12 septembre 2019 | International, Terrestre

DSEI: Shoot and scoot: Industry answers call for more mobile firepower

By: Jen Judson 

LONDON — As the U.S. military and its European allies look to counter Russian capabilities observed against Ukraine in Crimea, countries are looking to move away from towed artillery systems to highly mobile mortar systems that pack a punch at greater range.

The exposition floor at DSEI, a large defense trade show in London, was littered with examples of mobile mortar systems that are answering the call.

“We’re seeing the emergence of mobile mortars now due to changing threats and environments,” James Tinsley, a managing director at Avascent, told Defense News at the show.

“Where U.S. and allied operations in Afghanistan and Iraq used largely static mortar and artillery emplacements at Forward Operating Bases, these sites are easily fixed, targeted and destroyed by more advanced conventional adversaries,” Tinsley said. “Those adversaries use unmanned aerial vehicles, electronic intelligence and counter-battery radars to quickly target and counter-fire on vulnerable artillery positions.”

Militaries have increased their focus on mobile artillery solutions, as a result, Tinsley said, to include self-propelled howitzer being recapitalized with new systems like the Paladin M1299 Extended Range Cannon Artillery, Hanwha’s K9, BAE Systems’ Archer 155mm howitzer to name a few. And there’s an effort to extend the range of rounds like the Nammo ramjet capability.

Hammer of Thor

BAE Systems showcased its CV90 Mjölner variant — Hammer of Thor — with a 120mm mortar system, which is about to be delivered to the Swedish Army after completing qualifications.

The company is seeing a genuine requirement from customers because they are seeing the threat and so the company believes its system fits the bill due to its simplicity for the operator.

Swedish Armed Forces Colour Sergeant Joakim Kylstad, a development officer at the Land Warfare Centre, said the system brings an increase in mobility and speed of firing and it can keep up with main battle tanks. The ability to shoot and move out of the way before an enemy can detect and return fire is critical, he added.

And the 120mm’s firepower and range are more effective than an 81mm mortar, Kylstad said.

While this variant was specifically designed for the Swedish Army, there are a number of other countries interested in the platform, Dan Lindell, BAE Systems’ director of combat vehicles in Sweden, said.

The company has sent information on both the Mjölner variant and an advanced mortar system to the United States, but the two have very different price points, Lindell noted.

The vehicle was delivered in record time to the Swedes. BAE fired the first shot from the variant just two-and-a-half months after signing a contract in December two years ago.

BAE also brought its Archer system on an 8x8 truck. The system carries 21 rounds and can be fired in two-and-a-half minutes.

Also packing a punch, Finnish defense company Patria displayed a 120mm Nemo turret on its 6x6 armored wheeled vehicle.

While not integrated onto a vehicle at the show, German defense company Rheinmetall brought its 120mm Ragnarok mortar combat system intended for integration into combat vehicles.

Downsizing

 

But even smaller vehicles came to the show with mortar systems highlighting easy setup and high mobility.

AM General’s booth had one vehicle - a HMMWV with a Hawkeye 105mm mobile weapon system using a standard M20 cannon installed with a soft recoil capability.

The company has been working with Mandus Group on refining and integrating the Hawkeye system to the humvee. The only parts different from what is already in the U.S. Army inventory is the gun system’s cradle and the recoil mechanism, Nguyen Trinh, company executive vice president of International Defense, told Defense News.

The 105mm system can be found on Korean and South African vehicles, but it’s installed on huge 6x6 trucks. Yet, AM General installed the gun without making any modifications to the humvee besides adding stabilizer legs to adjust to uneven ground.

In a recent demonstration, an experienced artillery crew at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, showed the benefits of a system installed on a humvee versus a towed M119.

Compared to the four minutes and 41 seconds an artillery crew of seven took to set up and first fire the system, the four person crew using the HMMWV Hawkeye system fired its first shot in one minute and 54 seconds after spending a day-and-a-half training to use it, Trinh said. In emergency situations, a two-person crew can set up and deploy the weapon.

Additionally, the system can fire 24 rounds within three minutes from the time the vehicle stops, and by the time a counter-battery radar has time to find the system, it’s already moving to its next firing position, he added.

