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SOCOM Places a First Order for Switchblade 600 Loitering Missiles

Aerovironment Switchblade 600 loitering missile. Illustration: Aerovironment

AeroVironment announced today the receipt of a contract for its new Switchblade 600 loitering missile. The order was received from the Special Operations Command which already uses the smaller Switchblade 300 loitering weapon. Unveiled at a virtual press conference in October 2020, Switchblade 600 is a scaled-up variant of the Switchblade 300 miniature loitering weapon. Switchblade is also expected to be one of the contenders for the US Marine Corps’ Organic Precision Fires-Mounted (O-PFM) weapon system.

The recent order by the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) allocates $26 million for the delivery of weapons and their integration of the new weapon on specialized maritime platforms operated by US Special Operations Forces. Completion is expected by the end of 2022.

“Our team worked closely with our customers to develop Switchblade 600, a loitering missile system that addresses the increasingly complex needs and mission requirements of counterinsurgency operations and those against peer and near-peer adversaries,” said Brett Hush, AeroVironment vice president and product line general manager for tactical missile systems. “Integrating Switchblade 600 into combat platforms, such as the USSOCOM’s specialized maritime vessels, enhances force overmatch, minimizes warfighter exposure to enemy direct and indirect fires, and accelerates the maturation of this innovative solution.”

Switchblade 600

This all-in-one, man-portable, 50-pound (22.7 kilograms) solution includes everything needed to launch, fly, track and engage non-line-of-sight targets with lethal effects and can be set up and operational in less than 10 minutes. Switchblade 600 deploys from the launch tube in which it is transported to allow the flexibility for ground, air, or vehicle platform launches at extended stand-off range. This provides operators with superior force overmatch while minimizing exposure to direct or indirect enemy fires. With a 115 mph dash speed and on-board anti-armor warhead, Switchblade 600 has the firepower to engage and prosecute hardened static and moving light armored vehicles from multiple angles with precisely localized effects, while minimizing collateral damage.

Equipped with a high-performance EO/IR gimbaled sensor suite, precision flight control, and more than 40 minutes of flight time, Switchblade 600 delivers unprecedented tactical reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA).

This allows Switchblade 600 to transit up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) to a target area before conducting multiple confirmatory orbits, and engage in target prosecution – without the need for external ISR or fire assets. Should non-combatants be observed within the proximity of the target, Switchblade’s patented “wave-off” feature and recommit capability allows operators to abort the mission at any time, and then re-engage either the same or other targets multiple times based on operator command.

Mission control is conducted with a touchscreen, tablet-based Fire Control System (FCS) with tap-to-target guidance and the option to pilot the loitering missile manually or autonomously. Combined with its built-in mission planner and training simulator, the FCS provides operators with an intuitive platform to easily plan and execute missions precisely, while reducing cognitive load.

The system employs AES 256 digital encryption and SAASM GPS to provide the security, resilient communications, and signal integrity necessary to defend against electronic warfare capabilities employed by peer and near-peer adversaries in contested environments.

Loitering weapons are becoming a big business for Aerovironment. Earlier this month the U.S. Army has exercised an option on its Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile Systems (LMAMS) contract for additional Switchblade® 300 tactical missile systems for the Army and for export to an allied nation. This contract option worth nearly $50 increases the total value of the LMAMS contract to $122 million. Delivery will take place over a two-year period. In addition, the company also reported receiving a $13 million contract order to support the LMAMS in service. This contract has a total potential value of more than $40 million over three years. “The award for contractor logistics support approved through Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement, reflecting high priority requirement and strong user demand from the frontline,” Hush added.

GDLS-UK Demonstrates AJAX-Brimstone ‘Overwatch’ Variant

General Dynamics Land Systems demonstrates AJAX-Brimstone ‘Overwatch’ variant Photo: GDLS-UK

General Dynamics Land Systems–UK today unveiled a new variant of AJAX Family of Vehicles (FoV) based on the ARES troop-carrying reconnaissance vehicle. The Brimstone Anti-tank Guided Weapon ‘Overwatch’ variant, demonstrated in collaboration with MBDA, could operate in the vanguard of the British Army’s future Heavy Brigade and Deep Recce Strike Combat Teams, providing vital force protection for the more dispersed force and ensuring the integrity of long-range persistent surveillance.

The MBDA Brimstone-based solution Overwatch capability can be seamlessly integrated onboard an ARES vehicle utilizing its state-of-the-art Electronic Architecture, which is installed across the AJAX FoV and enables the rapid insertion and integration of new technologies and capabilities.

“Our collaboration with MBDA further demonstrates the versatility of the AJAX fleet through the delivery of an ‘Overwatch’ capability quickly and effectively for the Heavy and Deep Recce Strike Brigade Combat Teams” Carew Wilks, Vice President and General Manager of General Dynamics Land Systems–UK said.

