Tag Archives: saab

A year of military simulation highlights

I/ITSEC 2017 in Orlando was remarkable for a number of reasons, not least of which was the advancement of certain key technologies that help to shape the delivery of training to the warfighter.

Operation Blended Warrior (OBW) was notable for the involvement of a number of non-US industry members, but in many ways the real I-LVC event was that conducted by CAE and Rockwell Collins.

This demonstration showed how industry can work together to deliver a robust and workable training solution for the military. Of course, OBW has done that in the past, but previous LVC demonstrations seem to have been more about proving conceptual theories than showcasing a practical way of training.

High-profile developments The CAE/Rockwell Collins effort clearly showed the practical benefits of I-LVC and in doing so, became an important milestone in the evolution of its enabling technologies. Using different databases and computer-generated forces within a four-level cyber-secure environment to depict a coherent and believable scenario, this demonstration showed the military the real benefits of I-LVC.

When combined with the work being undertaken by Cubic Global Defense and the Air Force Research Laboratory on Project SLATE (Secure LVC Advanced Training Environment), and the continuing profile given to I-LVC by OBW, I/ITSEC 2017 may be considered as the launch pad for the meaningful acceleration of capabilities in this area.

The high profile of I-LVC over recent years has led many companies to claim such a capability, but, to quote one middle-ranking USMC officer: ‘Just because we can, should we?’ This highlights the need to weed out the ‘geewhiz’ technologies unless they clearly support the overall training objective.

As well as the technical aspect of I-LVC, the CAE/Rockwell Collins demonstration also highlighted another increasing trend within the industry: collaboration.

Gene Colabatistto, CAE’s group president of defence and security, told MTSN: ‘That collaboration is key to success in our industry, and we continue to look for partnerships where they might benefit both parties.’

Like I-LVC, augmented reality (AR) is being touted as the answer to all our training delivery prayers. Again, this technology is still in its relative infancy, but one demonstration at I/ITSEC showed a practical and, more importantly perhaps, productionised benefit.

Saab Training had been looking at AR for a number of years to enhance its laser-based tactical engagement simulation offering. Initially opting for a HoloLens but finding issues with the robustness of the device in the field, the company has now adopted a tablet or mobile telephone solution.

The We:Are device allows exercise umpires, so-called observer controllers (OCs), to view such things as the effects of artillery fire missions as a virtual overlay on the real-world scene. With We:Are, the OCs can also see virtual map markings and computer-generated assets to assist them in making the correct decision to enhance the reality of the exercise.

In theory then, We:Are is not only an AR tool but also carries out an I-LVC function as well.

For more information on the latest edition of MTSN see here.

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.



The world according to Shephard: Week 47

Sunshine state showcasing the best in simulation and training

16,000 attendees are set to descend on Orlando, Florida from Monday onwards as the curtain is lifted on I/ITSEC 2017. As ever the Shephard team will be in position to report on breaking developments across the week. We wouldn’t dare keep you salivating for stories until then… Pre-event, the big news is that six C-130J weapon system trainer (WST) simulators are set to be delivered to various US air bases throughout 2020 and 2021.

For show coverage, make sure to check out the dedicated Shephard I/ITSEC news site here.

Sikorsky’s South American offshore springboard

Having studied the reform of the Mexican energy market closely, Sikorsky are anticipating that their trusted heavy S-92 type will see increased sales in the country. In their view, oil and gas companies remain prime candidates for developing offshore growth as the industry continue to buy up lease blocs for exploration purposes – further and further from the Mexican coast.

Croatian’s continue to test OH-58D firepower

The 93rd Croatian Air Force and Air Defence has been putting its Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior type through its paces by way of a tactical group live firing and rocket launching exercise. A range of weapons were used during the session as pilots – flying in pairs – used the 12.7mm machine gun, the Hydra 70mm unguided rocket, Hellfire missile, and Heckler-Koch G-36CV gun. Having taken charge of directing the exercise, US instructors will now take their leave of Air Base Zemunik.

Welcome Swedish steer for surface vessels

SAAB is working to create a fleet of new surface vessels for the Royal Swedish Navy and is confident the project will result in new maritime capabilities being delivered. Such confidence is supported by the process receiving the backing of Swedish FOI and FMV military design and procurement agencies. One platform to be publicised by officials at a Saab site, next to the Swedish naval base in Karlskrona, was a 100m stretched Visby-class corvette. Potential capability enhancement across the Visby class include surface, sub-surface and anti-air warfare.

Right move for Curtiss-Wright

US manufacturer Curtiss-Wright is in discussion with a number of customers as it looks to expand its display business in the ground vehicle sector. To such ends the company are now preparing customer demonstrations of its Ground Vehicle Display Unit. Customers can take their pick from a selection of LCD mission displays including a 18cm system, ideal for viewing a reverse camera feed, or invest in a larger screen that provides a complete situational awareness picture based on a variety of different camera feeds.




Aussie C4ISR options

A quick look at the Australian Defence White Paper shows some interesting developments in the C4ISR sector. It is becoming more of a priority for a country that is seeking to modernise and keep up with its Western allies and ahead of its Asian neighbours.

ISR, EW, space and cyber is one of six capability streams that will be focussed on by the Aussie DoD. It is expected to take 9% of the A$195 bn (US$140 bn) allocated to defence procurement from 2016 to 2025-26, which equates to about A$17.5 bn for this stream over the next decade.

