BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold met up with Jackson White, Business Development Director at Enterprise Control Systems, and David Beckett, Director COMINT Business Development at TCI, in April at Enterprise Control Systems Ltd’s (“ECS”) offices headquartered near Northampton, UK, to discuss the synergies between ECS and TCI following the merger last year.
On August 3 2021 SPX Corporation (“SPX”) (NYSE: SPXC) completed the acquisition of Enterprise Control Systems Ltd (“ECS”). ECS is a leader in the design and manufacture of highly-engineered tactical datalinks and Radio Frequency (RF) countermeasures, including counter-drone and counter-IED RF jammers.
TCI is part of SPX Corporation,a supplier of highly-engineered products and technologies, holding leadership positions in the HVAC and detection and measurement markets. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, SPX Corporation had more than 4,500 employees in 15 countries. SPX Corporation is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “SPXC.”
ECS is a leading designer and manufacturer of highly-engineered communications intelligence systems, including RF inhibitors (RF jammers) and encrypted data links. ECS was founded in 1988 and has grown steadily in size over the past 30 years.
“We are excited to welcome ECS to the SPX team,” said Gene Lowe, President and CEO of SPX. “As our first acquisition in our CommTech platform, ECS expands and strengthens SPX’s position in COMINT by adding highly complementary, world-class products and technology. We see significant opportunities to grow our presence in COMINT, and complementary technologies and solutions worldwide. We view ECS’s expertise in encrypted data link systems and RF countermeasures as a perfect fit with the high-value RF monitoring, detect and locate technologies and products of our TCI business.”
Colin Bullock, founder of ECS, commented, “We are very pleased to be part of SPX, as it creates numerous opportunities for employees and customers to continue their growth journey. Combining ECS’s expertise in RF countermeasures and encrypted data links systems with SPX’s strengths in RF detection and location systems – as well as its global infrastructure and resources – is a great opportunity to further advance product development and extend the reach of our combined, high-value solutions to a broader customer base.”
“What is the synergy between SPX/TCI and ECS?” The Editor asked.
“Together, ECS and TCI now provide a more holistic, yet increasingly customer-tailored solution for COMINT, C-UAS and RF countermeasures solutions. Hardware and software integration across offerings from both companies will optimise signals intelligence, paint a clearer battlefield picture and facilitate threat interdiction. Our first example is our Counter UAS solution BLACKTALON. It pairs TCI’s Blackbird for detection and location of UAS and controllers with ECS’s Claw for jamming them. These synergistic solutions will provide domestic and allied government agencies enhanced capabilities to deal with the threats posed by asymmetric warfare, non-state actors and near-peer adversaries.” Jackson White said.
“How will the systems deploy?”
“We have launched a new solution called BLACKTALON, which is a scalable C-UAS solution that allows ECS and TCI to address several military and civil C-UAS requirements. The TCI system detects and tracks the RF signal of the UAS, hands over the location to the ECS Claw jammer which defeats the UAS in flight. In addition to defeating the UAS, using frequency detection and depending on the type of UAS, the operator can then locate the UAS operator. The drone detection system scans the RF spectrum looking for the RF signature of UAS and radio controllers. When a UAS or controller is detected, the system geolocates the target and provides a notification. Local operators receive notifications by visual and audible alarm. Remote personnel can be notified by other mechanisms, including email and instant text message. Security personnel can then observe the location of both the drone and the controller on the integrated map and track the target’s movements. Knowing the location of the drone’s controller helps authorities pinpoint the operator for a safe and effective intervention. Once located a squad can be dispatched for the FOB to pick up the UAS and the operator. C-UAS doctrine is very similar to that of RC-IED. By locating and capturing the drone operator and his system, a picture can be built up as to how many drone builders and operators there are in the enemy forces. This leaves drones and their operators no place to hide.” David Beckett said.
“The rapid evolution of low-cost, highly capable drones presents a new set of challenges. Whether the operator is a negligent hobbyist or an agent intent on a malevolent act, an undetected drone can pose a significant safety or security threat. From secure facilities and government installations to public venues such as sports arenas, airports and sites where emergency services or law enforcement personnel are actively engaged, TCI’s drone detection systems have you covered. TCI’s drone detection technology provides field-proven, fully automated detection and geolocation of drones and their radio controllers. It can be deployed interactively by an operator, or automatically for unattended operation, providing low cost of ownership.”
“How does your system compare to a radar operated C-UAS system?”
“The beauty of our BLACKTALON solution is that it’s scalable, so depending on the Concept of Operations (ConOps) we can add or remove different types of sensors. In some roles it may not be practical to employ an active radar. With radar directed C-UAS systems, once the radar fires up, it can be easily located by the enemy, however in operations where active radar detection is not an issue or very low detection probability, the radar could also detect personnel and vehicles, again ConOps dependent. Our RF systems are well suited to UAS equipped with EO/IR payloads and control links which give out clear RF signals whilst operating.” Jackson White said.
