15 October 2019

Raytheon and Korean Air partner to pursue ROKAF’s ISTAR programme

Raytheon has partnered with Korean Air to bid for the Republic of Korea’s Air Force’s (ROKAF) intelligence surveillance target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) programme.

The collaboration agreement was signed at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition in South Korea.

Through the partnership, Raytheon intends to meet ROKAF’s need for an ISTAR aircraft solution to improve intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities

Under the agreement, Raytheon will provide multiple-intelligence (Multi-INT) technologies for the aircraft.

Korean Air will support Raytheon’s efforts by delivering services such as design, logistics and lifecycle support.

Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems president Roy Azevedo said: “Technology is changing the way we fight and the speed at which we do it. For today’s commanders, a few seconds can make the difference between success and failure. By combining multiple sensors with advanced communications systems, we give Korean commanders the information they need, when they need it.”

The Multi-INT platform uses artificial intelligence, radar, multifunction electro-optical / infrared, and advanced processing capabilities to provide aircrews with an integrated view of the battlespace.

The partnership will work with Bombardier to customise Global 6500 business aircraft to meet the mission requirements of the airforce.

Korean Air executive vice-president and chief technology officer Lee Soo-Keun said: “We expect to make a great contribution to increase surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities for the Korean military by collaboration between Raytheon, which has the world’s best mission equipment technology, and Korean Air which has the best aircraft upgrade and MRO capabilities in Korea.”

Raytheon’s ISTAR aircraft is designed to support a range of missions, including maritime restrictions, border security and ensuring protection against ballistic missile attacks.

The solution can be used to track mobile ground targets and map areas affected by natural disaster. The British Royal Air Force operates Raytheon’s ISTAR-type Sentinel aircraft.

15 October 2019

Booz Allen wins US Army task order to optimise soldier performance

Booz Allen Hamilton has received a potential five-year task order to improve human performance within the army and other federal agencies.

The task order has a potential value of $561m and was awarded by the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Aviation & Missile Center’s Systems Simulation, Software and Integration Directorate (AvMC S3I).

CCDC AvMC is responsible for providing research, engineering and analytical expertise to the Army.

The S3I is involved in software engineering, modelling and simulation, and systems development.

The task order requires Booz Allen to deploy an athlete management system to provide soldiers with access to holistic fitness guidance. The artificial intelligence-based performance platform will use cognitive services to improve understanding of the training provided to personnel.

Booz Allen executive vice-president Greg Wenzel said: “Increasing warfighter effectiveness and reducing potential loss of life require a deep understanding of the US Army’s mission, expertise in the latest technologies, and access to cross-sector partnerships. Booz Allen is the only open technology integrator that offers a vision and roadmap to a fully connected, digital battlefield where intelligence and operations converge at the speed of need.”

“Using an open yet secure architecture that quickly and easily integrates the best emerging tech on the market, Booz Allen is helping the army arm the digital soldier with the latest cross-reality, artificial intelligence, and data-centric solutions to improve their physical and psychological performance, as well as tactical equipment design and implementation.”

The tactical human dimension training programme seeks to improve both the physical and cognitive performance of troops.

The platform will feature augmented and virtual reality simulations and involve data science and analytics capabilities to optimise performance.

It will enable AvMC S3I to closely monitor the results and the efficacy of the programmes.

The training will assist military agencies such as US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, US Army Cyber Center of Excellence, and US Air Force 17th Training Group.

14 October 2019

Boeing KC-46 cargo lock fix on the way

Boeing’s KC-46 Pegasus tanker could soon be back in the air carrying out military transport as the company is set to retrofit new parts to fix existing aircraft.

The aircraft, which serves primarily as an aerial refuelling tanker, was banned from transporting cargo and personnel after it was found that locks to secure pallets and chairs had come loose during flights.

Despite the issue, the US Air Force (USAF) had not slowed down on orders of the aircraft, which is due to replace its fleet of legacy KC-135 Stratotankers. A spokesperson for Boeing told Air Force Technology that the company had developed a fix for the lock and successfully tested it on the aircraft.

The company said the USAF has accepted the replacement part after meeting all the requirements during flight. Boeing added: “The safety of the KC-46 aircraft and crew is our top priority.”

The fix is being installed on in-production aircraft and is expected to be retrofitted on already-delivered KC-46 aircraft over the next few weeks. The USAF has yet to say whether or when the aircraft will return to transport duties once retrofitted.

Cargo locks never fully disconnected during flight, however, if they had it could have had disastrous consequences. Cargo coming loose in flight would affect the stability of an aircraft in the air potentially making it uncontrollable.

