31 Dec 21. Russia test-fires new hypersonic Tsirkon missiles from frigate, submarine. Russia test-fired around 10 new Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic cruise missiles from a frigate and two more from a submarine, Interfax news agency said on Friday citing northern fleet.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has lauded the weapon as part of a new generation of unrivalled arms systems.
Putin has called a missile test, conducted last week, “a big event in the country’s life”, adding that this was “a substantial step” in increasing Russia’s defence capabilities.
Some Western experts have questioned how advanced Russia’s new generation of weapons is, while recognising that the combination of speed, manoeuvrability and altitude of hypersonic missiles makes them difficult to track and intercept.
Putin announced an array of new hypersonic weapons in 2018 in one of his most bellicose speeches in years, saying they could hit almost any point in the world and evade a U.S.-built missile shield. (Source: Google/Reuters)
30 Dec 21. Congress gives Missile Defense Agency authority to research and develop laser tech for missile defense. Congress is giving the Missile Defense Agency the authority to research and develop laser technology to use in ballistic and hypersonic missile defense applications, according to the recently passed fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.
The secretary of defense is required to delegate to the MDA director the authority to “budget for, direct and manage directed energy programs applicable for ballistic and hypersonic missile defense mission in coordination with other directed energy efforts of the Department of Defense,” the NDAA states.
The director is tasked with prioritizing early research and development of technologies and managing the transition of technologies to industry “to support future operationally relevant capabilities,” it adds.
“I think what you’re seeing is a desire by Congress to make sure that [science and technology] and [research and development] work is no kidding translated into some missile defense relevant programs,” missile defense analyst Tom Karako of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Defense News.
Riki Ellison, who heads the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said, in a way, the provision restores funding and responsibility MDA previously had to pursue directed-energy technology programs.
MDA is “supposed to do this. They’ve done it before and at a huge magnitude with a huge budget and created a system that … with a chemical laser shot down a missile,” Ellison said in an interview with Defense News. “Some of the optics and the technology from that effort we are still using.”
Ellison is referring to the Airborne Ballistic Laser program, which began in the 1970s and was pushed aggressively during the George W. Bush administration to address ballistic missile threats.
Cost overruns and technical challenges caused the program to ultimately be downgraded into a demonstration.
The MDA’s Airborne Laser Test Bed successfully destroyed a short-range ballistic missile in 2010. In 2012, the laser-equipped aircraft had its final take off from Edwards Air Force Base, California, and transitioned into long-term storage at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, according to MDA.
An infrared image of the Missile Defense Agency’s Airborne Laser Test Bed (right) destroying a threat representative short-range ballistic missile (left). (MDA)
Roughly five years ago, MDA turned its focus to laser scaling to enable a low-power laser demonstration planned for 2021 to determine the feasibility of destroying enemy missiles in the boost phase of flight. But the effort was derailed by funding cuts. The MDA’s long-term goal, at the time, was to deploy lasers on high-altitude, long-endurance, unmanned aerial vehicles to take out intercontinental ballistic missiles in the earliest phase of flight.
In addition to giving MDA the authority to pursue directed energy programs in the FY22 NDAA, Congress also authorized an additional roughly $100 million in directed-energy research and development funding. It includes $50 million to work on improved beam control for high energy laser research and another $20m for a short-pulse laser directed energy demonstration.
The addition of funding for directed energy and the provision granting MDA authority to pursue directed energy programs is “significant,” Patty-Jane Geller, policy analyst for nuclear deterrence and missile defense at the Heritage Foundation, said during a Dec. 16 MDAA virtual event.
“Directed energy can help us address cruise and ballistic missiles in a potentially more cost effective way than ground-based interceptors,” she said.
“I look at what’s going on in the Indo-Pacific in particular where it seems that China is exercising a bit of an offset strategy to overwhelm our ships and assets in the region with its large missile arsenal, maybe a competitive strategy to get us to spend more and more money on missile defense,” Geller said. “That’s why I think investing in directed energy and other advanced technologies is so important to strengthen our position in the spending race as well.”
While MDA has backed away from developing defensive laser weapons, the services have made some operationally relevant headway with the technology.
The Army, this year, successfully demonstrated a 50-kilowatt laser on a Stryker combat vehicle for short-range air defense and General Dynamics Land Systems is now integrating the Raytheon Technologies-developed laser technology onto four more vehicles.
