18 octobre 2021 | International, Terrestre

First Live Hypersonic Missile Rounds To Be Delivered to Army Unit Next Year

The service remains on pace to field an offensive hypersonic unit by fiscal 2023, general says.


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  • U.S. Army Flexes New Land-Based, Anti-Ship Capabilities

    21 octobre 2020 | International, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR

    U.S. Army Flexes New Land-Based, Anti-Ship Capabilities

    Steve Trimble Lee Hudson Finding ever new and efficient ways to sink enemy ships is usually assigned to the U.S. Navy and, to a lesser extent, the Air Force, but not anymore. Though still focused on its primary role of maneuvering against land forces and shooting down air and missile threats, the Army is quietly developing an arsenal of long-range maritime strike options. As the Army carves out an offensive role in the Pentagon's preparations for a mainly naval and air war with China, service officials now seek to develop a capacity for targeting and coordinating strikes on maritime targets with helicopter gunships in the near term and with long-range ballistic missiles by 2025. The Project Convergence 2020 event in September focused the Army on learning how to solve the command and control challenge for a slew of new land-attack capabilities scheduled to enter service by fiscal 2023. The follow-on event next year will expand to include experiments with the Army's command and control tasks in the unfamiliar maritime domain. “I think we have a long way to go in terms of partnering with the Navy for some of the maritime targeting [capabilities],” says Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, the Army's cross-functional team leader for Long-Range Precision Fires. “And I think that'll be a natural evolution into Project Convergence 2021,” Rafferty says, speaking during the Association of the U.S. Army's virtual annual meeting on Oct. 15. The Army operates a small, modest fleet of watercraft, including logistics support vessels and Runnymede-class large landing craft, but service officials have been content to respond to attacks on enemy ships at sea with the Navy's surface combatants and carrier-based fighter squadrons. Last year, the Air Force also revived a maritime strike role by activating the Lockheed Martin AGM-158C Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile on the B-1B fleet. But the Army's position has changed. The AH-64E Capability Version 6, which Boeing started developing in 2018, includes a modernized radar frequency interferometer. The receiver can identify maritime radars, allowing the AH-64E to target watercraft at long range for the first time. Meanwhile, the Defense Department's Strategic Capabilities Office started working in 2016 to integrate an existing seeker used for targeting ships into the Army Tactical Missile System (Atacms), which is currently the Army's longest-range surface-to-surface missile at 300 km (162 nm). Beginning in fiscal 2023, the Lockheed Martin Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) is scheduled to begin replacing the Atacms. The Increment 1 version will extend the range of the Army's missiles to 500 km. A follow-on Increment 2 version of PrSM is scheduled to enter service in fiscal 2025, featuring a new maritime seeker now in flight testing by the Army Research Laboratory. “As we begin to develop the PrSM [Increment 2] with the cross-domain capability against maritime and emitting [integrated air defense system] targets, obviously we'll be partnering with the Navy on that,” Rafferty says. Targeting ships from land-based artillery systems is not unique to the Army. The U.S. Marine Corps plans to introduce the Raytheon-Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile, firing the ground-based anti-ship cruise missile from a remotely operated Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. To strike a moving target at ranges beyond the horizon, the Army needs more than an innovative new seeker. A targeting complex linking over-the-horizon sensors with the Atacms and PrSM batteries is necessary. Moreover, the Army will need to adapt command and control procedures to an unfamiliar maritime domain. The annual Project Convergence events offer a laboratory for the Army to prepare the targeting and command and control complex before new weapons enter service. With the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon, a medium-range ballistic missile and PrSM also set to enter service in the next three years, the Army is seeking to adapt quickly. Last month, the Army used the first prototype of the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node