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  • A new cold war: How the Army is preparing for a fight in the Arctic

    31 juillet 2018 | International, Terrestre

    A new cold war: How the Army is preparing for a fight in the Arctic

    By: Todd South  As Russia beefs up its Arctic presence with new units, equipment and weaponry for the cold weather fight, the Army has slowly begun to shift some resources to improving its own capabilities — though it lags behind its Arctic allies and lacks large-scale capacity to train or provide high numbers of troops for a potential Arctic battle. Melting polar ice is opening a region once thought nearly impenetrable to competition for shipping traffic, natural resources and potential land grabs some experts think could start a new Cold War. In recent years, Canada, Norway and Russia have realigned their focus to improving and expanding their Arctic capabilities. Along with those neighboring nations, which include Denmark, Finland and Sweden, the United States and United Kingdom all have varying levels of competing claims on Arctic resources. It wasn’t always so. As recently as 2012, experts such as Siemon Weizeman with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute were analyzing cooperative efforts between Russia, the United States and other Arctic nations. In the U.S. Department of Defense 2013 Arctic Strategy, Russia is barely mentioned. But following the 2014 war in Ukraine, stoked by Russia, leaders have shifted their view about the nation’s role in the Arctic. In that time, Russia has pushed resources in that direction. Its 2014 Russian Military Doctrine paper for the first time included the task of “protecting Russian interests in the Arctic.” So far, that’s included building up to 40 heavy icebreaking ships, more than a dozen new airfields, 16 deep-water ports, a broad range of tactical airpower, dedicated training centers, and stationing of paratroopers, counterterrorism, electronic warfare and other forces in the region, said Maj. Gen. Laurie Hummel, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard, at a June conference on Guard interests in the Arctic. The talk was put on by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Those ground forces include naval infantry and two army brigades on the Kola Peninsula, with aims to guard the Northern Sea route. And all of that is tied together under a recently established Russian Arctic Strategic Command, Hummel said. In addition, although China does not border the Arctic, it has “aspirational” goals for the region and wants to exploit sea lane passages for shipping and fishing waters, she said. In January, China released its first Arctic strategy white paper titled the “Polar Silk Road.” The paper focuses on Arctic shipping routes and states a cooperative goal for infrastructure and other development. China’s polar strategy echoes its One Belt One Road policy in Africa, which seeks partnerships to provide natural resources such as oil, gas and minerals. The Chinese government is looking to a liquefied natural gas project in northern Russia called Yamal to supply it with millions of tons of fuel a year upon program fruition. These and other factors are pushing key U.S. military and government leaders to look at how to shore up Arctic capabilities. “It is time for our nation to have a comprehensive and overarching arctic strategy,” Hummel said at the Wilson Center conference. Shifting priorities Right now, the U.S. military’s ground forces under U.S. Army Alaska, which falls under Indo-Pacific Command, includes a combined force of only 25,000 active duty, National Guard and Reserve troops. That’s about 2.5 percent of the entire force. In recent years, the Army has increased unit training in the Arctic, including airborne operations in 2014, armored vehicle deployment exercises in 2015, and the return of the 75th Ranger Regiment to Alaska for training for the first time since 2001. As of 2016, the Northern Warfare Training Center hosted an estimated 1,400 troops annually for training in an arctic region. The Northern Warfare Training Center in Alaska provided the following numbers of troops trained there over the past decade: Cold Weather Leaders Course — 3,025 Cold Weather Orientation Course — 1,188 Basic Military Mountaineering Course — 1,440 Advanced Military Mountaineering Course — 150 Mountain Warfare Orientation Course — 360 Military Ski Course — 36 Total all events (some not listed) — 7,100 NWTC focuses on small units and training unit leaders in effective cold weather and mountaineering skills. It seldom hosts large units, said John Pennell, spokesman for U.S. Army Pacific Command. Other training areas are available, though they are more accurately classified as subarctic than Arctic, and that has major implications. In 2015, Fort Drum, New York, home of the 10th Mountain Division, was reclassified from Zone 5 to Zone 7, which put it in the ranks of Fort Wainwright, Alaska, and Camp Ethan Allen in Jericho, Vermont. The shift pushed an additional $12.5 million in funding for equipment and infrastructure to the site. Some Army funding has also gone to upgrade individual equipment for soldiers at Fort Drum, Fort Wainwright and in