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Why the Precision Strike Missile Is a Must Have for the Army | RealClearDefense

Why the Precision Strike Missile Is a Must Have for the Army
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By Dan Gouré

November 08, 2019
U.S. Army



A little over two years ago, then Chief of Staff of the Army General Mark Milley surprised most of the defense community by announcing a new modernization strategy focused on six priority areas: Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF); the Next Generation Combat Vehicle; Future Vertical Lift; Networks, Air and Missile Defense; and soldier lethality. To ensure these priorities would receive adequate attention and support, the Army leadership decided to radically restructure its acquisition organization, creating a series of Cross-Functional Teams (CFTs) to support these priorities and standing up a new four-star command, Army Futures.

According to multiple sources, LRPF is the Army’s number one modernization priority. The reasons for this are simple: today, the U.S. and its closest allies are outnumbered and out-ranged by Russian and Chinese long-range surface-to-surface strike capabilities. A recent RAND Corporation study warned that the U.S. and NATO are seriously outmatched by the Russian Army's artillery, rockets, and missile systems in terms of both range and the total volume of fires that can be generated. China, too, has a large and growing arsenal of air, land, and sea-based missiles of increasing range and lethality. This massive investment in long-range precision fires, when coupled with their extensive air and missile defenses, provides both countries with a potent Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capability.

If the U.S. is to deter conflict with both of these great power competitors and defeat any attempted aggression by either, it absolutely must modernize its long-range fires capabilities so as to achieve not merely parity, but what military planners call overmatch, which is another word for superiority. According to General Robert Brown, U.S. Army commander Pacific and the senior mentor to the LRPF CFT, the primary objective of the LRPF Cross-Functional Team is to develop “cannons that can go as far as rockets today and rockets that can go as far as today’s missiles and missiles that can go out to at least 499 kilometers and maybe beyond, depending on the [Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty.”

The Navy and Air Force are moving aggressively to expand the overall lethality of their platforms and to increase both the range and precision targeting of their missiles. The Army and Marine Corps have recognized the need to get into the long-range precision strike business both to support ground forces but, perhaps even more importantly, to support the Joint Force by targeting enemy ships, infrastructure, air and missile defenses, and long-range weapons.

The LRPF CFT has conceptually broken its various programs into three groups reflecting the ranges at which engagements would take place. In terms of the so-called close battle, involving ranges up to 100 kilometers, the goal is to increase the range, lethality, and maneuverability of existing towed and self-propelled artillery. Industry has already demonstrated the ability to double the range of the M109A7 Paladin self-propelled artillery out to 60 kilometers. The ultimate goal is to deliver high-volume cannon fires out to at least 100 kilometers.

At the other end of the spectrum, involving long-range fires to engage strategic targets, the Army is working on futuristic concepts such as the Strategic Fires Missile (SFM), with a potential range of up to 2250 kilometers, and the Strategic Long Range Cannon, which could fire a shell out to 1,000 kilometers.

The sweet spot, so to speak, in the modernization of Army long-range fires lies in the area between the close battle and strategic targeting. This is the so-called deep battle that will occur at ranges of between approximately 100 and 700 km. This happens to be the range band where U.S. competitors, particularly Russia, have had the greatest advantage. U.S. weapons capable of reaching these ranges will find a wealth of targets critical to an adversary’s A2/AD capabilities and to their ability to command forces, provide logistics support, conduct offensive air operations, concentrate ground formations and conduct naval operations. In addition to providing greater lethality, systems capable of operating to the farther reaches of the deep battle can conduct strikes from outside the range of many enemy weapons.

The key to success in modernizing Army long-range fires for the deep battle is the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM). This missile will replace the current system, the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), which has a maximum range of 300 kilometers. The new missile will be longer-range, at least 499 kilometers. The Army wants to be able to fit two PrSMs into the same launch canister that currently holds a single ATACMS. PrSM must be able to find its targets in the face of electronic countermeasures, as well as have an improved motor and easier maintenance than ATACMS. A key requirement is that the new missile has an open architecture to support future planned improvements, called spirals. One of the most important of these will give PrSM the ability to attack naval targets. With the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a future spiral could increase PrSM’s range up to 700 kilometers.

Competing to build the PrSM are two of this country’s premier defense companies, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Both have extensive experience designing missile systems. Lockheed Martin currently produces and upgrades the ATACMS. It also builds the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile. Raytheon has decades of experience developing and producing the Standard Missile in a number of variants.

The importance of PrSM to Army modernization is underscored by the decision to advance the date at which it wants to deploy the new missile from 2027 to 2023. Fortunately, the Army can have confidence in this decision because both companies are making good progress. Prototypes have been developed. First flight tests are reported to be planned for the end of this year. That will lead to the awarding of a four-year contract to one of the two competitors for Engineering and Manufacturing Development, followed by a production decision. In comparison to the old Army acquisition system, this is lightning fast.

Even if the PrSM can be developed on time, there are other challenges that the LRPF CFT must address. The most important of these is acquiring the necessary targeting information to support new longer-range fires systems. Any solution will have to be both joint and multi-domain, collecting information from a range of assets such as space-based sensors, the F-35, the much-anticipated Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, drones and even Special Forces teams, fusing the data, and getting it disseminated as actionable intelligence to an appropriate shooter.
 

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Army Tests Out Drone that Can Fire Grenades into Enemy Hideouts

Army Tests Out Drone that Can Fire Grenades into Enemy Hideouts



The now-defunct XM-25, seen here in a 2009 photo, was designed as a counter-defilade weapon. Now the U.S. Army is testing an experimental drone to perform the same function. (U.S. Army photo)
14 Nov 2019

Military.com | By Matthew Cox

U.S. Army weapons officials are testing an experimental drone armed with a multi-shot, 40mm grenade launcher to destroy enemy targets hiding behind cover.

The man-packable Cerberus GL unmanned aerial system -- made by Skyborne Technologies Pty. Ltd. -- is being evaluated in the Army Expeditionary Warfare Experiments 2020 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The drone weighs 14 pounds, has a range of two miles and can fire three 40mm high-explosive grenades at defiladed targets well beyond the 400-meter maximum effective range of the M320 grenade launcher.

It's been two years since the Army canceled theXM25, a sophisticated, shoulder-fired counter-defilade weapon, but Army weapons officials continue to search for solutions capable of killing enemy troops protected behind cover.



The Cerberus GL unmanned aerial system -- made by Skyborne Technologies Pty. Ltd. -- is being evaluated in the Army Expeditionary Warfare Experiments 2020 at Fort Benning, Georgia. (Skyborne Technologies)
"One of the priorities, especially for the Infantry Center, is counter-defilade," Ed Davis, director of the Army Futures Command Maneuver Battle Lab at Benning, told Military.com.

The XM25, nicknamed the Punisher by the infantry community, was equipped with an advanced fire-control system and programmable 25mm airburst ammunition. It was also a complex weapon that suffered from program delays and expensive ammo that ultimately led to its demise.

Currently, infantry officials are looking for simpler counter-defilade solutions designed to use munitions in the Army inventory, Davis said.

"To come up with a new system like the XM25, that's a hard one to sell sometimes," he said. "Industry knows that we want counter-defilade, but they also know that in most cases it's to adapt a current capability."

In addition to the Cerberus grenade-firing UAS, Benning officials evaluated a UAS armed with a Vietnam-era M72 Light Anti-tank Weapon (LAW) last year, Davis said.

The system featured a six-bladed commercial drone that could hover over a target and fire the LAW straight down on the enemy, Davis said.

"We've got like 100,000 LAWs in the inventory," he said. "All you are trying to do is get that weapon further forward so you can shoot behind an obstacle. It worked pretty good."

Last year's AEWE also evaluated an M72 LAW equipped with a programmable 66mm warhead, which peppered targets with about 4,000 fragments of shrapnel.

As with systems tested in past AEWEs, the data collected from the evaluation of the 40mm-firing Cerberus GL drone will be put into report after the experiment is complete in March, Davis said, describing how these counter-defilade systems could turn into low-cost programs of record in the future.

"The big thing is, if we go to conflict now and we had to have one now, we've got some alternatives," Davis said.
 

