Hellenic Rafale

On January 19, 2022 six Rafale of the Hellenic Air Force (HAF), operated by its pilots, took off from the Dassault Aviation site in Istres to the Tanagra Air Base, where they were welcomed in a ceremony by the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, accompanied by the Minister of National Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos and Senior Greek authorities. Éric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, was also present to welcome their arrival.

Hellenic Rafale
Rafale arrives in the Hellenic Air Force (HAF)

The entry into operational service in the Hellenic Air Force’s 332 Squadron of these first six Rafale aircraft comes as a proof of the quality of the partnership between France and Greece, and occurs only one year after the signature of the contract for 18 aircraft. It is a testimony to the excellent relation between French and Greek authorities as well as between the Hellenic Air Force and Dassault Aviation teams.

The expertise of the training provided, in particular by Dassault Aviation, at the Mérignac Conversion Training Center (CTC), to Greek pilots, mechanics and HAF technicians, undeniably contributes to the success of this first ferry. The training of personnel will continue in the coming months in France and Greece.

The delivery of the next HAF Rafale will start at the end of 2022 with the objective to have all the fleet deployed at Tanagra Air Base by the summer of 2023.

«The mastery with which the Hellenic Air Force carried out this first ferry flight is a testimony to the excellence of our cooperation and the strength of our historical relationship with Greece for more than 45 years. Thanks to our mobilization, we were able to meet the expectations of the Greek authorities in record time, who now have the Rafale on national territory to reinforce the protection and sovereignty of the country. It also attests to the outstanding quality of our aircraft, confirmed by its export success. Lastly, it reflects our total commitment to meeting the needs of the HAF and to participating in Greece’s strategic ambitions», declared Éric Trappier at the end of the ceremony.

Excalibur projectile

Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, in partnership with the U.S. Army and French company Nexter successfully fired Excalibur artillery projectiles from a CAESAR self-propelled howitzer. The test proved compatibility between Excalibur, the U.S. Army’s Modular Artillery Charge System (MACS) and CAESAR.

CAESAR howitzer
Raytheon Missiles & Defense’s Excalibur artillery projectile fired at record range from CAESAR howitzer

During the demonstration the CAESAR-fired Excalibur directly struck two targets at a distance of more than 46 kilometers/28.6 miles, a record setting range from the gun system.

«Integration with CAESAR now adds a level of mobility to the long-range and proven precision of Excalibur, providing the U.S. Army and partner nations more flexibility for this advanced, versatile weapons system for contested environments», said Sam Deneke, vice president of execution for Land Warfare & Air Defense at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. «This success highlights the interoperability of a French howitzer with a U.S. munition and offers our customers more options to deploy Excalibur artillery from a range of platforms».

Building on previous compatibility tests, this demonstration marked an important milestone toward operational capability for Excalibur’s integration with CAESAR.

«Chosen by eight partner nations, CAESAR is arguably the most successful truck mounted artillery system available today», said Thierry Soulat, program manager at Nexter. «This demonstration with Excalibur underscores CAESAR’s compatibility with NATO standards for both conventional and smart ammunition».

The Excalibur projectile is a true precision weapon, impacting at a radial miss distance of less than two meters from the target, providing accurate first-round effects at all ranges in all weather conditions. With its GPS-guided capabilities and multiple fuze modes, it is already a premiere artillery option for multiple countries using the M777, M109 series, M198, the Archer, the PzH2000, and the SIAC systems. Initial assessments indicate likely compatibility with the AS90, K9 and G6 howitzers.

Raytheon’s Excalibur artillery projectile fired at record range from CAESAR howitzer

New VBM Plus

The Iveco – Oto Melara Consortium (CIO) announces the signing of a contract to supply 14 Mortar Carrier VBMs, 26 Command Post VBMs (13 in Tactical Unit and 13 in Command Unit version), along with six «10×10» rescue and recovery vehicles.

VBM Plus
The Iveco – Oto Melara Consortium signs the contract for the Italian Army’s new VBM Plus

Signed on 30 December 2021, at the Secretary of Defence (Segredifesa) Land Armaments Directorate, the contract comes as part of the ongoing supply («Phase 2») of Medium Armoured Vehicles to the Italian Army’s Second Medium Brigade, and includes an upgrade to «Plus» version for the VBM platform, as well as long-term integrated logistics support for all platforms purchased.

The VBM Combat «Plus» version will see changes to both the vehicle and the turret. Changes to the vehicle include upgrading to common rail technology for the engine, taking it from 550 HP to 660 HP ready for a future hybridelectric traction system, and upgrades to the driveline, increasing growth potential by up to 15% compared to current levels.

