Monthly Archives: October 2011

In our coverage of last year’s event we unveiled the new Gilboa Assault Pistol Rifle (APR). This year, Silver Shadow is displaying a Production ready model APR, an ultra compact weapon designed specifically for close quarter combat, VIP protection and special forces and commanders; the APR will also offer an excellent survival weapon for helicopter aircrews, offering improved range, accuracy and lethality, compared to pistols.

Amos Golan, Silver Shadow CEO demonstrate the lightweight and compact Gilboa APR. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense Update

The overall length of the Gilboa APR is 398mm, (15.6″) and its loaded weight is 2.820 kg (including a full 30 round magazine). The chrome lined barrel is 165mm (6.5″) in length, firing 5.56×45 (M-855/SS-109) rounds. The handgun comes with four Mil-STD 1913 Accessory Rails (Picatiny) providing attachment options for a wide range of accessories.

The new patented design incorporates a combined gas and recoil spring actuating system integrated in the weapon’s body, a feature enabling the designers to optimize the foldable stock in terms of weight and ergonomics, allowing the shooter to employ the weapon in shoulder firing position. In fact, the APR remains fully operational with the stock completely detached. Compared to Bullpup designs the APR is claimed to offer lighter, smaller and safer performance, as the chamber position is maintained as far as possible from the shooter, contributing to safer operation. Other ergonomic elements include a pistol grip that comes with built-in storage compartment.

The overall length of the Gilboa APR is 398 mm (15.6") with 165mm (6.5") barrel. The loaded weight is 2.82 kg (including a full 30 round magazine). The Gilboa APR comes with four Mil-STD 1913 Accessory Rails (Picatiny) providing attachment options for a wide range of accessories. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update

    ISDEF 2011 opened today at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Center highlights new tools and techniques available for emergency response, law enforcement, counter terror and special operations. Today the show also included rescue operations and handling of hazardous materials, demonstrated by rescue teams from Israel’s fire brigades. Defense Update sponsoring the event, is reporting on some of the new systems we spotted at the show.

    The Israeli fire brigade's special rescue team trained for rescue operations from high elevations demonstrated the evacuation of casualties and survivors from high elevation. The unit is trained to rappel personnel at a rate of 60 personnel per hour from an altitude of up to 300 meters. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update

    Gilboa APR (Silver Shadow)

    Silver Shadow Gilboa APR

    One of the first items that caught our eyes was the new Gilboa APR, an ultra compact assault pistol we unveiled last year. The manufacturer, Silver Shadow told us they have completed development and engineering, introducing some new features, and the weapon is now ready for production. (read more)

    A Compact Concept Weapon from Cornershot

    Silver Shadow is also displaying here a compact version of its famous Cornershot. The new model introduces a super-compact weapon system. As the standard model, the ompact weapon is designed to fit a handgun, video camera and articulated display with the compact version weighing and measuring about half. Silver Shadow personnel emphasized the model displayed here is only an evaluation model. “The classic Cornershot is a balanced system, offering combatants the advantage of ‘around the corner’ vision and effect balanced with ergonomic comfort, and operational safety, the small dimensions of the compact model offer some advantages, but has not matured yet into an operational system.

    A new concept model of a 'Cornershot Compact' weapon was on display by Silver Shadow. Photo: Tamir Eshel Defense-Update.

    Magshue 3D – Beefing the Gatekeeper

    Magshoe 3D series metal detector from Ido Security is another innovative product shown at ISDEF for the first time. The system first introduced at Milipol 2011 earlier this month, is designed especially for the aviation security applications. The detector is optimized for detection of metal objects concealed at the lower body, where conventional detectors are mostly challenged. According to Avishai Rotshtain, marketing product manager, the Magshoe provides automatic detection of guns, and parts of guns, knives and other concealed metal objects while maintaining low false alarm rate, ignoring metal parts normally found in footwear, like heels, zippers and ornaments. The Magshoe 3G is already operational with several security agencies in Israel.

    Magshoe 3G metal detection system complementing magnetic detector gates detecting weapons concealed in the lower body and footwear, areas where conventional gates are limited in detection capability. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense Update.

    Amstaf Combat Support UGV

    Amstaf Tactical Robot

    A new robot at the show is new weaponized version of the Amstaf from Automotive Robotic Industries (ARI). The company has already displayed the security guard version in the past, and the system is currently being evaluated for airport security missions. The combat support vehicle represents ARI’s concept of a vehicle combining the fire support and load carrying platform (mule), supporting dismounted infantry teams. (read more)

    Gunshot Detecting UAVs

    Microflown Avisa is now offering UAV acoustic sensors to equip miniature UAVs. At ISDEF Microflown highlights the sensor integrated on a Aerovironment Raven, offering effective situational awareness for small units operating the miniature drone. According to John Bremner, business development manager at Microflown, the sensor weighing about 200 grams can be best integrated in the mini UAVs employing pusher propellers, as it offers a clean environment for the system. The sensor can also be integrated on aerostats, typically operated on force protection missions. (read more)

    Microflown Avisa displayed here an acoustic sensor for UAVS, enabling micro drones to detect gunshots from seven kilometers. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense Update.

