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US Navy’s Unmanned Boat Now Features 50-Caliber Machine Gun
06 May 2019
Military.com | By Richard Sisk
The Navy and Textron showed off for the first time a weaponized prototype of a small unmanned surface vessel (USV) designed to revolutionize sea warfare, May 6, 2019. (Military.com photo/Richard Sisk)

The Navy and Textron showed off for the first time a weaponized prototype of a small unmanned surface vessel (USV) designed to revolutionize sea warfare, May 6, 2019. (Military.com photo/Richard Sisk)

The Navy and Textron showed off for the first time Monday a weaponized prototype of a small unmanned surface vessel (USV) designed to revolutionize sea warfare.

Textron principal systems engineer Gary Hartman said the display of the 40-foot Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle, docked at the annual Sea-Air-Space Exposition at National Harbor, Maryland, is the first of the boat mounted with a 50-caliber machine gun and a housing for Hellfire missiles.

The weapons display is the outgrowth of the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement signed last year by Naval Sea Systems Command and Textron "to develop and integrate surface warfare payloads onto the Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle."

According to the agreement, "the payloads will include various missiles, designators, sensors, and remote weapon stations."

The weapons are part of what Hartman called an "expeditionary warfare package" for the CUSV, but he stressed that the display is intended only to show possible future capabilities. "As an initial package, there's not a lot of appetite for it" currently, he said.

Hartman said the CUSV itself is a program of record with the Navy, but there is no timeline for when the systems will be deployed.

The CUSV was initially developed to be carried aboard Littoral Combat Shipsand launched to conduct countermine and surveillance operations. The missions can be programmed into the CUSV, and radars and other sensors aboard alert the mother ship to what the CUSV finds, Hartman said.

Hartman noted that the CUSV is programmed to be compliant with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs).
The CUSV, which is capable of 30 knots and has a range of 400 nautical miles, will independently pass behind an approaching vessel and then resume its original mission direction, he said.

During countermine activities, when it is programmed to stick to a given course, the CUSV will independently slow to allow the approaching vessel to pass and "then get back on track," Hartman said.

The CUSV's COLREG-compliant feature also has possible applications for manned Navy surface vessels, he said. "It doesn't lose focus; it doesn't lose attention," as sailors might.


 

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Navy, Marine Corps Aren't Ready to Commit Personnel to Space Force
06 May 2019
Military.com | By Richard Sisk

Navy and Marine Corps officials sidestepped questions Monday over whether they will commit their own resident experts to the new sixth branch of the military, Space Force.

Rear Adm. Christian Becker, commander of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), said decisions on shifting personnel to Space Force are above his pay grade and have yet to be finalized.

He said the Defense Department is still studying "how best to support that Space Force" and "how to meet the mission needs of the Space Force."
Until the DoD decides, his personnel are involved in other missions, Becker said.

Brig. Gen. Lorna Mahlock, the first African-American woman to be nominated to one-star rank in the Marine Corps and now the deputy commandant for information, was equally non-committal, saying it is a "little premature to have that discourse" on Marine Corps involvement in the Space Force.

The Coast Guard's chief of naval research, Capt. Greg Rothrock, said only that his service "certainly was not a leader" on the Space Force issue and is focused on being a "smart user of the capabilities that are available" from advances in space technology.

Becker, Mahlock and Rothrock were on a panel at the Sea-Air-Space exposition at National Harbor, Maryland, to discuss space as the military's new frontier.

In June 2018, President Donald Trump directed the DoD to begin planning for a Space Force; in February, he signed an order directing all military space functions to come under a new Space Force, to be overseen by the Department of the Air Force.

However, Congress is still debating its size, composition and costs, and questioning what the Space Force will do that the Air Force isn't doing already.

At a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in March, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said that he expects 15,000 to 20,000 personnel to be assigned to Space Force. According to his Navy biography, Becker has about 10,500 military and civilian personnel in SPAWAR.

On Sunday, 43 former DoD, Air Force and intelligence officials signed an open letter to express "strong support" for the creation of a Space Force.

The letter said in part that a Space Force would "develop military space culture and ethos" and "recruit, train, educate, promote and retain scientists, engineers and warriors with world-class space skills and talent."

 

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Navy Test-Fires Ship Variant of Army's Excalibur Precision Artillery Shell
06 May 2019
By Hope Hodge Seck


The Navy quietly conducted a ground test of a precision-guided projectile the Army fires from cannons, manufacturer Raytheon revealed this week.
The test of the N5 naval variant of the Excalibur projectile took place in September at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, John Hobday, senior manager for advanced programs with Raytheon's Land Warfare Systems division, told Military.com on Monday.

