About Me

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

30 September 2016


MILITARY TECHNOLOGY brings you hourly news, articles, and buzz from the AUSA 2016 show floor, having specialised journalists at one of the world’s largest defence events in 2016.

Providing you with the hottest news from the show-floor, and most interesting technology for the defence community, MILITARY TECHNOLOGY provides you dedicated Show News for the US Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition (AUSA), 3-5 October 2016, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.

Held every October, the AUSA Annual Meeting & Exposition is one of the largest land power exposition and professional development forum in North America. More than 26,000 US Army and joint service military and civilian personnel, industry, and foreign military representatives are expected to attend. The exposition consists of more than 600 displays and ten international pavilions across five halls covering 250,000 square feet of exhibition space.

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

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

USMC Program of Record

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exhibitor Perspectives

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

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

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

The system is powered by AC or DC sources.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marty Kauchak  

29 September 2016

AUSA 2016: Harris Unveils New F5032 Lightweight Night Vision Binocular

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MT: Thank you.

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

UK MoD and ASV Global Sign Licence Agreement for USV Software

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Maintenance Simulator for EUROFIGHTER Technicians

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

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

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

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

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

German Army Combat Training Centre Moderinsation Expands

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

(All Photos: Rheinmetall)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mexican Navy is Launch Customer for Upgraded AS565 PANTHER MBe Variant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BAE Systems to Upgrade Four More US Navy Guns

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

(Photo: BAE Systems)

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

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

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

India May Consider Laser Weapons

Press reports circulating in India suggest that the nation may soon be giving some consideration to the development and adoption of laser-based weapon systems among the range of possible responses to Pakistan’s military activities.

The report suggests that official think tank Niti Aayog is examining options for future development that include disruptive technologies. Laser systems will feature prominently, it is suggested, in Niti Aayog’s 15-year ‘vision document,’ which is likely to replace current five-year plans as a foundation for future policy development.

The deployment of laser systems along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan could radically transform the security situation in the border region. Advantages such as precision targeting and low life cycle costs are obviously attractive – but there are significant challenges to developing reliable and sustainable systems, that will need to be easily transportable, rugged, easily maintained and operable under all the weather conditions

Denmark Awards Contract for CV90 and BV206 Sustainment

BAE Systems Hägglunds announced on 22 September that it has signed an agreement with the Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organisation (DALO) to provide systems integration, capability upgrades and support for the long-term sustainment of Denmark’s fleet of 44 CV90 infantry fighting vehicles. The agreement, which also covers the BV206 all-terrain vehicle, covers prototyping, integration of government-furnished equipment and systems safety, as well as maintenance, overhaul and repair.

(Photo: BAE Systems)

Since 2009 BAE Systems has contributed close to €300 million to the Danish economy as part of its commitment to use Danish companies to support the CV90 fleet. The new agreement envisions comprehensive industrial cooperation between BAE Systems and industrial partners in Denmark, paving the way for job creation and potential technology transfer and investment, contributing to national economic development and growth.

This is a strategically important contract that further underpins good relations with the Danish customer,” said Peter Nygren, director of business development at BAE Systems Hägglunds. “We recognise the importance of this contract to our Danish customer and we are looking forward to meeting our commitments.”
This agreement with BAE Systems Hägglunds is a very important milestone for DALO and the Danish Army,” Colonel Anders Maerkedahl Pedersen, head of Land Division at DALO, said. “With this partnership, we will sustain and develop these highly advanced platforms during the many years to come.”

Over 1,280 CV90s in nine separate variants are in service, operated by seven European nations, including four NATO members. 

US Army Places Third Order for JLTV

Oshkosh Defense announced on 26 September the US Army has placed a $42 million order exercising available options for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), including vehicles and both installed and packaged kits. The order is the third since original contract award in August 2015 and is scheduled for completion by November 2017.

(Photo: Oshkosh Defense)

JLTV will replace 55,000 uparmoured HMMWVs in US Army and USMC service. Designed with growth margin from the outset, the vehicle will be capable of integrating future mission equipment sets as requirements evolve.

Dave Diersen, vice president of Joint Programs, said “The JLTV program is moving forward with a focus on giving Soldiers and Marines the next generation light vehicle they need for their missions.”

TRITON UAS Approved for Initial Low-Rate Production

Northrop Grumman announced on 26 September that the MQ-4C TRITON UAS has obtained positive Milestone C low-rate initial production approval, marking the beginning of the DoD acquisition process for the US Navy.

(Photo: Northrop Grumman)

Based on the proven GLOBAL HAWK design, TRITON provides what the company describes as, “unprecedented maritime domain awareness for the US Navy.” The UAS has been designed for operations in the most challenging marine environments and includes a unique, robust mission sensor suite providing 360° coverage for all sensors. The USN programme of record calls for a total of 68 TRITONs to be fielded.

An integrated test team made up of Navy personnel from Air Test and Evaluation Squadrons VX-1 and VX-20, Unmanned Patrol Squadron VUP-19 and Northrop Grumman demonstrated the true reliability of TRITON going into Milestone C. The team analysed and validated sensor imagery and performance at different altitudes and ranges. The ability to classify targets and disseminate critical data was also examined as part of the operational e assessment (OA) testing. Successful evaluation of TRITON’s time on station confirmed that it will meet flight duration requirements. The UAS also transferred full motion video to a P-8A POSEIDON in flight, proving a key capability to significantly enhance its ability to detect, track, classify and identify maritime threats.

TRITON’s critical technology is mature, and the system development and design review phases have been successful,” said Doug Shaffer, vice president, TRITON programmes, Northrop Grumman. “Completion of the full system OA testing exercised in various real-world scenarios validated the system’s ability to protect the Navy’s fleet from evolving threats.”

