Monday, July 30, 2012

X-47B Completes First Pax River Flight

Naval aviation officials chose 11 a.m. on Sunday morning to make history as the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator made its first flight at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.

The tailess, unmanned aircraft designed to land on aircraft carriers made a 35 minute flight taking off from Pax River and flying over the Chesapeake Bay reaching an altitude of 7,500 feet and an air speed of 180 knots. Navy officials considered Sunday’s first test flight a success.

The service’s first unmanned strike aircraft arrived from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in June to continue its testing regimen. Pax River has a  simulated aircraft carrier environment to test the incredible feat of landing an unmanned aircraft on a carrier at sea. Navy leaders hope to make the first X-47B landing on a carrier in 2013. 

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Pandora Box

For the last two years a Russian firm (Morinformsystem-Agat JSC) has been marketing a version of the Klub cruise missile that can be carried in a 40 foot (12.9 meter) shipping container. Called “Pandora’s Box”, the launcher and the missile have to slide out of the container before firing, thus limiting where it can be placed on a ship, particularly your typical container ship. Recently the manufacturer announced another version of this system with a smaller, slower, and presumably cheaper cruise missile. This unidentified weapon is described as weighing 520 kg (half a ton), having a 145 kg (319 pound) warhead, and being 3.8 meters (11.8 feet) long. Max range is 130 kilometers.

What worries counter-terrorism officials is that you could get many of these shipping container missiles on most cargo ships, turning the vessel into a warship. The shipping container can also be hauled around (like many such containers are) via truck or rail car and used to surprise someone you don’t like.

The system is all in one shipping container, which is equipped with four missiles, in sealed shipping/firing containers. Also in the container are communications and targeting equipment which the two man crew uses to program the missiles, operate the hydraulic system to raise the missiles, and fire them. The entire container is waterproof and contains a satellite link for receiving target data, or whatever.
The first version of Pandora's Box used the 3M54 Klub missile. This weapon was originally designed for the Kilo submarine. Each Klub weighs two tons, can be fired from a 533mm (21 inch) torpedo tube, and has a 200 kg (440 pound) warhead. The anti-ship version has a range of 300 kilometers and moves at up to 3,000 kilometers an hour during its last minute or so of flight. There is also an air launched and ship launched version (which is used in Pandora's Box). A land attack version does away with the high speed final approach feature and has a 400 kg (880 pound) warhead.

What makes the anti-ship version of the 3M54 particularly dangerous is its final approach, which begins when the missile is about 15 kilometers from its target. Up to that point the missile travels at an altitude of about 32 meters (hundred feet). This makes the missile more difficult to detect. The "high speed approach" (via the use of additional rockets) means that it covers that last fifteen kilometers in less than twenty seconds. This makes it difficult for current anti-missile weapons to take it down.

It’s unusual for a firm to offer something like Pandora's Box, which is designed for concealed transport on a merchant ship, truck, or rail car. So far none of the buyers have been identified. The manufacturer says there have been many inquiries from foreign nations (none were identified). While these missiles are of questionable effectiveness in wartime, they would likely be much more potent if used for a surprise attack on a military or civilian target. Estimated price for each cargo container of Klubs is about $6 million. The new version probably goes for less than $4 million per container. The fact that Pandora's Box is still being offered for sale after two years, and has just been upgraded, indicates that someone is buying, but who?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Eurocopter's X3 — Would You Go to War in One?

By Graham Warwick 

This week, Eurocopter's X3 high-speed helicopter demonstrator wraps up its U.S. tour with a stop in Washington for military-customer demo flights from Fort Belvoir and a static display at the Pentagon on Thursday (July 26).

All photos: Mike Hirschberg, AHS

EADS North America is pushing the compound-helicopter's military potential and Steve Mundt, VP of business development and a former head of U.S. Army aviation, says the company is "very, very interested" in the Pentagon's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) initiative to replace the U.S. military's helicopters with a family of advanced rotorcraft beginning in 2030.

The X3 clearly offers more speed than a conventional helicopter—it has reached 232 kt. in level flight and 242 kt. in a dive—that's 50% faster than a conventional helicopter using just 80% of available power—but the U.S. military has been interested in speed before, and always ended up with conventional helicopters cruising around 150 kt.

The reason, says Mundt, is that more speed and range is great, but you still need to be able to maneuver with the agility of a helicopter when you get there. Especially when, as FVL plans, you are replacing the AH-64, AH/UH-1, UH-60 and MH-60. And the X3 can do it, he says, because it has a conventional helicopter main rotor to which are added two variable-pitch props at the ends of short wings, all driven from the same main gearbox.

he X3 takes off vertically and hovers like a helicopter, but push forward on the "coolie-hat" thumb switch on the collective lever and prop pitch increases, the helicopter accelerates into forward flight and flies—and climbs—like a fixed-wing turboprop.

Mundt sees military value in the X3's ability not only to accelerate and decelerate in a level attitude, but to point the nose up or down in flight to improve target tracking. Also, the props can be used to slow the aircraft in a dive— an ability to "hang" over the target that Sikorsky also claims for its X2 Raider coaxial-rotor compound helicopter.

But what about those big props? Are they vulnerable? No more than a tailrotor, Mundt says, and the X3 can fly with just one prop working. Do they get in the way? Yes, says Mundt, but only if you think in terms of loading and unloading through side doors."We need to change mentally. If we raise the tail and fit clamshell doors, troops can get in and out faster." The X3's ability to point its nose up or down also helps align the fuselage with the ground for slope landings, something a conventional helicopter can't do, he says.

The X3 is a technology demonstrator for something Eurocopter calls the H3—High-speed long-range Hybrid Helicopter—a concept that is scalable from 6 tonnes gross weight to "much more" than 14 tonnes, says Mundt. "We think it can replace the V-22 under FVL, where the desire of the DoD is to go for as much commonality as it can [across its fleet of rotorcraft]," he says.

