Latest updates[?]: Saab announced that it would be working with Finnish firm Varjo to integrate the company's Human eye resolution mixed reality (XR) technology into all simulators for the Saab Gripen E/F aircraft. Saab's Head of Tactical Environment Simulation and Visualisation Stefan Furenbäck said in a statement, “We are finalising the basic functionalities in our own simulator so that we can use Varjo's XR-3 headsets in all our flight simulators. We've previously carried out smaller, independent prototype-like projects but now we're integrating them into our actual flight simulators.”
South African JAS-39D
As a neutral country with a long history of providing for its own defense against all comers, Sweden also has a long tradition of building excellent high-performance fighters with a distinctive look. From the long-serving Saab-35 Draken (“Dragon,” 1955-2005) to the Mach 2, canard-winged Saab-37 Viggen (“Thunderbolt,” 1971-2005), Swedish fighters have stressed short-field launch from dispersed/improvised air fields, world-class performance, and leading-edge design. This record of consistent project success is nothing short of amazing, especially for a country whose population over this period has ranged from 7-9 million people.
This is DID’s FOCUS Article for background, news, and contract awards related to the JAS-39 Gripen (“Griffon”), a canard-winged successor to the Viggen and one of the world’s first 4+ generation fighters. Gripen remains the only lightweight 4+ generation fighter type in service, its performance and operational economics are both world-class, and it has become one of the most recognized fighter aircraft on the planet. Unfortunately for its builders, that recognition has come from its appearance in Saab and Volvo TV commercials, rather than from hoped-for levels of military export success. With its 4+ generation competitors clustered in the $60-120+ million range vs. the Gripen’s claimed $40-60 million, is there a light at the end of the tunnel for Sweden’s lightweight fighter? In 2013 a win in Brazil started to answer that question.
Airbus US Space & Defense won a $119.8 million contract modification for an extension of contractor logistics support services for the UH-72 Lakota. The UH-72A Lakota is a light utility helicopter. UH-72A Lakota helicopters were acquired to replace the UH-1H Iroquois and OH-58 A/C Kiowa helicopters. Work will take place in Grand Prairie, Texas. Estimated completion date is June 30, 2022.
The US Marine Corps (USMC) has flown the first AH-1Z flight that has Link-16 capability. Bell says a two-way connection was completed from the helicopter to a ground station. Bell added that the Link-16 package from Northrop Grumman adds a new digital moving map, a new security architecture and Advanced Networking Wideband Waveform (ANW2) datalinks to the helicopter.
Middle East & Africa
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighters operated by the Air Forces of Italy, UK and Israel are set to take part in this year’s edition of Falcon Strike 21 (FS21) exercises. Falcon Strike 21 a joint, multinational exercise involving service members from the US, Israel, Italy and the United Kingdom to integrate 4th and 5th generation fighter capabilities in a large force employment event.
Welding for the fabrication of prototypes and subsequent series production of the Boxer Mechanized Infantry Vehicle (MIV) programme, under which British Army is procuring over 500 Boxer vehicles started. Under the aegis of Artec GmbH, a joint venture of Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), Rheinmetall will fabricate first prototypes at its plant in Kassel, Germany which will also make the the first series vehicles. The prototypes will have content supplied by the United Kingdom, such as the remotely controlled weapon stations, generic vehicle architecture components, the local situational awareness system or the vehicle emergency lighting system.
Yomiuri Shimbun reports that Japan will budget for the research and development of its loyal wingman in next year’s fiscal budget. The report added that the unmanned air aircraft will be carried aboard the next-generation fighter dubbed F-X. The concept is not new in Japan. The former Fuji Heavy Industries develop the Fuji TACOM unmanned aerial vehicle from 1995 to 2011. The drone was carried on board the F-4E and F-15J. The US Air Force has also integrated the UTAP-22 Mako on the F-15C.
The Indian Navy has started to train its personnel to fly and maintain the MH-60R naval helicopter in the United States. The detachment have started their training at NAS Pensacola. Hindustan Times reports that two MH-60Rs will delivered to the Indian Navy next month and the third helicopter will be delivered by end of the year.
Watch: Viper AH-1Z attack helicopter air missile capability
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This is DID’s FOCUS Article regarding the US Army’s Light Utility Helicopter program, covering the program and its objectives, the winning bid team and industrial arrangements, and contracts.
