India conducts canister-based test firing of Agni-V ballistic missile

11 December

India has conducted the canister-based test firing of the Agni-V long-range surface-to-surface missile at the Dr Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha.

Launched from a canister mounted on a road-mobile launcher from launch pad-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR), the nuclear-capable, intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has a strike range of more than 5,000km.

In a statement, the Indian Defence Ministry said: “All the mission objectives were successfully achieved. This launch comes after a series of successful launches of the missile. It further strengthens the country’s deterrence capability, which has been developed indigenously by assiduous efforts of scientists.”

Developed by the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the missile’s user associated trial was conducted and monitored by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC).

The three-stage solid fuelled missile was test launched in January and June this year.

An official source was quoted by The Hindu as saying: “This is the third successful launch of Agni-V this year and the fifth launch of the missile in a canisterised form.”

The first canister-based trial of the Agni-V was carried out in 2015. The missile conducted its first two flights in open configuration in 2012 and 2013.

The 17m-long missile is capable of carrying a 1.1t payload and features a ring laser gyro-based inertial navigation system (INS) and modern micro-navigation system (MINS).

Reports suggest that the missile will soon be inducted with the Indian Army.

British RAF QRA Typhoon fighters armed with Meteor missile

11 December

The British Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon fighter jets have been integrated with the Meteor air-to-air missile. The multi-role combat aircraft have also launched with the new missile on a QRA mission from RAF Lossiemouth to defend UK airspace for the first time.

The launch brings an end to several years of research, development and testing to add this additional capability onto Typhoon to ensure it is ready to meet the demands of the future.

Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile has been manufactured by MBDA in Stevenage, UK, and is designed to provide a multi-shot capability against long-range manoeuvring targets.

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “This latest missile system demonstrates the next chapter of the Typhoon, which will see the jet evolve its ability to target and destroy any airborne threat at great distances. The Meteor missile will provide an unrelenting deterrence to those who wish harm upon the UK and our armed forces.”

“The RAF’s prized Typhoon force is unquestionably now the cornerstone of British and Nato military power. It has proved itself in combat roles over Libya, Iraq and Syria, protecting UK skies and overseas territories, and providing critical support to our Nato allies in Eastern Europe.”

Developed by a group of European partners led by MBDA, Meteor meets the needs of six European nations, which are the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, and Sweden. The project has created 430 jobs across the country.

The 3.7m-long ramjet-powered Meteor is expected to operate from the F-35 Lightning aircraft in the future.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is manufactured by a consortium of Airbus Defence & Space, BAE Systems and Leonardo.

US Navy’s littoral combat ship USS Billings completes acceptance trials

11 December

The US Navy’s newest littoral combat ship, the future USS Billings (LCS 15), has completed acceptance trials in the waters of Lake Michigan before its delivery. The trials evaluated the ship’s combat system and involved a full-power run, manoeuvrability testing, as well as surface and air detect-to-engage demonstrations.

USS Billing also performed aviation support, small boat launch handling and recovery, in addition to machinery control and automation.

Lockheed Martin small combatants and ship systems vice-president and general manager Joe DePietro said: “LCS 15 is the third ship we’ve taken through sea trials this year, and we are proud that the navy will soon have another capable, lethal and affordable ship in the fleet. The industry team has hit its stride in serial production, and we’re producing increasingly capable ships in quick succession.”

Construction of Billings started in November 2015 and the vessel launched in July 2017. The LCS is planned for delivery to the US Navy in 2019.

Billings is the eighth Freedom-variant LCS built by the Lockheed Martin-led industry team at Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard.

The team includes shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine, naval architect Gibbs & Cox and more than 800 suppliers from across 42 US states.

Currently, seven Freedom-variant LCSs are under different stages of production and testing. The future USS Indianapolis will begin sea trials next year, while LCS 19 will be christened and launched on 15 December.

LCS 13 is scheduled for commissioning on 12 January in Jacksonville, Florida. Last month, the US Navy commissioned USS Sioux City (LCS 11) into service.