"What we have done is leveraged and reused the components ... in a round that can be fired from the Navy 5-inch gun," Hobday said. "Part of [the test] was to establish the fact that it did work with the existing 5-inch rounds."

The N5 round was previously fired from a naval 5-inch gun in a 2015 test at Yuma. The follow-on test indicates the Navy's continued interest in the technology, although a timeframe for moving forward has not been made clear.

"What comes next is the Navy deciding where their priorities lie," Hobday said. "It's a positive indicator that they have allowed us to release this information."

The Excalibur projectile offers double the effective range of the conventional shell currently used with the MK-45 5-inch gun aboard Navy destroyers and cruisers. It can fire out to 40 kilometers, or almost 22 nautical miles, compared with the current range of just over 20 kilometers. The projectile also offers accuracy inside two meters.

And, Hobday said, it would be a smart investment for the Navy because the service will be able to "leverage other people's money" by taking advantage of an existing program. Testing, he said, shows the projectile could be used in the existing 5-inch gun without major changes being required.

If the Navy does invest in the N5, Hobday said he expects costs to stay pretty steady at roughly $70,000 per round.

The service might also be able to take advantage of an update Raytheon is developing for the Army: a laser-guided variant known as the Excalibur S that allows the round to seek and engage moving targets.

"What this becomes is almost, for the Marine Corps, an adjunct to close-air support," Hobday said.

Raytheon's announcement came on the first day of the Navy League's Sea Air Space expo near Washington, D.C., where the company conducted a briefing on the technology.


 

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Top Marine Aviator Defends 'King Stallion' Heavy-Lift Helo Despite Setbacks

06 May 2019
By Gina Harkins

The Marine Corps' next-generation heavy-lift helicopter program has long been delayed by technical problems and other flaws, but Lockheed Martin Corp.'s CH-53K remains the only aircraft that can meet the service's' battlefield needs, a three-star general said.

The Corps will not pursue buying Boeing's CH-47 Chinook in place of the King Stallion, Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder said Monday at the annual Sea-Air-Space conference near Washington, D.C.

"We have not found another platform that can accomplish everything we can off of a ship at the distances and the weight that we're asking it to do," said Rudder, head of Marine Corps aviation.

The Marine Corps' plan to spend $31 billion on 200 CH-53Ks has come under scrutiny from lawmakers. Even with the high price tag -- about $155 million per aircraft -- there have been more than 100 deficiencies found during testing.

The service got its first King Stallion a year ago, but setbacks have delayed the date the aircraft is expected to become combat-ready to as late as September 2021, Bloomberg News reported.

Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, has instructed the Pentagon to review the buys and make sure the service can't get an aircraft with similar capabilities from another supplier, Rudder said.

"They were going to take a look at other alternatives -- not only the 47 but many other platforms ... as directed by the [congressional] committee," he said.

But the service needs an aircraft that can carry immense weight for long distances as Marines operate in more distributed environments, Rudder said. As of now, the CH-53K is the only helicopter "that can do what we're asking it to do," he added.

The general told lawmakers last month that all of the problems with the aircraft could be addressed.

"I think we're on the right track," he told the committee. "... If you let us continue on with the money we've asked for this year [and next year], we're going to fix this and we're going to deploy in 2024."

Rudder said Monday that Lockheed Martin will lower the Corps' bill for CH-53K fixes by "sharing the risk on some of the deficiencies."

 

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Marines experiment with ‘mini-carriers’ for their stealthy fighters
By: Shawn Snow  
07-May-2019

The amphibious assault ship Wasp transits the South China Sea on April 2. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker/ Navy)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter is still a bit of a boot to the Marine Corps’ jet fleet, despite notching three deployments and conducting strike missions in the Middle East.

But that hasn’t slowed the service’s experiments with its high-tech fighter. Sailing the South China Sea in the early months of 2019, the amphibious assault ship Wasp hauled 10 of the stealthy planes on its flattop flight deck — four more than is typically embarked on a big deck amphib.
The “mini lightning carriers” provide another “tool in the toolkit" for combatant commanders, Marine Lt. Gen. Steven R. Rudder, the deputy commandant for aviation, said at the 2019 Sea-Air-Space exposition here on Monday.

“We were able to turn sorties off that like you would mini lightning carriers," Rudder told the expo audience.

