The U.S. Army has selected the General Dynamics Land Systems Multi-Utility Tactical Transport (MUTT) uncrewed ground vehicle for its Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) program. The latter aims to develop uncrewed vehicles to support small units, including by carrying equipment. In addition, the MUTT can be equipped with payloads such as remote weapon stations, surveillance equipment, medical evacuation gear and tethered uncrewed aerial vehicles. The MUTT is available in 4 x 4, 6 x 6 and 8 x 8 configurations with either tracks or wheels. The Army chose the 8 x 8 wheeled version for the SMET program.
The Army originally selected the MUTT (at left) in October 2019. Following a protest, the service reran the competition, again choosing the GDLS vehicle. In July 2020, GDLS received a $249 million contract for the first increment of the SMET program, including the production of an initial batch of 24 UGVs, with work scheduled to conclude in 2025. Testing of the MUTT is already underway. General Dynamics has also provided 8 x 8 MUTTs to the British army for a manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) project.
Vietnam has fielded a class of six patrol gunboats based on a domestic design. Built by Hong Ha Shipbuilding at its Z-173 yard in Hai Phong, the HQ-272 class is in service with the Vietnamese navy's 2nd Regional Command in the southeastern Dong Nai province. The first ship in the class was laid down in September 2009 and launched in September 2011. HQ-272 was commissioned in January 2012. The second was commissioned in August 2012 and the rest of the class at a rate of about two annually thereafter.
The HQ-272 class (right) has a steel hull with an aluminum superstructure. It is armed with a 76-mm main gun, two 30-mm close-in weapon systems and two 14.5-mm machine guns. It can also accommodate SA-N-19 surface-to-air missile launchers. A rigid-hull inflatable boat can be carried for boarding missions. The ships in the class have an endurance of around 30 days and a maximum range of 2,500 nm at a cruising speed of 15 knots. A crew of 35 is carried.
The Bell Helicopter has developed a light, twin-engine utility helicopter that has been widely sold for military and public security missions. The Bell 429 Global Ranger can be flown by one or two pilots and has space for six or seven passengers. It features a Garmin glass cockpit, a damage-tolerant hub-and-rotor system and energy-attenuating seats. It has a range of 470 miles at a cruising speed of 170 mph. Bell Helicopter developed the design in cooperation with Korea Aerospace Industries. First flight took place in February 2007 and the Bell 429 was certified in 2009.
The Bell 429 (at left in Canadian coast guard colors) has been acquired by a variety of government operators. The Royal Australian Navy employs it for training, while several national police agencies have acquired it for law enforcement, transport and search-and-rescue missions. Bell has also developed the new 429WLG variant, which replaces the skids on the baseline model with retractable landing gear for slightly improved speed and range. In October 2020, Guyana requested to buy two Bell 429s from the U.S. for homeland defense and counter-drug missions.
Rafale Expands Customer Base
Aviation updates this month include the French Rafale fighter jet, which just won a new order from Greece; the European Neuron uncrewed aircraft demonstrator; China's CJ-6 basic trainer; and the Russian AS-15 Kent, AS-18 Kazoo and AS-7 Kerry air-launched munitions.
The British BR-90 family of bridge systems has been added to the database, along with updates to the German Dingo protected vehicle, the North Korean 170-mm M1978 self-propelled howitzer and the U.S. 175-mm M107 and 203-mm M110 howitzers.
Numerous maritime records have been made current, including the Russian UGST heavyweight torpedo, German Bullfighter naval countermeasures system and several sealift ships, including the Chinese Bohai Sea Green Pearl class and the U.S. Algol and Watson classes. The Nigerian Andoni-class seaward defense boat has also been added.
Russian Navy on the Rise
Russia has been rebuilding its naval forces, with numerous projects underway from surface ships to ballistic missile submarines and new weapons to equip them. The latest info is now available in the Russian navy record.
U.S. Military Takes On Enemy Within
In the aftermath of the right-wing violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, the U.S. military has taken a second look at the problem of extremism in the ranks. Weapons Editor Brody Ladd dives into the issue in "A Different Kind of Battle."
On Feb. 1, the Burmese army overthrew the civilian government, ending a decade-long experiment with democracy. Nations Editor Kevin Ivey has the story on the coup and the popular uprising against it in "The Burmese Army Strikes Back."
Finally, late last year a trio of Russian bloggers visited an abandoned fighter production facility outside Moscow, bringing the fall of the once mighty Mikoyan aerospace firm into sharp light. Reuben Johnson reviews the situation and its lessons for Russian defense industry more broadly in "The Decline of MiG."