The Army has indicated it plans to hold a competition for a directed-energy weapon on a Stryker vehicle beginning in FY23, which could lead to a production contract in FY24.
A Dynetics and Lockheed Martin team is slated to deliver a 300-kilowatt high-energy laser technology demonstrator for the Army’s Indirect Fires Protection Capability designed to defend fixed and semi-fixed sites against cruise missiles, unmanned aircraft systems and rockets, artillery and mortars in FY22. Four prototypes would be due at the end of FY24.
And Lockheed Martin delivered to the U.S. Air Force in October the Airborne High Energy Laser so the service can integrate it on its AC-130J Ghostrider gunship, while the U.S. Navy this month tested a laser weapon in the Middle East from its amphibious transport dock ship Portland. The laser weapon destroyed a floating target. (Source: Defense News)
30 Dec 21. New in 2022: Marines are finally leveling up their drone game. Creech and Nellis Airmen coordinated a training flight together on the Nevada Test and Training Range. The Marines lag far behind the other services in their armed drone fleet. (Senior Airman Haley Stevens/Air Force)
The Marine Corps got into the drone game early, experimenting with the then-new technology in the 1980s.
Other priorities, funding and a drone-hungry Air Force put the Corps in the backseat.
The Marines are finally mounting a drone comeback, with its first noticeable acquisitions in 2022.
In recent years the Corps could only point to two armed drones in its fleet, compared to the Air Force which counts 351 such armed drones, according to a November Center for Strategic and International Studies report.
But Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger prioritized building a robust drone fleet early in his tenure and has driven funding and manning in that direction. The Corps will buy six additional MQ-9 Reaper drones in the coming year if its budget request is approved.
In his Force Design 2030 guiding document, Berger called for a doubling of active-duty drone squadrons from three to six.
Marines have operated the RQ-21 Blackjack for years, but in the Corps that’s used as an unarmed, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform. The Blackjack is a Group 3-level drone, which comes in at less than 1,300 pounds.
That’s after the Marines spent recent years trying to get a do-it-all drone dubbed the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Unmanned Aerial System, or MUX funded. That drone would act not only as an armed overwatch and reconnaissance platform but include electronic warfare capabilities and work as a hub in a fires network that would like air-ground-sea-space assets at the fingertips of Marines in theater.
But Congress was lackluster on funding for the program as it is already heavily invested in Navy shipbuilding, aviation improvements across the fleet and a host of new Army equipment upgrades and additions.
For now, the MQ-9 Reaper will have to do.
In an October exercise, Marines and Airmen teamed up for the first MQ-9 drone flight from the mainland to Hawaii. In
The same month the Corps announced a new MOS for MQ-9 drone operators, 7318 for officer ranks between second lieutenant to lieutenant colonel to advise commanders on using Group 5 drones such as the Reaper. (Source: Defense News)
30 Dec 21. Morocco in talks with Israel to buy air defence system. Morocco is currently in talks with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to purchase the Barak-8 Missile air defence system, the Hebrew language Israel Defense revealed on Tuesday. The Barak-8 surface-to-air missile system was jointly developed by Israel and India and can be launched from sea or land, and it protects sensitive targets against various aerial threats over a radius of 150 kilometers.
Israel Defense reported that Colonel Sharon Bitton, IAI’s marketing director for the Gulf countries, is carrying out the negotiations with Morocco.
The talks on this issue began during the visit of Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz to Morocco on 23 November, Israeli media reported.
During Gantz’s visit to Rabat, he signed with Morocco several military agreements to strengthen security cooperation.
The agreements are related to the development of a project to “manufacture” Israeli drones in Morocco, with recent reports that the two countries intend to cooperate in the production of Kamikaze drones.
In November, the Israeli news outlet Globes reported that a contract had been concluded between the Israeli firm Skylock Systems to supply Morocco with the Skylock Dome anti-drone system which detects, verifies and neutralises drones.
In the wake of Gantz’s visit, Rabat also ordered a batch of Israeli drones, the Harop type, also known as unmanned aircraft Kamikaze, from IAI. The drones’ contract value is around $22m.
In recent years, Morocco has acquired several pieces of military equipment to strengthen its Royal Armed Forces’ (FAR) operational capabilities amid rising regional tensions and to combat extremist or insurgent groups in the Western Sahara.
