Infantry Carrier Vehicle

The U.S. Army announced on June 3, 2021 the award of the six-year requirements contract to Oshkosh Defense, LLC for the production and fielding of the Medium Caliber Weapons System (MCWS) for up to six Stryker Brigades. The first delivery order is for 91 vehicles valued at approximately $130 million, with a total potential contract value of $942 million over six-years.

Stryker Double V-Hull A1
The MCWS procurement was a full and open competition with a tiered requirements strategy. The outcome represents a best-value balance of cost, schedule and performance (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

«The MCWS Program of Record leverages upgrades and improvements from the Stryker Double V-Hull A1 Infantry Carrier Vehicle and lessons learned from the Stryker 2nd Cavalry Regiment Operational Needs Statement fielding», said Brigadier General Glenn Dean, the Army’s program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems. «It also incorporates real-time input from industry partners to provide state-of-the-art direct-fire lethality on a proven Stryker platform».

The MCWS is a 30-mm, unmanned turreted auto-cannon integrated on a Stryker DVHA1 Infantry Carrier Vehicle.

It builds upon the Army’s investment in maturing a 30mm weapon system, and the selection comes after completion of a robust competitive best value formal source selection, evaluating each competitor’s ability to meet technical and production requirements.

«The Army recognizes and appreciates the tremendous efforts and investments from the defense industrial base, partnering defense organizations and other industry partners contributing to the MCWS program», said Dean.

The evaluation of technical performance was achieved using production representative bid samples that vendors submitted for Government testing at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland.

In May 2019, the Army awarded five Design Integration Study (DIS) contracts and provided a Stryker Double V-Hull A1 Infantry Carrier Vehicle and XM813 cannon as Government-furnished equipment to contractors in order to facilitate industry design efforts and foster competition.

The MCWS procurement was a full and open competition with a tiered requirements strategy. The outcome represents a best-value balance of cost, schedule and performance.

Major features of the Stryker MCWS include the ability to transport nine infantry Soldiers and three crewmembers, and the integration of XM813 cannon onto a Stryker DVHA1 Infantry Carrier Vehicle platform allowing for programmable airburst ammunition compatibility through dual feed ammunition handling system, improved optics and extended direct-fire range over the current 30-mm temporary ONS solution.

Manufacturing of the MWCS will be performed in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, with deliveries beginning 12 months after award. The first Army unit will be equipped with the Stryker MCWS beginning in Fiscal Year 2023.

Flight III Destroyer

The first DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer to be built in the Flight III configuration, the future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), was successfully launched at Huntington Ingalls Industries, Ingalls Shipbuilding division, June 4.

USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125)
U.S. Navy launches first Flight III guided missile destroyer, the future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125)

The DDG-51 Flight III upgrade is centered on the AN/SPY-6(V)1 Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) and incorporates upgrades to the electrical power and cooling capacity plus additional associated changes to provide greatly enhanced warfighting capability to the fleet. The Flight III baseline begins with DDGs 125-126 and will continue with DDG-128 and follow on ships.

«Flight III ships will provide cutting edge Integrated Air and Missile Defense capability to include significantly greater detection range and tracking capacity. Launching the first Flight III ship, the future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), is another important step to delivering Flight III to the U.S. Navy», said DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class Program Manager, Captain Seth Miller.

The DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class Guided Missile Destroyer (DDG-51) is a multi-mission guided missile destroyer designed to operate offensively and defensively, independently, or as units of Carrier Strike Groups, Expeditionary Strike Groups, and Surface Action Groups in multi-threat environments that include air, surface and subsurface threats. These ships will respond to Low Intensity Conflict/Coastal and Littoral Offshore Warfare scenarios, as well as open ocean conflict, providing or augmenting power projection, forward presence requirements and escort operations at sea. Flight III is the fourth Flight upgrade in the 30+ year history of the class, building on the proud legacy of Flight I, II and IIA ships before it.

