The news that Ukraine had included .50 calibre machine guns for C-UAS applications, in its recent weapons request from the USA, triggered increased interest in .50 and smaller calibre weapons for C-UAS Applications.
BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold was told by FNUK at DSEI that the .50 cal requirement was for close in C-UAS defence in urban areas.
This triggered the discussion that once a UAS penetrates the wall provided by larger calibre systems such as the Bushmaster 44, 30 calibre systems slaved to Echodyne radars, high energy lasers, drone-on-drone attack and microwave defence systems, this leaves forces behind this shield vulnerable without a vehicle, container-based and building mounted small calibre C-UAS system.
According to Allied Market Research, the global C-UAS market was worth $1.3bn in 2021, and is projected to reach $14.6bn by 2031, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 27.9 per cent.
Small Calibre C-UAS Systems at AUSA
A number of companies were exhibiting small calibre C-UAS systems and accessories at AUSA, among these were Kongsberg, EOS, SMARTSHOOTER, Control Solutions, Teledyne FLIR, Leonardo DRS, Echodyne, IEE, Aimpoint and ScioTeq.
Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace
Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace gave the Editor details of a contract signed through the International Fund for Ukraine for the delivery of Counter Uncrewed Aerial Systems (C-UAS), which will be donated to Ukraine.
The delivery consists of several CORTEX Typhon systems, developed to counter a wide specter of UAVs with solutions to either physically harm or otherwise disable the aerial threat. The contract value is £56m.
The CORTEX Typhon C-UAS is based on field-proven software and hardware from Teledyne Flir and KONGSBERG, including surveillance system and KONGSBERG Remote Weapon Station (RWS) and CORTEX Integrated Combat Solution (ICS).
As part of the delivery, the Norwegian Government has donated Dingo 2 vehicles, KONGSBERG RWS and weapons.
The International Fund for Ukraine (IFU) was established by the UK and international partners to identify and procure critical capabilities and deliver them quickly to Ukraine. Norway and the UK are among many nations that have contributed to the fund.
Teledyne FLIR Defense, part of Teledyne Technologies Incorporated (NYSE:TDY), signed a contract with Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, Norway, valued at roughly $31m to provide its Cerberus® XL mobile counter-unmanned aerial system (UAS) as part of a total C-UAS solution for Ukraine. The agreement includes delivery of the surveillance platforms as well as software, spares, support and training.
Kongsberg showed the Editor its networked C_UAS capability at AUSA which networked three vehicles seamlessly. All three vehicles could identify and track individual targets and pass them across the system.
EOS Defense Systems USA, Inc.
Phil Coker CEO of EOS Defense Systems USA, Inc. gave the Editor a tour of the booth at AUSA which showed a number of C-UAS systems.
EOS Defense Systems USA, Inc. (EOSDS USA) develops and fields advanced remote weapon stations (RWS), integrating lighter-weight gimbals, advanced electro-optics applications, transformative stabilization and multiple weapon mounting options for the United States, allied countries, and commercial partners.
EOSDS USA is part of the worldwide Australian corporation Electro Optics Systems Pty Limited, which operates in 3 sectors: Defense, Space and Communications. The family of EOS products incorporates advanced electro-optic applications based on EOS core technologies in software, lasers, electronics, optronics, communications systems, satellite array management, gimbals, telescopes, beam directors and precision mechanisms.
EOSDS USA MISSION
“What is the main objective in development of your C-UAS systems?” The Editor asked.
“First round engagement is key to successful C-UAS operations. Because the first round matters, we always keep the warfighter first, EOS safely and expertly engineers and builds the most lethal and precise RWS in the world, while maintaining professionalism, honesty and fairness in all we do. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now a staple for most militaries, but the ability to counter them has lagged considerably. Thanks to the Nagorno-Karabakh 2020 conflict and ongoing Ukraine War, armed forces are belatedly recognising the need to field effective air defence umbrellas against both commercial and military specification UAVs. Bad actors can also shut down international airports with just a quadcopter, or conduct coordinated attacks with a small budget and little prior training. Therefore, just as UAVs and loitering munitions have burgeoned in the past two decades, so too demand for counter-UAS (C-UAS) systems is set to multiply.” Phil Coker said.