Boeing has delivered 23 tankers of a total of 179 that the USAF plans to procure. The aircraft are split between three bases: McConnell and Altus Air Force Bases and Pease Air National Guard Base. The USAF has accepted a further four aircraft which are yet to be delivered.

The KC-46 Pegasus, based on the commercial Boeing 767, was developed as a result of the USAF’s KC-X request for proposals for a new aerial tanker. Airbus also bid for the programme, but Boeing ultimately won. The first aircraft were delivered three years behind schedule in January 2019.

Israel and Japan have also ordered 10 KC-46 between them. Several other countries have also made requests to purchase the aircraft.

On its route to being fielded, the KC-46 has seen a number of other significant setbacks. The aircraft also had problems with its remote vision system, used to direct the refuelling boom. Boeing also received a contract to redesign and redevelop the boom so it could be used to refuel the A-10 Warthog.

14 October 2019

British F-35 fighter jets land on deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth

F-35 Lightning II combat aircraft have landed and taken off from the British Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier during operational trials off the east coast of the US.

The country’s next-generation aircraft carrier is currently undergoing operational trials. The navy’s largest vessel left for the US in August to take part in Westlant 19 alongside the US Navy.

The landing of the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) F-35 fifth-generation combat aircraft on the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth marks a key milestone in the creation of a fully operational carrier strike group.

The trials are intended to ensure that the F-35Bs are compatible with the lead-ship of the Queen Elizabeth-class of carriers.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “This is another step towards the UK’s carrier strike capability becoming fully operational. The bringing together of the UK lightnings on the first in class HMS Queen Elizabeth paves the way for the world’s most up to date, fully integrated carrier force.”

The RAF’s 17 Test and Evaluation Squadron will handle the trials. The squadron is made up of personnel from the navy and air force.

The British Lightning Force, based out of RAF Marham, is also participating in the trials.

During the Westlant 18 deployment, the aircraft carrier conducted developmental trials with US F-35s. The deployment saw the navy conducting a series of trials involving 500 takeoffs and landings over an 11-week period.

In addition to the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the carrier strike group includes Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon and Type 23 frigate HMS Northumberland. Tanker RFA Tideforce will support the strike group.

The carrier strike group also consists of Royal Marines, Merlin anti-submarine warfare helicopters, and Merlin Mark 4 helicopters.

14 October 2019

US to deploy additional troops and equipment to Saudi Arabia

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has announced that additional troops and military assets will be deployed to boost the defence of Saudi Arabia.

Authorised by US Defence Secretary Mark Esper, the latest deployment will include two fighter squadrons, one air expeditionary wing (AEW), and two Patriot batteries.

The Pentagon is also deploying one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) to Saudi Arabia.

Chief Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said: “Secretary Esper informed Saudi Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Muhammad bin Salman this morning of the additional troop deployment to assure and enhance the defence of Saudi Arabia.

“Taken together with other deployments this constitutes an additional 3,000 forces that have been extended or authorised within the last month.”

The US has increased the deployment of troops to the US Central Command area of responsibility by 14,000 since May.

Hoffman stated that the deployments are intended to ensure readiness to respond to regional risks.

Hoffman added: “As we have stated, the US does not seek conflict with the Iranian regime, but we will retain a robust military capability in the region that is ready to respond to any crisis and will defend US forces and interest in the region.”

Saudi Arabia requested for additional US forces to enhance security following tensions in the region sparked by an attack on the country’s oil facilities last month. The kingdom accused Iran of orchestrating the drone attack.

Last month, the Pentagon approved the deployment of one Patriot battery, four Sentinel radars and around 200 support personnel.

14 October 2019

BAE Systems outlines details about medical variants of APMV programme

BAE Systems has outlined details about two variants of the armoured multi-purpose vehicle (AMPV) developed for the US Army.

The AMPV programme provides next-generation, highly survivable vehicles to the army to replace legacy M113 family of vehicles within the Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT).

In 2014, the army awarded two contract modifications to BAE Systems to begin low-rate initial production of the AMPVs.

The programme will deliver five variants, including command and control, mortar carrier, general-purpose, medical evacuation, and medical treatment.

The two medical variants equipped with improved features will provide a significant capability to treat soldiers on the front lines.

With greater mobility, force protection and on-board power, the Medical Evacuation variant (MEV) and the Medical Treatment variant (MTV) will ensure soldiers receive treatment quickly.

The medical vehicles can go to the front lines to enable rapid response to treat the injured soldiers and move them to safety.

The enhanced strength and manoeuvrability will allow the vehicles to carry out missions on their own without much dependence on other fighting vehicles for protection.

