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06 Aug 21. Taiwan readies extended-range Sky Sword 2 missile for production. Taiwan’s government-run National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) is set to mass produce an improved version of the Tien Chien II (TC2 or Sky Sword 2) medium-range air-to-air missile (AAM) to boost the effectiveness of the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching Kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) operated by the Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF). The Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced on 3 August that NCSIST has completed trials and evaluations of the new variant, which will feature extended range performance, and will soon commence series production. According to MND specifications, the baseline TC2 missile measures 3.6m long with a diameter of 190mm. It has a stated launch weight of 183kg inclusive of a 22kg high explosive blast-fragmentation warhead. Without revealing further details, the ministry also described the TC2 as a beyond visual range (BVR) active radar-guided air intercept missile that features electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) capabilities as well as all-weather, all-aspect, fire-and-forget, multiple target engagement rivalling the performance of the US-made AIM-120 advanced medium-range AAM (AMRAAM). The TC2 also employs inertial navigation in mid‐course and can receive command updates from the launch aircraft via a datalink during the initial phase of flight. It then activates its onboard active radar guidance for the terminal phase of an engagement. The missile has reportedly been upgraded with a new rocket motor and improved electronic components that extend its range from 60 to 80 km. The TC2 is the main air-to-air weapon carried by the RoCAF’s FC-1K IDF aircraft, which can carry four of these during a single sortie. NCSIST earlier developed the 2.87 m-long, 90 kg Tien Chien I (TC1) AAM, which is a short-range weapon that can engage threats out to a range of approximately 8 km – roughly analogous to the US-made AIM-9 Sidewinder missile family. A navalised version of the TC1 called the Sea Oryx was unveiled by NCSIST in late 2015. (Source: AMR)
04 Aug 21. After latest flight test failure, US Air Force hopes to keep first hypersonic missile on track for production. The U.S. Air Force is in the process of determining the root cause of last week’s failed hypersonic missile test, but the program still has time to push through flight testing and begin production of the new, cutting-edge weapon by the end of fiscal 2022, a program official said Wednesday.
During the second booster flight test of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, which occurred July 28 over Point Mugu Sea Range near southern California, the missile’s engine failed to ignite after the weapon was launched from a B-52 bomber.
Program officials have been unable to identify what went wrong during the test or how to fix it, said Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, the Air Force’s program executive officer for weapons.
“If that is a quick and rapid resolution, then we would have minimal perturbation to our schedule, and we would look to get back in the air when our next test window is available,” he told reporters during a roundtable. “If it is a little more prolonged or drives anything excessive from a redesign perspective — which we don’t know at this point — depending on how long that takes, it may impact our ability to meet our next test window as we go forward.”
The Air Force still needs to successfully complete flight testing of the ARRW booster and all-up round before the service awards a contract to manufacturer Lockheed Martin and begins production of the weapon, which is currently targeted for FY22, Collins said. Any lengthy redesign of the missile could cause that date to slip.
In its FY22 budget request, the Air Force set aside $161m to procure the first 12 AGM-183As, which would become the military’s first hypersonic weapon available for operations.
However, the House Appropriations Committee’s defense spending bill would decrease spending on the program by $44m due to concerns that the Air Force may be moving to production before all technical issues are resolved. If that happens, the service could only afford purchasing eight missiles in FY22.
Collins acknowledged that the Lockheed-made missile has encountered problems in testing, but said that any change to the planned procurement of 12 ARRW missiles would raise costs and could impact the supply base.
Any rapid prototyping effort of a new hypersonic weapon would be a “risky program” by nature, but the ARRW effort is making progress on resolving technical problems, Collins added. For instance, the issue that caused the first flight booster test to fail earlier this year was corrected.
“In the attempt to launch … a week ago, we showed that that root cause, that corrective action, was sufficient and working,” he said. “And we’re now going to learn from this next step and move forward.”
Last week’s test also showed that the ARRW missile could safely release from an aircraft while maintaining GPS coordinates and power, and also demonstrated the operation of the weapon’s fins, the Air Force said in a news release.
“While it did not meet all flight objectives, the test demonstrated several first-time events as the program continues to track toward fielding a hypersonic capability in the early 2020s,” the service said. (Source: Defense News)
05 Aug 21. As Air Force Ramps Up JASSM, Work Begins on its Replacement. “Preliminary” discussions and “early development work” about how to pursue the next long-range conventional stealth missile are underway, even as the Air Force ramps up production of the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, or JASSM, said Brig. Gen. Heath A. Collins, head of the service’s armament directorate.
“We’re in initial conversations on what happens after JASSM,” Collins told reporters Aug. 4, calling the discussions “very preliminary” and giving no timetable as to when the Air Force would want a JASSM successor. It will be looked at “in the years to come,” he said. Lockheed Martin, which makes JASSM, recently built a new production facility in Troy, Ala., to increase capacity. It could open for work as soon as October. Collins said the new facility will “increase our production rate.”
In the meantime, the Air Force is “still in the midst of getting as many JASSMs as we can into our inventory, to meet our objective,” Collins said during a media roundtable during the online Air Force Life Cycle Industry Days.
The Air Force got 400 of the missiles in its enacted fiscal 2021 budget after buying 390 in 2020. The service requested 525 in its 2022 budget proposal.
The Air Force only has a “small ramp-up” planned for the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) variant of JASSM, Collins said. He declined to say why the service is only buying a small handful of LRASMs, saying only that requirements are determined by the Air Staff. Not as many Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles will be needed as Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles because “of the target set we’re going after.”
The JASSM-ER (extended range) is the preferred version, and the Air Force is “transitioning” to the B2 version of the missile while doing “initial … tech insertion” to create a “D” version of the missile, Collins reported, saying the directorate will “continue to evolve” the weapon. The D model provides “more flexibility.”