The Ajax-Overwatch vehicle carries eight Brimstone missiles in two four-missile packs mounted on top of the vehicle. In this role the Brimstone is the differentiator for high intensity, peer-on-peer warfighting, with excellent reach, high loadout, and salvo capability. Defeating all known Defensive Aide Suites and armor with high precision and in all weathers, Brimstone gives several targeting options while uniquely enhancing the platform and operator survivability through best-in-class insensitive munition compliance.

Brimstone is a core part of the ‘portfolio’ approach to complex weapons between MBDA and the UK Ministry of Defence. This co-operation on AJAX Overwatch demonstrates how we can use sovereign UK complex weapons technologies to provide rapid and low-cost solutions to enhance the operational capabilities of the UK Armed Forces while ensuring sovereign skills, jobs, and security of supply are maintained.” Chris Allam, MBDA UK Managing Director, said.

MBDA has already pursued Brimstone integration on various armored fighting vehicles, particularly in Poland, where several platforms were presented in association with PGZ back in 2019

IAI’s Barak-ER Performs Successful Ballistic missile Intercept

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) today unveiled details of the comprehensive trials series of the Barak-ER system, tested against a range of scenarios and threats, culminated with the intercept of a ballistic missile target by the BARAK ER (Extended Range) interceptor. BARAK-ER provides wide-area protection against a range of air, sea, and ground threats, including ballistic, ground-to-ground, and cruise missiles, UAVs, guided bombs, and helicopters.

The BARAK-ER Air Defense System, developed by IAI, combines the capability to intercept airborne threats at an extended range of up to 150 kilometers, including ballistic missile targets. The ER interceptor is part of IAI’s BARAK MX Air Defense System’s family, designed for land-based and naval applications. IAI’s BARAK weapon system is one of the world’s most advanced defense systems. Operationally proven, it is operational with several users worldwide, including the Indian Navy, Air Force, Army, the Israel Navy, and the Azeri Air Force, where it was recently used in combat for the first time during the hostilities that erupted over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The BARAK-ER interceptor tested in the recent trial was taken directly from the company’s BARAK MX production line, producing the missile for customer orders. The Israel Navy has already selected the missile to equip the four Magen class corvettes.

Barak LR and ER interceptors are designed to defeat targets ar ranges of 75 and 150 km. Illustration: IAIThe BARAK-ER revolutionizes air defense with unprecedented flexibility, both in real-time, full net-centric combat management as well as with its ‘smart launchers.’ These launchers can independently launch and manage any mix of interceptors with ranges of 35, 70, and 150 km without a dedicated command post on site. This deployment enables users to distribute intercept assets over a wide area and integrate such assets on land and sea under a robust and resilient command and control network.

Such a layout enables air defenders to face air attacks from different directions, heights, and trajectories, posing a complex multi-dimensional Anti-Access Area Denial (A2AD) defense system. Since the system is modular and scalable, users can build such systems in phases by using the systems’ key assets such as the digital MultiMission Radar (MMR) radar or MFSTAR radar for naval platforms, command and control system, and unified launchers, while phasing their procurement of interceptors according to budget constraints. The systems can integrate existing sensors and networks to enhance existing air and missile defense systems.

The Barak MX battle management system optimizes the interceptors to match threats in real-time. Thanks to these features, an operator can create unique responses to a mix of interceptors across different threats and phase their procurement gradually according to budget constraints. The interceptors are built with a modular design and employ advanced RF homing seekers and multi-pulse rocket propulsion to maintain range and maneuverability at medium, long and extended range.

“The BARAK Air Defense System is a modern yet mature, operationally proven system that maximizes the capabilities required to meet threats today, in particular, against ballistic targets.” Boaz Levy, IAI President, and CEO said, “The extensive firing trials to which the system was subjected under difficult land and sea conditions are the best proof of the system’s capabilities. The modular approach, and the smart launchers, fit customer demand for utmost flexibility on the battlefield and in procurement given budget constraints. As such, BARAK provides an optimal solution for the present and future battlefield.”

Barak-ER seen launched from its ‘smart launcher’ during the recent trial. Photo: IAI

The New Flight Training Center in Greece to Following the Israeli Model

Elbit Systems will deliver and support 10 M346 advanced jet trainers as part of a $1.65 billion contract operating an international pilot training center in Greece. Photo: Leonardo

Israel Ministry of Defense (IMOD) and Hellenic Ministry of National Defense have signed an expansive agreement of approximately NIS 5.5 billion (€1.375 billion) to establish and operate an international flight training center for the Hellenic Air Force. Under this Government-to-Government agreement, Elbit Systems will provide flight simulators, training aircraft, maintenance, and support over a period of 22 years. Today Elbit Systems announced the receipt of an IMOD contract worth $1.65 Billion for the Flight Training Program.

The establishment of a modern flight school has become a priority for Athens to provide high-standard training for future pilots for Hellenic Air Force’s Rafale and F-35 fighters. Under the modernization program, the HAF 120 Air Training Wing based in Kalamata, Peloponnese, will retire some of the T-2E Buckeyes (operated by 362 squadron “Nestor” and 363 squadron “Danaos”), adding 10 new Leonardo M-346, advanced jet trainers. Elbit Systems will deliver those aircraft and provide kits to upgrade and operate the wing’s T-6 aircraft. Besides, those T-6s, operated by 361 Squadron Basic Training Squadron “Pelops,” will get the latest Embedded Virtual Avionics (EVA) onboard the training aircraft.

