Sponsored by APC a wholly owned subsidiary of Mercury Computer Systems Inc.
UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
02 Feb 21. Right on Time: £800k for military logistics innovation. DASA seeks novel ideas from industry and academia to identify, develop and demonstrate efficient logistics technologies.
The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has today launched a competition that seeks innovative ideas from industry and academia that could provide efficiencies for military logistics.
Ideas are sought that identify, develop, and demonstrate to the military logistics community that they could deliver a step change in military logistics capability across the Maritime, Land and Air domains.
Right on Time: Automating Military Logistics, is focussed primarily on innovative ideas in autonomy and the potential automation of the logistics chain. The aim is for the developed technologies to inform future military user requirements across the domains (Maritime, Land and Air).
The competition will feed into the Deployed Military Logistics Hubs development thinking.
The scope of this competition, run on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) covers two areas of innovation:
- autonomy and automation
- additive manufacturing
Full details of scope can be found in the competition document. Proposals which are relevant to either or both of these areas are welcomed and we seek all ideas that could provide better solutions and efficiencies for any Deployed Military Logistics Hub.
A total of £800k is available for this competition to fund multiple proposals, with projects showcasing their innovation at a demonstration event to be held in the UK during September 2021.
We are interested in technologies which can be progressed towards Technical Readiness Level (TRL) 6 within this timescale.
We encourage collaboration between organisations for this competition.
To support this we have a short survey to collect details of those who wish to explore collaboration possibilities. If you are interested in a collaboration, please complete the survey and your details will be circulated among other potential suppliers who have completed the survey and are interested in collaborating.
It is likely that a larger number of lower-value proposals (for example £40k to £80k ex. VAT) will be funded than a small number of higher-value proposals.
This competition closes at midday GMT on Thursday 25th March 2021.
A dial-in session providing further detail on the problem space and a chance to ask questions in an open forum will take place on 11 February 2021. If you would like to participate, please register on the Eventbrite page.
A series of 15 minute one-to-one teleconference sessions, giving you the opportunity to ask specific questions will take place on 23rd February 2021. If you would like to participate, please register on the Eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/right-on-time-1-to-1s-tuesday-23-february-tickets-137579543117 (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
04 Jan 21. EDA to support ‘European Patrol Corvette’ PESCO project. EDA’s Steering Board recently approved the launch of a specific EDA ad hoc project which will contribute to the implementation of a Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) project aimed at developing a European Patrol Corvette. Italy, which leads a group of four PESCO participating countries involved in EPC (together with France, Spain and Greece), had requested the Agency’s support for moving this ambitious project forward.
Part of the third batch of PESCO projects approved in November 2019, the project aims at designing and developing a new class of military ship, named “European Patrol Corvette” (EPC), which will host several systems and payloads able to accomplish a large number of tasks and missions in a modular and flexible way. The EPC will provide valuable capabilities in the areas of maritime situational awareness, surface superiority and power projection. The participating Member States aim to produce their first corvette prototype in 2026-2027.
The EPC is envisaged as a common platform, a shared baseline, which can be customised as needed by participating Member States according to their national needs and specifications. The overall displacement is expected to be no more than 3,000 tonnes, which will allow the ship to operate from minor harbours (draft less than 5.5 meters). The length of the ship, to be equipped with diesel and/or electrical engines, should not exceed 110 meters.
The ship will be based on an open plug-and-play architecture which will facilitate the versatility of response in the framework of EU CSDP operations and will provide a quick reaction capability, applicable to a broad range of scenarios.
The Agency’s new project will support the EPC PESCO project implementation through the development and adoption of Common Staff Target (CST), Common Staff Requirements (CSR) and a Business Case (BC). The objective of these documents, which are an indispensable step for a follow-on phase of the EPC PESCO project, is to shape the common core part and identify specifications and requirements that would be compatible with the modularity concept of the military ship.
The Agency will also support the governance body of the EPC project. With its expertise in project management and harmonisation of capability requirements, EDA will be able to provide valuable assistance in these domains. Industry is not participating directly in this EDA project, but may be consulted, if deemed necessary by the contributing Member States.
