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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



30 September 2016

MDM16: Modern Day Marine 2016 Day 3 (September 29, 2016) Report

US correspondent Marty Kauchak files the following exclusive report on significant news and developments gained from delegates, exhibitors and others in the expeditionary warfare community.

USMC Program of Record

The US Marine Corps is about to outfit its infantry regiments with a version of the Polaris Defense MRZR four-seater, all-terrain vehicle, the MRZR-D.

A spokesperson at the Program Manager Light Tactical Vehicles booth at this exposition told MT the award of the Utility Task Vehicle programme contract, “should be issued in early October,” permitting the Marines to purchase 144 Polaris MRZR-Ds, a new version of the vehicle designed to take diesel and JP-8 fuel.

The Corps is planning on fielding 18 MRZR-Ds per infantry regiment.

Joaquin Salas, business development manager for Polaris Defense, said the vehicles are scheduled to go into production in October. In addition to the four crew seats, the MRZR-D features a small cargo bed and is capable of carrying 1,500 lbs. (680.4kg) of payload – 500 lbs. in the rear cargo bed. (Photo: USMC Sgt. Cuong Le)

Joaquin Salas, business development manager for Polaris Defense, said the vehicles are scheduled to go into production in October. In addition to the four crew seats, the MRZR-D features a small cargo bed and is capable of carrying 1,500lbs. (680.4kg) of payload – 500lbs. in the rear cargo bed.  

Salas further added the MRZR-Ds will be powered by Kohler diesel engines.

The MRZR-D vehicles are designed to be carried inside a V-22 OSPREY, “to provide logistic support for infantry forces,” Salas also told MT.

The MRZR baseline vehicle has a current successful, operational history. The US Army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division dropped 10 MRZRs when it jumped into Poland in June as part of an exercise to test of their ability to bolster NATO’s eastern flank against possible Russian aggression.

The MRZR-D has a very Spartan design and with good reason, as the new vehicle fits quite well Polaris Defense’s business model and market niche as a supplier of ultralight tactical vehicles. Indeed, Salas reminded this correspondent of his company’s earlier successes in this space with the DAGOR.

Exhibitor Perspectives

TerraGroup’s latest TECWAR water purification system, Military Purification Reverse Osmosis 30 Heavy Duty Extreme (MPRO 30HDX), has been built with simplicity and form factor in mind.

Jason Parrish, a developer and marketing representative at the company, emphasised the system’s major components include two switches and a valve. “We’re keeping it simple,” said the Holly Ridge, North Carolina-based retired Marine Corps logistician.  The MPRO 30HDX allows expeditionary forces to produce drinking water at the small unit level from freshwater, brackish or salt water. The modular and scalable water purification system can produce up to 15 gallons per hour (about 900 bottles) in a four-hour period.

MPRO 30HDX was developed in response to a recent USMC request for information. The R&D version unveiled for MDM delegates weighs 114 lbs. (51.7kg.). “This version was designed with a lot of ‘open space’. We have an opportunity to further reduce the weight if necessary.” The system is expected to be competed for imminent Marine Corps and US Army contract awards. “In fact we’ll be testing the MPRO 30HDX for the Army in first quarter of calendar 2017.”

The system is powered by AC or DC sources.

The company’s legacy portfolio includes its LWPS which is a USMC and US Navy Program of Record. The system is also used by unspecified special operations forces.

The company will be presenting the MPRO 30HDX to a NATO engineering conference in Prague this October (Future Forces 2016, see banner above - the Ed.). Parrish further reported there is interest in the MPRO 30HDX by the UK Ministry of Defence.

Andy Howell, the managing director at BCB International, unveiled a series of non-lethal boat stopping systems: Barracuda (a handheld device capable of launching a 36m [40 yard] arrestor line and two 1m [3ft] anchors); Buccaneer (delivering specialised payloads to lay netting at a range up to 200m); and Sea Stinger (a device capable of deploying entangling netting out to a range of 600 metres).

These boat stopping systems support missions on the lower spectrum of conflict, where suspected targets and their occupants may want to be stopped and questioned – without shots fired and injuries created. Howell likened the systems’ capabilities to a land-based spike or stinger system, which is deployed on roads to puncture tires and stop vehicles.  

The UK-based company’s boat stopping portfolio has been in development for two-to-three years.

An initial customer for these systems is in Japan. Initial trials are underway for a UK customer.

Howell also noted these products were designed to support operations inside the littoral regions – in harbors, on rivers and similar bodies of water.

