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12 June 19. Bird Aerosystems show off OSCAR. Bird Aerosystems is set to officially launch, and demonstrate, a new autonomous multi-sensor maritime awareness system at Paris Air Show.
Named the OSCAR, which stands for Ocean Surveillance Control and Reconnaissance, this new system is integrated with Bird’s MSIS mission management system. It offers real time intelligence and threat assessment for the vessels within a customer’s area of interest, acting as a Tier 1 Level of prevention against illegal activities such as oil theft and smuggling. It can also be used to provide EEZ monitoring.
As an autonomous system, the OSCAR system makes use of machine-learning algorithms alongside real time data sources such as satellite and terrestrial AIS, satellite SAR/EO/IR, coastal radars and tactical sensors to detect, analyse and prioritise suspicious vessels.
Once potential threats have been detected, the OSCAR system plans out a flight plan for an ASIO special mission aircraft loaded into the MSIS mission management system to carry out a surveillance mission. During this mission, the OSCAR system receives the sensor data of the aircraft to continue analysing and detecting possible additional threats.
‘Fully autonomous and personally customised for the needs of each customer, Bird’s OSCAR solution drives operational costs down and detection probabilities up, and I am confident that it will be a real game-changer in the field of maritime surveillance and patrol,’ said Ronen Factor, Co-CEO and founder at Bird Aerosystems.’ (Source: Shephard)
13 June 19. Lockheed Martin announces significant milestone for HMAS Hobart’s Aegis Combat System. Following HMAS Hobart’s first docking at Garden Island, Sydney, Lockheed Martin has announced the successful ‘light off’ of the vessel’s Aegis Combat System.
The ‘light off’ of the Aegis system symbolises the transition from the production period of the post delivery upgrade (PDU) to combat system testing and training for HMAS Hobart.
These tests ensure that the combat system equipment is operational, and the crew are ready to commence their next mission, Lockheed Martin confirmed.
“We are very proud of this accomplishment. Achieving Aegis light off for the Royal Australian Navy is an important milestone which demonstrates HMAS Hobart is fully operational and ready to support Navy’s mission to maintain Australia’s maritime security,” said Scott Thompson, interim chief executive of Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand.
“At Lockheed Martin Australia, we are committed to the development of sovereign capability for Australia. Through our national presence and partnerships with government, the Royal Australian Navy, local and international industry, Lockheed Martin Australia is leading the establishment of a sustainable, world-class sovereign capability to support Australia’s future maritime defence technology needs.”
It’s the first time an Aegis ‘light off’ activity has been planned, co-ordinated and delivered by an Australian-led workforce, a feat that Lockheed Martin said “exemplifies the concept of sustainable sovereign capability”.
A team of more than 20 dedicated technicians technicians from a range of local and international government and industry partners have supported Lockheed Martin Australia’s efforts to allow Aegis to be operational on-board HMAS Hobart at Fleet Base East in Sydney.
Lockheed Martin is the original equipment manufacturer of Aegis, the world’s most advanced maritime warfighting capability that “enables seamless interoperability” with key region allies such as the US, Japan and the Republic of Korea. (Source: Defence Connect)
13 June 19. The limitations of unmanned and autonomous systems in a contested environment. Unmanned and autonomous systems are billed as one of the major force multipliers of the 21st century – across the air, land and sea domains they offer the promise of removing humans from harm’s way. However, the increasing capability of modern cyber warfare and jamming systems raises questions about the limitations of the ‘future of warfare’.
Autonomous and unmanned systems are changing the way the ADF and militaries around the world conduct operations. Supporting combat, humanitarian and intelligence roles, the scope for evolution in these leading-edge capabilities is playing a key role in the development of existing and follow-on systems for Australia and its allies.
Australia’s pursuit of a range of autonomous and unmanned systems, including the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton, General Atomics Reaper family of remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) and the recently announced Boeing Airpower Teaming System, in conjunction with major modernisation, recapitalisation and multi-domain command and control systems, places the nation at the pinnacle of the global transition towards an integrated fifth-generation and autonomous and unmanned future.
The advent of autonomous and unmanned systems is not solely limited to the air domain, as land and sea systems including platforms like the General Dynamics Multi-Utility Tactical Transport (MUTT) – designed to provide logistics support for infantry – and armed platforms including the proposed US Army Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment vehicle (MULE), and the Kingfish unmanned underwater vehicles and Australian-designed SwarmDiver, become increasingly advanced and prominent in service.
