Category Archives: Ground Forces

Protection System

Elbit Systems announces that following a competitive bid, the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMOD) selected Iron Fist Light Decoupled (IFLD), the Company’s Active Protection System (APS), for the Israeli Defense Forces’ (IDF) Eitan new eight-wheeled Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV) and the D-9 Bulldozer. The award of the contract for the program is subject to completion of negotiations between the parties.

The Israeli defense ministry has selected Elbit’s IFLD to protect its Eitan 8×8 armored vehicles against close-range attacks in both open terrain and urban environments (Elbit photo)

The selection of the IFLD for the IDF’s Eitan AFV comes on the heels of the decision by the U.S. Army to proceed with the IFLD for the Bradley AFV.

IFLD uses independent optical sensors, tracking radar, launchers and countermeasure munitions to defeat threats at a safe distance from the defended combat vehicles. The system provides 360-degree protection coverage for close-range scenarios in both open terrain and urban environments. Its low size and weight, versatile high-performance, negligible residual penetration and ease of integration position IFLD as an optimal active protection solution for any fighting vehicle.

Yehuda (Udi) Vered, General Manager of Elbit Systems Land Division, said: «We are proud to have been selected by the IMOD to provide the IDF with such an important operational capability. The decision of the IMOD to prefer IFLD adds to the growing interest in this APS by many modern armed forces who seek to enhance protection capabilities for their AFVs».

Iron Fist series of APS delivers high-performance protection against anti-tank threats while increasing the survivability of the platform or vehicle. The series includes a light configuration for AFV, IFV and logistic

60-mm mortar

The RSG60 features innovative design and engineering characteristics which make this indirect fire system very light and easy to handle. A few quick manual adjustments turn the 34.8 lbs./15.8 kg standard infantry version into a commando mortar weighing just 15 lbs./6.8 kg, with no need for tools. This makes the RSG60 a two-in-one solution.

RSG60 – significant weight saving for transport

Depending on the ammunition and charges, the standard version can attain ranges of up 10,499 feet/3,200 metres. Equipped with a thirty 11.8-inch-longer/30 centimetre-longer barrel, the range increases by around 1640 feet/500 metres. The commando variant of the RSG60 has a range of around 6,562 feet/2,000 metres.

About 27.6 inches/70 centimetres long, the barrel is made of steel with a carbon fibre over-wrap. This assures the necessary stability at the same time as lower weight, resulting in a barrel that weighs around 30 percent less than a conventional steel mortar. The base plate is made of carbon fibre composite material. The novel design of this indirect fire weapon not only saves space, it can be set up and ready to fire in a matter of seconds. Furthermore, by loosening the retaining bolts, it is possible to separate the RSG60 from the base plate in around thirty seconds, transforming it into lighter-weight commando mortar.

Development of the new mortar began in October 2017 at Rheinmetall Waffe Munition. Rheinmetall’s objective was to augment the Group’s versatile family of 60-mm ammunition and existing Rheinmetall Electronics fire control technology with a matching, future-oriented weapon system. Right from the start, development work therefore focused on low weight, speed and ergonomics.

The RSG60 has repeatedly undergone successful test firing.

Re-scalable Aperture

Northrop Grumman Corporation has received a contract award from the U.S. Army to develop the next generation tactical radar antenna. The Re-scalable Aperture for Precision Targeting Radar (RAPTR) will be composed of small radar building blocks to allow the antenna to be scaled to fit a wide range of mission and platform requirements.

Northrop Grumman’s Re-scalable Aperture for Precision Targeting Radar (RAPTR), composed of small radar building blocks, will provide advanced surveillance and precision targeting capabilities for a wide range of missions and platforms

RAPTR will improve upon the precision and range of the previous, combat-proven Northrop Grumman tactical radar family to provide a greater level of situational understanding to warfighters. The system will operate in multiple radar modes, including Synthetic Aperture Radar and Ground Moving Target Indicator, to provide a comprehensive operating picture.

«RAPTR’s building block architecture allows us to scale the antenna up or down to suit a wide range of platforms and missions, so it is well suited to the demands of today’s multi-domain battlespace», said Brent Toland, vice president, land and avionics C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance), Northrop Grumman.

The system will take advantage of common building blocks, allowing for rapid, cost effective production for a variety of applications.

