MBDA confirmed today that its PARS 3 Long Range (LR) guided missile system has been short listed for the Indian Army helicopter future air-to-ground requirement. MBDA Deutschland is also cooperating with Russian helicopter manufacturers Kamov and Mil, integrating the Ka-52 and Mi-28 with PARS 3 LR air/ground and Mistral Air/Air missiles.
MBDA submitted a proposals for its PARS 3 LR multi-target, long range weapon system for HAL’s Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH DHRUV) and for two attack helicopters, the KAMOV KA-52 and the MIL MI-28, proposed for a parallel Indian Air Force replacement of Mi-25 gunships. The Tiger from Eurocopter hasn’t been shortlisted, the only competitor remaining is the Boeing Apache Longbow Block III. On the weapon’s side MBDA is competing with RAFAEL for the Indian Army program. The Longbow can use Hellfire laser guided missiles or Longbow MMW guided missiles. MBDA is expecting a final selection in India by year’s end or early 2012. The Indian Air Force program may take longer.
PARS 3LR anti-tank missile launched from a German Army Tiger attack helicopter during a recent test conducted at the test range in Vidsel, Sweden. Photo: MBDA
According to Peter Meuthen, MBDA anti-tank programs sales manager, the recent firing trials held at the Vidsel test range in Sweden in April 2011 were performed in support of the Indian program qualification. All three missiles were equipped with live warheads and all three struck their intended targets at the optimal hit points. Two firings were carried out within one minute of each other, the first against a static target at a range of 7,000 m and the second against a moving target at a range of 700 m. The third firing was carried out with the helicopter in fast forward flight against a static target at a range of 7,000 m.
PARS 3 LR is a ‘Fire and Forger’ /long-range third generation missile. At present, the missile was selected only for the Tiger helicopter ordered by the German Army. Equipped with a powerful tandem warhead, PARS 3 is capable of engaging mobile and stationary targets at long range (in the recent tests the missile demonstrated engagement at ranges of 7,000 m’. Another capability highlighted by the weapon is the rapid firing capability, in a recent test conducted for the German Bundeswehr four missiles were launched in 10 seconds, each engaging a separate target.
MBDA Deutschland is currently preparing for serial production of PARS 3 LR missiles delivering 680 missiles to equip German Army Tiger helicopters by 2014. Production is scheduled to begin in 2012 following a final firing campaign scheduled for September 2011, where missiles will be fired at tactical representative targets rain (urban, moving targets etc). According to Patrick de la Reveliere, MBDA India the each of the two programs in Indian is several times larger than the German procurement, offering substantial gain and significant offset opportunities to India. MBDA Deutchland is setting a production line capable of producing 50 missiles per month, more than twice that required to fulfil the German order (up to 20 /month).
The contract for industrialisation and series production of the PARS 3 LR missiles will be managed by PARSYS, a joint venture between LFK-Lenkflugkörpersysteme GmbH (50%), now MBDA Deutschland, and Diehl BGT Defence (50%). Development of the overall PARS 3 LR system was formally completed in mid-2004. However, MBDA Deutschland has been manufacturing key components (electronics, launchers) of the PARS 3 LR system which have then been integrated by Eurocopter into the platform since the series production contract for the 80 Tiger helicopters was signed in 1998.
The PARS 3LR weapon was developed under a three-nation cooperation (TRIGAT), which fell apart upon the withdrawal of British support. Later, the French MOD decided to discontinue its support leaving Germany to back the program. A possible Indian order could bring the missile back to the limelight. Photo: Tamir Eshel, defense Update
Going through a generation shift, Elbit Systems focuses its activities on the ‘growth engines’ that will take it through the next levels, in the 2020’s.
“The products that form our backlog today are the results of our past investments. We usually talk about ‘growth engines’ when discussng where we want to be in the future, where we want to grow in ten years time” Joseph Ackerman, Elbit President & CEO told Defense Update. “To sustain such foresight you need accurate forecasting and understanding of future market needs and trends. we see C4ISR, particularly applications of wide area dominance or persistent surveillance and intelligence.
