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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

31 August 2016

Otokar to Start Mass Production of 250 ALTAY MBTs

Otokar has submitted its final offer to the Turkish Undersecretary of the Defense Industry (SSM) to start mass production of the ALTAY MBT.

Following our initial offer in January, we submitted our final offer early today upon the request by the SSM,” Otokar CEO Serdar Görgüç told MT. “As the maker of the 100% indigenous battle tank, we are ready for the job with our human resources, experience and know-how.”

Görgüç added that the company also looks at meeting similar needs for Turkey’s friendly and allied countries in the future, meaning export. Saying that a number of Otokar products have already been in use by NATO and UN forces, Görgüç explained: “We believe that the ALTAY will attract attention from other countries following the start of its mass production, even paving the way for production possibilities in other countries with the participation of Turkey’s allies in the project.”

The final offer included the mass production of 250 ALTAY MBTs and their integrated logistic support operations, according to the statement made to the SSM.

The mass production of the ALTAY MBT is among the main agenda items in Otokar’s future goals. Otokar, in accordance with the “Modern Tank Production Project with National Opportunities – 1st Period Turkish Main Combat Tank Design and Prototype Production Main Agreement” signed with the SSM in 2008, has completed the development process and prototype production. The ALTAY Project 2nd Period Mass Production Project involves the mass production of 250 tanks and their integrated logistical support activities.

Turkey’s Future Missile Defence System

According to news reports, Turkey is in talks with the Italian-French consortium Eurosam to purchase the SAMP/T ASTER 30 long-range missile defence system.

A French air force SAMP/T medium-range air-defence system fires an ASTER 30 missile which intercepted a Tactical Ballistic Missile (TBM) target for the first time in Europe. (Photo: DGA)

Despite speculation about Turkey's possible purchase of a Russian S-400 missile system following the recent Russian-Turkish rapprochement, Turkey is edging toward purchasing a European missile defence system.

Sources indicated that if the ongoing talks reach maturity, the main procurement is going to address the country's urgent security needs via a short-term bridge solution. Technology transfer and co-production will be considered as the long-term solution.

In November 2015, Turkey cancelled its $3.4 billion long-range missile defence system contract process, which was provisionally awarded to China in 2013 to produce its own indigenous system.
In the meantime, Aselsan and Roketsan started a programme to indigenously develop and produce short- and medium-altitude air defence systems in 2007, and in 2013 they completed the test launch of its first domestically developed and manufactured low-altitude air defence missile, HISAR-A, and set to work on HISAR-O, the medium-altitude system. 


The US Department of Navy recently signed an agreement with the Canadian DoND to deliver one RQ-21A BLACKJACK UAS to the Canadian Army in the 2017 timeframe.


The BLACKJACK system, built by Insitu, is comprised of five air vehicles, two ground control stations, and launch and recovery equipment, which does not require a runway. 

L-3 to Supply eight WESCAM MX-10Ds for Middle Eastern BLACK HAWKs

Under a US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract, L-3 Communications’ Integrated Sensor Systems (ISS) sector within its Electronic Systems segment has been selected to provide eight WESCAM MX-10D electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) designating turrets to a Middle Eastern nation’s Ministry of Defence (MoD).

L-3’s imaging systems range in size 8-25in in diameter and provide high-resolution, stabilised full-motion intelligence in support of low-level tactical to high-altitude, ultra long-range persistent missions. With fully active four-axis MX-Series stabilisation, the MX-10D is configured with a series of high-sensitivity, multi-spectral sensors that enable precision engagement from tactical ranges during daylight, low-light and night-time missions. The sensors include a four field-of-view thermal imager, a high-definition daylight continuous zoom TV and a low-light continuous zoom TV, as well as advanced laser designator, rangefinder and illuminator technologies. (Photo: L-3 WESCAM) (Photo: L-3 WESCAM)

The customer will use L-3’s MX-10Ds in support of counterterrorism operations from its newly acquired UH-60 BLACK HAWK helicopters. Turret deliveries to Sikorsky, the integrator for the programme, began in June 2016 and will continue through February 2017.

This is a key win in an important and emerging international market,” Steve Kantor, President of L-3’s Electronic Systems business segment, told MT. “L-3 WESCAM has a well-established record of providing innovative technologies that give our customers the distinct advantage needed for their security operations.”

We are proud to provide our end user with a powerful and affordable designating solution that will work in conjunction with legacy systems to deliver a unique and essential integrated EO/IR system,” Paul Jennison, Vice President of Government Sales and Business Development for L-3 WESCAM, a unit of L-3’s ISS sector, added.

30 August 2016

Czech Training Focuses on Reserve Units

The Czech Republic abolished conscription a decade ago, but moves now being made are focused on training civilians as reserves in order to bolster the nation’s armed forces as they face a welter of missions and seek to enhance their contribution to international and coalition activities.

Currently, the military consists of some 20,000 soldiers, including 2,000 active reserves. The intention now is to train reservists to bring that total number closer to 30,000 by 2025, according to reports circulating in Prague in late August. Exercises due to commence in October this year will focus on rehearsing and refining the administrative procedures and logistics associated with calling up reserves and training new candidates – 750 young Czechs have already volunteered for the fall exercises and the General Staff believes that by next year it will be training 5,000 new troops per annum.

The authorities believe that by spreading the load across a broader population of reservists and professional soldiers, it will be easier for the nation to maintain – perhaps even increase – its commitment to multinational operations. There are already Czech troops in Afghanistan, Mali, Iraq and Sinai: earlier this year the Czech government earmarked 900 troops for the EU Battlegorup to be fronted by the Visegrad Four nations (Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland) and a further 250 for the German-led battlegroup.

South Africa Simulates the Big Jump….

At Bloemfontein, 44 Parachute Regiment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is about to start using a parachute simulator that will bring the first real change in training paratroops for almost half a century. Acceptance trials began earlier this month and are due for completion by month end, at which point the system will be declared ‘ready for training.’

Developed by e.sigma Systems, the SOKOL NEXT GENERATION (SOKOL NG) simulator was supplied and engineered in collaboration with South African enterprises Lelebotse Projects and UNISIM. Combining 3D virtual reality with a force feedback system and a dynamic environment, the SOKOL NG system allows trainees to experience potential problems and rehearse emergency procedures in a safe and repeatable manner. Training and rehearsal of emergency techniques is a perennial problem for airborne and airlanding troops: the new simulator provides South Africa with a state-of-the-art system that will significantly enhance training and readiness, according to sources close to the SANDF.

Battlefield scenarios can be simulated with the use of smoke, flares and other battlefield pyrotechnics and several simulators can be networked if required to provide for team and unit training in a wide variety of weather and visibility conditions. Crucially, the comprehensive exercise control and instructor facilities allow for the essential after action reviews to take place quickly, thus contributing to more persistent training lessons.

Sensonor Supplies IMUs for NASA RAVEN and Near Earth Orbit SCOUT

Sensonor first began supplying its standard Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and Gyroscope Modules for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) space applications in 2012, beginning with the launch of the NASA sponsored AeroCube-4 satellite. Today, the company is proud to announce that Sensonor is a supplier for NASA’s current and future Low- and Near Earth Orbit space applications. Sensonor’s STIM300 and STIM210 inertial products are now a standard part in many spacecraft’s similar to the AeroCube-4.

Current NASA projects using STIM inertial systems include the RAVEN technology demonstration and Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) SCOUT. RAVEN, which launches to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2016, will test key elements of an autonomous relative navigation system. Its technologies may one day help future robotic spacecraft autonomously and seamlessly rendezvous with other objects in motion, such as a satellite in need of fuel, or a tumbling asteroid. The NEA SCOUT is a robotic reconnaissance mission that will be deployed to fly by and return data from an asteroid representative of NEAs.

