Wednesday, September 14, 2011

DSEI - Day 2

Negotiations start for replenishing stocks of Paveway IV bombs, meanwhile it orders new Brimstones: Raytheon Systems UK has announced to have received a MOD request for an undisclosed number of Paveway IV bombs, needed to replenish the stocks dangerously reduced after heavy usage of the weapon type in Libya. Meanwhile, MBDA confirms that the MOD has already ordered new Brimstones, and while it is not specified, we can safely assume that we are talking of Dual Mode Brimstomes.

Both these orders should be covered by Treasury Reserve’s money under the agreements put in place for covering the costs of Libya’s ops.

Watchkeeper updates: tests are ongoing, with the deployment of a full Watchkeeper unit at Initial Operating Capability in Afghanistan planned for this December. The Watchkeeper OCU will deploy and supply forces in theatre with a 6th UAV task line, with the other 5 being provided by the 12 Hermes 450 drones leased under UOR from Thales and deployed under Project Lydian in 2007.

Since Lydian began in June 2007, Thales has worked closely with the 1st Artillery Brigade’s 32 and 47 Regiments, which are tasked with UAS operations and which will be the operators of Watchkeeper. The Lydian fleet recently racked up the 50,000th hour in more than 4,000 sorties. The five task lines produce around 70 hours of full motion video daily, and the Hermes 450 has been a crucial asset in Afghanistan. Lessons from its employment have fed directly into the Watchkeeper programme.

Watchkeeper will start supplying one ISTAR Task Line in December, and will expand to three next April when the first regular unit (likely to be 47 Regiment) has completed training. By October the Watchkeeper fleet is expected to be handling six task lines, allowing the Lydian project to be terminated.

The UK Watchkeeper order is for 54 drones, 13 Ground Control Stations plus 2 more for training. Each GCS can control up to three air vehicles and is manned by five personnel: UAV operator, payload operator, mission commander, communications operator and image analyst.

A dedicated training facility with full- and part-task trainers, plus other tools, has been established at Larkhill, where the first army personnel began in May. This initial cadre will be the first to take the WK450 to Afghanistan at the end of the year as an operational conversion unit.
At present, both test and training flying is undertaken at the ParcAberporth facility in west Wales, which has a large overland airspace allocation that stretches to the army’s Sennybridge training area. From December, live training flights will be undertaken from Boscombe Down, close to Larkhill and the army’s Salisbury Plain Training Area.

Initial flight test and evaluation has been completed, the first flight of a Watchkeeper in the UK having been undertaken on 14 April last year. Since then, more than 400 hours have been flown in more than 270 flights. Last month, Watchkeeper demonstrated its altitude and endurance capability in a single 14-hour flight that reached 16,000ft. When the air vehicle landed, it still had around four hours of fuel remaining. WK450 has also demonstrated multi-payload control, and has been flown up to 115km from the GCS, approaching the 150km stipulated in the requirement.

The new Reapers: RAF Reapers have flown Afghan missions totalling more than 25,000h from Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan since their introduction in 2007, controlled by a contingent based at the US Air Force's Creech AFB in Nevada.

Its aircraft are typically flown on 12h sorties at altitudes between 20,000ft (6,100m) and 30,000ft, armed with four Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and two Raytheon GBU-12 Paveway II 226kg (500lb) bombs. Some 190 weapons have been used so far, with roughly 75% of this total being Hellfires.

Deliveries under the follow-on order (124 million pounds for 5 drones and associated equipment) will commence in 2012, with current plans calling for the MoD's urgent operational requirement deal to conclude in March 2015. However, options exist to extend this in one-year instalments, and potentially allow the UK to bridge the gap until the planned introduction of its Scavenger medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air system from 2018. The fleet, however, is being hard worked: the RAF's fleet-leader has now accumulated more than 9,500 flight hours, which means that by 2015 this, and potentially other drones of the fleet will have used up all of their airframe life.

Earlier this year the MoD revealed plans to establish a new mission control element for the Reaper at RAF Waddington, in Lincolnshire, as additional aircraft are introduced. However, the service is investigating the possibility of also retaining capability in the USA, to better support its operations in Afghanistan.

Since September 2010, the UK's Reaper force has been capable of delivering 36h of intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance cover each day, supported by 21 crews. The forthcoming expansion will see this rise to providing up to three 24h "orbits" continuously, with an increased total of 44 crews.

