Humvee with Switchblade launcher at AUSA 2022.

Humvee with Switchblade launcher at AUSA 2022. Defense One / Marcus Weisgerber

R&D at AUSA; Hybrid combat vehicles; F-35 deliveries resume; and more.

Amid the crowded exhibit halls and mammoth displays, new technology seemed to be the major theme of this week’s Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting in Washington. After years of Pentagon pleas for innovation, it appears that’s finally happening.

Even more than what we saw at the Air and Space Forces Association conference last month, much of the tech on display at AUSA seemed ready for prime time, be it counter-drone systems, hybrid propulsion for vehicles, or battlefield robots

Take loitering munitions, much in demand in by Ukrainian forces fighting off the Russian invasion. AM General showed a Humvee kitted with a launcher for Switchblade kamikaze drones, the kind the U.S. has been sending to Kyiv.

Or hybrid-electric combat vehicles. General Dynamics Land Systems showed off updated versions of the Abrams tank and Stryker APVe with hybrid propulsion drivetrains that allow them to operate silently. There’s actually a whole lot going on right now with hybrids in the military vehicle space, which you can read about here.

In the C4ISR realm space, Palantir showed off its Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node, or TITAN, truck that fuses intelligence from a host of sources. Company officials demonstrated how the system uses artificial intelligence to identify objects in video or images to allow commanders to make quicker decisions. Palantir is competing against Raytheon Technologies for the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node, which is a key part of the Army multi-domain operations and joint all domain operations.

In the area of more traditional military machines, Army leaders say they will award a contract for the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft that will replace the venerable Black Hawk in the coming months. Bell’s V-280 Valor is competing against the Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant. 

Stephen duMont, president of General Motors Defense, says the company is on one of the teams competing to sell Joint Light Tactical Vehicles to the Army, but won’t say which one. “We made a strategic decision to be an industry partner,” duMont said in an interview. “We're on a competitive team, [but] we're not announcing the team that we're on yet, because we're in [an] active proposal phase on that program. But we felt it was a better opportunity for us to insert commercial technology into a prime team, instead of GM defense standing up a significant operation to build a vehicle that's already been designed. Current JLTV maker Oshkosh Defense has built more than 18,000 of the vehicles. Oshkosh, which has been developing a hybrid version of the JLTV, is expected to bid as is AM General. 

In non-AUSA happenings, the Pentagon has issued a waiver that will allow it to accept F-35 deliveries from Lockheed Martin. The waiver, issued by Bill LaPlante, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, will allow the military to accept 126 F-35 awaiting delivery. This comes after it was recently discovered that the planes contain a banned Chinese alloy.

The Air Force says its new HH-60W rescue helicopters have reached initial operational capability. “The declaration signifies that the U.S. Air Force now possesses sufficient HH-60Ws, logistics requirements and trained Airmen to support a 30-day deployment to any independent location with a package of four aircraft,” the service said. The helicopters recently deployed to an undisclosed location.

Making Moves

Retired Army Gen. Scott Miller has joined gun maker Sig Sauer as a defense advisor. Miller was the final four-star commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan.