Sponsored by American Panel Corporation
UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
12 Aug 19. UK police may buy more helicopters. The UK’s National Police Air Service (NPAS) has begun a process that could see the operator acquire a batch of new helicopters. According to tender documents, the provider has started a survey of the market to assess the availability, capability and cost of different rotorcraft types. Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer lists the NPAS as operating a 19-strong fleet, all from Airbus Helicopters: 15 H135s and four EC145s. The most elderly aircraft are a pair of H135 light-twins that are both 17 years old, although six helicopters in total are more than 15 years old. The NPAS declines to comment on its fleet strategy. However, the tender documents list the “soft market engagement” as related to “aircraft renewal”.
Given that the service has steadily shrunk in aircraft and base numbers since its inception, it is unlikely that any new helicopters will be used for fleet expansion.
When the NPAS launched in 2012, it had 25 helicopters across 23 bases, against 19 at 15 locations presently.
“NPAS’s intention is to explore what is within the market to assist with a procurement strategy, should purchase of new aircraft happen,” it says. The market evaluation runs until 3 September. (Source: News Now/FlightGlobal)
10 Aug 19. UK DASA seeks proposals for metasurface technology competition. The UK Government’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), along with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), is inviting proposals for phase two of the metasurface technology competition. The competition is looking for companies that can harness advances in metasurface technology to maintain an electromagnetic tactical advantage for the front-line.
DASA intends to integrate the innovative solutions into devices and onto platforms to maintain ‘effectiveness in the increasingly congested electromagnetic environment’.
In a statement, DASA said: “Advantage may be realised by sensing and communication superiority over an adversary. This applies equally to enhancing your own capabilities, degrading those of your adversaries, or being better able to differentiate your own signals from those in the congested environment.”
The advanced metasurfaces technology is expected to provide an improved understanding of the battlefield and facilitate secure communication by allowing better control of electromagnetic waves.
In addition, the solution will cut costs and reduce device footprint.
The competition seeks to invite experts in the private sector and academia to help develop the innovations.
Under the first phase of the competition, DASA awarded contracts to nine companies.
Companies looking to participate in phase two will have to submit proposals incorporating metasurface science for applications in defence and security.
The final round of the phase will require companies to make a practical demonstration of the work to defence and security end users.
DASA added: “We are keen to promote teaming between organisations from across industry, academia, and broader supply chains to develop the role of metasurfaces in relevant applications.”
The metasurfaces competition phase two is set to be launched at a demonstration day for phase one next month.
The organisation will provide at least £500,000 in funding for the second phase. Contracts are expected to be awarded by February / March next year. (Source: army-technology.com)
15 Aug 19. UK bans transfer of submersibles to Russia. The British government has extended its prohibition on the transfer of defence and dual-use goods to Russia, the Department for International Trade’s Export Control Joint Unit announced on 14 August.
New measures that have been added to the UK’s export control list explicitly forbid the export of submersible vessels and related equipment, as well as software and technology, to Russia, with aims of frustrating the country’s development of the ability to locate and disrupt undersea communications cables.
Alongside undersea vehicles, the new wording includes acoustic, communications, and navigation systems, as well as control and handling devices. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
09 Aug 19. Slovak Air Force seeks training aircraft. The Slovak Air Force (SAF) is drawing up its requirements for a new modern trainer as it prepares for the arrival of 14 F-16 Block 70 aircraft. The USD1.6bn F-16 contract is the biggest in SAF history, with the first jets arriving in Slovakia during the second quarter of 2023. Under the deal, 22 SAF pilots will begin flying training on F-16 Block 52 aircraft at Tucson Air National Guard Base, Arizona, in 2022. They will be drawn mainly from the small fleet of Aero L-39CM/L-39ZAMs currently used as lead-in fighter trainers at Sliač Air Base. SAF commander Brigadier General Lubomir Svoboda told Jane’s on 2 August, “The L-39s can last for a maximum of six years but we have started pulling together our needs for a next-generation (NG) trainer as well as a budget. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
15 Aug 19. Eye In the Sky: DOD Announces AI Challenge. When disaster strikes, speed is critical. The time it takes to properly assess damage in the wake of a major event can be the difference between life and death.