EDA’s Chief Executive Jiří Šedivý said: “EDA is delighted to support this ambitious and innovative PESCO project. As the European hub for collaborative capability development, the Agency has the expertise to help Member States in the implementation of their PESCO projects. The European Patrol Corvette project responds directly to an existing gap in Europe’s capability landscape acknowledged by Member States during the revision of the Capability Development Plan (CDP) in 2018, namely that of naval manoeuvrability and the need for improved maritime situational awareness, surface superiority and power projection. The future EPC will provide participating Member States with those missing capabilities, thereby further strengthening the Europe of Defence”.
Italy’s Capability Director, Gen. Giovanni Iannucci said: “The project of the European Patrol Corvette is aimed at developing a new Class of military ships in order to accomplish, with a flexible approach, a large number of tasks and missions aimed to Homeland Security and protection of European waters. More in details, the EPC will carry out Maritime Security Operations and Police of the High Seas functions, playing a key role in preserving Freedom of Navigation (FoN) and fighting against terrorism and illegal trafficking at sea. The EPC will be characterized by a multi-purpose and modular approach by design that will also allow to perform dual-use missions, such as anti-pollution activities, humanitarian assistance operations and interventions in support of populations in case of natural disasters. Italy is very proud of the coordinating role and will continue to conduct all necessary activities for the EPC’s success. Furthermore I believe that this project constitutes an excellent opportunity for the whole European Defence and in particular the military shipyards sector to work together in order to foster industrial synergies, operational interoperability and maintain a technological advantage.” (Source: EDA)
29 Jan 21. Finland has a ‘Once in a Generation Opportunity’ to Strengthen European Defence and Security Co-operation. Today, Eurofighter received a formal request from the Finnish Defence Forces to submit its Best and Final Offer (BAFO) to the HX fighter acquisition to replace the Finnish Air Force’s F-18 Hornet aircraft.
Speaking on behalf of the four Eurofighter nations, Jeremy Quin MP, the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Defence Procurement, said, “This once-in-a-generation opportunity would allow Finland to be part of Europe’s largest defence collaboration programme, working to strengthen aerospace, defence and security in the region.”
“Drawing upon the shared military and industrial benefits it brings with it, the Eurofighter proposal will deliver Finland the ability to independently operate, maintain and control its own aircraft.”
The consortium is backed by Europe’s largest defence contractors, Airbus, BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and Leonardo.
Speech marksEurofighter GmbH CEO, Herman Claesan, said, “Eurofighter offers Finland and its industry unprecedented access to technology and capability that will ensure sovereignty, create and sustain highly skilled jobs and deliver prosperity.”
In 2020, the Eurofighter partner nations committed investment that will maintain Eurofighter at the leading edge of combat capability into the 2060s. The German Air Force committed to the acquisition of an additional 38 new Eurofighter aircraft, with advanced new sensors and weapons. The United Kingdom committed funding to complete the development of an advanced electronically scanning radar.
These latest investments build upon the combat proven capability of a fleet of almost 500 Eurofighters operating with five countries in Europe. The common threat and shared military requirement make Eurofighter a strong choice for Finland. (Source: ASD Network)
03 Feb 21. Air Force study on future aerial refueling tanker could start in 2022. The Air Force could begin to lay out its vision for a future aerial refueling tanker, previously known as KC-Z, as early as next year, the head of Air Mobility Command said Monday.
The service intends to conduct an analysis of alternatives for an advanced aerial refueling aircraft in fiscal year 2022, AMC commander Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost said during a Defense Writers Group meeting with reporters. That study will help the Air Force determine precisely which capabilities a future tanker will need to to operate in more heavily contested battlefields against the threats posed by nations such as Russia and China.
“We’re thinking about the near peer [competition], and what we need for a near peer [competition],” she said.
Key to that discussion is figuring out how much of the aerial refueling process can be performed without a human pilot or boom operator onboard the plane to fly it or give other aircraft gas.
“Is going to be autonomous? Is it going to be pilot on the loop [or] pilot in the loop capability?” asked Van Ovost. “Is it going to be small? Is it going to be large? What kind of [self protection] is it going to have? What kind of electromagnetic spectrum capabilities is it going to have to both protect itself and enhance the lethality of the Joint Force while it’s out there?”
In April, Will Roper, then the Air Force’s top acquisition official, told reporters that an agreement with Boeing for a new and improved KC-46 vision system could pave the way for autonomous aerial refueling. The addition of 4K high-definition cameras, modern processors and LiDAR (light detecting and ranging) sensors would help the new system accumulate much of the data necessary for a computer to correctly calculate all the variables that need to be solved for safe aerial refueling.
