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Newscast: November 1-30, 2007

Events / Calendar / News / Analysis / Defense Markets / Jobs

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Recent News Analysis:

  • Is Washington Losing the Gulf to Moscow?
    Internal rivalries and conflicts in the house of Saud have opened an unprecedented window of opportunity for Russia. Establishing closer strategic ties with Saudi Arabia and in other Persian Gulf countries brings Moscow closer to a region which played a strategic role in the security and stability of the USA and Europe.
  • Post Annapolis - who pays the bill?
    Olmert and Abu Mazen would be pawns in the ruthless political chess game between Washington and Tehran but, inevitably, they both will pay the bills for Annapolis. As Fatah is expected to receive control on West Bank townships, it will be too weak and the area could rapidly fall into the hands of Hamas, replaying their Gaza takeover.
  • Israel's moment of truth: bracing for a nuclear environment
    it now seems quite obvious, that Israel is preparing itself for a nuclear armed Iran. Indeed, as the issue stands, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Tehran's Shi'ite clerics, will sooner or later achieve their goal: to become the proud owners of a "shi'ite nuclear bomb". A list of relevant, recommended books is available at Defense Update bookstore, affiliated with Amazon bookstore.
  • Time to Call Ahmadinejad's Provocative Bluff
    A year ago, Iran inaugurated its experimental uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. This facility is an underground site that, according to Iranian claims, houses 3,000 centrifuges. According to Israeli intelligence sources and foreign reports, Iran has encountered technical difficulties in connecting the centrifuges and operating them at high speed – which is imperative in order for the uranium enrichment procedure.

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December 2007 - planned events

NATO: The Road Ahead, December 3-4, Bucharest, Romania
Image Fusion Conference Dec 3-5, Washington DC
LIMA 2007 Dec 4-8, Langkawi, Malaysia
Military Airlift & Rapid Reaction Operations 2007 Dec 5-6, Rome, Italy
Directed Energy & Non-Lethal Weapons Dec 10-12, Arlington VA
Next Generation Materials for Defense Dec 10-12, Arlington VA
Lean Six Sigma for Defense, Dec 10-12, Arlington VA

Defense Update Sponsored Events are marked in emphasized text

NEW! 2008 Plan is now online


mPhase AlwaysReady NanoBattery powers 120mm Smart Tank Round

mPhase Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB: XDSL) test fired its AlwaysReady Smart NanoBattery that delivered power for a 120mm smart shell fired by a US Army Abrams tank for 3 miles. NanoBatteries are intended to replace embedded thermal batteries for instant ready power for extreme high load applications such as tube artillery projectiles and tank rounds, missiles and other guided munitions.

Airborne Reconnaissance Systems for Oman, Thailand

BAE Systems deliveredlong-range, electro-optical reconnaissance systems to equip F-16 aircraft operated by the Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO). The commissioning marks the first fielding and sale of BAE Systems’ Airborne Reconnaissance System (ARS) camera. Recon Optical was awarded a contract for the delivery of the CA-295 Dual Spectral Band Reconnaissance Systems to the Royal Thai Air Force. The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF). These pods are designed for high-altitude missions, using a dual spectral band digital reconnaissance camera.

EADS, Sagem share multi-million Swiss Soldier Modernization Program

EADS Defence & Security and Sagem Défense Sécurité cooperate on Swiss Soldier modernization program (IMESS) The framework contract includes a first development phase plus options for series productions worth more than 120 M €. The prototype phase will be finalized in September 2008 followed by an optional industrialization phase in 2009 and optional series production phases in 2010 and 2014, according to current master planning (procurement bills RP 09 and RP 13). The procurement of series is subject to approval by Swiss Parliament.

Irvine Sensors and ARA Team for Unmanned Air Applications

Irvine Sensors and Applied Research is upgrading the payload package carried by Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) Nighthawk micro UAV, Irvine plans to integrate its proprietary thermal and visible cameras with the micro UAV. Further enhancements planned for the Nighthawk are the ability to launch it from a tube, facilitating launching from moving vehicles. Nighthawk is presently configured to be man-launched. The command and video datalinks are also to be improved introducing secure wireless transmission. The two companies are cooperating to pursue business opportunities with US MC and Army, as well as other applications and services. Under the teaming arrangement, Irvine Sensors will act as prime contractor for contracts involving Nighthawk-based applications for use on U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps mounted combat vehicles, with Applied Research serving as subcontractor. For other applications, the roles will be reversed.