Further expansions also include cooperation between the Israeli flight academy and Hellenic Airforce Academy and adding military helicopter pilot training at the facility. The new center’s goal is to train fighter pilots of the Greek Air Force and foreign armed forces, similar to the Italian Air Force/Leonardo International Flight Training School (IFTS). The comparative advantage of Kalamata includes the good climatic conditions, and its isolation from busy airports, supporting a year-round effective flight training environment.

“This contract award attests to the leading position we hold in the area of training, providing tested know-how and proven technologies that improve readiness while reducing costs.” President and CEO of Elbit Systems, Bezhalel (Butzi) Machlis said.

Under a contractor support model already implemented by the Israel Air Force, Elbit Systems will maintain the entire training fleet, which comprises dozens of training aircraft for a period of approximately 20 years. The training package also comprises the delivery of networked flight simulators and an array of Ground-Based Training Stations (GBTS), and a command and control system to enable efficient management of the flight training operation.

This contract award follows several major programs and contracts that Elbit Systems has secured in recent years, including the selection to supply embedded training capabilities for the U.S. Air Forces’ T-7 Red Hawk aircraft, a contract to provide the UK Royal Navy with a range of simulation capabilities, the delivery of a Brigade and Battlegroup Mission Training Center to the Israeli Defence Forces, a contract to supply helicopter flight simulation for the Italian Ministry of Defence, and others. Since 2016, Elbit Systems and its partner KBR, provide procurement, operations, and maintenance services for the Royal Air Forces’ Basic Flying Training program that operates dozens of aircraft of three different types in three Air Force bases in the UK. Since 2011 the company has also operated a pilot training center for helicopter pilots in Macedonia.

Nexter Develops A Scalable Gun for Future Tanks

Nexter ASCALON MGCS Gun Concept. Photo: Nexter-KNDS

Nexter-KNDS unveiled today an innovative concept for a large caliber gun system for main battle tanks designed to overmatch the heavy threats expected in the 2040-2050 timeframe. The “Autoloaded and SCALable Outperforming guN” (ASCALON) concept is designed to cope with the latest generation of heavy armor while staying ahead of the threats of the next half-century.

Based on know-how gained with battle tank armament, illustrated by the Leclerc’s 120mm smoothbore auto-loading gun system and associated ammunition, the new weapon maximizes energy levels with compact weight and volume, utilizing cutting edge technologies such as telescoped ammunition, and maturity achieved during firing campaigns with a 140mm caliber gun.

Next-generation large-caliber weapons will have to be able to guarantee the armed forces tactical superiority not only through the next decade (2035) but also for the following decades.

By 2040-2050, allied nations will potentially face the return of high-intensity confrontations. In the land domain, armies will have to equip themselves with modern means for tactical superiority, manned or unmanned, integrating numerous systems, reaching the highest levels of protection for the crew, and the capacity to neutralize the adversary. Faced with numerous and hardened threats, winning the battle from the outset will require shooting faster, farther, and with a higher destructive capacity on the first shot, while reducing logistical and ergonomic constraints.

The company expects the technical solutions to be fully mature by 2025, based on an open architecture design to serve as the basis for cooperative development under the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) program. This concept lays the foundations for the future European battle tank gun and ammunition standard, drawing on previous experiences with allies, such as in the 140mm Future Tank Main Armament-Programm (FTMA) gun program.

What makes ASCALON different from today’s tank guns?

A wide choice of terminal effects: The enlarged caliber enriches the range of ammunition for an optimal effect on the target thanks to rods of unparalleled length. It also makes it possible to foresee intelligent ammunition (missiles, projectiles, and other munitions) for firing beyond the line of sight (BLOS/NLOS), which will provide new capacities while reducing the vulnerability of the tank.

Increased firepower: An optimized chamber offers exceptional operational performance with an energy level close to 10 megajoules for kinetic ammunition while remaining below the internal pressure level of current calibers. This untapped potential will enable the weapon to evolve to a performance class of 13 megajoules capable of addressing any threat over the next 50 years.

A controlled blast effect: an innovative muzzle brake, adjusted external pressure fields, and an optimized firing impulse will reduce the blast effect of the shot, reducing the safety distance around the tank, enabling dismounted troops to operate closer to the tank, particularly in urban areas.

Compact ammunition: With a maximum length of 130 cm, ASCALON telescoped ammunition will be more compact than an equivalent caliber ammunition while maintaining maximum rod length. It can be used with automatic loading systems as the current Leclerc tank has, or stored and integrated into new, remotely-operated turrets as foreseen in some configurations of the MGCS.

Lighter Platforms: thanks to a controlled impulse, ASCALON will have With reduced recoil and lower acceleration generated by the gun, ASCALON could be mounted on platforms weighing less than 50 tons while exceeding the performance and lethality of today’s main gun.

