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COMBAT HELICOPTER 2018 AGENDA HIGHLIGHTS
With over 20 nations currently undergoing some form of modernisation for their rotary platforms, and a further 10 feeling the pressure due to sanctions on Mi parts a crucial requirement has developed to improve this process. Whether countries wish to extend their platform’s life expectancy through internal or external changes, there is a vast array of options for keeping the Fleet aloft and effective
FOCUS DAY STREAM 1 – 23rd OCTOBER: OPTIMISING PLATFORMS FOR OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS
ENHANCING THE UTILITY OF MULTI ROLE
The platform dominating the majority order books are ones that can be tweaked to perform a multitude of roles. Whether its role includes naval, lift, or attack tasking a crucial element of mission success is the ability to clear an area of threats to enable it to work. That requires weapons, and this session will explore some of the options available.
Hardened, lightweight materials and unmanned/autonomous systems have the ability to reduce stress on an airframe, improve survivability on the battlefield and even remove traditional platforms altogether. It has far reaching consequences for the reconnaissance community, enabling more sensors and armaments to be loaded onto smaller platforms. This session will analyse these in more detail.
OPTIMISING THE FLEET
Countries must consider to what extent they wish to develop their rotary arsenal. It is a key consideration that blends organic production capabilities, threat requirements and budgets. The resulting Fleet must be affordable, operationally ready and fit for the environment available and this session will explore some of the options being looked at by the RoK and Pakistan.
FOCUS DAY STREAM 2 – 23rd OCTOBER: MODERNISATION OPTIONS
With over 20 nations currently undergoing modernisation programmes for their rotary platforms and a further 10 exploring options due to sanctions on Mi parts, a crucial requirement has developed to improve this process. Whether countries wish to extend equipment’s life expectancy via internal or external changes, there is a vast array of modernisation options for keeping Fleets safe, capable and ready for modern operations
IMPROVING DEGRADED VISUAL ENVIRONMENT CAPABILTIES
The ability of pilots to perform operations at night and in conditions involving snow/dust/fog is crucial in enabling success against conventional and near peer threats. These hazards can become tactical advantages when friendly forces can operate with little restriction whilst their foe remain grounded. This section will explore the mix of sensors and flight controls whilst analysing the consequences of relying on one more than the other.
ENSURING EASE OF USE: MODULAR UPGRADE OPPORTUNITIES
As systems become more electronically complex, consideration of modular links at the design stage becomes increasingly important. It requires an early identification of clear requirements with options set out that enable forces to choose the optimal solution for their mission requirements. This section will analyse some of the debates to help hasten upgrade decisions.
EXPLOITING ELECTRONIC WARFARE IN THE ROTARY DOMAIN
With focus switching to near peer threats there is a much greater awareness of the importance of controlling the electromagnetic spectrum. Likely future operations will include highly disruptive electromagnetic spectrums which has led to an explosion of research, development and procurement in equipment that enables this type of (EW) control. This section will analyse some of the options available to enhance national capabilities and response in this area.
FOCUS DAY STREAM 3 – 23rd OCTOBER: REDUCING VULNERABILITY
Enhanced materials and armour are two of many options that increase survivability which includes different tactics, layout of equipment and procedures. Furthermore, platform maintenance issues can be significantly reduced via vibration reduction technology. Finally, 3D printing and reinforced carbon have the ability to reinvigorate aircraft capabilities. This session will look at how countries and industry are adapting to help increase survivability for their Fleets.
DEFENSIVE AID SUITES (DAS): INCREASING PROTECTION
The weight, size and flight profile of rotary platforms limit their manoeuvrability and makes them ideal targets. There is a keen focus to enable threat identification and defeating systems to ensure mobility is consistently protected. However, there is never a simple solution and as the threats to aircraft become more complex, so too do the DAS and this session will attempt to clarify some of the solutions.
UTILISING TECHNOLOGY TO MAXIMISE MANOUEVRABILITY
Many individual nations, and NATO collectively, have studied how DAS/ASE effectiveness can be enhanced by better connectivity and Situational Awareness. The challenge is to provide this nirvana without unduly increasing crew workload, or platform cost/complexity. The optimum solution for helicopter commanders to defeat threats is to include integrated self-protection that can aid crew in identifying the threat type and origin. Once the threat is identified, pilots need an array of options to defeat the threat via a combination of countermeasure and manoeuvre. This session will look at technology that is being used, tested and in development.