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Army Tests Out Drone that Can Fire Grenades into Enemy Hideouts

Army Tests Out Drone that Can Fire Grenades into Enemy Hideouts



The now-defunct XM-25, seen here in a 2009 photo, was designed as a counter-defilade weapon. Now the U.S. Army is testing an experimental drone to perform the same function. (U.S. Army photo)
14 Nov 2019

Military.com | By Matthew Cox

U.S. Army weapons officials are testing an experimental drone armed with a multi-shot, 40mm grenade launcher to destroy enemy targets hiding behind cover.

The man-packable Cerberus GL unmanned aerial system -- made by Skyborne Technologies Pty. Ltd. -- is being evaluated in the Army Expeditionary Warfare Experiments 2020 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The drone weighs 14 pounds, has a range of two miles and can fire three 40mm high-explosive grenades at defiladed targets well beyond the 400-meter maximum effective range of the M320 grenade launcher.

It's been two years since the Army canceled theXM25, a sophisticated, shoulder-fired counter-defilade weapon, but Army weapons officials continue to search for solutions capable of killing enemy troops protected behind cover.



The Cerberus GL unmanned aerial system -- made by Skyborne Technologies Pty. Ltd. -- is being evaluated in the Army Expeditionary Warfare Experiments 2020 at Fort Benning, Georgia. (Skyborne Technologies)
"One of the priorities, especially for the Infantry Center, is counter-defilade," Ed Davis, director of the Army Futures Command Maneuver Battle Lab at Benning, told Military.com.

The XM25, nicknamed the Punisher by the infantry community, was equipped with an advanced fire-control system and programmable 25mm airburst ammunition. It was also a complex weapon that suffered from program delays and expensive ammo that ultimately led to its demise.

Currently, infantry officials are looking for simpler counter-defilade solutions designed to use munitions in the Army inventory, Davis said.

"To come up with a new system like the XM25, that's a hard one to sell sometimes," he said. "Industry knows that we want counter-defilade, but they also know that in most cases it's to adapt a current capability."

In addition to the Cerberus grenade-firing UAS, Benning officials evaluated a UAS armed with a Vietnam-era M72 Light Anti-tank Weapon (LAW) last year, Davis said.

The system featured a six-bladed commercial drone that could hover over a target and fire the LAW straight down on the enemy, Davis said.

"We've got like 100,000 LAWs in the inventory," he said. "All you are trying to do is get that weapon further forward so you can shoot behind an obstacle. It worked pretty good."

Last year's AEWE also evaluated an M72 LAW equipped with a programmable 66mm warhead, which peppered targets with about 4,000 fragments of shrapnel.

As with systems tested in past AEWEs, the data collected from the evaluation of the 40mm-firing Cerberus GL drone will be put into report after the experiment is complete in March, Davis said, describing how these counter-defilade systems could turn into low-cost programs of record in the future.

"The big thing is, if we go to conflict now and we had to have one now, we've got some alternatives," Davis said.
This is nothing new. I had designed one such concept way back in 2015 and I named it flying Infabtryman. That drone was supposed to have far more destructive power and replace 50% of infantry in battle field. I presented that to DRDO also in 2015 and they told me that they too were working on something similar. Till date they have not made any such thing.
 

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Soldier-Controlled Autonomous Robots Call for Fires in Test, Attack Targets

Soldier-Controlled Autonomous Robots Call for Fires in Test, Attack Targets
byKris Osborn4 days-edited
Robots engaged in “direct fire” missions when directed by human decision-makers

photo: Textron Systems Ripsaw M5 Robotic Combat Vehicle

Video Above: New Army "WHAT's YOUR WARRIOR" Ad Campaign Video Story Above

By Kris Osborn - Warrior Maven

(Washington, D.C.) Armed Army robot vehicles conducted reconnaissance, called for indirect fire and then, when directed by human decision makers, attacked and destroyed enemy targets in a recent experiment designed to assess the technical maturity and readiness of autonomous ground drones.

“We had four robot vehicles conduct a tactical mission while humans were safe in defilade. We built four robots that are refurbished M113 tracked vehicles and we’ve taken two Bradleys -- gutted them -- and turned them into two control vehicles with all kinds of sensors on them,” Jeff Langhout, Director, Ground Vehicle Systems Center, told reporters in October at the Association of the United States Army Annual Symposium, Washington, D.C.

Langhout explained that the robots engaged in “direct fire” missions when directed by human decision-makers, per existing doctrine requiring a human to be “in the loop” when it comes to using lethal force for attack.

It’s the cutting edge of manned-unmanned teaming, human-machine interface coordinating human decision makers with robots increasingly able to perform autonomous functions. The Army doctrinal parameters are significant here, because the technological ability of a robot to surveil, track, target and destroy a target without human intervention -- is basically here. However, for ethical and tactical reasons, DoD maintains its clear position that humans must make decisions regarding the use of lethal force, despite advances in algorithms enabling greater autonomy. The doctrinal stance is also grounded in a recognition that even the most advanced computer algorithms are not sufficient to replace the problem-solving, decision-making abilities of human cognition. There is concern, however, that potential adversaries will not adhere to similar doctrine.

These questions figure prominently as the Army leverages the best available technology and makes rapid progress toward its ultimate goal of fielding a fleet of unmanned vehicles operating as “wing-men” for manned attack vehicles.

“I truly believe as we fight in the future robots are going to be involved,” Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, Director Next Generation Ground Vehicle Cross Functional Team, told reporters.

The concept is clear -- enable human soldier decision makers operating in a command and control capacity to receive organized, fused and integrated combat data in real time from robots. Unmanned vehicles could carry ammunition, cross bridges into enemy fire, perform forward recon missions to test enemy defenses, coordinate with air attack assets and -- when directed by human authorities -- destroy enemy targets with mounted weapons. Not only will these kinds of technical steps expand attack options and combat lethality while better protecting soldiers from enemy fire, but they will further disperse or disaggregate advancing forces, bringing additional tactical advantages. The robots could also support dismounted infantry in some cases by traversing rigorous terrain, bringing armored support to advancing ground units.

All of this is part of the Army’s fast moving Robotic Combat Vehicle program, a key element of its Next-Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) program intended to provide the service with a new generation of armored warfare ground vehicles.

The Army seeks a light, medium and heavy fleet of Robotic Combat Vehicle to support infantry and armored units on the move. The robots are being engineered to operate in tandem with the now-developing OMFV Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (Bradley replacement) effort.

An OMFV Congressional Research Service report, citing an Army Robotic Combat Vehicle Campaign plan - says the service requires the RCV - Light to be “less than 10 tons, with a single vehicle capable of being transported by rotary wing assets. It should be able to accommodate an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) or a recoilless weapon.” RCV-Medium, by extension, can be as heavy as 20-tons and must travel on a C-130 armed with sensors and an ability to fire ATGMs and a medium cannon. Finally, the RCV-Heavy must be a “non-expendable” armed robotic platform transportable by a C-17 and have an ability to destroy enemy tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. While these vehicles can be remotely tele-operated, in the future a single operator will potentially be able to control a small fleet of robotic vehicles using AI.

The RCV acquisition effort, led by Army Futures Command’s NGCV Cross Functional Team, is on a fast track. The Army is now engaged with industry competitors who have submitted white papers and plans to move the acquisition process forward in decided increments in coming years.

The four robots cited by Langhout are now with Army Test and Evaluation Command preparing for safety release before being delivered to Colorado next Spring for further experiments.

“We want to take what we think the requirement is, experiment with it and then see what soldiers think of it,” Langhout said.

By 2023, Coffman explained, the Army expects to have a refined sense of what kind of light, medium and heavy robot mix it will need for the force. Concurrently the service is planning a phased expansion of the scope of robot integration to include a particular growth trajectory moving from platoon-size operations to company-sized and ultimately to brigade-sized units.

By next March, the Army plans to select one vendor to build four Light RCVs and one vendor to build four Medium RCVs, each with a year to deliver the vehicles.

“The three different weight classes are payload agnostic so they can have a sensor on them or carry weapons. By 2023 we will make a decision on how to proceed with the robots. Do we search our Light Variants? Mediums? Heavies? Or all three? We will decide based on what we learn from the experiments we conduct,” Coffman said.

