Category Archives: Ground Forces

Night Vision

The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team (2ABCT), 1st Infantry Division, is the first unit to receive the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular (ENVG-B) and the Family of Weapon Sights – Individual (FWS-I). The «Dagger» Brigade received and fielded the new equipment September 23-26.

The U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division was the first to receive the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular and the Family of Weapon Sights – Individual in late September; these devices increase soldiers’ lethality, mobility, and situational awareness (U.S. Army photo)

The ENVG-B and FWS-I systems are the most advanced night vision equipment in the Army.

The ENVG-B and FWS-I allow Soldiers to see through fog, dust, and smoke, in both day and night environments. The devices increase the warfighters lethality, mobility, and situational awareness through innovative and state of the art capabilities.

«The ENVG-B will truly be the greatest goggle that we’ve ever fielded», said Brigadier General Anthony W. Potts, Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier. «The thermal channel has a day-night capability and we’ve added in things like augmented reality».

2nd ABCT Soldiers spent two-days in a classroom learning the basics of the equipment, followed by hands-on training at firing ranges. «Dagger» brigade will train on the new equipment over the next several months.

«Dagger» Brigade Soldiers are the first to benefit from the collaborative efforts of Army Futures Command (AFC), PEO Soldier, Soldier Lethality-Cross Functional Team (SL-CFT), and Soldier Touchpoints. Soldiers noticed the improvements from previous generations of night vision devices.

The ENVG-B and FWS-I were designed for Soldiers by Soldiers. PEO-Soldier and SL-CFT used Soldier feedback early on in the development at events called Soldier Touchpoints. Overall, there were 11 Soldier and Marine Touchpoints. The user level input ensured the current needs of the warfighter made it to the final product.

«The last one I used is a PVS-14 Portable Visual Search and it’s a massive improvement over that one», said Private First Class Dustin Roy, Infantryman, 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2ABCT, «I can’t even express how much better it is».

«Soldier Touchpoints along the way during a design, build, and test phase give that quick feedback to the Program Executive Officer», said Command Sergeant Major Michael A. Crosby, Army Futures Command. «What you are witnessing here today is a demonstration of rapid prototyping to meet the Army’s organizational priorities».

The ENVG-B and FWS-I give «Dagger» brigade Soldiers improved night vision capabilities, increased situational awareness, and rapid target acquisition in zero light conditions.

«We’re increasing their survivability and lethality», said Sergeant Major of the Army Michael A. Grinston. «I’m really proud that I can be a part of this».

Robotic Mules

The U.S. Army has selected General Dynamics Land Systems to produce the Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport, or S-MET, to lighten Soldiers’ loads by providing Infantry Brigade Combat Teams a robotic «mule» capability.

The S-MET program aims to lighten soldiers’ loads by providing a robotic «mule» capability. A rapid acquisition plan has allowed the US Army to field commercially available technology faster than typical processes allow (U.S. Army photo)

The contract is valued at $162.4 million to produce 624 S-METs. Delivery to Soldiers begins in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2021.

With the S-MET (pronounced «Ess-Met») program, a phased, quicker acquisition plan allowed the Army to make informed program decisions based on direct Soldier feedback on commercially available technology – fielding equipment faster than typical processes allow.

S-MET’s basic operational capabilities include:

  • Unmanned/optionally manned system;
  • Carries 1,000 lbs./453.6 kg, reducing Soldier weight burden by 100-plus pounds each when in support of a rifle squad;
  • Operates 60-plus miles/96.5-plus km in 72 hours;
  • Generates 3 kilowatts of power (stationary) and 1 kilowatt (moving) keeping equipment and batteries charged on the move.

The Army issued a directed requirement in April 2017 for a rapid materiel acquisition aimed at unburdening infantry brigade combat teams with a robotic capability. To fast-track the acquisition process, the Army’s Program Executive Office for Combat Support & Combat Service Support, awarded S-MET Phase I Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreements (vs. traditional Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR)-based contracting methods) in June 2017 for eight platforms.

