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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

24 July 2014

France Expands Military Mission in Africa

France will replace its military mission in Mali with an expanded counterterrorism operation across the Sahel region, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced on 13 July. This move will give France a substantial military presence across North Africa.

France currently has about 1,700 troops stationed in Mali as part of Operation “Serval.” This operation will be replaced with Operation “Barkhan,” which station 3,000 soldiers in Mali, Niger, Chad, and Burkina Faso, supported by six fighter jets, three drones and 20 helicopters. 1,000 soldiers will remain in Mali.
The 3,000 count does not include 2,000 French soldiers in the Central African Republic, nor does it include France’s 450-strong presence in the Ivory Coast, which will be increased to 800 starting next year.
The deployment stands in marked contrast to the mood six or seven years ago — when François Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, felt able to plan for a significant reduction in the French military presence in West Africa. Northern Africa is turning into a battleground with enormously important implications. It is a battleground France is taking very seriously. Iran has designs on being the strongest power throughout the region, and is extending its reach throughout North Africa. But Iran is not the only one interested in Africa. Germany is making strong inroads as well. Both of these powers are racing to get as much control of North Africa as they can.

Iranian-backed radical Islamists have made huge gains in the region, but Europe is pushing back. While France’s latest deployment will not be enough to defeat the Islamists, it will make it much harder for them to expand. The fact that even in a time of austerity France is prepared to undertake an expensive military mission shows the importance it gives to the region.

18 July 2014

FIA14: Lockheed Martin Takes Aim at F-16 Future Upgrade Market

Lockheed Martin remains committed to delivering future upgrades for its 4th generation F-16 multi-role fighter aircraft. Speaking during Farnborough International Airshow 2014, head of business development for Lockheed's F-16, Bill McHenry, explained that his company has delivered 1,300 upgrade kits since the F-16 programme commenced forty years ago. Having delivered more than 4,500 F-16s to 28 customers, Lockheed Martin is well positioned when it comes to providing future upgrades due to its latest F-16V next generation programme and due to the company being the OEM. McHenry said: "The V configuration will be offered as an upgrade and as a new built aircraft. We offer a structural upgrade at the same time. Right now, we have a USAF aircraft in our laboratory and we will finish the lab tests this year. We believe that we can extend F-16's service life from 8,000 to 12,000 hours while upgrading avionics at the same time".

Being asked about competitors entering the F-16 upgrade market, McHenry was bullish about his company's prospects: "it's not rocket science, upgrades is where the money is. However, BAE is understating the value of the OEM. I believe we can win them all due to our low cost and low risk approach. We own the data on F-16 and have the engineers in place”. On top of this, Lockheed Martin has been inserting expertise from the F-22 programme as its groups responsible for both fighters have been merged. Asked about near term potential customers for F-16 upgrades, McHenry pointed at Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Greece. Meanwhile, Taiwan has been the launch customer for the V-configuration upgrade for its F-16s. McHenry said: “two aircraft are going into the modification programme in Texas for kit proofing. Further kits will be installed in Taiwan”. Flight tests will commence in 2015 with land tests planned for this year. Meanwhile, the F-16V’s AESA radar has been flown on one of Lockheed’s testbed aircraft.

Lockheed Martin currently has an order backlog of 41 aircraft, enough to keep the production line open until the third quarter of 2017. “Oman is getting additional F-16s this year, this being their second buy”, McHenry said. The Iraq programme is meanwhile ongoing, and the first aircraft was handed over to the US government in June. Another airplane is to be delivered this month according to McHenry, who told the assembled media: “the aircraft are being delivered on time, on schedule”. Part of an FMS contract, Iraq currently has 36 aircraft on order, two tranches of 18 each. McHenry also indicated that he is pursuing new export orders for F-16, such as in South America: "we are pursuing 25 to 50 aircraft there I would say".
Speaking on 5th generation fighters, Lockheed’s F-16 chief emphasised that “no 4th generation aircraft can match the performance of 5th generation aircraft. Stealth, 5th generation will become the norm. However, some want to use the F-16 as a bridge to the F-35”.
Pieter Bastiaans

17 July 2014

FIA14: Photographic Evidence of Farnborough Air Show


During Farnborough International Airshow 2014, MBDA Missile Systems unveiled its new STRATUS netcentric command and control system for operating weapon systems in the 2035 battlespace. During its Concept Visions briefing, MBDA demonstrated that it is not only focused on fielding effectors but also on developing state of the art C2 solutions designed to increase both efficiency and effectiveness. With STRATUS MBDA is aiming for cost advantages for its customers by better integrating missile and other effects into the future battlespace. The new system provides through life benefits by introducing a common way of employing missile systems by all services, army, navy and air force. Modularity, re-use and commonality have been key themes during the development of STRATUS.  First of all, STRATUS works according to the resources sharing principle, meaning that launchers, effectors are no longer stand alone dedicated weapon systems but rather nodes in a wider network. Due to various different weapon systems being integrated into an overarching infrastructure, the end user benefits as he is now presented with several options to achieve specific effects when engaging a target. Due to this, the design philosophy of Stratus appears to be very similar to today’s effects based operations although it does not merely focus on the kinetic aspects of concepts such as joint fires but also takes into account the intelligence gathering systems needed in the targeting process.

Stratus also aims to eliminate redundancies by reducing the number of weapon resources needed on the battlefield including the logistic elements needed to sustain operations. As a result, MBDA’s C2 system also helps reduce manpower needed when on operations. Due to Stratus working in a distributed way, all nodes are involved as each of the weapon systems involved is required to provide targeting solutions. This is done by using common message formats. Due to it eliminating single points of failure through its distributed way of operating, the system has strong robustness as the remaining parts of the network will continue to function. While distribution helps combat the effects of actions aimed at degrading system efectiveness, the system can also cope with reduced levels of bandwidth.

Stratus is also designed to reduce the level of dependency on top down actions which are often a prerequisite to get things done right, hence traditional military chains of command. Due to the system’s network being able to integrate sensors such as on UAVs and on vehicles, more detailed intelligence can quickly be shared with lower echelons at the tactical level, hereby enabling a more bottom up approach. Meanwhile, responsibilities at the operational level will shift more towards providing guidelines instead of closely being involved in the targeting process. A common core user interface allows easy access to information for all concerned while a multilevel access scheme is available for joint operations as not all levels are required to get the same detailed intel. Stratus also enables platforms such as naval vessels to decide which resources are made directly available as part of the system’s architecture. This means that commanders can retain direct control over certain effectors they deem essential to their protection.

MBDA’s overall management system strives to present optimal engagement solutions which are tailored to the given environment, hereby allowing a robust, scalable approach in both symmetric and asymmetric warfare conditions including in contested environments. For instance, an operator is provided with three options, one which is aimed at a maximum probability of kill, one which takes the risk of collateral damage into account, and one which is designed for achieving the shortest time needed to hit a target. As result, either artillery, a directed energy weapon or loitering munition will be ordered to engage. Stratus does not make autonomous decisions but rather advises the operator on the desired course of action.

On a critical note, many netcentric programmes such as Stratus shatter due to the difficulty in achieving the desired levels of synchronization of all data streams, even more so when working in a multinational environment. With the latter increasingly becoming today’s way of operating, battlelab experiments will have to demonstrate whether Stratus is indeed able to live up to its promises. Either way, MBDA’s C2 system is indicative of the things that are to come in the future operational environment.
Pieter Bastiaans

16 July 2014

ADAS 2014: Interview with Philippine Secretary of National Defense Voltaire T. Gazmin

In an interview with Philippine Secretary of National Defense Voltaire T. Gazmin, MT was informed about the modernisation plans of the Philippine Armed Forces, funding for acquisition of new systems and weaponry, and bilateral and multilateral engagements in the ASEAN.

