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29 Dec 20. Rafael’s latest Samson Integrated RWS enters production. Israel’s Rafael said its latest-generation Samson 30 mm Integrated Remote Weapon Station (RWS) has entered production for an unidentified export customer.
The turret consists of a modular aluminium structure to which an appliqué armour package can be fitted, depending on customer requirements.
In the original Samson Mk I the weapons, ammunition boxes, and sensors were unprotected. The Samson Mk II adds protections for those components, while Samson Integrated RWS adds a wider range of options for customers.
The Samson Integrated RWS’s main armament is a Northrop Grumman Armament Systems 30 mm MK44S dual feed cannon, and a 7.62 mm co-axial machine gun (MG).
The 30 mm cartridge cases are ejected outside of the turret after the MK44S has been fired. A typical ammunition load would be 220 rounds of 30 mm and 500 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition, according to the company. The MK44S fires a complete family of 30×173 mm ammunition, including air bursting munition (ABM) rounds, and the weapon can be converted to fire 40×207 mm ammunition.
Other medium calibre weapons could be fitted if specified by the customer, including the Russian 30 mm 2A42 dual feed cannon. These weapons can be reloaded from within the platform.
According to Rafael, a key feature of the Samson Integrated RWS is its modular design for customisation. For example, the optronics fit can include a stabilised day/thermal sighting system and a laser rangefinder for the gunner mounted to the right of the weapon, and the option of a roof-mounted stabilised panoramic sight for the commander. (Source: Jane’s)
28 Dec 20. Royal Thailand Army receives Rafael’s SPIKE Missile systems. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. announces that the Royal Thailand Army (RTA) has recently received a supply of Rafael’s SPIKE MR missiles and launchers following procurement of the missile system earlier this year.
The RTA selected the SPIKE MR (Medium Range) variant after a process of evaluation and procured its first lot of missiles and launchers designated for its 6th infantry division.
SPIKE MR is an electro-optical Fire & Forget missile for ranges of 2.5 km. It is part of the wider SPIKE missile family, which consists of five variants (SR, MR, LR2, ER2, NLOS) of electro-optical, multi-purpose, multi-platform missiles, with ranges of up to 32km and fire-and-update capabilities. To-date, SPIKE has been sold to 35 countries, including 19 NATO nations, with over 33,000 missiles already supplied and more than 6,000 fired in tests and in combat. SPIKE missiles have been integrated onto 45 different vehicular, helicopter and naval platforms.
Mr. Roman Palarya, director of marketing and business development at Rafael’s Precision Tactical Weapon Systems directorate: “We are very proud that the Royal Thai Army has selected the SPIKE missile. SPIKE has been in use in Asia for more than 20 years, and the selection of the SPIKE Missile by the RTA strengthens the SPIKE Missile user base in Asia.”
30 Dec 20. Cabinet nod for Akash missile export. Rajnath says it will be different from one currently deployed with Indian armed forces.
As part of measures to boost defence exports, the Union Cabinet on December 30 approved the export of the indigenously developed and manufactured Akash short-range Surface to Air Missile (SAM) system.
“The Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi today approved the export of Akash missile system and a Committee for faster approvals has been created,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Twitter. The export version of Akash would be different from the one currently deployed with Indian armed forces, he stated.
So far, Indian defence exports included parts and components but the export of big platforms was minimal, Mr. Singh noted. “This decision by the Cabinet would help the country to improve its defence products and make them globally competitive.”
Akash has a range of 25 km and can simultaneously engage multiple targets in all weather conditions. It has a large operational envelope from a low altitude of 30 metres to a maximum of up to 20 km. It had been inducted and deployed by the Army and the Air Force.
“Akash is the country’s important missile with over 96% indigenisation,” Mr. Singh pointed out.
Vietnam evinces interest
As reported by The Hindu earlier, under the second Line of Credit (LoC) of $500m extended by India to Vietnam in 2016, Hanoi has expressed interest in procuring the Akash system and Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter.
