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February 26, 2024 | International, Land

Austria converts Pandur vehicles into air defence systems with Sky Ranger

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  • Lockheed set to integrate base kit for US Army’s combat vehicle protection system

    February 17, 2021 | International, Land

    Lockheed set to integrate base kit for US Army’s combat vehicle protection system

    By: Jen Judson WASHINGTON — Under a recent contract award with a $30 million ceiling, Lockheed Martin will begin integrating and formally testing its open-architecture processor designed to control the U.S. Army's future combat vehicle protection system, the company announced Feb. 16. The Army is determining the specific plans and schedules for integration and testing of Lockheed's base kit for its Modular Active Protection System, or MAPS, that ties vehicle sensors and countermeasures into a common framework to detect, track and destroy rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles aimed at combat vehicles. Lockheed is supporting those activities starting later this year through 2023, David Rohall, program manager for advanced ground vehicle systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, told Defense News. The Army has not yet finalized dates for the formal testing. Lockheed received an initial award of $1.5 million through an other transaction authority agreement following a competitive process in December 2020, but has since received $3 million of additional incremental funding, according to Rohall. As part of the contract, Lockheed will develop the MAPS base kit hardware and software; perform platform integration; and run on-vehicle, live-fire demonstrations over a 36-month period. Funding will be incrementally issued throughout the period of performance, Rohall said. The base kit consists of the MAPS open-architecture controller, application software, user interface, power management distribution system and a network switch, Rohall explained. The software identifies incoming threats and deploys the most suitable countermeasure to defeat them, he added. “In an Army lab test, one MAPS-enabled active protection system actually responded faster to threats than its standalone version, thanks to the higher network speeds and greater processor power the MAPS controller offers,” Rohall said. The Army is working with other industry partners to bring in sensors and countermeasures that are compliant with the MAPS architecture. Lockheed has been working with the Army on solutions for a future vehicle protection system since 2014. The service initally awarded the MAPS software project to Raytheon and the hardware effort to Lockheed. But in 2017, the service transferred the software development to Lockheed. The Army, Lockheed and other industry partners have been working to prepare sensors and countermeasures controlled by the MAPS base kit for lab and live-fire demonstrations, including soft-kill systems like Northrop Grumman's MEOS, BAE Systems' Raven and Ariel Photonics' CLOUD, as well as hard-kill systems including Artis Corporation's Iron Curtain and Elbit System's Iron Fist. Sensors include Northrop's PICS IR sensor and Iron Curtain's L3 Mustang, as well as several laser warning systems. Lockheed will work with the Army for integration and testing on the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, the M1 Abrams tank, the Armored Multipurpose Vehicle and the Stryker combat vehicle ahead of a transition to the Vehicle Protection System program, Rohall said. “We continue to support development activities. We expect to be back in the field this year to support testing on multiple combat vehicles equipped with laser warning receivers that are new to the MAPS architecture,” Rohall said. The upcoming integration and testing is the last step for the base kit ahead of fielding the future Vehicle Protection System for ground combat vehicles. The effort will validate the Vehicle Protection System base kit capability for an initial production decision. The contract also covers developing capabilities beyond active protection, Lockheed said, to include underbelly blast protection. The Army has spent years developing a future Vehicle Protection System, and has had several attempts — one successful, others not — to field interim active protection systems onto current combat vehicles. The service has already fielded Rafael's Trophy active protection system on some Abrams tanks in Europe. The Army had also chosen IMI's Iron Fist for the Bradley but has struggled with technical issues and funding, and the program's future is delayed and uncertain. The service also had difficulty finding an interim candidate for its Stryker vehicle and hit a dead end with the effort in 2019. Iron Curtain was seen as the front-runner for Stryker, but due to system maturity, the service decided not proceed with its qualification efforts. https://www.defensenews.com/land/2021/02/16/lockheed-begins-integration-of-base-kit-for-us-armys-combat-vehicle-protection-system/

