UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
20 Apr 21. UK buys more Chinook helicopters from Boeing in £1.4bn deal. Cash-strapped Ministry of Defence looks to delay delivery of new helicopters to help balance budget pressures.
The RAF is buying 14 Chinook helicopters from Boeing in a $2bn (£1.4bn) deal but will not get them for several years due to budget pressures on the cash-strapped Ministry of Defence.
A “letter of acceptance” from the UK embassy in Washington, which begins the contracts process for the deal, confirmed Britain wants to buy the Chinook H-47 extended range helicopters.
However, it warned that “as a direct result of the worldwide impact of Covid-19, the UK has had to reconsider the expenditure profile of this project”, Bloomberg reported.
The letter went on to say it wanted to try to avoid any price increases resulting from the delayed deliveries of the heavy-lift helicopters.
Britain is “eager to proactively engage to understand and attempt to mitigate the price and schedule impacts of the three-year deferral while recognising there are many programmatic and industrial base factors which need to be considered”, the letter added.
The UK has about 60 Chinooks in service. Last month’s defence and security review revealed plans that nine of the older models will be withdrawn and replaced with new extended range versions.
The order will help Boeing maintain its production line in Pennsylvania, where the helicopter is built.
Cuts to the American military budget mean the US Army is hoping to save almost $1bn by reducing an order of 68 Chinooks to 40, which could mean the Boeing factory running out of orders.
An MoD spokesman said: “Work is at an advanced stage to commence the procurement of a number of new Chinook helicopters to replace older airframes in the fleet.
“The delivery schedule and exact costs for the new Chinook helicopters are to be confirmed, but it is expected delivery will be completed before the end of 2030.”
A spokesman for Boeing said: “We look forward to building on our partnership with the RAF as the H-47 Chinook Extended Range procurement continues.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
15 Apr 21. France provides more details on next-generation aircraft carrier. France’s Armed Forces Ministry unveiled more details on the Porte-Avions de Nouvelle Génération (PANG) next-generation aircraft carrier during its weekly briefing on 8 April.
Assembly of the hull will be carried out in blocks at Chantiers de l’Atlantique in Saint-Nazaire, western France, between 2031 and 2034. The hull will then be fitted out in a basin between 2034 and 2036. A model of the hull is being tested in a lake in southern France after testing at an Armed Forces Ministry test centre in Val-de-Reuil, Normandy, where the United Kingdom also regularly carries out naval tests.
A naval Rafale M (Marine) will conduct tests with General Atomics’ Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) in Lakehurst, New Jersey, before 2030. New Generation Fighter (NGF) tests will also be necessary when the aircraft is available. The PANG will have two or three EMALS.
The 70,000-tonne aircraft carrier will have the capability to launch up to 60 fighter sorties a day and have a week of ammunition for high-intensity operations. Five or six helicopters and two E-2D airborne early warning and control aircraft will also initially be involved in air operations. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will be included at a later point as loyal wingmen to support NGFs, and the French Navy is also paying attention to US experiments with aerial-refuelling UAVs.
The crew will number 300 by 2033 and eventually 1,100. In addition, the PANG will accommodate 600 sailors of the air-naval group, 100 staff, and 200 reinforcements. Berthing compartments will accommodate no more than eight sailors each, compared with a maximum of 24 on the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. (Source: Jane’s)
21 Apr 21. Space Development Agency wants to update the standard for its orbital mesh network. Before its first satellites are on orbit, the Space Development Agency is reaching out to industry for feedback on how it should upgrade its communications standards for its second generation of satellites.
Established in 2019, the agency was charged with developing the National Defense Space Architecture, a proliferated constellation to eventually be made up of hundreds of satellites mostly operating in low Earth orbit. The backbone of the architecture is the transport layer, a mesh network on orbit connected through optical intersatellite links. The transport layer will allow the DoD to rapidly move data through space, and will be the glue that will connect the services’ various Combined Joint All Domain Command and Control networks.
