About Me

My Photo
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



17 September 2014

A Fifth Armed Service for China

Increasingly strong reports continue to circulate that China is in the process of creating a fifth service within the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) structure – a force devoted to space operations. Unconfirmed reports, to be sure, but on the grounds there is rarely any smoke without fire it is worth examining the issue in more detail.

The PLA currently consists of ground, air and naval services as well as the curiously named Second Artillery service, which controls China’s ballistic missiles and nuclear arsenal. Reports now claim a fifth service dedicated to space operations is being created as a focus around which to integrate some of the partial initiatives taken in recent years. The latest report surfaced in Japan’s respected national newspaper Yomihuri Shimbun in August and, although the story has subsequently been deleted from the journal’s website, the claims that President Xi has ordered the action do seem credible.

In April, the English language paper China Daily reported a speech made by Xi to PLA Air Force officers, urging them “to speed up air and space integration and sharpen [their] offensive and defensive capabilities,” and to create “a new type of combat unit” to act as the platform in which to achieve the ambition. "The US has paid considerable attention and resources to the integration of capabilities in both air and space, and other powers have also moved progressively toward space militarization. Though China has stated that it sticks to the peaceful use of space, we must make sure that we have the ability to cope with others' operations in space,” he said.

Chinese academic literature also provides some food for thought. One recent report correlates the issues of space warfare and cyber warfare, making the statement that “space will surely be the main battlefield of cyber warfare.” Taken in conjunction with US claims that China has concentrated massive efforts on hacking into and stealing information from prominent companies in the US and European satellite and aerospace industries, it would certainly make sense that China is carefully managing the creation of an organisation to integrate and exploit its growing capabilities in this area.
Some of these capabilities include an already developed anti-satellite system, tested in 2007, 2013 and this year, which in Chinese eyes is an essential capacity that would help counter American GPS capabilities in the event of an open conflict. A US DoD report to Congress in 2013 observed that China’s space programme had produced 18 separate launches the previous year, many of which placed new space-based intelligence and communications satellites in orbit. The report also made the point that China is developing anti-satellite technologies.

Furthermore, rather vaguer rumours centre on the purported development of a space plane, the so-called Shenlong or ‘Divine Dragon,’ which supposedly flew its first flight test in 2011. The spacecraft is seen by some observers as a response to the equally shadowy US X-37B space plane programme.

As is usual with China, hard, verifiable fact is hard to come by. But the preponderance of evidence does seem to suggest a coalescing of separate strands of activity to provide a cohesive and potentially powerful integrated space force to strengthen the 2.3 million members of the PLA.

Tim Mahon

11 September 2014

Nowhere to Hide - NAMMO's 13th Multipurpose Symposium

Two days ago, NAMMO CEO Edgar Fossheim kicked off the 13th and latest edition of the company's Multipurpose Symposium. The three day event derives its name from the Multipurpose Concept that was initiated by the company in 1970. Enabling penetration, delayed action, fragmentation (HE), blast and incendiary effects, NAMMO's Multipurpose family comprises ammunition ranging from 12.7mm to 40mm with the last caliber to enter being the 30mm x 173 MP-T/SD (Multipurpose - Tracer/ Self Destruct) round.  The MP concept uses a pyrotechnical ignition train instead of the traditional mechanical safe & arm device found on medium caliber ammunition, hereby enabling a deflagration instead of a detonation. As a result, larger fragments are created.

Established in 1998, NAMMO is jointly owned by the Finnish company Patria and the Norwegian ministry of trade, industry and fisheries with each having a 50 percent stake in the ammunition company.

"Securing the future" is the motto of this Nordic company which states its mission is to "protect national and allied forces with high quality defence products". This was underlined by Fossheim in his opening speech when he made clear that this means the armed forces of the free world. The company's position correlates with the policy of the Norwegian government with regard to the export of defence equipment as the country has strict export rules. Issues such as democratic rights and fundamental human rights are considered during the export process and in general it can be said that the Norwegian government is very reluctant when it comes to possible exports of weapons and ammunition or dual use technology to countries which are not member states of NATO or like minded countries.