Marines found that increasing the sorties of combat fighters risks reducing lift capacity. To fit the four additional F-35Bs on board, crews had to leave behind six MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.

A Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU, typically plans on carrying six F-35s or other fighter aircraft, plus about 10 MV-22s.

To Rudder, it all depends on what the mission will be and which tools commanders need to pull from the kit to accomplish it.

He pointed to a scenario where an assault force or its rotary wing aircraft already have been positioned ashore and the commander needs more combat air power.

The mini-carrier concept is not something a commander would use in every situation, but it provides another option to battle an enemy, Rudder said.

It’s also not the first time the Corps has experimented with the concept.

During the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Navy positioned two big deck amphibs off the coast, each boasting more than 20 AV-8B Harrier II jump jets, Rudder told Defense News.

That turned them into essentially Harrier carriers and the Corps used them for combat sorties.

The Marines had pushed their rotary wing and lift capability ashore, allowing for additional Harriers on the deck.

The fighter conducted its first combat strikes against targets in Afghanistan with the 13th MEU, traversed the Indo-Pacific command theater with the 31st MEU, and participated in last month’s Balikatan bilateral exercise with the Philippines.

The Navy commander of Amphibious Squadron 1, Capt. Gerald Olin, told Marine Corps Times that F-35Bs defended the task force, something they weren’t able to do with Harriers.

The 13th MEU experimented with the F-35B as both a deck-launched interceptor and in anti-air and anti-surface roles.

The aircraft’s sensors painted a detailed picture for commanders and generated intelligence of the battle space, allowing planners to distribute and decentralize the warships, he said.

 

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The US Navy is eyeing a big change to its new stealth destroyers
By: David B. Larter
07-May-2019

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The U.S. Navy is considering a significant change to its new stealth destroyers, one driven by the change of mission announced in last year’s budget documents, the head of the program said May 7 at the Sea-Air-Space conference.

The service has been struggling to find a use for the ship’s advanced gun system — the largest of its type fielded by the service since World War II — and now is considering stripping them off the platform entirely, said Capt. Kevin Smith, the DDG-1000 program manager at Program Executive Officer Ships.

The Navy sidelined the guns after the service truncated the buy to just three ships, and after the ammunition, called the Long-Range Land-Attack Projectile, ballooned in price to more than $800,000 per round.

"The guns are in layup,” Smith said. “We're waiting for that bullet to come around that will give us the most range possible. But given that that is offensive surface strike, we're going to look at other capabilities potentially that we could use in that volume.”

The ships shifted missions from land attack to ship-hunting and -killing last year. The Navy is integrating the SM-6 missile, which has a surface-attack mode, and are integrating the maritime strike Tomahawk to fill out the new capabilities.

In April testimony, the Navy’s top requirements officer, Vice Adm. William Merz, told Congress that the slow development of the Advanced Gun System was holding back the Zumwalt.

“Even at the high cost, we still weren’t really getting what we had asked for,” he said. “So what we’ve elected to do is to separate the gun effort from the ship effort because we really got to the point where now we’re holding up the ship.”

The Navy has touted the ship’s excess space, weight, power and cooling as advantages the service would want throughout the ship’s life. Everything from directed energy and electromagnetic rail guns to electronic warfare equipment has been floated as add-ons to the Zumwalt-class destroyers.
The Navy got in its present pickle with the 155mm/.62-caliber gun with automated magazine and handling system because the service cut the buy from 28 ships, to seven, and finally to three.

The AGS was developed specifically for the Zumwalt class, as was the LRLAP round it was intended to shoot. There was no backup plan, so when the buy went from 28 to three, the costs remained static, driving the price of the rounds through the roof.
The program itself is coming along, said Smith.

The Zumwalt is going through trials as its combat system installation wraps up; the Michael Monsoor is heading into the yards for its combat system installation; and the Lyndon B. Johnson is nearly 85 percent complete.

The remaining work on Johnson involves running cables, painting spaces and otherwise putting the finishing touches on the ship. The ship will then leave Bath, Maine, and head toward its home port of San Diego, California.

“We’re going to energize high voltage in September, lighting off the generators in the spring, then we’ll be going to test and activation for the [hull, mechanical and electrical systems], trials in the fall, then delivery.”

 

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The Air Force’s new trainer jet is attracting the Navy’s and Marine Corps’ interests
By: Valerie Insinna  
07-May-2019

Boeing-Saab's T-X trainer design won the Air Force's T-X competition in September 2018. (John Parker/Boeing)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are monitoring the development of the Air Force’s T-X training jet, but it may be years before they can launch their own competitions to replace the T-45, officials said Monday.