A Lockheed Martin spokesperson said the Air Force executed a modification to its 2018 JASSM contract Aug. 3, “giving the program the go-ahead for several missile enhancements and capability upgrades that will be cut-in in upcoming production lots.” These will be “formally recognized” with the designation AGM-158B-2, she said. Future variants are being planned, but LMCO left it to the Air Force to discuss their designations. Neither the Air Force nor Lockheed Martin could immediately comment on what new capabilities the updates provide.
Collins said the JASSM also is the preferred munition for Air Force Research Laboratory’s “palletized munition” program, in which an airlift aircraft could launch salvos of missiles, but he could not elaborate on it. “We are supporting [it] from a weapons expertise perspective,” he said.
“We have not started any conversations” with Air Force Global Strike Command about pursuing a conventional version of the in-development Raytheon Technologies AGM-181 Long-Range Stand Off missile, the nuclear successor to the AGM-86B with a range reportedly in excess of 1,800 miles, he said. AFGSC boss Gen. Timothy M. Ray said earlier this year that a conventional version of LRSO would be worth pursuing, just as a conventional version of the air-launched cruise missile was developed and used in conflicts since Operation Desert Storm in 1991. But he said he had not issued a requirement for such a weapon.
Collins could not give any new details about the AIM-260 Joint Advanced Tactical Missile (JATM), revealed at the same conference two years ago, when then-program executive officer Maj. Gen. Anthony W. Genatempo, said it would be ready for tests from the F-22 in 2022. Collins said the Air Force is “pushing forward and executing” the program, but he is restricted from further comment due to its sensitivity. The missile is set to replace the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile sometime this decade and is purported to have a range to compete with China’s new long-range air-to-air missiles such as the PL-15.
Genatempo forecast production lots of JATMs in the hundreds of units and said AMRAAM production will start tailing off as the JATM ramps up. The Air Force’s 2022 budget request included a reduction in AMRAAM production from previous years.
The Air Force is finalizing its acquisition strategy on the Stand-in Attack Weapon (SiAW) and will “move out on that later this year,” Collins said. Although the program started out as a variant of the Northrop Grumman AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile, Collins said the plan will be to open the program up to “a competitive contract.” The AGM-88G is the Navy’s successor to the High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM).
Although SiAW will be a stand-in weapon, Collins explained that the “extended range” means it can go farther than the initial Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile, but that he could not discuss ranges. “ER on AARGM means something different than ER on JASSM,” he offered.
Collins said the Air Force is aware of various papers published in recent years suggesting the Air Force could get more punch out of its direct-attack munitions by putting range-extending motors on them, noting the service is moving in that direction.
“We have a program [called]… GPAW, the Global Precision Attack Weapon, which is in its early phases, looking at concepts of what the future direct attack weapon looks like,” he said. “And in that study space, there are certainly a number of options [that include] … putting a motor on existing weapons.” The armaments directorate is also looking at the Army/Navy/Marine Corps Joint Air-to-Ground Missile-Fighter, which is a project to replace the Hellfire and Maverick missiles.
Collins said he’s heard the term “fifth-generation weapons for fifth-generation aircraft” but could not bound the term, saying he thinks of hypersonic missiles as the next generation of weapons. Practically all other munitions in USAF’s inventory are being fitted to, or designed to fit in, the F-35, he said, so they all could, technically, be considered “fifth-generation weapons.” (Source: News Now/https://www.airforcemag.com/)
05 Aug 21. Northrop Grumman Completes Critical Design Review for Next-Gen OPIR Missile Warning Mission Payload. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and Ball Aerospace successfully completed the Critical Design Review (CDR) for the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next-Gen OPIR).
Geosynchronous (GEO) mission payload. The completion of the Next-Gen OPIR subsystems and payload CDR meets aggressive U.S. Space Force and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) program objectives to ensure national security posture stays ahead of emerging global threats.
The successful CDR is a significant milestone for the Next-Gen OPIR program. With the flight design complete, the Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace team will manufacture, integrate and test the flight mission payload, which is scheduled for delivery to Lockheed Martin in 2023.
“The Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace team brings deep mission expertise in missile warning and tracking to this program,” said Scott Lee, vice president and general manager, payload and ground systems, Northrop Grumman. “Together, we’re delivering another generation of unblinking eyes in space as part of our nation’s strategic deterrence.”
As the successor to the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), Next-Gen OPIR will provide an improved, more resilient missile warning system to counter current and emerging threats.
The Next-Gen OPIR GEO satellites are being designed and built by Lockheed Martin. Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace are one of two teams selected by Lockheed Martin to develop a competitive payload design for the program.
“Decades of mission experience with modern agile infrared sensor development are the hallmarks of the Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace team,” said Deirdre Walsh, vice president, Strategic Operations, Ball Aerospace. “This collaborative effort has enabled us to successfully execute the critical design review of the Next-Gen OPIR GEO Block 0 mission payload – a mission critical to our nation’s security.”
In addition to developing a payload design for the Next-Gen GEO program, Northrop Grumman was selected by the Space Force to design and develop two polar-orbiting Next-Gen OPIR space vehicles.
Northrop Grumman’s legacy of space-based defense development includes the Defense Support Program (DSP) and Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) satellites that have provided a combined 60 years of critical missile warning and tracking capabilities.
05 Aug 21. ARM for TFX. Early July saw reports that Roketsan has developed the Akbaba (Vulture) Anti-Radiation Missile (ARM). The missile seems destined to equip Turkish Aerospace Industries’ TFX fifth-generation fighter. Sources state that this aircraft is expected to enter Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (THK/Turkish Air Force) service early next decade. Akbaba should replace the Raytheon AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMs) the THK deploys with its General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon combat aircraft.
AGM-88. Armada’s records state that Turkey received 100 AGM-88B/C variant missiles between 1994 and 1995. It is unknown how many of these remain in the THK inventory.