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China Shows Z-9WZ Helicopter In Rare Media Access To Base

By Bradley Perrett

BEIJING — The Chinese defense ministry took a step toward greater transparency on July 24 by opening an army aviation base to journalists, including foreigners, for the first time.

The habitually secretive military allowed close inspection and photography of Z-9WZ armed reconnaissance helicopters carrying a variety of weapons. It also laid out the full range of armament available for the type along with the cockpits of Z-9WZs and the helmets of their crews.

However, the new Z-10 (or WZ-10) attack helicopter did not appear at the media day, held at the base of the 4th Helicopter Regiment at Tongzhou, a satellite town of Beijing.

Foreign countries including the U.S. have urged China to be more open about its defense capabilities. Although Chinese officers say that they are trying to increase transparency, activities such as allowing foreign journalists poke their heads into combat helicopters do not come naturally to the People’s Liberation Army.

The Z-9WZ is “the first kind of armed reconnaissance helicopter” to be fielded by the Chinese army, the regiment says. The statement seems to overlook an earlier armed version of the Z-9 series; about 80 units designated Z-9W reportedly were built beginning in 1987.

The Z-9, based on the Eurocopter Dauphin, has been built since 1981 at the Harbin plant that is now part of Avicopter. It appears that the Z-9WZ version is the most recent Chinese development of the type and was previously reported as the Z-9G. “WZ” presumably stands for wuzhuang, meaning “armed.”

Reflecting their attack role and the weight of sensors and weapons, the passenger cabins of the helicopters displayed at Tongzhou were largely bare, with only two seats, facing forward, and a hefty rack of electronic black boxes. Weapons pylons on the Z-9WZ displaced the third door seen on each side of early Z-9s.

Weapons on display at Tongzhou included a type of guided missile, a cannon, unguided rockets and their launcher pod.

The 4th Helicopter Regiment has 12 Z-9WZs among a total of 30 aircraft, an officer says. The others are Mil Mi-17 and Mi-171 transport helicopters imported from Russia and Y-7 and Y-8 transport airplanes — locally built Antonov An-24s and An-12s, respectively. Among 1,000 people in the regiment, half are qualified as pilots.

Journalists have not previously been allowed on the base, officers say.

Asked about the unit’s recent progress in training, regiment commander Col. Zhang Zhilin tells Aviation Week: “Our simulator training has advanced greatly. We previously used actual [flight] training but now we train mainly with simulators. Doing so cuts costs, and the scenarios are realistic.”

There is no aspect of the regiment’s performance with which he is dissatisfied. “This unit is excellent in all respects,” Zhang says. “Of course that sounds like self-praise, but it is true.” He adds, “We’re very good at flying in bad weather.”

As to the arrival of the Z-10 at the regiment, Zhang says new equipment is a matter for his superiors to discuss.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Finland to Buy ATACMS T2K Unitary Missiles in Possible $132 Million Deal

Launch of an Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) surface-to-surface missile.

WASHINGTON | The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on Friday that it notified U.S. Congress July 5 of a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to the Government of Finland for 70 M57 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) T2K Unitary Missiles and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $132 million. This transmittal supersedes Transmittal No. 12-25 and replaces the M39 with the ATACMS M57 Block IA T2K Unitary Missile which accurately reflects the Finnish request and is consistent with U.S. export policy. 

The Government of Finland has requested a possible sale of 70 M57 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) T2K Unitary Missiles, Missile Common Test Device software, ATACMS Quality Assurance Team support, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $132 million. 

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in Europe. 

Finland intends to use these defense articles and services to expand its existing army architecture and improve its self-defense capabilities. This will contribute to the Finnish Defense Forces’ goal of modernizing its capability while further enhancing interoperability between Finland, the United States, and other allies. 

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region. 

The prime contractor will be Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Dallas, Texas. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. 

Implementation of this proposed sale will require up to two U.S. Government or contractor representatives to travel to Finland for up to one week for equipment de-processing/fielding, system checkout, and training. There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale. 

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region. The prime contractors will be The Boeing Company in Mesa, Arizona, Lockheed Martin Corporation in Orlando, Florida, General Electric in Cincinnati, Ohio, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, New York, Longbow Limited Liability Corporation in Orlando, Florida, and Raytheon Corporation in Tucson, Arizona. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. 

Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of three U.S. Government and five contractor representatives to Qatar to support delivery of the APACHE helicopters and provide support and equipment familiarization. In addition, Qatar has expressed an interest in a Technical Assistance Fielding Team for incountry pilot and maintenance training. To support the requirement a team of 12 personnel (one military team leader and 11 contractors) would be deployed to Qatar for approximately three years.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded. 

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Small Diameter Bomb Successfully Tested, Hits Moving Target

Press release from Raytheon:

TUCSON, Ariz. — Raytheon Company’s GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II) program achieved a major milestone when it successfully engaged and hit a moving target during a flight test at the White Sands Missile Range, N.M. Currently in engineering and manufacturing development, SDB II is designed to engage moving targets in adverse weather and through battlefield obscurants.

During the July 17 test, the crew of a U.S. Air Force F-15E fighter staging out of Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., released the GBU-53/B, which then acquired, tracked and guided to a moving target using its tri-mode seeker, scoring a direct hit.

“SDB II is the first in the next generation of smart weapons that uses multi-mode seekers and fully networked enabled data links to engage moving targets in bad weather or battlefield obscurants in high threat environments,” said Harry Schulte, vice president of Air Warfare Systems for Raytheon Missile Systems. “Raytheon is committed to this program’s success because SDB II will give the warfighter a mission-flexible weapon capable of defeating threats such as swarming boats, mobile air defense systems or armored targets.”

