18 Feb 22. The UK and France have confirmed the launch of the preparation works for the FC / ASW (Future Cruise / Anti-Ship Weapon) programme. The United Kingdom and France have confirmed the launch of the preparation works for the Future Cruise / Anti-Ship Weapon (FC / ASW) programme, after the signature today of a government agreement and associated contracts by the French Direction générale de l’armement (DGA) and the British Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S).
Eric Beranger, CEO of MBDA said: “The FC / ASW programme is an example of the value of the ‘One MBDA’ integrated model. By combining technology, industrial capacity and funding across borders, we can deliver unique and advanced sovereign capabilities. Following the conclusion of the FC / ASW Concept Phase, the confirmation of the launch of these preparation works testifies the renewed confidence of our two countries towards MBDA. The project will take advantage from our sustained French/UK Centres of Excellence. This reinforcement of MBDA’s portfolio of deep strike and anti-ship systems will allow MBDA to offer to our armed forces, whose satisfaction is our priority, a cutting-edge solution fitted to their requirements and adapted to all existing or future operational needs.”
These preparation works will focus on the co-ordinated development of a programme of next generation deep strike and heavy anti-ship weapons. It will assess two complementary missile concepts, expected to be fielded at the end of the decade: a subsonic low observable concept and a supersonic, highly manoeuvrable concept. These concepts are to meet the requirements of France and the UK and will provide a game changing capability to overcome land-based and maritime threats, hardened targets and air defence systems, at very long ranges and in increasingly contested battlespace environments.
FC / ASW will complement MBDA’s portfolio of existing products that continue to be evolved to adapt to new threats.
18 Feb 22. Indonesia’s CN-235 gunship plans delayed by push for aviation biofuel. Indonesia’s plan to develop a gunship variant of the CN-235 twin-engine multi-purpose aircraft has been delayed indefinitely amid a push for the country to commercialise a home-grown aviation biofuel type.
The matter was revealed to Janes by an official from state-owned aerospace company PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) at Singapore Airshow 2022. Notably missing from PTDI’s exhibition stand during the show was a model of the CN-235 gunship, which has been displayed at past defence exhibitions.
“We are no longer displaying the gunship because it is unclear when this project will resume,” said the official. “The flying testbed that was supposed to be a platform from which we conduct the firing trials is now involved in pre-commercialisation processes of an Indonesian-developed palm-oil based aviation biofuel known as BioAvtur.” (Source: Janes)
18 Feb 22. Singapore Airshow 2022: Indonesia’s CN-235 gunship plans delayed by push for aviation biofuel. Indonesia’s plan to develop a gunship variant of the CN-235 twin-engine multi-purpose aircraft has been delayed indefinitely amid a push for the country to commercialise a home-grown aviation biofuel type. The matter was revealed to Janes by an official from state-owned aerospace company PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) at Singapore Airshow 2022. Notably missing from PTDI’s exhibition stand during the show was a model of the CN-235 gunship, which has been displayed at past defence exhibitions.
“We are no longer displaying the gunship because it is unclear when this project will resume,” said the official. “The flying testbed that was supposed to be a platform from which we conduct the firing trials is now involved in pre-commercialisation processes of an Indonesian-developed palm-oil based aviation biofuel known as BioAvtur.” (Source: Janes)
17 Feb 22. Singapore Airshow 2022: Israeli-Singapore teaming touts Blue Spear missile’s capabilities for congested waterways. A joint-venture teaming between Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) and ST Engineering is positioning the Blue Spear missile as a suitable surface-to-surface weapon for congested waterways, similar to those found across the Asia-Pacific region.
A mock-up of the missile was unveiled for the first time at Singapore Airshow 2022. The ‘fifth-generation’ weapon is being marketed by Proteus Advanced Systems: the joint venture entity that has been established between IAI and ST Engineering.