Ground forces continue to have options to permit their vehicles to operate after sustaining tire damage

Accella’s latest RePneuTV flatproofing treatment was reported to allow tires to withstand .50 caliber ballistic rifle shots and other damage, and continue running.

The company’s baseline technology permits a high performance liquid polyurethane polymer to be pumped into the tire through a valve stem to replace all of the air, and then curing to a resilient, synthetic ballistic core.

Bob Rose, a technical consultant at the company, noted that while this flatproofing technology is a heavier option than a run-flat-based system, it also lowers the center of gravity, yielding enhanced stability and performance under extremis conditions.

Accella plans to compete its flatproofing treatment for an OEM’s vehicle program this November.    

Marty Kauchak  

29 September 2016

AUSA 2016: Harris Unveils New F5032 Lightweight Night Vision Binocular

In an interview priot to AUSA 2016, Eric Garris, Harris Night Vision Dismount Platforms Product Line Manager & Chief Technologist, informed MT on the new F5032 Lightweight Night Vision Binocular.

At AUSA 2016, Harris will introduce its new F-5032 Lightweight Night Vision Binocular. (Photo: Harris)

MT: How will your new NVG enable armed forces to conduct critical missions during nighttime/in dark environment? 
Harris: The F5032 is a lighter weight NV binocular allowing for a longer mission with less stress on the soldier using them. They also have a very close focus range with a minimum of 25cm allowing users to more easily conduct near-eye functions such as map reading, IV insert on a wounded Soldier, weapon repair or radio operation. The binocular also features fixed or adjustable diopter lenses. Each user can adjust for the setting that fits them best as one size does not fit all, eliminating the need for a particular goggle to be issued to a specific soldier. It also allows for adjustments over a long mission to account for eye strain. The goggle is also equipped with an integrated forward projecting LED infrared (IR) illuminator and indicator that can be turned on or off as the mission requirements dictate. This eliminates the need for a separate illuminator. Finally, the new goggle features hot swappable image intensifier (I2) modules. Our standard I2 tube package can be easily removed and replaced using basic tools. This can be done because the tube is not bonded in place, but held in place by retaining clamps in the device housing.

MT: Please explain the tube swapping procedure and why this is being done.
Harris: Process similar to most fielded I2 goggles today to be able to use standard tubes with just a Hoffman 126 test set. No specialty equipment required or any bonded on materials to the tube that can complicate maintenance.

MT: SWaP is critical. Was this taken into account when creating the new NVG, and did you also take cost into account? 
Harris: The F5032 lowers the soldier's overall size/weight/power burden allowing operators to carry out a wider array of missions more effectively with less fatigue.

MT: What is the weight and the Field of View (FoV) of the F5032?
Harris: Weight is <500g for fixed diopter, FOV=40° nominal.

MT: Image intensifier P-45 phosphor screen? Gen 3? 
Harris: This goggle can be used with either the green or white phosphor screen depending on user preference. This is a Gen 3 goggle.

MT: How much iR&D was spend on this, or was this funded by the government? 
Harris: While we cannot specifically say what the amount of IR&D was for this goggle, we can say that this is a Harris funded product.

MT: How can your new NVG be integrated to become part of a complete soldier system?  
Harris: Harris is currently working on technologies to link the F5032 into our Integrated Soldier System offering with overlay capability.

MT:  This means that the F5032 currently does not offer overlay/fusion technology?
Harris: Not currently integrated, although investigating options for overlay capability.

MT: What markets will you target mainly with this? Will it be offered internationally?
Harris: Focus on SOCOM as well as Army organisations both US and international.

MT: Thank you.

For more information please see MILITARY TECHNOLOGY #10/2016, available in the show hall; and frequently check back for more NEWS FROM THE FLOOR.

UK MoD and ASV Global Sign Licence Agreement for USV Software

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has signed a licence agreement with ASV Global allowing for the use of its Advanced Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) Capability technology. The contract has been signed through Ploughshare Innovations, the technology transfer arm of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

UK’s Maritime Autonomy Surface Testbed (MAST) (Photo: Crown)

The licence is centred on Dstl’s Advanced USV Capability Project, due for completion in late 2017, which has developed an autonomous navigation system that enables USVs to operate safely at both high and low speeds.

With funding from Dstl, ASV Global has developed advanced marine autonomy software, recently showcased on the Tidal Thames with the Royal Navy.

This agreement allows ASV Global to expand the use of the software, the intellectual property of which lies with Dstl.

This licencing agreement will enable ASV Global to exploit this technology across its current product range which offers Autonomous Surface Vehicles for both military and commercial applications.

