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UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
07 Nov 19. UK Awards £2m in C-UAV Contracts. The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has announced that it has awarded nearly £2m to develop new capabilities to detect, disrupt, and defeat the hostile and malicious use of drones. Eighteen bids have been funded as part of the Countering Drones competition launched earlier this year by the then-Defence Secretary.
Among the proposal being developed are methods for detecting 4G & 5G controlled drones, cutting edge applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence for sensors to automatically identify UAVs, and low risk methods of stopping drones through novel electronic defeat or interceptor solutions.
The competition, run by DASA – the MOD’s innovation hub – on behalf of Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), is the latest stage in Dstl’s ongoing research programme into countering unmanned air systems (UAS) which has been running for ten years.
The competition has also been supported by the Department for Transport and NATO to counter the rapidly evolving threats from UAS.
David Lugton, competition technical lead, said: The introduction of Unmanned Air Systems (UAS), often referred to as drones, has been one of the most significant technological advances of recent years and represents a shift in capability of potential adversaries.
The threat from UAS has evolved rapidly and we are seeing the use of hostile improvised UAS threats in overseas theatres of operation. There is a similar problem in the UK with the malicious or accidental use of drones becoming a security challenge at events, affecting critical infrastructure and public establishments; including prisons and major UK airports.
There was a very high level of interest from industry with over 90 bids from a wide range of organisations from micro businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises, large defence firms and academia. This led to a doubling of initial funding from around £1m to around £2m being awarded to organisations in Phase 1.
The first phase of this competition is intended to demonstrate proof of concepts that can be further developed and integrated during later phases.
Phase 2 is planned to launch next year with a focus on developing and maturing successful research into integrated solutions
The 18 projects funded around £100,000 each are:
- Airspeed Electronics Ltd – to develop an artificial intelligence detection system which uses acoustic sensors.
- Animal Dynamics – to develop UAS swarm system to detect and neutralise. Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) by employing peregrine falcon attack strategies.
- Autonomous Devices Limited – to develop interception technology.
- BAE Systems Applied Intelligence Ltd – to develop electromagnetic defeat of UAS.
- BAE Systems Applied Intelligence Ltd – to develop passive radar for detection of UAVs.
- Cubica Technology Ltd – to develop an automatic recognition and targeting system of UAVs from large distances.
- MBDA UK Ltd – to demonstrate an integrated system to detect, track and intercept hostile drones.
- Northrop Grumman – to develop UAS defeat using cyber and sensor vulnerabilities.
- Northumbria University – to develop anti-swarm drone technology.
- PA Consulting – to develop a detection system against cellular controlled UAS.
- Plextek Services Limited – to develop detection and signal jamming capability for UAS.
- Plextek Services Limited – to develop miniature Counter-UAS radar.
- QinetiQ – to develop a drone tracking system in complex environments.
- QinetiQ – to develop a ‘hard kill’ for disrupting the UAV’s on board electronics.
- RiskAware Ltd – to develop an automated drone identification and target tracking system.
- Thales UK – to develop a machine learning for Counter-UAS radar.
- University College London – to develop signal processing and machine learning algorithms to identify drones in areas highly populated by birds.
- An additional proposal, subject to contract.
Phase 1 of the competition is due to run until summer 2020.
DASA and Dstl will be hosting a collaboration day for the Countering Drones competition on Thursday 28 November 2019 in London.
Representatives from industry and academia interested in making collaborative bids for Phase 2 of the competition can register their interest in attending the event here. Note that numbers at the event are limited and those who express an interest will be selected to attend depending on their skills and experience. (Source: UAS VISION)
13 Nov 19. German military refuses to take delivery of two Airbus A400M planes. Germany’s air force said on Wednesday it had decided not to accept delivery of two Airbus (AIR.PA) A400M planes, citing recurring technical problems with the military transporters.
The air force said the A400M had taken part in nearly 1,700 missions and formed the backbone of its air transport for carrying personnel and material, air-to-air refuelling and humanitarian aid missions. Although 31 aircraft of 53 ordered had been handed over, it said there were technical issues with the planes, including with nuts used on propellers. It said extra time was needed for inspections that undermined the readiness of the A400M fleet.