SDB II was validated by the Department of Defense’s Joint Requirements Oversight Council as a weapon that fills a critical capability gap for the military. In addition to its adverse weather, moving-target capability, SDB II can hit targets from stand-off ranges. It has a powerful warhead capable of destroying armored targets, yet keeps collateral damage to a minimum through a small explosive footprint.

SDB II’s capabilities include the ability for the weapon to be employed in three primary attack modes, each with a subset mode, for a total of six engagement modes. A dual band, two-way weapon data link for in-flight target updates and status reporting allows post-launch control of the weapon by the launching aircraft, a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC), or a third party.

“SDB II is designed and built from the ground up to deliver to the warfighter an affordable and efficiently produced weapon that brings new levels of capability yet remains easy to employ and maintain,” said John O’Brien, Raytheon’s SDB II program director.

SDB II’s integrated tri-mode seeker, which is built in Raytheon’s automated tri-mode seeker factory, fuses millimeter-wave (MMW) radar, uncooled imaging infrared (IIR) and semiactive laser sensors on a single gimbal, which enables the weapon to seek and destroy targets, despite adverse weather conditions. Rockwell Collins supplies Raytheon with the data link, while General Dynamics-Ordnance and Tactical Systems provides the multi-effects warhead.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

UK Accepts First International Lockheed Martin F-35

UK’s first F-35 Lightning II

FORT WORTH, Texas | The United Kingdom accepted the first international Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II in a ceremony today with senior representatives of the U.K. Ministry of Defence and the U.S. Department of Defense. The Right Honourable Philip Hammond, U.K. Secretary of State for Defence, and Mr. Frank Kendall, U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, represented their governments. 

“We are here to celebrate an important ‘first’ among so many milestones associated with the F-35 program,” said Bob Stevens, Lockheed Martin chairman and chief executive officer. “It’s fitting that our first delivery to an international partner is to the United Kingdom, because without sustained British innovation over many generations, we would not have an event to celebrate today.” 

The U.K. was the first of eight international partners to join the F-35 program and plans to acquire the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft. 

Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Headquartered in the U.K., BAE Systems brings a rich heritage of capabilities to the F-35 program, including short takeoff and vertical landing experience, advanced lean manufacturing, flight testing and air systems sustainment, and is responsible for the F-35’s aft fuselage, fuel system, crew escape and life support systems. The U.K. will play a vital role in the F-35’s global production, follow-on development and sustainment over the next 40 years, bringing strong economic benefits to the country. 

The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th Generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV8-B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other countries. 

(Photo: Lockheed Martin) 

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India's Homegrown Tejas Fighter Still Years Away from Combat Readiness

NEWTOWN, Conn. | India's Tejas fighter will not be ready for active service until at least 2015, according to a new report in the India Times. 

The newspaper said the single-engine fighter, developed by the country's own Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, has achieved initial operational clearance (IOC) that certifies that it is airworthy. Weapons still need to be integrated and tests conducted before the program reaches final operational clearance. 

The first 20 Tejas fighters will be powered by General Electric F404 engines, but this powerplant lacks the power necessary for the full range of combat missions the Tejas is expected to handle for the Indian Air Force and Navy. The program has selected the GE F414 to replace the F404 starting with the 21st production aircraft. 

The Indian Air Force and Navy are the only customers for the Tejas. Forecast International does not anticipate export orders for the aircraft.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Movie: We Were Soldiers

A Film Review by James Berardinelli

United States, 2002
U.S. Release Date: 3/1/02 (wide)
Running Length: 2:18
MPAA Classification: R (War violence, profanity)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Seen at: UA Riverview, Philadelphia
Cast: Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Sam Elliott, Greg Kinnear, Chris Klein, Josh Daugherty, Barry Pepper, Keri Russell
Director: Randall Wallace
Producers: Bruce Davey, Stephen McEveety, Randall Wallace
Screenplay: Randall Wallace, based on "We Were Soldiers Once, and Young", by Hal Moore and Joe Galloway
Cinematography: Dean Semler
Music: Nick Glennie-Smith
U.S. Distributor: Paramount Pictures

We Were Soldiers is the latest in the new breed of war movies - films that throw the viewer into the midst of the chaos and brutality of the fray, giving audiences a taste of the violent, visceral nature of an armed conflict, while still allowing moments of honor and heroism to stand out. In the wake of Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk DownWe Were Soldiers is not as shocking as it might have been, but it is no less impressive because of that. Interestingly, the picture is also one of the few movies about Vietnam to eschew a political message. During and after the war, Vietnam has become a lightning rod for writers and directors espousing a particular viewpoint, but We Were Soldiers takes a different path. It is about nothing more complex than men trying to survive, and, in that quest, showing the best and worst that humanity has to offer.

The film tells of the November 1965 battle in the Ia Drang Valley (a.k.a. "The Valley of Death"), which was the first major engagement between American and North Vietnamese troops. Before taking the story to Vietnam, however, director Randall Wallace (the writer of Braveheart) allows us to spend some time with the American soldiers at home. This becomes crucial to the movie's later success, as it humanizes the men, presenting them as more than faceless fodder for enemy bullets. If only briefly, we see their wives and children. Then they ship off, and, in seemingly no time, are trapped and outnumbered, fighting for their lives.