Italy. New items include new gloves, headgear, sleds and skis. In June, the Army posted a Request for Information from industry on building an over-the-snow vehicle capable of operating in 50-below conditions. Dubbed the Joint All Weather All Terrain Support Vehicle, or JAASV, it would replace the decades-old Small Unit Support Vehicle, or SUSV, a tracked vehicle that typically supports an infantry platoon-sized element. How cold is too cold? New equipment, even a new vehicle, doesn’t necessarily equal a force ready to perform in truly Arctic conditions. Capt. Nathan Fry, the officer-in-charge of the U.S. Army Mountain Warfare School’s training division, told Army Times that people unfamiliar with Arctic environments often confuse “northern training,” which can be cold weather or high-altitude focused, with Arctic training. But the two are not equal. As Fry noted, gear that works well in freezing conditions can fail spectacularly when temperatures drop to minus-50 Fahrenheit. He would know. For the past few years, he’s been one of the U.S. representatives on the Guerrier Nordique team that spends weeks in Arctic and sub-Arctic areas of Canada. The exercise began in 2012 and was, in some ways, a small-scale attempt to recapture lost lessons of Arctic warfare that were explored regularly and in depth by the U.S. military throughout the 1940s and 1950s, as the United States prepared for a potential Cold War through operations such as Ice Cap in Greenland, Nanook, Snow Chute, Snow Drop, Snow Fall and Snow Storm. There must be a better understanding of the differences between cold weather and Arctic training, Fry said. Some think that if soldiers can fight in minus-10-degree weather, then they can do it at 60 degrees below zero. “That’s just not true,” Fry said. “It’s just like the mountain warfare fight, it’s really tricky.” Fry left active duty Army service in part to go to his current post at the Guard-run mountain warfare school and push for more work and preparation in the Arctic sphere. Outside of the annual Arctic Eagle Exercise with U.S. Army Alaska and the recent Fort Drum conference, Fry said he’s not seen a lot of improved Arctic policy. “From my foxhole, I haven’t seen a whole lot of forward progress,” Fry said. But the interest is there. Fry said that his school has seen a drastic increase in demand for mountain and cold weather training, and they began running extra classes to meet the need. And next year’s calendar is filling quickly. Though a byproduct of the school’s mountain and cold weather training can better inform soldiers on how to plan, survive and fight in some ways in extreme conditions, it is not Arctic focused. Items that are simple in normal weather conditions — how much fuel will people and vehicles need to stay warm and conduct operations? What rate of travel can be expected for either mounted or dismounted soldiers? How much water will soldiers need? — are complicated in extreme cold weather. Soldiers can have a frozen 5-gallon water jug but not be able to use it. “If I can’t melt it, then I can’t drink it,” Fry said. “Lack of fuel will absolutely shut you down.” While some cold weather training teaches students to use snow, the amount of water yield from snow is far less than ice. And leaders must plan for fuel use to melt the snow or the ice in ways they wouldn’t have to in a desert or woodland environment. Fitting it all in   And most training, from that being done in Alaska, Vermont or New York, is at the small unit, tactical level. “We are not thinking in terms of a staff exercise,” Fry said. “We’re not testing brigade staff on how to conduct resupply missions in cold weather environments.” And that’s a problem when soldiers are in extreme, austere environments where the only resources are those that they bring with them. Fry pointed to work that the Marines have long done with the Norwegians as something the Army should consider. Marines rotate a force of 300 to Norway for extended joint training. That number was recently more than doubled to 700. One suggestion the captain has might be to value Arctic training the same way the Army does airborne qualifications, including with a Skill Qualification Identifier. That number makes it easier for leadership to track how many soldiers have the appropriate training. And that mentality, coupled with an integrated Arctic focus similar to that given to airborne training, would help commanders prioritize unit training to emphasize those qualifications and seek more training opportunities. For example, the 10th Mountain Division is designated as a light infantry unit. That means that although its soldiers have access to mountain training and the current commander has emphasized “putting the mountain back into 10th Mountain,” without Army-directed prioritization those skills can fall to the bottom of the checklist. Small changes, such as a Skill Qualification Identifier, can direct the focus of commanders and resources, Fry said. “It’s like being in the 82nd Airborne Division,” Fry said. “Do we do range time or refresher jumps? Somehow they fit it all in.” https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2018/07/30/a-new-cold-war-how-the-army-is-preparing-for-a-fight-in-the-arctic/

