According to Lockheed Martin, the US Army’s new extended-range version of its Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) had a successful 80-kilometer flight demonstration at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, on March 4. Lockheed Martin is the manufacturer of the GMLRS munition and has worked with the Army to double the rocket’s reach through extended-range capability development. The 80-kilometer shot fired from the Army’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System met the test objectives, Lockheed said in its news release. The release added that the demo “confirmed the missile’s flight trajectory performance, range and validated interfaces with the HIMARS launcher and system software performance.”
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics won a $7.8 million deal for the LongShot, Phase 1. The contract provides for the research, development and demonstration of the LongShot unmanned air vehicle (UAV). The LongShot program is developing an air-launched unmanned air vehicle (UAV) with the ability to employ multiple air-to-air weapons. The objective is to develop a novel UAV that can significantly extend engagement ranges, increase mission effectiveness, and reduce the risk to manned aircraft. Work will take place in California and Florida. Estimated completion will be in February 2022.
Middle East & Africa
According to Israel Defense, the Israeli Air Force Training Department, in cooperation with the 133rd Squadron, which is named “Knights of the Twin Tail” developed a new method of air combat training during the last two years. This was the topic of a day of study that was attended by the commanders of all the combat squadrons and the regional control units, and led by the commander of the IAF, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin. The head of the Training Department, identified only as “Col. L.”, was quoted as saying “The countries around us are arming themselves with very advanced fighter planes. In an operational scenario, when the surroundings are full of planes and electronic warfare systems, it is possible that missiles will miss (their targets), and planes will reach outside radar range, and then the pilots may find themselves in a tight battle with enemy planes at close range in which they see them with their eyes.” Next month the entire combat array will train according to the new training portfolio that was composed by the Training Department. The head of the Training Department was quoted by Israel Defense: “We are currently considering the advanced and sophisticated weapon and electronic warfare systems that we have, and also those of our enemies. The training takes the air crews a step forward, training them in operating the advanced weapon and in its readiness for the weapon systems of the enemy.”
The Sunday Times has reported that the Royal Navy is to receive new vessels as part of the defense review. “The Royal Navy gets new frigates, supply ships and underwater surveillance vessels.” The new frigates are likely to be the Type 32s. The Type 32 was first announced by Boris Johnson in November 2020 as part of a defense investment pledge ahead of the Integrated Review. The review’s first conclusions are reportedly related to the restoration of the United Kingdom as “the foremost naval power in Europe” through the construction of new ships.
All branches of the UK Armed Forces are on average six percent below the target strength set out in the 2015 Strategic Defense and Security Review. A House of Commons library research briefing published on March 8, titled “UK Defence Personnel Statistics“ provides details on how UK military service personnel statistics are measured and discusses current and historic strength levels.
China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) told Global Times that its HQ-17AE mobile air defense missile system is now being offered to foreign countries. The HQ-17 is China’s copy of the Russian Tor system. The HQ-17A is a wheeled chassis variant that first appeared in public back in 2019. The HQ-17AE is the export variant. The system is capable of firing on the move with the vehicle traveling at a maximum speed of 25 kph. It carries a total of 8 missiles and can engage up to 4 targets at the same time.
Watch: DARPA to Develop Air Launched UAV with Multiple Air-to-Air Weapons Capabilities
Latest updates[?]: According to Lockheed Martin, the US Army’s new extended-range version of its Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) had a successful 80-kilometer flight demonstration at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, on March 4. Lockheed Martin is the manufacturer of the GMLRS munition and has worked with the Army to double the rocket’s reach through extended-range capability development. The 80-kilometer shot fired from the Army’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System met the test objectives, Lockheed said in its news release. The release added that the demo “confirmed the missile’s flight trajectory performance, range and validated interfaces with the HIMARS launcher and system software performance.”
American maritime patrol aircraft currently carry torpedoes as part of their armament, which serve as key weapons against enemy submarines. As any high-diver of cliff-jumper knows first hand, however, water can feel surprisingly solid after a long fall. Torpedoes still have to be released from low altitude, typically 100 feet or less above the waves. Two recent developments, however, are making this approach less practical for the US military. One is tests of sub-launched anti-air missile systems, using modified short-range air-air missiles that do not require radar guidance. The other is its selection of the 737-based P-8A Poseidon as its next maritime patrol and surface surveillance aircraft. The P-8A can perform low swoops if necessary, but its airframe is really optimized for cruising at altitude.
