Monthly Archives: October 2012

GROUND Master 400 is part of ThalesRaytheonSystems’s fully digital 3D air defense radar family.

GROUND Master 400 is part of ThalesRaytheonSystems’s fully digital 3D air defense radar family. Photo: Thales

ThalesRaytheonSystems (TRS) has been selected by the French defense procurement agency (DGA) to supply the French Air Force with a Ground Master 406 radar base and provide on-site support at Nice Mont-Agel airbase. The contract, awarded on September 7, 2012, calls for the supply and installation of a Ground Master 406 (GM 406), associated civil engineering, through-life support for three years with guaranteed operational availability of 98%, and information system security for the radar base.

This new-generation radar, the cornerstone of France’s airspace surveillance capability, will be integrated with the air defense network of the SCCOA air command and control system to provide airspace monitoring, which is a high-priority mission under the country’s Permanent Security Posture (PSP). France has already acquired a radar station based on the GM 406 that will be part of the protection of the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana.

The new GM 406 radar will be coupled with the NATO ACCS C2 centers, the SCCOA system and C3M system (the deployable component of the French SCCOA program) centers as well as Navy and Army installations.

 

The French Air Force will position a new Ground Master 406 radar base and provide on-site support at Nice Mont-Agel airbase overlooking Monte Carlo. Photo: Thales

The French Air Force will position a new Ground Master 406 radar base and provide on-site support at Nice Mont-Agel airbase overlooking Monte Carlo. Photo: Thales

The GM 406 is part of the ThalesRaytheonSystems family of fully digital 3D air defense radars. The Ground Master radars are a range of versatile air defense radars dedicated to the protection of key assets and expeditionary forces.

These systems are specifically designed to deliver high detection performance, high track accuracy suitable for weapon assignment, high operational availability and simplified maintenance as well as high mobility. They are able to detect a vast array of modern threats, including UAVs, missiles, mortars and rockets, from very low to very high altitude.

Introduced in 2008, the Ground Master 400 has been selected by Canada, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Malaysia, Slovenia and a number of undisclosed countries.

Spike missile fired form Mini Typhoon weapon station mounted USV-PEM, during an evaluation of the missile by the US Navy last week. Photos: US Navy, Rafael

Spike missile fired form Mini Typhoon weapon station mounted USV-PEM, during an evaluation of the missile by the US Navy last week. Photos: US Navy, Rafael

The US Navy has test fired the Israeli Spike Electro-Optically Guided Missile from an unmanned boat last week, on Oct. 24th, as part of an operational demonstration of the weapon by the Chief of Naval Operation’s Expeditionary Warfare Division and the Naval Sea Systems Command’s Naval Special Warfare Program Office. During the test, operators successfully launched six Spike missiles from a Mini-Typhoon weapon station installed on the ‘unmanned surface vessel precision engagement module (USV PEM), engaging stationary and moving targets out to 3.5km using different attack profiles. It was the first time the Navy has shot a Spike missile from an unmanned surface vessel.

The demonstration is part of a joint project between the U.S. and Israel accomplished under an international agreement with the Combating Terrorist Tactics Support Office. The integration of the PEM into the USV was done with cooperation from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Newport, Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane and Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren.

Guided missiles like the Spike adds kinetic engagement capability to the arsenal of naval unmanned platforms; the USV PEM, a remotely operated eleven meter boat armed with missiles and a .50 caliber machine gun, represents the first significant step forward in surface unmanned combat capability. “The U.S. military has had the capacity for several years to target and engage enemy forces remotely using missiles from unmanned airborne vehicles comparable technological progression has not been achieved for unmanned surface going vessels.” NAVSEA sources commented.

The basic Mini Typhoon naval weapon system mounts an 0.5″ Cal machine gun, GAU-17 Gatling gun or Mk19 40mm automatic grenade launcher. Integrated electro-optical system, built in ballistic computer and automatic target tracker facilitate effective engagements throughout the weapon’s operational range. The system is also designed to accomodate two Spike LR missiles mounted on the side. The Mini-Typhoon can be operated as a stand-alone system relying on its own sensors and controls or alternatively, through integration to other on-board combat systems. The Mini-Typhoon has been selected by the US Navy as the Remote Operated Small Arms Mount (ROSAM), designated Mk 49 Mod 1.