Speaking to Janes at the event, a representative from ST Engineering describes the Blue Spear as a weapon that combines the maritime systems expertise of the Singapore company with the advanced missile systems pedigree of its Israeli counterpart. The weapon derives its heritage from the Gabriel family of sea-skimming anti-ship missiles that was developed by IAI in the 1960s and deployed by the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) in the 1970s. (Source: Janes)
16 Feb 22. UK confirms cancellation of I-SSGW programme. The UK Royal Navy (RN) faces an extended gap in its heavyweight over-the-horizon anti-surface warfare (ASuW) capability after plans for a limited buy of ship-launched anti-ship missile systems was abandoned. Industry was formally notified by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) earlier this month that the Interim Surface-to-Surface Guided Weapon (I-SSGW) programme had been cancelled. This decision came despite a commitment in the March 2021 Defence Command Paper to procure a replacement for the RN’s legacy ship-launched Boeing Harpoon Block 1C missile. Harpoon Block 1C and its associated GWS 60 ship system are fitted to a number of Type 23 frigates. However, warstock obsolescence means that Harpoon will retired from RN service at the end of 2023. (Source: Janes)
17 Feb 22. Singapore Airshow 2022: India positions Tejas as most competitively priced light combat aircraft in market. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is showcasing its Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) in Singapore for the first time as part of efforts to position the platform for requirements in the region. The service has deployed three airframes to the country as part of the aircraft’s debut at Singapore Airshow 2022, which runs from 15 to 18 February. One of the airframes took part in a static display alongside a delegation of Indian government officials who were there to explain the various features of the LCA. Speaking to Janes at the show, Tejas LCA pilot Group Captain Manish Tolani described the Tejas as a “4.5 Generation” fighter aircraft with proven capabilities across various climatic conditions, including the hot and humid weather across Southeast Asia. (Source: Janes)
13 Feb 22. Ukraine receives anti-aircraft missiles from Lithuania. Ukraine on Sunday received a consignment of Stinger anti-aircraft missile systems and ammunition by plane from Lithuania, the defense ministry in Kyiv said. Earlier on Sunday two other planes delivered about 180 tonnes of ammunition from the United States, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said. Ukraine had so far received almost 1,500 tonnes of ammunition delivered on 17 flights, he said on Twitter. Military officials say Ukraine has significantly strengthened its armed forces with the help of allies, equipping the army, in particular, with American and British anti-tank systems and Turkish drones. The United States and allies say Russia could invade Ukraine at any moment. Russia, which has more than 100,000 troops massed near Ukraine, denies having any such plan. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Reuters)
16 Feb 22. North Korea’s hypersonic missile claims are credible, exclusive analysis shows. A new analysis shows that a Jan. 11 North Korean missile test could well be a hypersonic weapon – and one that holds American bases in Japan in a new level of danger. As the US works to develop a hypersonic arsenal, North Korea has now claimed three different launches as successful hypersonic weapons tests. Few take Pyongyang at its word, but a new analysis by experts Ralph Savelsberg and Tomohiko Kawaguchi has concluded that the DPRK likely has developed a hypersonic weapon. In this exclusive analysis for Breaking Defense, the pair explain their work — and their troubling conclusions. North Korea has already performed more missile tests in 2022 than they did all of 2021. Some of the tests have involved missiles they have launched before, but the most eye-popping claim from Pyongyang is that a pair of launches, on Jan. 5 and Jan. 11, involved a previously unknown capability: a hypersonic missile.
According to KCNA, the DPRK official press agency, on its Jan. 11 flight, the hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) separated from its booster after travelling 600km. Subsequently, it flew a gliding trajectory, during which it made a turn, before hitting its target at roughly 1,000km from the launch site. KCNA also published images of Kim Jong Un in front of a blurred screen with a drawing of the vehicle’s planned trajectory. The initial heading points towards Japan, but then subsequently turns north.
Independently, the South Korean military confirmed that the missile flew more than 700km, reached a maximum altitude of 60km, and achieved a speed equivalent to Mach 10. The Japanese Defense Ministry published a map with the estimated splash zone for a ballistic trajectory, but acknowledged that the missile could have flown further on an “irregular trajectory.” There is no independent confirmation of where the missile landed, which leaves the question whether it, at least in theory, could have flown the planned trajectory.
Using a size estimate, based on previously analyzed data and engineering constraints from related missiles, we have performed a computer simulation of the flight of this new missile and the HGV. The results match the observed maximum altitude and velocity, as well as the planned trajectory shown by the DPRK. So this trajectory is plausible — and that is worrying, because it severely challenges existing missile defenses.
Trajectory map shown on a screen in an image of Kim Jong Un attending the January 11 launch (left) and a map published by the Japanese Defense Ministry of the impact zone if the missile would have flown a ballistic trajectory (right).
