Sponsored By Oxley Developments
28 Mar 19. Latitude Technologies launches new TCDU. Latitude Technologies has launched an ultra-light, ultra-slim touch control display unit (TCDU) to support a range of rotary wing communications applications, the company announced on 25 March. The TCDU features a fully-customisable and high resolution display. When paired with the Latitude SkyNode S200-012, it provides a minimally intrusive solution for ATS SATVOICE safety services where an A739a multi-function control and display unit is not already installed. The unit facilitates easy and global group-talk with one-key dialling. The result is push-to-talk (PTT) radio-like functionality backed by Iridium satcom clarity and reliability.
The TCDU also acts as a streamlined interface for Latitude’s Coordinated Communications solution. Powered by Iridium PTT, Latitude Coordinated Communications is purpose-built for police, emergency responders and disaster response agencies that require a secure and reliable method for exchanging information between dispersed teams. For traditional satcom telephony, the Latitude TCDU supports both voice and two-way messaging in one of the most compact form factors currently on the market. (Source: Shephard)
28 Mar 19. The Optoelectronics group of Vishay Intertechnology, Inc. (NYSE: VSH) has introduced a new series of blue and true green ultrabright LEDs in compact untinted surface-mount packages with dome lenses. Utilizing the latest advanced InGaN/sapphire chip technology and offering a narrow emission angle of ± 9° without the need for an external lens, the space-saving Vishay Semiconductors VLD.1232.. series delivers extremely high brightness with luminous intensity to 16,00 mcd typical.
With their high brightness and small 2.3mm by 2.3mm by 2.8mm plastic cases, the LEDs released today are the perfect choice for reliable performance in a wide range of applications, including traffic signals and signs, interior and exterior lighting, and indicators and backlighting for audio and video equipment, LCD switches, and illuminated advertising. Available in gullwing and reverse gullwing versions, the devices offer high luminous flux, withstand ESD voltages up to 2 kV in accordance with JESD22-A114-B, and are luminous- and color-categorized per packing unit. RoHS-compliant, halogen-free, and Vishay Green, VLD.1232 series LEDs are compatible with reflow soldering processes per J-STD-020 and processable according to JEDEC Level 2a.
27 Mar 19. Russia to fly its first UAV with 3D-printed engine. Russia’s first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a 3D-printed engine is expected to make its first flight this summer, Yevgeny Kablov, general director of the Russian Aviation Materials Institute (VIAM), told the RIA Novosti state news agency on 5 March. The engine is being developed as part of a joint project by the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects in the Defence Industry (FPI) and the Federal State Unitary Enterprises’ VIAM. Moscow founded the FPI in 2012 to undertake advanced technology research and develop breakthrough technologies for military purposes, including for reconnaissance UAVs and rocket components. .The project aims to reduce the cost and time to manufacture military UAVs as well as to reduce the weight and improve the performance of their engines. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
27 Mar 19. To better manage airspace, the Army looks to AI. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are often thought to be too far off to have application today, but the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command’s intelligence unit recently tried to identify areas where such technologies could be useful for the force today. One specific area they found was airspace deconfliction. In other words, preventing two aircraft from flying in the same area.
This is “a recognized problem across aviation, across flyers [and] across maneuver,” Chip Retzlaff, intelligence chief of information management at TRADOC, said March 26 during a presentation at the AUSA Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.
TRADOC leaders pulled together requirements to see if they could facilitate airspace management and airspace deconfliction in contested environments.
In a video, Retzlaff showed that airspace deconfliction is planned manually. Workers have to manage airspace between a variety of manned and unmanned assets to include fixed and rotary wing aircraft, unmanned aerial systems and even missiles, all while maximizing each platform or weapons’ capability.
Artificial intelligence can help automate this process by automatically adjusting and recalculating when conditions change.
One example the video showed is if an Apache helicopter leaves its dedicated space to avoid ground fire or to kill a high value target, artificial intelligence could hold all friendly fire until the Apache is safe. Such a system could also alert the Apache pilots when the helicopter left its flight path.
In addition, such a system could also make changes depending on what’s important to ground forces at that moment. This could include opening airspace for attack aircraft in the midst of an enemy counterattack.
