The British Army could have an AJAX squadron by summer

The British Army’s current schedule should see a squadron of new Ajax armoured fighting vehicles ready for this summer, allowing it to conduct team level training.

So far, the British Army has taken delivery of Ares, the troop-carrying variant of General Dynamics’ Ajax family of vehicles. 

Global Defence Technology understands that there are currently 12 Ajax vehicles going through the general acceptance testing process. Several of them have already completed live firing trials and final acceptance testing for some is being completed ahead of initial deliveries to the British Army.

The British Army has ordered a total of 589 vehicles across six variants, of which 245 will be of the turreted Ajax variant. The first Ajax family vehicles were delivered in February 2019 and deliveries are expected to continue through 2025.

Ajax and the other variants are set to replace the in-service Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance Tracked. The Ajax variant features the CTA International 40mm cannon that is also featured on the turret of the ongoing Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP).

As of October last year, GDLS-UK said Ajax had fired 4,200 40mm rounds from the CT40 cannon in trials and that 157 vehicle hulls and 45 turrets had been built. The company added that 60 of the planned 589 vehicles were completed, with 17 accepted by the MOD and 12 vehicles being put into service.

In a letter to the UK Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee chair Meg Hillier last October, MOD Permanent Secretary Sir Stephen Lovegrove confirmed that Ajax’s initial operating capability would be delayed until June this year.

The other variants of the Ajax family of vehicles are the Atlas and Apollo designed for equipment support missions, the Argus engineering reconnaissance platform and the Athena command and control vehicle.

// Image: Ajax vehicle. Credit: MOD/ Crown Copyright


Lockheed Martin tests extended-range GMLRS munition system

Lockheed Martin has conducted a test of the new extended-range version of its Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System munition.

During the demonstration, the test flight reached 80km.

It was fired from the US Army’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launcher, meeting the objectives of the test requirements.

The Lockheed Martin-developed GMLRS rocket has a global positioning system and inertial guidance package and small canards on the rocket nose to enhance accuracy.


USAF B-52H bombers conduct  patrol across Middle East

The US Central Command (USCENTCOM) has said that two B-52H bombers conducted a multinational patrol mission across the Middle East.

According to USCENTCOM, the mission is aimed at deterring aggression and reassuring partners and allies of the US Army’s commitment to the region’s security.

During the flight, multiple partner nations and the US Air Force (USAF) fighter jets accompanied the bombers at various points, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.


Contract notice hints US could field a new fighter by 2029

A US Department of Defense (DoD) contract notification has offered a hint that the US could field a new fighter aircraft by FY 2029.

The $74m contract notice with Raytheon for the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) aircraft integration mentions a number of existing airframes but leaves the option open for future integration on to current or next-generation fighters before the close of fiscal year 2029.

The contract notice reads: “This contract will provide the necessary aircraft lab, flight test, flight clearance and simulation support during all integration requirements in AMRAAM for F-15, F-16, FA-18, F-22, F-35 and other current inventory or next-generation platforms that may join the Air Force or Navy inventory before the end of fiscal 2029.”

Currently, the US Air Force is engaged in an effort to develop a sixth-generation fighter jet under its next-generation air dominance programme (NGAD).

If the contract notice does reference NGAD, it would see the US field a next-generation aircraft far quicker than comparative European development projects for future fighters.

The contract award could also potentially point to the future integration of AMRAAM onto the Skyborg future ‘Loyal Wingman’ uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) also currently being explored by the US Air Force.


DARPA seeks to develop AI technologies to help personnel

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced the development of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled technologies to assist military personnel.

These technologies are intended to enable the military workforce to perform complex tasks, expand skills, and reduce errors.

The initiative will be carried out under its Perceptually-enabled Task Guidance programme which focuses on the development of virtual ‘task guidance’ assistants that can provide ‘just-in-time visual and audio feedback’.


US Air Force Research Laboratory  launches project to speed up biosensor development

The US Air Force Research Laboratory has launched a

$2m partnership with Case Western Reserve University to speed up biosensor development.

The project will focus on the detection of biomarkers for stress and fatigue. 

The study of stress biomarker presence in the body is one way to research the effects of stress. However, a sensor is required to detect such biomarkers.

The 711th Human Performance Wing expressed interest to design such sensors.


Camgian secures US Army contract to develop counter-UAS solution 

Camgian Microsystems has secured a US Army contract to develop related technologies to prevent unmanned aircraft system (UAS) incursions. The $6.9m contract was awarded by the US Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command Center. It requires Camgian to advance with the development of its counter-UAS solution.

Babcock wins £150m logistic support contract from UK MOD

Babcock International has received a logistic support contract (LSC) from the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD). The five-year contract is valued at £150m and forms part of the £3.2bn Battlefield and Tactical Communication Information Systems programme of opportunities.

Airbus wins contract from French DGA within Syracuse IV programme

The French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) has signed a ten-year framework agreement known as Copernicus with Airbus. The initial order, valued at over €100m, is for the construction and upgrade of part of the ground segment for the telecommunications satellites used by the French Armed Forces, within the Syracuse IV programme.

Belgian and Royal Netherlands navies select ECA Group’s INSPECTOR 125-class USV

The Belgian and Royal Netherlands navies have chosen ECA Group’s INSPECTOR 125-class USV under their mine countermeasures capability replacement programme.

INSPECTOR 125 USV comes with a low magnetic and acoustic signature to prevent mine triggering and can stay afloat during mine explosions.

ECA Group will provide 17 INSPECTOR 125 USVs from 2023.

MBDA wins contract for new CAMM-ER based air defence system

MBDA has won a contract from an undisclosed international customer for a new common anti-air modular missile extended range-based (CAMM-ER) air defence system variant. This is the first order for the Albatros NG variant designed for naval applications. Albatros NG is a new generation naval based air defence system developed to counter aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and helicopters at sea. It will become operational in 2024.

Thales UK wins air defence missile contract extension

Thales UK has secured a £98.4m contract extension to maintain the Short-Range Air Defence for the Royal Marines and British Army.

Thales UK initially won the contract in 2018 to modernise and develop the missile systems under the Future Air Defence Availability Project programme, which aims to provide the Royal Regiment of Artillery and the Royal Marines with their air defence weapon systems.

USAF awards two small business technology transfer contracts to Jetoptera

The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded Jetoptera two small business technology transfer  contracts. Jetoptera has developed a fluidic propulsion system to produce thrust for vertical take-off and landing-capable aircraft. Under the contracts, the company will work on the system’s noise characterisation in an anechoic chamber wind tunnel.

KAI and IAI partner to offer unmanned loitering munitions 

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to provide unmanned loitering munition  systems to the Republic of Korea (ROK) military forces. The companies did not disclose the exact type of munitions to be offered.


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.