The S-MET program marks one of the Army’s first Middle Tier Acquisitions (MTA) for Rapid Fielding. This acquisition approach foregoes the traditional Department of Defense 5000.02 acquisition process, streamlining the delivery and fielding of capabilities within a period of five years. Use of the MTA approach was granted by Congress in the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act Section 804.

«The S-MET program has focused on meeting the Army’s emphasis on enhancing Soldier lethality and rapidly fielding modernized capabilities. Our product management team for Applique and Large Unmanned Ground Systems undertook a great challenge to develop a strategy using experimentation and technical demonstrations to streamline the S-MET acquisition process», said Timothy G. Goddette, the Army’s program executive officer for Combat Support and Combat Service Support.

«Using an innovative contracting approach through an Other Transaction Authority, a flexible, collaborative tool designed to speed acquisition and modernization, the S-MET team awarded this capability within two and a half years. Using normal acquisition processes, it could have taken as much as five years», he explained.

The initial candidate platforms participated in the S-MET Phase I Assessment held in September 2017 at Fort Benning, Georgia. The evaluation enabled the Army to learn about each of the candidate platforms’ capabilities and obtain operational feedback based on Soldiers’ interactions with the candidate S-MET systems. Based on the results in November 2017, the Army narrowed to four contractors to evaluate their respective platforms during a 12-month (later reduced to seven-month) S-MET Phase II Technology Demonstration.

Phase II called for each of the four selected contractors to produce 20 platforms. Four of the produced S-METs supported safety testing, Commercial-Off-the-Shelf operator manual verification, Instructor and Key Personnel Training, and Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) development. Upon completion of safety testing, the Product Management Office for Applique and Large Unmanned Systems issued eight of each respective prototype S-METs to IBCTs within the 10th Mountain and the 101st Airborne Divisions in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2019 for the seven-month Phase II Technology Demonstration. Results from the Technology Demonstration informed program decisions and further solidified S-MET TTPs.

Dismounted Infantry carry water, extra ammunition, and other equipment and gear imposing physical burden. When fielded, S-MET will unburden Soldiers and enable IBCTs to travel greater distances and carry more. Soldier experimentation, touch points, and evaluation has been key in obtaining direct warfighter feedback.

«Thanks to tremendous teamwork across the acquisition, requirements, operational, and resource communities, this is a great modernization success story», said Don Sando, director for the Maneuver Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate, Fort Benning. «Key to this success was involving Soldiers early in the process to get their input and feedback during experiments and assessments. Direct Soldier feedback drove the requirements for the S-MET, and certainly helped determine what systems would work best for IBCTs to fill a capability gap», Sando added.

This enhanced, modernized capability will unburden Soldiers of some of their physical load, thereby also improving Soldiers’ physical and cognitive capabilities. Future capability will feature modular mission payloads tailoring the S-MET to specific mission needs, such as dismounted engineer mobility systems; remote weapon stations; casualty evacuation; and unmanned aerial systems and reconnaissance.

«Getting a modernized capability into the hands of IBCT Soldiers has been the team’s driving focus throughout this program», said Lieutenant Colonel Jon Bodenhamer, the Army’s product manager for Applique and Large Unmanned Ground Systems within the Program Executive Office for Combat Support & Combat Service Support. «Soldiers are why we do what we do, and I’m incredibly proud of the hard-working team that brought us to this point».

Counter-UAS

Raytheon Company delivered the first High-Energy Laser Counter-Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) to the U.S. Air Force earlier this month. The system will be deployed overseas as part of a year-long Air Force experiment to train operators and test the system’s effectiveness in real-world conditions.

Raytheon delivers first laser counter-UAS System to U.S. Air Force

Raytheon’s High-Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS) uses an advanced variant of the company’s Multi-spectral Targeting System, an electro-optical/infrared sensor, to detect, identify and track rogue drones. Once targeted, the system engages the threat, neutralizing the UAS in a matter of seconds.