From borders to theatres of operations, and urban landscapes to wide-open spaces, TCI technology empowers customers to monitor, analyse and manage the RF spectrum. TCI solutions provide spectrum monitoring, direction finding (DF) and communications intelligence (COMINT system) capabilities. TCI’s leading-edge geolocation solutions include triangulated Angle of Arrival (AOA), Time Difference of Arrival (TDOA) and hybrid systems that leverage both technologies. TCI drone detection system capabilities employ geolocation and sophisticated signal processing to detect and locate both drones and their controllers. Selected for use in more than 100 countries around the world, TCI products are supported by a global network of service, installation and training services.
As the spectrum becomes increasingly crowded, TCI ITU-compliant spectrum monitoring systems are putting highly effective and versatile tools in the hands of agencies responsible for regulation and protection. Users of TCI spectrum monitoring systems benefit from advanced hardware and software technologies that maximise performance in TCI digital signal processing products. From complying with ITU guidelines, to providing powerful wideband capabilities in complex environments, TCI offers a wide range of options to choose from. These include Compact Spectrum Monitoring Systems (CSMS) whose lower size, weight and power requirements enable flexible mobile deployments and installations. Equipped with TCI’s user-friendly Scorpio™ client software with Automatic Violation Detection and comprehensive reporting capabilities, TCI’s CSMS systems are best-value solutions engineered to combine the highest level of performance with the greatest ease of operation and lowest total cost of ownership.
Designed for the harsh environment of combat conditions, TCI signals intelligence systems integrate powerful capabilities into compact solutions. On the ground, at sea or in the air, TCI products work together to help personnel detect, collect, analyse and locate RF signals with speed and precision — to command the electromagnetic environment. TCI’s Model 850 Blackbird NextGen offers fully integrated COTS signals intelligence capability, including survey, search, detection, visualisation, collection, wideband recording, DF/geolocation, analysis and reporting. Blackbird offers comprehensive automation based on user-defined search criteria, as well as Lookback Collection to browse or search back in time and extract IQ data for a signal of interest without interrupting recording. Whether the mission calls for fixed base and transportable capabilities or man-portable mobility, TCI innovations offer the performance required.
TCI’s deep experience in spectrum monitoring provides an unsurpassed foundation for spectrum management technology. TCI ASMS solutions streamline and automate key spectrum management tasks including licence administration, engineering analysis, fee calculation and billing.
“TCI antenna systems embody years of experience in RF systems design and production techniques. Broadcasters rely on TCI for optimised HF and MF solutions that minimise operating costs. Ground-air, ship-shore, GMDSS and military communications use TCI antennas tailored for a variety of power ratings. And those tasked with spectrum management and emitter location find the sensitivity and accuracy of TCI technology well suited to the challenges they face. In an electromagnetic environment that grows more challenging every year, TCI continues to lead with innovations that give operators greater effectiveness and agility across the spectrum.” Jackson White said.
TCI’s Model 850 Blackbird NextGen
Today’s new and emerging threats are driving the need for updated signal intelligence system capabilities that not only can detect, collect and analyse the newest signal threats, but geolocate them as well. To meet the demand for ever-increasing areas of operation, the system also must be easy to deploy and even easier to operate.
Building on the proven E3238S Blackbird capability and TCI’s world-leading direction finding and geolocation technology, the TCI Model 850 Blackbird NextGen SIGINT system combines precision RF and DF hardware with the next generation of the original Blackbird software. The result is a fully integrated, COTS signals intelligence capability to provide unparalleled signal survey, search, detection, visualisation, collection, wideband recording, DF/geolocation, analysis and reporting — redesigned with a modern, easy-to-use interface. It’s the best of the proven, classic Blackbird, modernised with new technology, DF/geolocation, and point-and-shoot simplicity.
When configured with the Lookback Collection option, the operator will never miss a collect for a signal of interest since IQ data for any past signal can be extracted from the wideband storage array without interrupting wideband recording. Blackbird operators can even use the Lookback Collection IQ data to go ‘back in time’ to perform TDOA and hybrid geolocation on past signals.
TCI has developed an antenna range suitable for operating with the Model 850 Blackbird NextGen
TCI’s Model 649-8 Portable V/U/SHF antenna is designed for applications requiring a compact, accurate, multi-element, Direction Finding (DF) antenna, combined with an omnidirectional monitoring antenna. The 649-8 enables broadband operation from 20 to 8,500* MHz when used in TCI’s Spectrum Monitoring System (SMS) or COMINT DF systems. *Range is dependent on TCI’s spectrum processor.
The Model 645-8 VHF/UHF Antenna is designed for applications requiring a compact, accurate, multi-element, Direction Finding (DF) antenna, combined with a sensitive omnidirectional monitoring antenna. The 645-8 allows broadband operation from 20 to 8,500 MHz when used in TCI’s Spectrum Monitoring System (SMS) or COMINT DF. Typical DF accuracy is 2 degrees (RMS), 1 degree in a reflection-free environment. The 645-8 supports calibrated signal amplitude measurements over the full frequency range, and includes built-in self-test (BIST) for automatic testing and verification of the antenna’s operational status.