As regards the turret, Leonardo is upgrading the fire control system, introducing latest generation electronic components capable of interfacing the new «Janus D» and «Lothar D» digital optic detection and aiming systems. The contract also includes the supply of a new digital intercom system and a fully upgraded CIS system with four-channel SDR VQ1 radio, as well as the new C2D/N Evo Command and Control system, both developed by Leonardo.

The new VBM Plus distinguishes itself by increased mobility, lethality and integrated Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I), allowing the Italian Army to face the challenges of the coming years with a truly state-of-the-art vehicle, integrated into the net-centric architecture of the digital battlefield. The vehicle will also be equipped with Galileo PRS technology developed in Italy as part of the European Union secure satellite navigation system. In specific terms this means the VBM will be equipped with a newly developed satellite receiver, the first of its kind capable of receiving secure satellite navigation services from both the U.S. GPS and European Galileo PRS systems.

In conclusion, the Iveco Defence Vehicles Recovery and Rescue platforms feature all-wheel drive over 5 axles, with three steering axles, FPT Industrial’s 680 HP Cursor 16 engine and a new-design cabin offering the highest crew protection standards. These vehicles can lift and move loads of up to 25 t from a stable platform and recover vehicles broken down, damaged or overturned with overall weight up to 32 t.

Light Utility Helicopter

Leonardo and the Directorate for Air Armaments and Airworthiness of the Italian Secretariat General of Defence/National Armaments Directorate signed 12 January 2022 the Acquisition Contract for the supply of AW169M Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) to the Austrian Ministry of Defence. The contract, valued at 346 million EUR, was signed in the framework of the Italy-Austria Government-to-Government (G2G) Agreement. It is aimed at reinforcing the bilateral collaboration between the two countries and establishing a strategic partnership in the rotorcraft sector, with Austria looking at Italy and the AW169M LUH programme for the replacement of its ageing fleet of Alouette III aircraft, which have been in service since the 1960s.

AW169M Light Utility Helicopters (LUH)
Leonardo and the Italian Secretariat General of Defence/National Armaments Directorate sign AW169M LUH helicopter Acquisition Contract for Austria

The programme envisages the delivery from Leonardo’s Vergiate final assembly plant (Northern Italy) of 18 helicopters – six AW169 in the ‘B’ variant, 12 in the ‘MA’ advanced multirole variant with integrated mission equipment and weapon systems – plus a comprehensive and customised support and training package. The helicopters will be able to carry out a wide range of missions supporting Austrian defence requirements and the national community, such as troop transport, combat operations, disaster relief and emergency response, fire-fighting, mountain rescue and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC). The first AW169M LUH is expected to be delivered before year end and all helicopter’ deliveries are expected to be completed by 2026. The contract also includes options for a further 18 helicopters. Austrian crews will leverage initial training delivered with the support of Italian Army’s and its expertise as an AW169M LUH operator, and will also benefit from the supply of dedicated training and simulation devices.

Yesterday’s signing marks the latest step thanks to the preliminary Government to Government (G2G) document, which was signed by the Italian Minister of Defence, Lorenzo Guerini and the Austrian Minister of Defence, Klaudia Tanner on 2 December 2021. Italian Minister of Defence, Lorenzo Guerini said: «We’re happy with this result which brings to a new phase of collaboration on procurement. It demonstrates the quality of Italian technology and products through international recognition. We really believe G2G is a highly effective industrial policy tool and a smart formula to support exports».

Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo, said: «We welcome the completion of the contractual phase of the G2G initiative between Italy and Austria with this latest step, which allows us to provide our contribution to supply the most technologically advanced and cost-effective solution to meet the stringent requirement set by the collaboration between the two governments. We look forward to start being an active part in the delivery of this important programme».

Gian Piero Cutillo, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters, said: «This contract is further testament to the superior performance, unmatched latest generation capabilities and the complete support and training solutions of the AW169M to perform true multirole operations, meeting the most demanding needs of operators and for their personnel’s effectiveness and safety. The type will ensure a significant leap forward for national defence and emergency response in Austria».