The THK does not appear to have shown interest in either of the new AGM-88 variants. Northrop Grumman has developed the AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM). Meanwhile Raytheon has developed the AGM-88F HCSM (HARM Control Section Modification). Both designs improve the AGM-88’s accuracy.
The AGM-88E/F’s enhancements include a Global Positioning and Inertial Navigation System (GPS/INS). This lets the missile target a radar based on its coordinates even if the radar’s transmissions are switched off. This is a popular tactic which aims to break the missile’s lock. A millimetric wave radar transmitting at frequencies above 30 gigahertz/GHz is also included. This helps battle damage assessment by gathering detailed imagery of the missile’s end game.
Why the THK chose not to procure the AGM-88E/F is unknown. It is possible that the Turkish defence industry has chosen to ‘go it alone’ and develop its own ARM. This would help reduce reliance on US materiel. At the same time, it would deepen domestic defence engineering expertise. Turkey may also be casting an eye towards the export market. Countries which need ARMs but either do not, or cannot, procure the AGM-88 from the US would be potential customers.
Turkey has acquired the Almaz-Antey S-400 (NATO reporting name SA-21 Growler) high-altitude, long-range surface-to-air missile system from Russia. Armada records show that as of 2020 four S-400 batteries had been delivered to Turkey.
Ankara’s procurement of the S-400 raised heckles in Washington. In July 2019 Turkey’s participation in the Lockheed Martin F-35A/B/C Lightning-II combat aircraft programme was suspended by the US government in retaliation. Turkey’s S-400 acquisition may have stymied her ability to procure other materiel like the AGM-88E/F. This could have been another motivating factor prompting the Akbaba programme.
On the one hand, Turkey’s S-400 acquisition gives engineers the opportunity to ascertain the system’s vulnerabilities. Each S-400 battery includes a 91N6 (NATO reporting name Big Bird) S-band (2.3GHz to 2.5GHz/2.7GHz to 3.7GHz) 324 nautical mile/nm (600 kilometre/km) range surveillance and tracking radar. This is flanked by a 96L6E (NATO reporting name Cheese Board) C-band (5.25GHz to 5.925GHz) early warning and target acquisition radar with a range of up to 162nm (300km).
By examining these radars it might be possible to configure the Akbaba’s Radio Frequency (RF) seekers to recognised and geolocate transmissions from either. Nonetheless, sources familiar with Russian air defence systems have told Armada that this is easier said than done. Export versions of Russian electromagnetic equipment is often ‘down tuned’ compared to versions of the same kit used by Russia’s armed forces. The potential to reverse engineer exported equipment to understand vulnerabilities may only partially help comprehend the vulnerabilities of similar equipment used by Russia.
While precise details on the Akbaba’s performance remain all but non-existent, some reasonable assumptions can be made.
The missile can most probably detect and engage ground-based air surveillance and fire control/ground-controlled interception radars transmitting on frequencies of at least two gigahertz to 18GHz. The missile may also include a GPS/INS to nullify the switch off tactic. Software may enable the missile’s RF seeker to prioritise the most threatening radars and show this information to the pilot. The seeker may be able to identify the radar type and share this information with the TFX’s Electronic Support Measure (ESM). This electronic intelligence could be stored by the ESM for later analysis. For now, other details regarding the Akbaba remain scant. We may learn more in the coming months. Stay tuned! (Source: Armada)
29 Jul 21. The UK MoD has announced a requirement for an Alternative Individual Weapon (AIW) system for the Army Special Operations Brigade. Contract Notice, Whitehall, 26 July 2021, amended 29 July 2021: [Extract from] Contract notice for contracts in the field of defence and security.
701577419 – Army Special Operations Brigade Rifle
Procurement and Support of an Armalite Rifle (AR) platform Alternative Individual Weapon (AIW) System.
The Authority requires an Alternative Individual Weapon (AIW).
- Economic Operators may submit only one AIW System consisting of a Rifle System from one OEM and an Optic System from one OEM. The Rifle and Optic do not have to be the same OEM.
- Where an Agent represents an OEM, the agent is deemed to be the Economic Operator under the Framework agreement and therefore can only submit one AIW System.
- Anticipated delivery of the trial AIW Systems to a UK MOD Location is required by December 2021 or March 2022 at the latest.
The AIW system must be optimised to be used with a suppressor fitted as its primary configuration. The AIW system will consist of:
- A Rifle System (comprising of a Rifle and Signature Reduction System); and
- An Optic System
The AIW system will be a 5.56mm Armalite Rifle (AR) platform, optimised for use with L15A2, a 62gr 5.56×45 NATO ball round, equivalent to SS109.
An AR platform is defined as being gas operated with a rotating, locking bolt.
The rifle should have a non-reciprocating charging handle.
The rifle’s controls are to include: a magazine release, working parts release and a rotating selector lever that incorporates a safe setting.
The rifle is to have a standard configuration, not bullpup, with the magwell in-front of the trigger housing.
The rifles upper and lower are to be mated using industry standard pivot / takedown pins located at the front and rear of the lower receiver.
Signature Reduction System: The Signature Reduction System is to be detachable, to enable the operator to configure the Rifle System to meet operational requirements.
Optic System: The Optic system is to complement the Rifle and should be ballistically matched to the stated ammunition nature and supplied barrel length.
Alternative Individual Weapon System: As a complete system, the AIW system is expected to perform consistently regardless of its configuration, i.e. with or without a Signature Reduction Device fitted, across all operational scenarios.
Most Royal Marines have already traded in their SA80A2 assault rifles for the L119A1 version of the 5.56mm Colt Canada C8 [© Bob Morrison]
This Procurement is subject to the following Staged approached:
Stage 1 – DPQQ Down Select of economic operators to be issued the ITT to be invited to tender AIW Systems (Rifle System and Optic System) for a place on the framework agreement.
