General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products recently announced a $12 million contract from the U.S. government for production of the MK47 STRIKER40 lightweight grenade machine gun.
40mm grenade machine guns like the Mk19 are extremely effective weapons against lightly protected opponents, offering fast firepower overmatch against superior numbers. The STRIKER40 updates the standard GMG by dropping the gun’s weight from 77 pounds/ 35 kg without the tripod mount (Mk19 MOD 3) to 39.6 pounds/ 18kg (Mk47 MOD 0). That change, in and of itself, has helped spur early use by US special operations forces, and led to scrutiny of interesting new technologies like Vinghog AS’ low-recoil “soft mounts”. When assembled with its own tripod and sight for carriage on foot, however, the Mk47’s weight rises to 90 pounds/ 41 kg.
The AN/PVG-1 Lightweight Video Sight (LVS) offers Striker40 operators 3X magnification, a laser range finder and ballistic computer, and interface connectors for an optional thermal night sight attachment. LVS is installed on the right side of the weapon, and is controlled by buttons and 4-position “joystick” located at the rear of the receiver, between and above the spade grips. These additions allow the gunner to fire programmed airbursts that detonate at precise distances specified by the LVS’ laser rangefinder. Opponents hiding behind a wall or in a trench can no longer depend on their protection, which is very useful in urban fights and counterinsurgency campaigns. The flip side is an increase in the cost of each weapon, and in the associated maintenance burdens.
The US refusal to sell the F-22 Raptor to its main allies is a matter of grave concern to many around the world and is an issue exacerbated by the possible termination of the Raptor project before it even delivers the number of aircraft demanded by the American military itself.
There seem to be no dissenting voices to the view that the Raptor is far and away the best air dominance fighter on the planet. But key US allies – particularly Australia, Britain, Japan and, although with a very different relationship, Israel – have been told the Raptor is simply too good for them, and that they will have to be content with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (and a hobbled export model at that, to ensure even America’s closest friends remain inferior in the skies).
Now there have been many serious concerns raised about the JSF, and specifically its ability to meet the air defence requirements of some intended client states such as Australia. Some critics suggest this aircraft will never be a match for the new Russian-origin aircraft and air defence systems already proliferating in the Asia-Pacific, and so will fail both as a deterrent and as a counter in any conflict. But even giving the JSF the benefit of the doubt, its staunchest proponents quite openly concede it will be found lacking against the Raptor.
To foist this inferior “Little Brother” of the Raptor on close long-term allies is akin to a motorcycle dealer telling a customer they can buy only a 50cc scooter. Unfortunately, such light-hearted analogies fail to convey the gravity of the issue…
Feb 23/09: Northrop Grumman announces that the U.S. Army has increased the ceiling for its Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade and Below (FBCB2 – and see video) contract by $574 million. Under this contract modification, Northrop Grumman will provide FBCB2-Blue Force Tracking installation kits, cables, and related hardware, which will allow inclusion of the new in-line KGV-72 encryption device.
Program management, engineering and supply chain management are performed in Carson, CA, with the final kits packaged and shipped from Huntsville, AL. To date, the company has received 34 delivery orders under this indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract, which runs through March 2011. The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Life Cycle Management Command contract modification brings the 6-year contract’s new ceiling to $908 million.
FBCB2 is more commonly known to the public as “Blue Force Tracker,” though that is only part of a system designed to enable a diverse array of communications, in addition to showing the positions of friendly forces and detected enemies. DID has covered Blue Force Tracker and its profound implications for land warfare before, along with related contracts for computers and back-end services. Northrop Grumman was awarded its first FBCB2 development contract in January 1995. Since then, the Army has fielded more than 50,000 FBCB2 systems, installed in about 45 different military vehicles and aircraft. A new version is under development by Northrop Grumman, and this Joint Capabilities Release will provide faster updating, as well as compatibility between Army and USMC systems.
BAE recently announced that the Norwegian Defence Logistics Organisation has selected BAE Systems Sting Ray MOD 1 lightweight torpedo for its Norwegian Antisubmarine Torpedo (NAT) program following an international competition, and issued a GBP 99 million (EUR 136.1M / $145M) contract. These pump-jet propelled, autonomous active-homing 324mm torpedoes will arm Norway’s new Fridtjof Nansen Class AEGIS frigates, NH90 NFH Anti Submarine Warfare helicopters, and its P-3C Orion maritime patrol planes.
“Lightweight” torpedoes are light only in comparison to their huge 533mm ship-killing counterparts, like the submarine-launched American Mk48 torpedo and BAE’s own Spearfish. Submarines are easier to sink than enemy destroyers, however, which allows warhead and torpedo size to be reduced for carriage and launch from smaller surface ship torpedo tubes, maritime patrol aircraft, and anti-submarine helicopters.
This is the first export success for the upgraded Stingray MOD 1…
The Republic of Ireland is a neutral power with a small armed forces, whose equipment is more suited to policing than war. Eire’s troops do deploy abroad on UN missions, however, where more protection and firepower are needed. French AML-20/AML-90 armored cars, and GD MOWAG’s wheeled LAV/Piranha vehicles have been purchased and deployed for those operations.
