as a testbed for a new weapon that will not be fitted to the others. Only L204 had the Hitrole-G fitted in the same position. (Source: Jane’s)
21 Jul 21. Cased and Telescopic: The U.S. Army’s Ammo Is Evolving. The primary selling point for CTA is a 41 percent weight reduction and 12 percent volume reduction. Here’s What You Need to Know: Enter the Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) program. Recently, much attention has been focused on the state of the U.S. military’s arsenal of small arms. After the announcement and subsequent cancellation of the U.S. Army’s 7.62 Interim Combat Service Rifle project, many were left wondering what the U.S. Army’s actual plan was for a future service rifle. One possible answer was demonstrated at the AUSA 2017 by Textron: the use of Cased Telescoped Ammunition (CTA) technology in small arms.
Unlike the use of CTA in vehicular autocannons, CTA in small arms is a rather recent development. While some early cartridge designs could technically be considered CTA (one example is the 7.62×38mmR ammunition used in the Russian M1895 revolver), these early designs did not have many benefits that modern CTA technology provides. During the Cold War, small-arms development mostly focused on caseless ammunition. This lead eventually to the H&K G11, a rifle that used caseless telescoped ammunition. The G11 participated in the U.S. Army’s Advanced Combat Rifle program and was accepted into service in the Bundeswehr. However, the G11 fell victim to budget cuts following the reunification of Germany, and not many military attempts to pursue caseless ammunition have happened since.
Enter the Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) program. At first, LSAT was simply an attempt to design lighter-weight small arms. Eventually, due to conflicts with the XM8 program, the LSAT program’s scope was limited to light machine guns. While LSAT briefly attempted to use caseless technology to achieve this goal, they eventually settled on the use of CTA. The LSAT program (which focused on 5.56) then became the Cased Telescoped Small Arms Systems (CTSAS) program in 2016. This also expanded the scope of the project to include other calibers. Currently, the CTSAS program, run by Textron, has successfully produced a line of polymer-cased and linked CTA, along with a series of belt-fed machine guns and magazine-fed carbines that fire this ammunition. The ammunition is at technology-readiness level 7, which means it has undergone various environmental durability and endurance tests.
So what benefits does CTA have in small arms? The primary selling point for CTSAS CTA is, true to its name, a 41 percent weight reduction and 12 percent volume reduction compared to conventional ammunition. The CTSAS machine gun design itself also weighs less, with the 7.62mm variant weighing in at 14.5 pounds, compared to 21.8 pounds for the M240L, the Army’s current lightweight 7.62 machine gun, and 18.1 pounds for the PKP Pecheneg, the Russian military’s current 7.62 machine gun. The LMG also has reduced risk of cookoff, due to the chamber being separated from the barrel. In addition, the CTSAS CTA rounds use compacted propellant, which has better burn characteristics and takes up less case volume compared to traditional loose propellant. (Other CTA rounds, including those used in the CT40, are known to use loose propellant.) The round design also incorporates an end cap that forces the round into alignment with the barrel. This mitigates the possible problem of the round “anviling” into the barrel and rifling, and causing excess barrel wear. Another theoretical advantage for polymer CTA ammunition is reduced round cost, due to the smaller amounts of material and energy required to create each round; however, this has yet to be seen, due to economies of scale. The CTA round and LMG design have proven versatile, with 5.56-millimeter and 7.62-millimeter versions of the CTSAS machine guns and CTA being produced and tested. CTA has also been produced in a new 6.5 caliber, which is purported to have superior ballistics to current calibers.
The primary problem that is preventing widespread adoption of CTSAS small-arms technology is one of systemic inertia. Given how hard it is for the U.S. military to standardize on a single rifle magazine, the prospect of switching over to entirely new guns, ammunition links and ammunition is incredibly daunting. This is an up-front cost that the U.S. military is unlikely to be willing to pay at this moment, for the limited gains CTSAS technology provides. CTSAS technology also “breaks the rules” about how one can traditionally think about small arms. Early versions of the CTSAS carbine that fed from a magazine couldn’t be reloaded until the magazine was empty. Indeed, the optimal feeding configuration for any CTSAS weapon is belt feeding. However, the idea of issuing every soldier a belt-fed rifle is a hard pill to swallow for some who assume belt-fed weapons will always take more time to reload than magazine-fed weapons. CTSAS also is not fully mature in its carbine versions, which still weigh more than the current standard-issue M4 Carbine.