“All you have to do is take that data that tells the world inside the jet the reality of geometries between the airplane and the boom outside the jet. Once you have that, you simply need to translate it into algorithms that allow the tanker to tank itself,” Roper said then.
The Air Force is not the only service interested in automated aerial refueling. The Navy is flight testing the MQ-25 Stingray aerial refueling drone — which, like the Air Force’s new KC-46 tanker, is built by Boeing. The Navy eventually hopes to operate the MQ-25 onboard aircraft carriers, where it will be used to extend the range of fighter jets like the F-35C and F/A-18EF Super Hornet.
Van Ovost acknowledged the Air Force is still years away from being able to hold a competition for the platform formerly known as KC-Z. After the Air Force completes its procurement of 179 KC-46s — which, if its current buy rate holds, will occur around the 2027 timeframe — the service will buy a non-developmental “bridge tanker,” she said.
That effort, which replaces the KC-Y program, will likely be a battle between Boeing and an Airbus-Lockheed Martin team, which joined forces in 2018 to market Airbus’ A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport to the U.S. Air Force. Both teams are expected to offer upgraded versions of their current aerial refueling aircraft.
Van Ovost did not say when that competition will begin.
Along with tackling questions about its future tanker, the Air Force is also set to begin a business case analysis whether to pursue contracted aerial refueling to support U.S. military training and test activities across the contiguous United States.
After holding a Dec. 19 industry day with interested vendors, Air Mobility Command conducted a study into the feasibility and affordability of commercial air refueling services and submitted a proposal to Air Force leadership.
However, Air Force leaders want more information before making a final decision, and have asked for a comprehensive business case analysis that would finalize a requirement for all of the services’ needs, Van Ovost said. The study would come up with options for various contracting models — which could include tankers that are leased to the government or contractor-owned and operated — as well as hammer out details on Federal Aviation Administration certification requirements.
“We’re working with headquarters Air Force to finalize the parameters for the study, and then likely will be contracting out that study,” Van Ovost said. “And for expectation’s sake, it does take a while. These kinds of business case analysis we have seen take 18 months, so we are going to put pen to paper and take a very close look at it.” (Source: Defense News)
01 Feb 21. US Army seeking simultaneous transmit and receive tactical radios. The US Army is seeking industry proposals for the development of a new software-defined tactical radio capable of transmitting and receiving voice and data simultaneously in “congested, contested, and denied environments”, according to a service solicitation.
The broad agency announcement (BAA) issued by the service’s small business innovation research (SBIR) directorate on 27 January 2021 is designed to generate commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions for the army’s Same Frequency Simultaneous Transmit and Receive (SF-STAR) software-defined radio (SDR). The radio systems, as envisioned, will be capable “of operating in the same frequency while transmitting and receiving voice and data from external sources, and capable of performing network operations in congested, contested, and denied environments”, the BAA stated.
The SF-STAR capability being sought by service leaders will not replace the army’s current inventory of SDR platforms with adjacent-channel suppression capabilities, but rather provide an SDR system alternative that can suppress “in-channel [and] external enemy interference while operating SF-STAR at the same time”, according to the BAA. The proposed SF-STAR-capable SDR system will also be effective in “suppressing friendly interference, whether co-located in the same platform, or in the general presence of other potential interfering sources while performing SF-STAR”, it added.
The 27 January BAA solicitation comes a month after officials at US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) issued their own industry solicitation, seeking support for the development of advanced software-defined radios, digital receivers, and antennas for secure data transmission during expeditionary operations. (Source: Jane’s)
02 Feb 21. NAVAIR Seeks to Replace Seahawks and Fire Scouts. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has posted a request for information (RFI) for an Analysis of Alternatives for what it is calling the Future Vertical Lift-Maritime Strike (FVL-MS) program.
This announcement constitutes a Request for Information (RFI) for planning purposes. The Initial Capability Document (ICD) for Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Maritime Strike (MS), JROC validated on 8 November 2019 established a requirement for a vertical lift capability to support the US Navy, recapitalizing their existing fleet of MH-60R/S and MQ-8B/C systems. This new capability is expected to have an IOC in the mid-twenty thirty’s timeframe to support all described Navy missions.
The Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV N98) has directed an Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) be conducted to support efforts to identify cost-effective alternatives to fill capability gaps in the MH-60R/S and MQ-8C as they begin to reach their end of service in the 2030s. The MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and the MQ-8 Fire Scout Unmanned Air Vehicles are the pillars of the Naval Helicopter Concept of Operations for the 21st century. The Warfighting Capability provided, whether deployed as Carrier Air Wing squadrons embarked on aircraft carriers under the leadership of carrier air wing commanders or as Expeditionary squadrons embarked on LHAs/LHDs, surface combatants and logistics vessels, is broad and unparalleled in naval warfare.
N98 has identified a requirement to assess potential solutions for:
1) Capability gaps due to the increasingly sophisticated adversary as well as
2) Capacity gaps incurred with ageing and expected retirement of the MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and the MQ-8 Fire Scout Unmanned Air Vehicles. Identification of solution options for these gaps for a family of manned and unmanned systems is of paramount importance and is expected to support the broad range of decisions associated with the recapitalization of the MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and the MQ-8 Fire Scout Unmanned Air Vehicles systems.
The alternatives will be evaluated for Naval Aviation Contributions across the full range of mission areas. Each unique attribute category was defined to assess potential capability gaps in this timeframe for these scenarios. They are (in no order of importance):
- Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Targeting (ISR&T)
- Surface Warfare (SUW)
- Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
- Mine Counter Measures (MCM)
- Air Warfare (AW)
- Electronic Warfare (EW)
- Search and Rescue (SAR)
- Command and Control
- SOF Support
- Embark Aviation and Air Capable Ships
- Conduct Logistics
- Conduct Patient Movement
- Signature Control
The Naval Air Systems Command is conducting a request for information to obtain industry input relative to its capabilities to potentially satisfy the needs identified in the FVL (MS) ICD and inform the FVL (MS) AoA.
Final responses to the RFI must be received no later than 5:00 PM EDT [13 April 2021; 75 calendar days from release]. (Source: UAS VISION/US Department of Defense)
01 Feb 21. US Army heads into future tactical unmanned aircraft rodeo next month. The U.S. Army is heading into a culminating event used to evaluate four different unmanned aircraft systems capable of replacing the service’s current tactical UAS — the Textron-made Shadow.
The service will hold a “rodeo” at Fort Benning, Georgia, the last week of February through the first week of March where all five of the Brigade Combat Teams which spent the last year evaluating Future Tactical UAS systems will be represented, Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen, who is in charge of Army aviation modernization, told Defense News in a recent interview.
The Army selected four UAS in 2019 as candidates to replace the Shadow. Each candidate would undergo soldier assessments to help inform requirements for a FTUAS capability that would fit into a future vertical lift ecosystem, including new helicopters and other air-launched platforms.
The service first selected two teams to provide systems for the soldier-led evaluation in March 2019: Martin UAV and Textron’s AAI Corporation. Martin UAV teamed with Northrop Grumman to provide its V-Bat UAS. Textron offered its Aerosonde HQ.
But shortly after, the Army added two more aircraft to the mix: the Arcturus-UAV Jump 20 system and L-3 Harris’ FVR-90. Aerovironment purchased Arcturus this month.
Each of these systems have already been through a rodeo of sorts, participating in a rigorous fly-off from December 2018 through January 2019 at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. The competition helped the service select the system for the soldier-assessment phase.
The Army will brief senior leaders attending the event on the data it has been able to garner through the work the BCTs did in 2020 to evaluate the systems, Rugen said. The 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division was the last to wrap up its evaluation at the end of the year.
Each unit was provided just one of the candidate systems, so the rodeo will bring each of the aircraft back on one playing field.
“We are probably 90 percent done on the requirement document,” Rugen said, but the service is waiting for the last bit of data to come in from the 82nd. The requirements document should be complete by the time the rodeo begins.
“It’s an agile process, that as different data comes in, well, we’re still open to change,” he added.
Once the rodeo is over, the Army will tee all of the information up for an Army decision. Rugen said an Army Requirements Oversight Council deliberation could come as early as next quarter.
“I’m very optimistic as to how it will be received,” Rugen said, but that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. “But I tell you, soldiers are demanding this. They all wanted to keep it.”