However, as contemporary warfare becomes increasingly dependent on unmanned and autonomous systems, questions need to be asked about the security and practicality of operating such systems in increasingly contested environments challenged by electronic warfare, counter-space and, increasingly, cyber warfare capabilities.
Operating in contested environments
The modern battlefield has rapidly evolved in the last decade. Across the air, land and sea domains, the dissemination of information, ready access to energy and command and control as a result of the increasingly networked platforms and individuals have emerged as the core of the contemporary battlespace.
Recent conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East and then more broadly recent confrontations between naval and air platforms in the western Pacific and eastern Europe have served to highlight the limitations of the information, command and control, and energy-centric nature of contemporary platforms and systems.
In particular, the highly successful implementation of electronic warfare platforms like the EA-18G Growlers against the Gaddafi regime and allegations of a successful Iranian cyber attack against the RQ-170 in the mid-2000s that paved the way for Iranian reverse engineering of the then-top secret intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform in particular challenges the growing predominant narrative that these unmanned and autonomous systems are to be the undisputed kings of the modern battlefield.
Meanwhile, the growing capability of both state and non-state based actors to prosecute wildly dangerous and effective cyber security attacks on even the most highly defended networks and systems – as was recently committed against organisations including Australian Parliament House and allegations of election tampering in the United States – demonstrate the vulnerability of contemporary systems.
Finally, the growing dependence of contemporary platforms and systems on advanced space-based command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance networks is essential to not only traditional manned platforms but more critically, the unmanned and autonomous platforms that are emerging as key force multipliers in contemporary militaries.
Both electronic warfare and cyber attacks are emerging as the great tactical and strategic levelling forces in the 21st century concept of operations and are dramatically impacting the operating capacity and survivability of unmanned and autonomous platforms in the increasingly contested operating environments of the 21st century.
Human controlled Skynet and ‘dead’ units
The increasing complexity and potency of cyber warfare capabilities, combined with advanced anti-space and electronic warfare capacities arrayed by both state and non-state actors and the potential for these systems to be turned against Australian and allied systems opens Pandora’s Box and questions about the survivability and utility of these increasingly expensive platforms in contested operating environments.
In particular, the increasing cyber warfare abilities of nations like China, Russia and to a lesser extent North Korea and Iran, expose major weaknesses in the defensive and counter-cyber capabilities of Australia and allies like the US to respond and adequately prepare for the potential hacking of these platforms to either neutralise and/or establish control over said systems to turn them against their original operators.
The advent of these capabilities also raises increasingly concerning questions about the security of key intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms and information sharing platforms, and the reliability of these platforms and the information they gather and disseminate. It is important, however, to recognise and identify that autonomous and unmanned systems are not uniquely vulnerable to such attacks, indeed a range of contemporary weapons systems are vulnerable to such attacks, despite their advanced countermeasures.
Maintaining a level of human integration within the operation cycle remains critical to ensuring that these systems remain combat effective and ‘friendly’ in event of offensive action exploiting the abject and ever present vulnerabilities of contemporary autonomous and unmanned systems. (Source: Defence Connect)
13 June 19. Australia to the rescue: Securing the allied rare earth element supply chain. Rare earth elements (REE) have emerged as the new wonder material of the 21st century, responsible for every contemporary technological marvel and critical to the US, Australia and other allies maintaining their technological advantage over potential adversaries. However, China currently provides approximately 95 per cent of the world’s supply, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
REEs are defined as a collection of 17 elements and are broken up into two unique groups: light rare earth elements (LREE) and heavy rare earth elements (HREE) each with unique and highly specialised uses in contemporary technologies – with key defence and aerospace technologies heavily dependent on extensive use of REE.
A 2013 US congressional report into the importance of REE in the US national defence equation identified that the while US Department of Defense uses less than 5 per cent of domestic REE consumption, they play a critical role in maintaining the qualitative edge of the US Military. In particular, REEs play an important role in a number of defence weapons systems, including:
- Fin actuators in missile guidance and control systems, controlling the direction of the missile;
- Disk drive motors installed in aircraft, tanks, missile systems, and command and control centres;
- Lasers for enemy mine detection, interrogators, underwater mines, and countermeasures;
- Satellite communications, radar, and sonar on submarines and surface ships; and
- Optical equipment and speakers.
