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AUSA Annual Conferences showcase US Army modernization, capabilities, and latest technologies

Many Army leaders already recognize that in a volatile world with a wide range of missions, we can no longer get by with training soldiers what to think. We must train them how to think, so they thrive in conditions of uncertainty and chaos, and are unpredictable to our adversaries.

 

Second, the Army must be ready with the right capabilities, both today and in the future – ensuring the equipment our soldiers currently have is well-maintained and that we continue to innovate going forward. Army knows its key weapons platforms for everything still comes down to the soldier, it also knows that a capability is about more than just new technology or equipment – with less money, it’s also about how we creatively use our technology and equipment to achieve our objectives.

 

“For the Army to fulfill its role as a guarantor of our national security, our soldiers must continue to be exceptionally well-led, well-trained and well-equipped.” It will need to continue to learn, adapt, evolve, and innovate. Readiness demands agility. “To succeed, I believe the Army must renew its commitment to readiness across three critical resources – its people, its capabilities, and its partnerships.”

 

“To be ready for the range of challenges we’ll, most likely face in the future, soldiers need to experience nonlinear, full-spectrum training that mimics today’s complex operational environment.” At these brigade-level training centers, soldiers are immersed in realistic threat scenarios where they face a dynamic mix of guerrilla, terrorist, criminal, and near-peer conventional opposing forces.

 

This is a particularly important question given the tight timelines the Army has imposed on its modernization efforts. Through 2022, it wants to complete current upgrade programs, at least for those forces likely to face a peer competitor, while conducting R&D on next-generation capabilities. After that, the focus shifts to the production of new platforms and systems that will be fielded in the late 2020s.

 

Soldiers and defense industry officials gather annually in Washington D.C. for the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting (October 12-14). This event consists of presentations, panel discussions on pertinent military and national security subjects, workshops and important business meetings. The Association of the United States Army’s annual convention (AUSA) main focus has been on how to fight and win in a complex world and on what the Army is doing outside of the United States, a logical direction considering the myriad growing threats around the globe.

 

In recent years, AUSA meetings became the seminal venues where Army leaders unveiled major conceptual and organizational reforms. Similarly, industry and the research establishments used the opportunity to display some of their most innovative new ideas in everything from meals and uniforms to small arms, ammunition, unmanned air and ground platforms, and even prototypes of new combat vehicles.

 

Army Future Challenges and Roadmap

To stay ready for future challenges, the Army must keep innovating for the long term. With our ongoing rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, the Army could broaden its role by leveraging its current suite of long-range precision-guided missiles, rockets, artillery, and air defense systems. These capabilities would provide multiple benefits… such as hardening the defenses of U.S. installations; enabling greater mobility of Navy Aegis destroyers and other joint force assets; and helping ensure the free flow of commerce

 

“Army is also exceptionally effective in training and exercising with friends and allies, helping them grow stronger while improving interoperability for the future. Building partner capacity is one of the Army’s most valuable capabilities, which is why the Army must continue taking steps to expand and diversify its partnerships – while ensuring that this critical mission continues to be embraced throughout the Army’s institutions.”

 

Today, the Army is better positioned to work with partners because of its regionally aligned forces. Nearly every unit – from division headquarters to theater enablers to combat brigades – is now aligned with a geographic region, which makes it easier for the Army to provide tailored, responsive forces to engage with our allies and our partners. And because soldiers receive specialized cultural, regional, and language training before deploying, they can better understand local underlying social, political, economic, historical factors that all are involved in security – ultimately making them more effective in accomplishing the mission.

 

A century later, we cannot know for sure what conflicts, challenges, or threats the next 100 years may bring, or the next 10 years may bring. We cannot say for certain whether history will be repeated or made anew. But we must prepare our institutions for the unexpected and the uncertain. That is the greatest responsibility of leadership.
This year the Army association is also seeking to emphasize the service’s major role in homeland security and its relationship with the Department of Homeland Security. Several companies have displayed their security-related wares near the DHS pavilion.

 

The Army has begun adapting capabilities to be ready for the most likely missions of the future – ensuring that prepositioned equipment stocks can support a wider range of operations, and even flying Apache helicopters off Navy ships to gauge how Army aviation could contribute to littoral surface warfare.The Army is also combining manned and unmanned capabilities – enabling combat helicopter pilots to monitor feeds and operate weapons from linked aerial drones, and testing driverless resupply convoys that can free up manpower for more important tasks.