"Working with Dstl has enabled ASV Global to design and test advanced autonomous capabilities," ASV Global’s Managing Director Dan Hook said. "This technology will enable ASV Global to access new market areas as well as continuing to solidify our position as the leading autonomous surface vehicle system supplier."

While this software has obvious applications for the marine sector, Dstl’s Dr Philip Smith, Ship Systems & Integrated Survivability Programme Manager, says it could be used elsewhere: “There is a need for more efficient platforms with greater automated systems across all domains – air, land and sea – so there are many potential routes for this software.”

Initially, ASV Global will integrate the software onto its ASView control system for a demonstration at the Unmanned Warrior event in the waters off Scotland in October, in which more than 40 autonomous systems are taking part.

From left James Kirby, CEO Ploughshare Innovations, Dan Hook, MD ASV Global, and Dstl’s Dr Philip Smith, Ship Systems & Integrated Survivability Programme Manager. (Photo: Crown)

New Maintenance Simulator for EUROFIGHTER Technicians

Airbus Defence & Space (DS) has delivered a new MAINTENANCE TRAINING SIMULATOR (MST) for the Luftwaffe EUROFIGHTER fleet. The simulator can be used to provide realistic, efficient training for standard maintenance and repair workflows, as well as for more complex tasks such as fault identification, system tests and troubleshooting.

Airbus Defence & Space (DS) has delivered a new MAINTENANCE TRAINING SIMULATOR (MST) for the Luftwaffe EUROFIGHTER fleet. 

The MST is a PC-supported virtual maintenance trainer and can be deployed in a stand-alone configuration or networked. Each workstation replicates the functionality of a Tranche 2 EUROFIGHTER in a 3D environment with high fidelity graphics. Simulating all aircraft signals, it reflects the ‘live’ aircraft even in situations deviating from standard procedure, setting a new standard for maintenance simulation.

Using 30 animated diagrams and simulating 32 ground service or test devices, the MST allows trainees to see deep inside the aircraft in real time and to train even when ‘live’ devices are unavailable. Some 400 fault scenarios can be simulated, with trainees able to resolve them independently or under guidance. A cockpit replica and real control elements reinforce the tactile learning experience, which extends to the simulation of radar tests as well as engine test runs.
A supplement to rather than a replacement for in-aircraft training, the MST can dramatically reduce the expensive training hours involving real aircraft’ while also removing the possible damage to the aircraft and danger to the trainees.

The MST forms part of the Virtual Maintenance Trainer product family and was developed at the Airbus DS Military Air Systems Centre in Manching, in close collaboration with the Luftwaffe Technical Training Centre. It was delivered in early July 2016. 

German Army Combat Training Centre Moderinsation Expands

The German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) has awarded Rheinmetall several modernisation contracts worth a total of around €24 million. Through to 2020, Rheinmetall will be expanding the system technology of the German Army Combat Training Centre (GÜZ), in a series of staggered projects.

(All Photos: Rheinmetall)

Located in the Altmark district of Saxony-Anhalt, the GÜZ is one of the most advanced facilities of its kind. Among other things, the orders (booked in the second quarter of 2016) encompass special expansion of the headquarters software to enable execution and evaluation of training sequences in the site’s “Schnöggersburg” urban combat environment, as well as modernisation of the training area’s data communication system.

The Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAIN) has assigned Rheinmetall’s Simulation and Training unit the task of readying the GÜZ for MOUT exercises, i.e. military operations in urban terrain. The expansion and modernisation of the GÜZ encompasses the following individual projects:

  • The hardware of the existing GÜZ system technology in the headquarters cell will be upgraded to state-of-the-art status.
  • Regeneration of the communication system, involving modernisation of the software and hardware for connecting tactical radio systems and network technology. 
  • The GÜZ headquarters cell will be equipped with new capabilities for directing and evaluating exercises in built-up areas. Military operations in urban terrain (MOUT) are among the most challenging tasks faced by modern soldiers. 
  • In future they will be able to practise MOUT operations in “Schnöggersburg”, a specially created urban environment featuring multiple infrastructure elements of a large modern city.

At the GÜZ, military formations of all types can train and prepare for every conceivable task and mission. In future, this will include training for military operations in urban terrain and inclusion of Future Soldier (IdZ) equipment, whose expanded GLADIUS/IdZ-ES system is also made by Rheinmetall.

During exercises at the GÜZ – conducted on a permanent basis – live rounds are never fired: every weapon is fitted with a laser transmitter, while sensors on potential targets indicate hits, visible to soldiers and trainers alike. Networking of all exercise participants in the system makes it possible to maximise the learning impact of the after action briefings and evaluation phase, in which individual manoeuvre sequences are analysed and potential for improvement is pointed out.

