Sponsored By Oxley Developments
15 Nov 18. Systematic develops VMF Gateway for SitaWare Headquarters. The company has built on pioneering work with the Australian Army to provide interoperability between VMF and other communications standards. Systematic has developed a new Variable Message Format (VMF) Gateway for its leading command-and-control (C2) software, SitaWare Headquarters. The new capability is available as an add-on module and provides an interface that enables VMF track data to work across a variety of formats, automatically exchanging Blue and Red pictures.
The VMF Gateway leverages work conducted by Systematic in conjunction with the Australian Army’s Land Network Integration Centre (LNIC). That project saw a VMF Capability Technology Demonstrator (CTD) established and which could move information between SitaWare Headquarters and a number of the Australian Army’s exemplar systems.
Initial testing of the VMF CTD supported 15,000 entities and subsequently grew to 25,000 – a scale that is representative of a coalition and multinational environment.
A similar setup to that of the VMF CTD was in place for the Joint Warfighter Assessment 18 at the Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels training centres in Germany. There, members of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance could observe the full common operational picture from across the event. The demonstrator fed into SitaWare Headquarters and other C2 and situational awareness (SA) systems.
The gateway enables users to seamlessly convert VMF data to and from Multilateral Interoperability Programme (MIP), NATO Friendly Force Information (NFFI), Over-The-Horizon Gold (OTH-Gold), and Link 16 formats.
“SitaWare Headquarters is ideally suited to providing the interface between VMF and other NATO/US data formats,” explains Morten Juhl Bødker, Systematic’s product manager for the software, “Nowadays coalition operations are the norm, as such, effective interoperability is a must and can mean the difference between mission success and failure. SitaWare Headquarters is operationally proven and its open architecture provides inherent capability growth and adaptability.”
In the case of the Australian Defence Force the VMF Gateway capability is enabling the service to better link with other ‘Five Eyes’ members and with NATO networks. As its alliance is fundamentally with the US, Australia decided to follow the VMF protocol for near real-time SA, however, the Australian military regularly conducts missions alongside NATO members and therefore requires the ability to effectively interoperate.
09 Nov 18. UK Scientists Build World’s First Quantum Compass: Tamper-proof device that does not rely on GPS is result of extensive defence funding. British scientists have built the world’s first quantum ‘compass’ — a tamper-proof navigation device that does not rely on GPS, after millions of pounds of funding from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). The device, the first commercial instrument of its kind, can help pinpoint the exact location of anything on Earth in a way that cannot be interfered with, because it does not rely on external satellites.
“It’s completely self-contained,” said Joseph Cotter, a researcher at the Centre for Cold Matter at Imperial College, which built the device. “It’s particularly useful if you want to navigate a large ship or autonomous vehicles over long periods of time, without having to send or receive any other signals to know where you are.”
The MoD has been pumping money into building an independent navigation device. It sees particular use for it on its nuclear submarines, which need to navigate with stealth and remain isolated from the outside world. Although GPS is the de facto global navigation system, its reliance on space satellites means it can be blocked, intercepted or masked. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Financial Times)
13 Nov 18. USAF demonstrates AERONET international datalink for light attack aircraft. The US Air Force (USAF) has demonstrated the AERONET international datalink system in the most recent phase of its light attack experiment (LAE) conducted earlier this year, an official said on 13 November. Speaking under the Chatham House Rule, the official noted that the tactical datalink was demonstrated during the latter part of Phase 2 of the LAE effort that involved the Sierra Nevada Corporation-Embraer A-29 Super Tucano and Textron Aviation AT-6B Wolverine aircraft. This took place in May at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.
The USAF developed AERONET as a shareable tactical data network for light attack aircraft, as well as building partner communications capabilities. It is designed to be a ‘platform agnostic’, exportable, affordable and commercially secure tactical datalink that supports line-of-sight/beyond line-of-sight (LOS/BLOS) real-time information exchange between the airborne and ground units.
In service, it can support Forward Air Controller – Airborne (FAC-A); digitally-aided close air support (CAS); strike and armed reconnaissance; armed escort and overwatch; personnel recovery and combat search and rescue (CSAR); and domestic and border patrol capabilities.
Previously known as OA-X, the LAE is designed to find a cheaper and more effective way for the USAF and partner air arms to conduct close air support (CAS) in permissive environments. As the official explained, “The USAF has had to come face to face with the knowledge that sometimes we are flying fifth-generation aircraft against targets that are often just a single person, and that’s not cost effective.”
