Singapore Technologie’s Kinetics (ST Kinetics) has teamed with AmSafe, the developer and producer of TarianRPG protection system, to offer the lightweight, textile-based RPG protection system on its Warthog all terrain armored vehicles. The Warthog is currently in service with the British Army in Afghanistan. A lighter version – the Bronco – is in service with the Singapore land forces. The two companies announced today their intention to join forces in marketing the Tarian counter-RPG solution worldwide. The Memorandum of Understanding outlines plans for both companies to collaborate with the aim of ST Kinetics to offer AmSafe’s RPG protection as an option on its vehicles and market the product in certain territories where they already have a strong presence.
Tarian was developed as a lightweight modular system designed to replace the traditional bar or slat armor at a weight saving of up to 98%. The technology has been tested in the UK and US, enduring over 650 firing shots, verifying the system’s performance and multi-hit capability. Arizona based AmSafe, the producer of the Tarian system specializes in safety and securement products for the aviation industry, providing seat belts, cargo and barrier net restraints and air bags. Its military products also include the textile armor and various cargo restraints systems.
ITT is expanding the Spearhead family of tactical radios, the company is releasing today the SpearheadHF Radio at the DSEi 2011 exhibition in London. The new software defined radio (SDR) is a multibandHF/VHF system offering long range communications, with the high frequency (HF) segment overcoming range line of sight and terrain limitations restricting communications in the higher bands (VHF/UHF). According to ITT the new Spearhead HF offers communications interoperability with existing legacy SINCGARS systems, including export versions such as RT-1702, in addition to integration with other Spearhead family VHF radios. Spearhead HF is offered as a ruggedized 20W manpack radio or a 150W vehicular or base station unit.
As an SDR the system supports specific waveforms including advanced data waveform, digital voice, GPS and communications security (COMSEC), encryption and counter-countermeasures (ECCM). The unit also has cross-band repeater function bridging between HF and VHF networks as a communications repeater.
Oshkosh Defense has unveiled today the Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle (L-ATV), a new class of vehicle designed to meet the military’s new trend toward lighter, deployable yet highly protected tactical vehicles. Based on its extensive experience with and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) and the medium weight variant, (M-ATV), comprising a major part of teh U.S. Army vehicle fleets in Iraq and Afghanistan, Oshkosh anticipates the next generation of light combat military vehicles require new levels of mobility and protection to operate effectively in remote, rugged and hostile landscapes.
“We designed the L-ATV to address the rapidly evolving threats and provide troops with greater ability to navigate through extreme driving conditions,” said Ken Juergens, vice president and general manager of Joint Programs for Oshkosh Defense. “Battlefields have changed – threats are more dangerous, operating environments are more rugged and fuel efficiency is more important than ever. The L-ATV is designed to meet these challenges, today and well into the future, just as our M-ATV continues to meet evolving battlefield threats without comprising its payload and off-road mission profile.” He added the new L-ATV incorporates field-proven technologies, advanced armor solutions and expeditionary levels of mobility, to set to redefine safety and performance standards for the U.S. Armed Forces and international militaries.
Key for the vehicle’s off-road mobility is the Oshkosh TAK-4i independent suspension system, the next generation of Oshkosh’s TAK-4 suspension system currently used with the M-ATV. Employing this advanced suspension. The TAK-4i technology uses a proprietary technology to deliver 20 inches of independent wheel travel – 25 percent more wheel travel than any vehicle in the U.S. military’s fleets. The L-ATV’s armored capsule is scalable and can accept multiple armor configurations to protect troops from IEDs and today’s other prevalent battlefield threats. The capsule is optimized for protection, weight and mobility, and its modular and flexible design allows the vehicle to accept a greater range of upgrades and continuous enhancements.
The L-ATV’s engine delivers expanded power capabilities, greater fuel efficiency and integrated communications for improved diagnostics and maintenance over legacy engine technologies currently fielded. Oshkosh also prepared the vehicle to employ the ProPulse diesel-electric hybrid powertrain, providing a powertrain option that can be readily implemented to maximize the vehicle’s efficiency through improved fuel economy, high levels of exportable power for use in stationary positions or on the move and lower life-cycle costs.
Anticipates a growing demand for the new class of vehicles and has set, Oshkosh defense counts on its large scale manufacturing capabilities, which has ramped up to exceed 1,000 vehicle deliveries per month for the M_ATV program. Addressing military requirements for rapid modifications, the line was designed for flexible production, allowing the company to quickly incorporate production changes or retrofit vehicles with additional armor or upgrades as needed.