Through life support, including training services, logistics and support for complex systems could form another growth engine for us while various aspects oh homeland security should necome another growth trend.” Elbit Systems has been offering advanced capabilities through all these areas in the past, but in the future the company intend to grow and widen its offerings in these fields.
In recent years Elbit Systems has grown dramatically, leveraging mergers and acquistions (M&A) to sustain rapid growth. “I regard M&A as equal to organic growth, in fact, based on our past experience of merging some 40 acquisitions, growth through M&A nears less risk than Research and Development (R&D) and could get you to your target faster, and often at a lower cost.” Ackerman added. The company’s business philosophy has also changed. “We started as a ‘built to print’ company, evolved into ‘built to spec’ and now, we are positioned as a ‘built for need’ scheme. Today, many customers prefer to define their requirements in broad terms, leveraging more responsibility to the supplier to come up with the most recommended, lowest risk solution.”
Outsourcing services fall under Elbit Systems training and support programs, offered to air forces and military forces worldwide. “As military organizations are called to trim fat and reduce budgets, old school concepts are scrutinized and non-core plans are outsourced to benefit from what the competitive commercial market can offer” Ackerman said. “Customers requirements for 90% availability can be obtained only through commercial outsourcing” Ackerman said.
In recent years his company has won outsourcing and Private Financing Initiatives (PFI) projects maintaining basic trainers, training helicopters, intermediate and advanced trainers for the IAF and recently announced winning similar activities in Mccedonia. “Simulators are another part of the training which we are covering, not every task has to be done by actual flying, in fact, smoe aspects of training and flight proficiency development should be done on the ground, in realistic simulation. Elbit maintains such facilities under PFI or ‘per use’ basis, reducing operational expenses for training while gaining higher proficiency prior to live training, as crews are better prepared for these final phases.
As for the commercial field, Elbit Systems has recently acquired the US MRO provider M7 which specializes in supporting government and commercial aircraft fleets. “Our synergy with M7 was clear, as they had mastered the MRO activities but did not have electronics systems support which we offer. Together we can offer more comprehensive solutions. “The interest in advanced avionics tailored for the commercial aircraft market is also growing” said Ackerman, acknowledging the company has already sold hundreds of Enhanced Vision Systems, (EVS), civil Head Up Displays (HUD) and avionics to civil fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. “At the early stage, such avionic systems were limited to high end business jets, but today, affordable solutions are available to any operator that requires operating from less developed airfields.”
EL AL President & CEO Elyezer Shkedy, former IAF Commander in Chief, and Gideon Sheffer, Executive VP Strategic Planning & Business Development, Elbit Systems, briefing Shkedy on the new Commercial C-MUSIC missile countermeasures developed by Elbit. The systems are being acquired by Israel's Ministry of Transportation for use on EL-AL passenger planes. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
The latest civilian spin-off is the Commercial MUSIC (C-MUSIC) – a directional EO countermeasure suite designed to protect aircraft and helicopters from man-portableanti-aircraft air defense missile systems (MANPADS). “C-Music in addressing such threats, becoming more acute. Its latest configuration is unveiled here at the Paris Airshow. The system was selected for deployment on all the aircraft operated by Israeli airlines, and have also gained initial international orders.
BlueBird Aero Systems is displaying its latest electrically-powered mini-UAVs, including the sub-kilogram MicroB, the combat proven Skylite mini-UAV and the flying-wing shaped Boomerang small-UAV, which has demonstrated mission endurance of 10 hours, powered by fuel cells, a record unmatched by other small-UAS of its class.
The Globe-I lightweight multi-sensor payload installed in the nose of the MicroB micro UAV. Photo: Bluebird Aero Systems
Beside these innovative US systems BlueBird has pioneered a number of UAV related technologies, related to power sources and sensors. In 2008 the company has patented an innovative multi-sensor payload, called Globe-i. A daylight EO payload designed to enable micro-UAVs to cover a large area. Globe-i enables this feature without using moving parts, resulting in lighter, more reliable and affordable payloads.