24 Dec 21. US Navy announces completion of final AWE aboard USS Gerald R Ford. AWEs are used to transfer ordnance from weapons magazines to the flight deck. The US Navy has announced the completion of the 11th and final Advanced Weapons Elevator (AWE) aboard aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78). The AWE system was turned over to the ship’s crew this week. AWEs are used to move ordnance such as missiles and bombs from weapons magazines to the flight deck. The USS Gerald R Ford’s AWEs leverage advanced technologies such as electromagnetic motors to lift materiel.
Aircraft Carriers program executive officer Rear Admiral James P. Downey said: “This is a significant milestone for the Navy, ship, and her crew. With completion of this final AWE, we now have the entire system to operate and train with. The Navy-Industry teaming provided the opportunities for hundreds of craftsmen, technicians and engineers, working around the clock—through multiple underway and holiday periods—to get these advanced systems on line and operational.”
Currently, the aircraft carrier is in its six-month Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding facility in Hampton Roads, Virginia.
The USS Gerald R Ford will complete PIA this spring following which the ship is expected to be ready for first deployment.
Downey added: “The end game is always operational readiness and Ford is on track to complete this PIA on schedule, conduct sea trials, and to move on to follow on tasking.”
In August this year, the carrier conducted the final explosive event off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. (Source: naval-technology.com)
17 Dec 21. Dstl moves on with development of next-gen assault rifle. Elements of the Future Individual Lethality System could be ready for the British Army by 2026. The UK Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has revealed details about its Future Individual Lethality System (FILS) following the publication of ‘The Science Inside 2021’ document. Published on 3 December 2021, the document describes how Dstl is responding to complex and emerging threats to the UK.
Dstl continues to develop the FILS technology demonstrator with industry partners from SEA, Qioptiq and Lantac as the team aims to deliver a ‘next-generation prototype assault rifle with increased range, integrated data and power and a radically improved fused multispectral Surveillance and Target Acquisition system’, according to programme officials. (Source: Shephard)
28 Dec 21. USAF squadron becomes first operational unit to drop StormBreaker bomb. A squadron from Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho has became the first operational unit to use the GBU-53/B StormBreaker smart bomb — a major step forward for the long-delayed small diameter bomb. In the test last month, four F-15E Strike Eagles from the 391st Fighter Squadron, which is part of the 366th Fighter Wing, targeted and hit four moving vehicles on the ground with four Raytheon Technologies-made StormBreakers at the Utah Test and Training Range on Nov. 2, the Air Force said in a Dec. 13 release.
Alison Howlett, who serves as StormBreaker program director at Raytheon Missiles and Defense, said in the release that the tests were needed to pave the way for the weapon to be used in combat.
“By stress-testing the weapon in an operational environment, we are even more confident in the weapon’s ability to strike targets in difficult conditions,” Howlett said.
An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron takes off at Nellis Air Force Base carrying Small Diameter Bomb IIs to drop during the Weapon System Evaluation Program West at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (William Lewis/U.S. Air Force)
So far, the StormBreaker is only approved for integration on the F-15E, the Air Force said. But results from this test will eventually lead to its use on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and fifth-generation fighters like the F-35, the release said.
It’s a major step forward for a weapon that at one point was delayed for roughly a year by production problems. A key component had a technical problem, which in July 2019 caused a pause in production of the weapon. Raytheon redesigned the component and retrofit nearly 600 bombs that were already delivered. The Air Force resumed fielding the weapon in September 2020.
The 204-pound StormBreaker is a relatively small weapon measuring 69 inches long and about 7 inches in diameter, allowing the Strike Eagle to carry up to 28 of them. This would come in handy when an F-15E needs to strike multiple ground targets with a high level of accuracy, the Air Force said.
The weapon has a 105-pound warhead. It can strike stationary targets up to 69 miles away and moving targets up to 45 miles away using a combination of millimeter wave active radar homing, semi-active laser guidance, infrared homing, GPS-coupled inertial guidance and data link technology.
The Air Force said the bomb’s connectivity allows redirection to a new target midair after launch.
But these additional capabilities require more coordination and planning. Intelligence airmen are needed to load encrypted communication information into the bomb’s computer so it and the aircraft can communicate with one another, the release said.
This is a more extensive process than needed for typical F-15E bombs, 1st Lt. Estefania Ortiz-Santiago, the 391st’s fighter squadron officer in charge of intelligence, said in the release. But she expects squadrons will eventually streamline the process for preparing the StormBreaker until it takes about as long as other Strike Eagle bombs.