“We’re watching the T-X. Obviously the Air Force is going through that process,” Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for aviation, said during a panel at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference.

“At some point, we’re going to have to replace the T-45. We’re going to have to replace the F-5,” he said, referring to the T-45 Goshawk (used by the Navy and Marine Corps to train fighter pilots) and the F-5 (used to simulate adversaries during exercises).

“Our adversary requirement is not going away. It only increases. That’s another one that with our Air Force counterparts we’re watching closely on many different fronts,” he added.

Last year, the Air Force chose a Boeing-Saab team to build a new, clean-sheet trainer, awarding the firms a contract worth up to $9.2 billion. Although the service’s program of record is 351 T-X jets and 46 simulators, the agreement gives it the flexibility to buy up to 475 aircraft and 120 simulators. A Navy and Marine Corps buy would add several hundred aircraft to the Air Force’s eventual order — a massive financial win for Boeing, which bid extremely low on the T-X solicitation with the expectation of raking in big profits during the production stage.

Boeing is set to deliver the first simulators to Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, in 2023. In fiscal 2024, the Air Force will have enough simulators and trainers to declare its first squadron as operational.

Angie Knappenberger, the Navy’s deputy director of air warfare, said the timing of a T-X buy could be “problematic” because of the current schedule of the TH-57 replacement, which is taking priority over a new jet trainer.

“Once we’re able to accomplish that — the helicopter trainer replacement — then we’re going to look more forward to something like the T-45 replacement. T-X would certainly be in the running as a candidate for something like that,” she said.

The Navy in January released a request for proposals for the TH-57 replacement, kick-starting a competition with Airbus, Bell and Leonardo that could potentially lead to a contract awarded this year. The service wants to buy 130 helicopter trainers from FY20 to FY23.

Knappenberger did not elaborate on why the timing of the T-X program could be challenging for the Navy, but the service plans to finish purchasing new helicopter trainers just as Boeing starts producing and delivering T-Xs to the Air Force. Another key factor may be whether the T-X can be outfitted with the gear necessary for taking off from and landing on aircraft carriers, and how quickly Boeing could complete the engineering work involved.

Like Rudder, Knappenberger noted the appeal of buying enough T-X trainers to fill the service’s adversary air requirements, saying she’s “curious to see” the jet’s red air capabilities.

The Air Force is also assessing the T-X’s ability to conduct other mission sets.

“You could imagine a version of the airframe that could be equipped as a light fighter. You can imagine a version that is equipped as an adversary air-training platform,” Air Combat Command head Gen. Mike Holmes told reporters in March.

 

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Raytheon tests motor for DARPA's MAD-FIRES self-defense interceptor
MAY 7, 2019
By Allen Cone

May 7 (UPI) -- Raytheon Company successfully tested a hot fire rocket motor for DARPA's Multi-Azimuth Defense Fast Intercept Round Engagement System.

The test for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency was conducted on an undisclosed date at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, Raytheon announced Monday.

The MAD-FIRES interceptor is designed to provide self-defense capability that defeats multiple waves of anti-ship missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, small planes, fast in-shore attack craft and other platforms that "pose a perennial, evolving and potentially lethal threat to ships and other maritime vessels," according to the agency.

The system can combine the speed, rapid fire and depth of a close-range gun weapon system with the precision and accuracy of guided missiles -- including from different directions -- DARPA says.

"The Navy is asking for leading-edge capabilities that can take out rapidly approaching targets, and Raytheon's interceptor for the MAD-FIRES program will deliver," Dr. Thomas Bussing, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president, said in a company news release. "This test shows Raytheon is right on track to provide an affordable, advanced technology to the fleet."

DARPA said it envisions decreased per-engagement costs by a factor of 10 or more, improved real-time defense against evolving air and surface combat threats with extreme precision, and potential future applicability to air and ground platforms.

In 2017, Lockheed Martin received an $8 million contract modification to support the second phase of MAD-FIRES. The modification brought the contract value to more than $18 million.