Army Modernization efforts exhibited at AUSA 2018

The Army wants to field the Next Generation Combat Vehicle CFT  by 2026, which means it has to enter production in 2022 or 2023. Major defense firms have invested their own resources in developing competitive prototypes to meet this requirement. Present on the exhibit floor in 2018 AUSA was the General Dynamics’ Griffin III, with a 50mm gun, advanced electronics, and powertrain and a capacity to carry six soldiers. A new entrant into this space is Raytheon which has teamed with the German company Rheinmetall. Their Lynx prototype, which looks like the Batmobile with a gun turret, can carry nine soldiers. BAE Systems brought a variant of its CV90 MkIV, which can carry a 40mm gun as well as eight soldiers and be optionally manned. Several of the companies vying for the contract to build the Army’s Mobile Protected Firepower vehicle are considering proposing variants of this system as a Bradley replacement.

 

The timeline for new longer-range fire systems is even tighter.  Army hopes to begin testing a Precision Strike Missile capable of reaching out 499 kilometers in 2019  with fielding to begin by 2022 or 2023. The reason for this new-found optimism is the development work done by the two principal contenders in this area, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Both companies had displays of their designs at AUSA 2018.

 

Another major Army priority is aviation modernization. Bell Helicopter exhibited its full-size mock-up of the V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft. The Valor will be capable of going faster and farther than existing utility and attack helicopters with heavier loads. Both the Advanced Turbine Engine Company and General Electric had booths that displayed their entrants in the Improved Turbine Engine Program intended to provide a new power plant for the Black Hawk and Apache helicopters.

 

Dozens of companies  displayed their counter-UAS solutions.  IXI Technology and Battelle were present with advanced hand-held systems capable of jamming a UAS’s electronics. Israeli Aerospace Industries showed off both its man-portable counter-UAS systems as well as sophisticated strike drones. Sierra Nevada Corporation, a leader in the area of electronic warfare, has advanced capabilities in both counter-UAS and counter-radio-controlled improvised explosive devices.

 

The AUSA exhibition provided the Army with no end of options for improving its networks. For example, Rockwell Collins, a leader in airborne and maritime radios, has moved into the ground radio space with its advanced, multi-channel software-defined man-pack radio. Its main competitor in this space, Harris Corporation, also was present. General Dynamics continues to offer advances in on-the-move communications, satcoms, networked solutions, and vehicle electronic architectures.

 

ITT’s Cannon and Enidine brands

ITT Cannon and ITT Enidine showcased  their comprehensive portfolios of highly engineered and ruggedized interconnect, energy absorption and vibration isolation solutions for military and defense applications.

 

From soldier-worn technology and military aviation to submarine-launched missile systems and military ground vehicles, Cannon and Enidine solutions are designed to ensure success in critical missions on land, in the air, at sea and in space,” said Farrokh Batliwala, president of ITT’s Connect and Controls Technology business. “Our connector and motion control solutions are designed for modern military applications that help keep our soldiers safe while enabling the performance and reliability of equipment and devices in the most extreme conditions and harshest environments.”

 

 

Technologies Showcased during AUSA Annual Meeting 2015

Thales

Thales, a big player in security technology, touted, just prior to AUSA, its contract to provide surveillance and security to Mexico City using a global sensor-based surveillance system and command and control capability. Mexico City itself has said it has helped reduce crime by 30 percent, according to Thales USA’s CEO Alan Pellegrini. Thales also provides physical security systems for places like airports and oil and gas outfits, as well as cybersecurity offerings.

Raytheon

Raytheon showcased some of its homeland security-related efforts from training solutions that “are well-suited” for the homeland security mission and its border security solutions to Jordan along with other border security efforts in southeast Asia and eastern Europe, according to spokesman Jason Kello.

 

The company also featured a pair of tethered aerostats, or airships — the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, or JLENS, that’s currently watching over the area from Boston to Norfolk, Virginia, in dual missions: cruise missile detection and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. JLENS can now be seen in the skies above Baltimore. It’s connected to the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s architecture and will begin its operational evaluation later this month, according to Raytheon spokeswoman Keri Connors.

 

Rifle sized Anti-UAV Defense Systems

At this year’s Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition (AUSA 2015), the Army Cyber Institute at West Point was demoing a rifle-sized device that can radio-jamming small drones, it demonstrated is taking out of a quadcopter.

Bell emphasises affordable tiltrotor tech in US Army FVL offering

Bell Helicopter is working to make next-generation tiltrotor technology more affordable for the military, company CEO John Garrison said on 12 October at the Association of the US Army’s annual conference in Washington, DC.
The company is offering its V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft to the Pentagon for its Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programme to replace legacy helicopter technology beginning in the 2030s.

 

BAE Systems

Featured products and services included combat vehicles, precision-guided munitions, advanced electronics, and imaging and mapping technologies.

 

BAE Systems also displayed a light tank developed for the Armored Gun System program that was canceled in 1997. The Army’s new combat vehicle modernization strategy, revealed for the first time at AUSA, calls for mobile protected firepower (MPF) capability and the vehicle answers the call, BAE said. It combines an expeditionary, C-130 air-droppable, light tank based on technologies from the CV90 family of infantry fighting vehicles and the Bradley, as well as the M8 Armored Gun System.

 

And BAE’s also brought its Battleview 360 agile situational awareness system, which allows soldiers wearing a helmet-mounted monocle to “see through” their armored vehicle, made its US debut at the show. The company used its advanced jet fighter technology from the Eurofighter Typhoon helmet to develop the system that consists of a monocle and touch-screen display. The monocle has the ability to see a video feed — both visual and infrared — from the vehicle’s cameras and relevant symbology.

 

Mobile Protected Firepower

Mobile Protected Firepower capability, would involve an expeditionary light tank that could be air-dropped from a C-130 aircraft. The company’s solution is based on the purpose-built M8 Armored Gun System, modernized with mature technologies from the CV90 family of infantry fighting vehicles and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

APKWS Laser-guided Rocket

BAE Systems’ Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS™) is a plug-and-play guidance kit that easily and affordably converts unguided 2.75-inch (70 millimeter) rockets into precision laser-guided rockets. This technology bridges the gap between unguided rockets used for area suppression and larger diameter, more powerful anti-armor missiles. Initially designed to meet U.S. Army requirements, the APKWS system is a U.S. Navy program of record and has been deployed in combat by the Marine Corps since 2012

 

CTC highlighted capabilities across multiple sectors: Water Purification Systems, Additive Manufacturing, Mobile Validation Devices, Big Data, Cross Domain Solutions, Power & Energy, Cyber Security, and Safety & Occupational Health.

XM25 Optic

The Army has upgraded its 25mm airburst weapon, the most noticeable change is the weapon now features a more streamlined fire-control system designed to calculate the range to target and transfers the data to an electronic fuse built into the 25mm round.

 

The XM25 is a programmable grenade launcher. It uses an integrated range-finding scope to mark the distance to the target. The grenades can be programmed to detonate just past the target, to effect on anyone on the other side. It’s useful for anyone behind hard cover and can also be shot through some walls, exploding once it gets inside.

 

It has an on-board computer that sets a digital timer on each round based on the grenades’ ballistics data. Currently two types of grenades are in production, high-explosive air burst grenades and training dummies. Other grenades in planning are door-breaching and armor-piercing grenades as well as less-than-lethal solid and air burst grenades for crowd control. Each grenade type has its own ballistics so the grenade launcher must program them individually.

Logos Showcases Ultralight Wami Sensors and Multi-Int Tool

Simera and Redkite are next-generation airborne sensors that can monitor, in near real time, an entire city-sized area at once, while at the same time recording everything for later analysis. They derive from the battle-proven Kestrel system mounted on large aerostats at U.S. bases in Afghanistan.

 

“Simera and Redkite represent the newest generation of wide-area motion imagery (WAMI) sensor,” says John Marion, president of Logos Technologies. “They are light, powerful and can go on a wide range of platforms.”
For the military user, Simera supports such missions as base defense, route reconnaissance and overwatch. In addition, it can be employed to safeguard borders, ports and logistics hubs from terrorist attack as well as help guide humanitarian relief efforts.

 

“The Simera sensor and its tactical aerostat can be transported to site in just two small trailers,” Marion says. “They can then be unpackaged and ready for operation in a couple of hours.” Redkite shares many of the same capabilities as Simera, but is housed in an aerodynamic pod weighing less than 45 pounds. As such, Redkite can be mounted on helicopters, light planes and tactical, Shadow-class unmanned aircraft. Redkite requires less than 500 watts to operate, making it the smallest and most power-efficient sensor of kind in the world. Its cost is similar to a traditional stabilized hi-res video camera.