The ongoing trade war between the US and China in particular has shed new light on the growing importance of REE, particularly in the national security context – with China responsible for producing 97 per cent of rare earth ore, 97 per cent rare earth oxides, 89 per cent of rare earth alloys, 75 per cent of neodymium iron boron magnets and 60 per cent of samarium cobalt magnets, all critical for contemporary weapons systems, sensors and more broadly civilian technologies.
For reference, a US Navy Virginia Class fast attack submarine requires approximately 4.2 tonnes of various REEs, while the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter requires approximately 417 kilograms of various REEs to support information transfer, energy storage, computational devices and in some cases stealth coatings.
Additionally, REEs form core components, including highly-powered magnets essential for the guidance systems of smart bombs, cruise missiles and the Aegis integrated air and missile defence combat system through to providing hardening elements for ceramic components for contemporary body armour and armour systems on ground vehicles.
Recognising the importance of these factors, combined with China’s complete dominance of the global supply chain of REE and the follow on products – the US Government Accountability Office concluded in 2016 that “DOD has no comprehensive, department-wide approach to determine which rare earths are critical to national security, and how to deal with potential supply disruptions to ensure continued, reliable access”.
This dependence on a potentially hostile peer competitor places the enduring technological dominance of the US Military and, to a lesser extent, the supporting dominance of key-US allies like Australia in a precarious position – or does it?
Never fear, Australia is here!
Despite there name, REEs are relatively plentiful in the planet’s crust – however, the complexity of the refining process, namely the prevalence of low levels of radioactivity and the potential for radiation contamination as a result of the refining process, has prompted many Western nations including the US and Australia to outsource refining, until now.
Australia enjoys a large domestic supply of various REEs, including both LREE and HREE, with a cluster of small refining companies locally based yet not able to develop refining facilities until know. Australia-based Lynas Corporation has recently responded to the growing concerns raised by the US Department of Defense to announce plans for a Texas-based refining facility, which is expected to be responsible for producing at least 1,200 tonnes of HREE oxides annually.
However, Lynas’ planned US expansion serves as only a drop in the bucket for US consumption, with the US importing US$160m worth of REE metals and compounds in 2018 – an increase of 17 per cent on 2017. Providing an avenue for a completely integrated National Strategic Resource Reserve and supporting National Strategic Industries Act to support both Australian and allied REE consumption requirements would lead to increasing economic and industrial benefits for Australia’s economy and defence industrial base.
While Australia enjoys a virtually unrivalled wealth of natural resources, the ability to refine and produce vast quantities of steel, coking coal and now domestic agricultural produce and critical, specialised medical supplies also serves as a glaring gap in the broader national security debate. Accordingly, any national strategic reserve policy requires a holistic approach with a specific focus on strategic resources.
Contemporary Australia has been far removed from the harsh realities of conflict, with many generations never enduring the reality of rationing for food, energy, medical supplies or luxury goods, and even fewer within modern Australia understand the socio-political and economic impact such rationing would have on the now world-leading Australian standard of living.
Developing and implementing a cohesive, innovative and long-term vision for Australia’s sovereign defence industry capability can also serve as the basis for developing and in some cases redeveloping a robust, advanced manufacturing economy taking advantage of Australia’s unrivalled resource wealth – supporting the broader national security and interests in the Indo-Pacific. (Source: Defence Connect)
13 June 19. Turkish Aerospace will display for the first time the one-to-one mock-up of the Turkish Fighter at the International Paris Airshow. The 17th edition of the International Paris Airshow will take place at Le Bourget airport between June 17-23, 2019. Turkish Aerospace, apart from the Turkish Fighter mock-up, will display ATAK, ANKA, HÜRJET and GÖKBEY platforms. Furthermore, ATAK helicopter will perform flight demonstrations during the show.
An important and historical development of Turkey will be witnessed at one of the world’s largest aerospace fair shows in Paris. The one-to-one mock-up of the Turkish Fighter Project, initiated to meet the needs of Turkish Armed Force, which is the prime contractor of Turkish Aerospace, will be shown to the public for the first time in Paris. Thus, Turkey will demonstrate once again its infrastructure, technologies and abilities to produce 5th generation jet aircraft which is therefore considered invaluable to a leading power like the USA, Russia and China.
In accordance with the main objectives of the Turkish Aerospace, by increasing the design, production and certification of the jet aircraft, all domestic and national resources will be put into action.
