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Raytheon Receives Multi-Year Contract to Supply over 6,000 TOW-RF Guided Missiles

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TOW Missile launched from a HMMWV. Photo: Raytheon

Raytheon announced it has won a multiyear contract worth US$349 million, to deliver 6,676 TOW RF missiles to the US Army and Marine Corps over the next five years.

The TOW system is a command line-of-sight system that requires the gunner to track the target until the missile impacts. It has been employed by U.S. forces in every conflict since Vietnam and continues to be used today in Afghanistan. The missile is planned to remain in service at least until 2025.

In February 2012 Raytheon has tested a new propulsion system for the Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wireless (TOW) missile. The new system developed by ATK doubles the range of the TOW missile and reduces the missile’s flight time by one-third. During the test, the developmental propulsion system flew the missile more than seven kilometers (4.35 miles), reaching four kilometers (2.5 miles) in significantly less time. The propulsion improvement is part of a broader modernization program, extending the weapon’s range, lethality, operator’s survivability and safety. However, the missiles included in the current order will not include this new development.

The propulsion system the company tested in February was developed by ATK, as part of the missile system’s upgrade. “This launch, boost, sustain technology greatly enhances the TOW gunner’s survivability by allowing us to engage targets outside the threat range of direct engagement systems and by reducing the time we must track a target,” said Scott Speet, TOW program director for Raytheon Missile Systems.

Raytheon and ATK’s Missile Products Group worked closely to develop a propulsion system that improves the performance of the TOW missile. The launch, boost, sustain (LBS) propulsion system also incorporates a rocket motor designed with Insensitive Munitions (IM) features to provide added safety: IM compliant systems are less likely to react explosively when subjected to bullet and fragment impacts, external fire or other hazardous events.

“We brought an IM propulsion system to a technology readiness level that can be demonstrated to our government customer and which greatly reduces the research and development costs necessary to provide this enhancement to an existing combat-proven system,” said Michelle Lohmeier, vice president for Land Combat at Raytheon Missile Systems.

The original wire guidance link limited the TOW range to 3,750 meters. In 2002 Raytheon introduced an alternative Radio Frequency (RF) command link, enabling the missile to extend the effective combat range beyond the limit imposed by the wire guidance. The current order is the third multi-year order for these TOWs. Other improvements introduced more versatile warheads, including more advanced tandem (TOW-2B) which were also adapted to the RF version (TOW 2B Aero) and ‘bunker buster’ variants. It is expected that the new LBS will further extend the weapon’s performance, striking targets at longer distances and in shorter engagement cycles. TOW is currently in service in more than 40 international armed forces and integrated on more than 15,000 ground, vehicle and helicopter platforms worldwide. Platforms currently employing the TOW include the US Army heavy brigade’s Bradley and Stryker Brigades’ Stryker armored vehicles, US Marine Corps HMMWV and AH-1W Cobra helicopter gunships.

With the wireless system built into the missile and the missile case, the new TOW missile works with existing launch platforms, including more than 4,000 Improved Target Acquisition System (ITAS), Improved Bradley Acquisition System, TOW2 Subsystem and M220 Ground TOW. Raytheon is currently developing a new airborne launcher designed to employ the RF-TOW. The new airborne launcher will be compatible with past, present and future versions of the TOW missile. The system performs exactly like the wire-guided version, enabling soldiers and Marines to continue using the proven weapon without changing tactics or incurring additional training.

December 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the TOW Missile Program, with more than 650,000 missiles produced.

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MV-22 Osprey Flight Operations Tested Aboard USS Nimitz

By on Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) received and refueled an MV-22 Osprey, a potential replacement for the C-2 Greyhound, for the first time Oct. 6.

The Osprey, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 165, was the first from (VMM) 165 to make a carrier-based landing and was part of an on-going initiative from the Joint Program Manager Air (PMA) 275 office to increase the number of available platforms.

“This was a first for our squadron,” said Capt. Patrick Johnson, of VMM 165. “We recently made the switch from helicopters to the Osprey so it was a new experience for most of us.”

Johnson embarked Nimitz as a liaison between the pilots of the MV-22 and Nimitz’ primary flight control. As the subject matter expert, Johnson was able to provide the Nimitz crew with information about the MV-22 to aid in the recovery of this aircraft.

Since this was the first time the Osprey landed on Nimitz, though similar to standard Navy aircraft, there were some things the flight deck crew had to be mindful of.

“With the Osprey you have to be careful because the ‘down-wash’ [the air that comes from the aircraft’s rotors] is a lot more than a helicopter,” explained Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Andre Taylor, a flight deck director on board Nimitz. “This aircraft has a larger landing area so we have to make sure anything around the landing area is secure and make sure everything is out of the way.”