Common gimbaled cameras are usually stabilized, integrated with expensive electronics and accurate mechanics and thus expensive and impact sensitive due to their high complexity. For micro-mini UAVs, cameras are typically implemented with fix mounts, to accommodate size, weight and power restrictions. The Globe-i concept implements multiple fixed CMOS sensors, each mounted to a different direction. The cameras are fixed-mounted in such a way that each camera overlaps the camera beside it, to enable image continuation. The Window of Interest (WOI) can be moved continuously between the sensors to enable the ‘gimbals’ effect. Only the WOI is transmitted to the ground via the video datalink. An integrated DSP reads the images from the sensors and enables scrolling the window of interest by changing the window size and zoom factor. The system’s processor supports image processing capabilities such as stabilization and tracking. In addition, Globe-i can store real-time video and high resolution images in its internal memory.
Globe-i combines the best of both worlds, the ability to provide continuous video image with controlled line of sight, but without using moving parts (line of sight stabilizing gimbals, zoom motors etc). These capabilities enable users of Micro-UAVs to gain operational capabilities similar to larger UAVs, with better operational reliability and significantly lower cost. Potential applications for Globe-i are endless, as the payload is positioned as simple and affordable to military, law enforcement, emergency and commercial applications, from remote monitoring of meters, electrical power line surveillance, and landscape monitoring to traffic management and reporting, border security or even wide area ISTAR missions employing micro-UAV swarms.
ELTA Systems Ltd., an Israel Aerospace Industries’ group and subsidiary, presents the MAPSAT (ELK 1895)- a tactical Man Portable Satellite Communication (SATCOM) Terminal. The system, weighting only 8.5 kg,. is carried by a single soldier operating in special missions. The terminal can be rapidly deployed and connected to predefined available commercial Ku-Band communication satellites.
The MAPSAT (ELK 1895) - a tactical Man Portable Satellite Communication (SATCOM) Terminal. Photo: IAI
The operational, field- proven ELK-1895 is communicates voice and high data rate within a network including many subscribers such as Special Forces fighters and their commanding post. All subscribers, within the communication satellite footprint, communicate, via a communication link, without revealing their geo-location.
The need for tactical SATCOM for Ground Forces is growing due to net-centric operations that require long range, OTH (Over-The-Horizon), all- weather communication between fighting forces and their Head Quarters.
IAI/ELTA SATCOM products include both narrow-band and wide-band system. Helicopter SATCOM includes special algorithms that enable uninterrupted SATCOM even through helicopter blades.
A new face at the Paris Air Show 2011 is UVision, a small company from Israel, specializing in special purpose UAVs. The highlights of the company’s display is the WASP personal, mini UAV that has performance characteristics of a missile, with the versatility, user control and reusability of a UAV.
The WASP mini-UAV displayed by UVision at the Paris Air Show 2011. Photo: Tamir Eshel, defense-Update
UVision has built the WASP as a back-packable, canister-launched system, weighing about three kilograms, including the UAV, payload and launch tube. The mini UAV has a 80 mm diameter cylindrical shape with two foldable, cruciform wing sets, developing ‘extreme manueverability’ to overcome weather and terrain constraints. The manufacturer mentions the WASP is launched pneumatically from the canister using custom designed mini launcher, but does not mention a retrieval mechanism, alluding to the mini-drone’s “reusable, yet priced to be expendable” characteristics.
The aerodynamic design also provides for high agility and precision flight not often associated with UAV designed. The UAV has unique operating modes, from very high dash speed over 100 knots, to low speed below 60 knots.
The WASP is equipped with specially developed EO sensor comprising a two-axis stabilized CCD color sensor or uncooled thermal sensor and automatic tracker. It also has a dual dataling, with separate chanels for control uplink and sensor downlink. The mission radius is up to five kilometers.