«Five years ago, few people worried about the drone threat», said Roy Azevedo, president of Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. «Now, we hear about attacks or incursions all the time. Our customers saw this coming and asked us to develop a ready-now counter-UAS capability. We did just that by going from the drawing board to delivery in less than 24 months».

Raytheon installed its high-energy laser weapon system on a small all-terrain vehicle. On a single charge from a standard 220-volt outlet, the HELWS can deliver intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability and dozens of precise laser shots. It can also be paired with a generator to provide a nearly infinite number of shots.

Raytheon Company is integrating multiple proven technologies to counter the unmanned aerial system threat across a wide range of scenarios – from commercial airports to forward operating bases to crowded stadiums. Raytheon’s portfolio of sensors, command and control systems, and kinetic and non-kinetic effectors covers all aspects of the UAS threat.

Raytheon’s High-Energy Laser Weapon System Counters UAS Threats

 

RoMan

Army researchers recently tested ground robots performing military-style exercises, much like Soldier counterparts, at a robotics testing site in Pennsylvania recently as part of a 10-year research project designed to push the research boundaries in robotics and autonomy.

RoMan, short for Robotic Manipulator, is a tracked robot with arms and hands – necessary appendages to remove heavy objects and other road debris from military vehicles’ paths (Photo by David McNally)

RoMan, short for Robotic Manipulator, is a tracked robot that is easily recognized by its robotic arms and hands – necessary appendages to remove heavy objects and other road debris from military vehicles’ paths. What’s harder to detect is the amount of effort that went into programming the robot to manipulate complex environments.

The exercise was one of several recent integration events involving a decade of research led by scientists and engineers at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s (CCDC) Army Research Laboratory who teamed with counterparts from the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, University of Washington, University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University and General Dynamics Land Systems.

As part of ARL’s Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance (RCTA), the work focused on state-of-the-art basic and applied research related to ground robotics technologies with an overarching goal of developing autonomy in support of manned-unmanned teaming. Research within the RCTA program serves as foundational research in support of future combat ground vehicles.

The recent robot exercise was the culmination of research to develop a robot that reasons about unknown objects and their physical properties, and decides how to best interact with different objects to achieve a specific task.

«Given a task like ‘clear a path’, the robot needs to identify potentially relevant objects, figure out how objects can be grasped by determining where and with what hand shape, and decide what type of interaction to use, whether that’s lifting, moving, pushing or pulling to achieve its task», said CCDC ARL’s Doctor Chad Kessens, Robotic Manipulation researcher.

During the recent exercise, RoMan successfully completed such as multi-object debris clearing, dragging a heavy object (e.g., tree limb), and opening a container to remove a bag.

Kessens said Soldier teammates are able to give verbal commands to the robot using natural human language in a scenario.

«Planning and learning and their integration cut across all these problems. The ability of the robot to improve its performance over time and to adapt to new scenarios by building models on-the-fly while incorporating the power of model-based reasoning will be important to achieving the kinds of unstructured tasks we want to be able to do without putting Soldiers in harm’s way», Kessens said.

This work, and other research, will be showcased October 17 at the RCTA’s integration capstone event at Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center in Pittsburgh.

The CCDC Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. As the Army’s corporate research laboratory, ARL discovers, innovates and transitions science and technology to ensure dominant strategic land power. Through collaboration across the command’s core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our Nation’s wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.

Command and Control

Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation company, displayed three Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV) and for the first time ever, a Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle Command and Control (L-ATV C2), at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) National Conference. The vehicles were on display at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C., from October 14 to October 16, 2019.

The L-ATV C2 houses a robust communications suite, giving our armed forces the unique and highly-desirable advantage of staying well-connected while on-the-move

«The JLTV fleet provides our armed forces a critical combination of protection and extreme off-road mobility to ensure reliable maneuverability within combat formations», said George Mansfield, Vice President and General Manager of Joint Programs for Oshkosh Defense. «The L-ATV C2 provides the same level of protection and extreme off-road mobility as our already fielded JLTV platform. In addition, the L-ATV C2 houses a robust communications suite, giving our armed forces the unique and highly-desirable advantage of staying well-connected while on the move».

