Named for the ancient Greek god of war, Ares delivers a step-change in the British Army’s battlefield capability. Last week, the first six vehicles were delivered to the Household Cavalry Regiment at Bulford, Wiltshire.
Ares, and the other variants in the Ajax family of armoured vehicles, will replace the Army’s Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) (CVR(T)) vehicles which have been the mainstay of armoured reconnaissance for almost fifty years.
CVR(T) has proved itself on the battlefield in the Falklands and the in the deserts of the Middle East, but now requires a replacement to maintain the Army’s position as a top tier performer and to match the needs of the twenty-first century.
The Ajax family consists of Ares a troop-carrying reconnaissance vehicle, Ajax armed with a formidable 40-mm cannon, support variants Apollo and Atlas, a command and control variant Athena, and an engineer variant – Argus.
Ares, part of the Ajax family of armoured vehicles, is being built by General Dynamics in Merthyr Tydfil, bringing hundreds of jobs and wider opportunities to Wales. The vehicles will give the Army’s Armoured Infantry and Strike Brigades a critical advantage over any likely opponent, through a combination of the latest technology, exemplary levels of crew protection, and, of course, our world-class professional soldiers.
Colonel Justin Kingsford, the Ajax Programme Director said: «This is an exciting moment for the Army. The delivery of Ares this week is an important step on our journey to give the Army an amazing state of the art, world beating Armoured Fighting Vehicle».
Describing the vehicle in greater depth, he went on to say: «Ajax will allow us to manage battlespace information faster from a modern digitised platform, with increased lethality through the new 40-mm cannon. Better mobility, alongside enhanced protection levels and increased reliability underline the transformational nature of the capability. A comprehensive simulated training suite supports this fleet and ensures we invest fully in our crews to get the very best of this capability».
On July 27, 2020, five Indian Air Force Rafale operated by Indian Air Force pilots took off from Dassault Aviation Mérignac facility to ferry to Ambala Air Force Station for entering service in N°17 Squadron «Golden Arrows».
After a complete training of Indian pilots and technicians by Dassault Aviation, with the French Air Force participation, the Indian Air Force will fully perform this first ferry, including an air-to-air refueling, with the dedicated support of the French Air Force.
Together with His Excellency Shri Jawed Ashraf, Ambassador of the Republic of India in France, Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, congratulated the Indian Air Force team present in France since almost 3 years, for successful management of the program.
He also complimented the trainees who joined for more than a year on their outstanding ability to master the aircraft.
The whole attendance then saluted the departure of the Rafale.
«I am strongly impressed by the amazing efficiency and determination of the Indian Air Force and Indian Ministry of Defense, despite this unprecedented world health crisis, to master rapidly all aspects of the Rafale for comforting Indian sovereignty and contributing to the protection and security of Indian people, stated Eric Trappier. This new milestone illustrates once again the exemplary cooperation between Dassault Aviation and the Indian Air Force, started in 1953, and reasserts our total commitment to fulfill Indian Air Force requirements for the decades to come, and to be part of India’s ambitious vision for the future».
This first ferry testifies that the program is running smoothly and that deliveries are on time in spite of COVID-19 pandemic.
It initiates the induction of the Rafale in the Indian Air Force, in the frame of the contract of 36 aircraft, and paves the way to fulfill the present and future needs and requirements of the Government of India.
The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) has awarded multiple Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contracts to The Boeing Co., General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems, Inc., and Northrop Grumman Systems Corp.
These initial awards will establish a vendor pool that will continue to compete for up to $400 million in subsequent delivery orders in support of the Skyborg Vanguard Program.
The aim of the Skyborg Vanguard program is to integrate autonomous attritable Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) technology with open missions systems to enable manned-unmanned teaming. This will provide a game-changing capability to the warfighter. The attritable UAV line of effort awarded by this contract will provide the foundation on which the Air Force can build an airborne autonomous ‘best of breed’ system that adapts, orients, and decides at machine speed for a wide variety of increasingly complex mission sets.
