Pearson Engineering secures key Challenger 3 tank contract

// RBSL Challenger 3 tanks. Credit: © 2020 Crown Copyright.

UK-based Pearson Engineering has secured a key contract to make the turret structures for the British Army’s Challenger 3 main battle tank (MBT).

The £25m supplier contract was awarded by Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) and was announced at a steel-cutting ceremony at Pearson Engineering’s facility in Newcastle, called Armstrong Works. The event was attended by Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin.

RBSL managing director Dr Marco Noeding said: “Today’s announcement marks the latest in a series of UK supplier contracts awarded by RBSL for Challenger 3, ensuring the programme benefits from the best of British engineering and manufacturing whilst also sustaining valuable skills across the country.”


Indra to develop SATCOM system for future defence drones

Indra has announced that it is developing a satellite communication system for long-range defence drones. According to the company, the technology will enable the operator to pilot the remote aircraft from a base thousands of kilometres away.

It will also facilitate real-time data exchanges to support missions offering bandwidths of up to 20 megabits per second. This capability will be critical for future drones and will enable them to maintain connectivity with command centres, as well as with multiple land, naval and air platforms.

The terminal will operate on civilian and military communications bands (Ku and Ka) and use waveforms to prevent signal jamming.


Australia’s ASD unveils new cyber and foreign intelligence facility

The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) government agency has launched a new cyber and foreign intelligence facility at Majura Park, Canberra.

The new facility will strengthen ASD’s capabilities and create new opportunities for intelligence analysts, cyber operators, technology researchers, and corporate enablers.

A member of the national security community, ASD focuses on signals intelligence, cybersecurity, and offensive cyber operations to support the Australian Defence Force and the government. The Majura Park centre will enable ASD, and its Australian Cyber Security Centre, to better identify threats and disrupt potential adversaries.


Bahrain to upgrade M270 rocket launchers

Bahrain is set to upgrade the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) to better combat current and future threats. The country placed a request with the US to upgrade nine M270 MLRS to an M270 A1 minimum configuration.

The potential $176m foreign military sale was approved by the US State Department. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified the US Congress regarding the possible sale. The scope of the potential upgrade will include the delivery of the common fire control system, the improved launcher mechanical system, a 600hp engine and associated engine compartment modifications, an improved electronics distribution box, and other hardware.

The sale will include spare parts, logistics and engineering support, test equipment, integration and test support, and software delivery, among others.


Australia commits $656m to upgrade defence sites

The Government of Australia is set to invest $656m (A$875m) in 2022 to 2023 to upgrade major defence sites across the country.

The funding will be used to upgrade, refurbish and conduct other sustainment works at barracks, airfields, ports, working accommodation, training areas, and communication stations.

Australian Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said: “The defence estate is an important national asset, and is an integral part of enabling defence to meet its force capabilities. The programme will include a total of 234 defence projects.


North Korea tests new type of intercontinental ballistic missile

North Korea has test-fired a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) known as Hwasongpho-17, a move that drew international condemnation. This is the reclusive country’s first full ICBM test since 2017.

State-owned news agency KCNA said that the test was ordered by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and that the ICBM will serve as a key weapon system to deter nuclear war in the future. The Hwasongpho-17 was launched from a site near Pyongyang International Airport, reached an altitude of 6,248.5km and travelled 1,090km before hitting a pre-selected area in open waters of the East Sea.


Greece signs deal to procure six additional Rafale jets

The Government of Greece has signed an agreement to purchase six additional Rafale jets to strengthen the firepower of its armed forces. A contract was signed by the Greek Ministry of Defence’s director-general of armaments and investments, Vice-Admiral Aristidis Alexopoulos, and Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Eric Trappier in Athens for the new procurement.

The new order will increase the Hellenic Air Force’s Rafale fleet size to 24 planes. After the signing ceremony, Trappier said: “This new contract demonstrates the Greek Government’s confidence in the Rafale, which is already actively contributing to guaranteeing Greece’s sovereignty and operational independence.

BAE Systems to develop ACV-R variant for US Marine Corps

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has awarded a contract to BAE Systems for the initial phase of the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) programme. The $34.9m contract has a performance period of 20 months and will see the company focus on the design and development of the ACV Recovery (ACV-R) variant.