“The whole idea is to be able to move data as rapidly as possible to get that tactical information directly to the war fighter,” said SDA Director Derek Tournear at the annual C4ISRNET Conference. “So what the transport layer consists of are hundreds of satellites that form a resilient optically interconnected mesh network that will pass data directly to existing tactical data links. So what that means to the war fighter is the following: I can now move data from a targeting cell that could be located CONUS or ideally that targeting cell will actually form a target onboard on the satellites and I can send that data down directly to an existing tactical data link on a weapons platform or on a weapon itself.”
SDA is using a spiral development approach to build out the NDSA, putting up new tranches of satellites every two years. The first set of 28 satellites — tranche 0 — will begin launching in 2022 and provide a war fighter immersion capability. Tranche 1 will have closer to 150 satellites and will be an operational system.
SDA adopted standards for its tranche 0 optical intersatellite links, but it’s already looking to change those standards for its tranche 1 satellites, which are set to be launched beginning in 2024.
“Now in essence what we did in tranche 0 was we wanted to show the minimum viable product was that we could form a mesh network and that we could send that tactical data directly to the war fighter,” Tournear said. “We chose an optical crosslink standard at the time that we knew could affordably be produced based on mostly developments that were done by AFRL [Air Force Research Laboratory] at the time.”
That standard made sense for the 28 satellites in tranche 0 the director noted. It made less sense for the scale of tranche 1, which will see about 150 satellites added to the constellation.
“Tranche 1 is a completely different ballgame,” Tournear said. “That’s our initial war fighting capability We will be able to provide regional persistence to the war fighter with this low latency comm. So now if we’re looking at 150 satellites and we’re looking at, you know, something on the order of three to five optical crosslinks per satellite and we want those crosslinks to not only be satellite to satellite but satellite to air, satellite to ground and satellite to air and maritime assets, we had to start to look and say, ‘Okay now we really need to look at the optical comm standard and say, what is industry doing?’”
On April 16, SDA issued a request for information seeking industry feedback on an optical communication standard for tranche 1. Tournear said that standard is expected to hold through tranche 2 with minimum changes and backward compatibility.
“Starting in tranche 3, that’s when we will look and fold in the lessons learned from tranche 1 and any new technology that’s been developed and any new threats that have come online and and have basically a revamp, so tranche 3 will likely be quite a bit different than tranche 1 and 2,” said the director.
The new tranche 1 standard will also be the standard used to tie commercial and Space Force satellites into the SDA mesh network. Tournear said he expects Space Force systems to connect to the transport layer via optical intersatellite links in tranche 2. Commercial capabilities are expected to tie in even sooner.
In addition, Tthe agency is working with three to four companies to ensure their satellites can connect to the transport layer via optical intersatellite links, he said. Those commercial satellites will form the custody layer, an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability that will provide overhead satellite imagery for tactical targeting. The agency is also talking with commercial services that could provide high bandwidth data backhaul in case the architecture was disabled.
SDA is expected to order its tranche 1 transport layer satellites this summer. Responses to the optical communications RFI are due April 30.
(Source: Defense News Early Bird/C4ISR & Networks)
20 Apr 21. US Air Force Issues Solicitation for C-sUAS Technology. The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, Information Directorate, Rome NY (AFRL/RI) has a requirement to provide a focused yet flexible, rapid, agile contracting vehicle between Air Force Research Laboratory, its Products Centers, and the Operational Community to support rapid research, development, prototyping, demonstration, evaluation, and transition of Counter small Unmanned Aircraft System (C-sUAS) capabilities. These capabilities are to be used in combating Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS)—and others leveraging COTS technology—presently being used by our adversaries in asymmetric warfare against U.S. military personnel and materiel. Emphasis will be placed on:
- a) development of technology capability solutions that address specific user requirements;
- b) delivery of prototype technologies for evaluation and feedback in the context of the user’s operational environment; and
- c) provision of a mechanism for user acquisition of limited product quantities required for operational introduction of technologies. Anticipated deliverables include software, hardware, technical documentation and technical reports.