MDM16: Modern Day Marine 2016 Day 2 (September 28, 2016) Report

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

Service Updates 

The Marine Corps continues to move beyond the last 15 years of ground war in Afghanistan and Iraq and turn its attention to possible combat missions against near-peer and global competitors.  

To help adjust its warfighting focus, the service today released a new operating concept to include a renewed emphasis on maneuver warfare, while retaining an emphasis on operations in an urban littoral environment against a technologically sophisticated enemy.

In an unvarnished, matter-of-fact assessment, the Marine Corps Operational Concept (MOC) begins with the admission that today’s force is not organized, trained and equipped to succeed in a future operating environment where terrains and their populations are complex, technology has proliferated, information is used as a weapon, detecting enemy signatures and managing the Marines’ own signatures is paramount, and the maritime domain is increasingly contested.

Commandant of the Marine Corps General Robert Neller said today at the Modern Day Marine: “Do we need to fix something? Are we broken? … That has nothing to do with it, but we’ve been fighting a counterinsurgency stability fight … since 2004, and we’ve trained, equipped and organized the force to do counterinsurgency and fight an insurgent.”

Marine Corps Command, General Robert Neller (center),asserted today at Modern Day Marine, “Do we need to fix something? Are we broken? … That has nothing to do with it, but we’ve been fighting a counterinsurgency stability fight … since 2004, and we’ve trained, equipped and organized the force to do counterinsurgency and fight an insurgent.”

Noting the insurgent who fought his Marines was brave and courageous, he continued, “that insurgent didn’t have electronic warfare. That insurgent didn’t have an air force. That insurgent didn’t have effective indirect fire. That insurgent … didn’t have the ability to take down our networks or jam our comms. That insurgent didn’t have armor formations that could maneuver across a battlespace. That insurgent didn’t have a sophisticated information operations plan to deceive not just our force but the American people.”

In preparation for that future enemy and future fight, the MOC calls for a Marine Air-Ground Task Force optimized to, “execute maneuver warfare through a combined arms approach that embraces information warfare as indispensable for achieving complementary effects across five domains – air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace.”

Elsewhere in the service, in order to ensure relevance for the US Marine Corps’ M1A1 ABRAMS Main Battle Tank into the next decade, the service is funding upgrades on the legacy tank fleet.

Barbara Hamby, a spokesperson for Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM), noted in one instance the service is modernising the tank commander’s weapon station on the tank by developing a suite of systems that give tank commanders and their gunners a hunter-killer edge over their enemies.

The new ABRAMS Integrated Display and Targeting System, Tank Commander Single Handle and an untitled slew-to-cue capability make up the modernized three-part system that cuts time to enemy engagement by half while increasing accuracy, range and lethality on the battlefield.  “The ABRAMS Integrated Display and Targeting System (AIDATS), upgrades the thermal and day sights on the stabilised commander's weapon station through a state-of-the-art, high-definition camera and permanently mounted color display,” Hamby pointed out.

The ABRAMS Integrated Display and Targeting System, (AIDATS) upgrades the thermal and day sights on the stabilized commander’s weapon station through a state-of-the-art, high definition camera and permanently-mounted color display. The AIDATS program is part of a suite of systems being developed at MARSYSCOM to increase the accuracy, range and lethality of the M1A1 Abrams tank on the battlefield. 

With AIDATS, tank commanders will have double the identification range with thermal sight and triple the identification range for the day sight. The Quantico-based media expert further explained: “The tank commander single handle is also being improved. Currently, there are two sets of controls: one for the stabilized commander's weapon station and another to operate the turret. Combining the two handles into one gives the commander a better workspace, increases efficiency of the system, and leads to faster engagement times.”

The third upgrade to the tank commander's weapon station has yet to be officially named, but is currently referred by service tankers as “slew-to-cue”. Hamby continued: “This new capability enables the tank commander to move the turret, typically controlled by the gunner, over to a target with the push of a button. This additional capability allows the commander to assist the gunner when the tank is moving, making it easier to manipulate the turret toward a target.”

This 13 September, MARCORSYSCOM awarded a contract to Raytheon for continued work on AIDATS. The service expects to field all three systems simultaneously in first quarter 2018.

Exhibitor Perspectives 

Normally this author shies away from having his photo taken and displayed in a public venue, So it was with some interest when he saw his image projected on a video wall at CineMassive (Booth 1116).

While video walls are increasingly common in US DoD headquarters, the Atlanta-based company is taking this technology to a higher level.

The Scalable Mobile Display (SMD) is an expeditionary video wall system optimized for use in shelters, forward operating bases, and other rugged environments. It enables teams in these environments to visualise critical data and collaborate over a real-time common operating picture.

The Scalable Mobile Display is an expeditionary video wall system optimised for use in shelters, forward operating bases, and other rugged environments. It allows teams in these environments to visualise critical data and collaborate over a real-time common operating picture. 

Megan Kopacko, a public relations & social marketing specialist at the company, pointed out: “The SMD can be deployed quickly and easily and can be packed into cases for easy transport. While designed for portability, the SMD is a fully-integrated, turn-key video wall solution; it includes a mobile mounting frame, high-resolution LCD displays, a video wall controller, control software, and transport cases. Optional expansion packages – including professional-grade audio, video teleconferencing systems, and ruggedized UPS – can also be added.”

Robert Kaufman, a company co-founder, noted “SMD systems are being deployed by several branches of the US military and special operations forces downrange.”

The SMD can be deployed with display configurations of 2x2, 4x2, or 6x2 and can be assembled by two people in 15 to 30 minutes without tools. Once assembled, the system can capture and display content from virtually any device, including digital and analog sources. A basic SMD system supports 8 input sources, and up to 16 additional inputs can be added.