Boston Micromachines Continues SCOUT Active optical IFF Development

Boston Micromachines Corporation has been awarded $750,000 by the U.S. Army for a two-year Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) for continued development of a Secure Communicating Optical Ultra-small Transponder (SCOUT). This research is pursued by Boston Micromachines and its partner Boston University. The new device facilitates basic communication interface utilizing active mirror, enabling the rapid identification of friendly soldiers, vehicles, or aircraft. The initial concepts for SCOUT were developed under a Phase I STTR award and success in that effort lead to the competitive selection of Phase II funding. The technical objective of the current phase is to develop a compact, portable, low power, light weight, and low cost modulated retro- reflecting device for free-space covert communication and remote sensor interrogation, and demonstrate its functionality.

US Air Force Closes BattleLabs

The U.S. Air Force is closing seven battlelabs due to "fiscal restraints," Aviation Week reports. While their missions will be transferred to other organizations, the focus and quick response that characterized these establishments in the past could be lost in the bureaucracy of the large service. The closures are the latest sign of the increasing fiscal pressure facing the services at the Pentagon. The Air Force is also undergoing major manpower reductions to pay for its modernization projects.

Iran Announces The Development of a New Medium-Range ballistic Missile

Claims Developing Iran announced it has produced a ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles). The Iranian news agency quoted Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar as saying that the Ashoura missile has been locally produced at a factory related to the ministry. The Iranians said the range of the Ashoura missile would allow it to reach Israel, as well as United States military bases in the Middle East. Iran already posess Shahab 3 missiles which are claimed to be able to reach targets in Israel.


RAF Typhoon Demonstrates PGM Attack for the First Time

Last week (Nov. 15, 2007) a Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon from 11 Squadron performed the first drop of a precision guided bomb (1,000 lb laser guided Paveway 2 bomb) scoring a direct hit on the target 20 miles off the Welsh coast. The test followed an earlier weapon release trial performed by a BAE System last month. The target was designated by a twin seat Typhoon operated by BAE Systems, fitted with a Litening lll targeting pod.

Air Combat Training Heat Up over Asia

As Asian air forces are fielding modern fighters, and requirement for multinational training growing, air forces in the region are spending considerable amounts on the acquisition of air combat training systems. Recent orders received by Cubic, IAI and BVR indicate this trend.

US Navy Awards $11 Million for a New Countermine System

Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) is developing a new Expendable Mine Neutralization System (EMNS) for the Navy's Mine Counter Measures (MCM-1) Avenger-class ships. The company was awarded $11 million by the Navy for the System Development and Demonstration (SD&D) phase. The system will employ the BAE Systems' Archerfish mine disposal system for mine neutralization.

Trophy for the MRAP?

The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, intends to purchase an Active Protection System from Israel's Rafael Defense Systems. According to the US Navy, Trophy was selected as it is "the only known devise currently available that demonstrates a high technical maturity level". The current procurement is assumed to be supportive of the 'Sheriff' follow-on systems, expected to be mounted on MRAP vehicles, operating in support of operations in Iraq.

ACRO's Pen Size Explosive Detectors Spot Hidden Explosives

ACRO, Inc. (OTC BB:ACRI), announced the availability of a new pen size explosive detector capable of reliably and consistently identify a broad range of military, commercial explosives. The new device complements ACRO’s Peroxide Explosive Tester (P.E.T) announced earlier, which is capable of detecting improvised peroxide-based explosives such as Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP). Both testers provide detection and identification capability covering the majority of explosives currently in use, such as TNT, Tetryl, TNB, picric acid, dynamite, RDX, PETN, nitrocellulose smokeless powder, C4, Semtex, and others. In addition to military and commercial explosives, ACRO-N.E.T can detect homemade explosives based on nitrate.

BAE Presents Industry Team for FRES Vehicle Integration

BAE Systems presented the industry team assembled to compete for the vehicle integration and support of the Utility Version of the Future Rapid Effect System (FRES). The BAE Systems' led team includes QinetiQ, Cranfield University, GE Aviation, SAIC, and SELEX Sensors & Airborne Systems. Last month Thales UK and Boeing (through its Boeing Defence UK subsidiary) were selected as a team, to lead the FRES System of Systems Integration (SOSI).

Wasp III MAVs for Marine Corps' Platoons

The US Marine Corps selected the Wasp III 'Battlefield Air Targeting Micro Air Vehicle' (BATMAV) system for its 'Tier I" micro UAV requirement. Sofar the corps was using two mini UAVs at the battalion level – the BAI DragonEyes and the Raven from AeroVironment. Both were fielded at the Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) level.

