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04 Jan 19. Looking beyond the F-35: Penetrating Counter Air. The US is looking beyond the fifth-generation F-35 with plans already underway for the sixth-generation ‘Penetrating Counter Air’ concept, which will be operated by the US Air Force and Navy and, potentially, allies like Australia. With the growing success of Russian and Chinese fifth-generation fighter aircraft like the Su-57, J-20 and JF-31, the US has kicked off a suite of development programs to replace the ageing F-15 Eagle and fifth-generation F-22 Raptor air frames.
This Penetrating Counter Air (PCA) concept will seek to complement the US Air Force F-35 and the US Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleets, serving niche roles including air dominance, air supremacy, fleet air defence, air interdiction and precision strike.
Stemming from the the US Air Force ‘Air Superiority 2030’ study in 2016, which proposed that the US Air Force would require a ‘Next Generation Tactical Aircraft’ (Next Gen TACAIR) air superiority/dominance fight jet to enter service in the 2030s.
“The future system will have to counter adversaries equipped with next generation advanced electronic attack, sophisticated integrated air defence systems (IADS), passive detection, integrated self-protection, directed energy weapons, and cyber attack capabilities. It must be able to operate in the anti-access/area-denial (A2AD) environment that will exist in the 2030-2050 time frame,” the US Air Force solicitation states.
The US Navy is also looking to capitalise on the the program to develop a next-generation fighter aircraft, building on the initial Navy plan to replace the Super Hornet fleet as announced in 2012, particularly when it comes to service interoperability and sensor fusion to enable enhanced target designation, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data communication with their Air Force counterparts.
However, the Navy requirements do differ from the requirements of the Air Force, particularly with a focus on increased range and speed over the existing Super Hornet platforms to serve in A2AD environments, especially in the western Pacific to improve the survivability of the US Navy’s aircraft carriers, which are increasingly becoming targets for advanced Chinese anti-ship cruise and ballistic missile systems.
These capability differences mean that the Pentagon, Air Force and Navy would avoid the joint development program model established by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Despite this, there is a focus on ensuring that both branches would procure common systems and subsystems to be integrated with the next-generation fighter aircraft.
This early stage of solicitation has seen a number of aerospace companies, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, present preliminary designs for consideration, with features including:
- Low observable, flying wing shaped air frames;
- Both twin and single engine variants;
- High precision, high capability directed energy weapons;
- Large, traditional weapons (air-to-air, air-to-ground) payloads;
- Command and control capabilities to support ‘swarm’ drone operations;
- Advanced sensor suites, combining traditional ISR and sensor fusion;
- Optionally manned/unmanned pilot configurations;
- Electronic warfare capabilities; and
- The potential for artificial intelligence to support pilot decision making.
The US is not the only nation beginning development of such platforms, as both the UK and a joint French-German team have begun developing their own sixth-generation air superiority combat fighters.
BAE Systems announced the Tempest in July 2018. The Tempest program will incorporate industrial cooperation and collaboration between some of the largest and most advanced aerospace and defence companies in the world to deliver an unrivalled air combat capability for the RAF, including:
- BAE Systems – advanced combat air systems and integration;
- Rolls-Royce – advanced power and propulsion systems;
- Leonardo – advanced sensors, electronics and avionics; and
- MBDA – advanced weapons systems.
It is anticipated that the UK, in conjunction with its industry partners, will deliver the Tempest next-generation air combat capability by 2035 to operate in conjunction with the RAF F-35s and the later tranche of Eurofighter Typhoons, which they will eventually replace.
Meanwhile, the joint French-German Airbus Defence Future Combat Air System (FCAS) will see a twin-engine, twin tail, dual pilot aircraft to be operational between 2030 and 2040.
The European design will also include a focus on incorporating a command and control for ‘swarm’ drone operations and will, like the UK Tempest, support the Eurofighter Typhoons in operation with the German Air Force, Rafale in operation with the French Air Force and replacing the Panavia Tornados in the strike role.
For Australia, the future operating environment to the nation’s immediate north will necessitate investment in a highly capable, long-range, air dominance fighter aircraft to compliment the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and replacing the ageing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, by the mid 2030s.
Australia’s industrial capability and value adding capacity as developed throughout the F-35 program places Australia in an ideal position to integrate and participate in the development of any number of sixth-generation fighter designs to ensure continued air combat capability and interoperability with key regional and global allies in increasingly contested environments, beyond 2030. (Source: Defence Connect)
02 Jan 19. Here’s what the battlefield tech industry predicts for 2019. The new year will likely bring a new secretary of defense, a renewed emphasis on changing how the Pentagon buys weapons systems and a continued focus on watching technological development by the Chinese government. C4ISRNET asked industry leaders what trends they expect to emerge in the battlefield landscape in 2019. Here’s what they said:
“Right now, your toaster can tell your refrigerator that it needs to order more bread, but the world’s most advanced military is still challenged to connect its huge array of systems. That’s just not sustainable. Before the military can start tackling huge technological leaps like artificial intelligence, we have to change the way we develop weapon systems. I see 2019 as the point when the DoD really starts moving away from buying proprietary, stove-piped, closed hardware systems and instead looks to the commercial software world as a model for how we develop and integrate weapon systems. Focusing on commercial-style software development is how we’ll be able to develop truly open, upgradeable, cyber-resilient systems quickly. And by quickly I’m saying weeks or months for a new system, not years or decades. The pace of technology is moving faster than ever before, especially in the software world. We need to accept that and move with it if we want to stay ahead.”