This isn’t the first time the DPRK has claimed to launch a hypersonic weapon; in Sept. 2021, a missile dubbed the Hwasong-8 was launched, but statements in South Korean media suggest that flight failed. Based on images of the January launches, the new missiles are of a different design. Both types have a rocket booster, apparently powered by the engine cluster used for North Korea’s Hwasong-12 and Hwasong-14 ballistic missiles, and at a first glance these look very similar. However, the small Vernier engines used for steering are positioned closer to the main nozzle on the new missile than on the Hwasong-8.
Images scaled with the diameter of the main nozzle, instead of with the body diameter, show that the new booster is shorter and narrower. Overall the missile is also shorter than the Hwasong-12. This smaller size is confirmed by footage from an exhibition held in Pyongyang last year, where this new missile, still unknown at the time, was displayed next to a Hwasong-12.
The hypersonic glide vehicle is cylindrically symmetric, with four triangular control fins. This is similar to Maneuverable Re-entry Vehicles (MaRVs) used on some ballistic missiles, such as the Iranian Qiam-2. On that missile, the aerodynamic controls are used to increase the accuracy of the impact point. However, such a shape can also generate lift for a gliding flight, by using the control fins to keep it at a small angle of attack relative to its velocity vector.
For our simulation we use a medium-fidelity model, in which the forces that act on the missile and the glide vehicle are calculated as a function of time. Based on the size comparison with the Hwasong-12, the new booster is approximately 9 m long (excluding the engine nozzles) and has a body diameter of 1.37 m. It uses liquid propellant, and its size indicates a propellant mass of approximately 10.8 tons, with a burn time of ~66 s based on the Hwasong-12 engine. With suitable masses for the airframe and engine, the estimated total booster mass is 12.9 tons. The glide vehicle is approximately 4 m long with a base diameter of 0.83 m and we estimate its mass to be 900 kg.
In the simulation, by launching the missile on a depressed ballistic trajectory to a distance of 750 km, we find a 60 km apogee and maximum velocity of 3.4 km/s or roughly Mach 10 — matching what was reported by South Korea. During its descent, starting about 600 km from the launch site, the simulated glide vehicle starts to generate lift and its trajectory levels off at an altitude of roughly 30 km. During this flight phase it also turns north, with a pre-set 350 km turn radius. The turn requires a sideways aerodynamic force. Finally, the vehicle pitches down towards the target, using proportional navigation.
These maneuvers increase aerodynamic drag and, since it is an unpowered glider, this decreases the velocity. These effects are all included in the simulation. Lift and drag coefficients, as a function of the angle of attack, the Mach-number and the altitude, were estimated using an aero-prediction code, based on the shape of the vehicle.
In the common definition, a hypersonic missile maneuvers inside the atmosphere and flies faster than Mach 5. The simulation results show that, during the glide, the velocity gradually decreases to about 1.6 km/s, roughly Mach 5, so it indeed is hypersonic. The simulated ground track closely matches the trajectory drawn on Kim Jong Un’s screen, so that trajectory is plausible.
The simulation confirms that the Jan. 11 launch did, indeed, meet the definition of a hypersonic weapon. What is still unclear is whether the glide vehicle completed the trajectory planned by DPRK or not.
In practice, hypersonic flight is difficult and it is uncertain whether the flight control system and the construction of the glider are up to this task. If the DPRK gets it right, though, this will be a much more dangerous weapon than ballistic missiles with similar ranges. Using our model, we can also calculate trajectories to different targets. For instance, the initial trajectory pointed towards Misawa Air Base; if it were the target the missile would not have to execute a turn. Therefore it would lose less velocity during the glide phase, which increases the range sufficiently for it to indeed reach the base, almost 1,300 km away.
This weapon leaves only limited options for defending Japan or US bases in Japan. The trajectory is too low to be intercepted by the Standard Missile 3, because it never leaves the atmosphere. It is unpredictable and too high to be intercepted by surface-to-air missiles that steer using aerodynamic controls, while lower-tier interceptors, such as Patriot, can only cover relatively small areas. The only practical upper-tier interceptor would be a missile such as THAAD, with a larger footprint and thrusters for its flight control.