Each SMArt 155mm projectile contains two sensor-fused munitions which  autonomously seek and attack military  class targets in day, night and under all weather conditions. Photo: Rheinmetall DefenseBritish MoD Orders German Smart Munitions for 155mm AS-90 Guns

The British MoD announced a £83M contract award to the German GIWS consortium (Gesellschaft fur Intelligente Wirksysteme mbH) for the development and supply of 155mm Ballistic Sensor Fused Munitions (BSFM). The new projectiles will be fielded within three years (by 2011) Royal Artillery AS-90 155mm units. Each of the new projectiles will contain two SWF submunitions. The new weapon will allow the artillery units to achieve highly accurate long-range precision effects similar to the guided multiple launch rocket system (GMLRS) which has already deployed to Afghanistan. The Ballistic Sensor Fused Munition (BSFM) is able to accurately seek out and destroy hostile armored vehicles at a range of 22.5 km, day and night, under all weather conditions and in difficult terrain. BSFM is derived from the SMArt 155mm artillery fired precision guided munitions, currently fielded with the German, Swiss and Greek armed forces.

US Army Awards GDLS $89 Million For M-1A2 Upgrades

General Dynamics Land Systems, was awarded $89 million for Abrams Improved Systems Enhancement Package (SEP) kits, to be installed through the tank's Reset process. Through the post combat reconditioning process, M1A2 SEP Version One tanks are upgraded to the SEP Version Two configuration, which includes improved displays, sights, power, and a tank-infantry phone. It is the most technologically advanced Abrams tank and can accommodate future technology improvements to ensure compatibility with the Army's Future Combat Systems. The current award covers work on 240 tanks to be completed by 2009.

Dutch Army is Seeking 10 Additional Australian Bushmasters

The Netherlands Ministry of Defense will order few more Bushmaster armored patrol vehicles from Thales Australia to fulfill vehicle losses suffered during recent combat operations in Afghanistan, Defense Aerospace reports. In total, ten vehicles will be ordered. Five Bushmasters will replace damaged vehicles while additional four will be maintained in reserve and one will augment the driver's training facility in the Netherlands.

KVH Develops Compact, Low-Cost Northfinding Module for Portable Applications

A fiber optic gyro (FOG)-based northfinding module potentially much smaller and lighter than systems currently available is under development at KVH Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ:KVHI). "Current northfinders precisely determine azimuth based on expensive, [mechanical based] inertial measurement technology that usually cost $40,000 or more and weigh in excess of 12 lbs" explained Dan Conway, KVH's vice president for military/commercial business development.

Brain Sensors Stimulate Image Analysts for Faster Performance

Honeywell (NYSE:HON) is developing a human brain stimulated image analysis system that could dramatically improve the performance of image analysts by tapping the analyst's brain signals. Honeywell based their development on the fact that the human brain is capable of responding to visually salient objects significantly faster than an individual's visual-motor, transformation-based response. Simply put, the analyst's brain can register a visual discovery long before he becomes fully aware of it. Honeywell is developing the system as part of DARPA's Neurotechnology for Intelligence Analysts (NIA) program.

Better Intelligence, Iran Help Reduce IED Attacks in Iraq

Pentagon reports indicate that the initiatives taken in Iraq over the past 11 months dramatically reduced the use and effectiveness of Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs). According to Army Maj. Gen. James E. Simmons, IED “events” (explosions or identifications) dropped from 3,239 IED incidents in March 07 (1,641 explosions, 1,489 identified and cleared) to 1,560 IED events (763 exploded, 767 cleared.) Correspondingly, casualties suffered by coalition forces, Iraqi security forces and Iraqi civilians have also dropped.

British MoD announces Defense Technology Plan

Baroness Taylor, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support has announced this week the development of a Defence Technology Plan (DTP) setting out clear technological roadmaps of R&D objectives. The DTP follows the Defence Technology Strategy announced last year. By late 2008, when the plan is expected to be fully implemented, it will help industry and academia to better direct their investments in defense related science and technology. The current defense R&D spending authorities include Science Innovation Technology (SIT) who manage approximately £500m of Research budget. Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) who manage some £2bn of project expenditure associated with Development, the Equipment Capability Customer (ECC) the military 'customer' organization for future equipment and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) will also take part in the program. Baroness Taylor said: "[the plan] will form the basis of our national and international partnerships with academia, industry and allies." He added that DTP will be a clear plan starting with research goals based on capability requirements, showing how the goals will be met by R&D activity.

