Defense Industry Daily’s mandate is clear, and summed up well in our motto “daily news for defense procurement managers and contractors.” In most cases, our coverage limits itself to the events and issues around contracts that have already been issued, and/or key issues of doctrine and policy that are related to defense procurement. We also include reports from the field that bring home useful information about equipment performance, and serve as a reminder of what’s really important: usefulness to the people on the front lines.
Sometimes, news from the front lines also highlights important trends and force structure issues that go beyond the performance of any one system. “(Lt. Col. David) Labouchere of Mesopotamia,” which covered that British commander’s successful mobile/Bedouin approach in Iraq, was one. Now Noah Shachtman of WIRED’s award-winning defense blog Danger Room has written another. In the wake of the discussions in defense departments and ministries around the world concerning “network-centric warfare,” events like Israel’s recent Winograd Commission post-mortem of the 2006 war in Lebanon, and the Nov 28/07 security pact involving 6,000 Sunnis in Hawija, Noah’s article offers important food for thought to policy-makers and procurement managers alike. In his words…
“It’s an attempt at explaining why we’ve seen such a drop in violence in Iraq in recent months, and why it took so long to see a shift. My short answer: the U.S. dropped its somewhat techno-centric approach to prosecuting the war — and started focusing on Iraq’s social, political, tribal, and cultural networks instead… For the story, I scored a rare opportunity to spend time with a U.S. “psychological operations” team, getting into the heads of the people of Fallujah; hung out with an Army colonel who worked his tribal connections to bring stability to one of Iraq’s roughest towns; spent time with the heads of a controversial program to embed anthropologists into combat units; and interviewed General David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq.”
Unmanned Underwater Vehicles are becoming increasingly popular for a number of roles, including mine detection, advance scouting roles against enemy vessels, and basic hydrographic work. With nuclear submarines costing $2 billion and more per boat, an inexpensive surrogate that could handle some of the most dangerous jobs seems like an obvious addition – especially given the popularity of well-understood torpedo-like designs for key naval UUVs like Remus family, Bluefin-21 et. al.
Launching these UUVs is no challenge. Just build them to the 21-inch diameter limit and use the torpedo tubes. The thing is, submarines have a more restricted carrying capacity than most people think; even the US Virginia Class can carry only 26 total torpedoes, anti-ship missiles, and torpedo-like UUVs. That makes one-shot UUVs unacceptably expensive. In order to be effective, submarines will have to do something not normally done with torpedoes – recover them at the end of their mission. Enter the Long-Term Mine Reconnaissance System (LMRS), now known as the AN/BLQ-11 UUV…
KMW’s Mungo truck is designed as a heavier vehicle than the Mercedes Wolf, which can accept heavier armor while remaining transportable in CH-53G Sea Stallion and CH-47 Chinook helicopters, as well as larger platforms like C-160 Transall aircraft. It would seem to be an ideal vehicle for use in Afghanistan, where 283 of the jeep-style Wolfs are serving.
To fill that role, however, the Mungo vehicle has to be able to handle Afghanistan’s difficult terrain. Wheeled vehicles of all sorts have shown limitations in Afghanistan’s mud and broken landscape, but some are more limited than others. In order to ensure transportability, one of the Mungo’s tradeoffs has been suspension and axles that have attracted criticism for insufficient strength and reliability. That has apparently proven fatal in Afghanistan’s harsh terrain, and the German military will reportedly be withdrawing them from Afghanistan due to mobility difficulties in theater.
KMW’s Fennek has a simple mission: see, but don’t be seen. Accordingly, Fennek is designed to combine a low height profile with low infrared, radar, and noise profiles. Its 3-man crew can be sustained in the field for 5 days in the field via carried supplies, and a 1,000 km range plus C-130 transportability make this 11-tonne vehicle very mobile. GPS/INS navigation removes the need to ask for directions, and some versions add a full moving map display. Its biggest asset, however, is an advanced set of surveillance electronics that include thermal imaging, a CCD day-vision camera, and laser range finder with optional targeting laser, all packed into a sensor head that can extend up to 3.3m/ 10 feet – or operate on a tripod up to 40m from the vehicle. Other systems carried on board can include ground sensor equipment (BSA), a radiation detection system, and in future mini UAVs or the remote-controlled mobile sensor system (MoSeS).
The NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency’s (NAMSA) main task is to assist NATO nations by organizing common procurement and supply of spare parts and arranging maintenance and repair services necessary for the support of various weapon systems, with the purpose of achieving maximum effectiveness in logistics support at minimum cost.
NAMSA operates on the no profit, no loss principle. It is overseen by the NATO Maintenance and Supply Organization (NAMSO), formed by 26 NATO nations (Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States).
On Nov 21/07, NAMSA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Logistic Support Cooperation with Israel…
The Leopard 2 is believed by some observers to be the world’s best main battle tank. It’s certainly the most widely bought ultra-modern MBT; thanks to der grosse DeutschePanzerSchlussverkauf (the great German Tank fire sale), the Leopard 2 and its variants has been bought by Germany, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Singapore, Switzerland, Sweden, and Turkey.
We can now add Leopard 2A6 tanks to Portugal, and Chile is beginning to take deliveries of its Leopard 2A4s.
The LITENING family of pods has become the most widely-used international solution for adding sophisticated surveillance and precision strike capabilities to fighter and bomber aircraft, defining the price:performance target for its sector. An international agreement between developer RAFAEL and Northrop Grumman divides responsibility for global marketing, and the most current version in Northrop’s inventory is the US-standard LITENING AT, with over 500 pods sold and 400 fielded on AV-8B, A-10, B-52H, F-15E, F-16 and F/A-18 C/D aircraft. Together, all variants of the LITENING pod have amassed more than 750,000 flight hours, more than half of which have been logged under deployed and combat conditions.
With Lockheed Martin’s new Sniper ATP is coming on strong in the global marketplace, however, the LITENING partnership needs to fight to stay ahead of the curve. Fortunately, the LITENING pods are highly modular, allowing rapid upgrades. A recent $18 million contract from U.S. Air Force Materiel Command’s Aeronautical Systems Center lays the groundwork for some important upgrades, as Northrop prepares it next-generation offering. Under the new contract,Northrop Grumman’s Defensive Systems Division will deliver in excess of 201 new data links under Plug and Play II, to be fielded on a variety of aircraft beginning in September 2008 and continuing through January 2010.
The new data link set features multiple frequencies, while retaining compatibility with the ROVER portable receiving station that lets U.S. and coalition ground forces exchange targeting data and video feeds. In addition, Plug & Play II provides a new high capacity digital recording capability for both video and metadata collected during a mission, and can include 2-way data transfer functionality with an onboard server to support network operations. In addition to approaching the capabilities of dedicated reconnaissance pods, and adding the new data link set, the 4th generation version of LITENING will feature the most advanced 1024 x 1024 pixels (1k x 1k) FLIR sensor for improved target detection and recognition ranges under day/night conditions (already incorporated); new sensors for improved target identification; and advanced target recognition and identification features. NGC release.
If you want to keep track of key Pentagon programs, Selected Acquisition Reports are an important resource. Shortly after the defense budget is submitted, the Pentagon releases details on major defense acquisition program cost, schedule, and performance changes on a periodic basis, summarizing the latest estimates of a major program’s cost, schedule, and technical status. Quarterly SARs are submitted for initial reports, final reports, and for programs that are rebaselined at major milestone decisions. Subsequent quarterly exception reports are required only for those programs experiencing unit cost increases of at least 15%, or schedule delays of at least 6 months.
Total program cost estimates provided in the SARs include research and development, procurement, military construction, and acquisition-related operation and maintenance (except for pre-Milestone B programs which are development costs only). Total program costs reflect actual costs to date, as well as future anticipated costs, and include anticipated inflation allowances.
When the USA and the Netherlands deployed their AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters to Afghanistan, the Longbow millimeter-wave radar that sits atop the rotor didn’t accompany them. The Dutch helicopters didn’t have that option due to budget pressures, and the Americans decided that the mast-mounted radar would just compromise performance against an opponent that had no armored vehicles to track, and no weapons that made fire-and-forget missile tactics necessary.
The British thought about it, and decided to take a different tack. Their WAH-64s were equipped with RTM322 Mk250 engines [PDF], giving them commonalities with the EH101 Merlin fleet and 2,260 shp – a 19% boost over the 1,890 shp GE T701Cs that power most other Apaches. With power to spare and additional internal fuel tanks, they kept the radars on and focused on finding ways to use them in theater…