  • Busting The Green Door: Army SIGINT Refocuses On Russia & China

    31 juillet 2018 | International, Terrestre, C4ISR

    Busting The Green Door: Army SIGINT Refocuses On Russia & China

    Over 17 years of fighting terrorists and insurgents, “our SIGINT forces mastered the art and science of identifying and tracking individual threats with pinpoint precision," Lt. Gen. Berrier said. "We now face a significant challenge on a much larger scale." By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. CAPITOL HILL: The Army has a new, two-pronged strategy for Signals Intelligence, its top intelligence official said at a recent forum here. First, SIGINT forces must continue their post-9/11 evolution from a secretive, insular priesthood to a hands-on helper for frontline troops. At the same time, SIGINT must scale up the “precision” techniques developed to track insurgents‘ and terrorists‘ transmissions so it can tackle much bigger and more sophisticated adversaries like Russia and China. Instead of pinpointing terrorist leaders for drone strikes or commando raids, SIGINT may be finding electronic weak points in enemy networks that US cyber and electronic warfare teams can then hack or jam. There is a foundation of success to build on, Army leaders told the Capitol Hill forum, which was organized by the Association of Old Crows, the leading professional association for electronic warfare. Intelligence in general and SIGINT in particular, they said, have gotten better integrated with other Army branches since 9/11 — and especially since 2016. “It has been a remarkable two years,” said Brig. Gen. Jennifer Buckner. Formerly deputy commander of Joint Task Force ARES, which led Cyber Command operations against ISIS, she is now cyber director in Section G-3/5/7 of the Army’s Pentagon staff. Increasingly close cooperation between intelligence analysts and tactical commanders, she said, has made it possible “to normalize operations like this so we truly are using the intelligence to inform and enable further targeting.” Ultimately, said the Army’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence (G-2), Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, the Army and its fellow services need to integrate intelligence, cyber warfare, and electronic warfare to realize their vision of Multi-Domain Operations, in which US forces launch coordinated attacks, both physical and electronic, from land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. Over 17 years of fighting terrorists and insurgents, “our SIGINT forces mastered the art and science of identifying and tracking individual threats with pinpoint precision,” Berrier told the forum. “We now face a significant challenge on a much larger scale, combat operations with near-peer and peer competitors.” Even if we never fight Russia or China directly, Berrier said — and let’s hope we never do — we’ll face the technology they sell around the world. In places like Ukraine, US partners are already fighting Russian proxies. So to meet this challenge, Berrier said, he recently approved a Signals Intelligence strategy with four main lines of effort: Build a SIGINT force that’s responsive to and closely integrated with tactical units, from corps headquarters on down; Apply what SIGINT has learned in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism over the last 17 years to high-intensity warfare; Buy new equipment, ground-based and airborne, that’s up to the challenge of great power adversaries; and Develop new doctrine, field manuals and concepts for large-scale combat. Thanks to enthusiastic support from both Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, and recently departed chief of Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, an experimental unit called the Multi-Domain Task Force is already exercising some of these concepts in PACOM. It’s built around an Army artillery brigade — both cannons and long-range missiles — augmented with long-range sensors to find targets and an integrated Intelligence, Cyber, & Electronic Warfare (ICEW) team that can stage non-physical attacks. “If you want to shoot 500 or a thousand miles, you have to see 500 or a thousand miles,” Berrier said. “This is the way of the future.” Getting there, though, requires overcoming the ways of the past. The “Green Door” Problem For generations, Army commanders have complained that Signals Intelligence operated behind a “green door” of security restrictions that kept them from sharing vital intelligence in time to act on it. For its part, Army SIGINT tended to see its primary customer as the National Security Agency, not combat units. In this context, the SIGINT community was leery of anyone actually taking action based on intelligence, lest it give away a source of long-term strategic value for a short-term tactical gain. But in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, the US military was trying to find, target, and capture or kill key insurgents and terrorists, who kept constantly on the move. That meant intelligence on their location had to get to tactical commanders fast, before the target moved again. If you wanted the drone to fire the Hellfire at the right target, or the special operators to kick down the right door, you needed to bust down the green door first. Conversely, once ground troops grabbed a High Value Target, they had to get his cellphone, laptop, and other devices to the intelligence analysts ASAP so his contacts could be tracked down and special operators could go after them before they scattered. The result was a self-reinforcing cycle that generated much more intelligence than you’d get by just passively listening to the enemy. So today, tight integration between signals intelligence and tactical commanders for such “intelligence-driven operations” has become almost routine — on a small scale. But there’s a big difference between targeting  a Taliban bomb-maker on his cellphone in someone’s garage as opposed to a Russian general on a high-security network in the middle of a tank division. For the many scenarios in high-end warfare when a target is too well-protected for other forces to bomb or capture, the Army wants the option to hack the target’s network or jam its radio signals — to disrupt what it cannot destroy. That requires SIGINT to hand the target data to so-called “non-kinetic” ways of disrupting the enemy through cyber and electronic warfare. But there’s a profound institutional imbalance here. SIGINT is one of the most influential and well established technical branches of the Army, in large part due to its