US Army moves ahead with Stryker-based 50 kW-class laser weapon test plan

by Ashley Roque

A US Army DE M-SHORAD prototype. The service plans to host an upcoming round of prototype testing to further refine the design before providing soldiers with an initial version in September 2022. (US Army)

The US Army will continue testing Stryker vehicles integrated with 50 kW-class lasers in anticipation of sending the weapon to the first unit in September, according to a service leader.

Lieutenant General Neil Thurgood, the army's director of hypersonics, directed energy, space, and rapid acquisition, participated in a Center for Strategic and International Studies event on 12 January and fielded questions about a range of development capabilities including the Directed Energy Manoeuvre-Short Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD) programme, which is now dubbed the Guardian. Service officials announced last year that a Raytheon-backed team had been tasked with progressing the development effort after a Northrop Grumman prototype was forced out because of technical challenges. Kord Technologies is the programme's prime contractor and was overseeing both teams.

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UK to explore Data Merging for Alternative Navigation

by Richard Scott

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans to run an industry competition for the maturation and demonstration of Data Merging techniques supporting Alternative Navigation (Alt Nav) methods in the event of disruption to global navigation satellite systems (GNSSs).

In a 4 February tender notice, the MoD's Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation said it planned to award two contracts within a total budgetary envelope of GBP1.5 million (USD2 million).

GNSS operates by computing signals broadcast from a constellation of synchronised satellites. Its use increasingly underpins precise and secure navigation for military users, but it is vulnerable to interference, spoofing, signal blockage or constellation failure that may result in GNSS denial. Furthermore, many environments in which the military operates – inside buildings, in urban canyons, under dense foliage, underwater, and underground – have limited or no GNSS signal availability.

To address this challenge, the MoD's Alt Nav programme seeks to provide GNSS-quality positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) to military users regardless of the operational environment. This involves the merging of data within the navigation system design to prolong the availability of the PNT solution from traditional and emerging sources.

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Croatia to receive Bradley IFVs from US

by Igor Tabak & Miko Vranic

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced on 26 January that an agreement had been reached on the acquisition of Bradley IFVs from the US (photo of vehicle participating in exercise 'Immediate Response 21' held in the 'Eugen Kvaternik' training area in Croatia from 17 May to 2 June 2021. (MORH/T Brandt)

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced at a press conference on 26 January that an agreement had been reached on the acquisition of Bradley infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) from the United States.

The acquisition cost is around USD196.4 million divided into two halves. The US will provide USD51.1 million in the European Recapitalization Incentive Program (ERIP) financial aid for the first half, with Croatia paying the remaining USD47 million before the end of January as a first instalment. The second half is to be covered in five annual instalments.

This US financial aid aims to help Croatia transition from Yugoslav M80 armoured fighting vehicles to Western equipment and to defray the costs of refurbishing the Bradleys. Zagreb had to complete the process before the end of January, when Washington's offer of financial aid was set to expire.

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IAV 2022: DE&S FCG announces upcoming competitions for unmanned capabilities

by Olivia Savage

FCG announced upcoming competitions at IAV 2022. (MOD Crown Copyright 2022 )

James Gavin, head of the Future Capability Group (FCG), part of Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), outlined a number of upcoming competitions at the International Armoured Vehicle (IAV) 2022 conference in London.

Some of the key priorities include nano-unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), tethered-UAS, multidomain integrated UAS swarms, large rotary-wing UAS, unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), high-altitude pseudo-satellites (HAPS), human-machine teaming (HMT, such as the use of robot dogs), and human-machine interface (HMI).

It was revealed that FCG has a budget of approximately GBP300 million (USD404.9 million) over three years across multiple programmes and projects.

HMT is considered a high priority for FCG customers, James Gavin said, however, despite its importance they stated that overall, the capability does not yet exist in industry outside of the US to meet requirements. In April 2022 the organisation intends to launch an HMT acquisition framework with an initial budget of GBP25 million. The programme will have significant headroom and may reach around GBP100 million in approximately two years.

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