Army technology developers routinely discuss the advantages of autonomy in terms of “easing the cognitive burden” upon soldiers by performing organizational and procedural functions to allow soldiers to better focus upon the complex problem solving required by combat.

“We want to enable soldiers to spend more time focused upon how to fight, as opposed to how you want to control vehicles,” Coffman said.

Advanced computer algorithms can gather, organize, analyze and transmit vast, seemingly limitless amounts of information in seconds - they can organize and present crucial combat-sensitive information in seconds. At the same time, there are still many variables or subjective nuances best left to human decision-making.

Autonomous navigation is complex, especially on the ground where objects need to maneuver in relation to other moving objects, terrain and fast-changing combat dynamics. There are naturally fewer obstacles in the sky impeding aerial autonomous flight.

Using advanced computer-enabled autonomy, much of it empowered by AI, is increasingly critical to the Army’s ongoing work to expand and harden its multi-layered tactical combat network.

“This is extremely complicated business with huge autonomy challenges. One of the greatest challenges we are going to have is the network. When you are on the ground and you have robots talking to other robots talking to ground vehicles, you may go behind a rock, down a hill, into a gully or around the corner of a building,” Coffman explained.
 

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Army's Future Tactical Glasses Will Help Soldiers Tell Friend from Foe

Army's Future Tactical Glasses Will Help Soldiers Tell Friend from Foe



A soldier tries on a prototype of the Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) during a soldier touch point evaluation that began at Fort Pickett, Virginia, on Oct. 28, 2019. U.S. Army Futures Command photo
20 Nov 2019

Military.com | By Matthew Cox

U.S. Army soldiers are wrapping up the second field evaluation of the service's experimental, high-tech glasses that allow them to aim their weapon using a see-through digital display.

Soldier touch point (STP) 2 kicked off at Fort Pickett, Virginia, in late October to evaluate the latest prototypes of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), which is based on Microsoft's HoloLens technology.

The effort is a key program under the Soldier Lethality modernization priority, one that Army senior leaders hope will give close-combat forces greater tactical effectiveness than ever before. Slated for fielding in fiscal 2021, IVAS is being designed to equip soldiers with a heads-up display that allows them to view tactical maps as well as their weapon-sight reticle, Army officials have said.

"The final product ... will include a variety of features: a color see-through digital display that makes it possible for the user to access information without taking his eye off the battlefield; thermal and low-light sensors that make it possible to see in the dark, literally; rapid target acquisition and aided target identification; augmented reality and artificial intelligence, to name just a few," according to a news release Army Futures Command published Nov. 19.

Related: The Army Is Building Avatars that Can Fight Infantry Soldiers

As with STP 1 in the spring, both soldiers and Marines from conventional and special operations units have participated in the current evaluation -- the second of four STPs in the 24-month development schedule -- which is a "tougher test designed to assess new capabilities at the platoon level and increase demands on the system in more complex training environments," according to the release.

Microsoft sent a team from the West Coast to live at Fort Pickett for the duration of this STP, slated to end Nov. 22, to gather feedback and make changes to the goggle every day. So far, Microsoft has gathered feedback from more than 3,200 hours of user experience, the release states.

STP 3, scheduled for next summer, will be designed to put the "all-weather, ruggedized and militarized, form-fitting prototype to the test in company-level operations," according to the release. STP 4 will follow in 2021.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, who traveled to Pickett in the spring with Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville to test out IVAS, continues to push the high-tech system as the solution to more realistic training for soldiers.

The Army awarded a $480 million contract to Microsoft in November 2018 to develop IVAS to use augmented reality to create a synthetic training environment for soldiers.

IVAS is billed as a fight-rehearse-train system, meaning its "function on the battlefield is priority, but its augmented reality capabilities, like real-time mapping, will make it useful for training and rehearsing operations anywhere at any time," the release states.

"When terms like 'situational awareness' get thrown around time after time, it's easy to lose sight of what it really means," Maj. Brad Winn, the Soldier Lethality Cross Functional Team's lead action officer for IVAS, said in the release. "In this case, one of the greatest capabilities of IVAS is Aided Target Recognition, a feature that gives users the ability to quickly identify anything or anyone in sight, which means they can tell the difference between a threat and a civilian non-combatant."
Li-Fi Could Light Up the Dark Battlefield

Li-Fi Could Light Up the Dark Battlefield
By Lieutenant (junior grade) Philip Lowry III, U.S. Navy, and Second Lieutenant Matt Suarez, U.S. Marine Corps

November 2019


The next conflict will be fought in the dark. Electromagnetic (EM) spectrum and satellite communications capabilities are likely to be neutralized or denied early in any future conflict. China and Russia each have demonstrated the capability to destroy communication and GPS satellites and a willingness to breach U.S. cyber networks. Even disregarding hostile acts, the EM spectrum is congested, and with the advent of 5G, it is likely to become only more so. The future will require fast, secure communication capabilities to maintain an advantage over adversaries. The solution lies in one specific band of the EM spectrum: visible light. “Light fidelity” (Li-Fi) was introduced in 2011 and has since had limited research and development in the field for US military and governmental capabilities.
Light fidelity uses modulated light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs to transfer data through light rather than radio waves. An on-off keying modulation is set up by computer. The flickering properties of LEDs allow the diodes to act as binary signals that a receiver can translate using the same principles fiberoptic cables use. Its primary disadvantages are short range and the necessity of a line-of-sight connection between transmitter and receiver.

Li-Fi has been reported to operate at speeds upward of 224 gigabits per second (Gb/s), 11 times faster than peak speeds for 5G technology. Typical household wi-fi speed is approximately 150 megabits per second (Mb/s); with Li-Fi, data connections would be approximately 1,500 times faster than current wi-fi, and in practice, real-time accessibility could be several thousands of times faster than current capabilities. Communications and data transfer speeds would be virtually instantaneous. With the data needs of the navy growing alongside UAVs, UUVs, and other computer-based systems being fielded. High-speed data communication is becoming a vital strategic necessity.

Li-Fi for Better Security
Radio- and microwave-frequency EM-spectrum-based data networks are difficult to shield from attack. The nature of EM-spectrum technology dictates that signals propagate in every direction, giving actors with nefarious intentions ample opportunity to hijack these signals and gain entry to networks.[1] Li-Fi can be an effective solution to this vulnerability for several critical reasons.

Light is easily shielded from diffusion outside of secured areas, making it more difficult for adversaries to gain access to networks housing sensitive information. Individual LED bulbs can serve as their own network, controlling and tracking any connection. In addition, because an individual LED can serve as its own network, the transfer of classified material can remain on a secured network within a room and never propagate its contents outside of the light’s limit. Secure networks in the Pentagon or the Office of Naval Intelligence, for example, could guarantee containment to individual rooms unless interdicted by an actual physical intrusion. Guaranteeing the light-shielding properties of each router or room will increase the preventability of a data breech.

Despite the disadvantage of line-of-sight requirements, they offer a great deal of security as well. Present adversaries have the technology neither to intercept nor decrypt messages transmitted through light. Light-based data transfer can be used for effective, mobile, long-range data sharing that could be intercepted only with a line-of-sight interruption.

Li-fi as a Communication Tool
At present, in the event of a “dark” battlespace, the Navy will have to operate similarly to the ships of sail. Communication between fleet commander to ship captains or fleet commander and the U.S. mainland will no longer be a viable option. Understanding the consequences of command in a strategic setting must be mitigated by executing a well-formulated commander’s intent. Li-Fi can allow fleet commanders to retain control to accomplish strategic goals.

With U.S. fleet logistics and tactical systems heavily reliant on space-based assets, the United States is very vulnerable to a space-denial attack, whether from cyber or kinetic strikes on satellites and communication assets. Even if a U.S. response leaves adversaries equally blind, the red team will have the advantage of operating in its own backyard. To offset this advantage and maintain tactical parity, the Navy could rely on faster, modern Aldis lamp-like light-based communication assets. This would allow ships to continue operating with all the necessary data transfer uninterrupted by a space attack. Light-based communication and data transfer between ships in close formation could be augmented with unmanned aerial vehicles, buoys, and even other ships to dramatically increase the geographic size of the network.