intimate relationship with the NSA. But cyber is the newest branch, albeit benefiting from rapid growth and high-level attention, with its offensive capabilities highly secret and tightly restricted. And Army electronic warfare was largely disbanded after the Cold War and remains a small, underfunded force with very little actual hardware beyond short-range jammers to keep roadside bombs from detonating. So while the “green door” between intelligence and operations may have been kicked down, very real barriers remain between intelligence, cyber, and electronic warfare. The CENTCOM Model Central Command — which oversees Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria — has forced intelligence officers and combat commanders to work together in new ways, said Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty. This is possible, in part, because intelligence has gotten better at “sanitizing” information so tactical operators can use it without inadvertently revealing intelligence sources and methods, he said. But intel has also grown more willing to take the “tremendous risk” that something might slip out anyway, because the greater risk was that not acting on the intelligence would cost lives. Fogarty lived all this first-hand. Now head of Army Cyber Command, he was previously head of the Army cyber school at Fort Gordon and the top intelligence officer (J-2) for Afghanistan and, later, CENTCOM as a whole. But Fogarty’s far from alone: Not only his fellow high-level panelists, but two veterans in the audience members on Capitol Hill — a young officer and a retired general — took the microphone to agree with him. “What I saw in theater, [in] my time in CENTCOM and multiple trips to Afghanistan, is that SIGINT drove operations…down to the most tactical level,” Fogarty said. National Security Agency SIGINTers — “both civilian and military” — were actually sitting side-by-side with combat officers in Army brigade headquarters and, in some cases, even on company-sized Combat Outposts (COPs), he said. (This is very similar to how the National Reconnaissance Office has operated over the last decade on the battlefield with its Field Representative program.) Now many of the company, battalion, and brigade commanders who grew accustomed to this close support are leading the Army. “The guys who were lieutenants, captains, majors, lieutenant colonels that are now two, three, and four stars today, that’s what they expect,” Fogarty said. Of course, what broke down the traditional barriers between intelligence and operations was “the tremendous pressure” of wartime, when US and allied lives were in danger every day. “What we’ve got to make sure,” Fogarty said, “is we maintain that pressure and that we don’t regress to where we were potentially back in the Cold War.” What’s New? So what is Army intelligence actually doing to build on the counterterrorist successes of the past and prepare for a great power conflict in the future? Most immediately, the Army is changing how it trains, everything from new schoolhouse courses for officers to new field exercises for entire brigades. When an infantryman or tanker gets promoted to a leadership role, Berrier noted, they attend specialized courses to help them develop a bigger-picture perspective on the battlefield. For their part, intelligence leaders need to go beyond technical training in purely intelligence tasks — as complex and challenging as that is — and learn how to “integrate our highly technical skills into tactical formations” alongside infantry, armor, artillery, aviation, cyber/electronic warfare, and the rest. Intelligence soldiers and officers also need to practice their technical and tactical skills in real-world conditions. That’s not easy to arrange. First, the law is far more restrictive of training in the US than operations overseas, especially when it comes to intelligence collection in the vicinity of US citizens. Second, the electromagnetic transmissions SIGINTers need to practice detecting can interfere with civilian electronics, and the Army doesn’t want to fight the FCC. Training for electronic warfare, which involves deliberately disrupting signals, is even trickier. The best site for such training in the US, not coincidentally, is the Army Electronic Proving Ground at Fort Huachuca, home of the intelligence branch. Berrier commanded Fort Huachuca until he handed the job over to Maj. Gen. Robert Walters. Since units testing or training there are isolated from civilian population centers by broad deserts and high mountains, Walters told the Capitol Hill forum, “they can turn their jammers on and we don’t have planes crashing in Tucson.” Unfortunately, US electronic warriors don’t have many jammers to turn on, not yet. (We’ll delve into that tomorrow). But at least Army SIGINT systems like Prophet can train at Huachuca on detecting and analyzing real signals. The Army is also trying to replicate or simulate enemy signals at its Combat Training Centers in California, Louisiana, and Germany. Even so, some aspects of high-tech, high-intensity warfare may only be replicable in simulations, Berrier said. The Army’s key tool here is a simulator called IEWTPT, the Intelligence Electronic Warfare Tactical Proficiency Trainer. Training to do better with current technology, however, is not enough. Current systems were designed and fielded at a time when the US could operate freely in the electromagnetic spectrum, Berrier said, where the main problem was not enemy activity but inadvertent interference from other US systems (known as “electronic fratricide” or “blue on blue”). Against Russia, China — or anyone who’s bought their latest systems — the spectrum will become a battlefield. So the Army needs to develop new equipment designed to withstand hacking, jamming, and other rigors of high-tech combat, like advanced anti-aircraft systems that can shoot down scout planes, drones, and helicopters. Ultimately, the Army envisions multi-purpose systems that can not only detect and analyze enemy signals — the SIGINT function — but also disrupt or subvert those signals — the cyber/electronic warfare functions. That makes a lot of sense, in theory, since cyber/EW needs SIGINT to find its targets in the first place. But it’s much more complicated to implement in practice, less because the technology is tricky than because of the intense tribal rivalries within the Army. We’ll delve into those divisions and possible solutions in a second article, due out tomorrow. https://breakingdefense.com/2018/07/busting-the-green-door-army-sigint-refocuses-on-russia-china/

