Tuesday, September 13, 2011

DSEI news

This post, that i'll keep updated, will contain all relevant news about the British Armed Forces, coming in from DSEI. So, keep this page checked, because the next few days are likely to bring along a good bit of news! 

Day 1 - 13 September 2011 

HMS Prince of Wales confirmed as the Strike Carrier of FF2020 - as i've been saying in a long time, it is Prince of Wales that gets the catapults at build. And we also have the confirmation that it is going to be EMALS. 
Speaking to Jane's in the run-up to the Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEi) exhibition, held in London from 13-16 September, Dr Liam Fox said: 

"We now have a slot for the EMALS catapult system being fitted. It will be fitted first of all to the Gerald R Ford , then the next slot will be for the British carrier and the next slot will be for the American John F Kennedy carrier. So we've got that confirmed from the Americans now; the Americans have successfully tested it."

It is now evident that QE will be completed as LPH, at least initially, and she's likely to represent the immediate solution to replace HMS Ocean, potentially as early as 2016. 

The USS John F. Kennedy, CVN-79, of the class CVN21, is scheduled to enter service in 2018, to replace USS Nimitz. There are however talks of delaying her acquisition as part of US defence spending squeeze. 
It should however be possible for the UK, providing the availability of funding and political will, to require a second UK EMALS kit for delivery by 2022, in time for the first planned refit to QE, in order to convert her as well into full Carrier standard. 

Astutes to get Communications outfit update - The first of the UK Royal Navy’s (RN's) Astute class submarines has begun to have its communications systems upgraded with SEA’s Network Interface Unit (NIU), company bosses have revealed.
Speaking to Shephard, officials said work had started on 9 September with the ‘integration of radios and fit’. They added that work would continue for the next year or so, prior to full operational capability of the boat, planned for next year. 

The upgrade will see the replacement of the telephone patch panel with a flexible and reconfigurable architecture, which SEA said, would provide size, weight and power benefits for the submarine. It will also allow communications operators to manage and control information from any part of the submarine. The project will incorporate Aurora, Astute’s External Communications System.
More specifically, the upgrade will see the interconnection of analogue and digital information, transfer to a LAN/WAN system as well as connectivity to legacy equipment.
The integration comes on the back of a £10m contract awarded to SEA by the UK’s MoD in 2003. 

Currently, there's not yet a contract signed for provvision of this kit to boats 5, 6 and 7, but it is still early in their construction phase, and it will probably follow some time in the future. 

Light Recovery Vehicle requirement - With the by now imminent entry into service of the Foxhound Light Patrol Protected Vehicle, there is a requirement for new support systems, particularly recovery systems enhancing the mobility and self recovery of such vehicles, and recovery vehicles capable of moving and operating in confined urban spaces where the LPPV will typically operate. Two british companies teamed up to address these requirements and debut such systems at DSEi 2011.

The new vehicle was designed as a powerful yet manoeuvrable recovery platform designed to support the new class of protected lightweight vehicles. These small, protected vehicles may require rescue from narrow and confined locations such as village streets – where heavier, full-width recovery vehicles cannot penetrate. 

The first LRV vehicle to be built is based on the DURO 3 6×6 re-roled logistics chassis from General Dynamics Europe, forming a compact, 2.16 metre width LRV. It incorporates key elements from the EKA SuperCompact system incorporated with the fleet of Support Vehicle (Recovery), currently in service with the UK MoD, thereby reducing and simplifying logistics support. According to the developers, the concept has been designed for application and integration with other suitable vehicle platforms.

The EKA recovery equipment is integrated onto a specialist ‘skid’ built by Penman, which closely matches the operational requirements for both recovery and automotive performance. In operation, the new unit is effectively similar to a downscaled version of the larger SuperCompact equipment.

The recovery boom assembly comprises a telescopic rectangular section, the inner box of which carries the recovery bar assembly. The boom provides a maximum lift rating of 6 tonnes and a maximum casualty vehicle weight capability of 15 tonnes. An 8 tonne constant-pull capstan winch is fitted and, in order to anchor the vehicle when winching to the rear, two 8 tonne rated anchor spades are provided to enable two-part pulls to be carried out.