Stage 2 – Up to a maximum of six (6) AIW Systems (Rifle Systems and Optic Systems) will be selected for which the economic operators shall be awarded tasks under the framework to supply and support the trial AIW systems.
All economic operators that have successfully passed the DPQQ stage will be invited to submit bids under the framework agreement for the provision of a minimum quantity of 88 AIW systems up to a maximum quantity of 528 AIW systems depending on the number of acceptable AIW system variants offered to the Authority. The economic operators will be reimbursed for the cost of the Supply and support of the trial systems.
Following the outcome of the competition at Stage 3, it is envisaged that those Trials weapons supplied under stage 2 will be utilised by Army HQ to inform the 24-Hr Digital Lethality Project that is in the Concept Stage, therefore offering long-term Value for Money (VFM) to the Authority.
Stage 3 – All Economic operators that were awarded Tasking forms under the Framework agreement for the Authority to procure AIW systems under Stage 2 will be invited to participate in two mini competitions under the framework for the Supply and Support of AIW Systems (One mini competition for the Rifle system and one mini competition for the Optic System) for a period of ten (10) years.
The mini competitions will include: pricing to procure the AIW system, option pricing for additional systems, technical through life support (TTLS) requirements, full evaluation methodology (commercial & technical), and will outline the Safe & Suitable for Service (S3) and User.
Following the evaluation at Stage 3:-
One successful economic operator will be awarded a contract for the Rifle and One successful economic operator will be awarded a contract for the Optic. This could be the same economic operator being awarded the contracts for the Rifle system and Optic system to enable the Authority to procure the Full Operational Capability (FOC) circa 3,000 systems with options for the Total Fleet Requirement circa 10,000 Systems. (Source: www.joint-forcescom)
04 Aug 21. U.S. approves potential sales of howitzers to Taiwan -Pentagon. The U.S. State Department approved the potential sale of 40 155mm M109A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer artillery systems to Taiwan in a deal valued at up to $750m, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.
This comes after a series of arms sales last year that included drones and coastal missile defenses meant to upgrade the island’s capabilities and discourage a Chinese invasion. The Biden administration has approved other direct commercial sales of arms to Taiwan since taking office.
The package would include the howitzers, 1,698 precision guidance kits for munitions, spares, training, ground stations and upgrades for Taiwan’s previous generation of howitzers, the Pentagon said.
The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the possible sale on Wednesday.
Taiwan’s defense ministry expressed “sincere gratitude” to the U.S. government in a statement on Thursday, saying the sales would help its ground forces increase their “capacity for speedy reaction and fire support”.
The ministry called the continuous U.S. arms support a “basis for maintaining regional stability.”
Like most nations, the United States has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is required by law to provide the Chinese-claimed island with the means to defend itself and is its most important international backer, to Beijing’s anger.
Despite approval by the State Department, the notification does not indicate that a contract has been signed or that negotiations have concluded. The Pentagon said BAE Systems Plc (BAES.L) was the prime contractor for the weapons. (Source: Reuters)
04 Aug 21. Written HCDC evidence submitted by CTA International.
CTA International (CTAI) is a 50:50 joint venture company between BAE Systems plc and Nexter. Systems. CTAI was formed in 1994, and was set up to design, develop and manufacture the Cased Telescoped Armament System (CTAS). This highly innovative and capable system has demonstrated its higher performance when compared to other medium calibre systems. CTAI is based in Bourges in Central France, and directly employs a skilled workforce of nearly 100 drawn from capabilities within both BAE Systems and Nexter as well as working with many more individuals and groups across the supply chain. In addition to the supply of the CTAS, we are proud to support both the UK and French forces with training and in-service support of their systems.
In 2008, the jointly developed 40CT weapon and ammunition were mandated for the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for use on the Ajax and Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP) vehicles. At the same time the French Direction General de l’Armement (DGA) mandated the integration of the complete CTAS, including weapon and ammunition, onto the Jaguar vehicle.
In 2015, the MoD ordered 515 40CT weapons, and the first cannon was delivered in February 2016. All of the 477 weapons delivered to-date have been provided ahead of schedule and in line with the build standard specification agreed at contract signature in 2015. CTA International’s customer for the provision of weapons and spare parts is the UK MoD. The design build standard of the weapon has only had minor changes since contract signature in 2015. CTA International is submitting this written evidence to the House of Commons Defence Select Committee in order to provide the Committee with appropriate context and understanding of our role in delivering the weapons systems for Ajax ahead of the one-off evidence session on Tuesday 20th July 2021.
The scope of supply from CTA International to the UK Ministry of Defence was limited to the gun, and did not include the accompanying electronic control unit or ammunition handling system as supplied to the French DGA for Jaguar. The CTAI weapon used in the Ajax programme is supplied as Government Furnished Equipment to vehicle Prime.
CTA International’s role in Ajax programme
CTA International has ensured that all entry-into-service spares and tooling for all 515 cannons have
been delivered, with a small quantity of remaining spare barrels and breech assemblies due to be delivered ahead of schedule in Q1 2022. The total quantity of spare parts delivered to-date is circa 2,500 items, with all items accepted by the UK MoD. In anticipation of any unforeseen circumstances that may lead to shortages and to ensure a robust supply chain, all major components have been double-sourced at CTA International’s expense. In addition, any issues identified during the
production phase are addressed and mitigated as they arise.
The success of CTA International’s production contract performance has been recognised by the UK MoD customer and described as “an exceptional effort”.
Background to weapon capability
The CT40 weapon delivers an armour piercing capability that can overmatch any other medium calibre weapon, defeating 140mm of rolled homogenous armour (RHA) at 1,500m.
The design of the CT40 is centred around a stabilised turret and, unlike other medium calibre weapons, is compatible with the type of advanced fire control system typically found on Main Battle Tanks; this design also increases accuracy when firing on the move.
