Category Archives: Defense Update

UAE Drone Maker Plans to Convert Russian Superlight Choppers into UCAVs

ADCOM, an unmanned systems developer from the UAE is teaming with the Russian helicopter designer Berkut Aero design bureau to turn the Russian designed Berkut VL light helicopter VL into an armed unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV). Adcom Systems representative Karim Badir confirmed to RIA Novosti that the company was considering the Russian chopper as a basis for a new attack drone. According to the Novosti news agency the two companies said they are considering the Berkut VL helicopter as a model for a drone to be stationed aboard naval vessels. Berku VL is a ‘superlight’ two-seat helicopter equipped with a Conver VAZ or Lycoming engine. It has a range of up to 600 kilometers.

The two-seat piston single – which will compete with the Robinson R22 – made its first flight in early 2012 and has logged about 400 flight hours since. Berkut plans to offer their new superlight for around $70,000 per unit (when sold in volumes), about a third of the price of a comparable Robinson 22 chopper.

The prototype is powered by a Russian-made 147shp (110kW) AvtoVAZ piston engine. Berkut plans to equip serial production choppers with a 150hp Lycoming powerplant, increasing maximum speed to 100 kt., elevate operational ceiling to 13,400 ft. and expand its operating range to 850 km.

AUS&R 2013 - The Unmanned Systems Live Demonstration - Israel - 26 November 2013

AUS&R 2013 – The Unmanned Systems Live Demonstration – Israel – 26 November 2013

At the recent MAKS airshow in Moscow Bureau said it is proceeding with the certification of its light coaxial-rotor helicopter, and expect certification by mid-2014.

In July 2013 Russian sources confirmed the Russian military is planning to purchase aerial drones namely unmanned air systems (UAS) in the United Arab Emirates. Sources at ADCOM indicated the Russians were interested in two of the company’s largest platforms, known as United 40 Block 5.

ADCOM plans to convert the Russian superlight helicopter BERKUT LV into an unmanned platform. Photo: Novosti

ADCOM plans to convert the Russian superlight helicopter BERKUT VL into an unmanned platform. Photo: Novosti

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Israel Tests a new Target Missile Simulating Iranian Shihab 3 Missiles

Israel’s missile defense organization (IMDO) and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) completed today a successful flight test of the Silver Sparrow, the latest, most advanced version of the Sparrow target missile family. The test, conducted at the Israeli test range over the Eastern Mediterranean Sea was the first test flight of the new missile.

The missile was launched from an airborne platform on 9:15, after an ascent the missile entered the trajectory, in according with the test plan. Through its flight the Silver Sparrow was tracked by the Arrow Weapon System’s Super Green Pine radar, which transferred the information to the Citron Tree Battle Management Control System. According to the IMOD announcement, all the elements of the system performed according to their operational configuration.

The Silver Sparrow developed by RAFAEL is an advanced version of the Sparrow air-launched ballistic target missile’. The Sparrow targets have a modular warhead section carrying different payloads such as inert, high explosive or water. The 27.5 (8.39 mw) long missile weighs over three tons and is designed to simulate Shihab 3 class missiles (Iranian ballistic missiles with 1,500-2,000 km range). The new target is an essential segment in the testing of the Arrow-3 exo-atmospheric interceptor.

The Silver Sparrow uses a single stage solid rocket propellant, and shares a common reentry vehicle with the mid-range Blue Sparrow. The Silver Sparrow is also considered as a candidate for air-launching of RAFAEL’s future LiteSat micro-satellite, providing Operationally Responsive Space capability supporting ad-hoc requirement for satellite imagery.

IMDO and the U.S. MDA officials conducted the flight test. The main contractor for the integration and development of the sparrow is Rafael end the main contractor of the arrow weapon system is MLM of the aerospace industries (IAI) in conjunction with Boeing.

The test was conducted at a time of high tension in the region, with Russian and NATO naval forces massing off the Syrian coast. An earlier report by Moscow has indicated the Russian sensors have detected two ballistic missiles launched from the same region of the Mediterranean sea. However, Russian sources in Damascus were quick to affirm that there was no evidence of a missile strike on Syria. The announcement revealed the fact that the Russians are providing early warning to the Syrians, about potentially threatening activities over the East Mediterranean.

The Blue Sparrow 2 target missile was employed in today's test. Rafael is also developing the heavier (+3 ton) Silver Arrow target, designed for long-range exo-atmospheric intercept testing. Photo: Rafael

The Blue Sparrow 2 target missile was employed in today’s test. Rafael is also developing the heavier (+3 ton) Silver Arrow target, designed for long-range exo-atmospheric intercept testing. Photo: Rafael

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Polish SW-4 Solo to Assist Royal Navy Rotary-Wing UAS (RWUAS) Study

SW-4 SOLO Rotary UAS is derived from PZL-Świdnik SW-4 light utility helicopter. Photo: PZL-Świdnik.

