Procurement: August 31, 1999

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The US Army will test tactical UAV recon drones from AAI (Shadow 200), Alliant (Outrider), General Atomics (Prowler II), and TRW (Sentry) before selecting one next December. The Army wants the system deployed ready for combat in less than two years.--Stephen V Cole

France is refitting four of its AWACS planes with the same passive ESM (Electronic Support Measures) systems carried by other NATO AWACS planes. The ESM system can detect, identify, and track various electronic emissions, including radio and radar systems. NATO AWACS planes used ESM extensively for intelligence gathering during the Kosovo campaign.--Stephen V Cole

Kazakhstan is upgrading its Air Force with MiG-29s, Su-27s, and Su-25s it is receiving from Russia in trade for 40 Tu-95MS Bear heavy four-engine bombers which the central Asian republic has no real need for. The Russian Air Force is reportedly happy to get the heavy bombers.--Stephen V Cole

Greece is buying 45 Raytheon T-6A Texan turboprop trainers for $200 million to replace outdated T-37 and T-41 trainers.--Stephen V Cole

Russia currently has six Tu-160 Blackjack bombers (two of which are used by Tupelov for research), but has arranged to get the eight Tu-160s that Ukraine had in exchange for natural gas supplies. The Russian Air Force has also allocated $1.8 million for Tupelov to complete one of the six incomplete Tu-160s left sitting in the factory when the USSR collapsed.--Stephen V Cole

Brazil will buy 20 Harpoon missiles from the US for $39 million to use on the four frigates it has leased.--Stephen V Cole

Raytheon says it has fixed the problems in the AIM-9X missile system and it will be deployed on schedule (15 months late).--Stephen V Cole

The US Army plans to include "tags" in all of its small arms that can be "read" by radio waves from 700 feet away. This will make inventory control easier; the chip will be buried in the stock of the weapon. The tags require no power; the interrogator system actually beams enough power to the chips to activate them and get them to transmit the weapon's serial number.--Stephen V Cole

TOS-1 is a new Russian rocket artillery system built on a T-72 tank chassis. The huge turret mounts 30 missile tubes, each carrying a 220mm rocket. Each rocket has a range of 3,500m (minimum 400m) and a fuel-air explosive warhead. TOS-1 can ripple fire all 30 rockets in 7.5 seconds in an artillery mode, but was designed to fire rockets in pairs at NATO forward observers and missile anti-tank teams.--Stephen V Cole

Britain has asked seven companies to bid on its Surface Ship Torpedo Defense program. The Brits plan to buy defensive systems for all 42 major surface warships (carriers, destroyers, frigates). The system must be able to detect and classify incoming torpedoes and deploy some form of counter-measure.--Stephen V Cole

Egypt has asked for a license to build another 100 M1A1 tanks; it finished the last of the original 555 tanks last summer. Egypt has been expected to ask to build 200 tanks but budget problems forced a cut to 100; the Egyptian Army hopes to buy the other 100 in the future.--Stephen V Cole

The Army has rolled out the first of the Opfor ("Opposing Force," the enemy in field exercise) Surrogate Vehicles. These are basically M113s, upgraded to the A3 standard, fitted with a modified Bradley turret, and given various cosmetic changes to make it look something like a Russian BMP-2. The new vehicles will allow night combat (something that was not possible with previous Opfor vehicles).--Stephen V Cole

Bulgaria has revealed its new Avalanche grenade launcher. An individual weapon, the Avalanche mounts six 40mm barrels around a common access and provides a pistol grip and extendible buttstock for the soldier. It fires East European VOG25 rounds.--Stephen V Cole

Malaysia has received the last two of four missile corvettes originally built by Italy for Iraq. The first pair were delivered in July 97.--Stephen V Cole

A team of scientists at Oak Ridge are developing a new firearms propellant based on water and aluminum. It can have four times the power of TNT, but can also be adjusted electronically to produce whatever amount of power is needed. This might allow a weapon to fire special ammunition (such as paint balls or stun batons) with greater range and accuracy than before. It could also allow a given weapon to be set by the soldier to fire the same projectile on various settings from "stun" to "armor piercing" by varying the muzzle velocity. This could have applications for peacekeeping, where the ability to engage a particular target with non-lethal rounds could have advantages. Note that all of these non-lethal wonder weapons require the troops to carefully think through the engagement before actually firing, which could be a problem since combat rarely provides such time for reflection. A soldier might have to set his weapon on non-lethal status just in case he has to make a snap decision to return fire, and then find himself firing non-lethal rounds at a very lethal sniper who has suddenly taken his unit under fire.--Stephen V Cole

 


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