Safe stand-off remote operation of the recovery system is controlled from a chest pack with a 10 metre umbilical, connected to a frame mounted control box on the vehicle. The chest pack features graduable paddle joysticks (suitable for gloved operation) for boom in/out, boom up/down and recovery bar levelling.

Apart from the specialist ‘skid’ onto which the recovery system is integrated, Penman has upgraded and modified the vehicle platform to meet anticipated operational requirements. An additional cab seat is provided within the fully armoured tilt cab – as are riot grilles and a cab escape facility. Up-rated heavy duty springs, shock absorbers and off-road tyres have been added to further enhance the vehicle’s all-terrain performance. Other features include full fitment for current in-service ECM and EECM, including power provision and cooling.

The LRV propesed and shown at DSEI. So far there is no contract signed by the MOD, but it is likely to come at some point.

Enhancing the mobility of military vehicles can also utilise self-recovery capability, employing powered winch systems. A typical system developed by Oldbury UK uses a patented Multimount system developed for the next generation of protected and soft-skin vehicles. The system comprises front and rear winch ‘carriers’, integrated onto the platform, utilising the vehicle’s existing lifting / recovery eyes and standard towing pintle and jaw. The winch itself can be mounted quickly and simply fitted or released, without using special tools. The system accommodates commonly available winches. The use of a single winch covering both front and rear self-recovery requirements reduces both payload and on-board inventory. The unit can be lifted and installed by two persons.

The Multimount winch assembly

They lost the LPPV race, but they are are british, and interesting - They failed to beat the Ocelot and be chosen to meet the Light Protected Patrol Vehicle requirement of the MOD, but they are still pursuing export opportunities and shaping up. It is interesting to give them a glance: 

Supacat SPV400 - Defense Update review
Creation UK Zephyr - Defense Update review 

Assisted Carriage System proposals - The British Army has a requirement for an automated / semi-automated load carrier vehicle, thought to support a foot patrol of 8 men, with a payload of at least 250 kg and the mobility to follow soldiers wherever they go. 

In the short term, the Infantry plan to support operations and training with more quad bikes and trailers at platoon level, All Terrain Platforms (SPRINGER) at company level and with Tactical Support Vehicles (HUSKY) for battle group logistic tasks, but these vehicles, particularly at company level and below, lack the mobility or protection to keep up with dismounted troops (traverse the same terrain).

The ACS is part of a programme of research, development and acquisition (Light Forces Tactical Mobility Platform (LFTMP))  intended to reduce the soldier's load from as many as 70 to as few as 25 kg by 2018 - 2020. 
The ACS, with its capacity to carrier water, heavy radios, batteries, and other heavy equipment, is fundamental in this regard. It is anticipated that there would be 3 ACS in each Platoon.
The programme is attracting considerable interest by several companies, and at DSEI several of the proposals will be shown. 

Marshall TRAKKAR: the TRAKKAR is a small 4x4 electric drive, battery power (with Diesel auxiliary recharher) drone, capable to autonomously navigate itself on a pre-planned route, follow automatically a lead soldier, or be remotely operated, for example to be sent ahead of the patrol to scout a danger zone. 

It has a 1,5 square meter footprint and exerts a pressure of 5 lbs/sq inch. It weights just 250 kg unladen, and carries its weight in payload. Part of this payload can be used to fit light armour enclosing the cargo space, to offer some protection to the kit carried: one risk of the ACS, in fact, is that a lot of precious kit normally found spread on 8 men is concentrated in a single platform, making it an alluring target for the enemy. 
Two TRAKKARs can be joined together to create an articulated 8x8 UGV.

Trakkar runs on batteries, but is also fitted with an auxiliary power unit, or diesel generator supplied by CMCA. This, low-noise, small, diesel generator enables Trakkar to maintain endurance for operations as long as there is a supply of diesel fuel. With the diesel tank filled up, endurance in Hybrid mode is of 70 hours. The APU keeps the batteries topped up unless Trakkar is required to operate more discreetly at low noise. In discreet mode, Trakkar has three to four hours endurance depending on mission profile. Its small sizes, low noise and high agility allow it to follow a 8 men patrol without giving away its position and that of the soldiers, and it makes it harder for the enemy to spot and attack the drone. 