“What we’re trying to do is raise that awareness and then pull the community of folks that handle the requirements, who have the research and development folks together to get it addressed as a hard problem,” Retzlaff said
Problem of data
Still, one of the challenges with AI and machine learning space today is the need for data to train the algorithms. Retzlaff explained Army workers are searching for a rich operational environment to extract data from to train algorithms to be used in other areas of interest. This could include intelligence preparation of the battlefield, wargaming, decision support tools and after action review visualizations. He said officials realized such data may be available from the National Training Center, in which units go to simulated conflicts against near peer adversaries. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
26 Mar 19. World’s longest multilayer flexible printed circuit spans 26m metre (85 feet) wings of unmanned aerial vehicle. FPCs deliver critical 60% weight saving over wire harness for power and control. Trackwise has shipped a 26-metre long multilayer, flexible printed circuit (FPC), believed to be world’s longest ever produced, for distributing power and control signals across the wings of a solar-powered, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The circuit is one of over fifty supplied by Trackwise into this vehicle. The entire interconnect system (power and signal) of the vehicle is made of FPCs representing an estimated total systems weight saving of 60% over traditional wire harness. This will enable the UAV, which is being manufactured in the US, to achieve higher payload and/or improved speed and range. The FPCs are manufactured using Improved Harness Technology™ (IHT), a patented, reel-to-reel manufacturing technique. Conventional FPCs are rarely more than two metres in length, primarily due to limitations of manufacturing processes. IHT overcomes these limitations, enabling FPCs of unlimited length to be produced.
The UAV’s flexible circuit is based on a polyimide substrate. The planar structure of the circuit dissipates heat better than conventional wiring, enabling higher current carrying capacity for a given weight of copper conductor. Printed manufacturing ensures circuit consistency, fewer connection points are needed so reliability is enhanced, and the FPC is easier to install than wire harnesses, reducing a vehicle’s assembly time and cost.
Trackwise CEO, Philip Johnston, said: “There are many new applications emerging for long, lightweight FPCs but aerospace is a natural fit: weight savings, high reliability and cost effectiveness are critical. We’re also seeing growing interest from a variety of sectors including medical and automotive. For the latter, manufacturers are challenged to reduce vehicle weight to improve fuel efficiency at a time when there’s an ever-growing array of electrical and electronic circuits in their vehicles. In particular, electric vehicles are accelerating this trend.”
19 Mar 19. Thales to head up SESAR JU geo-fencing research programme. Thales has been tasked with managing the SESAR Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU) Geosafe project supported by Aeromapper, AirMap, Atechsys and SPH Engineering. According to a Thales, SJU press statement: “By securing the flight pattern of drones to avoid determined zones, geo-fencing solutions are key safety enablers. They are notably mandatory to ensure that drones do not fly in protected perimeters around critical infrastructures, such as power plants or airports. The objectives of Geosafe are to establish state-of-the-art geo-fencing solutions regarding U-space regulation and to propose improvements and recommendations for future geo- fencing system definition.
“Geosafe will be based on a one-year long flight-test campaign, assessing a number of commercially-available geo-fencing solutions in order to propose improved geo-fencing system for tomorrow and technological improvements for automated drones.
The 280 flight tests will be conducted in France, Germany and Latvia, along the year. These tests are intended to test all possible situations that an automated drone will face in urban and rural areas. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
25 Mar 19. Should supercomputers design the Pentagon’s next prototypes? The Department of Defense manages some of the nation’s most powerful supercomputers. With a computational capacity of 7bn processor core hours, 100 petabytes of storage and classified networks moving data at 40 gigabytes per second, there are few organizations with comparable assets. Perhaps more importantly, U.S. Army-managed programs like Engineered Resilient Systems and the High-Performance Computing Modernization Program are charged with helping marshal these capacities to accelerate system development. The Office of the Secretary of Defense, for its part, has placed a heavy emphasis on rapid prototyping and fast-to-fail philosophies to reimagine research and development processes. At the same time, academia, industry and government are moving advanced manufacturing processes forward to up-end manufacturing timelines.
What has not happened yet is the marrying of these capabilities into a seamless and connected view of development. What would that look like? Imagine supercomputers churning through millions of possible configurations for a high-speed, high-payload drone using physics-based modeling and simulation tools that then send the most promising designs over secure networks to rapid prototyping assets. These machines would replicate the designs in near real-time at any scale and simultaneously complete finish-machining operations. Moreover, 3D-printing allows the impregnation of pressure and other sensors, essentially delivering a fully instrumented prototype. The prototypes would then undergo testing and evaluation in an adjacent facility. This approach enables a new, highly fluid form of design evolution. More than just co-located or connected assets, the approach is focused on accelerated experimentation, innovation and rapid learning — all leading to faster cycle times and more resilient designs.
