UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
07 Apr 21. Exciting space tech on show at joint UK/US held demo-day. From predicting space weather to enabling multi-national space domain awareness, here are the technologies showcased during the International Space Pitch Demo Day.
In November 2020, the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) hosted the world’s first International Space Pitch Day (ISPD) – a joint UK and US initiative to find and fast-track innovations that enhance space domain capabilities. The competition culminated in ten tech start-ups securing contracts each worth up to £53,000, after pitching exciting space technologies directly to UK, US and NATO military leaders.
To keep pace with evolving threats, a grand coalition of Dstl, DASA, Royal Air Force, UK Strategic Command, the US Air Force, US Space Force, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) turned to the commercial sector to connect world-class space innovation to military end-users at pace.
ISPD marked a series of incredible firsts, such as the first time same-day contracts have been awarded by the UK Ministry of Defence, and the first time two international allies have jointly held a “pitching” style event to award defence contracts.
Four months later, on 30-31 March 2021, we saw the results of that funding during two-days of technology demonstrations, witnessing ideas emerge from concept to reality in an incredible display of innovation.
The technologies on display during the demo day offered an actual glimpse into how UK and US militaries will cooperate to ensure challenges in the space domain can be overcome.
Is this the exciting future of space defence?
The space domain is ever developing, with challenges such as the intent of space actors, the ability to accurately monitor space debris, the threat of space weather and the ability to safeguard satellites to consider.
The event showed a fresh way of working to fast-track innovation and cutting-edge technology to the front line quicker than ever before.
Cognitive Space, a US company that demoed multi-level space asset security through partitioned blockchain said;
ISPD has helped enable aerospace focused tech startups like us (Cognitive Space) to collaborate and grow while supplying DASA with innovative technologies not currently available in the industry.
Melanie Stricklan, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Slingshot Aerospace said, “The Slingshot team would like to thank DASA for a great experience throughout the ISPD event and pitch process. The Slingshot Orbital ensemble catalog provides a foundation for reliable, predictive analytics and will provide space operators with important information to maintain space superiority over adversaries. We look forward to working with Dstl to commercialize this critical technology.”
And precursor SPC, who showcased a space weather impact tool said;
The DASA platform is the catalyst for the future of Space Weather now casting and forecasting, precursor’s 4D Space Weather Operational Impact Tool.
The technologies demonstrated at the event were:
Visualisation and analysis
- 114 AI Innovation LLP (India)
- RiskAware Ltd (United Kingdom)
- Rocket Communications (United States)
- Swim.ai, Inc. (United States)
- Slingshot Aerospace, Inc. (United States)
- Clutch Space Systems Limited (United Kingdom)
Satellite spectrum monitoring
- Clearbox Systems Pty Ltd (Australia)
Multi-Level Security through Partitioned Blockchain
- Cognitive Space, Inc. (United States)
- precursor SPC (United States)
- Spire Global UK (United Kingdom)
What is the International Space Pitch Day?
International Space Pitch Day is a joint UK-US initiative that aims to find, fund and fast-track innovation and technology that gives advantage to military personnel and operations in the space domain.
The competition was open to innovators and entrepreneurs from all over the world delivered through the UK Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), assisted by Starburst Accelerator.
It is specifically designed to bolster tech start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and harness the power of their ingenuity and innovation.
The endeavour is jointly funded by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), Royal Air Force and the US Air Force.
A grand coalition of Dstl, DASA, Royal Air Force, UK Strategic Command, the US Air Force, US Space Force, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has been assembled to find, fund, and fast-track the best ideas from start-up innovators to the front line.
The format is the first of its kind in an international collaboration between two international allies. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
01 Apr 21. UK launches MLRS project. The United Kingdom has launched a five-year programme to upgrade the British Army’s M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS). The British Army has announced that its MLRS will be upgraded over the next five years. (Janes/Patrick Allen)
The project, the launch of which followed an agreement with the US Department of Defence, will begin next year with the installation of improved armoured cabs on the first of 44 launcher vehicles, the British Army announced on its website on 31 March.
In addition, upgraded automotive and launch mechanism components will be installed at the US Army’s Red River Depot in Texas and Lockheed Martin’s facility in Camden, Arkansas.
“The upgrades will ensure that the army’s land deep fires capability remains strong for the next three decades and that the British Army has the technological capability to quickly meet the threats of today and tomorrow,” the British Army said. “The upgrades will keep the equipment in service until 2050.”
The British Army also aims to fit UK-specific systems to its improved launchers, including composite rubber tracks, a vehicle camera and radar system.
