11 August 2020

USAF and Lockheed Martin test ARRW missile on B-52 Stratofortress

The US Air Force (USAF) and Lockheed Martin have completed flight testing of the second AGM-183A air-launched rapid response weapon (ARRW) missile on B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base in California, US.

The captive carry flight was conducted with tactical hardware to collect thermal, mechanical and digital data from the flight vehicle.

Lockheed noted that the test marked the first assembling of a tactical ARRW missile. 

Additional ground and flight testing will be conducted over the following two years.

Using high speed, altitude and manoeuvrability, the hypersonic weapons have the capability to provide rapid response with a time-critical capability to overcome distance in contested environments.

During missions, an operational hypersonic air-launched weapon enables warfighters to fix time-sensitive targets at risk in contested environments from stand-off distances, ensuring personnel safety.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control ARRW programme director Dave Berganini said: “The team overcame significant challenges driven by the Covid-19 pandemic to achieve this significant milestone for the programme. This captive carry mission is the pre-cursor for our first booster test flight planned for the early 2020s.”

11 August 2020

Australia expands US partnership to develop EA-18G Growler NGJ

The Australian Government has signed two new agreements to expand its partnership with the US for the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) system development.

The NGJ is a programme that will replace older ALQ-99 tactical jamming system pods on the EA-18G Growler aircraft.

The advanced electronic attack system has the capability to deny, disrupt, and degrade enemy’s technology, including radars, air defence systems, and communication tools.

During operations, the system supports electromagnetic spectrum dominance, provides pilots of Growler aircraft an edge, and counters low frequency adversary systems.

The NGJ-low band enhances fourth and fifth-generation platforms’ survivability and lethality.

Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said: “Australia entered an initial agreement in October 2017 to work with the US Navy to develop the NGJ, which will supersede the current system. We’ve now signed two new agreements to expand this partnership.

“The first includes production, sustainment and follow-on development of the ALQ-249(V)1 NGJ-mid band, which supports the introduction of advanced electronic jamming technology and will ensure Australia’s Growler aircraft retain commonality with their US counterparts. 

“The second agreement enables the development of the next variant, the NGJ-low band. These systems will augment, and ultimately replace, most legacy ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming Systems currently used on the Growler.”

11 August 2020

Russia conducts observation flight over Germany

The Russian Federation is conducting an observation flight on a Tupolev TU-154M LK-1 observation plane over Germany.

As part of the implementation of the International Treaty on Open Skies, the observation flight is scheduled from 10 to 14 August, the Russian National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center chief Sergey Ryzhkov reported.

The plane will fly over Germany from the Open Sky Cologne Bonn Airport with a maximum flight range of 1300km, along an agreed route.

According to the agreement, German specialists on board the aircraft will monitor the use of surveillance equipment.

The framework of the treaty includes conducting observation flights to promote openness and transparency in the military activities of the participating states. The operation also aims to enhance security by strengthening confidence-building measures. 

According to the treaty rules, aircraft may be equipped with four types of sensors that include optical panoramic and framing cameras, video cameras with real-time display, infra-red line-scanning devices and sideways-looking synthetic aperture radar.

The Treaty on Open Skies, which came into force in January 2002, establishes a programme of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its 35 participants.

10 August 2020

RAF A400M used to monitor migrants crossing the English Channel

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has deployed an Airbus A400M aircraft to support border patrol operations in the English Channel.

The tasking comes after last week, the Home Office officially requested the Ministry of Defence (MOD) support its efforts against migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats.

Commenting on the operation in a statement on Twitter, the MOD said the A400M took off from RAF Brize Norton ‘to support Border Force operations in the Channel’. The deployment was authorised by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and is the MOD’s initial offer of assistance to the Home Office.

The A400M, while not a dedicated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, is capable of undertaking aerial surveillance missions. Crews are trained in maritime surface surveillance and airborne search and rescue. 

The A400M used in the current mission is understood to be a ‘national standby’ asset, meaning it can be tasked at short notice to undertake operations and was readily deployable to assist the Home Office.

Around 4,000 people have travelled to the UK using small boats so far this year. Most of the migrants arriving in small boats have made the journey from war-torn regions of the world, including the Middle East and Africa.

Last week, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak refused to rule out that the Government could ask the Royal Navy to patrol the waters between France and the UK.

10 August 2020

 US Army robotic combat vehicles  demonstrate capabilities during exercises

The US Army has demonstrated the capabilities of four robotic combat vehicles (RCVs) during platoon live-fire exercises.

The RCVs were accompanied by control vehicles known as mission enabling technologies demonstrators (MET-Ds) during testing. MET-Ds can accommodate six soldiers and are equipped with 360° situational awareness cameras. They also feature a remote turret fitted with a 25mm main gun and improved crew stations.