Coming out of the year-long evaluation period, Rugen said that he was hopeful that the Army would get a revolutionary, not evolutionary, new tactical UAS capability that isn’t tied to a runway, that has a lower acoustic signature and that has far lower equipment requirements in order to transport the system organically within a unit.
Rugen said a unit at the National Training Center was already able to use the system far more frequently in a 10-day period than Shadow, showing the ease of deploying the capability. “We’re seeing a far more agile capability,” he said, “and a far more effective capability at a much lower price point, both on cost, but also on personnel in the unit.”
If Army leadership delivers a positive AROC decision, the service can then move the program into a full and open competition.
And the Army plans to move quickly.
“With all these innovative approaches, what we’re not going to be wed to is what we would have traditionally done, which is we’d get a [capabilities development document] and we’d wait some period of time while we went through a bunch of machinations,” Brig. Gen. Robert Barrie, the program executive officer for Army Aviation, said in the same interview. “We’re going to look for the most innovative approach and it will be dependent on how that requirement, how close that requirement is to something that we can readily get and that we’re demonstrating already.” (Source: Defense News)
29 Jan 21. US Navy launches Future Vertical Lift effort. The US Navy (USN) has launched an analysis of alternatives (AoA) for a future maritime rotorcraft, known as Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Maritime Strike (MS). Published on the beta.sam.gov US government procurement website on 28 January, the AoA for FVL MS is looking to set the groundwork for developing a replacement for the USN’s fleet of Sikorsky MH-60R/S Seahawk and Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout platforms in the 2030s.
“The Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV N98) has directed an AoA be conducted to support efforts to identify cost-effective alternatives to fill capability gaps in the MH-60R/S and MQ-8C as they begin to reach their end of service in the 2030s. The MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and the MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicles are the pillars of the naval helicopter concept of operations for the 21st Century,” the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) said.
In its request for information (RFI), the USN noted the different mission areas that any FVL MS platform would be required to fulfil: intelligence, surveillance, targeting, and reconnaissance (ISTAR); anti-surface vessel warfare (ASuW); mine countermeasures (MCM); air warfare (AW); search and rescue (SAR); airborne early warning and control (AEW&C); special operations forces (SOF) support; shipborne operations; logistical support; and airborne medical evacuation (medevac). The service also listed ‘signature control’ without defining its meaning, although it is likely related to a low acoustic footprint. (Source: Jane’s)
28 Jan 21. DARPA Puts Robotic Software Through Paces in SubT Challenge. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working to broaden its pool of innovators as it approaches the final leg of its Subterranean Challenge.
The agency is using the challenge to help military and civilian first responders overcome issues associated with operating underground, including constrained passageways and limited situational awareness. It is hosting challenges for both physical platforms as well as software and algorithms through virtual events.
Sixteen teams competed in the virtual cave circuit in November. During the event, competitors used their technology to traverse through eight simulated caves, which were designed by Angela Maio, virtual competition lead for DARPA’s SubT Challenge, using information from real man-made caves, she said during the competition.
The competing teams submitted their software before it kicked off with the expectation that their systems could autonomously map, navigate the caves, find artifacts and coordinate with multi-robot teams all while operating in degraded communications environments in the virtual realm, Maio said.
During the virtual exercises, the agency is able to test teams who coordinate their robots to autonomously perform, she said. “They have to communicate with each other, find out how to explore the environment and really take on these cave challenges.”
Teams’ scores were calculated by completing tasks such as collecting the largest number of artifacts in the shortest amount of time and properly reporting an item’s location.
“The takeaway message for the virtual competition is it really is opening the doors to who and where some of the technology development can occur,” said Tim Chung, program manager for DARPA’s SubT challenge.
The items were scattered throughout the cave simulation at different levels, some in higher positions and others at ground level, Chung said during a press briefing following the event.
Software designed by Coordinated Robotics, a California-based team, won the challenge and a $250,000 prize.
DARPA is interested in a variety of underground environments, not just naturally occurring caves, Chung said. The challenge also includes urban underground and tunnel circuits.
The agency is interested in human-built tunnel environments such as mines, as well as underground urban settings, Chung said.
“Coupled with the cave scenario, which are for naturally occurring cave networks, all [of this is] culminating in technology development that will allow for us to be able to address all three of these subdomains and do so in a way that isn’t always tuning or tweaking, but rather more holistically addressing the diverse challenges in these environments,” he said.