NASA, in conjunction with the Aerospace Corporation, spearheaded the use of STIM products in space, and many other commercial launch and satellite companies have since followed NASA’s lead. In fact, over 30 companies around the world utilize Sensonor inertial products in various space applications today, with several satellites successfully flying with STIM Gyroscope Modules for over three years.

The STIM Gyroscope Modules are often used in combination with GPS or a Star Tracker and Kalman Filter to orient and stabilize the satellite, as well as to provide feedback on satellite motion induced by its reaction wheels. In some applications, the gyroscopes are used to stabilise satelliteto-satellite communications.

Today’s news illustrates the trust NASA and others place in Sensonor, further solidifying the company’s role in this market. “We look forward to continuing to serve the international space community with our inertial offerings as standard commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products. By serving the space market on equal terms with our other customers, we can help to reduce the cost of manufacturing and launching space payloads,” Hans-Richard Petersen, Sensonor’s VP of Sales & Marketing, said . “Our STIM products are the lowest size, weight, and power for their performance level in the market, with 5-10 times lower weight than the next-best alternative with similar performance. This makes them a very cost-effective and attractive solution.”

Sensonor will continue to improve its Gyroscope Module and IMU product performance and features, and is actively working with the space community to enhance its standard COTS parts.
Following the tremendous interest from the space community, Sensonor has initiated a Space Optimised version of its STIM gyro module.

22 August 2016

88 Lithuanian Army BOXER Vehicles Commissioned

The European Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) and the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence (MoD) have commissioned ARTEC, a joint venture between Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall, to supply 88 BOXER armoured vehicles to the Lithuanian army starting in 2017. Worth a total of around €390 million, this important export order is set to run to 2021.

Lithuania boosts army with 88 BOXER vehicles. (Photo: ARTEC)

On 11 December 2015, ARTEC has been declared preferred bidder by the Lithuanian State Defence Council for the Lithuanian Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) programme. From 2017 to 2020 in total 88 vehicles with a medium calibre (30mm) remote-controlled turret (RWS) are requested by the Lithuanian Army. ARTEC, will deliver the vehicles, extending the BOXER family by an IFV variant. Production will be carried out by ARTEC's two parent companies. 53 vehicles will be manufactured by KMW and 35 by Rheinmetall.

The Lithuanian BOXER will be fitted with Rafael's SAMSON Mk II dual-axis, gyro-stabilised, dual-sight (Gunner and Commander) remote-controlled weapon system, armed with a 30mm automatic cannon and 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, also armed with SPIKE LR anti-tank guided missile launcher, carrying two missiles and eight smoke grenade launchers on each station. This will provide the Lithuanian Armed Forces improved lethality, increased mission flexibility in both urban and open terrain scenarios, with maximum survivability for the crew and vehicle.

Lithuanian MoD artist rendering of their VILKAS. (Graphic: Lithuanian MoD)

Among other factors, positive tactical outcomes and the compelling results of Lithuanian field trials strongly influenced the Baltic nation’s decision to choose the BOXER. The Lithuanian military will call the vehicle the VILKAS (Wolf).

The German Armed Forces already have more than 400 BOXER vehicles in different variants in use or in the procurement process, and the Netherlands (NL) Armed Forces have 200 vehicles. Together with the Lithuanian vehicles, just short of 700 vehicles therefore have been contracted by three user nations.

Earlier this year, on 8 March 2016, the first BOXER Cargo Version has been delivered to the NL Army. The Cargo version is the fourth out of five BOXER versions for the NL Army. So far the Driver Training Vehicle, the Ambulance and the Command Post version have been delivered. Deliveries will last until 2018.

On 29 August, Rafael finally released that the Lithuanian BOXER will be fitted with Rafael's SAMSON Mk II dual-axis, gyro-stabilised, dual-sight (Gunner and Commander) remote-controlled weapon system, armed with a 30mm automatic cannon and 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, also armed with SPIKE LR anti-tank guided missile launcher, carrying two missiles and eight smoke grenade launchers on each station. (Photo: Rafael)

US Army Seeks Wide Area Sensors for Airborne Applications

The US Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD) at Fort Belvoir, VA/USA, has launched a request for information from industry to determine the state-of-the-art in Wide Area Motion Imagery (WAMI) and Wide Area Airborne Surveillance (WAAS) sensor technologies for airborne applications on both manned and unmanned platforms. Army Contracting Command issued a ‘sources sought’ notice in mid-August, with initial responses required by 8 September.

The Army seeks a medium resolution persistent surveillance electro-optical (EO) imaging sensor to provide day/night detection of vehicles and individuals over large areas, and an associated storage and processing unit. The sensor should consist of a stabilised turret housing optics, focal planes and supporting electronics. The storage and processing unit is to host the sensor command, control and status software as well as a computer to run processing and exploitation algorithms.

Gap-free ground coverage from a nominal operating altitude of 18,000 feet at speeds of 100-1200 knots is required, with every point in the coverage circle imaged once per frame. Provisions for forward motion and image rotation compensation as well as non-uniformity correction of EO and infra red (IR) imagery are required, as are calibration sources for the IR sensor and a near lossless compression capability for the storage and processing unit.

Flight Simulation Upgrades for US Navy Anti-Submarine Warfare Aircraft

In late July, the US Naval Air Warfare Training Center in Orlando, FL/USA, announced the awards of a contract valued at U$13.8 million to Advanced Acoustic Concepts to upgrade flight simulators for the US Navy P-8A POSEIDON and MH-60R SEAHAWK anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft.

Advanced Acoustic Concepts to upgrade flight simulators for the US Navy P-8A POSEIDON and MH-60R SEAHAWK (shown) anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft.

The Common Acoustic Simulation Environment Fidelity Implementation (CASE-FI) upgrades will enhance the realism of the Tactical Operational Flight Trainers (TOFT) and Weapons Tactical Trainers (WTT) for both aircraft, enabling flight crews to train in an environment as close as possible to the operational conditions they are likely to face. Physics-based modelling will replicate a realistic ocean environment, targets and sensors as well as emulating the propagation and reverberation of acoustic energy.

Advanced Acoustics is the original equipment manufacturer for CASE and the only company able to undertake the required enhancements, according to the USN, which awarded the contract on a sole source basis. Work is scheduled to be completed by February 2022.

Leidos Wins AIE-3 Contract

Leidos has been awarded a two year contract with two one year options to provide Automated Installation Entry (AIE-3) solutions to the US Army Product Manager, Force Protection Systems (PdM-FPS). Contract value if the options are exercised is U$99 million.

PdM-FPS is part of the Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors (PEO IEW&S) and is responsible for integrated base defence and force protection capabilities for the Army. Leidos will implement automated entry hardware and software solutions at 35 military installations to provide and enhance detect/assess/warn capabilities through automated personnel verification and validation.

AIE-3 will provide a single standardised, interoperable and integrated system for installation access control, resulting in better situational awareness, information sharing and resource optimisation, the company says.

MBDA Wins £184 Million for ASRAAM

MBDA on 16 August announced a contract valued at £184 million from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for ASRAAM missiles to equip the Royal Air Force’s F-35B LIGHTNING II combat aircraft. The number of missiles covered by the contract remains classified.