HII is currently constructing four other DDG-51 class ships, including the future USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG-121) and USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123) in the Flight IIA configuration, and the future USS Ted Stevens (DDG-128) and USS Jeremiah Denton (DDG-129) as Flight III ships. There are a total of 20 DDG-51 class ships under contract at both new construction shipyards.

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, sealift ships, support ships, boats, and craft.


Guided Missile Destroyers Lineup


Flight III

Ship Yard Launched Commissioned Homeport
DDG-125 Jack H. Lucas HIIIS 06-04-21
DDG-126 Louis H. Wilson, Jr. GDBIW
DDG-128 Ted Stevens HIIIS
DDG-129 Jeremiah Denton HIIIS
DDG-130 William Charette GDBIW
DDG-131 George M. Neal HIIIS
DDG-132 Quentin Walsh GDBIW
DDG-133 Sam Nunn HIIIS
DDG-134 John E. Kilmer GDBIW
DDG-135 Thad Cochran HIIIS
DDG-136 Richard G. Lugar GDBIW
DDG-137 John F. Lehman HIIIS


Aerial refueling mission

For the first time in history, the U.S. Navy and Boeing have demonstrated air-to-air refueling using an unmanned aircraft – the Boeing-owned MQ-25 T1 test asset – to refuel another aircraft.

MQ-25 T1
The Boeing MQ-25 T1 test asset transfers fuel to a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet on June 4, marking the first time in history that an unmanned aircraft has refueled another aircraft. The MQ-25 Stingray will assume the carrier-based tanking role currently performed by F/A-18s, allowing for better use of the combat strike fighters and helping extend the range of the carrier air wing (Photo by Kevin Flynn)

During a test flight June 4, MQ-25 T1 successfully extended the hose and drogue from its U.S. Navy-issued Aerial Refueling Store (ARS) and safely transferred jet fuel to a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet, demonstrating the MQ-25 Stingray’s ability to carry out its primary aerial refueling mission.

«This team of professionals was integral in the successful flight», said Rear Adm. Brian Corey, who oversees the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons. «Over the next few years, we will work side-by-side with Boeing to deliver this capability that will greatly enhance the future carrier air wing».

«This history-making event is a credit to our joint Boeing and Navy team that is all-in on delivering MQ-25’s critical aerial refueling capability to the fleet as soon as possible», said Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. «Their work is the driving force behind the safe and secure integration of unmanned systems in the immediate future of defense operations».

During the initial part of the flight, the F/A-18 test pilot flew in close formation behind MQ-25 to ensure performance and stability prior to refueling – a maneuver that required as little as 20 feet of separation between the MQ-25 T1 air vehicle and the F/A-18 refueling probe. Both aircraft were flying at operationally relevant speeds and altitudes. With the evaluation safely completed, the MQ-25 drogue was extended, and the F/A-18 pilot moved in to «plug» with the unmanned aircraft and receive the scheduled fuel offload.

The milestone comes after 25 T1 flights, testing both aircraft and ARS aerodynamics across the flight envelope, as well as extensive simulations of aerial refueling using MQ-25 digital models. MQ-25 T1 will continue flight testing prior to being shipped to Norfolk, Virginia, for deck handling trials aboard a U.S. Navy carrier later this year.

The Boeing-owned T1 test asset is a predecessor to the seven test aircraft Boeing is manufacturing under a 2018 contract award. The MQ-25 will assume the tanking role currently performed by F/A-18s, allowing for better use of the combat strike fighters and helping extend the range of the carrier air wing.

Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As the top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries and leverages the talents of a global supplier base. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.

MQ-25 is a trademark of the Department of the Navy.

Australian Apache

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Australia of AH-64E Apache Helicopters and related equipment for an estimated cost of $3.5 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on June 3, 2021.