AFV concept

According to Yaakov Lappin, Jane’s Defence Weekly correspondent, the Israel Ministry of Defense (MoD) unveiled on 4 August a new Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) concept, dubbed Carmel, that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI), autonomous capabilities, and enhanced situational awareness to achieve new levels of battlefield effectiveness.

IAI’s prototype for the Carmel programme was unveiled alongside ones from Rafael and Elbit on 4 August (Source: Yaakov Lappin)

The goal of the programme is to reduce the number of onboard personnel in AFVs like the Merkava tank from four to two and enable them to operate under closed hatches, with the vehicle driving itself, detecting threats in real time, and providing recommendations to the crew on critical decisions.

The vehicles will also be able to control unmanned air and ground vehicles, as well as operate as part of a network that builds a shared picture of the battlefield and co-operate to efficiently engage targets.

The programme will not immediately produce new vehicles, according to the MoD, but will develop capabilities that will gradually be installed on the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF’s) Merkava Mk-4, the next-generation Barak tank, the Namer tracked Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), and the Eitan wheeled APC. The MoD will also begin developing an AFV that incorporates the new capabilities at an unspecified time in the future.

Brigadier General Yaniv Rotem, head of research and development at the MoD’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), told journalists that the programme began around three years ago after the MoD decided to revolutionise the ground forces’ manoeuvring capabilities.

Israel’s three largest defence companies – Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Elbit Systems, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems – were asked to develop their own Carmel prototypes using M113 APCs. These were unveiled on 4 August following a month of trials by a DDR&D team in northern Israel.

The challenge was proving the feasibility of two soldiers conducting closed-hatch operations and integrating technological capabilities that would enhance mission efficiency for the IDF’s manoeuvre forces.

CUAS surveillance

The United States Army recently awarded Lockheed Martin three contracts to produce additional Q-53 systems and outfit the radar with enhanced capabilities, including extended range and Counter Unmanned Aerial System (CUAS) surveillance. The flexible architecture of the Army’s most modern radar allows for these upgrades, which support adaptable growth of the system to address aircraft, drone and other threats in the future.

U.S. Army invests in additional Q-53 radars and capabilities

«We realize the warfighter needs new and improved capabilities. The Q-53 represents a fast path to respond to current and emerging threats», said Rick Herodes, director of the Q-53 program at Lockheed Martin. «The flexibility of the architecture continues to allow the Q-53 to provide capabilities far beyond the original mission and allows for additional upgrades in the future».

 

Full Rate Production

The Army awarded Lockheed Martin a contract for a third lot of 15 Full Rate Production systems. Once this contract is delivered the Army will own 189 Q-53 systems. The Lot 3 systems will continue to be produced using GAllium Nitride (GaN) transmit-receive modules. This will provide the radar with additional power, reliability and the possibility for enhanced capabilities including extended range, Counterfire Target Acquisition (CTA) and multi-mission, which delivers simultaneous CTA and air surveillance.

 

Surveillance

Lockheed Martin was also awarded a contract to enhance the Q-53’s CUAS capability. This true multi-mission capability delivers simultaneous counterfire, CUAS and air surveillance.

 

Extended Range

Lockheed Martin was also awarded a contract by the Army that will extend the operating range of the Q-53 system by utilizing recent next-generation technology insertions already available in the radar.

 

About the Q-53

The primary mission of the Q-53 is to protect troops in combat by detecting, classifying, tracking and identifying the location of enemy indirect fire in either 90 or 360-degree modes. The Q-53 has protected warfighters around the world since 2010.

Lockheed Martin uses an open GaN foundry model, leveraging relationships with commercial suppliers that utilize the power of the expansive telecommunications market to provide military-grade GaN modules while taking advantage of commercial cost efficiencies.

Air Defense

Northrop Grumman Corporation has been awarded a contract for the U.S. Army Maneuver Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) directed energy prototyping initiative. The initiative includes integrating a directed energy weapon system on a Stryker vehicle as a pathfinding effort toward the U.S. Army M-SHORAD objective to provide more comprehensive protection of frontline combat units.

