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U.S. Combat Vehicles get enhanced vision

June 3, 2006 “What you can’t see can’t hurt you,” might have been excellent advice from dad when you were fretful in your cot as a child, but it’s not true on the battlefield. Indeed, what you can’t see is the thing most likely to kill you and when it comes to keeping soldiers alive, enhanced situational awareness is the key. That’s why the U.S. Army has commissioned BAE Systems to develop vastly enhanced situational awareness capability for U combat vehicles. The resultant Distributed Aperture System (DAS) will enable the vehicle driver, crew members, and soldiers riding inside to “see” through the armour of the vehicle, providing enhanced situational awareness for driving and before dismounting. The DAS provides independent, simultaneous, closed-hatched hemispherical views of the area surrounding the vehicle. It can function day or night, and when the vehicle is moving or stationary.  Read More

State-of-the-art Explosives Ordinance Response Truck

May 12, 2006 The threats to homeland security that became evident on September 11 a few years back have precipitated a vastly different approach to Explosives Ordinance Response and the sophistication of the latest purpose-built vehicle from Mattman Specialty Vehicles is illustrative of the above. In the past, most bomb squads had to use an old delivery truck or if a new unit was purchased, its primary function was to carry bomb suits and other equipment. This unit is a complete operations base with a mast mounted camera, robot operator's area, exterior monitor and workstation, exterior decontamination shower, robot ramp, and awning for inclement weather. The hamburger-with-the-lot isn’t cheap, but than again, neither is human life. As photographed, the unit costs US$297,667.  Read More

The Hit Avoidance Program for FCS Manned Ground Vehicles

April 25, 2006 It makes sense on the battlefield to avoid getting hit, but the degree of science being employed to enable this for the U.S. Army’s Future Combat System (FCS) Manned Ground Vehicles (MGVs) is extraordinary. BAE Systems leads the hit avoidance integrated product team for FCS MGVs, and with support from MGV teammate General Dynamics, is responsible for integrating the Raytheon-developed hard-kill Active Protection Subsystem (APS) with soft-kill countermeasures, obscurants (jammers and decoys), and decision aid software into the overall protection system. An APS comprises a sensor subsystem (threat warner and tracking sensor), countermeasure subsystem and rapid data processing capability. The threat warner identifies a threat then the tracking sensor determines the threat’s size, shape and direction. The software then decides an appropriate countermeasure and deploys the countermeasure which physically intercepts it, all, obviously, in a big hurry. The layered hit avoidance suite will enable full-spectrum survivability against rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds, top attack munitions and tank-fired kinetic energy (KE) rounds.  Read More

B-1 Bomber Radar upgrade

April 21, 2006 In terms of sheer firepower, there’s nothing that can match the U.S. Air Force's fleet of 67 B-1B long-range bomber aircraft. Carrying the largest payload of both guided and unguided weapons of any aircraft, the multi-mission B-1 can rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons, anywhere in the world at Mach 1.2. Each aircraft originally cost US$283 million, but the attention, fettling and long term improvement program costs would dwarf that figure. Each aircraft weighs is capable of carrying around 1.5 times its own weight in bombs for a total take-off weight of 216,634 kilograms. An aircraft commander, copilot, and two weapon systems officers are responsible for delivering a lethal cocktail mixed from the contents of its massive reconfigurable weapons bays. It can pack 24 GBU-31 GPS-aided JDAM (both Mk-84 general purpose bombs and BLU-109 penetrating bombs) or 24 Mk-84 2,000-pound general purpose bombs; 8 Mk-85 naval mines; 84 Mk-82 500-pound general purpose bombs; 84 Mk-62 500-pound naval mines; 30 CBU-87, -89, -97 cluster munitions; 30 CBU-103/104/105 WCMD, 24 AGM-158 JASSMs or 12 AGM-154 JSOWs. The latest US$180 million Reliability and Maintainability Improvement Program (RMIP) upgrade will make the fire control of this arsenal more accurate  Read More