 

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Navy to deploy hospital ship USNS Comfort in response to crises in Venezuela
By Ed Adamczyk
MAY 8, 2019

The USNS Comfort, pictured anchored off the coast of Honduras in December, has been deployed to the Caribbean, Central America and South America to offer humanitarian medical assistance in regions affected by the crises in Venezuela. Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Scott Bigley/U.S. Navy


May 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy will send a hospital ship to help Venezuelan refugees, Vice President Mike Pence announced.
"At the President's direction, the United States Navy will deploy the USNS Comfort to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America this June," Pence said at the State Department's annual Washington Conference on the Americas on Tuesday. "The Comfort will embark on a five-month humanitarian mission to address the Venezuelan crisis."

The ship is a non-combatant hospital vessel staffed by officers of the Navy's Medical Corps, Dental Corps, Medical Service Corps, Nurse Corps and Chaplain Corps, and enlisted Hospital Corpsman personnel. It will primarily visit areas hosting Venezuelan refugees who have fled their country's economic and political hardships. Pence, in his speech, said that at least three million people have left Venezuela and the regime of President Nicolas Maduro.

"The USNS Comfort represents our enduring promise to our partners in the Western Hemisphere, our shared neighborhood," Navy Adm. Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, said in a statement. "U.S. Southern Command is committed to the region in support of our Caribbean and Latin American partners, as well as displaced Venezuelans who continue to flee the brutal oppression of the former Maduro regime and its interlocking, man-made political, economic and humanitarian crises."

The U.S. has provided more than $256 million to the region in humanitarian and development assistance, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahansaid on Tuesday, adding that more will be needed as the country suffers through violence, economic insecurity, hyperinflation, and shortages of food, medicines and essential services.

The ship's deployment will be its seventh in the region since 2007, and its second in the Western Hemisphere in the past six months. A Chinese Navy hospital ship, the Peace Ark, visited Venezuela in September 2018 as part of an 11-country tour.

 

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Raytheon to provide U.S. Marines with Naval Strike Force Missile
By Ed Adamczyk
MAY 8, 2019

Raytheon Co. announced a $47.6 million contract with the Defense Department to integrate Naval Strike Force Missiles into the U.S. Marine Corps' modernization efforts. Photo courtesy of Kongsburg SA

May 8 (UPI) -- Raytheon Co. announced on Tuesday it was chosen to integrate the Naval Strike Force Missile into the U.S. Marine Corps' existing structure.

The missile, which can be launched from land or sea, is a precision-strike armament which can fly at very low altitudes, and detect and destroy targets at long distances.

The Navy uses the missile on littoral combat ships as an anti-ship weapon, and its selection by the Marine Corps improves interoperability and reduces costs and logistical problems.

The $47.6 million contract comes under an agreement through the Marine Corps' Other Transaction Authority, a term used to refer to the authority of the Department of Defense to carry out certain prototype, research and production projects.

The Other Transaction category was created to give the Defense Department the flexibility necessary to adopt and incorporate business practices that reflect commercial industry standards and best practices into its award instruments.

"This fifth-generation missile adds another dimension for sea control operations and for protection from adversary warships," Kim Ernzen, vice president of Raytheon Air Warfare Systems, said in a statement.

The Naval Strike Force Missile was developed by Raytheon and its partner, Norway-based Kongsburg.

"We are very pleased to expand the user community. The NSM is now selected by the US Navy and Marine Corps, Norwegian, Polish and Malaysian Navies from both ships and land-based coastal defense. It is an off-the-shelf and non-developmental 5th generation strike missile system that can be rapidly deployed for operational use," Eirik Lie, President of Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace AS, said in a company statement.

 

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Why Russia Feared the U.S. Army's M270 Super Rocket Launcher
The ultimate Cold War weapon?
March 18, 2017
by Kyle Mizokami




Rockets have been a staple of land warfare for centuries, but it wasn’t until the latter half of the twentieth century that they became a permanent addition to the U.S. Army’s arsenal. Ironically, the Army’s program to develop multiple battlefield rocket artillery to fight the Soviet Army drew inspiration for its rockets from Moscow’s wartime “Katyusha” multi-tube rocket launchers.

Battlefield rocket use dates back to thirteenth-century China. Although China is lauded for inventing gunpowder and derided for promptly using it for fireworks the reality is more complicated: China did use them for war, and even invented multiple-tube rocket launchers capable of launching up to one hundred projectiles. Rocket artillery fell out of favor for hundreds of years, but by the mid-1930s the Soviet Army had started to field the first modern rocket artillery units.

Unlike traditional gun artillery, which used a powder charge to propel a shell through a gun tube, an artillery rocket uses a continuously burning rocket motor to travel to target. The upside is that instead of a single gun tube, several tubes can be clustered together and ripple-fired mere seconds apart. As a result, rocket artillery has a faster rate of fire than tube artillery, although reloading takes longer.