SW-4 SOLO Rotary UAS is derived from PZL-Świdnik SW-4 light utility helicopter. Photo: PZL-Świdnik.

PZL-Świdnik, and Agusta-Westland have introduced the SW-4 SOLO Rotorcraft Unmanned Aerial System (RUAS) based on the PZL’s SW-4 light single engine helicopter. The unmanned ‘Optionally Piloted Helicopter’ (OPH) variant of the helicopter was displayed this week at the MSPO exhibition in Kielce, Poland. SOLO is based on a close collaboration between PZL-Świdnik and AgustaWestland.

The system will be used under the RWUAS (Rotary Wing Unmanned Air System) Capability Concept Demonstrator (CCD) programme, pursued by the Royal Navy, evaluating the utility of a conceptual multi-role UAV for the UK Royal Navy. A contract covering this evaluation has been awarded to AgustaWestland by the UK Ministry of Defence. The SW-4 SOLO is powered by a single

The SW-4 has entered operational service with the Polish Armed Forces in 2002. Photo: PZL-Świdnik[/caption]Allison 250C20R/2 turboshaft engine driving a three blade main rotor and two blade tail rotor. This engine delivers a maximum power of 335kW (450shp) (283kW/380shp max continuous rated.) The maximum takeoff weight is 1.8 tons (3,968 lbs).

AUS&R 2013 - The Unmanned Systems Live Demonstration - Israel - 26 November 2013

AUS&R 2013 – The Unmanned Systems Live Demonstration – Israel – 26 November 2013

The SW-4 has entered operational service with the Polish Armed Forces in 2002. Photo: PZL-Świdnik Designed for both unmanned and piloted operations, SW-4 SOLO would provide users with maximum operational flexibility, performing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, missions as well as cargo re-supply at sea. In piloted configuration, the SW-4 can undertake a number of activities, including transportation of personnel, surveillance and intervention. It can be fitted with a comprehensive mission equipment package, including search, communications/intelligence systems and armament. As an optionally piloted platform, the helicopter can carry a pilot and four passengers, for utility transport and training. The SW-4 helicopter made its first flight in 1996 and was introduced into operational service with the Polish Armed Force in 2002. The SW-4 RUAS prototype was announced in 2010. The first prototype was displayed in public 2012 and was expected to fly in the piloted configuration in that year, moving to unmanned flight in 2013. However, until early September 2013 no announcements on such milestones have been released.

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Brazilian Air Force (FAB) Receives the First Modernized A-1M

The first fully modernized AMX flewin early 2012. Photo: Sgt. Johnson Barros, FAB

The first fully modernized AMX flewin early 2012. Photo: Sgt. Johnson Barros, FAB

Embraer Defense & Security redelivered the first modernized A-1M (AMX) fighter jet to the Brazilian Air Force (FAB). The modernization of the A-1 (built during the 1980s under a Brazilian-Italian cooperation) include structural refurbishment extending the fighter’s operational life through 2025. The modernization was performed at Embraer’s industrial plant in Gavião Peixoto, in São Paulo. The A-1M program provides for refurbishing and modernizing 43 subsonic AMX jets, 16 of which are already at the Company’s facilities.

The A-1M fighter jet serves the FAB mainly in the ground attack role, performing air-to-ground attack, bombing, tactical air support and reconnaissance missions. “The A-1 fighter jets are fundamental elements for the defense of Brazil, including its territorial coastal waters. We have been very successful in using this aircraft on such highly complex operations as the Cruzex and Red Flag exercises. Its modernization presents a big gain in capability, along with adequate cost-benefit, and, once again, it shows the value of the Nation’s industry” Aeronautics Commander, Air Force General Juniti Saito commented.

It also includes a comprehensive avionics upgrade, upgrading the jet’s navigation, weaponry, oxygen generation, radar and electronic countermeasures (ECM) capabilities. The avionic upgrade will streamlining the A-1 with F-5M and A-29 Super Tucanos operating with the FAB. According to Embraer, such standardization assists with the adaptation period of the pilots, improved fleet management policy, better output in terms of flight hours, and reduced maintenance and operating costs. The program also includes the delivery of mission planning and debriefing stations, to be deployed at the squadron level, supporting training and improving pilot proficiency.