EOS Titanis C-UAS system
Cannons are good at low-level engagements up to 70°, whereas lasers can handle 70°- 90° elevations. Lasers offer longer-range engagements too, beyond the 1.2 miles (2 km) range of cannons. EOS markets the Titanis C-UAS system that can combine RF detection, camera, radar, hard-kill and directed energy effectors from various suppliers. An agnostic system like Titanis is ideal, since customers may already have jammers or surveillance radars that can be integrated into its non-ITAR C2 system developed by Australian firm Acacia Systems.
At a recent demonstration at Klondyke Range Complex on 25 August, EOS demonstrated its Slinger system mounted with a 7.62mm machine gun and 30mm cannon on the back of an American GMC Denali pickup truck. The system was able to track and achieve a kill against a flying drone at a distance of 450 metres using a standard 7.62mm Mag58 machine gun (on loan from the Australian Army) and standard ammunition (four-ball, one-tracer).
The stabilised 30mm cannon, capable of single-shot, 100 or 200 round-per-minute modes using thermal and night vision, achieved effective fire on ground targets including mock vehicles and a mock helicopter.
FAMILY OF PRODUCTS
THE R150 RWS
The R150 is the world’s lightest RWS capable of incorporating and firing light and medium machine guns as well as the .50 cal M2 and the M134 Gatling gun. The system delivers fire with exceptional accuracy while on the move and over long range, transforming area fire weapons into systems capable of first round hits even at extended ranges. The R150 can be integrated on vehicles that can accommodate 400 lbs. (including the weapon and ammunition) enabling the RWS to be mounted on a range of light and medium manned platforms as well as a wide range of unmanned platforms.
THE R400 RWS
The R400 can be configured for single or dual weapon use. The single configuration can accommodate light or medium machine guns and grenade launchers as well as the M230LF 30x113mm light weight 30mm cannon. The dual-weapon configuration offers a variety of options for mounting the same weapons but can also accommodate a coaxially mounted machine gun or Gatling gun. Third effectors such as Javelin, TOW, Stinger, Spike, Hellfire missiles can be added for additional lethality. There are more than 2000 R400 systems deployed around the world.
THE R600 & R800 RWS
EOS developed a heavy gimbal in response to the growing need for a greater range of lethality options on light and medium platforms. The R600 can mount the XM914 30x113mm cannon with a coaxial machine gun and the Javelin missile. It can also carry additional mission configurations totaling as much as 600lbs, allowing the incorporation of packages including multiple missiles, radars and fourth effectors. The R800 is from the same family as the R600 but has the capacity to mount the MK44S 30x173mm cannon with dual ammunition feeds as well as a coaxially mounted machine gun and an anti-tank or air defense artillery missile package. The addition of the Mk44S allows the system to leverage the range and effectiveness of existing 30x173mm ammunition. The system weighs less than 1,800lbs including all weapons and ammunition, and can incorporate STANAG Level II armor to increase system resiliency. Modern light, medium and heavy armored vehicles can now deliver fire power to the battlefield without limitation of large, cumbersome, expensive and invasive turrets.
Container Based Weapon System (CBWS)
Container Based Weapon System (CBWS) is fitted with the R400S Mk2 D and the 7.62mm machine gun and the M230LF.
Other system features include the ability to operate by fiber optic cable or wirelessly with great security across extended distances as well as offering the option for wireless firing on the move. This allows all the EOS family of RWS to be remotely operated from vehicles or from container-based weapons stations. Additionally, the systems have the capacity to be easily networked and operated as a wide-area security system.