The CT40 weapon also provides greater value for money in certain situations. For example, four 30mm rounds would need to be fired in order to achieve the effect of one CT40 High Explosive round; and no amount of 30mm rounds would achieve the effect of the CT40 armour piercing
munition. In addition, the user is able to seamlessly and instantly switch between munition natures, thanks to the innovative and intelligent ammunition handling system, meaning multiple natures of
link-less cased telescoped ammunition can be loaded ahead of use.
The current suite of CT40 munitions includes four natures, with further rounds in development, including counter-drone (e.g. loitering munition).
The CT40 weapon is a modern, sealed unit, requiring lubrication only every 500 rounds fired and inspection once per year. Conventional medium calibre systems require a far more intensive
maintenance regime. The CT40 weapon has been successfully integrated into the Jaguar vehicle for French and Belgian forces and has recently been selected by the French Navy for their equivalent of the Royal Navy’s
Fleet Solid Support programme. 14th July 2021.
Note: CT40 Weapons Ordered 515. CT40 weapons delivered 477 at the start of June 2021. In 2015, the MoD ordered 515 40CT weapons, and the first cannon was delivered in February 2016. All of the 477 weapons delivered to-date have been provided ahead of schedule and in line with the build standard specification agreed at contract signature in 2015.
03 Aug 21. U.S. Army Selects Eckhart to Improve Howitzer. The U.S. Army has selected Eckhart to design and build automation to increase the rate of fire for Self-Propelled Howitzers. By way of the SPARTN Fire Faster program, the Army Applications Laboratory managed a competitive process in which hundreds of potential industry partners were evaluated before selecting and funding five companies to lead the artillery loading modernization effort. Eckhart is proud to formally announce this new relationship with the U.S. Army and to embrace the mission to improve the safety and efficiency of U.S. soldiers.
Handling and loading artillery is substantially similar today as it has been for the last hundred years. Soldiers working in cramped confines are tasked with completing precision movement of projectiles up to 50lbs with no mechanical assistance. Fatigue and musculoskeletal injuries are common. The U.S. Army recognized an opportunity to find solutions at use in the private sector and specifically in manufacturing environments to improve the situation. Chris Sankovich of the Army Applications Lab in Austin, Texas, explains, “The opportunity to improve soldier safety and efficiency within the Self-Propelled Howitzer is a challenge that we felt is best addressed by identifying and selecting qualified industry partners. Our role is then to help take industry best practices and work with our cohort companies for timely and successful incorporation to the U.S. Army’s Howitzer systems.”
Eckhart sees many similarities between soldiers loading artillery and the lift & load work that is performed by their industrial customers every day on American manufacturing lines. Travis Turner, General Manager of Eckhart’s Davenport Operations, explains, “In the Fortune 500 manufacturing environment that we have operated in for over six decades, there is an intense focus on optimizing the safety, ergonomics, and efficiency of technicians who perform assembly tasks each day. The Eckhart team has deep expertise working within tight ergonomic windows where thresholds define the maximum weights that can be lifted before mechanical assistance or a robotic alternative is required.”
Eckhart’s expertise solving operator safety and ergonomic challenges on manufacturing assembly lines provides a great starting point from which to help the U.S. Army deploy mature technology and automation to help our nation’s soldiers. Turner continued, “We’re excited to be part of such an innovative program that affords us an opportunity to bring disruptive technology to the U.S. Army. All stakeholders involved are committed to reshaping how industry works with the Army and reuniting American innovation and national security through the joint-partnership of our collective team.”
For over 60 years and based in Warren, Michigan, Eckhart designs, builds, and sustains advanced industrial solutions that enhance the quality of life. Eckhart’s proven portfolio of Industry 4.0 technology includes autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs), collaborative robot systems, traditional robotics, assembly automation & simulation, 3D printing tool development & production, and Factory of the Future consulting for the world’s largest manufacturers. Eckhart serves an established and loyal blue-chip customer base of leading industrial original equipment manufacturers including 3M, Boeing, Pepsi, Stryker Medical, General Electric, Tesla, Cargill, Toyota, Mercedes, and Caterpillar.
Learn more at www.eckhartusa.com (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
03 Aug 21. NP Aerospace Introduces Scimitar Biometric and GPS tracking for Bomb Disposal Operators. NP Aerospace, manufacturer of the 4030 ELITE Bomb Disposal Suit, has joined forces with CRF-I Limited to offer Scimitar technology for real-time EOD operator management and tracking. The Scimitar system being showcased for the first time at an international tradeshow at DSEI in London, provides EOD teams with a greater understanding of what EOD operators are experiencing in real time via live audio, video, measurement of their physical wellbeing and GPS location. The technology was driven by a global military requirement and uses the latest mesh radio and sensor data to capture on one screen biometric data including Heart Rate (bpm) Respiratory Rate (rpm), Body Temperature (°c) And Physical Strain Index (PSI), whilst tracking the operator’s GPS location. It has been developed initially for EOD but has application beyond this into tactical / first responder teams and CBRN environments.
NP Aerospace has joined forces with CRFI-Ltd as part of its strategy to expand the range of integrated technologies available with its newly launched 4030 ELITE Bomb Disposal Suit which is certified to the National Institute of Justice NIJ 0117.01 public safety standard.
Grant Findlay, Business Development Manager, CRFI-I said: “The Scimitar Tactical Kit was developed in response to a requirement from a large defence organisation wanting to reduce injuries and loss of life amongst EOD operators. Using technology to measure the operator’s human tolerances and physical stress in a training or live environment enables the EOD base operator to understand any associated mental stress and impact on performance. They can effectively step in and change the course of action and ultimately protect operators from harm. We see this having a significant advantage in both the defence and security space.”