To achieve the target of $5 bn defence exports and improve strategic relations with friendly foreign countries, the government intended to focus on exporting high value defence platforms, he stressed.
In August, the Defence Ministry issued a draft ‘Defence Production & Export Promotion Policy (DPEPP) 2020’ for public feedback with the aim to achieve a manufacturing turnover of $25bn or ₹1,75,000 crore, including exports of $5bn in aerospace and defence goods and services by 2025, (Source: Google/The Hindu)
30 Dec 20. Russia’s Orion Launches First Missiles. The Orion unmanned aerial vehicle launched small-sized guided missiles, a source in the military-industrial complex told RIA Novosti. It became the first Russian drone to use this type of weapon
In addition, Orion has practiced the use of guided gliding bombs. The massive arrival of UAVs in the troops “will restore parity with a potential enemy in this class of equipment,” the source said. Representatives of the company – the developer of the drone ” Kronstadt ” did not comment on this information.
Earlier, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the first Orion complexes had already been handed over to the Military Space Forces. In the calendar for 2021 recently published by the department, the drone was officially shown for the first time with suspended weapons – KAB-20 corrected bombs.
“Orion” has been developed since 2011 as part of the “Pacer” development work. It belongs to the class of long-duration medium-altitude vehicles. The device can be in flight for up to a day, the maximum take-off weight reaches 1100 kilograms, the combat load is up to 250 kilograms.
The fact that the Ministry of Defense and the Kronstadt company signed the first serial contract for the supply of unmanned aerial vehicles became known at the Army-2020 forum. The first set of the unmanned complex was transferred to experimental military operation in April this year. (Source: UAS VISION/Ria Novosti)
24 Dec 20. Cross-domain Army tactical missile terminated in FY21 defense spending bill. An effort to pursue a mid-range missile capable of going after maritime targets using the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) has been terminated, according to the fiscal 2021 defense spending bill released Dec. 21.
The bill, which emerged from conference committee, has zeroed out the Cross-Domain ATACMS program due to the program being terminated. The Pentagon had requested $62.5m in its FY21 budget request.
Defense News first reported in September the cross-domain upgrade to ATACMS, which was an anti-ship missile effort initiated by the Strategic Capabilities Office in 2016, was delayed due to technical problems.
The Army would not disclose those problems, citing operational security, but the service did say a new timeline for delivery was under review.
But while the CD-ATACMS program struggled, the Army conducted a strategic fires study and concluded it needed a mid-range missile to fill a gap in the 500-2,000 kilometers range and that it needed it fast — by 2023.
“We need to pursue this with great speed and really make ’23 a year that changes everything in both [the European and Pacific] theaters,” Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, who is in charge of Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF) modernization, told Defense News in an interview at the time.
The mid-range capability would fit between the Precision Strike Missile, or PrSM — which is capable of hitting targets out to 499 kilometers — and ground launched hypersonic missiles in the LRPF portfolio.
The Lockheed Martin-developed PrSM will serve as the ATACMS replacement.
Congressional appropriators funded the mid-range missile program at $88.1m in the FY21 bill, which is not something included in the Army’s initial FY21 request since the decision to move forward with the program came after its submission.
Lockheed Martin has already been awarded a contract worth nearly $340m to take elements from naval missiles to forge the new mid-range missile. Lockheed will take the Navy’s Raytheon-built SM-6 and Tomahawk missile to put together a prototype that consists of launchers, missiles and a battery operations center.
The CD-ATACMS is “an interesting approach to attacking maritime targets,” Rafferty said, “but the PrSM program for attacking maritime targets and omitting [Integrated Air Defense Systems] is off to a very good start with the testing of the [Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command] Aviation and Missile Center seeker that continues this fall.
The upgrade to the ATACMS “was a different approach from a seeker standpoint to PrSM,” Rafferty said, “so that’s why we’re interested in it because it was a different approach; a good point of comparison, and we always value the SCO’s efforts.”
