03 Aug 22. Israel to spend $150m on laser defenses, after US hesitation. Sources said Israel had hoped Biden’s visit would be an opportunity to convince the US to pitch in its own cash.
Israel plans to pour about $150m into the development of its laser air defense system known as Iron Beam, after the US apparently declined for now to take part in the funding.
An Israeli government committee overseeing acquisition a few days ago approved more than 500 m Israeli shekels ($148 m) for the laser-based rocket interceptor developed by Rafael, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz. The allocated budget is reportedly spread over six years and is earmarked for “the development and procurement of an advanced surface-to-air defense system, along with an air-to-air system the can be installed on planes.” The budget for the air-to-air system, to be developed by Elbit Systems, was not discussed in the meeting.
Prior to US President Joe Biden’s visit to the Middle East last month, Breaking Defense reported that Israeli officials planned to request American funds — around $300 m — be added to the already $3.3 bn Foreign Military Financing that Jerusalem receives from Washington. The new pot of money would be dedicated to laser-based defense development, Israeli defense sources said at the time.
But sources now say that even after Biden was personally given a tour of the Israeli tech, the US has been disinclined to provide the hoped for funding, for now. Haaretz, citing sources involved in the project, reported it was expected the US government would pitch in to the systems’ development in some fashion later on. US lawmakers are already publicly pushing the US to cooperate with Israel on directed energy weapons.
Israel has dramatically accelerated the development of laser-based defense systems in recent years, as Breaking Defense has reported.
The acceleration of the program was spurred by the growing threat posed by Iranian-made armed drones that are sent to the country’s proxy forces in the Gulf and Middle East, as well as the growing arsenal of Iranian-made rockets in the hands of the Hezbollah in Lebanon, defense sources have said.
The ministry added that the tests are the first phase of a multi-year program led by the DDR&D and defense industries. “The program aims to develop a high-power ground and aerial laser system equipped to deal with long-range, high-intensity threats. The laser will complement the ‘Iron Dome’ system and will be an effective and economically efficient addition to Israel’s multi-tiered air defense array,” the MoD said in April.
A defense source noted the laser system would be used in tandem with kinetic missile defenses when necessary.
“The laser is limited by clouds and the beam must stay on the target for a few seconds to kill it,” the source said. “This reduces its efficiency especially when the rockets are launched in salvos.”
Both the Israeli Ministry of Defense and the US embassy declined to comment for this report. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense.com)
04 Aug 22. Fire and Brimstone: Poland’s new tank destroyer. The new Ottokar-Brzoza tank destroyers will help modernise the capabilities of Poland’s land forces. The Polish Armaments Agency’s agreement with the PGZ-OTTOKAR consortium to begin production of the Ottokar-Brzoza tank destroyer system represents a key element of the Poland’s ongoing efforts to modernise the capabilities of its land forces, according to GlobalData. The Ottokar-Brzoza programme has the potential to significantly impact Poland’s defense industrial base, according to the findings of GlobalData. The PGZ-OTTOKAR consortium, comprised of key domestic firms, Polish Armaments Group (PGZ), Mesko, Huta Stawola Wola and Wojskowe Zakłady Elektroniczne (WZE), has also signed a cooperation agreement with MBDA UK to facilitate integration of the latter’s Brimstone anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) on the new Ottokar-Brzoza platform.
Tristan Sauer, land domain analyst at GlobalData, commented: “Continued Russian geopolitical belligerence has put one of NATO’s most active member states on a war footing, with the Polish Ministry of National Defence having enacted several key procurement initiatives in recent months to replace ageing Soviet-era platforms and enhance interoperability with NATO partners.”
Building industrial capacity
A recent GlobdalData report, ‘Poland Defense Market Size and Trends, Budget Allocation, Regulations, Key Acquisitions, Competitive Landscape and Forecast, 2022-2027’, highlights that one of the main hurdles faced by the Polish defence industry is the lack of ammunition and missile production capacity.