However, emergency responders must often navigate disruptions to local communication and transportation infrastructure, making accurate assessments dangerous, difficult and slow. And while satellite and aerial imagery offer less risky alternatives that cover more ground, analysts must still conduct manual, time-intensive assessments of images.
The Defense Innovation Unit’s xView2 Challenge seeks to automate post-disaster damage assessment. DIU is challenging machine learning experts to develop computer vision algorithms that will speed up analysis of satellite and aerial imagery by localizing and categorizing various types of building damage caused by natural disasters.
The xView2 Challenge is DIU’s second prize competition focused on furthering innovation in computer vision for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. This year’s competition builds upon the xView1 Challenge, which sought out computer vision algorithms to locate and identify distinct objects on the ground useful to first responders.
“DIU’s goal in hosting this challenge is to enlist the global community of machine learning experts to tackle a critically hard problem: detecting key objects in overhead imagery in context and assessing damage in a disaster situation,” said Mike Kaul, DIU AI portfolio director.
“We are always looking for ways to improve rapid damage assessment to ensure we and our partners deliver the right resources to the right places at the right time, and we are confident the DIU Challenge can contribute to that goal,” said FEMA Regional Administrator Robert Fenton, a partner in the challenge.
DIU led a team of experts from academia and industry to create a new dataset, xBD, to enable localization and damage assessment before and after disasters. The dataset will provide the foundation for the challenge. While several open datasets for object detection from satellite imagery already exist — for example, SpaceNet and xView — each represent only a single snapshot in time and lack information about the type and severity of damage following a disaster.
The largest and most diverse annotated building damage dataset, xBD allows ML/AI practitioners to generate and test models to help automate building damage assessment. The open source electro-optical imagery (0.3m resolution) xBD dataset will encompass 700,000 building annotations across 5,000 square kilometers of freely available imagery from 15 countries. Seven disaster types are included: wildfire, landslides, dam collapses, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes/tsunamis and wind and flooding damage. There are three competition prize tracks for the xView2 Challenge:
- Open source
Teams compete for leaderboard positions and awards for top scores. By releasing their models publicly under a permissive open-source license, teams also become eligible for an additional open-source award.
- Nonexclusive government purpose rights
Teams grant government purpose rights to become eligible for awards or top scores on the leaderboard. Solutions can be used to help future disaster recovery efforts.
- Evaluation Only
Teams retain their intellectual property and only grant DIU the right to benchmark their solution and compete for leaderboard position. Top teams in this category will still be eligible for a special monetary prize pool for their submissions.
The best solutions for all three categories will be eligible for a share of a $150,000 prize purse. Top solvers will also be invited to present their work at the December NeurIPS 2019 Workshop on AI for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Winners of any cash prize will be considered eligible to be awarded follow-on work with the Defense Department. The competition will start this month and runs through November.
Findings will be applied in both operational and academic use cases that include, but are not limited to: obstructed roads, rerouting across obstructed roads, force of nature identification, resource allocation decision-making, object recognition and object identification. Baseline models, developed collaboratively between DIU and Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute, will be publicly available as a starting point for the Challenge. In addition to advancing the state of the art in damage assessment, it is envisioned that the xBD dataset will provide researchers, companies and other groups with the means and motive to develop algorithms that bring humanitarian assistance and disaster response into the age of AI.
The challenge’s partners represent a first-of-its-kind coalition between the artificial intelligence and disaster response communities including NASA Earth Science Disasters Program, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Region 9, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Cal Fire, the California National Guard, DOD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute, the United States Geological Service, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the National Security Innovation Network.
14 Aug 19. Navy Issues Draft Request for Proposal for Large Unmanned Surface Vehicle. The Navy has put a call out to industry to send in ideas for its planned fleet of corvette-sized unmanned surface vehicles, according to a draft request for proposal announced on Wednesday.