The Army as well as industry partners and congressional committees are also talking about accelerating the Land-Based, Anti-Ship Missile seeker into the PrSM missile by 2025. The seeker development program began in 2015.
Meanwhile, congressional appropriators, in the FY21 bill, cut a significant amount of funding from the Marine Corps’ Ground-Based Anti-Ship Missile (GBASM) and other LRPF development efforts. (Source: Defense News)
24 Dec 20. Air Defence Reawakens. Tactical air defence has been widely neglected by many armies with notable exceptions. This is at least partly the result of the focus on counter-insurgency (COIN) but also is reflected by the many decades of air superiority achieved by western militaries in conflicts since World War II. It is not surprising then that Russia and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), the nations against which this superiority might be directed, would be the ones paying the most attention to advancing air defence capabilities. Assuring the protection of manoeuvring forward combat units, supporting indirect fire ssets, and logistics trains and sites is of critical importance when one is not assured of air cover. This has been complicated by the additional threats of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and cruise missiles.
Peter Wilson and John Parachini senior international defence researchers at the RAND Corporation in a 6 May 2000 article entitled Russian S-400 Surface-to-Air Missile System: Is It Worth the Sticker Price? explained that “the capability of an individual system is not the central point. To be effective the systems need to be deployed within a larger integrated air and missile defence system.” This is equally true at the tactical level to cover a dynamic manoeuvring force and its supporting elements at fixed sites behind the front lines. The introduction of low level UAS systems, in particular, has expanded the need for this networking to cover other ground combat elements as well and requires a resiliency with a mutually supporting network established in depth.
Tactical Air Defence
Considering the expansion of the air threat a number of militaries including those in the Asian Pacific region are considering establishing air defence capabilities. In doing so they might well look to the example of the Republic of Korea (ROK) which has not only built a well thought out air defence but has done so largely with a collection of locally developed and manufactured systems.
The ROK Army has given particular attention to protecting its ground manoeuvre forces. With the most forward elements there is the BiHo K30 by Hanwha defence. A twin 30mm auto-cannon system on the K200, it includes a TPS-830K X-band surveillance radar and panoramic Electro Optical Targeting System (EOTS) with thermal, TV, and laser ranging. Shingung surface-to-air guided missiles (SAM) were added in 2015 extending effective range to 7,000 meters. It will be supplemented by a new Anti-Aircraft Gun Wheeled (AAGW) system which saw a full rate production contact award to Hanwha Defence in June 2020. AAWG utilises the – 8×8 wheeled combat vehicle chassis with twin 30mm auto-cannon coupled to an EOTS on the turret roof. With a 3,000m range it can engage low flying aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned drones.
The foundation of a modern effective tactical air defence has been shown to best rely on a combination of guns and missiles. The ROK has achieved this by locally adapting the French Crotale SAM as the K-SAM Chunma or ‘Pegasus’. Again using the K200 tracked chassis it combines Samsung/Thales developed S-Band surveillance and Ku-Band tracking radar with day TV, infrared cameras and identification friend or foe (IFF) capable of all visibility, all weather tracking of up to 20 targets at 35 kilometres. The VT-1 high explosive focused fragmentation proximity detonating warhead missiles have an 11km effective range. Its exceptional missile manoeuvrability and Mach 3.5 speed as well as ECCM and chaff resistance make it a formidable system. The system provided for defence of supporting positions behind the forward lines and high value installations.