The increase in attention and effort for water borne technological advancements coincides with the drawing down of U.S. military resources in the land locked campaign in Afghanistan and a strategic refocusing to problem regions were unconventional maritime threats must be accounted for. “The USV PEM project was developed in response to recent world events which have increased the concern over swarms of small attack craft, as well as threat assessments outlined in recent studies conducted by the Naval Warfare Development Command,” said NAVSEA Naval Special Warfare Assistant Program Manager Mark Moses. “The study punctuates the effectiveness of these swarm attacks against both military re-supply ships and naval vessels. Technology demonstrated in this project can provide a capability to combat terrorists who use small low-cost vehicles as weapons platforms.”

The PEM, which aims, fires, and updates the missile in the flight, is operated by shore-based personnel. These personnel, sitting in a remote control center, use onboard sensors to control the boat and obtain and destroy targets. The Spike missile uses electro-optic and infrared sensors to identify and lock onto the target. “The fiber optic tether is ultra thin and is spooled up and uncoils automatically during flight,” said Moses “This allows the operator to view updated targeting information to the missile while it is in flight and to confirm the missile is tracking the intended target up to the moment of impact.”

RAFAEL's Spike ER EO guided missile. Photo: RAFAEL

RAFAEL’s Spike ER EO guided missile. Photo: RAFAEL

After decades of relying exclusively on laser and GPS for precision attack, the military and US special operations community is slowly opening to consider Electro-Optically (EO) guided weapons, gaining strike precision at extended range. In a recent test conducted by NAVSEA, six Spike EO guided missiles were launched from an USV-PEM unmanned boat, engaging targets 1.9 nautical miles (3.5 km) away. Such capabilities will further develop as EO guidance techniques become feasible and affordable, relying on matured image processing techniques, Micro-Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS), miniaturized imaging sensors, navigation and communications derived from commercial off the shelf technologies.

This trend is correlated with a shift in military focus, from traditional linear battles toward asymmetric warfare. Different from the hardened, well-protected and distinct military targets of the past that could be neutralized by massive penetrating warheads today’s targets are vulnerable, yet illusive. They lack distinct signatures pursued by automatic target recognition, but are clearly recognized by the human operator, hence, bringing back ‘man in the loop’ control. Such control has been realized as imperative for modern asymmetric warfare, facilitating maximum flexibility in seizing short term opportunities while eliminating engagement of innocent people which the enemy often use as ‘human shields’, when briefly exposed in the open.

Outside the USA EO guided missiles became much more popular, with the Israeli Spike missile with its four variants leading the way for more than 20 armies worldwide, including the largest forces in NATO. Spike was developed and produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. This weapon offers the most advanced level of EO guidance, dubbed ‘4th Generation’. The Israeli Tamuz – also known as Spike NLOS, was fielded by the IDF two decades ago, became the first land-based missile to strap a thermal imaging sensor to enable the operator to ‘see’ the target from the missile’s point of view. For the first time, the lengthy and complex ‘sensor to shooter’ coordination cycle was reduced into minutes and seconds.

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The Spike developer RAFAEL considers the system should maintain its development course as an EO system – enhancing the system through the improvement phased improvements – introducing Miniature Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), large matrix imaging sensors and versatile actuating systems enabling manufacturers to drive weapons cost to the level of laser guided weaponry, shrinking the size to introduce smaller and lighter precision weapons, and enabling the warfighters on land, at sea and in the air to carry out their missions much more effectively, while remaining safe at stand-off distance.

Spike LR Missile launched from a Typhoon weapon station on an Israel Navy Super Dvora Mk 2. A similar configuration was recently tested by the US Navy, from an unmanned surface vessel (USV-PEM). Photo: RAFAEL

Spike LR Missile launched from a Typhoon weapon station on an Israel Navy Super Dvora Mk 2. A similar configuration was recently tested by the US Navy, from an unmanned surface vessel (USV-PEM). Photo: RAFAEL

    China’s J-31, the new stealth fighter prototype developed by AVIC Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) took off on its maiden flight on October 31, 2012 on 10:32 Beijing local time. It landed after ten minutes.