DARPA held its subterranean tunnel circuit in August 2019. An urban circuit took place in early 2020. The final event, which will be a culmination of all three terrains, will take place in late 2021, according to the agency.
The final “systems” competition, which will include hardware designs, has a first-place prize of $2m. The final virtual competition for software has prizes of up to $1.5m. (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
REST OF THE WORLD
04 Feb 21. Defence to invest $800m in amphibious capability upgrade. The federal government has announced it will acquire new fleets of Australian-built amphibious vehicles and landing craft. The Morrison government is set to invest up to $800m to upgrade the ADF’s amphibious vehicles and landing craft, as part of the Army Littoral Manoeuvre – Light project, LAND 8710 Phase 1 program.
Two separate fleets are to be procured, with the watercraft designed to provide independent shore-to-shore, ship-to-shore, and over-the-shore capabilities to better manoeuvre and sustain the ADF in littoral and riverine environments.
An Independent Landing Craft is also expected to be delivered to replace the Army’s existing LCM-8 vessels, which according to Defence, would present opportunities for Australian industry in the detailed design, build, maintenance and support elements of the project.
An amphibious vehicle is also set to be built to replace Army’s current LARC-V, offering opportunities for industry in the vehicle’s design, build, maintenance and through-life support phases.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the new capabilities would transport land forces with enhanced speed and protection.
“Today’s announcement delivers on this government’s objectives, set out in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, to enhance the ADF’s amphibious capabilities, especially in Australia’s territorial waters and the near region,” Minister Reynolds said.
“These new vessels, introduced from 2026, will be larger, faster, and better protected to support ADF operations.
“They will allow Defence to quickly and effectively deploy both domestically and to our near region, as well as remain engaged with regional security partners and support humanitarian assistance to our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific.”
She added: “We have also seen the importance of the Army water transport capability most recently on Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20, evacuating Australians to safety off beaches and delivering much needed supplies.”
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the government’s investment in these Australian-built fleets demonstrates its commitment to developing the nation’s sovereign capability.
“Australian industry involvement will be maximised throughout the design, construction and sustainment phases of this project,” Minister Price said.
“The new and enhanced platforms will use Australian industry’s expertise both during the detailed design and build phases to support the delivery of the Morrison government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan.
“By taking this approach, the Morrison government is also encouraging potential export opportunities for Australian industry through the design and build of this new capability.” (Source: Defence Connect)
03 Feb 21. W. Australian government announces new funding round for collaborative defence research projects. WA Minister for Defence Issues Paul Papalia has announced an expansion of the WA government’s continued investment in the future of defence innovation, announcing the Defence Science Centre’s latest funding round for collaborative research projects.
The Collaborative Research Grant (CRG) is intended to encourage collaborations with industry, the research sector, Defence and DSC member universities.
In general, multidisciplinary proposals that are relevant to a potential Defence sponsor and involve collaboration between DSC member universities and industry and/or Defence are supported. Funding is awarded on a competitive basis subject to prioritisation against the selection criteria and available funding.
Seed funding, ranging from $50,000 to $150,000, is available for collaborations between universities, industry and government, which include at least one DSC-member university. Projects must be linked to the Department of Defence’s technology-themed Next Generation Technologies Fund priorities or the round three theme of maritime maintenance and sustainment.
Defence Issues Minister Paul Papalia explained, “We are committed to boosting innovation and emerging technologies in the defence industry, and creating more local defence jobs. To date, 11 research projects have received $1.6m in seed funding through the Defence Science Centre’s Collaborative Research Grant.”
The Defence Science Centre CRG supports defence-relevant research with DSC member universities that meets the technology themes for the current grant round (see ‘Technology Themes’ below).
Requests for funding should be in the order of $50,000 to $150,000, but requests outside of this range will be considered where there is a compelling business case.
CRG funds can be used to pay for:
- Project services and consumables;
- Access to facilities (e.g. bench fees or workshop costs); and/or
- To support or employ research and technical staff.
CRG funds cannot be used for teaching relief, student fees or publication costs. Investigators seeking stipend support for students should apply for a Defence Science Centre Research Higher Degree Student Grant.