  • U.S. ARMY SELECTS LOCKHEED MARTIN AS INTEGRATED SYSTEMS DEVELOPER FOR AUTONOMOUS CONVOY PROGRAM

    30 juillet 2018 | International, Terrestre

    U.S. ARMY SELECTS LOCKHEED MARTIN AS INTEGRATED SYSTEMS DEVELOPER FOR AUTONOMOUS CONVOY PROGRAM

    DALLAS, July 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) was selected by the U.S. Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) as the Integrated Systems Developer for its Expedient Leader Follower (ExLF) program.     In this role, Lockheed Martin will lead a three-year effort to develop, integrate and test unmanned prototype systems for supporting leader/follower convoy activities within an asymmetric threat environment. Soldiers will conduct operational technology demonstrations using the prototypes developed in the ExLF program to establish operating procedures and shape future programs of record.  "We are leveraging 15 years of experience in developing autonomous capabilities for our customers," said Gaylia Campbell, vice president of Precision Fires & Combat Maneuver Systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "Our goal as the Integrated Systems Developer is to help coordinate a number of systems and vendors in achieving mature, reliable autonomous convoys to support our warfighters in complex environments." Soldiers conduct resupply convoys within an asymmetric threat environment compounded by long sustainment missions, adverse weather/environment and night operations. These conditions adversely impact operator safety, degrade driver/operator situational awareness and reduce resupply efficiency.  "The Expedient Leader Follower effort will equip a number of existing military ground vehicles with scalable robotic technology through the integration of modular kits, common interfaces and an open architecture to increase operator safety, improve situational awareness and increase resupply efficiency," Campbell said. About Lockheed Martin Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 100,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. This year the company received three Edison Awards for ground-breaking innovations in autonomy, satellite technology and directed energy. https://news.lockheedmartin.com/2018-07-30-U-S-Army-Selects-Lockheed-Martin-as-Integrated-Systems-Developer-for-Autonomous-Convoy-Program