In a briefing at the recent Land Warfare conference held in Latrun, Israel earlier this month, the commander of the IDF Northern Command, Major General Gershon HaCohen, examined maneuver and fire alternatives and their role against the evolving hybrid warfare challenges. “It is obvious land maneuver is not a goal in itself. Classic maneuver should shake an enemy force out of balance, however, maneuvering against irregular, ‘disappearing’ forces is difficult due to the lack of clear center weights” said HaCohen.
In a previous article we examined the evolution of the Syrian army and Iranian backed insurgent organization Hezbollah into a semi-irregular military organization specializing in hybrid warfare. This type of operation offers several advantages to such formations, particularly in their ability to sustain overwhelming odds and survive. However, it practically eliminates their ability to conduct meaningful offensive operations.
How can a conventional, technologically superior army like the IDF can degrade the fighting capability of such ‘hybrid’ forces and how do one assess the wear, remaining combat capability and operational potential of such irregular forces? In the linear war, where ‘battalions’ ‘brigades’ and ‘divisions’ form the main fighting power, clearly defined numerical data is available, sensing groups of fighting vehicles, and translating the information into clearly defined targets which are ‘dead’ or ‘live’. Under such conditions, having destroyed military formations could be regarded as final, or at least temporary, until enemy reinforcements could arrive to replace the losses, which would take time and further opportunities for targeting. However such clear definition cannot be attributed to a small commando unit, irregular guerrilla element or remotely controlled rocket site being activated at will.
Eliminating the threat of rockets has also become a major concern for the Israeli Army. Sustaining continuous rocket attacks (launching ‘flow’) is a critical capability the Hezbollah developed and maintained through the duration of the conflict, achieving a kind of ‘strategic parity’ with the Israelis. “Fighting against rocket launchers is different from operating against the regular military” HaCohen admits, “You cannot take such arrays out of balance.” While known targets can be eliminated by an opening, or deliberate strike conducted with precision fires and air attacks. “Ongoing precision engagements throughout the campaign are gradually eroding the enemy’s launching capability, but are depending on human-intensive intelligence analysis processes, but remain only effective operational guidance as long as they are real-time assets.” HaCohen explained.
Even this highly sophisticated phase gradually loses momentum, as the enemy adapts and find ways to avoid our attacks. In fact sporadic or unreliable information becomes virtually worthless and limits or even denies precision engagement capability. “Once the precision engagement phase loses momentum, it is time to consider the land maneuver to achieve its massive effect by exposing the enemy and eliminating its combat elements with superior firepower and rapid movement, in concentrated action.” he stressed.
General Hacohen is warning of the military tendency to shift from understanding the art of war and mastering it in complex operations, towards virtual management systems, using modern technology to monitor events from afar, rather than keeping abreast in personal directing critical phases during the mission. He stresses, that hi-tech systems, used as tools of command are highly effective means to monitor real-time situation awareness, preventing fratricide, but cannot replace the commander’s authority in directing combat itself.
Overusing technology in complex combat situations (like the 2006 Lebanon War) can cause a so-called ‘production line’ process, in which the commander is depending on highly effective information process, streamlined towards execution of precision engagement, seemingly achieving maximum yields. However, in understanding the merits of effective land warfare maneuvers, constant involvement of the higher command level with the subordinated units becomes crucial in sudden changes in the battle-plan. The commander’s personal intervention in the right moment can create the opportunities for winning wars.
“Unlike precision engagement processes that depend on intelligence and targeting to achieve their goals, land maneuver forces can operate autonomously, employing its integral assets to obtain the updated information necessary in targeting, to engage the enemy directly, or create the opportunities for other elements in engaging that enemy, if placed in superior firing locations. Ground maneuver forces can respond rapidly and contain unexpected situations, defeat the enemy and create adequate conditions toward achieving the conflicts’ ‘end phase’. However, in retrospect of recent conflicts, seizing enemy territory is no longer the ideal solution to reach a long term end of campaign.” HaCohen said.
Following the 2006 war the political leadership became reluctant to employ land maneuver, as primary means for armed conflict. This indecisiveness proved dangerous during the 2009/10 Operation ‘Cast Lead’ and prevented achieving a strategic victory, with long term benefits. The political leadership turned down several proposals from the military to seize and retake the 1994 agreed ‘Philadelphi’ line southwest of Rafah, along the international border with Egypt. In securing this highly strategic line, would have cut once and for all the umbilical cord feeding the vital weapon supply line into the Gaza strip, which inevitably would eventually dry up the weapons caches of Hamas. Unfortunately, the IDF preferred to go after irregular forces in the Northern part of the Gaza strip, in an effort to apply more pressure and eradicate rocket launchers, which, if the former solution would have been chosen, would have stopped, due to lack of supplies, for an unspecified term, forcing Hamas to find alternatives.
