Category Archives: Rocket

Principal strike weapon

Strike fighters flying from Royal Navy aircraft carriers will be armed with the next-generation of lethal missiles following a £550m deal.

SPEAR3
Carriers’ F-35 jets to get next-generation air-to-ground missile

SPEAR3 will become the principal strike weapon of the F-35B Lightning II jets operating from the decks of HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) and HMS Prince of Wales (R09).

Designed to knock out warships, tanks and armoured vehicles, missile launchers, bunkers, radar posts and air defence batteries, the new missile can be fired at such long range – more than 140 kilometres (nearly 90 miles) – it should keep the Navy and Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots out of harm’s way from enemy ground defences.

Defence firm MBDA has been awarded £550m to equip the Lightning Force – based at RAF Marham – with the new weapon, which has been developed over the past decade and will be introduced to the front line over the next seven years.

Weighing under 90 kg/198 lbs. and just 1.8 metres/5.9 feet long, SPEAR3 – Select Precision Effects At Range missile No.3 – is powered at high subsonic speeds by a turbojet engine, can operate across land and sea, day or night, and strike at moving and stationary targets.

It will support 700 jobs in the UK – 190 of them highly-skilled technology jobs in system design, guidance control and navigation and software engineering – at sites around the country including Bristol, Stevenage and Bolton.

Testing, simulation and trials will include controlled firings from a Typhoon aircraft before the missile is delivered to Marham and the Portsmouth-based carriers for front-line operations.

 

CHARACTERISTICS

Weight: < 100 kg/220 lbs.
Length < 2 m/6.56 feet
Diameter 180 mm/7 inches
Operational range 140 kilometres/90 miles

 

Sea Venom

The Sea Venom/ANL anti-ship missile has completed its qualification firings trials, with a successful final firing at the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) test site at Ile du Levant on 17 November.

Sea Venom/ANL
MBDA completes qualification firing trials of the Sea Venom/ANL missile

Soon to start equipping the Royal Navy’s AW159 Wildcat and Marine nationale’s H160M Guépard shipborne helicopters, the Sea Venom/ANL anti-ship missile is a co-operation project developed under the Lancaster House treaty between France and the United Kingdom. The Sea Venom/ANL missile is the first programme to take full advantage of the cross-border centres of excellence on missile technologies launched by the Lancaster House treaty, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary this month.

The final qualification trial tested the missile’s advanced target discrimination within a complex and cluttered naval scenario.

Éric Béranger, MBDA CEO, said: «I want to congratulate the UK-French teams across both MBDA and our governments for the commitment they have shown in meeting this qualification milestone amid the disruption caused by Covid-19. Together they have proven that through co-operation we can jointly overcome adversity and deliver leading edge military capabilities».

Previous trials have tested the missiles launch envelope, release envelope and engagement modes, such as its low-altitude sea-skimming flight, Lock On After Launch (LOAL), Lock On Before Launch (LOBL), operator-in-the-loop, and aimpoint refinement.

ICBM target

The Missile Defense Agency successfully intercepted a Northrop Grumman Corporation built Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) target that was launched during a flight test from the Reagan Test Site in the Kwajalein Atoll.

FTM-44
Company’s ICBM target and its ground control systems contribute to homeland defense test

FTM-44 satisfies a Congressional mandate to demonstrate that the MDA can use the Navy’s Aegis Combat System equipped with the Standard Missile 3 Block IIA (SM-3 IIA) to intercept intercontinental threats.

«As the ICBM target prime contractor for the Missile Defense Agency, we understand how critical it is to launch a realistic threat target to ensure our nation’s defense systems work when called upon», said Scott Lehr, vice president and general manager, launch and missile defense systems, Northrop Grumman. «With this successful test, the MDA has successfully demonstrated critical capabilities for the defense of our country utilizing many of Northrop Grumman’s missile defense capabilities».

