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AM General's JLTV offering.

WASHINGTON: “Go drive it, Sydney,” Heidi Shyu called out across a room. “I want you to go drive it. It’s awesome.” “It” is the JLTV, the Army and Marine Corps’ future Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, a $30 billion program for 55,000 vehicles. As the Army’s top acquisition official, Shyu will choose the winning contractor — –… Keep reading →

Army photo

WASHINGTON: Sometimes small is beautiful. Sometimes small is lethal. While China and Russia are researching stealthy and armed drones, the drunk intelligence analyst who landed a Chinese-made mini-drone on the White House lawn in last month may be the more worrying sign of things to come. Afghan and Iraqi guerrillas kludged together murderous roadside bombs… Keep reading →

Inside an Army electronic warfare testing facility at White Sands.

WASHINGTON: “Electronic warfare is a weapon,” fumed Col. Joe Dupont. But as the Army’s project manager for EW programs — and its recently declassified offensive cyber division — Dupont faces an uphill battle against tight budgets and Army culture to make that case. Whoever rules the airwaves will be able to keep their networks and sensors… Keep reading →

An unmanned TerraMax mine-clearing vehicle, followed by equally unmanned TerraMax cargo trucks.

The future of military robotics may not look much like a robot. It may just be a truck that drives itself. That’s the simple, pragmatic approach pursued by Oshkosh — a company better known for trucks than Terminators — with its TerraMax Unmanned Ground Vehicle. But after eight years of experiments for three different military… Keep reading →

M2 Bradley

Massive government documents typically hide some gold nuggets of information. In today’s report from the Pentagon’s independent Director of Operational Test & Evaluation, a famously tough grader known as DOT&E, there’s one detail that is going to make defense contractor BAE Systems very happy: “Results from the third underbody blast test also demonstrate that the… Keep reading →

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen

CAPITOL HILL: The recent death of Bill Young, longtime power on the House Appropriations Committee, opened the door to a new chairman of the defense subcommittee. Today New Jersey’s Rep.  Rodney Frelinghuysen stepped through that door. Frelinghuysen has served on the defense subcommittee since 1999. He was its vice-chairman. The most likely winner from the veteran… Keep reading →

The armor plate that saved Spc. Bryan Wagner's life, and the IED fragment that it stopped.

Life or death in wartime is horrifically random, subject to “fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,” but sometimes that randomness generates not tragedy, but miracles. Such is the story of Army Sergeant Roger Daniels. On a patrol in Afghanistan last August, Daniels, then just 21 years old, took a bullet to the head and survived… Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: After 53 years in service, the Army’s M113 armored transport might finally get replaced. Last night, the Michigan-based Tank-Automotive Command (TACOM) issued a draft Request For Proposals for a new Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle. The final RFP is expected in June and the contract award in mid-2014. Variants of the General Dynamics Stryker and the BAE Bradley are the leading contenders. Our industry sources are still poring over thousands of pages of documentation, but here are the highlights.

The bottom line: almost $1.5 billion for over 300 vehicles — for a start. The RFP proposes a $1.46 billion contract in two phases: design, develop, and build 29 prototypes over four years — the $388 million engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase, 2014 through 2017; and then build up to 289 production models over three years — the $1.08 billion low-rate initial production (LRIP) phase, 2018-2020. Keep reading →

America’s Army has developed a bit of a split personality of late. On the one hand, the top brass has very publicly embraced the administration’s January 2012 strategic guidance that emphasizes “innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint approaches” and “building partner capacity” in lieu of large ground force deployments. Leaders from Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno on down talk up the Army’s capabilities in cyberspace, missile defense, seaborne operations, and small advisor teams.

At the same time, the service’s biggest new weapons program remains the controversial Ground Combat Vehicle, an estimated $34 billion program to build what could be 70-ton-plus behemoths optimized for all-out land war. “Low-cost” and “small-footprint” it ain’t. (“Innovative” it may be; read on). And GCV is just the tip of the armored iceberg. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: Today, somewhere inside the Pentagon, senior Army officers will likely recommend development of new radio-jamming equipment for the post-Afghan War world. After a decade desperately playing defense against radio-detonated IEDs — and, before that, a decade of neglect in the 1990s — Army electronic warfare is taking the offensive again.

With their eyes on future adversaries more technologically sophisticated than the Taliban, commanders want new capabilities to shut down enemy electronic networks and protect their own. It’s a challenge intimately interwoven with but distinct from the higher-profile field of cyber warfare. Hackers infiltrate enemy networks to steal data and infiltrate viruses, while jammers simply shut them down — though that distinction gets blurred by new techniques such as “protocol attacks” that scramble digital radios. Keep reading →

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