For the aforementioned requirements, the Government anticipates a single award Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite-Quantity (ID/IQ) research and development (R&D) contract with Cost-Plus-Fixed-Fee Completion (CPFF/C) Task Orders, an ordering period of seventy-two (72) months, and a maximum ordering amount of approximately $490,400,000. (Source: UAS VISION)
19 Apr 21. DARPA selects research teams for WARP programme. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have officially selected several research teams to lead the agency’s work in developing technologies to expand and enhance wideband software defined radio (SDR) capabilities across the US armed forces.
The teams, consisting of participants from industry and academia, “will explore a diverse set of technology approaches” in the field of wideband radio frequency (RF) interference cancellation for current and future SDR platforms, as part of the Wideband Adaptive RF Protection (WARP) programme, agency officials said in a statement.
“Wideband software-defined radio systems provide unprecedented access to the RF spectrum and are beginning to proliferate throughout the [US Department of Defense – DoD] and commercial applications as a result. Unfortunately, as bandwidth increases, dynamic range tends to decrease, which impacts the radio’s sensitivity and performance,” DARPA officials said.
In an effort to reduce that dynamic range reduction, while maintaining expanded wideband capability for SDR’s, WARP programme officials are exploring advanced in the use of tuneable filters and signal cancellers “to manage external interference as well as … to address self-interference”, in those radio platforms, agency officials explained.
Specifically, the WARP research teams will plan and execute experimental work on intrinsically switched electromagnetic (EM) resonator technologies, as well as multiferroics, acoustics, and photonics to enable tuneable RF frequency filter and signal cancelling capabilities for SDR systems. Those technologies would be paired “with new circuit architectures, heterogeneous device integration, and advanced RF packaging”, which would provide SDR operators adaptive control of those RF tuning and signal cancelling capabilities, according to DARPA. (Source: Jane’s)
15 Apr 21. DOD Issues First Requests for Prototype Proposal Through the National Spectrum Consortium’s Spectrum Forward OTA. The RPPs, which focus on Risk-Informed Spectrum Access and Multiband Control Channel Architecture, are open to members of the National Spectrum Consortium (NSC). The US Department of Defense (DOD) has issued two Requests for Prototype Proposal (RPPs) in support of electromagnetic spectrum research related to the capabilities of the 400+ members of the National Spectrum Consortium.
The Risk-Informed Spectrum Access (RISA) RPP calls for industry input to develop and demonstrate a set of prototype spectrum access planning, management and operational tools. These tools will provide the capability to identify, assess and reduce systemic risk to mission associated with current or projected spectrum availability to assist with both planning and during operations. The tools will have the potential to be employed in legacy systems as well as infrastructure-based (e.g., DoD test and training ranges) and infrastructure-free (e.g., tactical edge) spectrum access systems.
As a complementary piece of the automated spectrum ecosystem, the Multiband Control Channel Architecture (MICCA) effort will enable dynamic spectrum access for large force exercises and other spectrum-intensive scenarios. MICCA will leverage Machine-to-Machine (M2M) protocols and interfaces to enable near-real-time command, control, and communications. The ultimate goal of MICCA is to enable flexible spectrum access and spectrum operations agility by developing a standardized method for distributing spectrum parameters, data products, and related control messages. This will allow for “closed-loop” spectrum operations in near real time.
These RPPs are the first to be issued under the National Spectrum Consortium’s 5-year, $2.5bn ceiling Other Transaction Agreement, which was signed in December 2020. Additional RPPs are expected to be issued through the NSC in the coming days and weeks.
“Over the past few weeks, the Department of Defense released the first spectrum access RPPs through the Spectrum Forward OTA,” said the National Spectrum Consortium Executive Director Maren Leed. “The new OTA builds on past NSC successes in technologies that improve military-commercial sharing and extends the application of those technologies to a broader range of military operations. This new vector for the NSC makes full use of the breadth of our members’ extensive expertise and shows the power gained from truly dual-use technical development. We are excited to expand our efforts in this way and continue demonstrating the NSC’s ability to develop innovative advanced technologies that support our national and economic security interests.”
