Sponsored by Arnold Defense www.arnolddefense.com
10 Sep 21. Arnold Defense announces next generation FLETCHER development program. Arnold Defense, the St. Louis based manufacturer of 2.75-inch rocket launchers, is announcing the launch of a capability development program for their unique FLETCHER Land Based, Laser Guided Rocket Launcher that aims to deliver a future ‘next generation’ suite of systems. The FLETCHER precision guided 2.75-inch/70mm weapon system was first unveiled in 2017 at DSEi in London and a number of major orders were announced in October 2020. This announcement coincides with DSEi 2021 that is taking place 14-17 September. At the show, Arnold Defense FLETCHER launchers can be seen displayed on the Level Peaks Associates (H4-648) and ISTEC (H2-702) stands.
Following the receipt of some direct operational feedback from current users of the FLETCHER system, Arnold Defense is launching this capability development program to investigate the potential to take the next generation of FLETCHER systems in a number of key directions. Specifically, the program will include the development, integration and testing of optical pointing, for use when laser designation is not an option and digital fire control systems to increase the operability, functionality and operational capability. As well, the program includes the development of a system to enable multiple “clustered” launcher configurations and notably, man-pack portable units for use by dismounted troops. Once developed and successfully tested, this will allow FLETCHER to be used by small teams working on foot giving the dismounted user the ability to accurately engage targets from the ground at a range of over 5km. Running concurrently with this future development program, Arnold Defense are already working on some other revolutionary development projects for FLETCHER including a boat-mounted marine variant and further development of their 23-round MLHS ground-based system, first unveiled at DSEi in 2019.
With FLETCHER, Arnold Defense has made a bold departure from the traditional concept of use for 2.75-inch rocket systems; that of an area suppression weapon delivered by aviation assets. Arnold’s innovative approach to FLETCHER using advanced rocket-guidance technology to utilize ground-based launch platforms, meets the demands of modern, vehicle-mounted and dismounted asymmetric warfare.
FLETCHER’s unique design allows for ease of operation, maintenance and sustainment. It employs an existing suite of guidance modules, rockets and warheads, already used in well-known programs and readily available to global forces. As a result, the FLETCHER system is ‘rocket agnostic’ allowing the user to fire their existing in-service 2.75-inch rockets of choice with rockets from both BAe and Thales having been tested and certified for use.
Doug Wallace, President at Arnold Defense said, “We’ve listened very carefully to the feedback we’ve received from the operational use of the first generation FLETCHER system and we’re now developing a suite of possible future solutions to improve the operational capability and flexibility.” He added, “Arnold Defense is committed to protecting the warfighter. FLETCHER has generated huge interest globally with its unique capability to deliver organic, long-range precision firepower to even the smallest unsupported tactical element. What we’re now developing will add even more to the firepower toolset on offer to the users.”
10 Sep 21. Galvion releases a new range of data compatible accessories to support their Active Systems concept at DSEi. Galvion, a world leader in the design and manufacture of military power management solutions, with operationally proven pedigree in NATO countries, has released three new key products as part of their integrated Active Systems capability that facilitates the harvesting, distribution and management of dismounted soldier power, data and software. The announcement coincides with the DSEi exhibition taking place in London, 14-17 September 2021. At the show, Galvion will also be exhibiting their range of next generation head systems and Li-ion platform power solutions on stand H1-424.
To be mission effective, the modern soldier is required to carry, operate and maintain a host of devices that all demand significant power and data capacity – for example radios, NVGs, GPS, smart phones, laptops, drones and other surveillance equipment. Galvion has released three new products that integrate with their existing soldier power systems, to better support the dismounted soldier in managing these increasing technology demands. These products are flexible, scalable and comply with US NettWarrior and NATO STANAG 4695 standards for backward compatibility, ease of integration with other product ranges and improved logistic sustainability on the battlefield.
The Power and Data Hub 4-Port (PDH-4) provides a multi-function power and data connection between the basic soldier-worn architecture, such as hand-held radios and smart devices, and a suitable power source. The PDH-4 enables the soldier to send and receive data through the connection with the soldier worn devices, increasing situational awareness through system integration. When combined with the PWS it maximises the distribution and use of harvested power sources and is ready for the soldier’s future data sharing demands and software updates.
The Personal Worn Power Scavenger (PWS) provides a highly adaptable interface to allow the soldier to harvest power from multiple sources such as solar panels, 12V systems, mains power or other squad or personal power sources such as SoloPackTM. The PWS can be used in isolation or combined with other products, such as the PDH-4, to increase utility and the number of devices that can be charged.
The third new product, the Radio Power Adapter (RPA), easily integrates with most common hand-held radios in use today. This adapter provides power to the main radio battery by connecting to a main soldier-worn power source and keeping it charged and ready for when the radio is disconnected from the soldier-worn architecture. The Radio Power Adapter supports the AN/PRC-148 MBITR, Falcon III AN/PRC-152A and the AN/PRC-161 Link-16. The RPA also reduces the number of radio batteries a user needs to carry and fits into their existing load carrying system.
Kristen Lomastro, President of Active Systems, said: “Galvion has been leading the way for soldier power management and distribution systems with their NervCentr® products and I am extremely pleased to announce the release of these three new products to augment our dismounted soldier capability. With their small form factor, these products easily integrate into existing soldier-worn equipment and are compatible with other soldier systems. They also provide the hardware infrastructure to support our mission-enabling software making them future-ready. Galvion always places the soldier first, and we pride ourselves on designing solutions that help to protect and support those who protect us.”
31 Aug 21. Smart Munitions Increase Market Share. Top attack munitions are now widely developed for different artillery calibers with offering varied ranges. While aviation assets now employ precision guided munitions (PGM) and smart munitions on an increasing scale, the land sector has been more cautious as their target sets are different. A key role of artillery is still to provide suppressive fire against opposition forces using high-explosive (HE) projectiles, with secondary effects including smoke and illumination.
To engage hard targets such as armoured fighting vehicles (AFV) cargo rounds were developed and deployed. These carry a large number of small sub-munitions fitted with a small high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead to penetrate the vulnerable, lighter armoured upper surfaces of AFVs. These sub-munitions can have a high dud rate and therefore limit the manoeuvre of follow up forces as well as potentially causing later casualties to civilians.
For this reasons such munitions are banned under the Convention on Cluster Munition (CCM) and the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) agreements and have therefore been phased out of service with most countries, although they are still deployed by such countries such as China and Russia.
As with all artillery projectiles, the key requirement is target acquisition, especially at long ranges and PGM are expensive and would normally be used against high value targets.
To counter AFVs, more advanced 155mm top attack weapons have been developed and deployed with market leaders in Europe, including the GIWS SMArt 155 and the Bofors/Nexter BONUS.
SMArt is a joint development between the German companies of Diehl Defence and Rheinmetall Weapons & Munitions with export sales being made to Australia, Greece and Switzerland. Some 12,000 have been manufactured. SMArt 155 carries two top attack sub-munitions, each having a heavy metal explosively formed penetrator (EFP) warhead.