Oshkosh Defense partnered with L3Harris Technologies to demonstrate a communications suite capability, representing just one of the ways a mobile command center can be configured on the back of a highly mobile light tactical wheeled vehicle. The L-ATV C2 has ample available power and configuration flexibility to adjust and modify its interior – depending on the needs of the commander and the crew. «The L-ATV C2 allows commanders to quickly maneuver on the battlefield, directing dismounted units using assured communications provided by the integrated C4 equipment», concluded Mansfield. Further, the modular nature of the interior can accommodate any number of workstations and/or communications equipment rack locations to provide optional layouts that work for personalized missions and the crew carrying them out.

The L-ATV C2 will also feature a Black Hornet Vehicle Reconnaissance System (VRS) made by FLIR. The Black Hornet equips armored or mechanized vehicles with an immediate, organic, and self-contained surveillance and reconnaissance system.

Oshkosh will also display a 2-door Utility JLTV in their booth, outfitted with the Uvision Hero-120 Tactical System. Ideal for anti-tank missions or other strategic objectives, the Hero-120 is the largest of Univision’s short-range systems. It carries a 3.5 kg/7.7 lbs. warhead and can ensure an extended flight time of 60 minutes.

Elbit Systems will display a 2-door Utility JLTV equipped with a SPEAR in their booth. Elbit’s SPEAR is a fully autonomous, vehicle-mounted 120-mm soft recoil mortar system for high-mobility platforms.

An additional 4-door General Purpose JLTV will be on display at AUSA in Kongsberg’s booth. This JLTV will be equipped with the Javelin Integration Kit (JIK) and an LW30 Remote Weapon Station (RWS).

Unmanned Vehicle

BAE Systems debuted its Robotic Technology Demonstrator (RTD) representing leap-ahead advancements for unmanned combat vehicles today at the Association of the United States Army’s (AUSA) Annual Meeting & Exposition.

BAE Systems unveils Robotic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle at AUSA

The RTD prototype showcases advanced capabilities and is adaptable for future weapon systems, sensors and other payloads. The RTD features autonomous mobility to help keep soldiers out of harm’s way, a Hybrid Electric Drive for fuel efficiency, a 30-mm remote weapons station, a suite of sensors for 360-degree situational awareness and surveillance, composite rubber track system, and a small legged robot for reconnaissance missions among other key new technologies. The demonstrator reflects BAE Systems’ commitment to investing in the future of Army warfighting capabilities and the soldier.

«The Robotic Technology Demonstrator is designed as a ‘rolling lab’ to integrate emerging autonomy and lethality technologies for testing. The electrical infrastructure, advanced optics, and software that have been integrated onto this highly reliable and robust chassis provides the foundation for truly game-changing battlefield capability», said James Miller, director for business development at BAE Systems Combat Vehicles. «BAE Systems built this demonstrator to help us determine the best way to mitigate risk for our soldiers while increasing their lethality».

The RTD technologies include sensors with true 360-degree situational awareness to include long-wave infrared imaging, signal processing and video distribution. It also includes a tethered unmanned aerial system to support situational awareness and reconnaissance.

The RTD prototype leverages decades of BAE Systems expertise in the design and development of combat vehicles, as well as advanced electronic systems. BAE Systems is a world leader in tracked and wheeled combat vehicles, including Infantry Fighting Vehicles, self-propelled howitzers, personnel carriers, and amphibious vehicles.

Fighting Vehicle

The U.S. Army has awarded BAE Systems a contract modification worth up to $269 million for continued production of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV).

U.S. Army extends contract for Bradley Fighting Vehicle upgrades

The award for an additional 168 upgraded Bradley A4 Infantry Fighting Vehicles is part of the Army’s combat vehicle modernization strategy and helps ensure force readiness of the Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCT).

