Thursday, August 25, 2005

Off the Wire, 8/25

Advance Made in UK's Future Weapons System

Source: UK Ministry of Defense

The award of a contract for risk reduction of technologies that may be used to equip the British Army's next generation of armored fighting vehicles was announced by the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD).
A contract has been placed by Atkins, the Future Rapid Effects System (FRES) systems house, with General Dynamics (GD) UK Ltd. for a one of the Chassis Concept Technology Demonstrator Programs (TDP). The intention is to demonstrate the readiness of electric-drive technology and to enable better understanding of the challenges of integrating potential electronic-architecture solutions onto a vehicle chassis.
The FRES program is the most significant armored vehicle project for the next decade. It will provide a family of medium-weight, armored fighting vehicles to fulfill a wide range of roles. The FRES will be an integral part of an interoperable network.
TDP contracts have recently been placed with the UK Defense Science and Technology Laboratory for capacity and stowage and with Akers Krutbruk for hard-kill defensive-aids suites (HKDAS). Other TDPs are currently being negotiated or planned. The TDPs form part of the overall integrated technology-acquisition program (ITAP), which enables the MoD to best assess the maturity of technologies that may have benefit for the FRES program. A key consideration will be the ability for potential technologies either to mature in time for inclusion in early FRES vehicles, or to incrementally upgrade the capability by exploiting new technologies in response to changing threats.
The FRES is the first of the British Army's transformational capabilities and is at the heart of the service's equipment program. It will have wide operational utility, from peacekeeping to warfighting, and will both equip the Army's medium-weight forces and provide key support roles to its heavy force.
Delivery of the FRES will enable the elimination of current vehicles such as CVR(T), FV 432, and Saxon from the inventory as soon as possible.

For more on the UK MoD's future, see UK MoD Discusses Modernization Plans and UK Defense Secretary Outlines Army Future.


US Army's GMLRS Rockets Tested in Iraq

Source: Lockheed Martin

Fire units of Battery Bravo, 3rd Battalion, 13 Artillery Regiment, US Army, successfully conducted the first in-theater tests of the Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, MD) Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) Unitary rockets recently in Iraq.
Seven GMLRS Unitary rockets were ripple-fired from a 65-km distance and reached the target. Test objectives included demonstrating the GMLRS Unitary-rocket precision capability, and also demonstrated its lethality while limiting collateral damage.
During its testing phase, the GMLRS Unitary missile performed in 12 separate flights in 14 months.
Guided MLRS Unitary integrates a 196-lb. unitary warhead into the GMLRS rocket, giving battlefield commanders the ability to attack targets up to 70 km away. This program is intended to help reduce collateral damage by providing enhanced accuracy to ensure delivery of the warhead to the target.
The system-design-and-development (SDD) phase of this program was preceded by a successful system demonstration in 2002 of a Quick Reaction Unitary Rocket and a nine-month Component Advanced Development program. The Guided Unitary SDD program will continue through 2007.

For more on GMLRS, see UK Becomes First International GMLRS Customer and US Army Receives First GMLRS Rockets.


Upgraded P-3 Orion Delivered to New Zealand

Source: L-3 Communications

L-3 Communications (New York, NY) announced today that its Integrated Systems (L-3 IS) subsidiary has delivered an upgraded P-3 Orion aircraft to the New Zealand Ministry of Defense two months before the scheduled delivery date of late October 2005. The aircraft is operated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
According to New Zealand Defense Minister Mark Burton, the Orions are critical for the surveillance of New Zealand's exclusive economic zone and surrounding waters, the Southern Ocean, and the Ross Sea. "We use our Orions for surface patrol, to look for illegal fishing, for search-and-rescue operations, and recently they were in the Arabian Sea area in support of the international campaign against terrorism," Burton said.
The first three of the six-aircraft upgrade program have early installation of electro-optical systems, which provide an increase in visual- and infrared-detection capabilities as an interim benefit prior to the full aircraft upgrade. The first of three P-3 Orions with early installation of the electro-optics systemal was delivered in mid-August, two months ahead of schedule.
As part of the New Zealand P-3 Systems Upgrade Project, a contract was awarded to L-3 IS in October 2004 and included upgrades to the P-3 Orion's mission systems and communication and navigation equipment. For the early installation, L-3 IS used L-3 Communications Wescam's MX-20 imaging turret system with both video capabilities and an infrared camera.
Work continues on the additional aircraft and includes the replacement of the data management, sensor, communications, and navigation systems, and the provision of associated ground systems. The last aircraft upgrade under the contract is scheduled for completion in 2010.