Even without losing space-based assets, light-based communications still have tactical advantages over other EM-band communications. Light cannot be jammed by adversarial EM warfare assets, nor does it suffer from the cluttering issues that result from proliferation of internet- and satellite-connected devices. With Li-Fi, ships can more choose the precision with which they directionally send information, which can streamline everything from ship-to-ship comms, to Aegis-style targeting coordination in the most intense environments. An entire fleet has the option to eliminate its long-range emissions signature but maintain instant communication across the horizon with friendly assets.

Although Li-Fi does not provide any direct offensive capabilities, it can augment or replace the range projection advantage provided by satellites to our long-range weapons systems. As ships “go dark,” adversaries will lose the ability to intercept communications, facilitating a reduced signature and availability to operate passively, similar to submarines.

For all its advantages, Li-Fi is not a panacea for every potential threat the Navy faces in space and in cyberspace. Research and development will be expensive, as Li-Fi is an emerging technology. Furthermore, the line-of-sight nature of its operation limits Li-Fi and requires highly coordinated assets to work together for it to be tactically effective. The potential capabilities for the Navy are significant, but unproven.

Strategic Necessity
Both Russia and China have made great strides in developing their cyber warfare capabilities, as well as abilities to deny the United States use of its space infrastructure. In both areas, the U.S. Navy is at serious risk of being unable to maintain tactical parity, unless it looks to emerging technologies to supplement the force’s tactical capabilities to execute strategic objectives on the high seas.

Li-Fi stands as a viable option to help secure cyber networks from intrusion, as well as augment the Navy’s data infrastructure to facilitate continued operation in the case of a space denial attack. In Li-Fi exists the potential to achieve and maintain battlefield superiority, not by weapons, but by uninterrupted communications. Li-Fi is by no means the only solution to the dwindling technological gap currently maintained by the U.S. Navy, but its potential is an untapped resource that can enhance a fleet’s tactical effectiveness.
 

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Leaked photos show new U.S. Army super cannon in stunning detail

Leaked photos show new U.S. Army super cannon in stunning detail


New leaked photos are giving military experts and analysts a first detailed look at the advanced U.S. Army 155mm self-propelled howitzer that equipped with huge XM907 58 caliber cannon.

A Twitter user 笑脸男人 has posted some new photos of Army’s next-generation self-propelled howitzer prototype, currently known as XM1299

The new 155mm self-propelled howitzer is developed under Extended Range Cannon Artillery, or ERCA, project and is funded by Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center’s science and technology office.

The U.S. Army’s extended-range artillery system designed to increase the range and rate of fire on current and future M109A7 self-propelled howitzers. Compared to its predecessors, a new artillery system will receive two leading-edge technology – new XM1113 rocket-boosted shell and a longer howitzer 58 caliber cannon increases range from 38km to 70km+.

The new artillery system will be designated as M1299.
 
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Army Revs Up High-Tech Tank Engine

Army Revs Up High-Tech Tank Engine
The 1,000-horsepower Advanced Powertrain Demonstrator could upgrade the M2 Bradley or drive new kinds of manned and robotic vehicles.
By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.on December 12, 2019 at 8:30 AM


Civilian personnel deliver the latest Bradley model, the M2A3, to Fort Riley, KS. The new Advanced Powertrain Demonstrator could dramatically boost the Bradley’s power.

WASHINGTON: Just outside Detroit, home of the muscle car, the Army’s put together a powertrain as potent as three Trans Ams strapped together — with an electric stealth mode that sounds more like a lawnmower than a tank. The 1,000-horsepower Advanced Powertrain Demonstrator packs more diesel horsepower in less space than current engines, along with a 160-kilowatt generator that can power advanced electronics – like a drone-killing laser or anti-missile defenses – and even move an entire 50-ton vehicle for brief periods.

Now installed in an M2 Bradley hull for testing, the current version of the APD can move war machines up to 50 tons, but it’s meant to be easily modified for larger or smaller vehicles.


The upgraded M109A7 Paladin fires during a test in Yuma, Arizona

“Each of the pieces can be scaled” up or down, said John Tasdemir, chief of the power & mobility branch of the Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center (formerly TARDEC) in Warren, Mich. “It could not just fit a Bradley, it could fit a future vehicle, [or] it could fit a legacy vehicle as well.”

Compact enough to fit into the notoriously cramped Bradley, the 1,000-horsepower Advanced Powertrain Demonstrator produces 48 percent more horsepower than the most-upgraded Bradley variant and 67 percent more than the standard 600-hp model. The engine could also fit the turretless utility variant of the Bradley, the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, or, with some rearrangement of the components, the M109A7 Paladin howitzer. And since the design is modular, the APD could be scaled down to 500 hp – potentially powering the more tank-like of the Robotic Combat Vehicles the Army’s now developing – or up to 1,500 hp – enough to drive the 70-ton M1 Abrams main battle tank.


A medical variant of the BAE Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle. AMPVs will serve as both armored ambulances and mobile operating rooms.

Another logical candidate for APD technology is the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle now in development to replace the Bradley. Fitting the new vehicle would require some redesign, said one of Tasdemir’s engineers, Mike Claus, but if they could optimize the APD components for an all-new hull without the awkward compromises of the Bradley, the resulting design could be “way more compact.”

How It Works
Why is it important to be compact? Well, the heaviest part of a combat vehicle is its armor. The weight of the armor, in turn, is the product of its thickness and the surface area it has to protect. The bulkier you make your vehicle – the greater the “volume under armor,” in Army terms – the more tons of armor you need to get the same level of protection.

To make the APD more compact, it needs to be more efficient. To do that, the Army and its contractors went to work on every piece of the powertrain – for example:

  • In the diesel engine itself, built by Cummins, the pistons go through a two-stroke cycle instead of the usual four, allowing them to generate more horsepower with less waste heat from the same amount of gas. Historically, two-stroke engines are also highly polluting, which is why they’ve not been widely adopted, but the APD uses cutting-edge emissions controls.
  • The SAPA drive-by-wire transmission replaces traditional, inefficient mechanisms like pumps with precisely engineered electromagnetic controls called solenoids. The transmission is in fact so attractive to other Army programs that they’re considering installing it even without the rest of the APD powertrain.
  • The cooling system replaces traditional filters – which wear out in 20 hours in dusty areas like deserts – with a Donaldson pulse-jet air cleaner that lasts 500 hours and provides much more airflow. Cooling armored vehicles is always challenging, even when they’re not fighting in the desert, because they’re basically metal boxes in which you want to punch as few holes as possible.
  • The L3-Harris Integrated Starter-Generator produces 160 kW – many times the current alternator on the Bradley – but doesn’t require its own dedicated cooling system, unlike traditional electronics. That’s because it uses heat-resistant silicon carbide components that can function at 105 centigrade (hot enough to boil water), the same as the engine block.
That electrical power is as important for modern combat vehicles as diesel horsepower. During the Iraq War, the Cold War-vintage Bradleys got upgraded with so many advanced sensors, communications networks, display screens, and radio jammers to deactivate roadside bombs that they couldn’t power everything at once.


IMI’s Iron Fist launcher, shown here, shoots down incoming anti-tank rockets and missiles.

Now, worried about Russia’s vast arsenal of RPGs and anti-tank missiles, the Army is pushing to install so-called Active Protection Systems on its armored vehicles, which use compact radars to track incoming projectiles – a big power drain – so miniature missile launchers can shoot them down. And for the near future, the Army is highly interested in high-powered laser and microwave weapons, albeit primarily against fast-moving, fragile targets like drones and rockets rather than heavily armored vehicles like tanks.

The Ground Vehicle Systems Center plans to test the APD powertrain on a stationary Bradley hull through this coming March, by which point they expect to have demonstrated what’s called Technological Readiness Level (TRL) 6. Then they’ll fully integrate the APD into a drivable Bradley, the Advanced Mobility Experimental Prototype (AMEP), which will be tested to TRL 7 or 8 – the highest level possible for a prototype – in 2022.

The next year, 2023, the Army will hold the final competition to build the Bradley replacement, the OMFV.
 