Phase 1 of the experiment took place in August 2017, and involved the A-29 Super Tucano, AT-6B Wolverine, Textron Scorpion, and L3 Technologies-Air Tractor AT-802L Longsword. Following this initial phase, the A-20 and AT-6B were designated as Tier 1 for meeting all of the USAF’s requirements, while the Scorpion and Longsword were classed as being Tier 2 for meeting some of them. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
13 Nov 18. Mellanox and Los Alamos National Laboratory Join Forces to Develop Ultra-Large Scale Mission-Centric Computing Infrastructure. The Integration of Mellanox In-Network Computing Acceleration Engines with Los Alamos National Laboratory Data Discovery Applications will be a Key Enabler for Efficient Ultra-Scale Computing. Mellanox Technologies, Ltd. (NASDAQ:MLNX), a leading supplier of high-performance, end-to-end smart interconnect solutions for data center servers and storage systems, today announced a collaborative effort with Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to develop large scale, mission centric computing infrastructure. The organizations will focus on leveraging Mellanox In-Network Computing acceleration engines to enable data discovery at scale for the lab’s current and next generation applications. The collaborative development will be done under the Efficient Mission Centric Computing Consortium (EMC3), centered at LANL’s Ultra-Scale Systems Research Center (USRC). The EMC3 consortium’s mission is to investigate efficient ultra-scale computing and networking architectures, applications and environments, in order to provide the most efficient infrastructure needed for the US Industry and national security.
“Los Alamos’s relationship with Mellanox goes back a decade or more. This close collaboration with EMC3 is expected to start bearing performance results in the near and longer terms,” said Gary Grider, Division Director for HPC Computing at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
“We are designing supercomputer systems today that will be deployed in the coming decade. These systems will enable us to expand and refine our research capabilities to enhance data discoveries and increase our overall efficiencies in our mission applications,” said Stephen Poole, Chief Architect for Computing at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “Intelligent interconnect technologies and the ability to leverage the network components as an integral part of the ultra-scale, distributed processing infrastructure are going to be key components for maintaining our national leadership.”
“In-Network Computing technologies are critical to analyze the exponential growth of data to reach data discoveries in a scalable, efficient, secure and real time manner,” said Gilad Shainer, vice president of marketing at Mellanox Technologies. “We are excited about the collaboration opportunities and development results of the integrated team members from LANL and Mellanox.” (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
13 Nov 18. Competition Highlights New Battlefield Energy Sources. An Army competition seeking technology from startups discovered a pair of new power sources that may help soldiers lighten their loads in battle zones. The office of the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology sponsored the xTechSearch contest and awarded $1.5m in development funds at the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. The goal was to find new capabilities that could contribute to the Army’s modernization priorities. One of the 12 prize winners was an ultra-lightweight rechargeable battery developed by Cuberg of Emeryville, California. It uses a new electrolyte formula to create a battery, which affords it an increased energy density while helping cells maintain thermal stability, Richard Wang, co-founder and CEO of Cuberg, said during the conference. The company received $2m of seed funding from the Boeing Co. last January and finished developing its first prototype cells this past September, he added. Another energy source showcased during the competition was a portable power generator made by Mesodyne — a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup.
The wearable generator uses thermophotovoltaic energy conversion, which transforms fuel to electricity with heat and light as intermediaries, to power devices, said Veronika Stelmakh, CEO and co-founder of the company.
It “reduces battery load by 75 percent, enabling the soldier to carry two gallons of water, more ammunition, or simply improving mobility,” Stelmakh said. Similar to Cuberg’s product, Mesodyne’s generator was designed to provide an alternative to traditional lithium-ion batteries, which can pose safety issues for the military, she added.
While the company did not win an award, Stelmakh estimated that Mesodyne is about two years away from having a finished product. However, different variables could accelerate product development, she said.
The prize winners were announced in October by Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Bruce Jette, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology Thomas Russell.
Matthew Willis, the office’s director for laboratory management, said, “What we were looking to do here was figure out a unique way for the Army to engage with businesses that we don’t normally deal with.”