The Mopoke system provides a self-contained C-UAS solution. Mopoke includes 360 degrees detection, identification, tracking, soft kill, kinetic and DE engagements to defeat single and/or swarm UAS threats. The reliance on a relatively low power, yet extremely precise laser is an effective technique because of the very high-quality beam management EOS delivers. It also reduces blooming in the atmosphere and energy consumption when compared to higher energy systems.
Control Solutions RFO System (Remote Firing Option)
BATTLESPACE was shown the Control Solutions’ RFO System (Remote Firing Option) at AUSA.
The Control Systems RFO System is a kit that drops into the pintle of an existing motorized turret, and it provides remote control of both the weapon and the turret. The RFO consists of low-cost, commercial-off-the-shelf components. These “plug-and-play” components include a remote fire solenoid, low light camera, user interface with color display, joystick and trigger. The RFO weapon system is simple to operate with minimal training, and provides a major tactical advantage by allowing the gunner to deliver suppressive firepower from a protected position.
The RFO System utilizes an intuitive user interface that incorporates a built-in high-definition display. Joystick and trigger controls are straight forward, allowing for quick training and qualification.
Depending on threat/situation, the RFO provides the gunner with the option of manual turret operation, or remote operation. Manual operation provides superior situational awareness, while remote operation provides dramatically improved protection by operating from within the hull of the vehicle. Remote mode also provides improved accuracy and much greater targeting distance due to the RFO’s excellent optics and display.
RFO is a modular upgrade to existing ITDS turrets and other platforms. It does not interfere with current armor configurations. Existing fleets can be incrementally upgraded at the Field Depot Level or Theater Storage Area (TSA) in less than one day. The RFO improves lethality while maximizing vehicle mission time.
* Allows option of manned or remote weapon operation.
* Allows threat engagement with greater accuracy and maximum protection.
* Remote control via RFO user interface.
* View the threat environment on hi-res video display.
* Major Improvement in crew survivability and system effectiveness.
“The RFO provides a perfect platform for .50 calibre C-UAS systems. We understand that the US Army is starting developmental trials at Fort Benning slaving a .50 calibre machine gun to an Echoguard radar for C-UAS applications.” Bruce Florak told the Editor. “We see a market for upgrades of existing small calibre cupola systems with our RFO combined with an Echoguard radar, a SMARTSHOOTER FCS system and an Aimpoint FCS for C-UAS applications. This would be a comparative cheap and easy exercise which would give C-UAS protection to convoys, buildings and FOBs.”
SMARTSHOOTER develops state-of-the-art Fire Control Systems for small arms that significantly increase weapon accuracy and lethality when engaging static and moving targets, on the ground and in the air, day and night.
With proven “One Shot – One Hit” precision, the SMASH product line empowers defense and security forces by maximizing rifle effectiveness against enemy targets while minimizing friendly casualties and collateral damage.
Based on Artificial Intelligence, Computer Vision and Machine Learning technologies, SMASH is also designed to interconnect with other operational resources to form a micro-tactical network that delivers real-time situational awareness.
SMASH 2000 PLUS is based on the SMASH 2000 system but includes a Counter UAS Mode that provides for the kinetic elimination of small, low-flying drones.
The British Army’s close combat soldiers will soon receive SMARTSHOOTER’s SMASH Smart Weapon Sight Fire Control System, a cutting-edge weapon sight that will give them a tactical advantage countering uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs).
An initial order for SMASH sights has been agreed under the new five-year Framework Agreement, worth up to £20 million for delivery to Operational readiness units across the Dismounted Close Combat (DCC) community by the end of this year.
Providing dismounted soldiers with the ability to achieve a high probability of a hit against micro and mini UAVs, SMARTSHOOTER’s SMASH technology enhances every mission’s effectiveness through the ability to accurately engage and hit ground, aerial, and naval, either static or moving targets during both day and night operations. Employing AI, computer vision and machine learning, the SMASH family of fire control systems include handheld operated, remotely controlled, and robotic systems, e.g., UGV, UAS, mounted systems that ensure precise hit capabilities, enhance forces’ situational awareness, and reduce costs – by significantly lowering training burden in both time and ammunition.