Turkish Fighter, which will be displayed for the first time at the world’s largest fair – the International
Paris Airshow, along with other products of Turkish Aerospace will attract attention. Regarding the first
showcase of Turkish Fighter the President and CEO of Turkish Aerospace Prof. Temel Kotil said:
“We moved Turkey’s most important project, which we conduct the pride, to the higher point. We will do what few countries worldwide do. For the first time we will exhibit Turkish Fighter in Paris in order to show our capabilities. Thus, Turkey will demonstrate that there is no difference from other countries from the point of view of technological infrastructure. As Turkish Aerospace we aspire to fulfill Turkey’s first achievements in disciplined and concentrated ways. In order to realize the mentioned goals, we will continue to grow our company and to build our army of engineers. I am waiting for all our qualified engineers who say, “Let be my share as well for my country’’. Turkish Aerospace has opened its doors for you. We look forward to your determination, patience and work”.
12 June 19. W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. (Gore) will premier a game-changing cable option for tethered drones used in the military at the 2019 Paris Air Show in France on 17-23 June in Hall 2B, Booth F170. Gore combines innovative materials science with power and fiber optic performance in a hybrid solution that offers key advantages to the military. GORE® Tethered Drone Cables can maximize Tether Management System (TMS) availability, increase design options and payload, and enable greater drone operational capability.
FLY HIGHER, SEE FARTHER, DO MORE
Gore’s tethered drone cables can considerably reduce size and weight without compromising durability or electrical performance. Unlike standard nylon cables, Gore’s cables have a 20-percent smaller dielectric, which makes them inherently lighter weight, so they take up less space inside the TMS. They are proven to provide better weight stability in harsh fluids compared to nylon cables, which means more drone design options, payload, and operating height for the military.
With a balanced hybrid design, GORE® Tethered Drone Cables deliver continuous high-voltage power and secure, high-bandwidth data and video transmission for as long as the drone remains in operation.
HIGH STRENGTH & PROTECTION
Engineered with high-strength and weather-proof materials, GORE® Tethered Drone Cables withstand crushing, repeated reeling, extreme temperatures, humidity, rain, snow, and tough terrain. The fiber optic cable also meets ARINC 802-2 requirements and is proven to provide a high level of crush resistance with low insertion loss ensuring a secure data link from the drone to the ground support equipment (GSE).
In addition, Gore’s patent-pending fiber braid cable jacket is low friction and resists abrasion generated by the TMS or during operation. The fiber braid jacket also makes it easier to handle Gore’s cable compared to standard nylon cables.
PROTOTYPING & EVALUATION
Gore offers complimentary samples with short lead times that can be shipped within two business days (48 hours) from the date of the request. Fill out a short online form to receive your samples. Alternatively, contact a Gore representative regarding available materials for your sample, prototype, and small production requirements.
PROVEN TRACK RECORD
For decades, Gore’s products have been used successfully in many aerospace and defense applications — from the first moon landing to today’s International Space Station, commercial airliners, fighter jets, combat vehicles, and naval platforms. Gore has been a trusted partner to the aerospace industry and many branches of the military, delivering cables and materials with an optimal blend of durability, reliability, and flexibility.
GORE® Tethered Drone Cables accompanied by Gore’s aircraft solutions and combat clothing systems will be on display at the 2019 Paris Air Show in France on 17-23 June in Hall 2B, Booth F170. Additional details can be found at gore.com/paris2019.
About Gore Performance Solutions Division
Gore develops products and technologies that address complex product and process challenges in a variety of markets and industries, including aerospace, automotive, pharmaceutical, mobile electronics, oil and gas — and more. Through close collaboration with industry leaders across the globe, Gore enables customers to design their products and processes to be safer, cleaner, more productive, reliable, durable and efficient across a wide range of demanding environments.
12 June 19. Royal Navy partners with Anduril for Royal Marines’ modernisation. The UK Royal Navy has teamed up with artificial intelligence (AI) specialist Anduril Industries to use technologies that will modernise the Royal Marines’ surveillance systems and techniques.
The partnership with Anduril is aimed at transforming the tactical unmanned intelligence and force protection capabilities of the Royal Marines Commando force by leveraging advanced technologies.
Anduril was selected for the NavyX accelerator programme to deliver battle winning technology to warfighters. The Royal Navy intends to use the ‘Modernizing Defence’ Programme and the NavyX accelerator initiative to modernise its military forces.