Ralph Savelsberg, a member of the Breaking Defense Board of Contributors, is associate professor at the Netherlands Defence Academy in Den Helder, the Netherlands, specializing in missile defense. Tomohiko Kawaguchi is associate professor at the College of International Relations at Nihon University in Mishima, Shizuoka, Japan. The authors would like to thank James Kiessling for his valuable comments on this work. This article does not reflect any official position or policy of the Government of the Netherlands. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
16 Feb 22. MBDA Deutschland pitches Enforcer for Australia’s Project Land 159 Tranche 2. MBDA Deutschland is proposing the 89 mm Enforcer shoulder-launched land combat guided missile system for the Australian Department of Defence’s (DoD) Lethality System Project (Land 159) Tranche 2/Short Range Direct Fire Support Weapon requirement.
Confirming the offer, a company spokesperson told Janes that Enforcer is fully compliant with the objectives of the country’s Sovereign Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise and, if selected, it will be built, maintained, and evolved in partnership with Australian industry.
Enforcer will enter service with the Special Forces Command of the German armed forces – it’s inaugural user – in 2024 under the provisions of a EUR76m (USD86m) contract awarded to MBDA Deutschland by the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) in December 2019 for the German Federal Ministry of Defence’s ‘Leichtes Wirkmittel 1800+’ requirement. Germany is the only publicly disclosed customer for the weapon system, although the MBDA spokesperson confirmed that the company “has received interest in Enforcer from multiple international customers”. (Source: Janes)
16 Feb 22. China tests QW-12 missile capabilities. China tested its QW-12 advanced man-portable air defense system (MANPADS) for intercepting helicopters, jet aircraft, and cruise missiles in a live-fire test.
The state-run newspaper, Global Times, on 14 February quoted the government-run broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) as saying that the QW-12 was recently tested in northern China. The QW-12 hit a “specially designed target aircraft” developed to simulate an attack helicopter by mimicking its infrared signal, the Global Times said. It “ignored” the flares released by the target aircraft before hitting it. The QW-12 also intercepted a 122 mm rocket flying at a speed of 360 m/s while simulating a jet aircraft and a cruise missile. The missile also intercepted a fast-moving target head-on after employing its laser proximity detonator. (Source: Janes)
15 Feb 22. Proteus reveals more details of Blue Spear missile. A joint venture between Israeli and Singaporean defense firms has revealed more details of its Blue Spear sea-skimming missile at the Singapore Airshow, emphasizing its flight profile and mission-planning capabilities.
Video released by Proteus Advanced Systems— made up of Israel Aerospace Industries and ST Engineering Land Systems — stated that Blue Spear’s flight profile and mission execution are programmable by its operators but could also be highly automated, depending on mission requirements.
IAI has said the fifth-generation surface-to-surface missile is designed to prevail in contested, congested and complex situations, even when pitted against increasingly sophisticated countermeasures.
Speaking to Defense News at the Singapore Airshow, Ron Tryfus, general manager of Proteus Advanced Systems, said the Blue Spear 5G SSM’s advanced data link could be used in a fire-and-update mode in addition to a fire-and-forget profile.
The onboard data link also allows the missile to be tracked in flight by operators.
However, Tryfus declined to directly answer whether the missile can be re-programmed to attack different targets when already in flight, instead telling Defense News that customers will be able to define what kind of midcourse updates the missile is capable of when used in fire-and-update mode.
He also touched on the relationship between the Blue Spear and the Sea Serpent missiles; the latter is a specific variant being offered by IAI and Thales for the British Royal Navy’s anti-ship missile. Tryfus said IAI is taking part in the British competition on behalf of Proteus.
Product brochures confirm the missile is more than an anti-ship weapon and can be used against onshore targets in littoral, open-ocean and overland environments.
Estonia selected Blue Spear for coastal defense and will be mounting the system on trucks carrying the missile-launch boxes within 20-foot containers. Tryfus noted there are no plans for an air-launched variant.
In a news release, IAI said that the missile system delivers an agile, highly penetrative, combined anti-ship and land attack capability with a range of 290 kilometers (180 miles) at a subsonic, albeit high, speed.
The missile deploys an active radar homing seeker and advanced weapons control system to provide precise target detection and engagement. It can also operate day or night under all weather conditions.
Defense News had previously reported that ST Engineering’s land systems division is responsible for the design, development and production of major subsystems like the booster motor and insensitive munition warhead, which is rated at 150 kilograms (330 pounds). (Source: Defense News)
15 Feb 22. Sonardyne launch wireless initiation capability for naval mine disposal. Underwater defence technology company Sonardyne is aiming to improve the safety and efficiency of naval mine counter measures (MCM), explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and demolition operations, with the introduction of a secure, wireless underwater initiation capability.