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US Busts INF Wall With Ballistic Missile, Puts Putin & Xi On Notice

US Busts INF Wall With Ballistic Missile, Puts Putin & Xi On Notice
The Pentagon's second test of a previously-banned missile went as planned today, with the US upping its game from a cruise missile to a ballistic missile.
By PAUL MCLEARYon December 12, 2019 at 4:38 PM


Launch of INF busting ballistic missile from Vandenberg AFB Dec. 12 2019

WASHINGTON: In a clear signal to Moscow, Beijing, and Pyongyang this morning, the Pentagon again showed it plans to leave the INF treaty behind by launching a prototype ballistic missile that blew past the old pact’s range limits.

In the second test of its kind since the US pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty in August, the prototype ballistic missile flew more than 500km before crashing into the ocean, as planned, while “data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Carver said in a statement.

In a previous test conducted just two weeks after withdrawing from the treaty, the Navy launched a Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missile from an island off the California coast, marking the first time a missile breached the 500-5,000km range barred by the treaty, putting competitors on notice that the US was ready to push ahead quickly.

Both tests were run in partnership with the Strategic Capabilities Office.

In it’s 2020 budget request, the Pentagon asked for $96 million to continue research and begin testing ground-launched missiles that break the INF’s previously restrictive bounds. But any plans to buy one of these missiles in the near-term at least appears to be on hold until Capitol Hill understands the Pentagon’s plans a little better.


The US tested a cruise missile that would have exceeded the limits of the INF treaty.

Congress blocked spending any fiscal 2020 funds on buying or fielding intermediate-range ballistic or cruise missiles. The prohibition is included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act agreed to Monday, just hours before the Army tested one of the competitors in it’s competition for a next-generation long-range missile. That does not bar prototypes or other research ands development work. The Pentagon can keep working on them for the next year, but must submit a report to Congress with an Analysis of Alternatives for a future INF-busting missile.

Lawmakers also want more information on potential basing options in Europe and a rundown of what conversations the Pentagon has had with allies about plans for basing and deployment locations in the future.

Asked about possible deployments of the new missiles during a visit by the Czech defense minister to the Pentagon today, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, “once we develop intermediate-range missiles and if my commanders require them, then we will work closely and consult closely with our allies in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere with regards to any possible deployments.”

As far as what kind of missile was fired today, Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association said “it was probably some kind of Frankenstein using existing boosters and components. Of particular interest is whether it used anything from the Missile Defense Agency, especially given Russia’s claims that certain US missile defense programs violated the treaty.”

Reif called the test “more significant” than August’s Tomahawk launch since a ground-launched intermediate-range ballistic missile “could promptly strike deep into Russia, China, and North Korea.” That, of course, is exactly the capability the Pentagon wants.

The NDAA sends the message that Congress wants answers to questions about the rationale and concept of operations for the missiles, not least of which is what allies would be willing to host such missiles. While the chairman of the HASC, Adam Smith, is a proponent of arms control, that is not true of his Senate counterpart, Sen. Jim Inhofe, and the NDAA language is a clear compromise that leaves the military considerable room for maneuver.

At Vandenberg, the 30th Space Wing worked with the SCO on the new missile’s launch preparations and data collection, and has been working on post-INF launches since the US suspended its participation in the treaty in February.
 
  • Informative
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Revealed: The U.S. military's 36 code-named operations in Africa
Many Americans first became aware of U.S. military operations in Africa in October 2017, after the Islamic State ambushed American troops near Tongo Tongo, Niger, killing four U.S. soldiers and wounding two others.

Just after the attack, U.S. Africa Command said U.S. troops were providing “advice and assistance” to local counterparts. Later, it would become clear that those troops — the 11-man Operational Detachment-Alpha Team 3212 — were working out of the town of Oullam with a larger Nigerian force under the umbrella of Operation Juniper Shield, a wide-ranging counterterrorism effort in northwest Africa.

Until poor weather prevented it, that team was supposed to lend support to another group of American commandos who were trying to kill or capture Islamic State leader Doundoun Cheffou as part of Obsidian Nomad II.

Juniper Shield and Obsidian Nomad II were not isolated efforts but part of a panoply of named military operations and activities U.S. forces have been conducting from dozens of bases across the northern tier of Africa. Many of these operations are taking place in countries that the U.S. government does not recognize as combat zones, but in which U.S. troops are nonetheless fighting and, in several cases, taking casualties.

Between 2013 and 2017, U.S. special operations forces saw combat in at least 13 African countries, according to retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, who served at U.S. Africa Command from 2013 to 2015 and then headed Special Operations Command Africa until 2017. Those countries, according to Bolduc, are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan and Tunisia. He added that U.S. troops have been killed or wounded in action in at least six of them: Kenya, Libya, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan and Tunisia.

Yahoo News has put together a list of three dozen such operations across the continent.

The code-named operations cover a variety of different military missions, ranging from psychological operations to counterterrorism. Eight of the named activities, including Obsidian Nomad, are so-called 127e programs, named for the budgetary authority that allows U.S. special operations forces to use certain host-nation military units as surrogates in counterterrorism missions.

Used extensively across Africa, 127e programs can be run either by Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the secretive organization that controls the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, the Army’s Delta Force and other special mission units, or by “theater special operations forces.” These programs are “specifically designed for us to work with our host nation partners to develop small — anywhere between 80 and 120 personnel — counterterrorism forces that we’re partnered with,” said Bolduc. “They are specially selected partner-nation forces that go through extensive training, with the same equipment we have, to specifically go after counterterrorism targets, especially high-value targets.”

Using documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, interviews, published reports and a Defense Department list of named U.S. military operations that leaked online, Yahoo News put together the following list of 36 operations and activities that are (or were until recently) ongoing in Africa.

Where possible, Yahoo News has also listed the bases that support these operations, relying mostly on information sheets about those locations obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. Yahoo News does not claim that this list is comprehensive.

While the Defense Department has acknowledged the names, locations and purposes of some of these operations, others are far lower-profile. Almost all are unknown to the general public:

ARMADA SWEEP: A U.S. Navy electronic surveillance effort conducted from ships off the coast of East Africa, Armada Sweep supports the U.S. drone war in the region.

Bases used: Unknown

ECHO CASEMATE: This operation covers a series of activities in the Central African Republic. It began in 2013 as a support mission for French and African forces deployed to the troubled Central African Republic for peacekeeping purposes and continued as an advise-and-assist mission to those African peacekeeping forces. However, U.S. forces neither accompanied their partners in the field nor formally trained them. The operation also covered the introduction of contractors and Marines to secure the U.S. Embassy in Bangui and the deployment of a small U.S. special operations contingent to assist the U.S. ambassador in missions to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army. In the first days of the operation, the U.S. military airlifted hundreds of Burundian troops, tons of equipment and more than a dozen military vehicles into the Central African Republic, according to Africom. The U.S. military continued transporting French forces in and out of the Central African Republic, and the mission was still underway in early 2018.

Base used: Abeche, Chad

EXILE HUNTER: One of a family of similarly named counterterrorism efforts that U.S. special operations forces have conducted in East Africa. Exile Hunter was a 127e program in which elite U.S. troops trained and equipped an Ethiopian force for counterterrorism missions in Somalia. Bolduc says he shut it down in 2016 because the Ethiopian government was uncomfortable about the force not falling under its command. However, a February 2018 Defense Department list of named operations suggests it had been resurrected.

Bases used: Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti

JUKEBOX LOTUS: Operation Jukebox Lotus began as the crisis response to the September 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, but continued until at least 2018. It gives Africa Command broad authority to conduct a variety of operations in Libya as required and is specific to neither special operations nor counterterrorism.

Bases used: Faya Largeau and N’Djamena, Chad; Air Base 201, Agadez, Niger

JUNCTION RAIN: A maritime security effort in the Gulf of Guinea involving African and U.S. Coast Guard boarding teams operating from U.S. Navy ships or those of African forces. In 2016, the hybrid teams conducted 32 boardings, resulting in $1.2 million in fines levied for more than 50 maritime violations, as well as the recovery of a diesel fuel tanker that had been seized by pirates. Last year, operations with the Senegalese and Cabo Verdean navies resulted in at least 40 boardings — mostly of fishing vessels — and $75,000 in fines handed down for two fishing violations.

