Show Re­port / AUSA 2013

SP’s Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent, Wash­ing­ton DC


THE AN­NUAL CON­VEN­TION AND ex­po­si­tion of the As­so­ci­a­tion of United States Army (AUSA) which was held from Oc­to­ber 21-23 at Wash­ing­ton DC con­tin­ues to hold cen­tre stage, de­spite the loom­ing bud­getary cuts in de­fence ex­pen­di­ture. Tes­ti­mony to this has been the over 700 Army and in­dus­try ex­hibitors who used over 5,00,000 square feet of space, be­sides en­gag­ing in an­i­mated con­ver­sa­tions about cost-ef­fec­tive tech­nolo­gies.

The scene at AUSA 2013 was con­trast­ing, while Army Gen­er­als af­ter Gen­er­als talked about down­siz­ing and pri­ori­tis­ing, the equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers were ag­gres­sive in their mar­ket­ing and high­lighted how their equip­ment met the re­quire­ments of the armed forces in the cur­rent eco­nomic tur­moil. The US Depart­ment of De­fense has put in place se­ques­tra­tion and the Pen­tagon has to walk a tightrope fi­nan­cially con­sid­er­ing that it has to down­size its pro­jected bud­gets by nearly $500 bil­lion over the next decade. While this cer­tainly af­fected de­fence equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers who now have in­creas­ingly started look­ing at emerg­ing mar­kets and Asia is one big de­fence spender. Mean­while, the US Army is work­ing on down­siz­ing its man­power from the 4,90,000 sol­dier thresh­old to about 4,25,000 as per the US Army Chief of Staff, Gen­eral Ray­mond Odierno. Se­ques­tra­tion has cost the Army $1.7 bil­lion in just the first year, he said, re­sult­ing in hundreds of ve­hi­cles and thou­sands of com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems out of ser­vice for lack of main­te­nance and sol­diers un­able to train. Gen­eral (Retd) Gor­don R. Sul­li­van, AUSA Pres­i­dent, com­mented, “AUSA and se­nior Army lead­ers, with bud­get chal­lenges at top-of-mind, have crafted an­other world-class pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment ex­pe­ri­ence that ben­e­fits our Army, our in­dus­try part­ners and the Amer­i­can peo­ple by keep­ing key au­di­ences in­formed about how our Army is truly ‘glob­ally re­spon­sive and re­gion­ally en­gaged’.” The theme for this year’s pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment fo­rum was: “America’s Army: Glob­ally Re­spon­sive, Re­gion­ally En­gaged.”

KMW Pitches Puma for Bradley Re­place­ment

At AUSA, dis­cus­sion re­volved around how the ground com­bat ve­hi­cle (GCV), a re­place­ment to the Bradley be­ing de­vel­oped by BAE Sys­tems and Gen­eral Dy­nam­ics, may get af­fected in the bud­getary slash.

De­spite that Krauss-Maf­fei Weg­mann (KMW) of Mu­nich, Ger­many, made an ag­gres­sive pitch of the Puma mil­i­tary fight­ing ve­hi­cle as an ideal re­place­ment for the M2 Bradley fight­ing ve­hi­cle. KMW’s dis­play in­cluded a cross-sec­tion of a Puma hull that had sus­tained a di­rect hit by an anti-tank mine dur­ing a field test. It also dis­played the Puma’s un­manned tur­ret—equipped nearly com­pletely with US-man­u­fac­tured gear. The two weapons—a 35mm can­non and .50-cal­i­bre ma­chine gun—are made by ATK Inc. A US di­vi­sion of Meg­gitt De­fense Sys­tems built the am­mu­ni­tion-han­dling sys­tem. Moog Inc. built the tur­ret sys­tem.

Bell, Siko­rsky in Race to De­velop Air­craft for US Army

Two of the four ma­jor play­ers for the pos­si­ble re­place­ment plat­form for the US Army’s fleet of age­ing ro­tor air­craft strove to make their re­spec­tive cases dur­ing AUSA. The im­pe­tus for the two com­pa­nies—Bell He­li­copter Tex­tron and Siko­rsky Air­craft—came from an Oc­to­ber 3 an­nounce­ment by the Army Avi­a­tion and Mis­sile Re­search, De­vel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Cen­tre (AM­RDEC) which named them and two other firms—AVX Air­craft and Karem Air­craft—as the four fi­nal­ists to de­velop suit­able air­craft. Un­der the AM­RDEC di­rec­tive, the four com­pa­nies will have nine months to re­fine and de­velop their de­signs. Each must pro­duce a demon­stra­tor air­craft by the sum­mer or fall of 2017.

