US Navy-Marine Corps completes manned-unmanned rotary-wing teaming

by Richard Scott

A US Marine Corps Bell AH-1Z attack helicopter seen operating in tandem with a US Navy MQ-8C unmanned helicopter. (US DoD)

US Marine Corps (USMC) and US Navy (USN) aviation have completed a groundbreaking manned-unmanned tactical experiment, pairing Bell UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z helicopters with a Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned air system (UAS).

Undertaken on 10 March at Naval Air Facility El Centro, California, the exercise was designed to provide familiarisation and concept development of manned and unmanned rotary-wing aircraft in a realistic setting.

During a strike co-ordination and reconnaissance training exercise, UH-1Y utility and AH-1Z attack helicopters from Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron One (VMX-1) – the USMC's operational test and evaluation squadron – were tasked to conduct attacks. Under the manned-unmanned teaming construct, marines and sailors operating in a ground control station supported target detection and strike co-ordination using an MQ-8C Fire Scout UAS from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 (HSC-23).

Tactical development advanced as the exercise in El Centro progressed, said the USMC, with the result that “the navy-marine corps team became more proficient in planning, communicating, and co-ordinating effective fires from manned and unmanned rotary-wing aircraft”.

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France, Germany, Sweden launch future transport aircraft

by Gareth Jennings

Seen being displayed at ILA 2022, the C-130 in service with the Luftwaffe, the Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace, and the Swedish Air Force is one of the aircraft types earmarked for replacement by the FMTC project. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

France, Germany, and Sweden have agreed development of a new fixed-wing medium-lift transport aircraft, it was announced on 30 June.

The French Ministère des Armées reported the agreement, saying that the three countries launched the Future Mid-Size Tactical Cargo (FMTC) programme during the Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace (AAE)-hosted French Presidency of the Council of the European Union (PFUE) European Wings event.

“It was during this event on 23 June that an agreement was signed for the Future Mid-Size Tactical Cargo (FMTC), a tactical transport aircraft project replacing, by 2040, the [Lockheed Martin] C-130 Hercules and Casa [Airbus Defence and Space (DS)] CN235 fleets. Supported by the European Defence Agency (EDA), this agreement allows the definition of the aircraft intended to operate in addition to the [Airbus DS] A400M fleet from 2040,” the AAE said.

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US Army interested in enhanced M-SHORAD capability for ground threats

by Ashley Roque

An M-SHORAD Stryker, assigned to the US Army's 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery, targets a UAS and launches a Stinger missile on 9 March 2022 near Rutja in Estonia. The service is seeking industry feedback on ammunition cartridges that will enable the weapon to target ground threats too. (US Army)

The US Army wants soldiers using the Stryker-based Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) weapon to also be able to target ground threats and is seeking information about “state-of-the art” ammunition cartridges to help make that a reality.

On 27 June the service issued a sources sought notice for a potential 30×113 mm Multi-Mode Proximity Airburst (MMPA) requirement that calls for more accurate, lethal, and reliable cartridges than the currently fielded XM1198 High Explosive Dual Purpose with Self Destruct design.

More specifically, a future MMPA would provide M-SHORAD vehicles with the ability to “rapidly transition” to defeat both ground and air target sets, instead of just the latter.

“MMPA will integrate with the XM914 weapon system utilising a United States government contact fuze setter and will require advanced proximity fuze and airframe/propulsion components to meet performance goals,” the army wrote.

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Indian Navy issues RFI for Shipborne UAVs

by Akhil Kadidal

An Israel-supplied Searcher UAV of the Indian Navy on display. The MoD seeks to acquire 40 domestically manufactured UAVs for deployment on warships. (Indian Ministry of Defence)

India has announced an intention to procure 40 Naval Shipborne Unmanned Aerial Systems (NSUAS) for warships more than 100 m in length.

In a request for information (RFI) issued on 29 June, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Indian Navy said that the NSUAS will be used for surveillance tasks, including signals intelligence (SIGINT), target acquisition, reconnaissance, and maritime domain awareness around a naval task group.

Secondary roles would comprise anti-piracy, anti-terrorist activities, and assistance in Search-and-Rescue (SAR), the MoD said in the RFI document.

According to Janes data, the Indian Navy operates three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) squadrons from shore-based locations. Janes data adds that each squadron is very likely equipped with four IAI Heron Mk II and six IAI Searcher II UAVs.

The latest requirement is focused on procuring indigenously developed platforms.

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US Marine Corps (USMC) and US Navy (USN) aviation have completed a groundbreaking manned-unmanned ta...

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