Trakkar has an ABSL multi-function battery charger so the robot can be charging batteries while on station for the many man-portable communication and Electronic Counter Measures equipment routinely carried on operations by patrol members.

As well as its primary role as a cargo carrying platform, TRAKKAR can be rapidly reconfigured for a wide range of roles using a quick change Mission Pods allowing it to serve as a Communications Rebroadcast Station, Casualty Evacuation, Logistic Re-supply and a Sensor Package for surveillance, CBRN and C-IED tasks.  A route clearance package is also available for CIED tasks.  

Mission payloads are available to expand the roles covered by Trakkar. For example, the drone has been fitted with a Roke Manor Resolve Electronic Warfare System and the Chess Dynamics OWL Electro-Optical Director mounted on a Clark Mast’s 3m extending mast to provide ISTAR to foot patrols. 

Marshall appears to believe strongly in the TRAKKAR, and is also offering a smaller, 49-Kg recce UGV, the QUESTAR, along with a series of mission payloads for TRAKKAR, to create solutions for a range of EW, reconnaissance, ISTAR and C-IED roles. 

Boeing-John Deere R-GATOR: another contender, of less sophisticate design, is the R-GATOR, developed as an optionally manned platform from a John Deere 4x4 load carrier. It can tow 680 kg, and carry 635 kg in a 1.4 cubic meter cargo volume, but it is over 3 meters long, and far easier for the enemy to detect. 

Lochkeed Martin SMSS: the 1200-pounds payload Squad Mission Support System of LM is quite famous for its adoption by the US forces and for its roots in the Supacat all terrain driven load carrier. It is said to cost around 650.000 dollars. 2 can be lifted inside a Chinook.  

LM and the Warrior Upgrade: It is by now official that the army’s original plan to upgrade up to 449 “gun vehicles” has been reduced in scope as the Future Force 2020 structure introduced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) only requires six armoured infantry battalions, one in each of five new multirole brigades (MRBs) and the training battle group at the Land Warfare Centre, instead of the eight battalions previously equipped. Moreover, the new force rotation cycle only requires one MRB to be deployed, or on high readiness to deploy, and second brigade preparing for deployment and the other brigades at extended readiness times with reduced equipment holdings.

The WCSP also seems set to follow the less ambitious and more conservative (and thus less expensive) route, as LM, the only bidder left (so effectively the winner, following rejection of the BAE proposal), will keep modifications to the Warrior turret to a minimum, by upgrading the existing ones, contrary to the BAE way, which used the new MTIP2 turret. 

Industry sources believe an announcement about the WCSP project will be made by Peter Luff, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, or possibly Defence Secretary Liam Fox to coincide with DSEi. I wait anxiously to be able to provide further detail on this fundamental army programme in the coming hours or days.   

Support for the CORMORANT communications deployable LAN system extended: Cassidian announced at this year’s DSEi exhibition and show that The CORMORANT service contract between Cassidian and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD has been extended to December 2012. This deployable, modular LAN / WAN voice and data solution was originally delivered to two Royal Signals Units for use at the strategic command level. Since this initial delivery, demand for CORMORANT has seen other Units take delivery of CORMORANT. Not only has the footprint expanded but importantly CORMORANT is now being used for tactical command purposes by both the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Army.

CORMORANT has been deployed to Iraq where it gained a reputation for being a trusted and secure communication system. Following on from that success, CORMORANT has been extensively used by the RAF to support operations in Libya and Afghanistan.

This Through Life Support (TLS) contract includes Cassidian resident field engineers, 24/7 technical helpdesk and a dedicated repairs centre to assist the MoD with the operation and maintenance of the system.