Raytheon also announced Nov. 30 that a Marine Corps F-35B had dropped the StormBreaker for the first time in a weapons test. Raytheon said developmental and operational testing on the F-35B will continue in order to ensure safe and capable use, and that the Navy will declare initial operational capability on the Super Hornet after its operational testing concludes. (Source: Defense News)
24 Dec 21. US Military Preparing for New Era of Explosive Ordnance Disposal. With the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars in the rearview mirror, the Defense Department is preparing for a new era of explosive ordnance disposal that will bring fresh challenges and require new technology solutions.
Improvised explosive devices planted by insurgents were one of the top threats during the post-9/11 conflicts. But now, the U.S. military is refocusing on neutralizing bombs and mines that it could face in future conflicts against more advanced adversaries such as China and Russia.
“We have a lot of great capabilities,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. William Kale, a member of the Pentagon’s EOD program board. However, “what’s good today is not good tomorrow, and there’s definitely a lot of areas where we need to get after it.”
“We need to find out what that new technology is and be able to exploit that technology to be effective for the near peer competition,” he said at the Future Force Capabilities Conference and Exhibition in Columbus, Georgia, hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association.
The military needs to be prepared for large-area clearance operations, officials say.
“We’re starting to get after this from a joint perspective,” said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Cole Pasley, superintendent of the Defense Department’s joint EOD technology division. “A large area for [the Air Force] in our next wars will likely always be some sort of an airfield.
For the Marines, it could be a beach. For the Navy, a carrier. For the Army, a huge mass of land somewhere.”
The military is pursuing new technology to address these challenges.
A science-and-technology effort is underway to find a next-generation breacher to replace the legacy mine-clearing line charge. The concept calls for mounting payloads on robotic combat vehicles that can help defeat minefields by using sensors to detect hazards, launching payloads from a standoff distance, and employing guidance systems that can tailor payloads for precision or scalable effects.
“We need industry’s innovative ideas, whether kinetic or non-kinetic, on what the next-generation breacher will look like and how the entire kill chain can be integrated,” said Army Col. Russ Hoff, project manager for close combat systems at the joint program office for armaments and ammunition.
Another large-area clearance challenge that officials are worried about is rapid airfield damage recovery, which could be required if U.S. air bases are hit by Chinese or Russian munitions.
In that scenario, EOD technicians and civil engineers would be expected to perform damage assessment, mitigate potentially thousands of explosive hazards, and repair extensive damage to the airfield — and do it all so quickly that aircraft could be launching from the runway again within eight hours of an enemy assault.
For the purposes of area denial, an adversary could drop thousands of submunitions that would have to be cleared. Additionally, penetrating munitions could create craters that would have to be repaired before resuming flight operations, noted Dr. John Olive, an EOD expert at the Air Force Civil Engineering Center.
The Pentagon is putting resources toward addressing the challenge. The Air Force has invested more than $4bn into rapid airfield damage recovery capabilities, according to Olive, who said they are a “huge priority” for the service.
One such technology that officials have high hopes for is a directed energy system known as Radbo, which features a Parsons-made Zeus laser mounted on a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle. It is intended to zap large numbers of explosive hazards from up to 300 meters away and neutralize them.
The Air Force has been testing a Radbo prototype at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. The first production model of the 15 currently under contract was slated to go to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, in November. Additional systems are to be deployed at other bases in the United States and overseas beginning in 2022, according to Olive.
Another capability in the works is an armored front-end loader which is to be paired with a large clearance blade assembly and robotic applique to enable efficient removal of unexploded ordnance from airfield surfaces.
The clearance blade assembly — which was developed by Redstone Arsenal in Alabama — is about 4 inches thick, 16 feet wide and 4 feet tall. It was made with special durable material, Olive noted.
“It’s basically indestructible,” he said. “You can run it and it won’t miss a piece of ordnance.”
With a few of these systems, technicians could clear a 10,000-foot-long runway of explosive hazards in just a couple of hours, he said.
The Air Force plans to buy 86 systems, and the first tranche is already on contract with Caterpillar. They take about 15 to 18 months to build, Olive said. “We’re looking forward to getting those before too long.”
However, those technologies might have trouble addressing what officials say is currently the biggest capability gap within the rapid explosive hazard mitigation portfolio: SLAM. The acronym stands for subsurface locate and mitigate, and refers to finding and neutralizing underground threats.
Penetrating bombs could leave holes in an airfield that have to be cleared, including unexploded ordnance, Olive explained. “Right now, we don’t have a great rapid way to do that, let alone detect the penetrator to let an [EOD] operator know exactly what depth and how it’s orientated … to rapidly mitigate it.”
