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The First New Missile-Warning Satellites Contract Awarded to Lockheed

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The First New Missile-Warning Satellites Contract Awarded to Lockheed
One of the existing SBIRS satellite during its final assembly and test period. The Next-Gen OPIR constellation will supplement these space-based sensors. | Photo by Lockheed Martin

In a response to Russia and China increasing offensive potential in space, U.S. Air Force has urged its accelerated program for missile warning satellites – Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program, by awarding Lockheed Martin, on 14 August, a $2.9 billion contract for the first three satellites. The new program aims to replace the current Space Based Infrared System, learned MiltechReview.com.

In an announcement of the service is said that as being selected to provide the three geosynchronous Earth orbit satellites in the Next-Gen OPIR constellation, under the terms of the contract and within its value, Lockheed are expected to do the initial design work, flight hardware procurement, early manufacturing and risk-reduction work that will be critical for the design review. This new constellation will provide the U.S. Air Force with an improved missile detection capability, which is more survivable against potential threats.

In a statement of Heather Wilson, the U.S. Air Force Secretary, she emphasized the importance of speed in developing the new systems and announced that the providing of missile warning capabilities is expected to be done by the mid 2020s, referring to the contested environment in space.

In particular, the service said that the launch of its first Next Gen OPIR satellite is planned to be in 2023, not in 2025 when the original plan for Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) replacement was supposed to begin.

Read more: New Software for UH-60V Black Hawk Helicopter, Ready to be Integrated by the US Army

In December, last year, Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command criticized the Air Force’s original strategy to field the new constellation by fiscal 2029 by defining it as “ridiculous”, and referring to the fact that it can be done faster than this timeline.

Later on, during the Space Symposium in April, Heather Wilson announced that the Next Gen OPIR procurement timeline would be speed up by the using of prototypes. She also added that the companies could achieve their goals in means of mature sensors and a common satellite bus in order to be accelerated the development, though the design of the satellites is still in flow.

The new procurement strategy of the service already has affected the original Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program in two ways by now. In means of the earlier first launch date and the selection of a second satellite manufacturer, in this case – Northrop Grumman, despite the Air Force initial intentions to sole-source the entire Next Gen OPIR constellation to Lockheed.

According to a May notice of intent, the U.S. Air Force will award two sole-sourced contracts: one to Lockheed, already announced on Wednesday and the second, which is still impending, to Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems – for the first two polar satellites of the Next Gen OPIR constellation. Although the final terms of the Lockheed’s contract have not yet been settled, it was anticipated a cost-plus incentive fee vehicle.

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Military Procurement

U.S. Army ARDEC Assigns to Robotic Research to Expand AUSTC for Counter-WMD Mission

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Photo credit: Defensenews.com

At the beginning of this month, the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) of the U.S. Army has secured a new agreement with the Maryland-based robotics engineering company Robotic Research. With the new contract, the U.S. Army has assigned to the company to expand work on the service’s Autonomous Unmanned Systems Teaming and Collaboration (AUSTC) program for the Counter-WMD (weapons of mass destruction) Mission, learned MiltechReview.com.

The efforts in AUSTC program are focused on enhanced autonomy, 3D / 4D mapping, localisation, target identification, tracking and collective 3D visualisation as well as integration of weapons systems with unmanned autonomous systems and subterranean communications.

The new five-year $50m contract for the AUSTC derives from the Mobile Autonomous Counter-WMD System, Increment B (MACS-B) program for which, previously, Robotic Research has signed some small business innovative research contracts, still ongoing. The goal of the MACS-B program is to ensure various capabilities during performing subterranean mission, such as mapping, reconnaissance, WMD materials locating, characterizing and autonomous teaming. It also provides the land forces and their commanders with intelligence and situational awareness, in order to be taken informed decisions, supporting the military operations.

The U.S. Army has established the both programs – the AUSTC and MACS-B, so as to be improved the U.S. Army and Special Forces units capabilities of autonomous unmanned systems teaming and collaboration, in particular, to be included unmanned ground and air vehicles in operations in subterranean environments.

After the award announcement, president of Robotic Research, Alberto Lacaze, said that the company team is strongly committed in the rapid fielding of operative autonomous counter-WMD solutions for the U.S. war fighters, as the Army is. He stated:

“It is a great honour to expand our work for the US Army, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and the Special Forces community on the family-of-systems for autonomous collaborative robotic teaming in support of challenging subterranean missions.”