Royal Navy chief technology officer colonel Dan Cheeseman said: “Anduril is now part of the UK NavyX accelerator programme to get battle winning technology straight into the hands of our warfighters.
“Anduril’s dynamic and highly tailored expertise has enabled a close partnership with 3 Commando Brigade and they are now part of a busy exercise and deployment schedule. These technologies are directly informing how the Royal Marines is transforming itself to radically change how it fights to win on future operations.”
These modernisation efforts involve partnerships with innovative companies capable of quickly adapting products to fit the needs of Royal Marines. The service is keen to incorporate technologies such as autonomous systems, AI, and machine learning for the creation of the future military. The company has built a software and hardware platform known as Lattice, which is designed to deliver accurate, real-time information to troops on the ground to save lives.
“Our goal, and the goal of the Royal Navy, is to help the men and women on the front lines complete their missions as successfully and safely as possible.”
Lattice uses AI, machine vision and mesh networking technologies, and integrates all Anduril hardware and third party sensors into a single, autonomous operational platform.
The integrated networked system will enable warfighters to respond swiftly.
Anduril operations engineer Evan Roddenberry said: “Our goal, and the goal of the Royal Navy, is to help the men and women on the front lines complete their missions as successfully and safely as possible. We are excited to have the opportunity to help the Royal Marines with this important mission as they modernise in preparation for the battlefields of the future.”
Last month, the Royal Marines tested new technology during the Commando Warrior Two exercise for the country’s future commando force.
The Navy expects to begin training with the Anduril systems this summer ahead of their deployment. (Source: naval-technology.com)
11 June 19. This Russian cyclocopter drone design was 110 years in the making. It was materials, more than anything else, that determined the dominance of the helicopter in the 20th century. Helicopters surpassed autogyros, cyclocopters and every other variety of vertical takeoff for decades. Now, with materials and computers needed for smooth VTOL flight through non-rotored means available, Russia hopes to bring the cyclocopter back from obscurity to a useful military machine.
The announcement came June 5 from Russia’s DARPA analogue, the Advanced Research Foundation. It is formally modest, noting simply that the group will fly a demonstration cyclocopter in 2020. The demonstrator will be an uncrewed vehicle, capable of vertical takeoff and landing, and it will be powered by a hybrid engine. Most notable, though, will be the benefits of the overall shape: its cyclic propellers promise to make it quieter, lighter and more powerful than the equivalent-sized quadcopter, and all with less risk from collisions.
All of that’s great, but what, exactly, is a cyclocopter?
The cyclocopter is a flying machine that uses a series of cylindrical rotors to move through the air the way that a paddlewheel propels a ship over water. The Advanced Research Foundation notes that cyclocopters were first theorized by Evgeny Sverchkov in Russia in 1909, and explored theoretically by researchers throughout the 20th century. It’s quite the long development history.
Making all of the components light and strong enough to provide power and then hold together and generate lift and thrust daunted researchers from the dawn of powered flight, but a recent revival in cyclocopter design — influenced in no small part by the better materials, power supplies, and controllers available — was underway by at least 2006.
“Since this is an ARF project, we are seeing this agency take the lead in developing a range of unmanned applications, including new UAV designs, UAV-UGV integration, manned-unmanned teaming and swarms,” said Samuel Bendett, an adviser at the Center for Naval Analyses. “This particular design is intended for transport and monitoring, so no overt military purpose has been stated — but if the ARF proves certain advantages of that particular UAV, it could potentially be integrated into the military or internal security agencies.”
An airframe becomes a military platform as soon as the military puts a useful payload on it. And the promise of the cyclocopter is that it will be powerful enough to carry cargo and even people, with computers managing the finicky business of coordinating rotors and steering.
Researchers in Austria, China, South Korea and the United States have all in recent years demonstrated cyclocopters, in a range of sizes, including as small as palm-sized.
ARF states the design is largely free from inertial constraints on direction, offering the possibility that cyclocopters could change direction and speed in a second, without adverse effect.
“One of the applications for this small UAV would be to fly indoors, in constrained environments, perhaps with eventual use in search and rescue or even combat action,” said Bendett, a fellow in Russian studies at the American Foreign Policy Council. “No direct Russian military interest in this UAV yet, but ARF designs and work is always of interest to the MOD, so we should expect some kind of military trial in 2020 when it takes to the air.”
