Sponsored by Spectra Group
18 Dec 18. Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that Symetrica in Southampton was selected in a competition to supply nuclear counter terror detection systems to the UK. On 22 Oct we said that nuclear counter terror detection systems are to be bolstered in high-tech drive. Counter-terrorism officers are to be equipped with a new fleet of high-tech nuclear and radiological detection vehicles to trace weapons-grade materials in the UK. The Home Office is planning to buy up to 10 mobile gamma and neutron radiation detection systems to bolster its defences against them being used in a terror attack. Ports and airports across the country already have screening systems in place to spot anyone smuggling nuclear or radiological materials into the UK as part of the Border Force’s Cyclamen monitoring system. Similar equipment was used at the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. But, the new fleet is understood to be able to carry out searches for such materials inland and be deployed with speed at key locations. A Home Office source insisted that the threat of such materials being used in a so-called dirty bomb terror attack remained “highly unlikely”. However, in 2006 Russian agents were accused of smuggling in polonium 210, a highly radioactive chemical, to poison fatally the former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko.
A procurement notice, lodged last month, states that ministers are inviting bids for between five and 10 “modern vehicle-based gamma and neutron radiation detection systems for various national security and radiological and nuclear counter-terrorism activities.”
Statistics held by the International Atomic Energy Agency shows that in 2016 there were 189 incidents of nuclear materials being discovered outside of state control. That compares to 147 such reports made to the agency five years earlier.
While those reports will include illegally trafficked materials, it will also log scrap metal contaminated with radiological materials after being broken up.
This summer, the Government published its counter-terrorism strategy, called CONTEST, in which it underlined its commitment to “refreshing” defences with new technologies to “enhance our detection and screening capabilities, for example at borders, airports and crowded places”.
The report, released following the Manchester and London terror attacks, highlighted the need for “cutting-edge” detection system that “can be flexibly deployed in a range of environments.”
The report adds: “We will deliver this through investment in modern systems, informed by the latest science and technology research and international collaboration.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “This procurement activity relates to the CONTEST commitment to continue to strengthen the UK’s existing radiological and nuclear detection capabilities. It does not relate to chemical or biological materials.
“This particular activity is not in response to a specific threat. The use of radiological or nuclear materials in an attack by terrorists remains significantly less likely than a conventional or chemical attack.”
He refused to be drawn on the possible cost of the vehicles.
See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.20 ISSUE 46, 12 November 2018, UK Nuclear counter terror bolstered)
18 Dec 18. The US Army is developing a lighter, more agile comms kit. The Army is testing a new equipment design that increases the number of small network nodes to a unit, allowing for a reduced expeditionary signal battalion without decreasing capability. The new Expeditionary Signal Battalion-Enhanced (ESB-E) pilot unit — the 50th ESB, 35th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade — used its agile networking suite for the first time during a training mission at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in December, according to an Army release.
Not unlike the efforts underway to modernize its tactical network, the service is leveraging rapid prototyping, experimentation and development operations to inform future needs. The pilot is aimed at providing scalable units to ensure uninterrupted mission command and faster movement. The ESBs provide tactical network communications support to other units.
“The ESB-E effort is, in part, intended to deploy capabilities previously limited to Special Operations Forces-type units,” Lt. Col. Ronald Iammartino, 50th ESB-E commander, said.
“Because these kits are designed to be light, scalable and easily adaptable, we can now give commanders far greater flexibility in how they use signal assets to support the fight.”
With assistance from the Army’s network cross-functional team and the program office — Command, Control, Communications-Tactical — the pilot is testing a suite of tools that is lighter and more mobile, as well as easier to operate in order to provide hardened communications in contested environments.
By using a DevOps approach, the team went from a concept approval to fielding equipment to the first company in eight months, according to the Army. The two remaining companies will begin fielding starting in 2019.
Equipment being used by the ESB-E includes:
- Small, medium and large triband satellite dishes and network baseband equipment packages;
- Transit case-based Terrestrial Line Of Sight (TRILOS) Radio providing an increase in bandwidth; and
- Secure Wi-Fi allowing the network to come online in minutes.
“We are informing the ESB of the future,” said Col. Christopher O’Connor, commander of the 35th TTSB.
“We want to reduce the amount of time, get a commander on the network and able to use his mission command systems in a much quicker manner, which helps them make decisions in support of the fight. It comes down to survivability and reduced footprint, smaller electromagnetic signature, being able to move and displace with the command post more quickly so that we aren’t a target.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
18 Dec 18. Domo Tactical Communications DTC contributing to UK MOD’s AWE 18 delivering ad-hoc, self-healing MANET Mesh radio networks to support dismounted soldier operations, enable Shared Situational Awareness (SSA), and data and communication range extension for “On-the-Move” ISR operations. In addition, our excellent NLOS performance and high data rates at range, have enabled Robotic & Autonomous System (RAS) vehicle operations, along with the remote control of unmanned vehicles in urban and challenging environments. It’s been a pleasure working with, and supporting, the British Army, DCE, Hippo, Tethered Drone Ltd and Horiba Mira. (Source: Linkedin)
17 Dec 18. Raytheon completes FoXTEN testing, now awaits DCGS-A RFP. The US Army is expected to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for its Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) Capability Drop (CD)1 in early 2019, which is designed to upgrade the current DCGS-A system and make it easier to use. An RFP for CD2, which will focus on a server capability and could bring artificial intelligence and machine learning to DCGS-A, is expected to be published later in 2019.