This kinetic Counter-Small Uncrewed Air Systems (C-sUAS) capability will initially be fitted to the SA80 A3 assault rifle and can also be fitted onto other in-service individual weapons. The contract Yorkshire-based Viking Arms Ltd, has the potential to allow further sights to be delivered over the next few years to dismounted close combat operators across the Army, Navy and RAF, based on operational and readiness commitments. This work contributes to sustaining the company workforce – supporting the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy.
Echodyne At AUSA
Echodyne showed its range of advanced radar at AUSA.
Counter-UAS (C-UAS) requires an accurate picture of the operating area. Small UAS are enemy ISR platforms and a threat to warfighters and logistics. Group 3 and larger UAS represent increased lethality and enhanced EW and ISR capabilities.
As commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions, Echodyne radars achieve optimal threat symmetry – a low-cost solution for a low-cost threat – and provide high-performance situational awareness for fixed, temporary, on-the-halt (OTH), and on-the-move (OTM) requirements. Echodyne radars’ high-speed 4D accuracy delivers flawless optical tracking for “eyes on object” and reliable precision for targeting systems and non-kinetic effectors.
Data fidelity makes all the difference to mission success. More accurate data rapidly ingested creates better systems and safer outcomes. With both processed and unprocessed data options, Echodyne radars generate the most accurate data for detecting, tracking, targeting, and mitigating UAS intruders.
“What makes the technology in the Echodyne radar so perfect for C-UAS applications?” The Editor asked Eben Frankenberg, CEO of Echodyne.
“Echodyne’s metamaterials ESA (MESA®) technology creates the only compact, high Tx/Rx module count, true beamsteering radar. This patented platform offers breakthrough size, weight, and power (SWaP) formats, simple manufacturability, and commercial pricing. With short- and medium-range options, Echodyne radars fill coverage gaps, are portable, mobile, and easily integrated into higher-level systems, and generate reliable, consistent data of exceptional fidelity.” Eben Frankenberg said.
“The addition of COTS radar adds resilience to every layer of the CUAS system. COTS radar generates data accurate enough for effector systems, such as Northrop Grumman’s M230LF Bushmaster Chain Gun, to eliminate UAS targets with extraordinary efficiency. Large ESA radars, like the TRML-4D, will always have their role in battlespace but need complementary layers for resilient operation. Deploying data acquisition assets, like sensors, must consider COTS to achieve attritability while maintaining performance. A large ESA radar combined with hundreds of low-SWaP ESA radars creates a powerful sensor network that matches remarkable airspace acuity with high attritability. High-performance radars, such as Echodyne’s EchoShield pulse-Doppler MESA® radar, offer comparable to often much better data fidelity at a tiny fraction of the cost. While edge cases will always require pinnacle systems, the benefits of layered redundancy, layered commands, and layered systems of systems remain clear. Adding COTS to the formula creates capital symmetry for the MOD and properly equips warfighters with adaptive layers of CUAS protection. “
“What is key to accurate UAS detection?”
“Situational awareness is the goal. Drones in the airspace are the problem. Radar is essential for a multi-layered solution but is absolutely critical if the threat is dark drones without RF signals. When the threat is intelligence and reconnaissance, Echodyne radars detect the propeller spin of hovering drones and directs security personnel to the exact location. Radar data is the foundation for airspace situational awareness.”
Already in use across every U.S. federal agency, Echodyne radars are the primary sensor in dozens of multi-layered counter-drone solutions. With on-the-move capabilities to extend field operations, MESA radars create an information advantage in counter-drone operations.