The Bradley A4 is equipped with an enhanced powertrain that maximizes mobility and increases engine horsepower, providing rapid movement in reaction to combat or other adverse situations. Wide angle Driver’s Vision Enhancer, improved Force XXI Battle Command Bridge and Below (FBCB2) software integration improves friendly and enemy vehicle identification, enhancing situational awareness. The addition of a High Speed Slip Ring, greater network connectivity and Smart Displays that simultaneously display classified and unclassified information also improve situational awareness.

«The Bradley is one of the most critical vehicles in the Army’s ABCT today because it allows the Army to transport troops to the fight, and provide covering fire to suppress enemy vehicles and troops», said Scott Davis, vice president of combat vehicle programs for BAE Systems. «Upgrading to the A4 configuration provides soldiers with more power to increase their speed and ability to integrate enhanced technology to ensure they maintain the advantage on the battlefield».

Previously awarded funding for initial production of 164 Bradley A4 vehicles allowed BAE Systems to begin production. The award of this option brings the total production funding to $578 million. It includes upgrades and associated spares of two Bradley variants: the M2A4 Infantry Fighting Vehicle and the M7A4 Fire Support Team Vehicle.

BAE Systems is a premiere supplier of combat vehicles to the U.S. military and international customers. The company has an extensive manufacturing network across the United States and continues to invest in it. Work on the program will take place at Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas, and BAE Systems’ facilities in Aiken, South Carolina; Anniston, Alabama; Minneapolis, Minnesota; San Jose, California; Sterling Heights, Michigan; and York, Pennsylvania.

Hungarian PzH 2000

Rheinmetall is taking on an important role in the modernization of the Hungarian Army. The Düsseldorf-based Group is producing the main armament and fire control technology for forty-four Leopard 2 main battle tanks as well as the main armament, fire control technology and chassis for twenty-four PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers. The package also encompasses thirteen HX and TGS logistic trucks. The contract, worth around €300 million, was recently signed. Delivery begins in 2021 and will be completed in 2025.

The PzH 2000 SP gun gave a good account of itself in Afghanistan, where it proved very effective in providing coordinated artillery support to Allied mobile columns; it is gaining a new lease on life with a new order from Hungary (RhM photo)

Rheinmetall has partnered with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) to carry out the project. In December 2018 KMW won an order from the Hungarian armed forces for forty-four new Leopard 2A7+ tanks and 24 new PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers. This will make Hungary the 19th Leopard 2 user nation and the eighth nation to opt for the PzH2000.

As well as having design authority, Rheinmetall is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of the 120-mm smoothbore technology used in all versions of the Leopard 2 tank.

The same is true of the 155-mm L52 main gun of the PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer.

Tried and tested around the globe, the Group’s 120-mm smoothbore gun and ammunition have been continuously perfected right from the start. The higher-pressure 120mm L55A1 gun earmarked for the Leopard 2A7+ was successfully qualified at the end of 2017, and already supplied and installed for two Leopard 2 user nations in mid 2018. Moreover, the L55A1 tank gun is capable of firing the programmable DM11 multipurpose round.

In addition, Rheinmetall possesses comprehensive expertise in the field of tracked armoured vehicles, including as an OEM. The Group developed the chassis of the PzH self-propelled howitzer.

Ramjet shell

For years, NATO artillery and missile systems have been at a range disadvantage compared to its future potential adversaries. New ramjet technology, however, has the potential to completely reverse the situation by closing the range gap.

Ramjet-powered artillery could reach as far out as 150 km/93 miles. With guidance, the projectile would be a mix of a missile and an artillery shell. The 155-mm HE-ExR (extreme range), as it is called, is scheduled for its first live-fire tests in 2020 (Photo/illustration: Nammo)

In the summer of 2016, Russia rolled out the latest version of the 9A52-4 Tornado rocket launcher. The «S»-variant now has the ability to fire shells at an enemy 120 kilometers/74.5 miles away, a remarkable improvement on the previous version. But even the previous version could reach targets 70 km/43.5 miles away.

At the same time, the country appears to be investing in other, more untraditional long-range missile systems. The recent accident near Severodvinsk – in what appears to have been a test of a new nuclear-powered cruise missile – is just one indication of this investment, as is the use of conventional cruise missiles in Syria.