ground station. An artificial intelligence (AI) program named Prometheus sifted through intelligence information to identify targets. Another AI algorithm called SHOT matched those targets to particular weapons with the appropriate range and destructive power. An underlying fire-control network, called the Advanced Field Artillery Data System, provided SHOT with the location and magazine status of each friendly weapon system. A process that would otherwise take minutes or even hours dwindled—in an experimental setting—to a few seconds. The first Project Convergence event last month focused on the Army's traditional mission against targets on land. The next event will seek to replicate that streamlined targeting process against ships possibly hundreds of miles away. These experiments are intended to help the Army familiarize itself with new tools in the command and control loop, such as automated target-recognition systems and targeting assignments. The event also helps the Army dramatically adapt, in a few years, institutional practices that had endured for decades. “In order for a bureaucracy to change, [it has] to understand the need, and we have to create the use case in order for a bureaucracy to change,” says Gen. Mike Murray, the head of the Army Futures Command. “I think in Project Convergence, what we're able to demonstrate to the senior leaders in the army will further help drive that change.” In a way, the Army is seeking to achieve in the maritime domain a networked sensor and command and control system that the Navy introduced to its fleet nearly two decades ago. To improve the fleet air-defense mission substantially, the Navy's Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) generally develops a common, shared database of tracks from the multiple airborne, surface and subsurface sensors available to a carrier battle group. But the Navy also is building on the CEC standard. In 2016, a Lockheed F-35B demonstrated the ability to develop a target track of an over-the-horizon enemy warship. The track information was sent via the CEC to a launcher for a Raytheon SM-6. Although primarily an air- and missile-defense interceptor, in this case the SM-6 demonstrated an anti-ship role. A follow-on development SM-6 Block 1B is expected to optimize the weapon system as a long-range, anti-ship ballistic missile with hypersonic speed. More recently, the Navy has been quietly experimenting with its own series of Project Convergence-like experiments. Known as the Navy Tactical Grid experiments, the Navy and Marine Corps organized a series of demonstrations in fiscal 2019, according to the latest budget justification documents. Building on the common operating picture provided by the CEC, the Navy Tactical Grid is possibly experimenting with similar automation and machine-learning algorithms to streamline and amplify the targeting cycle dramatically. A new initiative is now replacing the Navy Tactical Grid experiments. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday tapped Rear Adm. Douglas Small, the head of Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, to lead the effort known as Project Overmatch. Small must provide a strategy, no later than early December, that outlines how the Navy will develop the networks, infrastructure, data architecture, tools and analytics to support the operational force. This includes linking hundreds of ships, submarines, unmanned systems and aircraft. “Beyond recapitalizing our undersea nuclear deterrent, there is no higher developmental priority in the U.S. Navy,” Gilday wrote in an Oct. 1 memo that revealed the existence of Project Overmatch. Aviation Week obtained a copy of the document. “I am confident that closing this risk is dependent on enhancing Distributed Maritime Operations through a teamed manned-unmanned force that exploits artificial intelligence and machine learning.” While Small is tasked with creating the “connective tissue,” Gilday directs Vice Adm. James Kilby, deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting requirements and capabilities (N9), with accelerating development of unmanned capabilities and long-range fires, Gilday wrote in a separate Oct. 1 memo outlining the details of Project Overmatch. Kilby's assessment must include a metric for the Navy to measure progress and a strategy that appropriately funds each component. His initial plan is also due to Gilday in early December. “Drive coherence to our plans with a long-term, sustainable [and] affordable view that extends far beyond the [future years defense plan],” Gilday wrote. https://aviationweek.com/defense-space/missile-defense-weapons/us-army-flexes-new-land-based-anti-ship-capabilities