The draft RFP for the Large Unmanned Surface Vehicle program starts the work of transitioning the effort from the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office two-hull Ghost Fleet into a full-fledged shipbuilding program. The draft comes ahead of a final RFP due out later this year.
“The LUSV will be a high-endurance, reconfigurable ship able to accommodate various payloads for unmanned missions to augment the Navy’s manned surface force,” read a summary of the program. “With a large payload capacity, the LUSV will be designed to conduct a variety of warfare operations independently or in conjunction with manned surface combatants. The LUSV will be capable of semi-autonomous or fully autonomous operation, with operators in-the-loop (controlling remotely) or on-the-loop (enabled through autonomy).”
A USNI News questions for additional details on the general requirements for the program was acknowledged by a Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman but not immediately answered. As part of the fiscal year 2020 budget, the Navy asked for $400m to build two LUSVs that are about 200 to 300 feet in length with a displacement of about 2,000 tons as a research and development program, officials told USNI News earlier this year.
An unmanned surface industry day earlier this year drew almost 80 companies interested in the work, USNI News has learned.
The plan is for the first two LUSVs to closely follow the SCO’s two Ghost Fleet ships developed for the unmanned Ghost Fleet Overlord program. The initial hulls are based on designs similar to Offshore Support Vessels that have been used by the oil and gas industry.
The Navy intends to integrate the two SCO Overlord hulls and the follow-on LUSVs with the Aegis Combat System as well as other sensors to tie the ships into the Navy’s existing command and control infrastructure on its manned ships, according to a summary of the effort reviewed by USNI News.
While the concept of operations for the LUSV and the Medium USV are still very much under development, the general idea is the ships could expand not only the fleet’s sensor reach by adding more nodes to provide data to commanders but also deepening the fleet’s magazines by fielding additional missile cells that could fire on remote at the direction of a manned ship.
The planned family of unmanned surface vehicles fits into the larger Pentagon drive to create “attritable” systems that will keep the U.S. military competitive with an adversary like China which has an advantage in the number of hulls, personnel and specialized anti-ship ballistic missiles.
In particular, the Pentagon has been public on the threat of the Chinese DF-21D and DF-26 missiles that are designed to hold U.S. capital ships at risk from hundreds of miles away.
“We have to guard against things like the DF-21, DF-26 and the whole plethora of Chinese missiles that can reach out and strike a surface fleet or territory out as far as Guam,” Alan Shaffer, deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said earlier this year.
For its part, Navy leaders have said they’ve wargamed the unmanned surface concept to the point where they want to put prototypes to sea.
“We’re at the point where we really have to get them out there to start understanding how tough are these things, how robust, and how are they going to integrate with the fleet, what kind of policies are going to surround these systems when you start talking about potentially separating weapons from humans,” Vice Adm. Bill Merz, then deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems (OPNAV N9), told USNI News in April.
“So we’re cautious on that side, but we’re very aggressive in getting it out there, so we’re trying to run these parallel paths and illuminate these challenges and start resolving them in parallel.”
Congress is less confident. The House FY 20 authorization bill cut $90m from the LUSV program request to the service’s protests.(Source: Defense News Early Bird/USNI)
12 Aug 19. USN scans for replacement AN/SPS-49 radar antenna. The US Navy (USN) is examining the possibility of acquiring a replacement rotating antenna system for the Raytheon AN/SPS-49(V) L-band 2D air search radar. In a sources sort notice published on 9 August, the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane Division said it was “conducting market research related to the design, manufacture, first article test, and production of a replacement AN/SPS-49 antenna system used in harsh environments aboard select US Navy ships”. Introduced to service in the mid-1970s, the AN/SPS-49 radar is the USN’s principal long-range 2D air search radar being fitted to Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, CG-47 Ticonderoga-class Aegis cruisers, LSD 41 Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock ships, and LHD 1 Wasp-class amphibious assault ships. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
12 Aug 19. Blue Origin files protest in US Air Force’s launch vehicle competition. Blue Origin lodged a pre-award protest on Monday with the U.S. Government Accountability Office over concerns about the Air Force’s ongoing competition to develop a next-generation of rockets. Blue Origin is arguing that the current structure of the launch service provider competition may favor incumbents and will perpetuate a duopoly, according to a Blue Origin fact sheet obtained by Defense News.