And towed-artillery crews can normally only break down and set up the system several times before it becomes physically exhausting. But the mobility and ease of use of the Hawkeye humvee system means the crew can keep going longer.

The AM General system can also shoot in 360 degrees and is the only company worldwide with this capability. The rest of the systems out there can shoot in a forward-facing “wedge.”

One of the U.S. Army’s priorities is to increase protective mobile fire capability because of the threats observed by Russia on the battlefield in Ukraine, and the Army is evaluating systems including AM General’s system.

“Mobile, self-protected howitzers we believe are the future, not only in the Army but internationally,” Trinh said.

Ditching towed systems

The U.S. Army has recently completed an Army Requirements Oversight Council review on mobile, self-propelled artillery and language on the way forward is expected soon.

The United Kingdom is also looking at the same thing seriously and has requirements for a 155mm system.

But “I would say any country that has towed systems today and that really understands the survivability challenges of towed systems are looking in general terms at self-propelled systems,” Trinh noted.

While not at the show, the company also has a 155mm system called Brutus on an FMTV chassis.

The system doesn’t just have to go on a humvee or FMTV either, Trinh said, but any vehicle in a country’s inventory.

Also taking up less of a footprint was British company Supacat’s High Mobility Integrated Fires Capability with an 81mm mortar system on the back.

The U.S. Army has several programs that increase the mobility of 120mm mortar systems from the Future Indirect Fire Turret (FIFT) program, the Armored Multipurpose Vehicle (AMPV) and work within the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle program.

Several options are being demonstrated to the Army with Stryker for the FIFT program, with a target of installing on AMPV or the future Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle.

“Mortars offer significant firepower in lighter weight systems than self propelled howitzers, albeit at lower ranges. But they are a highly effective complement to other systems,” Tinsley noted.

Most self-propelled mortars today are mounted in the hull of vehicles like AMPV or the Stryker combat vehicle. “These can be effective but they are slower to bring to bear, have an open roof, which is vulnerable to counter-fire and require a heavier vehicle to handle recoil or an expensive and complex recoil system,” Tinsley said.

So turret-mounted systems are “coming into vogue now,” he said. “They offer high rates of fire, maintain crew protection and tightly integrate fire control or indirect and direct fire missions. Some have automatic loaders and other automation to drive even higher rates of fire.”

The Army was moving in this direction back in the days of Future Combat Systems, but the program was cancelled with the rest of the program.

The international market has been developing and adopting these systems more quickly, according to Tinsley, and it’s likely that the providers with wares to show at DSEI are leading candidates for some of the things the U.S. Army is looking for, but will likely require U.S. production partners and integrators, according to Tinsley.

https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/dsei/2019/09/12/shoot-and-scoot-industry-answers-call-for-more-mobile-firepower

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  • Opinion: How New ‘Predators’ Are Reshaping Aerospace Landscape