For its scalability and growth potential, ASCALON offers a technological and tactical capability that, once matured, could become the standard gun for future heavy battle tanks for the coming decades, similar to the smoothbore 120mm ammunition standardized by NATO in the 1980s. While the 120 was based on German know-how, ASCALON represents a major contribution by the French industry to achieve a new common solution for France and Germany. However, for wider deployment, its maturation will have to be based on the European defense technology industrial base.

IAI, Thales Offer Sea Serpent Missiles to Replace the Harpoon on the Royal Navy Frigates

IAI SEA SERPENT missile launched from an Israel Navy Saar 5 corvette. Photo: IAI

Thales UK and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have joined forces to offer IAI’s Sea Serpent anti-ship missile to replace the Harpoon Block1C anti-ship missile in service on board the Royal Navy Type-23 frigates.

The Harpoon, currently in service with three Type 45 destroyers and 13 Type 23 frigates, will reach its end of service life in 2023. Still, its planned successor, the Anglo-French Future Cruise and Anti-Ship Weapon (FCASW), will not be ready at least until 2030, leaving a severe capability gap open. In 2019 the UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) issued a request for information to missile manufacturers capable of providing an interim solution called “Interim Surface to Surface Guided Weapon (I-SSGW), described as a “ship-launched, over the horizon precision anti-ship capability and a terrain-following precision maritime land attack capability.”

Although the Royal Navy will phase out the Harpoon, the I-SSGW replacements currently address only five Type-23 frigates expected to remain in service for more than 10 years – HMS Sutherland, HMS St Albans, HMS Portland, HMS Kent, and HMS Somerset. To meet the tight schedule, initial deliveries are required by 2023, therefore, the solution requires mature and operational systems that offer smooth integration on the Type 23 frigate.

Several missile manufacturers considered as likely candidates for the program include the Naval Strike Missile offered by Kongsberg (Norway) and Raytheon (USA), and RBS15Mk3 or MK4 from Saab (Sweden) – both are deployed from container-launchers, the RBS15 which uses launch canisters larger than the Harpoon’s while the NSM settles for a more compact setup. MBDA is also a candidate with its latest Exocet MM40 Block IIIC. Another competitor likely to offer a Harpoon alternative for the Type 45 destroyers is Lockheed Martin with its vertically-launched LRASM missile. With dimensions similar to the Harpoon, IAI’s Sea Serpent would fit the Type-23 deck with minimal changes.

SEA SERPENT anti-ship missile launched from an Israel Navy SAAR 5 corvette. Photo: IAI

According to IAI, SEA SERPENT offers the Royal Navy a compelling solution to equip the Type 23 frigates with an anti-ship and anti-surface missile that can match and overmatch a rapidly expanding range and intensity of current and emerging threats. Both companies are fully committed to maximizing UK prosperity and creating employment and investment opportunities. The IAI/THALES in the UK solution for SEA SERPENT will concentrate on utilizing UK industry content and expertise for initial delivery, through-life maintenance and support, and future development and upgrade options. The MOD has set aside up to 200 million for the program, covering the missiles procurement, integration, and support for the initial 5-year period. Follow-on through-life support is also considered to maintain the system through the 2030s.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inspects the Gabriel 5 advanced surface attack missile at IAI.
The SEA SERPENT delivers an agile, highly penetrative, combined anti-ship and land-attack capability at ranges significantly beyond 200 km (107 nm). It deploys an innovative RF seeker head and a sophisticated data analysis and weapon control system to provide precise target detection, discrimination, and classification. It overcomes both kinetic counter-fire and electronic countermeasures of increasing sophistication so that the missile can locate and attack its target in littoral, open-ocean, and overland environments.

Sea Serpent is designed to prevail and win in contested, congested, and confusing situations characterized by large numbers of decoys, disrupted reality, and heavy electronic interference, as well as clutter from land and false returns. In fast-moving situations, SEA SERPENT incorporates mid-course updates from real-time ISTAR feeds and the ability to re-task in flight, especially in cooperative engagements and distributed sensor-and-shooter networks.

As the most advanced ship-launched anti-surface missile in the free world, SEA SERPENT also offers significant Military Off-the-Shelf Solution (MOTS) advantages in terms of cost, time-to-procurement, entry into operational service, and risk reduction. Benchmarked against the need to defeat the most sophisticated platforms and technologies, SEA SERPENT has been developed in parallel with similar missile systems in service with the Israeli Navy and was selected to provide powerful strike capabilities for Finland’s SSM2020 program.

IAI is already active in developing and marketing a 5-GEN anti-ship missile called BLUE SPEAR missile under the Singapore-based Proteus Advanced Systems joint venture with Singapore Technologies. Both Singapore and Israel use or intend to replace their Harpoon missiles with the new 5-GEN missile. These weapons are based on the heritage of IAI’s GABRIEL family of surface-to-surface missiles. The Israeli anti-ship missiles were also successful by the Finish Navy for the upgrading of Hamina-Class fast attack missile boats. SEA SERPENT has already demonstrated the capability to adapt to emerging threats and the technological flexibility for further growth and development.