“Spectrum access is the lifeblood of modern communications and is especially important at a time of global technology competition,” said National Spectrum Consortium Chief Strategy Officer, Vice Admiral Joseph Dyer, USN (ret). “So we strongly encourage our members to collaborate and respond to these important RPPs to support innovation and make sure that our nation’s armed forces can remain agile and utilize spectrum in an efficient, effective manner.”
Request for Prototype Proposals
Specifically, DOD issued two RPPs to support the following government requirements:
NSC-21-RPP-02 – Risk-Informed Spectrum Access (RISA)
NSC-21-RPP-03 – Multiband Control Channel Architecture (MICCA)
These RPPs are part of projects in the Spectrum Access Research & Development Program (SAR&DP) Portfolio being solicited in Tranche 2. This includes 1) Risk Informed Spectrum Access (RISA); 2) Operational Spectrum Comprehension, Analytics, and Response (OSCAR); 3) Multiband Instrumented Control Channel Architecture (MICCA); and 4) Cooperative Spectrum Access for Testing (CSAT).
The contractors on these projects are expected to work in a cooperative manner with other project teams within the SAR&DP Tranche 2 portfolio to align schedules and harmonize the development of interfaces and protocols with complimentary systems between projects. Details on the projects can be found at beta.sam.gov.
Members of the NSC in good standing can submit proposals in response to the RPPs. Proposals related to the RISA RPP are due May 06, 2021 at 11:59 PM ET. Proposals related to the MICCA RPP are due May 20, 2021 at 11:59 PM ET.
Spectrum Forward OTA
Last December, the DOD awarded the Spectrum Forward Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) to the National Spectrum Consortium (NSC) to accelerate the development, adoption and deployment of next-generation technologies to provide our warfighters the decisive edge on the battlefield. The OTA has a term of five years and a ceiling value of $2.5bn. The goal of the Spectrum Forward OTA is to facilitate a partnership between the US technology and industrial base and the US Government to develop dual-use technologies across a range of advanced technologies that rely upon electromagnetic spectrum from machine learning to autonomous navigation to next generation radio access networks.
Additionally, last year, DOD issued four 5G RPPs through the NSC focusing on smart warehouses, AR/VR for training, and dynamic spectrum sharing. DOD announced in October that these projects had been awarded as part of $600 of Tranche One funding.
The NSC membership possesses broad expertise in the following areas related to electromagnetic spectrum: Ubiquitous Connectivity; Cognitive Spectrum Access & Sharing; Cybersecurity; Radio Frequency-Free Space Optics Cooperative Systems; Autonomous Systems (Ground/Air/Maritime); Internet of Things (Narrow Band/Critical/Massive); Electronic Warfare; Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR); Software Defined Radios/Networking/Architectures; Radar Systems; Digital Signal Processing; Microelectronics; Software Reconfigurability; Nanotechnology; Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence; Autonomy/Robotics; Biotechnology; Big Data Analytics; Edge and Cloud Computing; Augmented/Virtual/Mixed Reality; Location Detection; 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing; and 5th generation (5G) information communications technologies, products, and services including the use of zero trust.
About the National Spectrum Consortium
The NSC is comprised of over 400 U.S. companies and academic institutions, and their technologists, engineers, scientists, manufacturers, and program managers work with their counterparts in government to solve the toughest problems facing the nation with regard to spectrum-related technologies, to include 5G and 5G-based technologies, providing the DoD and other customers with spectrum superiority. The NSC’s mission is to foster collaboration among Government, Industry and Academia to identify, develop and demonstrate the enabling technologies necessary to broaden the military and commercial access to and use of the electromagnetic spectrum for 5G and beyond. For more information, visit www.nationalspectrumconsortium.org. (Source: PR Newswire)
REST OF THE WORLD
22 Apr 21. Challenge announced for development of Australian HAPS. Trusted Autonomous Systems, SmartSat CRC, and RAAF Air Warfare Centre in association with Sir Lawrence Wackett Defence and Aerospace Centre at RMIT have introduced the High-Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS) Challenge for Australian companies.
The HAPS challenge is seeking Australian industry and research interest in developing novel ideas and solutions to a capability gap. It aims to energise local Australian development of key technologies and to ensure Australian sovereign HAPS that have accurate station-keeping capability or long endurance capacity needed to allow deployment over an area of operations for a period of days to weeks.