Sauer continued: “This agreement will enable Poland’s defense industry to exchange invaluable technical expertise and refine manufacturing processes through a strong partnership with a leading European defense prime. Consequently, the Polish government remains keen to establish production facilities for Brimstone in-country, while MBDA will also benefit by reinforcing its supply chain through the cultivation of business relationships with new industrial partners based in a key NATO member state.”
Current plans anticipate the first Ottokar-Brzoza tank destroyer prototypes will roll off the production line in 2023, with the first units to be sent to Poland’s 14th Anti-Tank Artillery Regiment guarding the strategic border with Lithuania, colloquially known as the Suwalki Gap.
Sauer added: “The Polish Armaments Agency plans to achieve initial operational capability by 2025 as geopolitical tensions with neighboring Russia have boosted both the defense budget and political willpower to achieve a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s military and industrial capabilities.” (Source: army-technology.com)
04 Aug 22. Closing the Zap Gap – Microwave Weapons Research Moves Forward. US microwave weapon efforts are advancing via the HIJENKS programme which could yield a powerful weapon for use against hostile electronics. Reports in early July revealed that US microwave weapons research is evolving with both the US Navy and US Air Force working on air-launched microwave weapons. The two services are collaborating on the High-Powered Joint Electromagnetic Non-Kinetic Strike Weapon (HIJENKS).
Microwave weapons harness focused and powerful beams of Radio Frequency (RF) energy. These are typically transmitted at frequencies of ten megahertz up to 100 gigahertz. The weapons transmit RF in much the same way as a radar or radio. The antenna gain of these weapons is particularly important as this defines how much RF energy can be transmitted in a specific direction towards a target. This ensures the beam is fine enough to precisely hit the antenna, or any other openings, of the targeted system.
The weapon’s gain and its power levels determine its Effective Radiated Power (ERP). ERP defines how powerful the RF energy directed into the targeted system will be. A paper by Henry ‘Trey’ Obering entitled Directed Energy Weapons Are Real . . . And Disruptive says ERP levels of up to 100 gigawatts are achievable. Alongside pulsed microwave weapons, continuous wave systems can be used typically generating between 50 and 100 kilowatts of power. The ERP will depend on the quantities of power the weapon can develop and the weapon’s antenna design which influences the gain. ERP is also influenced by the atmosphere. Frequencies above 30GHz can be affected by moisture and other obscurants. These can absorb some of the power reducing the jamming signal’s effectiveness.
As Jack McGonegal noted in his paper High Power Microwave Weapons: Disruptive Technologies for the Future pulsed and continuous wave microwave weapons support two distinct tasks. The latter is used against relatively low power electronic targets spread across a wide area. Pulsed microwave weapons are used against distinct and precise targets engaged with high power transmissions. For microwave weapons to be effective, the frequencies of the targeted systems must be known. As Mr. McGonegal notes, this is imperative as it affects the ERP the weapon will need to generate. It is also vital to achieving in-band matching when the transmitted jamming frequency and the receiving frequency of the target match. This ensures the ERP generates its most destructive effects.
Reports state that HIJENKS has undergone tests at China Lake airbase, California. HIJENKS is an outgrowth of the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s CHAMP initiative. The Counter-Electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) concluded ten years ago. CHAMP was an air-launched weapon designed to disable hostile electronics through transmission of high-power microwaves. Boeing was CHAMP’s prime contractor. Tests of the weapon were made in October 2012 during which it successfully attacked seven different electronic systems housed in a single building. The CHAMPS payload was believed to have been installed in the airframe of a Boeing AGM-86 series air-launched cruise missile for the test.
Curiously, in May 2019, reports revealed that the USAF had procured 20 CHAMP missiles. These were earmarked for deployment by Boeing B-52H Stratofortress strategic bombers. Whether such weapons have been used in combat is unknown. HIJENKS reportedly uses a smaller and more rugged high-powered microwave payload compared to CHAMP. This means it should be relatively easier to integrated on a wider variety of platforms beyond the B-52H. Armada contacted the US Navy and US Air Force regarding the HIJENKS programme, its progress to date and timelines. However, we received no information by the time this article was published.
