Finland has awarded Saab a follow-on order for the RBS 70 short-range air-defense missile, seen here in Swedish army service. (Saab photo)
RBS 70 to Finland
(Source: Saab AB; issued January 27, 2010)
Saab has signed a contract on deliveries of the RBS 70 ground based air defence system to the Finnish Army. The order is worth 26 million EUR.
The contract covers further deliveries of the RBS 70 ground-based air defence system. First deliveries of materiel are scheduled for 2011.
"This is very positive and it further proves the capability of the RBS 70 system which until now has been exported to 18 countries located on all five continents," says Tomas Samuelsson, Head of Business Area Dynamics.
A complete missile system
RBS 70 is a complete missile system with the potential for being integrated with most wheeled and tracked vehicles.
The 4th generation of the RBS 70 system has non-cooled laser transmitter minimising reaction times and logistic support. The 4th generation system incorporates the BOLIDE all-target missile, BORC clip-on thermal imager, a digital IFF Interrogator, a PC-based training simulator and an external power supply for training.
Because of its long intercept range in the head-on sector 8 km, RBS 70 really belongs to a class other than the VSHORAD.
Operational on all continents
RBS 70 is currently operational or procured by 23 users, in 18 countries, on all continents and used in arctic, desert as well as tropical environments. It is, in addition to Army users, also operational with other services such as Air Force, Navy and Marines. More than 16,000 missiles in four generations have been produced.
Saab serves the global market with world-leading products, services and solutions ranging from military defence to civil security. Saab has operations and employees on all continents and constantly develops, adopts and improves new technology to meet customers’ changing needs.
Protecting Forward Operating Bases: Rheinmetall and Partners to Build Demonstrator System – The Focus Is on Interoperability
(Source: Rheinmetall Defence; issued March 3, 2010)
The European Defence Agency, or EDA, has contracted with Rheinmetall and its partners in Germany and France to create a demonstrator system for protecting military assets and installations in a multinational context.
Standing for “Future Interoperability of Camp Protection Systems”, the Franco-German FICAPS project seeks to develop methods and means to harmonize semi-static and mobile protection systems for the combined (multinational) protection of co-located sections, camps and critical infrastructure.
Development of a common system architecture for linking various semi-static and/or mobile protection systems will enable better cooperation between the armed forces of different nations, thus fostering greater interoperability.
Interoperability of equipment and systems has emerged as a critical factor in coalition operations. After all, in this era of international conflict management and intervention, a growing number of missions involve troops from more than one country.
Having embarked on national programmes to develop systems for protecting military camps and semi-static bases, Germany and France agreed back in 2005 to launch a bilateral project to promote European interoperability of these systems.
Adopting a “system of systems” approach, FICAPS will draw on national assets to implement a European protection system demonstrator featuring interoperable capabilities for defending facilities such as forward operating bases. The programme will involve increased sharing of human and technological resources in a joint or even combined framework.
The Rheinmetall consortium has been given a three-year processing period to complete this task.
The French and German governments have assigned coordination of contractor activities to EDA in Brussels. The award of this contract brings to a successful conclusion a three-year preparation and harmonization phase worth a total of EUR 8 million.
Iran Introduces Indigenous Air Defence Missile System
Mersad is largely based on the US-built Hawk system. (Photo: MEHR)
Defence Minister announces mass-production of medium-range missiles
08:45 GMT, April 12, 2010 defpro.com | While the international community is still weighing and debating on the status of the Iranian nuclear programme and experts are expressing different views on the probability of a pre-emptive strike against Iran, the country further improves its national defence capability. As the semi-official Fars news agency reported yesterday, the western Asian country introduced its first indigenously developed and built air defence system, dubbed Mersad (Ambush).
According to the agency, the Iranian Defence Minister, Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, recently briefed reporters on the new weapon system, emphasising its superior air defence capabilities and its resistance against electronic countermeasures. Vahidi said: “The Mersad air defence system that is ready for delivery to the Air Defence Base is a mid-range defence system capable of destroying advanced airplanes in low and mid altitudes.”
Presenting the system to the press, Vahidi announced that Iran has started mass-production of the Shahin missiles which are scheduled to be delivered in a considerable number to the Iranian Armed Forces by the end of 2010. There, the Mersad systems will be used to protect vital installations such as government buildings, airfields as well as, probably, Iran’s hotly debated nuclear programme facilities.