  • Navy issues $14M more for continued Knifefish testing

    July 22, 2020 | International, Naval

    Navy issues $14M more for continued Knifefish testing

    Nathan Strout WASHINGTON - General Dynamics will continue providing engineering support for the U.S. Navy's Knifefish, an unmanned undersea mine hunter, as the service looks to increase testing and evaluation before entering full-rate production.. The Navy issued a $13.6 million contract modification to General Dynamics for continued engineering support for Knifefish on July 20, just as the original $9.2 million contract issued last July was set to expire. Work is now expected to be completed in September 2021. The contract extension will support test and evaluation, engineering change proposal development and upgrade initiatives. The Knifefish is a medium-class unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV) designed to be deployed from a littoral combat ship to detect bottom, volume and buried mines underwater. The two unmanned vehicles that comprise the Knifefish system use low-frequency broadband sonar and automated target recognition software to find mines and help their host ship steer clear. The program achieved its Milestone C authorization in August 2019, and the Navy issued the company a $44.6 million contract to prime contractor General Dynamics to begin low initial rate production of five Knifefish systems. The Navy has previously stated that it plans to purchase 30 Knifefish systems in total. https://www.c4isrnet.com/unmanned/2020/07/21/navy-issues-14m-more-for-continued-knifefish-testing/

  • Philadelphia shipyard to build new dual-use merchant mariner training ships

    April 16, 2020 | International, Naval

    Philadelphia shipyard to build new dual-use merchant mariner training ships

    By: David B. Larter WASHINGTON — A struggling Philadelphia shipyard got a new lease on life April 8 with the announcement that it had been selected to build up to five training ships for the Maritime Administration destined for use by civilian mariners attending state maritime academies. The contract, issued by Alaska-based company TOTE Services, tapped Philly Shipyard to build the first two national security multimission vessels, or NSMV, for a total of $630 million, according to the trade publication Marine Log. The ships, which will feature the latest navigation and bridge technologies, will be able to accommodate up to 600 cadets but will also be available for use by the federal government for disaster relief operations. The ships come with a roll-on/roll-off ramp and a crane that can be used for moving equipment and containers. The NSMVs will be 525 feet long and about 90 feet wide, or just a little smaller than a Ticonderoga-class cruiser, according to a Maritime Administration fact sheet. MARAD Administrator Mark Buzby said the contract is a win for American shipbuilding jobs. “Investing in maritime education creates more American jobs,” Buzby, a former Navy flag officer, said in a statement. "By the selection of Philly Shipyard, Inc., as the construction shipyard for the NSMV, this effort is not only bolstering the U.S. Merchant Marine, but the U.S. economy and vital transportation infrastructure as well.” Philly Shipyard primarily makes Jones Act ships, or vessels that exist only because the Jones Act mandates that goods shipped between U.S. ports must be sent on U.S.-flagged ships built and crewed by Americans. The rule is designed to preserve the domestic shipbuilding industry as a national security asset. Without it there would essentially be no domestic commercial shipbuilding industry. “Philly Shipyard only received one order per year during the last two years and was in danger of closing during 2020 unless it received additional work,” said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who recently led a study of the domestic shipbuilding industry. “Philly is important not just because it is a significant employer in the Philadelphia area, but also because it is one of the shipyards the government depends on to build smaller auxiliary and non-combatant ships such as Coast Guard cutters, NOAA research ships, and Navy unmanned surface vessels, survey ships, and towing and salvage vessels.” The vessels could also prove useful in the Navy's quest to identify a flexible hull that can meet a number of missions as it seeks to replace its aging logistics fleet, said Sal Mercogliano, a maritime historian at Campbell University. “I think those vessels serve as a potential hull form for maybe a hospital ship, maybe a command ship, an aviation logistics ship, a sub tender: There's potential there,” Mercogliano said. The Navy planned to develop and field two variants of a Common Hull Auxiliary Multi-Mission Platform, one for sealift purposes and one for other auxiliary ship missions such as submarine tending, hospital ships, and command-and-control platforms. But late last year, the White House blanched at a cost estimate of upward of $1.3 billion for the submarine tender variant of the CHAMP platform, planned for acquisition in 2024. For moving lots of tanks and howitzers across long distances, the NSMV isn't well-suited. But for many of the other missions the Navy needs to recapitalize, including its hospital ships, it could prove useful. “I don't think they'd be good for a roll-on/roll-off — it's not designed for a large mission bay,” Mercogliano said. “But I think for the hospital ship, a command ship, there's a lot of utility there.” https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2020/04/14/philadelphia-shipyard-tapped-to-build-new-merchant-marine-training-ships

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