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Saab Has Secured a New Support Contract for South Korean ARTHUR Weapon Locating System

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A press release, issued on 24 September, on the website of the Swedish aerospace and defense company Saab, informs about the signing of a new contract between the manufacturer and South Korea’s DAPA (Defense Acquisition Program Administration), for providing support to the ARTHUR (Artillery Hunting Radar) weapon locating system, learned MiltechReview.com.

With the award of the performance-based logistics (PBL) contract, Saab will supply the South Korean Army and the South Korean Marine Corps with spare parts and support for the highly mobile weapon locating system ARTHUR. The contract is for a period of five years – with delivery time until 2023. And the approximate value of the deal is $56.76million (Skr500 million).

In November 2009, Saab completed the delivery of the first six ARTHUR Weapon Locating Radar systems to the army of South Korea. And since 2012, the South Korean Ministry of Defense has awarded annual support contracts to the company for the system.

According to the current deal, Saab will rely on its local support team in South Korea to carry out the project’s majority of work. The delivery of all ARTHUR’s spare parts will be done in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Saab’s highly mobile ARTHUR weapon locating radar system is used by the South Korean Armed Forces for a rapid detection of fire or approaching enemy artillery. It features the capabilities to warn the residents with an enhanced 90-second warning of incoming fire and to calculate the firing site and point of impact in order to boost effective counter-fire within a few seconds. ARTHUR  covers a distance of 60km and reports information for more than 100 targets every minute.

Speaking on the background, Anders Carp, Surveillance Business Area senior vice-president and head of Saab, defined South Korea as a very important customer of the company and its largest operator of ARTHUR weapon locating radar system.

“This five-year contract is further proof of our successful collaboration with the South Korean forces and we are proud to continue contributing to the country’s safety by providing on-site support for the Arthur systems.”

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The U.S. Air Force’s UH-1N Hueys Replaced by New MH-139 Helicopters of the Boeing-Leonardo Team

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On 24 September, the U.S. Air Force has finally selected a winner of the program for the replacement of the service’s aging UH-1N Huey helicopters. In a contested competition, with delays and interruptions, at last, the Boeing-Leonardo team has been awarded a $2.38 billion contract for the manufacturing of new MH-139 helicopters, which will guard the Air Force nuclear missile silos, in place of the old ones, learned MiltechReview.com.

The partnership between Boeing and Leonardo, for the competition, has offered the militarized variant of the commercial AW139 – MH-139 that beat out the UH-60 Black Hawk versions offered by the other two competitors – Lockheed Martin Sikorsky and Sierra Nevada Corp.

MH-139 is manufactured by AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Leonardo in Philadelphia. MH-139 is a medium-sized twin-engine helicopter that can transport nine fully loaded troops. It features the capabilities to reach a cruise speed of 135 knots and to fly at least three hours without the need to be refueled.

Over the course of the program, the Air Force plans to acquire 84 new aircraft, with expected delivery of the first one in FY2021. For the first batch of four MH-139s, the team between the both companies has received an initial $375 million funding, which also covers the integration of military-specific items necessary for the new helicopter to meet the requirements of the Air Force.

The vice president and general manager for Boeing’s vertical lift business, said David Koopersmith, said:

“We’re grateful for the Air Force’s confidence in our MH-139 team.The MH-139 exceeds mission requirements, it’s also ideal for VIP transport, and it offers the Air Force up to $1 billion in acquisition and lifecycle cost savings.”

The U.S. Air Force effort to replace its 1970s UH-1N Huey aircraft, used for transportation in missions in order to protect the ICBM fields on the northern tier of the continental United States, has begun about a decade ago. The program, initially launched in 2011, was later cancelled. In 2015, the Air Force restarted it, and a year later the replacement of UH-1N Huey aircraft has become a competitive procurement.

Since then, the project also suffered some delays caused by the lack of proposal for an off-the-shelf solution, which to meet the requirements of the U.S. Air Force. Then, in February, Lockheed Martin had a disagreement with the Government Accountability Office, over technical data rights, which, few months later, in May, was dismissed by the GAO but still affected the service’s schedule to choose the winner for the UH-1N Huey competition in June.