Kale noted the military has been using handheld devices to detect and locate underground threats.
“That’s not going to be a good thing in the future, in particular with the larger munitions that our near-peer competitors are going to throw at us, and the potential of them getting buried under airfield pavements,” he said. “This is not something that I think will be hugely effective, and we need your help to … figure out how to get after this,” he told members of industry.
What are some potential solutions?
“I would assume that eventually we could probably come up with some sort of unmanned aerial system that would have some sort of X-ray-like technology that can fly over an airfield and detect those things, and do so in a way that is precise,” Kale said. It would also be helpful if such a platform could identify the specific types of munitions that are present so that “if we do have to send the EOD tech out there to get after it, they can do so knowing what they are dealing with,” he added.
Pasley highlighted another problem: current EOD capabilities for identifying and accessing subsurface munitions can cause additional damage to a runway after an enemy attack.
“As we start addressing this buried munition problem, how do I get access to some sort of an ordnance that’s beneath my commander’s runway without blowing numerous more holes into his or her runway and making that eight-hour [timeframe] … just an unfeasible task to repair that, because my EOD team has gone out and created a dozen more holes looking for something?” he asked.
Kale said the military needs better tools for mitigating that type of threat.
“I would hopefully think that we could do that from a standoff position,” he said. Additionally, “we want to disable these munitions where they don’t have a huge second-order blast because we have to go in and repair those runways after and fly aircraft. … There’s a lot of opportunity for industry to look at these things and provide” solutions.
Olive said there is “no doubt” the Defense Department is going to continue to invest research-and-development dollars to try to find better SLAM capabilities.
Pasley noted that at some point in the future, the hope is that rapid airfield damage recovery operations can be conducted autonomously.
Robotics and machine learning are going to be “huge on that mid- to long-term vision of where all this capability goes,” he said.
Maj. Ben Olsen, an EOD capabilities developer at Army Futures Command, noted that his service’s explosive ordnance disposal community already has three programs of record for robotic platforms: Common Robotic System-Individual, a small backpackable robot; Man-Transportable Robotic System Increment 2, a medium-sized platform that weighs a little over 100 pounds; and a larger platform known as the Common Robotic System-Heavy.
But the Army is also keeping an eye out for other technologies that could be useful, to include non-tracked platforms that may be less vulnerable to flipping over, he noted.
The service is looking at small drones that could scan areas that would be difficult for ground robots to reach, such as the top of a building or the opposite side of a wall or other obstacles. The platforms could be used to look for explosive hazards and drop charges to neutralize them, he added.
“Having a small UAS capability … is going to be extremely beneficial and very useful,” Olsen said.
The Army also plans to integrate multiple disruptors on its robotic platforms to provide additional standoff capabilities for mitigating threats using percussion actuated non-electric rounds or other types of energetics, he noted.
Additionally, there is a requirement for extended range mesh networking to enhance communications between machines and EOD technicians.
“Looking at built-up cities, anybody who’s ever operated the robot knows that as soon as it starts turning the corner, you’re going to start losing comms,” Olsen said. To address the problem and extend their range, platforms need the ability to “drop repeater nodes as we go along,” he said.
For future increments of robots, the Army is looking at semi-autonomous features that would enable point-to-point navigation.
“As the team arrives, they can say, ‘Hey, I’m here, I need the robot to go to this location just by point and click,’ and the robot will choose its own path there — the best path possible — and make sure that it’s avoiding the obstacles,” Olsen said.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence could also enable robots to scan the surrounding environment while they are on the move and identify potential threats, he noted.
Pasley said moving away from the “one man, one bomb” model for explosive ordnance disposal will be key to increasing operational speed and keeping EOD technicians out of harm’s way in future operating environments.
“One, it’s time consuming, so we can’t do [the mission] within that established timeline. But two, you’re going to have attrition,” he said.
Leveraging unmanned systems and other emerging technologies will be critical, he noted.
“We took a lot of losses during OIF and OEF,” he added, referring to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. “We want to try not to do that in this future fight, right? So the more things we can build and create more tools for the operators where they can either do [EOD] remotely or do it more safely, … that’s where we want to go.” (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
21 Dec 21. Finland is procuring a new Sako rifle system to increase the usability of snipers as well as the precision and range of infantry sections. The Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen has authorised the Finnish Defence Forces Logistics Command to sign a procurement contract for the procurement of a new rifle system manufactured by Sako Ltd. The procurement contract for the rifle system includes the procurement of a semi-automatic sniper rifle for sniper use and a designated marksman rifle for use as an infantry section support weapon by designated marksmen. In addition, the contract includes accessories, spare parts, maintenance equipment and training provided by the manufacturer.