 

AW169M Helicopter

The AW169M is the military variant of the latest generation AW169 twin-engine helicopter, designed to the latest Federal Aviation Regulations/Joint Aviation Requirements/European Aviation Safety Agency (FAR/JAR/EASA) requirements as well as those standards of military, homeland security and government users. The platform features outstanding power, agility and manoeuvrability, which provides excellent handling characteristics in a wide range of operating conditions including hot and high. The unique transmission design provides power to hydraulic, electrical and air conditioning systems with the rotors stopped (Auxiliary Power Unit mode – APU mode) optimising response time and availability. The cabin is the most spacious in its class and features a constant height cross section for rapid reconfiguration and ease of access. Pilots benefit from a latest-generation, open-architecture avionics suite, including a fully-digital glass cockpit and unprecedented external visibility, providing advanced tactical and situational awareness. Customers worldwide have placed orders and options for over 300 AW169 helicopters today, including military and law enforcement/public service operators, to carry out a range of missions including utility, surveillance, special operations, maritime patrol, land reconnaissance, training, rescue and fire-fighting. In Italy, the adoption of the AW169M by operators among armed forces and government law enforcement agencies replacing many ageing models provides the advantage of unique logistical, operational and technical, certification and training commonalities and synergies across the growing AW169 fleets. This strengthens the possibility to perform effective and safe joint operations with other users of this modern type and represents a quantum leap in homeland security, emergency response capability and overall through-lifecycle costs/effectiveness for decades to come. More than 130 AW169s are already in service today and have logged in excess of 100,000 flight hours in operations worldwide.

German submarines

Sensor solutions provider HENSOLDT is equipping the German-Norwegian submarine project U212 CD with a fully digital sensor suite. The optronics division of HENSOLDT has now received a corresponding order worth over 50 million euros from kta naval systems, a consortium of Kongsberg, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systeme and Atlas Elektronik. The order comprises six optronic systems, consisting of an OMS 150 optronic mast system, an OMS 300 and an i360°OS panoramic surveillance system for each of the six submarines of the Norwegian and German navies. With the twin optronic mast solution, the clients opted for the technological leap from the conventional, traditional direct view of a periscope system to a completely hull-penetrating digital system solution.

U212 CD
HENSOLDT equips the German and Norwegian submarines of the kta consortium with a fully digital sensor suite (Photo: ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems)

HENSOLDT Optronics Managing Director Andreas Hülle says: «This combination provides the new submarines with sensor equipment that combines the highest detection capabilities even in poor visibility with a high degree of automation, thus significantly improving the boats’ ability to act and survive».

The combination of OMS 150 and OMS 300 is being commissioned for the first time for the U212 CD class. The OMS 150, in its multispectral version, will be used as a search and surveillance optronic mast. The OMS 300 stealth optronic mast takes over the so-called «attack» function. With the OMS 300, the developers at HENSOLDT have created an optronic mast that is difficult to detect visually and via radar, which significantly increases the safety of the crews. This multispectral optronic equipment provides the crew with the best visibility in all light and weather conditions, as well as a very wide range of operations. With this order from kta, HENSOLDT Optronics is further expanding its research and development in the field of optronic masts at the Oberkochen site.

Power Management

Airbus Crisa, an affiliate company of Airbus, has signed a contract for the development of the Power Management and Distribution (PMAD) system for the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) with Northrop Grumman.

Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO)
Airbus to develop the Power Management and Distribution System for key Lunar Gateway module

Airbus Crisa is a Spanish company founded in 1985 to design and manufacture electronic equipment and software for space applications, and engineering projects for ground stations. It is fully integrated into Airbus Defence and Space.

The new Lunar Gateway station, scheduled for launch in 2024, will initially have two modules and will be expanded in successive years to five modules. The station is intended to serve as a space laboratory as well as an intermediate logistics post for future trips to the surface of the Moon and on to Mars. The two initial modules are known as PPE and HALO. PPE (Power and Propulsion Element) has solar arrays that power the station and thrusters that allow it to maintain a stable orbit around the Moon. HALO is the Habitation and Logistics Outpost module where the astronauts will live during the estimated 40 days of the first missions.

«This contract worth more than $50 million reflects our ability to deliver highly specialised space equipment to global manufacturers and is our first contribution to the Moon-orbiting Gateway, which is part of NASA’s Artemis programme to return to the Moon», said Fernando Gómez-Carpintero, CEO of Airbus Crisa. «This is an exciting step as Airbus Crisa is designing the PMAD to become the standard modular power management system for all future space stations and human vehicles. We have provided a disruptive solution, with an architectural concept never before seen in the sector. This lays the foundations for a new international standard, placing the company at the forefront of the sector».

The PMAD has four power units and will manage the electricity from the solar panels of the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE). It will distribute the power to onboard equipment and the rest of the station as required, always ensuring the safety of the crew on board. The PMAD will power the life support system, the interior lighting, the communications systems and the scientific experiments. It will ensure that HALO’s battery remains at optimal levels and is ready for use when the panels do not receive sufficient sunlight. PMAD must also provide power to visiting vehicles when they dock.