Minister Papalia said, “By fostering the relationships between universities, industry and government, we are helping to strengthen WA’s defence industry capabilities, commercialise emerging technologies and diversify the state’s economy.”
In order to assist in determining if your project is in scope applicants are invited to submit a proposal abstract (less than 300 words) for discussion. Proposal abstracts must be submitted by 5pm AWST on Monday, 15 February 2021.
Note that a determination made on the basis of an abstract does not guarantee the proposal will be considered to be in scope. Such determinations should be considered as a guide to the scope of the grants where there is some concern by the applicant. (Source: Defence Connect)
22 Jan 21. Airbus calls for Innovation proposals in new Space and related technologies. Airbus is calling for innovation proposals for a Pitch event to be held at the end of February 2021.
The Sydney-based Defence Innovation Network (DIN) reports that Airbus has issued a Call For Innovation Proposals to Australian industry and research organisations interested in pitching relevant research and technology developments.
Closing date for Expressions of Interest is 18 February. These must correspond to Airbus’s published R&T topics of New Space & related technologies, and must address their potential application to Australia’s future space operating environment and sovereign industry capability. The Airbus umbrella program for this initiative is Team Maier.
Successful applicants will be invited to pitch their ideas to a selection committee of Airbus’ Technical Domain Managers, and shortlisted candidates will be invited to develop a detailed proposal for an innovation project.
Airbus will invite registered parties to present their ideas and proposals in Pitch Events, to be held end of February 2021.
Airbus R&D topics
5_Prognostic Enabled Decision Making
6_RT Maritime Situational Awareness
7_Spacecraft Electrical Systems
8_SST LEO Debris Initial Orbit Determination
9_SST On Board Data Processing and Compression
10_GEO IoT Connectivity and Enablers
11_Dynamic Optimization of Satellite Operations
12_Low Cost User Terminals for Mega Constellations
How to register
EOI for Pitch Event – Closing Date: 18 February 2021 via ICN website.
- Select the topic of the proposed R&D area you are interested in. For each topic, a separate application needs to be submitted.
- Register your name or team and the chosen title with a short description of the proposed innovation or project by 18 February 2021.
- Submit an abstract (max 600 words) and any supporting slides for the Pitch event, no later than 22 February 2021.
- Pitch events will be scheduled and advised for each successful registration.
Anticipated Timeline 2021
18 February – Call for Innovation Pitches-EOI due
End February – Innovation Pitches
Early March– Shortlisting of Pitches
Mar- Apr – Submission of detailed R&D Proposals
01 Feb 21. RAN calls for MCM robotics and AI for Arafura class OPVs. The Australian Department of Defence has made a down-select decision to explore a variant of the Arafura class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) as the RAN new Mine Countermeasures and Survey Vessels under project SEA 1905 Phase 1, says Minister for Defence Senator Linda Reynolds. Defence has also called for Expressions of Interest from Australian industry in providing autonomous and robotics mission systems for the MCM mission management and operational systems.
This commitment boosts the specialist variants of the OPV from three vessels now to eight, worth up to $5bn.
During a visit to the Henderson precinct in Western Australia Senator Reynolds added, “Following the election commitment made by the Federal Government in 2019, we are bringing forward the replacement of the Huon-class [MCM] vessel from the 2030’s to the mid 2020’s. We are also committed to constructing a new hydrographic capability.
“These vessels will help Navy navigate more confidently throughout the region, and safely clear minefields with the use of autonomous technologies.”
Defence has released an Invitation to Register and Request for Information on Austender for various components of the mission management system, the integration of the system, and the construction of a toolbox of Robotic and Autonomous Systems that the new vessels will require.
“And I would encourage all Australian companies – and we have many companies who are at the leading edge of autonomous systems and autonomous vessels and vehicles – to have a look at this and to work with Navy to develop options,” Senator Reynolds said.
This is all part of the Australian government’s unprecedented peacetime investment in a National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise, with Henderson being one of the country’s two major shipbuilding hubs in Australia, along with Osborne in South Australia, Minister Reynolds added.
Currently, three classes of vessels are under construction at Henderson including:
- 21 Guardian class vessels
- 10 of the 12 Arafura class offshore patrol vessels
- 6 Evolved Cape class vessels.
Since the 2016 Defence White Paper, eight ships have already been built and delivered in WA, with another eight ships currently under construction at Henderson.
