US Army ‘defers' Robotic Combat Vehicle-Medium fleet development

by Ashley Roque

An RCV-M prototype fires a round at a target during the vehicle's live-fire testing at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in June 2021. The service has decided it will postpone development of this larger robot, and instead focus on developing the RCV-L. (US Army)

US Army soldiers will not be operating a Robotic Combat Vehicle-Medium (RCV-M) fleet any time soon after service leaders decided to postpone such a future programme to first focus on developing a fleet of smaller unmanned vehicles, according to Doug Bush, the service's assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics, and technology.

The service selected QinetiQ North America and Pratt Miller (now acquired by Oshkosh Defense) to build four RCV-Light (RCV-L) prototypes in early 2020, and a Textron Systems, Howe & Howe Technologies, and FLIR Systems team to build four RCV-M prototypes. Once the service received the vehicles it embarked on a testing series designed to lead up to a soldier experiment between June and August 2022.

However, the army has already decided it will move forward with RCV-L development, and an associated ‘full and open' competition, while also planning to develop a larger fleet.


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SNC to trial ISR high-altitude balloon for UK MoD

by Olivia Savage

SNC to demonstrate stratospheric ISR capability to UK MoD (Sierra Nevada Corporation)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has selected Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) unmanned high-altitude balloon (HAB) as part of Project Aether, the company announced on 10 August.

Project Aether is a UK MoD programme that seeks an unmanned stratospheric ultra-persistent communication and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.

An SNC spokesperson told Janes that the company intends to launch the platform in September during a 12-day period in the southwestern region of the US.

The MoD is soliciting bids for the next phase (Flight 2), which is expected in 2023, the SNC spokesperson added.

According to an MoD pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) issued in December 2021, Project Aether is a GBP100 million (USD120 million) programme that will span from 31 May 2022 to 31 December 2023.

The PQQ stated that the stratospheric unmanned system must be “on task for several months at a time … with minimal maintenance efforts and [have] global reach”.


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Babcock and IAI to collaborate on radar for UK Serpens project

by Olivia Savage

IAI, Elta Systems, and Babcock to co-offer C-MMR radar for UK Serpens weapon-locating radar programme. (IAI Elta Systems)

Babcock is to collaborate with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and subsidiary Elta Systems to offer a deep-find radar solution for the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) Serpens programme.

According to a Babcock announcement on 11 August, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with IAI and Elta Systems to offer IAI-Elta's Compact Multi-Mission Radar (C-MMR) system for the Serpens programme.

A Babcock official was unable to provide further comment on the MOU at the time of publication.

The C-MMR system is intended for air defence and artillery weapon-location missions, the announcement said.

Babcock noted that the MOU will help establish their system integration and through-life support while also developing its radar assembly and maintenance expertise.

Project Serpens, a British Army programme, seeks a new weapon-locating radar system. A request for information announced in October 2019 detailed that the new system would involve a suite of networked sensor systems to detect, acquire, track, and assess adversary indirect fire threats, including mortars, artillery, and rockets at “vastly increased” ranges compared with the current fielded systems.


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US Navy receives first next-generation Growler jammer pods

by Gillian Rich

The Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB) fleet representative pods were delivered to the US Navy in July 2022. The pods are part of a system that will eventually replace the Boeing EA-18G Growler's ALQ-99 system. (US Navy)

Raytheon Intelligence & Space recently delivered its first ALQ-249 Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB) pods to the US Navy. The jammer pods are part of a system that will eventually replace the Boeing EA-18G Growler's ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System.

Raytheon delivered the pods to the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Patuxent River, Maryland, on 7 July, the service announced on 8 August. The pods will be used to complete the jammer's developmental test programme and start the operational test programme, the navy said in a statement. Initial operational capability (IOC) is scheduled for the second half of 2023.

The NGJ-MB has more power than the Growler's ALQ-99 and the ability to target multiple systems, said Lieutenant Alexander Belbin, project officer with NAWCAD's Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23.


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US Army soldiers will not be operating a Robotic Combat Vehicle-Medium (RCV-M) fleet any time soon a...

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