The ACV-R variant will replace the USMC’s Assault Amphibious Vehicle Recovery (AAVR7A1) variant. It will provide maintenance, direct field support and recovery to the existing USMC ACV family of vehicles. An adaptable amphibious platform, ACV is designed to fulfil the challenging mission objectives of deploying marine forces from ship to shore.

Denmark signs agreement with Saab for live training solutions

The Danish Ministry of Defence, Acquisition, and Logistics Organisation (DALO) has signed a 15-year framework agreement with Swedish aerospace and defence company Saab for live training solutions.

Under the agreement, the Danish forces can place orders to procure necessary equipment for live training solutions and set up a Mobile Exercise Control. Over the period, the order value may total up to $82m (DKK550m).

US approves $950m sale of MH-60R multi-mission helicopters to Spain

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency has notified Congress of the potential foreign military sale (FMS) of eight MH-60R multi-mission helicopters to Spain.

The estimated $950m FMS has been approved by the US State Department and includes associated equipment and support.

In addition, the deal includes four airborne low frequency sonars, LAU-61 digital rocket launchers, 32 AGM-114R(N) Hellfire missiles, APS-153(V) multimode radars, 20 T-700-GE-401C engines, 100 WGU-59/B Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II Guidance Sections, and eight Link 16 Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems Joint Tactical Radio Systems, among other related equipment.


US Navy plans to use UAS for cargo transport

The US Navy is assessing the feasibility of using uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) for cargo transport between vessels or from ship to shore. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division has acquired a logistics UAS prototype to demonstrate the transfer of cargo over long ranges. The vehicle will be tested and upgraded for military sealift requirements.

Naval Group delivers first Suffren-class submarine to French Navy 

French shipbuilder Naval Group has delivered the first of six Suffren-class nuclear attack submarines for the French Navy. This delivery marks an important milestone in the Barracuda programme, which upgrades the submarine component of France's nuclear deterrent.

Iran unveils domestic ballistic missile launcher

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps has reportedly unveiled a domestically built ballistic missile launching system. Tasnim news agency reported that the air force manufactured thdine automated system, which is used for launching long-range ballistic missiles.


Australian Navy tests robots for counter-disaster operation

The Royal Australian Navy has tested robots in a simulated counter-disaster operation. As part of exercise Autonomous Warrior Genesis, the navy tested uncrewed land, air and sea vehicles in response to a simulated humanitarian relief scenario.

US and Japan complete exercise Keen Sword 21 

US Indo-Pacific Command units and the Japan Self-Defense Force have completed exercise Keen Sword 21, a joint-bilateral field training exercise in Japan. It involved maritime and air operations, amphibious landings, missile defence exercises, resupply, cyber and space operations.

Royal Air Force concludes Exercise Crimson Warrior 

The Royal Air Force has concluded Exercise Crimson Warrior, a three-week training operation involving fast jets, helicopters and unmanned air systems with involvement from the British Army, US Air Force and US Marines. Exercise Crimson Warrior has been adapted from Cobra Warrior with missiodinns being added to support the F-35B and helicopters that form part of the Carrier Strike Group Air Wing.

In brief

Fabri-Kal launches Recycleware Containers to expand sustainability

Food packaging solutions provider Fabri-Kal has expanded its sustainable product offerings with the launch of its new Recycleware Containers. Manufactured in the US, the products contain a minimum of 20-50% post-consumer recycled PET material and are recyclable.

Burger King and TerraCycle’s Loop to pilot new reusable packaging 

Fast-food chain Burger King has partnered with TerraCycle’s circular packaging service, Loop, to pilot new reusable packaging. The partnership is part of the brand’s Restaurant Brands for Good framework to help reduce packaging waste.

Stora Enso launches take-away bowls for food service packaging 

Pulp and paper manufacturer Stora Enso has partnered with wholesale company Tingstad to market its new food service take-away bowls, PureFiber. The packaging is designed to replace plastic on-the-go food packaging. It is free from plastic and PFAS.

H&M presents new Looop garment-to-garment recycling system

Swedish clothing-retail company H&M is introducing a garment-to-garment recycling system that helps transform old textiles into new ones. Known as Looop, the container-sized machine promotes circularity in fashion and keeps unwanted garments from turning into waste.