Designed for operations in deepwater to the littorals, the US Navy LCS is deployed to support missions such as mine countermeasures, as well as anti-submarine and surface warfare missions.

US Army contracts NuMat Technologies to develop nanoporous materials

10 December

US-based NuMat Technologies has received a contract to develop next-generation materials to protect and sustain the modern combatant.

Awarded by the US Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command Chemical and Biological Center (RDECOM C&B Center), the initial $9m contract vehicle will help develop advancements in dual-use technologies for sectors such as defence, microelectronics, life science, energy, and industrial.

The contract will enable NuMat Technologies to use its nanoporous materials called metal organic frameworks (MOF) in the creation of new filtration technology tools to better combat emerging threats from unknown toxic agents.

The company will explore the use of MOFs in reinventing gas masks, breathing apparatus, and other equipment intended to provide new protection for the modern soldier.

NuMat Technologies founder and CEO Benjamin Hernandez said: “We are excited to bring our state-of-the-art technology to the warfighter, including advanced toxic industrial chemical filtration, purification, and abatement. NuMat’s unique materials and processes will provide unparalleled protection and support in the field while also creating new capabilities for the future."

MOFs, which are highly programmable nanomaterials with higher surface areas to absorb toxic chemicals, have already been deployed in the electronics and speciality gas sectors.

NuMat noted that the contract amount will be used to construct a commercial-scale manufacturing site for MOFs and an advanced application development lab for next-generation filtration and purification technologies.

RDECOM C&B Center Chemical Engineering Research Greg Peterson said: “We have already demonstrated that particular MOFs are highly effective at reacting with toxic gases such as nerve agents and toxic industrial chemicals at the lab scale. Now our goal is to integrate these materials into a variety of fielded items across the chemical and biological defence commodity area.”

Afghanistan to receive final batch of Silvershield units from ADF

10 December

The Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces is set to take delivery of the last batch of the Silvershield units, developed under the REDWING programme.

Silvershield is a vehicle-mounted counter-improvised explosive device (IED) force protection system. The units were delivered by the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

The system has undergone testing in Australia and Afghanistan.

L3 Micreo is contracted to support the Australian Defence Science and Technology Group’s development of the enhanced devices.

Easy to install and use, the force protection system is designed to be mounted on light vehicles and used by Australia’s Afghan partners operating in hazardous environments.

Australia Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said: “Over 15,000 Silvershield systems have now been delivered to Afghanistan for training and initial rollout with deliveries now complete. This is an outstanding investment in Australian capability to deliver life-saving, cutting-edge counter improvised explosive device technology.

“The REDWING programme demonstrates successful collaboration between defence and industry, and Silvershield is proof of Australian industry’s ability to meet the challenge of high-volume and time-critical manufacturing.”

In May, L3 Micreo delivered the first batch of the new Silvershield systems to the Australian Department of Defence (DoD). L3 Micreo received a $21m contract in March for the delivery of 13,000 Silvershield units. Deliveries of these units under the contract are to be completed this year.

More than 200,000 individual and vehicle-mounted REDWING systems have been manufactured and exported by the Australian industry and defence since 2015.

These systems are currently supporting various missions with the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, National Directorate of Security, and Afghanistan Parliamentary Security Forces.

USAF successfully launches Space Test Program Satellite 5

10 December

The US Air Force (USAF) has announced the successful launch of Space Test Program Satellite 5 (STPSat-5) from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Launched on 3 December, the satellite was placed into orbit via Spaceflight Industries’ fully dedicated smallsat rideshare mission aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Space and Missile Systems Center Advanced Systems and Development Directorate director colonel Timothy Sejba said: “I’m elated with today’s successful launch. STPSat-5 demonstrates the value of commercially procured mission management and launch services for the airforce. It also highlights the benefit of forging new partnerships with commercial space companies under SMC 2.0.

“This mission would not be possible without the combined dedication of our government and industry partners, including NASA, Spaceflight Industries and Sierra Nevada Corporation. We look forward to evaluating STPSat-5’s performance on-orbit over the next year.”