Bell He­li­copter pre­sented a full-scale rep­re­sen­ta­tion of its Bell V-280 Valor third-gen­er­a­tion tilt-ro­tor and pro­vides pro­gramme updates on the OH-58 Kiowa War­rior. John Gar­ri­son, Pres­i­dent and CEO of Bell He­li­copter, said, “Through con­tin­ued in­vest­ment, Bell He­li­copter pro­vides the most trusted af­ford­able and ef­fec­tive so­lu­tions for the US Army’s mis­sions to­day and to­mor­row.”

Siko­rsky Air­craft of­fered a dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent air­craft into the con­test, un­veil­ing its new name—SB-1 De­fi­ant which it is devel­op­ing jointly with Boe­ing and other cor­po­rate part­ners. De­fi­ant closely re­sem­bles a con­ven­tional he­li­copter in looks and per­for­mance. The stark dif­fer­ence is its coax­ial dual-ro­tor de­sign. “Run­ning in counter-ro­ta­tion to each other, the two large ro­tors would al­low the air­craft to move with twice the ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity and speed of con­ven­tional he­li­copters,” said Siko­rsky spokesman Frans Jur­gens.

Lighter Body Ar­mour

With body ar­mour adding be­tween 35 and 40 pounds to the loads, sol­diers must carry into com­bat; it stands to rea­son that Army lead­er­ship is press­ing its in­dus­try part­ners to de­velop bet­ter sys­tems. While no one re­ally ex­pects to see sol­diers sport­ing cam­ou­flaged ver­sions of Tony Stark’s ‘Iron Man’ suit any­time soon, com­pa­nies be­lieve they are mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant in­roads. Sain­tGobain, a long-time provider of ce­ramic 0plates used in a wide ar­ray of the Army’s body-ar­mour pack­ages, be­lieves the fu­ture lies in de­vel­op­ment of non-car­bide ma­te­ri­als that are lighter in weight than the cur­rent car­bide-based ones.

Boe­ing Tests HEL MD Laser

Boe­ing an­nounced that it would con­duct live fire tests of its high en­ergy laser mo­bile demon­stra­tor (HEL MD) tac­ti­cal laser by the end of 2013. HEL MD is a tac­ti­cal laser pro­gramme de­signed to de­feat rock­ets, mor­tars and small un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles.

AM Gen­eral’s Light Tac­ti­cal Ve­hi­cles

America’s builder of light tac­ti­cal mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles, AM Gen­eral, pre­sented sev­eral of­fer­ings from its di­verse fam­ily of light tac­ti­cal ve­hi­cles and train­ing op­er­a­tions. They in­cluded the blast re­sis­tant ve­hi­cle of­froad (BRV-O) joint light tac­ti­cal ve­hi­cle; the ground mo­bil­ity ve­hi­cle 1.1 (GMV); the mod­ernised HMMWV chas­sis and the on/ off road light tac­ti­cal ve­hi­cle sim­u­la­tor.

UTC Dis­plays Ar­ray of Prod­ucts

The com­pany ex­hib­ited a wide range of tech­nolo­gies and so­lu­tions from laser warn­ing sys­tems ap­pli­ca­tions for land plat­forms and he­li­copters to prod­ucts for guid­ance and nav­i­ga­tion con­trol. Small UAS was pre­sented along with mul­ti­ple UAS ap­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing cloud cap tech­nol­ogy TASE gim­bals and piccolo au­topi­lots. Sen­sors un­lim­ited short­wave in­frared (SWIR) cam­eras were on dis­play, in­clud­ing a hand­held vari­ant, all pro­vid­ing the ben­e­fits of be­ing able to see through ob­scu­rants such as fog, haze and smoke.

El­bit’s Cut­ting-edge So­lu­tions

The com­pany pre­sented an ar­ray of cut­ting-edge so­lu­tions de­signed to en­hance the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the US armed forces. El­bit Sys­tems of America’s in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions for land ve­hi­cle re­fur­bish­ment, up­grades and avi­a­tion ser­vices caught the attention of the at­ten­dees at AUSA.

