DARPA awards contracts for LongShot UAV Phase I design

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded preliminary Phase I design contracts for its LongShot unmanned air vehicle (UAV) programme.

The contracts have been awarded to General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

The LongShot programme seeks to develop an air-launched UAV that can carry and fire multiple air-to-air missiles. It must also be capable of increasing engagement ranges and mission effectiveness.

According to DARPA, LongShot will increase the survivability of manned platforms as it will allow the platforms to be at standoff ranges far away from the threats of enemy forces.

DARPA noted that an air-launched LongShot UAV will play a key role in bridging ‘the gap to take more effective missile shots.

During the programme’s later phases, LongShot will involve building and flying a full-scale air-launched demonstration system. This system would be capable of ‘controlled flight, before, during, and after weapon ejection’ in operational conditions.

DARPA programme manager lieutenant colonel Paul Calhoun said: “The LongShot programme changes the paradigm of air combat operations by demonstrating an unmanned, air-launched vehicle capable of employing current and advanced air-to-air weapons. LongShot will disrupt traditional incremental weapon improvements by providing an alternative means of generating combat capability.”

// Image: Artist rendering of a LongShot UAV. Credit: DARPA


HMS Queen Elizabeth undergoes Virtual Warrior assessment

The British Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is undergoing one of its two final assessments in preparation of its maiden mission.

The assessments are Virtual Warrior and Strike Warrior. HMS Queen Elizabeth recently assumed the role of the fleet flagship.

During Virtual Warrior, the carrier and crew's capabilities will be tested in a simulated crisis.

The two week-long assessment will involve various scenarios that will be created using a combined computer training suite at HMS Collingwood in Fareham.

The Carrier Strike Group will go through a final round of live-action assessment during the Joint Warrior war game in spring.


Royal Navy’s HMS Talent tests upgraded Spearfish torpedo

The Royal Navy’s Trafalgar-class attack submarine, HMS Talent, has conducted trials of the upgraded Spearfish torpedo off the coast of Scotland.

The three-day trial was used to procure important data and support the final stages of the upgraded torpedo’s development before it enters service.

HMS Talent fired four Spearfish torpedoes, the first of which was launched at a targeted vessel. The remaining three were pitched against the submarine itself to assess the risks of the vessel torpedoing itself.

The torpedoes were subsequently recovered to study the data and determine the next stage of the programme as the torpedo moves towards initial operating capability.


Australia to invest $610.6m to boost ADF’s amphibious capabilities

The Government of Australia is set to invest up to $610.6m to enhance Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) amphibious capabilities in territorial waters and nearby regions.

The move will involve acquiring new fleets of locally built amphibious vehicles and landing craft as part of the Army Littoral Manoeuvre – Light project, LAND 8710 Phase 1 programme.

Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said: “These new vessels, introduced from 2026, will be larger, faster, and better protected to support ADF operations.

“They will allow defence to quickly and effectively deploy both domestically and to our near region, as well as remain engaged with regional security partners and support humanitarian assistance to our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific.”

The ADF is expected to procure two separate fleets to improve shore-to-shore, ship-to-shore, and over-the-shore capabilities. The acquisition will also help in transporting land forces with enhanced speed and protection.

The independent landing craft and amphibious vehicles are expected to replace the Australian Army’s existing LCM-8 vessels and LARC-V, respectively.


DARPA selects contractors for uncrewed underwater vehicles

The US DARPA has selected Northrop Grumman Systems, Martin Defense Group and Metron as the prime contractors for the Manta Ray uncrewed underwater vehicle (UUV) development programme.

Launched last year, the Manta Ray project aims to develop UUVs that will be capable of operating for long durations without human intervention and undertake long range missions.

The preliminary design reviews were completed earlier this year.

The programme aims to increase operational flexibilities of traditional host vessels.

It will also address other naval challenges including energy management, navigation and underwater obstacle avoidance among others.


Nato conducts study on integration of women in ground combat units

Nato’s Science and Technology Organization has conducted a study on the integration of women into ground combat units.

The move comes after several Nato members and other partner countries have started inducting women in close combat units.

The report identified the influence of social, cultural and psychological factors that impact integration in military organisations, particularly in ground close combat units. 

It also identified effective strategies and processes to assess the integration of women, as well as its impact on combat effectiveness.

The recommendations, along with empirical evidence, will be shared to support defence research programmes within participating nations. 


O2 and Leonardo to explore 5G private network use in defence 

Leonardo has announced a strategic collaboration with O2 (Telefónica UK) to explore the use of 5G private networks in the defence and security sector. The defence firm’s Edinburgh-based Innovation and Technology Incubator Centre will work with O2 to demonstrate the advantages of 5G technology. For the evaluation, O2 will offer a secure 5G private network and a range of Industry 4.0 applications.

Boeing India and Air Works partner for MRO of defence platforms 

Boeing has signed a strategic collaboration with aviation services provider Air Works for the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of its VIP transport aircraft fleet operated by the Indian Air Force. The partnership with Air Works is a first under the newly launched Boeing India Repair Development and Sustainment hub initiative.


Fincantieri selects L3 Harris to support US Navy’s FFG 62 frigate

Fincantieri Marinette Marine has selected L3Harris Technologies to support the US Navy’s first Constellation-class multi-mission guided-missile frigate, FFG 62. The contract will see L3Harris provide shipboard integration and manufacture key subsystems onboard FFG 62.

Elbit Systems to equip Dutch CV90s with Iron Fist protection system

BAE Systems Hägglunds has awarded a contract to Elbit Systems to support the Royal Netherlands Army’s CV90 infantry fighting vehicles modernisation programme. Under the $82m contract, Elbit Systems will provide its Iron Fist Active Protection Systems and Commander Open Architecture Panoramic Sights for the vehicles.

Saab secures order to supply Carl-Gustaf M4 Trainers to Sweden

Saab has secured a $16.1m contract to supply the Carl-Gustaf M4 Ground Combat Indoor Trainer to the Swedish Armed Forces as part of a framework agreement signed in June 2019. Saab will deliver complete Carl-Gustaf M4 weapon system training studios that will enable the Swedish forces to provide weapon training to around 100 soldiers simultaneously in a virtual environment.

St Hilliers to build simulation centre for Australian Army

St Hilliers has received the head contract to deliver a three-storey armoured vehicle simulation centre for the Australian Army in Townsville, Queensland. The Government of Australia will invest $23.58m in the project, which will house simulated facilities to support training for upgraded M1 Abrams and incoming LAND 400 and LAND 8160 armoured vehicle capabilities.

Leonardo to provide new HF radio system for US Navy’s E-2D fleet

Northrop Grumman has contracted Leonardo to provide its new high frequency (HF) radio system for the US Navy’s fleet of E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft. Leonardo will provide the SRT-400 HF radio system, suitable for fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

Vertex to provide contractor logistics support for USAF’s C–12 

Vertex Aerospace has been contracted by the US Air Force to support its C-12 Huron aircraft fleet.

The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract has a firm-fixed-price of $38m. Vertex will serve as the contractor logistic support provider for the USAF fleet.


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.