The type has demonstrated an airframe and sensor reliability rate of over 95% since entering use, but two drones have been lost to failures during service.

Rolls Royce going strong with CVF propulsion components: Under the Carrier Alliance arrangement, Rolls-Royce is supplying the gas turbine alternators (GTA), steering gear, stabilisers, shaftlines, propellers and low-voltage electrical system for the two 65,000-tonne carriers. Equipment deliveries for first-of-class Queen Elizabeth are nearing completion, with manufacture activities and initial deliveries underway for Prince of Wales.

“We have now delivered getting on for 50 per cent of our equipment to the programme,” Ben Ford, head of programmes at Rolls-Royce Naval, told the DSEi Daily. “We are on time; in fact, slightly ahead of schedule.”

The two MT30 gas turbines for Queen Elizabeth have completed testing and are now at Cullum for integration within the complete GTA package. The second pair of MT30s, destined for Prince of Wales, are already complete and in storage.

The first propeller set has been delivered from the Rolls-Royce facility in Kristinehamn, Sweden. Each ship will have two adjustable bolted propellers – measuring almost 7m in diameter and weighing 33 tonnes – manufactured from nickel aluminium bronze and featuring five blades mounted on a central hub. Stabilisers for both ships are already complete. Meanwhile, steering gear has been delivered for Queen Elizabeth, with the shipset for Prince of Wales to complete later in 2011.

Marshall aims to give British Army a whole range of UGVs: three unmanned ground vehicles developed by Marshall Land Systems – Questar, Trakkar and EyeDrive – are at the centre of the unmanned demonstrations taking place in the North Hall at DSEi.

Leading the display is the Questar, a fast and agile reconnaissance robot that weighs 49kg. Depending on mission profile, it has a range of 3km or an endurance of 90 minutes. It is fitted with Cobham’s DOMO communications and datalink, and has been developed with feedback from trials in realistic operational environments.

Questar can carry a variety of sensors such as CBRN detectors, acoustic direction finders and explosives sniffers. In the demonstration it is configured with a Niitek ground-penetrating radar for clearing paths in advance of the infantry patrol.

For detailed inspection and for providing situational awareness at close quarters and confined areas, Marshall LS has developed the EyeDrive. This ‘throw-bot’ has five integrated video cameras giving a 360° panoramic view, and another camera with tilt/ zoom capability and a laser pointer for more detailed examination. Additional payload options are available, including an explosive EOD disruptor charge for counter IED tasks.

Trakkar is a modular surveillance/load-carrying robot. It has an ABSL multifunction battery charger that can be used on-station for charging the batteries of personal equipment, and a low-noise CMCA diesel generator that tops up the vehicle’s own battery drive. In discreet mode, with the generator switched off, Trakkar has an endurance of three to four hours. Trakkar aims specifically at filling the British Army requirement for an Assisted Carriage System, a load carrier to support infantry patrols by carrying the heavy gear.

Trakkar can be configured with many different sensors as well, though, covering more specific roles. In the demonstration the vehicle is fitted with a Roke Manor Resolve electronic warfare system, and a Chess Dynamics Owl electro-optical director mounted on a 3m extending mast from Clark Mast.

SOLOMON ISTAR programme proceeds: originally conceived under the name Dabinett to address a capability gap in the provision of deep and persistent ISTAR capability, the programme – renamed Solomon in 2010 – has subsequently been re-cast to provide an overarching architecture for the execution of the complete end-to-end information and intelligence process.

The UK Ministry of Defence has now awarded Lockheed Martin UK a £22 million contract to deliver an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) Information Integration and Management (I3M) capability in support of its Solomon ISTAR programme.

The I3M component, only the first component of the wider SOLOMON solution, is designed to contribute to optimisation of ISTAR resource allocation. It will focus on enabling improved management of intelligence requirements and requests for information as well as the introduction of a comprehensive resource-tasking function.

SUSAT is far from gone: the over 11.000 new sights procured under FIST 1A STA and the adoption of the Elcan Specter as new day optic for the British Army assault rifles does not mean that the popular (even if a bit heavy) SUSAT optic is to vanish.  

The UK MoD’s Defence Support Group has awarded Kent Periscopes (Stand S3-566) a contract to provide repair and refurbishment services for the SUSAT weapon sight. The contract includes an additional one-year term that can be extended until 2015, and provides for the refurbishment of up to 6,500 units a year.

