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UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
31 Dec 20. UK Royal Navy Issues RFI for Heavy-Lift UAS. The UK Ministry Of Defence is currently seeking information in order to qualify requirements and develop our understanding of the potential for the market to provide an autonomous maritime airborne heavy lift capability for the Royal Navy.
The purpose of this Request for Information is to enhance the Authority’s awareness and allow for initial review of a range of maritime airborne autonomous capabilities which currently exist or are in development within the marketplace to support the development of the RN’s Autonomy network and the creation of the Future Maritime Aviation Force (FMAF, the rapid transformation of crewed aviation roles (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, Communications, Lift and Strike) to uncrewed).
The Authority intends to use the responses to this RFI to inform future decision making regarding the potential supply of maritime autonomous airborne heavy lift capability. For clarity, this RFI is not a bidding opportunity but a means by which industry can provide information to the Authority.
This RFI aims to achieve the following three (3) outcomes:
- Develop further the Authority’s understanding of the different technologies and capabilities available in the market, both current and emerging.
- Align Authority requirements with industry standards and processes for procurement of maritime autonomous airborne capabilities; and,
- Enable the Authority to develop a procurement strategy that will deliver best value for money for Defence.
- Requested Information:
The Authority wishes to assess potential maritime airborne autonomous heavy lift solutions for use within the Royal Navy.
Potential suppliers and interested parties are invited to provide information in relation to potential solutions which could deliver an airborne autonomous heavy lift capability which is aligned to the following indicative requirements.
Potential solutions ideally should offer:
- Autonomous / Crewless operation;
- Accurate delivery of payloads exceeding 200kg;
- Ability for over the horizon operation;
- Suitability for maritime environments (sea states, salt ingress, deck mobility)
- Suitability for use in a variety of environmental conditions ashore and at sea
- Rapidly interchangeable, multiple payload types;
- Open Architecture;
- Sustainability and enduring capability.
View RFI notice here: https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Notice/bcac329d-7e85-480e-a619-521cb0fa561d (Source: UAS VISION/UK Ministry of Defence)
22 Dec 20. Britain has one last contract for its Sentinel spy planes: Breaking them up. The British Royal Air Force’s fleet of Sentinel battlefield and ground surveillance jets are officially heading for the scrapyard after the Ministry of Defence released a notice Dec. 22 seeking a company to break up the aircraft for spares.
The Defence Equipment Sales Authority, the arm of the MoD responsible for disposing of surplus equipment, said it was looking for companies interested in stripping five Sentinel R1 aircraft and two Sentry E-3D airborne early warning aircraft for spares and dismantling what remains.
The five Sentinel aircraft , a variant of the Bombardier Global Express business jet, were built at a cost of nearly £1bn (U.S. $1.3bn), with Raytheon UK leading the extensive modification of the aircraft.
The work to scrap the aircraft will be conducted at RAF Waddington – the service’s hub for all things related to intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) – and other sites around the U.K.
The notice said there is a significant number of associated inventory spares and ground support equipment available with the Sentinel.
The time scale for the work is not known, but the battlefield-surveillance aircraft is scheduled to go out of service early next year having earned plaudits wherever it served following its first operational sortie over Afghanistan in 2008.
The aircraft’s synthetic aperture radar and ground moving target indicator have provided vital intelligence in places like Libya, Mali, Afghanistan, and most recently against Islamic State over Syria and Iraq.
The break-up notice brings to a close a 10-year squabble in the MoD to stop the premature curtailment of Sentinel operations.
As early as the 2010 strategic defense and security review (SDSR) the MoD sought to axe the capability, only to temporarily reprieve the jet five years later when the next review appeared in 2015.
The requirement for an expensive update of key systems proved to be the final nail in the coffin for Sentinel, though.
Howard Wheeldon, a consultant at Wheeldon Strategic Advisory, said the military should have found the cash for the modernization of the jet.
“That Sentinel required capability upgrading should not have been the reason for its premature withdrawal. ISTAR remains one, if not the most important, element of air power capability and taking a [capability] gap is unacceptable,” he said.
“The decision to scrap Sentinel capability is not only one of the worst that emerged out of SDSR 2015 but it is also the one that I believe the U.K. will most likely come to regret. The lack of such important capability, and with no imminent replacement in prospect, is dangerous and ill advised,” Wheeldon said.
The British are investing in new ISTAR capability like the Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, the Wedgetail airborne command and control platform, and the Protector long-endurance unmanned aircraft, but none of them are direct replacements for Sentinel capability.