Raytheon Selected for Army Common Sensor Payload

The U.S. Army has selected Raytheon Company (NYSE:RTN) to provide a common sensor payload for manned and unmanned aircraft in a program that could represent $1.2 billion in potential sales. The Army awarded Raytheon an initial 11 million order for the modification of the Multi-spectral Targeting System (MTS) to meet the Army's requirements. Throughout the program the Army could order as many as 875 units. Raytheon has already produced 10 MTS derivatives called AN/DAS-2 integrated into the Army's Sky Warrior UAV. Seven more are being produced for the remaining of the UAVs currently on order. Raytheon plans to employ modular configuration and customization expertise honed through the development of other EO/IR systems such as the AN/AAS-52 and AN/DAS-1 on Air Force Predator and Reaper unmanned platforms, respectively; the AN/AAS-44(C) on Navy MH-60R/S helicopters; and the AN/ZSQ-2 on special operations aircraft.

British Snipers get a New Rifle

British Snipers operating with the Army, Royal Marines and RAF Regiment are to get a new rifle offering better performance at extended range. MoD is buying 580 new AW series rifles with 0.300winmag barrels and daylight telescopic sights from Accuracy International Ltd, under a £4 million contract. Baroness Taylor, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support indicated that the acquisition is part of a broader Sniper System Improvement (SSI) program designed to improve UK snipers' firepower, precision and stealth. The acquisition program will also address advanced, all-weather day and night sights and spotter scopes. The new weapon is expected to be fully operational by spring 2008.

198 Radiation Detectors Delivered to Equip Navy Robots

ICx Technologies completed delivery to Thermo Fisher of 198 identiFINDER Isotope Identifier Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) kits for deployment by the U.S. Navy. The US Military uses Thermo Fisher's radiation detectors as part of the sensor package installed on the Talon EOD robot. The kits are configured for explosives identification and provide two gamma/neutron detection systems that employ digital gamma spectrometers for radioactive gamma/X-ray isotopes. These sensors can effectively locate, measure and identify sources or contaminations from gamma radiation, providing EOD teams an important capability to detect and assess potential damage created by a 'dirty bomb'. The identiFINDER sensor is based on handheld digital gamma spectrometer and dose rate measurement instruments.

BAE Systems to Develop Underground Object Mapping Technology

The US Air Force awarded BAE Systems Electronics and Integrated Solutions, Inc. a $8 million contract to build and demonstrate an 'active electromagnetic' tomography sensor, designed to characterize complex sub-surface objects such as underground facilities or perimeter breaching tunnels. The new technology called Airborne Tomography using Active Electromagnetics (ATAEM), derived from field proven geophysical exploration.

Raytheon acquires Sarcos' Robotics

Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) has acquired the robotics technologies and capabilities of Sarcos, a robotics and micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) specialist. Sarcos leads the development of DARPA's Exoskeleton, expected to transition soon to the US Army PEO Soldier for further development.

IDF to Upgrade and Expand Hermes 450 UAV Fleet

Elbit Systems Ltd. (NASDAQ: ESLT) will supply the Israel defense Forces (IDF) with additional Hermes class UAVs and will upgrade existing Hermes 450 type UAVs currently in service. The company announced yesterday the receipt of a three year contract worth about $30 million system improvement program, which will enhance and expand the IDF's existing Hermes 450 based platform. Earlier this year the IDF officially acknowledged that the Hermes 450 is operational with its UAV units for several years. During the recent war in Lebanon its UAVs flew many combat sorties providing ISR and combat support for air and ground operations.

Combat System Evaluation for Israel's new Littoral Combat Ship

Lockheed Martin continues preliminary design work on a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) proposed to the Israeli Navy's (known as LCS-I) as part of the US Foreign Military Sale program. The company was awarded further $2.3 million funding for nine-month combat system configuration phase, producing the technical specification and acquisition cost package for the LCS-I combat system for the US and Israel Navy. This task will include the assessment and evaluation of different combinations of Israeli and US made sensors, weapon systems and combat information systems.

Upgraded Phalanx for Naval, Ground Bound Platforms

Raytheon Company (NYSE:RTN) was awarded two contracts totaling $241.8 million to overhaul and Block 1B upgrade for 34 existing MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS) fielded on U.S. Navy vessels (a single pilot upgrade and for the Royal Australian Navy is also included). Raytheon will also build 12 new CIWS to be configured as Land-based Phalanx Weapon Systems (LPWS) designated 'Centurion', to be used by the U.S. Army for point defense against mortar, rocket and missile attacks (C-RAM). In this role, the LPWS is integrated with counter-battery radar systems such as TPQ-36/37 and the future multi-mission radar known as EPQ-36. Raytheon also proposed an enhancement of the system, utilizing parallel solid-state high power laser as an effector. Phalanx is a rapid-fire, computer-controlled radar and 20 mm gun system that automatically acquires, tracks and destroys enemy threats. More than 850 sea-based systems have been built and deployed in the navies of 25 nations. Phalanx CIWS is currently installed on approximately 187 Navy ships and is in use in 20 foreign navies.