While a year away, the design is set for demonstration at the Integrated Safety and Security Expo in 2020. This exposition functions much like one marketed to the Department of Homeland Security, highlighting scientific and technological designs for future acquisitions and funding. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
11 June 19. TE Connectivity’s new smart current sensors combine 5 products into 1 lightweight package. Programmable sensor offers versatility for commercial aerospace and military engineers. TE Connectivity (TE), a world leader in connectivity and sensors, released its new, multifunction HARTMAN smart current sensor for commercial aircraft and military ground vehicles. TE’s HARTMAN smart current sensor is programmable, allowing for up to five different combinations in a single 10-pin configurable package. By combining multiple features into one part, this sensor reduces the need for additional protective devices, ultimately helping to lower costs.
The HARTMAN smart current sensor allows users to maintain their trip curve throughout the temperature range while giving both current status and trip status of the system. Users can also disable the trip curve when needed. This multifunction sensor offers the following trip curve features:
- 200 AMP thermal breaker trip times
- 300 AMP thermal breaker trip times
- 400 AMP thermal breaker trip times
- Reverse load detection/trip
- Turn off thermal breaker
“We have invested a lot of effort in adding features that enhance the HARTMAN smart current sensor’s performance and safety,” said Neil Chitwood, product manager for TE’s Aerospace, Defense and Marine division. “That includes giving the sensor the same trip curve characteristics as the thermal breaker, in addition to adding built-in overload detection status, overcurrent protection on coil current, and on/off thermal breaker capabilities.”
HARTMAN smart current sensors are designed and built to DO-160G. Applications suited for these sensors include power distribution, load shedding, reverse current protection and circuit protection. They are designed for use in commercial jets, business jets, helicopters and military ground vehicles.
11 June 19. CT, the leading engineering company in technological innovation throughout the complete product life cycle, will be exhibiting at the 53rd International Paris Air Show, held at Le Bourget Parc des Expositions from June 17th to 23rd 2019, and organised by the SIAE, a subsidiary of GIFAS, the French Aerospace Industries Association. CT will welcome its visitors at Hall 1, Booth H299, with its latest developments in Virtual and Augmented Reality, immersive solutions oriented to a full optimization of the processes employed in manufacturing and assembly lines within the aeronautic sector. These technologies, based on gamification, are able to anticipate manufacturing needs throughout processes simulation, resulting in saving costs and time for their customers. Moreover, the largest and longest-running aerospace trade show in the world (it will receive over 320.000 visitors this year) is the perfect showcase for CT’s anniversary, celebrating 30 years of excellence and revealing for the first time at this show its renewed corporate image.
10 June 19. Will China win the military AI race on the back of commercial technology? The earliest weapons were dual-use technologies: rocks chipped into sharp edges and bound to arrows or spears or clubs that proved as useful for hunting as they did fighting.
Modern life is millennia removed from proto-ethical debates over the dangers of collaborating on hunting technology with people who may someday turn it to violence, but dual-use tools are at the center of a major inter- and intra-national debate. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission held a hearing June 7 about China and technology, specifically the ways in which developments in the civilian sector could be exploited and weaponized by China’s military.
“China has been hyped as an AI superpower poised to overtake the U.S. in the strategic technology domain of AI,” said Jeffrey Ding, China lead for the Center for the Governance of AI, Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford; D.Phil. Candidate, University of Oxford.
“Much of the research supporting this claim suffers from the ‘AI abstraction problem,’” Ding continued, “the concept of AI, which encompasses anything from fuzzy mathematics to drone swarms, becomes so slippery that it is no longer analytically coherent or useful.”
Into the fuzziness of that debate around AI, the commissioners probed and the witnesses testified, occasionally going into the weeds of specific data but largely moving back to questions of intent and capability. The big questions underlying the hearing were these: can China leapfrog development of AI to create useful military tools, and can the United States marshal an industrial policy to maintain a lead in AI without the same kind of integrated state apparatus that China has? Also, what will China do with AI once it develops it?
The degree to which China can expand on and leapfrog U.S. AI development hinges on everything from the respective countries immigration policies, a willingness of multinational corporations to share research, direct and passive funding, and the extent to which things like counter-intelligence operations can yield results or chill collaboration. It also depends on what purpose, exactly, the AI is being trained to do.