«Because autonomous systems can support missions that are too strenuous or dangerous for manned crews, Skyborg can increase capability significantly and be a force multiplier for the Air Force», said Brigadier General Dale White, Program Executive Officer for Fighters and Advanced Aircraft, who, along with Brigadier General Heather Pringle, Commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), serves as the leadership for the Skyborg program. «We have the opportunity to transform our warfighting capabilities and change the way we fight and the way we employ air power».
Skyborg is one of three Vanguard programs identified late last year as part of the Air Force Science and Technology (S&T) 2030 initiative. These high priority Air Force capability development efforts come with an enterprise commitment to deliver game-changing capabilities to transform Air Force operations for the future force.
«Autonomy technologies in Skyborg’s portfolio will range from simple play-book algorithms to advanced team decision making and will include on-ramp opportunities for Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies», said Pringle. «This effort will provide a foundational Government reference architecture for a family of layered, autonomous, and open-architecture UAS».
The Vanguards are also introducing a novel early partnership between AFLCMC and AFRL due to the need to quickly identify cutting edge technology and transition directly into the hands of the warfighter.
«The greatest technological edge is for naught if the warfighter can’t use it on the battlefield. That makes the partnership between AFRL and AFLCMC so vital to this program. We can’t allow bureaucratic speed bumps to interfere with our mandate to deliver», White said.
On the 13th July, the operational version of the M-346 Fighter Attack, equipped with an optimised variant of Leonardo’s Grifo radar, successfully completed its maiden flight. The M-346FA is the new light attack variant from the Company’s M-346 Light Fighter Family of Aircraft (LFFA). It offers multirole capabilities with a single platform, cost-effectively delivering both training and combat roles.
Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Managing Director of Leonardo Aircraft, said: «I am extremely pleased with the work we have done to achieve this important milestone and the pace at which we have reached it. With this latest achievement, the most advanced training aircraft available on the market will soon be joined by the more versatile M-346 Fighter Attack. The M-346FA offers all of the advanced training capabilities of the core M-346 while also integrating latest generation sensors and equipment, allowing it to operate as an effective light attack aircraft. We will now continue development as we prepare to deliver the first aircraft to its international launch customer in 2021».
The aircraft’s primary sensor is Leonardo’s mechanically-scanning, multi-mode Grifo-M-346 radar, a specially-optimised variant developed by Leonardo for the M-346FA. The Grifo-M-346 is a reliable, high performance solution delivering great accuracy. The M-346FA is also protected by a complete Defensive Aids Sub-System (DASS), while its high-end, network-centric communications suite which incorporates a Secure Communications system and Tactical Data Link ensures interoperability. The platform can also employ LINK-16 in order to interoperate with NATO forces.
The M-346FA can employ an extensive range of air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry (including IR guided, radar and/or laser/GPS) and can be fitted with a gun pod, reconnaissance sensors and target designation pods and electronic warfare, all integrated with a Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) system for both pilots.
In the training domain, the M-346FA benefits from all the advanced features of the M-346 trainer, including the ability to integrate into live-virtual-constructive (LVC) environments. This involves linking the real training aircraft in the sky with simulators on the ground and incorporating virtual friendly and opposing forces, allowing trainee pilots to challenge a wide range of tactical scenarios.
The trainer version of the M-346 is currently in service with the air forces of Italy, Singapore, Israel and Poland.
July 22, 2020, Navantia successfully carried out at 17:22 hours the launching of AL-JUBAIL, the first of five corvettes built for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF). The ceremony was held in slipway number 2 at the San Fernando shipyard, and was chaired by the Commander of RSNF, H. E. Vice Admiral Fahad Bin Abdullah Al-Ghofaily; by the Chairwoman of Navantia, Susana de Sarriá; by the Acting CEO of SAMI, Eng. Walid Abukhaled; and by the Admiral of Logistics Support Bay of Cadiz of Spanish Navy, Vice Admiral Ricardo A. Hernández López (Alardiz).