Semi-automatic Sniper Rifle 23 is equipped with a high-quality optical sight that together with precision ammunition enables snipers to achieve effects in different targets up to a distance of 800 metres.
Designated Marksman Rifle 23 is more simplified in its weapon-mounted equipment, and designed for use by Jaeger and infantry sections designated marksmen. This weapon increases the sections range up to 600 metres.
Based on the AR10/15 models of a semi-automatic rifle in 7.62 NATO calibre, Rifle System M23 features additional benefits compared to the currently fielded one, such as integrated weapon-mounting available for versatile accessories, including tactical night sights, and suppressors, increased accuracy, as well as a design that is both lightweight and ergonomic.
The procurement was preceded by development collaboration between Sako Ltd and the Finnish Defence Forces in 2020-2022 in accordance with the letter of intent between the Finnish Defence Forces and Sako Ltd.
“The rifle procurement is included in the Land Defence Development Programme, and it is part of the capability development of the Army’s operational forces and local units. This project builds a completely new capability, and replaces most of the old 7.62 Sniper Rifle 85s currently in service, as well as completely replaces the 7.62 Sniper Rifle Dragunov,” sums up the Inspector of the Infantry, Colonel Rainer Peltoniemi.
“The rifle system has been developed together with Sako, and the weapons will be produced in Finland. This project improves our security of supply and promotes retaining skills and technology in Finland, as well as the ability to manufacture and repair weapon systems here,” he emphasises.
Furthermore, the Minister of Defence has authorised the FDFLOGCOM to sign an implementation arrangement with Sweden that authorises carrying out a joint procurement effort by Finland and Sweden. The implementation arrangement signed on 21 December 2021 is a continuation of the collaboration effort agreed on earlier in September, as part of which Finland and Sweden signed a technical arrangement concerning joint procurements of soldiers’ weapons systems and associated technologies. Additionally, a Technical Arrangement was signed in the event on the 21st of December, enabling the joint procurement of ammunition.
“The procurement of this rifle system is a significant step, which enables concrete and combined small arms procurement between Finland and Sweden also in the future. The goal of both countries is to achieve costs benefits, as well as to improve our security of supply and interoperability with each other,” says Peltoniemi about the approved arrangement.
The first lot of deliveries will be received by the Army by the end of 2022, and the rifle system training is due to begin during 2023. The total value of the procurement including the value added tax is c. EUR 10m. The contract includes an additional procurement option for Finland, the total value of which is EUR 525m excluding the VAT. Sweden’s additional procurement option is to be specified later. (Source: www.joint-forces.com)
26 Dec 21. MoD lays foundation for Defence Technology and Test Centre and BRAHMOS Manufacturing Centre. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh laid the foundation stone for Defence Technology & Test Centre and BRAHMOS Manufacturing Centre, established by Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh today. The foundation for the two units was laid in the presence of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. A first of its kind Defence Technologies & Test Centre (DTTC), over approximately 22 acres is being set up to accelerate the growth of the defence and aerospace manufacturing clusters in Uttar Pradesh Defence Industrial Corridor (UP DIC). The BRAHMOS Manufacturing Centre, announced by BrahMos Aerospace, is a modern, state-of-art facility in the Lucknow node of UP DIC. It will cover over 200 acres and produce the new BRAHMOS-NG (Next Generation) variant, which carries forward the lineage of the BRAHMOS weapons system. This new centre would be ready over the next two to three years and will commence production at a rate of 80-100 BRAHMOS-NG missiles per year.
On the ‘Defence Technology and Test Centre’, the Defence Minister said, the Centre will provide the technological base to develop defence products keeping in mind the young innovators and startups in Amausi region of Uttar Pradesh. He added that the Centre will make all endeavours to fulfil the creative energy, capabilities and aspirations of the youth of Uttar Pradesh. It will help in bringing the MSMEs of Uttar Pradesh together and bring the state at the forefront in the field of defence and aerospace manufacturing, he said. He added that the Centre, through skill development, will create direct and indirect employment in the field of defence and aerospace manufacturing.