Airbus said in a statement that issues with the model were not safety critical.
“We are aware of findings related to dowel bolts/Propeller interface in some of our customer aircraft,” it said. “This is not safety critical and our customers continue to accept and operate their aircraft.”
It said it was working both with Europrop International (EPI), the consortium responsible for providing the troop carrier’s turboprop engines, and Ratier-Figeac, the French company that makes the propellers, to alleviate the need for inspections.
The German air force said extra inspections were also needed to test engine mounts, combustion chambers and engine flaps and for crack detection on various parts. It said the A400M was still not able to perform all tasks, despite these checks.
“The overall technical defects and the realisation that the two planes due to be delivered also do not possess the characteristics that were guaranteed in the contract, have resulted in the armed forces not taking these aircraft,” the Luftwaffe, or air force, said in a statement.
The A400M was commissioned in 2003 to give Europe an independent airlift capacity to support military or humanitarian missions, rather than relying on the Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) C-130 or the now out-of-production Boeing (BA.N) C-17. A 3.5bn-euro bailout from Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey rescued the A400M programme from cancellation in 2010 after delays and cost overruns. (Source: Reuters)
12 Nov 19. Equipment: Around 560m Euros for the Bundeswehr. The budget committee of the German Bundestag approved on Wednesday November 7 several defense ministry programs above the 25 m-euro threshold requiring Parliamentary approval, as well as an equity increase at the BwFuhrparkService GmbH limited liability company of up to 110m euros.
Digitization for the VJTF Very High Readiness Joint Task Force
The Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) aims to provide up to 2,200 complementary command kits. In two framework agreements, a maximum expenditure of around €115.7m is planned, of which initially services worth €87.9m will be awarded. This will procure display and processing equipment, server units and the necessary power supply.
Across all management levels, the measures are intended to integrate the combat, command and support vehicles and the deployable management facilities into a digital information and communication network. This basic digitization should also provide valuable insights for the digitization of the armed forces.
Supplies for Patriot
For around €292.5m, 50 missiles are to be procured in the new version of the Patriot PAC-3 MSE (Missile Segment Enhancement), including accessories. For this purpose, a corresponding agreement with the US government to be closed.
Operations of Weasel 1 extended
For about 73 m euros, 196 Wiesel 1 tracked vehicles are being prepared for further use. The small, lightly armored tracked vehicle is used as weapons carrier in the infantry among other things for the anti-tank, against lightly armored forces and as a reconnaissance vehicle. The Wiesel 1 are air-transportable and should be able to be used until at least 2030.
Partially militarized vehicles will be replaced
The equity of BwFuhrparkService GmbH is reinforced with an additional 110 m euros. The aim is to replace the outdated semi-militarized vehicles with modern commercially available vehicles with special military equipment (commercial vehicles with special military equipment). Optional equipment includes, for example, radio systems, camouflage lantern or rotating mount for the machine gun.
The current overall approach provides for 12,700 commercially available vehicles with special military vehicles. However, the additional funds can only be spent when corresponding deficit spending results in a reduction in the defense budget.
With the agreed financial submissions, and the strengthening of the equity capital of BwFuhrparkService GmbH, investments in state-of-the-art equipment of the Bundeswehr will be consistently continued. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/German Ministry of Defence)
12 Nov 19. Airbus expects updated industry call for Germany’s Tornado replacement contest. Airbus expects an updated industry solicitation for Germany’s multibillion-dollar Tornado replacement program, for which the company will offer an electronic attack-capable Eurofighter.
Wolfgang Gammel, the head of combat aircraft business development, said he learned about the impending update during conversations with Defence Ministry officials.
A ministerial spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the official line that an announcement about the acquisition program is expected in the first quarter of 2020 and that Berlin is looking to quickly replace its aging Tornado fleet.
The requirement for an electronic attack capability was absent from the original request for information when competitors placed their bids in the spring of 2018, Gammel told reporters Tuesday at the International Fighter Conference, a gathering of senior air force and industry leaders in Berlin.