    16 mars 2020 | International, Aérospatial

    Opinion: How New ‘Predators’ Are Reshaping Aerospace Landscape

    By Antoine Gelain Behind the big aerospace and defense (A&D) primes like Boeing and Airbus and the “Super Tier-1s” such as United Technologies (UTC) and GE, a very different type of company is shaping the global A&D industrial landscape in a way that may be even more impactful than high-profile UTC-Raytheon-type mergers. Companies such as Teledyne, TransDigm and Heico are the spearheads of a breed of A&D players dedicated to “components and subsystems,” with explicit and perfectly executed “horizontal” external growth strategies. Their track records are impressive: These three companies—with combined revenues of more than $10 billion—have collectively made close to 200 acquisitions and delivered more than 20% average annual growth rate in either profitability or share value over the last 20 years. Thanks to such returns and skyrocketing market valuations, they are able to outbid most other contenders when going after an acquisition target by leveraging the so-called “accretive effect.”  This effect boosts the acquiring company’s earnings per share, as long as the price paid for the target as a ratio of the enterprise value (EV) over its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) is lower than that of the acquiring firm. As it happens, the current EV/EBITDA ratio of the three above-mentioned companies stands at more than 18 (see graph). By comparison, most other A&D companies have an EV/EBITDA ratio in the 9-13 range.    Such “buying power” is enhanced by operational synergies (for instance, in corporate overheads, sales and marketing), which immediately boost the profitability of the acquired company and can therefore be factored in the offer price. This gives them an additional edge against pure financial investors like private equity (PE) funds, which have historically been strong buyers of such component and subsystem businesses. Two recent deals in Europe (one still ongoing) illustrate this new balance of power. The first concerns Souriau-Sunbank, a $360 million-revenue specialist in interconnection technology for harsh environments. After being owned successively by two PE funds and bought by Esterline (now TransDigm) in 2011, it was again put up for sale last year. While expectations were that a PE fund would grab it, another industrial buyer, Eaton Corp., won the contest, paying the hefty price of $920 million (an EV/EBITDA multiple of 12). The second deal relates to a French company called Photonis, a world leader in night-vision technology for defense and space applications, for which Teledyne is apparently bidding—and offering a price 30% higher than the highest PE bid!  These deals highlight the limits of the traditional private equity model (too short-term and too short-sighted) and why the “new predators”—all publicly listed companies—are in a much better position to continue to thrive. In fact, by combining “private equity-like growth in value with liquidity of a public market,” as TransDigm puts it, they are not only beating PE players at their own game, but they are also capturing a significant share of the A&D capital market by offering investors an attractive alternative to the traditional vertically integrated groups such as UTC, Thales or Safran. These groups are typically too busy focusing on large systems and equipment to realize that they would actually benefit from articulating a proper “component and subsystem” strategy. They would benefit not only because their portfolios are still full of such businesses, but also because their long-term competitiveness largely depends on their ability to nurture a strong network of strategic suppliers, in terms of both criticality for their own systems and national sovereignty. As it happens, Photonis seems to be such a strategic supplier, since the current French government just announced it would veto the Teledyne deal, hoping to give other French or European companies or investors time to make a competitive offer for the business. But because PE funds, at least in Europe, are somewhat faint-hearted when it comes to ambitious sector-specific “horizontal” portfolio strategies, and because Europe has no industrial player able to compete with the likes of Teledyne, the outcome of the process is still highly uncertain. In any case, Teledyne, Heico, Transdigm and similar companies are surreptitiously reshaping the A&D industrial landscape by buying technological nuggets and component businesses left and right, on both sides of the Atlantic. In the process, they are boosting their shareholders’ returns and changing the balance of power with both traditional private equity investors and large vertically integrated A&D groups. As the saying goes: One man’s meat is another man’s poison. https://aviationweek.com/aerospace/manufacturing-supply-chain/opinion-how-new-predators-are-reshaping-aerospace-landscape