MBDA’s ASRAAM will be carried on the external pylons of the F-35B whilst design and space provision is preserved for internal integration fit within the internal weapons bay and thus remains an option for the future. The missile has both lock-on-before launch and a lock-on-after launch mode to carry out engagements on targets that are outside the missile’s field of view at launch. (Photo: MBDA)

The highly capable infra-red (IR) guided air to air missile will be the first British designed missile to enter service on the F-35. MBDA is currently under contract for an ASRAAM capability sustainment programme for the Eurofighter TYPHOON in British service, which will assure the benefits accruing to deploying a single IR missile across the combat fleet.

ASRAAM is in service with the RAF on the TORNADO and TYPHOON and, in time, the F-35B serving both the Fleet Air Arm and the RAF. Overseas users include the Royal Australian Air Force on the F/A-18 HORNET and it is on order for the Indian Air Force’s JAGUARs.

Japan Seeks Record Defence Budget Increase, New Equipment

Reflecting concerns over Chinese and North Korean military developments as well as increasing tensions in the East China Sea, Japan’s defence ministry has requested Y5.16 trillion (U$ 51.7 billion) in its initial budget submissions for FY2017. The largest budget request in recorded history, the submission represents 2.3% growth over FY2016 and is the fifth consecutive annual increase.

Y14.7 billion has been allocated to the procurement of the Raytheon Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block 2A, a co-development between the Japanese and US governments which will enhanced defence together with the standard AEGIS-equipped vessels of both nations’ navies. Production of the new missiles is scheduled to commence in 2017.

An additional Y105.6 billion is allocated to upgrading the PATRIOT Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) missile defence system, roughly doubling the system coverage to 30 kilometres.

Funds are being requested for development of a new surface to surface anti-ship missile with a 300km range and an initial operating capability envisaged for 2023-2024.

In a technology strategy that seeks to engage the private sector in areas such as weapons systems, communications, and advanced lasers, Japan also intends to develop an indigenous unmanned surveillance aircraft within the next decade and an unmanned combat aerial system (UCAS) with a further decade, according to sources close to the budget submissions.

Y76 billion is being requested for development of a new submarine with advanced detection capabilities to counter the growing Chinese naval threat and a further Y74.6 billion will be used to strengthen coast guard units in Okinawa and Kagoshima Prefectures – specifically on the islands of Miyakojima and Amami Oshima respectively – in response to increasing Chinese presence in the East China Sea.

Sources also indicate that budget requests are being made for procurement of an upgraded version of the Lockheed Martin F-35 LIGHTNING II.

For more on Japan's new defence posture, please see MILITARY TECHNOLOGY 10/2016, out soon, with a large Sportlight on Japan.

Bolivian Military Academy Fights “US Imperial Oppression”

A new military academy has been established in the Bolivian town of Warnes, with a mandate to combat US, “imperial oppression,” in the words of the nation’s president.

Inaugurating the academy, President Evo Morales said, “while the empire’s military schools teach how to dominate the world, this school will help us learn to free ourselves from imperial oppression. We will be a school for the defence of the people, and not the empire,” consistently referring to the US as an ‘empire.’

Bolivian President Evo Morales wants to free his country from imperial oppression.

Local press reports indicate the government’s intention is that graduation from the new academy and possession of its ‘anti-imperialism’ degree will be an essential prerequisite for promotion to the rank of captain in the Bolivian Armed Forces.

Former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez originated the idea of such an academy and allocated funds to its building prior to his death in 2013. The new Bolivian school would appear to be intended to rival the US School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, GA/USA, which provides military training for personnel in US-friendly Latin American nations. “The School of Anti-Imperialism is a school that seeks to preserve life, unlike the School of the Americas, which brainwashed military officers into believing that the enemy was our people,” Defence Minister Reymi Ferreira said during the opening ceremony.

The school will commence operations with approx. 100 students, and will be open to officers from other Latin American countries.

New Zealand Orders Saab TESS

The New Zealand Army has contracted Saab, under a five-year agreement, to deliver a high fidelity laser-based Tactical Engagement Simulation System (TESS), providing the army with a proven, off-the-shelf and technically advanced training system, to be delivered by Saab New Zealand.

We look forward to working closely with the New Zealand Army to enhance its training outcomes,” Saab Australasia Head of Training and Simulation, Inger Lawes, said. “We are proud to deliver this significant training system to the New Zealand Army, which will now lead the region in the employment of advanced laser-based tactical engagement systems to support training.”

With this agreement and order for training systems, the New Zealand Army will have a market-leading live training system that will improve their training capability,” Åsa Thegström, Head of Training & Simulation within Saab Dynamics, continued. “We deliver a modern system that enables a wide range of training scenarios and the highest realism. This order further strengthens our market position within this field.”

The capability meets the New Zealand Army’s current requirements while providing a platform and capacity for long-term system growth.

19 August 2016

Product Review: Gerber US-ASSIST Folding Knife

The US-ASSIST assisted-opening knife, designed and built in Portland, OR/USA by Gerber, is the company’s smoothest, most consistent deployment to date. Employing B.O.S.S. (Balls of Stainless Steel) Technology, using stainless steel balls to reduce friction for seamless opening (a cage system keeps the stainless steel balls contained for stable performance over time), the knife features a ball-bearing system to reduce friction and provide stable performance for the long haul.
Intuitively designed and painstakingly tested, the US-ASSIST is the next generation of the everyday pocket knife, according to the company.

The specialty stonewashed finish of the modified drop point blade has a timeless aesthetic, and because it’s made of premium CPM S30V steel, it will hold an edge, resist corrosion, and stand up to very tough every day use. It features a scratch-resistant, removable pocket clip can be carried tip up or tip down and will not cause damage. The assisted-blade has ambidextrous ramped thumb studs that make it easy to open, and the plunge lock and cross-bolt safety system ensure stable use in the open position or closed position.

18 August 2016

Space and Missile Defense (SMD) Symposium 2016 Update

The 19th annual Space and Missile Defense (SMD) Symposium is underway at the Von Braun Center in downtown Huntsville, AL/USA and the Huntsville community and others from across the US and the world came together to discuss issues important to the defence. Much has changed in the 19 years since this symposium began, but what remains constant is the focus on solving incredibly difficult challenges such as protecting the US and allies against advancing missile threats.

The theme for this year's event is Space and Missile Defense in a Complex world. For the last few days, the space and missile defence industry have shown off its high-tech wares.

Lockheed Martin is showing off their Miniature Hit-to-Kill interceptor at the symposium. The miniature missile was successfully tested out at White Sands Missile Range recently. The test was sponsored by the US Army Missile Research and Development Center. It falls under AMRDEC's Indirect Fire Protection Capability programme. Another test of the MHTK is scheduled for November. That test will be a RAM intercept test paid for by Lockheed.

Kongsberg Contracts Raytheon to Build NSM Launchers in US

Having reported, during FIA 2016, Kongsberg Defence Systems and Raytheon finalising plans to assemble, integrate and test the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) in the US, today both announced that Raytheon has received an initial contract to produce NSM launchers at its production facility in Louisville, KY/USA, ushering in US manufacturing of the Norwegian-developed weapon system.

Kongsberg Defence Systems awarded the initial contract for qualification units. Raytheon also plans to perform final assembly, integration and test of the NSM at Raytheon’s Tucson, AZ facility.

Building NSM launchers at our Louisville facility is an excellent extension of our long-standing relationship with Kongsberg,” Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems President, said. “This contract will enable us to add jobs while providing our Norwegian teammates with world-class launchers.”