France Introduces an Improved APFSDS Long-Rod Penetrator Tank Ammo

the SHARD APFSDS projectile uses an optimized sabot, and an elongated rod manufactured from a new tungsten alloy developed with Plansee Tungsten Alloys to enhance terminal balistic performance. Photo: Nexter KNDS.

Nexter Munitions is introducing the SHARD as an improved Armor-Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) tank ammunition for the NATO standard 120mm smoothbore tank gun. The SHARD specifications comply with STANAG 4385 and ICD 120, ensuring they fit the main guns used on the Leclerc tank, the Leopard 2, the Abrams M1A1/A2, and the C1 Ariete, the main battle tanks used by the majority of main battle tanks used by NATO armored units.

SHARD offers improved terminal ballistic performance thanks to an optimized sabot, an elongated rod manufactured from a new tungsten alloy developed with Plansee Tungsten Alloys. It also uses a new combustible cartridge case and a high-performance, low-erosion propellant developed by EURENCO. These features yield increased penetration capacity combined with very high accuracy.

Nexter plans to complete the design optimization in 2021 and enter the industrial qualification phase in 2022, preparing SHARD for mass production from the end of 2022.

The validation and qualification of innovative technological building blocks in the SHARD program is also one of the milestones in the development of very high-performance munitions for future land combat systems, especially the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS). Other innovations in tank ammunition include multimode insensitive ammunition known as “120 IM3M”, elements to counter reactive and active protection, and precision-guided munitions –“120 N-LOS” implementing technologies taken from the KATANA 155mm artillery guided projectile, all developed by Nexter.

Israel Selects CH-53K to Replace its 50 Year Old Stallions

Israel selects the CH-53K from Lockheed Martin Sikorsky. Photo: Lockheed Martin

Today, Defense Minister, Benny Gantz Lt. General (Res.) accepted the recommendations presented by IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, and Defense Ministry Director-General, Maj. Gen. (Res.), Amir Eshel, to select Lockheed Martin Sikorsky CH-53K Yasour helicopters as the IDF’s new heavy-lift aircraft, as part of the IDF’s “Tnufa” (Momentum), multi-year plan. These will replace the “Yassur” helicopters employed by the IAF since the late 1960s.

The decision was made following a professional assessment that included test flights in CH-53K, CH-47K, and CV-22 considered for the Yasour replacement, as well as a thorough examination of the various alternatives in terms of engineering, technological, maintenance, and other considerations.

The concluding discussion, chaired by the Minister of Defense, was attended by IDF Chief of the General Staff, Director General of the Ministry of Defense, IAF Commander, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, and Head of the IDF’s Planning Directorate, Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar.

Israel has plans to acquire up to eight KC-46A Pegasus aerial tankers to replace the current fleet of Re’em flying tankers modified by IAI from B707-720 aircraft. Illustration: Boeing

The decision follows the approval of the procurement of two Tanker jets and the signing of a Letter of Agreement for two Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aircraft. In the next phase, two additional tankers will be acquired, out of a total of up to eight that will make up the future fleet. In addition to the tankers and helicopters, Israel is expected to place an order for the third squadron of F-35 Adir stealth fighters from Lockheed Martin, along with advanced munitions. All programs are conducted with US Military channels, utilizing Foreign Military Financing (FMF). First deliveries are expected by the middle of the decade.

Germany has also considered buying the CH-53K but the German MOD canceled the plan in September, due to excessive cost. The Israeli decision may trigger a German reconsideration if Israel, Germany, and the US Defense Ministries could agree on aligning production schedules and support costs to reduce costs. The US has already committed to a 200-aircraft program of record for the U.S. Marine Corps. Israel hasn’t decided on the number of helicopters to be procured. The IAF currently operates 23 CH-53 Yasour 2025, some of the helicopters have been refurbished and upgraded several times since their introduction to the IAF in 1969. Germany had plans to buy 40 heavy-lift helicopters. These helicopters would have replaced the 72 CH-53GA/GS operated by the German Air Force since 1969.

Plasan Debut the Stinger Optionally Manned Light Combat Vehicle at IDEX 2021

Plasan's Stinger optionally manned combat vehicle

The International Golden Group (IGG), a member of the Tawazoon Group is showcasing Plasan’s Stinger optionally manned light combat vehicle this week at the IDEX 2021 defense expo in Abu Dhabi. After the exhibition, the Stinger will begin a roadshow demonstrating the unique capabilities of this optionally unmanned combat vehicle to several potential customers in the region.

Plasan’s Stinger light combat vehicle is a 6.8-ton vehicle based on a standard HMMWV chassis, configured with a highly protected capsule meeting STANAG 4560 Vol1 Level 4, a protection level rarely accommodated by vehicles at this weight class. The 4×4 vehicle is designed for extreme maneuverability off-road and on the road, including narrow streets in urban areas.