Doug Stewart, Business Director, NP Aerospace, commented: “Since launching our new NIJ certified 4030 ELITE bomb disposal suit, we are seeing an increasing number of requirements for advanced situational awareness. The Scimitar technology is unique in that it measures critical biometric data in real time whilst providing post incident analysis for EOD teams to improve overall safety and performance. As an armour manufacturer our job is to save lives. By integrating our core products with advanced, safety enhancing technologies, we can provide the highest level of protection for defence and security personnel.”
03 Aug 21. South Korea to start trial operations of ‘grenade-launching’ and ‘small modular’ UAVs in 2022. The South Korean military will begin trailing two new types of locally sourced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the first half of 2022. South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) announced on 3 August that it will acquire an undisclosed number of “grenade-launching” and “small modular” UAVs through a fast-track procurement process ahead of the pilot trials, adding that new technologies developed in the civilian UAV sector will be applied for this project.
South Korea’s military plans to trial both ‘grenade-launching’ and small modular UAVs in the first half of 2022, according to DAPA. (DAPA)
The first UAV type, which is equipped with six, single-shot, 40 mm grenade launchers, can be remotely controlled within a 2 km radius, said DAPA, adding that the use of a two-axis gimbal and recoil absorber will allow the platform to remain stable in flight even while firing.
Operators of the vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAV can use an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret equipped with a laser rangefinder for aiming. The platform can launch six grenades consecutively (one every two seconds) at targets within a 5 m radius, DAPA noted in its statement. The agency also said that an unspecified number of these UAVs will be supplied to the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) by Korea CNO Tech Co for KRW6.62bn (USD5.8m). (Source: Jane’s)
03 Aug 21. Next-Gen APKWS Guidance Kits Improve Rocket Range and Impact.
- BAE Systems advanced APKWS guidance kit offers enhanced strike distance and precision strike lethality
BAE Systems, Inc. has developed an advanced version of its combat-proven APKWS® guidance kit that offers enhanced strike distance and precision strike lethality. The upgrade improves the effective range of APKWS guided rockets by up to 30%, allowing warfighters to engage targets from a greater standoff distance with improved survivability.
APKWS is the U.S. government’s only program of record for guiding 2.75-inch laser-guided rockets, providing an efficient, low-cost weapon in the U.S. arsenal of precision munitions. Initial production of APKWS block upgrade guidance kits will start in Q3 2021.
“Our customers’ precision strike needs are changing,” said John Watkins, vice president and general manager of Precision Strike & Sensing Solutions at BAE Systems. “We’re focused on evolving APKWS guidance kits to provide them with a more capable low-cost product that’s easy to use and known for its accuracy.”
APKWS block upgrade guidance kits create an optimized flight trajectory that enables the rocket to engage targets at a steeper angle of attack, providing improvements in range and lethality. The optimized attack trajectory improves first-shot success against stationary and moving targets.
The enhanced guidance kits also provide logistics and training benefits to customers. A single variant of the weapon is now qualified for rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft across the U.S. armed forces customers, easing stock management and reducing the cognitive load on pilots. An upgrade to the surface danger zone logic also provides better training range options in certain conditions, allowing crews to improve their proficiency at home stations.
BAE Systems’ APKWS guidance kits are manufactured at the company’s state-of-the-art production facility in Hudson, New Hampshire.
02 Aug 21. German air force declares Meteor missile ready for Eurofighter fleet. The German air force recently completed flight tests for its newest air-to-air missile, the Meteor, and have deemed the weapon ready for use aboard the nation’s Eurofighter Typhoon fleet.
The Luftwaffe’s Tactical Air Wing 74 completed initial flight tests of Eurofighter aircraft loaded with operational Meteor missiles last June at Neuberg Air Base in Bavaria, the service said in a statement to Defense News. Two jets were involved in the campaign, and the air force gathered live flying data to consider aircraft performance and system indications when carrying the missile.
The air force provided footage to Defense News of the initial flight tests. A live-fire test has yet to take place, although the service declined to provide a date.
The Meteor, built by European missile maker MBDA, is the third and latest missile in the nation’s Eurofighter weapon arsenal, which also includes AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAMs) and Infra-Red Imaging System-Tail (IRIS-T) short-range missiles. A Eurofighter pilot interviewed in the video said that the service will incorporate four Meteor missile systems, two AMRAAMs and two IRIS-T missiles on each aircraft.
The Eurofighter pilot, a major in the Luftwaffe, noted that the flight tests are crucial for the air force to study what sort of effects the Meteor will have on the fuel consumption and flight behavior of the Eurofighter.
“Imagine you are driving your car with a roof rack attached. You will first notice that the air resistance increases and with it the consumption of your car,” he said in a statement provided by the service. “And we calculated exactly such consumption values in advance in simulations with our mission planning software and checked them with the flight tests.”
The weapon’s beyond-visual-range capabilities will provide Eurofighter pilots with an additional tactical advantage, the pilot noted. Now, the service can fight targets that are not visible to the naked eye. “It was precisely for this ability that Meteor was procured,” he said.
Meteor missile ready for German Eurofighter fleet.
The Meteor has a combat range of 200 km (124 miles) and measures about 12 feet long, weighing approximately 397 pounds. Its ramjet air-breathing engine allows the missile to adjust its velocity based on its target’s maneuvers, the pilot said. The new missile has almost the same dimensions as the AMRAAM, allowing the system to be easily mounted onto existing weapon stations by just exchanging the missile eject launcher, per the air force.
It was developed under a joint program with NATO member nations Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, as well as Sweden, which is a NATO partner nation but not a member of the alliance.
