Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Rafael Samson Dual 30 on JLTV

Rafael Aiming for JLTV Weapons Carrier Variants with Samson

AUSA 2017 saw Rafael exhibiting a JLTV with active protection and a 30mm Remote RWS.

The RWS showcased is a modified version of the Samson Dual armed with OATK M230LF 30mm automatic cannon and a 7.62mm machine gun.

It seems, M230LF is becoming a popular weapon. Given its light weight and low recoil combined with high lethality makes it an attractive choice versus .50cal and Mk19.

So far, four companies offered RWS's with M230:
  • EOS
  • Kongsberg
  • Rafael
  • Moog
Moog's RIwP differs from the others in terms of modularity. It is also quite larger than the other systems, especially EOS and Kongsberg, which are basically .50cal RWS systems modified for M230.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Bradley Short Range Air Defense & Anti-UAS Concept - M-SHORAD

Bradley Short Range Air Defense & Anti-UAS Concept


BAE Systems unveiled a new Bradley concept in this year's AUSA Exhibition. 

This is a revived variant of the now phased-out M6 Linebacker that had four stinger missiles instead of the two TOW missiles.

The new concept is called as 'Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense' M-SHORAD. M-SHORAD is a sensor heavy platform.

M-SHORAD Bradley is armed with an OATK M230LF 30mm chaingun and 4 Stinger short range surface-to-air missiles.

The reason, this vehicle carrier M230LF instead of 25mm M242 is the upcoming proximity fused ammunition for the M230. The proximity ammunition will enable sensing of the target and air burst fragmentation that will provide a much better capability to engage air targets.

From an OATK company announcement:
"The company is also developing an advanced proximity-fuzing capability for a new round that will provide the company’s M230 Chain Gun with improved sensing of target signatures in high clutter environments, combined with an air-bursting capability. The company will demonstrate the proximity round during the 2018 Bushmaster User Conference next spring..."

Another capability that is evident on this Bradley is the Anti-Unmanned Aerial System setup on a mast at the back of the turret.

This system is developed by the company LiteEye and called AUDS.

From the product sheet:

The AUDS system combines electronic-scanning radar target detection, electro-optical (EO) tracking/classification and directional RF inhibition capability.

AUDS is a smart-sensor and effector package capable of remotely detecting small UAS and then tracking and classifying them before providing the option to disrupt their activity. The system may be used in remote or urban areas to prevent UASs being used for terrorist attacks, espionage or other malicious activities against sites with critical infrastructure. AUDS not only works to cover your airspace, but also as a ground surveillance system as well.

The system consists of a radar with 8km range; an EO package with thermal imager, day camera and video-tracker; and an RF Inhibitor to disrupt the drone's C2 channels.

An in addition to those sensors, there are multiple pMHR radars located on the sides of the turret. MHR is an acronym for Multi-Mission Hemispheric Radar (MHR).

The MHR radar is an S Band, Software-Defined, Pulse-Doppler, AESA, GaN based radar – which delivers sophisticated beam forming capabilities and advanced signal processing. It provides multiple missions on each radar platform and can combine C-UAS and C-RAM operational missions on the same radar, thus delivering ideal organic, tactical surveillance solutions for force protection missions.

The pMHR radar is a lightweight version of the MHR, enabling the portability of the system, and is an ideal solution for force protection missions on the move.

Monday, July 31, 2017

NAMER with New Remote Turret


NAMER IFV with Remote Turret

Namer is the Heavy Armored Personnel Carrier (H-APC) of the Israel Defense Forces based on the chassis of the Merkava 4 MBT. Namer H-APC has a crew of 12 including driver, commander, gunner and 9 dismounts. The vehicle is heavily armored against ballistic and mine/IED threats. The combat weight of NAMER is 62 tons! So that's why it is called a Heavy APC..

So far, we have seen Namers armed with only 12.7mm or 40mm grenade launcher armed Remote Weapon Stations (RWS). It's been tested with Rafael and Elbit's 30mm remote weapon stations before, however the in service vehicles are only armed with 12.7mm RWS's.

However, Israel Defense website (http://www.israeldefense.co.il)  has published an article that shows the Namer armed with a new remote turret. The turret does not look like the existing products of Rafael or Elbit. The turret seems quite large.

In the article, it is stated that the turret is unmanned and armed with a 30mm automatic cannon. 

As far as I can see from the video, the turret is fully armored. There two sighting systems, one on the LHS of the main gun, probably gunner's and the other on top of the turret on RHS of the main gun being most probably the commander's sighting system. The commander's sight system seems to have independent traverse, indicating hunter-killer capability.

The main gun seems to be a 30mm Orbital ATK Mk44. From the video I was unable to see exactly  if there is  a secondary machine gun; however I highly suspect there should be one.