Northrop Grumman is also the prime contractor on the Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) target, which is air-launched from a C-17 aircraft to provide the MDA with flexibility in mission engagement scenarios. To date, the company has supported three ICBM target launches and five IRBM target launches with 18 more on contract for future test missions with the MDA. Northrop Grumman also offers additional short, medium and long-range targets to meet evolving threats.

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.

SM-3 Block IIA Missile Excels in First Ever ICBM Intercept Test

 

ICBM
The MDA successfully intercepted a Northrop Grumman built ICBM target that was launched during a flight test from the Reagan Test Site in the Kwajalein Atoll

Missile for the Tiger

French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly has announced that MBDA is to develop the Future Tactical Air-to-Surface Missile (MAST-F) program as the main French Army air to ground armament for the Tiger combat helicopter.

MAST-F
MBDA to develop the combat missile for the Tiger helicopter

MBDA was selected after proposing to the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA – French Procurement Agency) its MHT/MLP concept (Missile Haut de Trame/Missile Longue Portée – high tier missile/long-range mobile missile) that builds on the technologies of the mid-range Missile Moyenne Portée (MMP), the first 5th generation land combat missile to enter service around the world. Its modular architecture enables easy integration of the MHT/MLP onto a variety of land or air combat platforms in addition to the Tiger.

The MHT/MLP is characterised by its high operational effectiveness. Weighing 20% less than other missiles in its category provides a weight saving of nearly 100 kg/220 lbs. for the Tiger helicopter, which can carry up to eight missiles in combat configuration. Exploiting this weight saving increases the Tiger’s fuel capacity and so its combat endurance, with a significant gain in «Playtime».

The MHT/MLP has a range of over 8 km/5 miles, even when fired from a stationary platform at low altitude. Its multi-effect warhead can handle a wide variety of targets, from modern battle tanks to hardened combat infrastructure. The MHT/MLP performs day or night, including in Beyond-Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) mode, with a two-way data link that sends images from the missile’s high-resolution visible and infrared optronic seeker back to the operator. The crew of the Tiger can use this imagery to choose the missile’s point of impact or to select a new target in flight, making the weapon suitable for fluid battlefield situations.

Commenting on the launch of the programme, MBDA CEO Eric Béranger declared: «The MHT/MLP missile combines new technologies, developed with the support of the DGA, with the tried and tested components of the MMP, making it an effector at the forefront of today’s tactical land combat missiles. It offers a flexibility of use unmatched in today’s armed forces, while minimising development risks. And with its all-European design authority, the MHT/MLP programme will fully contribute to the strategic autonomy objectives set by France and the European Union».

«With nearly 350 jobs per year over the next five years and, ultimately, around 250 annual jobs in France during the first 10 years of its production, the development and production of this new missile will help maintain of the national industrial and technological base, and in particular in the Centre region», he added.

Missile Defense

The U.S. Army and Northrop Grumman Corporation have deployed enhanced Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS) capabilities in South Korea, advancing battlespace awareness and missile defense in the region.

JTAGS
The U.S. Army and Northrop Grumman recently deployed enhanced Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS) capabilities into modernized facilities in South Korea. JTAGS enables early warning of missile attacks and other events (Northrop Grumman photo)

This deployment marks the completion of phase one of the JTAGS modernization program. The system was first fielded in tactical shelters in 1997 to provide in-theater missile warning using data directly from satellite sensors.

«This is a tremendous milestone in our decades-long mission of delivering missile warning and defense capabilities to protect our joint warfighters and allies», said Kenn Todorov, vice president and general manager, combat systems and mission readiness, Northrop Grumman. «JTAGS is vital to warfighters and of growing importance as we create true Joint All-Domain Command and Control systems, especially as we find new ways to integrate and leverage space-based assets».

JTAGS receives and processes data directly down-linked from the Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) constellation of satellites, including Defense Support Program and Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) sensors, and other infrared satellite sensors. JTAGS then disseminates near-real-time warning, alerting and cueing information on ballistic missile launches and other tactical events of interest throughout the theater using multiple communications networks.