EchoShield 4D Radar
EchoShield is a state-of-the-art pulse-Doppler cognitive radar that combines ultra-precise ESA beamforming with dynamic waveform synthesis to deliver half-degree accuracy for tracking of drones and aerial targets. The low-SWaP system consolidates information from both onboard and external sources to provide trustworthy long-range target classification with low false alarms and near-zero false negatives. EchoShield includes a full-featured software development kit that enables data-rich integration into a variety of C2 and counter-UAS systems.
EchoGuard is a low-SWaP ESA radar that delivers uncompromising performance. It’s beam-steering accuracy and high refresh rate mean better optical tracking for eyes on object or fire control solutions. Able to detect and track small drones from 1km, EchoGuard is ideal for airspace surveillance around key assets and sensitive facilities.
The Editor was honoured to see the first prototype FCS13-RE at the Aimpoint Malmo facility in 2009. The systems has now been sold to 20 countries across the world for applications on Carl Gustav, .50 calibre machine guns and 40mm grenade launchers.
Aimpoint tod the Editor at AUSA that the next version of the FCS13-RE will be launched in the first quarter of 2024.
The Aimpoint FCS13-RE is a direct view, Dynamic Universal Reflex Sight, which utilizes an integrated laser range finder and ballistic computer to give the gunner an aiming point corrected for range, type of munition, terrain angle, and environmental conditions. In addition to the 84mm Carl Gustaf, the system can also be utilized on other crew served weapons including 40 mm high velocity grenade launchers, and 12.7 mm (.50 caliber) heavy machine guns. The FCS13-RE provides a very high probability of first-shot hit on both stationary and moving targets at extended ranges and utilizes a very intuitive user control interface. The system can be enhanced with modular magnification and thermal imaging components and is compatible with all generations of military night vision equipment.
High Resolution Displays for C-UAS Applications at AUSA
A counter-UAS system operator may be operating remotely in a command centre or they may be co-located with the sensor in support of deployed operations; either way it is important to provide them with equipment that will function reliably in their environment. This may mean that a ruggedized display for use inside a vehicle or within a mobile command centre is the best solution. ScioTeq is a leading manufacturer and supplier of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) trailblazing displays to the international defense and aerospace markets.
Industrial Electronic Engineers, IEE, manufacturer of field-proven military displays exhibited their product line at the 2023 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., October 9th-11th. IEE is answering the need for high-resolution displays that can serve as a key component in a Counter-UAS security strategy of detection, identification, tracking, and defeat. Advanced sensors, radars and other detection technologies enable the early warning and accurate identification of potential drone threats.
IEE displays are a key component in a Counter-UAS security strategy of detection, identification, tracking, and defeat. Modern advanced sensors, radars and other detection technologies enable the early warning and accurate identification of potential drone threats. IEE provides a line of operator console displays with resolutions of Full-HD, Ultra-HD and 4K that match the latest high resolution sensors and cameras, while still being able to operate in harsh outdoor fielded environments. For example, IEE’s 13.3 inch Full-HD display is fit for use in both airborne and military ground vehicle applications with it’s rugged sealed enclosure.
“High-resolution displays in combination with artificial intelligence algorithms can be used to analyze data from sensors, cameras and other sources to accurately differentiate between an actual threat and other flying objects,” remarked Steve Motter, V.P. of Business Development for IEE. “These detection algorithms, combined with object recognition, and high resolution imaging, allow the operator to quickly review and validate the detected potential UAS threat – leading to effective, informed Counter-UAS responses. IEE has continued the development of several new high resolution, rugged displays. We are actively aligning our design efforts with the (worldwide) MOD/DOD objectives of Modular Open Systems Approaches for next generation vehicle system architectures. This includes open standards for digital video streaming, high speed (secure) digital communications/networking, and low-latency configurable video processing. “
“High-resolution displays in conjunction with AI algorithms can be used to analyze data from sensors, cameras and other sources to accurately differentiate between an actual threat and other flying objects. This allows the operator to quickly and more accurately detect the presence of an actual threat and act accordingly.” Steve Motter continued.