    Israeli trainees are introduced to the Quantum ExpeditionDI at ISDEF 2011. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update

    Virtual World to Prepare Soldiers for the Real Fight

    Quantum 3D displayed here the ExpeditionDI wearable simulator, also known as ‘immersive dismounted infantry training platform’; the system was recently ordered by the U.S. Army to help preparing U.S. forces for missions to foreign theaters. The $50 million contract was awarded to Intelligent Decisions, where Quantum as a subcontractor, is expected to deliver several thousands systems over 18 months. The evaluation of the trial batches is scheduled to begin at Ft. Bennings in January 2012, supporting the Army’s Force Generation (ARFORGEN) cycle. (read more…)

    CTI unveils the Octopus, Wearable Computer for the IDF

    ComputerTech International (STI) has unveiled several Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) computers designed for military operations, introducing higher performance yet cost effective computing solutions for military users. The new Tamnun (Octopus in Hebrew) was developed to support the IDF dismounted command and control system. Originally the IDF considered a fully militarized solution, but the Digital Army Computer System (DACS) was proven to deliver more affordable and flexile solution using off the shelf hardware which typically advances faster than military systems. DACS is now being integrated with the IDF Digital Army System (Zayad) army-wide C4I system provided by Elbit Systems. At a weight of 7.76 lbs. (3.52kg) DACS comprises a computer ‘core’ provided by Black Diamond, integrated with GPS receiver and customer specific interface panel mounted on a wearable dock and universal tactical display carried on the soldier’s chest. Both elements are mounted on a load bearing harness. The IDF configuration also comprises an external battery pack supporting almost nine hours of operation for the entire suite. The rugged computer is designed to Mil-Spec 810F standard and sealed to IP67 immersion, enabling continuous use in harsh combat conditions. (read more)

    CTI developed the DACS system based on of the shelf hardware to provide an advanced, yet affordable wearable computer. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update

    Rigged for Rough Rides

    Offering reliable operation under rugged field condition at relatively low cost, Toughbooks have become popular with the military, however, using the system in vehicular environment requires dedicated vehicular mounts to be designed. While vehicular mounts are already available for the Toughbook, excessive levels of shock and vibrations associated with the gun firing and cross country ride require dedicated mounts offering shock attenuation, sealing and connectors supporting specific architecture associated with combat vehicles. CTI, in cooperation with Milper have developed a special mount configured in size, form and fit to meet existing chassis mounting the full-military Enhanced Tactical Computer in Merkava main battle tanks and M-109 self propelled guns. The same chassis is also being evaluated for teh Namer armored infantry fighting vehicle. According to Eyal Shachi, this COTS replacement offers an alternative to outdated military computers at about one sixth of the original cost.

    While vehicular mounts are already available for the Toughbook, excessive levels of shock and vibrations associated with the gun firing and cross country ride require dedicated mounts offering shock attenuation, sealing and connectors supporting specific architecture associated with combat vehicles. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense Update

    Detecting gunshots has always challenged the military and law enforcement agencies. Two principal approaches are used – detecting the acoustic signature of the gunshot and spotting the visible signature of the event. A new approach combining a new approach to acoustic detection, developed by the Dutch company Microflown Avisa has now matured and is introduced for use on unmanned aerial vehicles.

    Microflown Avisa displayed here an acoustic sensor for UAVS, enabling micro drones to detect gunshots from seven kilometers. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense Update.

    Microflown Avisa is displaying two applications of its gunshot detector at ISDEF 2011, an artillery fire locator capable of detecting artillery and mortars firing events at ranges of 30km and a new airborne gunshot detection system, that can be mounted on a mini UAV and offer detection ranges up to seven kilometers.

    The proprietary Miniature Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) vector sensor developed by Microflown measures temperature differences in the cross-section of two extremely sensitive heated wires, to determine acoustic particle velocity. Assembling three orthogonally placed sensors in one single point, a very compact acoustic vector sensor is produced. The integrated processor computes these parameters to provide bearing, and elevation at the firing source, at angular accuracy of 0.25-2 degrees. Further algorithms and additional acoustic vector sensor allows distance to be measured (by triangulation).