The downside to rocket artillery is that rockets are less accurate. Unlike shells, whose impact point can be precisely computed by knowing the power of the powder charge, weight of the projectile and the length of the gun tube, a rocket flies free after exiting the tube, motor still burning. This makes rockets inherently less accurate and more suited to saturation attacks against area targets instead of point targets.

The Soviet Union relied on rocket artillery extensively during World War II, massing large numbers of truck-mounted multiple-rocket launchers such as the BM-13 and BM-8 to provide massed fires. Rocket artillery was extremely easy to manufacture, a critical issue when Soviet manufacturing was struggling to keep up with the war. A BM-13-16 was simply a collection of bracketed steel tubes mounted on a truck, often a Lend-Lease Studebaker, and the resulting vehicle could hurl sixteen eleven-pound high-explosive warheads a distance of 7.3 miles. What Soviet rocket units lacked in accuracy they made up with in the ability to saturate a target area, and the scream of a BM-13 launcher releasing a salvo of rockets was unearthly.

During the early 1970s, the U.S. Army refocused from Vietnam to a land war in Europe. As a result it looked to revamp its artillery capabilities with an emphasis on striking deep behind enemy lines.

The result was the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS. The M270 packs twelve 227-millimeter rockets into the a box launcher and can fire all twelve rounds in less than forty seconds. The M270 is based on the chassis of the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle. Tracked and highly mobile, it is designed to move into position, fire, and be ready to move to a new firing position in five minutes or less. This “shoot and scoot” tactic minimizes exposure to enemy counterbattery fire, a tactic that uses radar and other techniques to track back enemy rockets and shells in midair, determine the location of the enemy artillery units, and destroy them before they can displace to a new firing position.

Unlike other artillery units the M270 isn’t designed for direct support of ground troops. Rather, MLRS units concentrate on medium- to long-distance threats. Instead of attacking an enemy mechanized regiment on the move, MLRS units engage targets far behind enemy lines such as unit assembly areas, fuel and ammunition depots, and headquarters units. MLRS rocket fire is also ideal for friendly counterbattery fire missions.

Instead of trying to make the M270 more accurate, developer Vought decided to embrace the rocket’s lack of accuracy and maximize its ability to saturate an entire area. Each of the original M26 rockets carried 644 Dual Purpose Improved Conventional munitions (DPICM). The size of a hand grenade, DPICM rounds were ejected from the rocket while in flight, raining hundreds of the bomblets down on the enemy. The rounds were devastatingly effective against not only exposed infantry and soft-skinned targets such as fuel depots, ammunition depots and headquarters units, but were also capable of inflicting damage on tanks and armored vehicles, destroying them or putting them out of action.

The first use of the M270 was in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when the rocket launchers earned the name “grid killers” for the ability of a single M270 to saturate a one-kilometer-by-one-kilometer box grid on a military map. A MLRS battalion has a total of twenty-seven M270s, giving U.S. Army divisions and artillery brigades incredible amounts of firepower.

An alternate munition used by the M270 is ATACMs, or the Army Tactical Missile System. A large, plump rocket, ATACMs takes the place of six rockets in an M270, meaning each vehicle can carry up to two. ATACMs was designed to attack targets even farther behind enemy lines, carrying up to 950 antitank and antipersonnel submunitions up to eighty miles. Later versions had a range of up to 186 miles.

The tendency for unexpended cluster munitions to linger on the battlefield and cause harm to civilians resulted in the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. The convention bans their use and, although the United States is not a signatory, the Pentagon generally holds to the ban. As a result, MLRS and ATACMs rockets that carried DPICM have been retired or are being updated to a single “unitary” high-explosive warhead.

The M270 was so effective that a lighter, more mobile version, the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) was created. HIMARS packs six rockets or a single ATACMs on a five-ton truck. HIMARS has seen action in Afghanistan against the Taliban and Iraq against the Islamic State. The system’s usefulness against high-end threats has also seen it deployed to the Philippines opposite China, and eastern Europe opposite Russia.

The shift back to big-power warfare once again puts the focus on rocket artillery. As the U.S. Army reorients back towards fighting conventional armies again, massed fires will be back in vogue. ATACMs rockets are even getting the ability to engage moving ships at sea. New, improved rockets with GPS guidance can now destroy point targets. While rocket artillery likely won’t replace gun artillery any time soon, the versatility—and now accuracy—that rockets offer will make them critical capabilities for decades to come.