Recalling India’s history, Rajnath Singh said “we have never been an aggressor, but are ready to defend our people against any nation with hostile intentions”. He added that the purpose of the BRAHMOS supersonic cruise missile system is to act as a deterrent. He said, the system not only reflects the technical cooperation between India and Russia, but also the long standing cultural, political and diplomatic ties. He termed BRAHMOS as the world’s best and fastest precision-guided weapon which has strengthened India’s credible deterrence in the 21st century.
Rajnath Singh expressed confidence that the foundation stone laying of the two units heralds a new chapter in the defence of the nation as well as defence manufacturing and the economy of the state of Uttar Pradesh and the city of Lucknow. He applauded the state government under the leadership of Chief Minister Shri Yogi Adityanath for taking various initiatives for improving infrastructure and the welfare & progress of people from all sections of society.
In his opening address, Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO Dr G Satheesh Reddy thanked the Defence Minister for making land available for the DTTC in Lucknow. He expressed gratitude to UP Chief Minister for providing 200 acres of land for the BRAHMOS manufacturing centre. He assured all support from DRDO to the industries coming up in the region.
The state-of-the-art Defence Technologies & Test Centre is being set up to implement the MoU exchanged between Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) and DRDO during DefExpo-2020 at Lucknow in presence of the RakshaMantri and the UP Chief Minister. The DTTC, Lucknow will follow the design-build-test-learn cycle for technology consultancy & handholding of the Deep-Tech Startups& industries. (Source: Google/https://www.thesangaiexpress.com/)
23 Dec 21. Hanwha Defense to help transform Australian artillery. The South Korean defence company will provide custom-made AS9 howitzers to the Australian Army. Norbert Neumann talks to Hanwha Defense about the details of the contract.
South Korea-based Hanwha Defense signed a contract to supply the Australian Army with its Huntsman AS9 self-propelled artillery system. The ?932bn ($785m) contract was announced earlier in December by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morison and the President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in in Canberra.
Hanwha Defense is the first Asian prime contractor succeeding in a major Australian defence bid. The deal is part of Defence project Land 8115 phase 1, an effort that will see the acquisition of 30 AS9 Huntsman and 15 AS10 armoured resupply vehicles.
The vehicles will be manufactured at a new Hanwha facility that is set to be constructed in Victoria, Australia. The new vehicles will contribute to the transformation of the Australian Army’s artillery capability. Defence strategic communications deputy general manager Jeff Sung tells us more.
Norbert Neumann: This is the first major defence acquisition by Australia from an Asian defence contractor. How important is this project for Hanwha Defense and why?
Jeff Sung: The win is key in our developing approach to be more actively involved in the Five Eyes community. It will also position Australia to have a greater role in the Global K9 supply chain. We also envisage working closely with the Australian Army to add additional capabilities to the platform, such as automated logistics and networked UGS support systems.
The AS9 Huntsman was specially developed for Australia. How does the AS9 differ from the South Korean K9 and the K9 that Norway uses? Why were these modifications necessary?
The AS9 is the fourth-generation smoothed-particle hydrodynamics-based (SPH) on the venerable K9 pedigree. The K9 and K9A1 (General one and two respectively) were for the Republic of Korean Army. The third-generation was the K9 Vidar for Norway and NATO.
The differentiators of the Huntsman are an increased protection package for both active and passive systems such as, configurable kinetic energy systems, upgraded mine-blast protection, mobile camouflage systems and hybrid slat fencing to name a few.
The self-protection is enhanced through greater digital situation awareness systems and a Remote Weapon Station, and the mobility capabilities are upgraded to accommodate the increased mass.
Perhaps the greatest difference between 1st and 4th Generation K9’s is the digitisation of the platform from the command, control, communications, computers and intelligence architecture, through to the overall ‘awareness’ of the system itself to its surroundings, which further enable crew operations.
The Huntsman FOV is also joined by the C2 variant accommodating eight command post operators who can comfortably stand in the back whilst working and enjoy the same protection and mobility characteristic of the rest of the SPH battery. This new variant is built upon the AS10 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles chassis.
Why is the AS9 Huntsman the best choice for the Australian Defence Force?
The K9 and K10 fleets are now one of the most widely used and operationally proven systems in the world. The K9 has gone head to head with the world’s best SPH systems and has proven itself over and over again. Australia will benefit from the extensive global user community and significant upgrade and development pathway that has been set for the fleet. The K9 and K10 set of vehicles represent a systems approach to the high operational rates of fire and agility that modern indirect fire systems need to survive on the modern battlefield in a peer on peer engagement.
