British Army on the move – Tankfest 2016.

Another great Tankfest weekend.

British Army Reconnaissance – Jackal

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British Army Reconnaissance – Scimitar 2.

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Photos and Post copyrighted to Harvey Black


Leopard’s on the move – Tankfest 2016.

Another great Tankfest weekend.

Leopard-1s on the move. 2 Canadian and one German.

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Leopard 2A4 – Dutch Army.

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Photos and Post copyrighted to Harvey Black

Military Bulletin 04/2015 – Directed Energy Systems

Direct Energy Weapons, or High Energy Laser (HEL) weapons systems, are said to offer cost-effective, near-instantaneous precision, at long range against multiple targets. An almost limitless number of shots at a cost of perhaps £1 per round, versus firing a missile, say a Harpoon anti-ship missile, at a cost of of roughly £1,000,000 per unit, with limited number of re-fills on board a ship, DES has to be the sought after option. So, why aren’t they already a key weapon in military arsenals?

The development of HELs is not without reservation or problems. There are percieved operational limitations, driven by the requirement for line-of-sight engagement, tracking of targets at extreme range, optical tracking of targets, the effects of atmosphere and environmental inhibitors and most importantly the ability to destroy a hardened target.

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The US High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator, successfully used in mid 2014 to destroy drones and 60mm mortars in flight. It’s success was also proven during periods of adverse weather.

But they exist. The operational release of the the 33kW solid state Laser Weapon System, involved the integration of the weapon on the testbed of the Austin-class USNS, USS Ponce. In September 2014, the LaWS was approved as an operational asset, with the commander of USS Ponce having the authority to use it as an offensive weapon. To date it has successfully detonated a rocket propelled grenade, burnt out the engine of a rigid hull inflatable boat and disabling a Scan Eagle UAV.

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 The Boeing HEL MD

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The 33kW beam-superimposing fibre-based solid state Laser Weapon System onboard USS Ponce in the Gulf, 2014.

“Laser Weapon System aboard USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) in November 2014 (05)” by U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams – This Image was released by the United States Navy with the ID 141115-N-PO203-057 

The most significant progress in the development of LWS in Europe has been from Germany. Rheinmetall, based in Germany, recently conducted successful sea trials of a 20kW Beam Forming Unit (BFU), integrated with an MGL 27 Naval Gun.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence also made it known in April 2015, of its intent to acquire a Laser Directed Energy Weapon Capability Demonstrator, a programme that is expected to cost in the region of £100m.

Currently, although it is unlikely that we will see major operationally deployed Direct Energy Weapons systems, these prototype weapons, in the early days, will act as force multipliers, extending engagement range and adding magazine depth, until more powerful weapons are developed.

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The LaWS control station aboard the USS Ponce..

Harvey Black

Military Bulletin 3 – USN surface firepower upgrade

Since the end of the Cold War and the subsequent reduction in the Soviet Union’s own fleet, the United States Navy is without doubt the world’s largest maritime superpower. But a consequence of this, having no credible sea-denial threat, the USN has focussed on power projection from the sea rather than a more broader strategy that includes control of the sea. Vice Admiral Thomas Rowden, commander of US Naval Surface Forces, told a recent symposium, ‘It was a navy that was equally adept at sea control as it was at strike.’  This now needs to be addressed.

One way way of addressing this shortfall, at an acceptable cost, would be a further introduction of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). The creation of small, fast, manoeuvrable, relatively inexpensive DD class type of ship, with variable roles, supported by changeable mission packages, would go some way to meet this shortfall.

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In 2014, Independence switched from a mine to surface warfare mode in 96 hours on short notice.

“Independence (LCS 2) in drydock” by U.S. Navy Photo/Released – http://www.navy.mil/view_single.asp?id=67110. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

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One key requirement for the LCS concept, is the need for an ‘over-the-horizon’ surface-to-surface missile.

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The current Harpoon Block 1C missile will therefore need to be replaced, with a target date of mid-2020s. A new offensive anti-surface weapon will be required if a satisfactory strike range is to be achieved.

“Harpoon missile launch aboard USS Shiloh” by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin V. Cunningham/Released) 140915-N-UF697-087 –

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A live fire test of the Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM) from the USS Coronado in 12014. This provided a demonstration of the potential ‘over-the-horizon’ anti ship capability that could be used by both the LCS and the evolved frigate variant.

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The missile is completely passive and has proven to have excellent sea skimming capabilities. With its advance terminal manoeuvres, it is expected to survive current enemy air defence. The Autonomous Target Recognition (ATR) of the seeker will ensure that the correct target is detected, recognised and hit.

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Harvey Black