This contract is an important next step in our long-term partnership with Raytheon, and the historic first production contract for NSM in the US,” Harald Ånnestad, Kongsberg Defence Systems President, continued. “Kongsberg is committed to continuing the evolution of building and supporting NSM in the US for the foreseeable future. This helps to create high tech jobs and secures US sustainability of NSM.

Meggitt Training Systems Awarded ADF Contract for Additional Mortar Simulators

The Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group has recently awarded Meggitt Training Systems a U$1.49 million contract to manufacture, install, maintain, and operate additional 81mm simulated mortars at multiple locations in support of Regular Army Infantry Battalions and Army Reserve Light Batteries.

THe ADF has awarded Meggitt Training Systems a contact for 81 simulated mortar systems. (Photo: Meggitt)

Meggitt continues to enable the maximum level of training and readiness for the ADF,” Chris Jordan, Managing Director, Meggitt Training Systems Australia, explained. “For example, we have installed, maintained and operated the Weapon Training Simulation Systems in Australia since 1999 and most recently installed Meggitt 81mm mortar simulators at four sites during 2016.”

The 81mm simulated mortars will be used to train and test mortar men, command post operators, fire controllers and commanders in their duties with regard to mortar operations, tactics, techniques and procedures.

Deliveries connected to this contract will take place at Darwin, Northern Territory (also home to the US Marine Corps’ Rotational Force-Darwin); Perth, Western Australia; and Sydney, New South Wales. They are expected to occur from May to June 2017 with installation to follow shortly thereafter.

17 August 2016

According to news sources, on 22 August, the contract on procurement of the BOXER infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) for the Lithuanian Armed Forces will be signed at the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence (MoND). The decision to do so was taken on 16 August by the MoND Council on Defence Resources after hearing the report of the IFV Work Group on the negotiations and their results regarding acquisition of IFVs.


The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) today announced it has ordered a third ZEPHYR-S Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), as part of a £13-million contract with Airbus Defence & Space (DS).

ZEPHYR-S is the latest version of a highly sophisticated series of ultra-lightweight UAVs, capable of flying up to 70,000ft, twice the altitude of a commercial airliner, for up to 45 days at a time. Referred to as a High Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS), it performs more like a satellite than a conventional UAV.  The additional ZEPHYR-S will allow two airframes to be tested simultaneously and demonstrate operational handover to show that the capability could be sustained indefinitely. The OCD trials, which will be held in 2017, will inform Defence’s decisions around how best to provide next-generation battlefield intelligence to the UK Armed Forces.


For the first time the US Air Force (USAF) has a means to conduct airworthiness assessments on non-Defense Department (DoD) military type aircraft. This process enables the USAF to gain a much deeper understanding of the state of civil aviation, while providing industry with an expert, independent evaluation of the safety and reliability of their products.  

16 August 2016

Kelvin Hughes Awarded Second Phase VTS Radar System Contract by Port of Marseille Fos

Kelvin Hughes, a world leader in the design and supply of navigation and surveillance systems has been awarded the contract for the second phase of a radar system installation by the Port of Marseille Fos in Southern France. The Enfield-based company supplied five SBS-700 radar systems earlier this year that were integrated with the port's Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS). The second phase has seen two more, identical models installed and commissioned at the port in July.

"We are delighted to have supplied the Port of Marseille Fos with two additional radar systems this summer," Paul Mariner, Regional Sales Manager at Kelvin Hughes, said. "The fact that they have trusted us once more with their expanding radar requirements speaks volumes about the strong working relationship our two organisations enjoy. We are very proud of our SBS VT systems, which provide protection and surveillance capabilities to ports, coastlines and off-shore facilities around the world."

Kelvin Hughes' SBS-700 radar system is specifically designed to meet the requirements of a Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) system as defined in IALA recommendation V-128. Each X-band system supplied will feature a combination of the SBS 700-1, single transceiver, and the SBS 700-2, dual redundant transceiver. Incorporating an enhanced magnetron transmitter.  The SBS-700 features a high dynamic range, a low-noise front end and a FET modulator.

The Port of Marseille is one of the largest and busiest ports along the Mediterranean coastline. It comprises two separate harbours with the Eastern harbour located in the city of Marseille and measuring 1,000 hectares. The Western harbour is twelve times larger and is situated in Fos, 70km from the town. Marseille Fos is France's leading port and handles everything from hydrocarbons and bulk liquids (oil, gas and chemical products) to bulk solids (minerals and cereals), general cargo (containers and other packaging). It is also a major cruise ship terminal.

US Navy Deploys Newly Designated RQ-20B AeroVironment PUMA AE with Precision Recovery System

The US Navy (USN) has tested and deployed AeroVironment's RQ-20B PUMA small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) aboard a Flight I Guided Missile Destroyer (DDG-class), which included exercises that used AeroVironment’s fully autonomous system to recover the aircraft aboard a ship. The USN issued a report on 3 August from the Arabian Gulf describing how PUMA AE is also being utilised (here) on USNPatrol Craft.

Electronics Technician 2nd Class Darius Jackman launches a PUMA unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from the patrol coastal ship USS MONSOON (PC 4). MONSOON is one of ten patrol coastal ships assigned to Patrol Coastal Squadron (PCRON) 1 home-ported in Manama, Bahrain in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the US 5th Fleet area of operation. (Photo: US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan D. McLearnon)

Following completion of a PUMA AE intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission, the AeroVironment Precision Recovery System (PRS) provides for the autonomous on-board recovery of the aircraft, without interrupting the ship’s operations.  Because the PUMA AE is also designed to land and float in water, operators can choose to recover it from the ocean, should mission requirements dictate. The AeroVironment PRS occupies a small footprint and can be managed and operated by members of a ship’s crew, as opposed to requiring external contractors. It is transported in tactical packaging that can be hand-carried aboard and readily transferred from one ship to another.

"Our PRS expands the capability of PUMA AE to support maritime operations," Kirk Flittie, vice president and general manager of AeroVironment’s UAS business segment, explained. "This solution also builds on AeroVironment’s extensive operational experience with small UAS to provide the Navy with a low-cost, hand-launched capability optimized for contested environments. PUMA AE’s ability to operate from a wide variety of surface vessels ensures rapid response reconnaissance capabilities that help our customers operate more safely and effectively and proceed with certainty.”

PUMA AE can be launched and recovered very quickly.  The UAS features a gimbaled payload that delivers high quality electro-optical (EO) and infrared (IR) imagery and AeroVironment’s secure Digital Data Link (DDL).  These features improve situational awareness for the ship and also for boat crews who carry their own remote video terminal (Pocket DDL) during approach and assist or other missions.

AeroVironment developed the PUMA AE system to compete for, and win, a 2008 United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) competitive Program of Record and subsequently supplied the system to the USN Expeditionary Combat Command Coastal Riverine Forces, the US Army for convoy and ground troop support, and the USMC. Most recently, the USN procured PUMA AE systems for use aboard Patrol Craft and also deployed them aboard a USN Expeditionary Fast Transport (T-EPF) ship in support of counter illicit trafficking operations in the Caribbean. The PUMA AE is also employed by several international partners. The US Department of Defense recently established the designation RQ-20B for the block 2 PUMA AE small UAS. The block 2 PUMA AE system includes a more powerful and lighter propulsion system, lighter and stronger airframe, long endurance battery, precision inertial navigation system and an improved user interface. The new, all environment MANTIS i45 gimbal sensor suite for PUMA AE delivers a dramatic leap in small UAS image resolution and ISR capability and will be available for ordering in September.

Lockheed Martin Pursues PATRIOT Radar Replacement

Lockheed Martin is responding to an US Army RfI for a replacement for the PATRIOT air defence system radar. Known as the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS), the sensor is intended to provide a radar solution for the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) network.

