Shelling out: US Army on road to 100,000 rounds per month of 155 mm ammo

by Meredith Roaten

Workers at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant prepare 155 mm artillery rounds to be filled as a part of the load, assemble, and pack operation. (US Army)

It has been more than a year since the US Army announced its ramp-up of 155 mm ammunition was under way. Now, the Pentagon has to find a way to more than double its production output by the end of the year as the war in Ukraine marches on.

The 155 mm artillery round is fired by several weapons that see heavy usage in Ukraine, and one estimate – cited by the European Union's (EU's) European Parliament – puts soldiers in the field going through as many as 7,000 shells per day. Delays in US congressional appropriations have hit the Pentagon just as the army was getting its production ramped up.

“Without USAI [Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative], we're not able to sustain the same levels of provision of capability to Ukraine,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Celeste Wallander told reporters in a January 2024 briefing.


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RAF, RAAF reform respective 80 Sqns as US-based F-35 data centres

by Gareth Jennings

The chiefs of the RAF and RAAF reconstituting their respective 80 Squadrons during a joint ceremony at Eglin AFB in the US. (Crown Copyright)

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) stood up their respective 80 Squadrons on 17 April to serve as US-based data units for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

Announced by the RAF, the two separate but linked squadrons were reconstituted during a joint ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida.

“At the event, the [UK] Chief of the Air Staff, [Air Chief Marshal] Sir Richard Knighton, and [Australian] Chief of the Air Force Air Marshal Robert Chipman, formally awarded the dormant 80 Squadron number plates for each service to their respective teams within the Australia, Canada, and United Kingdom Reprogramming Laboratory [ACURL],” the RAF said.


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France touts new modular trainer aircraft with Spain, UK

by Gareth Jennings

With France having an approaching requirement to replace its Alpha Jets, the country has touted the possibility of a joint modular solution with Spain and the UK. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

France has raised the possibility of developing or acquiring a new modular advanced jet trainer aircraft with Spain and the United Kingdom.

Responding to a question in the National Assembly on 16 April, Minister of the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu said that, with France's Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets nearing the end of their service lives, the country is considering a replacement tied to the future training requirements of its two European neighbours.

“Beyond 2032 … all solutions are conceivable and being studied, particularly with the United Kingdom and Spain,” the minister said, adding, “These solutions consist of developing or acquiring a modular aircraft that meets the needs of both [the Patrouille de France national aerobatic display team] and ‘Red Air', but also [other] aircraft, in the light of the [training requirement for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/Système de Combat Aérien du Futur (SCAF)] and its manned [aircraft component], the NGF [New Generation Fighter].”


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DRDO test-fires ‘Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile'

by Kapil Kajal

The ITCM (pictured above from its test on 18 April) is a technology demonstrator programme to validate the capability of small turbofan engines. (Indian Ministry of Defence)

India's state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) test-fired its ‘Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile (ITCM)' from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur off the northeastern coast of Odisha, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a press release on 18 April.

“During the test, all subsystems performed as per expectation and the missile performance was monitored by several range sensors like radar, electro optical tracking system (EOTS), and telemetry deployed by [the] ITR at different locations to ensure complete coverage of the flightpath,” the MoD said.

The flight of the missile was also monitored from the Su-30-MKI aircraft of the Indian Air Force, the MoD added.

The missile followed the desired path using “waypoint navigation and demonstrated very-low-altitude sea-skimming flight”, according to the MoD.

“This successful flight test has also established the reliable performance of the indigenous propulsion system developed by the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), Bengaluru,” the MoD said.


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It has been more than a year since the US Army announced its ramp-up of 155 mm ammunition was under ...

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