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New Contract Extensions Awarded to KDH for Next-Generation Protection Systems

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In the beginning of September, KDH Defense Systems, a subsidiary of the body armor and protective solutions manufacturer and distributer Central Lake Armor Express Inc., announced $85.0 million contract extensions, awarded by the U.S. Army. Under the terms of the follow-on deal, the manufacturer will supply the service with next-generation soldier protection systems, learned MiltechReview.com.

This is the third order by the Army of the U.S. to the both companies that officially merged in January 2018.

The first contract extension has been awarded by the US Army Contracting Command (ACC) for the supply of modular scalable vest (MSV) Generation II systems till 20 August 2019. The $61 million deal is with indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity. For the production of Modular Scalable Vest, part of the Soldier Protection System, in July 2015, KDH Defense Systems, along with two other companies has secured a $49.0 million shared firm-fixed-price contract. The KDH’s MSV Gen II systems will be manufactured at the manufacturing facility of the company, in Eden, North Carolina.

Again in 2015, KDH has won and the company’s second award for Soldier Protection System Torso and Extremity Protection Blast Pelvic Protectors. KDH and two other manufacturers have been selected, in September, by the Army Contracting Command for the supply of the modification with indefinite delivery time and quantity. That has resulted in increased contract ceiling with $23.8 million and extended ordering period to September 2020. Furthermore, under the terms of this extended contract, the Government has the option to make additional orders for delivery, amounting up to $37.3 million.

The announcement of the new contract extensions, quotes Dave Herbener, president of the company that specializes in the design, production and trade of high-performance body armour.

“KDH prides itself on producing and consistently delivering some of the most advanced body armour systems for the US Armed Forces, and protecting the brave men and women serving in the world’s finest military. We are honoured by the government’s trust in us and stand ready to exceed their force protection requirements.”

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U.K. Project Minerva Tests Chemical Detection Robots and Drones

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U.K. Project Minerva Tests Chemical Detection Robots and Drones
Photo credit: ukdefencejournal.org.uk

U.K. military, police officers and scientists, for the first time, have conducted tests and evaluation of the newly developed life saving chemical detection robots and drones, the winners of the second phase of the DSTL-led (Defense Science and Technology Laboratory) Project Minerva, launched in 2016, learned MiltechReview.com.

In the recent U.K. two-week trials, that took place at the Fire Service College in Gloucestershire, were involved robots and miniature drones capable of chemical agent detection, provision of 3D mapping and casualty identification, as well. In order to be evaluated their capabilities the concept drones and robots were put into simulated contaminated scenarios on local territory and battlefield and also they were tested against the speed and the accuracy of human response teams.

The Project Minerva, a research started in September 2016 by the the Ministry of Defence, aims to reduce the risk of hazardous chemical or biological materials that endanger emergency services and front-line troops when perform their operations in such areas. The program has been amounting to over £3 million, co-funded by the Ministry of Defense science and technology portfolio and the Home Office.

In July 2017, the six-month Phase 1 of Project Minerva, reaching £1.37 million, was completed, selecting four teams of small and medium sized enterprises and academic institutions to develop their concepts further in Phase 2. These are BMT Defence Services in cooperation with Rescue Global, Herriot Watt and Edinburgh Universities, with their terror drone Red Alert; MIRA, part of Horiba Group, that has offered a small purpose-designed ground robot, possessing human abilities and capable to recognize hazardous chemical signs and symbols and to perform decontamination missions. The other two teams involve Loughborough University and their partners Swarm Systems and Createc that have elaborated a 250g nano-drone, equipped with gas sensors, video and thermal imaging capability. And the last technology in Phase 2 has been developed by the partnership of Autonomous Devices Limited and Pendar, and it is Snake Eyes, an autonomous hybrid air and ground robotic solution capable to relay 3D images of a space and to detect chemical agents due to its compact laser system. For their efforts, the winners of the second phase have been awarded over £1.6 million total funding.

Peter Stockel of Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) defined the trials as the culmination of the 18 months efforts of industry and academia to accomplish the vision of collaboration between robots and humans in demanding situations and in saving lives when dealing with incidents involving hazardous substances.

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