Sound too good to be true? There are people within DoD, academia and industry that have begun to operationalize this concept. Why has it taken so long? The problem with the DoD capability development process is that it has gotten too large and organizationally complex. The spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation has been submerged in layers of bureaucracy. Furthermore, risk-taking in early stages is poorly understood (even though it clearly saves money when performance and life-cycle costs are considered) and development processes do not encourage it. It takes special people with a special mindset to spot opportunity and these individuals can be few and far-between. It’s easier in many ways to do the same old thing rather than experiment with new approaches — yet this is precisely what it will take to accelerate development.
Some within the DoD are trying to approach the problem differently — rather than a step-wise process, they are developing approaches to run things in parallel and iteratively to speed risk reduction and optimize performance. What does it take to speed program development timelines? There is certainly no shortage of academic writings on the subject, and lots of industry bluster, but increasingly the DoD and its partners are taking a more pragmatic approach.
In DoD circles people joke about PowerPoint development programs. In real-life, capabilities must operate in a world characterized by physical properties. This means a computational platform capable of accurately depicting laws that govern aerodynamics, electromagnetics and numerous other complexities. Processor capacity is nice, but what users really need are software tools that can make sense of very complex trade-offs in motion, entropy, control and system performance. The smallest change in design can have frightful implications in terms of the complex set of interactions that exist in any system. High-performance computing can overcome the cascade of uncertainty that is set off every time a design is modified. To be clear, this capability exits today. What is truly new, however, is moving from the theoretical and computational world to the pragmatic world of actually building things and doing it all in near-real-time.
Even in disciplines that are relatively well understood, such as computational fluid dynamics as applied to lifting bodies, there is still the reality that models don’t always tell the full story. This is especially true when dealing with physics-based models which attempt to explain phenomena based on first principles. That being the case, there will always be the need to validate what the models are telling us by building and then testing actual hardware.
In the traditional acquisition process, building hardware based on a conceptual design can literally take years. While still in its infancy, a U.S. Army-led effort is contemplating a different approach — to use high performance computing, physics-based modeling, advanced manufacturing processes, and sensor emplacement to move from concept to design to build seamlessly and efficiently. The idea is revolutionary and has the potential to bring unheard of time, cost and technical efficiencies to acquisition.
Of course, there are complexities, and this solution certainly will not solve all the problems inherent in research and development processes but merging design, build and test into a seamless orchestration can accelerate development. We have all complained about the length of time it takes to field new equipment, but few organizations are working on pragmatic solutions. Those that are have melded the best of computational science with a page from our past — rapid experimentation that inspires learning and innovation. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
22 Mar 19. Thales builds up UK naval combat facility in support of Type 31e bid. Thales is to open a UK centre of excellence to develop its TACTICOS naval combat management system (CMS) in support of the Royal Navy’s (RN’s) future Type 31e frigate programme. As part of the Babcock-led Team 31, which is proposing the Arrowhead 140 ship design to meet the Type 31e requirement, Thales is taking responsibility for integration and delivery of the mission system, including sensors, countermeasures, and communications. The TACTICOS Baseline 2 CMS forms the core of the Arrowhead 140 mission system offer. Developed by Thales Nederland in Hengelo, the latest TACTICOS Baseline 2 CMS retains the existing and proven OpenSPLICE Data Distribution Service (DDS) infrastructure but introduces a series of hardware and software enhancements. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
25 Mar 19. DARPA Reveals Details of CODE Program. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has given further details on the capabilities of its Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program aims to adapt and respond to unexpected threats for existing unmanned aircraft that would extend mission capabilities and improve U.S. forces’ ability to conduct operations in denied or contested airspace.
DARPA announced that some success has been achieved and a swarm of unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with CODE successfully carried out mission objectives, even when communications were offline and GPS was unavailable. On a brisk February morning in the Yuma, Arizona, desert, a swarm of unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with DARPA’s Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment system, or CODE, successfully carried out mission objectives, even when communications were offline and GPS was unavailable. One-by-one, six RQ-23 Tigersharks lifted off, fitted with an array of sensors onboard. Next to the runway at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground, the mission team inside a small operations center tracked the aircraft and as many as 14 additional virtual planes on an aerial map. The capstone demonstration paired program performer Raytheon’s software and autonomy algorithms and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory’s White Force Network to create a realistic, live/virtual/constructive test environment. During four demonstration runs, the team activated a variety of virtual targets, threats, and countermeasures to see how well the Tigersharks could complete their objectives in suboptimal conditions.
“Exactly how the aircraft continue to work together in degraded conditions is the most challenging aspect of this program,” said Scott Wierzbanowski, the DARPA program manager for CODE in the Tactical Technology Office. “Current procedures require at least one operator per UAV in the field. Equipped with CODE, one operator can command multiple aircraft; and in a denied environment, the aircraft continue toward mission objectives, collaborating and adapting for deficiencies.”