A layered defence in depth requires an overlapping tier of coverage typically provided by mid-range air defence missile systems. Two that have been selected in this role by the Pacific area air defence community are the Kongsberg/Raytheon National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS) and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Surface to air Python and DERby (SPYDER). The former is already used by six European militaries and five other countries including reportedly Chile. Indonesia adopted the system in 2017 and Australia in March 2019 announced its intent to purchase. Eirik Lie, Kongsberg president stated in a 20 June 2020 release: “The continuous technical evolution of the system and the addition of users confirm that NASAMS is the most modern and advanced air defence system in the world..” The system is compatible with use on light vehicles like the HMMWV and Hawkei, tactical trucks or trailer mounting. It incorporates the Raytheon MPQ-64 Sentinel X-Band 3D radar that can detect, classify and track aerial targets at 40km distance. An improved MPQ-1F1 adds the capability to acquire, track, alert to and determine the azimuth of attack of enemy rockets, artillery, and mortar fires. The missile is derived from the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile. Its stationary firing places the NASAMS in the roles of protecting fixed targets or positioned behind forward lines.
SPYDER is medium truck mounted firing both Python-5 and Derby missiles. The former is a Mach 4 ‘lock-on-after-launch’ electro-optic and infrared (EO/IR) homing missile while the later uses ‘fire and forget’ active radar. These are coupled in a battery with a Elta EL/M-2106 3D Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) surveillance or EL/M-208 multi-mission radar. India, Singapore, and Vietnam have fielded it with the Philippines Air Force (PAF) indicating in December 2018 that it had also adopted the system.
Japan’s Ground Self Defence Force (JGSDF) has chosen to primarily rely on missiles for tactical air defence which a significant focus on heat seeking systems. Its Type 91 Kai MANPADS, locally developed by Toshiba, uses a dual infrared and ultraviolet seeker. It captures the target profile prior to launch to reduce distractions like flare counter measures. A light vehicle mounted version with eight missiles, the Type 93, is also fielded. Type 81 or Tan-SAM is a locally developed truck mounted infrared heat seeking surface-to-air missile of local design although the upgraded SAM-1C has an active radar seeker and 14km range. Typically it is used in a battery of two launchers plus a 3D phase array search and tracking radar with an electro-optic/thermal backup. It’s Type 11 mobile SAM is an improved model which some reports suggest may have increased 18km range. All these systems are mobile but require set-up and stationary firing making them more suited for site defence. The force does, however, field the Type 87, a tracked air defence system built around stabilised twin Oerlikon 35mm auto-cannon, search and tracking radar, and electro-optic sights which offers on-the-move aerial defence. With the new Japanese active defence policy and focus on recovering and holding outlying islands, the need for additional expeditionary air defence may well be come evident.
Man portable surface-to-air missiles, referred to as MANPADS, are widely fielded with versions like the US Raytheon FIM-92 Stinger, Russian KBM SA-14 Strela and SA-18 Igla, Chinese HN, QW series and Fei Nu-6 (FN-6) Flying Crossbow series, as well as South Korea’s indigenous Chiron and North Korea’s HT-16PGJ in many armies. These are all heat seeking ‘fire and forget’ systems. However, one quite different system, the Saab Bofors Dynamics RBS-70, has gained a number of adherents in the Asian-Pacific region including Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Australia. Uniquely among MANPADS, it is a tripod/pedestal mounted laser beam riding system. It has a very high intercept speed (Mach 2.0 in the latest BOLIDE model) with a target adaptable proximity fuse. Its 3,000 tungsten spheres and shaped charge warhead make it deadly for any air target. With a range of up to 8km meters and 6km altitude it is particularly suited for providing defence surrounding an asset. Its ‘Next Generation’ model included high-resolution thermal imaging, gunner cueing, and auto-tracking. The company has capitalised on the RBS-70 reputation by introducing the MSHORD (Mobile SHORAD). It provides light or combat vehicle mounted Giraffe 1X search radar with 75km range, command and control with tactical data links, and remote weapon station mounted RBS-70NG engagement.
The Republic of China (Taiwan) Army has sought to develop indigenous air defence capabilities through its National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST). One effort lead to the Antelope truck mounted Sky Sword 1 SAM missile with infrared heat seeking system. These can be linked with the CS/MPQ-78 3D pulse radar with 46km range for surveillance and direction. The system has become seriously dated and there are reports that NCSIST has been actively pursuing the adaption of the Sea Oryx naval point defence system (similar to the US Rolling Airframe Missile) to a truck mounting.