AH-64E Apache
AH-64E Apache Helicopter

The Government of Australia has requested to buy:

  • twenty-nine (29) AH-64E Apache attack helicopters;
  • sixty-four (64) T700-GE 701D engines (58 installed, 6 spares);
  • twenty-nine (29) AN/ASQ-170 Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sight/AN/AAR-11 Modernized Pilot Night Vision Sensors (M-TADS/PNVS);
  • sixteen (16) AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars (FCR) with Radar Electronic Units;
  • twenty-nine (29) AN/APR-48B Modernized Radar Frequency Interferometers (MRFI);
  • seventy (70) Embedded Global Positioning Systems with Inertial Navigation Systems plus Multi-Mode Receiver (EGI+MMR) (58 installed, 12 spares);
  • thirty-five (35) AAR-57 Common Missile Warning Systems (CMWS) (29 installed, 6 spares);
  • seventy (70) AN/ARC-231A Very High Frequency/Ultra High Frequency (VHF/UHF) radios (58 installed, 12 spares);
  • eighty-five (85) AGM-114R Hellfire missiles; twenty-nine (29) M36E8 Hellfire Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM);
  • and two thousand (2,000) Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System Guidance Sections (APKWS-GS).

Also included are

  • AN/APR-39 Radar Signal Detecting Sets;
  • AN/AVR-2B Laser Detecting Sets;
  • AN/APX-123A Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) transponders;
  • IDM-401 Improved Data Modems;
  • Link-16 Small Tactical Terminal KOR-24-A;
  • Improved Countermeasure Dispensing System (ICMD);
  • AN/ARN-149 (V)3 Automatic Direction Finders;
  • Doppler ASN-157 Doppler Radar Velocity Sensors;
  • AN/APN-209 Radar Altimeters Common Core (RACC);
  • AN/ARN-153 Tactical Air Navigation Set (TACAN);
  • AN/PYQ-10(C) Simple Key Loader;
  • M230E1 + M139 AWS Automatic Gun;
  • M261 Rocket Launchers; M299 missile launchers;
  • 75-inch/70-mm rockets; 30-mm rounds;
  • High Explosive Warhead for airborne 2.75-inch/70-mm rockets, inert;
  • MK66-4 2.75-inch/70-mm rocket High Explosive warhead M151 fuze M423 motor;
  • MK66-4 2.75-inch/70-mm rocket warhead M274 motor;
  • MK66-4 2.75-inch/70-mm rocket motor;
  • M151HE 2.75-inch/70-mm warhead;
  • Manned-Unmanned Teaming-2 (MUMT-X) video receivers;
  • Manned-Unmanned Teaming-2 (MUMT-X) Air-Air-Ground kits;
  • training devices;
  • communication systems;
  • helmets;
  • simulators;
  • generators;
  • transportation and organization equipment;
  • spare and repair parts; support equipment;
  • tools and test equipment;
  • technical data and publications;
  • personnel training and training equipment;
  • S. Government and contractor technical assistance;
  • technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of program and logistical support.

The total estimated value is $3.5 billion.

The proposed sale will improve Australia’s capability to meet current and future threats, and will enhance interoperability with U.S. forces and other allied forces. Australia will use the enhanced capability to strengthen its homeland defense and provide greater security for its critical infrastructure. Australia will have no difficulty absorbing these Apache aircraft into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The prime contractors involved in this program will be Boeing, Mesa, Arizona; and Lockheed Martin, Orlando, Florida. The purchaser typically requests offsets. Any offset agreement will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and the contractor(s).

Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of eight (8) contractor representatives to Australia.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.


Technical Specifications

Length 58.17 feet/17.73 m
Height 15.24 feet/4.64 m
Wing Span 17.15 feet/5.227 m
Primary Mission Gross Weight 15,075 lbs./6,838 kg
Vertical Rate of Climb More than 2,000 feet/610 m per minute
Maximum Rate of Climb More than 2,800 feet/853 m per minute
Maximum Level Flight Speed More than 150 knots/172.6 mph/279 km/h


Christening of Canberra

The U.S. Navy has christened its newest Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the future USS Canberra (LCS-30), during a 12 p.m. CDT ceremony Saturday, June 5 in Mobile, Alabama.