02 Aug 22. US Army troops successfully complete live fire test of Iron Dome Defense System. The US Army, in conjunction with the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Israeli Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) took a critical step toward fielding the first of two RAFAEL-made Iron Dome Defense System-Army (IDDS-A) batteries. IDDS-A will defend supported forces within fixed and semi-fixed locations against sub-sonic Cruise Missiles (CM), Groups 2&3 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), and rockets, artillery, and mortar threats.
Maj. Gen. Brian Gibson, Director AMD CFT: “It’s important to understand that implementation for the U.S. is about the ability to integrate this system into our air defense picture. We need to integrate this into our U.S. architecture, and to give confidence to our regional commanders that we can integrate this system safely into what they have.”
Brigadier General (Res.) Pini Yungman, Executive Vice President and Head of RAFAEL’s Air & Missile Defense Directorate: “Once again, the Iron Dome has proven its effectiveness and operational capabilities in combat scenarios. As part of the U.S. Army’s operational training, American troops operated the system which functioned with optimal effectiveness against a variety of threats and intercepted targets from different ranges. RAFAEL is proud to continue proving itself as a world leader in developing the most advanced defense systems, which have proven themselves time after time.”
02 Aug 22. Oshkosh Defense, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE: OSK), delivered the first Stryker Double-V Hull Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICVVA1) upgraded with the 30 mm Medium Caliber Weapon System (MCWS) to the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Test Center (ATC) in Aberdeen, Maryland, where the system will undergo Production Verification Testing (PVT). The contract awarded to Oshkosh in June 2021 requires Oshkosh Defense to deliver a total of seven systems by September 2022 for PVT that will be conducted through June 2023. Fielding of the MCWS is scheduled to begin in July 2023 with the I-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington State, receiving the first upgraded Strykers.
“Our team leveraged our engineering and manufacturing prowess and deep commitment to customer satisfaction to deliver our first MCWS test vehicle on time, despite the dynamic market forces we have all experienced over the last year,” said Pat Williams, Vice President and General Manager of U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps Programs, Oshkosh Defense. “Since the initial contract award, the close collaboration with the U.S. Army has been paramount to achieving this important milestone.”
The U.S. Army selected Oshkosh Defense and partners Pratt Miller Defense and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to integrate the 30 mm MCWS onto the Stryker ICVVA1 in June 2021. Since then, Oshkosh Defense has completed Risk Management Testing (RMT) and received orders for a total of 269 upgraded Strykers valued at $356m.
“We’re incredibly proud to deliver this transformative solution and look forward to equipping our Soldiers with the precision lethality capability they need.” Williams concluded.
01 Aug 22. Northrop wins $3bn contract to manage US homeland missile defense systems. The Missile Defense Agency awarded Northrop Grumman a contract potentially worth more than $3bn to integrate and manage weapon systems within the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system designed to defend the U.S. homeland from intercontinental ballistic missiles from North Korea and Iran.
Northrop will provide design, development, verification, deployment and sustainment support of new capabilities for the GMD Weapon System Program, the company said in an Aug. 1 statement.
The effort will include enhancing and upgrading the GMD’s capability to go up against evolving threats, according to Scott Lehr, Northrop’s vice president of launch and missile defense systems.
“GWS is part of Northrop Grumman’s land and sea-based missile defense systems that are enabled by our advanced missile warning and tracking space satellites,” he said in the statement. “Together, we are delivering end-to-end capabilities that will protect the United States and its allies.”
The program will take current ground system components of the GMD system, and through “proven digital transformation processes,” Northrop will update and modernize legacy code, add capabilities and incorporate the Next-Generation Interceptor when it comes online, it said.
A Northrop and Raytheon Technologies team is competing against a Lockheed Martin and Aerojet Rocketdyne team to replace the GMD’s Ground-Based Interceptors with NGIs.
There are 44 GBIs in silos buried in the ground at Fort Greely in Alaska and Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The system also includes ground control stations, detection and fire control systems and other support infrastructure.
