2019 top news stories

3 January 2020 (Last Updated May 28th, 2020 13:05)

Indonesian Army ordered nine Bell 412EPI helicopters and British Army to train soldiers with VR under new pilot scheme. Army-technology.com wraps up key headlines from 2019.

2019 top news stories
The 412EPI helicopter is part of the Bell-412 series helicopter. Credit: Bell Helicopter Textron Inc.

Indonesian Army orders nine Bell 412EPI helicopters

The Indonesian Army and state-owned aerospace company PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) signed an agreement for the delivery of Bell 412EPI assault helicopters.

Under the purchase agreement, PTDI will receive nine units of the 412EPI helicopters from Bell. The Indonesian company will then carry out customisation work on the aircraft prior to handing them over to the Indonesian Army.

The units will be delivered to the service along with weapons and ammunition, spare parts, technical publications and training.


British Army to train soldiers with VR under new pilot scheme

The British Army awarded a £1m contract to software developer BiSim to pilot the use of virtual reality (VR) for soldier training exercises.

BiSim develops simulation and training software for military training purposes. The company created the Virtual Reality in Land Training (VRLT) programme to enhance future British Army training using VR.

BISim’s UK head of sales Rusty Orwin told Army Technology: “BISim is using commercially available VR head-mounted displays, like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive Pro, to study how VR hardware and our simulation software VBS3, VBS STE and VBS Control can be used in the collective training environment.


US Army awards $1.13bn Lot 14 GMLRS production contract to Lockheed

The US Army awarded a $1.13bn contract to Lockheed Martin for the production of guided multiple launch rocket system (GMLRS) rockets.

The contract covers the manufacture of more than 9,500 GMLRS unitary and alternative-warhead (AW) rockets and over 300 low-cost reduced-range practice rockets (RRPRs).

It will require the company to supply GMLRS rockets for the US Army and international customers.


New Zealand to ban semi-automatic firearms

New Zealand voted to ban most semi-automatic weapons, including firearms, magazines, and parts that can be used to assemble prohibited guns.

Under the law, it is illegal to possess prohibited weapons in New Zealand.

The changes are aimed at ensuring that banned items are not exported to other countries where they would pose a similar risk. It will also no longer be permissible to import the items solely for the purpose of re-export.


Pentagon to transfer $1.5bn from defence programmes for border wall

Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan granted approval for transfer of $1.5bn by the Pentagon for the construction of more than 130km of wall along the border with Mexico.

US President Donald Trump said that $5.7bn will be required to fund the wall, aimed at preventing people from crossing into the US and stopping the flow of drugs from Mexico.

The money transfer included shifting around $604m from funds for the Afghan security forces, the next nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) programme Minuteman III, and from the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) programme.


Singapore Army inducts fully digitalised Hunter armoured fighting vehicle

The Singapore Ministry of Defence commissioned the new Hunter armoured fighting vehicle that will provide improved firepower, mobility, and protection.

The induction of the Hunter armoured fighting vehicle is a key component of the country’s efforts to create the next-generation army.

Set to replace the existing Ultra M113 armoured personnel carriers, the new vehicles are expected to make the Singapore Army a ‘stronger, faster, smarter and more lethal advanced fighting force’.


Advent to buy UK defence firm Cobham in £4bn deal

US buyout group Advent International reached an agreement to acquire British aerospace and defence firm Cobham for a total cash consideration of £4bn ($4.98bn).

Under the agreement, Cobham shareholders will receive £1.65 in cash in exchange for each share held in the company.

Cobham is specialised in satellite communications, defence electronics, air-to-air refuelling, aviation services, life support and mission equipment markets.


US Army developing self-targeting AI artillery

The US Army began developing an AI-powered artillery shell capable of more accurate long-range fire. The Cannon-Delivered Area Effects Munition (C-DAEM) shell will be capable of locating and targeting moving vehicles.

C-DAEM is designed to replace the US Army’s current dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM), which drops explosive charges across a target area to guarantee a target is hit by artillery.


Dynetics to build US hypersonic weapon prototype

The US Army awarded US hardware and software company Dynetics Technical Solutions a $351.6m contract to produce Common-Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) prototypes and act as system integrator.

The company’s agreement with the US Department of Defense (DoD) will see it develop 20 glide body assemblies over three years. The prototypes will be supplied to the US Army, US Navy and the Missile Defence Agency. The contract also opens the door for the future production of more glide bodies.

Dynetics Technical Solutions president Steve Cook said: “We are honoured to be selected for this high-priority national security programme. Dynetics has been developing enabling technologies for many years.


Rolls-Royce wins $1.2bn US defence services contract

British engineering company Rolls-Royce won a $1.2bn five-year MissionCare contract for the maintenance of AE 1107C engines on US Marine Corps, US Navy and US Air Force V-22 aircraft.

Under the MissionCare contract, the company will be responsible for propulsion system support on a ‘power by the hour’ basis.

The company said that Rolls-Royce AE 1107C engines are assembled at the company’s largest facility in Indianapolis, US.