The US Army’s LUH program will finish as a 325 helicopter acquisition program that will be worth about $2.3 billion when all is said and done. It aimed to replace existing UH-1 Hueys and OH-58 Kiowa utility variants in non-combat roles, freeing up larger and more expensive UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for front-line duty. In June 2006, a variant of Eurocopter’s EC145 beat AgustaWestland’s AB139, Bell-Textron’s 412EP Twin Huey, and MD Helicopters’ 902 Explorer NOTAR (No Tail Rotor) design. The win marked EADS’ 1st serious military win in the American market, and their “UH-145” became the “UH-72A Lakota” at an official December 2006 naming ceremony.
Eurocopter has continued to field new mission kits and deliver helicopters from its Mississippi production line, while trying to build on their LUH breakthrough. A training helicopter win will keep the line going for a couple more years…
Lockheed Martin won a $172.4 million contract modification for procurement of spare hardware in association with Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target (PATRIOT) Advanced Capability (PAC-3) FY21 missiles and command and launch system. The PAC-3 serves as an endoatmospheric point defense system with a capability to intercept short-range tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and military aircraft. Unlike earlier Patriot missile defense systems, the PAC-3 interceptor relies on hit-to-kill technology whereby the interceptor uses kinetic energy to destroy its target on impact. Work will take place in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Texas and Massachusetts. Estimated completion date is December 31, 2024.
According to Oshkosh Defense, the company won a $942.9 million contract to integrate 30mm medium caliber weapons systems onto US Army Stryker vehicles. The upgrade to the Stryker Double V Hull Infantry Carrier Vehicle will provide “precision lethality capability to the Army’s Stryker Brigade Combat Team,” the company said in a press release.
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Turkey’s Aselsan has started mass production of tank armor package for integration onto German-origin Leopard 2A4 tanks. The Leopard 2A4 is an upgraded version of the first generation of Leopard 2 MBT including an automated fire and explosion suppression system, an all-digital fire control system able to handle new ammunition types and an improved turret with flat titanium/tungsten armor. This tank is armed with a 120 mm smoothbore gun which has been developed by Rheinmetall. A 7.62mm coaxial machine gun is mounted to the left side of the main armament and one 7.62mm machine gun to the hatch of the loader. Two banks of four 76mm smoke grenade dischargers are mounted to each side of the turret.
A new ‘light’ Multiple Launch Rocket system (MLRS) based on an 80 mm rocket is being developed in Russia with serial production planned for 2024. The new MLRS will be unveiled at the Army-2021 land forces exhibition which will be held from August 22 to 28 at the Patriot Exhibition Center near Moscow.
Trials of Ajax armoured vehicles were halted at the end of last year to March this year due to excessive vibration and noise, leaving crews suffering from nausea, swollen joints and tinnitus. At the end of May, the Sun reported that General Dynamics built Ajax had encountered significant design problems and cited a leaked document outlining the excessive vibration and other issues. In a statement, the UK’s Ministry of Defense confirmed trials had been halted but have also said that trials had resumed.
South Korean prosecutors have said that they will not press any charges against Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) or the military over the crash of the MUH-1 helicopter that took place on July 18, 2018. Investigations into the crash found that a manufacturing defect lead to cracks in the main rotor mast.
Watch: South Korean Marine Corps MUH-1 Marineon amphibious helicopter
Under current plans, the 8×8 wheeled Stryker armored vehicle will be the future backbone of 8 US Army and 1 National Guard medium armored brigades. The 5th Stryker Brigade from Fort Lewis, WA was the first Stryker unit sent to Afghanistan, deployed in the summer of 2009 as part of a troop level increase. The brigade was equipped with 350 Stryker vehicles. In the first few months of deployment, they lost 21 soldiers, with 40 more wounded, to IED land mines. The losses prompted the Army to examine modifications to their Stryker vehicles, in order to make them more resistant to land mines.
One result is the Stryker hull redesign, creating the v-hulled Stryker DVH. The US Army is now on pace to order 2 brigades worth, as it moves toward the end of Stryker armored vehicle production.
BAE Systems won an $18.7 million delivery order for Virginia Class submarine propulsors. This delivery order does not include options. The Virginia Class new attack submarine is an advanced stealth multimission nuclear-powered submarine for deep ocean anti-submarine warfare and littoral operations. Work will take place in Kentucky. Expected completion date is in April 2025.
Northrop Grumman won a $12 million contract modification, which increases the ceiling to extend services and adds hours increasing the full-scale fatigue repair time to achieve the required simulated flight hours in support of E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft development. The Advanced Hawkeye features a state-of-the-art radar with a two-generation leap in capability and upgraded aircraft systems that will improve supportability and increase readiness. Work will take place in California, Florida and New York. Estimated completion is in June 2023.