Manufacturing was completed sometime ago but the production line is to be restarted to enable German Army stocks to be replenished as well as allowing the potential needs of export customers to be met. These will be essentially the same as the original SMArt 155 but obsolete sub-systems will be replaced. The maximum range when fired from a German Army PzH 2000 155mm/52 calibre self-propelled howitzer (SPH) is 27.5 kilometres (17 miles).
The German SMArt 155 mm projectile contains two sub-munitions that are designed to penetrate the vulnerable top surfaces of armoured vehicles (GIWS)
The BAE Systems Bofors/Nexter Bonus was originally developed to meet the requirements of France and Sweden with production lines being established in both countries and with export sales made to Finland, Norway and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The latest version is the Bonus Mk II and carries two sub-munitions which are parachute retarded at the rate of 45 metres per second (147 feet) and have a search area of 32,000 square metres (334,400sq ft) each.
Maximum range when fired from a 155mm/52 calibre weapon is quoted as 35km (21.7 miles) and when fired from a 155mm/39 calibre weapon is 27km (16.7 miles).
Late in 2018 the US Army placed a contract through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency for the Bonus Mk II with deliveries from the Swedish production line now well under way. A second contract was placed in early 2020
The US Army did deploy the 155mm M712 Copperhead Cannon Launched Guided Projectile (CLGP) and this Laser Guided Projectile (LGP) fitted with a HE warhead was used in action in the Middle East, but these have time expired.
The US currently deploys the Raytheon Excalibur 155mm M982 PGM fired from its deployed 155mm/39 cal M777A2 lightweight towed howitzer and the 155mm/39 cal M109A6/A7 SPH. Details of the platform, target and GPS specific data are entered into the projectile’s mission computer through an Enhanced Inductive Fuze Setter (EIFZ).
Excalibur uses a jam resistant inertial GPS receiver to update the inertial navigation system (INS) to provide precision in-flight guidance and according to the US Army “dramatically improving accuracy to less than 2m (6.5ft) miss distance, regardless of range.” It has three fuze options which depend on the target being engage and these are point detonation (PD), PD delay and height of burst.
The current production model is the M982 Excalibur Increment Ib which has a number of improvements including hardware and software updates to improve GPS jamming resistance as well as allowing user defined trajectories for target engagement.
Another development is the Excalibur Shaped Trajectory (EST) which was successfully demonstrated in 2018 and eliminates targets in hard to reach locations by selecting the projectile’s terminal or final phase attack angle.
The maximum range of M982 Excalibur depends on the weapon and charge but for a 155mm/39 calibre artillery system it is 39.3km (24.4 miles) with a Modular Artillery Charge System (MACS) while minimum range is being quoted as 8.7km (5.4 miles).
By early 2020 production of the Excalibur has reached over 14,000 units of which some 1,400 have been used in combat. In addition to the US Army and Marines, export customers include Australia, Canada, India, Jordan, Netherlands and Sweden.
Other weapons that are compatible with the 155mm Excalibur are BAE Systems Archer (Sweden) and AS90 (UK), Nexter’s CAESAR (France), Denel’s G6 (South Africa), Hanwha’s K9 Thunder (Korea), Rock Island M198 (USA) and KMW’s PzH 2000 (Germany).
In mid-2018, Nexter revealed that it was developing the Katana family of 155mm PGM using internal research and development funding. The Katana has sets of control surfaces positioned on its ogive as well as four fins at the rear which unfold after launch. The guidance system consists of an inertial measurement unit/global position system (IMS/GPS) with a maximum range of up to 60km (37 miles) with a circular error probable (CEP) of 10m (32ft).
During trials carried out in Sweden late in 2020 a CAESAR 155mm/52 calibre SP artillery system fired a 155mm Katana during which all of the Canard Actuation Systems (CAS) were successfully tested. The next phase will be for a complete coordinate guided and coordinate controlled firings sometime in 2021.
Leonardo of Italy has been working on the Vulcano 155mm Ballistic Extended Range (BER) artillery projectile for some time and this unguided projectile has been type classified by the Italian Army.
Leonardo is working with the Diehl Defence of Germany for a semi-active laser (SAL) version of Vulcano having a range of up to 80km (50 miles) when fired from a 155mm/52 calibre artillery system. This has an insensitive HE warhead with pre-fragmented tungsten splinters.
The Russian KBP Instrument Design Bureau has developed a complete family of LGP, propelling charge as well as their guidance systems.
The 152mm 2K25 Krasnopol guided weapon system (GWS) uses the 152mm 3OF39 LGP with a maximum range of 20km (12.4 miles), fitted with a HE fragmentation (HE-F) warhead and is claimed to have a high probability against stationary and moving targets of up to 80 percent.
This is used in conjunction with the latest Malakhit automated artillery fire control system as well as laser designators/rangefinders including the ID22/ID26, LTsD-3M1 and the French DHY-307.
While the Russian Army and many other countries have large numbers of 152mm artillery weapons, NATO and other countries have 155mm artillery systems and the KBP Instrument Design Bureau has developed 155mm versions.
The first of these is called the 155mm KM-1 Krasnopol GWS and includes the K155 SAL LGP with a maximum range of 20km (12.4 miles) and is also fitted with a HE-F warhead.
The latest is the 155mm KM-1M Krasnopol-M2 which includes the K115M SAL LGP and has range increased to 25km (15.5 miles) and also has a HE-F warhead.
For use with 122mm artillery systems such as the widely deployed D-30 (towed) and 2S1 (SP) artillery systems, the KBP Instrument Design Bureau has developed the 122mm KM-3 Kitolov-2M GWS which includes the actual K122 LGP and propelling charge which has a maximum range of 13.5km (8.3 miles).
China invests in PGM
China has invested in PGM with all of these being marketed by China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) to potential export customers with the 155mm versions being exported to a number of countries and recently used in North Africa.
These include the GP 155 with a maximum range of 20km (13.5 miles) and the more recent GP155A with range increased to 25km (15.5 miles) with both of these being of the LGP type and have a HE warhead.
To enable targets to be engaged at longer range the GP155B has been developed and this features both the Chinese Beidou satellite positioning system and GPS with NORINCO quoting a maximum range of 35km (21.7 miles).
For 122mm artillery systems NORINCO is marketing the GP122 with a maximum range of up to 14km (8.7 miles).
These Chinese LGP can be used with their Laser Target Designator Rangefinder OL1 and OL2 plus radio communications equipment, fire control system (FCS) and fire control calculator (FCC) and programme setter.
Tank launched precision projectiles
The main advantage of tank launched guided projectiles is they can engage threat targets well beyond the effective range of the main armament of the main battle tank (MBT).
The US Army did have the M60A2 MBT and the M551 Sheridan light tank armed with a 152mm gun/missile launcher, but both of these have now been phased out of service.
The now Northrop Grumman (then ATK) and Raytheon were developing the Mid-Range Munition (MRM) which would have been fired from the 120mm main armament of the M1A1/M1A2 Abrams MBT and the Mounted Combat System (MCS) which was part of the Future Combat System (FCS), but this programme and MRM was cancelled.