The Meteor will be integrated on all of Germany’s Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, except for their eldest Tranche-1 models, the air force said. The Luftwaffe has plans to upgrade its aging Tranche-1 Eurofighter aircraft with new Tranche-4 models, and reportedly intends to procure up to 93 new Typhoon aircraft, along with over 40 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets and E-A18G Growlers to replace the remainder of its Panavia Tornado fighter fleet. (Source: News Now/Defense News)
02 Aug 21. Northrop Grumman’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range Completes First Successful Missile Live Fire. The U.S. Navy has successfully completed the first live fire of the Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER) from a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet. The test was conducted on July 19 at the Point Mugu Sea Range off the coast of southern California. The missile successfully demonstrated the long range capability of the new missile design.
“The AARGM-ER was successfully launched from the F/A-18 aircraft and met the key test objectives of a first missile live fire event. The government and industry team had great focus and was able to conduct this test event three months earlier than originally envisioned,” said Captain A.C. “Count” Dutko, Navy Program Manager for Direct Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242).
AARGM-ER leverages AARGM with significant improvements in some technology areas.
“Throughout the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase, Northrop Grumman has demonstrated the ability to deliver this affordable, time-critical capability that will protect and enhance the capability of our U.S. Navy aircrew,” said Gordon Turner, vice president, advanced weapons, Northrop Grumman. “Congratulations to the collective Government-Industry team for another successful milestone bringing AARGM-ER one step closer to operational fielding.”
AARGM-ER is being integrated on the Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft as well as the Air Force F-35A, Marine Corps F-35B, and Navy and Marine Corps F-35C aircraft.
03 Aug 21. EOS, Nova Systems form sovereign guided missile alliance. The Australian defence companies have thrown their hats in the race to support the Commonwealth government’s sovereign guided weapons initiative. Electro Optic Systems (EOS) and Nova Systems have announced the launch of the Sovereign Missile Alliance (SMA) — a new Australian owned, operated and controlled joint venture, which aims to establish and deliver a long-standing Sovereign Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise (GWEOE) capability for the ADF. EOS and Nova Systems have committed to leveraging a workforce of over 1,000 local employees, and a domestic supply chain of more than 600 Australian businesses, to provide the resources and funding opportunities necessary to initiate the GWEOE.
SMA’s offering, includes:
- sovereign management and control;
- an extensive supply chain network qualified to defence aerospace standards;
- design and development of military aerospace products;
- test and evaluation, certification and systems assurance;
- systems integration;
- rocket motors and propulsion; and
- advanced technology from the largest R&D and tertiary collaboration programs in Australian defence industry.
“The sovereign capability to deliver guided weapons already exists in-country and the SMA creates an Australian owned entity of scale with the required capabilities, resources, funding and established relationships across the broader Defence ecosystem to start this journey with the Commonwealth now,” Jim McDowell, group CEO at Nova Systems, said.
The SMA, which has committed to remaining “missile vendor neutral”, will not require approvals or permissions from foreign partners to deliver sovereign missile requirements.
The co-operative plans to establish a “sustainable, domestic capacity” through a Common User Facility to develop foreign missiles under licence, using the joint venture’s indigenous supply chain.
“We have the core competencies, advanced R&D capabilities, existing IP, and established technology partnerships to create the next generation of guided weapons optimised for Australian requirements with full sovereign ownership and control,” Dr Ben Greene, CEO of EOS, said.
“The Common User Facility will progressively move to produce these missiles.”
This announcement comes less than a month after Defence published a request for information (RFI) on AusTender, seeking input from defence industry and academia regarding capacity and interest in supporting the Commonwealth government’s $1bn GWEOE.
The initiative aims to address gaps outlined in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update by providing stakeholders, both SMEs and established primes, with opportunities in advanced manufacturing through the establishment of industry partnerships.
Defence is currently in the process of defining key requirements for the enterprise.
SMA is the latest industry partnership to express interest in supporting the program, with local munitions company NIOA setting up the Australian Missile Corporation (AMC) as part of its bid.
A number of firms have joined the AMC consortium, including Quickstep, Moog Australia, Black Sky Aerospace and Thomas Global Systems.
Lockheed Martin Australia and Thales Australia have also finalised a teaming agreement to facilitate co-operation in the design, development and production of Lockheed Martin’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile – Surface Launch (LRASM SL) variant.
The agreement will specifically focus on booster and rocket motor technologies.
The establishment of a sovereign enterprise, accelerated earlier this year amid mounting regional threats, forms part of the government’s investment in the early development of long-range anti-ship missiles, extended range surface-to-air missiles, advanced lightweight torpedoes and land strike capabilities.
The investment would also see the nation’s current and future submarine and surface fleets fitted with anti-ship and surface-to-air missiles with a range of approximately 370 kilometres, and maritime land strike missiles with a range of approximately 1,500 kilometres. (Source: Defence Connect)
30 Jul 21. USAF’s second hypersonic missile test ends in failed motor ignition. US Air Force has completed its seconds hypersonic missile test of its prototype AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW).
The service announced the missile detached from the B-52H Stratofortress bomber but its motor failed to ignite. While it did not meet all flight objectives, the test demonstrated several first-time events as the programme continues to track toward fielding a hypersonic capability in the early 2020s. Objectives for the test included demonstrating the safe release of the booster test vehicle from the B 52H and assessing booster performance.
The missile cleanly separated from the aircraft and successfully demonstrated the full release sequence including GPS acquisition, umbilical disconnect and power transfer from the aircraft to the missile. The missile also demonstrated fin operation and de-confliction maneuvers which ensures a safe operation for the aircrew.
The ARRW team continues to progress through the rapid prototyping effort with a steadfast commitment to the well-being of Airmen and equipment, striking a balance between prudent risk and rapid advancement of the programme.
“Developing first-of-its-kind missiles is difficult business and this why we test,” said Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, the Air Force programme executive officer for weapons. “This is a critical capability for our Air Force and we have the very best team working to figure out what happened, fix it and move out to deliver ARRW to our warfighters as quickly as possible.”