Furthermore, although the numbers of full-time Australian civil servants are being cut, there will be re-balance with 1,200 new positions in the DoD related to intelligence, cyber and space-based capabilities. Print

The White Paper commits to an upgrade of the air defence network, including the Vigilare air surveillance command and control system, which achieved Full Operational Capability in 2013; and the Jindalee Operational Radar Network, which uses three over-the-horizon radar that searches out to 1,000-3,000km. It also said a new all-source intelligence and processing system would be introduced.

With the upgrade of Vigilare and Jindalee and other air defence surveillance systems, the DoD believes this can be used as a ‘foundation’ for the development of in-theatre missile defence capabilities. It added that there are plans to buy new ground-based radars from 2020.JORN1

However, an area where Australia needs outside help is in its space-based capability where there is an increasing use of commercial capability to supplement existing military systems and the cooperation between allies to provide services.

In the White Paper, the Australian DoD states that it wants more imagery and targeting capacity ‘through greater access to allied and commercial space-based capabilities’ and will further develop ISR capabilities over the longer term ‘including through potential investment in space-based sensors’.

d_g550_a_print_038_1300_580_70With US cooperation, Australian is setting up a space surveillance C-band radar to be operated jointly by both countries as well as re-locate an optical space surveillance telescope to the Harold E Holt Naval Communications Station near Exmouth in Western Australia.

Meanwhile, the Aussies have announced the introduction of five new Gulfstream 550 aircraft for long-range EW that will be introduced from the early 2020s that will add to the capability provided by the fleet of 12 E/A-18G Growler EW aircraft that are slated to enter service from 2018.

On the maritime surveillance side, the Royal Australian Air Force looks like it is going to get an extra seven P-8A Poseidon aircraft that will be added to the eight that they are already getting for a total of 15. Delivery of the first aircraft will be before the end of 2016 and according to the White Paper they will be introduced in the early 2020s. p-8_poseidon_gallery_lrg_06_960

The P-8As will operate alongside seven new Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned air vehicles that the DoD said will also be acquired from the early 2020s.

At the Singapore Airshow, Boeing stated that this is the right time to buy their P-8As as they can be introduced into the US Navy’s production lots and this allows for unit cost savings. In the UK’s defence review at the end of 2015 it was announced they would buy nine for entry into service in 2019-20. India has received its order of eight aircraft.

According to Saab’s head of support and services, Jonas Hjelm, it is expected that there will be more than 100 submarines in the Asia-Pacific region by 2025. This poses quite a challenge and for countries that do not have a similar sized budget and cannot afford P-8As, even with Boeing’s sweetener deal, therefore Saab has launched two of its own new maritime patrol aircraft options: GlobalEye and Swordfish.

Making sense of military acronyms

M88A2 HERCULESThe other day one of my colleagues tweeted about the following, which he described as an ‘absolutely obscene backronym’. It was MAGIC CARPET, which obviously stands for Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies. Well, of course, what else could it stand for?

Anyway, it got me to thinking about acronyms in the defence sphere. There are hundreds of them, and even after a decade writing about it, there are still times in interviews when I have to stop the SME (subject matter expert, not small & medium enterprise, stupid!) and ask for clarification on some obscure acronym they used.

Another backronym is the pictured M88A2 HERCULES, which stands for Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lifting Extraction System. Another long-winded one is the US Air Force’s Rapid Engineers Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer (RED HORSE). One has to wonder who thinks these things up!

Most acronyms we are okay with. The last decade and a half has reinforced in the public consciousness such things as improvised explosive devices (IED), to be which can be added vehicle-borne (VBIED) and person-borne (PBIED) versions. Most would also recognise the US-coined OEF and OIF too.

Grammatically, however, acronyms can be fraught, and defence journals can be as guilty as everyone else. For example, there is no reason to call the above Improvised Explosive Devices. Capitalisation is quite unnecessary, because we are not referring to proper names. The same applies to UAVs, for they are unmanned aerial vehicles.

Some companies don’t help things at all. Continental European companies in particular, for example Atlas Elektronik or Kongsberg just to take two names out of the hat, like to capitalise their names at every possible opportunity. This is unashamed self-promotion, because these are not acronyms at all. Some companies like to do the same with their products too. Note it is Exocet, not EXOCET.

But if you’re GDLS or MBDA, then you can get away with it. MAN or ZF are not guilty either, because these are indeed acronyms. In fact, these two latter names are so firmly entrenched that most of us would be hard-pressed to identify their original/full names as Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg or Zahnradfabrik respectively (the latter = literally Gear Factory, incidentally).

Then there are those company names that started off as acronyms – FIAT and SAAB, for example – that no longer require capitalisation.

As journalists we excitedly write about SLEPs, MLUs, ASW or ASuW weaponry, and want to learn about MBTs, SPHs, IFVs and APCs. In some cases it becomes difficult to keep up – we have, for instance, FCS, GCV and now FFV as the US Army’s search for a new armoured vehicle seems set to continue until it runs out of suitable acronyms.

In preparing this article I resolved one question I always held. Was it OTO Melara or Oto Melara? In fact, it is the former as OTO is an acronym for Odero-Terni-Orlando.

Know of any other interesting acronym stories?