ECS and TCI have developed a C-UAS solution that Detects, Tracks and Defeats UAS engaged in hostile activity or surveillance by a nuisance drone enthusiast, insurgents, state actors or hostile militaries.
The AUDS system, already successfully deployed and in 24/7 operations, was developed in
2015 by a consortium of UK defence companies. The AUDS system is the TRL 9 base line of the ECS and TCI BLACKTALON solution.
BLACKTALON provides comprehensive situational awareness and mitigation as a standalone or networked capability, as a multi-layered C-UAS, or as a component of a Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) system. Evolved from the operationally proven AUDS, the BLACKTALON C-UAS solution combines more than 135 years of experience in the defence and security technology sector from Enterprise Control Systems and TCI International (both part of SPX Corporation), working together along with their carefully selected valued partners.
BLACKTALON is an open architecture C-UAS solution that also enables users to integrate their legacy or preferred sensors and to interface the system to their Command & Control (C2) system of choice. This allows capability to be scaled in response to an emerging and evolving Concept of Operations (ConOps), to the Operational Environment and to the available budget. This flexibility allows for a custom solution approach that embraces established Technology Readiness Level 9 (TRL9) components into a solution for immediate operational impact whilst providing the ability to scale the sensor and effector solution in response to changing threats and ConOps in the future. The outcome is early and reliable detection, pinpoint tracking, and selective defeat options to mitigate the UAS of concern.
BLACKTALON is available in three standard configurations – a portable platform for rooftop installation, a rugged field-mast system for forward operating bases or temporary camps, and a fixed system for borders and critical infrastructure sites.
The components of the BLACKTALON solution has proved to be highly effective against swarm attacks and has successfully defeated approaching 2,000 drone sorties and been tested against more than 60 types of drone including fixed wing and quadcopters. The team recognise that co-ordinated swarm attacks are increasing – particularly in the military sector – so its engineers have been working on algorithms and techniques improving the BLACKTALON’s capability to defeat these multi-drone attack scenarios.
“We have continued to refine our advanced RF inhibition capabilities to meet identified changes in the threat, enabling additional attributes designed to engage with some of the longer-range fixed wing drones that have appeared over the last 12 months. Our specialist RF engineers have also further fine-tuned some advanced techniques to even more effectively defeat coordinated multi-drone swarm attacks made up of mixed UAS types approaching in complex mission scenarios.” Jackson White said.
BLACKTALON is highly effective against multi-mode swarm attacks due its multi-band radio frequency (RF) inhibitor which can simultaneously target multiple threat ‘bands’ to defeat the command and control (C2) links deployed on UASs. These C2 links are constantly evolving within the emerging threat landscape and the BLACKTALON RF inhibition system (Claw) continues to demonstrate its flexibility to rapidly address these changes in response to operational demands.
“How does BLACKTALON work?” the Editor asked.
“BLACKTALON detects a drone using the electronic scanning micro-doppler radar, tracks it using a precision controlled infrared and daylight camera system incorporating advanced video tracking software before using a non-kinetic radio frequency (RF) inhibitor to defeat the UAS. Using BLACKTALON, the operator can effectively disrupt the function of a UAS enforcing an invisible impenetrable barrier. The BLACKTALON solution is designed and built to the highest military standards, and its detect, track and defeat components have been extensively field proven in harsh operational environments. It works in all weather, day or night and at all times the disruption response is flexible, proportional and operator controlled.”
“Our Claw jamming system originally formed part of the AUDS system. ECS has developed and refined the system since the AUDS consortium was formed and we now offer it as a standalone C-UAS jammer. With the system being operationally proven it has proven to be the obvious choice for home and overseas customers looking for a RF defeat solution.” Jackson White said.
The Claw Directional Inhibitor is a self-contained inhibitor system that combines the RF power electronics with a high-gain multi-band directional antenna system. The Claw inhibitor comprises dual mast-mount units covering the 433MHz, GNSS, 915MHz, 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz ISM frequency bands with RF output powers to the antennas of up to 83w. With an aggregated RF output power to the antenna of up to 150w. This system disrupts the control, navigation and telemetry used by UAS and can be customised for end-user requirements. Claw is a secure fully self-contained, compact system with no external signal processing or Power Amplification modules required, which insulates the solution from third-party interference and aids integration into multiple sensor systems. The Claw system comprises the following: directional antenna enclosures, two SDR directional inhibitor units, and either 2 AC or 1 DC Power Supply Units.
“The combination of TCI and ECS allows the combined entity to develop systems to command the spectrum to allow the passive location and destruction of every type of drone – from the entrant user, through the surveillance user, to the weaponized drone. We can offer our customers a range of C-UAS systems from passive RF systems through those with an EO/IR system and radar to allow long-range location and kinetic systems to destroy weaponized UAS before they reach their target.” Jackson White said.