Base used: Dakar, Senegal

JUNCTION SERPENT: A surveillance effort in Libya that, as part of the 2016 campaign of airstrikes against Islamic State positions in the Libyan city of Sirte, gave Joint Special Operations Command specific authorities to coordinate assets in order to develop targeting information for the campaign

Bases used: Unknown

JUNIPER MICRON: In 2013, after France launched a military intervention against Islamists in Mali code-named Operation Serval, the U.S. began Operation Juniper Micron, which involved airlifting French soldiers and supplies into that former French colony, flying refueling missions in support of French airpower, and assisting allied African forces. Juniper Micron was ongoing as of October 2018, with plans for it to continue in the future.

Bases used: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Istres-Le Tube Air Base, France; Bamako and Gao, Mali; Air Base 201 (Agadez), Arlit, Dirkou, Madama and Niamey, Niger; Dakar, Senegal

JUNIPER NIMBUS: Juniper Nimbus is a long-running operation aimed at supporting the Nigerian military campaign against Boko Haram.

Bases used: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; N’Djamena, Chad; Arlit, Dirkou and Madama, Niger

JUNIPER SHIELD: The umbrella operation for the mission that resulted in the deadly ambush in Niger, Juniper Shield is the United States’ centerpiece counterterrorism effort in northwest Africa and covers 11 nations: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia. Under Juniper Shield, U.S. teams rotate in every six months to train, advise, assist and accompany local partner forces to conduct operations against terrorist groups, including ISIS-West Africa, Boko Haram and al Qaida and its affiliates.

Bases used: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Garoua and Maroua, Cameroon; Bangui, Central African Republic; Faya Largeau and N’Djamena, Chad; Bamako and Gao, Mali; Nema and Ouassa, Mauritania; Air Base 201 (Agadez), Arlit, Diffa, Dirkou, Madama and Niamey, Niger; Dakar, Senegal

JUPITER GARRET: A JSOC operation aimed at high-value targets in Somalia, Jupiter Garret first came to light in a 2012 Washington Post article. It was ongoing as of February 2018

Bases used: Camp Lemonnier and Chebelley, Djibouti; Laikipia, Manda Bay and Wajir, Kenya; Baidoa, Baledogle, Bosasso, Galcayo, Kismayo and Mogadishu, Somalia

JUSTIFIED SEAMOUNT: Another counter-piracy effort in the waters off East Africa

Bases used: Chebelley, Djibouti; Laikipia, Mombasa and Wajir, Kenya; Victoria, Seychelles; Baidoa, Baledogle, Kismayo and Mogadishu, Somalia

KODIAK HUNTER: A 127e program in which U.S. special operators trained and equipped a Kenyan force to conduct counterterrorism missions in Somalia

Base used: Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Manda Bay, Kenya

MONGOOSE HUNTER: A 127e program in which U.S. special operations forces trained and equipped a Somali force for counterterrorism missions against al-Shabab

Base used: Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Baledogle, Somalia

NEW NORMAL: An Africa-wide crisis response capability established by the U.S. military after the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya

Bases used: Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Libreville, Gabon; Accra, Ghana; Dakar, Senegal; Entebbe, Uganda

NIMBLE SHIELD: A low-profile effort targeting Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa

Bases used: Douala, Garoua and Maroua, Cameroon; Bangui, Central African Republic; N’Djamena, Chad; Diffa, Dirkou, Madama and Niamey, Niger

OAKEN SONNET I-III: A series of three contingency operations in South Sudan. Oaken Sonnet I was the difficult 2013 rescue of U.S. personnel from that country at the beginning of its civil war. Oaken Sonnet II took place in 2014 and Oaken Sonnet III in 2016.

Base used: Juba, South Sudan

OAKEN STEEL: The reinforcement of the U.S. Embassy in Juba, South Sudan, to protect State Department personnel during a conflict between rival factions in that country’s civil war, Operation Oaken Steel, which ran from July 12, 2016, to Jan. 26, 2017, saw U.S. forces deploy to Uganda to provide for rapid crisis response during the unrest.

Bases used: Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Moron Air Base, Spain; Entebbe, Uganda

OBJECTIVE VOICE: In 2010, the first head of Africa Command, Army Gen. William “Kip” Ward, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Operation Objective Voice was an “information operations effort to counter violent extremism by leveraging media capabilities in ways that encourage the public to repudiate extremist ideologies.” Coordinated with other government agencies, this propaganda effort included “youth peace games” in Mali, a film project in northern Nigeria, and, according to his successor, Army Gen. Carter Ham, a “variety of messaging platforms, such as the African Web Initiative, to challenge the views of terrorist groups.” Objective Voice continues today.

Bases used: Garoua and Maroua, Cameroon; Bangui, Central African Republic; Abeche, Faya Largeau and N’Djamena, Chad; Bamako and Gao, Mali; Nema and Ouassa, Mauritania; Air Base 201 (Agadez), Arlit and Madama, Niger; Dakar, Senegal; Entebbe, Uganda

OBLIQUE PILLAR: A program to provide private contractor helicopter support to Navy SEAL-advised units of the Somali National Army fighting al-Shabab in Somalia. The operation was in existence as of February 2018.

Bases used: Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Mombasa and Wajir, Kenya; Baidoa, Baledogle, Kismayo and Mogadishu, Somalia; Entebbe, Uganda.

OBSERVANT COMPASS: An operation to capture or kill Joseph Kony and eradicate his Lord’s Resistance Army, a militia that has committed atrocities since the 1980s. In 2017, with around $780 million spent on the operation, and Kony still in the field, the United States wound down Observant Compass and shifted its forces elsewhere. But the operation didn’t completely disband, according to the Defense Department. “U.S. military forces supporting Operation Observant Compass transitioned to broader scope security and stability activities that continue the success of our African partners,” Pentagon spokesperson Cmdr. Candice Tresch told Yahoo News.

Bases used: Obo, Central African Republic; Abeche, Chad; Dungu, Democratic Republic of Congo; Juba and Nzara, South Sudan; Entebbe, Uganda

OBSIDIAN LOTUS: A 127e activity concentrated on Libya, in which U.S. commandos trained and equipped Libyan special operations forces battalions. One of those units ended up under the control of renegade warlord Gen. Khalifa Haftar, according to Bolduc.

Bases used: Unknown

OBSIDIAN MOSAIC: A 127e counterterrorism effort focused on Mali.

Bases used: Unknown.

OBSIDIAN NOMAD I and II: Two 127e counterterrorism programs in Niger: Obsidian Nomad I in Diffa and Obsidian Nomad II in Arlit. The operational name emerged in the wake of the October 2017 ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers.

Bases used: Arlit and Diffa, Niger

OCTAVE ANCHOR: A psychological operation focused on Somalia

Bases used: Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Mogadishu, Somalia

OCTAVE SHIELD: An Africa Command psychological operation focused on Somalia, carried out under the aegis of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, based at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.

Bases used: Camp Lemonnier and Chebelley, Djibouti; Laikipia, Manda Bay, Mombasa and Wajir, Kenya; Victoria, Seychelles; Baidoa, Baledogle, Bosasso, Galcayo, Kismayo and Mogadishu, Somalia; Entebbe, Uganda.

OCTAVE SOUNDSTAGE: A JSOC psychological operation focused on Somalia.

Bases used: Unknown

OCTAVE STINGRAY: A JSOC psychological operation focused on Somalia

Base used: Mogadishu, Somalia

OCTAVE SUMMIT: A JSOC psychological operation focused on Somalia

Base used: Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti

ODYSSEY LIGHTNING: The campaign of special operations-directed airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Sirte, Libya, between August and December 2016

Base used: Naval Air Station, Sigonella, Italy

ODYSSEY RESOLVE: Another component of the 2016 special operations campaign of air strikes against the Islamic State in the Libyan city of Sirte, Operation Odyssey Resolve consists of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights. It was ongoing as of February 2018.

Bases used: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Faya Largeau, Chad; Benina and Misrata, Libya; Bamako and Gao, Mali; Nema and Ouassa, Mauritania; Arlit and Niamey, Niger; Dakar, Senegal; Bizerte, Tunisia; Entebbe, Uganda

PALADIN HUNTER: A 127e counterterrorism program in the semi-autonomous Puntland region of Somalia.