As these trends developed, someone in the US military asked the logical next question:
The Defense Department’s awarded a contract to Raytheon, which is meant to support integration of AMRAAM missiles with current and future Air Force aircraft. The $74 million deal to Raytheon Missile Systems was announced on Thursday, and provides the “necessary aircraft lab, flight test, flight clearance and simulation support during all integration requirements in AMRAAM for F-15, F-16, FA-18, F-22, F-35 and other current inventory or next generation platforms that may join the Air Force or Navy inventory before the end of fiscal 2029,” the Defense Department announced. The contract is the latest of several awarded by the Defense Department pertinent to the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, a seven-inch-diameter, beyond-visual-range missile capable of all-weather day-and-night operations. Work will be primarily conducted at Raytheon’s Tucson, Arizona, facilities.
The US Air Force says it is preparing to carry out the first booster test flight (BTF-1) of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) following the delivery of the test missile to Edwards Air Force Base on March 1. “The BTF-1 test vehicle is complete and is progressing through ground testing to verify its readiness for flight. The team has successfully dealt with COVID challenges and resolved technical findings not uncommon in a first-of-a-kind weapon system. We have minimized schedule delays while maintaining a laser focus on engineering rigor. Our first BTF will happen in the next 30 days, followed by several additional booster and all-up-round test flights by the end of the year,” said Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, Air Force Program Executive Officer for Weapons.
Middle East & Africa
Jerusalem is currently in talks with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates over establishing a four-nation defense alliance, local news reported at the end of last month. Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have discussed expanding cooperation in facing common enemies, an Israeli official familiar with the matter confirmed on March 1. The matter is being “informally discussed,” the source said, adding that the countries are US allies. All four believe a nuclear Iran would be a major threat and have been eyeing the Biden administration’s plan to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal with concern. In an interview with Fox News, defense minister Benny Gantz said on March 4, that Israel is preparing to act independently against Iran and is updating plans for military strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites: “If the world stops them [Iran] before, it’s much the better. But if not, we must stand independently and we must defend ourselves by ourselves“.
The F3R Standard of the Dassault Rafale fighter jet integrated the Meteor missile. With this, the Standard has reached a new milestone. Developed by MBDA within the framework of cooperation involving France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy, Spain, and Germany, the Meteor is a beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile. The weapon has a range of over 150 kilometers (90 miles) and can reach Mach 4 speed. The French Air Force announced on March 4, that it carried out the first operational flight with a Rafale equipped with combat-ready Meteor missiles.
According to the UK Royal Navy, the HMS Magpie was able to chart the waters around Plymouth purely using regular radar installed on shipping the world over and a specialist computer program which measures wave height. Using that data and information about currents, the software can produce a detailed profile of the seabed in a matter of hours – without the ship or boat having to physically sail over the area being surveyed.
Taiwan is unlikely to take delivery of the Harpoon Coastal Defense System in 2024 after the United States inform the island that Boeing can only start delivery of equipment in 2025, Up Media reported. Also, the delivery of the missiles will only take place in 2026 and Taiwan will also have to purchase communications equipment that was not included in the original Foreign Military Sale package. The news report added that Taipei had requested to buy the RGM-84Q-4 Harpoon Block II+ ER missile but Washington only agreed to sell the RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II. It was also pointed out that the entire purchase, from formulation to approval, took only three months and it was not part of the Navy’s weapon acquisition work plan for 2020. This lead to speculation that the sales contract to Boeing was forced on the Navy.
Lockheed Martin won a $38.7 million contract modification, which exercises an option for ordering emerging capabilities and analysis systems engineering to include programmatic and logistics tasks that will analyze the F-35 air system’s ability to meet future operational requirements, investigating cost and weight reduction program options and conducting modeling and simulation activities. Additional assessments may include such efforts as analyzing changes to design life, operational readiness, reliability and air system design and configuration. Work will take place in Fort Worth, Texas. Estimated completion is in December 2021.
The 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron recently flew an F-15E carrying six JDAMs on a single side of the fighter to prove a concept for Agile Combat Employment (ACE). The test proves that the Strike Eagle can now carry up to 15 JDAMs, up from nine previously, to a remote location and use those bombs to reload itself or other fighter aircraft. Previously, it took two C-130s to carry the necessary munitions and personnel to a remote location for the loading. And those JDAMs had to be assembled once they arrived. With this new approach, the requirement for onsite bomb building is now longer needed. Only one C-130 will be used instead.