 

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Marine Corps Gets Long-Range Missile to Take Out Enemy Ships
9 May 2019
Military.com | By Hope Hodge Seck
The Army fires a Naval Strike Missile from a Palletized Load System truck, hitting a decommissioned ship at sea, 63 miles north of Kauai, in July 2018 as part of the monthlong Rim of the Pacific Exercise. David Hogan/AMRDEC WDI

The Army fires a Naval Strike Missile from a Palletized Load System truck, hitting a decommissioned ship at sea, 63 miles north of Kauai, in July 2018 as part of the monthlong Rim of the Pacific Exercise. David Hogan/AMRDEC WDI

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland -- The Marine Corps is dropping nearly $48 million on Raytheon's Naval Strike Missile (NSM) as it moves toward a series of experiments involving striking enemy ships and maritime targets from land.

Raytheon announced this week during the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space conference outside Washington, D.C., that it will provide the NSM to the Marine Corps under a $47.59 million Other Transaction Authority agreement, a Pentagon spending category for experimentation and prototyping.

The deal follows a 2018 Navy contract with Raytheon to manufacture and deliver the NSM as the over-the-horizon missile system for the service's littoral combat ships and the frigates that will succeed them.

"The Marine Corps' selection of the Navy's anti-ship missile enhances joint interoperability and reduces costs and logistical burdens," Raytheon said in a statement.

Developed by Norway's Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace, the NSM features a 275-pound, high-explosive warhead and has an operational range of more than 100 nautical miles. In a high-profile experiment during the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Exercise, U.S. Army Pacific fired an NSM from a Palletized Load System truck to hit a decommissioned ship off the coast of Hawaii.

A spokesman for Marine Corps Systems Command, Manny Pacheco, said the service plans to integrate the missile onto land-based vehicles over the next few years.

"What the [Other Transaction Authority] is going to allow us to do is take that capability, put it on certain vehicle platforms to see what it can do," Pacheco said. "[The Marine Corps wants] to do a variety of test demonstrations on the capability."


Breaking Defense reported in January that the Marine Corps was moving forward fast with plans to develop a land-based, ship-sinking missile capability, as part of an effort called Navy-Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System, or NMSIS. The outlet reported at the time that the Corps was considering NSM, Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile and Boeing's Harpoon for the development program. It added that the service is considering three different vehicles as a missile launch platform, including the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System; the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement, or 7-ton, truck; and the Logistic Vehicle System Replacement.

Pacheco indicated that a vehicle platform had not yet been selected, and specifics of timeline and experimentation moving forward would hinge, to some extent, on that decision.

Under Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, the Corps has become more aggressive in experimentation and pursuit of capabilities that can be integrated into existing platforms.

In 2017, Marine Maj. Gen. David Coffman, the Navy's director of Expeditionary Warfare, told Military.com that the Corps wanted a truck-mounted rocket system compact enough to fit in an MV-22 Osprey. The same year, the Marines fired HIMARS from the back of an amphibious ship, obliterating a land target 43 miles away.

In February, Neller told USNI News the Marine Corps wanted a long-range anti-ship missile as fast as possible to support the Navy from the land in sea-control efforts.

"There's a ground component to the maritime fight. We're a naval force in a naval campaign; you have to help the ships control sea space. And you can do that from the land," he told the outlet.

Randy Kempton, Raytheon's NSM program director, told Military.com at Sea-Air-Space that the Marine Corps' selection of NSM is a big deal for the company.

"A year ago, we were at this show and we weren't quite sure where the Navy was going with NSM. We didn't have a big contract," he said. "Fast-forward a year, and the Navy's got us under contract for a program of record, and in about a year's timeframe, we're already integrating into another service. So from our perspective, it's a big deal. It's gaining momentum."


 
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Navy awards $22.7M to BAE for three 57mm MK 110 gun mounts
15 May 2019
By Ed Adamczyk

BAE Systems Land & Armaments LLP received a $22.7 million contract, announced on Tuesday, to build three MK 110 gun mounts for the U.S. Navy. Photo courtesy of BAE Systems

May 15 (UPI) -- BAE Systems Land & Armaments received a $22.7 million U.S. Navy contract to build gun mounts, the Defense Department announced.

Three MK 110 Mod 0 gun mounts and related hardware will be built at the company's Louisville, Ky., facility, with work expected to be completed by January 2022, the Pentagon said in a contract announcement on Monday.