Man-portable Pythoon's offspring: the huge Pythoon takes a Terrier or Trojan engineering vehicle to be towed around, but the SLICE can be carried by infantry, and clear a path of up to 60 meters through a minefield or IED-riddled zone. 
We'll see if the MOD shows interest in this system. This kind of man-portable route clearance systems, of which some examples already existed and are used by US special forces, has already been evaluated in the past. 

General Dynamics UK selects 13'' displays for the FRES SV crew consoles: General Dynamics UK, the prime contractor for the British Army's Scout Specialist Vehicle (Scout SV), has selected Barco's 13” rugged extreme displays for the program, following a competitive bid.
SV is one of the British Army's most important vehicle programs for the next decade. Barco has developed the TX-335S, a 13” crew station display, especially for it. Based on Barco's existing offer of TX rugged extreme displays, the TX-335S provides operators with a visualization technology that is ideally suited to extremely demanding environments.

Mainteinance of the Night Vision googles: ITT has supplied more than $40 million worth of head-mounted night-vision systems and support to the British military since signing a first order in 2008, principally to equip troops fighting in Afghanistan (between 11.000 and 14.000 googles). Now the company has secured a multiyear contract to maintain night-vision goggles for the British military using its Basingstoke facility.

The system is the British variant of the AN/PVS-14 device, widely used by the U.S. military and homeland security agencies.

New, improved Smoke Grenades from Chemring, in Afghanistan next year: Chemring Defence is unveiling its latest additions to the  product range of its revolutionary Compact Smoke Grenade at DSEi, London, and has confirmed the grenade’s selection by the UK MoD and its entry into service in Afghanistan this year.

The product range now includes the introduction of new Signalling and Screening variants, which are now available in a full range of colour signals with effective smoke durations of 45, 60 and 90 seconds to meet both UK and international customer requirements.  For training and urban operations, Chemring can supply low toxicity, non-flaming visual screening variants.

A multi-spectral red phosphorus screening grenade will be available by mid 2012 along with a new CS variant and a signalling grenade designed for use in extreme cold weather conditions.  Designated Arctic Smoke, it features special wings to sit on top of the snow for marking positions and ground level for helicopter crews.

Importantly, weight went down by 30%, which is always a welcome news for soldiers already loaded like mules.

British tech at its best: Zephyr, the flight proven, solar powered stratospheric unmanned aircraft from QinetiQ which promises formidable advantages in defences and security roles as diverse as persistent wide area communications relay, missile detection, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and maritime patrol, is on display at this year’s DSEi exhibition.

The third scale model of the latest Zephyr® Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) is exhibited throughout the DSEi exhibition at hall N3-SD6. Internationally renowned for its FAI World Record-breaking 14 day flight in July 2010, ten times longer than any other UAV, this remarkable vehicle combines world leading aerodynamics, structures, power generation/storage and advanced payloads to provide the only platform capable of truly persistent performance.

The Zephyr® UAS has been developed by QinetiQ to remain airborne for up to three months at a time at altitudes of up to 70,000ft. With a line of sight to the horizon of 325 miles, Zephyr® provides a capable, extremely affordable platform for communications and surveillance purposes over the wide areas typical of current operations. It has been funded jointly by british MOD and US DoD, and flew with a Communication Relay pod mandated by the MOD.

The Zephyr is a cheap addition to satellites, to provide an enduring presence in the sky, outside the enemy's reach, to relay radio communications or provide intelligence. The Zephyr is continuing to be developed, and awaits a production order.

Immortal little Gazelle?  A most promising proposal for the Royal Navy requirement for a VTOL UAV to embark on ships has been put forwards by QinetiQ and Northrop Grumman.

Mr Howitt says that the conversion of a Gazelle into a VTUAS platform compares to the Northrop Grumman Fire-X conversion of the Bell 407, which has recently been approved by the US Navy with plans to acquire 28 air vehicles for deployment from 2014. The conversion would build on the US Navy software and experience developed with the Fire Scout drone, active even now over Libya.