Northrop Grumman has been selected to develop and integrate a directed energy prototype solution on a Stryker combat vehicle for the U.S. Army to better protect highly mobile frontline units. The effort will culminate in a competitive performance checkout leading into a range demonstration that informs Maneuver Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) requirements

«Northrop Grumman is eager to leverage its portfolio of innovative, proven technologies and integration expertise to accelerate delivery of next-generation protection to our maneuver forces», said Dan Verwiel, vice president and general manager, missile defense and protective systems, Northrop Grumman. «Our flexible, open systems approach offers an end-to-end solution for the Army’s growing and ever-changing mission requirements in today’s complex threat environment».

Under the initiative from the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office and a contract from Kord Technologies, Northrop Grumman will build and integrate a suite of advanced sensors; target acquisition and tracking; a 50-kilowatt class laser system; and battle-tested command-and-control on an Army Stryker combat vehicle. The effort will culminate in a competitive performance checkout leading into a range demonstration that informs M-SHORAD requirements.

The directed energy M-SHORAD prototypes are part of the progression of an Army technology maturation initiative known as the Multi-Mission High Energy Laser (MMHEL).

The integrated platform allows early involvement with warfighter users to develop tactics, techniques, procedures and concepts of operations for future high energy laser weapons.

The Army’s future M-SHORAD protection for forward-deployed soldiers includes laser weapon systems as an effective complement to kinetic capabilities in countering rockets, artillery and mortars; unmanned aircraft systems; and other aerial threats.

The M-SHORAD directed energy prototyping initiative is managed by the U.S. Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

High-Energy Laser

Raytheon Company will deploy two prototype high energy laser weapon systems to troops overseas under a U.S. Air Force contract. The Air Force experimentation includes 12 months of in-field operation against unmanned aerial systems and operator training.

Raytheon developing advanced laser systems for US Air Force deployment

Raytheon’s High-Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS) uses pure energy to detect, identify and instantly take down drones. It can target a single drone with precision. The HELWS is paired with Raytheon’s Multi-spectral Targeting System. It uses invisible beams of light to defeat hostile Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs). Mounted on a Polaris MRZR all-terrain vehicle, the system detects, identifies, tracks and engages drones.

«Every day, there’s another story about a rogue drone incident», said Stefan Baur, vice president of Raytheon Electronic Warfare Systems. «These threats aren’t going away, and in many instances, shooting them with a high energy laser weapon system is the most effective and safest way to bring them down».

The contract follows successful demonstrations of Raytheon’s directed energy systems for the Air Force and the U.S. Army.

System Panzergrenadier

Rheinmetall is taking on a key role in equipping the NATO spearhead Very High Joint Readiness Task Force 2023 (VJTF 2023), which will be furnished by the German Bundeswehr. Contracts have now been awarded to a consortium for the «System Panzergrenadier VJTF 2023» project, in which Rheinmetall’s share comes to over €470 million, including value added tax. Work has already begun and is set to continue through to the end of the VJTF readiness phase in 2024.

System Panzergrenadier consists of the Puma infantry combat vehicle and the modular Future Soldier – Expanded System (IdZ-ES) soldier system; both are shown here in service with Panzergrenadier Battalion 112 (RhM photo)

On 11 July 2019, the Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-service Support awarded a corresponding contract to ARGE Puma, a consortium consisting of Puma manufacturer PSM Projekt System Management GmbH – a joint venture in which Rheinmetall holds a 50% stake – and Rheinmetall Electronics GmbH. Subcontracting within ARGE will take place shortly.

«System Panzergrenadier» links the Puma infantry fighting vehicle – the mainstay of the German Army’s mechanized infantry – with the modular Future Soldier – Expanded System (IdZ-ES) soldier system, in an advanced, network-enabled warfare environment.

Included in the «System Panzergrenadier VJTF 2023» package is a comprehensive combat performance upgrade of forty-one Puma infantry fighting vehicles, coupled with additional measures for improving communication between the infantry fighting vehicles and dismounted infantrymen. For Rheinmetall, the total value of this order comes to €258.3 million, including value added tax. The systems will be delivered at the end of 2020/beginning of 2021.

Among other things, the package also encompasses complete logistic support of the VJTF Pumas for a period of five years, i.e. spare parts, special tools and spare parts logistics. Also included is a new generation of digital radios for the infantry fighting vehicles as well as integration of the MELLS multirole light guided missile system, significantly expanding the capabilities spectrum of Puma. New daylight and thermal imaging cameras and a color display feature in the upgrade too. Optimized day and night vision will increase the range of reconnaissance, while simultaneously widening the crew’s field of view. Furthermore, new training resources will enable the unit to train in a highly realistic manner.