Middle East & Africa
Ten rockets were fired March 3 at a military base in Iraq that hosts US forces, the Defense Department said. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the rockets landed at the Ain Ain al-Asad air base. The base, which is located just north of Baghdad, hosts US, Iraqi and coalition troops. No US service members died or sustained injuries in the attack, but a US civilian contractor had a “cardiac episode” while sheltering and died, Kirby added.
Thales UK has won a £98.4 million contract to maintain Short-Range Air Defense (SHORAD) capabilities for the British Army and Royal Marines. The Ministry of Defense says that SHORAD is made up of “High Velocity and Lightweight Multi-role Missile systems that can intercept air threats including fast jets, attack helicopters and unmanned air systems in a matter of seconds”. Thales UK won the initial contract in 2018, helping to modernize and develop the missile systems as part of the Future Air Defense Availability Project (F-ADAPT).
Philippine Defense Undersecretary Raymund Elefante and Indian Ambassador Shambu Kumaran have signed an agreement that will support Manila’s potential purchase of the BrahMos supersonic missile. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who witnessed the signing ceremony, told reporters that the country is buying the BrahMos. The agreement involved the procurement of defense materiel and equipment by the Philippines from India.
Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force will now scramble fighters to intercept Chinese aircraft less frequently and only do so when the planes are threatening to violate the country’s airspace, Kydo News reports. The report says this is in order to reduce the burden on personnel and free up resources in order to conduct more training on the F-35.
Watch: Indian Navy’s Stealth Destroyer Successfully Test Fired BrahMos Supersonic Missile
BAE Systems was awarded a $58 million contract from Boeing. The deal is to start low rate initial production of the F-15 Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System for the US Air Force. “The start of EPAWSS production marks a critical milestone and is a testament to the dedication and commitment of our industry team,” said Jerry Wohletz, BAE’s VP/GM of Electronic Combat Solutions, in a press statement. “Our technology is cutting-edge, our factories are world-class, and our people are innovative and mission-focused.” The all-digital system EPAWSS enables pilots to monitor, jam and deceive threats in contested airspace and combines multispectral sensors and countermeasures, industry-leading signal processing, microelectronics, and intelligent algorithms to deliver fully integrated radar warning, situational awareness, geolocation and self-protection capabilities.
The Wasp Class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge departed Naval Station Norfolk for sea trials Monday, the Navy announced. The crew will test critical systems, operations and personnel requirements needed for deployment. Planned tests include an anchor drop test, a live-fire demonstration using the ship’s close-in weapons system, a small boat recovery evolution, and they will test the aqueous film forming foam fire suppression system.
Middle East & Africa
The Indian Air Force sent six Su-30MKI fighters, two C-17s and one Il-78 aerial tanker to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on March 3 to participate in exercise Desert Flag. The exercise will take place at Al Dhafra airbase and run till 21st of this month. United States, France, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Bahrain are participating as well.
Rolls-Royce has been awarded funding by the UK Ministry of Defense to further develop and demonstrate the ‘Artificial Chief Engineer’ technology. The tech is essentially an autonomous machinery control system which “allows naval vessels to undertake long endurance missions with less human interaction”. The funding to continue the development, has been awarded under the MoD’s Defense and Security Accelerator ‘Intelligent Ship Phase Two’ programme, which is used to de-risk and evaluate technologies and approaches to enhance the armed forces’ technical advantage.
French company MBDA has been awarded a first contract for Albatros NG, a brand new CAMM-ER based air defense system. According to the company, the first order, from an undisclosed international customer, marks a “further validation of the wide appeal of the CAMM air defense family on the global marketplace and paves the way to further acquisitions by the same customer and other Navies”. The CAMM-ER missile is capable of providing self and local area defense against the evolving airborne threat at ranges exceeding 40km; it will be integrated in the new ground based air defense systems for the Italian Army and Italian Air Force. CAMM family systems have already been delivered to the British Army, to the Royal Navy and to several export nations.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) received three new Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters on February 11, the Australian Department of Defense announced in March. The aircraft, which arrived at RAAF Base Williamtown, north of Sydney, after completing a three-day journey from the United States as part of ‘Exercise Lightning Ferry 21-1’, are the first to join the fleet since the F-35A reached initial operational capability in December 2020. The three F-35As had previously been based at Luke Air Force Base in the US state of Arizona, where they were used for pilot training.