The first Wildcat Battlefield Utility Helicopter will be delivered to the army next year: the first of a development batch of three aircraft took to the air in November 2009, followed by the second in October 2010 and the third a month later. The three aircraft have now flown 350 hours of the 600-hour integrated flight test programme.

Milestones achieved this year include the no. 1 aircraft recently completing a six-week hot-and-high trials campaign in Colorado, where it conducted 45 hours of testing at altitudes of up to 14,000ft.

Aircraft no. 2 has been busy testing the integration of the avionics and mission sensors, and has recently completed chaff and flare firing trials.

Aircraft no. 3 has been testing weapon load configurations, and has flown with loads in support of the integration of the Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon light and heavy missiles that are intended to be the Lynx Wildcat’s principal armament. Next month, the aircraft will go to sea for shipborne helicopter operating limit trials, with a further campaign scheduled for early next year.

Meanwhile, AgustaWestland has started production and flew the first production machine at Yeovil on 20 April this year. The second production aircraft flew on 1 September. A further seven aircraft are now in the final assembly process.

AgustaWestland is on course to deliver the first aircraft to the British Army next year, with an eye on that service becoming fully operational with the AW159 in 2014. The Navy follows in 2015. Training by AgustaWestland of army crews for the Lynx Wildcat is to begin early next year, before moving to a new integrated training facility that is being established at RNAS Yeovilton.

AgustaWestland was awarded an integrated training solution contract in March this year, and the facility is scheduled to begin its first course for army aircrew and maintainers in January 2013. The first navy courses will begin in January 2014.

The Lynx Wildcat Training Centre will be equipped with a variety of synthetic training aids, including two full mission simulators with six degrees of freedom, flight training device and cockpit procedures trainer, plus electronic classrooms and briefing rooms. Currently AgustaWestland is developing with the MoD an integrated operational support solution for the Lynx Wildcat.

TATA Steel will give the UK its first inshore Armour-grade steel producing plant:  in a very welcome news from DSEI, the Ministry of Defence has signed a licensing agreement with Tata Steel to manufacture the steel in the UK.
The new material was invented and developed in the UK, with production earmarked to take place at Port Talbot in South Wales.
Under the agreement the steel will be turned into seven different items, including perforated armour plates that could be used on future front line armoured vehicles.

Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff, said:

"This cutting-edge UK invention and the manufacturing agreement mean that the UK now has its own onshore supply of high-performance armour steel. Super Bainite has both military and civilian applications, providing Tata Steel with important export opportunities.
Manufacture will give Britain its first onshore supply of high performance steel armor. Previously, it has had to import the material from established producers in places such as Sweden and France.

Super Bainite made the news some time ago as the "armour with holes". It was invented by Professor Peter Brown, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), Professor Harry Bhadeshia, Tata Steel Professor of Metallurgy at Cambridge University, and Dr Carlos Garcia-Mateo, previously at Cambridge University and currently at the National Centre for Metallurgical Research in Madrid.

Traditionally, steel is covered with water to get it to room temperature quickly before structural weaknesses can form. But, with Super Bainite, a whole variety of cooling methods, involving air or even molten salt, are used throughout production.
Combining drilling and hole-punching during the cooling process results in a ultra-high-hardness perforated plate.

Professor Brown said:
"The ballistic performance of perforated Super Bainite steel armour is at least twice that of conventional rolled homogenous steel armour. This is because the introduction of perforations creates a large number of edges which disrupt the path of incoming projectiles, significantly reducing their potency."
Dstl owns the patents relating to the chemical composition and processing of Super Bainite. The licence agreement was signed by Ploughshare Innovations and Tata Steel and allows Tata Steel to manufacture and process Super Bainite in the UK and in Europe and to export it globally. In particular, Super Bainite will have immediate export potential as appliquè armour for increasing protection on already existent vehicles. Holes give it yet another advantage, since it is almost 50% lighter than a normal steel plate without them.

I'm curious to know if Super Bainite will make it onto Warrior upgrade and FRES SV as well, but so far there are no indications about this. 

Singaporean ST Kinetics and AmSafe join forces to market the Tarian: Singapore Technologie’s Kinetics (ST Kinetics) has teamed with AmSafe, the developer and producer of Tarian RPG protection system, to offer the lightweight, textile-based RPG protection system on its Warthog all terrain armored vehicles. The Warthog is currently in service with the British Army in Afghanistan. A lighter version – the Bronco – is in service with the Singapore land forces.

