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20 Apr 17. Singapore equipping Apache helicopters with new mission systems. The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is equipping a number of its Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters with new mission systems to enhance the platform’s survivability and improve its mission capability.
The country’s Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said in a statement on 20 April that the upgrade programme involves equipping the AH-64D with a Helicopter Integrated Electronic Warfare System (HIEWS) to enhance survivability and satellite communication.
“MINDEF/SAF has always taken a rigorous and prudent approach in planning for our defence needs and will equip sufficient helicopters to meet Singapore’s defence requirements,” said the ministry.
The upgrades are expected to be completed “over the next few years”, according to the statement.(Source: IHS Jane’s)
20 Apr 17. Airbus promotes Xebra satcoms for UK Strike brigade. The Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE 2017) conducted by UK forces on Salisbury Plain in March with US Army participation provided an opportunity for Airbus Defence and Space (formerly Astrium) to demonstrate an uprated version of its Xebra manportable satellite reachback service.
This is based on the HM300 X-band satellite terminal, produced for it in the United States as an exportable/non-ITAR item by terminal development partner Hughes Network Systems. It was initially unveiled by Airbus in November 2015 as a potential solution to the requirements of an (unspecified) element of the UK armed forces.
Described as the smallest manportable X-band terminal currently available, the HM300 weighs 5.1 kg and measures 247.9×236.9×84.3 mm, and is designed to use the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) Skynet 5 X-band military and commercial satellite communications (satcom) network, which gives near-global coverage. Xebra is thereby able to provide tactical units with assured voice and broadband data services (up to 512 kbit/s) at the short halt.
Airbus notes X-band transmissions have a reduced probability of intercept, Xebra being operated “in the satellite noise” that makes it “difficult to geolocate”, giving it a greater ability to resist “intentional or unintentional interference” than many alternatives.
According to the company, the terminal has been proven to extend the communication distance of Bowman UK/VRC-340 HCDR and Harris AN/PRC-117G MANET networks to global ranges “with guaranteed, non-pre-emptible data rates”. Command-and-control data services “can also be provided to forward units beyond traditional combat net radio distances, while ISTAR products [typically from ground sensors or full-motion video] can be passed back for analysis”.
Among evaluations to date, Airbus reports Xebra has been used by the Royal Marines 3 Commando Brigade to enhance Bowman (VHF UK/PRC355) and Harris PRC-117F voice and data (ComBAT for Bowman and High Power Waveform [HPW] for the PRC-117F) capabilities to develop littoral operations in line with the UK armed forces’ emerging ‘Strike’ concept. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
19 Apr 17. US Army leaders are coming to grips with the service’s enduring problems associated with logistics, maintenance and sustainment of its existing, aging systems. These challenges stem from over a decade of war during which issues like life cycle management of systems was not taken into consideration, one reason being the operational tempo of conflicts forces were engaged in. As the U.S. is now engaged in far more countries than it was 15 years ago combined with new characters of war – characterized by leadership as multi-domain battle against near-peer adversaries – these problems are coming to a head. It’s forcing the Army to retroactively instill better practices while changing the way they purchase, sustain and maintain future portfolios. One of the offices looking to remed