As described by Trusted Autonomous Systems, “high altitude platforms, or pseudo-satellites (HAPS), are uncrewed vehicles that take advantage of weak stratospheric winds and solar energy to operate without interfering with current commercial aviation.
“This provides the endurance required to provide long-term services to terrestrial users, much as satellites do.
“Target applications for HAPS include communications, Earth observation, positioning-navigation and science with potential for more applications in other disciplines.”
Work in this area seeks to enhance the quality and resilience of our high altitude capabilities
Air Warfare Centre, Integration and Innovation Director Group Captain Tobyn Bearman said Air Force is supporting the Australian efforts to prototype sovereign HAPS technologies.
“Work in this area seeks to enhance the quality and resilience of our high altitude capabilities by identifying creative solutions to difficult problems and pushing the boundaries of engineering knowledge,” Bearman said.
“This challenge is an exciting way to contribute to Australia’s security and defence in new ways”.
The Challenge will progress through three phases: from concept, to engineering, to prototype development and demonstration.
An information session will be held on April 30, 2021, and applications must be made by May 24, 2021 to be considered for Phase 2. (Source: Google/https://www.australiandefence.com.au/)
20 Apr 21. Indonesia engages German, Turkish firms to customise frigate design. Indonesian state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL has engaged German naval consultancy, MTG Marinetechnik, and Turkish engineering firm FIGES AS, to customise the design of a new frigate class that it will be constructing for the Indonesian Navy.
According to a statement released by the defence ministry on 31 March, the frigate design is one that has been offered by Babcock, which implies that the design consultancy services pertain to the Indonesian Navy’s (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut: TNI-AL’s) follow-on Martadinata-class frigates. As Janes reported in March 2021, the Arrowhead 140 concept from a consortium led by Babcock is one of the candidates that Indonesia is considering as follow-on ships to the Martadinata class.
However, Janes has since verified with a source close to the process that Marinetechnik and FIGES are instead assisting PT PAL with the TNI-AL’s contract for a variant of the Iver Huitfeldt class, the contract for which was signed in April 2020.
The Iver Huitfeldt class displaces 6,600 tonnes at full load, and is powered by four MTU 20V 8000 M70 diesel engines in a combined diesel and diesel (CODAD) configuration, giving it a top speed of about 28 kt. Weapons on the vessel include a 76 mm Oto Melara gun in the forward section, a 35 mm Millennium Gun close-in weapon system (CIWS) in the aft section, and vertical launching system (VLS) modules for anti-air and surface missiles amidships.
Janes understands that Marinetechnik and FIGES are customising a derivative design of the class for TNI-AL requirements, and will be recommending a suite of sensors, weapons, and other combat systems for the frigate. (Source: Jane’s)
15 Apr 21. Indian Army seeks active protection systems for its T-90S/SK MBTs. The Indian Army (IA) has invited responses from local vendors by 12 May regarding the supply of 818 modular active protection systems (APSs) to enhance the survivability of its T-90S/SK ‘Bhishma’ main battle tanks (MBTs). In a 13 April expression of interest (EOI) the IA said the new protective systems for these tanks, which are “likely to remain in service beyond 2050”, are to be acquired under the ‘Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured’ (IDDM) category of the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020, and will need to have a “50% indigenous design and development content”. Prospective vendors will be permitted to enter into arrangements with foreign manufacturers to develop the equipment. The APSs are required to have both hard-kill and soft-kill capabilities. The soft-kill component must provide both smoke discharge and infrared jamming effects, and provide audio-visual warnings when the tank is either lased or fired upon. The hard-kill component is required to be capable of engaging shaped-charge threats such as rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), and high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds fired from tank guns. The protection level required was quantified at 90% against ATGMs, rockets, and RPGs, and 70% against incoming 125 mm HEAT rounds. A non-required, but “desirable” request was for the APS to be capable of defeating kinetic energy (KE) projectiles. That said, the system is required to at least have upgrade potential to defeat KE threats in the future. (Source: Jane’s)