BAE Systems AMPV programme manager Bill Sheehy said: “The ability of the AMPV to get to the front lines with other combat vehicles means the medical variants will give commanders more options on the battlefield to rescue soldiers who are hurt while remaining engaged in the fight.

“From a soldier’s perspective, the army’s investment in the medical vehicles underscores our country’s commitment to ensure soldiers are protected and have the resources to quickly treat and evacuate those injured in battle.”

The company noted that the MEV and MTV will work together to evacuate casualties and treat life-threatening injuries.

BAE Systems AMPV programme manager Ruben Burgos said: “The AMPV medical vehicles are the first that can get right up on the front lines to evacuate soldiers, treat them and get them to safety.”

The firm stated that further details about the AMPV programme would be provided at the ongoing Association of the United States Army (AUSA) exhibition in Washington, DC.

11 October 2019

General Dynamics to unveil latest Stryker at AUSA

General Dynamics Land Systems will unveil the new Stryker A1 Medium Calibre Weapon System variant at the Association of the United States Army’s (AUSA) Annual Meeting & Exposition.

The new variant features a 30mm cannon that was successfully lived-fired last month. In May of this year, the US Army selected five companies – General Dynamics, Kollsman, Leonardo, Raytheon and Pratt & Miller – to integrate the increased firepower cannon on the Stryker.

General Dynamics described the new medium calibre Stryker as ‘the next generation of the Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle Dragoon (ICVD)’ which is currently in use with the US Army 2nd Cavalry Regiment based in Vilseck, Germany.

In a press release, the company said: “It provides a solution for the army’s operational need for greater lethality in the Stryker fleet. This low-risk, proven solution is ready to meet the army’s programme timelines.”

The US Army has been looking to increase the strength of the Stryker, including integrating different non-conventional weapons platforms. This push for an upgraded Stryker has also seen vehicles testing directed energy weapons systems.

The upgrade of the Stryker fleet became necessary after Russian military involvement in Ukraine posed a threat to NATO allies in Eastern Europe. Equivalent Russian vehicles in the region outgunned the US Stryker creating the need for boosted capabilities.

The Stryker first entered service in 2002 and has been used heavily by the US Military ever since, being deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan and by Special Forces in the fight against IS. Around a third of the US’s infantry forces use the Stryker.

Speaking at the 2019 Maneuver Warfighter Conference US Army Colonel Syd Hills said upgrades to the platform would help it keep up with ‘near-peer’ competitors.

The US Army also previously said: “Strykers have seen extensive service in the post-9/11 era, but the army has seen a need to prepare them for the battlefield challenges they’d face in combat against near-peer military adversaries.”

The eight-wheeled vehicle has seen numerous variants since its first deployment including anti-tank, infantry carrying, reconnaissance, and mortar variants. The new General Dynamics system will use a ‘double-v’ hull to increase protection from mines and improvised explosive devices.

Other systems General Dynamics is set to showcase at AUSA include the Iron Fist Light Active Protection System (APS) to defend vehicles from incoming threats, and the XM1113 Rocket Assisted Projectile (RAP) which will increase artillery range to up to 40km.

11 October 2019

US DoD and HackerOne launch second ‘Hack the Army’ challenge

The US Department of Defense (DoD) and bug bounty platform HackerOne have launched the second ‘Hack the Army’ challenge to identify vulnerabilities in government web assets.

The four-week challenge, which is the ninth bug bounty initiative with the DoD, will run until 8 November.

Led by the Defense Digital Service, ‘Hack the Army’ encourages hackers to find vulnerabilities in more than 60 publicly accessible web assets.

The crowdsourced security testing will help enhance the security of the systems.

Department of Defense Digital Service Digital Service Expert Alex Romero said: “It is our duty to ensure our citizens are protected from cyber threats, and finding new and innovative ways to do so is vital.

“Our adversaries are determined and creative, so we must be every bit more of both. This latest HackerOne challenge allows us to continue to harden the army’s attack surfaces with the talent and diverse perspectives of HackerOne’s vetted hacker community.”

The first Hack the Army challenge involved around 400 hackers from around the world. The hackers identified 118 vulnerabilities in the bug bounty initiative.

Army Cyber Command commanding general Stephen Fogarty said: “Opening up the army’s cyber terrain to the hacker community is exactly the type of outside-the-box, partnership approach we need to take to rapidly harden and better defend our most foundational weapons system: the army network.”

Active US military members and government civilians are invited to participate in the bug bounty challenge. The initiative is also open for participation to individuals authorised by HackerOne.

HackerOne CEO Marten Mickos said: “Over the past three years, our hackers have helped the DoD find and resolve more than 10,000 vulnerabilities, and we are excited to bring this new challenge to the uniquely talented hacker army up for the task.”