“With a total of up to 45 ships to be built in WA, shipbuilding has gone from zero to boom in seven years because of the Morrison Government’s significant investment,” the Minister said. “Our commitment to shipbuilding in Australia is unprecedented in its scale and ambition.”
The RAN’s Anzac class frigates are also undergoing a major midlife upgrade at Henderson. This includes systems modernisation as well as quality-of-life improvements for the crew, at a cost of more than $1bn.
Today, around half of Australia’s surface combatant fleet and all six Collins class submarines are home ported in WA.
“With plans highlighted in the 2020 Force Structure Plan to build two multi-role sealift and replenishment ships, a Pacific Support Vessel, and an ice-rated replacement for Ocean Protector in Australia, additional major docking facilities will be required in the near future to supplement the capability of the Captain Cook Graving Dock in Sydney,” Senator Reynolds said. “The construction of such a facility would be an enormous boost to our sovereign shipbuilding and sustainment industry.” (Source: http://rumourcontrol.com.au/)
29 Jan 21. Is Russia’s defense industry too busy to take on another fighter jet project? Rostec announced this week it has begun developing the MiG-41, a fifth-generation fighter jet set to replace Russia’s MiG-31 jets currently in service. However, amid a number of other ongoing military aerospace projects, experts are questioning whether industry has the resources to produce the aircraft by its deadline of 2030.
The MiG-31 fleet entered service in 1980 under the Soviet Armed Forces and was upgraded in 1990 to become the MiG-31BM. The MiG-41, originally developed by Rostec subsidiary United Aircraft Corporation, has long been expected to replace the aging jets. Work on the new aircraft started in 2010 with UAC’s Mikoyan design bureau and Sokol aviation production plant, based in Nizhny Novgorod, about six hours’ drive from Moscow.
According to Russian news reports, the MiG-41 will be equipped with stealth technology, reach a speed of Mach 4-4.3, carry anti-satellite missiles, and be able to perform tasks in Arctic and near-space environments.
If it enters service, the MiG-41 will be the country’s second fifth-generation fighter after the Su-57, which was developed by UAC subsidiary Sukhoi Company and had its first flight test in 2010.
The Su-57 crashed during a flight test in December 2019. The pilot has survived, leaving the plane on the catapult chair. Defense officials told the Vedomosti newspaper at that time that technical mishaps in the control system might have caused the accident. A governmental commission was founded to investigate the accident, but no public report was realized.
That same year, the Russian military bought 76 Su-57 planes. The cost of a single Su-57 might be about 3bn roubles (U.S. $40m), Izvestia reported that year, citing defense sources. The plane is equipped with the AL-41F1 engine, which is also used on the Su-35 jet. However, the local Lyulka Design Bureau is currently developing a new engine for the Su-57.
According to Ruslan Pukhov, the director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, the primary focus of Russia’s defense industry is to develop that engine. That main effort takes away much-needed resources for the new plane, he explained.
A London-based analyst echoed Pukhov’s concerns, expressing skepticism that Russia “will be able to develop, manufacture and introduce into service [the jet] in anything like the purported time frame.”
Douglas Barrie, who focuses military aerospace for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said Russia’s aerospace sector is already committed to numerous projects, including further developing the Su-75, upgrading the Su-34, and modernizing various bombers such as the Tu-160 Blackjack, Tu-22M Backfire and Tu-95.
“Some would argue that the sector has already more than enough to try to manage without the additional or a project potentially as complex as a new heavy interceptor, or indeed whether there would be realistic levels of funding for a program,” he said.
Defense News contacted the Russian Aircraft Corporation, a subsidiary of UAC involved in the MiG-41 project, but the firm declined to comment on the jet’s development.
For his part, Pukhov thinks the government should ditch its costly projects and instead appropriate funds to develop drones. “This is the sphere where Russia is still behind,” he said.
He added that both China and India will likely want to cooperate on the MiG-41. The latter left a joint project to develop a fifth-generation fighter aircraft based on the Su-57 in 2018.
But Barrie questioned the export potential of the MiG-41, saying the number of similar jets being built elsewhere is rapidly growing.
“Even if such an aircraft were eventually to be developed, it would — were it to meet the same role as the MiG-31BM Foxhound C — have a very limited export appeal.” (Source: Defense News)
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