“The 44 updated launchers will also be able to fire the US Precision Strike Missile (PrSM), which has a range of 499 km and is expected in service from 2024,” said the announcement. The PrSM is the proposed replacement for the US MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). “These weapons will place the British Army at the cutting edge of global deep fires capability, ready to respond to long-range air defence and missile threats presented by hostile actors.”
The British Army said the Extended-Range Guided MLRS, which will extend its reach to 150km, should be in Royal Artillery service by 2025.
05 Apr 21. UK transport department offers UK SMEs UKP30,000 grants for drone airspace integration research. The UK’s Department for Transport’s (DfT) Drone-Technology Research and Innovation Grants (D-TRIG) Programme will award grants of UKP30,000 to enable up to six small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to undertake early-stage research and development (R&D) studies on the integration of drones into UK airspace.
According to the organisation’s website:
“The DfT’s Drones Policy Team will award funding to organisations undertaking R&D into drone technology within the following themes: onboard detect & avoid; autonomy; communications
Key features of D-TRIG include: 100% grants for SMEs ; oversight from the DfT Office for Science and Chief Scientific Advisor; an assigned relevant policy contact from within the Department to help organisations understand how their ideas fit into Government’s priorities; follow on support from the Connected Places Catapult including the chance to enter their SME development programme
In order to apply to the D-TRIG scheme you must be based in the UK and a business of any size. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
01 Apr 21. NATO Agency invites entries to data fusion challenge for unmanned systems tracking. The NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency is challenging scientists to use data to track unmanned aircraft systems entering a protected flight zone. The competition is run as part of the International Conference on Military Communication and Information Systems (ICMCIS) and is open to any teams. Results will be presented in a special session of ICMCIS.
NATO is currently looking at capabilities to protect people, equipment, and in general its missions against the threat of misuse of drones / Class I Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Class I UAS include unmanned aircraft with a mass lower than 150Kg; hobby drones are a typical example of Class I UAS.
Participants in the challenge can fuse together several sources of data provided by the Agency to track the drones to track, classify and identify Class I UAS as they fly within a defined area, from the data provided by the available sensors. The drones should be tracked, to show their location and velocity; they should also be classified, to indicate what type of object has been detected (e.g. drone, bird); and they should be identified and indicate which type of UAS has been observed (e.g. DJI Mavic Pro). The challenge is part of a larger research and development effort at the NCI Agency aiming at developing effective remote sensing technologies suitable for detecting, tracking and identifying Class I UASs. The data released for this challenge was recorded in 2020 during a measurement campaign at the Dutch Ministry of Defence’s Counter-UAS Nucleus, in the Netherlands.
NATO sponsored the measurement campaign through its Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work, and the event was further supported by several government and industry partners.
Challenge participants will be invited to present their solution at a special session of ICMCIS on 4-5 May 2021. In addition to the special session on ‘data science solutions to counter UAS,’ the conference includes a keynote on the challenges of UAS by Liisa Janssens, co-author of A Comprehensive Approach to Countering Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
A follow on Counter UAS exercise will be held in September 2021.
Submission deadline: 18 April 2021. Entry information: https://www.kaggle.com/c/icmcis-drone-tracking/
05 Apr 21. Space Force satellite communications contract gets nod for CMMC. The Space Force has nominated a new commercial satellite communications contract to be part of the Defense Department’s pilot for its unified cybersecurity standard for contractors, the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program. A request for information for the Inmarsat Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) and Global Xpress (GX) contract was amended March 31 to include requirements for the CMMC program so it “explains and incorporates CMMC requirements that will apply to the procurement.”
The RFI, which the Defense Information Systems Agency is leading on behalf of the Commercial Satellite Communications Office at Space Force, also states that the goal is to award separate contract vehicles for BGAN and GX offerings. Early respondents to the original RFI will need to submit an updated response by April 8.
“To be eligible for award, offeror is responsible for contracting with an authorized [CMMC Third Party Assessment Organizations] to support a CMMC assessment for the required CMMC Level certification,” the updated notice states.
The notice also mentioned that the CMMC Accreditation Body, which governs CMMC’s implementation, will designate C3PAOs on its website by June.
Since no CMMC certification is currently available, vendors are “encouraged to complete a self-assessment based on CMMC Assessment Guides,” the solicitation states
The changes come as the CMMC AB moves to stand up the training ecosystem, from course materials to individual assessors to assessing organizations, needed to implement the CMMC program.
Ben Tchoubineh, chair for the training committee, said during a recent Town Hall that there are 109 approved C3PAOs and 100 approved provisional assessors.
However, no organization can begin assessing until it has become certified at CMMC Level 3. So far, only one organization has completed that necessary assessment.