  • Jumping into algorithmic warfare: US Army aviation tightens kill chain with networked architecture

    9 septembre 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    Jumping into algorithmic warfare: US Army aviation tightens kill chain with networked architecture

    By: Jen Judson NAVAL AIR WEAPONS STATION CHINA LAKE, Calif. — In the skies above China Lake, California, from the back of an MH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter, an operator with a tablet takes control of a Gray Eagle drone and tasks it with firing a small, precision-glide munition at an enemy target located on the ground. But at the last second, a higher level threat is detected and the munition is rapidly redirected toward a different threat, eliminating it within seconds. This was made possible through the architecture, automation, autonomy and interfaces capability, or A3I, built by the Army's Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team under Army Futures Command. The demonstration showed the ability to nimbly pass control between operators of unmanned systems and munitions through a networked architecture of systems also receiving and filtering real-time, pertinent information to aid in operational decision-making. “It was our first jump into algorithmic warfare,” Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen, who is in charge of the Army's FVL modernization effort, told Defense News following the demonstration. “We definitely didn't jump into the deep end of the pool, but we jumped in and, again, we are into pursuing that as far as we can take it to help soldiers be lethal.” The Aug. 26 demonstration sought to tighten the kill chain and allow for more advanced teaming between air assets and troops on the ground using a resilient network. “When you talk about our kill chain, we are trying to take seconds out of our kill chain,” Rugen said. “We feel like we understand the reverse kill chain — the enemy coming to get us. Our kill chain is going to get them, and we want our decision-making to be as precise and as expeditious as possible,” using automation and autonomy, he added. AI3 was developed over the course of nine months and culminated in the demonstration at China Lake. "Going from a concept, and in a matter of months putting it into an experiment: That was probably the most impressive thing, particularly if you look back at the history of how we do these,” James McPherson, the official performing the duties of the undersecretary of the Army, told Defense News. McPherson attended the demonstration to emphasize the importance to senior Army leadership of modernization efforts within the service. The FVL effort in particular includes ensuring manned, unmanned, munition and other air-launched effects are all seamlessly networked together to fight in advanced formations in a congested environment, such as an urban area, and that they are prepared to fight across multiple domains. Using an interface called Arbitrator, the service networked together a variety of targeting identification and rapid automated processing, exploitation and distribution, or PED, capabilities as well as real-time weather information and several other features and capabilities to help operators of unmanned systems penetrate, in the case of the demonstration, an urban environment. AI3 in action During the demo, one of the systems integrated into the network tied to a ground sensor detected a possible threat on the ground. Seeing the threat detected in the system, a helicopter pilot then gained control of an extended-range Gray Eagle and tasked it to perform reconnaissance of the possible target. Using the UAS, the pilot identified the threat as an enemy surface-to-air missile system. The pilot then ordered the UAS to fire a Dynetics GBU-69 small glide munition to defeat the target, marking the first time the munition had been fired from a Gray Eagle. But as the munition closed in on the target, the system picks up on another threat deemed more important for elimination. The information for this decision came from the integrated PED systems that use machine-learning algorithms to accurately identify items of interest. Another operator then redirected the munition during its final seconds of flight to hit the new, more pressing threat. Why does the Army need A31 capability? To build the system, the government took the lead integration role, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Cory Anderson, the UAS branch chief for Army Special Operations Aviation Command, said at the demonstration. This ensured the service's ability to get the right levels of interoperability between subsystems. But almost all of the capabilities tied into the government's black box came from small businesses and academia. Much of the initial development has come from the special operations side of the house. The demonstration was viewed from a tactical operations center, with screens lining the walls of a large air-conditioned trailer, but the system has a scalable control interface and can be remotely accessed from a cockpit or even a tablet used by a soldier on the ground. This breaks the Army free from having to use a ground control station, Anderson said, meaning the footprint and logistics tail can be drastically reduced. To put together the tactical operations center and ground control station, it took roughly seven C-17 planes to move heavy equipment into China Lake. “We can't sustain that,” Anderson said. “We believe we can get it down to a two C-17 load-out just by minimizing the generational requirements alone.” By integrating PED systems that use machine learning into A3I, the Army no longer requires a large number of people — roughly 30 at a time — to conduct PED from full-motion video. The Arbitrator system allows for operators to pass control of various systems back and forth at different levels of control, from just receiving information from a sensor or UAS to controlling a payload to the entire system. The system is also under development to improve its automation levels. The utility of passing control to a relevant operator not tied to a ground station means taking out the middle man that doesn't have the same advantageous access to the tactical edge another possible operator might have. Rugen said that if there's an operator on the ground close to the action, it's much easier to take control of systems rather than try to direct someone far away to the right location to get eyes on a possible point of interest or target in order to make an actionable decision. “What if the squad leader could just grab the sensor because we have the hierarchy?” Rugen noted. While the capability was developed and demonstrated by the FVL Cross-Functional Team, the system has applications for almost everything on the battlefield, from applications to long-range precision fires targeting capabilities to next-generation combat vehicle teaming to soldier systems. Both directors for the Long-Range Precision Fires and the Network cross-functional teams were present at the demonstration. While the unclassified version of the demo didn't show capability, the classified version addresses the architecture's capability to protect itself against threat-representative electronic attack. “We want to make sure we have a resilient network,” Rugen said. The next step is to move the Arbitrator system onto an airborne platform, which would completely eliminate the ground control station. That will be demonstrated in roughly a year. https://www.defensenews.com/land/2019/09/05/jumping-into-algorithmic-warfare-army-aviation-tightens-kill-chain-with-networked-architecture/

  • SES launches advanced broadband satellites as military demand grows

    16 décembre 2022 | International, C4ISR

    SES launches advanced broadband satellites as military demand grows

    The network will offer more broadband capacity to meet growing demand for secure communications services in hard-to-reach locations.

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