For more on P-3C Orions, see the post Orions With Dry Feet.


Falcon III Radio Receives NSA Certification

Source: Harris Corp.

Harris Corp. (Rochester, NY), a supplier of software-defined tactical radios for worldwide defense forces, has received certification from the US National Security Agency (NSA) for its new multiband, multimission Falcon III Handheld tactical radio. Along with this certification, the radio has received its official US government nomenclature: AN/PRC-152.
The AN/PRC-152 utilizes the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) software communications architecture (SCA) and is the first radio utilizing the JTRS SCA operating environment to receive NSA certification for the protection of voice and data traffic up through the Top Secret level.
The new capabilities include programmable communications security (COMSEC) and SCA to allow the addition of future JTRS waveforms.
An embedded GPS is offered as an option on the radio. Also, a vehicular-adapter option is offered to allow the AN/PRC-152 to be installed in the US-standard combat net-radio mount and used as a vehicular radio.
The AN/PRC-152 is the first system to be certified using the Harris Sierra II software-programmable encryption module. Sierra II – a reprogrammable cryptographic device that can be embedded in a variety of voice and data products – received NSA certification last year.

For more on US military radio acquisitions, see Alternatives Sought Amid JTRS Delays.


South Korea Gets ECM Training Tool

Source: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman (Rolling Meadows, IL) has completed an in-country reprogramming-tool training for representatives of the Republic of (South) Korea Air Force and Boeing (St. Louis, MO) on the operation and programming of its AN/ALQ-135M electronic-countermeasures system, which is an automatic, internally mounted electronic combat system that manages and defeats multiple threats simultaneously, prioritizing and neutralizing the most imminent dangers.
The reprogramming tool was introduced during a recent training class held at the company's Rolling Meadows, IL, facility where the ALQ-135M is produced. The four-week class included discussion on overall operation of the ALQ-135M system, instructions on how to input data into the reprogramming tool to program system functions, and hands-on programming exercises.
The ALQ-135 "M" configuration improves on heritage ALQ-135 systems by replacing multiple processors with a new PowerPC-based system that offers speed and memory enhancements. The ALQ-135M also makes use of microwave power-module transmitter technology to reduce weight and boost performance.
Northrop Grumman is under contract to Boeing to provide training in support of the in-country reprogramming-tool delivery later this year. So far, the company has delivered more than 25% of production hardware under a 40-aircraft procurement of the ALQ-135M for use aboard South Korea's F-15K, the latest version of the fighter aircraft that began flight testing in early March.

For more on EW for ROK F-15Ks, see EW Suite Flies on New Korean F-15K.


Additional Chemical Detectors for Strykers

Source: Smiths Detection

Smiths Detection (Watford, UK) has teamed with Patlon Aircraft & Industries Limited (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) in capturing new contracts for more than 420 chemical-detector vehicle-assembly kits for the Stryker vehicle produced by General Dynamics Land Systems (Sterling Heights, MI). The kits will meet the operational requirement that enable the GID-3 chemical-agent detectors from Smiths Detection to be fitted to Stryker vehicles in service with US forces.
The supply of these GID-3 ancillary items is a follow-on award after an initial contract, won in 2001, to equip 2,131 Stryker vehicles in service with six US Army brigades. The ancillary items include chemical-detector mounts, inlet assemblies, remote alarm assemblies, inlet and exhaust pipes, and syringe and confidence kits. The kit will be supplied by Smiths Detection's Watford, UK, facility.

For more on Stryker enhancements, see Stryker Improvements on the Way.


Kuwait Seeks Support for F/A-18 Operations

Source: US Defense Security Cooperation Agency

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on Aug. 22, 2005, notified the US Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Kuwait of continuing logistics support, contractor maintenance, and technical services in support of the F/A-18 aircraft, as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $295 million.
The government of Kuwait has requested a possible sale of continuing logistics support, contractor maintenance, and technical services in support of the F/A-18 aircraft to include contractor engineering/technical services, contractor maintenance support, avionics software, engine-component improvement and engine spare parts, technical ground-support equipment, spare and repair parts, supply support, publications and technical data, engineering-change proposals, US government and contractor technical- and logistics-personnel services, and other related elements of program support.
The government of Kuwait needs the contractor technical, maintenance, and logistical services to maintain the operational capabilities of its aircraft, previously procured from the US. These contractor services will provide for a continuation of the required logistics support through 2011.
The contractor maintenance and training technical services will not alter the basic military balance in the region. The principal contractors participating in this proposed sale are Dyncorp (Ft. Worth, TX), Boeing (St. Louis, MO), and Anteon (Fairfax, VA). There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 50 contractor representatives in Kuwait to maintain continuity in the program support through 2011.