Content displayed on a SMD system might include live camera feeds, satellite footage, maps, and video teleconferencing systems. CineNet video wall software, which comes included with the SMD system, allows operators to easily control the content on the displays.

Kopacko continued: “We anticipate that further enhancements to the SMD system will be primarily driven by feedback from our customers. Because the SMD is an expeditionary product, we want to ensure that its design is kept simple and functional and that all enhancements provide real value to the end-user. By staying connected with the teams using the product in the field every day, we gather invaluable feedback for guiding ongoing upgrades and enhancements.”

Kaufman concluded: “The SMD system is the product of close cooperation between CineMassive and our special operations partners. We thank them for their expert feedback and guidance throughout the development process – and above all, we thank them for the service they provide to our nation.”

We’ve started to deliver JLTVs this month," John Bryant, president of Oshkosh Defense, told MT.  
JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) is the next generation replacement for the US Army and Marine Corps armored HMMWVs. The JLTV has the potential to be a U$30 billion programme.

The JLTV has been making appearances around the globe this summer and fall – at Eurosatory, the Dynamic Vehicle Demonstration this month in Bedfordshire, England at Millbrook Proving Grounds and at MDM this week. Oshkosh’s focused business development program through the last several years has, in part, raised the vehicle’s brand awareness in military establishments around the globe. “We’ve been extensively marketing M-ATV and now L-ATV,” Bryant added, and noted the persistent interest in new JLTV in Europe and the Middle East.

While the first production vehicles are intended to help reduce future production risk and serve as the first assets for JLTVs performance and operational testing, some enthusiasts appear to be getting ahead of themselves. Indeed, in one industry forum this summer it was suggested JLTV serve as one option for the Army’s embryonic Light Reconnaissance Vehicle.

However, programme and budget realities call for about 4,900 vehicles to be procured during low-rate initial production.

And adding another layer of reality, Bryant concluded, “The JLTV programme will reach full-rate production decision milestone in first quarter fiscal year 2019.”

UK-based Morgan Advanced Materials (Booth 3127) portfolio of advanced armoured systems for personal protection and platform protection continues to expand. At MDM, Morgan’s new Lightweight Armoured Soldier Architecture (LASA) LWA III +109 plate is on display. “It is a special ultra-lightweight plate we have just released to deliver multi-hit protection against ‘Green Tip’ SS109 ammunition, special threats and NIJ 0101.06 Level III,” Andy Gaskell, a sales and marketing executive for the company, told MT.

UK-based Morgan Advanced Materials had its new LASA LWA III +109 plate on display.The ceramic and UHMWPE (ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene) composite-based LASA LWA III +109 was reported to deliver multi-hit protections against the following special threats and to NIJ 0101.06 Level III: 7.62 x.51mm 149gr M80 FMJ and 7.62 x39mm PS Ball (mild core steel).

Further the ceramic and UHMWPE (ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene) composite-based LASA LWA III +109 was reported to deliver multi-hit protections against the following special threats and to NIJ 0101.06 Level III: 7.62 x.51mm 149gr M80 FMJ and 7.62 x39mm PS Ball (mild core steel).

The company is also finding a “sweet spot” as it offers products with buoyant and water resistant properties for special forces, and naval and coast guard use. Indeed, the New LWA III +109 has these performance capabilities.  

The ballistic insert weighs just 1.6kg (3.5 lb) and has a thickness of 21+/- 1 mm (.83 in.+/-   .04in.). This ballistic insert offers an outstanding lightweight alternative to a heavy Level IV plate whilst ensuring military and law enforcement personal are protected against the SS 109 round,” the sector expert concluded.

Senior Marine Corps leadership’s continued request of industry to “help lighten the load” for ground forces and other units is resonating in at least one company. Thornton, Colorado-based Ascent Solar Technologies introduced its new MilPak ruggedized portable solar platform – with weight in mind. The product is a ruggedised solar power generation and storage system designed to withstand harsh environments and operate in expeditionary and other operational theatres.

The platform’s current weight of 3.7kg (8.2 lbs.), “may be further reduced to about five-or-six pounds by next quarter,” Joe Kigin, senior director and head of Worldwide Sales and Business Development at the company, said                  

The US Department of Defense's programme of record remains at 200 for the CH-53K King STALLION aircraft. The “K” version, being built by the Sikorsky (a Lockheed Martin company (Booth 2522)-led industry team, will replace the US Marine Corps’ service’s legacy-era -53 models.

Michael Torok, PhD, Sikorsky vice president for CH-53K Programs, updated MT on the programme’s accomplishments in the last 90 days: the CH-53K King STALLION successfully completed external lifts up to 27,000lbs (12, 247kg) payload and achieved flight speeds over 140 knots; and the third and fourth CH-53K King STALLION helicopters have joined the flight test programme thereby accelerating the pace to full aircraft maturity and production.

This June the CH-53K King Stallion successfully completed an external lift of a 27,000 lb (12,247 kg) payload at Sikorsky’s (a Lockheed Martin Company) Development Flight Test Center.

The Sikorsky team remains on track to deliver the first of four Ks in 2017 to the USMC. Additionally in 2017, the Sikorsky team expects system demonstration test article 5&6 contract award; and the completion of initial operational test evaluation, the executive production readiness review, and Milestone C decision. Milestone C is the Pentagon’s acquisition point where a recommendation is made, or approval is sought, to enter a programme production and deployment phase

The Marine Corps’ initial operating capability for the CH-53K remains scheduled for 2019. As this article was submitted, the Marine Corps intends to stand up eight active duty squadrons, one training squadron, and one reserve squadron to support operational requirements.