USS Canberra (LCS-30)
Navy christened Littoral Combat Ship USS Canberra (LCS-30)

The Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator the Honourable Marise Payne, served as the ship’s sponsor. As she was unable to attend, His Excellency the Honourable Arthur Sinodinos, Australian Ambassador to the United States delivered the christening ceremony’s principal address. Mr. Todd Schafer, acting assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy (Energy, Installations, and Environment) and Vice Admiral Ricky Williamson, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics (N4) also provided remarks. In a time-honored Navy tradition, the Australian Ambassador’s wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Anne Sinodinos, broke a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow on behalf of Foreign Minister Payne.

«We christen the second USS Canberra named for the great capital city of Australia, our stalwart ally and superb naval partner», said acting Secretary of the U.S. Navy Thomas Harker. «In so doing we move one step closer to welcoming a new ship to Naval service and transitioning the platform from a mere hull number to a ship with a name and spirit. There is no doubt future Sailors aboard this ship will carry on the same values of honor, courage and commitment upheld by crews from an earlier vessel that bore this name».

LCS is a fast, agile, mission-focused platform designed to operate in near-shore environments, winning against 21st-century coastal threats. The platform is capable of supporting forward presence, maritime security, sea control, and deterrence.

The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom-variant and the Independence-variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin in Marinette, Wisconsin (for the odd-numbered hulls). The Independence-variant team is led by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama, (for LCS-6 and the subsequent even-numbered hulls).

LCS-30 is the 15th Independence-variant LCS and 30th in class. It is the second ship named in honor of the city of Canberra. The first USS Canberra (CA-70) was laid down as USS Pittsburgh on September 3, 1941 and renamed Canberra on October 15, 1942. She was named in honor of the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra, which sank after receiving heavy damage during the Battle of Savo Island. CA-70 was the first U.S. Navy cruiser named for a foreign capital. USS Canberra (CA-70) received seven battle stars for her service in World War II. In May 1958, Canberra served as the ceremonial flagship for the selection of the Unknown Serviceman of World War II and Korea. Canberra was decommissioned in a ceremony on February 2, 1970, at the San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard. One of her propellers is preserved at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, while the ship’s bell was donated to the Australian National Maritime Museum in 2001.


The Independence Variant of the LCS

Construction Hull and superstructure – aluminium alloy
Length overall 421 feet/128.3 m
Beam overall 103 feet/31.4 m
Hull draft (maximum) 14.8 feet/4.5 m
Complement Core Crew – 40
Mission crew – 36
Berthing 76 in a mix of single, double & quad berthing compartments
Maximum mission load 210 tonnes
Mission Bay Volume 118,403 feet3/11,000 m3
Mission packages Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Surface Warfare (SUW)
Mine Warfare (MIW)
Main engines 2 × GE LM2500
2 × MTU 20V 8000
Waterjets 4 × Wartsila steerable
Bow thruster Retractable azimuthing
Speed 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range 3,500 NM/4,028 miles/6,482 km
Operational limitation Survival in Sea State 8
Deck area >21,527.8 feet2/2,000 m2
Launch and recovery Twin boom extending crane
Loading Side ramp
Internal elevator to hanger
Launch/Recover Watercraft Sea State 4
Flight deck dimensions 2 × SH-60 or 1 × CH-53 or multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs/VTUAVs)
Hanger Aircraft stowage & maintenance for 2 × SH-60
Launch/Recover Aircraft Sea State 5
Standard 1 × 57-mm gun
4 × 12.7-mm/.50 caliber guns
1 × Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) launcher
3 × weapons modules



Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Independence (LCS-2) 01-19-2006 04-26-2008 01-16-2010 San Diego, California
USS Coronado (LCS-4) 12-17-2009 01-14-2012 04-05-2014 San Diego, California
USS Jackson (LCS-6) 08-01-2011 12-14-2013 12-05-2015 San Diego, California
USS Montgomery (LCS-8) 06-25-2013 08-06-2014 09-10-2016 San Diego, California
USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) 04-16-2014 02-25-2015 06-10-2017 San Diego, California
USS Omaha (LCS-12) 02-18-2015 11-20-2015 02-03-2018 San Diego, California
USS Manchester (LCS-14) 06-29-2015 05-12-2016 05-26-2018 San Diego, California
USS Tulsa (LCS-16) 01-11-2016 03-16-2017 02-16-2019 San Diego, California
USS Charleston (LCS-18) 06-28-2016 09-14-2017 03-02-2019 San Diego, California
USS Cincinnati (LCS-20) 04-10-2017 05-22-2018 10-05-2019 San Diego, California
USS Kansas City (LCS-22) 11-15-2017 10-19-2018 06-20-2020 San Diego, California
USS Oakland (LCS-24) 07-20-2018 07-21-2019 04-17-2021 San Diego, California
USS Mobile (LCS-26) 12-14-2018 01-11-2020 05-22-2021 San Diego, California
USS Savannah (LCS-28) 09-20-2018 09-08-2020
USS Canberra (LCS-30) 03-10-2020 03-30-2021
USS Santa Barbara (LCS-32) 10-27-2020
USS Augusta (LCS-34)
USS Kingsville (LCS-36)
USS Pierre (LCS-38)


Ship-to-Shore Connector

The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of the next generation landing craft, Ship to Shore Connector (SSC), Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) 102, June 3.

Ship-to-Shore Connector
U.S. Navy Accepts Delivery of Ship to Shore Connector, Landing Craft, Air Cushion 102

Delivery follows successful completion of Acceptance Trials with the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey to test the readiness and capability of the craft and to validate requirements.

«SSC provides the Navy and Marine Corps team with the capability and capacity needed to execute a range of complex missions with agility and speed», said Captain Cedric McNeal, program manager, Amphibious Warfare Programs, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. «With increases in performance and reliability, this next generation craft will meet the needs of the fleet for years to come».

LCACs are built with similar configurations, dimensions, and clearances to legacy LCAC, ensuring the compatibility of this next-generation air cushion vehicle with existing well deck equipped amphibious ships, as well as the Expeditionary Transfer Dock.

The SSC program is now in serial production with LCACs 103-115 making progress on the production lines at Textron Systems in Slidell, Louisiana.

SSC training craft, LCACs 100 and 101 are in the initial operator training pipeline and are in post-delivery test and trials at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division.

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, boats and craft.



Payload 74 t/ 163,142 lbs.
Speed 35 knots/40 mph/65 km/h at Sea State 3
Deck Area 67 x 24 feet (1,608 sq feet)/20.42 x 7.32 m (149.39 sq m)
Operating Crew Four (pilot, co-pilot, load master and deck engineer)
Overall Height 5 feet/1.52 m
Overall Length 92 feet/28.04 m
Overall Beam 48 feet/14.63 m
Propulsion Four gas turbine engines
Service Life 30 years


Combat Support Ship

On the 2nd of June Damen Shipyards Galati has performed the keel-laying ceremony on the Combat Support Ship (CSS) HNLMS Den Helder (A834). This marks an important milestone in the construction of this new supply ship for the Royal Netherlands Navy. The keel laying ceremony was performed by the Director Defence Material Organisation (DMO), vice admiral Arie Jan de Waard and vice admiral Rob Kramer, Commander Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN).

HNLMS Den Helder (A834)
Keel-laying ceremony of the Combat Support Ship HNLMS Den Helder (A834)

The yard carried out the steel cutting for this new vessel in December last year. Following the keel-laying, all the building blocks for the actual construction of the ship in Romania are now ready. The engineering of the CSS has been largely carried out in the Netherlands. Damen Naval division director Hein van Ameijden emphasizes that it is mainly the cooperation with companies from the existing naval construction chain that makes the innovative construction of Dutch naval ships possible: «More than a year after signing the contract for this ship, Damen Naval has concluded 116 purchase contracts, of which 82 are with Dutch suppliers. These are with companies coming mostly from the Rijnmond and Zeeland areas. It is this entire chain of companies that contributes to the construction of this new ship for the RNLN».

