Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR APR 2015 Contents INNOVATIONS
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 08 | APR 2015
The US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC)
will add a 105mm cannon to its new AC-130J Ghostrider
gunships, making them the most heavily-armed to enter USAF
Reportedly at the insistence of AFSOC Commander
Lieutenant General Bradley Heithold, the 105mm gun will be
installed in the third production AC-130J and retrofitted to the
Adapted from the M102 howitzer and proven in service
onboard the AC-130U Spooky gunship, the 105mm gun will
be integrated into the rear of the new aircraft. The weapon
fires high-explosive ammunition, with up to 96 rack-mounted
105mm rounds carried in the aircraft. The weapon has proven
effective against predominantly hardened, fortified or dug-in
targets in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 105mm gun will augment the AC-130J’s precision
strike package consisting of a single-barrel GAU-23/A
30mm cannon, AGM-176A Griffin lightweight air-to-surface
glide missiles and GBU-39 small diameter bombs carried
on underwing hardpoints. The sensor package, designed to
enable precise and discriminating fire at night and in poor
weather or conditions of low visibility, is dominated by a dual
electro-optical infrared sensor and all-weather synthetic
aperture radar. The aircraft’s mission management system
fuses sensor, communications, environment, order of battle
and threat information into a common operating picture.
In conjunction with its terminal effects, the 105mm weapon
system provides significant and ongoing cost-effectiveness
and reduced cost of ownership, with each round costing just
several hundred dollars compared to tens of thousands of
dollars for even a low-cost missile.
A directed energy laser weapon system may also be added
to the AC-130J’s arsenal in due course.
The USAF plans to operate 32 AC-130J Ghostrider
gunships by 2021, with the first aircraft slated to enter service
in the 2017-2018 timeframe, whereupon it will replace the
current fleets of AC-130H Spectre, AC-130W Stinger II and
AC-130U Spooky gunships.
– Ian Bostock
Prime contracts have been issued to AeroVironment and
Northrop Grumman under the joint US Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and US Navy’s Office
of Naval Research Tern shipborne unmanned aerial system
The goal of the Tern program is to give forward-deployed
small ships the ability to serve as mobile launch and recovery
sites for medium-altitude, long-endurance UAS. These
systems could provide long-range intelligence, surveillance
and reconnaissance (ISR) and other capabilities over greater
distances and time periods than is possible with current
assets, including manned and unmanned helicopters. The
capacity to launch and retrieve aircraft on small ships would
reduce the need for ground-based airstrips, which require
significant dedicated infrastructure and resources.
According to DARPA, the Phase 2 prime contractors will
each design a new UAS intended to enable two previously
unavailable capabilities: one, the ability for a UAS to take off
and land from very confined spaces in elevated sea states
and two, the ability for such a UAS to transition to efficient
long-duration cruise missions.
“Tern’s goal is to develop breakthrough technologies that
the Navy could realistically integrate into the future fleet
and make it much easier, quicker and less expensive for the
Defense Department to deploy persistent ISR and strike
capabilities almost anywhere in the world,” said Dan Patt,
DARPA program manager.
With the first two phases of the Tern program focusing
on preliminary design and risk reduction, Phase 3 will see
one contractor selected to build a full-scale demonstrator
Tern system for initial ground-based testing. This would be
followed by full-scale, at-sea demonstration of a prototype
UAS on an in-service platform with deck size similar to that of
a destroyer or other surface combatant.
– Ian Bostock
105mm weapon for new AC-130J gunship
ABOVE LEFT: The addition of a 105mm cannon provides precise
and discriminating fire for the new AC-130J Ghostrider gunship,
seen here on the day of its maiden flight in January 2014.
Bundeswehr orders IED jammers
The German Army (Bundeswehr) will equip its frontline
armoured vehicles with the Vehicle Protection Jammer –
R6 (VPJ-R6) from Airbus Defence and Space to provide
enhanced protection against improvised explosive devices
(IED). The VPJ-R6, of which 36 are to be supplied, uses the
ultra-fast SMART responsive jamming technology developed
by Airbus to detect and identify radio signals intended to
detonate IEDs. After detection and classification, it transmits,
in real time, jamming signals that precisely match the hostile
frequency band, thus interrupting the detonation command.
A new digital receiver and signal processing technologies
enable the system to achieve reaction times well below 1
millisecond. Up to 750,000 million threat signals across all
common frequency bands can be detected and jammed each
The VPJ-R6 unit’s jamming power is focused on the
detonation signal’s specific frequency instead of being
distributed over the entire frequency range, as is the case
in conventional jamming systems. This design requires
less energy to power, whilst simultaneously increasing the
jamming effect. This also reduces the impact on friendly
forces’ radio communications.
The VPJ-R6 jammer to be fitted to Bundeswehr protected vehicles will detect
and identify in real time radio signals used to remotely detonate IEDs. Image: Airbus
Contracts awarded for Tern
shipborne UAS program
The Tern program seeks to exploit
the number of at-sea flight decks on
surface combatants through the
development of a shipborne UAS.
TERN’S GOAL IS TO DEVELOP
THAT THE NAVY COULD REALISTICALLY
INTEGRATE INTO THE FUTURE FLEET
AND MAKE IT MUCH EASIER, QUICKER
AND LESS EXPENSIVE FOR THE DEFENSE
DEPARTMENT TO DEPLOY PERSISTENT
ISR AND STRIKE CAPABILITIES ALMOST
ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.
Links Archive DTR MAR 2015 DTR MAY 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page