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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

22 May 2015

Boeing Details AH-6i Programme

Boeing, at the end of this year, will be starting up a production line for a Middle Eastern customer, with deliveries of 24 AH-6i aircraft to be complete by 2017, with a Performance Based Logistics (PBL) - Light package. According to Brad Rounding Manager BD Attack Helicopers, Boeing is, “working with several others; excited about more.” Development for the LITTLE BIRD is derived from AH-64 and A/MH-6M, the latter from SOF, who developed all the weapons on this programme, and Boeing currently upgrading existing airframes.

24 AH-6i will be delivered to an international customer. (Photo: Mönch)

Weapons and pay load include an open systems architecture (MX-15Di EO/IR sensor currently installed); an advanced glass cockpit; NVG compatibility; qualified M-134 mini gun (7.32mm); .50 cal GAU-19B (12.7mm); M260 7 shot rocket podes (70mm); HELLFIRE missiles; semi-active laser (SAL); improved performance via dual channel FADEC; an optional Goliath tank (63gal) to be put behind the aircraft plus two conformal outside tanks; and more.

Commonalities with APACHE include weapons management, obstacle avoidance, and crashworthy protected seat for SOF customer.

The AH-6i can be modified into an unmanned configuration, optionally manned, flown via laptop, and Boeing is always interested in pursuing customers for its Unmanned LITTLE BIRD programme and recently finished modifying a Korean manned MD500D helicopter into an optionally piloted helicopter and is preparing for flight test later this year.

Armour Kits for V-22 OSPREY

Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) issued a Combat Mission Need Statement in March 2014 to develop new armor plates to protect the V-22 OSPREY's passengers. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)  worked with a Florida-based composite armour company and the Army Aviation Development Directorate to develop an armour solution in only 179 days, beginning deliveries in October 2014. The Advanced Ballistic Stopping System kit consists of 66 plates sized to fit along the OSPREY's interior bulkheads and deck. The whole kit adds 800lbs (360kg) of weight to the aircraft, affecting payload and unrefueled range, so it can be installed or removed when needed in hours and partially assembled in pieces to only protect certain parts. Each full kit costs $270,000. As of May 2015, 16 kits had been delivered to the US Air Force, and procurement is available for Marine Corps MV-22s if they choose.

21 May 2015

Swiss military budget to be CHF6 billion by 2020

According to news sources, Switzerland will buy 1,900 DUROs, 500 model 90 rifles, six HERMES 900 UAS, 879 light vehicles, and will procure RUAG COBRA mortar systems in proposed double digits. By 2020, CHF6 billion Swiss military budget will be available, money that has not been used in the GRIPEN referendum that led to Switzerland not opting the GRIPEN. Furthermore, the country will spend CHR560 million for F-18 upgrades.

Boeing is committed to performance excellence on the Swiss HORNET U25 programme, and is also committed to Life Cycle Planning with the industry team in Switzerland and Finland (RUAG, Patria, Insta, and Boeing) to complete a support programme that encompasses structural upgrades, mission systems upgrades, software updates, and logistics support throughout the life of the HORNET fleets in Switzerland and Finland, until 2030 and beyond.

Upgrade 25 capabilities include digital-radar warning system, cockpit displays, an upgraded digital recorder, an advanced targeting infrared pod, an upgraded GPS, and armament computer memory upgrade. To date 23 F-18 HORNETs  have received the upgrades, with a total of 32 F-18 HORNETs receiving the upgrades by the close of 2015. The first flight of an upgraded Swiss F/A-18 HORNET outfitted with new technologies and innovations was in 2011. Boeing is working with the US Navy and Swiss to define a future upgrade programme.