Nimitz sent some of its flight deck crew to Marine Corp’s Air Station Miramar, Calif., for training on how to handle the Osprey.

“We were taught how to properly chock and chain the aircraft along with how to turn, ‘taxi’ (move an aircraft without having to use a tractor or a tow bar), and stow it on the flight deck,” said Taylor. “Basically, we learned the ins-and-outs of the aircraft. We got inside all of the batteries and oxygen tanks and learned what to look for in case the aircraft crashes and where to go to pull the emergency door in case a fire broke out.”

This training played a key part in allowing the Osprey to make its first carrier-based landing on Nimitz and turned out to be a unique experience for the crew.

“We all took turns landing the aircraft because it was something new that we had never seen,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Ricardo Camposflores, a flight deck leading petty officer on board Nimitz who assisted with the Osprey landing. “We all got a chance to learn something new from this landing.”

Landing the Osprey will be another memory Nimitz’ crew will be able to add to the long history of the ship.

“I will remember this experience for a long time,” Taylor smiled. “I was more excited than I was nervous. It’s a different feeling. Most people don’t get a chance to be a part of these experiences.”

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PARS 3 Missile for German Tiger Helicopter Enters Full-Scale Production

By on Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

PARS 3 LR, the main armament for the German Army’s Tiger helicopter, passes into full scale production. This follows the successful completion of the system’s validation programme for the German customer, an event marked by a direct hit against an intended target during a test firing carried out at the Meppen test range (located in Lower Saxony, NW Germany) on 20 September 2012.

The target was provided by a tank moving in between houses. In the final firing, the PARS 3 LR missile struck the target with exceptional precision in a demanding urban combat scenario at a range of approximately 3 km. All test firings were carried out from a German Tiger helicopter. The tests confirm that PARS 3 LR completely fulfils the specified system performance requirements under operational conditions.

After formal clearance by the BAAINBw (Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support), PARS 3 LR is now ready to go into full-scale series production for the German Army’s Tiger helicopter.

“The successful conclusion of the firing campaign sends a strong signal to our national customers and potential export customers”, declared Thomas Homberg, Managing Director of MBDA Germany. This guided missile system will make an important contribution to the Bundeswehr, enabling it to fulfil the demanding missions it is expected to perform even better in the future”.

“We have impressively demonstrated the exceptional capabilities and high precision of the PARS 3 LR. This success was made possible by the joint contribution of all parties concerned, from the German Army, the German Federal Office of Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB) including the technical commands, the weapon system command and industry. I want to thank everyone for their enormous dedication” added Siegfried Bücheler, Programmes and Sales Director at MBDA Germany.

With the PARS 3 LR, the German Army will receive what is currently the most high-performance fire-and-forget guided missile system for precision strikes against stationary and moving high-value targets while simultaneously assuring maximum protection for both helicopter and crew. The PARS 3 LR fire-and-forget system allows the helicopter to quit its position immediately after firing a missile, thereby limiting to the absolute minimum its exposure to the threat of retaliation.

Salvo firing allows the engagement of various targets at the same time. Its technical lay-out design enables unambiguous target identification, target designation, and highly precise effects against a large target spectrum over the whole range spectrum.

Manufacture for the German Army will be carried out by PARSYS, a joint venture between MBDA Germany and Diehl BGT Defence. The procurement contract for the PARS 3 Long Range precision fire-and-forget missiles was signed by the Federal Office of Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB), MBDA Germany and Diehl BGT Defence. The contract covers industrialization and delivery of 680 missiles for the German Army.

The weapon is already generating significant interest in the export market. To meet a helicopter-launched air-to-ground Anti-Tank Guided Missile requirement in India, MBDA has proposed the PARS 3 LR multi-target, long-range weapon system which has now been short-listed by the Indian MoD. Within the framework of this competition, PARS 3 LR has achieved an outstanding level of performance during two firing campaigns comprising six firings all of which struck their targets at the optimal hit point.

MBDA Germany is the leading missile systems company in Germany and part of the European MBDA Group. MBDA Germany develops, manufactures and provides customer and product support for guided missile systems and subsystems to the Air Force, Army and Navy. Today the company focuses on air defense systems. Around 1,300 persons are working at its Schrobenhausen, Ulm and Aschau/Inn facilities.

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Study exposes the negative effects of increasing computerized surveillance

By on Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Researchers at the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT finish the first longitudinal study on the effects of ubiquitous surveillance in the home.

To understand the effects of continuous computerized surveillance on individuals, researchers at HIIT instrumented ten Finnish households with video cameras, microphones, and logging software for personal computers, wireless networks, smartphones, TVs, and DVDs. T

he twelve participants filled monthly questionnaires to report on stress levels and were interviewed at six and twelve months.