MAIN CONFERENCE DAY 1 – 24th OCTOBER: PREPARE AND SUSTAIN THE FLEET
As nations move away from traditional environments to near peer threats attention must be paid to feedback from recent operations. There is an abundance of lessons that must be incorporated into national programmes, particularly as nations align their investments around receiving better value for their procurement. The main conference will start with a look at these operations.
INTEGRATED CONNECTIVITY: ESTABLISHING DIGITAL ARCHITECTURE
The ability of Fleets to communicate nationally and with partner nations is paramount to successful operations. From avionics that can connect across multiple channels to cross-queued-sensors for targeting from external platforms, integrated connectivity is crucial to mission success.
STREAM 1: PLATFORM INNOVATIONS - ATTACK AND MARITIME
Attack platforms, the sharp edge of all air assault operations, have the ability to dominate the battleground on land and at sea. But times change, as does operational freedom of action. There is increasing scrutiny on the accuracy of munitions, reliability of sensors and platform and weapon agility that enhance the ability to survive and operate legally in contested airspace. This session will consider how these innovations can best be bought to the rotary community.
PLATFORM INNOVATIONS – MULTI ROLE
Multi-role platforms are a nirvana for many nations. The ability to rapidly switch between peace and war, and between sub- types of mission in both promises a smaller, cheaper fleet of assets. Future concepts such as the NGRC take the idea further by envisaging a platform that is fundamentally modular and readily adaptable to a variety of mission types by the fitting of tailored modules – providing flexibility and reducing costs. Whilst the NGR is still very much in the future, contemporary manufacturers are attempting to make their platforms multi-role and even dual civil/military certified to enhance flexibility and contain costs.
STREAM 2: GUIDED OPTIONS
Precision effects with ever smaller weapons were a key feature of recent campaigns. The desire to field low Collateral Damage Estimate (CDE) weapons enabled targets outside the Rules of Engagement to be attacked and destroyed. Guided weapons are now accepted as the “norm” and an established part of modern warfare. The key will be to ensure that such weapons are not vulnerable to 3rd party manipulation, and are scalable in warhead, effects, accuracy and range to fit the future needs of developed militaries.
Whilst precision effects are increasingly the norm, sometimes there’s still the need to suppress area targets and unguided weapons remain a valuable part of most Attack Helicopter load out. Unguided weapons are relatively cheap, not susceptible to jamming and, in the case of guns, multiple firing passes can be achieved in a single sortie. Accurately laid gunfire, be it from an AH weapon system to a door gun, can still serve as a low CDE weapon in the right circumstances.
MRO is one of the biggest ongoing costs to Fleet Commanders and they need dynamic, affordable solutions to raise operational readiness rates. There must be debate on whether we rely only on existing military supply chains or make better use of industry for enhanced speed, expertise, basic level maintenance and beyond. This has been proven to be the only way of supporting an extensive operational tempo and battle damage repairs which are often the main problems in hostile environments. Early collaboration with industry is essential to achieve the goals of increased availability and sortie generation rates of assets in out of MOB operations.
STREAM 3: ENHANCING NETWORK PERFORMANCE
The key to smooth and successful operations is C2 via effective networks. It is vital that these systems be designed and implemented in collaboration with industry and with no prejudice for rotary wing platforms. Beyond line of sight broadband SATCOM applications have already been tested in various fronts of combat or humanitarian missions with great success. This session will assess how best to test the solutions available and prepare the aerial assets accordingly.
MAIN CONFERENCE DAY 2 – 25th OCTOBER: PROGRAMME FEATURES
UPDATE ON NEW PROGRAMME DEVELOPMENTS
With traditional platform design reaching the limit of performance capabilities in terms of speed, lift and range countries are looking to revolutionary changes to propel rotorcraft capabilities forward. US have a future vertical lift programme and other countries are considering more bi/tri/quad lateral programs. This session will analyse them in more detail.
When new programmes are not feasible, countries will look at how to get the best from their current aircraft. Common challenges include the desire for increased power-to-weight ratios, reduced maintenance, improved fuel efficiency and better speed and modernisation programmes can achieve marginal but worthwhile gains in each. This session will analyse these in more detail.
THE FUTURE OF BATTLEFIELD AVIATION
Every nation has a different perspective on how they view the future of vertical lift. Some want different configurations, be that optimised conventional or tilt rotors whilst others simply want improved propulsion and connectivity. Irrespective of your solution the Combat Helicopter, as part of a layered approach is the key to fielding a confident and adaptable force This final session will dissect the key ingredients of future vertical lift.
Military and government personnel can attend the main 2-day agenda, as well as the Cyber Focus Day, with a free end user pass by registering here.
Industry organisations can attend the main 2-day agenda and Cyber Focus Day by registering here.