The ceremony started with a Quran recitation made by RSNF officer. Then a video about the Al-Jubail city (which the vessel has been named after) was played, and a time-lapse video was shown in which several months of construction have been summarized and can be seen in Navantia’s website. The national anthems of the Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and Spain were played thereupon.
The Commander of RSNF highlighted the importance of ALSARAWAT Project, contracted to Navantia, as one of the largest capability-acquisition programs for the RSNF which reflects a strong strategic relation between Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kingdom of Spain and enlarges the cooperation between the RSNF and Spanish Navy in shipbuilding, education and training. The Commander of RSNF also indicated that the success of this project is a key factor for ambitious future projects and an enduring partnership.
He also stated that this step comes within the framework of SAMI’s strategy to support the development of the military industries in the Kingdom, as well as enhancing its strategic independence and military readiness.
The Chairwoman of Navantia highlighted Navantia’s commitment to the RSNF to replicate the successful model implemented throughout many years with the Spanish Navy, and during recent years with other navies such as the Royal Australian Navy, and provide a high capability level both to the RNSF and to the military industries sector of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in the corvette programme and also for future projects.
Next, the ship’s Sponsor, the Commander of RSNF, ordered Capt. Abdullah Alshehri, director of RSNF PMO ALSARAWAT to cut the ribbon on his behalf, and the corvette AL-JUBAIL slid down the slipway and touched the water for the first time.
The AL-JUBAIL has a length of 104 metres/341 feet, a beam of 14 metres/46 feet and will be able to accommodate 102 people (crew and additional personnel). It will reach a maximum speed of 27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h and, among other aspects, it has the capacity to carry 21 days’ supplies on board.
The corvettes are the latest generation of successful Navantia-designed combatants, and incorporate state-of-the-art Navantia products, such as the CATIZ Combat System, DORNA Gun Fire Control System, NAVCOMS/HERMESYS Integrated External and Internal Communications System, MINERVA Integrated Navigation and Bridge System, or COMPLEX-SIMPLEX Integrated Platform Management Platform together with equipment manufactured by Navantia under license such as the Leonardo SUPER RAPID 76-mm main gun, Rheinmetall Air Defence MILLENNIUM 35-mm close-in weapon system, MTU propulsion engines and diesel generators, and RENK gearboxes.
Since the first steel cutting was made, in January 2019, all the workshops of Navantia, in San Fernando and also in Puerto Real, have been working tirelessly. AL-JUBAIL, hull number 828, has been successfully built despite the slowdown in activity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, the safety protocols for the launching ceremony required all attendees to have their temperature taken, wear a face mask and maintain the required safety distance.
For the follow-on sister ships, the objective is to recover time and meet the initial milestones, so that the second corvette can be launched in November 2020. After the launching ceremony, Capt. Abdullah Alshehri, director of RSNF PMO ALSARAWAT, witnessed the progress in the construction of ship 830 ALDIRIYAH in slipway number 3.
The corvette program, which entered into force in November 2018, strengthens the immediate future of Navantia and benefits all the company’s shipyards and its auxiliary industry, especially the entire Bay of Cádiz.
Specifically, it will suppose a global workload of around seven million hours that, translated into employment, will reach the figure of 6,000 jobs annually during the next 5 years. From these, more than 1,100 will be direct employees, more than 1,800 employees of the auxiliary industry Navantia and more than 3,000 indirect employees generated by other suppliers. There will be more than 100 auxiliary companies that collaborate in it.
The program, whose last ship should be delivered in 2024, includes, in addition to construction, Life Cycle Support for five years, from the delivery of the first ship, with the option of another five additional years.