  • DoD researchers literally reinvented the wheel with shape-shifting tracks

    30 juillet 2018 | International, Terrestre

    DoD researchers literally reinvented the wheel with shape-shifting tracks

    By: Kyle Rempfer Wheels are faster on hard surfaces, while a tracked design performs better on soft ground. Rather than pushing a ground combat vehicle through terrain it doesn’t perform well on, why not just slap on some shape-shifting wheels? A team from Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center demonstrated the feasibility of such shape-shifting wheel-track mechanisms for the Defense Department recently. The new technology, dubbed a “reconfigurable wheel-track,” can transition from a round wheel to a triangular track and back again while the vehicle is in motion — allowing for an instant improvement in tactical mobility on shifting terrain. The wheel-track is part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Ground X-Vehicle Technologies, or GXV-T, program, which aims to improve mobility, survivability, safety, and effectiveness of future combat vehicles without piling on more armor, according to a June 22 press release. “We’re looking at how to enhance survivability by buttoning up the cockpit and augmenting the crew through driver-assistance aids,” said Maj. Amber Walker, the program manager for GXV-T in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. “For mobility, we’ve taken a radically different approach by avoiding armor and developing options to move quickly and be agile over all terrain.” The DARPA initiative is looking to build a future in which combat vehicles can traverse up to 95 percent of off-road terrain, including slopes and various elevations. The new wheel-track design is just one of the contract awardees that recently demonstrated advances on a variety of potentially groundbreaking technologies that meet the program’s goals. DARPA also showcased a new “multi-mode extreme travel suspension” system that allows for "high-speed travel over rough terrain, while keeping the vehicle upright and minimizing occupant discomfort,” the agency said in its statement. The suspension can move 42 inches upward and 30 inches downward, and keeps itself level on steep grades by adjusting each wheel. Other enhanced mobility designs include an electric in-hub motor built by QinetiQ, which puts motors directly inside the wheels, offering heightened acceleration and maneuverability with optimal torque, traction, power, and speed over rough or smooth terrain. “QinetiQ demonstrated a unique approach, incorporating three gear stages and a complex thermal management design into a system small enough to fit a standard military 20-inch rim,” according to the release. Another new development could impact a vehicle crew’s awareness. Most combat vehicles have small windows. This improves the protection offered to troops, but limits their visibility to spot threats and targets. The GXV-T program is looking at sensor technologies to give mechanized troops their eyes back. One design by Honeywell International boasts an enhanced 360-degree awareness suite through virtual windows. The company showed that capability off in a windowless cockpit of an all-terrain vehicle with an opaque canopy, according to the DARPA release. “The 3D near-to-eye goggles, optical head-tracker and wrap-around Active Window Display screens provide real-time, high-resolution views outside the vehicle,” the release reads. “In off-road courses, drivers have completed numerous tests using the system in roughly the same time as drivers in [ATVs] with full visibility.” No fielding date has been announced by DARPA’s offices for the new mobility technologies, but the program could help solve many of the ongoing mobility issues troops have experienced in recent conflicts. For a full breakdown of the technologies being vetted through DARPA’s GXV-T program, check out this YouTube video by the agency. https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-air-force/2018/07/27/dod-researchers-literally-reinvented-the-wheel-with-shape-shifting-tracks/

  • Italy buys new tank — and it’s got much more going for it than its predecessor

    27 juillet 2018 | International, Terrestre

    Italy buys new tank — and it’s got much more going for it than its predecessor

    By: Tom Kington ROME — The Italian Army has signed a €159 million (U.S. $186 million) contract to acquire 10 Centauro II wheeled tanks, the first tranche of a planned 136-vehicle order. Manufactured by a consortium grouping Italian firms Leonardo and Iveco, the Centauro II is faster, more powerful and better protected than the Centauro tank already in service with the Italian Army, which it will replace. The new 30-ton Centauro features a 120mm cannon, digital communications and a 720-horsepower engine, and is seen by planners as a lightweight tank able to complement the Freccia armored troop carrier on which the Army is basing its new medium brigades. The new tank’s enhanced digitalization means it will work better with the digital capabilities of the Freccia, and it provides 24 horsepower per ton compared to 19 for the old Centauro. Generals see the new Centauro as lighter and more flexible than a traditional tank, but with the same destructive power. The eight wheels of the new Centauro, which make it better suited for peacekeeping operations than a tracked vehicle, extend farther out from the hull of the vehicle than its predecessor to give it greater stability. The new design also means that any mines triggered by the pressure of the tire will detonate further from the hull. The Iveco-Oto Melara Consortium, or CIO, was established in 1985 on a 50-50 basis between Iveco and Oto Melara, which is now part of Leonardo. Leonardo said it was responsible for the vehicles’ turret, including observation, targeting and communications systems, and was responsible for a €92 million share of the €159 million contract. https://www.defensenews.com/land/2018/07/26/italy-buys-new-tank-and-its-got-much-more-going-for-it-than-its-predecessor