Stinger has accommodation for three crew members – with the driver seating in the center. The vehicle can be configured with two remotely controlled weapon stations, the main turret equipped with a 12.7mm or 30mm automatic cannon with an associated missile launcher and a light RWS placed at a frontal position, enabling the crew to look and fire across corners with minimal exposure to the vehicle and crew. The vehicle also mounts multiple missile launchers adding unprecedented firepower for a vehicle of this class.

Plasan’s Stinger light combat vehicle on display at IGG booth at the IDEX 201 expo. Note the frontal RWS.

Another unique feature is built-in autonomy. The Stinger is equipped with an electronic control unit controlling the electric steering, gear, and pedal actuators that can be activated in a flip of a button, configuring the Stinger into an Unmanned Ground Vehicle. With this capability, the crewmembers continue performing their tasks from a safe distance while the vehicle moves forward and drawing fire to uncover the hidden enemy. A group of Stingers would move to the forwardmost line of troops; the crew would disembark and deploy multiple radio-control consoles (an individual RCU is provided for each crew member).

The vehicles would continue moving forward, performing as UGVs. Once an enemy is encountered, the vehicles detect the incoming fire and engage the enemy using onboard weapon systems. Vehicles can advance to a street corner and use their forward RWS to scan the area using the EO sensors or open fire at the enemy while the whole vehicle remains behind cover.

The Light Combat Vehicle concept has evolved at Plasan for several years. The design was refined under the cooperation with IGG, addressing specific requirements from potential customers in the region. Since the vehicles are delivered as kits, Stingers can be manufactured in large or small batches using existing HMMWVs, converting the obsolete tactical vehicles into smart and potent light armored combat systems.

ARQUUS Showcases the Hybrid Electric Light Attack Vehicle at IDEX

When users demand a high level of protection and low weight, armored vehicles become smaller. Since they carry less payload, they must be optimized for specific missions, to remain relevant in combat. The Scarabee (Beetle) unveiled by Arquus at IDEX 2021 is a good example of such a specialized combat vehicle. As a lightweight, agile and protected platform. As the first hybrid-electric combat armored vehicle developed by Arquus Scarabee offers certain advantages for reconnaissance and patrol missions available only for electrically powered vehicles.

With ample energy supply derived from a powerful generator and high capacity batteries, Scarabee provides a versatile and modular platform, function as a mobile command post, or a reconnaissance car, a light cavalry vehicle carrying a lightweight turret mounting a powerful automatic cannon, or a tank killer operating guided anti-tank missiles. The vehicle has a compact crew capsule accommodating four crews, with the driver seated in the center. With distinctive slanted surfaces, this configuration improves situational awareness and reduces the weight of armor required to protect the small capsule.

It can be used in air assault units or rapid reaction forces, accompany infantry or join forces with main battle tanks. When operating on battery power, the electric motors the Scarabee can move around and operate several sensors and energy-consuming systems in complete silence.

The unique cockpit of Scarabee features a central position for the driver.

As a complement to Scarabee, ARQUUS developed the Hornet line of remotely controlled weapon stations composed of three different turrets. These systems can accommodate several weapon calibers, from 7.62mm machine guns to 40mm grenade launchers, EO sensors, and self-protection systems comprised of an independent ring of smoke grenade launchers. The Hornet range has been selected and qualified by the French army to equip the new combat vehicles of the SCORPION program – Grifon, Jaguar, and VBMR-Light (Serval).

The Hornet range has been selected and qualified by the French army to equip the new combat vehicles of the SCORPION program – Grifon, Jaguar, and VBMR-Light (Serval).

Aeronautics at IDEX 2021

Aeronautics Group – a leading provider of integrated turnkey solutions based on unmanned systems platforms, payloads, and communications for defense and HLS markets – will participate for the first time at IDEX 2021, presenting its Orbiter 4 STUAS and Orbiter 1K Loitering Munition UAS.

Orbiter 4 STUAS is an advanced tactical UAS, multi-mission platform with versatile payloads, optional BLOS operation, and extraordinary endurance for all weather conditions. Built on the successful system design of the Orbiter 3 STUAS – in use by many customers around the world and accruing vast operational experience – with its advanced avionics, communications, ground control features and applications, Orbiter 4 retains the legacy capabilities of the combat-proven Orbiter UAS family.

Delivering top mission performance with its highly-versatile covert platform – the most advanced available today – the Orbiter 4 STUAS is suitable for both land and maritime operations. The system can simultaneously carry multiple payloads, extending its ISTAR capabilities. Easy to use, with a low logistical footprint and a small crew, the runway-free Orbiter 4 STUAS aircraft suits all operational needs.

Measure for measure, Orbiter 4 delivers higher capabilities than other tactical platforms in operation today, with greater endurance, serviceability, operational flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. Thanks to Aeronautics’ advanced technology, it also has intelligence capabilities usually reserved for large UAVs on a lightweight, tactical and covert platform.