    China’s J-31, the new stealth fighter prototype developed by AVIC Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) took off on its maiden flight on October 31, 2012 on 10:32 Beijing local time. It landed after nine minutes. Photo: China Defence Mashup

    China’s J-31, the new stealth fighter prototype developed by AVIC Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) took off on its maiden flight today, October 31, 2012 on 10:32 Beijing local time. The flight lasted only ten minutes. SAC developed the J-31, China’s second stealth fighter prototype, in only 19 months. This model is positioned to become China’s leading export fighter. It will also be positioned as an alternative to the larger and assumingly more costly Chengdo J-20. China Defense Mashup reports.

    Chengdu has already flown two J-20 prototypes, marked 2001 and 2002. Photos recently obtained by the China Defense Blog indicate some changes to the design, reflected by a modified version or a third, slightly revised prototype that could be used for avionics integration flight-testing. The prototype that follows changes initially introduced in the second J-20, now depicts dorsal and forward fuselage access to avionics bays; the pitot tube was repositioned at the tip of the nose cone, opening the nose cone space for AESA radar and Electro-Optical Infra-Red Search / Track (IRST) sensors.

    The latest J-20 prototype now depicts dorsal and forward fuselage access to avionics bays; the pitot tube was repositioned at the tip of the nose cone, opening the nose cone space for AESA radar and Electro-Optical Infra-Red Search / Track (IRST) sensors.

    The latest J-20 prototype now depicts dorsal and forward fuselage access to avionics bays; the pitot tube was repositioned at the tip of the nose cone, opening the nose cone space for AESA radar and Electro-Optical Infra-Red Search / Track (IRST) sensors. (China Defense Blog)

    A recent weapons flight test in the Utah desert may change future warfare after the missile successfully defeated electronic targets with little to no collateral damage.

    Boeing and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., successfully tested the Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) during a flight over the Utah Test and Training Range. The flight test demonstrated multi-shot and multi-target capability of the aerial HPM demonstrator, to degrade, damage, and destroy electronic systems.

    The CHAMP high power microwave (HPM) aerial demonstrator is a multiyear, joint capability technology demonstration that includes ground and flight tests. CHAMP, which renders electronic targets useless, is a non-kinetic alternative to traditional explosive weapons that use the energy of motion to defeat a target.

    During the test, the CHAMP missile navigated a pre-programmed flight plan and emitted bursts of high-powered energy, effectively knocking out the target’s data and electronic subsystems. CHAMP allows for selective high-frequency radio wave strikes against numerous targets during a single mission.

    “This technology marks a new era in modern-day warfare,” said Keith Coleman, CHAMP program manager for Boeing Phantom Works. “In the near future, this technology may be used to render an enemy’s electronic and data systems useless even before the first troops or aircraft arrive.”

    The $39 million contract for the development and construction of five flight vehicles and a small HPM payload was awarded to Boeing in 2009. Under the 39 months program Boeing is building five aerial platforms. Two are destined for flight tests and one is used for ground testing.

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      A view into the Tactical Command Post (TOC)

      This process, known as Capability Set Management, is a significant departure from the previous practice of fielding systems individually and often to only one element of the operational force at a time. Capability Set Management is executed in a deliberate and disciplined process in accordance with the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) Process.

      Improvements in command, control, communications and computing (C4) have been part of military modernization for decades. While in the past, such modernization focused on specific projects and capabilities, in recent years, the military is taking a holistic approach to field incremental upgrades throughout its systems, removing technological bottlenecks to maximize system efficiency, improve services and assets utilization.


      To maximize the performance and efficiency of new equipment, modernization is implemented in ‘Capability Set’ delivered and installed with brigade combat teams, through all their command elements and subordinate units. The current upgrades implemented in the CS 13 phase addresses 11 critical Operational Need Statements submitted by theater, giving commanders and soldiers vastly increased abilities to communicate and share information. Significant capability enhancements include Mission Command on the Move, allowing leaders access to network capabilities found in Tactical Operation Centers while mounted in combat vehicles; other applications in CS13 are delivering the network to individual soldiers at the squad level.

