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October 8, 2019 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

Outgunned and outranged: Why the Army must get more from cannons and missiles

By: Jeff Martin 

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army is now at an inflection point: After years with little urgency to extend the range of ground-launched missiles and cannons, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty is no more and countries like Russia, China, and North Korea have built up capabilities of their own systems.

That’s led to what many call a “range gap." Find out more below.

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  • New defense budget bill foresees US-Israel counter-drone cooperation

    August 14, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    New defense budget bill foresees US-Israel counter-drone cooperation

    By: Seth J. Frantzman JERUSALEM — For the first time, the National Defense Authorization Act includes a section on U.S.-Israel cooperation in countering unmanned aerial systems, in the fiscal 2019 version. The cooperation will identify “capability gaps” of the U.S. and Israel in countering UAVs and seek out projects to address those gaps to strengthen U.S. and Israeli security. The new cooperation envisions funding for research and development efforts and identifying costs that foresee close cooperation modeled on previous successful programs that Israel and the U.S. have collaborated on, including missile defense and anti-tunneling initiatives. Israel and the U.S. have been at the forefront of air defense cooperation for decades. U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist and Mike Johnson introduced in February a bill titled “United States-Israel Joint Drone Detection Cooperation Act.” Parts of the bill were included in the NDAA passed in both houses of Congress in July. “I am honored to have our bill included in the NDAA and to see it signed into law by President [Donald] Trump. This is an important step not only for our strongest ally in the Middle East but for the United States as well,” Johnson said in July. The president signed the NDAA into law on the afternoon of Aug. 13. The initiative foresees “joint research and development to counter unmanned aerial vehicles [which] will serve the national security interests of the United States and Israel.” Included as Section 1272 of the final NDAA presented to the president on Aug. 3, the cooperation contains five parts, including identification of the capability gaps that exist, identifying cooperative projects that would address the gaps, assessing the costs of the research and development, and assessing the costs of procuring and fielding the capabilities developed. Reports on the cooperation will be submitted to the congressional defense committees, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The threat of drones has increased in recent years. On Feb. 10 an Iranian-made drone entered Israeli airspace near the northern town of Beit Shean. It had flown from the T4 air base in Syria. Israel identified and tracked the drone from Syria and sent an Apache helicopter to shoot it down. The drone was revealed to be armed with explosives. Former Mossad chief Danny Yatom said in an interview in April that the drone was sophisticated and “an exact replica of the U.S. drone that fell in their territory,” referring to the American RQ-170 Sentinel, which was downed in Iran in 2011. Iran developed two drones based on the Sentinel, one called Shahed 171 and an armed version dubbed Saeqeh, which debuted in 2016. In 2012, Hezbollah used a drone to try to carry out surveillance of the Dimona nuclear reactor in southern Israel. “It’s not the first time and it will not be the last,” warned Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Conflict Armament Research reported in March 2017 that kamikaze drones using Iranian technology were being used by Houthi rebels in Yemen against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The UAE has sought to bring attention to this threat during the conflict in Yemen, in which a Riyadh-led coalition is fighting the Houthis. Drones were also used by the Islamic State group to attack U.S.-led coalition forces in Syria and Iraq. And Afghan officials reported an Iranian drone entered their airspace in August 2017. In September 2017, Israel used a Patriot missile to down a Hezbollah drone. Israel used Patriotmissiles twice to down Syrian UAVs near the Golan Heights demilitarized zone in July 2018. The U.S. reportedly used an F-15E Eagle to shoot down an Iranian-made Shahed 129 drone in June 2017 in Syria. The drone was heading for the U.S. base at Tanf, which is located in Syria near the Jordanian border. A systematic examination of the emerging drone threat is in the works. The U.S. Defense Department has been allocating resources to counter UAVs, with U.S. Central Command requesting up to $332 million over the next five years for efforts to counter drones. The U.S. Army has been looking for new missiles to defend against a variety of threats, including drones. This will include the Expanded Mission Area Missile and may include other Israel missiles such as the Tamir interceptor for use with a multimission launcher.

  • Pentagon maps out defense space strategy

    June 22, 2020 | International, Aerospace

    Pentagon maps out defense space strategy

    By Ed Adamczyk June 19 (UPI) -- The Pentagon's strategy for defense in space treats the environment as a warfighting domain, a Defense Department report says. The Defense Space Strategy calls for maintenance of space superiority, support to national, joint and combined operations on earth,and assurance of space stability, the Pentagon said this week. The report identified what officials call four priority lines of effort: building a comprehensive military advantage in space; integration of power in space into the military; shaping the strategic environment; and cooperation with allies, partners, and other U.S. government departments and agencies. The 18-page unclassified section of the report was released on Wednesday. "China and Russia have weaponized space and turned it into a war-fighting domain," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Stephen Kitay told reporters on Wednesday. "Their actions pose the greatest strategic threat with ongoing development, testing and deployment of counter-space systems and the associated military doctrine designed to hold allied and systems at risk." "The U.S. space enterprise was not built for the current strategic environment," Kitay added, noting that space has historically been regarded as a supporting domain for satellites to support other efforts, but not as a battleground. The U.S. Space Force, established as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces in 2019, is specifically designated as the country's space warfare service branch. It has previously noted Russia's direct ascent weapons and potential weapons to destroy satellites, as well as threats including electronic warfare, cyberattacks and ground-based lasers capable of blinding satellites.

  • BAE Systems Joins Boeing’s MQ-25 Industry Team

    June 17, 2019 | International, Aerospace

    BAE Systems Joins Boeing’s MQ-25 Industry Team

    NASHUA, N.H.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--BAE Systems has been awarded contracts by The Boeing Company to supply the Vehicle Management Control System and Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) System for the MQ-25. “BAE Systems leads the industry in high-integrity fly-by-wire and mission-critical IFF technologies,” said Corin Beck, director of Military Aircraft Systems at BAE Systems. “Our relationship with Boeing started more than four decades ago and has resulted in aircraft that have some of the most advanced avionics and reduced size transponders in the world.” The Vehicle Management Control System will control all flight surfaces and perform overall vehicle management duties for the MQ-25 unmanned aerial vehicle. The IFF product ensures operation in contested environments by reliably identifying both coalition and enemy vehicles. The MQ-25 is the U.S. Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft and is designed to provide a much-needed refueling capability. The contract supports Boeing’s engineering and manufacturing development program to provide four MQ-25 aircraft to the U.S. Navy for Initial Operational Capability by 2024. “The MQ-25 program is vital because it will help the U.S. Navy extend the range of the carrier air wing, and Boeing and our industry team is all-in on delivering this capability,” said Dave Bujold, Boeing’s MQ-25 program director. “The work we’re doing is also foundational for the future of Boeing – where we’re building autonomous systems from seabed to space.” BAE Systems is an industry leader in the design, development, production, and support of highly reliable flight control systems for commercial and military aircraft. It was the first to introduce fly-by-wire in both military and civil applications. BAE Systems is also a world leader in IFF equipment and this program expands its footprint to approximately 150 platforms worldwide.

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