The commanding officer is Lt. Col. Hal Moore (Mel Gibson), the leader of the 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry. He is a student of history and a master of tactics, and his motto is to leave no man behind. Before departing for Vietnam, he has spent sleepless nights poring over books detailing previous military engagements there, and he is determined not to repeat the mistakes of those who preceded him. In the midst of battle, Moore is at his best, inspiring confidence in his men by never expecting more of them than he is willing and able to give. He seems to be everywhere, bolstering spirits and improvising defenses for each new attack by the enemy. The men under his command include daredevil helicopter pilot Snakeshit Crandall (Greg Kinnear); the gentle and well-liked Lt. Jack Geoghegan (Chris Klein), whose wife has just given birth; and the crusty Sgt-Maj. Basil Plumley (Sam Elliott in the R. Lee Ermey role), Moore's right-hand man. Another key participant is photojournalist Joe Galloway (Barry Pepper), who is temporarily forced to exchange his camera for a gun.

For the most part, Wallace keeps us in Vietnam, but, during the course of the three-day battle, he occasionally breaks away for interludes at the stateside base where the wives are waiting and worrying. During these sequences, which serve the dual purpose of interrupting tension and building character, we spend time with two women in particular - Moore's wife, Julie (Madeleine Stowe), and Geoghegan's wife, Barbara (Keri Russell). These two take it upon themselves to deliver the dreaded yellow telegrams to the newly-widowed women living around them. One of We Were Soldiers' most memorable scenes occurs not on the battlefield, but when one of the first telegrams arrives and Julie thinks it's for her. Stowe shines in this scene as the emotions - dread, panic, horror, grief, shock, and relief - flicker across her features.

We Were Soldiers' battle action is as intense and unsparing as that of Black Hawk Down, yet the movie is richer because the characters are more fully realized. The gore is no less prevalent and the assault on the senses is no less brutal. As powerful as the film is, it is not for the faint of heart or of stomach. Those who do not like war movies may find this particular excursion difficult to endure. Although We Were Soldiersdoes not glorify the carnage that was Vietnam, it displays, in a lucid manner, small acts of heroism. These are things that never make it into the history books, which are concerned only about winners and losers and the number of casualties. Such texts are not interested in the story of a helicopter pilot who risks his life in a maneuver that saves his commanding officer, or in the officer who dies trying to rescue a mortally wounded comrade.

We Were Soldiers also refuses to demonize the North Vietnamese. Much as in Patton, where we are given insight into the activities within the German HQ, this movie takes us into the military sanctum of the North Vietnamese, where the commander is plotting each move against the Americans. One Vietnamese soldier carries a picture of his girlfriend in a diary he places close to his heart. There is never any question that these men are the enemy, but Wallace makes sure we understand that "enemy" does not equate to "evil." Everyone who lives and dies, regardless of which side they're on, is a human being.

The screenplay, by Wallace, is drawn from the novel "We Were Soldiers Once, and Young", an account of the battle written by Moore and Galloway. The movie is more faithful to the historical record than most films, and the sense of verisimilitude is unmistakable. The performances are solid without exception - from Chris Klein, who puts his boyish blandness to good use; to Greg Kinnear, who shows an unusually heroic edge; to Barry Pepper, who exhibits the film's greatest transformation; to Mel Gibson, who makes Moore the bigger-than-life figure that all legends become. We care about these people - in part because the screenplay gives us cause to, and in part because the actors make them real to us.

Once, war movies were very much arm's length affairs, but, in an era when so many lines have been crossed and so many barriers broken, such an approach no longer works. As a result, the in-your-face style ofWe Were Soldiers results in a suspenseful, intense, and exhausting cinematic experience. There are times when the film is grueling and times when it is exhilarating. The movie has the ability to keep viewers on the edges of their seats and to wring tears from their eyes. It's an amazing experience, and a second success from the team that previously cooperated to give us an Oscar-winning motion picture. Their subject, both then and now, is about the courageous of spirit and brave of heart. 

Patriot Missile Long-Range Air-Defence System

The Patriot Missile Air Defence System firing a rocket

Patriot is a long-range, all-altitude, all-weather air defence system to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft. Patriot (MIM-104) is produced by Raytheon in Massachusetts and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Florida.
As well as the USA, Patriot is in service in Egypt, Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan.
Patriot missile systems were deployed by US forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The systems were stationed in Kuwait and successfully destroyed a number of hostile surface-to-surface missiles using the new PAC-3 and guidance enhanced missiles.

The hydraulic Patrior launched being readied for launching rockets

Patriot missile

The Patriot missile is equipped with a track-via-missile (TVM) guidance system. Midcourse correction commands are transmitted to the guidance system from the mobile engagement control centre.
The target acquisition system in the missile acquires the target in the terminal phase of flight and transmits the data using the TVM downlink via the ground radar to the engagement control station for final course correction calculations. The course correction commands are transmitted to the missile via the missile track command uplink.
The high-explosive 90kg warhead is situated behind the terminal guidance section.
The range of the missile is 70km and maximum altitude is greater than 24km. The minimum flight time is the time to arm the missile, which is less than nine seconds, and the maximum flight time is less than three and a half minutes.

Patriot GEM-T upgrade

Raytheon has developed the Patriot guidance enhanced missile (GEM-T), an upgrade to the PAC-2 missile. The upgrade involves a new fuse and the insertion of a new low noise oscillator which increases the seeker's sensitivity to low radar cross-section targets.
The GEM-T missile provides an upgraded capability to defeat air-breathing, cruise and ballistic missiles, as a compliment to the PAC-3 missile. The first upgrade forebodies were delivered to the US Army in November 2002.
By September 2010, a total of 1,000 Patriot missiles were upgraded for the US Army.
In July 2008, South Korea placed an order for 64 GEM-T upgrade kits. In April 2011, US Army Aviation and Missile Command awarded a $58.3m contract to upgrade 131 PAC-2 missiles to GEM-T missile configuration.
In July 2008, South Korea placed an order for 64 GEM-T upgrade kits.

A Patriot missile being fired.