Closely linked to the hardware of the new optronic systems and monitors for the infantry fighting vehicles is the contract for development of the «Vision Enhancement, Chassis», which is already underway. Including value added tax, it represents sales of €67.2 million, including value added tax.

Furthermore, Rheinmetall is equipping the mechanized infantry companies of the VJTF 2023 with «TacNet», its Battle Management System (BMS). In addition, an initial lot of ten platoon versions of the «Future Soldier – Expanded System» soldier system will be brought up to modern VJTF 2023 standard. Improved communication between the Puma crew and the dismounted infantry section will result in a continuously updated, uniform common operational picture. This way, Rheinmetall gives mechanized infantry a command-and-control capability that extends from the company commander to the individual rifleman on the ground. These modernization moves will mean incoming orders for Rheinmetall worth €146.5 million, including value added tax.

«System Panzergrenadier VJTF 2023» substantially enhances the fighting strength of the VJTF 2023. At the same time, Rheinmetall views these measures as a template for further modernization and digitization of the Bundeswehr.

Modernizing the command and control capabilities of complete mechanized infantry companies and bringing the IdZ-ES up to VJTF 2023 standard involves modifying the hardware and software. Dispensing with the «electronic backbone» is one key innovation. Others include advanced new radio systems for dismounted troops and infantry fighting vehicles, which result in improved command capabilities as well as enabling secure transmission of large amounts of data.

During development of the new vision systems and their integration into the Puma, an initial lot of five sets of prototype assemblies will be fabricated and integrated into five standard vehicles. These tasks are to be complete by 2021. Verification will then take place at the Bundeswehr’s technical centres by 2023.

Furthermore, digitization of the vision technology will proceed in tandem with implementation of NATO Generic Vehicle Architecture (NGVA) in the Puma. It forms the foundation for the future sensor-to-shooter nexus. Already underway, the networking of sensors and effectors in individual vehicles will soon enable the networking of sensors and effectors in entire units and formations. As a result, the Puma will be one of the world’s first digitized combat vehicles.

Anti-drone system

Indra has revealed the strategy that will protect critical infrastructures, airports, official buildings and public events from the ever-increasing threat that the next generation of drones will bring.

Indra strengthens its ARMS system to counter the next generation of drones

The popularity and, accessibility of these aircraft continues to grow. The systems will also have increasingly advanced range, navigation and loading capabilities.

To counter them «the rapid and constant development of anti-drone systems is necessary, a pace that only few companies in the world like Indra will be able to match», the company explained last week in the specialized event Countering Drones in London, attended by leading European technology, regulatory bodies and end users.

Indra leads this market with the ARMS system, a mature technology that it has already supplied for military use, making Indra one of the leading companies in this field.

Incidents such as those experienced at the Gatwick and Heathrow airports have highlighted the losses in the millions that can be incurred by the mere presence of such aircraft, either by pilot error or with hostile or illicit intent.

For Indra, the strategy to follow to defend any space must be based on three basic principles: adaptation to the specific needs of the environment being protected; integration and combined use of different sensors and countermeasures; and redundant use of sensors in terms of both number and location.

This will be the way to deal with increasingly intelligent and autonomous drones, which can swarm and make coordinated attacks.

To counteract them, there must be surveillance systems capable of detecting and identifying small drones. These systems must cope with different strategies of deception, concealment or even jamming that specialized attackers can develop.

The anti-drone systems must identify their type fast, even the drone model, and classify it as a friendly or enemy model.

They will incorporate highly targeted and effective soft countermeasures, something especially important for their use at airports to avoid interfering with radar and electronic systems, including their own aircraft.

The collaboration of governments, security forces and operators, regulators, system manufacturers and researchers will be essential.

The regulatory framework must clarify who can use an anti-drone system, under what conditions and to what extent. The procedures to be followed in each scenario must be agreed upon depending on the type of threat.

The company paid special attention in its analysis to the case of airports, in which the anti-drone system will have to be integrated with Air Traffic Management (ATM) and Unmanned Aircraft Management (UTM) systems to discriminate the authorized ones from those which may constitute a real threat.