“We are delighted and proud to participate in and present at this important exhibition for the first time,” says Matan Perry, Vice President of Marketing & Sales at Aeronautics. “The recently signed peace agreement with the Emirates opens up many avenues for regional cooperation, and our company sees this as an opportunity to strengthen relations and business collaborations with other countries in the Gulf region.”

The main applications of Orbiter 4 include: land and maritime ISTAR, target acquisition for precision-guided weapons, artillery fire management, and BDA, communications intelligence (COMINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT), electronic warfare (EW), communications relay, border patrol and reconnaissance, ISR envelope for strategic facilities security, search and rescue, and emergency response.
At the show, Aeronautics will also feature its Orbiter 1K Loitering Munition UAS. Designed for loitering attacking missions, Orbiter 1K has advanced guidance capabilities that ensure high precision, lethality and low collateral effects. Based on the mature, combat-proven Orbiter 2 Mini UAS, Orbiter 1K delivers outstanding performance in terms of endurance and mission range, and is the perfect solution for the "Sensor to Shooter" concept of operation. Once launched, the 1K loiters and searches for targets, and, when it finds one, attacks it precisely, causing little collateral damage. The 1K is a combat-proven system with vast operational
experience, providing a high level of operational flexibility, with extraordinary operational advantages for its category.
“Backed by continuous research and development, our systems are built on decades of technological and operational experience,” says Matan. “Thanks to our in-house capability as a UAS integrator, we are able to meet the growing demand for full turnkey solutions that are easy to install, operate and maintain, and give autonomy to soldiers. We are continually moving towards smaller platforms and drones, providing solutions for the entire spectrum of HLS –
aerial, maritime, coastal and border security, sensitive infrastructure such as pipeline monitoring, oil & gas security or environmental monitoring. We intend to maintain our legacy, remain a significant player in the market, and continue to be pioneers in an ever-changing landscape.”

Today, Aeronautics and its subsidiaries, together with Rafael, offer an extensive portfolio of technologies and capabilities for border protection, both land, and sea. The two companies provide advanced multi-layered defense solutions to maintain national security. These include ISTAR aerostats, persistent surveillance payloads for tactical UAS, integration of autonomous tools with ground systems in a computerized decision support system, and more.

Israel to Equip German Leopard Tanks with TROPHY APS

Leopard 2A7A1 equipped with RAFAEL TROPHY APS. Photo: KMW

The Israeli and German Defense Ministries have signed an agreement to equip the German Leopard 2A7A1 tanks with the TROPHY Active Protection System. The government-to-government (G2G) agreement covers the supply of APS to equip 17 tanks making a single company of the German Army. The contract signed between KMW, the prime contractor for the tank and TROPHY manufacturer RAFAEL provides for systems, interceptors, and spare parts, operational and technical training. Systems will be delivered over several years. According to KMW, the integration of the systems on the Leopard 2A7A1 will be completed in 2023. RAFAEL expects that in the future Germany will procure additional Trophy systems to equip most of its modern fleet of Leopard 2 MBTs.

The 17 tanks being delivered with TROPHY following the integration phase will not be ready in time to equip the German combined force destined to lead the NATO Very High Joint Readiness Task Force (VJTF) in that year. For this contingency the German Army currently plans to deploy 30 Leopard A7V tanks, these models will not be equipped with the Trophy.

From illustrations released by KMW the Trophy configuration on the Leopard 2 tank looks different from those configured on the Israeli Merkava Mk4 and the M1A2 SEPV2. The system allocates two ELM2133 WindGuard radars emplaced in armored boxes covering the front arc, while the interceptors, magazines and radars placed in an integrated assembly on the turret’s sides, covering the rear sector left and right. Another change is the blast deflector using transparent armor, improving the situational awareness for the commander and loader.

Leopard 2A7A1 with TROPY APS. Photo: KMW

Trophy has accrued over 1,000,000 operating hours, including 5,400 successful field tests, and is now under contract for serial production of over 1,800 systems. The world’s first and only fully-integrated, combat-proven APS, TROPHY has been installed on Israel Defense Forces’ Merkava tanks since 2010, as well as on the Namer heavy APCs. Trophy has made numerous combat interceptions with no injuries to crews or dismounted troops or damage to platforms since its first operational interception in 2011.

In January, Rafael and partner DRS announced that they had completed the delivery of Trophy Active Protection Systems (APS) ordered by the U.S. Army for installation on M1A2SEPV2 Abrams main battle tanks, under contracts awarded on an urgent need basis by the Army’s Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems. Most of these tanks will be deployed with US Army heavy brigades stationed in Europe.

IMCO’s Systems Introduces Technologies to Achieve Terrain Dominance

ATID C-UAS soft-kill capability employs the optronic package and jamming subsystem. The addition of a machine gun provides hard-kill lethality. Image: Capture Systems

By integrating advanced Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities and AI-driven Situational Awareness, small combat formations become more agile and decisive.

To achieve Terrain Dominance through technology overmatch, IMCO Industries combines platforms, sensors, and effectors developed in-house by its subsidiaries, affiliates, and partners. These systems are offered as upgrades of existing systems and equipping new platforms to embrace the opportunities and challenges of the 21st-century battlespace.