Employing some 2,200 employees in twenty-two production units in nine countries (US, Canada, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Finland and Australia), NAMMO gets 77 percent of its turnover from countries outside the Nordic region. Operating income in 2013 amounted to NOK 3,703 million which is up almost twelve percent when compared to the results of 2012. Production of defence materiel accounts for eighty-five percent of the company's revenues. Core businesses include shoulder launched munitions (M72 family, BDM M141 and SMAW ammunition) and ammunition, with the company's strength lying in medium caliber rounds although being "not so strong in 35mm" according to Fossheim. With countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands having opted for 35mm automatic guns on their CV90 IFVs in recent years, it appears that might warrant the development of more advanced 35mm rounds though. For instance, the Dutch military is currently looking into enhanced ammunition for its CV9035NLs to better enable operations in urban terrain and also in order to replicate some of the weapon effects of a 120mm gun. This is due to their Leopard 2A6 MBTs having been withdrawn from service due to austerity measures. NAMMO's small caliber ammunition (4.6mm, 5.56mm, 7.62mm, .308, .338 Lapua, 9mm) has meanwhile proved to be popular at home and in countries such as the US with the company being one of the main suppliers of tracer rounds to the US Army. In addition, larger caliber ammunition (120mm, 155mm) is also being offered by NAMMO.

Speaking about the company's third core business, Fossheim indicated : "there are synergies between producing ammunition and producing rocket motors" and today NAMMO is a major producer of motors for missiles including Raytheon's AMRAAM and ESSM. Demilitarization meanwhile is a growth industry with NAMMO being specialized in destroying excess, outdated and obsolete conventional ammunition including cluster bombs. NAMMO's CEO explained: " the mount of obsolete ammo in the US is growing despite operations which are ongoing".  He boasted that NAMMO "is the biggest industrial demilitarizer" while mentioning that his company is involved in demilitarization programmes for the US, UK, German and Japanese governments. The Nordic company has plants in Germany, Norway and Sweden for the purpose of destroying obsolete, aged or surplus ammunition although countries such as Finland and Norway itself still use open pit burnings according to Fossheim.

More detailed information on some of NAMMO's most recent defence product innovations will soon appear in the pages of MT.
Pieter Bastiaans

10 September 2014

Sinus Electronic Developing and Manufacturin specific Ruggedised Applications for Military Support

During the past 28 years, Sinus Electronic, a corporate division of the Nucletron Electronic Group, has designed, developed and manufactured application specific ruggedised outdoor equipment, such as connecting interfaces for power, signal and data lines, network switches and media converter to support the German Military. This level of advanced technologies positions Sinus as a provider to the military market in the field of total protection against all kinds of interference in compact package solutions manufactured to the highest quality standards: VG (Bundeswehr), STANAG (NATO), and MIL-STD (US DoD).

(one AC plug) stationary telephone (Photos: Sinus Electronic)

The company has been able to maintain continuous growth in the field of tactical military programme support. Sinus Electronic has a proven pedigree supporting several major military programmes including: AutoKo 90, PATRIOT, BigStaff, SATCOM, FüInfoSys and many more...

Sinus has supplied in excess of 20.000 connecting interfaces to prime customers such as: Rheinmetall, Thales, KMW, BAAINBw, Zeppelin, EADS, and many more... Sinus also has a long history of supporting NATO programmes and operates under the suppliers code C 3563. This code enables both Sinus and its NATO Partners to provide full traceability on all products supplied back to the company’s manufacturing source.

Sinus a DIN EN ISO 9001:2008 registered company is now restructuring the organisation to a new total package solution to the wider European military market. The newly structured operation is focussed towards providing the increasing demand for application led technical consulting and increasing military specialisation.

MDPL (Military-Data-over-Power-Line) cable drum

The company’s new ruggedised equipment line for communication and data transmission for field camps include the patented MDPL (Military-Data-over-Power-Line) cable drum, with its build-in technology one can manage up to 100 IP phone + 16 ISDN phones and it also provides Power (250V/16A AC), all this with only one easy to deploy cable. The maximum cable length for transmitting Ethernet is 350m, with a transmission rate of up to 1Gbit/s. For more flexibility one can daisy change the MDPL as required. Sinus offers easy to install (one AC plug) stationary telephones and their newest inductively coupled military telephone. To make a connection to the system, the phone is simply inductively coupled to the deployed cable from the MDPL reel, at any convenient location along the cable`s path throughout an entire field camp. The communication data is encrypted twice (no interception and disturbing possible). For longer distance (up to 1km) Sinus also offers its ruggedised self-powered LAN cable drum with build in media converter. The reel offers 8x Ethernet LAN there of four POE connection and is available in single and multimode (SM + MM) one can daisy chain the drum and it is also 100% compatible with Sinus’ system.

LAN cable drum

04 September 2014

MSPO 2014: TIGER Makes its Debut

During MSPO 2014 the French EC665 TIGER HAD assault helicopter made its Polish debut. The main reason for its arrival in Poland is the Polish Kruk project, which aims to procure 30-32 new assault helicopters for the Polish Army. It will replace aging Mi-24D/W helicopters. According to Poland’s Ministry of National Defence (MoND), Kruk is one of the most important modernisation projects of the Polish Armed Forces. This programme was sped up in 2014 as a result of the Ukrainian crisis and emerging threat near Polish borders. According to the initial strategy, Poland wanted to acquire a new helicopter in 2020. Now the MoND wants a new generation helicopter in service two or three years earlier.