Overall, CTA in small arms is a promising technology that could significantly reduce the weight that a soldier carries into battle, while also providing other minor benefits. However, it’s unclear whether this is enough of an improvement for the U.S. military to adopt it. (Source: News Now/https://nationalinterest.org)
20 Jul 21. Israeli Loitering Munitions To Get US Test In October. Two advanced loitering weapon systems manufactured by Israeli company UVision will be tested in the US before the end of the year, according to a company executive, as the firm continues to seek inroads into the American market.
The demonstrations, which the company says are set for October at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, will be include the Army, Air force, Navy and representatives from US Special Operations Command.
Israeli-made loitering weapon systems were used extensively during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The main such system used by Azerbaijan was the Harop, made by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a weapon that is larger than the UVision system designs. But the results of using this type of weapons caught the attention of a number of militaries around the world, regardless of producer.
It’s a capability that is also slowly entering the American military. The US Army has previously purchased the Switchblade system manufactured by AeroVironment, and UVision was recently awarded a contract to supply its Hero-120 loitering weapon systems to the Marine Corps. The system will be integrated with the LAV-M light vehicle, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, and the LRUSV, a future autonomous ship capability. Uvision has formed an American subsidiary in expectation of additional contracts from the US armed forces for the company’s other loitering weapons systems.
Avi Mizrachi, a retired Maj. Gen. with the Israeli armed forces who is now CEO of UVision, told Breaking Defense that “Some of our systems are combat proven. I cannot be specific but the operational results will be presented to the Americans.”
As a result of the evolving battlefield, Mizrachi said the company is focusing on increased ranges for its weapons. And he sees a wide market for the systems, including “eastern Europe, where some countries are
worried from wars like the one between Russia and the Ukraine.”
Mizrachi stated that the US armed forces are specifically looking at the Hero-30 and the Hero-400 designs. The Hero-30 has been procured by the Israel MOD and has been equipped to operational IDF forces.
Per the company, the Hero-30 has a high precision tracking and lock-on capability, as well as a function for last-second-mission-abort and re-engagement for a second attack attempt or change of target. The current version of the Hero-30 weighs 6.5 pounds is and carried in a canister that is used also as a pneumatic launcher.
Once launched, an electric motor is turned on, and the weapon has an endurance of 30 minutes. It operates at altitudes between 1,000 and 2,000 feet, and also comes with a video stream back to the operator.
UVision is offering a special version of the Hero-30 to the Americans, which will be lighter and will carry a 1.2 pound warhead. The company is also working on extending the endurance for the weapon.
US forces will also test the Hero-400, according to Mizrachi. The larger weapon can be launched from a multi-canister for use on vehicles or forward operating bases. This system comes with two hours of endurance, and has a multi-purpose warhead the company claims is useable for anti-tank, concrete piercing and anti-personnel operations. Like the Hero-30, it can be recalled if needed. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
19 Jul 21. Dstl awards a new contract for Anglo-French technology partnership. Dstl, the science inside UK defence, has awarded a new contract to MBDA to lead on the new Complex Weapons Innovation and Technology Partnership (CW ITP).
CW ITP is a major Anglo-French collaborative programme for missile research and development. MBDA will act as the prime and will coordinate research with major suppliers in the UK and France on behalf of Dstl and the French Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA).
The CW ITP is worth £40m over 4 years, with Dstl, DGA and UK and French industries all contributing towards this total amount.
The governments of both the UK and France have shown a commitment to harness the opportunities innovation can present for the benefit of their Defence capabilities. This new 4-year contract follows on from the work of the Materials and Components for Missiles Innovation Technology Partnership (MCM ITP) over the last 13 years. The CW ITP will collaboratively identify and develop revolutionary and innovative technology to enhance complex weapons capability in both nations for the 2030s and beyond.
Dstl’s Platform Systems Division Head, Matt Chinn said, “The new framework is fantastic and will see a sharp focus on 5 Enduring Technical Areas (ETAs) identified as unique and critical to the field of complex weapons. The capability improvements and potential disruptors will help deliver battle-winning and generation-after-next missile technologies, sustaining UK and France’s industrial and scientific base.”
A renewed group of UK and French companies, split equally across both nations, will lead the ETAs:
- MBDA for material, structure, electronics and mission systems and algorithms
- Thales and Leonardo UK for seekers
- Safran and Roxel UK for propulsion
- Thales UK and CEA (the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission) for lethality
Éric Béranger, CEO of MBDA, said, “I am delighted that a new of era of the Innovation Technology Partnership is beginning with this contract. MCM ITP was an excellent example of Anglo-French co-operation, and the CW ITP will no doubt continue in this endeavour, showcasing that our countries remain committed to working together on future defence technologies. CW ITP will also look to fund more ‘disruptive ideas’ through short, 3 to 6 month technology projects that, whilst at the smaller end of funding, carry a high risk of not being successful but high reward if they are.”