For more on the F/A-18 Hornet, see Stacking the Deck.


Comms System Delivered for UK's ASTOR

Source: Cubic Defense Applications

Cubic Defense Applications (San Diego, CA) and its UK partner, Ultra Electronics, recently delivered the final unit of Cubic's Airborne Standoff Radar (ASTOR) Narrowband Data Link System (NDLS) to Raytheon Systems Ltd., which will integrate the narrowband datalink into the ASTOR system and deliver fully integrated systems to the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD). Cubic's datalink is part of a major new battlefield-surveillance platform scheduled to enter service in 2006.
The deliveries fulfill the production portion of Cubic's $46-million contract with Raytheon Systems Ltd., prime contractor for the ASTOR program. The UK MoD purchased a total of nine datalink systems with spares, along with a 10-year service support commitment for the hardware. The 10-year support effort begins this year.
Cubic's ASTOR NDLS provides broadcast communications in near-real time from surveillance aircraft to ground stations and other military systems. Each NDLS includes both ground data terminals and air data terminals.

For more on the ASTOR program, see First UK-Modded ASTOR Aircraft Takes Flight.


Viper Strike in Development for Spectre

Source: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman (Baltimore, MD) has been awarded a sole-source contract from the US Special Operations Command to develop the Viper Strike as a stand-off precision-guided munition (SOPGM) on the AC-130 gunship.
The $22-million contract is an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration program with a potential full value of $48.6 million.
The Viper Strike is a gliding munition capable of stand-off precision attack using GPS-aided navigation and a semi-active laser seeker. It is intended for operations that require a flexible angle of inclination (steep or shallow), particularly in mountainous terrain or built-up areas where strict rules of engagement are in force. Its small size and precision provide for low collateral damage in cluttered urban environments.
The first phase of the contract will demonstrate the use of the SOPGM from the gunship and begin development of operations concepts, as well as launcher and battle-management systems to optimize use of the precision munition. The second phase will demonstrate and assess the military utility of the SOPGM weapon system on the AC-130, along with expanding its capability to include a datalink for two-way communications with the munition.
Work on this contract will be performed primarily out of Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems facilities in Huntsville, AL, and will be incrementally funded. The first phase of the program is scheduled to be completed in December 2006.

For more on possible platforms for Viper Strike, see US Army UAV Programs in Flux.


Work to Begin on Gripen's Meteor Missiles

Source: Gripen International

With precision-guided munitions testing essentially complete, the Gripen weapons-integration development team will soon start work with the Meteor advanced beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM).
Throughout late 2004 and into 2005, much of the Gripen test team’s development work has been focused on meeting the needs of the Czech and Hungarian Air Forces. This same work is linked with the Swedish Air Force’s own requirements and will ensure that all Gripen operators have a common capability standard for weapons and systems.
The Gripen’s weapons system is almost fully cleared for service and will be one of the core capabilities delivered to the Hungarian Air Force. To date, the Czech Air Force has not contracted for an air-to-ground weapons fit, but Czech pilots will still be able to train for the air-to-ground role using the Gripen’s existing onboard systems.
Hungarian Gripens will be cleared to use the Litening III laser-designation pod, along with GBU-10, GBU-12, and GBU-16 Paveway II laser-guided bombs. The Gripens will have a full night-attack/all-weather precision-guided-munition (PGM) capability. For the air-to-air mission, Hungary plans to acquire the latest model of the Raytheon AIM-120C-5 AMRAAM beyond-visual-range (BVR) missile. In December 2004, the Hungarian Ministry of Defense announced that it intended to acquire 40 AMRAAMs. The Gripen is already cleared for the AIM-120B variant, so only a small amount of integration work will be needed to qualify the AIM-120C. Hungary will issue a tender for more air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons during 2005. These are expected to include the AGM-65 Maverick missile and a new short-range air-to-air missile – weapons for which the Gripen is already cleared.
Two more elements of the Gripen’s future weapons capability will start their system testing later this year. The first of these is the Cobra helmet-mounted display (HMD). Using the HMD, a Gripen pilot will be able to use the next-generation of agile dogfight air-to-air missiles to full effect. The HMD will also be able to designate targets on the ground for PGM attacks.
In May the Gripen test team plans to start initial flight tests with the MBDA Missile Systems Meteor BVRAAM. The Gripen will undertake all the initial live-firing trials of the ramjet-powered Meteor, with the first launch scheduled for late 2005.

For more on Gripen, see Gripen Settles In.

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