    Actual performance depends on weather and humidity conditions, but the sensor can operate effectively even under 100% humidity as well as extreme high or low temperatures. The sensors can detect and report multiple sources of fire simultaneously, even in complex acoustic situations such as urban environments or on noisy platforms such as UAVs.

    The company is now offering UAV acoustic sensors to equip miniature UAVs. At ISDEF Microflown highlights the sensor integrated on a Aerovironment Raven, offering effective situational awareness for small units operating the miniature drone. According to John Bremner, business development manager at Microflown, the sensor weighing about 200 grams can be best integrated in the mini UAVs employing pusher propellers, as it offers a clean environment for the system. The sensor can also be integrated on aerostats, typically operated on force protection missions.

    A new robot at the show is new weaponized version of the Amstaf from Automotive Robotic Industries (ARI). The company has already displayed the security guard version in the past, and the system is currently being evaluated for airport security missions. Amstaf on Guard provides a robotic, autonomous platform that can be configured with mission specific sensors, supporting perimeter defense elements such as a smart fens, radar and motion detection systems. Other Amstaf configurations may include CBRNE, fire and EOD sensors and neutralizers as part of their payloads. The vehicle has already been operated patrolling the area south of the demilitarized zone in South Korea, where a patrol version using a telescopic mast was recently fielded.

    Amstaf Combat Support eight weel UGV mounting the Rafael Mini Samson Remotely Controlled weapon Station. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense update

    The combat support vehicle represents ARI’s concept of a vehicle combining the fire support and load carrying platform (mule), supporting dismounted infantry teams. “Amstaf provides an effective and versatile autonomous platform that can assume different roles in support of military and special operations units” said Amos Goren, founder of ARI. “Fitted with a remote weapon system and sensors, it can be used as an unmanned forward watch or pathfinder, replacing today’s manned vehicles and scouts. The same platform can be reconfigured in the field to carry supplies supporting dismounted teams, carry and launch guided weapons or transport wounded soldiers to safety, without risking the lives of more soldiers.” Goren added. Guidance and control of tactical robots will be performed using a Toughbook laptop computer or wrist-mounted controller, with the Amstaf understanding basic commands like ‘halt!’, ‘follow me’, for simple coordination with dismounted teams. When operating as observation outposts or mobile forward watch, the robot could be operated from fully equipped control systems already developed for the Amstaf On Guard system, enabling maximum flexibility and functionality.

    Amstaf on Guard is built to sustain up to 24 hour continuous duty cycles, with the combat support version supporting continuous missions of six hours offering quiet, stealthy operation. The vehicle has an integrated generator supplying 2.5KVA for 18 hour mission. When extended quiet missions are required a quick charge is needed, an external quick charger can top up the batteries for extra four hours in just 15 minutes. The vehicle weighs 900 kg and carries 850 kg plus one ton tow capability. the vehicle has a maximum speed of 32 km/h on land and 5 km/h swimming.

    Quantum 3D is displaying at ISDEF 2011 the ExpeditionDI wearable simulator, also known as ‘immersive dismounted infantry training platform’, the system was recently ordered by the U.S. Army will be used to help preparing U.S. forces for missions to international theaters.

    The ExpeditionDI system comprises a wearable computer and an interface unit carried on a load bearing vest. This immersive display uses high fidelity, binocular 1280x1024 OLED displays and audio headset. Right Insert: the backpack wearable Theramite computer running the ExpeditionDI application. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense Update

    The system was first unveiled in 2007 and has been tested by the U.S. Special Operations Command, Army and Marine Corps through Joint Forces Command’s Future Immersive Training Environment (FITE ) since 2008. After a long evaluation, the Army recently award

    The $50 million contract was awarded to Intelligent Decisions, where Quantum as a subcontractor, is expected to deliver several thousands systems over 18 months. The evaluation of the trial batches is scheduled to begin at Ft. Bennings in January 2012, supporting the Army’s Force Generation (ARFORGEN) cycle.


    “The most dangerous time for warfighters is when they are in a new environment while learning in actual combat” says Pratish Shah, Director of Marketing at Quantum3D. Nearly 40 percent of infantry fatalities occur during just the first three months of deployment. ExpeditionDI was designed to introduce soldiers to the combat scene through immersive training, enabling them to experience the locations they are assigned too fight in, through realistic Virtual Reality (VR) environment.

    In this safe but realistic scene they can practice and rehearse future missions through individual and team-based exercises developing their combat skills, understanding the physical and human terrain.

    The system follows the movement, lines of sight and to body movements of individual trainees, displaying them the virtual world with computer generated threat and neutral elements and friendly elements depicting other trainees, all immersed in the 3D world accurately representing the unit’s objectives.