The recommended UK platform for the "Fire Scout" conversion is the Gazelle, a highly respected and reliable helicopter which is currently flown by the British Army Air Corps. It is recognised that the Gazelle is a short-term solution, but it provides an extremely cost effective way for the Royal Navy to gain valuable, early operational experience with a VTUAS with a view to re-hosting the system in a more capable airframe as part of the Future Force 2020. The conversion of a Gazelle into a VTUAS platform would take place at MOD Boscombe Down, which is run and managed by QinetiQ, while the flight test work for the demonstrator programme would be conducted at the QinetiQ West Wales UAV Centre.

The Army Air Corps still has 15 Gazelle helicopters in its Forward Fleet, according to a recent Written Answer about the AAC strength. It is expected that these remaining machines (last of a fleet of over 90) will soon be retired as well.
Converting them into UAVs would be a very low risk and cost effective solution.

The only issue i can see is with the airframe: the Gazelle will probably need its new drone-electronics "navalized" to survive the hostility of the sea environment, and a folding rotor is also going to be indispensable for the helicopter to be properly compatible with ships.
Even so, assuming a folded rotor, the Gazelle is still 11.97 meters long and around 2.7 meters wide, which is likely to prove an issue on the ship that, at least for a good few years in the future, would be the biggest user of the system: a Type 23 frigate is in fact unlikely to be capable to embark a Lynx and a Gazelle-drone at once, and i think it is unthinkable to embark a Merlin and such a big drone at once.
This is, in my mind, a big problem, as the drone is not a substitute for the embarked chopper. Only the Type 45s and the bigger units such as the Albions and Ocean and RFAs, in the short term, would likely be able to take full advantage of the drone. For widespread usage, we'll have to wait for Type 26, which is being built with an eye on VTOL embarked drones ops. 

AgustaWestland has something to say about this requirement as well, though: the company will fly an unmanned (optionally-manned, probably) helicopter demonstrator based on the light single-turbine SW-4 manufactured by its Polish subsidiary PZL-Swidnik. First manned flight will be early in 2012 and first unmanned in mid-2012.

Fire Shadow at sea: Fire Shadow is the Loitering Munition selected by the Royal Artillery for its Indirect Fire Precision Attack Capability, and it is also an option for the RN's Marittime Indirect Fire Precision Attack requirement. The Fire Shadow, with a modified booster for launch, is compatible with the Sylver A50 cells of Type 45 and is a possible future fit.

In a simpler variant, it is now offered by MBDA for use aboard frigates, with launch from a platform chained to the flight deck.

BAE receives contract for a further 10 million, 8000 105 mm IR illuminating rounds:
Series production of LUMA Infra-Red (IR) starts immediately and the rounds will be delivered during 2012. Final assembly will be at BAE Systems’ Weapons business facilities in Karlskoga, Sweden. The contract follows one worth £5.5m for LUMA IR in November 2010. Orders for further quantities could follow. LUMA IR can be fired from the 105mm Light Gun, currently in service with UK forces in Afghanistan.
This order is separate from the long-term partnering contract for the supply of munitions (MASS) signed between BAE Systems and the MoD in August 2008.
BAE Systems also supplies an 81mm mortar infra-red round to the UK MoD.

ARTISAN 3D becomes the Type 997 radar:  the ARTISAN radar has been designated Type 997 by the Royal Navy for the £100 million programme to equip the Type 23 frigates, amphibious ships and the new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. It is also proposed for the new Type 26 frigates which are expected to come into service as soon as possible after 2020.

The Type 23 frigate HMS Iron Duke will receive its new radar during a refit period scheduled to start mid 2012. In preparation for that the project team will soon move a complete ARTISAN radar system to the land based test site in Portsmouth where the radar will be integrated and tested with the rest of the Type 23’s combat system in advance of installation on the ship. Meanwhile, training materials for operators and maintainers are under development for delivery through the Royal Navy’s Maritime Composite Training System.

The radar replaces the earlier Type 996, and the contract, signed in 2008, includes 10 years of support.

Centurion naval decoy launcher progresses: UK-based Chemring Countermeasures has unveiled the latest design iteration of its Centurion trainable launcher system at DSEi, and at the same time disclosed plans to self-fund the build and test of a ‘Bravo’-model prototype.