Richard Gilpin, the deputy program manager for the CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopter at Sikorsky, commented on the status of possible sales of the K to an overseas customer. “The German government has requested pricing and availability from the US Government. Sikorsky has the flexibility to respond to any German acquisition strategy be it in foreign military sale or direct commercial sale.”

The US Marine Corps declared IOC (initial operational capability) with its Lockheed Martin F-35B LIGHTNING II Joint Strike Fighter on July 31, 2015. The major milestone appears to be a major turning point in this program, leaving a host of criticisms about the aircraft’s cost, delivery timeline, software, engines and other matters in its wake.      

Indeed, the service’s F-35B’s maiden deployment is set for late 2017 with the first “B” squadron bound for the Western Pacific.

Attention is shifting to other readiness and sustainment programme components including the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS). The system enables F-35 operators to plan ahead to maintain and sustain its systems over the life cycle of an air vehicle. Arthur “Turbo” Tomassetti, the company’s F-35B program director, was asked how the F-35B ALIS is responding to the pre-deployment preparations of the first set of Bs with the Navy-Marine Corps amphibious force. The industry expert responded, “Not really any specific pre-deployment actions for ALIS other than fielding systems and upgrades to the sites and the ships that have that capability. We are supporting the government with studies and analysis regarding ‘First Ship’ deployments for F-35B and F-35C [US Navy’s variant]. This fall the F-35B will embark on it third shipboard developmental test effort intended to clear the full envelope of SDD (system development and demonstration)-required capabilities for the aircraft operating at sea.”

The F-35 international program has an evolving, embryonic global maintenance network envisioned to conduct depot and related higher-order repairs at key sites around the globe. Tomassetti was asked how repairs beyond the first-to-deploy squadron’s capabilities would be completed. He pointed out depot-level repairs today are only done in the US. “Other than that we would send a team if required to the jets location for repair.

Tomassetti discussed the milestones on the F-35B programme’s near-term roadmap from the original equipment manufacturer’s perspective. “For USMC, over the next 12 months we will complete deliveries of LRIP [low rate initial production] 8 (six jets in total in that LRIP) and begin deliveries of LRIP 9 (nine jets in total in that LRIP). Aircraft from earlier LRIPs continue to receive modifications as they become available. Jets are being upgraded to the latest 2B (unit level mod 2 left to go) software and 3i (unit level mod 2 left to go) software. Plan to begin loading 3F software on the 3i jets in late summer 2017.”

The US Marine Corps declared initial operational capability with its Lockheed Martin (Booth 2522) F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (above) on July 31, 2015. The service’s F-35B’s maiden deployment is set for late 2017 with the first “B” squadron bound for the Western Pacific. 

MT readers will recall major “bugs” reported in early F-35 block software versions included jets’ systems shutting down and having to be rebooted. This “choking” effect, which pilots saw both in the air and on the ground during startup, was caused by a timing misalignment of the software of the plane’s sensors and the software of its main computers. Those and other instability and related software problems are reportedly being corrected in these later version upgrades.

Tomassetti concluded, “The squadrons are more and more doing the things that legacy squadrons do. Exercises, weapons school classes, airshows, and support of Marine Ground forces. Additionally this year the first two ‘new’ pilots began training. Until now all F-35 pilots have been transition pilots from other aircraft with lots of flight experience. These new students are coming straight from the training command. The first two students are on track to complete in December. This is another display of confidence in the maturity of the aircraft by the Marine Corps.”

It was one of those well scripted media availabilities. Attendees at SAIC’s (Booth 2310) senior- level management’s update on its US Marine Corps amphibious vehicle programs were positioned at arms’ length between two vehicles from the integrator’s major programs, one extending the service life of the legacy fleet – the Amphibious Assault Vehicle Survivability Upgrade (AAV SU) and the new – its contender for the ACV 1.1 programme, designed to replace part of the AAV force.

This 4 March delivered the first of 10 AAV SU vehicles for testing to the Marine Corps.
Following the initial delivery of the AAV SU, the Marine Corps Program Executive Officer (PEO) Land Systems at Quantico has approximately 12 months to test and evaluate SAIC’s solution. Those 10 vehicles will be tested on land and in the water to assess whether engineering improvements are needed before SAIC is awarded a contract to begin low-rate production and delivery.

SAIC, as integrator, has nine teammates, including hull manufacturer Demmer Corp. of Lansing, Michigan.

Demmer provides keel armor and internal aluminum armor. The company is also responsible for removing the ridged, bolted-on Enhanced Applique Armor Kit armor and installing new attach points to the sides where upgraded ceramic armor panels will be bolted on. The external ceramic armor, as well as the spall liner and fuel and buoyancy systems are manufactured by Armatec Survivability Corp. of Ontario.

While survivability –from pronounced to the subtle -- of crew, passengers and the vehicles themselves -- is the hallmark of the program, there are tradeoffs the Marine Corps-industry team is accepting.

In one instance, the ceramic panels designed to better protect the crew and vehicle is adding weight. While industry team members declined to note the specific amount, this development was important enough to force several important decisions. While the suspension has been upgraded, each vehicle will also get a Cummins VT903 engine that boosts horsepower from 525 to 675, as well as a new power take-off unit and KDS (Kinetics Drive Solutions) transmission.

SAIC's contender for the USMC ACV 1.1 competition is ST Kinetics TERREX 2. (Photo: ST Kinetics)

Integration to upgrade legacy-era AAVs is occurring at SAIC’s facilities in Hanahan (Charleston), South Carolina. SAIC is relying on the mature, proven fielded solution, instead of a “clean sheet” option, afforded by the 24-tonne TERREX 1, which is in service with the Singapore Army to win the USMC ACV 1.1 competition. To that end, SAIC’s contender is the TERREX 2, also an 8x8.

