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Daily Archives: Mar 7, 2012

    Iron Curtain applied on a Ridgback MRAP type vehcile. Photo: Artis
    Iron Curtain applied on a Ridgback MRAP type vehcile. Photo: Artis

    Israel’s armor protection company Plasan announced today the acquisition of controlling interest in Artis LLC, a Virginia-based engineering company. Iron Curtain is a vehicle active protection system developed under a DARPA contract. The system has been demonstrated on live firing tests on the HMMWV and is currently being integrated on the M-ATV. Iron Curtain was one of seven systems demonstrated on live firing tests sponsored by the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD). The system should be ready for production by the end of this year.

    The Iron Curtain is designed to defeat shaped charge threats including projectiles, missiles and rockets. The sensors used to activate the system are C-Band radars detecting and tracking the inbound threat, alerting the crew and arming the APS. As the threat reaches a distance several inches from the vehicle, a distributed optical sensor classifies the threat to select the aimpoint and determines which countermeasure to fire.

    Once triggered, the countermeasure unit explodes, sending a steel slab straight down, killing the threat with minimal collateral damage to personnel in the vehicle or in close proximity to it. During the DARPA tests Artis has demonstrated the system on a HMMWV, defeating RPG class threats fired at close range.

    Designed to protect tactical vehicles with 360 degrees coverage, (the system can also be configured to protect the vehicle’s top area) the system offers multi-shot capability against a wide spectrum of threats. The combination of radar and optical sensors contribute to low false alarm rate. With low overall weight, Iron Curtain is compact and requires minimal internal space, thus making it an effective add-on protection for medium-heavy wheeled tactical vehicles, such as the HMMWV, MRAP or M-ATV, as well as the JLTV type vehicles. Iron Curtains’ ability to classify targets, along with its array of countermeasures enable it to effectively address new and emerging threats by evolutionary software changes. This level of flexibility will enable users to continuously customize their reaction to threat changes, as part of the protection systems upgrade, even between major armor upgrades.

    The Artis acquisition is the latest in a series of moves by Plasan to consolidate its position as the leading developer of survivability solutions for tactical wheeled vehicles used in the defense and homeland security markets. Plasan’s recent efforts include Armored Chariots LLC, a joint venture with TPI Composites Inc. of Scottsdale, Arizona to produce next-generation crew compartments for U.S. military vehicles at a facility in Warren, Rhode Island.

    In recent years Plasan has invested in a advanced technologies related to several applications of ballistic protection, including lightweight protection materials using nano materials and lightweight counter RPG protection using flexible structures. The acquisition of Artis positions the company in the field of yet another advanced protection technology, offering state of the art active protection solutions.

    Iron Curtain defeats an RPG on a DARPA sponsored test. Photo: ARTIS

    The common denominator of these investments is the demand for increasing protection while decreasing weight. With the acquisition of Artis Plasan remains focused on the core business of tactical vehicles, as the Artis developed solution pertains mostly to vehicles designed with vertical walls, where lines of active countermeasures firing downward surround the frame.


    Private Security Companies operating in a maritime environment would be required to meet certain standards expected to be instated before the end of 2012, according to Chris Sanderson the Chairman of the Conference of the Security in Complex Environments Group (SCEG) taking place this week in London. The SCEG has been working on standards, and will shortly be consulting with government officials, client groups and others such as intergovernmental bodies and certification bodies. The draft standards will be then submitted to government Ministers.

    The high levels of risk of piracy in the seas off Somalia makes the development of maritime standards and independent accreditation a high priority, to reduce risks to private security companies and their employees, to ship owners and seamen, and to ship and cargo insurers and brokers. It is intended that the government will play an important role in the selection of independent certification bodies that will audit individual private security companies against the standards, when they are finalised.

    SCEG is a Special Interest Group within the British ‘Aerospace, Defence, Security’ (ADS) group. SCEG brings together private security companies operating on land and sea around a common agenda of raising standards and introducing robust and independent accreditation for companies operating in complex and high-risk environments. “Our intention is to have an independent accreditation process in place by the end of 2012” Sanderson said, adding “this will also address accreditation for private security companies operating in complex or high-risk land environments such as Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    “The human and financial costs to ship owners and companies are potentially very high. Having a set of standards endorsed by the UK government and implemented by independent accrediting bodies will reduce levels of uncertainty and risk,” said Rees Ward, CEO at ADS. ADS was appointed by UK Ministers as the government’s industry partner for the regulation and accreditation of private security companies in June 2011, and an announcement was made in Parliament.