  • The Army wants to replace the ‘Mickey Mouse’ cold weather boots

    27 juillet 2018 | International, Terrestre

    The Army wants to replace the ‘Mickey Mouse’ cold weather boots

    By: Todd South The old “Mickey Mouse” cold weather boot, a rubber relic from the 1960s still in service with both soldiers and Marines, could be replaced if a recent Army posting proves fruitful. The aim is to reduce the weight and bulk of the boot, which earned its nickname for its white, bulbous size, like the famed cartoon rodent’s feet. The boot does also come in black, and for a time, they were also called “Bunny Boots” by troops. Earlier this month, U.S. Army Contracting Command posted a special notice on fbo.gov, a federal business opportunities website. The notice detailed the procurement of 150 pairs of three models of an Extreme Cold Weather Overboot to replace the classic version, called the Extreme Cold Weather Boot. And the post author noted the long-standing boot’s deficiencies. “The current Extreme Cold Weather Boot (ECWB) has remained largely unmodified since the 1960s and utilizes outdated technology and manufacturing processes which are no longer available within the U.S.,” according to the notice. “Additionally, the ECWB is heavy, bulky, and difficult to pack/carry when conducting dismounted operations,” according to the notice. The white, bulky boot provides a vacuum-type seal that maintains foot warmth in temperatures down to -60 Fahrenheit. So much so that troops often soak their socks with sweat while standing in banks of snow. Researchers at the U.S. Army Soldier, Research, Development and Engineering Center along with Product Manager-Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment, “will commence an effort to evaluate insulated overboot solutions with the potential to offer similar environmental protection at reduced weight/bulk.” The boot was developed during the Korean War to combat the extreme cold weather soldiers and Marines faced in fierce fighting during that war. Minor modifications occurred early in its development, including an air valve being added in the 1960s for use in high altitudes, whether on mountainsides or in aircraft. https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2018/07/26/the-army-wants-to-replace-the-mickey-mouse-cold-weather-boots

  • From shelters to vehicles to rucks, here’s how the Army is changing its command posts

    27 juillet 2018 | International, Terrestre

    From shelters to vehicles to rucks, here’s how the Army is changing its command posts

    By: Todd South ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — As the Army looks to shrink its battlefield footprint, its researchers and engineers are finding ways to make the nerve center of the battle — command posts — lighter, more capable and easier to set up and tear down. A recently concluded three-year program aimed to do just that, with everything from the shelter devices used to house a command post’s gear, to refitting old and new vehicles, to moving an entirely vehicle-mounted communications system off the truck and into the ruck, cutting its weight by two-thirds in the process. These are some of the ways that experts with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Communications–Electronics Center are finding to make command posts more mobile, resilient and effective against enemies that can quickly target and destroy massed formations. Some of the advancements include the Expeditionary Command Post shelter, a 20-foot box with integrated power outlets, air conditioning, network cabling and video distribution system. It’s containerized so that it can be hauled on a truck or sling loaded under a helicopter. A four-soldier team can set up the structure within 30 minutes as the remaining command personnel hook up the computers, radios and other devices inside of the structure. Jim Bell, operations expert with RDECOM, told Army Times that soldiers with the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team set up the shelter in those time frames during field exercises. And during an experiment at Fort Hood, Texas, soldiers moved the shelter with a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. An even more mobile option that researchers have put together is the Light-Mobile Command Post, a pull-out table and tent combination that is installed in the back of a Humvee. It includes fixed TV monitors, built-in radio networks, cabling and computers. The system was designed primarily for light infantry units, but a similar configuration has also been installed on tracked command vehicles for armor units. This post can be voice comm and position location tracking operational within 15 minutes and fully operational in 30 minutes. Another Humvee-based answer to mobile command is a reconfigured command and control vehicle dubbed the Command Post Platform–Improved. It has a built-in power and cooling system and spots for two cases containing the capacity for six computer servers, enough to run a brigade’s worth of data. The setup includes seven radio nets, HF, UHF, VHF and SATCOM, and links for fiber optic, standard and secret lines of communication. A small but important feature allows the user to power the systems from either vehicle or external power. The system also has a 15-minute power backup so that the servers can continue to run as power is switched. Beyond a structure or tent solution, researchers have also outfitted small and mid-size all-terrain vehicles, specifically the Polaris MRZR. The focus of these is to provide airborne or air assault operations with a full-fledged command post in a smaller package. The smaller MRZR uses a modular system that can be pulled and reinstalled quickly into another vehicle, should the ATV be disabled. And it has an extra-powerful alternator that can produce 120 amps, double the amperage of a Humvee alternator. It also includes a first-ever all-around handset that can plug in and communicate whether the speaker is using radio, Voice over Internet Protocol or VOIP, and other computer-based voice applications. On top of all these advancements, the Army also is working on reducing what was 60 pounds worth of gear that previously was only used during mounted operations into a much lighter, man-portable package. “They were ripping stuff off of vehicles and coming up with a power source,” said Brad McNeilly-Anta, command post consultant for RDECOM. “That wound up with a 60-pound item, and they were jumping with it at the 82nd Airborne.” Not the most convenient package to haul to the ground. The expeditionary Joint Battle Command Platform is a line of sight, two-way transmission that includes a tablet, battery, peripherals and a new fueled power source that allows it to run for more than 24 hours of continuous operations. Adjustments and replacements to the ruggedized computer, power source, transceiver and encryption device have trimmed the weight down to 23 pounds. Experimenters adapted a 1 L methanol power source to run the system but have also successfully experimented with windshield wiper fluid to run the system, McNeilly-Anta said. https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2018/07/26/from-shelters-to-vehicles-to-rucks-heres-how-the-army-is-changing-its-command-posts