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      The main elements included in CS 13 are the General Dynamics C4 (GDC4S) Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2, Joint Capabilities Release (JCR) Blue Force Tracker 2 from Northrop Grumman, Joint Battle Command-Platform (starting 3Q FY13), Company Command Post capability, Mission Command Common Operating Environment v1.0 and Harris tactical radios that include the AN/PRC-117G with Advanced Network Waveform 2 (AWN2), the GDC4 AN/PRC-154 Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Rifleman Radio and Handheld Manpack Small Form Fit (HMS) radio and Harris AN/PRC-152A Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) appliqué radios. For dismounted operations, yet-to be awarded Nett Warrior dismounted C2 kits will provide situational awareness and networking down to the squad leader level, while individual Soldiers will be connected with the Rifleman Radio.

      Looking beyond the current Capability Sets, industry is already preparing for future broadband military network, to rely heavily on commercial protocols, and COTS. Such networks employing WiMAX or GEN 4/LTE technology, hardened for military use, could offer the services the advantages of affordable hardware, improved obsolescence and reduced development costs. Implementation of tactical networks serving military operations in contingency areas will also improve with the deployment of adequate numbers of wireless devices employing ad-hoc MESH networks. Protocols supporting these functions are already implemented in the new generations of radios. Unique applications, such as sensor feeds and ISR have specific requirements met by specific types of radios. Serving those needs are dedicated sets that are optimized for such services, using spectrum segments, waveforms and protocols optimized for high data throughput for real-time and on-demand applications.

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      M-ATVs with NIE 12.1 equipment prepared for the exercise. Photo: US Army

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      Two of these robotic mules (LS3) are being tested by the Marine Corps as support platforms for dismounted squads. Photo: DARPA

      Sustaining combat operations in high intensity ‘linear’ warfare has always represented a huge challenge to military planners, pushing supplies to forward supply bases and forward units by sea, air and land. Engaged in asymmetric warfare, without a clear ‘forward line of troops’, where every truck, supply base or civilian tanker supplying water to a FOB becomes a target for an RPG or IED, today’s military is focused primarily on protecting its supply lines over hundreds of miles. Reducing the vulnerability of those elements and the ’logistical footprint’ supporting the combat units in those areas, without eroding overall security or mission objectives.

      Reducing the logistical footprint could be achieved by optimizing energy consumption, by exploiting renewable energy, generating the water and electrical power necessary for local consumption, rather than pushing it forward from logistical centers. Minimizing cooling and heating requirement by using efficient isolation materials can also reduce fuels consumption (with the added benefit of saving in energy costs). It also means standardizing fuels and electrical power sources (batteries), thus minimizing supply bottlenecks and optimizing logistical reserves maintained at the different levels.


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      Improving the survivability of convoys is another aspect dealt with by the military. First, minimizing the need for ground transportation means less trucks will be exposed to ambushes and IEDs. The marine Corps is already implementing aerial resupply by unmanned helicopters, while the Air force employs precision aerial delivery using guided parachutes, to deliver supplies reliably and precisely to forward bases, with minimal risk of losing cargo or exposing troops on the ground to enemy fire. Yet, for the bulk of the heavy loads, truck convoys are necessary. Logistics trucks are utilizing protected cabins, offering relatively good protection for the crew, but the goal is to reduce the number of drivers, by using semi-autonomous driving systems, enabling fewer ‘drivers’ to control many more robotic trucks. The Army has tested such a concept before and the Marine Corps Warfigting Lab (MCWL) is currently conducting such test to evaluate the operational effectiveness of this concept.

      Other robotic vehicles are employed to support small unit dismounted operations. Often referred to as a ‘mule’, these support vehicles are much more than weight carriers, supporting the unit with power generation capability to recharge batteries, a platform for casualty evacuation or even remotely operated lookout, carrying mast mounted sensors or counter-IED systems such as a flail or explosive line charge. Some of these robots, like the STSS and Probot are almost ready for fielding today, while others – like DARPA’s ‘Big Dog’ Legged Squad Support System (LS3) are still in early experimentation.

