Next Generation Bullets- Will They Hit Moving Targets?


By Debbie Gregory.

The Army is looking to takes bullets and mortar shells to the next level: hitting a moving target. For example, a bullet that would be able to change its trajectory, scale a wall and hit the target hiding behind it would be the ideal.

A maneuverable projectile that could continuously adjust its trajectory could offer numerous benefits, such as “extreme range extension, enhanced maneuver authority, and increased trajectory shaping. The challenge is building small projectiles with actuators that can withstand being shot out of a gun.

Some actuators can survive being launched from artillery pieces that impart a force of 20,000 times the force of gravity. But direct fire weapons can impose bigger stresses: the electromagnetic railguns that the U.S. military is developing, for example, impart a force of 60,000 times gravity.

The Army will more than likely turn the project over to a defense contractor, such as Lockheed Martin or Raytheon.

Raytheon already has skin in the guided artillery game – the company’s Excalibur shells are guided by external fins that pop out after firing. But these shells, shot indirectly from miles away, are really suited to hit stationary targets. Regular artillery shells have an accuracy of landing about 650 feet from the target, according to the army. The M1156 guidance kit, which can be fitted to turn regular shells into smart shells, has an accuracy of 165 feet, while even an Excalibur shell still has an accuracy of sixty-five feet from the target.

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Pentagon Works to Disable Drones

The "Reaper" has been chosen as the name for the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle. (Courtesy photo)

By Debbie Gregory.

To the military, they are  Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS). But they are more commonly known as drones.

Drones have an array of applications ranging from being mere hobby gadgets to their increasing use in professional photography and cinematography, intelligence, mapping, reconnaissance as well as target destination besides being used in rescue missions.

Drones are used in military situations where manned flight is considered too risky or difficult, and often times are used as weapons with the ability to drop explosives.

Although helpful on the battlefield, drones also present a clear and present danger to our troops when they are in the hands of the enemy.

Stopping the drones has become a challenge for the Pentagon and its allies.

To that end, the Pentagon is working to develop lasers and microwaves to eliminate enemy drones in the sky.

Some soldiers are equipped with “anti-drone” rifles that use pulses across radio frequencies to interfere with the vehicles’ controls.

As terrorists move to drones as their weapon of choice, the Pentagon agency called the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO) is working with defense companies to develop counter-drone strategies, including lasers and microwaves to blast drones from the sky.

While France and Holland are training eagles and other birds of prey to attack enemy drones, Raytheon is mounting a high-energy laser weapon on top of a militarized dune buggy to take out drones. Raytheon also has “the Phaser”, a high-powered microwave cannon that can scramble a drone’s avionics.

CACI is developing “SkyTracker” to find and track drones using radio frequencies. And Lockheed Martin has “Athena”, a laser capable of destroying the tail of a fixed-wing drone.

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Navy Getting Upgrade for Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles


By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Navy is about to a close a $119 million deal with Raytheon to integrate a new sensor into the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) that would increase the missile’s capability to attack moving targets at sea.

The order provides for analysis, architecture, modeling, simulation, evaluation, and prototyping for the anti-ship missile version of the Tomahawk, which will be called the Maritime Strike Tomahawk variant.

The Raytheon Missile Systems segment in Tucson, AZ will integrate seeker suite technology and processing capabilities into the Tactical Tomahawk Block IV missile in support of the Maritime Strike Tomahawk Program. Additional locations for the project include Dallas, TX and Boulder, CO.

“We’re upgrading the radio, the harnessing and the antenna for the communication. So every re-certified missile will get an upgraded navigation and communication,” said Capt. Mark Johnson, Naval Air Systems Command PMA-280 program manager.

TLAM program manager Dave Adams indicated that the final product could be a multi-mode seeker with a mix of passive and active sensors.

The Tomahawk carries a 1,000-pound high-explosive warhead or submunitions dispenser. The subsonic missile can fly more than 1,000 miles at 550 miles per hour at 98 to 160 feet above the ground or water.

Introduced by General Dynamics and in service since1983, the Tomahawk Missile was initially designed as a medium to long-range, low-altitude missile that could be launched from a surface platform. Over the years, it has been upgraded several times with guidance systems for precision navigation. From 1992-1994, McDonnell Douglas Corporation was the sole supplier of the missiles. In 1994, Hughes outbid McDonnell Douglas Aerospace to become the sole supplier of the missiles. Raytheon began manufacturing the missile in 2016.