Bases used: Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Bosasso and Galcayo, Somalia

RAINMAKER: A highly sensitive classified signals intelligence effort

Bases used: Chebelley, Djibouti; Baidoa, Baledogle, Kismayo and Mogadishu, Somalia

ULTIMATE HUNTER: A 127e counterterrorism program using a U.S.-trained, equipped and directed Ugandan force in Somalia.

Bases used: Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

*Information on which operations the following bases support was partially redacted: Douala, Garoua and Maroua (all Cameroon); N’Djamena, Chad; Bangui, Central African Republic; Diffa, Dirkou, Madama and Niamey (all Niger). The list of operations supported by Tobruk and Tripoli (both Libya) was fully redacted. Other data were likely withheld completely.
Revealed: The U.S. military's 36 code-named operations in Africa
 

BMD

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BAE to Get Green Light for $10 Billion Howitzer Project

BAE to Get Green Light for $10 Billion Howitzer Project

Tony Capaccio


2 days ago

Escalating threats rattle foreign capitals, Capitol HillAirstrike Pushes National Security to Forefront of 2020 Race
(Bloomberg) -- BAE Systems Plc will win U.S. Army approval this month for full-rate production of self-propelled howitzers and ammunition carriers based on improvements in the $10 billion program after several years of delays over welding defects.

© Bloomberg A Palladian Integrated Management (PIM) self-propelled howitzer prototype sits at the BAE Systems Plc Land & Armaments facility in York, Pennsylvania, U.S.
“BAE has met all requirements to enter into full-rate production and we anticipate that happening” during January, Sam Tricomo, a spokesman for the weapon’s Army program office, said in an email.

The company had been assembling the weapons system since October 2013 under a series of low-rate production contracts during which it produced the vehicles late and with numerous welding defects.

Deliveries were halted for six months in 2017 because of welding flaws that required the return for repairs of 50 of 86 vehicles already delivered. Since then, London-based BAE has invested $200 million in improvements at its factory in York, Pennsylvania, and delivered quality vehicles consistently in the last months of 2019, according to the Army.

“To ensure no break in vehicle production” at the York facility and another in Elgin, Oklahoma, the Army last month extended low-rate production, Tricomo said. “Our confidence in BAE’s ability to deliver has increased month after month as we have seen continuous improvement in quality vehicles at increased production rates.”

Read More: BAE’s $10 Billion Howitzer Project Improves After Years of Flaws

Full-rate production is the most lucrative phase for a contractor. In 2018, the Army increased planned quantities of the howitzer and carriers by 109 vehicles to 689. The Army plans to spend $8.9 billion on vehicle procurement for the Paladin Integrated Management program, or PIM, that consists of the howitzer, which can fire rounds that travel more than 31 miles (50 kilometers), and the ammunition carrier that accompanies it.

About $3.9 billion has been appropriated to date.

The 155mm Paladin howitzer and the ammunition carrier are the centerpiece of the Army’s artillery plans as it shifts its focus to countering Russia after 18 years of emphasizing the defeat of terrorists. It’s part of the service’s “Long-Range Precision Fires” capability, which tops its list of modernization priorities.

The weapon is scheduled to be upgraded in the next few years with a new Extended Range Cannon designed to match Russian systems in Europe.

BAE’s Vehicles
BAE’s factory quality is a priority for the Army because it wants to increase production through 2023, not only for the howitzer system but also the other major military vehicles that BAE builds: the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the M88A2 tank recovery vehicle.

The Army plans to surge production of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle for deployment to Europe as part of the U.S.’s deterrence buildup against Russia.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper was secretary of the Army when he signaled his concern by visiting the York facility in September 2018 to examine the welding process and deficiencies and hear solutions. The program has a strong advocate in Senate Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican.

Earlier: Army Secretary Sees ‘Steady Progress’ on Visit to BAE Plant

“We are consistently delivering against the agreed-upon schedule,” BAE spokeswoman Alicia Gray said in an email. “This platform brings tremendous capability” and “goes a long way toward addressing the Army’s artillery modernization priority. BAE Systems stands ready for the Army’s green light on full-rate production.”

As recently as April, program officials had been privately pessimistic about BAE’s production capability in their annual Selected Acquisition Report for Pentagon officials and congressional committees marked “For Official Use Only.”

“At this time the Army does not have confidence when BAE will be able to deliver a quality product repeatedly,” according to the document. The “Army chief of staff does not recommend certifying the PIM program until BAE demonstrated the ability to produce quality vehicles on schedule.”
 

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Special Operators Are Eying This Machine Gun To Solve A Number Of Problems

Special Operators Are Eying This Machine Gun To Solve A Number Of Problems
This .338 caliber design weighs less than even existing lightweight 7.62mm machine guns and has a significantly greater range.
BY JOSEPH TREVITHICKJANUARY 15, 2020

SIG SAUER

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Gunmaker Sig Sauer says it has delivered a number of its MG 338 machine guns to U.S. Special Operations Command, along with sound suppressors and ammunition for them, after the weapons passed an important safety certification. Two years ago the Command, in cooperation with the U.S. Marine Corps, first announced it was looking to buy new machine guns chambered for the .338 Norma Magnum cartridge, typically used in sniper rifles, to fill a gap in capability between existing 7.62mm and .50 caliber types.

Sig Sauer announced that the MG 338 had successfully met U.S. Special Operations Command's (SOCOM) safety requirements on Jan. 15, 2020. In May 2019, SOCOM said it would begin a limited user evaluation of prospective .338 Norma Magnum machine guns in October of that year. That testing, which may include limited combat trials, is supposed run through May of this year, after which the command will make a formal decision about whether it wants to proceed with the program, which it has officially dubbed the Lightweight Machine Gun-Medium, or LMG-M. SOCOM has also begun acquiring new "assault" machine guns in the 6.5mm Creedmoor caliber that will meet a similar requirement for a weapon better suited to engaging targets beyond the range of existing 5.56mm types and traditional 7.62mm designs.

U.S. SPECIAL OPERATORS AND MARINES WANT A NEW LONG-RANGE MACHINE GUNBy Joseph TrevithickPosted in THE WAR ZONE

US SPECIAL OPERATORS WILL TEST SIG SAUER'S NEW MINI ASSAULT RIFLE IN COMBATBy Joseph TrevithickPosted in THE WAR ZONE

U.S. SPECIAL OPERATORS WILL SOON BE USING THIS 6.5MM "ASSAULT" MACHINE GUNBy Joseph TrevithickPosted in THE WAR ZONE

U.S. SPECIAL OPERATORS ARE GETTING NEW SNIPER RIFLES FOR THE SECOND TIME IN SIX YEARSBy Joseph TrevithickPosted in THE WAR ZONE

THIS EXOTIC BULLPUP RIFLE IS COMPETING TO REPLACE THE ARMY'S M4 CARBINES AND M249 SAWSBy Joseph TrevithickPosted in THE WAR ZONE

"For the first time in decades the U.S. Military certified a new machine gun, ammunition, and suppressor at the same time, bringing new innovation, portability, and increased lethality to our ground forces, with all components coming from one company,” Ron Cohen, Sig Sauer's President and CEO, said in a statement. "This certification was achieved following the outstanding performance of the complete MG 338 system through the rigors of the extensive function, durability, and safety tests set forth by USSOCOM."


Sig Sauer says its new .338 caliber machine gun weighs around 20 pounds, making it lighter than even the L variant of U.S. military's standard 7.62mm M240 machine gun, which uses titanium components to reduce its weight. This would also make it lighter than the Mk 48 machine gun, which SOCOM previously led the development of as a lighter-weight alternative to the M240-series. It is also substantially lighter than the M2 .50 caliber machine gun.

Despite its lightweight design, the MG 338 will also be able to effectively engage targets significantly further away than existing 7.62mm types. SOCOM has set its effective range requirement for the machine guns at between 6,500 and 8,200 feet. By comparison, the maximum effective range of the M240L is around 5,900 feet, according to the manufacturer.


US ARMY

A US Army soldier fires an M240L machine gun.

To help handle the strain of firing the more powerful ammunition in a lighter-weight package, the MG 338 also features a recoil mitigation system that includes a barrel that shifts backward with each shot to absorb some of the force. It also has a relatively slow rate of fire of around 600 rounds per minute to help keep it controllable.