Besides emphasizing the close cooperation between all parties involved, the keel laying also has a traditional value. In the past, a coin was placed under the wooden mast for prosperity. Nowadays, with the ships made of steel, the coin is placed under the keel block. Both admirals performed this operation for the CSS, placing a coin from 1822 for the occasion. This was an important year for the RNLN, in which, after various plans and initiatives for fort building in the Napoleonic era, the marine establishment with drydock in Den Helder was transferred to their ownership.

The next important ceremonial milestone is the naming of the vessel, but not before the building of the ship is completed in 2023. After commissioning, testing and shipyard trials the ship will sail to Den Helder, where the accessories and the combat management system will be installed before the ship is transferred to the navy in 2025.

The ship was designed in close collaboration with the DMO and the RNLN. It is based on the Joint Support Ship HNLMS Karel Doorman (A833), previously built by Damen. The nearly 180-metre-long ship will have a 75-person standard crew and can take an additional 85 people on board. In addition to space for fuel and munition to supply other ships, there is room for several helicopters and twenty containers.

Multipurpose Munition

Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, and Saab, proved the versatility and performance of the Guided Multipurpose Munition (GMM), which was fired from multiple launchers during a U.S. Army demonstration.

Guided Multipurpose Munition (GMM)
Disposable launcher and Carl-Gustaf recoilless rifle score direct hits

The GMM System Capability Demonstration, a joint activity between Saab and Raytheon Missiles & Defense, was funded by the U.S. Army under a U.S. Government Rapid Innovation Funding (RIF) effort aimed at supporting the development of promising technologies that address military capability to meet operational needs. This was a three-year contract that culminated in a live-fire demonstration in November 2020.

«The GMM’s effectiveness and flexibility to fire from multiple launchers provides soldiers an advantage in accuracy and lethality in multi-domain operations», said Tom Laliberty, vice president of Land Warfare & Air Defense, a Raytheon Missiles & Defense business. «We’re closer to delivering this much-needed weapon to ground forces around the globe».

From an enclosure, the GMM, formerly known as the Guided Carl-Gustaf Munition, was fired from both an AT4-derived disposable launcher and the Saab-built Carl-Gustaf recoilless rifle, defeating different targets at distances from 1,550 to 2,500 meters/5,085 to 8,202 feet. The live-fire exercise demonstrated the munition’s fully integrated warhead and fuze against multiple targets, as well as its extended range precision and effectiveness from multiple launchers. The targets were triple brick wall, double-reinforced concrete wall, and up-armored vehicle.

«The GMM marks the next step in the evolution of our shoulder-launched systems. It is the most advanced munition yet and will offer greater precision, outstanding performance with pin-point accuracy, and multi-target capability», says Görgen Johansson, head of Saab’s Dynamics business area.

The GMM is the first precision-guided munition for Saab’s Carl-Gustaf recoilless rifle, which is fielded in the U.S. and around the world. With the disposable launcher, which is a portable, single-use system, the GMM provides a valuable capability to squad and platoon level troops.

During a U.S. Army demonstration, Raytheon Missiles & Defense and Saab proved the versatility and performance of the Guided Multipurpose Munition, which was fired from multiple launchers

Artificial Intelligence

The Royal Navy is using Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the first time at sea in a bid to defeat missile attacks.

HMS Lancaster (F229), HMS Dragon (D35) and HMS Argyll (F231)
HMS Lancaster (F229), HMS Dragon (D35) and HMS Argyll (F231)

Leading-edge software is being tested at sea against live missiles during the largest exercise of its type off the coasts of Scotland and Norway.

Involving more than 3,000 military personnel, Formidable Shield tests the ability of NATO warships to detect, track and defeat incoming missiles, from sea-skimming weapons travelling at twice the speed of sound just above the waterline, to ballistic missiles.

Three Royal Navy warships are taking part in the exercise, which runs until early June: destroyer HMS Dragon (D35) and two frigates, Lancaster and HMS Argyll (F231).

HMS Lancaster (F229) and HMS Dragon (D35) are trialing artificial intelligence and machine learning applications which offer a glimpse of the future of air defence at sea.

Experts from the Government’s defence laboratory Dstl and industry partners from Roke, CGI and BAE Systems are using the three-week exercise to test their ‘Startle’ and ‘Sycoiea’ systems.