SOFIC 2015: Impressions from the Show

SOFIC 2015: A vehicle to blend in and be protected

SOF sometimes want to blend in the normal street picture, but at the same time want to be protected and have the high mobility of military 4x4 and not an SUV. At SOFIC Navistar is presenting a solution, so commanders don’t have to choose between blend-ability and high performance. Navistar Defense is showcasing its Special Operations Tactical Vehicle (SOTV). Navistar’s SOTV-B (Blended) variant is on display in booth 2040. It is a low-profile, purpose-built armored vehicle designed for counter-insurgency operations. “While it may look like a typical small truck seen throughout the Middle East and around the world, it’s anything but,” said Kevin Thomas, president, Navistar Defense. “The SOTV is a purpose-built vehicle designed specifically to provide the highest levels of protection and performance, while ‘hiding in plain view.” It can be everything you want, at display is a vehicle that looks like a Toyota HILUX, but it also could like a Ford or Mercedes-Benz 4x4 or any other kind of product. The “inside” is always the same, with a protected cell and high performance, but the outside is just a lightweight – non-protected – facelift from fiberglass. This outside can be quickly changed, if you need another colour, or another vehicle type.
Everything in the SOTV—from the powerful engine, to the dynamic suspension and drive train, to the armor system, to the modular electronics capability—is designed for the highest level of mission performance and protection. As a purpose-built vehicle with a robust design and components, it provides a significantly longer life cycle than an up-armored light truck. And it is a little bigger inside, to give the fully loaded operators more space – but you won’t see the difference from the outside.
The SOTV-B shares significant commonality with the SOTV-A, which is Navistar Defense’s tactical variant for covert operations. Highly modular, the SOTV can be configured with a variety of weapons and C4ISR packages for a wide range of missions. On the flat back you could even place a mortar system – well you won’t blend in anymore, but the payload is 4,000 lbs.
“The SOTV-B vehicle provides significantly greater protection and performance than traditional up-armored commercial light trucks,” Thomas added. “It can be skinned to look like any truck of choice—flexible, but designed from the inside out for special operations.” And they are built for a long life cycle of up to 20 years, normal protected 4x4 often are done after eight to twelve month. They just don’t like the extra weight that the armor brings on. The US SOF already have bought some of these vehicles, for evaluation and testing, Navistar is still in a phase of proofing this “different” concept with USSOCOM.
Technical details: 0-60 mph in under 13 seconds, fits in a CH-47 CHINOOK, 4,000 lbs of payload at the flat back, 60° longitudinal side slope, 24’’ fording depth, up to 600 LB-FT of torque and armored.

Andre Forkert

SOFIC 2015: 1st Active Protection System for Helicopters

There are many vehicle Active Protection Systems out there, but all for land vehicles. At SOFIC 2015 Orbital ATK is showing its HAPS (Helicopter Active Protection System), the first one of its kind.
Just some weeks ago, Orbital ATK completed key test of this system. ATK performed a live-fire demonstration of a key
element of its Helicopter Active Protection System (HAPS). The HAPS Kill Vehicle (KV)was able to launch, perform pitch maneuvers and fly to a detonation point that simulated the location of an incoming rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). The demonstration is a valuable step toward a solution for the RPG threat to helicopters flying missions in dangerous areas.
Helicopters are vulnerable to damage from RPGs because the aircraft often hovers in position at low altitude, making it easy to target by an enemy on the ground. HAPS is designed to identify an incoming threat, launch and guide a KV to a precise location and detonate a warhead at a point where the RPG is rendered ineffective. All of this is designed to occur within a fraction of a second and far enough away from the helicopter to ensure the crew and aircraft are not harmed by metal fragments from the destroyed RPG.
The live-fire demonstration was designed to prove-out launch from a fixed ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispense System, off-axis pitch maneuvers of the KV and controlled flight of the KV to an impact point. The test flights successfully demonstrated these attributes and validated a number of HAPS components, including the KV launch cartridge, KV divert and attitude thrusters, non-linear guidance and control algorithms, and the fast-sync wireless command guidance link. “Orbital ATK is dedicated to working with our customers to further develop this first-of-kind active protection system for helicopters and put it into the hands of our armed forces,” said Bill Kasting, vice president and general manager of Orbital ATK’s Defense Electronic Systems division of the Defense Systems Group. “Our design uses the helicopter’s existing, fixed Countermeasures Dispense System to launch the kill vehicle, allowing HAPS to meet the performance goals and the size, weight and power constraints.”
“Our aircraft protection systems demonstrate a commitment to protecting the warfighter,” said Mike Kahn, executive vice president and president, Orbital ATK Defense Systems Group. “We took an innovative approach to meet operational needs that can make a real difference in the level of safety for helicopters and their crews.”
The HAPS system consists of an Engagement Management Module, a slightly-modified Counter Measures Dispense System, such as the ALE-47, and the KVs that launch from the counter-measures dispenser. The KVs fit within the envelope of the standard flare and chaff launch tubes. In addition to countering RPGs, HAPS can serve as a last line of defense against advanced man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS.
The live-fire test was conducted in Socorro, New Mexico, and witnessed by personnel from the Rapid Reaction Technology Office of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The Technology Office sponsored the testing of Orbital ATK’s internally-developed active countermeasure.
Orbital ATK’s aircraft survivability product portfolio includes the AAR-47 missile, laser and hostile-fire threat warning sensor and the ShotFinder acoustic hostile-fire detection system. The AAR-47 missile warning system is installed on more than 3,200 fixed and rotary-wing aircraft and is flown by the U.S. and its allies in more than 16 countries.
Andre Forkert