Tony Herlihy, a vice president for Business Development for US Marine Corps programmes at SAIC, passionately spoke about the human factors engineering process for the Terrex 2. Recalling that embarked crews and passengers may have to remain in the vehicle up to two hours during ship-to-shore movement in sea state 3, he noted extensive research and development addressed how to reduce the pitch, yaw and roll of this waterborne vehicle. “They have to be ready to fight when the ramp is dropped and they must egress the vehicle,” he emphasised.

SAIC's TERREX 2 8x8 (by ST Kinetics) at Modern Day Marine)

The SAIC lead team appears comfortable with its 600hp Caterpillar turbodiesel providing adequate power and propulsion through anticipated mission sets.  

Herlihy and Bernie Ellis, SAIC ACV 1.1 program manager, also emphasised their industry team’s intent to allow the crew to operate in a “closed hatch mission”. To supply that capability, the vehicle is equipped with day/night 360 degree situational awareness from ten fusion cameras, and other onboard equipment.              

Marty Kauchak

28 September 2016

Modern Day Marine 2016 Day 1 (September 27, 2016) Report

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

Service Leadership Insights
It’s time for industry readers of this report to sharpen their pencils and clean their conference room white boards. Senior service leaders provided several specific examples of business opportunities to help the US Marine Corps improve its mission readiness.   

In one instance Lieutenant General Ronald L. Bailey the deputy commandant for Plans, Polices, and Operations, said the service is experimenting with the size of its basic infantry squad – using the lessons learned from the last 15 years of ground war to determine whether 10, 12 or 14 Marines is the best organization. And beyond that, the three-star general again told industry he is looking to lighten the load for his ground forces. Bailey offered an intriguing example of how to lighten the load. Recalling the technology for directed energy is quickly evolving, he added, “we need to make the weapons smaller, more affordable and easier to deploy.”

Brigadier General Roger Turner, the commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development and Integration Command, simply said in the event of a great power war, “we’re not prepared, in particular in information warfare.” The service one-star qualified information warfare to include electronic warfare, sensors, cyber warfare and other mission sets.

Michael Holloran, the director of Science and Technology in the Program Executive Office of Land Systems, reported his help wanted list for innovation includes power and energy; modeling and simulation and open plug-and-play communication architectures. Specific examples of additional technology support needed are in fuel efficiencies and intelligent power and thermal management.

Exhibitor Perspectives
Streamlight (Booth 1519) 
Streamlight’s portfolio of flashlights with disposable and rechargeable batteries are familiar to service men and women in the US, Germany, Australia and Sweden. For instance, since 2008, the Sidewinder and Sidewinder Composite II have been distributed to US Marines at service individual issue facilities. More recently, the Eagleville, Pennsylvania-based company’s SW Rescue omnidirectional strobe has found favor with special forces and other communities. The product’s programmable rate varies between 120 pulses per minute for water-borne application and at 50 pulses per minute for missions in the ground domain.

Matt Baker, the director of military and federal sales, commented on his company’s robust research and development effort, noting: “We expect to have an approximate 80% expansion of all weapon lights’ capabilities at the 2017 Shot Show.”                

BAE (Booth 2222) exhibited its first Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) completed under an engineering & manufacturing development (EMD) contract with the Marine Corps. In November 2015 the service awarded BAE Systems a $(US) 104 million contract and SAIC a $122 million contract to each build 13 vehicles now, with an additional three per company later, to support the ACV 1.1 programme. Under this programme, USMC seeks a wheeled-vehicle as a partial replacement for the legacy-era Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) fleet. ACV 1.1 vehicles have the major requirement to cross rivers and small bodies of water.

US Government testing of the ACV 1.1 vehicles is expected to begin in April 2017.  After an approximate 14-month testing phase, the USMC will select one of the two vendors to build 204 ACV 1.1 variants. The ACV 1.1 programme baseline technology will be used to advance to the Marine Corps’ future amphibious vehicle requirement to ACV 1.2 – with that programme’s requirements expected to include fully amphibious tracked vehicles “swimming” from ship-to-shore.

BAE’s ACV 1.1 design comes from Iveco’s SUPERAV 8x8 platform.  

John Swift, BAE’s ACV programme manager, and Nazario Bianchini, ACV 1.1 programme manager for Interational Projects at Iveco,  told a media briefing this afternoon attended by this correspondent,  “we’re ready for this programme’s low rate initial production.”

The ACV model viewed at this expo is able to perform the same mission as the legacy era USMC AAV in that it will be able to traverse waters in sea state 3 at 6 knots, and survive in sea state 4. But that is where the similarities end. Swift said his industry team’s ACV was “twice as survivable as an AAV” and the vehicle will "have a maximum speed on paved roads of about 70 mph.”

The BAE ACV 1.1’s powerpack has been increased during the last two years from 500 hp to 690 hp to provide more onboard subsystem growth capability. Conceptually, this increased power would permit the Marine Corps to add an unmanned 30mm weapon, overhead protection (roof armor), or other enhancements.

As the BAE ACV 1.1 hulls are being built in York, Pennsylvania, Iveco will be conducting some forward-looking ship-to-shore movement operations from an Italian Navy amphibious ship. This strategy will better prepare the BAE team for the more rigorous operational requirements expected in ACV 1.2.

Swift pointed out as the vehicle has no conventional axles, it supports a V-shaped full –enhancing passenger and crew protection. 

As all 16 BAE ACV 1.1 models are now in manufacturing, the industry team plans to incrementally deliver four vehicles a month to its USMC customer.