NATO has favored a different approach: For decades, the alliance relied on air superiority. That situation is however changing rapidly. As air defense systems like the S-400 proliferate, Russian planners apparently hope to deny their opponents free use of the skies.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley, is one of many experts who now believe the situation has changed fundamentally – and put NATO forces at a disadvantage. When he appeared before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee in April 2016, Milley was asked whether the army was «outranged».

«We don’t like it, we don’t want it, but yes, technically [we are] outranged, outgunned on the ground», Milley said.

With superior range, artillery operators could simply disregard counter-battery fire, Thomas Danbolt, Nammo’s Vice President Large Caliber Ammunition, explains (Photo: Nammo)

 

The importance of range

Range – and especially the ability to hit at a distance where an opponent cannot retaliate – has been a prime concern on the battlefield since the days of the Romans. Sometimes, such an advantage has proven to be a deciding factor.

Roman triumvir Crassus is one who certainly would attest to that. When facing Parthian horse archers at the battle of Carrhae in 53 BC, his legions were wiped out when they could not counter their opponents’ range and mobility advantage.

Later, the English would inflict enormous damage on French forces in the Hundred Years’ war. At Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt, English longbowmen significantly outranged their opponents. The great English victories here would effectively end the primacy of heavily armored knights, as well as adding decades to a conflict where the French held a great advantage in both resources and manpower.

Range also played a part in the U.S. War of Independence. Morgan’s Riflemen (famous for their long-range rifles) played their part in securing victory at important battles like Saratoga.

A computer-rendered illustration of what a future Ramjet missile could look like. Nammo hopes to have missiles ready in a few years – the motor testing is already well underway (Illustration: Nammo)

 

«There’s a race going on»

Longbows are however a thing of the past. But Nammo artillery and munitions expert Thomas Danbolt believes range is still of great importance to contemporary weapons, like artillery.

«Range is important. If you can shoot much farther than your opponent, counter-battery fire can simply be disregarded. Your own artillery will be safe, while at the same time you can strike enemy positions with impunity. I think we should not underestimate the consequences of having a range advantage», says Thomas Danbolt, Nammo’s Vice President Large Caliber Ammunition.

Danbolt thinks major nation-states have seen the importance of this, and are now scrambling to improve their defenses. His colleague, Frank Møller, has been part of designing rocket motors for missiles for decades. He sees a big change in that field as well.

«I think there’s a race going on internationally. Propulsion technology has improved. Cruise missiles are getting longer ranges, better sensors, improved accuracy, and the cost has gone down. But a reaction is coming: armed forces everywhere are scrambling to improve their missile defenses», says Frank Møller, Nammo’s VP of Strategy and Business Development (Aerospace Propulsion).

Nammo has already completed more than 150 motor tests. Testing so far has been very successful, showing ramjet motors can work in real life (Photo: Nammo)

 

150 km artillery range

As demand for longer range options increases, ramjet technology has been advancing steadily. It has now come to a point where it can has several new potential applications – both in missiles and artillery.

Nammo already has a long history of producing high-performing artillery ammunition. Now, it once again wants to be at the forefront, developing a new generation of shells covering all range requirements.

Nammo’s most ambitious project to date has been a Ramjet-powered, guided artillery shell with a range of up to 150 km/93 miles, now the subject of a development partnership with Boeing’s Phantom Works. The new design is expected to see its first live-fire tests in 2020.

«In practice, this is a mix of a missile and an artillery shell. We are talking about a range that is five to eight times greater than conventional artillery. With the guidance system, we believe we can consistently hit an area as small as the center of a football field. And even though the payload is somewhat smaller, the destructive force will likely be greater because of the accuracy», Danbolt says.

The Ramjet shell can be fired from every modern 155-mm L52 artillery gun – a trait it shares with all of Nammo’s other long-range shells.

