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17 Apr 12. A team of Northrop Grumman Corporation engineers recently successfully demonstrated the capability of the company’s Silent Watch Electro-Optical Infrared (EO/IR) Distributed Aperture System (DAS) to enable a surface vessel to sense and track threats. The Silent Watch EO/DAS was originally designed and developed by Northrop Grumman to provide 360-degree situational awareness for F-35 pilots. The innovative threat warning system may soon provide invaluable situational awareness for manned and unmanned surface and submarine platform applications. The maritime applications of the EO/DAS involved the strategic placement of multiple EO/IR sensors onboard the Sperry Star III research vessel, a Northrop Grumman Naval and Marine Systems surface ship test platform. The test demonstration proved that, when employed at sea, high resolution, near-real-time images generated by Silent Watch can be displayed and relayed to friendly forces.

20 Apr 12. Northrop Grumman Corporation recently supported the successful reliability testing of the United States Air Force’s Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) weapons system. The Northrop Grumman led ICBM prime team includes Boeing, Lockheed Martin, ATK and more than 20 other subcontractors. The ICBM team is responsible for overall sustainment of the weapon system including development, production, deployment and system modifications. The operational test was designated Glory Trip 203GM. The test launch proceeded as planned with the missile traveling roughly 4,800 miles in 30 minutes. The Minuteman III carried a single Mk21 re-entry vehicle specially instrumented to measure operational performance parameters such as in-flight reliability and accuracy.

19 Apr 12. The U.S. should focus on the development of directed energy weapons to counter efforts to restrict the U.S. military’s freedom of movement, according to a new analysis by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank. As increasingly sophisticated nonstate actors and rogue states acquire precision-guided cruise and ballistic missiles, they will pose anti-access/area-denial challenges to the U.S. military. Rather than relying on a limited number of kinetic missile interceptors to meet the threat, the United States should invest in offensive and defensive directed energy weapons, including high-energy lasers and high-power microwave weapons, according to the report. The Department of Defense defines directed energy as “a beam of concentrated electromagnetic energy or atomic or subatomic particles” that can “damage or destroy enemy equipment, facilities and personnel.” Developing and fielding directed energy (DE) capabilities “could provide U.S. forces with nearly unlimited magazines to counter incoming missiles at a negligible cost per shot,” researchers Mark Gunzinger and Chris Dougherty write. With an eye on the Iranian tactic of swarming a large number of small attack watercraft, the April 19 report states that “DE systems could help counter these threats with significantly less collateral damage than that caused by kinetic defenses,” which would also be particularly useful in tightly packed urban settings. In the next five to 10 years, it may be possible to use already mature laser technologies to defend forward bases against aircraft and rocket fire, the authors contend. Over the next two decades, they add, technological advances should make it possible to integrate directed energy weapons on small aircraft, tactical ground vehicles and aboard ships. (Source: Defense News)

19 Apr 12. General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems and Rheinmetall Defence of Dusseldorf, Germany, have formed a tank ammunition joint venture company named Defense Munitions International, LLC (DMI). The new company will develop and market new and existing 120mm kinetic energy and multi-purpose cartridges for the U.S. and international tank ammunition markets. DMI combines the partners’ full ra

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