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FAB (Brazilian Air Force ) Aeronautics Commander, General Juniti saito receives the first A-1M modernized jet fighter form Luiz Carlos Aguiar, President of Embraer Defense & Security

FAB (Brazilian Air Force ) Aeronautics Commander, General Juniti saito receives the first A-1M modernized jet fighter form Luiz Carlos Aguiar, President of Embraer Defense & Security

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What hides behind the mission of the Nikolai Filchenkov

President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.

An Assessment solving the Syrian crisis – By David Eshel

According to latest reports from Russia, the large Landing Ship – Tanks (LST) Nikolai Filchenkov from the Russian Black Sea Fleet is on its way to the East Mediterranean, probably set for the docks at the Russian naval base Tartus, Syria. Having taken on board an unspecified “special cargo” at the Black Sea naval port of Novorossiysk, its mission is still a mystery.

The arrival of the Nikolai Filchenkov in Tartus is not the first that Russian landing ships made to this port. Only recently the Russian Interfax news agency reported the LST Novocherkassk, (carrying 150 marine special forces) and Minsk (with 300 troops), were sent to the Syrian port, although their mission was not specified. According to the website of the Russian Black Sea Fleet the Filchenkov can carry 300 troops + 1,700 tons of cargo, including about 20 tanks and trucks or 40 AFV’s.

The recent mission coincided with an unplanned US-Russian summit at St. Petersburg. Although no such meeting was priori arranged between President Barak Obama and Vladimir Putin at the G20 conference in St Petersburg, the meeting between the two leaders (just them, no staff) lasted 30 minutes. Following the meeting no announcements were given to the media, which seems strange under the present Syrian crisis, that has already dominated the Summit.

No doubt should exist between both presidents, that the situation calls for decisive action to prevent the Syrian chemical arsenal, especially prevent its delivery systems falling into the hands of islamic extremists and terrorist. This is a great concern for Mr. Obama and the Western world, but President Putin should be equally concerned in this matter. The amalgam of Islamists that is assembling to fight Assad appears to include a healthy contingent of radical-right Islamists from Chechnya, and they’re reportedly among the toughest fighters in the anti-Assad coalition. Their contingent, according to a European press report, led the assault that took control of a Syrian Air Force base in the country’s northern sector. Should these dangerous elements seize chemical depots, it would become an immediate threat to Russia. One should remember the terrorist attacks in Moscow 2002-2010 and Putin needs not much imagination what horrifying effect chemical weapon substances captured in Syria could cause. So it would be only natural that a man like Vladimir Putin, a veteran KGB officer, and special forces expert would act to prevent such a potential disaster from happening – and time is getting short.

The exact size of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal is not known with any precision, though the French government has estimated it to be more than 1,000 tons. This is believed to be one of the largest stockpiles of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) existing in the Middle East today.

Chemical Agents storage, production and research facilities in Syria. Map courtesy of NTI.

Chemical Agents storage, production and research facilities in Syria. Map courtesy of NTI.

But if any one, the Russians should know the exact inventory. The weapons were stored originally in five major locations – near the cities of Latakia, Palmyra, Homs and Hama, all in the north and central part of the country, and at al-Safir, near the Turkish border. However, weapons have been moved around the country over the last year for operational reasons, a process that has recently accelerated as the threat of a retaliatory strike by the U.S. has increased. The obvious target for storing these safely for the regime would be the coastal mountains in which Bashar Assad’s Alawite minority still dominates the scene.

Moreover, it seems logical that under the mentioned circumstances, Russian special forces based at Tartus, could have been directing these critical movements. In fact, western intelligence monitoring the chemical weapons hideouts, indicate that underground storage depots, which may include chemical weapons have been sighted in the coastal mountain region of Latakia, the Alawite stronghold. These locations are conveniently accessible to the Russian Naval Port of Tartus, where the LST Nikolai Filchenkov is likely heading.

So what could be more natural to solve the Syrian crisis, which is already nearing a political, if not military disaster? It would be to remove the fuse from this ‘time bomb’, remove the critical parts of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal, especially its delivery systems and most vulnerable and dangerous agents, before the entire Middle East enters into another highly dangerous quagmire, which no one really wants. Such means could include specific warheads, sarin and VX binari agents (which can be carried safely to a temporary storage area in Russia)

The only person which could solve this problem is President Vladimir Putin, who has both the means and the persuasive power to get Assad to allow Russian special forces to remove chemical weapons in time and load them carefully onto the Nikolai Filchenkov and if required on more Russian fleet transports who could arrive at Tartus on short notice. With such a move, President Obama would be off the hook, making his unwanted and quite questionable military strike unnecessary, also saving a lot of face should matters go wrong, as they usually do in this region.