The Peoples Liberation Army’s 2019 Defence White Paper also identified the need to improve its air defence. To a large degree, its tactical and short range air defence relies primarily on a mix of towed and self-propelled anti-aircraft gun systems. These include the Norinco PGZ95 with four 25mm auto-cannon and two QW-2 IR heat seeking missile directed by electro-optic sights with a CLC-1 S-Band search radar. Another is the PGZ09 mounting two 35mm auto-cannon (a licensed Oerlikon GDF) with a forward mounted tracking radar and rear Doppler surveillance radar with a reported range of 20km. Both use a tracked chassis similar to that of self propelled artillery but others are based on wheeled light armoured carriers. In May 2019 the PLA debuted such a system on an 8×8 chassis mounting a single turret mounted 35mm auto-cannon with a roof mounted radar and likely electro-optic aiming. Chinese media reported the system was designed to “intercept air targets including drones and cruise missiles.”
On the tactical mobile missile side there is the Hongqi HQ-7 (FM80/90 export), a reverse engineered version of the command guided French Crotale, the HQ-61 radar guided truck mounted SAM (based on the US AIM-7 Sparrow), the FLV/FLG/FL2000 and Yi Tian 6X6 WZ551 with QW-1A IR seeker missiles. The truck mounted Sky Dragon 12 GAS15 short range and Sky Dragon 50 GAS2 medium range systems were both unveiled in September 2014 at a regional defence exhibition.
Despite the recent new attention given to tactical and short range air defence it remains unclear if it is sufficient to address the degree to which the air threats to combat forces has rapidly increased. The US and Western armies, even while launching a number of accelerated development programmes, remain woefully ill prepared. Even Russian systems have experienced successful strikes such as on the UMP Pantsir in Syria. The Pantsir was self-acclaimed as the most advanced AD system, but attacks on it recognise that effective defence relies on more than just a single piece of equipment or weapon. Ruslan Pukhov, director of Russia’s Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies explained in an a 19 September 2019 interview: “It is necessary to understand that the Pantsir-S1 SPAAGM is an element of point air defence and cannot act equally effectively as an air defence asset of individual units.” (Source: AMR)
22 Dec 20. Japan moves ahead with JNAAM co-development. As part of its fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget, the cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on 21 December approved plans to move ahead with the co-development of a Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM) with the United Kingdom.
Specifically, Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has secured JPY1.0bn (USD9.7m) to fund development costs related to the trial production of a prototype of the JNAAM, an MoD official confirmed during a 21 December press briefing.
The joint programme transitioned to a prototype stage in FY 2018 and is expected to finish trial production of the prototype during FY 2022, according to MoD documents. Following this, the two countries will evaluate the performance of the missile and then decide whether to put the weapon into mass production.
The current joint Japan-UK research project, initiated by the two nations in 2014, is scheduled to conclude by the end of FY 2023, which is March 2024 in Japan.
Janes understands that the UK missile technologies included in the programme relate to MBDA’s Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM).
On the Japanese side, the MoD is looking to integrate advanced radio frequency (RF) seeker technologies developed by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation for the AAM4B missile, with the aim of enhancing the accuracy and performance of the BVRAAM and supporting the development of the JNAAM.
A Mitsubishi Electric Corporation spokesperson in Tokyo declined to comment to Janes on specifics of the programme, noting that, “it is normal for the company not to refer to any national defence projects”. (Source: Jane’s)
22 Dec 20. US Army long-range cannon gets direct hit on target 43 miles away. The US Army’s Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) system under development hit a target 43 miles away — or 70 kilometers — on the nose at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, Dec. 19, using an Excalibur extended-range guided artillery shell, according to the general who is overseeing the service’s Long-Range Precision Fires modernization.
“I don’t think our adversaries have the ability to hit a target on the nose at 43 miles,” Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, who is in charge of the effort, told a small group of reporters in a teleconference immediately following the test.