The competition is industry-wide and aims at upgrading or replacing current radar solutions to improve operational effectiveness and reduce sustainment costs of the current radar. The specification calls for high mobility and transportability, improved availability reliability and maintainability, all within a tightly defined target cost.

Leveraging our existing technology, a multi-function, 360° IAMD radar can be developed to exceed the LTAMDS requirement on a better schedule than a costly PATRIOT upgrade solution,” Brad Hicks , Vice President, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training, said. “Our radar solution will meet the Army's specific requirements and extend our strong collaboration within the missile defense community.”

Lockheed Martin already produces AESA radars for the Army and is producing and exporting AESA radars based on Gallium Nitride (GaN) components. The company will leverage the U$3 billion invested in radar technology programmes that include AEGIS and MEADS.

NATO to Invest €3 Billion in Defence Technologies

At the Warsaw Summit in early July, NATO heads of state and government leaders welcomed the fact that collective alliance expenditure on defence has increased in 2016 for the first time in seven years. On 24 July, the NATO Communication and Information (NCI) Agency announced that, in parallel with decisions taken at the Summit to strengthen collective deterrence and defence, it is planning to invest some €3 billion between 2016 and 2019 in cyber, air and missile defence and advanced software.

NCI Agency General Manager Koen Gijsbers said: “The contracts we are announcing focus on one of the core tasks of the Alliance, to connect and link national forces and capabilities into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. By linking and connecting individual ‘national’ capabilities NATO can do more [than] individual countries could do themselves.”

The first contracts under this initiative have already been put out to tender and further contracts within the next year will include a major €1.5 billion contract for NATO satellite communications, the procurement of advanced software and additional strengthening of Alliance air defence capabilities.

A strong partnership between NATO and industry is a characteristic of the recent past as well as an avowed future intent. In early September more than 1,500 industry representatives will meet with NATO decision-makers at the annual NATO cyber conference to discuss current trends and next generation solutions.

The ingenuity and creativity of our private sector has always been a source of strength for NATO. We, as an Alliance, have been able to maintain our technological edge over our adversaries for 67 years because the innovative capacity of our private sector is unparalleled. Today’s technological change is driven by Industry and as NATO we are engaging Industry early on to ensure we tap into that creativity. NATO will only be resilient if we embrace and can do continuous, rapid innovation,” Gijsbers commented.

Indian Government Audit Says Boeing Failed to Meet C-17 Aircraft Offset Obligations

In July 2016, the Indian government auditor slammed the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Boeing for underutilising the operational capabilities of the ten C-17 GLOBEMASTER aircraft.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its report to the Parliament, said that Boeing had failed to meet offset commitments, missing its deadline way back in 2013.

As part of its offset deal, Boeing was required to set up a C-17 simulator centre required to train pilots and a platform training facility for maintenance training worth U$97 million and $38.21 million respectively by 2013, according to the CAG.

However, it is important to note that Boeing and Mahindra Defence Systems opened a C-17 training centre for the IAF only two weeks before the government report was published.

Gene Cunningham, Vice President, Global Sales, Defense, Space & Security; Gp. Capt. TR Ravi Commanding Officer 81 Squadron Indian Air Force (IAF); S. P. Shukla, Group President, Aerospace & Defence Sector, and Chairman, Mahindra Defence Systems; Air Marshal BS Dhanoa, Vice Chief of Air Staff, IAF; and Pratyush Kumar, President, Boeing India, inaugurate the Boeing C-17 Simulation Training Centre in Gurgaon on 8 July. (Photo: Boeing)

The centre features a complete training solution for C-17 pilots and loadmasters with advanced simulation, courseware and computer-based training to practice the complete range of tasks required for military airlift operations and humanitarian missions, along with other situations such as aerial refuelling and emergency procedures, according to Boeing.

However, Boeing is also accused of failing to meet other contractual obligations. The aircraft-maker was expected to set up a special support infrastructure worth $152 million by July 2013, but has yet to do so. That CAG notes that surprisingly conditions to impose fines for late delivery of supplies and infrastructure are nonexistent.

The report also noted that the performance of the aircraft was severely affected due to a lack of ground equipment. The CAG blamed, “non-availability of runways with appropriate pavement classification number and lack of ground equipment at various bases for the underutilisation,” of the aircraft.

In order to reduce ground time of a strategic asset whose main aim was rapid deployment, all units conveying load on regular basis on C-17 aircraft should have a required material handling equipment (MHE), trained fork lifter driver and trained manpower for palletization1 of their load,” according to the report.

For the purpose of loading and unloading, a fork lifter weighing 13t was always being carried in the aircraft, as other units did not have ground-handling equipment.

“This fork lifter occupies 35% of the cargo space leaving limited space for payload. Due to this space restriction, C-17 aircraft had to undertake more than one sortie on the same day to airlift cargo from same destination, on many occasions,” the report said. The aircraft is capable of carrying a maximum of 70t for a range of 4,200 kilometres.

With cost of Rs.43.19lakh per flying hour for C-17 aircraft, this was imprudent,” the CAG said. The annual average load airlifted by C-17 ranged 13-18t per sortie, against the aircraft’s payload capacity of 70 tonnes.

The report adds: “The operating squadron of the IAF stated that C-17 aircraft could carry only 35t of load (40t in winter) and on a few occasions, the C-17 was tasked for only 26 tonnes.”

According to Boeing, the long-range heavy transport aircraft has in-flight refuelling capabilities and a range of 4,200km with a maximum payload of 70mt and 9,000km with a reduced payload of 40 tonnes.

The IAF procured 10 Boeing C-17 GLOBEMASTER III aircraft and associated equipment at a total cost of $4.1 billion from the US through FMS in June 2011.

The operating squadron stated in September 2015 that C-17 aircraft could carry only 35t of load — 40t in winters — and on a few occasions, C-17 was tasked for only 26 tonnes.

The CAG also hit the Indian Navy hard. In the same report to the Parliament, it was revealed that Navy’s Russian-origin MiG-29K aircraft, currently operating on the INS Vikramaditya was riddled with a number of problems. Such as engine and airframe problems, deficiencies in its fly-by-wire system and poor serviceability.

The deficiencies in the maritime fighter have compromised its battle-readiness. According to the report, the serviceability of the single-seat MiG-29K ranged from an unimpressive 15.93-37.63 % while that of the twin-seat trainer MiG-29KUB hovered between 21.3% and 47.14 percent.
The Indian DoD recently placed an order for an additional 45 aircraft to be deployed on the indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) currently being built at the state-owned Cochin Shipyard.
Bindiya Carmeline Thomas

Cubic Details News

Cubic Global Defense (CGD)  was awarded a five-year, $73 million FFP task order to support aviation training for the UUSMC, under the US Navy’s (USN)Fielded Training Systems Support (FTSS) III IDIQ contract. Under this, Cubic will provide operations and maintenance support of military aviation training devices and simulators at various USMC Air Stations .

The US Army PEO STRI and Army Contracting Command-Orlando (ACC-ORL) furthermore awarded CGD an award of more than $10 million for new orders of its Instrumentable-Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System Individual Weapon Systems 2 (I-MILES IWS 2). “Cubic’s I-MILES IWS 2 continues to provide invaluable training by combining realistic environments and equipment to ensure combat readiness for every mission scenario,” Dave Buss, president of CGD, explained. “The live, force-on-force training capability of the I-MILES IWS 2, used not only by the U.S. but also allied and partner nations, is the cornerstone of training and building ready ground forces.”