Born from the idea of an Ex-RN officer, Centurion has been conceived by Chemring Countermeasures as a next-generation 130mm shipborne soft-kill launcher designed to meet requirements for fast reaction and improved countermeasures placement.

Comprising 12 vertically stowed barrels on a rotating plinth, Centurion has been designed for compatibility with new and existing 130mm chaff, infrared and obscurant rounds (including the latest variable-range, multipayload munitions).

In operation, the launcher trains onto the appropriate bearing and then depresses the selected launcher barrel to the desired firing angle (as determined by the system firing algorithms).
Response time is less than 3 seconds from the stowed position, with positional accuracy maintained through compensation for ship movement. This, in combination with the latest variable-range decoy rounds, allows payload placement to be controlled in three axes, which gives improved ship signature replication.

The electromechanical launcher assembly is designed to weigh in the order of 1,000kg and occupy a deck footprint of less than 2m. The mounting is designed to train at a rate of 180°/s; Chemring Countermeasures says the unique vertical barrel configuration and low moment of inertia design serve to minimise rotational and firing forces, making the launcher structure lighter and removing the need for deck penetrations.

Secure IR comms for Type 45: An infrared short-range mobile communications system from Link Microtek has been installed on the UK Royal Navy’s new Type 45 destroyers, providing officers on the bridge with a secure, interference free voice communications facility.

Designed and manufactured by Link Microtek’s Azdec subsidiary, the Infra- Com system offers a versatile and effective communications solution that fully satisfied the Ministry of Defence’s TEMPEST requirements. Other than the link from headset to battery pack, the system has no wires and therefore gives operators complete freedom of movement while enabling them to speak to each other or to link into the ship’s main communications system via a central base station.

As Infra-Com does not use radio technology, no one can listen in or target on emissions from the system. In addition, its signals are immune to electromagnetic interference, even severe energy pulses.

Thales Orion sight for the FRES Scout: Being shown in public for the first time at DSEi is the new Thales Orion stabilised day/night sighting system for armoured fighting vehicles. This will be fitted into the two-man turret being developed by Lockheed Martin UK for installation on the British Army’s General Dynamics UK Scout.

Development of the complete Orion sight started during the Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) Scalable Integrated Modular Sighting System Technology Demonstrator Programme in 2009.
Successful trials with a preproduction Orion sighting system have already been carried out on Salisbury Plain, with the sight integrated on a British Army Warrior infantry fighting vehicle.
Orion development is on schedule and will be completed at the end of the second quarter of 2012.

The Orion two-axis stabilised commander’s sight features day/thermal channels, an integrated eyesafe laser rangefinder and a full 360° search capability, to allow hunter killer target engagements to take place. The commander first acquires the target, and if confirmed as hostile, it is passed onto the gunner who carries out the engagement.
Gunner has a Thales DNGS T3 stabilised sight with day/thermal channel and integrated laser rangefinder.

In addition, Orion has a Thales laser target designator, which enables the commander to designate targets for precision engagement from ground or air-launched laser weapons, with the latter including the Paveway laser guided bomb used by the Royal Air Force. The commander’s sight also has a software-driven wide area search and detect capability that uses a combination of thermal signature recognition and background change detection software to indicate potential targets.

The UK Orion sight will feature longwave infrared thermal imagers, and will have both automatic target detection and automated video tracking.

Helicopter Crews benefit from armor and survivability gear: Survitec is launching a new Modular Attack Helicopter Air Crew Life Preserver on the export market, after succesfully delivering it to UK's helicopter pilots. Designated the Mk65 by the UK MoD, it features a fully integrated single-person life raft combined with hard and soft armour to provide maximum protection from high-calibre ballistic threats. It also includes a flotation collar for optimum in-water performance.
Cockpit habitability and user comfort are maximised as a result of its streamlined, ergonomic design, enabling mission-critical operations in extremely hostile environmental conditions while affording the wearer maximum protection.

Currently in service with the UK armed forces and making possible ship-to-shore operations, the Mk65 is the only life preserver in the world that combines customised levels of ballistic protection, a slim, detachable flotation collar (life preserver) and a fully integrated life raft.