The construction of the new Hanwha factory in Australia is set to begin in 2022. Will the factory use local or South Korean workforce mainly? Why is it needed to build a new facility instead of using existing ones?
The factory is a key part of the HDA plan to create a sovereign and self-reliant Armoured vehicles business in Australia. The workforce will be Australian based and will utilise an Australian based supply chain with select integration with some of our key technology partners. As an example, we have already positioned a key Australian supplier to work with a Korean based company for the supply of parts into the Korean Army supply and upgrade programmes.
To achieve this, and also to support our ambitions to grow the company both globally and in Australia, a new purpose-built facility was essential. The facility will house an R&D centre, a training centre, a systems integration laboratory, and room to accommodate our growing Australian and international business partners who choose to locate with us.
We have created an Industry Development Unit which will coordinate activities across workforce skilling, growing Australian industry capability, and engaging with Australian R&D institutions, to ensure we have a viable and long term approach to advanced manufacturing in Australia.
The production of the AS9 Huntsman will begin at the end of 2024. When do you expect to start delivering the howitzers and when do you expect to deliver the last of the 30 AS9 vehicles?
The first AS9s are scheduled to be delivered to the Commonwealth in the second quarter of 2025. These initial vehicles will then be subject to a rigorous acceptance process before they are introduced into service. The last of the AS9 vehicles are scheduled to be delivered to the Commonwealth in Q2 2027.
Is Hanwha Defense planning to contribute to the Defence project Land 8116 in any other ways?
We have already begun to develop a set of automation proposals for consideration by the Australian Army. We are also working to ensure that the Australian Army get the full benefit of any future work we do for any other customer. We plan to ensure that in the medium to long term we are positioned to offer the advantages of AI and automation across the full set of requirements for Joint Fires. We are working on this in the areas of logistics, counter-unmanned aircraft systems, local protection and digitisation upgrades with our partners. We intend to be fully involved with the SPH howitzer capability for the life of the type of the programme and all other phases. (Source: army-technology.com)
22 Dec 21. USAF Hypersonic Weapon Third Test Fails. The U.S. Air Force has failed for a third time to conduct a successful test of the rocket booster on a prototype AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon hypersonic missile, or ARRW. This can only add to the palatable frustration within the service, as well as elsewhere in the U.S. military and in Congress, about the progress, or lack thereof, in the testing of various new hypersonic weapons.
The Air Force Life Cycle Management Command’s Armament Directorate confirmed to The War Zone today that another attempted ARRW flight test had failed on Dec. 15, 2021. The Air Force says that it has not yet determined the cause of the issue that led to the test being aborted. The prototype missile never left the wing of the B-52H bomber carrying it.
“On 15 Dec. 2021, the Department of the Air Force attempted a booster test flight of the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) from a B-52 Stratofortress,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, the service’s Program Executive Officer for Weapons, told The War Zone in a statement. “The launch sequence was aborted before release with an unknown issue. The missile will return to the factory and analysis of the telemetry and onboard data will begin immediately. The program will seek to resume flight test as quickly as possible.”
This comes some five months after the second attempt to conduct this flight test of the ARRW’s rocket booster. The Air Force deemed that test in July to have been a partial success, even though the rocket did not ignite as intended, because the prototype weapon separated safely from the B-52H bomber that it had been loaded onto and provided an opportunity to evaluate other aspects of the launch procedure.
The Air Force’s first attempt had come in April. In that case, as in this latest test, an unspecified issue forced the mission to be scrapped and the weapon remained on the wing of the B-52H the entire time.
The primary goal of this particular test has been to demonstrate the rocket booster’s ability to perform as intended. The Air Force had hoped to conduct three successful booster tests this year ahead of the start of testing of prototypes with actual hypersonic boost-glide vehicles loaded inside them.
As designed, ARRW uses the rocket to boost the entire weapon to a designated speed and altitude, after which the nose cone breaks apart and an unpowered hypersonic boost-glide vehicle is released. That vehicle then glides back down toward its target at hypersonic speed, defined as anything above Mach 5, while following a shallow, atmospheric flight path. It will also have a high degree of maneuverability, allowing it to make erratic course changes that, together with how fast it is moving, make it extremely difficult for opponents to spot, track, or otherwise react to, let alone defend against. (Source: UAS VISION/The Drive)