Watch: USS Kearsarge – US Navy Amphibious Assault Ship
Lockheed Martin Space won a $128.7 million contract to support the integration of the Trident II (D5) Missile and Reentry Subsystems into the Common Missile Compartment (CMC) for the US/United Kingdom Columbia/Dreadnought Submarine construction programs. The Trident II D-5 is a three-stage, solid propellant, inertially guided FBM with a range of more than 4,000 nautical miles (4,600 statute miles or 7,360 km). Work will take place in Florida, Colorado, California, Utah and Tennessee. Estimated completion date is February 28, 2027.
According to the US Navy, Sailors aboard the guided missile cruiser USS Gettysburg are among the first to test a stress-mitigation initiative. The Expanded Operational Stress Control, or E-OSC, Program using stress mitigation leveraging techniques with standardized support structures at the command level, according to the Navy. Personnel will be taught to better manage their own stress support their fellow shipmates.
Middle East & Africa
Israel’s Elbit Systems announced that it was awarded an approximately $300 million contract by a country in Asia to provide Hermes 900 unmanned aircraft systems. The contract will be performed over a period of five years. Under the contract, the company will supply its Hermes 900 and associated sub-systems, as well as maintenance and support services. The UAS has now been selected by 12 countries, attesting to its competitive edge that combines technological sophistication, reliability, open architecture and solid growth path, according to Elbit.
A $125 million defense package to Ukraine includes armored patrol boats, radar units and military medical equipment, the Defense Department said on Monday. The funding is part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, planned since 2020 and “conditional on Ukraine’s progress on defense reforms, will provide equipment to support ongoing training programs and operational needs,” a statement in June 2020 from the US Embassy in Kiev said. Another $150 million in supplies will be released when the US State Department certifies that Ukraine has made sufficient progress on key defense reforms this year, as required by the National Defense Authorization Act.
Boeing Australia and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) have conducted the maiden flight of the Airpower Teaming System (ATS) loyal wingman aircraft. The maiden sortie involved the unmanned aircraft flying a pre-set course at different speeds and altitudes to assess the design’s flight functionality and performance, says Boeing. A Boeing test pilot monitored the flight from a ground control station at the Woomera test range. “The Loyal Wingman’s first flight is a major step in this long-term, significant project for the air force and Boeing Australia, and we’re thrilled to be a part of the successful test,” said Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, RAAF head of air force capability.
According to South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA), the assembly of the first prototype of the Korean Fighter eXperimental (KF-X) fighter aircraft is almost complete, with manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) set to formally roll out the platform in April. Jung Kwang-sun, head of the KF-X programme at DAPA, said the planned rollout event of the twin-engined multirole fighter will be a “landmark moment” for the country and the aerospace industry.
Watch: Australia’s First Loyal Wingman Completes Maiden Flight
CAE USA-Mission Solutions won a $10.8 million contract modification for the F-15E, F-16 and F-22A contract aircrew training and courseware development contract. The modification is for exercising Option Year Four. The Boeing F-15E dual-role fighter is an advanced long-range interdiction fighter and tactical aircraft. The F-15E is the latest version of the Eagle, a Mach 2.5-class twin-engine fighter. The F-16, the mainstay of the Air Force aerial combat fleet, has been adapted to complete a number of missions, including air-to-air fighting, ground attack and electronic warfare. The F-22A Raptor is an advanced tactical fighter aircraft. Work will be performed at Joint Base (JB) Langley-Eustis, Virginia; Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina; Shaw AFB, South Carolina; Tyndall AFB, Florida; Nellis AFB, Nevada; Hill AFB, Utah; and Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, and is expected to be completed March 31, 2022.
Raytheon/Lockheed Martin Javelin Joint Venture won a $18.6 million contract modification for support services for the Javelin Weapon System. Javelin is a versatile, man-portable, fire-and-forget weapon system. It is an anti-tank guided munition. According to Raytheon, the weapon can be deployed from multiple platforms and used during the day, at night and in any kind of weather. The program has also demonstrated that Javelin can be fired from a remote launcher mounted on an unmanned ground vehicle. Work will take place in Arizona. Estimated completion date is February 28, 2022.