On the other hand, the contract also includes the supply of various services such as integrated logistical support, operational and maintenance training, supply of training and training Centers for the Combat System and Platform Control System for ships, Support to the Life Cycle, previously mentioned, and the systems for the maintenance of ships in the RNSF Jeddah Naval Base.
Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine marked the beginning of construction on Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) 29, the future USS Beloit (LCS-29), with a ceremony in Marinette. As part of a ship-building tradition dating back centuries, a shipyard worker welded into the ship’s keel plate the initials of Major General Marcia M. Anderson (U.S. Army, Retired), USS Beloit (LCS-29) ship sponsor and a Beloit, Wisconsin, native. This plate will be affixed to the ship and travel with Beloit throughout its commissioned life.
USS Beloit (LCS-29) will be the 15th Freedom-variant LCS and will join a class of more than 30 ships. To date, four Freedom-variant LCS have deployed to support U.S. Navy presence and peacekeeping missions. In May, LCS-7 (USS Detroit) partnered with a U.S. Navy destroyer and Coast Guard teams to serve interdiction missions in the U.S. Southern Command Area of Responsibility.
«With two deployments so far this year, Freedom-variant LCS have proven that they are capable and can serve a unique role in the U.S. Navy’s fleet», said Joe DePietro, vice president and general manager of Small Combatants and Ship Systems. «LCS’ speed, maneuverability and flexibility allows the ship to serve a multitude of missions by quickly integrating equipment and deploying manned and unmanned aerial, surface or sub-surface vehicles».
In total, there are more than 500,000 nautical miles/575,390 miles/926,000 km under the keel of Freedom-variant LCS. The ship delivers advanced capability in anti-submarine, surface, and mine countermeasure missions, and was designed to evolve with the changing security environment. As near-peer competition from large nation states increases, Lockheed Martin is partnering with the Navy to evolve LCS to meet these threats. Targeted upgrades are already underway with naval strike missiles being installed in support of upcoming deployments. Future installs of improved electronic warfare and decoy launching systems are under development.
USS Beloit (LCS-29) is the first U.S. Navy ship to be named after Beloit, Wisconsin, and the ship’s sponsor has personal ties to Beloit. During a long career with the U.S. military, Major General Anderson became the first African American woman to obtain the rank of major general in the U. S. Army and U. S. Army Reserve. As a citizen-soldier, Anderson was employed for 28 years by the United States Courts, where she served as the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Wisconsin, located in Madison, Wisconsin, until her retirement in late 2019.
«The construction of the U.S. Navy’s newest Littoral Combat Ship and naming it after the city of Beloit, with its rich and storied history of supporting our nation’s national security, is more than fitting», said Major General Anderson. «When completed, the USS Beloit’s voyages will be part of the tradition of small cities and towns in America sharing our story around the world».
Beloit is one of six LCS in various stages of construction and test at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard.
«We are proud to celebrate the future USS Beloit today», said Jan Allman, CEO of Fincantieri Marinette Marine. «The Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard is honored to build this capable warship, named for another city from the wonderful state of Wisconsin. I think this is a true testament to the hard work and patriotism of Midwesterners, and we look forward to working with the City of Beloit as we continue building LCS-29 for our U.S. Navy partner».
Ship Design Specifications
Advanced semiplaning steel monohull
389 feet/118.6 m
57 feet/17.5 m
13.5 feet/4.1 m
Full Load Displacement
Approximately 3,200 metric tons
Greater than 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range at top speed
1,000 NM/1,151 miles/1,852 km
Range at cruise speed
4,000 NM/4,603 miles/7,408 km
Watercraft Launch and Recovery
Up to Sea State 4
Aircraft Launch and Recovery
Up to Sea State 5
Combined diesel and gas turbine with steerable water jet propulsion
85 MW/113,600 horsepower
Two MH-60 Romeo Helicopters
One MH-60 Romeo Helicopter and three Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (VTUAVs)
Less than 50
Accommodations for 75 sailors provide higher sailor quality of life than current fleet
Integrated Bridge System
Fully digital nautical charts are interfaced to ship sensors to support safe ship operation
Core Self-Defense Suite
Includes 3D air search radar
Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) gunfire control system
The 416th Flight Test Squadron recently completed a round of tests of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s «Gray Wolf» prototype cruise missile at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
Gray Wolf is a DoD-directed prototype production and demonstration of low-cost, subsonic and networked collaborative cruise missiles. The missiles are designed to launch in a swarm to target enemy integrated air defense threats.
