AUSA 2021: US aims to ramp up hypersonic weapon industrial base, cut unit costs

by Daniel Wasserbly

A C-HGB launches from Pacific Missile Range Facility during a Defense Department flight experiment in March 2020. (US Navy/Oscar Sosa)

US contractors are working to productionise hypersonic-speed strike weapons, and rapidly shift them from costly hand-built prototypes into usable equipments that the Pentagon is willing to buy.

Lockheed Martin is a prime contractor for the Navy-Army All Up Round + Canister (AUR+C) for the army's Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) integration, and for the US Navy's Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) hypersonic project. LRHW and CPS are to use the same booster stack and Common-Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB), for which Dynetics is the prime contractor.

LRHW is the US Army's top priority under the Army Hypersonic Project Office, part of the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO).

Lieutenant General Neil Thurgood, the army's director for hypersonics, directed energy, space, and the RCCTO, declined to give a price per round estimate for the prototyping effort. “We've got to drive the cost down, the cost per kill has to come down,” he told reporters at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) annual conference in Washington, DC.


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JSM enters series production

by Robin Hughes

A Joint Strike Missile (JSM) being released from the F-35A AF-01 instrumented test platform over Edwards Air Force Base, California. Series production of JSM for the Royal Norwegian Air Force commenced on 21 October, with the signing of an approximately USD473.3 million contract between the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. (Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency )

The Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) on 21 October awarded Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA) a NOK3.95 billion (USD473.3 million) contract to supply the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) fleet of F-35A Conventional Take-Off and Landing Lightning II multirole stealth fighters with the Joint Strike Missile (JSM) long-range precision-guided stealthy anti-surface missile. The number of JSM units to be acquired under the provisions of the contract was not disclosed.


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Australia aims to acquire sea mine capability

by Julian Kerr

Australia is considering the acquisition of a maritime mining capability that would initially be available from the mid-2020s, according to a Department of Defence (DoD) Request for Information (RFI) that closed on 25 October.

Project Sea 2000 (Maritime Mining) is designed to enhance the mine warfare capabilities of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and secure the country's maritime approaches using modern smart sea mines, the DoD said.

The RFI, which was released on 17 September, is meant to broadly understand the extent of the maritime mining market, the types of mines and methods of deployment from proven maritime mine manufacturers, and get a rough idea of costs and availability.

It also requests information on the potential for Australian sovereign manufacture, maintenance and sustainment, and supply surety.

Opportunities and constraints include economic order quantities, emerging technologies, and innovation.

Subject to government direction and approval, a sea mine capability is anticipated for the mid-2020s. An enduring capability is intended in the longer term.


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Iraqi militia ‘finds' loitering SAM

by Jeremy Binnie

The 358 SAM that was supposedly found by the PMF's 52nd Brigade. (Popular Mobilisation Forces)

A pro-Iranian element within Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) appears to have revealed that it has an unusual type of Iranian surface-to-air missile (SAM) by pretending to have found one.

The PMF published a statement on its website on 21 October saying its 52nd Brigade had thwarted a missile attack in the east of Salah-al-Din province. The statement, which was subsequently deleted, included photographs showing the same type of loitering SAM that the US Navy recovered from a dhow that was smuggling Iranian weapons to Yemen in November 2019. Other photographs taken at different locations showed a launch rail and the booster that drops off the missile after launch.

While the photographs implied the missile crashed in a field after launch, it appeared to be undamaged and still had a protective cap over its seeker, indicating it had been deliberately placed there.

The 52nd Brigade is an ethnically Turkmen unit that operates in the Tuz Khurmatu area and is reportedly affiliated to the pro-Iranian Badr Organisation.


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US contractors are working to productionise hypersonic-speed strike weapons, and rapidly shift them ...

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