“As drafted, the LSP [launch service provider] RFP [request for proposals] includes evaluation criteria that are ambiguous and fail to comply with federal procurement statutes and regulations. This subjectivity of the criteria makes it impossible to accurately respond to the RFP,” the fact sheet states.
“To ensure the process maximizes value for the American taxpayer and protects U.S. national security interests in space, it is essential that the Air Force structure the LSP RFP in a way that fosters a fair and level playing field for new entrants.”
The Air Force released a solicitation for the second phase of the LSP competition in May and intends to downselect to two launch providers in 2020. Blue Origin is joined by SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and Northrop Grumman in vying for the series of contracts, which will be awarded over 2020 to 2024 for launches scheduled through 2027.
Blue Origin laid out three major objections in its protest to the GAO.
First, the company argues that the selection process is too vague, with ambiguous technical criteria. The Air Force plans to award contracts to the two competitors that — when combined — provide the best value. According to an industry stakeholder, Blue Origin is concerned that the Air Force could use that standard to award contracts to, for instance, the companies that place first and third instead of the top two competitors.
“As it is not clear what competitors will bid, the entire field of proposers are at a disadvantage,” the Blue Origin fact sheet reads.
The company is also worried about a provision in the solicitation that allows competitors to list “backup launch vehicles” that could be utilized in the event that the two new rockets selected by the Air Force cannot be launched due to technical issues or other problems.
Only the incumbents — United Launch Alliance and SpaceX — have rockets certified by the Air Force for this mission set, Blue Origin argues, putting it and the other new contender, Northrop Grumman, at a disadvantage. That requirement could foster continued reliance on Russian rocket motors if ULA’s Atlas V, which is powered by the Russian-made RD-180, is allowed as a backup vehicle. Additionally, Blue Origin contends that the Air Force’s decision to award contracts over a five-year period to only two providers unnecessarily restricts competition.
“Unless the Air Force changes its approach, this procurement will perpetuate a market duopoly in national security space launch well into the next decade, causing higher launch prices, less assured access to space, and a missed opportunity to expand our national security interests and bolster U.S. leadership in space,” the company stated in the fact sheet.
Ultimately, Blue Origin hopes that, if GAO sustains its protest, the Air Force will revoke its current RFP and makes changes that would remove all references to backup launch vehicles, reduce the number of launches solicited, and amend certain wording that the company views as either unclear or favorable to ULA and SpaceX, according to a redacted copy of its protest. The GAO has 100 days to make a ruling on a protest, making Nov. 20 its deadline to make a decision.
Despite its objections, Blue Origin submitted its bid for the LSP contract on Aug. 9 and plans to move forward in the process no matter the outcome of its protest, the industry stakeholder told Defense News.
Over the past months, Blue Origin has been vocal about its concerns over the LSP competition. In the run-up to the RFP release this spring, the company quietly made the case to Congress that the contract award, currently planned for 2020, should be delayed for a year or two to allow competitors to further mature their designs.
But Air Force leaders, who have defended the service’s approach as open and deliberate, don’t want to see a delay to the current schedule.
“We are ready to issue an RFP for the launch service procurements,” Lt. Gen. John Thompson, head of the Space and Missile Systems Center, said in March. “All potential offerors have sufficient maturity, and we expect a full and open and robust competition.” (Source: Defense News)
12 Aug 19. US Defense Department orders and licenses Dedrone Dronetracker software. The US Department of Defense has announced that the 90th Contracting Squadron at F.E. Warren AFB, WY, has given notice of their intent to award a firm fixed price purchase order to De-Drone, Inc., for Dronetracker systems for Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) detection.