CGD further announced it is one of nine companies awarded a Fielded Training Systems Support (FTSS) IDIQ Multiple Award Contract (MAC) by the USN to provide training support services to the USN, USMC, and its Foreign Military Sales customers. In addition, Cubic will have the opportunity to competitively bid on numerous full and open task orders, under the fourth-generation FTSS IDIQ contract, which has an estimated ceiling value of $1.75 billion. Cubic has participated in the FTSS IDIQ contracts since the original was awarded in 2000.

Training services under the FTSS award include contractor operations and maintenance services (of simulators and training devices); contract instructional services (simulator and academic instruction for pilots and other aircrew); training device relocation; training device modifications; training systems management; technical data verification; in-service engineering office support; spares/product support; and other related trainer support services.

F-35B Test Pilots Complete 31 Land Based Ski-Jump Tests at NAS Pax River

The complexity of flying Lockheed Martin’s F-35B off an aircraft carrier such as the Royal Navy’s (RN) new QUEEN ELIZABETH CLASS (QEC) should not be underestimated.

Pete ‘Wizzer’ Wilson, F-35 Programme test pilot, summarised the 31 ski-jump flight trials that have been conducted to date at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pax River, MD/AUSA and onboard the USS WASP. “The aircraft is really close to perfect, just not perfect yet,” he revealed.

The impetus for this initial land base testing is to conduct preliminary work leading eventually to flight trials at sea. “The driving force is to ensure that the aircraft is cleared for the ship and that the ship can operate the aircraft,” said David Atkinson, BAE Systems lead for the F-35B integration programme. “The flight trials are critical in order to validate the work done by modelling and provide certification evidence so that we can have the best possible envelopes for operating the aircraft from the ship.”

Although on land, the 31 ski-jump take-offs had been conducted during the day and night and with cross winds. However, as Wilson pointed out: “The first time we go to see and take-off from the carrier will be a brand new event; we cannot replicate that exactly ashore.”

The differences include the role and pitch of the ship as well as its motion.

There has been one particular point during the take-off that has focused the minds of engineers and test pilots said Wilson. “Once we are airborne the aircraft will fly nicely; the acceleration up to the ski-jump we know about, but it is the brief one second bit in the middle that we were still working on.”

While there have been flight trials on the USS WASP they did not involve a ski-jump. However, Wilson said that following those trials expectations were high for the QEC trials. He pointed out that the new Royal Navy’s QEC aircraft carriers were much bigger and that was going to prove a very positive factor for the alternative landing method, called Shipborne Rolling Vertical Landing (SRVL). This was a new requirement from the military, he said. “They want to maximise the ‘bring-back’ of extra weight, several thousand pounds if fact which could be unused weapons from sorties including combat air patrols (CAPs). We have done RVLs with similar speeds and techniques, but not from a ship,” he revealed.

The certification of take-offs is of a different scale than on the old HMS Illustrious carrier where the ski-jump was 150ft long and with a 12° upward curve. The QEC is 200ft long with the same degree of curve. Wilson said that the recent testing focus has largely been on the transition of the F-35 during the take-off. “What matters is the airplane is transitioning through maximum acceleration. It recognises that it is on a ski-jump once it has some positive attitude and a pitch rate  although the gear is still in contact with the ground. At that point the airplane recognises that it is on a ski-jump and the thrust switches to ski-jump STOVL to fly away. The thrust has to come forward so the airplane can be supported on its two columns of thrust. This nozzle vectoring is completely autonomous.” He said it is during that second of time in transition from level acceleration to being airborne that has been challenging.

Studies have also been made from the take-off data collated during this time regarding the optimum speed and weight that will allow the best performance.

Said Wilson, “an absolute minimum speed we can fly away at is 65 knots which takes into account sudden gusts of wind of up to 15 knots; we never want to take-off at less that 50 knots.”

He had said that there were different views within the various IPT’s about what should be the correct speed and weight for take-off, varying between those wanting performance and others wishing to maximise load. “We eventually pinpointed around 80 knots at 44,000lbs airplane,” he said.

The conclusion after the 31 ski-jumps in the year between June 2015 and June 2016 was that successful execution the initial phase. “It is a significant milestone to de-risk the project and demonstrate the Control Law concept of take-off from the ski-jump. It is the first step towards clearing full ski-jump envelope as part of the build up to the QEC flight trials onboard,” said Wilson. More testing is due to begin on the amphibious assault ship USS America which has received an upgraded flight deck with thermal coating to protect it from the F-35B’s engine blasts.
Andrew Drwiega

BAE Systems to Supply Main Gun for TYPE 26-Class

BAE Systems has announced a contract from the UK MoD valued at U$245 million to supply the main gun armament for the first three vessels of the Royal Navy’s TYPE 26-class anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigates. The contract also calls for a training system and includes an option for a further five ship-sets.

BAE Systems was selected as the preferred bidder after a competition in 2015. Work under the contract will be carried out in both the US and UK, with deliveries expected to commence in 2020.

The Maritime Indirect Fires System Integrated Gunnery System (MIFS IGS) incorporates the Mk 45 Mod 4 5in naval gun, an automated ammunition handling system, gun fire control system and qualified ammunition. Over 240 Mk 45 naval guns are in service with 11 navies.

Elbit Systems Introduces SKYLARK C Mini UAS for Tactical Maritime Applications

Elbit Systems has developed SKYLARK C, a new highly autonomous Mini Unmanned Aircraft System (MUAS) specifically designed and built for maritime applications. Based on the SKYLARK I MUAS, which are fully operational and in use by dozens of customers around the world, the new SKYLARK C transforms and extends the operational capabilities of its land-based counterpart into an organic maritime Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) asset.

Mission effective, with highly autonomous flight capability, SKYLARK C incorporates an electrically-propelled air vehicle with a very low visual and acoustic signature, making it an ideal solution for covert operations such as special naval operations, border security, anti-terrorism and anti-piracy operations. (Photos: Elbit Systems)

As a maritime vessel organic asset, SKYLARK C provides the capabilities to inspect maritime activities from a safe distance, observe targets from a bird’s eye view, perform reconnaissance over coastal areas and perform continuous covert surveillance, thus extending the vessel’s ISR capabilities with respect to range, rate and quality of information obtained.

The aerial vehicle utilises Elbit Systems’ UAS technology and know-how, featuring an advanced inertial navigation system (INS) and a stabilised electro-optical (EO) payload with a high resolution thermal imager and color daylight camera that enables continuous day/night monitoring in diverse weather conditions.

Until recently, the ability to achieve real-time maritime situational awareness and ISTAR capabilities in a short period of time and with minimal resources remained a significant gap,” Elad Aharonson, General Manager of Elbit Systems ISTAR Division, said. “Now, with Skylark C, small-scale naval crews, such as special operations forces and coast guard patrols, can capture mission-critical information using a truly intuitive and organic system, and as a result significantly improve their operational effectiveness.”

The system features a waterproof and floating air vehicle that provides even small vessels an organic offboard surveillance capability that can be deployed and retrieved in less than 15 minutes.

Cubic to Supply BRADLEY COFT Subsystems

Oasis Advanced Engineering, as prime contractor to the US Army PEO-STRI for the BRADLEY Fighting Vehicle Conduct of Fire Trainer (COFT), has awarded a U$13.9 million contract to Cubic Global Defense (CGD) for manufacture and production of COFT crewstation subsystems.