Following a competition, Northrop Grumman, Armament Systems, was down selected to continue development of the 120mm Advanced Multi-Purpose Round (AMP) XM1147 which can be fired from the 120mm M256 main gun of the MA2 Abrams MBT fitted with the Ammunition Data Link (ADL).
This HE round can be programmed for one of three modes including point detonate, point detonate delay or airburst but also has a default in which the round functions in PD mode when not set through the ADL.
It has a muzzle velocity of 1,150m/s and a typical target range of 2kmm (1.2 miles) and trials have shown it will punch a hole in an eight inch (20cm) dual reinforced contract wall at zero degrees impact. When fielded it will replace currently fielded HE rounds including the M830A1 HEAT, M908 HE counter obstacle round and the M1028 canister.
In December 2020 the AMP XM1147 had received Milestone C which cleared it for production release with first being Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP).
Northrop Grumman, Armament Systems of the US have already stated that “the company is also evaluating a 105mm AMP concept with internal research and development funding for the Stryker Mobile Gun System and the potential of the US Army fielding a 105mm armed Mobile Protected Firepower platforms, currently being tested for deployment by the Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCT)
The new 105mm AMP cartridge will combine the capability of three currently inventoried rounds which are M456 HEAT, M393 high-explosive plastic (HEP) and M1040 canister, into one round to greatly enhance the capability and effectiveness of our mobile system by allowing a single round to expand lethality in their limited vehicle ammunition stowage.
The on-going investment of 120mm ammunition development is considerable especially in AB HE ammunition such as the German Rheinmetall Weapons & Munitions DM11 HE round which can be programmed in the weapon and is already in quantity production and service with a number of countries.
German Rheinmetall 120 mm DM11 air-bursting high-explosive round complete (left) and as it would appear in flight with fins extended (right) (Rheinmetall)
In mid-April 2021 Rheinmetall stated: “ The DM11 is in service with four countries. Three more countries are interested in procuring the DM11 in conjunction with upgrade programmes or new purchases of the 120mm smoothbore technology.”
The US Marines purchased DM11 for use with their M1A1 Abrams MBTs under the designation of the MK324, but these have now been phased out of service.
The 120mm DM11 can be fired from 120mm L44 and L55 smooth bore tank guns and consists of a warhead with a programmable fuze as well as ballistic cowl, tailfin assembly, drive band, combustible casing with propelling charge and a new design of stub case which contains the primer and an integrated data callable from programming.
The German Rheinmetall DM11 round has been designed to neutralise battlefield targets such as fortifications and walls (Rheinmetall)
The Russian Army has deployed 125mm gun launched LGP for its MBTs with these having a maximum range of 5,000m (3 miles). First versions were fitted with a single HEAT warhead but more recent ones have been fitted with a tandem warhead to neutralise targets fitted with ERA.
The main drawback of these is that the gunner must keep his sight on the target until missile impact which at longer ranges can take up to 17 seconds, by which time the target could have moved and taken cover.
NORINCO is also marketing tank launched LGP with the 105mm one designated the GP2 and the 125mm one GP7. GP2 is a one piece round and has a maximum range of 5,000m while GP7 is in two parts like the Russian tank launched LGP and has a similar range and are fitted with a tandem HEAT warhead to defeat targets fitted with ERA.
The State Kyiv Design Bureau Luch in the Ukraine has developed a complete family of gun launched LGP with calibres of 125mm, 115mm, 105mm and 100mm with the 105mm version being successfully fired from a 105mm rifled gun installed in a John Cockerill Defense two person turret.
The Ukraine has developed a number of guided projectiles including the 120 mm and 125 mm tank launched and the Kvitnyk artillery projectile (Christopher F Foss)
France was working on a 120mm Metric Precision Munition for its Leclerc MBTs but work is now being concentrated on a 120mm laser guided mortar round under leadership of Thales.
Israel Aerospace Industries has developed the Laser Homing Anti-Tank (LAHAT) projectile which would have a range of at least 8,000m (4.9 miles) with both 105mm and 120mm versions developed.
Roketsan, the missile systems house of Turkey, is developing the Tanok 120mm LGP for use with the Altay MBT now in production for the Turkish Land Forces Command. This is stated to have direct and top attack modes and have a maximum range of up to 6km (3.7 miles) and is fitted with a tandem HEAT warhead. (Source: AMR)
28 Aug 21. Contenders for the Royal Navy’s interim anti-ship missile requirement. The announcement of the shortlisted options for the Royal Navy’s Interim Surface-to-Surface Guided Weapon (I-SSGW) competition should be made soon. Here we assess the background to the procurement and the likely candidates.
The semi-obsolete Harpoon Block 1C (GWS 60) anti-ship missile that still nominally equips the Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers has survived several attempts to take it out of service. Its current official OSD is now 2023 which should dovetail with I-SSGW arrival. However, the RN recently invited Babcock to submit a tender to continue supporting the system until 31 March 2024 with 3 additional one-year options, potentially sustaining it until 2027. Curiously, only HMS Kent among the 3 Harpoon-capable escorts assigned to the 2021 carrier strike group deployment, sailed with the canisters in place. HMS Montrose, based in the Persian Gulf is the only other RN warship currently equipped with the full set of 8 missiles.
The available budget for I-SSGW is up to £200M (excluding VAT if payable), enough to buy a modest stock of missiles, logistic and training support until the Future Cruise and Anti-Ship Weapon (FCASW) is available in 2028. (FCASW is an Anglo-French project to replace a variety of long-range missiles with new generation technology, it is unclear, as yet if it will be capable of hypersonic speeds or another subsonic stealthy cruise missile). As a critical bi-lateral international project, it is important to signal to the French that I-SSGW will only be a small purchase to cover a 10-year capability gap and does not mean the UK is losing interest in FCASW.
The I-SSGW specification states it must be “a ship-launched, have over-the-horizon anti-ship capability and a terrain-following precision maritime land attack capability.” The desire for land-strike is sound and but adds another dimension to the project. This requirement also effectively eliminates the MBDA Exocet MM40 Block III and the Boeing Harpoon Block II+ from the competition due to their limited capabilities in this regard.
“Terrain following” is a very loose description of how missiles may navigate over land and various levels of sophistication may be employed. Using Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) technology, active radar may be used which is more accurate and available in all weathers. A more passive method uses optical cameras to compare the terrain against a pre-programmed library using Digital Scene Matching Area Correlator (DSMAC) technology, first pioneered for the Tomahawk missile. Alternatively, a combination of inertial navigation (INS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) gives a basic capability but GPS may be denied by adversaries. What level of overland navigational sophistication and robustness is required by the RN is unclear.
The deterrent threat of being able to sink ships at range is the primary requirement but, recent history suggests that the need to strike targets inland will be more frequent than the need to hit ships. The RN’s limited stock of Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM) can only be fired from submarines. On a good day, the RN is able to put only 2 or 3 SSNs to sea and they have a multitude of other pressing tasks. The RN’s land-attack capability has been used in several conflicts and is a powerful tool but may require the SSN to loiter in a suitable firing area for some time. Frigates able to attack inland targets offers greater flexibility and an alternative, if less stealthy, option.