Philippine Secretary of National Defense Voltaire T. Gazmin in an exclusive interview with MILITARY TECHNOLOGY.

MT: The newly signed defense agreement between the Philippines and the US is widely seen as a boost for the Philippines’ military. What is your view on this?
V. T. Gazmin: We recently signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US. This agreement falls under the ambit of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the US, which requires the two countries to maintain and develop their individual and collective capacities for mutual defence. This agreement facilitates mutual defence capability building, as well as increased interoperability between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the US. More importantly, EDCA will give the Philippines access to necessary equipment and infrastructure that will enable the country to address both traditional and non-traditional security and defence challenges.

MT: Can you brief us on the Minimum Credible Defence Capability as envisaged in the Philippine Armed Forces Modernisation Plans? 
V. T. Gazmin: The term Minimum Credible Defence Posture (MCDP) pertains to the establishment of an effective force presence inside the Philippines and its EEZ with exhibited competence to defend the country and protect its national interests if and when the need arises. It includes the ability to conduct wide surveillance and monitoring of developments within the country’s territory, and have an extensive command and control (C2) as well as the capacity to provide an expedient and efficient response to untoward incidents.

Achieving this Minimum Credible Defence Capability is not directed against any particular country. It is being undertaken to enable us to address our legitimate security concerns.
For us to achieve an MCDP we must establish joint aerospace forces that can defend our territorial airspace; a joint maritime force that will provide situational awareness and response within our territory and EEZ; and a joint land force that will be able to perform both conventional and unconventional roles that will range from peace to crises to limited conventional war.

MT: Has the ongoing situation in the South China Sea (more specifically the Spratlys) and the guerrilla and criminal activities in the south influence the government to quicken the pace of the AFP modernisation plans?
V. T. Gazmin: Modernising the Armed Forces is a legitimate undertaking that began many years ago. What we are doing now is a result of our Defense System of Management (DSOM). It was planned over several years and was not merely prompted by recent events. Needless to say, recent developments highlight the need for all armed forces to have the ability to address non-traditional and traditional security concerns.

MT: The government has announced funding for the modernisation of the Armed Forces. What is the latest amount involved now?
V. T. Gazmin: Under Republic Act No. 10349 signed by the President Benigno S Aquino III in December 2012, the AFP Modernisation Program is allocated at least Php75 billion for the first five years. We were eventually granted a total of Php85 billion for the modernization program spread out over the next five years, from 2013 to 2017. With this budget, we can acquire lead-in fighter trainers, frigates, additional air assets, upgraded equipment for our land forces, as well as surveillance and monitoring equipment.

MT: As with most defence allocation elsewhere, emoluments and maintenance of infrastructure usually take up a large chunk of budget. Will there be adequate funding for actual modernisation and acquisition of new systems and weaponry?
V. T. Gazmin: As mentioned earlier, all our plans and acquisitions have gone through processes that are provided for under our DSOM. This means that all projects are meticulously planned down to the technical working group level. Following these processes, we determine the most judicious use of resources, including the need for logistics and support infrastructure. By doing so, we are able to acquire the necessary systems and weaponry, taking into account the required maintenance and other costs.

MT: Is the New People’s Army (NPA) still a major threat to the peace and stability of the Philippines?  What is their status as far as threat and the government’s olive branch offer to the armed wing of the CPP is concerned?
V. T. Gazmin: Following some high-profile arrests this year, particularly the arrest of top NPA leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, the communist rebel group continues to show proof of decline.
The most important indicator of their weakening is the significant increase in rebel returnees this year. For instance, in Eastern Mindanao alone, which is our priority area, more than 200 rebels have already surrendered along with their assorted firearms. The returnees cited the hardships of the underground movement and the realisation that the armed struggle is not the solution to their problems as their primary reasons for returning to the fold of the law.
The NPA is still a primary concern in our internal peace and security operations, however, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is continuing to exert pressure on all fronts including the engagement of other stakeholders to encourage NPA rebels to abandon the armed struggle and become productive members of our society. This is the essence of our Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan.

MT: Can you update us on the state of cooperation between the Philippine Department of National Defense (DoND) and MoDs and security forces of the ASEAN countries?
V. T. Gazmin: The DoND constantly engages its counterparts in the ASEAN through bilateral and multilateral engagements. We have existing structures such as the ASEAN Defence Minister’s Meeting (ADMM), which last met in May 2014 in Myanmar. During the meeting, the ministers agreed to establish direct communications links between and among themselves to help prevent conflicts arising from territorial disputes and to defuse tensions if and when they occur. Just recently, we entered into an agreement with Indonesia, which delimits the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of both countries. This agreement enhances and strengthens the friendly relations between the Philippines and Indonesia.

MT: With the Philippines being the host nation, how is the DoND involved in the upcoming Asian Defense and Security (ADAS) 2014?
V. T. Gazmin: We have been working closely with the organizers of ADAS 2014 in ironing out the details of the event. In ADAS 2014, we will have a series of symposia organized by the AFP’s major service commands. Our other bureaus are also involved in the event such as the Government Arsenal (GA) and the Office of Civil Defence (OCD). The DND and the AFP have also invited relevant defence and military officials from our ASEAN neighbours and other partner countries.
Since ADAS 2014 also features crisis management, the DND, through the OCD, is organising a forum on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management and is inviting local chief executives in Metro Manila to attend the event.

ADAS 2014: Seen and Heard on Day One

The first Philippine defence and security conference and expo opened today despite Typhoon Glenda's destruction, which did not dampen anyone's mood or diminish their resolve. Rather, the national emergency in the form of this violent storm and the joint civil and military resilient response underscored what this event was all about: The mighty spirit of the Philippine people and their ability (with the right equipment and technology) to overcome any challenge together.

The event was opened by the Secretary of Defence Voltaire Gazmin, who said this event provides "...additional vibrancy to the Philippine economy as the organizers have created genuine opportunities for our domestic companies to establish business linkages with participating international exhibitors (sic)." Secretary Gazmin was followed by an invocation of prayer by the top military chaplain, reminding one of the strong Christian heritage here. This was followed by Andrew Marriott, managing director of  ASIA PAC EXPO the organisers of ADAS, who framed up very succinctly and clearly why this event was taking place now and it's relevance to regional peace, stability and prosperity. Marriott cited the Philippines’ improved economic situation as among the reasons behind their decision to launch ADAS on top of the government’s commitment to pursue the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Act.

His remarks were followed by a spirited address from President Benigno Aquino III,  who - among other things - provided an impressive list of items the Philippines was buying this year as part of the budgeted Modernisation Programme.  (See next installment for his speech and military hardware shopping list.)

He praised the efforts and sacrifices made by the men and women of the Philippines' national services: the armed forces, emergency management and transportation agencies who - like the military - perform a range of duties to help those in distress and need, especially natural disasters.  
The AFP Modernization Act is in the first five-year phase of activity and significant progress has already been made since its enactment with the government’s recent acquisition of various aircraft, naval vessels, helicopters, and armored vehicles.

To paraphrase the official line of the Philippine government, the ADAS organizers have "brought in" products, solutions and services for evaluation to determine if they meet the specific requirements of the concerned government agencies represented at ADAS - ironically, all are involved in some way with the recent response to the typhoon's damage.  one of the main facts brought to light by ADAS is that the Philippine government is a potential growth market for international defense, security, and crisis management industries and products...indigenous and foreign.