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      The TERRAMAX robotic truck from Oshkosh Defense is being tested by the US Marine Corps to perform as driverless truck in manned or unmanned convoys. Photo: Oshkosh

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        Another area facing a temporary slowdown is the ballistic and blast protection. In past years, armor manufacturers were relatively small and specialist companies that supplied armor products to prime contractors like GDLS and BAE Systems. This has changed in the mid 2000s, as the US raced to build armor-protected vehicles to counter the growing threats in Southwest Asia. Bigger ones acquired smaller specialists, and prime contractors obtained their own capabilities, expanding production volumes. Now, as the demand for armor is reduced, smaller, specialist manufacturers that leverage lower production volumes could once again have the advantage, pursuing new opportunities to supply lighter and more effective protection to growing threats. The planned selection of prime contractor for the Ground Mobile Vehicle (GMV 1.1) for the Special Operations Command could represent such opportunity. These manufacturers could also benefit from a small but steady demand for armor replacement kits, replacing worn out or obsolete applique armor ‘B-Kits’ with new and lighter materials are introduced, offering more benefits to the user.


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        Another growth area is the long neglected blast protection. Blast mitigation features such as belly plates, blast protecting seats and paddings, are introduced as part of combat vehicle reset and modifications, enhancing ballistic protected vehicles with blast-proof designs protecting the occupants from excessive accelerations caused from IEDs and mines. Blast protection is not limited to the vehicle, but also extend to the warfighter’s own gear – helmet, boots and combat suite.

        Effectiveness in military means deployed forces are well prepared, equipped, informed and connected – the key for all these is excellent leaders and superior command and control. Advanced, broadband networking, intelligence gathering, particularly at the tactical level, where timely dissemination of data is critical, is essential for success.

        While the regular and reserve forces are to be reduced, the investment in Special Operations is expected to grow, as these forces are viewed as more effective and efficient in dealing with ‘low profile’ with international challenges. Since they usually operate covertly, their failures remain secretive while politicians quickly attribute to their successes. For industry, Special Forces contracts will also become important again, after years where mainly small niche players addressed these smaller, low-volume programs.

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        Two Ground Combat Vehicles (GCV) models, developed by BAE Systems / Northrop and GDLS / Lockheed Martin teams will be evaluated for the future Army procurement of vehicles replacing M-113s and Bradley IFVs. Photo: BAE

        Contrary to the Army planner’s foresight in the 2000s, this decade is not about grand programs, but on reconstruction, reconstitution and incremental building of forces. Those military units that survive the cuts will have to do more with less. For the defense industry, it means that there will be fewer platforms to build but more parts and kits resets, modifications and modernization to deliver.

        Doing more with less also means more effective processes. Hence, saving energy costs, in fuels, batteries, and harnessing renewable energy in affordable costs would become more popular. It also means fewer soldiers mastering more skills, for which training, simulation and expert assistance will be critical. Among these modernization programs are the replacement of M-113 armored carriers. At present, the leading candidate is the Bradley platform, made by BAE Systems. Currently, the Heavy Brigades in the US Army are equipped with the Bradley infantry carrier and scout vehicle.


        BAE is offering to replace the M-113 support vehicles such as medical evacuation, medical treatment, mortar carrier and command post vehicles with Bradley chassis versions. In addition, the company is supporting the reset of existing vehicles – earlier in October the company was awarded $97 million contract to reset 146 Bradley Fighting Vehicles as part of the vehicle’s life cycle support program.

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        The Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) is one of two Army new starts, along with the Joint Tactical Light Vehicle, procured under a joint program with the Marine Corps. BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) are competing on the GCV, while Lockheed martin, Oshkosh Defense and AM General race for the JLTV. For some, losing a program could spell doom. While Oshkosh (which recently celebrated the delivery of the 100,000th military vehicle) maintains its military trucks production lines and BAE Systems has high hopes for the continuation of Bradley platforms, For GDLS and AM General, the GCV represent the single large-scale prospect for the future.

         

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        The M-1A2 Abrams tank, Various Bradley variants, GCV, M88 Hercules and M-109 Paladin SP Howitzers will form the future Heavy Brigade. Photo: BAE Systems

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