It should be noted that TLAM is more powerful than most of the I-SSGW contenders and has a 1,000lb warhead and a range of about 900nm. The RAF’s Storm Shadow has a 450kg warhead optimised for hardened bunker penetration so I-SSGW would complete a suite of UK land-attack weapons, each with its own advantages.
The expectation is that I-SSGW will be fitted to just 5 of the 8 towed array-equipped Type 23 frigates which are a key component of the carrier strike group. It is likely the missiles would be rotated around the frigates as they deploy operationally. To accommodate the new weapon on the Type 23, they will have to be canister-launched and have the same approximate footprint of the Harpoons they replace. Although essentially a bolt-on system, it must interface with the combat management system and the ship or other platorms may need to exchange data with the missile in flight.
It is now more than two years since the MoD issued the prior information notice (PIN) inviting industry to make proposals but as of August 2021, has still to formally invite bids. It was stated in Parliament in March 2021 that “There was a healthy response from Industry to the [I-SSGW] Pre-Qualification Questionnaire and we are planning to proceed to issue an Invitation to negotiate to the down-selected bidders later this year.” Perhaps the shortlist will be announced at DSEI in September.
The time scale now looks very tight if the original timelines are to be met. First deliveries of shipboard equipment are supposed to be made by December 2022 and the missile stocks between December 2023-24. The initial support contract will be for 4 years, with the option of extending out by 9 further years which could see the system in service until 2036. The last Type 23 frigate will be withdrawn in 2035 and the missile systems could potentially be migrated to the Type 31 frigates as the Type 23s are phased out. The Type 26 will be equipped with the larger, vertically-launched FCASW.
It should be remembered that information in the public domain about the characteristics of each missile is vague and the claims made in the manufacturer’s marketing materials may be slightly misleading. Only those with security clearance can truly analyse the complex performance capabilities of each candidate and whether they meet RN criteria.
Besides affordability, each weapon will be judged on; battlefield effect, operability in different environments, munition sensitivity, system and design safety, human factors, deployability, training, sustainability and supply chain, capability resilience and reliability.
All four of these potential candidates are part of a new generation of Western missiles that cruise at subsonic speeds and are optimised for use in cluttered littoral environments. They can strike targets on land using complex attack profiles. They utilise multiple guidance technologies which minimise electronic emissions and are very resistant to countermeasures.
Naval Strike Missile
Developed in Norway, the Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile stands out as the smallest of the options by some margin, and by avoiding the use of radar for guidance, makes it especially difficult to detect and defeat. Its main drawback is the small warhead with about half the hitting power of the Harpoon it might replace which could be a problem if trying to counter larger warships. Deployed in the littoral environment against combatants up to frigate size it would be very formidable. It has been in service since 2012 and successfully exported to several navies, notably bought by the USN for its Littoral Combat Ships and Constellation-class frigates.
The air-launched Joint Strike Missile has been developed from the NSM and can be carried internally in the weapons bay of the F-35As being purchase by Norway. Although it would have to be carried externally on the F-35B’s wing pylon, JSM would be a very attractive addition to the UK inventory.
The RN is known to have admired the NSM for some time and many commentators suggest this is the favorite to win the competition. The plan to further extend the life of Harpoon suggests the RN feels it may need to keep the weapon either to mitigate for late I-SSGW delivery or retain greater destructive power to complement the lightweight NSM, should it be selected.
RBS15 Mk 4
The latest version of the Saab RBS15 Mk 4 ‘Gungnir’ (Odin’s Spear) appears to sit in the sweet spot that gives a good balance between range and warhead size. Although the RBS15 can trace its heritage back to the 1980s, the Gungnir is a completely refreshed design that entered service with the Swedish navy in 2020 and has been selected by the German Navy.
It is arguably the most modern of the contenders and includes sophisticated electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) and maneuvers in unpredictable attack profiles at increased speed during the terminal attack phase, delivering a 200kg high-explosive blast and pre-fragmented warhead. The manufacturers say it has a very low maintenance requirement and a planned life of 30 years, subject to planned incremental upgrades.
In April 2021 Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced they had joined with Thales UK to offer the Sea Serpent missile for the I-SSGW competition. The Sea Serpent is based on the latest Gabriel Mk 5 variant also known as the Advanced Naval Attack Missile (ANAM). IAI has a long heritage in missile development and exports, the first Gabriel variant went to sea in the early 1970s. Details of the Sea Serpent are limited but it is believed to have been loosely based on the design of the Harpoon but is considerably cheaper. IAI’s limited knowledge of the UK market is mitigated by partnering with Thales and their long experience of systems integration onto RN warships.
The Gabriel V is in service on the Israel Navy’s Saar 5 and 6 class corvettes and has also been selected by the Finish Navy. The Sea Serpent is something of a dark horse in the competition but is undoubtedly another modern and sophisticated missile designed for complex contested littoral environments.
The Lockheed Martin Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) AGM-158C is the largest, most capable and expensive option. Based on the successful Joint Air-to-Surface Stand off Missile (JASSM-ER), it has a quoted range of up to 500km and a 1,000lb warhead. It is designed to be effective even in the most contested environments where GSP and data links are denied and is capable of autonomous targeting using its own passive sensors and AI.
LM have demonstrated a canister-launched vision but it will be launched from Mk 41 VLS cells by the USN. The air-launched version has been selected by the US and Australian Air Force.
LRASM is undoubtedly the ‘gold standard’ for Western anti-ship missiles, given its sophistication. Unfortunately, it has a price tag to match which probably makes it an outside contender for the limited budget I-SSGW. When the RN acquires FCASW it should then have something of equivalent capability to LRASM. There is also growing political dissatisfaction about the increasing amount of off-the-shelf purchases of defence equipment from the US (without similar reciprocated purchases) that may also count against LM’s offering.
Whichever solution is selected, the RN can finally look forward to possessing a modern anti-ship missile while gaining a surface-launched land-attack capability. Stocks are likely to be small, and until FCASW arrives, will provide the bare minimum for a fleet of the RN’s stature and ambition.
Lockheed Martin said that the company ahd now received permission for exporng LRASM in a press briefing on September 9th. (Source: https://www.navylookout.com/)
08 Sep 21. Virfex, Inc., Wareham, Massachusetts Announces The RAVEN™ Level III Ultra Lightweight Body Armor Plate.
Its Lightest, Stand-Alone Plate Is Now NIJ 0101.06 Level III Certified.
Virfex, Inc is pleased to announce its “RAVEN™” Level III Body Armor Torso Plate Insert, which offers multi-hit protection against .308 NATO M80, .30-06 M2 Ball, 5.56x45mm M193, 7.62×39 FMJ and 7.62×39 MSC is now fully NIJ0101.06 Level III certified. This is their lightest plate to date. Using DSM Dyneema(R) Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene and Virfex’s proprietary manufacturing technologies, they minimize weight and thickness while maximizing multi-shot protection. The RAVEN™ is designed to provide “all-day protection” for police officers, federal agents, first responders, prison guards, private security, cash-in-transit drivers, and others in need of protection from the vast majority of domestic threats.