WASP has a payload capacity of up to 1 kg, but the designers delivered an EO payload that weighs only 115 grams (180 gr. for the thermal payload), leaving enough volume and weight for additional storage. Employing low cost avionics and payload, and powered by primary batteries, WASP was designed from baseline to be a low cost and expendable system.
WASP is designed as a compact system, the fuselage length is 700 mm; it is attached to folding wings, opening to a 670mm span, this mini UAV is easily carried and operated by the warfighter.
VADM (Ret.) Yedidia Yaari, President and CEO of Rafael
RAFAEL offers a wide range of leading edge solutions, from defensive measures for submarines and surface vessels, through land systems to airborne and space-based systems. Since it transformed from an MOD operated unit into a commercial company RAFAEL has grown its domestic and export, reporting $1.852 million in sales in 2010, representing15 percent growth over 2009. Furthermore, at 4.3 percent RAFAEL’s operating profit and $301,000 in sales per employee, RAFAEL demonstrated the highest performance among Israel’s government owned defense companies.
Defense Update asked VADM (Ret.) Yedidia Yaari, President and CEO of Rafael, what makes RAFAEL successful?
Yaari: “Maintaining its original role as Israel’s leading defense technology development center RAFAEL is also a growing and profitable company, active in the global market. This unique position enables us to offer our customers with full solutions, addressing urgent requirements in a short time.”
Defense Update: How do you see RAFAEL’s way forward in international markets?
Yaari: “We invest significant resources and marketing effort in developing our international activity to increase the share of export, establishing new partnerships, acquisition of foreign companies and opening new markets.
One of RAFAEL’s strengths is its proven ability to cooperate, transfer knowhow and technology and meet foreign offset requirements. We do it in many countries, in different programs – one such example is the local production of Spike missiles overseas, in countries such as Spain and Poland. Through such cooperative programs RAFAEL leverages its technological knowhow and superior weapon system to gain new markets.
Considering itself as ‘team player’, RAFAEL implements cooperation in many areas, with tens of partners from many countries, enabling us to achieve significant achievements in the international market. RAFAEL pursue the strategy of establishing joint ventures and local partnerships for many years and the trend is growing as our foreign markets transform from BUY to MAKE, where relying on local enterprises enables you to transfer technology, know how and local production. “In the upcoming months we expect to see new developments in this area, both domestically and overseas.”
Defense Update: What about mergers in your domestic market, IMI for example?
Yaari:“We have always said that the most logical and efficient way forward is to integrate IMI with RAFAEL, to benefit of the synergy of the two companies and utilize existing infrastructures. Nevertheless, since RAFAEL moved a long way since being an MOD unit and the last thing we want is an acquisition or merger that will risk RAFAEL’s financial stability.” I hope those responsible for this process will enable RAFAEL to perform a fair due diligence to enable both sides to take the right decision that will serve both sides.
RAFAEL seems to have less issues with being a government owned company. Why?
Yaari: Since RAFEAL began its way as an MOD unit, our current status as a government owned company offers us much flexibility and operational freedom than before. We went a long way with the government officials in establishing speedy processes enabling us to pursue our business plans.
Defense Update: Two of RAFAEL’s combat systems were successfully tested in battle this year, Could you describe how these development processes evolved?
Yaari: “RAFAEL invests significant resources in research and development, at levels unmatched by other business corporations. This investment, the close relations wit our strategic customers, being the national defense development lab and highly skilled workforce enables RAFAEL to pioneer many fields. Our developments follow the five-year plans we have set and re-examine periodically, addressing multi-year plans of our customers, setting the requirements for the systems we develop.
This year, two of our weapon systems were proven successful in combat, marking a world breakthrough in active defense – the Trophy active protection system for armored vehicles and Iron Dome, countering ballistic rockets. Both were developed by some of our best tears and both are on display here at the Paris Air-Show.