The inside of a BRADLEY COFT located at_ the Grafenwoehr Training_Area in Germany. (Photo: Cubic)

Under a base contract worth $4.18 million, Cubic is to deliver four institutional and nine mobile subsystems: An option award calls for a further 21 mobile and ten institutional systems to be delivered, with effective deployment taking place between April 2017 and March 2018.
The COFT’s synthetic environment replicates both the BRADLEY M2/A2 Operation Desert Storm-Situational Awareness (ODS-SA) and M2/A3 ODS configurations, providing gunners and commanders with critical direct fire gunnery skills.

The BRADLEY trainers are part of an ongoing effort by the US Army to improve training and reduce friendly fire causalities by focusing on simulated combat scenarios and mission readiness,” said Dave Buss, president of CGD.

Netherlands and Luxembourg buy Tanker Aircraft

The Netherlands will purchase two Airbus MRTT A330 tanker/transport aircraft with Luxembourg. The aircraft will be NATO property and will be stationed at Eindhoven AFB for pooling and sharing. Belgium, Germany, Norway, and Poland intend to join the agreement at a later date.

In addition to refuelling aircraft (seen) and strategic transports, MRTT aircraft can also be used for carrying out MEDEVAC. (Photo: Airbus)

The number of A330 MRTT aircraft to be purchased could eventually rise to eight, once the other countries will join. The two participating countries are examining the possibility of collaboration with France and the UK, among others, in relation to training and instruction as well as maintenance. France is set to receive its first A330 aircraft in 2018; the UK already has A330 MRTTs in service.
The two aircraft will be delivered from 2020. In the same year, the Royal Netherlands Air Force will start to gradually decommission its two KDC-10 aircraft. This will ensure that tanker/transport capability will remain available to the Netherlands Defence organisation.  

RADA’s Radar Systems are Deployed and Operational Along Israel’s Southern Border

RADA Electronic Industries has deployed its radar systems along Israel’s border with the Gaza strip. The systems are operational and connected to the National Alert System, providing life-saving warnings about short range threats – including mortar shells, rockets and other aerial threats – to communities adjacent to Israel’s southern border.

According to Zvi Alon, RADA's CEO: “After the Protective Edge operation (July, 2014), we began deployment of our systems along the Gaza strip. The radars are operating 24/7 and providing continuous surveillance. The success of these systems has generated international interest in their capabilities, and they are under evaluation by a number of customers around the world for use in a variety of missions, including C-UAS, C-RAM, air surveillance, and more.”

The MHR radar is an S Band, Software-Defined, Pulse-Doppler, AESA, GaN based radar – which delivers sophisticated beam forming capabilities and advanced signal processing. It provides multiple missions on each radar platform and can combine C-UAS and C-RAM operational missions on the same radar, thus delivering ideal organic, tactical surveillance solutions for force protection missions. (Photo: RADA)

Chilean Navy Refits EXOCET MM-40

On 30 July, the Armada de Chile (ARCh) multipurpose frigate ALMIRANTE RIVEROS (pennant number MFF-18) returned to the port of Valparaiso after completing an intermediate dock period refit at the Talcahuano shipyard of Astilleros y Maestranzas de la Armada (ASMAR). The refit included the replacement of the HARPOON Block 1C with the MBDA EXOCET MM-40 in the surface-to-surface naval missile role.
Juan Carlos Cicalesi

New SBIRS Ground System Enters Operational Testing

USAF Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center and 460th Space Wing have successfully completed the Space-Based IR Systems Block 10 ground system’s Integrated Test and Evaluation (IT&E) phase and entry into Operational Utility Evaluation (OUE), the dedicated operational testing phase of the programme. Key development, operations and test stakeholders met to provide an accurate readiness assessment of the Block 10 ground system’s ability to enter and successfully complete dedicated operational testing. Based on stakeholder inputs, USAF  Operational T&E Command began dedicated operational testing at the Mission Control Station at Buckley AFB, Aurora, CO/USA on 12 June and shifted to the backup Mission Control Station at Schriever AFB on 16 July.

The SBIRS programme delivers timely, reliable and accurate missile-warning and IR surveillance information to the president of the US, the US secretary of defence, combatant commanders, the intelligence community, and other key decision makers. The system enhances global missile launch detection capability, supports the US’ ballistic missile defence system, expands the country’s technical intelligence gathering capacity, and bolsters situational awareness for soldiers on the battlefield.

The new Block 10 ground system consolidates operational C2 of Defense Support Program satellites, SBIRS Geosynchronous Earth Orbiting satellites and SBIRS Highly Elliptical Orbit sensors under one primary Mission Control Station at Buckley AFB. It also significantly increases performance capability across the four SBIRS mission areas of missile-warning, missile-defence, battlespace awareness, and technical intelligence.

The Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at the USAF Space and Missile Systems Center manages the SBIRS Block 10 development programme. Lockheed Martin Space Systemsis the SBIRS prime contractor, and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems is the payload integrator.

Barrett Communications To Supply Radios to East Africa

Barrett Communications have signed a significant contract with an East African National Defence Force. The first phase of the contract involves the supply of PRC-2090 Tactical HF (High Frequency) radio communications systems, in MANPACK configurations.

The PRC-2090 is a rugged fully featured tactical HF transceiver solution delivering proven field deployable secure communications with un-paralleled reliability. 

The PRC-2090 MANPACKs will be used for both voice and data, via Barrett’s CLOVER modems. In country configuration, operator and maintenance training will be provided to enable the customer to be fully self-supporting.

This is a new end user for Barrett Communications and we are pleased that many years of work in this country has resulted in this significant award,” Greg O’Neill, Barrett Communications Managing Director, said.

Barrett Communications will be exhibiting at African Aerospace and Defence (AAD) in Centurion, South Africa, 14-18 September 2016. Barrett will be showcasing their extensive range of tactical HF and VHF radio communications solutions in addition to the recently announced Barrett 4050 HF Software-Defined Radio (SDR).

New Colombian Landing Craft

The Colombian Navy (ARC) recently launched two new landing craft in the presence of Mariana Martínez Cuellar, Vice Minister of Defence for Strategy and Planning. The ARC GOLFO DE MORROSQUILLO (pennant number 242) and ARC BAHIA MALAGA (243) are designated as BDA (Amphibious Landing Barges) and are intended for amphibious operations in remote locations.
Both vessels were built in the shipyards of COTECMAR.
Juan Carlos Cicalesi

COTECMAR Amphibious Landing Barge (Photo: COTECMAR)

Lockheed Martin Missile Defence Programmes Update

This 15 August, Lockheed Martin conducted a media briefing on the company’s AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense, PTRIOT Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile, and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) programmes before the start of the Space and Missile Defense Symposium (SMDC 2016) in Huntsville, ALUSA. MT US correspondent Marty Kauchak provides extracts from the event.

The threat environment, which is driving what most of us do here [at Lockheed Martin] and are doing to help the United States and our friends and allies, has to be categorized as an accelerating threat – in terms of numbers and complexities,” Doug Graham, vice president of missile systems and advanced programmes, asserted. In one instance, he noted North Korea has conducted nine ballistic missile flight tests in a, “very limited about of time this year”.  And beyond the numbers of tests completed by near- and peer competitors, and rogue nations, Lockheed Martin is also monitoring advanced maneuvering, hypersonic capabilities and other direct technology threats to the US Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS).