There are multiple access hatched on the top, sides and back of the turret. 

The turret has active protection system installed. On the front and rear sides, it seems the Rafael Trophy Active Protection System radars are located and on the top of the side protrusions on each side, Trophy launchers and blast shields are located.

The article states the turret will also be installed on the new Eitan 8x8 armored vehicle.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bell's V-247 Vigilant Unmanned Tilt Rotor

Bell V-247 Vigilant

Bell V-247 Vigilant (Copyright Bell Helicopter)

Bell Helicopter's Press Release dated September, 2016 outlines the Unmanned Tilt-Rotor:

"The Bell V-247 Vigilant satisfies the comprehensive spectrum of capabilities outlined in the 2016 Marine Corps Aviation Plan, and could be available for production as early as 2023.

The Bell V-247 Vigilant is a solution designed to address the evolving demands of the military and transportation sectors for unmanned aircraft for a shipborne UAS platform, including:

  • The ability to operate successfully without a runway, such as in maritime environments
  • Seamless performance in locations without secure runway availability, such as at shrinking land bases in contested areas
  • Significant reduction of the logistical footprint while retaining the superior operational performance by combining the vertical lift capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a conventional fixed-wing aircraft
  • The capacity to control the battle space effectively with 24-hour intelligence provided by unmatched long-endurance persistent expeditionary and surveillance capability

A Group 5 UAS, the Bell V-247 Vigilant is designed to combine unparalleled capability with unprecedented flexibility to execute a wide array of mission sets, including electronic warfare, ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance), escort, C4 (Command, Control, Communications, and Computers), persistent fire missions and tactical distribution. The UAS is expected to accomplish all of this with the benefits of extended endurance through plug-and-play mission packages. 

The Bell V-247 Vigilant’s design boasts a number of unrivaled capabilities and transformational features,including:
  • A sea-based platform,which can be sized for compatibility with DDG guided missile destroyers shipboard applications
  • Single engine tiltrotor unmanned aerial system
  • 24-hour persistent ISR with a two aircraft system
  • Speed: 250 knots cruise speed; 
    • 180 knots endurance speed; 
    • >300 knots at maximum continuous power
  • Combat range: 450 nautical miles mission radius
  • Time on station: 11 hours
  • As it sits on the deck, the V-247 Vigilant can hold a combination of fuel, armament, and sensors, up to 13,000 pounds [5.900 kg's] 
  • Blade Fold Wing Stow makes V-247 Vigilant DDG hangar compatible
  • Expeditionary capability with small logistical footprint
  • Open architecture and interfaces
  • Air-to-air refueling
  • Modular payload system to provide maximum flexibility
  • Power distribution system to provide maximum mission capability
  • Redundant flight control system
  • Electro Optical System and Targeting System

The Bell V-247 Vigilant offers a dynamic profile that is uniquely suited to complete highly versatile operations and support missions. It is designed to provide extended range flying from land or ship, matchless expeditionary capabilities and to remain on-station with heightened loiter times for extended periods. With its signature blade fold wing stow design, it will fit inside a DDG hangar space, and two can be loaded ona C-17 aircraft. The open architecture of the modular payload system enhances flexibility for aircraft customization by mission type. 

The bays on the Bell V-247 Vigilant are designed to carry high definition sensors, fuel, sonar buoys, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) modules, 360-degree surface radar modules, an MK-50 torpedo or Hellfire or JAGM missiles optimally. Regardless of the need, the Bell V-247 Vigilant easily integrates into priority mission sets to complete multiple airborne requirements. 

“Leveraging lessons learned from our extensive history and experience with tiltrotors, we have found the best available solution to fulfill the Marine Corps need for a Group 5 UAS,” said Vince Tobin, vice president, advanced tiltrotor systems at Bell Helicopter. “The Bell V-247 Vigilant will give military customers the capabilities needed to reduce the complexity of deployment, increase speed of employment, reduce mission times and increase response time–all critical elements to completing missions to save lives and protect our freedom.”Bell Helicopter utilized its decades of applied tiltrotor experience to develop this next generation UAS. The Bell V-247 Vigilant design and capabilities bring to bear experience from theV-22 tiltrotor program and UH-1Y/AH-1Z programs, capturing the V-280 Valor’s unmatched design and performance standards in order to provide unparalleled competency to support ship-board compatibility."

Bell Eagle Eye Tiltrotor UAV

Once upon a time there was another Bell unmanned tiltrotor: the Eagle Eye.

Bell Eagle Eye (https://www.flightglobal.com)

It seems both concepts are very similar, with Vigilant being a considerably larger version of Eagle Eye. Vigilant, unlike Eagle Eye, does not have the engines located at the end of wings.

