“Bushmaster Bonanza at Bendigo” read the August 2007 DoD headline, as Liberal Party Minister for Defence Dr. Brendan Nelson announced that Australia would buy at least 250 more Bushmaster vehicles. The final contract was actually larger than that, in order to meet Protected Mobility Medium requirements for Project Overlander’s Phase 3. In 2011, the government placed an order for even more Bushmasters. Now 2012 has seen that intention repeated, in order to keep the workforce occupied…
June 28/12: The US DSCA announces [PDF] Kuwait’s request for 300 AGM-114R3 Hellfire II missiles, with the new triple-mode fragmentation/ blast/ armor piercing warhead. The Kuwaitis are also requesting missile containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, repair and return support, training, Quality Assurance Team support services, and other engineering and technical support. The estimated cost is $49 million.
The prime contractor is Lockheed Martin Corporation in Orlando, FL, and implementation of this proposed sale won’t require the assignment of U.S. Government or contractor representatives. The Kuwaiti Air Force owns 16 AH-64D Apache attack helicopters that already use these missiles, just not the latest version.
Recent years have seen a variety of unmanned helicopter options introduced into the market. Boeing’s entry lays a breathtaking challenge before the field: what could the military do with a helicopter-like, autonomously-flown UAV with a range of 2,500 nautical miles and endurance of 16-24 hours, carrying a payload of 1,000-2,500 pounds, and doing it all more quietly than conventional helicopters? For that matter, imagine what disaster relief officials could do with something that had all the positive search characteristics of a helicopter, but much longer endurance.
Enter the A160 Hummingbird Warrior (YMQ-18), which was snapped up in one of Boeing’s corporate acquisition deals. It uses a very unconventional rotor technology, and Boeing’s Phantom Works division continues to develop it as a revolutionary technology demonstrator and future UAV platform. With the Navy’s VTUAV locked up by the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout, Boeing’s sales options may seem thin. Their platform’s capabilities may interest US Special Operations Command and the Department of Homeland Security, and exceptional performance gains will always create market opportunities in the civil and military space. At least, Boeing hopes so.
Latest updates: New helicopters arrive; Crash in Afghanistan.
RAAF & US CH-47Ds
After decades as a largely unheralded workhorse, the distinctive, twin-rotor CH-47 Chinook medium-heavy lift helicopter has suddenly become the belle of the ball. Nations that have them are keeping them, and upgrading them. Boeing’s main customers in the US military plan to keep versions of the CH-47 in service past 2030. Nations that don’t have Chinooks, want them; but like a Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle Fat Boy, those who step up to buy one know that second hand models aren’t exactly plentiful – and if you want new, you’ll probably have to wait a bit.
DID does not publish on July 4th. We hope our readers in Canada and the USA have enjoyed the period from Canada Day on July 1st to Independence Day on July 4th, celebrating freedom, friendship and long-standing peace across the world’s longest undefended border.
Fortunately, the Americans elected not to hold a grudge over the 1814 expedition that put the Presidential residence and other nearby landmarks to the torch during the burning of Washington. That residence was later restored and painted in white, hence its current name. North of the border, the war’s events prompted Upper Canada to move its administrative center from York (now Toronto) on Lake Ontario, to the frigid swamps of Ottawa near Lower Canada. Ottawa is now the world’s 2nd coldest national capital, ahead of Moscow and behind only Mongolia’s Ulan Bator. America’s second most divisive war had left little appetite for further hostilities, and some wags quip that its “capital punishment” on both sides of the border was seen as sufficient requite by both sides.
The Government Accountability Office updated its cost estimates of the last round of US base realignments and closures (BRAC 2005) and concluded that net savings came at less than 28% of the $35.6B originally expected. Ironically the main culprit is one-off construction costs that ended up much higher than anticipated. This report will no doubt be used in Congress as supporting evidence to push back against the Administration’s proposal to go through another realignment round, though BRACs are supposed to be driven not only by savings but also military value.
The Czech Republic joined the group of “qualifying countries” recognized under US defense acquisition regulations (DFARS) as a “country with a reciprocal defense procurement [agreement with the US] in which both countries agree to remove barriers to purchases of supplies produced in the other country or services performed by sources of the other country”. It is the 22nd country on the list and the 2nd after Finland out of the former Soviet sphere of influence/control.
In June 2012, Lockheed Martin announced a $27.1 million contract from the U.S. Army for Phase 1 of a 3-year development program to update its fleet of 225 M270A1 tracked Multiple Launch Rocket System launchers. Lockheed Martin will upgrade, assemble and test 7 prototype vehicles, which will include new up-armored launching cabs with “energy absorbing” seats for mine blast mitigation, and and an updated fire control panel that offers commonality with the newer truck-mounted M142 HIMARS launcher. Subsequent phases of this program will refit the US Army’s entire fleet. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for M270A1 research and development, and is partnered with BAE Systems.
The M270 carries a pair of rocket pods (instead of HIMARS’ single pod), each of which can hold either 6 x 227mm guided or unguided rockets, or a single ATACMS missile with a range of up to 300 miles. Britain fielded its own set of M270 self-protection upgrades in 2008, including additional armor for defense against rockets and mines, thermal imaging sensors, and a machine gun up top for self-defense.
Readers who follow the tech press may be familiar with the concept of quantum computing. Computers use binary bits: on/off, yes/no, represented by 0 or 1. A quantum bit, or qubit, can be 1, or 0… or both. Whereas 111 = 7 in binary, and each number is a single choice among all the possibilities in the number of binary digits, 3 qubits can hold all 8 possibilities (0-7), which means you can do calculations on all of them at once. The more qubits used, the more computation, so 32 qubits theoretically gets you 2 to the 32nd power computations (about 4.3 billion) at once – much more power than conventional computing, and it keeps on rising exponentially.
It’s worth noting that quantum computing has limits, and areas where it will not be suitable for computing tasks. They are not fully understood yet, but have been shown to exist at the theoretical level. So far, all we can say is that certain kinds of problems will be solved much, much more quickly. The uses of such a system for searching large domains of information, cracking codes, creating codes, or running simulations that include the quantum level (as a number of modern physical and medical science applications do) are clear. As an additional benefit, quantum cryptography methods benefit from quantum principles. Eavesdropping is not only incredibly difficult, it will create noticeable interference.
Various American agencies continue to be interested in the field, which has also begun finding commercial applications.