“Britain’s reluctance to invest in Sentry capability over the past two decades typifies MoD failure in this sector. For NATO, which has become used to the U.K. being unable to meet its AWACS aircraft commitments for several years, the arrival of Wedgetail into the RAF fleet in a couple of years’ time cannot come a moment too soon,” said Wheeldon. (Source: Defense News)
28 Dec 20. BAE Systems collaborates with UAVTEK to develop nano ‘Bug’ drone. BAE Systems, in collaboration with UAVTEK, has developed a nano “Bug” drone, and delivered the first 30 units to the British Army, which has put it through its paces as part of a trial.
The Bug is a nano-Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) weighing 196g – similar to the weight of a smartphone – with 40 minute battery life and a 2km range. It boasts a stealthy low visual profile and the ability to fly even in strong winds of more than 50mph. It was the only nano-UAV able to cope with the uncompromising weather during a recent Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE) event hosted by the Ministry of Defence’s Future Capability Group.
“We delivered the Bug in partnership with UAVTEK, an SME that designs and builds UAVs from its workshop in the Cotswolds. Our experience in developing large volumes of secure hardware means we were able to help the team turn the excellent design into a real product which our Armed Forces can use. This kind of collaboration is happening right across BAE Systems and is a great way to quickly get the best thinking from small companies into the hands of military users.” said James Gerard, Principal Technologist at BAE Systems’ Applied Intelligence business.
James added: “In even the toughest weather, the Bug can deliver vital tactical intelligence on what’s around the corner or over the next hill, working autonomously to give troops a visual update. Combined with our other information advantage products, this video feed could be shared multi-domain, enabling commanders on land, sea and air to increase their situational awareness and inform their decisions.”
Innovations at the annual AWE event are designed to explore emerging technologies and identify specific capabilities, this year focusing on Agile Command, Control and Communication (C3) space suitable for rapid exploitation. Emphasis is placed on innovations which push the boundaries of technology and military capability, testing a range of prototype systems by putting them in the hands of the user whilst giving invaluable military feedback to suppliers.
Jenna Copley, Director at UAVTEK said: “BAE Systems has been extremely supportive of us as an SME and the team has shared procedural knowledge to improve our engineering processes and practices. BAE Systems has effectively offered us a mentoring partnership and supported us in a variety of activities, whilst still enabling us to remain an agile SME and keep our core offerings and DNA.”
The teams are now working on the next developments on the nano-UAV, exploring sensing equipment and capabilities which could be added, as well as how the Bug could be integrated with other military equipment.
26 Dec 20. NGA launches new tech accelerator in St. Louis. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is launching a new tech accelerator in St. Louis as a way to help commercial startups to develop new geospatial technologies.
The NGA Accelerator, which will be run in partnership with Capital Innovators and the Missouri Technology Corporation, will select eight companies to participate in its inaugural 13-week program. The program boasts more than $1m in perks and incentives for participants, including office space, mentorship, $100,000 in grant funding, investor connections and direct feedback from NGA. Participants will temporarily relocate to St. Louis for the duration of the program, which is set to launch March 22.
NGA has selected four technology focus areas for the first cohort: advanced analytics and modeling, data integrity and security, data management and artificial intelligence.
“Geospatial-intelligence is a rapidly growing industry and the NGA Accelerator will be the epicenter for next-generation technologies,” said Capital Innovators Management Director Brian Dixon in a Dec. 15 statement. “We think our combination of expert mentorship, a burgeoning startup community in St. Louis, and a range of support services will form the perfect foundation for any early-stage company looking to build a reputation among the government sector and beyond.”
In a press release, NGA boasted that the accelerator is a first of its kind in the U.S. intelligence community.
The decision to place the program in St. Louis adds to NGA’s recent investments in the city, where the agency is building a new state-of-the-art facility to house NGA West and has partnered with local universities to develop talent for its workforce.
“This project is part of our larger effort to grow the world’s best geospatial ecosystem in St. Louis,” said NGA Director Vice Adm. Robert Sharp. “Our strategy is to work closely with talented teams in the region to form a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Our tactics include close collaboration and technology transfer. The growing ecosystem is central to our efforts to maximize game-changing innovation.”
Applications to join the first cohort will be accepted through midnight Jan. 17. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
REST OF THE WORLD
29 Dec 20. US greenlights $4bn attack helicopter sale to Kuwait. The U.S. State Department has cleared a foreign military sale of AH-64E Apache attack helicopters to Kuwait worth an estimated $4bn, according to a Dec. 29 Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
The agency has notified Congress, which will weigh in. If lawmakers clear the potential deal, negotiations will begin between the country and the supplier, during which the price and quantity are subject to change.