Airbus Crisa is a key international player in the fields of power conversion digital control and energy management and distribution for satellite and launcher applications thanks to the experience gained in the challenging European Space Agency (ESA) exploration missions. This contract demonstrates its great potential to provide reliable flight products to U.S. manufacturers.

Near Future Submarine

Production activities for the first of 2 new-generation submarines, as part of the U212NFS (Near Future Submarine) acquisition program of the Italian Navy, started today at the Muggiano (La Spezia) shipyard.

U212NFS (Near Future Submarine)
Production activities on the first Italian Navy’s NFS submarine start

The program, which also envisages relevant in-service support, an option for 2 additional units, as well as the creation of a Training Center, is led by OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Cooperation en matiere d’Armement, the international organization for joint armament cooperation), in line with the most innovative management procedures, through life management and risk management.

The project is an evolution of the U212A program carried out in cooperation with the German ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, which resulted in the production of 4 submarines for Italy – Salvatore Todaro (S-526), Scirè (S-527), Pietro Venuti (S-528) and Romeo Romei (S-529), delivered by Fincantieri between 2006 and 2017 – and 6 for Germany. According to highly reliable analyses, the technological content of these air-independent propulsion submarines determined the shift in the balance between nuclear and conventional vessels in the postwar period.

The new submarines will be highly innovative, with significant design modifications which will all be developed independently by Fincantieri. The U212NFS program, which envisages the first two deliveries in 2027 and 2029, responds to the need to secure adequate underwater spatial surveillance and control capacity, considering the future complex scenarios of underwater operations and that the operational lifetime of the 4 Sauro class submarines, currently in service, is drawing near. It also aims at upholding and further developing Fincantieri’s acquired strategic and innovative industrial know-how, as well as consolidating the technological lead attained by the company and its supply chain, major industries, and small and medium-sized enterprises of the sector, enhancing the presence on board of technologically advanced component parts developed by Italian industries.

The submarines carry out many different tasks for the benefit of the community on a daily basis, preserving national interests and collective defense within the framework of the most important alliances in which the Italy participates, NATO and the EU. They range from purely military missions to operations pertaining to freedom of navigation, anti-piracy, keeping the energy supply routes safe (due to the presence of seabed resources or underwater infrastructure), observance of international law, fighting terrorism, defending external borders, and safeguarding maritime infrastructure, including essential off-shore and underwater infrastructure, not least preserving marine ecosystems.

DARPA OFFSET

Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business, recently supported the fifth OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics, or OFFSET, DARPA program field exercise. Using integrated swarm technology developed by a Raytheon BBN-led team, a single operator successfully controlled a swarm – composed of 130 physical drone platforms and 30 simulated drone platforms – both indoors and outdoors in an urban setting.

DARPA OFFSET
Raytheon BBN-led team recently supported DARPA’s fifth OFFSET program field exercise

During the exercise, the team used a combination of commercial off-the-shelf and custom-built hardware and software to deliver swarm autonomy. This enabled a single or small group of operators to direct and manage the activities of a large swarm of autonomous air and ground vehicles with minimal training.

«Controlling a drone swarm changes the way an operator or group of operators think about the drones», said Shane Clark, Raytheon BBN OFFSET principal investigator. «Takeaways from this exercise help inform us of the inflection points between utility and manageability».

A key element of the program is the use of inexpensive hardware. Without powerful computing and sensing capabilities available in larger more expensive platforms, Raytheon BBN needed to create a broad library of simple tactic building blocks used to create plans to accomplish mission objectives. Raytheon BBN also designed and configured a scalable, modular and decentralized approach to manage a variety of current and future platforms and missions. Whenever possible the drones collaborate actively to decide how to accomplish a specific mission most efficiently.

«Our software is smart enough to assign drones with the right capabilities to the appropriate set of tasks», Clark said. «For example, if the task is to surveil a building, multiple drones will be dispatched with each surveilling portions of the building. The software considers each platform’s sensor capabilities, and tasks drones with downward facing cameras to surveil the roof».

Once the drones are deployed, their collaboration allows them to understand what parts of a building have been explored and where the gaps are. They then autonomously select how to fill in those gaps.

To tackle the complexities of human swarm interfaces, the Raytheon BBN team created a virtual reality interface, in addition to traditional camera views. It takes feeds from all the swarm assets to create an interactive virtual view of the environment.