    Boeing has delivered the first production P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft to the U.S. Navy. This aircraft is the first of 13 anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft Boeing will deliver as part of a low-rate initial production (LRIP) contract awarded in 2011. The aircraft was flown to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., where it will be used for aircrew training.

    Along with production aircraft, the P-8A team also has built and is testing six flight-test and two ground-test aircraft. The flight-test aircraft are based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and have completed more than 1,500 flight hours. The Navy plans to purchase 117 Boeing 737-based P-8A aircraft to replace its P-3 fleet. Initial operational capability is planned for 2013.

    A derivative of the Next-Generation 737-800, the Poseidon is built by a Boeing-led industry team that includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems, BAE Systems and GE Aviation. The Poseidon team is using a first-in-industry in-line production process that draws on Boeing’s Next-Generation 737 production system. All P-8A-unique aircraft modifications are made in sequence during fabrication and assembly.

    A P-8A Poseidon conducts flyovers above the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group during exercise Bold Alligator 2012. Bold Alligator was the largest naval amphibious exercise in the past 10 years . It represented the Navy and Marine Corps' revitalization of the full range of amphibious operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Daniel J. Meshel)

      Lt. Col. Eric Smith, the 58th Fighter Squadron director of operations prepares for takeoff on the F-35A first training mission. Photo: USAF
      Lt. Col. Eric Smith, the 58th Fighter Squadron director of operations prepares for takeoff on the F-35A first training mission. Photo: USAF

      Initiating F-35A training flights before the fighter completed flight testing has been in hot debate for months; this issue encountered a symbolic misfortune yesterday, as the F-35A taken on a 90 minute check flight that marked the first training sortie of the new fighter was aborted 15 minutes after takeoff due what was described as a ‘fuel leak’ warning. According to a Lockheed Martin press release, early in the flight, F-16 chase pilots observed a small amount of fluid venting from the F-35 aircraft. The pilot, following standard operating procedures, returned the aircraft safely back to the base after an approximate 20 minute flight.

      “We met both objectives today; get the aircraft airborne and start local area operations,” said Lt. Col. Eric Smith, the Air Force’s first F-35 pilot who tested the aircraft at Edwards AFB, Calif. “Our team did the most conservative thing by deciding to bring the plane back. We trained for this many times in the simulator for this exact reason.”

      “We didn’t want it to happen today but we were prepared. Our pilot did the exact right thing in returning the jet back to Eglin” said Col. Andrew Toth, 33rd FW commander “Although there were issues we are doing whatever we can to move the program forward safely and effectively.” Pilots and maintainers discussed the potential fuel leak finding that caused the precautionary end of the sortie.

      According to Air Education and Training Command, they are taking an event-driven approach to assess when to begin transitioning the entire JSF training system, including the aircraft, to a point where the wing can initiate the training syllabus.

      “We will continue to make steady progress towards our goal of standing up a world class training program at Eglin,” said Gen. Edward Rice Jr., commander of AETC, who approved F-35 flight operations to begin shortly after the Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center awarded an airworthiness certificate to the service for their variant of the joint strike fighter. The 33rd FW focuses on preparing for an anticipated 2,200 students a year and 900 “on campus” at any given time at full capacity.

      The F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter lifts off for its first training sortie March 6 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. It’s the first flight of any 33rd Fighter Wing F-35 since their arrival to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Randy Gon)

        Kfir C-2 (F-21) Operated by ATAC. Photo: ATAC
        Kfir C-2 (F-21) Operated by ATAC. Photo: ATAC

        51-year-old Carroll LeFon a pilot of the Airborne Tactical Advantage Company was killed after his F-21 Kfir fighter jet crashed at Fallon Naval Air Station in northern Nevada, USA. Approaching Fallon, the base was blanketed in snow. LeFon then diverted to Reno, 60 miles to the west, which was also covered with snow. “The pilot then turned back toward Fallon and stated to air traffic controllers that he was in a critical fuel state,” the NTSB reported. “The pilot descended and maneuvered first toward runway 31, then toward runway 13” On 09:15 the Kfir struck the ground.

        The aircraft built by the Israel Aerospace Industries was supporting naval aviation training operations at the base, where the defense contractor provided adversary simulation and target towing for U.S. Navy fighter pilots.

        The crash raises questions about the safety of air operations at Fallon, which is home to TOPGUN and other Navy air training despite being plagued by nasty weather. Those conditions contributed to the death of LeFon, a retired Navy captain, a former instructor at TOPGUN

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