The ADAS exhibition hosts 130 companies from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, South Korea, Israel, Turkey, Brazil, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Malaysia, and Belarus, among others from the region. It is a healthy mix of companies serving the forces of air, cyber, land and sea warfare spectrum.

Overview: Main Themes

If we ignore the conference Programme for just a moment, which I suggest we do for only a moment, then we can review the exhibitors' offerings and see exactly what is important to the Philippine armed forces. ADAS has effectively matched requirement to exhibitor.

Helicopters & Fixed wing turbo-prop

The work horse of the Philippine defence forces is still the helicopter. They have at least 25 old Huey's that could be modernised to a "Huey Two" level extending the life of this airframe at least another 10 years for around 10% of the cost of replacing them with new helicopters. Sources say that the Philippine government has about 80 more moth-balled Huey's of which about 60 per cent could be rehabilitated and modernised.  This would be a suitable option to fulfill the AFP's requirements. Otherwise, AgustaWestland, Bell - which just sold a number of 412s to the AFP, Airbus Helicopter - which has more than 50% of the civil market there - and Sikorsky are all ready to sell their latest multi-mission rotor airframes and technologies to the AFP...this includes Beechcraft for a fixed wing air frame that resembles a WWII Mustang or Spitfire, but very, very effective. Their main competitor at ADAS is a Czech aerospace company, LET, which has been manufacturing a high standard of fixed-wing prop aircraft for nearly 100 years. The post-Soviet era in the Czech Republic has given way to a renaissance for their defence and security industry - one that increasingly is a significant rival to that of Poland.  A company out of Oklahoma City, ARINC Aerospace, works closely with governments thought North America and Asia for jet transport (eg KC 110) and helicopter (eg Mi17) integration, maintenance and upgrades.

Jet Fighter Aircraft 

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) had a magnificent display of its Golden EAGLE. Saab is hoping that it's successes in Thailand with the GRIPEN will yield another satisfied Asian customer in the Philippines, where US fighter craft - and any other defence products - dominate the AFP "supply cupboard." Saab's Bangkok-based Market Area Asia office feels very confident about the GRIPEN's suitability for the Philippine armed forces that they recently hired a former GRIPEN pilot to work in "BKK" and introduce the airframes virtues to this neighbour of satisfied GRIPEN Customer Thailand.

Counter Terror / CBRN

According to Gwynn Winfield, CBRNe editor and pundit, this focus will remain a priority in the Philippines as long as it has insurgent threats throughout the vast archipelago nation. This certainly explains the interest of Avon, Bruker Daltonics, AVEC, Oritest, and even water purification company Maep in the AFP.     Emergent bio solutions, which recently acquired RSD Decon, is finding the Asian market particularly profitable. They committed to having a full-time, very experienced team of professionals based in Manila for some time, led by a former US DEA-agent with a speciality in dangerous materials in the Asia-PAC region. He is finding that the "decon" paradigm that focuses on powders is changing, and decision makers and practitioners are accepting their solution as the decon paradigm with the greatest efficacy and cost effectiveness.

Beyond the CBRN, PPE includes body armour. MKU displayed its line of helmets, etc. while Australia's BondStrong demonstrated how they are able to bond ballistic protection fibres together, forming a better level of protection. DuPont, innovators and manufacturers of Kevlar is reasserting itself in the Philipines with a massive stand, as everyone from AuTx-Kaminskvolokno, DSM Dynema, Teijin, and others bring lighter and stronger materials to this market...but, DuPont is the only "yarn" manufacturer to invest in ADAS attendance. Who do you think will win this race?

Soldier Systems

Radios, boots, garments, knives, SCBA, decontamination, firearms, BMS, etc. There were a fair number of APPROVED or OFFICIAL resellers as well as OEMs for soldier equipment. Canada's NewCon Optik, which uses Russian Gen III night vision tubes, joined FLIR Systems and others to show what is available for the AFP. Greece's Theon Sensors was showcasing their own line of night vision devices which range from clip-ons to binoculars with 4x and 6x magnification. They have supplied more than a dozen military and police organisations in addition to the Greek Army. The also have a well-established Theon Far East Pte. Ltd. office based in Singapore.

Although CZ and Remington's rifles and pistols and Trijicon's sights were delayed in customs, MKEK from Turkey and David's Stone (IMI's exclusive partner in the Philippines) where able to show off their fire power. As of the first day, Trijicon's and Remington did a stellar job talking attendees and delegates through their offering.  CZ made an excellent workshop presentation on their "new" P-09 pistol, a step up from the earlier successful P-07(which has been upgraded to a "Mark II" version, putting it almost on par with the P-09). They also had a queue the length of the exposition hall of punters lining up to receive their own personally autographed poster with the latest "Guardian Angel" pin-up girl. Take the public's mind off of what they want and refocus it on something else they want, while feeling they've seen what they originally came to see. Genius! (...really!)

Saab and Dynamit Nobel were showcasing their various anti-tank / structure weapons at their respective stands.  Saab also brought a large complement of other wares including the 9LV, GBAD radar, and ceramic pellet-based armour (a result of their purchase of Protaurius in early 2013). Oddly, Shenzhen-based Hytera Communications (mostly radios for "blue light" services) has a Manila-based office. Giant Rohde & Schwarz (Philippine office in Manila's Makati City) was certain to make sure that the AFP Modernisation Programme does not forget about them. UK-based Easat Antennas is keen to make a substantial footprint in the Philippines, which it feels has the best model to help make their AFP's communications more reliable.

Radar, Sensors & EW

Belarus's Radar Design Bureau made an appearance to show-off their full range of sea and land based radar solutions. Noting Saab's radars from above, one could also find Sea GIRAFFE on North Sea Boats famous sleek, stealth X3K trimaran.


North Sea Boats was joined by Hyundai Heavy Industry, Navantia and Kestral, who would be "Happy as Larry" to sell a few boats to the Philippines, which - in the case of Navantia - includes submarines.

Finally, there is PROPMECH... From installing Caterpillar propulsion systems to designing crafts to refurbishing second-hand boats, this Philippines-based company offers a complete range of services for every kind of vessel. Their literature states that they "...make certain every ship is reliable and ready for the challenges it'll face." This means that they can rebuild Caterpillar engines as well, extending the lifetime of a vessel's power train.

All-in-all it has been an intense first day that successfully combined the first two days of this significant conference and exposition. Heard on the floor: "It's too bad about the weather; but, today has really made coming all this way worthwhile!"

...I have to agree.
Stephen Elliot

FIA14: FAUN Trackway Promotes UAV Landing Mat

FAUN Trackway, a leading manufacturer of portable aviation and roadway solutions,  promoted its innovative UAV Landing Mat at Hall 1, Stand B18.

FAUN Trackway's innovative UAV Landing Mat

Launched in 2011, the UAV Landing Mat is the first product of its type to be developed specifically for use with unmanned systems. The matting, which acts as a temporary airfield for drones, can be laid where it is not practical or feasible to install permanent infrastructure. It can also be used as a platform for remotely-operated helicopters. Made of lightweight aluminium Trackway panels, the product is easily transportable and quickly constructed by hand, helping to provide a smooth landing, regardless of terrain, for any size or weight of UAV. Arrestor gear can also be fitted, allowing aircraft to quickly decelerate on landing and stop them overshooting the runway. Australia was the first country to invest in the UAV Landing Mat, placing an order in December 2011. The system has since completed successful trials with the Australian armed forces as part of its bespoke Shadow 200 programme.

At Farnborough, FAUN Trackway is also  promoting its Helicopter Landing Mat (HLM). The HLM comprises interlocking military-grade panels that can be used to mark out safe take-off and landing areas. Suitable for a wide variety of commonly-held helicopters, the matting suppresses dust and foreign objects to ensure crew and assets are protected and safe.