Before, if operators lost communications with a UAV, the system would revert to its last programmed mission. Now, under the CODE paradigm, teams of systems can autonomously share information and collaborate to adapt and respond to different targets or threats as they pop up.
“CODE can port into existing UAV systems and conduct collaborative operations,” said Wierzbanowski. “CODE is a government-owned system, and we are working closely with our partners at the Air Force Research Laboratory and Naval Air Systems Command to keep each other informed of successes and challenges, and making sure we don’t replicate work. In the end, our service partners will leverage what we’ve done and add on what they need.”
The Tigersharks employed in the demonstration are surrogate assets for CODE. Each has about one-tenth the speed and performance of the aircraft planned for integration, but shows traceability to larger platforms. Constructive and virtual threats and effects presented by the White Force Network are appropriately scaled to the Tigersharks’ capabilities.
“It’s easy to take the CODE software and move it from platform to platform, both from a computer and vehicle perspective. It could be a manned aircraft, unmanned aircraft, or a ground vehicle,” said J.C. Ledé, technical advisor for autonomy with the Air Force Research Laboratory. “The concept for CODE is play-based tactics, so you can create new tactics relatively easily to go from mission to mission.”
The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) will take ownership of CODE after DARPA closes out the agency’s role in the program this year. It already has built a repository of algorithms tested throughout the development process.
“What we’re doing with the laboratory we set up is not just for the Navy or NAVAIR. We’re trying to make our capabilities available throughout the entire DoD community,” said Stephen Kracinovich, director of autonomy strategy for the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD). “If the Army wanted to leverage the DARPA prototype, we’d provide them not just with the software, but an open development environment with all the security protocols already taken care of.”
Kracinovich says NAWCAD has a cadre of people with hands-on knowledge of the system, and is ready to help port the capability to any other DoD entity. That ease of transition puts CODE technologies on a clear path to assist deployed service members by enabling collaborative autonomous systems to operate in contested and denied environments with minimal human supervision. (Source: UAS VISION/DARPA)
25 Mar 19. Curtin Uni collaborates with French tech institute for defence research. PhD students from Curtin University will travel to France to collaborate on defence research under a partnership agreement with respected French research institute ENSTA Bretagne. The Collaborative Doctoral Program will involve a cohort of Curtin PhD students spending up to a year conducting research in France and ENSTA Bretagne PhD students visiting Curtin in return.
The research will be multi-disciplinary across the areas of robotics and artificial intelligence, human factors engineering, corrosion engineering and marine acoustics, as well as other areas that support the defence industry.
Curtin University deputy vice-chancellor of research Professor Chris Moran said the collaboration was timely given the recent signing of a $50bn agreement between the Australian government and French shipbuilding company Naval Group for the delivery of Australia’s Future Submarine Program.
“The Curtin-ENSTA Bretagne collaboration builds on not just the government’s recent agreement but with Curtin’s strategic partnerships with the government’s Defence Science and Technology Group and the Australian defence industry,” Professor Moran said.
Pascal Pinot, director of ENSTA Bretagne, said the development of strong and practical scientific collaborations with leading Australian universities on defence-related issues served to strengthen the historic bond between both countries.
“ENSTA Bretagne, a leading engineering school and research centre under the supervision of the French Defence Procurement Agency, has made Australia a privileged country for collaboration for several years,” Pinot added.
ENSTA Bretagne is run under the supervision of the French Ministry of the Armed Forces and aims to produce engineers capable of mastering the design of complex, industrial systems in an international environment, required by civil industries and the French Defence Procurement Agency.
Curtin and ENSTA Bretagne have an ongoing exchange program where students from ENSTA Bretagne visit Curtin for between three and 12 months.
Curtin University is Western Australia’s largest university, with more than 56,000 students. Of these, about 26 per cent are international students. The university’s main campus is in Bentley near the Perth CBD. Curtin also has a major regional campus in Kalgoorlie in addition to four global campuses in Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai and Mauritius.