 

In addition to wide-area sensors, Logos Technologies will be demonstrating, for a select group of U.S. customers at AUSA, a solution that provides unified data discovery and display for WAMI, full motion video, and other sensor inputs, enabling a fully integrated multi-intelligence airborne capability. “Matching the lightweight sensors with the advanced analytics significantly increases the speed of analysis and reduces the processing, exploitation and dissemination footprint, offering our customers effective ISR solutions,” Marion says.

Robots and Unmanned Systems

HDT Global Micro Utility Vehicle

HDT robotic solutions are developed to protect and assist personnel in load carrying, mine detection, and path clearing. HDT’s Micro-Utility Vehicle robot has the power, endurance and mobility to clear safe walking trails for dismounted infantry and reduce the amount troops have to carry. It is capable of carrying 500 pounds (with an additional 500-lb trailer capacity, so 1000 pounds with trailer). The energy efficient robot runs on internal fuel for four days at a time and is a weight and size that if needed, can be lifted over an obstacle.

 

Dimensions of the Micro-Utility Vehicle robot are 76″ x 36″ x 42″ (193 x 90 x 106.7 cm). A simple hand controller (that also functions as a weapon fore-grip) operates the Micro-Utility Vehicle from a distance away from the robot of up to 1,300′ (396 m). A mini-flail, mine roller/rake, pre-detonation electronic discharge system, and backhoe/loader are a representative sample of attachments for the Micro-Utility Vehicle, and point to the versatility of this compact support device.

AeroVironment Switchblade

The Switchblade® is designed to provide the warfighter with a back-packable, non-line-of-sight precision strike solution with minimal collateral effects. It can rapidly provide a powerful, but expendable miniature flying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) package on a beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) target within minutes.

 

This miniature, remotely-piloted or autonomous platform can either glide or propel itself via quiet electric propulsion, providing real-time GPS coordinates and video for information gathering, targeting, or feature/object recognition. The vehicle’s small size and quiet motor make it difficult to detect, recognize and track even at very close range. The Switchblade is fully scalable and can be launched from a variety of air and ground platforms.
The Army is also reportedly fond of its ability to conduct strikes with less collateral damage than you get from a Hellfire missile.

Neany Arrow

This Military drone is 19 feet long, with a 26-foot wingspan and has a top speed is 70 knots, about 80 miles an hour. It has an autonomous takeoff and landing system and requires “no manual flight input from the operators,” according to company literature.

Neany DragonSpy

NEANY is debuting its first unmanned surface vehicle prototype, DragonSpy, the USV comes equipped with an ARES 7.62mm externally powered gun, an ultra-light weapons mount and i2Tech’s i200L camera. Neany makes an electric variant with a 3-hour endurance and low acoustic signature. DragonSpy can also survey waterways in real time, something program director Matt Young says can benefit border patrol, nuclear plants, military and homeland security.

 

OshKosh M-ATV 6×6 demonstrator

Oshkosh Defense made huge headlines weeks ago when the Army announced that it had selected the company to design the next joint light tactical vehicle or JLTV, the replacement for the Humvee. The Army currently doesn’t have a program for the M-ATV, which can seat as many as 15, a full squad, and features all-wheel drive

 

Oshkosh also markets an autonomous vehicle technology called the TerraMax that essentially turns any OshKosh vehicle into a self-driving drone, including the M-ATV demonstrator, if need be (OshKosh confirmed.)
General Dynamics Land Systems also highlighted an M-1 tank in an SEP V3 configuration that included new armor, an auxiliary power unit and line replaceable units for vehicle electronics, Callan noted. And the company showed a “Laser Stryker” capable of countering UAVs and counter-rockets, artillery and mortars, he added.

 

“If DoD is interested in mature off-the-shelf technology solutions, it should look not just to Silicon Valley, but into the [research and development] shops and development portfolios of its industrial base,” said Jim Tinsley, a defense analyst and managing director of Avascent.

 

 

 

 

 

References and Resources also include:

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/10/15/the_modernization_the_army_needs_113893.html

 

About Rajesh Uppal

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