After Lockheed Martin and its F-35 were eliminated early this year, that left only the Eurofighter and Boeing’s F-18 Growler in the race.
An updated RFI presumably would reopen the competition between the remaining bidders as the acquisition process plays out anew on the question of electronic attack capabilities. Such a move would all but certainly result in a sizable delay, as German officials have been trying to be especially thorough in seeing the program through.
Airbus said introducing so-called escort jammer pods to the Eurofighter fleet, to be carried under the belly or the wings of the aircraft, would require little effort because the proposed integration strategy is meant to piggyback on upgrade efforts already on the books.
Complicating a pick between the Eurofighter and the F-18 is the requirement that Germany must keep a contingent of aircraft capable of carrying U.S. nuclear bombs under NATO’s nuclear doctrine. That seemed to give Boeing’s offering an advantage, German paper Süddeutsche Zeitung claimed in a report last month. For its part, the F-18 is known for its ability to counter enemy air defenses, an area where Airbus now seeks to lay down its own marker. (Source: Defense News)
12 Nov 19. Revised RFI anticipated for German Tornado replacement to accommodate electronic attack mission. Representatives from German industry have said they anticipate the German government issuing an updated request for information (RFI) for its Tornado replacement requirement, to include the electronic attack (EA) mission not stipulated in the original solicitation.
The statement was made by officials from Airbus who were promoting the company’s Electronic Combat Reconnaissance (ECR) version of the Eurofighter to replace the Luftwaffe’s Tornado ECR aircraft. They noted that, while the original RFI and subsequent request for proposals (RFP) did include suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) as one of the core missions of the current Tornado ECR, airborne EA is a completely new mission set that was not originally covered. Its not being included, they said, meant the Eurofighter ECR could not formally be submitted and neither could the Boeing EA-18G Growler that is being offered as a dedicated EA offering alongside the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
“The EA and ECR pod were excluded from the RFP last year [that considered 10 current Tornado missions and 2 additional but undisclosed missions]. These were to be discussed at a later date, [and we] are now expecting an updated RFI from the German government,” Wolfgang Gammel, vice-president, Combat Sales, Airbus, told reporters at the IQPC International Fighter conference in Berlin on 12 November, adding that the company would be prepared to deliver its Eurofighter ECR offering no matter what the German timeline happens to be. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
08 Nov 19. Tender for Tactical Airborne Utility Terrain Vehicle. On the European tender platform TED the German procurement agency BAAINBw published the start of the competition for a “Tactical Airborne Utility Terrain Vehicle” (LL-UTV). The procurement project includes a framework agreement with a term of seven years for the manufacture and delivery of a maximum of 148 high terrain and airborne unprotected, four-seater LL-UTV emergency vehicles, including an installation kit for the installation of an auxiliary device launcher and other on-board equipment, special tool kits, initial spare parts requirements and documentation for each vehicle. The minimum purchase in the 1st lot is 65 vehicles, the rest are an option. The active agent launcher is the Rheinmetall Defence ROSY system. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
12 Nov 19. Companies ready robotic combat vehicle proposals for US Army. A handful of vendors are slated to deliver their light and medium robotic combat vehicle (RCV) proposals to the US Army in the coming days. Over the year, the service has been laying the groundwork for RCV-light (RCV-L) and RCV-medium (RCV-M) competitions and in recent weeks invited several companies to submit their proposals.
“We will then use these purpose-built vehicles to further test manned-unmanned team concept at the company level,” an army spokesperson told Jane’s in an 11 November email. “Based on what we learn from the soldier experiment in March and the company level experiment, the army will make a decision on how to proceed on integrating unmanned vehicles into ground combat operations.” (Source: IHS Jane’s)
13 Nov 19. US Marine Corps seeks unmanned breaching vehicle. The US Marine Corps is developing an unmanned system capable of clearing underwater threats that will replace the in-service Assault Breacher Vehicle, a modified version of the M1 Abrams tank. The new unmanned system, known as the Crawling Remotely Operated Amphibious Breacher (CRAB), will be a submersible platform with a mine flail, tiller and rake designed to pave the way for amphibious forces. Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) Captain Anthony Molnar said: “In theory, the CRAB system will breach through man-made obstacles in the surf zone.”