Patriot advanced capability (PAC-3)

A new Patriot advanced capability (PAC-3) missile has increased effectiveness against tactical ballistic and cruise missiles, through the use of advanced hit-to-kill technology. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor with Raytheon the systems integrator. The PAC-3 has a Ka-band millimetre wave seeker developed by Boeing. The missile guidance system enables target destruction through the kinetic energy released by hitting the target head-on. 16 PAC-3 missiles can be loaded on a launcher, compared to four PAC-2 missiles.
PAC-3 entered low rate initial production in late 1999 and first LRIP production missiles of a total of 92 were delivered in September 2001. A contract for 88 missiles was placed in December 2002 and another for 12 in March 2003.
The missile was first deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom in March / April 2003. In February 2004, Lockheed Martin was awarded a production contract for 159 PAC-3 missiles, which includes 22 missiles to replace those expended in Iraq. Deliveries were concluded by April 2006.
A further contract for 156 missiles was received in February 2005. Of these missiles, 32 are for the Netherlands and 16 for Japan under foreign military sales (FMS) agreements. The Netherlands received the first PAC-3 missiles in October 2007. The US Army ordered another 112 missiles in May 2006 and 112 in March 2007.
Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract in January 2007 for the risk reduction / concept definition of a programme for an air-launched Patriot PAC-3 missile system. The F-15C fighter would be the first aircraft to be fitted with the system.
In December 2007, the United Arab Emirates requested the foreign military sale of the Patriot system, including nine Patriot launchers, 288 PAC-3 missiles, 216 Patriot GEM-T missiles. The contract was awarded in December 2008. Kuwait has also requested 80 PAC-3 missiles and 60 GEM-T upgrade kits, a contract for the first six upgrade kits was placed in July 2008. In April 2008, Taiwan placed an order for a number of PAC-3 upgrade kits and, in October 2008, requested the sale of 330 PAC-3 missiles.

PAC-3 will have a Ka-band millimetre wave seeker Patriot system being fired

PAC-3 missile segment enhancement (MSE)

The PAC-3 missile segment enhancement (MSE) is part of a spiral development being undertaken by Lockheed Martin.
The increased range MSE gives the missile a more powerful rocket motor for added thrust and larger fins for increased maneuverability against faster and more sophisticated ballistic and cruise missiles. The MSE began flight testing in May 2008.
The PAC-3 MSE is the baseline interceptor for the multinational medium extended air defence system (MEADS) under a contract placed in February 2008. The missile was successfully test fired using the Patriot system in May 2011.

M901 launching station

The M901 launching station transports, points and launches the Patriot missile. Each launcher has four missiles. The launcher is remotely operated via a VHF or fibre-optic data link from the engagement control station, which provides both the missile prelaunch data and the fire command signal.

Engagement control station

The AN/MSQ-104 engagement control station is the only manned station in a Patriot fire unit. The control station communicates with the M901 launching stations, with other Patriot batteries and the higher command headquarters.
The control station is manned by three operators, who have two consoles and a communications station with three radio relay terminals. The digital weapon control computer is located next to the VHF data link terminals.

Trailer-mounted Raytheon MPQ-53 C-Band tracking radar for Patriot missile system


The AN/MPQ-53 phased array radar carries out search, target detection, track and identification, missile tracking and guidance and electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) functions. The radar is mounted on a trailer and is automatically controlled by the digital weapons control computer in the engagement control station, via a cable link. The radar system has a range of up to 100km, capacity to track up to 100 targets and can provide missile guidance data for up to nine missiles.
The US Army Patriot radars are being upgraded by Raytheon. The upgrade kits provide greater power for the radar and the addition of a wideband capability for improved target discrimination.

Target engagement

A target engagement can be carried out in manual, semi-automatic or automatic mode. When the decision has been made to engage the target, the engagement control station selects the launch station or stations and pre-launch data is transmitted to the selected missile. After launch, the Patriot missile is acquired by the radar.
The command uplink and the TVM downlink allow the missile's flight to be monitored and provide missile guidance commands from the weapon control computer. As the missile approaches the target, the TVM guidance system is activated and the missile is steered towards the target. A proximity fuse detonates the high-explosive warhead.

The Paradox of China's Naval Strategy

By Rodger Baker and Zhixing Zhang

Over the past decade, the South China Sea has become one of the most volatile flashpoints in East Asia. China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan each assert sovereignty over part or all of the sea, and these overlapping claims have led to diplomatic and even military standoffs in recent years.
Because the sea hosts numerous island chains, is rich in mineral and energy resources and has nearly a third of the world's maritime shipping pass through its waters, its strategic value to these countries is obvious. For China, however, control over the South China Sea is more than just a practical matter and goes to the center of Beijing's foreign policy dilemma: how to assert its historic maritime claims while maintaining the non-confrontational foreign policy established by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1980.
China staked its modern claim to control of the sea in the waning days of the Chinese Civil War. Since most of the other claimant countries were occupied with their own independence movements in the ensuing decades, China had to do little to secure this claim. However, with other countries building up their maritime forces, pursuing new relationships and taking a more active stance in exploring and patrolling the waters, and with the Chinese public hostile to any real or perceived territorial concessions on Beijing's part, Deng's quiet approach is no longer an option.