Additionally, the team has on hand a variety of its panel samples, including PSA, PSA Flat Top (FT) and its Military Load Classification (MLC) 70 Trackway, to demonstrate the various finishes available.

Chris Kendall, Director, FAUN Trackway, said: “Infrastructure that supports aerial manoeuvres is an important facet in helping expeditionary forces advance their operations. This is particularly true with unmanned surveillance, which is most effective when used in conjunction with equipment that allows troops to gain access to far-reaching environments. FAUN Trackway’s portable aerial solutions can be rapidly deployed in terrains where expeditionary operations would not otherwise be possible.”

FIA14: GDUK Integrates/Develops Tactical Processing System for AW101 MERLIN Mk4 Helicopters

General Dynamics UK, in partnership with AgustaWestland, has commenced development work to modify its Tactical Processing System for integration into the AW101 MERLIN Mk4.

This development work is part of the MERLIN Life Sustainment Programme (MLSP), a contract awarded to AgustaWestland in January 2014 to convert 25 AW101 MERLIN  helicopters for maritime operations. It will further improve the Tactical Processing System’s performance to address the broader requirements of the MERLIN Mk4 platform, whilst introducing GDUK’s Secure Data Recorder to provide increased secure data storage capability.

The Tactical Processing System is an evolution of the GDUK Tactical Processing System currently installed on the AgustaWestland AW159 platform, which integrates a diverse range of sensor and application information for display in the cockpit, encrypted data storage and tactical datalink capability.

GDUK’s Secure Data Recorder provides an accredited security solution that allows a user operating in unfriendly environments to safely record and store data for further use. Qualified for manned and unmanned platforms operating in the air, on land and in maritime environments, the Secure Data Recorder enables the transfer of data on and off all types of platforms using an easily inserted encrypted memory cartridge. Typical data transfers include the uploading of mission and digital map data, along with the extraction of recorded data such as radar and electro-optical sensors, voice and data communications and tactical mission data.

Steve Rowbotham, COO at General Dynamics UK, said: “The evolution of the Tactical Processing System for the AW101 MERLIN Mk4 continues the successful long-term collaborative relationship between GDUK and AgustaWestland.  It is recognition of the highly-capable electronic solutionsGDUK currently provides on a variety of different platforms.”

General Dynamics UK is a key provider of technology onto Eurofighter TYPHOON, TORNADO and the AgustaWestland AW101 MERLIN Mk 3 and UK AW159 LYNX WILDCAT platforms.  The company has more than 30 years of experience providing advanced electronic solutions for the air, maritime and land markets.

FIA2014: Rockwell Collins Showcasing F-35 LIGHTNING II HMDS

In celebration of the F-35 making its international debut, the Rockwell Collins ESA Vision Systems F-35 LIGHTNING II Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) is in the spotlight at the Rockwell Collins booth.

The F-35 HMDS provides pilots with situational awareness. All the information that pilots need to complete their missions – through all weather, day or night – is projected on the helmet’s visor. In addition, real-time imagery streamed from six infrared (IR) cameras mounted around the aircraft to the helmet, allows pilots to “look through” the airframe.

F-35 Gen III Helmet Mounted Display (Photo: Rockwell Collins)

At Farnborough, Rockwell Collins is be demonstrating the company’s MultiScan ThreatTrack Weather Radar, EVS-3000 Enhanced Vision System and HeliSure product line for helicopters, all new offerings introduced this past year.

Rockwell Collins MultiScan ThreatTrack features great capabilities for assessing lightning and hail threats, uses Predictive OverFlight to identify significant turbulence threats above rapidly growing thunderstorms, and is one of the first radars in the industry to feature two levels of turbulence detection. Rockwell Collins demonstrates the system at Farnborough, and also plans to announce the newest airline customers to select MultiScan ThreatTrack.

The EVS-3000, set to debut on the Embraer LEGACY 450 and LEGACY 500 aircraft, is the latest in enhanced vision systems. Its multispectral technology sees through the worst conditions and can even detect LED runway lighting. An example of the new technology is on display, as well as tutorials that explain the virtues of the system.

Rockwell Collins also demonstrates the capabilities of its HeliSure flight situational awareness product suite for rotary wing aircraft. HeliSure delivers sensor data in real time through an intuitive user interface that features 3D visualisation for information that pilots can easily, quickly and effectively process. The first two products of the HeliSure family are Helicopter Synthetic Vision System (H-SVS) and Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System (H-TAWS), which have been selected by AgustaWestland for the AW149, AW189, AW101 and AW169 platforms.

Also making a comeback at this year’s Farnborough Air Show is the company’s proven Pro Line Fusion integrated avionics system for commercial and military aircraft. The system integrates and displays essential flight information through graphically rich interfaces, including high-integrity head-up guidance featuring synthetic and enhanced vision and the industry’s first touch-screen flight displays.

FIA2014: Raytheon Taking Off

Raytheon's technology showcase at Farnborough International Air Show includes precision weapons, advanced gunfire detectors, tiny jammers, and a bus-size radar that tracks missiles.

Developing a common understanding of the complexity of the security challenges in today's global environment is the first step toward building a strong customer relationship,” said Thomas A. Kennedy, CEO, Raytheon Company. “The Farnborough International Air Show has historically provided us with an ideal opportunity to showcase our technology and product portfolio to customers from around the world. Defining the right mix of cost-effective solutions to support our customers' needs drives solid business partnership and shared success.”

A PATRIOT air and missile defence launcher on location on McGregor Range in White Sands, New Mexico. (Photo: Raytheon)

Raytheon equipment on display furthermore includes avionics and weapons, and with recent major contract awards such as the US Navy's Air and Missile Defense Radar, and the Navy's Next Generation Jammer, the company showcases its technology prowess at the air show. Among Raytheon's featured items at the air show are:

  • The Modern Man Station for the PATRIOT Air and Missile Defence System. Visitors to Raytheon's pavilion are be able to try out the station's colour, touch-screen display used to identify and display airborne objects, track potential threats and engage hostile targets; 
  • The AN/TPY-2 defence radar, a mobile, bus-size, X-band radar designed to help protect the US and its allies from thousands of ballistic missiles believed to be outside the control of the US, NATO, China or Russia. The ultra-sensitive system can even detect missiles as they ascend, giving defence systems crucial time and space to block the attack; 
  • Raytheon's Advanced Combat Radar, chosen last year by South Korea for its fleet of KF-16 C/D Block 52 Fighting FALCON combat aircraft. 
  • Advances in Raytheon weapons for the F-35 LIGHTNING II fighter jet, which makes its Farnborough debut this year; 
  • The Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer (MALD-J), a lightweight, air-launched craft that jams the radar of enemy air defences and can duplicate the flight profile and radar signatures of allied aircraft; 
  • Upgrades to the TOMAHAWK Cruise Missile that will allow it to hunt down moving targets on its own; 
  • The BOOMERANG Shooter Detection System, recently chosen to protect US utility sites following a sniper attack on an electrical substation in Silicon Valley last year. The company has also developed an airborne version that can hear gunfire over the sound of helicopter blades. 

The company is also bringing command, control, communications, computers and Intelligence (C4I) products. Raytheon currently provides 60 international customers with products that help commanders detect and diffuse complex threats.

FIA14: Rafael presents LITENING Advanced Airborne Targeting and Navigation Pod

At Farnborough Air Show 2014, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems presents LITENING, a combat-proven multi-spectral airborne targeting and navigation pod. Designed for navigation and target illumination, LITENING significantly enhances day and night attack capabilities.