Mersad is largely based on the US-built Hawk air defence system, which was introduced into service in an improved version in the 1970s (The original system’s development began as early as 1952). Iran claims that its performance, including speed, range and interception capability, is far superior to the US system which features a 15-miles range with missiles carrying a 119-pound warhead. The Iranian Shahin missiles, which are integrated with the new air defence system and, at least from an exterior point of view, strongly resemble its US ancestor, will probably feature slightly higher performance data in the mid-range air defence envelope.
According to the Iranian Defence Minister the system is equipped with sophisticated radar signal processing technology, an advanced launcher, and contains exclusive electronic equipment for guidance and target acquisition. He explained: “The state-of-the-art technology used in Mersad links it to other anti-aircraft batteries and provides it with the unique ability to combat electronic warfare.”
Vahidi emphasised the importance of this development success for the country. Since the Iran–Iraq War of 1980-88, Iran has undertaken great efforts to improve its national development and production capabilities to compensate for the US weapons embargo. This resulted in the indigenous production of main battle tanks, armoured vehicles, missiles and aircraft. According to the minister, the successful development of Mersad marks a breakthrough in terms of the nation’s technical capabilities and its independence in military development and production activities.
Iran’s air defence development efforts have in particular surfaced in connection with the country’s dispute on the delivery of S-300 air defence missile systems by Russia. After Russia continuously delayed delivery of the state-of-the-art weapon systems, ordered by Iran in December 2005, Iran boasted that it would develop an air defence system on its own which would be far more capable that the S-300. However, this is not the case with the Mersad system as the S-300 (Iran reportedly ordered the S-300PMU-2 variant) is designed as a long-range missile system reaching maximum ranges of up to 195 kilometres and is considered to have a comparable performance to the US MIM-104 Patriot system. Furthermore, Russian military experts question Iran’s capability to indigenously develop and build an air defence system such as the S-300.
By Nicolas von Kospoth, Managing Editor
A Defense Technology Blog
Iron Dome Nears
Posted by Robert Wall at 4/26/2010 3:17 AM CDT
During a technology exhibition, the Israeli military has shown off elements of the Iron Dome rocket and mortar intercept system that is supposed to be operational this year.
You can get a good view of the interceptor and the container. The IDF previously released some interesting shots from Iron Dome flight trials.
Despite some early problems, the IDF says Iron Dome has intercepted 90% of the rockets it has been fired to engage -- one of the key elements of the system is being able to determined what rockets are a threat and which can be let pass because they are going to fall in non-populated areas.
Several more rounds of testing are planned before the system actually is declared operationally ready.
Launch of Radar Cooperation
(Source: Swedish Defence Forces; issued April 29, 2010)
(Issued in Swedish only; unofficial translate, by defense-aerospace.com)
Sweden, Britain and the USA have jointly launched an important cooperation project on using radar to detect and warn of incoming rockets and grenades. The cooperation is intended to improve protection of troops inside the camps and bases during international operations.
In 2009, the three countries signed the related cooperation agreement (Memorandum of Understanding), and now the steering group, composed of generals from Sweden, U.S. and UK, met for the first time at the Halmstad headquarters of the Air Defence Regiment (Lv6) to launch practical work on the project.
“Through this collaboration, we have acquired a warning capabilities much faster than if we had done it on our own, and so can provide better protection for our soldiers when they live in their camps, "says Brigadier General Bengt Svensson, C PROD Army (Chief of the Armed Forces production units in the Swedish army).
“We have had many cases of threats and injuries to our soldiers in Afghanistan. All we can do to protect our soldiers is important, "says General Sean Bell from the UK. “We have invested heavily in our warning system, and since we can share experiences with each other, and with Sweden as a leader in the areas of radar technology, we can be more effective together,” he added.
The cooperation agreement valid for seven years and allows the three countries to exchange experiences and technical data from the use of the radar systems used in anti-aircraft and artillery missions to improve the protection of the camps. The radar can detect rockets or mortars fired into the camp, compute their firing and landing points, and if warranted issue an automatic warning so troops can take cover, which dramatically reduces the risk of injury.
The agreement also makes it easier to use personnel and equipment in joint tests, exercises and training. The three countries are all using the Giraffe AMB radar (designated Intelligence Radar Station 23 in Sweden) which was originally developed for Swedish air defense, and then exported to a number of countries.
“We in Sweden have used [Giraffe AMB] for many years and the other countries can benefit from our long experience. Meanwhile U.S. and UK, in a cooperative context that is new for us, can provide us with more knowledge, "says Bengt Svensson. “This collaboration will help us to better respond to changes in the threat against our troops, and react to danger before, instead of after, it occurs.”
MEADS at Crossroads – Or Not?
The official glue that still keeps MEADS together is largely political.