«You can look behind the building to access a view of drone locations for example and use the virtual reality environment to test and see if your mission is viable. We also developed a speech interface with the operationally deployed Tactical Assault Kit, or TAK, integration capability that enables the operator to act quickly while maintaining situational awareness over many systems simultaneously», Clark said.

The Raytheon BBN-led team includes Smart Information Flow Technologies, or SIFT, and Oregon State University. The team is contracted by DARPA to demonstrate its swarm capabilities during Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment 2022, hosted by the Army Maneuver Battle Lab.

Armoured combat capability

Enhancements to the Australian Defence Force’s credible combat capability will be delivered by the Government through the purchase of evolved Abrams tanks and combat engineering vehicles.

M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams
Enhancing the ADF’s armoured combat capability

Minister for Defence, the Hon Peter Dutton MP today announced a $3.5 billion investment in the Main Battle Tank Upgrade (LAND 907 Phase 2) and Combat Engineering Vehicle (LAND 8160 Phase 1) projects.

Army will receive up to 75 M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams tanks, 29 M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles, 17 M1074 Joint Assault Bridge Vehicles and an additional six M88A2 Armoured Recovery Vehicles.

Minister Dutton said the M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams would provide critical protection and firepower for the ADF in land operations.

«Teamed with the Infantry Fighting Vehicle, Combat Engineering Vehicles, and self-propelled howitzers, the new Abrams will give our soldiers the best possibility of success and protection from harm», Minister Dutton said.

«The M1A2 Abrams will incorporate the latest developments in Australian sovereign defence capabilities, including command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems, and benefit from the intended manufacture of tank ammunition in Australia. The introduction of the new M1A2 vehicles will take advantage of the existing support infrastructure, with significant investment in Australian industry continuing in the areas of sustainment, simulation and training», Minister Dutton said.

Chief of Army Lieutenant General Rick Burr AO, DSC, MVO said that tanks and combat engineering vehicles were essential to Australia’s ability to contribute to a credible land combat capability integrated with joint and coalition forces.

«The main battle tank is at the core of the ADF’s Combined Arms Fighting System, which includes infantry, artillery, communications, engineers, attack helicopters and logistics», Lieutenant General Burr said. «Because of their versatility, tanks can be used in a wide range of scenarios, environments and levels of conflict in the region. This system is the only part of the ADF that can successfully operate in medium to high-threat land environments. The M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams protection, accurate and lethal fire, mobility and situational awareness cannot be delivered by any other platform. There are no other current or emerging technologies – or combination of technologies – that can yet deliver the capability currently provided by a main battle tank».

The first vehicles will be delivered to Australia in 2024, with the projects expected to achieve Initial Operating Capability in 2025.

Gendarmerie Nationale

The French Armament General Directorate (DGA) has signed a contract, on behalf of the Ministry of Interior, for the procurement and maintenance of 10 H160s in a law enforcement configuration for the Gendarmerie Nationale. Linked to the contract for the procurement of 169 H160Ms for the French Ministry of Armed Forces, this order is part of the Stimulus plan to support the national aeronautical industry announced by the French government in 2020.

H160
France becomes first H160 law enforcement customer

«The French Ministry of Interior contract is an important milestone for the H160. We now have customers for the offshore transportation, private and business aviation, search and rescue and law enforcement mission segments, showing that the H160 is a truly versatile aircraft», said Bruno Even, CEO Airbus Helicopters. «Developing this new configuration for the H160 in cooperation with an experienced customer like the Gendarmerie Nationale is key to the success of the programme».

France is the first country to order the H160 for law enforcement missions. The H160s for the Gendarmerie Nationale will be equipped with a Safran Euroflir 410 electro-optical system, winching, and fast roping capabilities. The air force command centre of the Gendarmerie Nationale and Airbus Helicopters are also working closely together to develop a tailored mission management system.

The French Gendarmerie Nationale already operates a wide fleet of Airbus helicopters from the H125, H135 and H145 families. On top of its improved performances and advanced mission systems, the H160 will bring a new troop transport capability for the French Ministry of Interior’s security forces, mainly tactical units, such as the Gendarmerie Nationale’s Intervention Group (GIGN). The first H160s will be delivered before the Olympic Games that will take place in Paris in 2024.

The first of a new generation of helicopter, the EASA-certified H160 benefits from a low cost of operations and optimized flight safety. With its light maintenance plan aligned between engine and aircraft, the H160 optimizes operating costs and offers a new standard in availability. The Gendarmerie’s H160s will benefit from a global support contract to be managed by Airbus Helicopters including technical support, spare parts stocks on four Gendarmerie bases, and connected services.

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