Category Archives: Around the Bazaar

The World According to Shephard: Week 48

This week has demonstrated that the world of military simulation is very much alive and flourishing as the Shephard team has spent the week in Orlando bringing you all the latest news from the industry’s annual meet. You can find all of the coverage from I/ITSEC here.

Armed to the hilt

The US Air Force’s MQ-9 Reapers are to get an ammunition boost with the integration of small diameter bombs onto the platforms. General Atomics was awarded a $17.5 million contract to kit out the UAS with GBU-39Bs.

Meanwhile the H145M will begin live fire tests of Airbus Helicopter’s HForce weapon system loaded with Thales’ FZ275 laser guided rockets. The new live fire tests follow on from successful ballistic development testing of the system.

BREAKING: New Block 5 MQ-9 debuts in combat

‘The secret of war lies in the communications’

Napoleon’s tools of communication may have looked dramatically different from today’s but their importance on the battlefield has not changed. Last week saw Thales demonstrate its new family of Software Defined Radios, Synaps, which they believe represents the future of ‘collaborative combat’ for the modern connected military.

Australia has approved Project Land 200 Tranche 2 as the country pushes to digitalise its armed forces with a new battlefield command system for the army. The system will enable commanders to plan, monitor, direct and review operations in real time.


Shipbuilders back in business

The second of the Mexican Navy’s updated Oaxaca-class patrol vessels has been commissioned into its fleet. This comes at the end of a year that has seen the navy’s fleet expanded considerably with new patrol vessels as significant investments have been made in the country’s critical infrastructure and shipbuilding capability.

Meanwhile in Indonesia the shipbuilder PT Palindo Marine launched a 110m OPV designed for the country’s coast guard agency. Indonesia has been developing its indigenous shipbuilding expertise and is soon likely to see the navy’s seventh landing platform dock begin construction.


Saab Kockums has begun construction on parts of the hull for the Royal Swedish navy’s new A26 class submarine. Saab is also upgrading the RSN’s Gotland-class submarines with a new combat management system and other capabilities which will be carried across to the A26.

How to solve a problem like drones

The European Parliament and European Council reached an informal agreement this week to introduce union-wide rules on the civil use of unmanned systems. The design and manufacture of UVs will have to comply with EU basic requirements on safety, security and data protection.

Also in Europe, Endeavor Robotics has delivered 44 FirstLook UGVs to Germany as the company continues to enjoy a bumper year. The UGV, which can be dropped from 16ft onto hard surfaces without sustaining damage, is used by a wide range of civil, parapublic and military customers around the world and has won a number of large contracts with the US.



It’s beginning to look a lot like I/ITSEC

It’s that time of year again and no I’m not taking about Christmas! The Shephard team will be embarking on the annual jaunt to the sunshine state for military simulation and training’s biggest event, I/ITSEC.

Even though the show starts on Monday we have been giving you an early look at the news and what to expect at this year’s show.

Some of the major projects that we’ll be keeping an eye on include the US Air Force’s T-X programme, the Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) Program, TH-57 replacement, C-17 aircrew training system (ATS) requirement, Air Commando Training System and the USAF SCARS project, to name but a few.

The T-X programme has provided us with some twists and turns with Raytheon and Leonardo having decided they will no longer jointly bid on the programme while BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman pulled out altogether. Leonardo continues to pursue the programme with it’s T-100, Boeing has teamed with Saab and Lockheed Martin still in the race.

Meanwhile on the helicopter side of things the CHR programme continues to move forward as it proceeds to assembly, test, and evaluation of the Sikorsky HH-60W helicopter’s training systems.

The C-17 ATS is also opening doors for industry to re-bid for the solution which is currently supplied to the US Air Force, currently held by Link Simulation & Training which was awarded the contract in 2011.

As well as the big programmes we will be bringing you the latest tech news from image generation to projection technologies.

New players are also set to enter the market such as FoxGuard Solutions, best known for its industrial computing capabilities, which is dipping its toe into the military simulation and training market.

For all the news from I/ISEC make sure you follow the team on twitter @ShephardNews and bookmark the dedicated I/ITSEC show news site.

Dubai Airshow 2017: Space race heats up


As temperatures in the Middle East soar, the UAE and Boeing have further turned up the heat this week at the Dubai Airshow, courtesy of their mission to mars programmes.

Both projects were displayed at the DWC and have captured the imagination of attendees.