The army’s goal for CD1 has been to provide a capability that is simple and intuitive to use, is interoperable with the army’s host system, and leverages the best of commercially available hardware and software to support intelligence analyst operations at the tactical echelon.
CD1 is intended to enhance the ability of brigades and battalions to produce intelligence products and operate in a disconnected, intermittent, and limited (DIL) bandwidth environment.
In CD1 the hardware solutions will comprise “ruggedised laptops and a displacement of the current Intelligence Fusion Server at the battalion echelon to improve expeditionary operations. Software will enable operations in DIL bandwidth environments, enhance ease of use, and provide improved tools for intelligence preparation of the battlefield [IPB] and processing, exploitation, and dissemination [PED]”, the army said.
Raytheon, along with Palantir Technologies, is bidding for DCGS-A CD1. Palantir Technologies declined to discuss its offering for CD1.
Raytheon is competing with its Force Multiplier Tactical Edge Node (FoXTEN) software, which was designed as an open architecture capability to incorporate apps from any provider, Todd Probert, vice-president of mission support and modernisation at Raytheon, told Jane’s .
“That is important because the government is spending a lot of money developing apps across the various agencies and if agency ‘A’ comes up with a great way to look at a mapping app and pays to develop that, we would like the ability to morph that into [FoXTEN],” he said. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
14 Dec 18. Raytheon demonstrates X-Net autonomous radio communications system. Raytheon in August demonstrated its X-Net radio communications system, which autonomously and instantly selects the optimal radio frequency to provide continuous communications.
Barbara Borgonovi, Raytheon vice president of integrated communications systems, told Jane’s on 10 December that this is significant because it demonstrates the company’s ability to replace two radios with one. During the demonstrations, which took place on an Insitu RQ-21A Blackjack tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), X-Net performed the flight control operations and video transmission job of the legacy radios. X-Net, during the demonstration with US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, allowed Blackjack to flip its own switch to the best radio frequency for operations. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
14 Dec 18. uAvionix to Open “HQ2” in Washington DC Region. uAvionix, designer and manufacturer of communications, navigation, and surveillance (CNS) equipment for unmanned and manned aircraft, has announced its plans to establish an office location in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. This expansion reflects the company’s long-term business strategy and the strong growth the company has seen in both the unmanned and manned aviation markets.
After an exhaustive nationwide search for the perfect location, comparing important criteria such as transportation options, talent availability, and local craft beer quality – the uAvionix “HQ2” will be located in Leesburg, Virginia – and will focus on business operations, development, and regulatory engagement – particularly in the emerging unmanned aircraft systems market.
“Despite all efforts by Leesburg and the local agencies to convince us to stay in Montana, this location provides fantastic brewery, winery, and distillery options within just a few miles, we just couldn’t turn it down,” states Christian Ramsey, President and local lead for HQ2. “Of lesser importance, Leesburg provides excellent transportation options domestically and internationally with nearby Dulles International Airport, as well as easy access to FAA headquarters and industry advocacy and standards groups such as Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Association for Unmanned Systems International (AUVSI) and RTCA.”
“HQ2 demonstrates our commitment to growth, and will position uAvionix for 2019 and beyond,” states Paul Beard, CEO.
uAvionix HQ2 is expected to open in February 2019. Current corporate headquarters in Bigfork, Montana will remain critical to current operations and growth, and focus will remain on engineering, manufacturing, and support. New staff have been hired locally, and uAvionix is recruiting for additional positions in Leesburg. For information on open positions, please see www.uavionix.com/careers. (Source: UAS VISION)
Spectra Group Plc
Spectra has a proven record of accomplishment – with over 15 years of experience in delivering secure communications and cybersecurity solutions for governments around the globe; elite militaries; and private enterprises of all sizes.
As a dynamic, agile, security accredited organisation, Spectra can leverage this experience to deliver Cyber Advisory and secure Hosted and Managed Solutions on time, to spec and on budget, ensuring compliance with industry standards and best practices.
Spectra’s SlingShot® is a unique low SWaP system that enables in-service U/VHF tactical radios to utilise Inmarsat’s commercial satellite network for BLOS COTM. Including omnidirectional antenna for the man, vehicle, maritime and aviation platforms, the tactical net can broadcast over 1000s miles between forward units and a rear HQ, no matter how or where the deployment. Unlike many BLOS options, SlingShot maintains full COTM (Communications On The Move) capability and low size and weight
On 23 November 2017, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd announced that it had recently been listed as a Top 100 Government SME Supplier for 2015-2016 by the UK Crown Commercial Services
Spectra’s CEO, Simon Davies, was awarded 2017 BATTLESPACE Businessman of the Year by BATTLESPACE magazine and is a finalist in the inaugural British Ex-Forces In Business Awards in the Innovator Of The Year category.
Founded in 2002, the Company is based in Hereford, UK and holds ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.