Ed Dodwell, the Head of CW ITP, said, “The importance of CW ITP’s cross defence collaboration is its facility to match up the evolution of ideas with their exploitation. Technology on its own, without a concept for use becomes redundant. Concepts that never materialise beyond that are opportunities missed. CW ITP addresses this by having the best experts working together, linking up the technology push of innovation with the market pull of complex weapons.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
16 Jul 21. PAC-3 intercepts surrogate cruise missile threat in US Army flight test. The PAC-3 family of missiles defend against incoming threats, including tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft. A Lockheed Martin Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile has intercepted a surrogate cruise missile threat at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in New Mexico, US. During the test, the interceptor detected, tracked and intercepted the missile target using a Lockheed Martin-developed F-35 as an elevated sensor. According to Lockheed Martin, this test represents a first in one flight test, with F-35 data contributing to the global track leveraged by the US Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) to live fire a PAC-3 missile.
Featuring combat-proven hit-to-kill technology, the PAC-3 family of missiles defend against incoming threats, including tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft.
Building on the PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative (CRI), the PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) with a two-pulse solid rocket motor expands the ‘lethal battlespace’. In the latest flight test, the Northrop Grumman-developed IBCS used the F-35 data with other contributing sensor data to begin the launch of the PAC-3. This data will be used to neutralise the incoming threat, using hit-to-kill technology.
PAC-3 Programmes vice-president Brenda Davidson said: “Threats continue to evolve, and it’s important that we always stay ahead of them.
“This flight test shows the impact of what we can do in Joint All Domain Operations when we use the US Army’s IBCS and airborne communications gateways to bring together the world’s only combat proven hit-to-kill interceptor with the world’s most advanced fighter jet.”
For the first time, F-35 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) track data was used with IBCS during Orange Flag Evaluation (OFE) 19-2 to improve situational awareness and offer track data to engage airborne targets with a virtual PAC-3. (Source: army-technology.com)
16 Jul 21. South Korean air force retires last MIM-23 HAWK SAM systems. The Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) has formally retired its ageing US-made MIM-23 HAWK surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems and replaced them with locally developed Cheongung Block-1 medium-range SAM systems.
The Ministry of National Defense’s (MND’s) Kookbang Ilbo newspaper reported on 7 July that ‘Unit 2970′, a battalion-level formation under the RoKAF’s 1st Air Defense Missile Brigade, retired the HAWK system, which had been in South Korean service since 1983, as well as the AN/TSQ-73 air-defence command-and-control system, which had been in service for 39 years.
‘Unit 2970′ was one of the last known operators of the HAWK, with the system’s automated fire-control equipment now set to be displayed in a museum, according to the paper.
The latest developments come after South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced in April 2020 that deliveries of Cheongung Block-1 systems to the RoKAF were completed in April 2020.
The Cheongung Block-1, which was first deployed with the RoKAF’s Air Defense Missile Command in 2015 in an anti-aircraft role, is armed with eight missiles per launch vehicle and has a stated maximum range of 40km. The 4.6m-long, vertically cold-launched missiles – each of which costs an estimated KRW1.5bn (USD1.2m) – are capable of reaching a top speed of Mach 4.5 and an altitude of between 15 and 20km.
A Cheongung Block-1 battery typically consists of a command-and-control centre, a multifunctional radar, and four transporter-erector-launchers (TELs) – all of which are mounted on separate 8×8 trucks. Development of the system was completed in 2011, with production of the Block-1 missiles beginning in 2013. (Source: Jane’s)
17 Jul 21. These US Marines are having a ‘blast’ with the latest shoulder-fired rocket. East Coast Marines are now blasting away with the Corps’ newest shoulder-fired rocket, the M3A1 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapons System, or MAAWS. The reloadable, recoilless rocket system is expected to supplement what’s already in the arsenal and give infantry Marines a way to go after armor, hardened positions and just about anything else small arms can’t take out.
“The MAAWS is a reusable, long-range weapon that provides the capability to destroy armored vehicles, structures and fortifications, which will be useful for infantry Marines,” Capt. Christopher Adsit, Marine Corps Systems Command project officer for the MAAWS, said in a statement.