Comment by Dr. Ezio Bonsignore, Editor-in-Chief of MILITARY TECHNOLOGY
07:58 GMT, April 30, 2010 It is fairly normal (isn’t it?) for major defence programmes to hit a serious bump or two along their development and procurement road. But beyond this, for some unfathomable reason, certain programmes appear to be both cursed by a whole series of hiccups and resulting repeated attempts at folding them down, and blessed by an uncanny ability to survive against all odds and endure unscathed through technical difficulties, budget cuts and waning operational requirements. In this particular category, a prominent place must certainly be reserved for the MEADS (Medium Extended Air Defence System) programme, being pursued (well, sort of) in international cooperation involving the United States, Germany and Italy.
Retracing the ups and downs of the MEADS effort over the past years would take a massive book, so let’s go straight to a synthetic description of the latest bump. Basically, another billion dollars or so of taxpayer’s money would need to be pumped into the development phase, if this is ever to be completed. Now, cost increases are hardly a new experience in defence, but in this specific case there is a palpable lack of enthusiasm amongst the three partners towards coughing up the required money. Most particularly, the pursue-strings holders in Germany have made it officially clear that the money simply isn’t there, period.
Which brings us straight to the respective advantages and pitfalls of international cooperation programmes in defence procurement under the multiple operational, political and industrial points of view.
The US Army seems to have very little residual interest in MEADS, and it even tried (unsuccessfully, as it was) to dump the programme onto the Missile Defense Agency. Basically, under the current situation of tight money, the Service’s medium-range air defence and tactical ballistic missile defence requirements could sort of be satisfied by the combination of the existing PATRIOT (possibly further upgraded beyond the current “Pure Fleet” effort) and THAAD systems. Germany could also accommodate itself to a roughly similar arrangement, should THAAD eventually be selected (which looks like a foregone conclusion) for the NATO’s upcoming missile defence programme. Italy does not currently deploy the PATRIOT, and thus abandoning MEADS would necessarily imply extending the current SAMP/T procurement and joining France for the development of an ATBM version of the ASTER 30 missile. Now this would admittedly force the Italian Air Force into the outrageous proposition of having to deploy the same air defence system as the Army, but, hey, nobody ever said life is fair.
Given the above, the official glue that still keeps MEADS together is largely political. International cooperation programmes are notoriously difficult to kill (this being arguably one of the main reasons for selecting this approach in the first place), and furthermore it now so happens that MEADS is the last surviving major trans-Atlantic effort. It is thus only too understandable that Washington, Berlin and Rome would be very wary of being perceived as the unreliable partner that renounces its commitments and leaves the others in deep trouble; and would be willing to keep MEADS alive even through and beyond circumstances, that would be more than enough to cause the demise or a purely national effort.
Plus, of course, the, say, varied picture of industrial interests, and the impact these interests might or then might not have on the governments’ attitudes and decisions. It is no secret that a certain US defence major would have a vested interest in sending MEADS down the drain in favour of a further revamped PATRIOT, and it is actively exploring ways to ensure that this will indeed be the case. As for the MEADS International consortium, there are unmistakeable signs to indicate that the European part of it has already started formulating a “Plan B”. This would involve most notably finding ways to complete the development programme as currently underway for the MEADS radar, and identifying a possible alternative operational use for it that would justify procurement in at least limited numbers.
Be this as it may, in political terms Germany now appears to hold the keys for whatever future is in store for MEADS. Washington would almost certainly not wish to cancel the programme on its own and be seen as “betraying” Europe, while a conceivable unilateral departure of the Italian 17 per cent would not be enough to kill MEADS. But if Germany’s 25 per cent goes, for whatever reason, then that’s it.
But even from a political point of view, it is a fair bet that on the European side industrial considerations would have an even larger influence on the decision-making process than it is usually the case. Both the German and Italian governments are firmly in support of close ties with Washington, and they can thus be counted upon being more than prepared to save a trans-Atlantic programme for its own sake if they only can decently do so without imperilling domestic support. Given this, if industry this side of the pond starts crying foul and threatening that the demise of MEADS would lead to job losses, plant closures and the like, then the beancounters’ resistance will easily be broken, and money to save the programme will be found. But if, on the other hand a least a solid majority of the European industries currently involved in MEADS can accommodate themselves to a “Plan B”, then the future of the programme looks uncertain indeed.
What is lamentably missing in the whole affair is a serious analysis as of whether or not the operational requirements that did originally lead to the three countries joining forces for the MEADS programme still stand in the current scenarios, together with an in-depth discussion on the roles MEADS (which along its development path has metamorphosed into a very different beast than originally envisaged) will or would play. But this is, I’m afraid, an only too common occurrence in contemporary defence procurement – whereby the needs and ideas of the Services play a very distant third fiddle to political and, increasingly, industrial issues.