Under the phase one modernization effort, Northrop Grumman and the Army installed JTAGS Block II in permanent facilities in Japan, Qatar, Italy and the Republic of Korea, with updates to hardware, software and communication systems, and enhancements to cyber-security and the soldier-machine interface. The deployments included soldier training and exercise support capabilities.

Northrop Grumman is already executing phase two of the JTAGS Pre-planned Product Improvement (P3I) modernization program, delivering additional sensor processing capabilities and updating software architecture.

Under the direction of the JTAGS Product Office, Integrated Fires Mission Command (IFMC) Project Office, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, Northrop Grumman has been the JTAGS prime contractor since 1994, responsible for developing, fielding, maintaining and enhancing the system worldwide.

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.

Operations center
The U.S. Army and Northrop Grumman recently deployed enhanced Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS) capabilities in South Korea, including a modernized operations center (Northrop Grumman photo)

Officially handed over

National/Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS) medium-range air defence systems has been officially handed over to the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Representatives of the National Defence System and Kongsberg, Norwegian manufacturer of NASAMS, signed a document certifying good testing results of the system on October 30 at the Lithuanian Armed Forces Air Defence Battalion. On that moment Lithuania became a full-fledged owner of the systems that had been delivered to the Air Defence Battalion from Norway in the summer this year.

NASAMS
NASAMS medium-range air defence system officially handed over to the Lithuanian Armed Forces

«Guarded airspace is among the most critical enablers for Allies to deploy into the region if such a necessity arises», Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis says. «We have acquired a fully assembled and integrated mid-range air defence capability, something we were in need and short of so far, in NASAMS. This, to a degree, fills one of the worst gaps in national defence – airspace security».

Minister also points out the excellent synergy among the Lithuanian and the Norwegian Defence Ministries, the Lithuanian Air Force and Kongsberg that has enabled the implementation of such a critical project within the set timeline and financial limits.

«Arrival of the system enhances Lithuania’s airspace defence and further strengthens deterrence. When we link together all the components of collective defence, we get the good result that makes potential adversaries think twice on their intents and gives more security and discretion to us», Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupšys underscores.

NASAMS is the most widely used medium-range air defence system across NATO. Lithuania has acquired the latest, third generation system (NASAMS 3) which is still used by the manufacturer, Norway, only.

NASAMS 3 comprises command post fire distribution centres, missile canister launchers, communications equipment, etc. The procurement has been coupled with upgrading of the short-range air defence systems RBS-70 in possession of the Lithuanian Armed Forces – the two systems will be integrated into the overall Lithuanian air defence shield.

Specialized staff began training to operate the new acquisition back in late 2019, in Norway, using training methodology and programmes developed by the Norwegian Armed Forces and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. Later the training was continued in Lithuania – Norwegian experts and Lithuanian military have been working on it at the Air Defence Battalion. Staff training is planned to be completed and integration of the Lithuanian NASAMS into the NATO Integrated Air Defence System begun by 2021.

The MoD Work Group analysed mid-range air defence systems available on the market to implement the NASAMS procurement project. Potential procurements were assessed according to such criteria as efficiency, compatibility with the systems used by other NATO allies, maintenance and repair costs, timetable of delivery, etc. NASAMS was selected as the closest choice to the formulated requirement and criteria.

The contract on procuring the NASAMS mid-range air defence system for the Lithuanian Air Force was signed on 26 October 2017 by the Ministry of National Defence and Norway’s Kongsberg, NASAMS manufacturer. The contract has made the cooperation between Lithuania and Norway stronger, which is very important to the security of the Baltic region allies in the current geopolitical context.