MCSC added that the vehicle will deploy from littoral utility craft and travel along the seafloor to de-mine and remove threats along the route from ship to shore.
The project will deliver an ‘expendable’ vehicle that keeps Marines out of harm’s way as they approach the shoreline. Molnar added the vehicle will “save lives and reduce costs for the Department of the Navy and the Marine Corps”.
The Marine Corps has submitted a proposal for the CRAB system to be designated as a ‘rapid innovation fund topic’; if successful a prototype unit will be produced over a two-year period.
The Marine Corps said the project falls in line with wider push for enhanced mine countermeasures and exploration of unmanned systems outlined in the ‘Commandant’s Planning Guidance’ document by Marine Corps General David Berger.
Berger wrote: “I encourage experimentation with lethal long-range unmanned systems capable of travelling 200 nautical miles, penetrating into the adversary enemy threat ring, and crossing the shoreline – causing the adversary to allocate resources to eliminate the threat, create dilemmas, and further create opportunities for fleet manoeuvre.”
He added: “We cannot wait to identify solutions to our mine countermeasure needs, and must make this a priority for our future force development efforts.”
CRAB will achieve both of these goals by providing an unmanned mine countermeasure platform.
MCSC’s Mobility and Counter Mobility program lead Michael Poe said: “The CRAB will support combat engineers and explosive ordnance disposal Marines by providing a remote or autonomous explosive and nonexplosive obstacle reduction capability within the very shallow water, surf zone and the beach.
“It will enable the Marine Corps to provide assured littoral mobility to the Naval Force in support of EABO [Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations].”
Molnar added: “The CRAB system is important because currently, the Naval Force can only breach in the surf zone with significant risk to mission or personnel.”
Currently, the Marine Corps does not operate a vehicle specifically designed to clear the near-shore surf zone of threats. Using the Assault Breacher Vehicle is effective, but not without risk. Molnar added: “This [the CRAB system] would alleviate that by having an inexpensive and expendable piece of equipment going through there.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
12 Nov 19. Seven companies receive US Air Force Hypersonics Pitch Day contracts. Seven of the nine companies invited to propose at the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) inaugural Hypersonics Pitch Day (HPD) on 1 November earned contracts with some able to potentially earn USD1m.
Powdermet, Advanced Silicon Group (ASG), and Spectral Energies all confirmed to Jane’s that they won contracts. Goodman Technologies was not awarded a contract. GoHypersonic, UES, Ursa Major Technologies, Fourth State Communications, LLC, and FAAC Inc.; the other HPD participants; and the USAF did not return requests for comment prior to publication.
These companies were invited to propose based on how their technology contributes to cracking one of the many challenges associated with hypersonic flight. These include mitigating extreme high temperatures, creating unique aerodynamic configurations, and fashioning propulsion systems able to power a weapon at Mach 5 speed or higher.
The USAF said prior to the HPD that all invited companies were eligible to win contracts worth up to USD750,000, including same-day initial payments of USD50,000. But a pair of winners, Spectral Energies and Advanced Silicon Group, told Jane’s that their companies can earn as much as USD1m.
Sivaram Gogineni, Spectral Energies president and senior research engineer, said on 11 November that his company was awarded USD50,000 for the up-front payment and a USD650,000 12-month contract. Spectral Energies can make another USD300,000 by reaching USAF approved milestones, which Gogineni did not elaborate on.
Spectral Energies proposed developing a high-fidelity optical tracking tool for hypersonic free-flight model testing in wind tunnels. Gogineni said a user would be able to get high-accuracy data that would be useful for modelers and design engineers for designing and building future hypersonic weapon and flight systems using this tool. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
REST OF THE WORLD
14 Nov 19. Philippines reveal multirole fighter options. The Philippines is looking to acquire one of four multirole fighter types to enhance the air defence and border protection capabilities of the country’s air force.