Middle East & Africa
Turkey’s Katmerciler said it won a contract from Kenya for 118 H?z?r tactical wheeled armored 4×4 vehicles. Kenya will be the third country in the world to acquire Katmerciler’s armored vehicles. The company aims to complete the delivery over two years, Furkan Katmerci, deputy chairperson of Katmerciler, told media.
Damen Shipyards Galati performed the keel-laying ceremony of the Combat Support Ship (CSS) Den Helder last week. The keel laying ceremony was performed by the Director Defence Material Organisation (DMO), vice admiral Arie Jan de Waard and vice admiral Rob Kramer, Commander Royal Netherlands Navy. The yard carried out the steel cutting for this new vessel in December last year. Following the keel-laying, all the building blocks for the actual construction of the ship in Romania are now ready. The engineering of the CSS has been largely carried out in the Netherlands.
Japan will allocate funds in 2022 to start the development of a new long-range standoff missile based on the Type 12 missile. The missile can be fired from surface ships and aircraft. Tokyo first indicated that it will acquire a standoff attack capability in 2018. $306 million were allocated this year to conduct feasibility studies on modifying the Type 12. The new missile is anticipated to be ready in 2026. Prototype development and operational testing for surface ships will take five years while the air-launch variant will need seven years of work.
The Biden administration has given its approval to sell 29 AH-64E attack helicopters to Australia that is expected to cost $3.5 billion. Australia has requested to buy 29 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, but also engines, modernized target acquisition and designation sight and pilot night vision sensors and fire control radars with electronic units, a release said.
Watch: FLOW – The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Enhancement: Refuel in Air
Lockheed Martin won a $49.5 million deal for the AH-64 Apache Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor performance-based logistics program. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. The Apache is a twin-engined army attack helicopter. The US Army has more than 800 Apaches in service, and more than 1,000 have been exported. Work will take place in Florida. Estimated completion date is December 31, 2025.
In a report, the Defense Department cites 23 civilians killed, and 10 injured, during US military action in 2020. The unclassified, 21-page “Annual Report on Civilian Casualties in Connection with United States Military Operations” is a requirement by Congress that includes explanations that avoiding harm to civilians “is the moral and ethical thing to do.” The report defines theaters of active armed combat, and limits them, for 2020, to action in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Nigeria.
Middle East & Africa
Elbit Systems won a contract worth $80 million to supply electro-optic systems integrated with artificial intelligence to the maritime forces of a country in the Asia-Pacific region. The contract will be performed over a period of four years. Under the contract, Elbit Systems will supply SPECTRO XR EO systems that will be integrated onboard a variety of maritime platforms. SPECTRO XR is a multi-spectral long-range EO system that provides naval, air and land forces with enhanced intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (“ISTAR”) capabilities, in both day and night and under low visibility conditions, such as fog, humidity, smoke, haze and dust.
Three Boeing P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft for the first time fired AGM-84D Harpoon missiles during a NATO’s three week-long At-Sea Demo/ Formidable Shield 2021 exercise. Patrol Squadron FOUR (VP-4) successfully conducted a coordinated missile launch with VP-40 using two Air-to-Surface Missile (AGM-84D) Harpoons against a target barge off the coast of Norway on May 31, the Navy said.
South Korea’s Hanwha Defense has offered a new variant of the K9 self-propelled howitzer to the British Army under the Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) programme. A Request for Proposal for MFP is due to be released in 2022. The K9A2 development has been led by Hanwha Defense and the state-funded Agency for Defense Development.
Rheinmetall delivered first 25 Boxer 8×8 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles (CRV) to the Australian Army under the $5.2 billion LAND 400 Phase 2 Mounted Combat Reconnaissance Capability project. Rheinmetall will deliver a total of 211 Boxer 8×8 Vehicles in different versions, 131 will be the CRV variant. They will replace the Army’s Australian Light Armoured Vehicles (ASLAV) under LAND 400 Phase 2. Delivery of the first 25 vehicles enables Army to continue towards Initial Operating Capability on schedule as Rheinmetall moves into the next phase of the LAND 400 Phase 2 program.
Watch: America’s AH-64 Apache vs Russia’s KA-52 Alligator
The USS Paul Ignatius fired two Standard Missile-3 interceptors at the end of May in order to engage ballistic missile targets launched from the Hebrides Guided Weapon Range off the west coast of Scotland, the Navy announced. The test was carried out as part of a cooperative engagement with the Royal Netherlands Navy, which used its advanced combat system suite to warn the maritime task group of a threat, allowing the Ignatius to fire missiles and negate it, officials said.