According to the US Army, the RCVs on M113 surrogate platforms are installed with 360° cameras and 7.62mm machine guns. Soldiers from the US Army’s 4th Infantry Division controlled and manoeuvred the RCVs using two modified Bradley fighting vehicles as MET-Ds.

The RCVs were controlled up to a 2,000m range from the inside MET-Ds.

The exercises focused on determining the capabilities of the autonomous vehicles in enhancing the ground units’ lethality and efficiency. 

Next-Generation Combat Vehicle programme cross-functional team director Brigade General Richard Coffman said: “The ability (to spot enemies) was exceptional because that reduces the risk on our soldiers and allows us to remain in a covered and concealed position and make decisions."

During Phase II of testing, additional features are being planned for inclusion to the vehicles. This includes a new radio tether, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and target recognition capability.

This phase is planned to be conducted in Q1 of fiscal year 2022 at Fort Hood in Texas. Three platoons of robotic vehicle with control vehicles will take part in Phase II. A decision will be taken to continue testing or not based on the Phase II results.

Coffman added: “This is about commanders on the battlefield and giving them more decision space and reducing the risk on our men and women.

“We go into the nastiest places on earth, and these robots are absolutely going to do that in the future. We’re not there 100% yet.”

10 August 2020

Indian Army to study technologies to enhance warfare capabilities

The Indian Army is conducting a study on advanced niche and disruptive warfare technologies to strengthen its soldiers’ war-fighting capabilities.

The holistic study is expected to prepare the country’s personnel for the non-kinetic and non-combat warfare threats of the future. It will include drone swarms, robotics, lasers, loiter munitions, artificial intelligence (AI), big data analysis, and algorithmic warfare, as well as Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality and augmented reality, according to the Times of India.

Other areas of the study include hypersonic-enabled long range precision firing systems, additive manufacturing, biomaterial infused invisibility cloaks, exoskeleton systems, liquid armour, quantum computing, robotics, directed-energy weapons, and loiter and smart munitions.

The Times of India quoted a source as saying: “Technology will also be the key driver in future wars. The new study, which is headed by one of the seven army commanders, will recommend the roadmap for inductions with timelines, along with an overall cost-benefit analysis being done for each disruptive technology.”

The Indian Army’s future military planning focuses on the integration of soldiers and the disruptive technologies into unified warfighting machinery. 

10 August 2020

Australia announces investment to boost cyber defences

The government of Australia has announced an investment of $1.67bn over ten years, including $1.35bn as a Cyber Enhanced Situational Awareness and Response (CESAR) package, to boost cyber resilience.

This investment forms an important part of the government’s commitment to cyber security following the release of the 2020 CESAR package on 30 June.

According to Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds, the investment includes measures to bolster the resilience of critical infrastructure, businesses, and individuals against cyber threats in the country.

“This package ensures we can identify more cyber threats, disrupt more cyber criminals offshore, build more partnerships with industry and government, and protect more Australians.," Reynolds said. "These additional measures will enhance cyber protections for critical infrastructure facilities, strengthen our partnerships with industry, and boost the provision of cyber security advice and assistance to families, older Australians, and small businesses.”

Under the cyber security strategy, $598.4m has been allocated for a range of new initiatives that will be delivered through the CESAR package.

These include more than $66m to aid major critical infrastructure providers to evaluate their networks for vulnerabilities, as well as more than $10m for an expanded National Exercise Program that will work with federal, state and territory government agencies and private sector organisations to test their readiness to cyber security threats.

7 August 2020

GAO recommends actions for US Army for NGCV programmes

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has made recommendations to the US Army to follow cost estimation and systems engineering leading practices for its Next Generation Combat Vehicles (NGCV) programmes.

The US Army recently started acquisitions on two programmes within the NGCV portfolio, which is ‘one of its most critical and urgent modernisation priorities’.

The two programmes, Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) and Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) are being developed to provide the service with capabilities such as ‘more firepower, protection, and mobility’.

Since the effort prioritises rapid development of technology and designs, the army did not completely take into account all potential cost uncertainties, according to GAO.

The service tried to minimise cost overruns and programme delays risks for the efforts but delayed key engineering reviews.

GAO said that certain steps taken by the programme were not ‘consistent with leading practices, which could increase technical risk’ because of delay in key systems engineering reviews. It also noted that the army took steps to mitigate risks by improving communication within the service and with the US Department of Defense stakeholders.

The office has recommended the Secretary of the Army to direct the MPF and OMFV programmes to update the cost estimates.

The third recommendation includes conducting systems engineering reviews at key decision points for OMPV programme.

In 2018, BAE Systems Land & Armaments and General Dynamics (GD) Land Systems were awarded development contracts for the MPF. The army is seeking to acquire a total of 504 vehicles.

Last month, the US Army issued a draft request for proposal (RFP) for the OMFV preliminary digital design phase to replace its Bradley fighting vehicles.