The UAE’s (Emirates) strategy to conquer Mars is something of a high-wire act which – according to the company’s website – will depend on precision and the ability of its aptly named Hope aircraft to be ready for launch when the alignment of the Earth and Mars’ respective orbits are closest together.

Such an occurrence happens once every two years, meaning that Hope has a particularly small launch window from which to make its maiden voyage in July 2020.


The expectation thereafter is that Hope will arrive on Mars in 2021. Four years of scientific observation are provisionally planned after arrival.

Before then the aircraft is expected to spend approximately 200 days on its journey from Earth to Mars – reaching a cruising speed of 126,000Km/h.


Not to be outdone, Boeing is supporting NASA to ready itself for a similar expedition, with the collaborative project being marketed with echoes of Neil Armstrong’s ‘one giant leap for mankind’ moon landing speech.

‘Today’s children will be the first explorers of our neighboring planet with help from Boeing technology to discover ground humans have yet to see.’

Boeing is a key collaborator on NASA’s Space Launch System – a project that seeks to create ‘robust human space exploration from the Moon to Mars.’ Essential to the project is their Deep Space Gateway, a habitable structure near the moon.


In April this year, Pete McGrath, director of global sales and marketing for Boeing’s space exploration division, outlined that the Deep Space Gateway was in its infancy. ‘The ability to simultaneously launch humans and cargo on SLS would allow us to assemble the gateway in four launches in the early 2020s.’

Boeing envision the Gateway as the core base from which missions to Mars can be launched and similar in style to the docking system successfully used by NASA’s International Space Station for its commercial operations.


‘The transport vehicle would be equipped with a habitat specifically designed to protect passengers from deep space’s harsh environment…’ Boeing said in a company statement.

Other than an estimate of completion of the Deep Space Gateway itself, no firm timeframe has been publicised by Boeing or NASA in relation to when a voyage to Mars can be expected.

For more stories from the Dubai Airshow this week please see our free news website with videos too.

The World According to Shephard: Week 45

This week the Shephard team were on the scene in Bangkok, reporting from Defence & Security 2017. Full coverage of the stories that made the headlines can be found here.

Thailand trucking along nicely

Among the highlights of D&S 2017 was the Thai Ministry of Defence (MoD) exhibiting its latest artillery project in the form of a 120mm truck-mounted mortar.  The model is the work of a joint collaboration between the MoD’s production centre and Elbit Systems of Israel.

Capabilities include a listed elevation range of 800-1,511 mils with a traverse of 800 mils in either direction. The mortar itself has a 6.5km range and ten rounds-per-minute rate of fire.

Thai artillery

Dubai for now 

As the curtain on D&S closes, the Dubai Air Show 2017 takes centre stage this week with Shephard again in attendance to provide on-the-ground reports. For breaking news, video content and regular updates take a look here.

Talk of BMD capabilities hard to miss

Beginning with the supposed missile attack on the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Richard Thomas sheds light on the growing need for countries across the Middle East to address the development of viable ballistic missile defence (BMD) capabilities. 

Further detailing recent land warfare contractual arrangements in the region, his report also references the US approved $15 billion potential sale of THAAD BMD systems.



TAI attack the day

On the defence front, one highly anticipated presentation due to take place in Dubai will be Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) showcasing their T129 Atak helicopter. Live demonstrations of the type will be available as well as the company’s Anka-S UAV, Hürkuş turboprop and T625 helicopter being displayed.

TAI have cemented their influence domestically, most notably with 24 of 59 T129s  delivered to Turkish Land Forces Aviation Command, completing over 11,000 flight hours to boot.

T129 3


Connected helicopter cyber threats in focus

Casting a critical eye over cyber threats posed to connected helicopters, Gerrard Cowan hears from the experts as they outline how their ingenuity is winning the battle against hackers.

With examples such as Lockheed Martin’s ‘Cyber Inside’ initiative and Bell’s robust five step strategy, it’s clear OEMs are alert to the hacking issue and are prioritising preventive measures to safeguard their fleet – regardless of type.





Leaves of change

Autumn, or Fall for our US friends, is now in full effect, and as the fallen leaves start piling up outside of Shephard Towers, we are looking at our sense of change.

In September, we refreshed our branding and rolled out a new fully responsive website, and we are now focusing on, among other things, developing our email content and delivery.

