Airborne Laser Conducts First Engagement with a Target Missile

The Airborne Laser (ABL) research and development platform successfully fired the onboard High Energy Laser (HEL) to engage an instrumented target missile, This test was not intended to lethally destroy the missile but demonstrate the full functionality of the ABL system to acquire, track, and engage a boosting target. Test instrumentation aboard the target - Missile Alternative Range Target Instrument (MARTI) collected data to evaluate the laser system performance. The MARTI was launched from San Nicolas Island, located in the Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range, off the central California coast. The first attempt to shoot down of a boosting ballistic missile using directed energy technology is scheduled for later this year.

SM-6 Successful on 4th Test Flight

Raytheon has conducted the fourth guided vehicle test flight of the Standard Missile-6, clearing the way for the missile's at-sea testing this year. The new missile will enhance naval platforms operating the Standard family of missile with enhanced over-the-horizon engagement capability. (read more...)

Bulava Missile Failed due to a Design Flaw

Official investigation of the recent failure of the Russian Bulava Submarine Launched Ballistic Misisle (SLBM) has established that the Bulava failure was caused by a design flaw, rather than a faulty component. The Russian news agency Novosti quoted an unnamed official stating that an investigation commission has established in December 09 that a design flaw in the device which controls the separation of the third stage had caused the latest failure of the Bulava missile. (Read more...)

BAE on Track to Complete Long Range Land Naval Attack Projectile

BAE Systems has received a $185.3 million contract from the U.S. Navy for the completion of qualification of the 155mm Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP). The projectile is being developed for the U.S. Navy DDG 1000 program and will be fired from the Advanced Gun System (AGS). The 155mm LRLAP will provide the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps with a precision fire support and land-attack capabilityunder all weather conditions. LRLAP has already demonstrated successful gun launch and engineering-guided flight to ranges in excess of 63 nautical miles. The 155mm LRLAP qualification program contract will conclude in December 2012.

Jammer-Packed MALD Decoy Completes Test Flight

Raytheon performed captive and free-flight tests of the Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD) equipped with a radar jammer. MALD weighs less than 300 pounds and has a range of approximately 500 nautical miles. The new capability transforms MALD from a decoy to an enemy air defense suppression system, eliminating or reducing the need to send aircrews into a missile protected area to conduct such missions. The program is now set for the critical design review phase in 2010 and the conclusion of Phase II risk reduction, representing technology readiness level (TRL) 7, to be preceded by engineering and manufacturing development. MALD-J recently completed numerous captive carry test missions and a milestone C decision – the decision to go into production – is expected in early 2011.

Israel's Iron-Dome Missile Interceptor to Become Operational by May 2010

The Israel Ministry of Defense confirmed the Iron Dome  Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) interceptor system has passed system qualification tests in recent days. Expecting to receive the first systems next month, the Israel Air Force (IAF) air defense command Iron Dome battalion is scheduled to reach initial operational capability in five months (sometime in May 2010). Iron Dome is developed and produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. (read more...)

Taiwan Expands and Modernizes its Air Defense System

The U.S. is helping Taiwan to upgrade its air defense and missile defense capability, an act that has aggravated China. Last week the Pentagon announced Lockheed Martin has received a $968 million contract to produce 253 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles, 20 launcher modification kits and support equipment to Taiwan. Last month Raytheon received a $1.1 billion contract to upgrade Taiwan's existing Patriot Air and Missile Defense System. The contract was awarded by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command. "China firmly opposes and is strongly dissatisfied with arms sales to Taiwan by the United States," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement published last week by the state-run Xinhua news agency. For Lockheed Martin the new order is adding to a surge in production already supporting orders from the Middle-East, Asia and European customers. The company has recently completed the expansion of its missile production plant at Lufkin, TX. According to Keith Johnson, site director for the company's Lufkin Operations, the 50,000-square-foot expansion was necessary to support increased production rates on Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missile launchers and missile electronics.

U.S. Army Embarks on an Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command

The U.S. Army has awarded a $577 million contract to Northrop Grumman for engineering and manufacturing development of the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System. By 2014 the company will develop and deliver an integrated system to be responsible for the Army's contribution to a Joint Single Integrated Air Picture shared across all the armed forces. The system should also simplify coordination processes and reducing operators workload while providing the. Northrop was competing with Raytheon on the program. Northrop Grumman is teamed with Lockheed Martin and Boeing for this program. Harris Corp. has also announced it will provide radios as a subcontractor for Northrop Grumman on this project.

Flechette is Back in Action with Marines in Afghanistan

The U.S. Marine Corps is adding the 149 Mod 0 Flechette warheads for unguided 2.75" rockets carried on the corps' AH-1W and UH-1N helicopters operating in Afghanistan. Similar weapons were used during the Vietnam War but the new warhead uses darts three times larger than the old ones, having the velocity and impact comparable to a 5.56 millimeter round. The flechette covers a larger area of ground compared to high explosive rockets. Flechette warheads are used against personnel and light armored targets. They effect targets with kinetic energy and there are no high explosive or chemical reactions. According to Capt. Brian Corey, Program Manager for Naval Air Systems Command Direct and Time Sensitive Weapons (PMA-242), the new warhead is a major improvement over the previous version and right on the mark for today’s fight. “The 149 is a likely weapon of choice for troops in the open or like targets. The steel darts will not deform or mushroom like a rifle round and are capable of penetrating light cover and vegetation,” according to Maj. Jim Brown, AH-1W Division Head for the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron at Yuma, Ariz.

South Korea Could Export UVS, Missile Technology to the UAE

Following its successful bid to build four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at a cost of US$20 billion, South Korea is tightening its defense cooperation with the Middle East nation, announcing plans to transfer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology to the UAE. Among the systems in discussion are three indigenously developed programs – the corps level Night Intruder-300 (RQ-101) developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the Hyunmoo II ballistic missile and Hyunmoo III (Eagle) cruise missile recently fielded with the Korean military in 2009. Technology transfer is believed to have been part of the requirements demanded by the UAE. (read more...)

MBDA Launches CRISTAL to Enhance Composite Manufacturing Capability

MBDA has launched a three-year project which aims to mature advanced composite material molding technology for aerospace and defense applications. The CRISTAL project implemented by the Carbone Forgé Company will enable automated production of complex shapes using long fibers and high performance materials, resulting in cost reduction of up to 40%, compared to conventional layout and autoclave production methods. The new application will also enable more opportunities to replace metal-fabricated aerospace parts with products made of composites.

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