    With this platform, warfighters are not simply looking at a simulation on a computer screen from a distance, but become an integral part of the scene, with the display changing according to the diction the soldier look, and points his weapon’s sight, 3D audio cues coming from the proper origin, communications operate in realistic way and position location providing the cues relevant to the soldier’s simulated position.

    The ExpeditionDI system comprises a wearable computer and an interface unit carried on a load bearing vest. This immersive display uses high fidelity, binocular 1280×1024 OLED displays and audio headset. The display area is determined by the helmet mounted head motion tracker, porting the trainee’s line of sight and position. Weapon position trackers and body posture tracker are complementing the system, weapon’s aiming and effect, and basic body postures such as tracking standing, crouching and prone positions.

    Israeli trainees are introduced to the Quantum ExpeditionDI at ISDEF 2011. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update

    At the Israeli ISDEF 2011 defense show ComputerTech International (STI) has unveiled several Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) computers designed for military operations, introducing higher performance yet cost effective computing solutions for military users. The new Tamnun (Octopus in Hebrew) was developed to support the IDF dismounted command and control system.

    CTI developed the DACS system based on of the shelf hardware to provide an advanced, yet affordable wearable computer. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update


    Originally the IDF considered a fully militarized solution, but the Digital Army Computer System (DACS) was proven to deliver more affordable and flexile solution using off the shelf hardware which typically advances faster than military systems. DACS is now being integrated with the IDF Digital Army System (Zayad) army-wide C4I system provided by Elbit Systems.

    At a weight of 7.76 lbs. (3.52kg) DACS comprises a computer ‘core’ provided by Black Diamond, integrated with GPS receiver and customer specific interface panel mounted on a wearable dock and universal tactical display carried on the soldier’s chest. Both elements are mounted on a load bearing harness. The IDF configuration also comprises an external battery pack supporting almost nine hours of operation for the entire suite. The rugged computer is designed to Mil-Spec 810F standard and sealed to IP67 immersion, enabling continuous use in harsh combat conditions.

    DACS uses the new Intel Celeron M 1.2GHz processor, powered by hot swappable 3850 mAh batteries. The magnesium made made dock weighs only 760 grams, interfacing with the computer through a integrates high speed data and power connector. The dock has multiple USB, RS232 and Ethernet connections, battery input and multiple display connectors. The dock also provides connectivity to backpack radio, integrating into a wearable soldier system. The dock is designed to be used as a wearable backpack system or a vehicular mount, enabling the soldier to pull a computer from the vehicle straight into his wearable system, with no loss of data. The UTD has a 6.5 inch sun-visible XGA (1024×768) display, it also features USB and power input connectors.

    According to Eyal Shachi, CEO, the system was developed specifically to address the IDF requirement for using COTS based hardware where possible. In addition to the DACS, CTI has also displayed at ISDEF the new Modular Tactical System, developed by Black Diamond for the U.S. military. MTS is lighter and less powerful compared to the DACS, which also uses a Black Diamond computer. The system uses an Intel Atom 1.1 or 1.6 GHz processors running Windows XP, 7 or Linux operating systems; similar to DACS, the system uses a computer, wearable dock and display, mounted on a load carrying vest. System expansion utilizes standard SD cards supporting up to 32GB additional memory. The display uses the same 6.5 inch display used by the DACS. The overall weigh of the MTS is about two pounds less than DACS. The computer has five programmable buttons and dedicated on-screen ‘hot zones’ for ease of use in the field. MTS is now available for the U.S. military And international users As an ITAR exportable Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS).

    A derivative of this Black Diamond Modular Tactical System (MTS) shown here is also offerred for the U.S. Army. Insert: the 6.5 inch Universal Tactical Display (UTD) is common to the DACS and MTS displayed at ISDEF by CTI. The unit folds on top of the body armor vest, at the chest level. When opened, the user can monitor the display while operating other systems (like weapons, observation equipment or radio) with both hands. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update

      Strategic Survey for Israel 2011

      The Despite the turmoil of the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising in many Arab states, the Middle East continues to be one of the world’s leading markets for defense systems. Israel’s Institute of National Security Studies has released the annual assessment of Middle East military forces. Following is a short assessment by the editor of the report Yiftah S. Shapir.

      The report is part of the new publication “Strategic Survey for Israel 2011” Edited by Anat Kurz and Shlomo Brom, this volume includes thirteen analytical essays written by INSS researchers. Focus is on Israel’s strategic environment in the period under review, particularly in the wake of the major changes experienced in the Middle East commonly known as the “Arab spring.” The ongoing Palestinian issue and Iran’s nuclear program remain at the fore of the challenges facing Israel. Other issues explored in the volume include the “new” Middle East and the role of the superpowers;Turkey’s regional role; and questions of particular urgency to Israel, including the deligitimization threat, military and civilian defense, and economic challenges.