The university has built a reputation around innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit, being at the forefront of many high-profile research projects in astronomy, biosciences, economics, mining and information technology. It is also recognised globally for its strong connections with industry, and for its commitment to preparing students for the jobs of the future. (Source: Defence Connect)
22 Mar 19. DE&S will be hosting the third annual Inspiring Innovation event on May 15 and 16, 2019. During this unique event organisers will be exploring how DE&S can deliver at pace to maintain battle-winning edge and promoting the need for defence to increase its appetite for risk to deliver true innovation to the front line. DE&S staff can expect keynote talks, workshops, interactive activities and a site-wide networking day connecting internal project teams, defence primes and outside industry and businesses. Throughout day one, each of the four neighbourhoods at Abbey Wood, Bristol, will host company and project stands, whilst there will be keynote talks spread throughout day two. Assorted workshops and activities will take place across the site on both days. Organisers say Inspiring Innovation will demonstrate that there is potential for innovation across all functions and areas within DE&S. It is hoped this event will inspire, educate and connect DE&S personnel, proving that innovation is an essential part of the organisation’s DNA. (Source: U.K. MoD desider)
21 Mar 19. US Navy opens Maritime Positioning, Navigation and Timing lab. The US Navy has opened the Maritime Positioning, Navigation and Timing (M-PNT) Laboratory to enhance the safety of warfighters at sea. The lab onboard Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Virginia, was opened by the Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic.
It will serve as the hub for research, development, test, evaluation, integration, and certification for both surface and submarine PNT systems. The new M-PNT laboratory, which cost around $3m, is dedicated to supporting new technologies being implemented in the naval fleet for operating in a global positioning system (GPS) or sensor denied environment. The technologies to be supported by the lab include improvements to the inertial navigation systems, and alternative positioning system technologies to GPS.
NIWC Atlantic commanding officer captain Wesley Sanders said: “Today we at NIWC Atlantic are the forefront of our Navy’s information warfare efforts, and this laboratory enables us to expand our Sailors’ advantage at sea.”
The lab will also be used to support research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) efforts for other customers of the US Navy and Department of Defense.
Sanders added: “The work done in this laboratory helps ensure the safety of navigation and the safety of our warfighters at sea. Accurate PNT is vital to our information warfare mission at NIWC Atlantic, and it is critical to the fleet’s ability to get to and fight the battle.”
The Navy commenced construction on the laboratory in May last year and has completed the lab structure. Minor construction work is in progress to ensure the lab attains a fully functional status. A fenced-in secure storage area is also being built for the mobile test lab outside the current laboratory.
The laboratory will deliver support to the navigation suite certification process being developed for the fleet.
The certification process tests the design, integration and interoperability of the entire PNT system of systems in both surface ships and submarines.
The lab has been designed to initially support the Navy’s guided missile destroyer-class and Virginia-class architectures.
It is expected to be reconfigured in the future to accommodate all fleet PNT system of systems architectures.
According to NIWC Atlantic, the M-PNT Laboratory will deliver in-service engineering agent support for the navigation sensor system interface and GPS-based PNT Service systems. (Source: naval-technology.com)
22 Mar 19. Future combat air system technology initiative. FCAS TI was launched following the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015. It represents a significant government investment of around £2bn over 10 years into an ambitious Research and Development (R&D) portfolio to keep the UK at the cutting edge of Combat Air Systems. In doing so, it maintains political choice by sustaining the UK’s ability to have a leading role in the next generation of capabilities for the 2040+ environment. Reflecting the highly uncertain nature of R&D, FCAS TI is an agile and value driven initiative. At its heart is an ethos of not being afraid to fail fast, adjust direction or stop activities before completion when better outcomes can be achieved elsewhere. All current and candidate activities are reviewed on a 3-monthly cycle, with recommendations made to the Senior Responsible Owner. Last year, FCAS TI was reshaped through this process during the close development of the Combat Air Strategy with UK industry, and comprises three core elements: • National Projects. The majority of this work is now delivered through the novel and collaborative Team Tempest arrangement. This brings together the RAF RCO, scientific experts from DSTL, DE&S and industry partners (BAE Systems, Leonardo, MBDA and Rolls-Royce) to deliver a range of co-funded flagship demonstrations showcasing UK capabilities. Outside of Team Tempest, there are wider niche UK projects. • Project PYRAMID. Development and validation of a comprehensive open Mission System architecture, using defined interfaces, to enable more capable and flexible air systems whilst reducing integration costs. • International Projects. Cooperative work with partners, including the planned next phase of work with France. “Importantly, FCAS TI seeks to optimise approaches across the UK’s government and industry enterprise. DE&S can therefore use this opportunity to test new management techniques – both to support R&D delivery and future acquisition”, Hugh Woodward, DE&S Combat Air Future Deputy Head, said. With the parallel launch of the Combat Air Acquisition Programme (CAAP) to replace the capabilities currently offered by Typhoon, a new and growing Strategic Programmes delivery team is being established within the Combat Air Operating Centre. This will provide coherent leadership for DE&S support to achieving the aims of CAAP, FCAS TI and the wider Combat Air Strategy. (Source: U.K. MoD desider)
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.