Reapers Gather in the Afghan Sky

Since September 2007 Sky Warrior and MQ-9 Reaper weaponized UAVs began flying combat sorties in support of coalition forces operations in Afghanistan. Currently, the USAF 42nd UAV attack squadron and US Army 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade are flying the armed UAVs while RAF No 39 squadron fly unarmed ISR missions in support of coalition forces in theater.

First Army MRAPs Arrive in Iraq

MRAP vehicles are trickling into Iraq, airlifted to the country by C-5 and C-17s from the US Navy's completion center in South Carolina, where they are fitted with 'government furnished equipment' such as CREW type IED jammers, radios and accessories. The first examples from each model are delivered to the MRAP training center at Camp Liberty, western Baghdad where drivers and mechanics are trained through a 40 hour orientation course, before they are delivered to the combat units. The MRAPs are currently being fielded to units who need them the most and operate in areas with the highest threat, officials said. Although the Humvee is not expected to be phased out anytime soon, the MRAPs will begin to take its place as a new standard Army vehicle.

Airmen prepare to load a Buffalo mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle into a C-5 Galaxy at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., for shipment to Iraq. (DOD photo/Staff Sgt. Jason Robertson)

Force Protection, Inc. (NASDAQ:FRPT) received a contract worth $22.3 million from the U.S. Army’s Tank Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) for the production of 29 Buffalo mine-protected vehicles. More than 140 Buffalo vehicles were delivered to the US Army, operating as Mine Protected Vehicles, used for route clearance missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

British Army issues UBACS, Under-Armor
Combat Shirt for Hot Climate

The British Ministry of defense (MoD) issued a new Under Body Armour Combat Shirt (UBACS) to soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The long sleeved UBACS is made of special moisture wicking fiber designed to be worn under protective body armor. Designed especially to be worn under the latest issue Body Armour systems (including the Osprey and the assault vest), the shirt is constructed from Coolmax fabrics forming a lightweight, breathable garment. Also displayed were soft leather combat gloves issued to the troops. (more on: Infantry Mobility & Ergonomics)

Photo-Stealth Camouflage Technology Unveiled

Military Wraps Inc. has unveiled today a patent-pending, camouflage technique enabling military units to conceal vehicles, aircraft, UAVs, boats or hardware by blending them in the surrounding scene. The company unveiled the new camouflage at the U.S. Special Operations trade show (SOFEX 2007) and will also display again at the SpecOps East Warfighter Symposium and Expo next week.

SCAR Move into Full Rate Production

FN Herstal is expected to move the Special Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR) weapon into full rate production in preparation for serial orders from the US Special Operations Command under a 10-year contract awarded in 2004. To date the company produced the rifles in low rate production, fulfilling preliminary orders worth a total US$11 million for initial operational test and evaluation of the new rifles.

Metal Storm, iRobot Pursue Scalable Force Response for Robots

Australian based Metal Storm (NASDAQ: MTSX) (ASX: MST) and US based iRobot (NASDAQ: IRBT). have signed Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate in joint pursuit of opportunities within the global defense and security sectors. At the AUSA exhibition last month, the two companies unveiled a model of the Warrior heavy robot from iRobot, carrying a Redback weapon station with four MetalStrom electrically initiated high speed projectile launchers. Peter D. Faulkner, senior vice president and general manager for Metal Storm's U.S. Operations. "Together, we stand to shape a revolution by combining robot platforms with a scalable force response and increased mission capability including the defeat of IEDs."

Carnegie Mellon University team Wins DARPA's Urban Challenge

The Tatran Racing Team from the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) won the Urban Challenge competition and grabbed the $2 million first prize this weekend. The race was organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Stanford University took second place, followed by Virginia Tech which came third.

The six hour race tested driverless vehicles driving autonomously on terrain representing suburban roads at the former George Air Force Base in Oro Grande, California. The vehicles had to obey traffic laws, avoiding obstacles and collisions with other robots while fulfill their tasks. Six of 11 finalists crossed the finish line including teams from MIT, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania.

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