LITENING is one the world's leading, and most widely-used electro-optic (EO) targeting and navigation pod. Used by combat aircraft, LITENING provides easy to operate, reliable, day and night precision strike capability, in adverse weather conditions.

Mounted externally to the aircraft, LITENING contains advanced forward looking infrared (FLIR) and charge coupled device (CCD) sensors. High-resolution images of the target are presented to the aircrew, with wide field of view search capability and precision acquisition and targeting. Unmatched sensor resolution enables aircrew to reliably detect and identify targets day and night, in all weather conditions.

LITENING features a laser designator for precise delivery of laser-guided munitions, as well as a laser rangefinder and automatic target tracker. Targets can be struck with precision-guided weapons on a single pass, dramatically enhancing combat effectiveness while reducing collateral damage.

LITENING pods have been procured by 26 countries. LITENING pods have compiled, totally, more than two millions flight hours.

With its advanced multi-sensor, multi-mission targeting and navigation technology, LITENING enables fighter air crews to carry out a wide range of precision strikes. LITENING has a broad range of operational capabilities for ground, and naval targets, both fixed and mobile.  LITENING enables tracking of multi-ground and aerial targets simultaneously, supporting the Air to Air missions.  LITENING's multiple sensor array provides effective detection, recognition, identification and tracking, shortening the sensor-to-shooter cycle.  LITENING provides real-time battle damage assessment and CAS (Close Air Support) with ground forces is made possible.

The reliable, easy-to-maintain pods constitute more than 50% of the world targeting pods in use. LITENING pods are currently used in a range of ongoing operations including international peacekeeping forces (International Security Assistance Forces).

FIA14: Airbus Defence & Space Showcases Technological Highlights in the Fields of Defence and Space

Airbus Defence & Space (DS) presents its broad portfolio in the air, on a static display, in the Airbus pavilion and in the Space Zone.

Airbus DS presents the A400M on the ground and in the air. The A400M is a newly developed military transport aircraft specially designed to meet the requirements of Armed Forces in the 21st Century. With its high-performance turboprop propulsion units, the A400M flies higher, faster and further, according to the company. At the same time, it has excellent manoeuvrability and low-speed flight capabilities, as well as the ability to operate on short and unsurfaced runways. Equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, the A400M is not just suited to tactical and strategic/logistical missions, but also for special operations, such as air-to-air refuelling. With its specially designed cargo hold, the A400M is also able to quickly bring bulky equipment, which is becoming increasingly important for military and humanitarian aid missions, to where it is most urgently needed. In August 2013, the first A400M, delivered to the French Air Force, went into service. There are currently around 35 aircraft in various stages of production, including six out of a total of 53 A400Ms for the German Armed Forces. The first A400M for the UK’s Royal Air Force is due to be delivered in the autumn of 2014, with the second due in the UK towards the end of the year.

Two C295s, Airbus DS’ new generation, highly versatile tactical airlifters are on show on the static display. The C295 is able to carry up to 9t of payload or up to 71 personnel, at a maximum cruise speed of 260kt/480km/h. Fitted with a retractable landing gear and a pressurised cabin, it can cruise at altitudes up to 25,000ft, while retaining remarkable short take-off & landing (STOL) performance from unprepared short, soft and rough airstrips, as well as low level flight characteristics. Its simple systems design and robustness, proven in service reliability, excellent flying qualities and great versatility, as well as its remarkable transport capabilities make it one of the most efficient “workhorses” with the lowest fuel burn, as well as one of the best operating and maintenance costs in its category.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) will be showcased at FIA 2014 as well. On the static display is the ATLANTE UAS (Unmanned Aerial System), a medium altitude long endurance (MALE) tactical multi-payload UAV, designed to carry out target identification, shoot correction, and damage evaluation operations, among other ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) missions. The ATLANTE has been designed according to the standards used for manned aircraft, obtaining a system certification as Cat 2 giving it this unique feature that allows it to fly over segregated areas and thus operate in civil airspace.

The TANAN UAS is displayed in the Airbus pavilion with an exhibition model. A very versatile and high-performance tactical UAS integrating a powerful and highly reliable genuine diesel turbo-charged engine, the TANAN is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) intended to carry out ISTAR missions for armies and navies, as well as civilian assignments. The 350kg - MTOW (maximum take-off weight) TANAN is capable of completing missions with ranges of up to 100nm/180km for up to 80kg payload, reaching a maximum speed of 150km/h (81kts) within a ceiling of 4,000m (12,000ft), and offering an endurance of up to eight hours with 50kg payload.

The SKYNET 5 system, present with an exhibition model of a SKYNET 5 military communications satellite, comprises a fleet of four satellites providing all Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) MILSATCOMS to the UK MoD until at least 2022. The SKYNET 5s are some of the world's most powerful commercial X-band satellites and provide assured communications during critical operations. SKYNET 5 is hardened to demanding NATO standards and the world-leading anti-jamming antenna is extremely effective against hostile or non-hostile interference.

Airbus DS is presenting its comprehensive portfolio of end-to-end secure communications covering fixed, deployable, mobile and ad hoc communications. This includes design, build and delivering a managed service, including large system integration, modelling and simulation expertise, with all systems having cyber security built in.

End-to-end geo-information capabilities are showcased including high resolution, very high resolution and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery and products. As operator of the SPOT and PLÉIADES satellites Airbus DS has an extensive portfolio spanning the entire geo-information value chain, providing decision-makers sustainable solutions to increase security, protect the environment and better manage natural resources in our changing world.

Airbus Defence and Space’s capabilities covering the NATO Interoperable next generation Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system is highlighted, presenting the latest in electronics capabilities including LTR 400 (IFF Lightweight Transponder) and MSSR 2000 (Monopulse Secondary Surveillance Radar for long and medium range interrogator).

The situational awareness solution SFERION, for both military and civil helicopters flying in DVE (degraded visual environment) conditions are also shown. SFERION provides the necessary information to support pilots during their entire mission, under all conditions, to ensure safe helicopter flights.

15 July 2014

FIA14: Latest Gen AESA CAPTOR-E Radar on Operating IPA for Flight Testing

Eurofighter and Euroradar, together with BAE Systems, have delivered and installed the latest generation Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) CAPTOR-E radar on an operating Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) for flight testing.

The new capability, installed on IPA5, which flew into the Farnborough International Airshow, was showcased for the first time on a Eurofighter TYPHOON in a special facility at the show today.

This major development milestone underpins the commitment of the stakeholders to delivering a radar that will fully meet the requirements of the Eurofighter Partner Nations and export customers operational needs to beyond 2040.

Eurofighter CEO Alberto Gutierrez said: “This AESA radar capability will further improve the Eurofighter Typhoon's combat effectiveness, allowing Typhoon to continue to maintain its superiority  over other available combat aircraft. The radar will fit both Tranche 2 and Tranche 3 aircraft offering customers the freedom to retrofit their existing Eurofighter TYPHOON aircraft when required. In terms of competitive advantage, there is no doubt at all that this is a major step forwards for us and it puts us in a very strong position with regard to existing and future opportunities.”

This AESA radar will offer a variety of benefits over M-Scan, including increased detection and tracking ranges, advanced air-to-surface capability and enhanced electronic protection measures. The new radar retains the key features of the existing Captor radar architecture in order to exploit the maturity of the current much acclaimed system and will use latest generation technology to concurrently execute a full complement of air-to-air and air-to-surface tasks.

The key discriminators of the CAPTOR-E are the very large antenna size and the repositioner which gives an extremely Wide Field of Regard (WFoR). The 200 degree field of regard is significantly larger than typical ‘fixed plate’ AESA radars giving TYPHOON a significant tactical advantage in air combat and greater situational awareness. The larger antenna allows a greater number of TRMs (transmitter receiver modules) thus greater power and reception leading to earlier target detection and greater utility across the EW spectrum.