The company’s new Initiation Transponder 6 (IT 6) is designed to be connected directly to a remotely deployed, non-electric mine neutralisation device, such as a Cobra MDS from ECS Special Projects. This allows EOD teams to send a wireless, acoustic command from their vessel, safely initiating a shock tube detonator. Recent demonstrations were conducted over distances in excess of 1,000 m away.
IT 6 is based on Sonardyne’s field-proven Wideband 2 digital signal technology, which offers a reliable and long-range underwater wireless communications link. The development of IT 6 means that service personnel no longer need to hard wire mine neutralisers up to signal relay buoys on the surface and are not restricted to good weather and daylight for setting up an initiation operation.
IT 6 is small, lightweight and designed to be placed by a clearance diver or remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for both high order detonation and low order deflagration. It features multiple layers of security to prevent unintended activation, including a hydrostatic switch, which only allows the unit to be armed when a pre-determined depth has been reached.
Operations using IT 6s are controlled using Sonardyne’s new rugged Deck Topside case and cabled dunker. Environmentally rated to IP67, the case features a daylight readable interactive 7-inch resistive touch screen and rechargeable battery, for when operating from small combat craft with no external power.
The user interface was designed in close co-operation with EOD technicians and enables operating parameters to be set and multiple IT 6s to be configured prior to deployment. During a live operation, two physical buttons provide an additional layer of security, requiring users to hold one button to arm, then simultaneously press the other to initiate.
The dunker, which is supplied with 10 m of cable, provides a secure two-way communications link between the surface and IT 6, and is simply lowered over the side of a vessel.
Tom Rooney, Defence Sales Manager at Sonardyne in the UK said; “Navies around the world are investing heavily in new technologies to support their diver and remotely controlled mission objectives, not least mine counter measures. IT 6 is one such technology and represents an important new addition to the MCM and other underwater ordnance playbooks.
“When clearance of both modern-day and historical sea mines is deemed necessary to maintain control of the underwater domain, IT 6 will help those involved with the hazardous task to operate safely, wirelessly and in any weather, day or night. Underwater acoustic command and control is a core Sonardyne capability, so IT 6 can be considered as reliable and as secure as traditional methods involving shock tubes and a lot safer than electrical detonation lines.”
14 Feb 22. UK Navy chief pushes hypersonic tech in bid to hone the fleet’s combat edge. Twelve weeks into his new job as the Royal Navy’s First Sea Lord, Adm. Sir Ben Key has laid out his vision of what capabilities Britain’s future maritime force will need, touting new technology development as key for making the fleet more lethal.
Key used a visit to the Babcock shipyard at Rosyth, Scotland, currently assembling the first of at least five Type 31 general-purpose frigates for the Royal Navy, to describe where he sees the sea service going by 2035.
More lethality, hypersonic weapons, blending unmanned and manned aircraft working from the same flight deck, a renaissance in commando operations, and regaining advantage below the waves – all those mission got a name check by Key.
“We are setting ourselves a challenge to become a global leader in hypersonic weapons. A future where we’ll become more adaptive in how we use our platforms, high-end war fighting, command and control … highly lethal, highly reassuring and highly adaptable,” he told an audience of industry executives and Royal Navy officers during a visit to the yard Feb 11.
Pointing out the major recapitalization of the Russian fleet in recent times, Key acknowledged there may be some catching-up to do with Moscow’s growing submarine threat.
“It’s a future where we will regain and retain operational advantage in the underwater domain,” he said.
Nick Childs, the senior fellow for naval forces and maritime security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank in London, said Key’s remarks “underscore the fact there is a huge change program under way in the Royal Navy, including in terms of much-needed new platforms.”
Aside from the Type 31 program led by Babcock at Rosyth, a few miles away on the river Clyde BAE Systems is building the first three of eight planned Type 26 anti-submarine frigates.
A Type 32 frigate fleet is also in the early stages of design. At the moment, the fielding time and number of warships planned is unclear.
The British also have begun looking at design options of a Type 83 destroyer expected to start replacing the Type 45 destroyer in the last 2030s.