Each of the 12 winners received $125,000 in prizes and will move on to phase four, the last stage of the competition. The finalists will be given six months to demonstrate proof-of-concept for their technology. The competition will culminate in a capstone event in April that will be attended by Army leadership. The winner of that will receive a $200,000 prize. (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
09 Nov 18. InfoGlobal’s EFD poised for the skies. Testing of InfoGlobal’s electronic flight display (EFD-5.5) is ramping up further to an explicit interest from the Indonesian Air Force for its C-130 Hercules, Shephard has learnt. According to Tomy Dwinanto, account manager at InfoGlobal, development of the EFD-5.5 began in earnest in April of this year. Currently, in the throes of testing, the entirety of this part of the programme from the laboratory tests to flight is estimated to take between one to two months. There has been an unofficial commitment Dwinanto said from the country’s air force on producing the systems to be integrated on to its Hercules fleet.
He said if successful it could equate to 24 EFDs to support four aircraft. ‘The Indonesian Air Force has promised to sign for the EFDs next year,’ Dwinanto confirmed.
It would take three months to produce six systems, so this would mean all 24 EFDs could be delivered within 12 months. EFD-5.5 displays navigational data and radar on Hercules aircraft comprising of an attitude direction indicator; horizontal situation indicator; and radar display unit modes. It weighs in at 3.26kg. (Source: Shephard)
09 Nov 18. South Korea navy increases BMD with upgraded Aegis system. South Korean navy destroyers will have greater ability to perform ballistic missile defence (BMD) missions with the recent contract to upgrade the Lockheed Martin Aegis combat system installed on the ships. Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems was awarded a USD365.7m cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price contract on 30 October for a new-construction guided-missile destroyer (DDG) Aegis Weapon System Baseline K2 development and integration in support of the Republic of Korea Navy. That K2 version is a Baseline 9.C2 Aegis configuration for the Sejong the Great class. The Aegis system includes a SPY-1D(V) radar, the multimission signal processor (MMSP), and enhanced integrated air-and-missile defence (IAMD). (Source: IHS Jane’s)
09 Nov 18. NASA Picks NextNav’s 3D Geolocation Technology (MBS) for Urban Drone Operations. NextNav, a provider of 3D geolocation services, announced that its Metropolitan Beacon System (MBS) service has been accepted for use by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA will use NextNav’s MBS network as part of its CERTAIN (City Environment for Range Testing of Autonomous Integrated Navigation) facilities at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA.
CERTAIN supports, among other programs, Urban Air Mobility (UAM), an air transportation system with myriad applications from small package delivery drones to passenger-carrying air taxies.
NextNav’s MBS system facilitates urban drone operations where satellite-based GPS signals may not be available, and the need to reliably know a drone’s location horizontally and vertically is critical to ensure safe operations in urban air traffic corridors.
“NextNav’s MBS system provides us with new tools for the development of navigation systems in environments where GPS has traditionally been challenged,” said Evan Dill, Safety-Critical Avionics Systems Branch of NASA. “We’re looking forward to working with MBS as we develop new approaches to the operation of unmanned systems in urban environments.”
NextNav’s wide-area terrestrial positioning network ensures accurate and secure location services, which is critical for unmanned aircraft navigation. In addition, MBS complements and integrates seamlessly with GPS and provides a level of georedundancy ensuring a safe and efficient system for future air transportation in cities and urban areas.
“We are proud to work with NASA and integrate MBS into its urban drone operations,” said Ganesh Pattabiraman, co-founder and CEO of NextNav. “The MBS system is designed for secure, reliable and consistent 3D Geolocation capabilities which are important for autonomous systems such as drones. NASA’s acquisition of the MBS system is an exciting milestone for MBS technology and a great partnership with NASA to address the key challenges in urban drone navigation and make it possible to explore new opportunities in unmanned operations.”
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) believes that by 2022 there will be over 700,000 drones delivering packages, monitoring traffic and aiding in search and rescue operations. (Source: UAS VISION)
09 Nov 18. Using Diamonds to Recharge Civilian Drones in Flight. A small lab-grown diamond measuring a few millimeters per side could one day enable civilian drones to be recharged in mid-flight through a laser. Thanks to the diamond, the laser beam can remain strong enough over a long distance to recharge photovoltaic cells on the drones’ surface. This system, which poses no threat to human health, is being developed by EPFL spin-off LakeDiamond. It could also be used to transmit both power and data to satellites and has just been included in the ten projects supported for two years by of the Swiss Space Office. Drones are being used for a growing number of purposes. Their designs are ever more efficient, and techniques for flying them are being further refined all the time. But drones still have the same weak point: their battery. This is particularly true of propeller drones, which are popular for information-gathering purposes in dangerous or hard-to-reach regions. These drones can fly for only around 15 minutes at a time because their engines quickly burn through their batteries. One way of addressing this limitation – without weighing the drones down – would be to recharge them while aloft using a power beaming system: an energy-rich laser beam that is guided by a tracking system and shines directly on photovoltaic cells on the drones’ exterior.