IEE features a selection of operator console displays with resolutions of Full-HD, Ultra-HD and 4K that match the latest high-resolution sensors and cameras, while still being able to operate in harsh outdoor fielded environments. These include the 13.3-inch FHD, the 10.1-inch MFD and a soon to be released 11.6-inch MFD.
Developed for use in both airborne and military ground vehicle operations, this 13.3-inch monitor features full-HD resolution that is able to directly render the latest camera and sensor data. Its narrow bezel is optimized for side-by-side mounting of multiple displays, creating a panoramic operator workstation. Touch screen options available.
- Enhanced, High-Bright 13.3” LCD Display
- Full-HD (1920×1080) LCD bonded with high-strength cover glass including EMI shield, heater and anti-reflective/glare treatments
- LED backlight with high-bright day (sunlight readable) and night (NVIS compatible) modes
- 8 backlit soft key bezel layout
- 2x Composite NTSC/PAL; 1x 3G-SDI
- Serial communication bus
The 10.1″ MFD utilizes a high performance, heavy-duty, full color, very high-bright WUXGA AMLCD. Designed for fixed and rotary wing airborne applications, this very wide viewing angle display features a selectable dual-mode LED backlight for sunlight readable daytime operation and NVIS-compatible operation for night. A programmable 8-way joystick and encoder knobs complement the bezel keys to provide a full-featured operator interface supporting the control of a wide range of applications.
- 10.1″ WUXGA, (1920×1200) color TFT LCD display
- Brightness: 1,100 cd/m2 typical
- Contrast Ratio: 800:1
- Video Interface: 2 x DVI-D, 2 x HD-SDI (loop-through)
- Communication Interface: RS-422
- 13 programmable bezel push-buttons, with tactile feedback and NVIS filtered backlight
- Replaceable Bezel
- On-screen display (OSD) functions controlled using Bezel Keys
- 3-way rotary switch for OFF/NIGHT/DAY, one brightness encoder, two programmable dual-concentric encoders and one 8-way joystick
ScioTeq’s Family Of Displays At AUSA
For over 30 years ScioTeq has led the introduction of new technologies in defence display development and manufacturing.
ScioTeq’s latest entrant into the rugged display market is the Thinlite 4K family of displays. This family of products offer field deployable, survivable 4K low latency displays, which provide a critical advantage in counter-UAS identification. With sensor packages, such as cameras, incorporating much higher resolution capabilities in order to take advantage of the data they capture, higher pixel displays are needed, and thus the move to 4K. 4K displays (UltraHD 3840 x 2160 resolution) have more pixels per centimeter than 2K or standard displays, so their images contain more identifiable data, especially on smaller detected targets. The Thinlite 4K displays provide pixel perfect clarity in an MIL qualified package and the highest level of clarity and sharpness, ensuring minimal delay between the instrument and the operator’s eyeball. The resulting low latency brings the displayed images into real time more realistically. This can allow an operator to positively identify a detected object earlier and at a greater range. Earlier identification provides a longer window of opportunity to interdict the UAS if required to do so, as does utilizing a sensor to display line with minimum latency.
Additionally ScioTeq displays allow “picture within picture” images which are tiled within the master image but, on a ThinLite 4K, these sub-pictures are of higher resolution than traditional displays. This greatly improves operator awareness. The introduction of Thinlite 4K UltraHD displays provides a field deployable display that matches or exceeds the resolution of other sensors deployed to counter UAS.
What emerged from AUSA was that the C-UAS threat is growing and the systems becoming more sophisticated and more difficult to locate and destroy. Industry is rising to the challenge in developing new and more advanced C-UAS systems.
Private Equity is at the forefront of C-UAS technology as was evidenced by the launch of HighPoint Technologies, a combination of C-UAS companies including Literye and Black Sage, at which the Editor was delighted to attend. Epirus was another company in evidence funded by