Key “acknowledges that it is going to be a challenge delivering on these and the multiple other important capability enhancements that are being promised,” said Childs.
The changes and growth come at a time when maritime power is very much back in fashion.
“I do genuinely believe we’re experiencing a once-in-a-generation moment where the maritime reasserts itself in a position of geopolitical conscience,” Childs said.
Opponents seem to think so, too. Britain’s naval chief flagged growing Russian and Chinese naval strength as causes for concern, and he also added non-state actors as a growing threat due to their increasing access to rapid and freely available technology.
“We need to acknowledge some hard truths. We have to recognize that if we’re not careful, we will lose our operational advantage,” Key warned.
He also warned the scale of the challenge would be too much to handle for Britain alone.
“We’re not going to do it hull for hull, and we’re not going to do it person to person. But we are going to do with allies. We are going to do it by combining the latest technology. We are going to do it by thinking differently,” he said.
One of the areas the British need to fix is the lack of offensive capabilities on a surface fleet which has had to rely on aging Harpoon missiles or helicopter-borne weapons for its surface-to-surface punch.
That appears to be changing. More lethality now appears to be the order of the day.
Key said the Royal Navy needs to be less wedded to defensive systems and much bolder with the transition to effective offensive systems.
Childs reckons at the heart of this is a “broadly acknowledged issue that the balance between defensive and offensive systems in the Royal Navy needs to be addressed, to put the ‘strike’ fully back into RN capabilities, particularly in terms of advanced stand-off weapons.”
“A major part of this conundrum is not just what level of capability to aspire to, but how quickly and how widely can it be introduced,” said Childs.
Said Key: “To quote my predecessor as First Sea Lord and now chief of Defence Staff, the answer for increasing lethality, is ‘not more people or more cash.’”
Instead, he argued, gaining an advantage “is about up-skilling, it’s about changing the way we think about how we move from traditional means to untraditional, new and innovative methods of achieving the effects we want.”
But, whatever the chief of the Defence Staff, Adm Sir Tony Radakin, says about money not being the answer to greater lethality, the changes will come at a price.
The British defense budget has seen a big hike recently, but resources remain stretched across the military.
Key said to achieve the capability upgrades required the Navy will have to be “willing to dispose of old equipment earlier, and adjusting our programs” to make room for new technology in the fields of hypersonics and directed energy, for example.
That’s a process demonstrated in last year’s integrated review of defense, security and foreign policy where two Type 23 frigates were retired early. (Source: Defense News)
02 Feb 22. Polish Piorun MANPADS Exported to US and Provided to Ukraine. A Success for Mesko Company. As Defence24.pl has, Mesko company from Skarżysko-Kamienna successfully negotiated a deal with the US Department of Defense. The US Government order may eventually amount to several hundred MANPADS systems,. These are the latest VSHORAD assets operated by the Polish military. Piorun is a key element of the air defence system, and its primary role is to neutralize helicopters, attack aircraft, and UAVs.
The negotiation and contracting processes constitute yet another element of the PGZ Group’s export campaign. One should stress that holistically, starting from the manufacturing stage, through monthly reviews with the Ordering Party, risk management, to the organization of the manufacturing processes, the project is managed in line with the US methodology. Mesko is implementing the new processes, based on experience gained by other companies of the Group – such as WZE, WZU, or ZM Tarnów, that have already gone through a similar path. Furthermore, the systems that we export are secured by an authorization system preventing unauthorized use – that system is being tightly controlled by the manufacturer. The solutions discussed guarantee the safety of use – both within the Polish Armed Forces, as well as when the systems are handed off to the Allies.
The acquisition of the Piorun system by the United States is a major feat of the Polish defence industry, as it would deliver equipment for a demanding user, also responding to the requirements voiced by the US Army – within the context of the threat posed by the Russians. The US Army needs to fill in the capability gap in the VSHORAD potential. For decades, the US military did not pay a lot of attention to this capability. Nonetheless, the course of the recent conflicts – including the one in Ukraine – has shown that the US troops deployed in the operational theater may face a threat posed by the enemy rotary-wing assets, or unmanned platforms.