Several labs around the world, including in the US, have been working on this idea in recent years. LakeDiamond, an EPFL spin-off based at Innovation Park, has now demonstrated the feasibility of using a high-power laser for this purpose. What’s more, LakeDiamond’s laser emits a wavelength that cannot damage human skin or eyes – the issue of safety is paramount, since the system is meant for use with civilian drones. LakeDiamond’s technology is built around diamonds that are grown in the company’s lab and subsequently etched at the atomic level.
World record for power
Despite appearances, standard laser beams are not as straight as they seem: as they travel, they expand ever so slightly, leading to a loss in density as they go. But LakeDiamond’s system produces a laser beam with a wavelength of 1.5 µm that, in addition to being safe, can travel much farther without losing strength. “Systems developed by other companies and labs, often for military applications, employ lasers that are more powerful and thus more dangerous for humans,” says Pascal Gallo, CEO of LakeDiamond. His company took the opposite tack: their technology transforms the rays emitted by a simple low-power diode into a high-quality laser beam. Their beam has a larger diameter, and its rays remain parallel over a longer distance – in this case up to several hundred meters.
In LakeDiamond’s laser, the light produced by a diode is directed at a booster composed of reflective material, an optical component and a small metal plate to absorb the heat. The breakthrough lies not with this set-up, which already exists, but with the fact that the emitted beam is only a few dozen watts strong. The secret is using a small square lab-grown diamond as the optical component, as this delivers unparalleled performance. LakeDiamond’s system holds the world record for continuous operation using a wavelength in the middle of the infrared range – it delivers more than 30 watts in its base configuration. “That’s equivalent to around 10,000 laser pointers,” adds Gallo.
The lab-grown diamonds’ key properties include high transparency and thermal conductivity. Achieving those things – and mastering the nano-etching process – took the researchers over ten years of development. LakeDiamond grows its diamonds through a process of chemical vapor deposition, an approach that ensures their purity and reproducibility. The surfaces of the resulting tiny square diamonds are then sculpted at the nano level using expertise developed in Niels Quack’s lab at EPFL (read the EPFL article on this topic). Thanks to their inherent properties and etched shapes, the diamonds are able to transfer heat to a small metal plate that dissipates it, while at the same time reflecting light in such a way as to create a laser beam.
“To achieve greater power – say to recharge a larger drone – these lasers could easily be operated in series,” says Nicolas Malpiece, who is in charge of power beaming at LakeDiamond. The company’s remote recharging system works in the lab but will require further development and refinement before it’s ready for field use. What would happen if a drone flies behind an obstacle and is cut off from its laser energy source? Several approaches to this problem are currently being explored. A small back-up battery could take over temporarily, or, for information-gathering missions over rough terrain for example, the drone could simply return to within range of the laser in order to top up its battery.
This energy transmission system is also interesting for other areas of application. It can for example be used for charging and transmitting data to satellites. The development of the system is included in a support program of the Swiss Space Office, which began on 1 November and runs for two years. (Source: UAS VISION)
Oxley Group Ltd
Oxley specialises in the design and manufacture of advanced electronic and electro-optic components and systems for air, land and sea applications within the military sector. Established in 1942, Oxley has manufacturing facilities in the UK and USA and enjoys representation worldwide. The company’s products include night vision and LED lighting, data capture systems and electronic components. Oxley has pioneered the development of night vision compatible lighting. It offers a total package incorporating optical filters, equipment modification, cockpit and external lighting along with fleet wide upgrade services including engineering, installation, support, maintenance and training. The company’s long experience of manufacturing night vision lighting and LED indicators, coupled with advances in LED technology, has enabled it to develop LED solutions to replace incandescent and fluorescent lighting in existing applications as well as becoming the lighting option of choice in new applications such as portable military hospitals, UAV control stations and communication shelters.