The Army is racing to extend artillery ranges on the battlefield to take away advantages of high-end adversaries like Russia. The ERCA cannon, when fielded, should be able to fire and take out targets from a position out of the range of enemy systems.
The ERCA cannon takes an M109A7 Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) howitzer chassis and replaces the 39-caliber gun tube with a 58-caliber, 30-foot one. Combined with Raytheon-made Excalibur munitions and an XM1113 using supercharged propellant, the Army has been able to dramatically boost artillery ranges.
In March, the Army inched closer to the ultimate goal of 70 kilometers when it took two shots, both reaching 65 kilometers in range.
In this test, the Army took three shots. The first shot came up short due to very high head winds at a high altitude and the second shot had a hardware failure, but the third shot proved that the service is getting closer to dialing in on the right balance between propellant, projectile design and other factors that play into achieving greater distances, Rafferty said.
“This demonstration is not a destination,” Col. Tony Gibbs, the Army’s program manager for combat artillery system, told reporters. “This is really just a waypoint in our ongoing campaign of learning as we work to really realign U.S. supremacy in cannon artillery. It’s definitely a big knowledge point for us today.”
Each munition fired during Saturday’s event had slight design differences to address how best to design and prepare the round to absorb the high-pressure and force of being fired at 1,000 meters per second from a gun tube of ERCA’s caliber, Rafferty said.
“What was consistent was the propellant configuration,” he added. “So we got that propellant configuration, I think dialed in really close down, which is great.”
The first shot, due to the winds, fell short by roughly 100 meters, which, Rafferty said, sounds like a lot, but is closer when considering when the munition has to travel 70,000 meters. The Army knew the first shot would come up short due to wind, but wanted to take it anyway in order to learn from it.
The second shot, the Army had modified the hardware configuration and experience a hardware failure, Gibbs confirmed. Specifically, the Army added an isolator for the inertial measurement unit, which is essentially a shock absorber to counter the pressure spike in the chamber.
“We did have some concerns with the survivability of that,” Rafferty said.
“Today is really the build up of about a year and a half of testing and analysis that we’ve done on the Excalibur projectile in terms of its ability to withstand a harsher environment,” Gibbs said. “So through a number of tests and analysis, we determined what muzzle velocity is required, what chamber pressures the projectile can withstand and so all that came together in today’s test; we fired it at the right propellant combination to provide the right muzzle velocity to achieve the range.”
Additionally, the Army demonstrated the Excalibur, as it exists in the inventory now, is survivable with a higher muzzle velocity and pressures to get to 70 kilometer ranges and hit targets directly, Gibbs added.
In the coming year, “we’ll make a lot of decisions and actually start to address them, snapping the chalk line on a few things,” Rafferty said. “We will snap the chalk line on the propellant, we will snap the chalk line on the projectile design and begin to look towards manufacturability, towards production.”
The Army will continue its soldier-centered design effort to include ensuring the configurations for the propellant and charge are something the soldiers can handle and that it doesn’t affect the rate of fire, Rafferty noted. “We obviously don’t want to give them a configuration that’s going to cause them to have to shoot slower.”
And the configuration of projectiles and propellant also has to be optimally stowed in a howitzer to maximize the number of kills onboard.
The Army is looking to nail down its design in 2021, Gibbs said. “The muzzle velocities and pressures that those munitions see is important in the final design choices they make, [but also] for example, the size of the rocket motor, the type of joint holding the rocket motor to the warhead, that ultimately affects the performance in the range that it will get, to include the type of steel that we use affects lethality. You see there’s multiple factors that are in play right now and as we converge on our designs this year, we’ll start to neck down on those choices into our final designs and that we will take into qualification.”
The Army is pushing to get an urgent material and safety releases to field the ERCA system in 2023, Rafferty said. (Source: Defense News)
23 Dec 20. Kongsberg to deliver remote weapon stations for UK’s MIV programme. Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (Kongsberg) has signed an Nkr1.03bn ($118m) contract to deliver Protector RS4 Remote Weapon Stations (RWS) for the British Army Mechanized Infantry Vehicle (MIV) programme.
Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (Kongsberg) has signed an Nkr1.03bn ($118m) contract to deliver Protector RS4 Remote Weapon Stations (RWS) for the British Army Mechanized Infantry Vehicle (MIV) programme.
The contract, awarded by Thales UK, involves delivering Protector RWS for the British Army’s new fleet of Boxer 8×8 vehicles.
Kongsberg has been delivering these remote weapon stations to the UK since 2008.
The MIV represents the seventh delivery contract which also includes two upgrades for the British Armed Forces.
Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace Land Systems executive vice-president Pål E. Bratlie said: “We are very pleased that the British Army continues to rely on Kongsberg as the supplier of Remote Weapon Stations.
“This confirms the strong position of Kongsberg’s Protector RS4 RWS, and continues the close relationship between Kongsberg, the British Armed Forces and Thales UK.”
The Norwegian firm has been delivering remote weapon systems for more than two decades.
Earlier this year, the company achieved a rare milestone by delivering 20,000th Protector RWS to the US Army. The 20,000th delivery was a Protector Low Profile, which will be installed on the US Army’s M1V3 Abrams Main Battle Tank (MBT).
The Protector family of products include a wide variety of systems ranging from the small and light systems to medium calibre Remote Turrets (RT series).
The systems support dual-user operations, counter Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) operations, multi-sensor fusion, manned-unmanned teaming solutions as well as a qualified Safe operation via radio for use on UGVs (Unmanned Ground Vehicles) among others. (Source: Google/army-technology.com)
22 Dec 20. 5 Army Weapons US Soldiers Might Actually Get Their Hands on Soon. Despite all the disruptions of 2020, Army modernization officials have tested new, longer-range and more precise infantry weapon systems. They also announced efforts that could lead to future machine guns, precision grenade launchers and possibly even hand-held directed energy weapons.
Soldier lethality is a key Army modernization priority, one that has gained momentum since the service unveiled a strategy in 2017 to equip combat units with a new generation of air and ground combat systems.
In the short term, the Army wants to field new squad-level weapons to close-combat units and a set of high-tech goggles that projects a sight reticle in front of soldiers’ eyes.
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The service announced long-term efforts to develop new belt-fed, crew-served weapons, as well as to begin thinking about what infantry weapons will look like decades from now.
Here’s a look at five weapons-related programs Military.com has reported on this year:
- Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS).
In October, Army modernization officials finished the third soldier touch point (STP) in which troops evaluated the first ruggedized version of IVAS. The Microsoft-designed goggles are intended to provide a heads-up display that offers infantry troops situational awareness tools to help them navigate, communicate and keep track of other members of their unit day and night.
But IVAS is also designed to enhance troops” marksmanship with a tool known as Rapid Target Acquisition. A special thermal weapons site mounts on the soldier’s weapon and projects the site reticle into the wearer’s field of view via Bluetooth signal. Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division involved in the STP said it took some adjustment to learn how to shoot with IVAS, but most said they were easily hitting 300-meter targets from a standing position. If all goes well, the IVAS is slated to be ready for fielding sometime in 2021.
- Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW).
The Army is in the final phase of evaluating NGSW rifle and auto rifle prototypes, chambered for a new 6.8mm round, that are slated to start replacing the 5.56mm M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry and other close-combat units in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022.
Textron Systems, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems Inc., and Sig Sauer have delivered prototype systems and ammunition that have gone through STPs. Each vendor’s design is unique and fires a different version of the 6.8mm ammunition. The Army plans to select a single firm to make both the weapons and ammunition in the first quarter of fiscal 2022.
The NGSW weapons are so promising that U.S. special operations units such as the 75th Ranger Regiment and Special Forces units are expected to adopt them, as well as conventional units.