«Gray Wolf is a science & technology demonstration effort, intended as a proof of concept program», said Conor Most, 416th FLTS Flight Test Engineer. «AFRL serves as the System Program Office (SPO) for the weapon and developed the original request for proposal».
The missiles offer a stand-off solution for the warfighter through its variable payload capability. Earlier this year, the Gray Wolf’s TDI-J85 engine completed a successful flight test campaign culminating in multiple inflight windmill starts and operation at high altitude.
The program has already reached certain test milestones: Electromagnetic Interference & Compatibility (EMIC) and a «captive carry» flight. A live release test at the Naval Air Station Point Mugu Sea Test Range is scheduled later this summer.
«The EMIC check is ground check to confirm the missile is okay to fly on our specific test aircraft», Most explained. «A captive-carry flight is the first flight with the weapon; the goal is to rehearse the weapon flight profile and gather critical state/environmental data about the weapon».
Most added that the importance of successfully conducting physical tests, as opposed to laboratory-simulated, provides the Gray Wolf team with invaluable critical data.
«Getting the weapon airborne and gathering data is crucial to the development for a new weapon system like this», Most said. «With just one captive carry flight, the team learned more than in weeks or months of laboratory testing. Modeling and simulation go a long way to helping you predict how a new weapon will behave, but they will never replace actually putting the weapon on an aircraft and observing how it actually behaves in a real-world environment».
Conducting physical flight tests is critical to mission success, and the Gray Wolf test team faced challenges amidst COVID-19 restrictions as different portions of the test team were located throughout the country. Besides the test team at Edwards, the Gray Wolf tests included personnel from AFRL, Point Mugu, and others throughout the Air Force Test Center enterprise, namely at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
«Key support from AFRL and AFTC leadership enabled the missions to take place», said Captain Adam Corley, AFRL Gray Wolf Program Manager. «These tests overcame, and were accomplished, during the COVID-19 posture. Collaboration between Eglin, Edwards, and the Point Mugu Sea Range made these flight tests possible. Through close partnership, we were able to fly on the sea range and stream live feeds to Edwards and Eglin control rooms overcoming the travel ban issue and allowing key personnel to participate in the flight tests».
Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, delivered the first AN/SPY-6(V)1 radar array for installation on the future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), the U.S. Navy’s first Flight III guided-missile destroyer. The SPY-6 family of radars performs simultaneous air, missile and surface defense on seven types of U.S. Navy ships.
«SPY-6 will change how the Navy conducts surface fleet operations», said Captain Jason Hall, program manager for Above-Water Sensors for the U.S. Navy’s Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems. «Our ships will be able to see farther, react quicker and defend against threats in a way we couldn’t before».
The 14′ × 14’/4.27 m × 4.27 m modular array was transported by truck from the company’s automated 30,000-square-foot/2,787 square-meter Radar Development Facility in Andover, Massachusetts, to Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
«This is the start of what will be a steady stream of SPY-6 array deliveries to the shipyard», said Kim Ernzen, vice president of Naval Power at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. «Threats to Navy ships are getting smaller and faster. SPY-6 will extend the Navy’s reach against dangers like drones, ballistic missiles, aircraft and unmanned ships».
The SPY-6(V) family of radars delivers significantly greater range, increased accuracy, greater resistance to environmental and man-made electronic clutter, advanced electronic protection, and higher reliability than currently deployed radars.