Tarian was developed as a lightweight modular system designed to replace the traditional bar or slat armor at a weight saving of up to 98%. The technology has been tested in the UK and US, enduring over 650 firing shots, verifying the system’s performance and multi-hit capability. Arizona based AmSafe, the producer of the Tarian system specializes in safety and securement products for the aviation industry, providing seat belts, cargo and barrier net restraints and air bags.

Bringing Forward Operating Bases in with Chinooks: 
Weatherhaven has debuted an expandable container system designed to fit inside a Chinook transport helicopter.

The Tactical Re-deployable Expanding Container Capability (TRECC) - H (Helicopter) is a system of shelters that can form the key infrastructure of a forward operating base (FOB). Within minutes of arriving at a new location the TRECC can be erected to form a communications centre, kitchens, a fully equipped medical centre or ablutions.
The roof rises to eight feet, and the sides unfold to provide 23.7 sq metres (255 sq ft) of working space. Because they are modular, the TRECC can be interconnected with other Weatherhaven shelters.

The TRECC-H has a payload volume of 11.8 cu m (418 cu ft), enough space to stow a medical triage unit or a forward operating base command post, which incorporates the latest fibre-optic communications technology. The TRECC is already filled with the necessary equipment that can be moved swiftly into position and operational within minutes of deployment, to begin saving lives. All TRECC units are modular and easily interconnected with other Weatherhaven units to form extended operational bases.

The HMMWV TRECC V-vehicle variant can be placed on the back of a High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle, adding further operational capacity and reach.
As well being airlift-able in the cabin of the Chinook, the containers also fit into standard ISO containers for shipping if required. Once loaded aboard the Chinook, the TRECC takes up the same room as two pallets leaving enough room for a handful of passengers at the front of the aircraft.
The containers have wheels to assist with the unloading and they can also be self-sufficient with an on-board generator to provide power.

The company puts a particular emphasis on the container's transportability in the Chinooks cargo hold stating that the aircraft and its cargo is made more vulnerable when carrying containers as a underslung load. While the aircraft's possible flight envelope is reduced when carrying underslung loads, aircrews with experience in Afghanistan have however expressed a preference to carry loads to FOBs as an underslung load as this allows the aircraft to drop the load into the base and depart the area immediately.

Demonstrations of the container being loaded into a Chinook by Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit (JADTEU) saw unloading take 10-15 minutes. A Weatherhaven representative said an experienced crew could unload the container in about 10 minutes, but a less experienced one could take longer, potentially making the aircraft more vulnerable to attack whilst sitting on the ground.

UK and France officially confirm that TELEMOS is the beginning; an UCAV will follow:  Britain and France have extended their cooperation on drone technology to a possible unmanned replacement for fighter aircraft, Peter Luff, the U.K. defense- procurement minister, said today at a military exposition in London.

Jointly producing an unmanned combat air vehicle or UCAV would result in "genuine" cost savings and efficiencies and enhance inter-operability, Luff said in an interview on the sidelines of the DSEi show.

"We are working together on developing the science, the capability requirements, the doctrines," the minister said. "Where it will end I won't tell you because I don't know."

Seafox gets more capable: ATLAS ELEKTRONIK has recently teamed with ECS Special Projects Ltd. to exclusively provide the EOD tool COBRA for the ATLAS SeaFox System.

The COBRA (Clip-On BX-90 Re-loadable Assembly) can be fitted to the reusable SeaFox vehicle offering Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) capability from surface to 300m.

Combined with the Rigid-hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) based SeaFox VSW version COBRA provides a hard-kill disposal capability which can be delivered by remote means by MCM Expeditionary Forces.

With COBRA ATLAS is also able to satisfy the market demand for a cost effective historical ordnance disposal capability and offer multiple target prosecution / multiple target initiation by remote means which makes the whole SeaFox System unique.

During Operation Open Spirit 2011, a multi national ordnance disposal exercise in the Baltic Sea, COBRA and SeaFox-I successfully disposed of several items of historic ordnance.
Currently Seafox comprises a re-usable Search drone (Seafox I) and a one-shot disposal drone, the Seafox C. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article./Wow.. looking good!

    Low Cost Line Lasers


Everybody can comment on this blog without needing a Blogger account. It is meant to keep the discussion free and open to everyone. Unfortunately, anonymous accounts keep the door open for spammers and trolls, so i'm forced to moderate comments and approve them before they appear. Apologies for the inconvenience.