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Army Updating Missile Defense System to Protect South Korea

patriot missile

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. and our allies across the Pacific are taking every precaution to protect South Korea from the North Korean nuclear threat.

To that end, the U.S. Army’s 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade has been engaged in an eight-month exercise to modernize its Patriot missile defense system charged with protecting Osan Air base.

The modernization effort was the result of a collaborative effort between the 35th Brigade, contractors from Raytheon, and the Lower Tier Project.

For nearly forty years, the Patriot missile defense system has protected the airspace above U.S. forces. Continuously upgraded since introduction, today it protects against the full spectrum of flying threats, from ballistic missiles to consumer-grade quadcopter drones. In fact, since January of 2015, Patriot has intercepted more than 100 ballistic missiles in combat operations around the world,” according to Raytheon.

According to the Army, work will continue to done in the coming months to fortify Army bases on the Korean peninsula against the growing threat of North Korean aggression.

Though Kim Jong-un has not publicly stated any plans to launch missiles at its enemy to the south, his regime recently made a threat to launch a nuclear missile at Guam in advance of a joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States.

On August 29th, Japan’s Air Force demonstrated a Patriot missile-defense system at Yokota in Western Tokyo, just hours after a North Korean missile flew over Hokkaido.

“Bilateral engagements like this one demonstrate the enduring strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance and the determination of both our nations to address the security challenge posed by North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs,” said Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, commander of U.S. Forces Japan.

Raytheon has built more than 220 Patriot fire units and delivered them to customers in 13 nations.

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Mark Esper to be President’s Army Secretary Nominee

mark esper

By Debbie Gregory.

After two failed attempts at appointing an Army Secretary, President Trump has selected Raytheon executive Mark Esper as his third and hopefully final nomination.

The first pick, Wall Street trader and businessman Vincent Viola, dropped out due to financial entanglements involving federal contracts. Viola is a West Point graduate and former major in the Army Reserves.

The second pick, TN State Senator and former Army flight surgeon Mark Green, withdrew his name after criticism from activists and Democrats for past statements he made on LGBT issues.

Esper has an impressive resume; a West Point grad, he served in the Gulf War, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army.

After leaving the Army, Esper worked as a Pentagon civilian, a Hill staffer, serving as an aide to both Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) and Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NB). He was director of National Security Affairs for Senate Majority Leader Frist, and served as the legislative director and senior policy adviser for Hagel, who went on to become secretary of defense.

Esper was the deputy assistant secretary of defense for negotiations policy, responsible for arms control, nonproliferation, international agreements and matters with the United Nations.

Esper is Raytheon’s vice-president for government relations. Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain (R-AZ) as well as other senators, including Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Corey Booker (D-NJ) has expressed opposition to placing industry executives in top defense postings.

McCain was absent for former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan’s confirmation vote for Deputy Secretary of Defense due to surgery. McCain’s recent cancer diagnosis makes his role in Esper’s confirmation uncertain.

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Planned Space Weapon Could Destroy Multiple Nuclear Missiles


By Debbie Gregory.

A multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) is a ballistic missile payload space weapon containing several warheads, each capable of being aimed to hit one of a group of targets.

More countries have or are developing long-range missile technology, including systems that can carry MIRVs and/or decoys.

Last year, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency awarded contracts to Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin and Boeing to begin designing what is known as a “Multi-Object Kill Vehicle” or MOKV, which could destroy several objects in space with a single launch. Raytheon’s contract was for $9,775,608.

This program is similar to an earlier program that had been terminated.

Design work on the MOKV kill vehicle concept has been underway at Raytheon’s Advanced Missile Systems, an industry-leading technology and innovation hub.

Raytheon’s plan, which is scheduled for a concept review in December, is to load multiple MOKVs onto a single missile for launch. Each MOKV would be outfitted with multiple sensors, a steering and propulsion system and communications equipment that will allow them to hone in on an individual target and hit it, destroying the object by sheer kinetic forces.

The points of impact would take place beyond Earth’s atmosphere, but on a trajectory that would send the resulting cloud of debris back into the atmosphere, where it burn up.

A major technological challenge is figuring out how to differentiate between bombs and decoys, such as balloons that look like they might have a hydrogen bomb aboard.

The military hopes to begin proof-of-concept demonstrations late next year and a non-intercept flight test in 2018. If successful, the Missile Defense Agency would conduct an intercept test in 2019.

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