- Q.E.D Systems is being awarded a contract in support of the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class. Valued at $15 million the cost-plus-incentive fee, cost-plus-fixed fee, cost-only contract allows for the procurement of long lead time material in support of the LCS class ships’ maintenance and sustainment availabilities. The $35 billion LCS program is the Navy’s idea for the low-end backbone of its future surface combatant fleet. At 115 – 127 meters in length and 2,800 – 3,100 tons of displacement the US LCS is almost the size of Britain’s Type 23 frigates. LCSs can be reconfigured with a variety of mission modules. In addition, the vessels are armed with a 57mm naval gun, .50 caliber machine guns, plus defensive systems including automated chaff/flare dispensers and a launcher for Raytheon’s RIM-116 RAM, which allows the ship to intercept anti-ship missiles, aircraft, UAVs, helicopters, and even small boats. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $237 million. Work will be performed in San Diego, California and Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is expected to be completed by June 2019.
- Lockheed Martin has changed suppliers for the Distribute Aperture System (DAS) integrated into the F-35 Lightning II. Lockheed is contracting Raytheon in place of the incumbent Northrop Grumman. The Lightning II shares a “sensor fusion” design advance with the F-22, based on sensors of various types embedded all around the airframe. These sensors are connected to a lot of computing power, in order to create single-picture view that lets the pilot see everything on one big 20? LCD screen and just fly the plane. As part of that sensor fusion, the F-35 is the first plane in several decades to fly without a heads-up display. Instead the pilots use a special helmet designed by Visions Systems International. The F-35’s DAS uses six infrared cameras mounted around the aircraft to project augmented reality images into the helmet. By projecting the DAS video stream onto the helmet’s display, the F-35 pilot can see through the aircraft structure to view the surrounding environment. The system also automatically identifies and tracks threats, such as incoming missiles, in the headset display. According to Lockheed Martin, the decision to switch DAS supplier will result in more than $3 billion in life-cycle cost savings. The Raytheon-built DAS will be integrated into the F-35 starting with Lot 15 aircraft, expected to be delivered in 2023.
Middle East & Africa
- Jane’s reports that Denel Dynamics is making good progress in the development of its Mongoose 3 counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) missile. The Mongoose 3 is part of the close area protection system (CAPS) project funded jointly by Armscor and the South African Department of Defense (DoD). The CAPS project seeks to develop a system to provide close area protection against rocket, artillery and mortar threats. It uses the Mongoose 3 to intercept these and detonate them at a maximum range of about a kilometer. The Mongoose 3 was initially designed to shoot down heavy anti-tank missiles as far as 300 meters from the vehicle and deflect a high-velocity kinetic energy “long-rod penetrator” fired by a tank, causing it to fall short or hit at an oblique angle at which it will not penetrate a tank’s armor. The 28 lb., 3.9 ft. Mongoose 3 is a highly agile, vertical-launch missile that uses side-thrust motors to tip it over after launch. It then uses synchronized dorsal and tail fins to steer it towards its target, guided by its active radar seeker. The transonic Mongoose 3will complement the also newly developed supersonic Cheetah missile. In addition to its primary C-RAM role, the Mongoose 3 will also be able to engage unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including small types that present difficult targets for other systems and helicopters that come within range. It is also intended as a self-protection weapon for helicopters.
- Germany’s parliament has now approved a deal to lease Heron TP UAV’s from Israel. The approval puts an end to a long-running series of debates and protests. Last year a German court rejected a protest against the Heron-TP selection by rival bidder General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. Additionally, many politicians opposed the idea of acquiring a UAV that could potentially be armed. The Heron TP is reportedly capable of flying for over 35 hours at a time at altitudes around 45.000 feet. It has a maximum range of about 3,000 km and can carry a maximum payload weighing 2204 lbs. As a large MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) UAV, it’s built to carry multiple payloads at a time for a variety of missions. Choices include electro-optical and thermal surveillance equipment, SAR radars for ground surveillance, maritime patrol radars and sensors, signals and other intelligence collection antennas and equipment, laser designators, and even radio relays. The deal is valued at $1.17 billion and allows the German army to carry out long endurance intelligence-gathering missions.
- The British Army’s new Ajax armored fighting vehicle (AFV) is currently undergoing field trials, before the first variants are delivered to operational units early in 2019. The Ajax is part of the multi-billion pound “Future Rapid Effects System” (FRES) program. FRES aims to recapitalize the core of Britain’s armored vehicle fleet over the next decade or more. Ajax vehicles are developed upon a highly-adaptable and capable Common Base Platform, maximizing commonality in mobility, electronic architecture and survivability. Each Ajax platform variant has extensive capabilities, including acoustic detectors, a laser warning system, a local situational awareness system, an electronic countermeasure system, a route marking system, an advanced electronic architecture and a high-performance power pack. Ajax will be the medium weight core of the British Army’s deployable Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability. It enables the soldier to be at the point of collection of accurate all-weather commander information within a network-enabled digitized platform. The current trials are the final phase of a series of evaluations to approve the vehicle for land warfare operations before it enters full service with the British Army.
- French defense contractor MBDA is teaming up with the Estonian unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) specialist Milrem Robotics to develop a vehicle designed to conduct anti-tank missions. The proposed system would integrate MBDA’s Missile Moyenne Portée (MMP) medium-range anti-tank missile onto Milrem’s THeMIS UGV. The MMP is designed to be France’s next portable anti-armor missile for troops and vehicles. Its attack modes include fire and forget, man in the loop mode, re-assignment in flight, and even seeker lock-on after launch. As a medium missile, it is able to destroy targets up to main battle tanks. The Tracked Hybrid Modular Infantry System, or THeMIS for short, is the first hybrid fully modular unmanned ground vehicle in the world. Unlike other UGVs that are commonly able to perform mostly one task, the THeMIS is designed so it can be equipped with a vast variety of payloads to perform a number of different tasks. These include functioning as a remote weapon station outfitted with large or small caliber weapons, detecting IED’s, operating as a drone platform or a remote surveillance station.
- The Royal Thai Army plans to buy six more attack helicopters to replace three of its Cobra helicopters which are marked for retirement after having served for more than 30 years. The Thai government is currently examining different offers made by US, French, Russian, and Turkish manufacturers. It is yet unclear which platform will be chosen, however considering the high cost of US-made Apaches, it seems likely that the Army will closely look into cheaper options like the Z-10 from China, the Russian KA-52 or French Tiger. The Royal Thai Army’s attack helicopter requirement is long-standing but has previously been hindered by a lack of funds. The country’s 2019 defense budget, which was announced in early June, outlines military spending of $7.1 billion.
- Mi-8s and Mi-24s from Russia’s Baltic Sea Fleet participate in firing drills.