Put simply,” said the Eurofighter CEO, “we have now bonded a sensor with an unique combination of power and field of view to the outstanding performance of the TYPHOON platform. Couple all this with full swing role and mutli-role capability and the flexible stores options available on the Eurofighter and it now becomes clear why the Eurofighter TYPHOON has now reached a state of maturity which makes it a highly desirable aerial asset.”

Both Eurofighter and Euroradar have confirmed that the radar has significant growth potential and existing and new customers will be able to participate in tailoring the radar to meet their individual operational requirements.

Euroradar is a multi-national consortium lead by FinmeccanicaSelex ES, alongside Airbus Defence & Space and Indra.

FIA14: Saab Bullish About Future Prospects

Speaking during the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow, Saab CEO Hakan Buskhe expressed confidence about his company's future. Despite having suffered from the aftermath of the financial crisis, SAAB did well during 2013 and has an even better profit perspective for 2014. Although the US defence market is on a downturn, Canada continues to spend on defence and the overall North America market is stable according to Buskhe. Large parts of Europe "spend more on people in uniform, than on equipment," he said while expecting to see an increase in defence spending in the Nordic countries, in no small part due to the effects of the ongoing Ukraine crisis. Asia, especially China and India, and the MENA countries meanwhile show "a big growth in defence spending. However, due to increased competition from Russian, Chinese, Indian and South Korean companies, Asia does not offset the effects of reduced spending in Europe and the US."

Discussing Saab's GRIPEN combat aircraft, Buskhe expressed understanding for the intricacies of the Swiss political system as it was the outcome of a referendum that blocked the proposed deal for 22 GRIPENs  for the Swiss Air Force: "sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Together with armasuisse, we had worked out a major framework agreement which would lead us to cooperate with as many as 135 companies we had detected. However, we will now continue to work with most of them as long as they maintain their competitiveness as it is no subsidy money." He continued: "Even if we take away the 22 aircraft intended for Switzerland, we still have 36 aircraft for Brazil and 60 and a further 10 for Sweden. Our aim is to sell 400 GRIPEN E, F aircraft in the next ten years and we think that can be done. We continue to see interest for our Sea GRIPEN design while we are also working on an optionally piloted GRIPEN."

Speaking about Brazil, Buskhe said: "We see great possibilities to do things there and this could include final assembly and weapons integration. Recently, we agreed we will together on a new Gripen two-seater. Brazil has a very skilled aerospace workforce. However, we will also maintain our presence in Sweden."

"Our roots are in the air domain and we consolidated a large part of the Swedish defence industry as the Cold War ended. However, Saab is too big for the domestic market now and our products need to have an international footprint as today 75% of our order backlog is outside Sweden," Buskhe continued. Speaking about SAAB's expertise, he mentioned GRIPEN and ERIEYE while telling that his company had "launched a new radar platform a couple of weeks ago." Working on SKELDAR, the Swedish company is also taking part in the Neuron unmanned technology programme. Meanwhile SAAB is involved in land systems and in naval C2, fire control, weapons, sensors and platform programmes including in submarines since the recent acquisition of Kockums: "We have 250 vessels around the world that use our systems including RBS15 which also has air and land applications. We will take part in upgrading Sweden's current submarines and will also develop a new class as Sweden will go from four to five submarines."

Ongoing projects are the MS20 upgrade for GRIPEN C, D, this including the integration of the Meteor missile. Buskhe explained: "Due to new sensors and avionics these aircraft will fly for another 30 years." GRIPEN E deliveries to the Swedish Air Force will commence in 2018 with some technology also being used for upgrades of GRIPEN C and D models and vice versa. With GRIPEN being selected in Brazil, talks are ongoing and a formal contract is expected to be signed at the end of 2014. This will include agreements on joint development, assembly with Embraer. A new Gripen two seat version will now be developed as this will help Saab gain access to certain markets, according to Buskhe. Cooperation with Boeing for the T-X programme is ongoing with people from Boeing now stationed in Linkoping and SAAB personnel based in St Louis. Saab is also working on a new surface radar family with AESA technology and on the remote tower concept. Approval to operate has been granted and a first remote tower has been placed in North Sweden. With regard to aerostructures, SAAB is "looking into new production methods and materials". Questioned about SAAB340 MSA Buskhe said that he hoped for "a deal rather soon, we expect our first customer to come from Asia."

Pieter Bastiaans

FIA14: Grob Re-Enters Persistent ISR Market with G520NG

Grob Aircraft has blown new life into development of the G520 EGRETT high altitude platform and is showing its latest G520NG during Farnborough Air Show 2014. The aircraft can be found in the static display area. The EGRETT project has been dormant since Grob went bankrupt some years ago. Under its new ownership Grob Aircraft re-entered the aerospace market and has been successfull with its G120TP training aircraft that can perform elementary, basic and advanced pilot training. The German company is now promoting its high performance high altitude reconnaissance and surveillance platform which has been rebranded from G520T to G520NG. Five EGRETT airframes have been built in the past, four single seat aircraft, two of which still operate in the US as testbeds for Raytheon and other companies. The fifth aircraft which was built is a two seat version which operated in Australia but has now been bought back by Grob. Powered by a 1,750shp Honeywell TPE331-14 engine, this is the aircraft now on display and Grob is also interested in buying back the aircraft operating in the US. With its maximum take off weight of 4,700kg G520NG can carry a maximum payload of 850 kilogrammes. Operating at an maximum certified altitude of 50,000 feet (15,240m), EGRETT has an endurance for 7,5 hours and a range of 1,980nm (3,670km), when carrying a 500kg payload. Maximum endurance would be approximately 11 hours, hereby enabling persistent ISR. Grob Aircraft is offering EGRETT as an optionally piloted vehicle and has already attracted considerable interest from across the globe. Countries which are interested include Mexico and Indonesia as both countries are surveying the market for a solution that could execute long surveillance missions over territorial waters and along borders. Coming from Germany, and sidestepping some of the problems associated with UAVs, G520NG could be an interesting alternative to the EUROHAWK HALE UAV, when it comes to meeting the German military's requirement for a persistent aerial ISR system. The aircraft is fully qualified for all weather IFR/icing operations and with its OPV configuration it could fly in non-segregated airspace with ease.
Pieter Bastiaans

FIA14: German Army Aviation Enters a New Era – Pt. 2

Pt. 1 is found here.

Despite some shortcomings during the 2012 FALCOR (Final Assessment of Limitations and Combat Operational Requirements) exercise, which was held in New Mexico in the US, both TIGER and NH90 have fared well during recent operations in Afghanistan. Due to intense political pressure, realisation of operational readiness of TIGER for Afghanistan operations was accelerated in order to overcome the so-called German ISAF combat support helicopter capability gap. Part of the German Expeditionary Air Wing, four ASGARD-F (Afghanistan Stabilization German Army Rapid Deployment- Full) TIGER attack helicopters were deployed to Mazar-e-Sharif (MeS) in December 2012, subsequently achieving operational capability on 30 January 2013. Operating the Airbus Helicopters TIGER UHT since August 2008, the designated lead unit for the deployment Kampfhubschrauberregiment 36 KURHESSEN (KHR36 – 36th Attack Helicopter Regiment) conducted an intensive training schedule for armed reconnaissance, escort, close combat attack (CCA) and rotary wing close air support (RW CAS) tasks with its interim ASGARD-T (T for training) TIGER aircraft starting in April 2011, subsequently receiving its first ASGARD-F helicopters in August 2011. Fitted with additional ballistic protection, blade protection kits, sand filters and improvements to their defensive aids suite and communications equipment, the ASGARD-F TIGER aircraft feature air to ground armament consisting of FN Herstal HMP400 12.7mm gun pods, unguided rocket pods (19 x 70mm) and MBDA HOT guided missiles. In March 2013, one of the ASGARD-F upgraded TIGER helicopters was lost during a training mission in mountainous terrain in the German Alps, luckily without the loss of life. Meanwhile, it has emerged that operations with TIGER were ended on 1 July as part of the drawdown of German forces from Afghanistan. The aircraft are expected to return to Germany by August and have flown almost 1860 flying hours in theatre during approximately 260 operational missions without a single shot having been fired in anger.