This author plans to attend a September 28 media briefing that will provide an update on the SAIC-led industry team’s ACV 1.1 contender. That model is based on ST Kinetic’s Terrex 2, also an 8x8. Briefing highlights will be included in the September 28 conference report.  

We have an unmanned aerial system (UAS) that will combine the vertical lift capability of a helicopter with the speed of a conventional fixed-wing aircraft, and it will be runway independent,” Vince Tobin, the vice president for Advanced Tiltrotor Systems at Bell Helicopter (Booth 2109), told this author about the new Bell V-247 “Vigilant”.

The V-247 is being offered to meet the USMC’s capabilities outlined in the 2016 Marine Corps Action Plan. This “could be available for production as early as 2023,” Tobin emphasised.

The new UAS design is a spiral development effort, combining best-of-breed capabilities from Bell’s heritage tiltrotor aircraft portfolio – including the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey and V-280 Valor.

The V-247 design will boast a diverse set of capabilities and features: it will be a sea-based platform capable of operating from and being stored on a US Navy DDG-51 hangar space; it will be a single engine tiltrotor unmanned aerial system; and will have a 250-knot cruise speed and 450 nm mission radius.

An open architecture-based modular payload system will provide flexibility and customisation by mission type – permitting the V-247 to carry high definition sensors, fuel sonar buoys, light detection and ranging modules, 360-degree surface radar models and other equipment.

Tobin also emphasized: “As it sits on deck it can hold a combination of fuel, armament and sensors up to 13,000 lbs.”

Marathon Targets (Booth 1016) is quickly expanding its presence in support of Marine Corps’ weapons training programmes. Currently, the Marines have the company’s robots based at the Weapons Training Battalion (WTB) at Quantico, and another fleet of robots on loan to the US Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group. Ralph Petroff, the president – US of Marathon Targets reported MARCORSYSCOM’s PM-TRASYS (Program Manager – Training Systems) in Orlando conducted two separate year-long tests and evaluations with very positive results.

The Marines will also soon be further evaluating the use of Marathon’s target system to fulfill their upcoming moving marksmanship requirements – and with good reason.  According to Petroff it has become obvious that all militaries have a fundamental capability gap: the only time their shooters do live fire training on realistic moving targets – is in actual firefights. “This violates the time-honored principle that you never want to do something for the first time on the battlefield that you haven’t trained for. This is especially true of a life-or-death skill like shooting a realistic moving target. Shooting the enemy - before the enemy shoots you - is fundamentally mission critical.” The industry veteran further noted this problem is a subset of a larger problem. “Although modeling and simulation improves significantly every five years, live fire training is little-changed in decades. The absence of any realistic moving targets is now recognized as an Achilles Heel of current live fire training.”

Enter Marathon Target’s moving robots, with realistic human-like behaviors, which take marksmanship beyond traditional fixed, pop-up, or rail mounted target systems.

For its part the USMC has a long relationship with Autonomous Robotic Human Type Targets (A-RHTT’s) and was the first service branch to obtain them. “In 2013 and 2014, the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) used robots as part of their comprehensive Moving Target Engagement Test (MTET). While trying to determine the optimum method of engaging a moving target, MCWL discovered that robots increased marksmanship by over 100 percent in just a few days. Shots per kill dropped dramatically – from 4.7 shots to only 2.3 shots. The WTB’s JSniPIM (Joint Sniper Improvement Methodology) underscored the difficult of moving target marksmanship, even among elite shooters,” he recalled.

Petroff also pointed to the maturation of autonomous robots to support marksmanship training. “When the Marines began their work in A-RHTT’s earlier this decade, such autonomous systems were considered somewhat ‘exotic’. But autonomous targets have become increasingly mainstream – militaries on four continents already use them. Autonomous robots are becoming more commonplace in society as a whole – with self-driving cars being a prime example.”

Marathon’s robotic products for live fire training have gained the attention of other US DoD components. Indeed, in addition to the MTET and JSniPIM studies for the USMC, the robots are frequent visitors to Quantico for a variety of shoots and competitions. Indeed, in the first two weeks of September, Marathon was at Quantico again to participate in the USMC’s marksmanship Tech Demo. Further, the robots were recently showcased at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California at the July 2016 Super Squad Competition. “Robots are always crowd pleasers at competitions,” Petroff pointed out. “In the last year they have been showcased at the FORSCOM [US Army Forces Command] Marksmanship Competition, International Sniper Competition, Best Soldier, Best Ranger, USASOC [United States Army Special Operations Command] Sniper Competition, and others. We expect to participate again this year at these and other competitions. Robots enhance competitions by greatly increasing the realism and the challenge of the shoot. Everyone agrees that the robots add a ‘real-world’ live fire experience that is unmatched outside an actual firefight.”

Marathon has recently introduced a new ‘training as service’ service programme in the US. At Modern Day Marine, Marathon Targets will have robots from its US rental fleet. “We currently have three trailers of rental robots in the US and they are constantly on the road to meet the demand from all corners of the country,” the industry expert said and added, “Renting robots is also a great way to gain experience with the robots prior to considering an outright purchase. Each trailer comes with an experienced robot engineer who can turn almost any range into a robot range in a day or less.”

Full motion video (FMV) has taken the military services’ tactical information portfolio to a higher plateau of effectiveness. FMV allows battle field units and staffs to track high value targets in real time while reducing collateral damage – providing as one military subject matter boldly said, was a “pattern of life” imagery of the battlefield.   

One company in this sector is Delta Digital Video (Booth 1000) which has been working with the government and military in remote monitoring applications for well over 20 years.

