September 2015 is covered in detail by Vayu’s Editorial team, led by UK Editor Richard Gardner, with an overview of 8 visiting warships. Indian capabilities were also on display, both from the
This September London hosted the biggest ever Defence and Security Equipment Exhibition at the Excel Centre in London. Over 1,600 exhibitors took part and there were national pavilions from 42 nations and 8 visiting warships, with an external exhibition site for military aircraft and helicopters. But it was in the very large exhibition halls that could be seen examples of the latest vehicles, missiles, UAVs and the many seminar theatres where a continuous programme of briefings and discussions took place throughout the week, covering all aspects of defence and security, from the changing international threats and progress on new programmes, to cyber defences for commercial and military organisations. There were many senior representatives of armed forces
and security agencies from all over the world while keynote speakers from the UK’s Armed Forces gave presentations on current UK defence policy and capabilities, outlining how future programmes were developing. Most major international defence companies were present and it was clear that the competitive defence export sector was entering a new era where a new generation of products would soon be entering service, aimed at offering improved capabilities, but with affordability a recognised factor. The show was decidily international and within its exhibition site were areas devoted to Air, Naval and Land Forces, and also Special Forces, Unmanned 2 missiles from MBDA. There was also a separate Brimstone display stand in the hall where the performance of the new Mk 2 dual-mode version of the missile was being promoted. These can be carried on triple launchers used in conjunction with any standard NATO pylon. The weapon system has highly accurate precision- guidance with enhanced tracking capability against multiple small, fast moving targets, which can be armoured vehicles, pick-up trucks or Fast Inshore Attack Craft. They are small and light and can be carried on medium size UAVs or almost any attack aircraft. MBDA also had a display of its new Brimstone 2 derived missile optimised for use as a multirole precision weapon for the British Army’s next generation attack helicopter, which has not been chosen but is expected to be latest version of the AH-64 Apache. The new missile would be for combating fast and agile land and maritime threats.
Thales had a very large exhibition stand at the show and this was divided into different areas covering land, sea and air applications, including displays for airborne command and control, surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft platforms, radars, lightweight missile systems as also its Watchkeeper UAV, which is being developed further for export customers. The company announced the Watchkeeper-X as an export version of the system supplied to and in service with the British Army. This new version offers different options for particular customer needs and has a rough airstrip capability and is rapidly deployable by air or surface transport. As well as having two sensor turrets, the UAV can also be fitted with the Thales I-Master radar for high- resolution surveillance and moving target identification and tracking. Weapons can be carried and other uses include electronic and communications intelligence gathering.
The new AMASCOS mission system is a fully integrated mission system for maritime and ground surveillance, and can be carried aboard a wide variety of jet and turboprop platform aircraft. Demand for maritime surveillance and patrol aircraft is growing with the need for tighter control Air Vehicles and a zone featuring medical services and disaster relief. This article will focus mainly on air, missiles, UAVs and related systems for air and naval operators.
News broke as the show was opening that Kuwait had ordered 28 Typhoon multi-role fighters as an Italian-Kuwaiti government-to-government agreement. The full details have not yet been announced, as the contract is not yet signed, but sources indicate that the aircraft will be new build and to the latest Tranche 3 standards, which will almost certainly include the new Captor-E AESA radar and the associated avionics, mission system and weapons upgrades. The missile choice is presently unknown, but no doubt the final contract will include crew training and an extensive support package. At DSEI there was a Typhoon FGR4 on static display, which included Meteor, ASRAAM and Brimstone
of desert and frontier regions. The new Thales offering can deal with multiple mission requirements and is configured with the latest generation of sensor suites and innovative, user-friendly interfaces. The system is built around a tactical command system and with its modular architecture can be configured to optimise the crew task. A particularly outstanding feature is the touch-screen format of the displays, which is fully interactive and allows a very efficient operator work load thanks to high levels of automation, including data fusion, target identification and integration with onboard library data for classification of targets. There is a high level of hardware redundancy for enhanced reliability with a massive database to support the sensors, such as infra-red, electro-optical and radar. Operators can select displays to match the mission but the layout of the touch-screen controls is moveable overlaid on the same main screen and becomes familiar and easy to use in a very short time.
Thales also displayed its new, advanced Lightweight Multiple Launcher - Next Generation (LML-NG), - which combines in one small launcher the capability to fire surface-to-surface or surface-to-air missiles. This incorporates a new head and sensor assembly for firing two types of laserbeam riding missiles, the Starstreak or the Lightweight Multi-role Missile (LMM). Starstreak is a high-velocity anti-aircraft weapon for use against any air target from a UAV or helicopter to a fast jet, and can be fired from any angle. The LMM is designed to engage surface targets, such as small boats or coastal targets. The sensors include daylight video and thermal imaging with a stabilised guidance unit and the system has a 24- hour day or night capability. The launcher can be in the form of a man-portable tripod for rapid deployment or mounted on a lightweight vehicle or boat deck. Malaysia is the first confirmed export customer, and has also ordered the Starstreak missiles for the system.
Attracting much interest was Rheinmetall Defence which displayed two examples of advanced High Energy Lasers (HELs) for use against low- and slow-flying UAVs. This was shown on an Oerlikon Skyshield turret and also on a naval gun mounting in place of the usual 27mm cannon. The company has developed a range of HEL systems from a 5kW unit on an APC to 10kW, 20kW and up to 50kW models offering an impressive surfacebased air defence capability, with pin-point accuracy and instant reaction.