Looking back TIGER performed better as expected, this perhaps vindicating some of its proponents. While the aircraft appeared to be hampered by limited “hot, high and dusty” performance during FALCOR 2012, it has now emerged that much of this was due to the the unique environment encountered at Holloman AFB and the nearby White Sands missile range. Dust in New Mexico proved to be much more aggressive than in Afghanistan due to it containing metal and concrete debris, this causing a lot of damage.

Not used in Afghanistan, MBDA’s PARS 3 LR fire and forget missile will further enhance the TIGER’s capabilities while STINGER has also been certified for use on TIGER. Steps are also being taken to enhance TIGER’s connectivity with German Joint Fire Support Teams and the overall fire support communications architecture while manned unmanned teaming (MUMT) with UAS is also high on the agenda. Meanwhile, the first steps are being taken for a future mid-life upgrade for TIGER, this being looked into together with France, Spain and Australia.

Forward Air Medevac

The first of four enhanced initial operational capability (IOC+) NH90 TTHs were deployed to MeS in April 2013 with the 10th Transport Helicopter Regiment from Fassberg being the designated lead unit for this particular deployment. Full operational capability was subsequently reached on 22 June and Luftwaffe personnel from Helicopter Wing 64 assisted in the process of preparing the Fassberg based Army aviation regiment for operations in Afghanistan with the Forward Air Medevac (FAM) configured NH90 TTH. In close cooperation with Airbus Helicopters Germany, the FAM upgrade for the NH90 was performed by military personnel at the air force location of Holzdorf while Luftwaffe aircrews were part of the initial troop rotations to MeS before most of them were officially transferred to the Army due to the ongoing Helicopter Capabilities Transfer.

For the deployment to Regional Command-North of ISAF the German NH90s were equipped with a high end medical evacuation suite which can be installed or removed from the cabin within 30 minutes. Having provisions for carrying a Rheinmetall MG3 general purpose 7.62mm machine gun attached to a swivelling mount on port and starboard side, the German NH90s also operated as armed escorts during medevac missions. In addition, two mountings were installed in the cockpit behind the pilots’ seats in order to fit a pair of Heckler & Koch MP7 submachineguns with another MP7 fitted in the cabin for the flight engineer.

Lessons Learned

During the NH90 product conference which was held at the army aviation school (Heeresfliegerwaffenschule - HFWS) in Bückeburg in June, former FAM detachment commander (April –August 2013) Lt.Col. Kai Eggert told WT: “Operating with a notice to move (NTM) time of 15 minutes, the FAM NH90s routinely outpaced the co-located AH-64D APACHE attack helicopters which were often tasked to escort us, this due to these US helicopters having a NTM time of 30 minutes while on strip alert”. Eggert indicated that “despite local hot and high conditions leading to a reduction in payload and/or endurance, on average NH90 provided us with 1.5 to 2 hours of endurance, giving it a position in the top ten percent of best performing rotorcraft.

He also praised the combination of the aircraft’s FLIR, helmet-mounted sight/display (HMSD) and night vision capability: “In Germany, operations with FLIR can be hampered by moisture. Afghanistan’s low humidity provides good conditions for FLIR but due to the low levels of light, conditions for operating with night vision goggles can be poor. So, switching from FLIR to night vision in a second is a huge advantage. On top of this, you can now actually look through the image which is unlike older generation NVGs, this helping to identify different colours even at night. This really helped us better cope with brown out conditions.” Eggert continued: “The NH90’s automatic flight control system (AFCS) also proved to be most helpful when landing in brown out conditions.

Also speaking at Bückeburg was former S3 staff officer of Fliegende Abteilung 101 Lt.Col. Andreas Zahn who indicated that on the basis of his recent experience with the NH90 in Afghanistan he felt that “the NH90 compares favorably to the UH-60 BLACKHAWK including the more advanced Swedish UH-60M which I encountered when I was in theatre. Despite the BLACKHAWK design being a proven, reliable design, NH90 is a more advanced aircraft with more potential.” Zahn continued: “Due to the nature of its aero-medevac suite, the FAM NH90 had to be parked inside. However, this specific suite proved superior to the equipment on board medevac helicopters of coalition partners.” Speaking about the need for ramping up in-service support, Zahn told WT: “On a negative note, a lack of NH90 spare parts in theatre led us to sending in parts from Fassberg, this leading to a reduced availability of aircraft at home.. Nowadays stationed in Bückeburg, Zahn concluded: “Operations with the Forward Air Medevac (FAM) NH90 in Afghanistan are now planned to end on 1 August with CH-53GS aircraft continuing to provide support in theatre.


Part of the army training command (Ausbildungskommando), the German Army aviation school headquartered at Bückeburg is one of Europe’s most modern training facilities for rotary wing aircraft. The school is commanded by brigadier general Alfons Mais who is also the director of the overall Army air corps. Speaking to WT during the recent NH90 product conference, Heeresfliegerwaffenschule (HFWS) Chief of Staff Lt.Col. Guido Krahl explains: “Having 50 years of flight training experience, the school is in the process of being transformed into an International Helicopter Training Centre by 1 July 2015”. Krahl continues: “Nowadays, basic rotary wing training in Bückeburg is executed with 14 EC135 helicopters for both Bundeswehr and foreign student helicopter pilots with eleven being available on a daily basis as part of a performance based contract between the military and Airbus Helicopters. Also present are fourteen NH90s including IOC, IOC+ and FOC aircraft although this number will go down to eight again once the transition to the FOC NH90 TTH gathers momentum.

Due to the level of commonality due to their glass cockpits, students coming from basic helicopter training with the EC135 now undergo a direct transition to the NH90 or TIGER. Initial mission qualification training (IMQT) is part of the overall curriculum and is done at the German-French Army Aviation Training Center – TIGER in Le Luc, France for those earmarked for the TIGER or at Bückeburg for future NH90 crews. Krahl explains: “Training 30 to 35 students each year, the army aviation school forwards seven aspiring pilots to Le Luc each year and this number is set to grow to 10 annually by 2016.” Speaking in June, Krahl also indicated that there is currently a requirement for five new twin engined basic training helicopters. These would replace the Bo-105s still being used for autorotation training as the current fleet of EC135s is not well suited for performing consecutive series of autorotation landings all the way to the ground.