The Americans, restoring their capabilities, assumed that MANPADS would be a solution, given the fact that systems as such are highly flexible and effective, with a relatively low cost. The first step towards the recovery of the VSHORAD potential was to increase the use of the Stinger systems. These have undergone a partial upgrade. It was, however, concluded that this may be insufficient and that more new generation, high-performance MANPADS weapons are needed, suited better to face the contemporary threats. This is why the Americans decided to procure the Piorun missiles. Before that, the US had also acquired a certain number of the Polish Grom systems, delivered in 2016 and 2018-2019. This might have influenced the decision regarding the acquisition of a new generation of the Polish system.
Grom and Piorun MANPADS are a critical element of core business for our company. Both products are available in export variants, and we have been experiencing sudden growth of interest, in the case of potential foreign customers. Not disregarding the requirements of our main customer, the Polish Armed Forces, we are successively expanding the export segment. Currently, we are engaged in several procurement processes for both missile types, where we see a major chance for potential success.
Piorun MANPADS has been developed as a result of a development project launched in 2010, by a consortium formed by Mesko S.A., CRW Telesystem-Mesko, and the Military University of Technology. The main goal was to develop a new MANPADS, via an upgrade of the existing Grom system. The development of the new design was finalized in 2015, while the public unveiling took place during the 24th edition of the MSPO event in Kielce, in 2016. Back then, the system also received a Presidential award.
In December 2016 the Polish Ministry of Defence signed a contract, concerning the delivery of 420 launch systems and 1300 missiles for the Polish Armed Forces, with the delivery deadline set in 2022. The Piorun missiles may be launched with the use of portable launch systems, or Pilica SAM systems operated by the Air Force, in a role of land-based air defence assets. Piorun may also be launched from the Poprad VSHORAD system, operated by all of the Army divisions.
When Piorun was being designed, the main goal was to increase the range and altitude at which targets could be detected and destroyed. Expansion of the capabilities was expected, in comparison to the Piorun’s predecessor – the Grom MANPADS. The launch mechanism now works with the aiming system and features a target type switch that allows the user to select the guidance algorithm to match the threat. New observation instruments have been installed on a special purpose mount, and the launch system also features a new battery compartment and a new launch authorization solution.
The seeker was also modernized, with a new detector, new guidance algorithms, and a proximity fuse. The warhead, launch motor, and coolant were also subjected to modifications. The detection sensitivity, range, and the effective engagement range have been increased. The missile is also more resistant to any disruption or countermeasures. The missile is IR-guided and it can be used against a myriad of airborne threats, at night and during the day, at a distance of up to 6,500 meters, flying at altitudes ranging from 10 to 4,000 meters.
The newly emerging demand for delivery of missiles and ammunitions made it possible for the company to expand its key manufacturing capacity, domestically. This is a long-term process, tied to major investments in Skarżysko, and at other branches of the Mesko company. The export manufacturing required the implementation of extra solutions, in particular, this refers to compliance with the Aerospace Standard 9100 quality norms. For the company, it is both a challenge and a natural path towards the development of most of its domains.
Piorun MANPADS systems would also be sent to Ukraine, to boost the nation’s capacity to counter the Russian threat. A relevant request within that scope was already submitted by Mariusz Błaszczak, head of the Polish Ministry of Defence. It was approved by the Council of Ministers. The Ukrainian Armed Forces so far had been using the post-Soviet MANPADS, such as Strela or Igla, coming in several different variants. In recent weeks Ukraine has also received Stinger MANPADS, within the framework of support rendered by other NATO member states.
The export deal concerning the Piorun missile, and the transfer of those systems to Ukraine, pave the way for Mesko towards potential export deals. It is not a secret that the US market is very demanding, also when it comes to qualitative standards. At the same time, the US acquisitions are often perceived as a road sign by other countries, including ones working closely with the US military.
Currently, Poland is one of a few countries globally, offering and manufacturing MANPADS weapons, and holding complete intellectual rights. Meanwhile, more countries would be interested soon, in replacement of the Stinger system, which are becoming obsolete, and Post-Soviet Striela/Igla missiles. Grom MANPADS, the predecessor of the Piorun system, has been quite successful on the export market, as it was procured by Indonesia in 2007 (152 missiles for the Kobra air defence systems), Georgia in 2008 (30 launchers, 100 missiles, where they were also used in combat), and Lithuania in 2014 (unspecified quantities), and, finally – the missiles sold to US which we mentioned earlier. That could have been the key factor in paving the way for Piorun. All of the above shows that MANPADS is a weapon that has a bright future ahead, while Poland remains in possession of potential to offer such systems, both for its own Armed Forces, as well as foreign partners. (Source: https://defence24.com/)
11 Feb 22. Ottawa launches long-awaited competition for armed military drones. The federal government has officially launched a competition for the purchase of armed drones after nearly two decades of delays and discussion around whether Canada should buy the controversial weapons.