ATK’s Medium-cal­i­bre Can­nons

ATK high­lighted mul­ti­ple prod­ucts that sup­port the US Army, in­clud­ing medium- cal­i­bre can­nons, pre­ci­sion guid­ance for ar­tillery and mor­tars, the XM25 in­di­vid­ual semi-au­to­matic air­burst sys­tem, and small-, medium- and large-cal­i­bre am­mu­ni­tion.

ATK also fea­tured its Ea­gle In­dus­tries and Black­hawk brand tac­ti­cal gear and ap­parel, spe­cial mis­sion air­craft up­grades, fa­cil­ity man­age­ment ex­per­tise and its port­fo­lio of ad­vanced fuses, war­heads and tac­ti­cal propul­sion sys­tems.

FLIR’s Ruggedised Op­ti­cal Ca­bling

FLIR demon­strated use of ruggedised, ac­tive op­ti­cal ca­bling (AOC) with its Star Safire 380-HD sen­sor. FLIR lever­ages ruggedised AOCs de­vel­oped by Ze­phyr Pho­ton­ics that en­able the tran­si­tion to op­ti­cal ca­bles with­out the typ­i­cal trou­bles as­so­ci­ated with use of fi­bre op­tic ca­bling in harsh en­vi­ron­ments. Ze­phyr’s AOCs pro­vide FLIR with elec­tri­cally plug­gable, stan­dard, MIL-SPEC con­nec­tors that en­able form, fit, func­tion re­place­ments for the heavy and legacy cop­per in­ter­con­nects.

Gen­eral Dy­nam­ics Bags Con­tract

Gen­eral Dy­nam­ics an­nounced that the US Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Com­mand gave them a con­tract for the Flyer ad­vanced light strike ve­hi­cle (ALSV). The three-year con­tract is for up to 10 ve­hi­cles rep­re­sent­ing a to­tal value of $5.8 mil­lion if all op­tions are ex­er­cised.

Tele­phon­ics’ Ad­vanced Com­mu­ni­ca­tions

Tele­phon­ics, an in­dus­try leader in both the de­fence and civil mar­kets for ad­vanced com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems, of­fered a va­ri­ety of wired and wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tion so­lu­tions de­signed to meet strin­gent cus­tomer re­quire­ments for af­ford­able ad­vanced com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Tele­phon­ics sys­tems can be found on 54 plat­form types around the world in­clud­ing fixed-wing, ro­tary-wing, lighter-than-air air­craft and ground con­trol shel­ters. The Trulink wire­less in­ter­com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem is one of the most ver­sa­tile, full du­plex in­ter­coms avail­able. Trulink is ideal for flight line op­er­a­tions, trans­port, aero-med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion, crews, ground ve­hi­cles and un­manned sys­tem crews.

Kongs­berg to Over­haul Pro­tec­tor M151

Kongs­berg an­nounced that it will over­haul and re­pair the Pro­tec­tor M151 re­mote weapon sta­tions (RWS) in ser­vice with the Cana­dian mil­i­tary, un­der a newly signed con­tract with the Cana­dian Depart­ment of Na­tional De­fence (DND). Work will be con­ducted by Kongs­berg Protech Sys­tems (KPS) in Canada. The Cana­dian mil­i­tary has op­er­ated the Pro­tec­tor M151 RWS on its RG-31 plat­form since Kongs­berg sup­plied the sys­tems in 2005.

Gen­eral Atomics’ Un­veils Ar­tillery Ver­sion of Bl­itzer

Gen­eral Atomics un­veiled a land-based ar­tillery ver­sion of its Bl­itzer elec­tro­mag­netic rail gun (EMRG) and that it could be ready for pro­duc­tion in “two to three years”. Bl­itzer be­gan as a 2007 US Of­fice of Naval Re­search pro­gramme to de­velop pro­to­type tech­nolo­gies to sup­port the US Navy’s (USN’s) fu­tur­is­tic rail gun pro­gramme, which is now led by BAE Sys­tems and Boe­ing.

PHO­TO­GRAPHS: AM Gen­eral, ATK, Bell He­li­copter, Wikipedia

Sol­dier fir­ing H&K’s XM25

KMW’s Puma mil­i­tary fight­ing ve­hi­cle

Bell V-280 Valor third-gen­er­a­tion tilt-ro­tor

AM Gen­eral’sBRV-O

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