Marine Corps Times earlier reported on the MAAWS transition in 2017 when experiments at the squad level looked to beef up firepower for nearly the smallest element in the ground-pounding force.
The shift at the time foresaw smaller groups of Marines likely facing adversary armor, something that hadn’t been much of an issue in counterterrorism or counterinsurgency operations over the previous two decades.
“When we do urban operations, we carry a rocket because you don’t know what kind of enemy we’ll have, what capabilities they’ll have,” said Sgt. David Beggel, squad leader with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. “This gives us a wide range of opportunities and assets that we can use to destroy a vehicle or take out [the enemy].”
Fleet Marines will receive the MAAWS by the end of 2023 and reserve Marines by 2024. He projects every Marine Corps battalion to have the weapon in their arsenal by 2025, officials said.
At the time, the Army already had kicked off a contract to buy more than 1,100 MAAWs. But the service had planned at the time to keep the weapon at the platoon level.
The Marines want at least one in every infantry squad.
While the rocket is new for Marines, its baseline version, the Carl Gustaf 84 mm recoilless rifle, has been in use in some form since 1946.
The newer M3A1 variant, however, comes in one third lighter and 3 inches shorter than its predecessor.
The weapon can overpower the rocket-propelled grenade systems that adversaries often use and gives Marines the ability to carry and fire more rounds than the single-use AT-4.
It’s also more accurate than the AT-4, with precision-guided munitions and a variety of ammo options for a host of tasks.
The new Gustaf laser-guided projectile features a multi-target warhead capable of defeating bunkers, concrete, light-skinned vehicles and armored personnel carriers, and has a range of nearly 2,000 meters, according to officials with Raytheon and Saab, the weapon’s designers.
Also, safety for the user has been considered and now offer another space to fire the weapon from, especially in urban settings.
The new precision round can be fired from inside a room. This means a Marine can fire from the safety of a room, window, or behind cover without the fear of backblast causing injury or harm.
Gaseous over-pressurization that erupts from firing anti-tank rockets results in backblast, so Marines firing these systems must be aware of who or what is behind them before they fire.
The system consists of the M3A1 Carl Gustaf Recoilless Rifle, a fire-control system and a backup reflex sight Marines can use if the primary optic malfunctions, according to the MCSM statement.
The fielded system includes munitions that provide obscuration, illumination, anti-personnel, armor penetration, bunker- and hardened-facility penetration, and other destruction capabilities.
“It has the ability to fire [illumination], smoke and airburst-style rounds,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 David Tomlinson, System Command’s infantry weapons officer. “The capability will allow the warfighter to engage the enemy in defilade, reinforced bunkers and buildings.”
The MAAWS augments but doesn’t yet completely replace the current Mk153 Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon or the M72 Light Anti-Tank Weapon, or LAW.
Marines have carried the SMAW since 1984, though it did get some upgrades in the early 2000s, according to the statement.
MAAWS has greater range than both the SMAW and LAW.
In early 2021, nearly 100 Marines at both Schools of Infantry East and West test fired the weapon. All three rockets, MAAWS, SMAW and LAW will remain options for now. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Marine Times)
15 Jul 21. Target marking, fire-on-the-move fixes needed for upgunned Stryker programme, says US Army. The US Army and an Oshkosh Defense-led team are embarking on a new upgunned Stryker ‘risk management testing’ effort to fix the weapons’ ability to mark targets and hit them while on the move, according to the service.
In early June the service selected an Oshkosh, Rafael, and Pratt Miller team (the latter of which Oshkosh recently acquired) to outfit Double V-Hull A1 Stryker (DVHA1) vehicles with 30 mm cannons under a programme it dubs the “Medium Caliber Weapon System” (MCWS). The winning solution, based on Rafael’s Samson family of turrets but ‘customised’ for the programme, was selected over bids from two other competitors: General Dynamic Land Systems (GDLS) and Leonardo DRS. Since neither competing team opted to protest the army’s decision, the service is progressing with plans to get the modified vehicle ready for its first unit-equipped date in December 2023, Colonel Bill Venable, Stryker Brigade Combat Team project manager, told Janes on 13 July.
“There are risks with Oshkosh’s technical solution that we’re going to address through a period of testing that starts [the week of 19 July] … called ‘risk management testing’,” Col Venable explained. “We will take those identified areas from the source selection, and then we will fix them. We will make those software changes, and a few other changes as well, to get better performance against the threshold requirement.”
Janes has obtained several MCWS source-selection documents that detail technical challenges with the Oshkosh solution that were unearthed during the bid sample testing phase. (Source: Jane’s)
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.