A formal request for proposals was released Friday to the two companies shortlisted to bid on the $5bn contract, which could see the Canadian Armed Forces launch a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles in the next few years.
A formal contract is not expected for another year or two, while the first drone isn’t scheduled for delivery until at least 2025, with the last to arrive in the early 2030s.
The request does not say how many vehicles the government plans to buy, and instead leaves it up to the two companies to say how their bids will satisfy the military’s needs while benefiting the Canadian economy.
It does reveal the aircraft will be based at 14 Wing Greenwood in Nova Scotia and 19 Wing Comox in British Columbia, while the main control centre will be in the Ottawa area. Yellowknife is also identified as a forward operating location.
The drone force will include around 240 air force members, with 55 in Greenwood, 25 in Comox and 160 in Ottawa.
While delivery is still years away, the fact the military has reached even this point represents a major step forward after almost 20 years of work to identify and buy a fleet of UAVs to conduct surveillance over Canadian territory and support missions abroad.
Aside from purchasing a small number of temporary, unarmed drones for the war in Afghanistan — all of which have since been retired — the military has never been able to make much progress on a permanent fleet.
That was despite drones taking on an increasingly important role in militaries around the world. A report in the Royal Canadian Air Force Journal in late 2015 said 76 foreign militaries were using drones and another 50 were developing them.
One major reason: no federal government had authorized adding drones as a permanent fixture within the military in the same vein as fighter-jet or helicopter squadrons until the Liberal government included them in its 2017 defence policy.
The government and military say the unmanned aircraft will be used for surveillance and intelligence gathering as well as delivering pinpoint strikes from the air on enemy forces in places where the use of force has been approved.
Some have previously criticized the decision to buy armed drones given concerns about their potential use in Canada and numerous reports of airstrikes by other nations, particularly the United States and Russia, causing unintended damage and civilian casualties.
The government has also said little about the scenarios in which force might be used, including whether drones could be deployed for assassinations. Officials have suggested they would be used in the same way as conventional weapons such as fighter jets and artillery.
“While the (drones) will be a medium-altitude long-endurance system with a precision strike capability, it will only be armed when necessary for the assigned task,” the Defence Department said Friday.
“At all times, employment of precision strike capability will adhere to the Law of Armed Conflict, as well as any other applicable domestic or international laws. Use of force will be applied following rules of engagement applicable to the CAF.” (Source: https://www.ctvnews.ca/)
14 Feb 22. Japan’s ATLA outlines development of Type 12 surface-to-ship missiles. Japan is upgrading its Type 12 surface-to-ship missile (SSM) systems to enhance its stand-off defence capabilities. A spokesperson from Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) told Janes on 9 February that the Type 12 SSMs are undergoing upgrades under the Ministry of Defense’s (MoD’s) National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) and Medium Term Defense Program (MTDP).
The spokesperson said that the objective of the Type 12 upgrade is a longer firing range. The Type 12 missile system will feature improvements such as increased length and a different shape to achieve that goal. In addition, the launch platform’s engine is being upgraded for increased endurance to support longer operations. The spokesperson did not share further details on the Type 12 upgrade programme targets. Janes previously reported that the MoD planned to extend the missile system’s range from an estimated 200 km to 1,000 km, and also enable its launch from ships and aircraft. (Source: Janes)
10 Feb 22. Iraq to get new air-defence systems Iraq’s Air Defence Command is expecting to receive advanced new systems this year, according to its commander, Lieutenant General Maan al-Saadi.
“Contracts were signed with the support of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, minister of defence, and chief of staff of the army, which aim to support the Air Defence Command and improve its combat capabilities,” Lt Gen Saadi told the Iraqi News Agency (INA) during the celebration of his command’s twenty-ninth anniversary. “It is hoped that during the current year advanced modern systems will be introduced.”
A spokesperson for the commander-in-chief of the armed forces confirmed to the INA that contracts had been signed after military officials visited countries that produce advanced air-defence systems in 2021. The plan is to acquire two types of multi-purpose anti-aircraft systems, he added. (Source: Janes)