In a world where the British Defence Secretary finds its quite normal and logical to present an order for two additional ASTUTE-class SSNs (for the not totally insignificant cost of £300 million) without even mentioning the Royal Navy’s operational requirements, and rather by commenting at length about the situation of the British shipbuilding industries and the need to preserve jobs and skills there, it would certainly not be surprising if MEADS finally meets its fate, or rather is once again saved like the perpetual Phoenix, for reasons that have a precious nothing to do with what the US, German and Italian military might think or wish.
By Dr. Ezio Bonsignore, Editor-in-Chief of MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH)
Indian Army issues RFI for new short range SAM system
India's ageing OSA-AK (SA-8) air defence system.
07:25 GMT, May 5, 2010 The Indian Army has issued a Request for Inquiry (RFI) for procurement of new short range, surface-to-air missile system (SR-SAM) to replace the Soviet-era OSA-AK (SA-8) and SA-6 units, which are nothing but obsolete now.
A senior army official told 8ak, “The procurement of new SR-SAM was on the cards for a long time, but could not materialise due to certain formalities which should be completed by early 2011. The new SR-SAM will go a long way in securing the nation from aerial threats and enhance the defence capabilities of our armed forces,” he added.
As per the RFI, the Indian Army is looking for a 20-km range missile system with active and passive guidance, with the capacity to engage targets moving up to 500 metres/second, and including hovering targets, such as UAVs, aircrafts, choppers etc. It also wants to know, if the proposed a missile system by the bidder can be transported on both rail and road mobile launchers to all parts of the country.
The RFI also clarifies that the radar of the SRSAM system should be capable of tracking a number of targets simultaneously and should have Electronic Counter Counter-Measures (ECCM) to be able to support the electronic warfare environment. Taking a note on changing dimensions of war, the RFI states that the proposed system should be capable of operating in Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare environment.
SysFla / LFK NG – the Air Defence System of the Future
(Source: Rheinmetall Defence; issued June 8, 2010)
In 2010, the new SysFla air defence system is entering a decisive phase. The contractual negotiations with the German Federal Office of Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB) have been concluded. This coming autumn, the Budget and Defence Committee of the German Bundestag will decide on the project planning of the base configuration (STATIONARY BLOCK I).
At the ILA 2010, the participating companies will present the new LFK NG launcher and missile for the first time in their original size as well as models of all SysFla system components.
SysFla, the future air defence system of the German Army, is being developed on behalf of BWB by MBDA Deutschland and Rheinmetall Defence under the umbrella of SysFla GmbH. SysFla closes the capability gap of the Bundeswehr in the short range air defence sector which was opened up by the retirement of the air defence systems ROLAND (2005) and GEPARD (2010), and which continues to grow on account of the limited in-service life of STINGER (through approx. 2018).
SysFla offers comprehensive protection against all very short and short range airborne threats. Its spectrum ranges from small targets to high-calibre rockets as well as agile missiles and conventional threats such as combat aircraft and helicopters within an altitude of up to 5 km and an interception range of up to 10 km.
SysFla has been designed on the basis of complementary active components: the NBS C-RAM / MANTIS gun from Rheinmetall and the New Generation Guided Missile LFK NG from MBDA Deutschland and Diehl BGT Defence.
The gun covers the very short range (up to 3 km), while the LFK NG guided missile ensures short range protection (up to 10 km). The LFK NG missile plays a special role here. It supplements the NBS C-RAM / MANTIS cannon system through its greater range, ensuring a secure stand-off distance e.g. against high-calibre rockets. At very close range, the NBS C-RAM / MANTIS effectively intercepts even highly manoeuvrable targets such as weaving cruise missiles with AHEAD munitions. Thanks to its modularity and broad-spectrum capabilities, the LFK NG missile can also be used in urban terrain from cover as well as aboard mobile platforms such as helicopters, vehicles or ships.
SysFla is designed to protect both stationary and mobile units in all situations and for all mission options. SysFla can support long-term stabilisation operations just as effectively as phases of intensified operations. Thanks to its system architecture, SysFla is also capable of operating effectively in both national and multinational networks together with ground-based air defence forces. SysFla thus complements the new tactical Medium Extended Air Defence System (MEADS) – the two systems are designed for different target spectrums, mission scenarios and ranges.
With SysFla/LFK NG, the Bundeswehr will obtain a high-performance short range air defence system effective against all current and anticipated threats. Virtually the entire German defence industry is participating in SysFla. The project is thus important not only in terms of defence and security policy, but also from the industrial policy perspective.
MEADS Life Cycle Cost Data Loom
Jun 9, 2010
By Robert Wall firstname.lastname@example.org, Andy Nativi email@example.com
Industry managers this month are wrapping up an assessment of the Medium Extended Air Defense System’s life-cycle cost, a key figure for the U.S., Germany and Italy as they mull the program’s future.
The activity comes as MEADS is heading to complete its system-level critical design review (CDR) in August, which will open the door to flight tests to begin in early 2012. The international team of Lockheed Martin and MBDA has already completed 75% of the system-level CDR and all the reviews of major hardware elements.
The three partner countries have yet to spell out specific procurement plans, and the life-cycle cost figure is key to defining that phase. Gregory Kee, the government MEADS program manager, says the goal is to define those plans by around 2012/2013 to allow a smooth transition from the current development phase – currently due to conclude in 2015 – into production.
Kee says that early indications are the life-cycle cost assessment will come out favorably, in large part because of the high level of reliability required of the system. That translates into less system failure and lower demands for maintenance personnel and support vehicles. Industry will formally brief the NATO Medium Extended Air Defense System Management Agency on July 1 on their assessment.
Werner Kaltenegger, the head of MBDA Deutschland, adds that there will be no surprises to customers. The life-cycle cost figure is shaping up to be in line with what was said at the start of the program, he says.
The issue is not trivial. Program critics argue that member states could meet their low-altitude air defense needs simply by extending the life of, and slightly upgrading, existing systems. However, Klaus Riedel, chief operating officer for MEADS International, argues the lower life-cycle costs over existing systems over the long-term mean the system will pay for itself.
Critical Decision Near For Meads Venture
Jun 24, 2010
By Robert Wall, Andy Nativi
The trinational Medium Extended Air Defense System (Meads) is once again under scrutiny, and its fate could be determined by a series of political and programmatic developments due to unfold in the coming weeks.
The U.S.-German-Italian lower-tier air and missile defense program has been on knife’s edge more than once. And this summer, government officials must confront what it will cost to complete the program, while also deciding how to finance and structure the last few years of the design and development phase.
Three major studies will wrap up during the coming weeks. One is an industry proposal on the pace and cost to finish the design and development phase following completion of the system-level critical design review (CDR), due in August, says Werner Kaltenegger, head of MBDA Deutschland. Several years ago, Meads customers reset the development program that began in September 2004 to reflect delays, their requests for additional capability and to lower flight-test risk. In the process, the governments decided to let the program proceed to CDR before reviewing what comes next.
That decision point is now ahead; and Gregory Kee, the head of the NATO Meads Management Agency, hopes a contract to complete development will be formalized by year-end. At what cost neither government nor industry officials are yet ready to say.
The current plan envisions the flight-test campaign starting with one guided test at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. Six intercept engagements would follow, mostly at White Sands, but with the final one at the Kwajalein Atoll missile range.
The second document being finalized is an industry assessment of Meads’s life-cycle costs over 20 years of operations. This report is due to be presented to the program management agency on July 1. The assessment is viewed as critical to help countries decide the number of Meads batteries to buy while also considering potential alternatives.
Klaus Riedel, chief operating officer for the Meads International industrial venture of Lockheed Martin and MBDA, is optimistic about the outcome of the study. Meads will require far less support and is easier to transport, thereby reducing the total fuel and airlift demands, he contends. Given the life-cycle cost savings over existing systems, “Meads pays for itself,” he argues. The high system reliability written into the design should pay big dividends in the life-cycle cost analysis, Kee adds.
That outcome could be important for Germany, where Raytheon officials have been trying to convince Berlin to drop participation in Meads and instead upgrade existing Patriot batteries. The German parliament’s budget committee is reviewing the issue and is due to report its findings by month’s end.
Still unresolved as well are specific Meads procurement plans for the three partner countries if the program proceeds. Kee would like to see that issue resolved by 2012-13 to allow a smooth transition from the current development phase into production. During previous Meads decision points, discussions often dragged on, adding to programmatic turmoil, but Kee notes that this time talks have already begun, so such disruptions may be avoided.
What is more, Kee hopes that NATO’s expected commitment to missile defense at the November summit in Lisbon will help bolster support for Meads.
Nevertheless, program uncertainty has not stopped foreign buyers from showing interest in the mobile air and missile defense system being designed to provide 360-deg. coverage. Turkey and Singapore are among potential export markets.