Simulation-supported training for operations in built-up terrain is especially demanding in that GPS-based systems cannot be used to track and depict the position of exercise participants in narrow alleyways or inside buildings. Simulation of the effect of weapons on buildings or the personnel inside them is impossible with laser-simulated fire alone, making additional instrumentation of the infrastructure necessary. Near real-time transmission of massive amounts of data to the headquarters element and its subsequent evaluation pose additional challenges.

Preparing for these challenging scenarios requires adequate technical exercise infrastructure that adds vital new capabilities to previously deployed live simulation technology. Rheinmetall’s LEGATUS line is a cutting-edge, high-performance family of products that has already proven highly effective in service with military users worldwide.

Recently, Rheinmetall booked an order from an international customer to equip a city built exclusively for training purposes with corresponding live simulation technology from the LEGATUS product line.

Mexican Navy is Launch Customer for Upgraded AS565 PANTHER MBe Variant

The Mexican Navy yesterday took delivery of the first of the ten Airbus Helicopters AS565 MBe PANTHER helicopters it purchased in 2014, becoming the first customer in the world to receive the new version of this multi-role, medium-class military rotorcraft. The Navy will receive three other units before the end of the year and the remaining six by 2018.

The helicopters will be operated by the Naval Aviation in the Gulf of Mexico and on the Pacific coast, where they will perform a range of missions including Search and Rescue (SAR), disaster relief transportation and evacuation, drug enforcement and coastal protection.

The AS565 MBe combines new and proven technologies to offer more value to operators. It is equipped with two Safran ARRIEL 2N engines, which enhance its performance in hot and high conditions and enable it to achieve a top speed of 278km/h and a range of 780 kilometres. It also boasts a new main gearbox, a latest-generation tail rotor and a 4-axis autopilot that reduces crew workload and makes the most demanding missions, such as SAR, easier to perform. More powerful and efficient, the AS565 MBe is also safer, more cost-effective and easier to operate.

The Mexican Navy’s first PANTHER helicopters came into service ten years ago,” Vice Admiral Jose Maria García Macedo, explained. “Since then they have been our most loyal ally when it comes to saving lives, and it gives us great pleasure to expand our fleet with the more modern version of the same aircraft. Thanks to the state-of-the-art technology on board, the new helicopters will enhance Naval Aviation’s operational and response capability, enabling us to carry out maritime safety missions both day and night, in any weather and in heavy seas.”

Mexican Naval Aviation’s AS565 MBe PANTHERs fulfill NATO’s regulatory requirements in performing landings on moving ships 24 hours a day, and are thus able to operate right across Mexico’s territorial waters. Their equipment suite includes a main- and tail-rotor blade folding system, a deck-lock harpoon and an emergency flotation system.

“Naval Aviation carries out its rescue missions in the most demanding operating conditions, and we are grateful for its renewed confidence in our helicopters” Mesrob Karalekian, Airbus Helicopters’ Vice-President for Latin America, told MT. “The contract also includes training of pilots and technicians to provide the Navy with full autonomy in managing its fleet and optimizing the availability of helicopters”.

Yesterday’s delivery of the first AS565 MBe PANTHER is an important milestone for Airbus Helicopters and for this iconic family of helicopters, which includes 1,000 helicopters currently in service in over 72 countries and have logged up 5.8 million flight hours.

BAE Systems to Upgrade Four More US Navy Guns

BAE Systems has received a US$50 million contract to upgrade four further Mk 45 NAVAL GUNS on US Navy DDG51-class destroyers to the fully digital Mod 4 configuration, bringing the total number to 10. The award, exercising an option under the original 2015 contract, brings the total value to $130 million.

(Photo: BAE Systems)

The mechanically strengthened gun mount of the Mod 4 enables the weapon to achieve 50% higher firing energy. Coupled with the new digital control system, the upgraded gun can now fire precision guided weapons such as the HYPER VELOCITY PROJECTILE and STANDARD GUIDED PROJECTILE at unprecedented ranges, exploiting seamless integration of targeting and fire control data, including GPS, using an interface similar to that of a smartphone.

The proliferation of high-volume, low-cost threats is driving the need for multi-mission, cost-effective precision fire from naval guns like the Mk 45,” Joseph Senftle, vice president and general manager of Weapon Systems at BAE Systems, said.

Delivery of the first upgraded gun is scheduled for late 2017, with contract completion due by 2020. The Mk 45 is in service with 11 navies, including the USN. Over 260 weapons have been delivered in the last 40 years.