— Todd Probert, vice president of mission support and modernization at Raytheon.
An increased need for a coordinated response
“Today’s environment is evolving to warfare coordinated across multiple domains driving our forces to be more adaptable and coordinated in our response. As this threat environment accelerates, we recognize that our customers require methods that will enable them to operate seamlessly and simultaneously across domains. We see C4ISR technologies as the foundation for managing and responding to these more complex missions on a shorter timeline. We will continue to invest in transformational technologies that will help make multidomain operations more predictive and more effective. This includes:
- Machine-to-machine communication across new and legacy datalinks;
- Fusion to enable information from several sources into one unified picture of the battlespace and reduce the data to decision timeline;
- Artificial intelligence to provide decision makers with the ability to react quickly to problems that demand fast-paced analysis and decision making. AI offers the technology to change the human role from “in-the-loop” controller to “on-the-loop” thinker who can focus on strategy versus the execution detail;
- ‘Algorithmic warfare’ to support a partnership between humans and computer systems, exponentially increasing the pace of processing, exploitation, dissemination and C2 operations; and
- Advanced multi-level secure modeling and simulation to manage patterns of life and actionable changes.
— Brent Upson, director of ISR Systems at Lockheed Martin.
A move to small form factor networking
“In 2019 we expect the DoD to significantly increase its investment in small form factor networking, secure wireless and virtualization-enabled compute necessary to improve war-fighter mobility and situational awareness in tactical and expeditionary programs. Tactical communications programs have proven the efficacy of size weight and power (SWaP) reduction by moving to small form factor equipment, and the savings enable entirely new IT-enabled use cases at the network edge. In particular, tactical deployments of classified wireless using commercial technologies, data center services and storage, and defensive cybersecurity solutions will see sizable new adoption in 2019.”
— Peggy Miller, chief executive officer at PacStar.
Audio for authentication
“Audio will be the buzz word of 2019 for network solutions. Introducing audio as a security layer in IP video provides a new layer of overall security to physical security solutions. Audio technology allows security professionals to interact with people remotely, as well as provide an automated response to prevent situations from escalating to an incident by identifying aggressive voices, glass breaking and even gunshots. With this new audio technology and analytical capabilities, security professionals can proactively detect, interpret and respond to events and emergency situations.”
— John Merlino, government business development manager at Axis Communications, Inc.
Attacks on data in the cloud
“In the past two years, enterprises have widely adopted the Software-as-a-Service model, such as Office 365, as well as Infrastructure- and Platform-as-a-Service cloud models, such as AWS and Azure. With this move, far more corporate data now resides in the cloud. In 2019, we expect a significant increase in attacks that follow the data to the cloud. With the increased adoption of Office 365, we have noticed a surge of attacks on the service — especially attempts to compromise email. One threat the McAfee cloud team uncovered was the botnet KnockKnock, which targeted system accounts that typically do not have multifactor authentication. We have also seen the emergence of exploits of the trust model in the Open Authorization standard. One was launched by Fancy Bear, the Russian cyber-espionage group, phishing users with a fake Google security app to gain access to user data.
“Similarly, during the last couple of years we have seen many high-profile data breaches attributed to misconfigured Amazon S3 buckets. This is clearly not the fault of AWS. Based on the shared responsibility model, the customer is on the hook to properly configure IaaS/PaaS infrastructure and properly protect their enterprise data and user access. Complicating matters, many of these misconfigured buckets are owned by vendors in their supply chains, rather than by the target enterprises. With access to thousands of open buckets and credentials, bad actors are increasingly opting for these easy pickings.”
— Sekhar Sarukkai, vice president of engineering, cloud at McAfee
The expansion of technology to counter small drones.
“The ever-expanding proliferation of small UAS (sUAS) has resulted in a rapid rise in sUAS incidents, leaving security personnel starved for a holistic solution to this new and evolving threat. A hobbyist unwittingly flying near a flight line or a drone pilot with nefarious intentions present both risk and unmet challenges. Counter-sUAS (C-sUAS) technology is an essential tool for assessing airspace activity, understanding the severity of drone incursions, and informing new protocols to mitigate potential threats. With C-sUAS technology, security personnel can now observe a drone’s behavior and deploy appropriate offensive or defensive countermeasures, which may include direct contact with the pilot or coordination with local law enforcement. In all cases, detection of sUAS activity is the critical foundation of any C-sUAS program.