President Putin, the clever fox, would gain two winnings with one move – removing an imminent threat from his Islamic opponents by preventing laying their hands on WMD and also gaining top prestige by clever manipulation as a political genius. Even Bashar Assad would be freed from a future danger, if the Islamic Rebels could capture chemical weapons, or even one of his own generals opting to use them himself when pushed with his back against the wall, even against his direct orders from Damascus (is this what really happened on August 21?).

The next days will show, if this assessment will become reality, let us hope so!

About the LST Nikolai Filchenkov

Russian Naval Landing Ship Nikolay Filchenkov.

Russian Naval Landing Ship Nikolay Filchenkov.

The Project 1171 Tapir Large Landing Ship (Bol’shoy Desatnyy Korabl’ BDK) is a beachable, general-purpose LST-type design with bow and stern ramps for unloading vehicles. Produced in at least four different types beginning in 1966, there are numerous variations in detail between units. Many have been retired, and remaining units may be in reserve, given the Russian Navy’s decreased emphasis on amphibious operations. Large Landing Ship “Nikolay Filchenkov” was built by Yantar Zavod, Kaliningrad. Laid down 30 Jan 1974, completed 29 March 1975, commissioned on 12 Dec 1975.

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V-22 Tilt Rotor Demonstrates Aerial refueling potential

In the August demonstration over north Texas, a V-22 equipped with a prototype aerial refueling system safely deployed, held stable, and retracted the refueling drogue as an F/A-18 Hornet flew just behind and to the side of the aircraft. Photo: Bell-Boeing

In the August demonstration over north Texas, a V-22 equipped with a prototype aerial refueling system safely deployed, held stable, and retracted the refueling drogue as an F/A-18 Hornet flew just behind and to the side of the aircraft. Photo: Bell-Boeing

The Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft has successfully completed an initial test performing as an aerial refueling tanker. Adding this capability to the tiltrotor aircraft would further advance its versatility in support of Marine corps and naval aviation operations, as well as special operations in naval, combat, humanitarian and ship-based operations. In August 2013 the aircraft flew several demonstration flights over north Texas, with a V-22 equipped with a prototype aerial refueling system safely deployed, held stable, and retracted the refueling drogue as an F/A-18C and an F/A-18D Hornet flew just behind and to the side of the aircraft. According to the test data, on the fourth mission the Hornets flew within 30 ft. of the MV-22’s drogue chute in a lateral offset position.

“Adding aerial refueling tanker capability to the V-22 will enable operators to execute a wider variety of missions with greater flexibility and autonomy,” said Vince Tobin, Bell Boeing V-22 program director. “This will save time and money by maximizing the efficient use of aircraft and personnel.” Future Bell Boeing tests will put aircraft in a fuel-receiving position directly behind the V-22, connect receiver aircraft with the refueling drogue and, ultimately, refuel a variety of aircraft in flight. The V-22 is a combat-proven tiltrotor that can fly horizontally at high speeds and high altitudes like an airplane, and take off and land vertically like a helicopter.

Currently the Marine Corps are employing C-130H/J for aerial refueling missions, flown from land-bound bases. Helicopters such as the CH-53 can refuel from the C-130 but are not suitable to refuel other aircraft, particularly fast jets. As a tilt-rotor that can cruise at much higher speed than a helicopter, the Osprey can maintain a high speed cruise that could be synched with jet fighters, flying at relatively low speed, maintaining safe and stable flight for refueling purposes. The use of MV-22 as a refueling aircraft is part of a Bell/Boeing plan to propose a substitute to the US Navy C-2 aircraft. The Greyhound Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) aircraft built by Northrop Grumman is used as utility transport and carrier replenishment missions.

The U.S. Navy has yet to decide whether to replace the 48 Greyhounds it currently operate, or extend their life. While the V-22 would cost more, it would offer the advantage of a common platform supporting aircraft carriers (CVN) and amphibious landing ships (LHD), as well as performing other missions such as Search and Rescue (SAR), troop transport and other missions. The U.S. Marine Corps is the primary customer for the MV-22 with a program of 360 aircraft, with the U.S. Air Force also buying 50 of the aircraft to replace its retired MH-53s.