Super Hornet demonstrates network capability in multiple JDAM drop

April 19, 2006 As networks connect business and social communities by efficiently sharing information, so too do military networks and the drive towards a networked battlefield is now relentless. An example of the efficiencies available in the battlespace was recently successfully demonstrated when an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet provided targeting coordinates to other aircraft using the Raytheon APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar system. During the test at the Naval Air Weapons Center at China Lake, Calif., an AESA-equipped F/A-18F created a long-range, high resolution synthetic aperture radar map and designated four closely-spaced stationary targets. The aircraft then data-linked two target designations to non-AESA equipped Super Hornets, which successfully delivered four 2,000-lb. Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM). All four weapons impacted the targets within lethal distance. The targeting Super Hornet then used the AESA to provide highly detailed bomb damage assessments to confirm the hits.  Read More

Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II (APKWS II) competition

April 14, 2006 BAE Systems' entry in the Army's Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II (APKWS II) competition has successfully completed environmental tests that validate the weapon's ability to withstand battlefield conditions. Coupled with successful flight tests last year, these results demonstrate the maturity of BAE Systems' APKWS II offering. APKWS II will provide a low-cost, lightweight guided weapon that is effective against soft and lightly armored targets to fill the gap between the 70mm rocket and the Hellfire missile. The system will be used on all Army aircraft currently using the 70mm rocket. The BAE Systems/General Dynamics team is competing with Raytheon and Lockheed Martin to provide a new 2.75-inch guided rocket that will enable U.S. Army Apache and U.S. Marine Corps Cobra attack helicopters and other platforms to precisely engage non-armored targets with minimal collateral damage. The government is expected to announce the winner later this month.  Read More

ULTRA AP (Armored Patrol) Military Combat Vehicle Concept

April 9, 2006 The ULTRA AP (Armored Patrol) Concept vehicle was created to investigate options for improving survivability and mobility in future military combat vehicles. On the mobility side of things, the designers naturally looked to high-output diesel power (the military has a one fuel policy) but also looked to high-performance automotive engineering practices by adding NASCAR race expertise to the team, along with the use of on-board computers to integrate steering, suspension and brakes. The protective aspects were enhanced by an innovative crew capsule created by a combination of lightweight composite armour materials, a commercial truck chassis, and faceted crew capsule geometries that provide better deflection of pressure waves from blasts compared to current configurations.  Read More

Meet the SLAM-ER

April 2, 2006 Meet the appropriately named SLAM-ER the Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response weapon. The most accurate weapon in the U.S. Navy inventory, the SLAM-ER, is an air-launched, day/night, adverse weather, over-the-horizon missile, which can be used in fire-and-forget mode, in which case it will use GPS to deliver its 500-pound warhead, with frightening precisionanywhere within 275 kilometres from its launch point. The clever aspect of the SLAM-ER though, is that it can use the warfighter-in-the-loop meaning it can fly a pre-planned or target-of-opportunity route to the target area and be retargeted in flight by using global positioning system data and an infrared seeker with an advanced data link. The SLAM-ER is also deadly accurate at hitting moving targets travelling at highway speeds.  Read More

The Fox Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle

March 31, 2006 As much as it might sound like it comes from a satellite television company, the Fox (aka Fuchs in German) NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) reconnaissance vehicle is a very serious machine with an increasingly important role. A decade after the end of the Cold War, nuclear, biological and chemical warfare agents remain a serious, perhaps even growing threat in particular reference to biological and chemical agents due to their relatively easy production compared to nuclear agents. Terrorism is another growing threat to populations, forces and territory, as well as to international security. Therefore the ability to reliably and quickly detect the covert release of NBC warfare agents and other toxic substances even under difficult conditions is becoming increasingly important. As such, the announcement that the United Arab Emirates is purchasing 32 Fox NBC vehicles (only 260 exist today) gives us an opportunity to outline the capabilities of these remarkable systems.  Read More

Combat Survivor Evader Locator authorized for use in Middle East Theatre

March 29, 2006 It’s the stuff of movies and nightmares – being shot down and on your own in enemy territory with no way of being found by an extraction team. Well for United States pilots, that’s no longer on the cards as Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees military operations in the Persian Gulf region, has announced the Boeing Combat Survivor Evader Locator (CSEL) communications system has been authorized for use by the joint services now operating in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The announcement comes after CENTCOM completed final testing of the CSEL communications system, which allows rescue teams to quickly and securely locate and recover isolated personnel within minutes or hours.  Read More

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