Evolution of China's Maritime Logic

China is a vast continental power, but it also controls a long coastline, stretching at one time from the Sea of Japan in the northeast to the Gulf of Tonkin in the south. Despite this extensive coastline, China's focus has nearly always turned inward, with only sporadic efforts put toward seafaring and even then only during times of relative security on land.
Traditionally, the biggest threats to China were not from sea, except for occasional piracy, but rather from internal competition and nomadic forces to the north and west. China's geographic challenges encouraged a family-based, insular, agricultural economy, one with a strong hierarchal power structure designed in part to mitigate the constant challenges from warlords and regional divisions. Much of China's trade with the world was undertaken via land routes or carried out by Arabs and other foreign merchants at select coastal locations. In general, the Chinese chose to concentrate on the stability of the population and land borders over potential opportunities from maritime trade or exploration, particularly since sustained foreign contact could bring as much trouble as benefit.
Two factors contributed to China's experiments with naval development: a shift in warfare from northern to southern China and periods of relative national stability. During the Song dynasty (960-1279), the counterpart to the horse armies of the northern plains was a large inland naval force in the riverine and marshy south. The shift to river navies also spread to the coast, and the Song rulers encouraged coastal navigation and maritime trade by the Chinese, replacing the foreign traders along the coast. While still predominately inward-looking during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) under the Mongols, China carried out at least two major naval expeditions in the late 13th century -- against Japan and Java -- both of which ultimately proved unsuccessful. Their failure contributed to China's decision to again turn away from the sea. The final major maritime adventure occurred in the early Ming dynasty (1368-1644), when Chinese Muslim explorer Zheng He undertook his famous seven voyages, reaching as far as Africa but failing to use this opportunity to permanently establish Chinese power abroad.
Zheng He's treasure fleet was scuttled as the Ming saw rising problems at home, including piracy off the coast, and China once again looked inward. At about the same time that Magellan started his global expedition in the early 1500s, the Chinese resumed their isolationist policy, limiting trade and communication with the outside and ending most consideration of maritime adventure. China's naval focus shifted to coastal defense rather than power projection. The arrival of European gunboats in the 19th century thoroughly shook the conventional maritime logic of Chinese authorities, and only belatedly did they undertake a naval program based on Western technology.
Even this proved less than fully integrated into China's broader strategic thinking. The lack of maritime awareness contributed to the Qing government's decision to cede its crucial port access at the mouth of the Tumen River to Russia in 1858, permanently closing off access to the Sea of Japan from the northeast. Less than 40 years later, despite building one of the largest regional fleets, the Chinese navy was smashed by the newly emergent Japanese navy. For nearly a century thereafter, the Chinese again focused almost exclusively on the land, with naval forces taking a purely coastal defense role. Since the 1990s, this policy has slowly shifted as China's economic interconnectedness with the world expanded. For China to secure its economic strength and parlay that into stronger global influence, the development of a more proactive naval strategy became imperative.

Interpreting the 'Nine-Dash Line'

To understand China's present-day maritime logic and its territorial disputes with its neighbors, it is necessary to first understand the so-called nine-dash line, a loose boundary line demarcating China's maritime claims in the South China Sea.
The nine-dash line was based on an earlier territorial claim known as the eleven-dash line, drawn up in 1947 by the then-ruling Kuomintang government without much strategic consideration since the regime was busy dealing with the aftermath of the Japanese occupation of China and the ongoing civil war with the Communists. After the end of the Japanese occupation, the Kuomintang government sent naval officers and survey teams through the South China Sea to map the various islands and islets. The Internal Affairs Ministry published a map with an eleven-dash line enclosing most of the South China Sea far from China's shores. This map, despite its lack of specific coordinates, became the foundation of China's modern claims, and following the 1949 founding of the People's Republic of China, the map was adopted by the new government in Beijing. In 1953, perhaps as a way to mitigate conflict with neighboring Vietnam, the current nine-dash line emerged when Beijing eliminated two of the dashes.
China's Nine-Dash Line
The new Chinese map was met with little resistance or complaint by neighboring countries, many of which were then focused on their own national independence movements. Beijing interpreted this silence as acquiescence by the neighbors and the international community, and then stayed largely quiet on the issue to avoid drawing challenges. Beijing has shied away from officially claiming the line itself as an inviolable border, and it is not internationally recognized, though China regards the nine-dash line as the historic basis for its maritime claims.
Like other claimant countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines, China's long-term goal is to use its growing naval capabilities to control the islands and islets within the South China Sea and thus the natural resources and the strategic position they afford. When China was militarily weak, it supported the concept of putting aside sovereignty concerns and carrying out joint development, aiming to reduce the potential conflicts from overlapping claims while buying time for its own naval development. Meanwhile, to avoid dealing with a unified bloc of counterclaimants, Beijing adopted a one-to-one negotiation approach with individual countries on their own territorial claims, without the need to jeopardize its entire nine-dash line claim. This allowed Beijing to remain the dominant partner in bilateral negotiations, something it feared it would lose in a more multilateral forum.
Despite the lack of legal recognition for the nine-dash line and the constant friction it engenders, Beijing has little ability now to move away from the claim. With the rising international attention and regional competition over the South China Sea, the Chinese public -- which identifies the waters within the nine-dash line as territorial waters -- is pressuring Beijing to take more assertive actions. This has left China in an impossible position: When Beijing attempts to portray joint developments as evidence that other countries recognize China's territorial claims, the partner countries balk; when it tries to downplay the claims in order to manage international relations, the Chinese population protests (and in the case of Chinese fishermen, often act on their own in disputed territory, forcing the government to support them rhetorically and at times physically). Any effort to appeal to Beijing's domestic constituency would risk aggravating foreign partners, or vice versa.