Harpoon Missiles

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO) of up to one hundred (100) Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems (HCDS) and related equipment for an estimated cost of $2.37 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II
By approving the sale of 500 Harpoon anti-ship missiles to Taiwan, the United States is reinforcing the island’s ability to defend itself against an amphibious invasion, but is also ratcheting up the ongoing war of words with China (US Navy photo)

TECRO has requested to buy up to one hundred (100) Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems (HCDS) consisting of up to four hundred (400) RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Surface Launched Missiles; and four (4) RTM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Exercise Missiles.

Also included are four hundred and eleven (411) containers, one hundred (100) Harpoon Coastal Defense System Launcher Transporter Units, twenty-five (25) radar trucks, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor representatives’ technical assistance, engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support.

The total estimated program cost is $2.37 billion.

This proposed sale is consistent with U.S. law and policy as expressed in Public Law 96-8.

This proposed sale serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability. The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, economic and progress in the region.

This proposed sale will improve the recipient’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing a flexible solution to augment existing surface and air defenses. The recipient will be able to employ a highly reliable and effective system to counter or deter maritime aggressions, coastal blockades, and amphibious assaults. This capability will easily integrate into existing force infrastructure. The recipient will have no difficulty absorbing these systems into its armed forces.

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

The principal contractor will be The Boeing Company, St. Louis, Missouri. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of two (2) U.S. contractor representatives to the recipient for a duration of 8 years to support technical reviews, support, and oversight.

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

Naval Strike Missile

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Romania of Naval Strike Missile (NSM) Coastal Defense Systems (CDS) and related equipment for an estimated cost of $300 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

Naval Strike Missile (NSM)
The Naval Strike Missile was developed by Norway’s Kongsberg, and is now being marketed internationally by Raytheon. Romania has been cleared to buy two coastal defense versions with four mobile launchers (Kongsberg photo)

The Government of Romania has requested to buy two (2) Coastal Defense Systems (CDS) consisting of up to ten (10) Link-16 Multifunctional Information Distribution System – Joint Tactical Radio Systems (MIDS-JTRS).

Also included are two Coastal Defense System Fire Distribution Centers; four Mobile Launch Vehicles; Transport Loading Vehicles; Naval Strike Missiles; non-operational Inert Handling/Loading Missile (IHM) to support missile handling and loading/unloading; training missile and equipment spares; associated containers; training and training equipment; publications and technical documentation; spares parts; loading and mobile maintenance support; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support.

The estimated total cost is $300 million.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO Ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale will enhance U.S. national security objectives in the region.

The proposed sale will improve Romania’s capability to meet current and future threats by improving Romania’s maritime defense capabilities in the Black Sea and increasing interoperability with the United States. Romania will use this long-range, precision strike weapon to enhance mission effectiveness, survivability, and NATO interoperability in current and future missions and operations. Romania will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment and support into its armed forces.

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

The principal U.S. contractor will be Raytheon Missile and Defense, Tucson, AZ. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of the proposed sale will require U.S. Government and contractor personnel to visit Romania on a temporary basis in conjunction with program technical oversight and support requirements, including program and technical reviews, as well as to provide training and maintenance support in country.

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

This notice of a potential sale is required by law. The description and dollar value is for the highest estimated quantity and dollar value based on initial requirements. Actual dollar value will be lower depending on final requirements, budget authority, and signed sales agreement(s), if and when concluded.

Air Defence System

On the occasion of the Euronaval-Online exhibition, MBDA announces the commercial launch of its new Vertical Launch (VL) Missile D’interception, de Combat et D’autodéfense (MICA – interception, combat and self-defence missile) New Generation (NG) air defence system.

VL MICA NG
MBDA launches the new VL MICA NG air defence system

The VL MICA NG system is based on the integration into the existing VL MICA system of the MICA NG anti-air missile, which began development in 2018 primarily to equip France’s Rafale combat aircraft. The VL MICA system family – now adopted, in its naval or land-based versions, by 15 armed forces around the world – will consequently benefit from enhanced potential to counter future threats.