      Middle East arms acquisitions are dominated by Persian Gulf markets, as these states perceive a growing threat from Iran’s drive toward regional hegemony. The fact that all the countries along the coast of the Gulf procured and deployed Patriot SAM batteries with added capabilities against ballistic missiles is testifying to the severity of the threat they perceive. Iraq is investing large amounts of money to rebuild its military from scratch, while Iran, unable to acquire weapons in the open markets is relying mostly on its indigenous industry.

      Israel continues to implement the lessons of the Second Lebanon War (2006) and Operation Cast Lead (2008-9). It continues to buy advanced fighter jets and surveillance and early warning planes and expand its satellite capabilities. At the same time, it has accelerated the rate of outfitting the military with anti-rocket systems and with better protected armored personnel carriers and tanks.

      The Arab Maghreb is also arming itself. Algeria is absorbing its acquisitions from Russia and from Europe, while Morocco is making an effort and stretches its limited resources to renew its military with acquisitions in the US and Europe.

      As a result of the recent developments in the region, most of the Arab states that are not monarchies are undergoing changes. In some cases these changes have already affected the command structure and the military forces (e.g., in Libya, Syria, and Yemen), and are expected to affect existing and future programs (e.g., in Egypt).

      In summary, INSS assessment expects states with financing capabilities will continue to arm themselves with precision guided weapon systems, aerial warning systems, and intelligence. At the same time, the threats of guerrilla warfare and terrorism originating in the region and in neighboring countries will increase the importance of arms dedicated to fighting terrorism, defending against rockets and missiles, and protecting population centers. Since arms deals are processes that proceed slowly, trends in arms acquisitions presented in previous recent INSS annual publications are still valid.

      These include: acquisitions of the most advanced and sophisticated weapon systems, primarily by oil-rich countries; efforts to develop indigenous military industries; and reduction of expenses by upgrading older weapon systems rather than purchasing new ones. The countries in the region with limited monetary resources that do not receive defense assistance from the US cannot compete in the advanced weaponry market. Instead, they tend to adopt asymmetrical approaches that enable them to counter the technological advantages of their rivals. They rely on guerilla warfare and terrorism on the one hand, and on the other hand, on strategic capability offered by ballistic missiles, artillery rockets, and weapons of mass destruction. Non-state actors such as Hizbollah and Hamas continue to develop semi-regular military forces with large inventories of artillery rockets, as well as anti-tank and anti-aircraft capabilities.

      The US remains the biggest weapons supplier to the region. Russia has also made attempts to extend its market share in the region, but so far with limited success. Other important players are key European Union countries, particularly France and the UK. In addition, indigenous military industries play an important role in some states in the region. Israel and Turkey operate the most advanced industries, while the UAE is investing extensive resources to build its own military industry. Iran too aims to be as autonomous as possible in its weapons production, although its industry’s actual capability is far smaller that what is officially declared.


      Following are some of the defense modernization and procurement highlights for 2011, by country:

      Algeria

      Algeria is in the midst of a massive military expansion. At the heart of this expansion is a large weapons deal with Russia (approximately $8 billion). Within the framework of this arms deal Algeria received 180 T-90 tank and

      28 Su-30MKA combat aircraft. The first batches of these aircraft arrived in 2007 and are already operational. Recently Algeria signed a further contract for additional Su-30. Algeria received two Il-78 refueling aircraft and its air defense forces received some Tunguska and Pantsyr point defense systems, although no heavy systems, such as the S-300 PMU-2, arrived. Aside from the Russian deal, Algeria signed a large deal for some 30 utility helicopters of several types from Italy. This deal follows a previous deal for ten helicopters that were already supplied.

      The Algerian navy received two Type 636 submarines, but there is no news regarding its intention to acquire four frigates. This deal is still under negotiations with potential suppliers in France, Germany, Italy, and Great Britain. Meanwhile Algeria began taking deliveries of its FPB-98 small patrol boats from France.

      Another significant development was the launch of Algeria’s first satellite with some military capabilities: the ALSAT-2A. This satellite carries a multi-spectral camera with resolution of 2.5m, manufactured by EADS Astrium. A second satellite is being assembled in Algeria.

      Egypt

      Egypt, like Israel, benefits from ongoing American defense aid and recieves $1.3 billion a year. An agreement signed in 2007 ensures Egypt continued aid at least until 2018, which enables Egypt to purchase American-made weapons without having to worry about economic difficulties. The future regime in Egypt will likely make efforts to maintain this aid, and therefore Egypt’s armament programs will not change course abruptly.