The TIGER shown in Poland had desert camouflage and SPIKE-ER anti-tank missiles. It arrived from a factory of Airbus Helicopters in Marigne. During MSPO 2014, the TIGER HAD was presented by French personnel of 1er Régiment d’Hélicoptères de Combat. The French were the first to deploy those helicopters in combat conditions – in July 2009 three helicopters were sent to Afghanistan (until 2013). Later they were used in Libya and Mali.

As for the Kruk project, it is believed that the first tranche will cover 12 helicopters and the process of acquisition might even be launched this year, which will allow them to replace Mi-24Ds. The remaining 20 helicopters might be acquired by 2022.

Among potential contenders are: AgustaWestland AW129 MANGUSTA, TAI T129 ATAK, Bell AH-1Z COBRA, Boeing AH-64E GUARDIAN(with AH-6i) and the above-mentioned EC665 TIGER.

It was not the only helicopter presented during MSPO 2014. Visitors had an opportunity to see all three helicopters offered in a tender for 70 multi-role helicopters for the Polish Armed Forces: Airbus Helicopters EC-725 Caracal, AgustaWestland AW-149 and two Sikorsky’s BLACK HAWKs: one UH-60L BLACK HAWK of US Army and one manufactured in Poland’s Mielec S-70i International HAWK. A contract with the winner should be signed in early 2015. Deliveries should start from 2016.
Robert Czulda

MSPO 2014: New RWS for Polish Vehicles Revealed

During MSPO 2014 a new remotely-controlled turret for ROSOMAK wheeled vehicles and new tracked infantry armoured vehicles (as a replacement for BMP-1s) was revealed.

This turret, jointly produced by WB Electronics and Huta Stalowa Wola, is being developed for the Ministry of National Defense (MoND) under ZSSW/Zdalnie Sterowany System Wieżowy (Remotely Controlled Turret System). Poland wants to equipped not only ROSOMAK vehicles (this configuration was shown at MSPO 2014), which are already in operational service, but also future infantry armoured vehicles, which will likely be manufactured by Huta Stalowa Wola. Unfortunately, any details on both ZSSW and BMP-1 replacement are undisclosed. The MoND states that more information will be announced in 2016 when research on a prototype is completed.

At the current stage it is known that the technology integrator and project leader is Huta Stalowa Wola while WB Electronics is responsible for opto-electronic sensors, communications, command and control, and fire management systems (vehicle shown at MSPO 2014 had sensors of Selex ES). It is also known that at the current stage the main armament of ZSSW is an ATK Mk44 BUSHMASTER II 30 mm cannon with a co-axial UKM-2000C 7,62 mm gun and two SPIKE-LR anti-tank missiles (installed on a right side). ZSSW will be equipped with SSP-1 OBRA-3 Laser Warning System.

This was not the only ROSOMAK presented in Kielce. A second premiere was that of the WILK fire support vehicle with a technology demonstrator of CMI Defence’s XC-8 105mm turret. In the past the WILK vehicle has been integrated with CT-CV 105HP turret (designed for wheeled and tracked vehicles of weight between 18 and 30 ton).

XC-8 is a lightweight turret for vehicles of 15t or more. Its design is based on CT-CV105HP’s but the new turret is mainly destined for medium tracked combat vehicles. The XC-8 can be reinforced by additional plates which enables level 4 ballistic protection (STANAG 4569A).

Robert Czulda

US DoD Prioritises Key Investments

To maintain its technological advantage and stay on the cutting edge of technology, the US must be willing to take risks in innovation and creative thinking, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said yesterday at a conference. Despite ongoing national security challenges and uncertainty in Ukraine, Belize, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and growing tension in the South China Sea, innovation challenges remain and must be addressed, he said.

In the US 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review and the US president’s fiscal 2015 budget request, Hagel explained, the US DoD prioritised key investments in submarines, cyber, next-generation fighter and bomber aircraft, missile defense, and special operations forces, putting a premium on rapidly deployable, self-sustaining platforms that can defeat more technologically advanced adversaries.

The Better Buying Power 3.0 initiative, Hagel explained, will strengthen DoD’s efforts to incentivise innovation in both industry and government while using more modular and open systems architectures, will provide industry with draft requirements earlier, will remove obstacles to procuring commercial items, and will improve technology search and outreach in global markets.

With 20%  of DoD acquisition dollars devoted to small businesses, Hagel noted, niche areas within industry can be particularly vulnerable when production rates decline.

More on this here