According to a notice in the federal business opportunities registry the award is “on a sole source basis utilizing FAR 13, Simplified Acquisition Procedures in accordance with FAR 13.106-1(b)(1)(i), only one responsible source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements. The 90th Contracting Squadron has a requirement for services that include the De-Drone Licensing.”(Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
REST OF THE WORLD
15 Aug 19. Lockheed Martin Australia has opened a second round of research and development request for quotations for industry and academic institutions to develop advanced technologies in support of Australia’s Attack class submarine program. Lockheed Martin Australia is the combat system integrator for Australia’s Future Submarine Program, partnering with the Department of Defence and Naval Group to design and integrate the combat system for the future fleet. Lockheed Martin Australia (LMA) is committed to maximising opportunities for Australian industry involvement through all phases of the Future Submarine Program and are seeking interest from industry to inform the design phase of the program.
The Future Submarine Combat System Program presents an opportunity for Australian Industry to participate in an exciting and strategically important program to build and maintain an enduring and regionally superior Australian submarine capability. This is a long Program and the technological solutions potentially sought may not necessarily have been invented yet. Therefore, Research and Development (R&D) will play an integral function in the successful delivery of the Program.
The first round of grants in March saw more than $900,000 allocated. With the second round now open, Australian and international parties are encouraged to submit expressions of interest to support the programme with projects in communications, celestial navigation, underwater sensor networks and compressive sensing techniques, power monitoring and management methods, advanced materials and fabrication processes, real-time monitoring of human performance, and smart driven dynamic reallocation of computing resources.
Successful applicants will receive seed grants of $75,000 each, along with the opportunity to develop a white paper to support their project.
Lockheed Martin Interim Chief Executive Scott Thompson says Lockheed Martin Australia looks forward to working with the successful applicants to develop and deliver world-class innovative technologies for Australia’s Attack class submarines.
“The Attack class submarine program represents a long-term, multimillion-dollar investment in the future defence and security of our nation,” he says. “Today’s announcement is one more step towards helping to ensure Australia has the technology and skills to deliver and maintain a regionally superior submarine fleet.
“Lockheed Martin Australia, in concert with the Department of Defence, is proud to be creating genuine R&D opportunities for industry and academia to develop enhanced and innovative combat system capabilities.”
Interested parties can submit expressions of interest by 2nd September. (Source: Google/https://www.industryupdate.com.au)
12 Aug 19. CDIC grants to support small businesses building defence industry. Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has announced $12.4m worth of grants for small businesses that contribute to the development of Australia’s defence industry capability. Minister Price said the Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Grants were awarded to small businesses developing or supporting capabilities critical to Defence.
The Defence Industrial Capability Plan introduces the new Sovereign Industrial Capability Assessment Framework to provide a repeatable methodology to identify Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities.
In approaching development of the priorities, we focused on a definition of sovereign industrial capability around access to, or control over, the essential skills, technology, intellectual property, financial resources and infrastructure within our defence industrial base as required.
The initial Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities are the result of a rigorous assessment framework that looked at the strategic, capability, and resources dimensions of industrial sovereignty – and made judgements based on Defence needs. The government’s priority is to provide the Australian Defence Force with cost-effective, cutting-edge capability while also maximising Australian industry involvement.
Minister Price said, “By prioritising 10 key capabilities and supporting Australian small businesses who are contributing to them, we’re developing a strong, sovereign industrial base.”
Grant recipients include manufacturing companies supporting land combat vehicles, businesses undertaking research and development on cutting-edge technologies and local businesses delivering the government’s naval shipbuilding plan.
“I’m focused on growing the number of small businesses in our defence industry, and providing practical support to companies looking to work with Defence,” Minister Price said.
The Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Grants launched on 21 November 2018 will provide funding to industry to ensure that Australian SMEs have the appropriate capacity and resilience to support Defence’s most critical capabilities.
The intended outcome of the grants is to grow a robust and resilient Australian SME industrial base capable of providing a significant contribution to the Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities announced in the 2018 Defence Industrial Capability Plan.
Priorities are described at the capability level with a focus on technologies rather than companies or products. This approach will encourage innovation and new developments across the Integrated Investment Program capability streams and individual projects.