The results expose a range of negative changes in experience and behavior. To all except one participant, the surveillance system proved to be a cause of annoyance, concern, anxiety, and even anger.

However, surveillance did not cause mental health issues comparable in severity to depression or alcoholism, when measured with a standardized scale. Nevertheless, one household dropped out of the study at six months, citing that the breach of privacy and anonymity had grown unbearable.

The surveillees’ privacy concerns plateaued after about three months, as the surveillees got more used to surveillance. The researchers attribute this to behavioral regulation of privacy.

Almost all subjects exhibited changes in behavior to control what the system perceives. Some hid their activities in the home from the sensors, while some transferred them to places outside the home. Dr. Antti Oulasvirta explains:

  • Although almost all were capable of adapting their daily practices to maintain privacy intrusion at a level they could tolerate, the required changes made the home fragile. Any unpredicted social event would bring the new practices to the fore and question them, and at times prevent them from taking place.

The researchers were surprised that computer logging was as disturbing as camera-based surveillance. On the one hand, logging the computer was experienced negatively because it breaches the anonymity of conversations. Oulasvirta explains:

  • The importance of anonymity in computer use is symptomatic of the fact that a large proportion of our social activities today are mediated by computers.

On the other hand, the ever-observing “eye”, the video camera, deprived the participants of the solitude and isolation they expect at home. The surveillees felt particularly strong the violation of reserve and intimacy by the capture of nudity, physical appearance, and sex. Oulasvirta concludes:

  • Psychological theories of privacy have postulated six privacy functions of the home, and we find that computerized surveillance can disturb all of them.

More experimental research is needed to reveal the effects of computerized surveillance. Prof. Petri Myllymaki explains: “Because the topic is challenging to study empirically, there is hardly any published research on the effects of intrusive surveillance on everyday life.

“In the Helsinki Privacy Experiment project, we did rigorous ethical and legal preparations, and invested into a robust technical platform, in order to allow a longitudinal field experiment of privacy. The present sample of subjects is potentially biased, as it was selected from people who volunteered based on an Internet advertisement. While we realize the limits of our sample, our work can facilitate further inquiries into this important subject.”

The first results were presented at the 14th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (Ubicomp 2012) in Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

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4,000 tonnes of old munitions explode in Russia

By on Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Four thousand tonnes of old munitions blew up at a military site in central Russia on Tuesday, releasing a plume of white smoke into the sky and sending panicked locals fleeing for their lives.

The Donguz military range 30 kilometres (18 miles) south of the city of Orenburg in the Ural mountains region caught fire after the old munitions unexpectedly exploded, the emergency and defence ministries said.

A total of 4,000 tonnes of outdated munitions including 400 tonnes of aerial bombs and more than 1,300 tonnes of shells exploded, a spokeswoman for the chief military investigative directorate, Yevgeniya Maltseva, told AFP.

The defence ministry and the regional government said no military personnel or local residents had been injured.

Television footage showed a white mushroom cloud rising above the area.

“It was mostly residential areas close to the military range that sustained damage,” the regional legislature said in a statement, adding that the force of the blasts also shattered windows of schools and kindergartens.

Witnesses from nearby villages described scenes of chaos.

“First there was a first explosion. We got scared. We ran out of the house at once. Then a second explosion followed, then a third one. It was terrible,” one resident Yelena Churikova said in televised remarks.

“Glass flew around. Everything started falling from the upper floors. A neighbouring house cracked in half. You can’t imagine that sight. Everyone ran outside, everyone is yelling. No-one understands what is going on.”

The Russian military has a huge stockpile of outdated munitions that are poorly maintained and frequently explode, causing casualties and deaths.

Last July, more than 20,000 people had to be evacuated and dozens were injured when a fire at a munitions depot in the Volga region of Udmurtia triggered a succession of explosions and sent a fireball blazing into the sky.

The regional government said officials were assessing the damage from the blasts in three villages close to the military range as well as in Orenburg.

A spokesman for the regional emergencies ministry, Vladislav Zubchenko, did not say how many people were evacuated from the affected area, which is home to several thousand people.

Officials were conducting aerial reconnaissance and several ambulances and psychologists had been dispatched to the area.

A defence ministry commission flew down to the military range to look into the accident, ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in televised remarks.

The governor of the Orenburg region, Yury Berg, was forced to leave early from a meeting in the Kremlin chaired by President Vladimir Putin following reports of the blasts.

“Yury Alexandrovich, do you have to leave?” the state RIA Novosti news agency quoted Putin as asking Berg at the meeting.

“Yes, thank you,” the governor responded before making his exit.

The regional legislature was planning to appeal to construction companies for help with clearing up the aftermath of the accident.

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