      Egypt, which already boasts a substantial fleet of 217 F-16s, has ordered 20 more of these multi-role combat aircraft for $3.2 billion. Apart from this deal, Egypt’s primary deals in recent years have included AH-64D Apache attack helicopters (though the acquisition of the Longbow radar system for these helicopters has not yet been approved) and additional M1A1 Abrams tanks. These tanks are bought as kits for assembly in Egypt. Since starting to purchase these tanks, the Egyptian defense industry has assembled 880 tanks, and the new transaction, now underway, includes an additional 125 tanks.

      Egypt also buys weapons from other sources, finances permitting. It is negotiating with Germany to buy Type 214 submarines (a model quite similar to the Israeli Dolphin class submarines). It maintains military contacts with Russia and other former Soviet Union countries – both for the upgrade of its aging Soviet era weapons (such as the recent upgrade of APCs in the Ukraine), and for acquisition of new weapon systems – such as the recent acquisition from Russia of Strelets point defense SAMs. In addition, the Egyptian navy has a standing order for four fast missile patrol boats from the US, the first of which is scheduled to be delivered in mid 2012.

      Iran

      Iran is in the midst of a long process of rearming its military, although reliable weapons suppliers are scarce because of the Security Council sanctions in force. Hopes for large arms deal with Russia were shelved as Russia, in light of the sanctions, officially declined to supply Iran with S-300 air defense systems ordered (and paid for) by Iran.

      Iran continues to arm itself with locally produced arms, mainly missiles and rockets. In the field of long range ballistic missiles, Iran has made

      progress on two tracks: in the first track, Iran based its efforts on liquid fueled missiles, such as the Shehab-3. On the basis of this technology Iran developed the Safir-e-Omid satellite launcher, a two stage missile that launched the Kavoshgar research capsule and the Omid satellite in February 2009. A further development in the same direction was the heavy satellite launcher Simorgh, which was displayed in public but not yet tested. Another development in this direction was the Qiam-1 missile, test-launched in August 2010, probably to test new guidance and control systems. In the second track, Iran is also developing a two stage solid fuel powered surface-to-surface missile intended to reach a range of up to 2000 km. This missile, alternatively known as Ghadr, Sejjil, or Ashura was tested for the first time in November 2007 (and again in May and December 2009 – and possibly in early 2011 as well). These missiles will likely become operational within a few years.

      It is harder to estimate Iran’s true R&D and production capabilities in other fields. The Iranian media reports regularly about the development of innovative weapon systems – tanks, armored personnel carriers, fighter planes, helicopters, various missiles (sea-to-sea, air-to-air, air-to-ground, surface-to-air), and more – but it is difficult to distinguish between propaganda and actual progress. For example, only recently the Iranian media reported on new precision guided munitions for combat aircraft and helicopters, new air defense systems, and new versions of coastal defense missiles, as well as the construction of a new destroyer and mini submarines. It does not seem that Iran is in fact capable of producing all the types and models it professes to produce in significant quantities Iran is certainly capable of producing several models of artillery rockets and perhaps some anti-tank and sea-to-sea missiles (based on Russian and Chinese designs). However there is no evidence, for example, that Iran is producing fighter planes with real capabilities of engaging in a modern battle, although it claims to have this capability.

      Iraq

      The process of rebuilding the Iraqi military is taking longer than expected, and has been accompanied by a host of problems, including the lack of suitable personnel and graft and corruption connected to questionable arms deals. In purchasing, the Iraqi army is mostly engaged in basic outfitting of a military force. However, investment in rebuilding the army will also be complicated by the withdrawal of the remaining US forces, which have thus far guaranteed the day to day security of the country.

      Sources for arms acquisitions are varied. The US supplied Iraq with its first M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks, APCs, T-6A training aircraft, helicopters, and fast patrol boats. France supplied helicopters; Ukraine supplied APCs; Russia supplied Mi-17 helicopters, and Serbia supplied more training aircraft. The Iraqi government also announced its intention to procure F-16 combat aircraft, but no contracts have yet been signed

      Morocco

      Morocco is yet another country in the region that has undergone a substantial military buildup in recent years. After long and heated competition between suppliers, the Moroccan air force decided to procure 24 F-16 multi-role combat aircraft. These aircraft have apparently already been supplied. In addition, the Moroccan air force procured 24 T-6A Texan II trainers (12 of which have already been supplied), as well as four C-27J transport planes.

      The Moroccan navy became the first export customer for the new French made FREMM frigates when it signed a deal for one such frigate, which is now being constructed in France.