The Bell Boeing V-22 Program, a strategic alliance between Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. and Boeing has successfully completed an initial test of the V-22 Osprey performing as an aerial refueling tanker. In the August demonstration over north Texas, a V-22 equipped with a prototype aerial refueling system safely deployed, held stable, and retracted the refueling drogue as an F/A-18 Hornet flew just behind and to the side of the aircraft. Photo: Bell-Boeing

The Bell Boeing V-22 Program, a strategic alliance between Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. and Boeing has successfully completed an initial test of the V-22 Osprey performing as an aerial refueling tanker. In the August demonstration over north Texas, a V-22 equipped with a prototype aerial refueling system safely deployed, held stable, and retracted the refueling drogue as an F/A-18 Hornet flew just behind and to the side of the aircraft. Photo: Bell-Boeing

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US Army Embarks on the Testing of a Hybrid Ultra Light Vehicle (ULV)

Ultra Light Vehicle (ULV) concept vehicle

The U.S. Army’s latest “research prototype vehicle” has entered advanced testing phase with the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). The new vehicle known as the Ultra Light Vehicle (ULV) was built as a Concept Vehicle for TARDEC’s Detroit Arsenal. The new hybrid tactical vehicle targets safety, fuel-efficiency and versatility. It was developed in the past 16 months using commercial technologies. Final testing is beginning on the ULV vehicle platform with evaluating its capability to support Soldiers on missions across a full spectrum of mobility challenges while keeping occupants safe and using fuel efficiently.

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Army researchers have designed the ULV to meet a wide range of challenges by making it fuel efficient, versatile and survivable in nearly any environment.

Funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the ULV project team is developing and building three identical lightweight tactical research prototype vehicles emphasizing survivability for occupants and meeting four research objectives:

  • Payload – 4,500 lbs
  • Performance – at 14,000 lbs curb weight
  • Protection – comparable to the currently fielded Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles
  • Price – $250,000 each in a hypothetical 5,000-unit production run

TARDEC’s Ground System Survivability group partnered with non-traditional defense contractors bringing the engineering expertise of both to the project. In only 16 months, the team moved from design to prototype.

“The Army’s approach was to create synergistic survivability,” explained TARDEC GSS Associate Director Steve Knott. “Soft deliverables — such as data and lessons learned — and hard deliverables — such as test assets and spare automotive components — will help shape, inform and support tactical vehicle programs, technology demonstrator efforts and/or TARDEC Innovation Projects to maximize the overall return on investment.”

The team produced three vehicles: two will be used for mobility, mine blast and ballistic survivability testing and the third is moving into TARDEC’s Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory (GSPEL) for mobility and fuel efficiency testing. Results are expected to be available in early 2014.

Highlights of ULV’s powertrain, design, communications and protection, focusing on mobility and survivability, include:

Powertrain – With two electric motors (front and rear) the ULV’s hybrid powertrain improves both mobility and survivability. By eliminating the need for a driveshaft, the underbody can be designed to perform well in a blast event. And either of the electric motors can power the vehicle, providing redundancy. A lightweight diesel engine powers the electric motors and also enables:

• Immediate launch
• Stealth drive
• Silent watch
• Exportable power generation
• High torque at low/near zero speeds
• Improved fuel economy

Design – ULV’s final design was developed by lead contractor Hardwire LLC. The cab provides more interior space than similarly equipped tactical vehicles. Remote-mounted and remote-controlled vehicle electronics reduce HVAC loads and create space. “Clamshell” front and rear doors open away from the B-pillar creating a protected area for Soldiers to exit.

“The cab is designed to have seven egress points facilitated by quick-release and removable components, stowage space for personnel and mission-specific items and 360-degree situational awareness through front- and rear-mounted ultra wide-angle thermal imagers,” explained TARDEC engineer Vladimir Gendlin.

Communications – ULV features lower-weight Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) technologies focused on warfighter needs.

Survivability/Ballistic Protection – The hybrid design allows for a “clean underbody” through the elimination of various automotive components potentially allowing for blast-mitigation technologies to perform uninhibited during a blast event. This design provides added opportunities to integrate various blast-mitigating kits under the hull for higher threat levels. Interior technologies include a crushable floating floor system that decouples the crew’s feet and legs from the steel hull and absorbs energy, adjustable stroking seats, five-point restraint systems, and spatial accommodations to mitigate head im

A 3/4 front view of the ULV. Photo via TARDEC

A 3/4 front view of the ULV. Photo via TARDEC

the ULV project team is developing and building three identical lightweight tactical research prototype vehicles emphasizing survivability for occupants. Photo via TARDEC

the ULV project team is developing and building three identical lightweight tactical research prototype vehicles emphasizing survivability for occupants. Photo via TARDEC

pacts and flail injuries. ULV also utilizes high-strength steels and advanced composite materials offering lightweight ballistic protection from a number of threats to include a newly developed transparent ceramic armor system to keep the vehicle’s overall weight down.

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