Middle East & Africa
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. has completed the development of the ground-based Air Defense version of the I-Derby ER (Extended Range) air-to-air missile last month. Rafael’s I-Derby ER missile is a an over 100 km long-range air-to-air missile with a dual-pulse rocket motor and an active radar seeker. Launched from the ground, the I-Derby ER missile doubles the existing missile range, and allows target interception within a range of up to 40 km without a booster, and 80 km with a booster.
B-1 bombers flew the first Bomber Task Force mission since deployment to Norway, the US Air Force said on Friday. The two bombers arrived in Norway early last week. Support aircraft and over 200 Air Force personnel arrived at Orland Air Base, where Norway’s F-35 fleet is also stationed, in the first week of February.
An RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft from Royal Air Force 51 Squadron took part in a major US-led demonstration exercise in Europe with other European NATO Allies. RC-135W Rivet Joint is a dedicated electronic surveillance aircraft that can be employed on strategic and tactical missions. Its sensors ‘soak up’ electronic emissions from communications, radar and other systems. The aircraft is part of the RAF’s Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Force. The Rivet Joint aircraft joined other aircraft from the US Air Force, US Navy, and The Royal Netherlands Air Force to conduct two exercise scenarios.
According to a report, Vietnam strengthened its outposts in the disputed South China Sea with improved fortifications and infrastructure. Emplacements for anti-aircraft and coastal protection programs have been constructed on reclaimed land at West Reef and Sin Cowe Island, in accordance with the report by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, or AMTI, which is a part of the Washington-based Heart for Strategic and Worldwide Research. It reportedly made its assessments based on analysis of satellite imagery in cooperation with Simularity. According to Simularity’s website, its software “automatically analyzes geospatial imagery and data to automatically find and classify unusual changes.”
Watch: Rafael Develops Ground-Based Air Defense Variant of I-Derby ER Missile
Lockheed Martin won an $8.3 million deal to exercise an option for Aegis Combat System Engineering Agent efforts for the design, development, integration, test and delivery of Advanced Capability Build 20. Under this contract, the Aegis Combat System Engineering Agent (CSEA) develops, integrates, tests and delivers computer program baseline Advanced Capability Builds (ACBs) and supports Technology Insertions – a replacement and/or upgrade of combat system computing hardware and associated middleware/firmware. The Aegis CSEA also develops engineering products to support ship integration, supports developmental test/operational test events, develops training and logistics products and provides field technical support for designated Aegis baselines. Work will take place in New Jersey. Estimated completion will be by December 2021.
Sikorsky won a $53.9 million contract modification for four UH-60M aircraft. UH-60 Black Hawk is a multi-mission helicopter developed by Sikorsky that has been operational in the US Army since 1978. The export version of the UH-60 Black Hawk is designated as S-70A. The primary mission of the Black Hawk helicopter is as a troop carrier and logistical support aircraft, but the helicopter can also be configured to carry out medical evacuation, command-and-control, search-and-rescue, armed escort, electronic warfare and executive transport missions. Work will take place in Connecticut. Estimated completion date is June 30, 2022.
Middle East & Africa
Leidos won a $10 million modification for Class V munitions supply support for all ammunition stocks accounted for by 1st Sustainment Command. Class V munitions supply includes ammunition of all types, bombs, explosives, mines, fuses, detonators, pyrotechnics, missiles, rockets, propellants, and associated items.
An Irish Air Corps PC-9 suffered an in-flight engine failure on February 26 during a training mission in the afternoon. The instructor was able to glide the aircraft for 30km to make a safe landing at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel. The two-person PC-9 aircraft was conducting a training mission when its single engine gave out some 30km from Baldonnel. The pilots were unharmed aside from being “slightly shaken”, said a military source.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) says its Sentinel R1 aircraft has carried out the last operational flight from RAF Waddington. The aircraft, which has an Airborne Stand-off Radar (ASTOR) from Raytheon, has been in service for 14 years. The aircraft first saw service during Operation HERRICK in 2008. Five aircraft were acquired and V (AC) Squadron was reformed to operate the aircraft.
Textron recently delivered a Beechcraft King Air 350i aircraft equipped with multiple special mission modifications to Japcon Incorporated. The aircraft is destined for the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF). The aircraft has a removable, belly-mounted Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) installation, devices for video transmission and infrared night-vision. Textron says the plane will be operated by the Renraku Teisatsu Hikotai, a JGSDF Communication and Reconnaissance Squadron, based at Kisarazu Airfield in the Chiba Prefecture.
Watch: RAF Sentinel Surveillance Aircraft Retired This Week