The Gripen is one of four multirole fighter types being considered for the PAF to enhance its air defence and border protection capabilities. (Czech Ministry of Defence)
Speaking on 14 November, a senior Philippine Air Force (PAF) official presented a briefing slide showing the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, Sukhoi Su-30 ‘Flanker, and Saab Gripen as the options being considered to augment the service’s current fleet of Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50PH Fighting Eagle light-strike fighters.
Commenting under the Chatham House Rule, the official noted that a memorandum of acquisition has already been signed at the Department of National Defense (DND)-level, and that government funding to launch the project is expected in either the first or second quarter of 2020. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
13 Nov 19. Applications open for Space Agency funding grants. The Australian Space Agency (ASA) has opened applications for the government’s new space grants program, which allocates sums from $100,000 to $4m to eligible companies and research organisation.
This funding is for projects to build capability and capacity of the Australian space sector through engagement with international space agencies or their supply chains.
The guidelines for the International Space Investment Expand Capability program were launched in October following consultations across the country.
The government said these grants would support Australian businesses and research organisations to become involved with international space agencies or established international space programs.
The program objectives are to unlock international space opportunities for the Australian space sector, expand sector capability and capacity, and support job creation.
They also aim to demonstrate the Australian space sector’s ability to successfully deliver space-related products and services internationally and to support projects contributing to building a vision and an Australian space sector that inspires businesses, the community and the next generation of space workforce, researchers and entrepreneurs.
Grants are only available to companies incorporated in Australia or to publicly funded research institutions.
Applications close on 17 December.
The grants program, launched in the budget, isn’t enormous – $15m over three years, with $3m in 2019-20, $5m on 2020-21 and $7m in 2021-22.
Eligible activities may include research and development, product and service development, commercialising existing products and services, process design and engineering, buying, constructing, installing or commissioning of equipment or software, relevant training and skills development, and collaboration and partnership development.
Those seeking grants will need to demonstrate that a a minimum 80 per cent of the investment will be made in Australia for the benefit of Australian space industry firms.
They will also need to show how the proposed project will build the capability and capacity of the Australian space sector and how it will support jobs creation and unlock international opportunities. (Source: Space Connect)
12 Nov 19. India to fund startups for increased local defence sector development. The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched the third phase of the Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC) during an event to seek innovative ideas for the armed forces. DISC was first launched in August last year, designed to support startups to develop prototypes to meet the technological needs of the Indian Military. It is part of the government’s Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) initiative that seeks to harness local small businesses and academia to support the ‘Make in India’ programme in the defence domain. At the event on 11 November, two startups, North Street Cooling Towers and Chipspirit Technologies, were awarded funding to further develop their ideas. To increase local work in the defence sector, the government has set a target of funding 250 startups over the next five years. The idea is to nurture ideas to achieve at least 50 ‘tangible’ innovations in this period. The MoD intends to set aside Rs5bn ($70.06m) to foster technology development under the iDEX initiative.
Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called upon the public and private sector to work in cohesion in the area of research, development and manufacturing.
Singh said: “India is leading in the fields of technology and peacekeeping throughout the world. As a major power, it is equally important for us to strengthen our defence manufacturing and research and development.
“The human mind is the most powerful and creative laboratory, which tests millions of ideas on a daily basis. And when ideas are given the wings of freedom and the flight of imagination, new and innovative solutions are created.” (Source: army-technology.com)
08 Nov 19. UAE to buy additional Chinooks. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is set to receive additional Boeing CH-47F Chinook medium/heavy-lift transport helicopters, with US State Department approval for a follow-on procurement being announced on 7 November. According to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the UAE has been cleared to buy 10 helicopters and related equipment for USD830.3m. The UAE Air Force and Air Defence (UAE AF&AD) has already received 20 CH-47Fs. Under the latest approval, the emirates will also receive defensive weapon systems and countermeasures, radar warning receivers, MX-15HDi electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors, fast-roping systems, extended-range fuel systems (colloquially known as ‘fat tanks’), ballistic protection, and fire-fighting equipment, as well as spares and US/in-country support. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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.