About the VL MICA NG system, MBDA CEO Eric Béranger declared: «After two years of development on the New Generation MICA missile, we have acquired a deep understanding of the performance of this brand new air-to-air missile which allows us, in full confidence, to market its integration into VL MICA ground-to-air or surface-to-air defence systems. The total compatibility between the two generations of missile will allow armed forces to combine them with their existing systems, thus maximizing their return on investments».

Thanks to the technological innovations it incorporates, the new VL MICA NG system offers improved capabilities to handle atypical targets (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [UAVs], small aircraft) as well as future threats, characterised by increasingly low observable infrared and radio frequency signatures. Additionally, it will be able to intercept at longer distances the ‘conventional’ targets (aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles) already addressed by the current VL MICA system.

The dimensions of the MICA NG munition remain unchanged, allowing it to be integrated into existing VL MICA launchers. The existing missile data link mechanisms are compatible with the increased kinematic performance of the missiles, enabling current VL MICA systems to be upgraded to VL MICA NG standard by simple software updates.

 

About the MICA NG missile

Based on an entirely new design, the MICA NG missile inherits the external dimensions and unique concept that has made the MICA anti-air missile such a success for a quarter of a century. This concept means MICA features either an infrared or a radio frequency seeker on the same common missile body, allowing the operator, at the moment of firing, to select the best option to respond to the tactics adopted by the adversary.

On the MICA NG, a new infrared seeker based on a matrix sensor will provide increased sensitivity, while a new radio frequency seeker with an Active Electronically Scanned Antenna (AESA) will allow for smart detection strategies. The lower volume of electronic components will enable the MICA NG to carry a larger load of propellant, significantly extending its range, and the new dual-pulse rocket motor will provide additional energy to the missile at the end of its flight, improving its manoeuvrability and its ability to intercept targets at long range. In surface-to-air mode, the MICA NG will be able to intercept targets over 40 km/25 miles away. Finally, maintenance and ownership costs will be significantly reduced thanks to internal sensors that will monitor the status of the munition throughout its life cycle.

The MICA NG missile will be available in series production from 2026.

Operational Fires

As Lockheed Martin continues the work with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to advance the unique hypersonic technologies of its Operational Fires (OpFires) program, the company today announced its initial round of key subcontractors on the program. OpFires seeks to develop and demonstrate an innovative ground-launched system to enable a hypersonic boost glide missile system to penetrate modern enemy air defenses and rapidly engage time-sensitive targets.

OpFires program
Lockheed Martin’s OpFires team is developing a missile with a unique throttleable booster that can defeat targets across the medium-range spectrum

Joining prime contractor Lockheed Martin on the OpFires Phase Three Weapon System Integration program are Northrop Grumman, Dynetics, and Electronic Concepts & Engineering, Inc (ECE).

«The engineering innovation required to deliver this maneuverable and rapid-response solution demands a best-of-industry team», said Steven Botwinik, director of Tactical and Strike Missiles Advanced Programs. «OpFires and its unique throttleable booster make it a versatile platform to launch a variety of payloads over varied ranges and for this reason, OpFires is well-suited to address the Army’s Medium Range Strategic Fires needs».

Specifically, the new subcontractors on the program will support the technology development in the following ways:

  • Northrop Grumman in Elkton, Md., will develop the stage one solid rocket motor;
  • Dynetics in Huntsville, Ala., will deliver the cannister, all up round and fins, and support integration and test; and
  • ECE, a small business based in Holland, Ohio, will provide the booster power pyro module.

Lockheed Martin has played a significant role in the research, development and demonstration of hypersonic technologies for more than 30 years. The corporation has made significant investments in key technology and capability development – including hypersonic strike capabilities and defense systems against emerging hypersonic threats and is supporting all branches of the U.S. military on these hypersonic programs.

The company expects to complete its first live fire in 2021.