Raven Threats Defeated
Weight: 2.5 lbs. (10×12 Shooter Cut)
Warranty: 10 Years
Plate Applications: External Carriers, Plate Carriers, and Tactical Body Armor
Origin: All Virfex Body Armor Plates and Carriers are designed and manufactured in Massachusetts. All of the RAVEN™’s raw materials are proudly Made in the USA!
Virfex, Inc’s President, Gus Dehni, stated, “We are very pleased to receive full NIJ 0101.06 Level 3 Certification for our first multi shot plate entry into the body armor market. We believe with our technical expertise and raw material partners, Virfex will have Level III+ and Level IV plates NIJ 0101.06 certified within 2022”
About Virfex, Inc: Virfex is a U.S. based body armor manufacturer specializing in lightweight and affordable personal protection products. Virfex also designs armor carrier systems intended for professional duty use amongst Law Enforcement and Military Agencies.
About National Institute of Justice: The NIJ is the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. The NIJ promulgates standards for body armor used by law enforcement agencies in the USA. The NIJ reviews submitted body armor against their standards including the review of the armor’s design, test data from NVLAP accredited labs and on-site inspections of manufacturing facilities. The NIJ Level III standard requires protection against six shots from a reference .308 NATO M80 bullet. (Source: PR Newswire)
08 Sep 21. SKYDEX and ArmorSource Partner on Helmet Technology Innovation to Protect Military and Law Enforcement Communities,
ArmorSource to offer new SKYDEX Iso-Fit Helmet Protection System to Military Troops and Law Enforcement as latest innovation to improve operational effectiveness
SKYDEX, a global leader in advanced impact mitigation and energy absorption solutions, today announced that the company has partnered with ArmorSource to enhance the company’s combat helmets with state-of-the-art technology and a new generation of protection with the SKYDEX IsoFit Helmet Protection System.
SKYDEX and ArmorSource Partner on Helmet Technology Innovation to Protect Military and Law Enforcement Communities
A strategic move that will revolutionize the tactical helmet industry, SKYDEX and ArmorSource will combine forces to bring their best-in-class solutions and technologies together to create a helmet that features a custom fit liner and unbeatable protection for military and law enforcement communities. As a leading manufacturer of tactical helmets, ArmorSource is well equipped to leverage the new SKYDEX IsoFit system and lead the next generation of helmet protection.
“SKYDEX is proud to partner with a like-minded company that shares a similar standard of excellence and purpose to create solutions that protect people,” said Alvaro Vaselli, President and CEO of SKYDEX. “Between the recent advancements that ArmorSource has made with its helmet shell technology and our innovations in designing an unrivaled fit and impact protection, our solutions will help reshape the future of helmet protection on a global scale.”
The SKYDEX IsoFit Helmet Protection System features superior impact protection with an industry-leading energy-absorption pad system that can be easily integrated into any tactical helmet. With a patented micro-adjustment system, the IsoFit liner provides a customized fit and unmatched helmet stability to minimize distractions while users are in action. An added benefit includes open-airflow, designed to keep heads cool and dry in hot environments, combined with superior protection and fit. All of these elements offer users a safer and more comfortable experience, improving operational effectiveness.
“As a leading manufacturer of helmets, our mission is rooted in improving the survivability of military troops and law enforcement officers and ensuring our products represent the latest innovations for protection,” said Brad Grunden, President at ArmorSource. “By teaming up with the design experts at SKYDEX, we’re confident that this unique collaboration will elevate our company’s ability to leverage the most advance technology for military and law enforcement organizations and help grow the business substantially.”
To learn more about the new SKYDEX IsoFit Helmet Protection System available fall 2021, please visit https://www.skydex.com/product/skydex-isofit-helmet-protection-system.
Established in 2005, Ohio based ArmorSource LLC., is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of ballistic helmets, with an emphasis on producing high quality, high performance ballistic helmets based on the specific needs of the customer. ArmorSource’s mission is to significantly enhance our products’ ballistic capabilities while maintaining and improving all aspects of comfort and durability. ArmorSource’s products and manufacturing operations continue to demonstrate the ability to meet and exceed our customers’ objectives while providing transparency at all levels of manufacturing and program management.
ArmorSource has been a key supplier to the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force, as well as a supplier to prominent military and law enforcement agencies in Europe, South America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. ArmorSource’s Next Generation Ballistic Helmets provide its users with ultra-lightweight solutions together with enhanced ballistic, environmental, and mechanical capabilities. The U.S. Air Force’s Security Forces recently selected ArmorSource’s helmets for their Next Generation USAF Ballistic Helmet. To learn more, please review this article on the next-generation helmets keep Defenders lethal, ready. With significant R&D, manufacturing, and program management expertise, ArmorSource is positioned to develop solutions tailored to the mission objectives of its customers. Visit www.armorsource.com to learn more.
Founded in 2001 and based in Denver, Colorado, SKYDEX is a global leader in advanced impact mitigation and energy absorption solutions. From armored vehicles to bomb suits, helmets and body protection, running shoes and wall padding for baseball fields, SKYDEX is driven by a single purpose: “Protecting People and Things That Matter.” With technical expertise and proprietary geometries, advanced SKYDEX materials are used to protect hundreds of thousands of lives across a wide range of applications, such as vehicle protection, marine performance, sports protection, blast and ballistics, work wear/PPE, electronics and more. Backed by a passionate team of engineers and incredible technologies, SKYDEX solutions outperform traditional materials. To learn more, visit https://www.skydex.com/. (Source: PR Newswire)
08 Sep 21. FN Herstal presents its FN Airborne Extended Digital Suite. FN Herstal, the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of small calibre weapons and integrated weapon systems, will showcase its new FN® Airborne Extended Digital Suite at the DSEI international trade show, London, from 14 to 17 September 2021. This suite further enhances combat capabilities of rotary- and fixed-wing airborne platforms by integrating high-performance equipment such as laser guided and/or unguided rockets from Thales, digital machine gun pods from FN Herstal and EO/IR systems from Safran.
FN Herstal: weapon systems integrator
In 2018, FN Herstal introduced its FN® Airborne Digital Suite comprising: the digital FN® D-HUD Head-Up Display, the digital FN® D-PC Pod Controller and the self-contained fixed forwardfiring digital FN® D-Pod system.
Today, the Belgium-based company has pushed ahead the development of the Digital Suite that now allows the integration of FN Herstal and Third-Parties equipment onto rotary- and fixed-wing airborne platforms: the FN® Airborne Extended Digital Suite.
Based on the initial infrastructure, the FN® Airborne Extended Digital Suite allows airborne platforms to widen the choice of integrated airborne fixed forward-firing weapon solutions with unprecedented firing capabilities.
Besides the .50 cal machine gun in the FN® D-Pod, lightweight rocket launchers available in 7, 12 or 19 tubes allow a mix of 70mm laser guided and/or unguided rockets (such as FZ231 from Thales Belgium) delivering metric accuracy at extended range (exceeding 7km on static targets) to defeat soft and light armoured targets.