      Saudi Arabia

      When the deal was signed in 2007, Saudi Arabia’s acquisition of 72 Typhoons from the UK, at an estimated cost of $7.9 billion, was the most impressive deal in the Middle East. At the same time, Saudi Arabia also ordered upgrades for its Tornado and for its F-15S combat aircraft. Other major deals that exceeded the Typhoon deal have since followed. Another major deal, signed in mid 2009, involves an upgrade to the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG). The contract, worth some $2.2 billion, is for the acquisition of different types of combat armored vehicles. The upgrade program is typically divided between the US and France, from which SANG ordered new artillery pieces.

      Additional arms orders include more M1A2 tanks from the US, as well as upgrades for existing tanks – a transaction of some $3 billion. This project also includes setting up a large facility that will assemble the tanks in the kingdom. In late 2010 the US administration approved further sales valued at $60 billion. These include the sale of 84 new F-15S combat aircraft, as well as upgrade of the existing F-15S in Saudi inventory, and hundreds of helicopters – AH-64D Apache attack helicopters and UH- 60 M Black Hawk utility helicopters, as well as light reconnaissance helicopters – for the Saudi land forces and for the Saudi National Guard. These authorizations have yet to be turned into actual contracts but they are indicative of Saudi intentions, as well as US willingness to support the country.

      UAE

      The UAE armed forces are among the military forces that have grown most intensively. The UAE, like other Gulf states, prefers to deal with a variety of vendors and buys primarily from the US and France. The UAE beefed up its air force with 63 Mirage 2000-9 planes from France and 80 F-16E/F planes, a model developed specifically for the Emirates, and the country has continued to procure equipment for the air force, navy, and air defense forces. It signed a deal to upgrade the 30 Apache helicopters to the AH-64D model, and ordered three Airbus A330 refueling aircraft. More recently it ordered twelve C-130J tactical transport aircraft as well as six C-17 Globemaster strategic transport aircraft.

      The Baynunah ships project has been underway for several years. These corvettes were designed in France, and the first of them is being built by the CMN shipyard in Cherbourg, France. The rest are constructed in Abu Dhabi by ADSB. Despite the French design and local manufacture, some of the armaments will actually be American-made. Thus, for example, the UAE has ordered RAM missiles from Raytheon Corporation to defend the ships against cruise missiles.

      The UAE is investing heavily in air defense systems and ballistic missile defense systems that will be supplied in the coming years in different deals estimated at some $9 billion. In the realm of air defense, the UAE was scheduled to receive the Russian-made Pantsyr S-1 systems, short range mobile air defense systems developed in Russia at the UAE’s request and with its funding. It will also include in the short term upgrades for the Patriot missile batteries it already has and purchases of the PAC-3 interceptors (for ballistic missile interception) for these batteries. In the longer run it will include the purchase from the US of THAAD dedicated anti-ballistic missile defense systems. The value of this transaction is estimated at about $7 billion.

        GDLS Stryker

        GDLS to Equip Two Brigades with Double-Hull Strykers

        October 25, 2011: Over a year after receiving the first order for the new Double-V hulls (DVHs) version of its 8×8 Piranha vehicle design, production and modification of the new vehicles are running at full steam.

        Following an order for 550 LAV III vehicles worth over one billion US$ from Canada, General Dynamics Land Systems won other orders this month, an award of $367 million to deliver 177 Stryker combat vehicles equipped with DVH. This award comes in addition to a similar $267 million order for 115 vehicles awarded earlier this month. Combined with previous orders for DHVs, this production order will provide the U.S. Army with vehicles to equip two Stryker brigade combat teams by July 2013. GDLS delivered the first vehicle Stryker DVH in May 2011, following 14 months of development. (Defense-Update)

        Litening Pod on the F-16

        Northrop Grumman Delivers Litening G4 Advanced Targeting Pods

        October 22, 2011: The Northrop Grumman Corporation has completed delivery of the first 50 Litening G4 Advanced Targeting Pods under a U.S. Air Force contract. Litening G4 offers enhanced imaging capability, with wider field of view, better target identification at longer ranges than previous versions. The new pod has begun full operations at its first military base with seven additional base deployments planned in the near future.

        Canada's Upgraded LAV III

        Canada to Upgrade LAV III for One Billion US$

        October 21, 2011: General Dynamics Awarded $1 Billion to Upgrade LAV III Vehicles by Government of Canada. The LAV III Upgrade Project will modernize 550 vehicles, significantly enhancing their survivability, mobility and firepower and extending the fleet’s lifecycle to 2035.

        Boeing P-8A Poseidon

        P-8 launches First MK 54 Torpedo

        October 13, 2011: The P-8A Poseidon successfully launched the first MK 54 torpedo during a test event in the Atlantic Test Range Oct. 13. The test verified safe separation of the MK 54 weapon from the P-8A. Future tests will evaluate delivery accuracy, weapon integration, and end-to-end test. (More on the P-8A from defense-Update)

        Recent & previous reports:
        U.S. & Canada Defense Update – October 4, 2011
        U.S. & Canada Defense Update – September 25, 2011
        U.S. & Canada Defense Update – September 2, 2011

        Over a year after receiving the first order for the new Double-V hulls (DVHs) version of its 8×8 Piranha vehicle design, production and modification of the new vehicles are running at full steam.