  • Tempest future fighter worth £25bn to UK economy

    19 octobre 2020 | International, Aérospatial

    Tempest future fighter worth £25bn to UK economy

      Harry Lye Analysis from PwC, commissioned by BAE Systems on behalf of Team Tempest, the partnership behind the Tempest future combat air system programme has said that the project to develop a future fighter will contribute at least £25bn to the UK’s economy and support an average of 20,000 jobs a year between 2026 and 2050. Team Tempest is a partnership between BAE Systems, Leonardo, Rolls-Royce, MBDA and the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Rapid Capabilities Office, as well as a host of small-medium enterprises and academia. Preliminary findings from the PwC report due to published in full later this year said that the programme including ‘R&D spillover’ would add £25.3bn to the UK economy for the first 30 years of the programme and ‘support an average of circa 20,000 jobs every year between 2026 and 2050’. The findings added that for every 100 people directly employed by Team Tempest, a further 270 would be employed across the UK. BAE Systems director combat air acquisition programme Michael Christie said: “Tempest is an exciting and ambitious multi-decade programme that will help to preserve our national security whilst at the same time driving significant economic benefits for the UK. “The initial analysis revealed today demonstrates that Tempest is critical to ensuring the UK can sustain its world-leading Combat Air Sector, preserving the sovereign capability that is essential to retaining military freedom of action for the UK.” rogramme is essential for national security and future prosperity The economic benefits of the programme come alongside the release of more technical details about the future fighter by Team Tempest, which the consortium said can “capture the equivalent of a ‘city’s worth of data’ in a second”. Tempest is expected to come into service in the mid-2030s and is set to replace the Eurofighter Typhoon within the RAF. The aircraft is set to form part of a broader combat air system that will likely include ‘wingman’ uncrewed aerial systems (UAS). ADS chief executive Paul Everitt added: “The Tempest programme is essential for our national security and future prosperity. The high-value design and groundbreaking engineering skills required for success will create a new generation of talent to drive UK industry. “Defence programmes like Tempest offer an invaluable opportunity to secure a recovery from the current Covid-19 crisis. It will embed high-value design and manufacturing skills in the UK for decades to come, sustain thousands of high paying jobs and give apprentices the opportunity to build their career in an iconic programme with massive export potential.” Capture a city’s worth of data in a second Team Tempest today also unveiled several insights into the programme including that Leonardo, the programme’s electronics lead, was developing new radar systems capable of providing over 10,000 times more data than existing systems. Leonardo director of major air programmes Iain Bancroft said: “The collaborative relationship between Team Tempest and our network of academic and SME partners enables us to bring together the ‘best of the best’ engineering talent from across the UK. Crucially, we are embracing new ways of working as an integrated team to dramatically improve efficiency and pace – sharing intelligence and refining our concepts digitally to deliver innovations that will shape the next generation combat air system. “Our new radar technology is a concrete example of the gains this approach has already brought, costing 25% less to develop while providing over 10,000 times more data than existing systems.” The ‘Multi-Function Radio Frequency System’ is slated as being able to collect data ‘equivalent to the internet traffic of a large city such as Edinburgh’ every second. The new sensor is described as providing a range of ‘abilities beyond traditional radar’, with the company having already built complete sub-systems utilising the technology with a path set for airborne demonstrations in the ‘coming years’. On top of this, BAE Systems said it had begun flight-testing components for the aircraft’s ‘wearable cockpit’ technology. The system will see physical controls in the aircraft replaced with ‘Augmented and Virtual Reality displays projected directly inside the visor of a helmet’ allowing them to be configured to meet different missions. A team from MBDA is also working on this technology to ensure the early introduction of weapons concepts. The MBDA team is also looking at how ‘weapons system information and operation’ is optimised for pilots. BAE Systems is also exploring the development of a ‘virtual co-pilot’ that can take on and automate some of the pilot’s responsibilities. ‘Psycho-physiological’ technology is also being trialled to measure a pilot’s physical and cognitive processes. BAE Systems said this would help better understand ‘increasing exertion, stress, workload and fatigue’. BAE Systems test pilots are currently trialling these technologies on the Typhoon aircraft. Rolls-Royce is working on the programmes ‘advanced combustion system technology’. Team Tempest has said that the next-generation system will need to be ‘hotter than any previous platform’ to increase the efficiency of Tempest’s engines. The engine manufacturer has also been working on advanced composite materials and additive manufacturing techniques, to produce lighter weight, denser components able to withstand higher temperatures than current parts. https://www.airforce-technology.com/features/tempest-future-fighter-worth-25bn-to-uk-economy/  