Sig Sauer says that the MG 338's controls, such as the charging handle and safety lever, are ambidextrous and that it can be configured to feed its belted ammunition from the left or the right side of the gun. This could help allow it to be mounted in various positions on ground vehicles and watercraft, including on mounts designed to hold multiple guns at once. It could also readily serve as a helicopter door gun.


USN

A US Navy special operator stands behind a mount with two M240 machine guns on a Special Operations Craft-Riverine during a training exercise. The MG 338 could work in a similar mounted configuration.

The MG 338 can be converted to fire 7.62mm ammunition, as well. This would allow special operators to conduct various types of general training, such as basic familiarization with the gun and its controls, without having to use more expensive .338 Norma Magnum ammunition.

SOCOM plans to decide in June whether or not to proceed with its plans to actually acquire machine guns in this caliber. If it does move ahead with the program, a formal request for proposals would go out later this year. Sig Sauer would not necessarily be alone in that formal competition.


SOCOM

A briefing slide on the LMG-M program that SOCOM presented in May 2019.

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems was among the first to propose the idea of a .338 caliber machine gun and has been working on prototypes of what it calls the Light Weight Medium Machine Gun, or LWMMG, since at least 2009. It introduced a new, improved version just last year as part of its own submission to SOCOM's limited user evaluation.


Whatever design wins the final LMG-M contact, which SOCOM says it could award in 2021 and could result in the purchase of as many as 5,000 of the guns, could lead to additional immediate sales. As noted, the U.S. Marine Corps has been involved in this project since at least 2017. Sig Sauer has said that it might look to pitch the gun to the U.S. Army, too, which is in the process of testing a slew of new small arms as it looks to replace various existing systems, such as the M4 carbine and the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. The winner of the LMG-M deal would also be well poised to market their winning design overseas to any country with similar requirements.

Sig Sauer has already been making significant inroads in the U.S. military, most notably winning the contract to produce the new standard issue pistol for the U.S. Army, a design now slated to become the default sidearm across all the services. The company is also competing in the Army's competition to replace the M4 and M249.


SIG SAUER

Sig Sauer's entries into the US Army program to replace the M4 carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.

In addition, Sig Sauer has already secured a different SOCOM contract for a new personal defense weapon, called the Rattler, which is derived from its increasingly popular MCX rifle line. You can read about in more detail about that gun in this past War Zone story.

Hopefully, as SOCOM's limited user evaluation continues, we will get more details about special operators' experiences with the MG 338, as well as any other competing designs, which could give them valuable longer-range firepower in the coming years.
 

BMD

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Army picks 6 to work on autoloader for extended-range cannon

Army picks 6 to work on autoloader for extended-range cannon
By: Jen Judson   12 hours ago

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Extended Range Cannon Artillery, or ERCA, will be an improvement to the latest version of the Paladin self-propelled howitzer that provides indirect fires for the brigade combat team and division-level fight. The Army is working to develop an autoloader for the cannon to be fielded by 2024 and has turned to non-traditional companies to solve that big problem. (Photo by Edward Lopez/U.S. Army)
WASHINGTON — The Army has picked six companies to work on concepts and designs for an autoloader for the service’s future Extended-Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) program currently under development, according to a Jan. 24 Army Futures Command statement.

While the first ERCA cannons will be fielded in fiscal 2023, the goal is to begin fielding the system with an autoloader just one year later.

The companies — Actuate (formerly Aegis Systems, Inc.); Apptronik, Inc.; Carnegie Robotics LLC; Pratt & Miller Engineering; Neya Systems, LLC and Hivemapper, Inc. — will work under the Army Capability Accelerator and the Army Applications Laboratory (AAL) as part of the Field Artillery Autonomous Resupply (FAAR) “cohort” and will come up with novel, outside-of-the-box concepts for the autoloader.



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By: Jen Judson

AAL is part of AFC, the Army’s new four-star command in charge of rapid modernization that will align with the service’s new developing doctrine.

The cohort began work on Jan. 13 in Austin, Texas, where the AAL and AFC reside, and will wrap up work with capability presentations on April 2, the statement notes.

“Sourced from across the country, the selected companies represent a range of technologies and expertise all aimed at developing autonomous resupply capabilities,” the statement reads.

Among the companies selected, Actuate specializes in artificial intelligence focusing on computer vision software that turns any security camera into an “intruder- and threat-detecting smart camera," the release states.

Apptronik is a robotics company spun out of the Human Centered Robotics Lab at the University of Texas at Austin.

Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Robotics specializes in robotic sensors and platforms for defense, agriculture, mining, infrastructure and energy applications and was founded out of Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center.

Pratt & Miller’s focus has been on addressing technology challenges in the motorsports, defense and mobility industries.

Neya Systems, also from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is another robotics company focused on advanced unmanned systems, off-road autonomy and self-driving vehicle technologies.

Through mapping, visualization and analytic tools, Hivemapper uncovers changes normally missed by the human eye and uses that technology to assess damage after disasters, manage construction and build situational intelligence during military operations.

The AAL has become the face of doing business with the Army in the startup community and has set up shop in the heart of Austin within an innovation incubator hub called the Capital Factory. Anyone can walk through an open garage door and pitch ideas to the Army and the service. But the Army is also going out to companies and trying to convey problems they need solved on the battlefield in the hopes of finding new and novel solutions.

“Designed for small businesses and companies that don’t typically work with the federal government, the program connects qualified companies that want to grow a new line of business into the DoD with Army stakeholders who want to speed capability development, transition to a program of record, or de-risk and inform requirements,” according to the statement.

“We’ve spent the past year working to introduce commercial business models that translate to the Army and can help evolve its approach to capability development,” Porter Orr, product innovation lead at AAL, said. “We’re helping nontraditional companies build a new line of business into the government. And that’s important, but it’s just as important that we’re giving Army leaders a choice between writing a large check or doing nothing. This is a way for them to get more insight—more confidence—in a solution before purchasing it. That will mean a higher probability of success in the field.”

Cohort participants receive $150,000 to complete a 12-week program ending in a pitch to the Army.

FAAR is the pilot effort of likely many attempts to bring in non-traditional businesses to help solve some of the Army’s problems both big and small.
 

BMD

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Dec 4, 2017
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US Army picks 6 to work on autonomous munitions resupply for field artillery units

US Army picks 6 to work on autonomous munitions resupply for field artillery units
By: Jen Judson   4 days ago

8514
Extended Range Cannon Artillery will be an improvement to the latest version of the Paladin self-propelled howitzer, shown, that provides indirect fires for brigade combat teams and the division-level fight. The Army is working to develop an autoloader for the cannon to be fielded by 2024. (Edward Lopez/U.S. Army)
UPDATE — Due to an incomplete Army-issued press release, this story has been updated to reflect the project includes efforts to find solutions to improve the entire field artillery resupply system using autonomy rather than a focus on the autoloader for the ERCA cannon as previously planned.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army has picked six companies to work on ways to improve the currently cumbersome, taxing and sometimes risky munitions resupply system for field artillery units operating M109 Paladin howitzers, according to a Jan. 24 Army Futures Command statement.

The Army is also working on an autoloader for the service’s future Extended-Range Cannon Artillery program and plans to field it by 2024. The service toyed with the idea of tapping non-traditional business to come up with a new autoloader but decided instead to go with a government-developed autoloader technology demonstrator, which is being tested at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, and shifted the cohort’s focus to improve the entire system that resupplies munitions to the guns.

The companies — Actuate (formerly Aegis Systems, Inc.); Apptronik, Inc.; Carnegie Robotics LLC; Pratt & Miller Engineering; Neya Systems, LLC; and Hivemapper, Inc. — will work under the Army Capability Accelerator and the Army Applications Laboratory as part of the Field Artillery Autonomous Resupply “cohort” and will come up with novel, outside-of-the-box concepts to improve how field artillery units get munitions into the field and into the guns.

Efforts will include contributions to an entire resupply system from ordering, to a tracking system, to a transport method and even how ammunition is packaged, according to an Army spokeswoman, in order to make resupply faster and more efficient.