  • Autonomous security vehicle to patrol Edmonton International Airport perimeter fence

    25 juillet 2018 | Local, Terrestre, Sécurité

    Autonomous security vehicle to patrol Edmonton International Airport perimeter fence

    Edmonton International Airport Press Release An autonomous security all-terrain vehicle (ATV) developed by the Alberta Centre for Advanced MNT (microprocessor and nanotechnology) Products (ACAMP) is ready to patrol the perimeter security fence at Edmonton International Airport (EIA). The unarmed vehicle is controlled remotely by humans and can also drive autonomously, incorporating machine-learning to perform its tasks. “Safety and security is our number one priority at EIA and the autonomous ATV security vehicle will enhance our patrol of the perimeter fencing that secures the 7,000 acres of land at our airport,” says Steve Maybee, EIA’s vice-president of operations and infrastructure. “The partnership with ACAMP to build the vehicle is also part of a larger effort to foster innovation, collaboration and economic diversification through our Airport City’s growing number of technology and aerospace companies.” The new vehicle system includes navigation, path planning, obstacle avoidance, animal and human recognition, communication systems to airport security, geo-fencing, situational awareness and analysis and more. The autonomous ATV patrols will focus on the following: Identifying damage to the chain-link fence and fence posts, verifying barbed wire is taut and undamaged, and detecting holes or gaps under the fence; Detecting human or animal activity; and Searching for obstacles using LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). “The partnership with EIA has helped us build a customizable platform that uses the latest in artificial intelligence, telematics, communications and other technologies that has application worldwide,” said Rosy Amlani, ACAMP’s CFO and vice-president of business development. EIA is a member of the Advanced Systems for Transportation Consortium established by ACAMP and supported by the Government of Alberta. ACAMP is a member of the Alberta Aerospace and Technology Centre at EIA. ACAMP and EIA were able to harness technologies developed by consortium members to construct and test the autonomous ATV security vehicle, readying it for regular use at EIA. https://www.skiesmag.com/press-releases/autonomous-security-vehicle-to-patrol-edmonton-international-airport-perimeter-fence/

  • Rebuilding America’s Military: Thinking About the Future

    25 juillet 2018 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR

    Rebuilding America’s Military: Thinking About the Future

    Dakota Wood  SUMMARY America’s military—engaged beyond capacity and in need of rebuilding—is at a crucial juncture. Its current “big-leap” approach to preparing for future conflict carries great risk in searching for revolutionary capabilities through force-wide commitments to major single-solution programs. The Heritage Foundation’s Rebuilding America’s Military Project (RAMP) recommends that the U.S. military instead adopt an iterative, experimentation-heavy approach that can achieve revolutionary outcomes at less risk through evolutionary improvements that build on each other until transformative tipping points are reached. Critical to this is a military culture that is immersed in the study of war and a force of sufficient capacity to prepare for the future while also handling current operational commitments. https://www.heritage.org/defense/report/rebuilding-americas-military-thinking-about-the-future

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