The countermeasures that are used in this environment must be especially precise so as not to affect security or interrupt the service. In the military environment, the same applies to its integrated use with air defense systems.

Indra is one of the few companies in the world that masters all the technologies involved in the development of anti-drone systems. It is one of the leading manufacturers of radar and air defense systems in the world, it also leads the development of electronic defense systems, sensors of all kinds, communications and it develops its own drones. It is also one of the main suppliers of ATM systems, with projects delivered in 160 countries and which has the Indra Air Drone solution for UTM management.

Spanish Piranha

The Council of Ministers has approved the conclusion of a contract for the manufacture of 8×8 wheeled combat vehicles.

Originally launched in 2010 but twice suspended because of insufficient funding, Spain’s VCR 8×8 program was approved July 12; it calls for about 1,000 Piranha 5 armored vehicles in three separate batches at a total cost of over €3.8 billion (SP Army photo)

The object of the contract is the supply of manufacturing of the first production batch of 348 Vehiculos de Combate a Ruedas (8×8 Wheeled Combat Vehicles, VCR 8×8) in 13 different configurations, including the respective components of mission systems (armament, level of protection, sensors, communications and command and control systems) as well as Logistic Support (AL) products derived from the corresponding Logistic Support Analysis (AAL). The VCR 8×8 is a Mowag Piranha 5 armored vehicle adapted to Spanish Army requirements.

The attack suffered in June 2007 in Lebanon, in which six soldiers died, showed the vulnerability of the vehicles then in use, which motivated defense minister José Antonio Alonso and, later, Carme Chacón to initiate the program to replace the fleet of wheeled armored vehicles.

It was later decided to also replace the vehicles used in peacekeeping operations (BMR) with others that better meet conditions.

Thus, the object of this contract is to renew the fleet of combat vehicles in service with the Spanish Army (BMR, VEC, Lince, RG-31, TOA M-113, VCZ) with a single, modular vehicle based on an open architecture.

These vehicles will provide the capability to protect the Forces that cannot be achieved at present with the Army’s BMR vehicles, which are already obsolete and have fully completed their life cycle.

The contract that has now been authorized has its origins in the decision by the Council of Ministers of November 2, 2007, which approved the ‘Armed Forces Renewal Plan’ that called for procuring a new wheeled armored vehicle to replace the obsolete Blindados Medios sobre Ruedas (Medium Wheeled Armored Vehicle, BMR). However, the program was interrupted due to lack of funding.

The requirement to provide our Armed Forces with an operational vehicle that guaranteed both the efficiency of military operations and the safety of its crew determined the need to resume the program. The Council of Ministers of July 31, 2015, authorized the award of the contract for the development of technologies for a future 8×8 wheel combat vehicle (VCR 8×8) that led to the acquisition that has now been approved.

It is also important to note that by agreement of the Council of Ministers of December 14, 2018, the limits established in article 47 of the General Budget Law were modified to acquire expenditure commitments, in order to enable the Ministry of Defense to reschedule the annuities of the Special Programs of Modernization of the Armed Forces derived from the acquisition of 348 units of 8×8 Wheeled Combat Vehicles.

The authorized administrative contract is within the legal business excluded from the scope of application of Law 24/2011, of August 1, of public sector contracts in the fields of defense and security under article 7.1.b., according to the declaration of the Ministry of Defense’s defense and essential security interests, dated July 1, 2019, and the estimated value of the contract amounts to € 2,083,275,262.81, distributed in annuities which extend from 2019 to 2030.

Currently, Santa Bárbara Sistemas is the main contractor and the Technical Integration Authority, together with the companies Indra and SAPA as first-level subcontractors, as it is the only option with sufficient industrial capacity to complete the contract.

The development of the program will strengthen the Spanish industrial base by obtaining a national product, integrated and with the design authority in Spain, technologically advanced and world-class, with many export possibilities because it is in high demand in all Armies.

In addition, it will have a significant impact on the economies of Alcalá de Guadaira (Seville), Trubia, (Asturias), Aranjuez (Madrid) and Andoain (Guipúzcoa), towns in which the companies participating in the project have production plants.

In total, it is estimated that the production of the new armored vehicle will generate some 650 direct jobs, and another 1,000 indirect ones.