Another major exhibitor at DSEI was Finmeccanica, which includes Selex ES, AgustaWestland, and Alenia. Selex announced a new scalable disabling system for use against UAVs, known as the Falcon Shield. The company recognises that individual or swarms of small UAVs represent a growing threat to defence and civil targets and Falcon Shield is a nonkinetic countermeasure which is rapidly deployable and uses electro- optical and electronic surveillance sensors and radar to provide threat detection, identification and tracking. It works in day or night conditions and can discriminate from false signals even in urban environments to defeat potential threats using radio frequency intervention. The threat vehicle can be disrupted or control captured and the integrated security framework can include kinetic solutions if required by the customer. Another anti-drone disrupter was announced by a consortium of UK specialist companies comprising Blighter Surveillance Systems, Chess Dynamics and Enterprise Control Systems. Claimed to be the first Anti-UAV Defence System (AUDS) to go to market, this blocks command and control signals to the UAV and (in trials) was able to detect and disrupt rotary wing and fixed wing small UAVs within 15 seconds.
AgustaWestland have responded to UK MOD requests for capability demonstration flights for a Rotary Wing Unmanned Aerial System ( RWUAS). This is aimed at forthcoming Royal Navy studies into what it may need to deploy to provide a future maritime unmanned air system. The use of small Scan Eagle UAVs from Royal Navy ships has confirmed the extra flexibility these give in providing short-range surveillance and tracking information. The UK trials, now completed, involved 27 hours of
simulated unmanned demonstration flying and 22 automatic simulated deck landings using the SW-4 RUAS Solo technology demonstrator. The trials included launch and recovery, mission management and mission system integration with the ship Combat Management System. The second set of tests involved simulated deck landings and the third phase involved the use of mission sensors to identify various targets of interest. The Solo demonstrator aircraft was flown as an Unmanned Air System under automated control from a ground station, but with a safety pilot onboard. The Royal Navy is reportedly considering results of the demonstration to assess see how such a system could provide persistent maritime capability from a rotary- wing platform operating from the deck of a frigate-size warship. The demonstration programme also looked at using rotary- wing UAVs for mine hunting, hydrographic survey and airborne surveillance. AgustaWestland also gave an update on progress of the new AW159 Wildcat military helicopter in service with the British Army and Royal Navy.
Existing rotary wing UAVs include the Schiebel Camcopter S-100, which has recently been tested by Tunisia. The test flights took place over different terrain and coastal areas, with use of an L-3 Wescam multi-sensor turret. It can fly by day or night and is robust, enabling flight to continue in bad weather.
Raytheon was active at DSEI with its full range of missile and weapon products on display. The new SeaRAM is a close-in rapid reaction surface-to-air missile launch system combining Raytheon’s Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) in a new 11 round launcher, which replaces the 20mm chain gun in a Phalanx turret. The existing architecture of the Phalanx system is retained, complete
with multiple search and track sensors and SeaRAM can replace a standard Phalanx mounting with minor modifications, opening up optional close-in air defence solutions for major warships, including the US Navy’s destroyers. Raytheon also briefed journalists on the latest Paveway 4 and Small Diameter Bomb II precision weapon developments and live fire tests.
The subject of Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft was a major theme at the show even as the UK considers replacement of its retired Nimrod aircraft. A ‘ split solution’ was one idea supported by many with one platform performing specialised oceanic maritime air cover and another, smaller platform taking over more localised surveillance. Airbus is promoting a solution based on a comprehensive ASW mission system aboard a C-295 twin turboprop aircraft, with provision for search radar and anti-submarine weapons. Finmeccanica’s Alenia offered a C-27J multi-role MPA platform that could carry out a wide range of missions from maritime surveillance and search and rescue as well as anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, Special Forces air support and logistical supply. The company highlighted its export successes (78 aircraft ordered by 12 air forces) and suggested that as the aircraft had a proven operational track- record in acting as an Electronic Warfare platform and battlefield support transport, as well as being chosen by the US Coastguard with a search radar and open systems architecture, it could become a very flexible air asset.
Lockheed Martin revealed its latest proposals for a long-range multi-role air platform based on the SC- 130J. This would feature a roll-on 5-console mission cabin module with extra soundproofing and insulation and a mission system based on that supplied to the Royal Navy on its latest AgustaWestland Merlin Mk. 2 ASW helicopters. It would also have a new AESA radar capable of detecting small targets in high sea states and on land, including moving targets, with a comprehensive suite of self- defence and electro- optical surveillance sensors. Lockheed Martin claimed that it would be a low- risk programme, using well-proven airframes and engines and the mission system and sensors were also well proven, and would be fully integrated. Elongated side sponsons would contain weapons bays for torpedoes and missiles that would be dropped at low level, and underwing fuel tanks give the aircraft a maximum unrefuelled endurance of 14 hours. Typically this might translate into a six and a half long mission on station at a distance of 1,000 miles. The aircraft would have provision for in-flight refuelling in addition to the built-in long range.
India was well represented at DSEI 2015 with a large stand exhibiting models of current aircraft and missiles and visual displays highlighting national research and development activities as well as production capabilities. There are a growing number of joint programmes with global partners, including Embraer, which has been closely involved with the new EMB-145 ISTAR radar surveillance and electronic warfare platform which was represented in model form. The ‘ Make in India’ theme was prominent and this message was clearly underlined at DSEI 2015 by the presence of the Talwar- class guided missile frigate INS Trikand, which was tied up alongside the show halls, and was one of the largest warships in attendance. [ see following article].
Interactive Thales AMASCOS consoles at the show
The FFLMM is a free-fall glide bomb variant of the Thales LMM missile
Indian Navy frigate INS Trikand was the largest warship in attendance at DSEI, arriving after completion of the Indo-UK Exercise Konkan 2015