        Following an order for 550 LAV III vehicles worth over one billion US$ from Canada, General Dynamics Land Systems won other orders this month, an award of $367 million to deliver 177 Stryker combat vehicles equipped with DVH. This award comes in addition to a similar $267 million order for 115 vehicles awarded earlier this month. Combined with previous orders for DHVs, this production order will provide the U.S. Army with vehicles to equip two Stryker brigade combat teams by July 2013. GDLS delivered the first vehicle Stryker DVH in May 2011, following 14 months of development.

        The average cost per vehicle, as reflected by these recent orders is US$1.8 – 2 million.

        The Double-V-Hull adds to blast protection to the Stryker armored vehicle, designed primarily to provide protection from small caliber weapons. Photo: U.S. Army

        Over 320 double-V-hulled Stryker vehicles have been produced so far, under a contract awarded in July 2010 for the production of 450 DVH vehicles. The double-V hull was developed on an accelerated timeline to provide Stryker-borne soldiers increased protection from the effects of roadside mines and improvised explosive devices. Recent Army reports indicate that deployed vehicles with the new double-V-hull design are providing significantly increased protection and survivability to soldiers.

        These vehicles will be delivered in seven variants including Infantry Carrier, Medical Evacuation Vehicle, Engineers Squad Vehicle, Fire Support Vehicle, Commanders Vehicle, Mortar Carrier Vehicle and Anti-tank Guided Missile Vehicle. GDLS also offers Reconnaissance Vehicle, Nuclear Biological Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle and Mobile Gun System variants. Work on double-V-hulled Stryker vehicles is performed in Anniston, Ala., Lima, Ohio, and London, Ontario, Canada.

        The Stryker vehicles have gone through phased upgrades to meet the escalating threats in Iraq and Afghanistan. The new hull will also address the devastating blast effects caused by mines and IEDs.

        In addition to the U.S. Army, the Canadian Army will also field the DVH on its LAV III armored vehicles.

          Oman is requesting to receive an integrated air defense system based on the Boeing Avenger very short range air defense (VSHORAD) system, augmented with Surface launched medium range AIM-120 AMRAAM interceptors. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) estimates the value of this potential order at US$1.28 Billion. The package includes 18 fire units, an Improved AN/MPQ-64F1 Sentinel radar and 290 AIM-120C-7 290 AIM-120C-7 Surface- Launched Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles. The system will also comprise six guidance sections, grouping self sustained elements comprising three fire units each.

          In April 2011 Raytheon has demonstrated the SL-AMRAAM capability to intercept a cruise missile, addressing one of the concerns of the Gulf states (UAE and Oman) seeking effective defenses against Iranian cruise missiles. Photo: Raytheon

          A larger version of the Avenger, mounting two AIM-9X and four Stinger missiles was displayed at the AUSA 2010 exhibition, mounted on an M-ATV vehicle. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense Update

          The announcement did not specify what platform will carry the SL-AMRAAM or, if it will be integrated on the Avenger system or operated independently on other launchers not listed in the package.

          Raytheon has originally developed the SL-AMRAAM system for the U.S. Marine Corps. After the corps cancelled the program SL-AMRAAM caught the interest of the U.S. Army, specifically, the AIr National Guard, which considered it a viable path for the Avenger upgrade. Despite this interest, in January 2011 but the program was terminated, but funding was provided to complete development and testing, maintaining the system for emergency operational capability and supporting export sales.

          In 2008 the DSCA announced the UAE expressed interest in buying Avengers and 288 SL-AMRAAM air defense weapons for $445 million. the UAE would have been the first customer of the system. No platform for the SL-AMRAMs was mentioned in this announcement either.

          Earlier this year Raytheon has demonstrated the SL-AMRAAM capability to intercept a cruise missile, addressing one of the concerns of the Gulf states (UAE and Oman) seeking effective defenses against Iranian cruise missiles.

          Raytheon displayed several configurations of SL-AMRAAM integrated with other missiles, but only two were mounted on the compact HMMWV. An SL-AMRAAM system integrated with AIM-9X sidewinder was displayed by Raytheon while Boeing have shown their version of the Avenger system integrated with the AIM-9X, at the 2010 AUSA exhibition.

          While the Boeing Company is the prime contractor of the Avenger system, Raytheon will be the largest beneficiary of this package, providing the two types of interceptors, as well as the software and hardware for the radar and fire control systems.

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