Delta's video compression technology supports [Textron Systems] Shadow and [Insitu] Scan Eagle missions for transmission of FMV,” George Nelson, the company’s vice president and general manager, explained. Elsewhere in its portfolio Digital Video is keeping pace with the demand for more FMV and other ISR products provided by UAS and other sensor platforms, by developing encoder configurations supporting multi-channel HD (high definition) and SD (standard definition) applications. Nelson added, “These products can be configured to provide real-time transmission and/or recording of up to eight high resolution video inputs, including the associated metadata.”

Of special note, the Horsham, Pennsylvania-based company continues to improve video processing performance with the latest high performance multimedia processors that not only improve and increase the resolution and frames per second capability, but provide this performance in smaller, lower power devices. This effort should resonate quite well with those in the Pentagon who monitor and track efforts to “lighten the load” on the department’s platforms. Indeed, Nelson pointed out Delta’s “MIL-qualified single-channel HD/SD encoder is now just 13 cubic inches, operating under 7 watts and weighing just 12 oz. (.3kg.). This compares to our first unit launched in 2006 which is 79 cubic inches, 20 watts and 3 lbs. [1.4 kg.].”

At 2016 MDM, the company is pleased to discuss its new H.265 development. H.265, also known as high efficiency video coding, is a video compression standard. “Delta will demonstrate this game-changing technology that will provide increased channel count and/or reduce the required bandwidth for air-to-ground and satellite FMV transmission while also reducing storage requirements on the archive side, all resulting in significant cost savings for the government,” Nelson emphasised.

EnerSys (Booth 3403) and its predecessor companies have been manufacturing industrial batteries for over 100 years.  Matt Maeder, the director of Customer Operations – Aerospace & Defense at the company, noted “we maintain our industry leadership position by providing our customers with world-class products and services that meet their end-use requirements. We achieve success through thorough research and development, test and evaluation, prototyping, quality control, and by maintaining solid supplier partnerships.” The Reading, Pennsylvania-based company’s battery experience includes lead-acid, nickel-zinc, as well as a large suite of lithium chemistries (thermal, liquid reserve, active primary, and secondary batteries). “This allows us to keep pace with the smaller-footprint, higher-density energy requirements required of today’s and tomorrow’s battlefields,” Maeder emphasised.  

EnerSys helps its Marine Corps customer maintain combat readiness with products including the Hawker®ARMASAFE Plus 6TAGM battery, which delivers the power, performance, and reliability necessary to meet that standard. “From rotary and fixed-wing aviation to tactical/ tracked vehicles to engineering and support equipment and electronic munition fuzes, EnerSys provides proven technology to meet our military’s power needs. Whether moving into position, actively engaged, or simply maintaining ‘silent watch’, EnerSys sealed valve-regulated lead-acid  absorbed glass mat batteries play a critical role in providing Marines with much needed power in austere, expeditionary environments,” the subject matter expert said, and added, “Furthermore, our lithium-chemistry suite of batteries for munitions fuzes tolerate decades of shelf life, are optimized for use in high-acceleration environments, and function across the full military temperature spectrum to ensure both dependability and lethality.”

The company is exhibiting at this MDM with a product portfolio familiar throughout the service. Indeed, supported US Marine Corps platforms include: aviation (F/A-18 Hornet, AV-8B Harrier, EA-6B Prowler, CH-53 Super Stallion, MV-22 Osprey, KC-130J Super Hercules, AH-1Z Super Cobra/Viper, UH-1Y Super Huey/Venom); tactical wheeled vehicles (HMMWV, MRAP, MATV, ITV, LAV, HIMARS, MTVR, LVS, LVSR, etc.); tracked vehicles (M1A1 Abrams Tank, M88, AAV-7, etc.); and engineering vehicles (RTCH, ABV, ABLV, LCRTF, etc.). EnerSys also enables support equipment (generators, radar sets, etc.) as well as electronic munition fuzes (artillery projectiles, tank projectiles, missiles).

Ultra Electronics TCS (Booth 3317) has a strong heritage in supplying USMC systems. In 2007 Ultra TCS supplied its AN/GRC-245 (HCLOS) radio to the USMC. The radio is at the core of the MRC-142 tactical architecture and is still in service today supporting Marine Expeditionary Forces. Furthermore, Ultra Electronics ATS’ Air Defense Systems Integrator (ADSI) can be found in both the legacy Marine Air Command and Control System (MACCS) and the new Common Aviation Command and Control System (CAC2S). On CAC2S, Ultra supports the prime (General Dynamics Mission Systems) in the development, integration and fielding of the Marine’s latest Command and Control System.

Sebastien Leblanc, vice president and general manager for Communications Systems at Ultra Electronics TCS, noted his company is responding the Marine Corps’ need for increased situational awareness, higher capacity, secure and reliable communications solutions. “In light of the recent spectrum sell-off, the USMC also requires higher frequency ranges. The USMC needs to do this while remaining interoperable with the Navy’s amphibious readiness groups which currently use Ultra TCS SRC-57 DWTS [Digital Wideband Transmission System] radio systems. Looking beyond short term requirements, the Ultra TCS platform also includes a separate smart phone access channel and other original features that will facilitate the future deployment of 4G LTE networks in tactical environments, the industry expert pointed out. Leblanc added, “On CAC2S, the USMC will be updating the ADSI to the latest MIL-STD message standards to include Variable Message Format and ensuring interoperability with updates to the MIDS LVT-11 Block Update II (BU2) for enhanced throughput.”  

Expo attendees will be able to speak with the Ultra team about other defence and security products.

In one instance, Ultra TCS’ ORION radios are multichannel, multiband, point-to-point, point-to multipoint and mesh capable. The X500-G (ground) provides broadband C4ISR connectivity across expeditionary forces while maintaining connectivity with ships or landing crafts. “The X500-S (shipboard) provides robust MIMO [multiple-input and multiple-output]-capable overwater communications to medium and large ships. The ORION software-defined radio system offers up to 1 Gbps throughput and provides operational flexibility within a small form factor,” Leblanc explained.