DOD is expected to release several pilot contracts that include CMMC requirements later this year as part of the first major push to implement the program. Over time, CMMC will be a prerequisite for all DOD contracts. (Source: https://fcw.com/)
05 Apr 21. US Navy, CENTCOM seek solutions for stratospheric ISR operations. The US Navy and US Central Command (CENTCOM) are seeking industry solutions to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities to enhance the use of unmanned aerial systems (UASs) for stratospheric intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations, according to a joint solicitation.
The Strategic Command, Control, Communications, Computers and ISR (C4ISR) to Operationalize the Stratosphere (SCOS) programme will be led out of CENTCOM and the Naval Surface Warfare Center – Crane Division (NSWC-Crane). The programme will focus on the use of stratospheric balloons or solar-electric powered UAS platforms, according to the Request for Solutions (RFS) notice by the Strategic & Spectrum Missions Advanced Resilient Trusted Systems (S2MARTS) other transactional authority (OTA).
“Developmental testing in the last five years has been focused on operationalising the stratosphere” via stratospheric balloons and solar UASs, the RFS stated. “These platforms offer the opportunity to enhance the mission for persistent operations in non-permissive environments,” it added.
With the platforms’ extremely high operating altitude and ability to remain on station over an ISR target for an extended period of time, both stratospheric systems provide combat commanders earlier intelligence and warning data on a proposed threat, as well as provide ground forces with a resilient airborne communication node and information cross datalink, programme officials wrote. Additionally, the operating altitudes of these platforms can improve maritime and land domain awareness, as well as mitigate any degradation in space based ISR collection assets, such as satellites, they added. (Source: Jane’s)
REST OF THE WORLD
07 Apr 21. Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry program expanded. The Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry (SADI) program has been expanded to make industry ‘defence ready’.
The federal government announced on Wednesday morning that it has broadened the eligibility guidelines to help SMEs apply for the Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry (SADI) program.
The program will provide $39m over two years, and is now broadened to include more training providers to make the industry ‘defence ready’.
It is hoped that the announcement will broaden the defence force skillsets such as engineering, project management and logistics.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said that the eligibility changes occurred due to industry feedback.
“SADI can now support defence industry in technical and trade skills training, improved human resources practices, apprenticeship supervision, and on-the-job training,” Minister Price said.
“The Defence Teaming Centre is one industry association that is now able to use its SADI grant to provide a Diploma of Digital Technologies course to 16 participants who represent 14 different small to medium Australian defence businesses.
“This government’s support for skills training is part of our plan to develop the workforce needed to deliver on our historic $270bn investment in Defence capability.
“A skilled workforce will help build our sovereign industrial capabilities, support innovation and grow the competitiveness of Australian industry, both here and overseas.” (Source: Defence Connect)
04 Apr 21. Defence manufacturing grant program opens under MMI. The newly appointed Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Christian Porter, has opened the $1.3bn Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) for projects in the defence sector. This is underpinned by an industry-led road map, also released by the Minister, showing a ten year plan for investment and industry growth.
“The road map identifies opportunities for defence manufacturers to build on existing areas of strength such as military vehicle and aircraft manufacturing, naval shipbuilding and marine hardware production, cutting-edge digital technologies such as 3D printing, and explosives and propellants,” Minister Porter said.
“The road map also identifies opportunities for Australian manufacturers to build scale and capability in three key areas: investment in the defence sector, defence exports and adapting advanced technologies to the defence sector or for civilian application.”
Initial applications will be limited to the Translation and Integration streams of the Modern Manufacturing Initiative, with expressions of interest for the larger Collaboration stream to open in coming months.
“Manufacturing is critical to a modern Australia economy and creating a sovereign capacity to manufacture sovereign guided weapons will drive innovation, skills and resilient supply chains,” Minister Porter said. “This initiative will help us leverage Defence investment to grow a high-tech manufacturing ecosystem in Australia.”
Australian companies undertaking defence manufacturing projects can apply for funding support under the:
- Manufacturing translation stream: helps Australian manufacturers translate high quality research and ideas into commercial outcomes
- Manufacturing integration stream: helps Australian manufacturers to access domestic and global supply chains and distribute quality products and high value services into them
Successful National Manufacturing Priority projects are eligible to receive up to 50% of funding. Applications for the third MMI stream—the Manufacturing collaboration stream—will open later this year.
Applicants should first read the Defence National Manufacturing Priority Road Map. This is designed to help grow the scale and competitiveness of Australian defence manufacturing and help it develop world leading defence capabilities and support for businesses. The Defence sector roadmap follows the release of National Manufacturing Priority area road maps for the Space, Medical Products and Resources Technology and Critical Minerals Processing sectors.
For more information on the road maps and available grant funding visit industry.gov.au/manufacturing : https://www.industry.gov.au/manufacturing%C2%A0 (Source: Rumour Control)