Bell Eagle Eye (http://www.militaryfactory.com)

Dimensional comparison between the two Tiltrotors:

  • Wing Span: 
    • Eagle Eye: 7.2m
    • Vigilant: 19.8m
  • Rotor Diameter: 
    • Eagle Eye: 2.9m
    • Vigilant: 9.1m
  • Empty Weight
    • Eagle Eye:590 kg
    • Vigilant: 7.260 kg (metric)
  • Max Gross Weight
    • Eagle Eye: 1.020 kg
    • Vigilant: 13.400 kg

Sunday, May 14, 2017



Teber Two Man Turret

In IDEF 2017 exhibition, FNSS Savunma Sistemleri of Turkey unveiled Teber Two-Man Turret for the first time.

TEBER is a modular turret system in the medium caliber range that can be offered in Two-Man or Unmanned (Remote) configurations. 

Turret is armed with an Orbital ATK 30mm or 40mm Bushmaster automatic cannon as main armament. Mk44 Bushmaster cannon is the next generation member of the OATK's Bushmaster family after the venerable M242 25mm Bushmaster. In standard configuration Mk44 fires 30x173mm ammunition. However, with change of barrel and some parts in the feeder of the gun, the same cannon can fire what is called as the 'SuperShot 40', that fires 40x180mm ammunition.

This enables a modular lethality capability to the turret system, that can be configured to engage different threat levels.

Mk44 Bushmaster 30/40mm

30x173mm and SuperShot 40: 40x180mm

Both calibers offer HE, AP and Programmable Air Burst PABM ammunition. However Supershot 40 offers increased capabilities such as:

  • Nearly 1.5 times lethality increase in HE ammunition over 30mm
  • 3 times lethality increase for PABM over 30mm
  • Nearly 1.5 times penetration increase in APFSDS ammunition over 30mm

Teber turret is also armed with an OATK Mk52 7.62mm electric operated machine gun as the secondary armament. This machine gun enables better control on firing, no dependence to the propellant quality and strong belt pull eliminating the need for a powered forwarder for large quantities of ready rounds. The propellant fumes from firing discharged inside the turret is dramatically minimized compared with the conventional gas operated machine guns. In fact, Mk52 is the redesigned new version of the venerable Hughes EX-34 or L94A1 machine gun used in British Army Challenger and Warriors.

Mk52 7.62mm ChainGun

The weapons in Teber can function through an elevation range of -10 to +50 degrees.

The key to effective use of these weapons is the ability to rapidly acquire and accurately engage targets. This is provided by the advanced fire control system, independent stabilized sight systems for the gunner and commander and the electric gun turret drive system. The gun and turret drive systems are controlled using gyro stabilization for accurate fire on the move. The turret drives in the manned configuration are provided with manual drives that are located in the gunner's compartment.

The independent sight systems provide the ability to fight in daylight and darkness, in all weather, and in smoke and dust with high image quality due to its independent stabilization and in Hunter-Killer mode increasing effectiveness. The embedded fire control system with automatic target tracking (ATT) provides automatic ballistic offsets in lead and super elevation for selected ammunition ballistics, target range, cross wind, temperature, and cant.

The commander's sight has 360 degree panoramic motion capability and armor protection. Both the gunner's and commander's sights are equipped with thermal cameras, day cameras and laser range finders.

The manned variant also houses a direct optic back-up sight system with armored housing that enables another reversionary mode for the crew.

TEBER-30 manned version is a Two-Man turret with commander and gunner located in the turret basket. Commander is seated on the right hand side of the turret with the gunner to his left. Both gunner and commander has full control of the turret with the commander having override capability.

Turret offers different modes of operation for the commander and gunner providing flexibility in tactical situations. Both the commander and gunner can take control of the any sighting system in the turret and also the command of the weapons.

Teber Two-Man configuration offers a very large ready round capability with 300 30mm ready rounds in two compartments. The gunner identifies the type of ammunition in each compartment to the fire control system and the system applies the correct ballistic parameters.

For the 7.62mm machine gun there is 1.200 ready rounds inside.

The turret structure is a ballistically protected enclosed structure that houses the crew compartment, main and secondary weapons, ammunition stowage for the main and secondary guns, radios and intercom, gun turret drive system, fire control system, gunner and commander sights and sensors and command interfaces for the commander and gunner.

The turret offers STANAG 4569 Level IV ballistic protection all-around thru the use of ceramic composite and RHA steel armor. The turret can also be offered with a frontal protection level of STANAG 4569 Level V.

The interior of the turret is designed for growth potential and maximum crew comfort.

TEBER Remote Turret

In IDEF 2017, FNSS also exhibits the unmanned configuration of the Teber turret on the Kaplan-30 IFV.