"We’re more than 30 Aegis BMD-capable ships (including the USS Barry (DDG-52) above) in the fleet today,” Brad Hicks, Lockheed Martin vice president of business development for integrated warfare systems and sensors, noted.  (Photo: US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason Kofonow)

The Lockheed Martin executive’s “short list” of what the government-industry team needs to effectively respond to a dynamic environment with ballistic missiles and other airborne threats included increased numbers of more capable defence missiles; better sensors; enhanced discrimination capabilities; improved command and control (C2) systems; better data fusion; lower cost per kill; and eventually getting  to boost phase engagement. “Lockheed Martin is proud to be working in most of those venues – and we’re very proud of our track record. Since 1984 we’ve had 100-plus intercepts with systems like THAAD, PAC-3, AEGIS BMD,” he noted.

The US Army and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are the two current THAAD customers. The programme is rapidly maturing, witnessed by the US Army’s activation earlier this year of its sixth THAAD battery. Scott Arnold, the vice president of PAC-3 programmes, pointed out the company, “continues to have other international interest in THAAD and is ongoing in its production for the US Army.”

The major programme milestone is fielding the next generation THAAD – known as THAAD ER (extended range). The ER missile is a two-stage variant with unspecified greater range and velocity, and covering more battle space.

As background, Lockheed Martin has been developing its THAAD-ER concept for about 10 years. Lockheed has invested its own research funding to explore the ER design

In a DoD press briefing this February, Vice Adm. James Syring, the director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), noted THAAD ER remained on track for a 2025 deployment timeframe. Syring further pointed out that’s when, “ER if it was approved [as a programm] would deliver. It's about a 10-year development programm.”

Returning to the media briefing, Lockheed Martin’s lower-tier interceptor is the capable PAC-3. The PAC-3 is a high velocity interceptor with a hit-to-kill technology underpinning and remains effective against ballistic missiles, aircraft and other breathing targets such as cruise missiles.
PAC-3 has been in production for more than ten years. The missile is operational with the US Army and five current international customers. Arnold added: “In addition we have four other international customers that are on contract and who we will be delivering their equipment, and they will be fielding PAC-3 in the next several years.”    

The MSE (missile system enhancement) is the most recent PAC-3 development. The enhanced missile takes the PAC-3’s hit-to-kill technology and adds a more capable booster and attitude control system. “This gives us more agility,” Arnold said. “It allows to double the reach that the weapon system has in terms of altitude or range, thereby extending the defended area and also allowing us to get into the overlapping, defended bands with THAAD.”    

Lockheed Martin has delivered 77 of the initial 92 MSEs on contract to the Army. The service declared initial operating capability with MSE this July. “We also have 250 missiles on backlog,” Arnold revealed. A full rate MSE production decision is expected within the next two years.  

We are more than 30 AEGIS BMD-capable ships in the fleet today,” Brad Hicks, the vice president of business development for integrated warfare systems and sensors, noted.  The system continues to go through continued upgrades and capacity. In one instance, beginning with USS John Finn (DDG -113), the US Navy is building DDGs with an inherent BMD capability.

In another programme milestone, USS JOHN PAUL JONES (DDG-53), primarily the service’s BMD test-ship, successfully demonstrated AEGIS’ ability to conduct a complicated tracking exercise against a medium range ballistic missile during its endo phase (inside the earth’s atmosphere) of flight during the May 2015 FTX-21 event.  

An unheralded AEGIS programme activity, in much of the main defence media, is its expansion in the international market. Indeed, as this article was being prepared for publication the evening of 15 August, Lockheed Martin announced the global AEGIS fleet will expand in Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) under a contract to bring integrated air and missile defense capabilities to new destroyers.

The ships will be equipped with AEGIS Baseline 9, the latest evolution of the combat system.

Under this new production hardware contract, Lockheed Martin will expand the AEGIS fleet in Japan: The seventh and eighth AEGIS ships will join Japan’s fleet. Aegis provides four of Japan’s KONGO-class destroyers and two ATAGO-class destroyers with advanced sea, air and undersea threat detection capabilities.

And in the ROK: AEGIS will join the next three KDX-III SEJONG THE GREAT-class destroyers, a multi-purpose destroyer with air and land defence and anti-submarine capabilities. AEGIS is aboard three KDX-III destroyers: RoK SEJONG THE GREAT, RoK YULGOK YI I and RoK SEOAE RYU SUNGRYONG, which are the largest surface warfare ships to carry AEGIS.

The Republic of Korea joined the international AEGIS fleet in 2008, when the navy commissioned the first ship of the class, SEJONG THE GREAT.

Marty Kauchak 

12 August 2016

News in the CHALLENGER 2 Challenge

An effort by the British Army to extend the life of its CHALLENGER 2 MBT aims to keep 227 of the MBTs in service until 2035 and will see the replacement of most of the tanks electronics, including its sighting systems. The life extension programme (LEP), however, does not envisage a major upgrade of the vehicle's drive systems or replacement of the MBT's 120mm L30A1 rifled gun. Studies into upgrading lethality, survivability, power pack, and other systems will also  be part of the upcoming assessment phase contracts .

Rheinmetall has submitted a comprehensive offer to extend the life and substantially upgrade the capabilities of the British Army fleet of CHALLENGER 2 MBTs in response to the CHALLENGER 2 Life Extension Project (LEP) Request for Tender. (Graphic: Rheinmetall)

Some of the world’s top armoured vehicle suppliers have submitted bids to secure work under the programme’s assessment phase, which is valued at around £624 million. The MoD hopes to name two winning assessment phase teams around October 2016 to undertake a competitive two-year assessment phase ahead of awarding a development and manufacturing contract by around mid-2019. The contenders are:

  • BAE Systems and General Dynamics UK (GDUK) partnering in an industry consortium, which also includes Leonardo-Finmeccanica (formerly Selex ES), Moog, Safran Electronics, and GD Mission Systems
  • CMI Defence partnering with Ricardo UK
  • Krauss Maffei Wegmann (KMW), having submitted an earlier pre-qualification questionnaire to the UK MoD; 
  • Lockheed Martin UK teaming with with <Elbit Systems;
  • Rheinmetall,incorporating UK suppliers, including Supacat, Thales UK, and BMT, has put together an innovative proposal to enhance the capabilities of the MBT, e.g. by integrating either the existing 120mm L30 rifled gun or Rheinmetall’s 120mm L55 smooth bore system that is in service with the German Army and can fire the latest generation kinetic energy rounds and 120mm air-burst ammunition; and 
  • RUAG, bidding as a prime contractor, supported by a group of UK-based industrial partners, carrying out the work in the North of England.

The CHALLENGER 2 LEP is one of several armoured vehicle programmes the British Army has in its sights, budgets permitting, while the purchase of an 8x8 wheeled mechanized infantry vehicle (MIV) is expected to formally get underway after the summer and is the army’s top new programme priority.

GDUK is already producing 589 tracked AJAX family scout vehicles, and Lockheed Martin UK is developing a WARRIOR IFV sustainment programme ahead of an expected production contract. A protected-mobility vehicle programme is also in the works. With all this happening, the British Army’s existing plans suggest that in terms of armoured vehicle modernisation, the CHALLENGER is their lowest priority.

The British Chief of General Staff, Gen. Nick Carter, appointed Maj.Gen. Mark Gaunt as the senior responsible owner of the CHALLENGER LEP, officially known as the Armour (MBT) 2025 programme. It is understood that by April 2018 a decision will be made on whether to field a soft-kill, defensive-aids system.

In early July, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) contracted Qinetiq to evaluate active-protection equipment for armoured vehicles for £7.6 million, including integrating the MUSS self protection system by Airbus Defence & Space (DS) Optronics on the CHALLENGER 2.

The British Army is also said to look at a series of projects, to examine value-for-money options to deliver MBT capability 2025-2035, including looking at a replacement for the CHALLENGER 2, i.e. choices for what might provide the capability beyond 2035.