13 Jan 22. Army readies to deliver first set of Strykers with 50-kilowatt laser weapons. The first set of Stryker combat vehicles equipped with 50-kilowatt laser weapons will be delivered to a unit of Army soldiers at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, by the end of September, according to the head of the service’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office.
The Army has dubbed its Directed Energy Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense system “Guardian.” After testing its first prototype last spring at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, against one-, two-, and three-class unmanned aircraft systems and rockets, artillery and mortars, the service is planning to conduct more tests this month, Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood said at a Jan. 12 event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The testing will continue through the early part of February, he added.
The Army learned from extensive soldier feedback of the first prototype down at White Sands and through virtual simulation, he said. Based on that feedback, the developers have gone back and made some design changes, Thurgood noted.
The Army first awarded a contract in mid-2019 to Kord Technologies, a KBR subsidiary, to serve as the prime contractor for the first set of prototypes.
Kord subsequently awarded subcontracts to Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Technologies to compete to supply the laser module.
The competition was intended to culminate in a shoot-off between those companies’ respective teams. Kord and the Army were slated to then agree on a winner and proceed with integration of the chosen laser module onto three more Strykers to make a platoon’s worth of directed energy-capable SHORAD systems.
But Northrop experienced problems with the power and thermal management system supplied by Kord when integrated with its system, and a fire broke out during testing late last year. Problems persisted into the new year, and Northrop dropped out before the demonstration.
The Raytheon team moved on to demonstrate its system, and the Army chose to go forward with those prototypes. The company received a $123 million contract to supply the laser weapon.
The Army is expected to reopen the competition because the system is considered critical in future operations against prolific threats like UAS.
Lockheed Martin announced at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference last October it would compete if the Army moves forward with a new competition next year.
Taking its experience from other laser weapons programs — including the airborne laser weapon for the Air Force and a 300-kilowatt-class laser under development for the Army’s indirect fires protection capability, or IFPC, as part of a team with Dynetics — Lockheed is scaling its laser technology into an offering it calls DEIMOS. The Dynetics and Lockheed team is slated to deliver an IFPC high-energy laser technology demonstrator in fiscal 2022; four prototypes are due at the end of FY24. (Source: Defense News)
12 Jan 22. Lithuania accelerates rocket artillery buy amid Russian military buildup. The Lithuanian government has decided to accelerate its planned purchase of a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) amid Russia’s military buildup on its border with Ukraine.
The decision to buy the system in 2026, two years earlier than Vilnius previously planned, was taken by the State Defence Council, a body that comprises Lithuania’s president, prime minister, defense minister, parliament speaker, and the chief of defense.
“The State Defence Council agrees that, in the face of current security threats, the Lithuanian Army needs [an] increased number of conscripts [and a] further deployment of capabilities. We intend to engage in a joint development of [a] regional interoperable Multiple Launch Rocket System capability,” Lithuanian Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas said in a tweet.
Local observers say the ministry plans to order Lockheed Martin’s M270 MLRS.
Last December, Anušauskas and his two counterparts, Estonia’s Defense Minister Kalle Laanet and Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks, agreed that the three Baltic states will all acquire MLRS for their respective militaries.
Estonia’s National Defence Development Plan until 2031 foresees the acquisition of the weapon to increase the country’s “capability to influence the enemy with indirect fire from a distance.” Estonian military officials have said the weapons could be ordered this year.
(Source: Defense News)
12 Jan 22. US Army plots path ahead for new mobile 155 mm howitzer prototype. The US Army is taking the next step towards developing a new wheeled 155 mm howitzer and is asking companies to participate in a multi-year assessment that could lead to the design of a new weapon system. In early January the service posted two separate request for information documents related to the towed howitzer effort – one for a truck and the other for an armament capability. Neither document details a straightforward development or acquisition plan, however, each notes that the service may be interested in developing a new howitzer prototype instead of acquiring one that has already been fielded. (Source: Janes)
12 Jan 22. Moog Inc. (NYSE: MOG.A and MOG.B) announced today that the company’s hardware played a critical role in a historic milestone in unmanned aviation by successfully launching and retrieving an X-61A Gremlins Air Vehicle (GAV) during the program’s fourth flight test event in October at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. The Gremlins demonstration system flew three GAVs to conduct four individual flight sorties for a combined 6.7 hours of flight, including the 1.4-hour airborne recovery mission. The overarching goal of the Gremlins Program, managed by DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, is to demonstrate aerial launch and recovery of multiple low-cost, reusable, unmanned aerial systems (UASs). Moog’s electromechanical actuation systems provide precision motion control for several elements of the Gremlins demonstration system including GAV tail fin control, GAV wing deploy, and fin control for the attitude-controlled “Bullet” which is a key element in the recovery system. These actuation systems have been developed in a highly collaborative environment with Dynetics to achieve the rapid integration and flight test schedule that is expected for DARPA programs. The solutions leverage previously flight-qualified elements and commercial off the shelf (COTS) components striking a unique balance between reliability and cost that is essential to all successful programs. The electromechanical actuation system design allows for multiple sorties, enabling Dynetics to meet the critical goal of 24-hour refurbishment for return to flight. Moog has been providing precision steering controls to weapons programs for 70 years and has been a leader in the transition from hydraulic and pneumatic actuation, to robust electromechanical actuation technologies. “Our development of application-specific systems over the last several decades has resulted in an extensive portfolio of flight-proven solutions,” said Mike Brunner, Moog Missile Systems Director. “In order to support the rapidly evolving needs of our warfighter, whenever possible we are shifting from the longer timelines associated with the traditional development of unique solutions, and instead, as an embedded teammate, work to fully leverage our proven solutions to bring low risk capabilities to our customers at a much faster pace.”