The MK 110 gun mount includes a 57mm multi-purpose, medium caliber gun, ammunition hoist, power distribution panel, muzzle velocity radar, barrel-mounted television camera and a laptop computer gun control panel.

Fitted onto the decks of United States Coast Guard cutters and Littoral Combat Ships, it can fire salvos at up to 220 rounds per minutes, with a range of nine miles. The gun mount includes a 120 round automatic loader drum

Its primary mission is to provide engagement of known surface threats during combat operations in a theater area of operation, the Navy said in a statement, and can deliver high rates of fire with extreme accuracy against surface, airborne and shore-based threats.

The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C., is the contracting agent.


 

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Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter Achieves First Flight
May, 17, 2019
Helicopter offers the U.S. Air Force improved reliability, survivability and range

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., The Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter achieved first flight today at Sikorsky's West Palm Beach, Florida site, an important step toward bringing this all-new aircraft to service members to perform critical search and rescue operations. The aircraft, developed by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company (NYSE: LMT) and based on the proven UH-60M Black Hawk, is customized for the U.S. Air Force 's rescue mission and will ensure the Air Force fulfills its mission to leave no one behind.

HH60W - Copy.jpg

Lockheed Martin SikorskyCRH First Flight

Total flight time was approximately 1.2 hours and included hover control checks, low speed flight, and a pass of the airfield.

"This achievement is yet another vital step toward a low rate initial production decision and getting this much-needed aircraft and its advanced capabilities to the warfighter," said Dana Fiatarone, vice president, Sikorsky Army & Air Force Systems. "We are very pleased with the results of
today's flight and look forward to a productive and informative flight test program."

Today's flight paves the way for a Milestone C production decision in September 2019, per the original baseline schedule, to which both Sikorsky and the Air Force are committed. A second HH-60W helicopter is expected to enter flight test next week, with a third and fourth aircraft entering flight test this summer. These aircraft will provide critical data over the course of the program which will enable the Air Force to make an informed production decision.

"The HH-60W's first flight is the culmination of significant development and design advances. We are excited to now move forward to begin full aircraft system qualification via the flight test program," said Greg Hames, director of the Combat Rescue Helicopter program. "Together with the Air Force, our team is motivated and committed to advancing this program and delivering this superior aircraft to our airmen and women."

The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter is significantly more capable and reliable than its predecessor, the HH-60G Pave Hawk. The aircraft hosts a new fuel system that nearly doubles the capacity of the internal tank on a UH-60M Black Hawk, giving the Air Force crew extended range and more capability to rescue those injured in the battle space. The HH-60W specification drives more capable defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, weapons, cyber-security, environmental, and net-centric requirements than currently held by the HH-60G.

"With the Combat Rescue Helicopter's successful first flight now behind us, we look forward to completion of Sikorsky's flight test program, operational testing and production of this aircraft to support the Air Force's critical rescue mission," said Edward Stanhouse, Chief, U.S. Air Force Helicopter Program Office. "Increased survivability is key and we greatly anticipate the added capabilities this aircraft will provide."

The U.S. Air Force program of record calls for 113 helicopters to replace the Pave Hawks, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services. A total of nine aircraft will be built at Sikorsky's Stratford, Connecticut, facility during the Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the program ― four EMD aircraft and five System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA).

For more information, visit www.lockheedmartin.com/crh.

 

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Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter

  • Proven Design. Long Range, Survivable And Lethal.
  • A New H-60 For The Most
  • Demanding Missions.
  • All U.S. Air Force Requirements

Building on the state-of-the-art UH-60M Black Hawk, the HH-60W “Whiskey” adds capability advancements to better support the full range of combat rescue and other special missions. Designed to meet long-range and high threat requirements for the U.S. Air Force, the Whiskey will expand upon the legendary Black Hawk’s versatility by doubling the internal fuel capacity without the use of space hungry auxiliary fuel tanks, provides a robust weapons suite, and integrates defensive systems and sensors to provide an unprecedented combination of range and survivability.

Additionally, by retaining 100% commonality with all UH-60M engine and dynamic systems, the aircraft provides the most sophisticated rotorcraft in the world at an extremely affordable price and total ownership cost over the entire life cycle.

The U.S. Air Force program of record calls for 113 helicopters to replace the Air Force’s aging HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services and allies.

  • 195 Nautical Mile / 361km Combat Radius
  • Hot and High Hover of 4000’ PA at 95°F
  • Best-in-class Survivability and Lethality
  • Unprecedented Net-centric Capability


 

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