Built by Sierra Nevada Corporation for the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) Space Test Program (STP), the satellite is managed by the USAF Space and Missile Systems Center at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

STPSat-5 satellite contains five science and technology payloads from four government agencies.

These are strontium iodide radiation instrumentation (SIRI) and RAM angle and magnetic field sensor (RAMS) from Naval Research Lab, USAF Academy’s integrated miniaturized electro-static analyser (iMESA).

The other two payloads are the USAF Research Lab’s rad-hard electronic memory experiment (RHEME), and Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command’s high bandwidth anti-jam LPI/LPD optical network (HALO-Net).

The payloads will improve the US DoD’s understanding of the space environment and help in the development of future national security space systems.

It is the first satellite mission to fly SNC’s SN-50 bus, which has both low-Earth orbit and geosynchronous-Earth orbit capabilities.

SN-50 satellite bus platform is intended for the evolved expendable launch vehicle (EELV) secondary payload adapter (ESPA) class market.

Elbit Systems and Leonardo to develop mini torpedo for Seagull USV

10 December

Israel-based company Elbit Systems’ ISTAR division and Italian firm Leonardo have partnered to develop an additional torpedo capability for the Seagull unmanned surface vessel (USV).

The agreement was reached by the companies at the recent Exponaval event.

Under the agreement, the companies will develop the capability using the same architecture used in airborne torpedo launching systems.

The additional capability will enable the Elbit Systems’ multi-mission Seagull USV to demonstrate the launch of Leonardo’s lightweight and mini torpedoes.

Leonardo has experience in the design, production and integration of this type of weapon system and holds a strategic position in the market. The company’s range of torpedoes has been deployed by more than 30 countries.

Elbit Systems’ Seagull solution is a 12m-long USV that has been designed for operation either from a mothership or on-shore stations.

With a mission endurance of more than four days, Seagull is designed to scan the stretch of water surrounding a vessel, as well as operating underwater vehicles to track and destroy mines.

The unmanned system provides the user with a wide range of multi-mission capabilities such as anti-submarine warfare (ASW), mine-hunting and minesweeping (MCM) and electronic warfare (EW), as well as maritime security and underwater commercial missions.

Currently operational with the Israeli Navy, it is equipped with command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) capabilities.

In June 2016, Seagull completed the first torpedo launch test and demonstrated the capability to install and launch lightweight torpedoes.

In September 2017, the company performed a live demonstration of a remotely operated ASW mission using its Seagull USV.

In addition, Seagull participated in the Belgian North Sea MCM Trials and carried out an autonomous end-to-end unmanned mission in sea states 5 and 6 to demonstrate real-time mine-hunting capabilities.

Lockheed selects IFS Applications software for $3.5bn US Army contract

7 December

Lockheed Martin has selected the supply chain and logistics software from global enterprise applications company IFS to support a $3.5bn US Army contract.

Both companies have signed a contract under which Lockheed has requested for 2,600 user licences of IFS Applications modules.

IFS will provide the modules for supply chain management, warehouse management, purchasing and other functionalities.

IFS aerospace and defence president Scott Helmer said: “As a recognised leader in aerospace and defence software, IFS Applications will provide the logistics and supply chain functionality to support this contract.

“This solution will then be extended with IFS planning and scheduling optimisation software, which will enable Lockheed Martin to rely on artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to automate the real-time management of mobile technicians according to shifting demands and priorities.”

Under the US Army contract, Lockheed is responsible for the sustainment of more than 300,000 fielded training aids, devices, simulators and simulations (TADSS), including live-fire ranges and instrumentation systems, for seven years.

In order to better sustain these army assets, IFS Applications will ensure the availability of materials, parts and resources, as well as provide mobile technicians with scheduling capabilities.

IFS Americas president Cindy Jaudon added: “A company delivering on major US Department of Defense (DoD) contracts while ensuring they meet or exceed service level agreements (SLAs) needs a robust, proven software platform capable of managing the entire contract lifecycle. That is what we can deliver here, in a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) solution.”