Northrop Grumman Corporation has formed a strategic supplier agreement with Epirus, Inc. to offer the company’s Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) capability as a component of Northrop Grumman’s Counter-Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) systems-of-systems solution offering. The agreement augments Northrop Grumman’s advanced end-to-end C-UAS capabilities by including Epirus’ EMP systems to defeat UAS swarms, and specifically supplements the company’s suite of non-kinetic C-UAS effects.
«UAS threats are proliferating across the modern battlespace», said Kenn Todorov, vice president and general manager, combat systems and mission readiness, Northrop Grumman. «By integrating the Epirus EMP weapon system into our C-UAS portfolio, we continue maturing our robust, integrated, layered approach to addressing and defeating these evolving threats».
Northrop Grumman’s end-to-end C-UAS solutions deliver a layered architecture with a full complement of kinetic and non-kinetic effects, aerial and ground sensors and the battle-hardened, proven and deployed Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control (C2) system, recently selected by the U.S. Army as the interim C2 system for counter-small-UAS capabilities.
Epirus’ C-UAS EMP system – called Leonidas – is designed for static and mobile C-UAS defense and utilizes solid-state commercial semiconductor technology to deliver capability with unprecedented reduction in size and weight. This enables increased stand-off ranges and speed-of-light engagements that do not suffer from issues with magazine depth and capacity. When fired, a Leonidas creates an EMP that can be steered for precision engagements, or adjusted to sanitize a volume of terrain or sky, creating a force field effect.
«We’re excited to work closely with the Northrop Grumman team to support their C-UAS systems-of-systems solution offering», said Bo Marr, chief technology officer at Epirus. «Our unprecedented EMP capabilities will complement this offering as we continue to look to the future to understand how asymmetric threats will evolve».
Epirus Inc. is a third-year startup that develops EMP weapons for the U.S. military. Their team combines veteran experience from aerospace and the Special Operations community. Their offices are located in Los Angeles, California.
Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever-evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.
BAE Systems has been awarded a $32 million prototype agreement by the U.S. Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) to integrate a Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) system onto a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The development program is part of the Army’s effort to increase vehicle efficiency and boost power generation to support integration of future technologies and greater mobility for combat vehicles on the battlefield.
BAE Systems and teammate QinetiQ will use an existing Bradley Fighting Vehicle as the testbed for integrating the HED technology under the Combat Vehicle Power and Energy architecture and mobility capabilities development program. The integration work will begin this summer.
«Integrating a Hybrid Electric Drive system into combat vehicles vastly increases on-board power and provides a significant increase in mobility, lethality options, and range, all of which enable overmatching operational capabilities», said Scott Davis, vice president of BAE Systems’ Ground Vehicles product line. «BAE Systems has invested and collaborated with industry for more than 40 years to advance HED technology and develop vehicle architectures and demonstrators. A systems approach to vehicle electrification enables break-through capabilities in the current and future platforms our warfighters need to maintain battlefield superiority».
HED systems also improve automotive performance and provide drive-by-wire mobility to support autonomy in addition to increase power generation. With minor platform modifications, HED technology can be configured for various vehicles including the Bradley, the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, the M109A7 Paladin self-propelled howitzers, and the family of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.
QinetiQ is developing the electric cross drive transmission (Modular E-X-Drive), a key component of an HED system for a tracked combat vehicles. The QinetiQ Modular E-X-Drive has been tested and proven in a wide range of tracked vehicles and weight classes over the last decade. The designs have completed extensive lab and vehicle tests, including safety certifications. BAE Systems and QinetiQ have a long-standing relationship in the development of vehicle HED technologies.
The engineering activities of the HED system will primarily occur at the BAE Systems’ Sterling Heights, Michigan, and San Jose, California, facilities. Build is planned to be completed at the BAE Systems’ Sterling Heights prototype shop.