Developing a Maritime Policy

The complications from the nine-dash line, the status of domestic Chinese developments and the shifting international system have all contributed to shape China's evolving maritime strategy.
Under former leader Mao Zedong, China was internally focused and constrained by a weak navy. China's maritime claims were left vague, Beijing did not aggressively seek to assert its rights and the independence struggles of neighboring countries largely spared China from taking a stronger maritime stance. China's naval development remained defensive, focused on protecting its shores from invasion. Deng Xiaoping, in concert with his domestic economic reforms in the late 1970s and early 1980s, sought the more pragmatic joint economic development of the East and South China seas, putting aside claims of territorial sovereignty for another time. China's military expenditures continued to focus on land forces (and missile forces), with the navy relegated to a largely defensive role operating only in Chinese coastal waters.
To a great degree, Deng's policies remained in place through the next two decades. There were sporadic maritime flare-ups in the South China Sea, but in general, the strategy of avoiding outright confrontation remained a core principle at sea. China's navy was in no position to challenge the dominant role of the U.S. Navy or to take any assertive action against its neighbors, especially since Beijing sought to increase its regional influence through economic and political means rather than through military force.
But joint development proposals for the South China Sea have largely failed. China's expanded economic strength, coupled with a concomitant rise in its military spending -- and more recently its focus on naval development -- has raised suspicions and concerns among neighboring countries, with many calling on the United States to take a more active role in the region to counterbalance China's rise. The issue of the nine-dash line and territorial claims have also risen in significance because countries had to file their maritime claims under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, bringing the competing claims a step closer to international arbitration. China, which was a signatory to the treaty largely due to its potential maritime gains in the East China Sea, found itself forced to file numerous counterclaims in the South China Sea, raising alarm in neighboring countries of what was seen as an outright push for regional hegemony.
It was not only counterclaimant nations that considered the Chinese moves troubling. Japan and South Korea are heavily dependent on the South China Sea as an energy transit corridor, and the United States, Australia and India among others depend on the sea for trade and military transit. All these countries saw China's moves as a potential prelude to challenging free access to the waters. China responded with increasingly assertive rhetoric as well as a larger role for the Chinese military in foreign policy decisions. The old policy of non-confrontation was giving way to a new approach.

The Foreign Policy Debate

In 1980, Deng expressed the shape of Chinese foreign policy as one in which China should observe the world, secure its position, deal calmly with foreign affairs, hide its capabilities and bide its time, maintain a low profile and never claim leadership. These basic tenets remain the core of Chinese foreign policy, either as guidelines for action or excuses for inaction. But China's regional and domestic environment has shifted significantly from the early days of Deng's reforms, and China's economic and military expansion has already passed Deng's admonition to hide capabilities and bide time.
Beijing understands that only through a more proactive policy can China expand from a solely land-based power to a maritime power and reshape the region in a manner beneficial to its security interests. Failure to do so could enable other regional states and their allies, namely the United States, to contain or even threaten China's ambitions.
At least four elements of Deng's policies are currently under debate or changing: a shift from noninterference to creative involvement; a shift from bilateral to multilateral diplomacy; a shift from reactive to preventative diplomacy; and a move away from strict nonalignment toward semi-alliances.
Creative involvement is described as a way for China to be more active in preserving its interests abroad by becoming more involved in other countries' domestic politics -- a shift from noninterference to something more flexible. China has used money and other tools to shape domestic developments in other countries in the past, but an official change in policy would necessitate deeper Chinese involvement in local affairs. However, this would undermine China's attempts to promote the idea that it is just another developing nation helping other developing nations in the face of Western imperialism and hegemony. This shift in perception could erode some of China's advantage in dealing with developing nations since it has relied on promises of political noninterference as a counter to Western offers of better technology or more development resources that come with requirements of political change.
China has long relied on bilateral relations as its preferred method of managing its interests internationally. When China has operated within a multilateral forum, it has often shaped developments only by being a spoiler rather than a leader. For example, China can block sanctions in the U.N. Security Council but has rarely proffered a different path for the international community to pursue. Particularly through the 1990s, Beijing feared its relatively weak position left it little to gain from multilateral forums, and instead put China under the influence of the stronger members. But China's rising economic power has shifted this equation.
China is pursuing more multilateral relationships as a way to secure its interests through the larger groups. China's relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, its participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and its pursuit of trilateral summits are all intended to help Beijing shape the policy direction of these blocs. By shifting to the multilateral approach, China can make some of the weaker countries feel more secure and thus prevent them from turning to the United States for support.
Traditionally, China has had a relatively reactive foreign policy, dealing with crises when they emerge but often failing to recognize or act to prevent the crises before they materialize. In places where Beijing has sought access to natural resources, it has often been caught off-guard by changes in the local situation and not had a response strategy prepared. (The division of Sudan and South Sudan is one recent example). Now, China is debating shifting this policy to one where it seeks to better understand the underlying forces and issues that could emerge into conflict and act alone or with the international community to defuse volatile situations. In the South China Sea, this would mean clarifying its maritime claims rather than continuing to use the vague nine-dash line and also more aggressively pursuing ideas for an Asian security mechanism, one in which China would play an active leadership role.
China's stance on alliances remains the same as that put forward by Deng in the 1980s: It does not engage in alliance structures targeted against third countries. This was both to allow China to retain an independent foreign policy stance and to avoid international entanglements due to its alliances with others. For example, Chinese plans to retake Taiwan were scuttled by its involvement in the Korean War, and thus its relations with the United States were set back by decades. The collapse of the Cold War system and the rise of China's economic and military influence have brought this policy under scrutiny as well. Beijing has watched cautiously as NATO has expanded eastward and as the United States has strengthened its military alliances in the Asia-Pacific region. Beijing's non-alliance policy leaves China potentially facing these groups alone, something it has neither the military nor the economic strength to effectively counter.
The proposed semi-alliance structure is designed to counter this weakness while not leaving China beholden to its semi-alliance partners. China's push for strategic partnerships (even with its ostensible rivals) and increased military and humanitarian disaster drills with other nations are part of this strategy. The strategy is less about building an alliance structure against the United States than it is about breaking down the alliance structures that could be built against China by getting closer to traditional U.S. partners, making them less willing to take strong actions against China. In its maritime strategy, Beijing is working with India, Japan and Korea in counterpiracy operations and engaging in more naval exchanges and offers of joint exercises and drills.