A crucial element, which is currently dominating modern warfare is high precision fire, hitherto never available to ground commanders.
Presenting a relatively new phenomena in 21st Century warfighting, is often blurring between the definition of ‘offense’ and ‘defense’, particularly when addressing those precision fires. In a rapidly moving offense, lack of clearly defined targeting makes it hard for a conventional military force to direct an offensive move against an invisible enemy, particularly after an opening phase has eliminated the pre-allocated ‘target bank’ prepared in advance. Superior precision fires that depend on high quality and precise intelligence and real-time targeting information is slow to catch up, and with the absence of clearly defined fighting formations, what and who are you attacking?
Employing maneuver forces at this phase could rout out and reveal these hidden elements, forcing them to react and expose themselves, by fighting back or trying to escape. At this phase planners should ask themselves what is the purpose of their action: is it to seize and dominate the occupied territory? clear a location from enemy forces? Destroy the enemy’s fighting capability or stop them from firing at you? The answer is both difficult and highly complex in modern counter insurgency and ‘hybrid’ warfare, the latter only being in its first steps.
The Fire Shadow loitering weapon system is maturing toward a planned initial deployment in Afghanistan with the British Army next year. MBDA has performed several successful tests recently, the latest system-wide trial was conducted in Sweden in May 2011. According to MBDA, the demonstration trials and firings tests pave the way for a planned entry into service next year with the British Army. The Army plans to deploy the new weapon in Afghanistan, significantly extending the reach, coverage and persistent of current artilleryfires.
The first of these firing tests, using a complete weapon system, was carried out on 21st November 2010 at Vidsel, Sweden to demonstrate system integration, launch, stable flight, waypoint navigation and data-link function which supports the maturation of the munition and its control. The munition flew for several tens of kilometres and its trajectory included a number of manoeuvres, such as a loitering pattern. A second test followed a year later, on May 13th 2011 at the same location, employing a more complex trial scenario, exercising the ‘Man-In-The-Loop’ functionality. Throughout the flight the operator was able to select and successfully engage a representative target.
“Fire Shadow fills a gap in the capabilities needed by the Armed Forces“ says Steve Wadey, Executive Group Director Technical and MBDAUK Managing Director, “The system’s potential is such that it lends itself to new roles and has been designed to adapt and evolve to ensure that weapon provides an operational edge now and for the future.“ he added saying the new capability will be ready for delivery to the UK early 2012.
British Army personnel also had a chance to experience the new weapon “hands-on” at the MBDA integration lab at Filton and Bedford, tailored to provide the “look and feel” of the system. The lab enables the military to refine Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) and prepare for formal training later in 2010. The system was also demonstrated to operate seamlessly within a modern battlespace HQ context at the Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration event.
Loitering weapons captured the imagination of the UK MOD in the 1990 after an operational analys examining artilleryfires capabilities concluded that the artillery required greater precision at range. Better responsiveness and persistent capability to attack individual and groups of manoeuvring and mobile land targets in cluttered environment was required, as an element of the future Indirect Fire Precision Attack (IFPA) programme. Following many iterations, the analysis recommended the loitering munition capability as a key element of any IFPA mix of weapon systems. After more than a decade, this revolutionary concept has matured into the Fire Shadow weapon system, a concept offering the land component an organic, flexible fires effects capable of timely, precisely and persistently support at appropriate ranges, allowing simultaneous attack in deep, close and rear operations throughout the spectrum of conflict.
Fire Shadow provides a precision capability to engage high value targets in complex scenarios. Surface launched, the munitions have a range of about 100 km and can conduct a direct transit to target or be positioned to loiter in the airspace for a significant time (about 6 hours). A Man-In-The-Loop decision then enables a precise and rapid attack against a selected target.
Fire Shadow can be targeted by a range of ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) systems, for example a forward observer with binoculars or a sophisticated system such as a UAV. If required, the Fire Shadow could loiter in the target area for about 6 hours and will be particularly effective in complex environments such as urban areas. After launch, Fire Shadow may receive real-time target information from a range of sources in a potentially networked environment.