Simulation Growing More Important

Large chunks of the training given at the army aviation school involve advanced simulation and modern training technology provided by computer-assisted training, part task and cockpit procedure trainers (PTT, CPT) as well as a number of full-flight mission simulators. The German Army Aviation school boasts an impressive arsenal of the latter including six EC135, two NH90 and two UH-1D simulators. Also present are two CH-53GA and two CH-53GS simulators. Contracted by the Federal Office of Defence Technology & Procurement and operated by CAE, the majority of these is part of the Hans E. Drebing simulator center. This center delivered its 100,000th hour of service on 6 September, this equating to some €500 million in savings according to Krahl. However, a separate company named Helicopter Flight Training Services (HFTS) provides the full mission NH90 simulators. Made up of CAE, Airbus Helicopters Germany, Rheinmetall Defence Electronics and Thales Germany, the 14.5 year HFTS agreement is unique as the buildings and simulators are financed completely by industry under a performance based contract. Also furnished by the HFTS consortium, two more NH90 simulators are located at Fassberg and at Holzdorf, which can be networked with the other two at Bückeburg. With the Luftwaffe NH90s having been handed over to the Army, a move of the latter simulator to Niederstetten which lacks such an asset, appears likely. Developed by Thales in cooperation with Rheinmetall Defence Electronics, full flight simulators and cockpit procedure trainers for the TIGER are available at the joint German-French centre in Le Luc and with the operational regiments in Fritzlar (and Roth!).

The airfield at Celle with its Lehrgruppe C now also comes under the auspices of the army aviation school with Training Groups A and B being stationed at the main base of Bückeburg. Training Group B is currently responsible for pre-flight training and both Bückeburg based groups will be absorbed into the new Training Department A envisaged as part of the new international training center. The yet to be established Air Assault Training Center at Celle will become part of the future Training Department B together with the NH90 maintenance training facility at Fassberg which is currently still part of the northern department of the Luftwaffe’s Technical Training Center (Technische Ausbildungszentrum der Luftwaffe). Forming the nucleus of tomorrow’s Air Assault Training Center, the experimental Air Manoeuvre Tactical Leadership Training (AMTLT) already provides multiplayer networked training sessions to army aviation crews by incorporating full mission simulators, battlefield simulation systems and actual ground weapon systems operating in instrumented training areas. The current AMTLT scheme could easily be enhanced by expanding the network to the UK School of Army Aviation at Middle Wallop and the French simulation center at Le Luc, which is also home to the German-French Army Aviation Training Center – TIGER. Responsible for training German Tiger crews since November 2010, the latter will also become part of the International Helicopter Training Centre together with the German-French Tiger Technical Training Center which is located at Fassberg, both organisations reporting directly to the new school’s training and instruction division. Planned to move to Oldenburg, the army’s Parachute Training Center which is currently still based in Altenstadt will also be incorporated into the new overarching international training center.

Towards an International Pooling of Training Efforts 

The current Army aviation school has had some success in attracting foreign students. Swedish, Spanish and Norwegian personnel having trained on the school’s EC135s while personnel from Bückeburg have recently assisted Belgian aircrews in preparing for the advent of their new NH90s. The simulators are in popular demand with students from a series of countries with them visiting the simulator park on a regular basis. Aiming to expand its activities, the school “is looking for international partners” and “has organised three roadshows in 2013 inviting 18 countries,” according to Krahl with the Netherlands being indicated as a possible future client for NH90 training.

In an effort to further enhance its tactical skills, the German Army air corps is currently contemplating joining forces with the Dutch Defence Helicopter Command (DHC) in organising a joint helicopter weapons instructor course (HWIC) in an effort to enhance the quality of mission qualification training (MQT) being conducted within the operational helicopter squadrons. In both the Dutch and German military, MQT typically comprises specific skills such as conducting special operations air support and training for hot, high and dusty conditions. Recently, the army air corps has also been participating in a series of exercises which are part of the European Defence Agency’s Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP. This programme comes under the umbrella of the wider Helicopter Training Programme (HTP) which also comprises a Helicopter Tactics Course and a Helicopter Tactics Instructor Course, two events which have also been attended by German helicopter crews in recent times.
Pieter Bastiaans

FIA14: Gyro-Stabilized Systems Introduces New Ultra-HD Airborne Surveillance Sensor

Gyro-Stabilized Systems introduces its S516 RETINEYE Ultra-HD airborne sensor at Hall 3/Stand B5 (US Pavilion).

Gyro-Stabilized Systems introduces its S516 RETINEYE Ultra-HD airborne sensor. 

The S516 RETINEYE is a single LRU, electro-optical (EO) surveillance system designed for various missions and applications. Its 5-axis gyro-stabilization and Ultra-HD (5120 x 2880) camera, allows sensor operators to read license plates and recognize faces from a distance of more than a mile. With true payload interchangeability completed in the field, the S516 RETINEYE allows end-users to select the perfect sensor for successful mission completion. At 16in and 85lbs, the S516 RETINEYE is currently installed on multiple helicopter types.

Gyro-Stabilized Systems (GSS) delivers defence, paramilitary and law enforcement markets with the highest form of HD, ultra-HD/5K airborne sensors, while providing sensor interchangeability to allow end-users to tailor payloads according to mission requirements, and for easy sensor upgrades as technology advances. With more than 50 combined years of gyro-stabilized camera system experience, in both the commercial and government/military markets, GSS designs, manufactures, markets and supports stabilised camera and other system platforms worldwide. 

FIA14: Rafael Presents SPIKE ER and SPIKE NLOS Airborne Multi-Purpose, Precise, Tactical Missiles

At Farnborough Air Show 2014, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems presents the SPIKE-ER and SPIKE NLOS airborne multi-purpose, precise, tactical missiles.

The SPIKE Family consists of missiles suited for land, air and sea platforms, multiple ranges and a variety of targets.

The missiles in this family have sophisticated electro-optic (EO) CCD or IIR sensors for day/night all-weather operation, as well as a tandem warhead.

The SPIKE missiles are operational and combat proven in many Air Forces around the world; among them the Italian, Dutch, Spanish, and German Forces.

Their lofted trajectories enable the warhead to strike the target at its most vulnerable location with pinpoint precision. All of the SPIKE Family members have a low life-cycle cost, due to high reliability and operational and logistic support and production commonality between members.

The SPIKE NLOS is an EO guided multipurpose missile for ranges of up to 25km with pinpoint accuracy and midcourse navigation. The weapon system can be launched from land, air and naval platforms.

Equipped with a variety of warheads, a wireless data link to the missile, unique advantages of hitting non-line of sight (NLOS) targets and the ability to switch between targets and abort missions, Spike NLOS can be operated in both offensive and defensive scenarios. In addition to attacking hidden targets, SPIKE NLOS can provide real-time tactical intelligence and damage assessment.

SPIKE NLOS is designed to be integrated into the modern battle arena and can receive target location from an embedded TAS system, external sensors, C4I centre or UAVs.

Featuring day/night all-weather target engagement capability, SPIKE NLOS is the ideal solution for urban, anti-armour and high-intensity combat, as well as asymmetric conflicts and stand-off missions (small group, remote/special operations).

With high reliability and ease of use, SPIKE NLOS delivers maximum operational flexibility with minimal life-cycle cost.

The SPIKE-ER is an extended-range, multi-purpose anti-armour missile system designed for mounting on various platforms, including helicopters, fast boats and combat vehicles.

It can also be dismounted to a ground position and fitted onto a tripod. SPIKE-ER is capable of defeating tanks at a range of up to 8 kilometres.

SPIKE-ER features a day or day/night seeker, tandem warhead, and retains the dual operation modes of Spike – Fire-and-Forget, as well as Fire-and-Observe and Update. This enables the gunner to switch between targets after launch, avoid friendly fire, conduct surveillance/damage assessment and attack hidden targets.

SPIKE-ER additionally features a Fire and Steer mode, in which the gunner can launch the missile without pre-locking onto the target and manually steer it to the target (LOAL).

SPIKE-ER can be equipped with a variety of warheads for a broad range of combat scenarios including urban settings, anti-terror missions and low-intensity conflicts.

The compact system includes the Spike-ER missile in its canister, the Command Launch Unit (CLU), a thermal sight and the Spike-ER launcher.