12 Jan 22. Indian Navy test fires BrahMos supersonic missile onboard INS Visakhapatnam. The advanced sea-to-sea version can hit both land and sea targets. The Indian Navy has successfully test-fired an extended-range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from its newly commissioned INS Visakhapatnam destroyer. The missile launch was carried out off the country’s western coast. Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) tweeted: “Advanced sea to sea variant of BrahMos Supersonic Cruise missile was tested from INS Visakhapatnam today. The missile hit the designated target ship precisely.” The missile was tested in October and December 2020 from the navy’s stealth destroyer INS Chennai and Rajput-class destroyer INS Ranvijay, respectively. An Indian Navy spokesperson said on Twitter that the launch ‘certifies the accuracy of the ship’s combat system and armament complex’ and also ‘validates a new capability the missile provides the navy and nation’. In November last year, the Indian Navy took the delivery of the newest missile destroyer Visakhapatnam. The missile destroyer can be equipped with 16 BrahMos anti-ship supersonic cruise missiles. BrahMos supersonic cruise missile has been designed and developed by the India-Russian joint venture (JV) BrahMos Aerospace, including Mashinostroyenia of Russia and DRDO. All three divisions of the Indian Armed Forces, Indian Army, Indian Navy, and the Indian Air Force have deployed this missile. Designed to hit both land and sea targets, the missile can be launched either in a vertical or a horizontal mode from a moving or stationary platform. Last month, the missile’s air version was fired from Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Sukhoi 30 MKI supersonic fighter aircraft. (Source: naval-technology.com)
11 Jan 22. Destroyer Preble to get Lockheed high-energy laser in 2022. Planned HELIOS installation comes amid congressional scrutiny of the tech and tightening contract deadlines. Lockheed Martin is preparing to send its latest directed energy weapon to San Diego for installation onboard an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer following successful testing at a Navy facility last year.
Jeanine Matthews, a Lockheed Martin executive overseeing integrated warfare systems, told reporters today the High-Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance, dubbed HELIOS, completed several tests at Wallops Island, Va., in the fall. She said the company expects the weapon to be onboard the Preble (DDG 88) and out to sea later this year.
“What’s interesting about HELIOS is that it’s not simply a standalone system — [it has] the initial pieces of integration to Aegis and the next steps would be to basically make it one of the selections in the weapon system component of Aegis so that you could use [it],” she said at the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium.
HELIOS, a 60kw laser, is one of the latest iterations of the US Navy’s endeavors in developing and deploying a directed energy weapon. The Navy’s research and development enterprise has had a variety of lasers in the works for several years now, some of which have had isolated success during testing aboard warships.
HELIOS, alongside the Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation effort and the Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy, make up the service’s family of laser weapon systems. The first prototype of a solid-state laser was installed onboard a ship in 2014.
Lockheed has been under contract to develop and produce HELIOS for three years and has a contract with the Navy that includes options for up to nine production units. But lawmakers’ reservations with the technology have contributed to a lag in the program moving forward.
“The [House Armed Services] Committee is concerned with both the fragility of the supply base and that the protracted time between development, test and installation for an at-sea trial will cause the Navy to reprogram outyear funding to other needs,” lawmakers wrote in a report accompanying the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.
Prior to that, lawmakers in the fiscal 2019 defense policy bill limited the service to purchasing one HELIOS unit per year until the Pentagon provided a detailed contracting and acquisition strategy.
Matthews said today the company will continue to support the Navy’s demonstrations aboard the Preble but anticipated a problem if the service waits much longer to execute some of the production options in the current contract.
“We are getting towards the end of where that’s a feasible thing to execute. Not from our standpoint, but just from a contractual standpoint,” she said.
The promise of a directed energy weapon onboard a warship offers several benefits. First and foremost, the weapon could play a critical role in disabling hostile unmanned aerial drones threatening the crew, and it could do so at a fraction of the cost of a traditional munition.
The Office of Naval Research has also done extensive experimentation in how the optics technology of directed energy weapons could contribute to the Navy’s intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)