The GWS program team will primarily be located in Huntsville, Alabama.
The Northrop contract is step toward revamping how the GMD system is managed and was part of an MDA effort to inject competition into the required modernization and sustainment of the system.
Boeing has held the development and sustainment contract for the GMD system, which is set to expire in 2023.
“I will tell you that our lead system integrator does a great job today and the partnerships with industry within that construct do a great job, but we think that it’s so large and complex we should be doing everybody a favor by being able to split that up without losing the integration among all those pieces so our intent is to move in that direction,” Vice Adm. Jon Hill, MDA’s director said in 2020 when he announced the plan to hold a competition that would divide up the work needed for GMD modernization and sustainment.
A Request for Information released that year laid out a plan to split up the contract into separate pieces. One contractor would provide the NGI, which is being addressed through a separate request for proposals. Another would be responsible for legacy and future ground systems, and another for sustaining the existing GBIs.
And a company would operate the weapon system along with military operators and would run fleet maintenance scheduling and deconfliction, site operations, test support, and depot and parts management, the RFI lays out.
Lastly, a contractor would serve as the weapon systems integrator, making it responsible for overall GMD integration “including physical and logical integration of the GMD components, GMD system and MDA enterprise level integration, planning and execution of all necessary testing to verify and validate overall requirements compliance,” the RFI states.
(Source: Defense News)
29 Jul 22. US Navy’s uncrewed influence sweep system achieves IOC. This is the first IOC declared by the US Navy for an uncrewed surface platform. The US Navy’s Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) has declared initial operation capability (IOC) for the uncrewed influence sweep system (UISS).
The announcement was made by the Programme Executive Office (PEO) Uncrewed and Small Combatants (USC).
It is the first time that the US Navy declared an IOC for an uncrewed surface platform.
UISS is a key component of the US Navy’s suite of mine countermeasure (MCM) technologies and can be operated from littoral combat ships (LCS), as well as from shore or vessels of opportunity (VOO).
UUS Navy LCS Mission Modules (PMS 420) programme manager captain Godfrey Weekes said: “UISS’s declaration of IOC is a monumental achievement for the navy’s MCM Mission Package (MP).”
Managed by PMS 420 within PEO USC, the UISS programme has completed formal testing of the vessel.
A system with logistics and training material comprising of well-trained fleet personnel has also been delivered as part of this programme.
The personnel will help in the execution of minesweeping under the Mine Countermeasures MCM MP.
Weekes added: “Over the years, the programme has worked tirelessly to mature and field UISS that will keep Navy’s most valuable asset, our sailors, safer by keeping them out of minefield.
“With this declaration, the programme is inching closer toward system-wide IOC for MCM MP.”
The US Navy’s UISS is designed to provide acoustic and magnetic minesweeping capabilities, together with diesel-powered, semi-autonomous, mine countermeasures uncrewed surface vehicle (MCM USV).
An integral part of MCM mission package, the aluminum-hulled MCM USV serves as the tow platform for both minesweeping and mine hunting missions. Earlier in January, the UISS also completed the underwater explosion (UNDEX) shock testing. (Source: naval-technology.com)
29 Jul 22. UK looks to French parachutes to solve A400M capability gap. A gap in UK low-level parachuting capability caused by the early retirement of Royal Air Force (RAF) C-130J Hercules transports could be filled by purchasing parachutes used by French airborne forces. There had been fears that the British Army’s current IrvinGQ Low Level Static Line Mk 1 parachute system would not be cleared for use from the Airbus A400M transport on time for the retirement of the last of the RAF’s 14 C-130Js in March 2023. A UK Ministry of Defence spokesperson told Janes on 28 July, “The A400M Capability Programme has successfully accelerated the estimated delivery dates for Low Level Parachute (LLP) capability to 2023, meaning there will not be an LLP capability gap as the C-130J retires.”
The UK’s March 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy earmarked RAF C-130Js for retirement.
A senior ministry source told Janes. (Source: Janes)