The ARRW programme aims to deliver a conventional hypersonic weapons capability to the warfighter in the early 2020s. The weapon system is designed to provide the ability to destroy high-value, time-sensitive targets. It will also expand precision-strike weapon systems’ capabilities by enabling rapid response strikes against heavily defended land targets. (Source: Google/https://www.aero-mag.com/)
02 Aug 21. 120 Handgun Models and Counting – CAA USA MCK Has You Covered.
CAA USA MCK (Micro Conversion Kit) is available for over 120 handgun models from GLOCK to Springfield, SIG SAUER to Smith & Wesson, CZ to soon to be Taurus. CAA USA continues to introduce new customer-driving models. In addition, new finishes, including popular camo patterns Mossy Oak™, Realtree®, and True Timber®, take your MCK from the range to the fields.
CAA USA, designers and developers of the world-famous MCK/Micro Conversion Kit, have reached a new benchmark for available MCK handgun models. The original Micro Conversion Kit, developed for the popular GLOCK pistols, quickly put the CAA USA design team to work delivering other models for a demanding customer base. The MCK quickly and easily turns any pistol into a more accurate, and super fun, shooting platform.
“We do our research in-house to determine potential new models, but in all honesty, it’s our public, through our active social media sites, that lets us know what pistol is high on their ‘need to have MCK’ list,” LTC. (Ret.) Mikey Hartman, CEO of CAA USA, said. “When one of the major firearms companies hits a home run on a new pistol, like the SIG 365 or the Springfield Hellcat, you can be sure we will have numerous vocal fans asking for an MCK version.”
Hartman offers an example of how CAA USA’s customers help determine the next new model. Pre-orders for the Taurus G2 and G3 MCK recently opened on CAA USA’s website to an extremely high volume of orders. The new models include Taurus G2c, G3, and G3c with optic-ready T.O.R.O., as well as the PT111 Models. “We had two other projects up next, but the demand for a Taurus G2 and G3 MCK were so significant that we changed our production schedule to accommodate our customers’ wants.”
As part of CAA USA’s customer-centric business model, CAA USA also offers accessories and an array of finishes including camo and Cerakote® finishes. Hartman continued, “It’s like when you were a kid and you got a G.I. Joe. You can’t play with just one soldier, you need his team and a Jeep, a couple of tanks, some big guns, and so on. Same with the MCK. You can trick it out with grip kits, magazines, sights, lights, lasers, glass breakers, knives, and even bayonets.”
With all their model, accessory, and finish options available, CAA USA is most excited to announce a new licensing agreement with three of the most popular camo brands: Mossy Oak™, Realtree®, and True Timber®. This new agreement will provide customers with new options for handgun hunting just in time for the upcoming fall season.
“Our customers make CAA USA successful,” Hartman concluded. “Without them, we would not be where we are at today as the leader in micro conversion kits for handguns. CAA USA listens and CAA USA delivers. We have 5 new MCK models coming this year, as well as the new MCK Gen 3 which we will be introducing at Shot Show 2022.”
About CAA USA. CAA USA is a designer, developer, and distributor of modern tactical accessories, optics, and handgun conversion kits targeting the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, and firearm enthusiasts across the globe. CAA USA’s famous conversion kit, the MCK/Micro Conversion Kit, has taken the country by storm with models for Glock, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Springfield, CZ as well as the upcoming Taurus and H&K. This made-for end-user conversion kit allows you to increase your accuracy and is an overall fun range tool.
30 Jul 21. Northrop Grumman Continues Production of Launcher Subsystem Hardware. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) is continuing production of Launcher Subsystem hardware in support of the Columbia and Dreadnought common missile compartment (CMC) program. The company was awarded an additional $69m not to exceed contract modification in support of the program in March of this year. Northrop Grumman is producing the launcher subsystem for a common missile compartment for the U.S. Navy’s Columbia and the Royal Navy’s Dreadnought submarines.
The CMC is a joint United States and United Kingdom investment and design, and it was developed to produce a common missile compartment, representing significant cost savings for each navy’s Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear (SSBN) fleet.
As the original and only designer and manufacturer for the U.S. Navy’s Strategic Systems Program’s (SSP) submarine ballistic missile launch system since its inception in 1956, Northrop Grumman remains at the forefront of the technologies related to this capability.
“We are using Agile manufacturing processes to design and build launcher systems for the U.S. Navy’s Columbia and the Royal Navy’s Dreadnought Class SSBNs,” said Joe Mulloy, vice president, marine systems, Northrop Grumman. “Building on our legacy, sharing a common missile compartment with the UK greatly streamlines production and deepens our collective strength.”
29 Jul 21. South Korean army deploying upgraded 81 mm mortar system. The Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) has begun deploying an upgraded version of its locally developed 81 mm mortar system, according to South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA).
Delivery to RoKA units of the upgraded system, which is now in series production, began in June, noted DAPA in a 29 July statement.
Referred to as the ‘81 mm Mortar-II’, the weapon, development of which began in December 2014 and was completed around August 2019, is not only 20% lighter than its predecessor, thus enabling greater mobility, but also requires fewer personnel (four instead of five) to operate.
The advanced mortar system uses laser and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies to identify the location of the targets and calculate the mortar settings, thereby increasing the speed and accuracy with which rounds can be delivered on to target.
The system, development of which was led by South Korean company Hyundai WIA, uses a combination of components. This includes a handheld set of digital binoculars that is used to identify targets and combines GPS functionality with rangefinding equipment to allow the user to ‘tag’ an enemy position through the optics. This information is then transmitted to the mortar fire-controller, who confirms the target location and mortar-laying settings, with the information then sent to the mortar gunners.
Replacing the optical sight on the previous mortar is a laser system that allows for rapid adjustment and setting of the mortar, providing much faster set-up times. (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.