Kuwait wants to buy eight new AH-64Es and plans to remanufacture the 16 AH-64 Delta-models it purchased in 2005 into the E-model configuration.
The purchase would include new and remanufactured T700-GE 701D engines as well as new and remanufactured AN/AAR-57 Counter Missile Warning Systems (CMWS) and embedded GPS with inertial navigation and a multi-mode receivers.
The Apaches will come equipped AN/ASQ-170(V) Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sights and AN/AAQ-11 Pilot Night Vision Sensor electronic units plus AN/APG Longbow Fire Control Radars.
The helicopters would also have M299 AGM-114 Hellfire Missile Launchers as well as Hydra 70mm rocket launchers and M23El 30mm chain guns.
The contractors who will supply capability as part of this sale is Boeing, which manufactures the AH-64; Lockheed Martin, which supplies Hellfire missile launchers and the day and night vision sensors and General Electric, which supplies the engines.
The State Department cleared a $4.25bn sale to Morocco a year ago, but no deal has been made yet. Qatar was also cleared to buy E-models in early 2019.
The Netherlands is one of the more recent customers to upgrade all of its AH-64Ds to E-models in 2018.
Egypt is also approved to purchase a number of AH-64Es and Bangladesh and the Philippines are currently weighing the AH-64E as an option to bolster its forces.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Boeing has been closely watching the AH-64 international supply chain for signs of slowdown.
While Boeing had to stop work at its CH-47F Chinook cargo helicopter production facility in Pennsylvania, it did not have to stop work in Mesa, Arizona, at its AH-64 facility.
The U.S. Army stopped accepting AH-64E helicopters from Boeing for a period of time in 2018 due to safety concerns related to the durability of the helicopter’s strap pack nut, which holds very large bolts that subsequently hold the rotor blades on the helicopter.
Defense News first broke the news in April 2018. By August 2018, Boeing had redesigned the nut to be more durable and the Army began receiving helicopters again at the end of that month. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
21 Dec 20. Australian Army calls for proposals in Energy and Environmental Resilience. The Australian Army has called for proposals from industry and research sector players interested in participating in Army Innovation Day 2021, and has issued a Challenge Statement for guidance. The Army is moving towards accelerated warfare, characterised by advanced electronic and networked technologies, robotics and autonomous systems. As technology proliferates in the modern battlespace, the demand for Power and Energy (P&E) will increase, imposing greater levels of energy dependence for land combat.
This Challenge Statement is focused on addressing Army’s commitment to energy and environmental resilience. As Army seeks to understand and manage its environmental impacts it looks to Industry and Research Institutions to strengthen resource security, improve the efficiency of resource consumption and modernise waste management.
The Challenge: Defence is seeking innovative Proposals that complement and improve the energy and environmental resilience of the deployed Land Force in the following areas: (1) reducing energy consumption and new power technology, and (2) managing waste.
Army Innovation Day 2021
AID21 will be held as an event within the Chief of Army’s Symposium on Monday, 19 April 2021 at the Brisbane Exhibition and Convention Centre. The purpose of AID21 is for selected Respondents to display proposed innovation concepts (including Formal Proposal Questioning) to nominated Defence personnel. The Deed of Participation Terms (within these CFS Terms) will govern the Respondents’ mandatory participation at AID21.
Submissions due 28 January 2021 at 12:00pm (ACT Local Time)
For further details go to AusTender. (Source: http://rumourcontrol.com.au/)
American Panel Corporation (APC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Mercury Systems, Mission Division, Mission Displays is a custom display manufacturer, providing purpose-built optical display components installed in military defense avionics and vetronics systems and commercial aerospace platforms. Our customers include: Astronautics, Collins Aerospace, Elbit Systems, Korry Electronics, CMC Electronics, Scioteq, General Dynamics Land Systems, Honeywell, Industrial Electrical Engineering (IEE), Intellisense, Kent Modular Electronics (KME), SAAB, TECNOBIT, and others. We supply optical display components for the following platforms: M1A2 and M1A2 SEPV3/4 Abrams, M2 / M3 Bradley, and M1128 Stryker vehicles, Spanish Dragon 8×8 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC); Military and commercial aircrew worldwide use APC displays, including F-35, F-22, F-18, F-16, F-15, EF-1000 Typhoon, Mirage 2000, C-130, C-17, P-3, S-3, U-2, AH-64 Apache, V-22, as well as numerous other military and commercial aviation aircraft including all Boeing 717 through 787 aircraft and several Airbus aircraft. Mercury Systems, Mission Displays offers a wide range of panel size and configuration offerings, applying both legacy and developing new technologies to meet customer requirements.