IMCO unveils this new concept at the IDEX 2021 defense exhibition taking place in Abu-Dhabi in February 2021. IMCO Industries Ltd. (Tel Aviv Stock Exchange TASE: IMCO) is a leading Israeli manufacturer of complex systems and solutions for aerospace, defense, and naval systems. IMCO’s unique concept integrates defense systems developed in house by its subsidiaries, affiliates, and partners into comprehensive Terrain Dominance Solutions.

The Situational Awareness Vehicle System integrates video and image processing and AI to enhance vehicle and crew survivability and combat effectiveness of tactical formations. Illustration: Nir-Or
G2 multirotor drone from AeroSol is on display at IMCO’s booth at IDEX.

At the IDEX 2021 expo, IMCO Group and partners present three UAS platforms from Innocon, Sky Sapience, and AeroSol. These platforms range from fixed-wing tactical drones, small electrically-powered UAS, tethered drones offering unlimited mission endurance, and tactical multirotor drones. Such platforms carry different payloads weighing anything from few hundreds of grams to +150 kg and provide essential ISR capabilities for the operational and tactical echelon. Few weeks before IDEX, IMCO and Innocon announced plans to establish a joint venture, controlled by IMCO, in the field of UAS for defense and security applications. “The collaboration with Innocon will allow us to offer our customers tactical defense solutions uniquely tailored for their needs, utilizing the most advanced platforms, sensors, communications, and processing power.” Mr. Eitan Zait, IMCO Industries CEO, said.

ATID utilizes a multi-axis positioner to operate a sensor pack and weapon system as a semi-automatic remotely controlled weapon system. Typical use is as a C-UAS system. Photo: Capture Systems

At their IDEX exhibit stand, IMCO also displays the unique positioners developed by Capture Systems. These systems provide the primary platforms for remotely controlled and autonomous systems, including weapon stations, ISR, and communications gear. One of the unique solutions leveraging this multi-axis positioning capability is the Anti-Threat Intelligent Detector (ATID). The system utilizes the positioning system as a remotely controlled weapon station that can automatically respond to threats, such as a counter-drone system, utilizing the observation system as target acquisition, an active jammer for soft-kill, and machine gun as hard-kill countermeasures.

IMCO’s subsidiary Nir-Or, specializing in the development and manufacturing of military electronic hardware, will introduce at IDEX its unique Situation Awareness Video System (SAVS). This comprehensive video capture and processing system provide 360° terrain and situational awareness for land and marine platforms. The system can operate as a stand-alone system or integrate with the AI Edge 360 Cluster, providing the crew with a 360° panoramic outside view day/night.

The onboard processor provides SAVS an embedded Artificial Intelligence (AI) capability that supports decision-making solutions on the battlefield. The SAVS enables the commander or any crew member connected to the system to operate continuously with closed hatches while providing complete situational awareness beyond the line of sight, in a single view. Using advanced human-machine interface SAVS reduces crewmembers’ cognitive load while maximizing the platform’s lethality and crew combat survivability.

Visit IMCO Industries at IDEX 2021 – Booth #H1-C13

IAI’s WASP – Introducing Wide Area Persistent Surveillance for Small & Medium Drones

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) unveiled a new persistent surveillance system that provides a high-resolution situational awareness picture of moving targets, covering a wide area of interest in day and night. Utilizing state of the art EO and IR sensors, AI algorithms, and adaptive rule engines, the system captures large areas at a high revisit rate, enabling tracking, identification, and alerts of multiple moving targets over large areas.

Wasp uses a 3-axes stabilization to enables the collection of sharp imagery even when the platform maneuvers and vibrates. The WASP is configured in a compact, light-weight (6.5 kg) low-power consuming system, that complies with various aerial platforms from tactical UAVs, drones, fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, to tethered surveillance balloons.

“By providing a highly detailed intelligence picture in a wide area, WASP provides excellent two-layer situational awareness that comprises both visual and intelligence information.” IAI Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Military Aircraft Group, Moshe Levy, noted: “As a compact and light system, it can be mounted on a range of platforms to provide strong intelligence capabilities already on the tactical level.”

WASP’s field of view covers 52 by 48 degrees. Actual area and resolution change according to the platform’s operating altitude. Mounted on a tactical UAV such as the BirdEye 650D, WASP covers 2 square kilometers from an altitude of 6,000 ft, providing optimal resolution (15 cm) to detect all types of moving targets. When mounted on a male UAV such as the Heron 1, loitering at 20,000 ft, the coverage area expands over 20 square kilometers to detect mostly vehicle size objects and the like (50 cm).

The system is configured with an optional airborne Digital Processing Unit (DPU) that employs advanced data and image processing algorithms for automatic detection, classification, and tracking of objects of interest in the monitored area. Wasp provides simultaneous visual and IR imaging enabling analysts to view the entire area and specific windows of interest.

Wasp persistent surveillance payload carried on a BirdEye 650D small tactical. UAS Illustration: IAI

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