Update: US Army laser weapon programme competitor reaches development milestone

by Meredith Roaten

Lockheed Martin's Directed Energy Interceptor for Manoeuvre Short-Range Air Defence System demonstrated ‘first light' in January 2023. (Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin on 23 January announced its offering for the US Army's directed-energy weapon programme reached ‘first light', a development milestone that comes ahead of an expected competition to build the capability for the service.

Lockheed Martin's 50 kW Directed Energy Interceptor for Manoeuvre Short-Range Air Defence System (DEIMOS) achieved a first light demonstration on 13 January at the company's laser facility in Bothell, Washington state. The test measures the beam quality of the system and evaluates the spectral beam combination (SBC) architecture, a milestone for the weapon technology as it prepares to compete for the army's Directed Energy Manoeuvre Short-Range Air Defence (DE M-SHORAD) programme.

DEIMOS – which will eventually compete against a system designed by Kord Technologies and Raytheon – could be ready for field integration tests by 2024, Lockheed Martin officials told Janes on 23 January.

“The key benefit of the company's SBC is that power can be scaled while retaining the excellent beam quality of the individual fibre lasers,” according to a statement.

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Australia begins local production of Boxer CRVs

by Kapil Kajal

Rheinmetall Defence Australia's Boxer CRV, the variant of the ARTEC Boxer designed for the Australian project Land 400 Phase 2 requirement, and fitted with the Lance two-person turret armed with the MK30-2/ABM cannon. (Rheinmetall Defence)

Rheinmetall Defence Australia's Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) has begun full-scale production of the locally made Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles (CRVs) in Redbank, Ipswich.

In a joint press release on 20 March, the Queensland government and Rheinmetall Defence Australia said that with the completion of technology and skills transfer to Rheinmetall's workforce, the full-scale local production of the Boxer CRVs at the MILVEHCOE can commence.

With the support of the Queensland government, Rheinmetall secured the USD5.2 billion Land 400 Phase 2 project to deliver 211 Boxer CRVs to the Australian Defence Force.

In mid-October 2022, the Australian Army announced that the first 25 Boxer CRVs, partially manufactured in Germany, had achieved initial operating capability following testing and live exercises.

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DSEI Japan 2023: Japan plans induction of 250 Type 16 MCVs

by Jon Grevatt

ATLA displayed the Type 16 MCV at the DSEI Japan 2023 exhibition in Chiba. (Janes/Jon Grevatt)

The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) plans to procure a total of 250 Type 16 Mobile Combat Vehicles (MCVs), Japan's Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) told Janes on 15 March at the DSEI Japan 2023 exhibition in Chiba.

ATLA officials said the JGSDF has ordered and taken delivery of about 100 MCVs and orders for 150 additional vehicles – including variants – are expected in the next few years. The MCVs, which are also referenced as Maneuver Combat Vehicles, are built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) at its facility in Kanagawa Prefecture.

In fiscal year (FY) 2022, Japan's Ministry of Defense (MoD) ring-fenced funding of JPY23.7 billion (USD178.4 million) for 33 vehicles. In FY 2023, the MoD has allocated funding of JPY13.6 billion for 26 MCVs. A total of 22 vehicles were procured in FY 2021.

Initial development of the MCV started in the late 2000s and the first vehicle was delivered to the JGSDF in 2017 to start replacing the service's ageing fleet of Komatsu Type 96 8×8 armoured personnel carriers (APCs).

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Pentagon budget 2024: US Army slows some legacy platform upgrades

by Meredith Roaten

US Soldiers in an M1 Abrams tank compete in the Strong Europe Tank Challenge at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany, in June 2018. The US Army will enhance 34 of its Abrams MBTs to the System Enhancement Package (SEP) v3 configuration if its FY 2024 budget request is enacted. (US Army )

If enacted, the US Army's budget request would cut ground vehicles out of enduring programmes and reinvest in procurement and research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) for newer programmes, according to budget documents released on 13 March.

The US Army's total request for tracked combat vehicles went up from USD740 million to USD949 million for FY 2024, while modifications for tracked combat vehicles slumped from USD3.2 billion to USD2.3 billion.

The M1 Abrams main battle tank (MBT) upgrade programme, with a request for USD800.3 million for 34 vehicles, is down from the USD1.1 billion lawmakers authorised for the service in FY 2023. The army proposed cuts for the programme last year, but lawmakers increased the amount of funding in the final defence appropriations.

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Lockheed Martin on 23 January announced its offering for the US Army's directed-energy weapon progra...

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