  • Contract Awards by US Department of Defense - September 11, 2020

    14 septembre 2020 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité

    Contract Awards by US Department of Defense - September 11, 2020

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Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is awarded a $9,049,721 modification (P00004) to cost-plus-fixed-fee order N00019-20-F-0571 against previously issued basic ordering agreement N00019-19-G-0008.  This modification provides labor, engineering change order planning, installation and site support activities to operate the Cameri Regional Modification, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade facility for F-35 aircraft for the government of Italy.  Work will be performed in Cameri, Italy (85%); and Fort Worth, Texas (15%), and is expected to be completed by December 2020.  Non-Department of Defense funds in the amount of $9,049,721 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity. Eastern Research Group Inc., Chantilly, Virginia, is awarded an $8,997,911 cost-plus-fixed-fee bridge contract for analytical engineering and technical support services.  Work will be performed in Indian Head, Maryland, and is expected to be completed by September 2021.  Fiscal 2020 operations and maintenance (Navy) funding in the amount of $623,741 will be obligated at time of award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  This contract was not competitively procured in accordance with 10 U.S. Code 2304(c)(1); only one responsible source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements.  The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division, Indian Head, Maryland, is the contracting activity (N00174-20-C-0012). 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General Electric Aviation, Cincinnati, Ohio, has been awarded a maximum $32,522,610 firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to overhaul F108 engines.  This was a limited source acquisition using justification 10 U.S. Code 2304 (c)(1), as stated in Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1.  This is a one-year base contract with four one-year option periods.  Locations of performance are Ohio and Canada, with a Sept. 10, 2021, performance completion date.  Using military service is Air Force.  Type of appropriation is fiscal 2020 through 2021 defense appropriated funds and working capital funds.  The Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Richmond, Virginia, is the contracting activity (SPE4AX-20-D-9005). Rohr Inc., doing business as Collins Aerospace, Chula Vista, California, has been awarded a $24,100,000 modification (P00003) to five-year, firm-fixed-price contract SPE4AX-18-D-9403 with one five-year option period for additional aviation-related spare parts and related services.  This modification increases the base contract from $576,000 to $24,676,000.  Location of performance is California, with an April 30, 2023, performance completion date.  Using military service is Air Force.  Type of appropriation is fiscal 2018 through 2023 defense working capital funds.  The Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Richmond, Virginia, is the contracting activity. Navistar Defense LLC, Melrose Park, Illinois, has been awarded a maximum $12,229,316 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for pneumatic wheel tires.  This was a sole-source acquisition using justification 10 U.S. Code 2304 (c)(1), as stated in Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1.  This is a three-year contract with no option periods.  Locations of performance are Illinois and Ohio, with a Sept. 11, 2023, ordering period end date.  Using military service is Army.  Type of appropriation is fiscal 2020 through 2023 Army working capital funds.  The Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime, Warren, Michigan, is the contracting activity (SPRDL1-20-D-0015). DEFENSE ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS AGENCY L3Harris Technologies Inc., Colorado Springs, Colorado, was awarded a $22,152,476 cost-plus-fixed-fee completion contract for a research project for the Secure Advanced Framework for Simulation and Modeling (SAFE-SiM) program.  SAFE-SiM seeks to build a government owned and controlled, faster-than-real time modeling and simulation environment.  This capability would enable rapid analysis supporting senior-level decisions for concept of operations development, force structure composition, resource allocation and targeted technology insertion.  Work will be performed in Colorado Springs, Colorado (23%); Arlington, Texas (25%); Round Rock, Texas (18%); Camden, New Jersey (13%); Chantilly, Virginia (8%); Culver City, California (7%); and Clifton Park, New York (6%), with an expected completion date of September 2021.  Fiscal 2019 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $5,275,000 are being obligated at the time of award.  This contract was a competitive acquisition in which 10 offers were received.  The Defense Advanced Research Agency, Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity (HR0011-20-C-0145). DEFENSE HEALTH AGENCY Booz Allen Hamilton, McLean, Virginia, was awarded a $9,125,494.37 firm-fixed-price contract modification exercising Option Period Four on previously awarded task order HT0011-16-F-0011 for integrated professional services across the Military Health System (MHS).  The underlying task order provides professional services to allow robust performance management and continuous process improvement support to maintain the MHS as a high-reliability organization.  The exercised option includes additional strategic communications services valued at $457,791.30 for this current option period and supports communication and coordination with the Military Treatment Facilities through the Office of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO).  This includes maintenance of the CMO website and increased support for the CMO office coordination, in addition to more frequent pushed messages and product development.  This option will render continued execution of multiple work streams inherent to this contract with 54 deliverables that will unite the Services and the Defense Health Agency together as an integrated system.  Fiscal 2020 operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $9,125,494.37 are obligated at time of award.  The Defense Health Agency, Falls Church, Virginia, is the contracting activity. (Awarded September 4, 2020) Optum Health Care Solutions LLC, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, was awarded an $8,489,105.00 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract HT0011-17-C-0017 for Nurse Advice Line support services.  The modification provides for additional resources to support a surge in the Nurse Advice Line due to significant increases in call volumes during the months of March, April and May 2020.  At the onset of the pandemic in March, the demand for healthcare outpaced the capacity of the health system resulting in a rapid influx of calls into the Nurse Advice Line.  Fiscal 2020 COVID-19 funds are being obligated at the time of award.  The Defense Health Agency, Falls Church, Virginia, is the contracting activity. *Small Business https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Contracts/Contract/Article/2345436/source/GovDelivery/

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