The FN® Airborne Extended Digital Suite also accepts EO/IR equipment such as the ultra-long range electrooptical system Euroflir 410™ from Safran incorporating up to 10 sensors.
The FN® Airborne Extended Digital Suite allows the integration of multi-functional displays such as the MDU-268V2 display from Scioteq used to select the armaments and display the digital video from the EO/IR.
The FN® Airborne Extended Digital Suite allows high-value equipment from several different suppliers to be fully integrated. This gives the customer a very wide range of capabilities to choose from, and ensures that they will operate reliably together. FN Herstal, as a weapon systems integrator, once again, has put its expertise and innovation to work to ensure the highest level of operational capability and top quality service for military forces around the world.
Discover the FN® Airborne Extended Digital Suite by visiting FN Herstal’s booth from 14 to 17 September 2021 at DSEI international trade show (Belgian Pavilion, Booth H4 105). (Source: ASD Network)
07 Sep 21. USAF’s F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft completes first maritime JDAM test. The test is aimed at validating a new method to employ air-delivered munitions on naval ships. The 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) have partnered to test an F-15E Strike Eagle equipped with modified 2,000lb GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM). The JDAM test was conducted as part of QUICKSINK Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD), said 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin from 53rd Wing. It was carried out over the Gulf of Mexico on 26 August and saw the participation of three F-15E Strike Eagles from the 85th TES.
The test was aimed at validating a new approach to employ air-delivered munitions on ships.
USAF 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron F-15E weapons system officer major Andrew Swanson said: “For any large moving ship, the airforce’s primary weapon is the 2,000lb laser-guided GBU-24.
“Not only is this weapon less than ideal, it also reduces our survivability based on how it must be employed. This munition can change all of that.”
QUICKSINK JCTD seeks to create a new tactic that helps deliver ‘torpedo-like seaworthy kills from the air’ at an affordable cost.
This latest test builds on an earlier 53rd Wing test conducted last year, in which a 49th TES B-52H Stratofortress dropped JDAMs to evaluate the viability of specific maritime impact conditions.
The Boeing F-15E dual-role fighter is an advanced long-range interdiction fighter and tactical aircraft. It is the latest version of the Eagle, a Mach 2.5-class twin-engine fighter.
More than 1,500 F-15s are in service worldwide with the USAF, US Air National Guard (ANG) and the airforces of Israel, Japan, and Saudi Arabia, including over 220 F-15E fighters. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
07 Sep 21. South Korea conducts SLBM underwater ejection test from KSS-III-class submarine. South Korea has for the first time conducted underwater ejection tests of a locally developed submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from an in-service submarine, according to local media reports. The Yonhap News Agency reported on 7 September that the SLBM tests, which were carried out the previous week by the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) from KSS-III-class submarine Dosan An Chang-ho (pennant number SS 083), follow similar tests conducted in recent months from an underwater barge. The media outlet quoted unnamed military sources as saying that series-production of the SLBM, which has reportedly been codenamed ‘Hyeonmu 4-4′ (also spelled ‘Hyunmoo 4-4′), will begin once a series of additional tests has been completed. Yonhap also reported that the SLBM is believed to be a variant of South Korea’s 500 km-range Hyeonmu-2B (also spelled Hyunmoo-2B) ballistic missile. The Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Seoul declined to comment on the media report. The Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) commissioned Dosan An Chang-ho, its first locally developed, diesel-electric attack submarine capable of deploying SLBMs, during a ceremony held on 13 August at the facilities of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) at Okpo on Geoje Island. The boat, which is the RoKN’s first of a planned fleet of nine KSS-III-class submarines, is expected to be operationally deployed from August 2022 after undergoing a series of operational performance and capability evaluations. Equipped with locally made lead-acid batteries and an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system featuring hydrogen fuel cells, Dosan An Chang-ho. (Source: Jane’s)
08 Sep 21. KBR successfully demonstrates first combat-capable directed energy system for U.S. Army. KBR (NYSE: KBR) announced today the successful completion of the Directed Energy Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD) Combat Shoot-Off (CSO), which culminated with U.S. Army Soldiers successfully executing a series of vignettes demonstrating the capabilities of a laser-equipped Stryker against representative threats in a realistic environment. Kord, a wholly owned subsidiary of KBR, is the prime contractor and lead integrator for the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) DE M-SHORAD program.
“The successful execution of the DE M-SHORAD system represents a major step forward in getting this state-of-the-art capability to our Soldiers on the ground, in line with the U.S. Army’s modernization strategy for air and missile defense,” said Byron Bright, KBR Government Solutions President. “In under two years, the program has rapidly progressed from design to integration and now performing in an operational environment, which is a tremendous accomplishment.”
DE M-SHORAD is a fully mobile, 50-kilowatt (kW)-class high energy laser (HEL) capable of delivering sustained counter-unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS) and counter-rocket, artillery, mortar (C-RAM) firepower to the modern battlefield. The Combat Shoot-Off, which ended in late July at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, demonstrated the system’s ability to maneuver and engage multiple targets at various ranges utilizing state-of-the-art technologies.
The CSO also showcased the ability of the KBR team to rapidly train the Soldiers on the DE M-SHORAD prototype, using a variety of modern training tools, including commercial gaming controllers and interactive, tablet-based three-dimensional models of the system. Soldiers were first taught to operate the DE M-SHORAD vehicle using immersive virtual training designed by KBR to maximize soldier effectiveness in the vehicle.
“Soldier-centered design throughout the prototyping effort is only the start,” continued Bright. “The CSO demonstrated that Soldiers were able to rapidly learn how to operate the system and quickly demonstrate proficiency in target acquisition, aim point selection, and engagements thanks to state-of-the-art training utilizing immersive technology for the modern Soldier.”
Following the successful shoot-off, RCCTO announced the program is still on track to deliver a platoon of four laser-equipped Strykers by the end of fiscal year 2022.
“This marks the beginning of the next chapter of technologically advanced weaponry, proving that highly mobile, lethal laser weapons are here to stay,” said Bright. “We understand the urgency to get these systems rapidly and reliably deployed.”
KBR works with industry-leading technology developers and government partners to bring this speed-of-light capability to the tactical edge of the battlefield. Laser beam engineering and integration is led by experiments that evaluate threat systems and analyze beam characterizations. This crucial technology allows for laser strength testing and development in support of counter drone missions for national defense. The ability to replicate perceived and actual laser threat capabilities, as well as aircraft targets to record lethality, is unique to KBR.
KBR’s facilities in Huntsville, Alabama have become the driving force to the U.S. Army’s plans to deliver a HEL combat capability to America’s men and women on the frontlines. KBR’s directed energy portfolio also includes programs for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force.
07 Sep 21. The New FN Evolys Ultralight Machine Gun for the 1st Time at DSEI. FN Herstal, the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of small caliber firearms and ammunition, will display the new FN EVOLYS™ ultralight machine gun for the first time in the United Kingdom at the DSEI International trade show, London, from 14 to 17 September 2021.