Please do get in touch with any feedback or if you would like to learn more about accessibility email me at:


US Army advances robotic mule use


Ten unmanned systems will be taking part in the US Army’s Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) programme with trials currently taking place at Fort Benning, Georgia, Shephard has learnt…

Frigates and OPVs parade three by three in Australia


Frigates and OPVs were a major focus at the Pacific International Maritime Exposition in Sydney last week, with each programme – Project Sea 5000 and Sea 1180 respectively – shortlisted to three contenders each after RfTs were earlier issued.

KAI unveils T-50A variant


Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) unveiled its latest variant of the T-50 advanced jet trainer (AJT) at this week’s Seoul ADEX, being held from 17-22 October.


BAE showcases SHORAD for Bradley

Rheinmetall Canada displays armed UGV

Helitech 2017: Show review 


Event highlights

Defence & Security 2017

This year’s Defense & Security event in Thailand kicks off next week and we will be providing both news and video coverage. If you are there, please visit us at Booth B 15.


Dubai Airshow 2017

From 12-16 November, we will be covering this year’s Dubai Airshow. If you are at the show, make sure to drop by our booth (1882) and say hello.

I/ITSEC 2017

We will be providing news and video coverage of this year’s I/ITSEC, from 27 Nov to 1 Dec, in Orlando, Florida. Come see us at Booth 2117.

Other events

In November, we will also be attending Global MilSatCom and the Commercial UAV Show in London; Milipol in Paris; and AOC Annual in Washington.

If you would like to learn more about Shephard please visit

Andreea Tomut, Marketing Manager



Seoul ADEX: ROK solid defence

Western media has been guilty of hyping up the threat of North Korea’s newly christened ‘Rocket Man’ who will soon be armed with nuclear weapons and a viable intercontinental ballistic missile. As it happens, life carries on as normal in South Korea; the country’s citizens are used to routine high jinks from its belligerent neighbour to the north.

To be sure, nobody wants a nuclear-armed Kim Jong-un. However, the inflammatory rhetoric between Trump and Kim has not ruffled the feathers of those who live within range of Pyongyang’s missile and artillery forces.

The Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX) 2017 was proof of South Korea’s quiet determination to defend itself. Indeed, the country’s extensive and very capable defence industry used the opportunity to roll out a variety of new products.

The Republic of Korea (ROK) Armed Forces and the USAF used the venue to show their capabilities too. The USAF, for example, flew in pairs of F-22 Raptor fighters and F-35A Lightning II fighters. Another first for Seoul ADEX was the presence of an RQ-4B Global Hawk Block 30 belonging to the USAF. With Seoul having signed up for four Global Hawks that are due in 2018-19, this was the first time one had actually appeared at the show.

A critically important project for South Korea is its next-generation fighter aircraft, the KF-X being developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). A spokesman said it is undergoing ‘refinement and its configuration is being altered as testing continues’ ahead of a preliminary design review in mid-2018. KAI also unveiled its latest T-50A advanced jet trainer, a candidate for the USAF’s T-X programme.

KAI showed a series of scale models of its Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) and Light Civil Helicopter (LCH), both based on the H155 and being developed under a $10 billion programme. A critical design review has been completed and a first prototype should roll out in the third quarter of 2018.

Representing the gradual expansion of its KUH-1 Surion helicopter range, KAI demonstrated a new Republic of Korea Marine Corps (ROKMC) version at Seoul ADEX 2017. Last year KAI was awarded a contract to build these. Production commenced earlier this year and the first will be handed over to the marines in December.

Hanwha Defense Systems displayed a range of armoured vehicles at Seoul ADEX 2017. These included the K21-105 medium tank, Hybrid Bi Ho self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon system, K105HT truck-based 105mm howitzer and Chunmoo multiple launch rocket system.

Hyundai Rotem is another giant South Korean defence company, and it showed off two versions of its 8×8 Wheeled Armoured Vehicle (WAV) family, a peacekeeping operations version and an ambulance.

Hyundai Rotem also displayed a scale model of its 55t Korean Combat Engineering Vehicle, which features a full-width mine plough from Pearson Engineering. The company also revealed that it is returning to Renk to supply transmissions for its second batch of K2 MBTs. Deliveries were suspended because of reliability troubles with the S&T Dynamics transmission.

Moving on to small arms, S&T Motiv displayed several new developmental weapons for the ROK Army.