The X500-G was already adopted by echelons of the WIN-T [Warfighter Information Network-Tactical] expeditionary architecture while the X500-S can be used for multiple maritime applications such as coastal surveillance, maritime interdiction and force protection operations. Leblanc added, “ORION is the ideal solution for amphibious operations, maintaining secure high-capacity connectivity between floating operations centers, landing crafts and land based command posts. It offers long range communications of over 30 nm [56km] in ship-to-shore applications. This flexible system also has the unique ability to interoperate over-the-air with all land based MRC-142 assets and WIN-T AN/GRC-245 based systems and offers a separate smart device access channel. This greatly facilitates joint operations and legacy networks migration to new technology.”

Further, at 2016 Modern Day Marine, Ultra Electronics ATS (Advanced Tactical Systems) will be demonstrating their virtual ADSI that provides the user the flexibility to maintain their own hardware base and provide instant failover/switchover between VMs [peak/max. voltage] in the event of a failure without losing critical tactical information.

Marty Kauchak

Picture 1 shows a Marine at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California advances on robotic OPFOR provided by Marathon Targets Source: Marathon Targets

Picture 2: “We have an unmanned aerial system (UAS) that will combine the vertical lift capability of a helicopter with the speed of a conventional fixed-wing aircraft, and it will be runway independent,” Vince Tobin, the vice president for Advanced Tiltrotor Systems at Bell Helicopter (Booth 2109), told this author about the new Bell V-247 “Vigilant”. Source: Bell Helicopter

MDM16: Ultra TCS’ ORION Radios at the Show

Ultra TCS’ ORION radios are multichannel, multiband, point-to-point, point-to multipoint and mesh capable. The X500-G (ground) (below) provides broadband C4ISR connectivity across expeditionary forces while maintaining connectivity with ships or landing crafts.

Photo source: Ultra Electronics TCS
Marty Kauchak

MDM16: BAE Exhibits First Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV)

BAE exhibited its first Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) completed under an engineering & manufacturing development contract with the Marine Corps. BAE’s ACV design comes from Iveco’s SUPERAV 8x8 platform.  

Photo source: BAE
Marty Kauchak

27 September 2016

MDM16: GA-ASI Network Centric Communications Pod Enhances Long-Range Communications

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, announced at Modern Day Marine 2016 that its Network Centric Communications Pod (NCCP) successfully demonstrated the ability to provide a robust communications data link between Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) and US Marine Corps (USMC) ground and air forces during an exercise held at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC), Twentynine Palms, Calif., in July.

Integrated aboard a company-owned PREDATOR B Block 5 and operated by a company-owned Block 30 Ground Control Station (GCS), NCCP provided Adaptive Networking Wideband Waveform (ANW2) retransmissions and Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) availability while simultaneously providing C-band Remote Operational Video Enhanced Receiver (ROVER) Full-motion Video (FMV) to advantaged users who possessed highly sophisticated connectivity and communications equipment, as well as disadvantaged users on the battlefield who were equipped with Kinetic Integrated Low-cost Software Integrated Tactical Combat Handheld (KILSWITCH) tablets.

The successful demonstration of NCCP for the Marine Corps clearly shows the versatility and utility of Predator B in extending the communication ranges and mission capabilities of our forces in distributed operations,” Claudio Pereida, executive vice president, Mission Systems, GA-ASI, told MT. “We are proud to have supported the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit during this historic exercise, marking the first time that a Predator-series aircraft was equipped with NCCP.”

During the demonstration, soldiers experienced enhanced situational awareness through the expansion of their ANW2 and TTNT networks, greatly improving their ability to communicate and share information in a network that included both an airborne node and ground users. PREDATOR B also provided live FMV to soldiers’ ROVER, and the NCCP demonstrated the ability to stream FMV via ANW2 to USMC KILSWITCH tablets. Additionally, this data, along with imagery captured by GA-ASI’s LYNX Multi-mode Radar, was transmitted to Camp Pendleton’s Battle Simulation Center and displayed on GA-ASI’s CLAW 3 Integrated Sensor Payload Control and Analysis Software system, as well as GA-ASI’s System for Tactical Archival, Retrieval, and Exploitation (STARE) workstations. These data exploitation products greatly enhanced USMC’s intelligence analysis and targeting in the area of operations.
NCCP is a Quick Reaction Capability (QRC) developed to enhance and extend long-range communications, providing a medium-altitude gateway for airborne and ground communications networks systems that enables digital interoperability and connectivity for advantaged and disadvantaged users. This MCWL demonstration follows two previously successful GA-ASI electronic attack demonstrations for the USMC in 2013.

Kenyan and Jordanian Forces Train Together

King Abdulla II of Jordan and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya announced on 26 September that the two nations will forge stronger military cooperation links in order to deal better with emerging security threats. Special forces from the Kenyan Defence Force and Jordan’s Quick reaction Force have already begun joint training, while Jordan has sent an instructor to train Kenyan fighter pilots, 38 of whom will be trained by February 2017.

The announcement was made while both leaders observed Exercise “Swift Eagle” at the Humanitarian Peace Support School, located at Embakasi Garrison in Nairobi. The exercise focused on counter-terrorist and hostage rescue techniques.

President Kenyatta said he appreciated, “the assistance the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has extended to our defence forces, enhancing our Air Force and air crew capacity through a training programme covering diverse skills.” King Abdullah is conducting his first state visit to Kenya, during which it is understood the two nations will seek to improve trade relations, strained in recent years.