- Precision Grenadier.
Army weapons officials announced in November that the service is pursuing a longer-term effort to arm some infantry squad members with a precision, counter-defilade weapons system designed to destroy enemy hiding behind cover. Currently, two infantrymen in each squad are armed with an M4A1 carbine with an M320 40mm grenade launcher to engage counter-defilade targets, but weapons officials have long wanted something more sophisticated.
During the past decade, the Army tried to field the XM25 Counter-Defilade Target Engagement System — a semi-automatic, shoulder-fired weapon that used 25mm high-explosive, air-bursting ammunition. XM25 stirred excitement in the infantry community but, in the end, the complex system was plagued by program delays that led to its demise.
The Army is currently conducting the Platoon Arms and Ammunition Configuration (PAAC) study — scheduled to be complete by 2024 — which will look at the enemies the service will face in the future and help guide weapons officials to a new counter-defilade weapon sometime in 2028, Army officials say.
- Next-Generation Medium and Heavy Machine Gun.
Army weapons officials also announced in early November that the service wants to eventually replace the venerable 7.62mm M240 and the .50 caliber “Ma Deuce” M2 with next-generation machine guns. But Army officials said that the decision to move forward on such a program will depend on the future performance demonstrated by the NGSW once it’s fielded. The PAAC study will also help to guide decisions on what the next-gen medium and heavy machine guns would look like, according to Army officials.
The Marine Corps is working the Army on the next-gen machine gun effort but is also assessing a .338 Norma Magnum machine gun — that U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is developing — to potentially replace the M240s in Marine rifle companies.
- Machine Gun Suppressors.
The Maneuver Battle Lab at Fort Benning, Georgia, live-fire tested a promising M240 sound suppressor from Maxim Defense during Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) 2021, which began in late October. Benning officials said this is the first year that a machine gun suppressor has created excitement in the maneuver community.
Other suppressors in past tests have not been able to stand up to the heat and audible roar produced by the 7.62mm M240. Finding a durable, affordable suppressor that can dampen the sound signature of an M240 would make it more difficult for enemies to locate and target machine gun teams from a distance, Benning officials say.
When the AEWE concludes in early March, Battle Lab officials will compile a report detailing the performance of equipment tested. If testing continues to go well, the Battle Lab may recommend that the Maxim suppressor undergo further testing for possible fielding, according to Benning officials.
Looking further into the future, it will likely be a long time until infantrymen are armed with the blaster weapons like those carried by Stormtroopers or Han Solo in the “Star Wars” saga, but Army weapons officials have already started thinking about it.
“We are working on the Next Generation Squad Weapon … but then what’s the next weapon after that?” Col. Rhett Thompson, director of the Soldier Requirements Division at Benning, said during the National Defense Industrial Association’s Armaments, Robotics and Munitions conference in early November.
“Does it fire a round? Instead of a magazine with ammunition, is it some sort of energy capacity … or is it something more directed energy or something else?” he said. “That is really what we are getting at as we get further out there, and some of that is kind of fun to think about.” (Source: Military.com)
Arnold Defense has manufactured more than 1.25 million 2.75-inch rocket launchers since 1961 for the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and many NATO customers. They are the world’s largest supplier of rocket launchers for military aircraft, vessels and vehicles. Core products include the 7-round M260 and 19-round M261 commonly used by helicopters; the thermal coated 7-round LAU-68 variants and LAU-61 Digital Rocket Launcher used by the U.S. Navy and Marines; and the 7-round LAU-131 and SUU-25 flare dispenser used by the U.S. Air Force and worldwide.
Today’s rocket launchers now include the ultra-light LWL-12 that weighs just over 60 pounds (27 kg.) empty and the new Fletcher (4) round launcher. Arnold Defense designs and manufactures various rocket launchers that can be customized for any capacity or form factor for platforms in the air, on the ground or even at sea.
Arnold Defense maintains the highest standards of production quality by using extensive testing, calibration and inspection processes.