General Dynamics UK shows the first representative prototype of the Scout:
The prototype unveiled at the exhibition is one of two test bed vehicles and features the Lockheed Martin UK Experimental Demonstration Unit (EDU) turret fitted with the CTAI Cased Telescoped (CT40) 40mm cannon.

A company spokesman said that as well as developing seven prototype vehicles, GD UK has carried out a range of SV subsystem tests in an attempt to derisk the programme before the prototypes are completed.

In May 2011 the industry team conducted the first live-fire tests of the CT40 system integrated with the Scout SV turret. In addition, a Mobility Test Rig (MTR) is expected to be completed by the end of 2011 for tests on the powerpack, suspension and automotive features.

The first of seven prototypes under Recce Block 1 will be delivered in 15 months' time and will include three Scout vehicles, one each of the repair, recovery and Protected Mobility troop carrier variants and a Common Base Platform vehicle, the base for all future specialized variants.

The vehicle will be powered by an MTU V8 199 series engine, a more powerful version of that installed in the Boxer 8x8 armoured vehicle. While the target weight of the Scout variant is around 34 tonnes, the vehicle will have a load carrying potential of up to 42 tonnes, which proponents argue allows the platform to be adapted to future threats over its 30 year life cycle.

In three years' time the project will reach the Main Gate 2 point, presenting the MoD a decision to go ahead with the manufacture of between 400 to 589 vehicles. A further contract option provides for the manufacture of more than 200 CBP.

Mapping device for the Air Force and Apache crews: 
A mapping system developed in months for use in Afghanistan has also been used to great effect over Libya.

The Digimap software - developed by Lincolnshire-based Inzpire under an urgent operational requirement for Apache and Tornado crews operating over Afghanistan is now being used on Apaches flying from HMS Ocean and Tornadoes flying from Italy on Operation Ellamy.

The app is installed on GECO (Graphical Electronic Cockpit Organiser), a tablet computer that weighs the same as a bag of sugar and is touch sensitive allowing it to be used with some ease in cramped cockpits.

The system is also used to review up to date high-definition reconnaissance footage. In one mission, a crew using the system examined imagery of a tank that had been hit on a previous sortie, but had been moved to a different location. By looking at the footage they could see that the vehicle was the same vehicle rather than another tank that could threaten civilians, and didn't require engaging.

The company has now delivered 60 systems to the UK Royal Air Force and Army Air Corps and it has been in use in Afghanistan for half a year with both services. Now that the Typhoon is involved on air-to-ground missions on Op Ellamy, the Typhoon community is also looking at introducing the system. The C17 crews are looking into using the device as an electronic flight bag.


  1. Gabriele,
    The following statement from Dr Fox.
    '"We now have a slot for the EMALS catapult system being fitted. It will be fitted first of all to the Gerald R Ford , then the next slot will be for the British carrier and the next slot will be for the American John F Kennedy carrier. So we've got that confirmed from the Americans now; the Americans have successfully tested it.

    Nowhere in the above does he actually mention the cat@traps being for the POW. That is only mentioned by whoever the reporter was in his lead up to that statement.
    I know that Janes are an extremely reliable source of info but even they have made the occasional error.

    Or is it me just being pedantic?

    I have been trying to find the full statement but no luck at the moment.

    Hopefully it will be made clearer during DSEI.

  2. There are many indications that the catapults are planned to go onto PoW. While Liam here did not say it specifically, there's been confirmations from inside the MOD that the current planning assumption is that EMALS will go on PoW.
    We'll look at eventual new statements for clarity, but i for one firmly believe that it is PoW that gets converted at build.

  3. Gabriele,
    Thanks for your thoughts on EMALS/POW.
    I have just read Dr Fox's speech to DSEI and no mention of which carrier is being fitted,so I am still doubting the accuracy of 'Janes' press release.
    Please do not take this as a criticism,but as you are giving a daily update on DSEI,is there a way that each daily update could be a seperate page (or whatever) I am pretty useless when it comes to computers.
    It's just that instead of scrolling through the previous updates one could go to the current day.


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