Effective implementation of the priorities requires them to be embedded early into strategic planning and Defence capability planning processes and across the capability life cycle. This will be a core task of Defence Industry Policy Division.
The grants program includes a number of features, namely:
- Grants of up to $1m will be available to buy, construct, install or fund capital equipment, including specialist software and security infrastructure, and any design, non-recurring engineering costs, workforce training and accreditation directly related to the project;
- A cap of $3m on total funding applies for a business over a three-year period and 50:50 matched funding is required; and
- This is a four-year grants program; available from 2018-19 to 2021-22.
Minister Price added, “These grants are another way the Morrison government is driving economic growth and creating new jobs through our defence industry investment.”
The Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities will be managed, supported and considered throughout the capability life cycle and will start at the very beginning of defence planning through to disposal.
The next round of the Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Grants program closes on 1 October 2019. Applications can be submitted through the Centre for Defence Industry Capability website https://www.business.gov.au/centre-for-defence-industry-capability (Source: Defence Connect)
12 Aug 19. Increasing the capability of Australia’s special operations. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds have announced a major investment in the lethality and survivability of Australia’s Special Forces, thanks to a $3bn investment in cutting-edge equipment under the Coalition government. The Commonwealth government has approved the first stage of Project GREYFIN, which will provide the first $500m of a $3bn planned investment over 20 years.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the funding will ensure our Special Forces can better respond to threats, including that of terrorism.
“I’ve always said keeping Australians safe is my government’s number one priority. That’s why we’re ensuring the men and women in our Special Forces have the equipment and training they need to succeed in their operations.”
The Prime Minister added, “Australian Special Forces undertake complex, highly demanding operations in high-threat environments.”
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said Project GREYFIN ensures our Special Forces have the best body armour; weapons; diving, parachuting, roping and climbing systems; medical search and rescue; communications; human performance training and support; and everything else they need to help ensure Australia’s security.
Minister Reynolds said, “Our Special Forces, now more than ever, need to be ready and able to deploy on operations anywhere in the world, at short notice, and in very uncertain conditions.”
“This first stage of funding enables our Special Forces to engage with intelligence, science and technology and innovation organisations to ensure future threats and opportunities are assessed to make sure we are delivering them the capability they need in the future,” Minister Reynolds added.
This commitment continues to pursue the special operations capability enhancements outlined in the Defence White Paper 2016.
The Coalition government is investing more than $200bn in Australia’s defence capability over the next decade – the nation’s biggest peacetime investment in Defence. By 2020-21, Australia will have restored investment in Defence to 2 per cent of GDP. (Source: Defence Connect)
American Panel Corporation
American Panel Corporation (APC) since 1998, specializes in display products installed in defence land systems, as well as military and commercial aerospace platforms, having delivered well over 100,000 displays worldwide. Military aviators worldwide operate their aircraft and perform their missions using APC displays, including F-22, F-18, F-16, F-15, Euro-fighter Typhoon, Mirage 2000, C-130, C-17, P-3, S-3, U-2, AH-64 Apache Helicopter, V-22 tilt-rotor, as well as numerous other military and commercial aviation aircraft including Boeing 717 – 787 aircraft and several Airbus aircraft. APC panels are found in nearly every tactical aircraft in the US and around the world.
APC manufactures the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Large Area Display (LAD) display (20 inch by 8 inch) with dual pixel fields, power and video interfaces to provide complete display redundancy. At DSEI 2017 we are exhibiting the LAD with a more advanced design, dual display on single substrate with redundant characteristics and a bespoke purpose 8 inch by 6 inch armoured vehicle display.
In order to fully meet the demanding environmental and optical requirements without sacrificing critical tradeoffs in performance, APC designs, develops and manufactures these highly specialized displays in multiple sizes and configurations, controlling all AMLCD optical panel, mechanical and electrical design aspects. APC provides both ITAR and non-ITAR displays across the globe to OEM Prime and tiered vetronics and avionics integrators.