US Army approves new top-attack, anti-tank landmine production

by Ashley Roque

In 2018 the US Army released the illustration of its vision for a networked landmine concept. The service has awarded Textron Systems with a low-rate initial production contract to produce its new XM204 top-attack munition. (US Army)

The US Army awarded Textron Systems with a five-year, low-rate initial production contract to produce its new XM204 top-attack munition, a landmine designed to destroy combat vehicles.

Henry Finneral, the company's senior vice-president for weapon systems, told Janes on 9 August about the new contract inked in late July worth up to USD354 million. So far, he said the army has ordered 117 XM204 units and 38 trainers for delivery between July and late September 2023. Each subsequent order could range from 25 to 400-plus weapons, Finneral added.

This new weapon is part of the army's plan to replace its Family of Scatterable Mines (FASCAM), which it deems to be ‘nearing their end of useful life'. This replacement plan includes the XM204 top-attack munition and a future bottom-attack munition. Both would eventually be tied together to form a ‘full network capability'.

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L3Harris to buy Viasat datalink business

by Marc Selinger

Viasat's datalink products include software-programmable radios. (Viasat)

L3Harris Technologies plans to expand its military communications portfolio by acquiring Viasat's Tactical Data Link (TDL) business for about USD2 billion, the two US-based companies announced on 3 October.

Viasat's TDL products, including terminals and handheld radios, enable troops aboard aircraft, ground vehicles, and ships to securely share voice and data communications on the Link 16 military network. The TDL business, which is part of Viasat's Government Systems segment, employs about 450 people and generates about USD400 million in annual sales.

The acquisition is part of a broader effort by L3Harris to help the US Department of Defense implement its Joint All-Domain Command-and-Control (JADC2) concept, which calls for connecting sensors across the military services. The company received a contract award in July to upgrade the US Navy's situational awareness and fire-control equipment. L3Harris is one of five companies the US Air Force recently selected to improve its battle management and command-and-control infrastructure.

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QinetiQ to buy training firm Air Affairs Australia

by Marc Selinger

Air Affairs Australia's products include the catapult-launched Phoenix Jet target drone. (Air Affairs Australia)

UK-based defence contractor QinetiQ Group has agreed to acquire military training company Air Affairs Australia (AAA) for GBP31 million (USD34.8 million), expanding its presence in an important country, the buyer announced on 3 October.

AAA's products include the Phoenix Jet target drone, which simulates airborne threats during weapon systems training, and the MTR-101 Reeling Machine, which attaches to an aircraft's exterior to launch and recover towed targets. Based in the city of Nowra in New South Wales, AAA employs about 180 people, and it generated AUD43 million (USD27.8 million) in revenue in the fiscal year that ended on 30 June.

QinetiQ also announced on 3 October that it is selling small-satellite designer QinetiQ Space NV of Belgium to US-based Redwire Corporation for GBP28 million as part of a portfolio reshaping effort. Space NV's main customer is the European Space Agency.

QinetiQ said it expects to complete both transactions by mid-November.

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Ukraine conflict: US Congress backs more Ukraine aid

by Marc Selinger

The US Capitol building in Washington, DC. (Janes/Marc Selinger)

The US Congress has passed a bill that will provide more than USD12.3 billion in additional Ukraine-related military and economic assistance to continue countering Russia's more-than-seven-month-old invasion.

The package, which President Joe Biden signed into law on 30 September following congressional approval, includes USD3 billion for weapons, training, and other support for Ukrainian forces; USD1.5 billion to replenish Pentagon stocks of equipment sent to Ukraine; USD540 million to increase production of munitions shipped to Ukraine or countries helping Ukraine; USD2.8 billion for US military operations in the region; and USD4.5 billion to help Ukraine's government continue operating. It also contains USD2 million for the US Department of Defense (DoD) inspector general to monitor Ukraine funding to ensure it is spent as intended.

The House of Representatives passed the bill on 30 September, a day after the Senate took the same step. The Biden administration requested the aid in early September, saying the USD40 billion package that Congress approved for Ukraine in May was running out.

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The US Army awarded Textron Systems with a five-year, low-rate initial production contract to produc...

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