2018 was a year of testing and evaluating. Rapid prototyping, experimental deployments, and government testing events validated that no single C-sUAS system is a one-size-fits-all solution. Moreover, C-sUAS technology must be flexible to meet the needs of each specific environment.” — Phil Pitsky, vice president of U.S. federal operations at Dedrone. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
02 Jan 19. Russia Develops Drone Swarm Training Targets. The Izhevsk-based Kupol Electro-Mechanical Factory has developed a target system with different types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that allows anti-aircraft gunners to practice repelling an attack by a ‘swarm’ of drones, Kupol Director for Military-Technical Cooperation and Defense Procurement Igor Ivanov told TASS.
“The specific feature [of the Adyutant system that simulates a ‘swarm’ of drones] is that under the control of one ground-based command post, two operators can simultaneously launch up to six air targets and operate them in the single field. That is, we create a target ‘swarm’ consisting of various types of targets,” Ivanov said.
The Kupol official who is also the director of the Target Systems project noted that drones with various characteristics help simulate an air situation maximally close to a real combat environment.
“Some fly low, others fly high, quickly or slowly and so on. This helps create the effect of a situation maximally close to a real combat,” he said.
Initially, the system was being developed for the combat firing practice of the crews of Tor air defense missile complexes. However, in the process of the system’s development, the engineers found broader application for the training simulator.
‘When we got the result, we realized that this system is useful not only for the Tor. It is necessary for all the systems, from shoulder-fired air defense weapons to short- and medium-range complexes and recently we practiced using it as a simulator for long-range systems in the close-in destruction area,” the project’s director said. (Source: UAS VISION/TASS)
28 Dec 18. China develops 20MW turbo generator for use in warships. A Chinese-developed 20MW steam turbo generator (TG) for use in warships has successfully passed a technical appraisal, the Global Times newspaper reported on 25 December. Developed by the 704 Institute of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), the compact unit can generate four times the electrical power of the most powerful TG currently in-service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and will be a major component in developing the PLAN’s first integrated electric-propulsion (IEP) warship. Although the media report states that the new machine “is on a par with the most advanced generator units developed by the US and European countries”, its power output is rather less than the 36MW produced by each of the two main generators installed on the UK Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class carriers but will approach the output of the main generators in the Type 45 Daring-class destroyers. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
27 Dec 18. Virtual Aegis could provide short-term fix for modernisation delays. The US Navy (USN) is moving ahead with a plan to create virtual Aegis combat systems – called ‘digital twins’ – on its guided-missile destroyers to upgrade the ships without long modernisation overhauls.
“There’s a lot of talk about digital twins and virtualisation,” said Jim Sheridan, Lockheed Martin’s vice president. “The common source library lends itself to that.” The common source library is a single, automated production system for Lockheed Martin’s product-line engineering to assemble and integrate the systems and software assets needed to produce the entire Aegis product line. Essentially, Lockheed Martin and the USN could create a virtual Aegis system – a digital twin of the latest Baseline 9 version, for example – by making some software modifications to the common source library and incorporating the digitally updated system into an older Aegis combat system, enabling it to closely mimic the capability of the updated combat system using the equipment and components on the ship. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 Dec 18. DARPA pursues materials, architecture to cool hypersonic vehicles. travelling at speeds of Mach 5 and beyond. To address the challenge DARPA has initiated the Materials, Architectures, and Characterization for Hypersonics (MACH) programme. The programme seeks to develop and demonstrate new design and material solutions for sharp, shape-stable, high heat flux capable leading edge systems for hypersonic vehicles travelling more than five times the speed of sound.
DARPA is seeking expertise in thermal engineering and design, advanced computational materials development, architected materials design, fabrication and testing (including net shape fabrication of high temperature metals, ceramics, and their composites), hypersonic leading-edge design and performance, and advanced thermal protection systems. DARPA has specified that it does not want research “that primarily results in evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice”.
The MACH programme will comprise two technical areas. The first area aims to develop and mature a fully integrated passive thermal management system to cool leading edges based on scalable net-shape manufacturing and advanced thermal design. The second technical area will focus on next-generation hypersonic materials research, applying modern high-fidelity computation capabilities to develop new passive and active thermal management concepts, coatings, and materials for future cooled hypersonic leading edge applications.
Bill Carter, Program Manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO), said, “For decades people have studied cooling the hot leading edges of hypersonic vehicles but haven’t been able to demonstrate practical concepts in flight. The key is developing scalable materials architectures that enable mass transport to spread and reject heat. In recent years we’ve seen advances in thermal engineering and manufacturing that could enable the design and fabrication of very complex architectures not possible in the past. If successful, we could see a breakthrough in mitigating aerothermal effects at the leading edge that would enhance hypersonic performance.”
The DSO will convene a Proposers Day meeting on 22 January 2019 to advise potential proposers on the objectives of the MACH programme. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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.