Startle is designed to help ease the load on sailors monitoring the ‘air picture’ in the operations room by providing real-time recommendations and alerts.

Sycoiea builds upon this and is at the forefront of automated Platform and Force Threat Evaluation Weapon assignment, effectively allowing operations room teams to identify incoming missiles and advise on the best weapon to deal with them more quickly than even the most experienced operator.

Above Water Tactician Leading Seaman Sean Brooks aboard HMS Lancaster (F229) is among those who was impressed by the software.

«I was able identify missile threats more quickly than usual and even outwit the operations room»! he said.

Although experiments with AI have been conducted before, this is the first time it’s been tested against live missiles, said Lancaster’s Weapon Engineer Officer Lieutenant Commander Adam Leveridge.

«Observing Startle and Sycoiea augment the human warfighter in real time against a live supersonic missile threat was truly impressive – a glimpse into our highly-autonomous future».

Alasdair Gilchrist, programme manager for Dstl said it was «imperative» that Britain continued to invest in the combat systems installed on Royal Navy warships to ensure they meet present and future challenges.

«Being able to bring get the AI onto the ships is a massive achievement, and while we can prove the AI works in the labs, actually getting Navy personnel hands on is brilliant», he said.

Lancaster’s Commanding Officer Will Blackett said the scale of Formidable Shield and the assets and technology involved – the latest drones, leading-edge missile systems and sensors – coupled with the best-trained sailors, scientists and technicians made the exercise a hugely-beneficial experience for all.

«The scale of this endeavour is remarkable – NATO can bring some serious firepower to bear when it needs to and it is exciting to be part of the development of future tactics and equipment», he added.

While HMS Lancaster (F229) and HMS Dragon (D35) trial technologies brand new to the Fleet, HMS Argyll (F231) (the first ship in the Navy to be fitted with the Sea Ceptor air defence missile) has been testing upgraded software and developing tactics to push the limits of her Artisan Radar and Sea Ceptor as part of a task group.

«The sheer weight of hardware bought together in this exercise, and the chance to test the teams and systems against real-speed supersonic sea skimming and ballistic targets cannot be underestimated», said Lieutenant Commander Richard Dobson, HMS Argyll’s Principal Warfare Officer.

«It has built the confidence of the team, pushed the boundaries of what these highly capable systems can do, and will help develop our future tactics in missile defence».

Taking a quick break from dodging missiles the three Royal Navy ships found time to form up for a navigational exercise, demonstrating their ability to operate in close proximity to one another whilst conducting flying sorties with a Wildcat helicopter.

Hypersonic Strike System

The Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman team successfully conducted a significant live fire hypersonic strike system test in support of the U.S. Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) and U.S. Army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) programs.

Lockheed Martin successfully tests Navy’s Hypersonic Strike System

In this live fire ground test of the first stage solid rocket motor, the motor fired for the full trial duration and met performance parameters and objectives within anticipated ranges.

«We’re pleased to celebrate this important event with the U.S. Navy, Army and Northrup Grumman. This outcome today is due to our shared effort and determination to see this test on the Conventional Prompt Strike program succeed», said Steve Layne, Program Director of Conventional Strike Programs at Lockheed Martin. «This live fire event is a major milestone on the path to providing hypersonic strike capability to the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army warfighters».

Northrop Grumman developed the motor and Lockheed Martin serves as the prime weapon systems integrator to provide boost capability to the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army hypersonic strike missile.

«Northrop Grumman is proud to leverage our expertise in flight-proven solid rocket propulsion to support the nation’s efforts to develop an advanced end-to-end missile system capable of deterring emerging and future threats», said Charlie Precourt, vice president, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman.

CPS is a hypersonic boost glide missile and weapon system that enables long range flight with high survivability against enemy defenses. CPS and LRHW share a common all up round that can be launched from surface ships, submarines, and land-based mobile launchers. The U.S. Department of Defense has made developing hypersonic strike systems a top mission priority and Lockheed Martin’s investment in hypersonic innovation dates back more than 30 years.

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