US B-52H Stratofortress aircraft flew over all 30 NATO allied nations in North America and Europe Monday. B-52s currently deployed to Morón Air Base, Spain, and US-based aircraft planned to fly with more than 20 NATO allies across two combatant commands, according to a press release issued by US European Command before the flight took place.
Middle East & Africa
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) signed a $200 million contract to provide unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) services to a country in Asia. The services relate to IAI’s Heron unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). This is the fourth major UAS transaction that IAI has announced this year. Controlled remotely from sea frigates or the seashore, the Heron supports ground and maritime missions against submarines and coastal guards. It transmits information while at sea, including between all the weapon systems participating in a mission.
A UK Apache ground crew has been preparing for their latest deployment to Estonia. The Force was created as part of Future Soldier, the Army’s transformation plan. It will be ready to respond rapidly to any threat, anywhere in the world, including to deliver humanitarian support. The Task Force will support the Apache Helicopter Gunships, ensuring they are refuelled and rearmed ready to take on the enemy. The Wildcat helicopter is also part of the Task Force, and will be used together with the Apache to provide reconnaissance and attack elements.
French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will conduct joint training at sea for the first time during exercise Gallic Strike. The exercise is lead by France and involves 14 warships and 56 aircraft. Both carrier groups will jointly conduct air strikes from the sea and defend against various threats.
The Royal Malaysia Air Force (RMAF) has issued a press statement saying that 16 People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) aircraft were intercepted off the coast of East Malaysia on May 31. The huge formation was detected by Air Defense Center (CRC 2) in Sarawak at 1153hrs local time.
Watch: The AH-64 Apache Helicopter Monstrous Power & Capability
Latest updates[?]: Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) signed a $200 million contract to provide unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) services to a country in Asia. The services relate to IAI’s Heron unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). This is the fourth major UAS transaction that IAI has announced this year. Controlled remotely from sea frigates or the seashore, the Heron supports ground and maritime missions against submarines and coastal guards. It transmits information while at sea, including between all the weapon systems participating in a mission.
Latest updates: 3rd squadron stands up in the south.
Indian Heron UAV
(click to view larger)
In November 2005, media reports claimed that India was set to purchase some 50 Heron MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) UAVs from Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) in a deal worth $220 million. They would be put to use carrying out reconnaissance missions on India’s mountainous borders with China and Pakistan, and along India’s long coastal waters. India was said to have been close to sealing the deal in 2004, but it was postponed due to the change in governments in New Delhi.
The Heron’s performance during the December 2004 tsunami apparently clinched the deal. Its performance since, and Chinese aggression on the Indian border, has green-lighted a follow-on contract.
Marines assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) practice using the Drone Buster at an undisclosed location. This hand-held jammer has the ability to force a drone to descend or return to its operator.
The first Biden administration’s defense budget asks for $715 billion for fiscal 2022, including a $5.5 billion increase in research and development accounts and an $8 billion cut in procurement. This signals a new focus on new technologies at the expense of older programs.
Middle East & Africa
ULAQ Armed Unmanned Surface Vehicle (AUSV), developed by Turkish companies Meteksan Defense and ARES Shipyard, successfully completed missile firing tests during Turkish Navy’s Sea Wolf 2021 Naval Exercise. Two CIRIT Laser Guided Missiles fired from ULAQ AUSV and both of them successfully hit the target. The ULAQ AUSV firing ceremony, attended by senior officials from Turkey’s Presidency of Defence Industries, Ministry of Defense, Turkish Naval Forces Command and Coast Guard Command, was started with the speeches of ARES Shipyard CEO Utku Alanç and Meteksan Defence President Selçuk Alparslan.
The French General Directorate of Armaments (DGA) received the first operational version of the combat information system for the SCORPION program (SICS) developed by French firm, Atos. Its deployment is planned before the summer following the success of the operational assessments of the Army. SICS is the unique information system of the Scorpion program, which enables the digital transformation of the Army’s contact combat capabilities. All the weapon systems that make up SCORPION are also fully connected; thanks to SICS, they natively share combat information.
Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported on May 29 that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Army 80 Group Army recently demonstrated that its PHL-03 300 mm long-range multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) has the ability to strike maritime targets. According to the Global Times, the exercise was conducted at Bohai Bay.
South Korea’s Minister of National Defense Suh Wook told lawmakers that a KC-330 will head to the United States on June 2 to bring back the Johnson & Johnson (J&J)’s Janssen vaccines. US President Joe Biden had promise to provide one million doses so that the country’s military can be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. The aircraft is expected to return back home on June 5.
Watch: ULAQ S?DA successfully hit its target in the first shot