South Korea continues to leverage unmanned technologies too. Hanwha Techwin exhibited its 6×6 Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle, which is competing for an army development contract. LIG Nex1 also showed a scale model of its Sea Sword USV.

The Aerospace Division of Korean Air (KAL-ASD) showed a new KUS-HD hybrid UAS that uses a petrol engine to recharge its electrical batteries. Another KAL-ASD design on show was a prototype of the KUS-VT tiltrotor capable of VTOL flying. The strategic-level KUS-FS, a MALE aircraft destined for the ROKAF, first flew in 2012 and a series of flight tests was completed last year. Korean Air also showed a conceptual model of the next-generation KUS-FC, an armed aircraft with stealthy design and internal weapon bay.

KAL-ASD again showed its KUS-VH, with the company recording progress in its quest to create an unmanned MD 500 helicopter. It undertook its first flights last year with a pilot aboard.

There were digital advancements too, including fielding of the Tactical Information Communication Network (TICN) by the ROK Army, and LIG Nex1 showed a weapon locating radar and short-range AESA air defence radar.

And my personal highlight of Seoul ADEX 2017? Probably the level of security provided for President Moon Jae-in when he flew in for the show’s opening ceremony.

His motorcade of black SUVs with balaclava-clad close-protection personnel would have rivalled anything the US president could have dreamed of.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Black Hawk Dawn

Ex-military helicopter designs entering the commercial market are potentially breathing life into the industry, with CH-47 and UH-60 Black Hawk variants now entering service from North America to Australia.

In August, the US Army Contracting Command Redstone, on behalf of the Utility Helicopters Project Management Office, announced the availability of 14 UH-60A Black Hawk helicopters for sale under the Black Hawk Exchange and Sales Team programme.


From a Hawk to Orca

This could mean we see more refurbished examples of the type appearing in the civil domain in the next few years worldwide. However, with the market just keeping its head above water following the economic downturn, do these models pose healthy competition or oversupply if taken into the civil sector?

Three years on from the first Black Hawk auction, companies are bringing forth their overhauled aircraft to the commercial market. Some of the major players that refurbish ex-US Army Black Hawks are Arista Aviation, BHI2, Global Aviation Solutions, Rogerson Kratos and Unical Defense.


The Black Hawk, having been on the frontline of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq as well other theatres, is suited to the hot and high environments of southern European regions during the summer fire season. While refurbished models have already been tasked with firefighting missions, other sectors that could utilise the platforms include SAR, EMS and law enforcement.

Sikorsky Australia recently announced that it will refurbish ten ex-US Army rotorcraft for firefighting and disaster relief operations. The A$63 million ($50 million) contract announced on 27 July will see deliveries of the Black Hawks to StarFlight Australia begin in Q1 2018.

StarFlight, a joint venture that was established in 2015 by LifeFlight and Kaan Air, also holds an option on a further ten helicopters of the same type.

Under the contract, Sikorsky Australia will structurally refurbish the aircraft and install new engines, main and tail rotor gearboxes and drivetrain and a new rescue hoist. The cockpit will be upgraded with a helicopter terrain awareness and warning system.


What will be interesting to see is if these helicopters really establish themselves in the European market or if they are held up by regulations as they convert to civil usage. It is likely that the red tape might just delay things, and operators might experience hassle here.

In March 2017, Sikorsky confirmed at Heli-Expo that it is committed to serving the growing technical and logistical support needs of more than 30 commercial operators who have acquired surplus UH-60A.

Also at the show, Darrell Kindley, CEO of Global Aviation Solutions, told RH that the Acehawk, one of the company’s refurbished Black Hawks, was expected to receive its STC by the Q2 2018.

The Acehawk is a retrofit kit available for UH-60A/Ls and S-70 aircraft, and the aircraft is to be marketed worldwide as well as in the US.

The Acehawk cockpit features four 12in, 4K displays and two touchscreen controllers, panoramic view and aynthetic vision technology, and the option to integrate third-party radios, sensors and other mission equipment without affecting the G5000H core software.

The Black Hawk is a robust and versatile helicopter, which has more than proven itself in the military arena. However, with a civil market bustling with new platforms and legacy medium to heavy aircraft fairly capable of undertaking firefighting missions, the Black Hawk will have to get its claws in pretty deep to prove it is not a flighty bird and will be able to stay the long term in the civil market.

« Older Entries