Since its digital launch last May, many European and international armed forces and special units have shown great interest in this innovative product designed and developed by Belgiumbased FN Herstal.
DSEI 2021 will truly mark the start of active promotion of the new machine gun, with a large number of demonstrations and technical tests already scheduled with existing and potential FN customers.
FN EVOLYS™: designed and manufactured by the world’s leading manufacturer of machine guns
The FN EVOLYS™ is a completely new addition to the existing range of FN® machine guns, which are all combatproven and recognized as world references. It was unveiled in the two most widely used NATO calibres, i.e. 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm NATO calibres, last May, and variants in additional calibres are currently under development.
Innovative and unique architecture
The FN EVOLYS™ combines belt-fed machine gun firepower with assault rifle ergonomics, which is an unprecedented benefit on the market today.
Weighing between 5.5 and 6.2 kilos depending on the calibre, the FN EVOLYS™ is much lighter than current reference machine guns, making firing from any position possible. It comes standard with a large number of innovative and unique features, such as a patented lateral feed mechanism that brings many advantages with it:
- various optical sights can be mounted in-line, whilst the iron sights are still in place,
- all controls are easily, instinctively and quickly accessible by left and right-handed operators,
- all actions, including belt engagement, can be done with just one hand,
- If not correctly placed on the feed tray, cartridges are automatically repositioned when closing the feed cover,
- The last link is automatically ejected.
When machine gun firepower teams up with assault rifle ergonomics
Another unique feature of the FN EVOLYS™ is the ambidextrous fire selector that allows both semi-auto fire for point target engagement and full auto suppressive fire.
Any further information on the new FN EVOLYS™ ultralight machine gun can be obtained from the FN Herstal booth at DSEI international trade show, London, from 14 to 17 September 2021 – Belgian Pavilion, Booth H4 105.
(Source: ASD Network)
07 Sep 21. Raytheon offers SkyCeptor, Polish industry cooperation for air defense deal. Raytheon Technologies says it is gearing to deliver the first two Patriot Configuration 3+ batteries to Poland in 2022. As Poland’s Wisla mid-range air defense program is advancing, the company hopes to benefit from its industrial cooperation with nine Polish partners to pursue the program’s second phase, and is offering SkyCeptor missiles to Warsaw, according to senior company representatives.
Shawn Rantas, the director of the Poland Patriot program at Raytheon, said that last month brought the signing of an offset execution agreement with the country’s state-run defense giant PGZ. Rantas made her remarks during the first day of the MSPO defense industry show in Kielce, Poland.
“Today, we have nine Polish companies that are under contract and providing products and services under Phase 1 of the Wisla program,” Rantas said, adding that her company was in talks with Warsaw to extend the Wisla program. Raytheon is offering SkyCeptor missiles together with significant Polish industry involvement in the program’s second phase, she said.
“Wisla’s Phase 2 is the next logical step to continue the modernization that Poland started,” according to Rantas. “SkyCeptor is a more affordable interceptor, and it can have a tremendous amount of Polish industry cooperation.”
The SkyCeptor missile was jointly developed by Raytheon Technologies and its Israeli partner Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. It is part of Israel’s David’s Sling missile defense system.
Meanwhile, Raytheon Technologies and Norway’s Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace are also competing, alongside European defense giant MBDA, Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, for Poland’s Narew short-range air defense program. With the planned contract in mind, the Polish Ministry of Defence and the country’s state-run defense giant PGZ today signed a deal in Kielce. The group will serve as the system’s integrator, cooperating with a foreign partner that is to be selected. (Source: Defense News)
07 Sep 21. Rafael aims to supply Spike LR2 missiles to Serbia, Poland. Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems hopes to add Serbia to its customer base for the Spike LR2 missile. At the same time, the company is promoting its product at the MSPO defense industry show in Kielce, Poland, in the country where local, state-owned Mesko plant produces the Spike LR anti-tank guided weapon under a license.
Earlier this month, Al Zaher, a regional director for Rafael, told Serbian public broadcaster RTS that Israel and Serbia were in talks over a potential procurement of Spike LR2 missiles to Belgrade.
In the Serbian market, Rafael is acting in partnership with state-owned defense business Yugoimport-SDPR, Zaher said.
Meanwhile, Roland Steinbrecher, the regional director for corporate international marketing and business development at Rafael, told Defense News the company is the only Israeli defense business at this year’s MSPO, and aims to extend its presence in Poland and introduce the Spike LR2 to this market among its other products.
“The first deal with Mesko was signed in 2003, providing our Polish partners with the necessary technology to produce the majority of the final product. Six years ago, we signed a new contract which is to end in 2021,” Steinbrecher told Defense News. “We would like to sign a new agreement to supply Mesko with new technology, allowing them to produce the Spike LR2.”
Should Serbia and Poland acquire the Spike LR2 missile, they would join a group of operators that includes other Eastern European states such as Estonia, Hungary, and Slovakia. (Source: Defense News)
07 Sep 21. Kongsberg hits LAND 19 Phase 7B milestone. The contractor has passed acceptance tests for the first two Fire Distribution Centres supporting Army’s next-generation surface-to-air missile systems.
Kongsberg Defence Australia has advanced its contribution to the Commonwealth government’s LAND 19 Phase 7B program, spearheaded by Raytheon Technologies, which aims to deliver an Army-operated component of the Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defence (JIAMD) capability.
The company has revealed it has passed factory acceptance tests of the first two Fire Distribution Centres (FDC1 and FDC2) for the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) — expected to enable the Australian Army to rapidly detect, engage, and destroy aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and cruise missile threats.
The FDC is set to serve as the air defence command, control, communications and computing (C4) system, designed to manage engagement operations through centralised control of NASAMS sensors, launchers, missiles, and communication systems.
The FDC is billed as the most advanced and integrated C4 system delivered to Army, enabling integrated joint GBAD and fires activities.
The distribution centre has been assembled at Raytheon Australia’s Centre for Joint Integration in Adelaide, with Kongsberg Defence Australia’s NASAMS Production Team integrating and testing the capability.
Each FDC comprises of more than 10,000 components, most of which have been sourced locally, with suppliers including Sydney-based Eylex, Adelaide-based Daronmont Technologies and REDARC Electronics, and Albury-based MILSPEC Manufacturing.
Kongsberg Defence Australia’s general manager, John Fry, lauded the rapid achievement of the new milestone despite disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Factory Acceptance Testing involved the conduct of over 2,200 physical, configuration and system test activities performed over four weeks, and I am immensely proud of what Kongsberg Defence Australia has achieved during these difficult times,” Fry said.
“…It demonstrates our ability to undertake the production and integration of complex C4 and fire control systems, and shows that we are able to support all of KONGSBERG’s programs and capabilities in Australia and the region.
“This milestone also represents a significant contribution to the Strategic Industry Capability Priority of Integrated Air and Missile Defence that was recently announced by the Minister for Defence Industry.”
Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace’s integrated defence systems executive vice president Kjetil Reiten Myhra said the milestone was made possible by collaboration between the Kongsberg teams in Australia and Norway.
“Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace has been committed to the establishment of an Australian business to create sovereign capability for the production and sustainment of NASAMS,” he said.
“We have been very impressed by what Kongsberg Defence Australia has achieved with its growing team and new Australian supply chain during a pandemic-interrupted period.”
With the support of local suppliers, Kongsberg Defence Australia is now manufacturing the remaining FDC’s for the LAND 19 Phase 7B program.
(Source: Defence Connect)
03 Sep 21. Joint US-Australian Hypersonic Cruise Missile Moves Ahead. SCIFiRE is aimed at maturing an air-breathing hypersonic conventional cruise missile launched from either a fighter or a bomber.
The Defense Department’s joint effort with Australia to develop an air-breathing hypersonic cruise missile took a step forward yesterday, with the Air Force issuing round-two contract options to Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The program, called Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE), is aimed at maturing “a solid-rocket boosted, air-breathing, hypersonic conventional cruise missile, air-launched from existing fighter/bomber aircraft, through the completion of a preliminary design review,” according to the DoD contract announcement.
The joint program — signed into existence by DoD and Australia’s Ministry of Defense Last November — is an Allied Prototyping Initiative (API) under the the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. It is being executed by the Air Force. And as with all things hypersonic, the service is not being super forthcoming about what exact technologies are being developed on what exact timetable.
“The new weapon will be a Mach 5-class precision strike missile that is propulsion-launched and powered by an air-breathing scramjet engine,” states the Australian Air Force website. “It will be capable of being carried by tactical fighter aircraft such as the F/A-18F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and F-35A Lightning II, as well as the P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft.”
SCIFiRE is an outgrowth of a previous US-Australian collaboration, begun in 2007, called the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) program, which aimed to develop baseline hypersonic technologies. “The most recent HIFiRE test, successfully conducted in July 2017, explored the flight dynamics of a Mach 8 hypersonic glide vehicle, while previous tests explored scramjet engine technologies,” explains the Congressional Research Service (CRS) in a report updated Aug. 25.
SCIFiRE, CRS explains, is aimed at furthering air-breathing hypersonic technologies, with demo tests “expected by the mid -2020s.” A key advantage for DoD in working with its Australian counterparts is the Woomera Test Range, which is one of the largest weapons test facilities in the world. “Australia reportedly operates seven hypersonic wind tunnels and is capable of testing speeds of up to Mach 30,” CRS notes.
According to a March Government Accountability Office report, SCIFiRE intends “to demonstrate an operational hypersonic cruise missile through two to four flight tests,” with the effort being viewed by the Air Force as a bridge between the joint DARPA-Air Force Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) project.
The Air Force chose Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon in June to compete in an initial effort, bringing their designs through Systems Requirements Review. It awarded contracts with potential values of up to $47.2m to Boeing, $33.5m to Lockheed Martin and $33.7 m to Raytheon under an options scheme.
Yesterday, the Air Force exercised follow-on contract options for Boeing and Lockheed to continue work through next August to take the program through Phase 1 Preliminary Design Review. The award to Boeing was worth $39.7m; to Lockheed Martin, $27.2m.
While Raytheon has not been granted a follow-on option at this time, a spokesperson said today that this does not equate to the company being cut from the program. “We continue to work the program elements we’ve already been awarded,” the spokesperson said. (This statement likely means that the issue is timing — so keep an eye open for another Air Force announcement.)
Hypersonic cruise missiles would be smaller than the boost-glide systems that use a conventional rocket boosters to accelerate the weapon to Mach 5-plus, after which the glide body containing the warhead detaches from the booster and coasts, skipping along the upper limits of the atmosphere like a stone across a pond.
The beauty of air-breathing missiles powered by scramjets — at least for the Air Force — is that they can be made smaller, and thus can be carried by fighter jets and not just larger bomber aircraft. They also are potentially cheaper.
The downside is that hypersonic cruise missile tech, at least up to now, hasn’t been considered as mature as boost-glide capability (some 56% of current DoD investment in hypersonic missiles is in boost-glide systems, according to GAO).
That said, the Air Force has been struggling to get its signature boost-glide effort, the AGM-183 Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW), off the ground. ARRW, for which Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor, in July flopped a second flight test because its motor failed to ignite.
(Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
06 Sep 21. New details emerge about mortar-carrying variant of PLAGF’s CTL181A vehicle. Chinese state-owned media have revealed new details of the mortar-carrying variant of the Dongfeng Mengshi CTL181A 6×6 protected vehicle in service with the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF).
Video footage broadcast by China Central Television (CCTV) on 1 September shows that, contrary to what was previously presumed, the vehicle does not feature a small lifting device in the cargo area behind the cab to facilitate the rapid dismounting and re-mounting of the 120 mm mortar.
Instead, the mortar is stored on the vehicle in a disassembled state, with the tube, bipod, and baseplate separated when on the vehicle.
In operation, the crew of four must retrieve the individual mortar components and quickly assemble the mortar, after which they are free to conduct their fire mission. Once this has been completed, the crew then disassemble the mortar into its constituent pieces before loading them into the back of the vehicle.
At least six such modified CTL181As were shown in the footage being used during a live-fire exercise held at an undisclosed location in China.
As Janes reported, the mortar appears to be a fairly basic design intended for dismounted operations by the crew, lacking any indicators of automation features such as automatic laying or computerised fire control.
The CTL181A has been used as the baseline platform for several new PLAGF systems, with notable recent examples being a self-propelled howitzer, commonly referred to as the PCL-171, and a new bridging system. (Source: Jane’s)
06 Sep 21. Indian Army orders locally produced loitering munitions. The Indian Army (IA) has signed two contracts worth a combined INR2bn (USD27.4m) to acquire a total of 200 locally produced loitering munitions to meet urgent operational requirements. The first contract, worth INR1bn, was awarded on 31 August to a joint venture (JV) between local company Alpha Design Technologies Limited (ADTL) and Israel’s Elbit Systems for the supply of 100 SkyStriker light munition systems. Elbit Systems’ SkyStriker is a precision-guided loitering munition designed to seek, locate, and acquire operator-marked targets and targets of opportunity in tactical-level engagements. According to the company, the SkyStriker can cover a distance of 20 km within 10 minutes. Upon reaching the target area, it can loiter and pursue the target for up to 2 hours when fitted with a 5 km warhead and for up to one hour with a 10 kg warhead. The system uses autonomous navigation for its cruising and loitering phases. When preparing to strike, it applies its electro-optical ‘lock’ on the target. The munition can be deployed as a standalone system or as part of a ‘drone swarm’. The SkyStriker’s operator can also initiate a ‘strike abort’ function up to two seconds before impact, re-engage or, if target engagement is not authorised, direct the loitering munition to safe recovery. The munition is retrieved via a parachute/airbed function. The second contract, also worth INR1bn, was awarded to Bangalore-based NewSpace Research and Technologies on 3 September for 100 locally developed ‘swarm drone units’ capable of also seeking, tracking, and striking enemy targets with a 5 kg or 10 kg warhead in tactical-level engagements. (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.