In September 2005, Ireland canceled a planned purchase of up to 66 light-armored tactical vehicles (LTAV), which would have provided its forces with mine-resistant patrol vehicles for use on its missions in Pakistan/Afghanistan, Bosnia, Lebanon and the Golan Heights, The Congo, Liberia, and the Western Sahara between Morocco and Algeria. Instead, the Department of Defence purchased 15 more Piranha-III wheeled APCs in January 2006.
That move has now been reconsidered. In early 2008, the EUFOR Chad mission was added to the above deployments, and in May 2008, the An Roinn Cosanta (DoD) restarted the LTAV tender competition. The new competition will be for 27 vehicles, plus a pair of options that could add 27 more and bring the total number of vehicles to 54. Tenders were received in early July 2008, and in September 2008 the 3 finalists were announced. Now, it seems that we have a winner…
Small business qualifier Horus Vision LLC in San Bruno, CA received a not-to-exceed $49 million, 5-year firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for Scout Sniper Observation Telescopes (SSOT). The SSOT is a lightweight variable power telescope that will replace the M49 Sniper 20x power fixed telescope throughout the United States Marine Corps, which has been in use since World War 2 and remains in service with a number of countries around the world.
Snipers are not loners; as shown above, they always work in pairs. One team member serves as the spotter to help identify difficult to find targets at long range, and adjust the marksman’s fire as necessary. The SSOT is intended for those spotters, and is part of a larger set of marksman-class optics buys by the USMC. High-quality optics, in the hands of trained riflemen, are proving to be extremely useful against opponents who regularly use human shields and commit related war crimes. As such, a broader trend within the Corps is the shift toward universal fielding of combat optics, rather than restricting these tools to snipers and designated marksmen.
With respect to the chosen spotter systems, note that the specifications advertised on Horus Vision’s web site do not correspond to the USMC’s purchased systems, which will use less-advanced MilDot crosshairs. See below for the explanation…
Power Point presentations. They’re ubiquitously common, and often criticized for dumbing down discussion within industry and the military. There’s some truth to that assertion, in part because most people have never been trained to design and present that information properly. DID’s “Preparing More Powerful Presentations” offers useful examples, teachings, and tips that can help our readers sharpen an important career skill.
The defense industry is a very technical industry, however, which creates some unique requirements for good presentations. Penn State discusses technical writing and presentations’ requirements, and teaches an associated set of techniques called “the assertion-evidence structure.” It begins by changing each slide’s title to an assertion rather than a heading, and follows by changing the design and structure of the slides themselves. It meshes well with the many of the recommendations in “Preparing More Powerful Presentations”; together, these approaches can make a big difference to your presentation’s impact with its audience.
Defense Industry Daily came across 3 snapshots in recent months that illustrate the changing nature of the front-line information war, and of the environment in which industry and government must operate. We’ve now added a 4th.
These 4 examples have broad reach, from tactical reconnaissance and information warfare, to strategic reconnaissance, to front-line “public diplomacy,” to the halls of politics and power…
1. Tactical: You’re on Candid Cellphone!
2. Google Earth is Watching You… as You Watch Others [NEW]
3. From Front-Line Transparency to Policy Debates: US Navy Blogs
4. Informed Reporters Who Work from Home: The US V.A. Department Experience
Phoenix Air Group of Cartersville, GA received a $26.3 million fixed price indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract to provide air charter service for Headquarters United States Africa Command (US AFRICOM) passengers from Stuttgart Army Airfield, Germany, to various points throughout Africa and Europe. The performance period is from April 1/09 to March 31/12, including unexercised options. This contract was a competitive acquisition, with 7 bids received by United States Transportation Command’s (USTRANSCOM) Directorate of Acquisitions at Scott Air Force Base, IL (HTC711-09-D-0001).
AFRICOM emerged as its own command on Feb 6/07, as the culmination of a 10-year process within the Department of Defense (DoD). It has stepped back from its original “whole of government” model, but still has a significant civilian component and aims to merge aid, relationship building, and capability building within Africa’s own militaries. Its headquarters will remain in Stuttgart, in the wake of political controversies that made an African location infeasible.
Phoenix Air Group is best known as an operator of reconfigurable Learjets and Gulfstream turboprops, designed to assist in exercises. These reconfigurable aircraft can perform electronics training of all kinds, including electronic warfare simulation and simulation of incoming enemy aircraft. They can also be used for target towing, range surveillance and clearance, and related roles.
BAE Systems Land & Armaments LP in York, PA received a $22.3 million sole-source, cost plus fixed fee contract for technical, engineering and management support (TEAMS) services in support of the Assault Amphibious Vehicles used by the US Marines. This contract contains options that would extend the contract by 4.5 years, and bring its contract value to $41.6 million.
Work will be performed in Quantico, VA (52.07%), Santa Clara, CA (21.1%); Sterling Heights, MI (13.03%); Albany, GA (8.21%); and Ladysmith, VA (5.59%), and and work is expected to be complete by Feb 18/10, (August 2014 with options). The Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA manages this contract (M67854-09-C-6006).
With the follow-on EFV program delayed by years and close to outright cancellation, maintaining the USMC’s aged AAV7 Amtracs amphibious armored personnel carriers is critical to operational readiness. New thermal sights will help keep the vehicles relevant on the battlefield, and the related EPLS program should offer some maintenance help, as proactive diagnostic systems become more common within the Amtracs fleet.