Teber Turret in Unmanned Configuration

Teber Remote Turret is also armed with 30/40mm Mk44 autocannon and 7.62mm Mk52 machine gun.

The whole turret is above the hull with no penetration to the vehicle offering more room inside the vehicle for dismounts. The gunner and commander are located inside the vehicle and command the turret thru their command consoles.

Teber 30/40 Remote Turret

The turret similar to the manned version is equipped with two stabilized sight systems for the gunner and commander, with the commander sight having 360 degrees panoramic motion capability.

The ballistic protection offered for the remote version is configurable to provide an optimized weight solution.

The fire control and other capabilities of the remote version is the same as the manned version providing maximum commonality between the configurations.

This also offers a common turret family that can be used in manned and unmanned configurations in fleet of armored vehicles with different missions.

My take on Remote vs Manned Turrets..

These days the remote turrets have become a viable alternative to manned systems. However I do not believe that the remote systems will totally replace the manned systems very soon.

Remote turrets have some drawbacks based on the crew having been located inside the hull with total dependency on the sensors/electro-optics. 

Whereas in a two-man turret, the commander's having all around surveillance vision from the highest point of the vehicle or even looking thru the periscopes provide an important advantage in terms of situational awareness which is somehow a lacking capability in remote turrets. In addition, the sighting systems in the remote turrets, cannot include direct view optics, which is also an important requirement in some armies today. Although there are options such as fiber optic sights, the limitations on the number of fibers that can be bundled, degrades the image quality.

Another issue for the remote turrets is the difficulty of the gunner keeping his awareness of the barrel orientation with respect to the vehicle. The gunner is located inside the hull and his sensory feedback only feels the vehicle accelerations; thus after a short while it is not uncommon for the gunner to start having difficulties on where the turret is oriented with respect to the vehicle, especially when the stabilization is turned on. 

This can be overcome to some extent by utilizing easy to understand indications on the gunner's display.

I also want to stress another issue that I frequently hear that says the remote turrets offer an important advantage in weight compared with manned turrets. This is not entirely a correct statement. First of all the main difference structurally between a manned and unmanned turret is the elimination of basket structure, crew seating, crew hatches and periscopes in the remote turret concept. On the other hand, you still have to put two seats inside the vehicle for the commander and gunner. Also the displays, handles, structural elements for these still have to be located inside the vehicle. So these are weight-wise not totally eliminated albeit some reduction in the volume invaded compared with the basket swept volume for a manned turret.

However, the ammunition boxes for the main and secondary armament that are generally in the basket for the two-man turret have to be relocated to the turret hull. The hull of the manned turret does not include these, so it usually means you have to increase the turret hull dimensions to accommodate the ammo boxes. As increased dimensions translate to more surface area and more surface area translates to increase in weight, you don’t get to save that much weight by converting to a remote turret.

The trick here is the reduction of protection levels for a remote turret that enables reduction in weight. When you have the crew inside the hull and can accept a reduction in the protection level of the turret, you can save considerable weight by using a remote turret instead of a manned one.

So, in my opinion, the remote turrets although offer some advantages are not the perfect solution to replace all the other turrets.

The correct answer lies in the configuration and mission of the vehicle, such as:

  • If the vehicle is a pure IFV that is going to go head to head with the enemy vehicles, two men turrets offering more situational awareness and control over the battlefield would have a definite advantage.
  • Again if the vehicle is configured as a personnel carrier - APC, you would need as much room inside as possible, making the remote turret the preferred choice. The US Stryker lethality program is a good example of this approach. US Army naturally does not want to reduce the number of dismounts in the vehicle and thus opted for a remote turret.
  • If the vehicle is a reconnaissance vehicle that is to be used for recon-with-fire principle, again the two-man turrets offer more advantages for situational awareness. 
  • For a reconnaissance platform relying more on electro-optics and sensors following the principle of reconnaissance by stealth, you will need more room inside the vehicle for operators, more displays, consoles, etc. Remote turrets should be preferred. 
  • For a command platform, again you need more room inside for command consoles, communication equipment, etc. Remote turrets would be a better solution.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

FNSS Remote Missile Turret with Kornet ATGM

IDEF 2017

Remote Turret from FNSS

FNSS Remote Missile Turret

In this year's IDEF 2017 Defense Exhibition in Istanbul, Turkey, FNSS Savunma Sistemleri unveiled the Remote Kornet ATGM turret integrated on the Pars 4x4 platform.

The turret is armed with two Kornet missiles and a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun. The Kornet missile is a Russian laser beam guided missile with 5.500m maximum range. 

The turret is remotely controlled from inside the vehicle via a gunner's console.

FNSS Kornet ATGM Remote Turret

FNSS Remote ATGM Turret