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The electro-magnetic gun program gets US$14.7 million

July 7, 2006 The United States Navy has awarded two contracts for the development of an electro-magnetic gun system capable of deployment on board naval surface combatant ships. The development work preliminary design for an Electro-Magnetic (EM) railgun prototype and the preliminary design of the U.S Navy's 32 megajoule (MJ) Laboratory Launcher. An electro-magnetic railgun uses electrical energy to accelerate projectiles to extreme velocities. Railguns do not require powders or explosives to fire the round and therefore free magazine space for other mission areas. In addition, electro-magnetic guns provide a highly consistent and uniform explosive charge that gives much greater accuracy. Thirty-two megajoule is equivalent to a firing speed of Mach 8 or eight times the speed of sound. This will be an intermediate step on the road to a 64-MJ Tactical System capable of deployment on-board naval surface combatant ships.  Read More

New kit converts earthmovers to full remote control

July 7, 2006 If you're a remote control enthusiast seeking the ultimate toy, the birthday present wish list will become frightfully expensive by the end of this paragraph. Defence technology specialist QinetiQ has launched a range of Applique Robotic Kits (ARKs) that convert the current in-service military JCB 4CXM or Caterpillar CAT320B families of vehicles into fully integrated remote controlled units for use by the military in hazardous environments. Operators can be up to a kilometre away and don't even need to directly see the vehicle they are operating, but still have full control of it. By simply flicking a switch, existing vehicles can change between full remote or manual mode, immediately reducing potential dangers to the operators but still enabling it to be fully used for the tasks for which it was designed.  Read More

Cannon artillery to get precision guidance too

July 6, 2006 The advent of precision guided munitions has completely changed the battlefield inside a few decades. Once bombs were dropped in vast numbers, as each one had a small probability of hitting its target. once computers and advanced guidance entered the fray, bombs became deadly accurate. Now the artillery section is getting in on the act. BAE has received a contract from U.S. Army Combat Ammunition Systems to participate in a competitive technical development program of a Precision Guidance Kit for use with Army cannon artillery ammunition. The guidance kit is a low-cost system that will improve the accuracy of conventional 105 mm and 155 mm artillery projectiles. The BAE Systems-led team received the award after demonstrating a two-directional precision guidance kit solution referred to as the Course Correcting Fuze (CCF). The fitting of the low-cost CCF kit makes conventional cannon projectiles at least three times more accurate.  Read More

Airborne Laser demonstrates optical beam train

June 27, 2006 The United States’ Airborne Laser (ABL) program sounds so fantastic that it’s hard to believe that it’s on track to be operational within two years. ABL will feature the world's first megawatt-class laser weapon system integrated on a specially configured aircraft to autonomously detect, track and destroy all classes of hostile ballistic missiles at the speed-of-light. The ABL team and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) took a major step toward demonstrating the capability of ABL this week by successfully firing surrogate lasers from inside the aircraft. The high-energy laser, which achieved lethal power and run-times in a ground laboratory, will be installed in the ABL aircraft in 2007 to prepare for the program's first missile shoot-down test, slated for 2008.  Read More

The Cougar - zero casualties

June 23, 2006 Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are the number one killer of US soldiers in Iraq, and the focus of an enormous effort by the US military - in 2005, the U.S. military spent US$3.3 billion to defeat IEDs and one of the key answers found in the quest was the 28,550-pound Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Cougar. The Cougar’s v-shaped hull assists deflection of a mine or improvised explosive device blast away from the vehicle’s capsule, keeping the passengers safe and the vehicle intact. The ballistic glass with gun ports allow the passengers to engage insurgents ambush attempts without leaving the cab. The Cougar is driven by a six-speed, split-shift, all-wheel drive transmission, produced in both 4 and 6 wheel form and can be customized for multiple tasks including troop transport, mine and EOD disposal, command and control, reconnaissance, ambulance, and as a lead convoy vehicle. The Cougar is also built to roll over to absorb blast and is equipped with multi-point, motor racing harnesses, so passengers avoid injury.  Read More

Joint U.S. Pacific Command operations in the Pacific

This remarkable image must constitute one of the greatest collections of leading edge technology ever assembled in one place and part of an amazing photographic gallery for this story. And the sizeable chunk of war machine is just a fraction of what’s being put through its paces on and around Guam this week in Operation Valiant Shield, a U.S. Pacific Command exercise which focuses on integrated joint training and interoperability among U.S. military forces while responding to a range of mission scenarios. The exercise is designed to make sure U.S. forces have a seamlessly integrated environment where they can conduct deterrence-type missions and, if deterrence fails, high-intensity combat operations. The image shows the awesome B-2 Spirit and 16 other aircraft from the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps flying over the USS Kitty Hawk, USS Ronald Reagan and USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike groups. The joint exercise consists of 28 naval vessels, more than 300 aircraft and approximately 20,000 service members. For the record, the B-2 Spirit is powered by four F-118-GE-100 engines each with 17,300 pounds of thrust which can propel it to high subsonic speeds carrying 40,000 pounds of bombs with an unrefueled intercontinental range and an effectively indefinite range given air-to-air refueling. The B-2 Stealth bomber can reach across the globe to attack more than a dozen different aimpoints with surgical accuracy in a single pass! There are 21 active B-2 Spirits in the US military inventory, each costing US$1.157 billion. Who needs a foreign policy?  Read More

US Military FCT contract for High Speed Amphibians

June 19, 2006 It was only a matter of time really – Gibbs Technologies’ High Speed Amphibian (HSA) technology has wowed the world with the Aquada sports car, Humdinga AWD and QuadSki amphibians so sooner or later it was bound to come under the scrutiny of the most technologically adventurous fighting force on the planet. Today it was announced that Gibbs has won a US Department of Defence (DOD) Foreign Comparative Test contract to evaluate its existing HSA technology for military purposes. Founder Alan Gibbs said of winning the contract, “it’s a major milestone for the company because we have solved a problem which has beset every major General since Alexander the Great.”  Read More

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

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