 

The Ramjet revolution

Ramjets are also very well suited for missiles. In a conventional rocket motor, oxygen accounts for 80 percent of the fuel weight. But a Ramjet instead uses oxygen from the outside air. As a consequence, oxygen can be replaced with fuel, increasing the capacity four or five times. Erland Ørbekk, Nammo’s VP of Technology for Aerospace Propulsion, explains that the advantages are great if a missile can reach high enough speeds.

«In a traditional air breathing motor, you need a compressor, a combustion chamber and a turbine. But in a Ramjet, the oxygen pressure and temperature will be high enough just from reaching a high enough speed (roughly Mach 2.5). A Ramjet missile can have a burn time of up to 300 seconds (5 minutes), and can be throttled up and down, or even turned on and off», Ørbekk says.

What operational advantages can we expect?

«A Ramjet-powered missile will be superior to a conventional missile in all possible ways. Ground-based Ramjet missiles will be able to take out high-altitude targets. And if fired from aircraft, they will be effective against high-speed and highly maneuverable fighter jets at much greater distances than today. We believe they could even be effective against some of the new high-speed missiles being introduced outside NATO. If you have a good enough sensor system on the ground, it will be possible for Ramjet-powered missiles to intercept them».

 

Ready in a few years

Ramjet-powered artillery and missiles could be ready sooner than you think. Nammo has already completed more than 150 successful tests of its ramjet engines. While artillery ramjets could reach up to 150 km/93 miles, some air-to-air missiles could hit targets from an even more impressive 500 km/310 miles distance.

Frank Møller is sure we will see products on the market within a few years.

«Long-range Ramjet artillery will likely be on the market within two to four years. For missiles, it will take a bit longer, but we are confident that the technology is ready. What we are working on now is more focused on the practical applications and technical solutions».

Are you sure of that? Are you sure the technology will work?

«Absolutely. And it will be a momentous change».

LAND 400 Phase 3

The Morrison Government’s multi-billion dollar investment to replace Army’s current fleet of mobility and reconnaissance vehicles is taking another significant step forward, with Hanwha Defense Australia and Rheinmetall Defence Australia invited to participate in the next stage of evaluation.

The Rheinmetall Lynx and Hanwha AS-21 Redback (pictured) infantry combat vehicles have been short-listed to replace the Australian Army’s M-113 personnel carriers; a final decision on this A$10-15 billion program is to be announced in 2022 (Hanwha photo)

The LAND 400 Phase 3 Program will replace the M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers providing the Army with an advanced, world class Infantry Fighting Vehicle capability.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the Morrison Government is investing in the best possible capability to meet the current and emerging threats of our changing geostrategic environment.

«These advanced vehicles will provide new levels of protection, firepower, mobility and enhanced communications», Minister Reynolds said.

«This project will deliver Australia a brand-new, cutting edge capability. But we will also ensure we are well placed to work together with industry, to grow and develop the capability over the course of its life. When fully delivered the LAND 400 Program will allow Army to successfully sustain mounted close combat operations against emerging and future threats, as part of an integrated Australian Defence Force. I thank all tenderers for their significant effort and the resources invested in supporting Phase 3 of this project».

Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Melissa Price MP said the LAND 400 Phase 3 program provides an exciting opportunity for Australian industry to contribute to building and maintaining these new Infantry Fighting Vehicles.

«Just as with the Phase 2 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles, Australian industry involvement and Australian workers are vital to this project», Minister Price said.

«Phase 3 is another important opportunity for Australian industry to deliver leading edge technology for our Australian Defence Force. During the testing-phase Defence will work with the shortlisted tenderers to ensure small and medium enterprises across Australia have the opportunity to showcase their capabilities. The two companies have been assessed as offering vehicles that are best able to meet the requirements of the Army while providing value for money for Defence. However, if at any stage of this process there is a need, Defence can invite other tenderers to participate in the shortlist – to make sure we deliver the capability we need to the Army and the best value for the Australian taxpayer».

The Risk Mitigation Activity will commence later this year. Following its completion, Defence will undertake a final detailed evaluation of the shortlisted tenders.

A decision on the preferred tenderer to supply the Phase 3 capability will be presented to Government for consideration in 2022.