Looking Forward

China's world is changing. Its emergence as a major economic power has forced Beijing to rethink its traditional foreign policy. Closest to home, the South China Sea issue is a microcosm of China's broader foreign policy debate. The ambiguity of China's maritime claim was useful when the region was quiet, but it is no longer serving China's purposes, and coupled with the natural expansion of China's maritime interests and naval activity it is instead exacerbating tensions. Old policy tools such as trying to keep all negotiations bilateral or claiming a hands-off approach are no longer serving China's needs. The policy of joint development inherited from Deng has failed to bring about any significant cooperation with neighboring countries in the sea, and the assertion of the nine-dash line claims amid the U.N. sea treaty filings has simultaneously increased domestic Chinese nationalism and countermoves by neighboring countries.
Despite the lack of clarity on its maritime policy, China has demonstrated its intent to further consolidate its claims based on the nine-dash line. Beijing recognizes that policy changes are needed, but any change has its attendant consequences. The path of transition is fraught with danger, from disgruntled domestic elements to aggressive reactions by China's neighbors, but by intent or by default, change is happening, and how the foreign policy debate plays out will have lasting consequences for China's maritime strategy and its international position as a whole.

Read more: The Paradox of China's Naval Strategy | Stratfor 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King--The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea

Book Description

How history's only five-star admirals triumphed in World War II and made the United States the world's dominant sea power. 

Only four men in American history have been promoted to the five-star rank of Admiral of the Fleet: William Leahy, Ernest King, Chester Nimitz, and William Halsey. These four men were the best and the brightest the navy produced, and together they led the U.S. navy to victory in World War II, establishing the United States as the world's greatest fleet. 

In THE ADMIRALS, award-winning historian Walter R. Borneman tells their story in full detail for the first time. Drawing upon journals, ship logs, and other primary sources, he brings an incredible historical moment to life, showing us how the four admirals revolutionized naval warfare forever with submarines and aircraft carriers, and how these men-who were both friends and rivals-worked together to ensure that the Axis fleets lay destroyed on the ocean floor at the end of World War II.

Editorial Reviews


"Engagingly written and deeply researched... Mr. Borneman makes it easy to understand the complex series of maneuvers and counter-maneuvers at Leyte Gulf...which is not always the case with accounts of the battle." (Wall Street Journal Andrew Roberts )

"A riveting introduction to the only four men in American history to have been promoted to the five-star rank of Admiral of the Fleet in recognition of their extraordinary feats" (The History Channel )

"Borneman demonstrates comprehensive command of published and unpublished sources, fingertip understanding of the period, and a polished writing style in this unique collective biography of the four men who 'with a combination of nimble counsel, exasperating ego, studied patience, and street-fighter tactics' shaped the modern U.S. Navy to win WWII at sea." (Publishers Weekly )

"Borneman deftly manipulates multiple narrative strands and a wealth of detail. He vividly fleshes out the numerous vain, ambitious men vying for power at the top and examines their important decisions and lasting ramifications. An accomplished, readable history lesson." (Kirkus Reviews )

"Walter Borneman's The Admirals is an epic group portrait of Nimitz, Halsey, Leahey, and King. Not since the heyday of Samuel Eliot Morison has a historian painted such a fine portrait of the five-star admirals who helped America beat Japan during the Second World War. Highly recommended!" (Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and author of The Wilderness Warrior )

"They were completely different in temperament and personality, but the U.S. Navy's four five-star admirals in World War II shared a sense of vision, devotion, and courage. Walter Borneman has written a rousing tale of victory at sea." (Evan Thomas, author of The War Lovers )

"This is Walter Borneman at his best. The portrait of the forgotten admiral, Leahy, is worth the whole book. But there's scarcely a page where a reader won't learn something unexpected, and occasionally shocking." (Thomas Fleming, author of Time and Tide )

"Walter Borneman's decision to tell the gripping story of America's war at sea through the prism of the relations between her four greatest admirals is inspired. The four very different temperaments and personalities of these giants of the US Navy, their rivalries, interactions and comradeship, make for a compelling tale...There's more about true leadership in these pages than will be found in a library of lesser books." (Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War )

About the Author

Walter Borneman is the author of seven works of nonfiction, including 1812, The French and Indian War, and Polk. He holds both a master's degree in history and a law degree. He lives in Colorado.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Thales TopOwl Helmet Mounted Sight and Display Selected for A400M Flight Tests

(Photo: Thales)

Farnborough | Thales announces that its TopOwl HMSD (Helmet-Mounted Sight and Display) has been selected by the Organisation for Joint Armaments Cooperation (OCCAR) for flight testing on board the A400M prototype. The purpose of the tests, scheduled between June 2012 and April 2013, is to confirm compatibility of HMSD with the military transport aircraft for night missions. During the campaign, A400M pilots will benefit from the integrated night vision function of the TopOwl. 

The equipment meets all the demands of latest-generation transport aircraft cockpits and ensures that the symbology and EVS (Enhanced Vision System) imagery projected on the Head Up Display are compatible with the intensified night vision imagery. TopOwl® is the only HMSD system in service to incorporate a night vision function. It offers the same performance as the latest generation of night vision goggles but provides a significantly higher level of comfort, enabling pilots to fly long missions in complete safety. 

The visor-projected intensified night vision image provides excellent environmental perception and very good peripheral vision. In addition, if image tubes become saturated or fail, the pilot is able to maintain direct vision through the visor, significantly enhancing flight safety. 

With more than 1,000 systems delivered to date, TopOwl has already been selected for numerous combat helicopters and has already shown its efficiency in deep-night missions conducted by combat helicopters in Libya and Afghanistan. 

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