“AI appeals to the [People’s Liberation Army] in part because it has fewer legacy systems,” said Elsa Kania, adjunct senior fellow, Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security and research fellow at CSE. Building systems for the first time with AI in mind is a different and distinct proposition from adapting existing systems to draw on AI tools.
Looking for a hard metric in the recent past, Ding cited an unpublished manuscript by Jon Schmid, a doctoral candidate at Georgia Tech, that looked at military patents to see what was being developed.
“It’s not a perfect indicator because a lot of military hardware isn’t going to be patented open source,” said Ding, “but a crucial caveat I’ll add to that is a lot of these advanced military systems source components that are found in patents, so it’s a good indicator.”
Looking specifically at the abstracts of patents for military hardware or hardware components that cited autonomous or unmanned, the research found that from 2003 to 2015 the United States had a lead in cumulative military patents seven times that of China.
“We can think of AI as next wave of software improvements,” suggested Helen Toner, director of strategy at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology. Without a clear inflection point for when AI transitions from capable software to a unique capability, many of the changes will in nature and implementation resemble software upgrades.
AI can be trickier to quantify, because while end-products may make note of features, like autonomy, that are enabled by AI, AI itself is a process done to data and doesn’t always transfer easily or at all to other applications. Also, processes are limited to being only as good at the quality of data that goes into them.
“It’s not quite as simple as ‘data is the new oil,’ but the value of data is really application dependent, so we have seen strength in particular applications where massive data is an advantage,” said Kania. “The nature of AI is a general purpose technology that is enhancing and augmenting weapon systems across a vast array of weapon systems, drive dynamics hard to evaluate, make safety and stability.”
Ultimately, what matters most in AI is less about any specific development, and more about how that AI facilities and enables existing choices people were already prepared to make. Multiple members of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission asked specifically about the role of AI in China’s repressive policy towards the Uighur people of Xinjiang. That specific concern was cited by Sens. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, in introducing a bill to enhance U.S. funding of AI research.
“The reason Xinjiang is happening is not AI, it is that the government of China is willing to make it happen,” testified Toner, “and therefore our response, if we respond, should condemn or otherwise sanction that action, of which tech is only a small part.”
The extent to which tech is especially responsible for state-led repression was contested by the panel, with Kania testifying that surveillance technologies are at the heart of repression at Xinjiang.
It is hard for the technology sector to, on its own or through U.S. government encouragement, try to change the behavior of a government. There was somewhat more consensus on policy suggestions for companies and government to end relationships building AI tools used for repression in the name of internal security.
Military implications of AI competition are likely downstream from these tangible concerns over AI built for other purposes. An ecosystem built on top of open-source tools and massive collections of data could be rebuilt if major participants stopped collaborating with each other, but it would likely take a national initiative to coordinate such a break. In the meantime, an active Cold War in AI will remain a near future possibility, rather than an immediate course of action. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
11 June 19. Government seeks feedback to support Aussie innovation. Innovation is a key driver for the defence industry. Recognising this, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has sought input from Australian defence industry to influence the development of innovation policy. The Office of Innovation and Science Australia (ISA) will host a series of free national workshops from 18-27 June 2019 to support the next stages of developing the government’s innovation policy.
Decision makers across sectors will explore internal and external drivers and barriers to change and innovation in business.
This half-day workshop is a unique opportunity to be heard in the policy sphere and share experiences. Facilitated by Nous Group, the workshop will:
- Inform government on the real drivers and barriers to innovation investment;
- Explore what innovation looks like in a business context; and
- Identify factors behind successful innovation for your business.
Chatham House rules apply: no comments will be shared without permission given by the relevant business.
ISA is responsible for developing Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation, a national roadmap to strengthen Australia’s ability to innovate. The plan makes 30 recommendations, each with an aim to generate and capture the benefits of innovation for all Australians.
ISA aims to support and enhance Australia’s innovation, science and research system by:
- Advising the Australian government about innovation, science and research matters;
- Monitoring and overseeing a number of innovation programs under several sub-committees;
- Co-ordinating the government’s investment in innovation, science and research;
- Reviewing Australia’s innovation and science system performance; and
- Stimulating public discussion and debate about innovation and science.
Business leaders thinking about innovation, business strategy, investment decisions and how their business competes are invited to attend. Primer materials will be circulated to guide participant thinking in advance of the workshop. Lunch will be provided. (Source: Defence Connect)
11 June 19. Chalmers University of Technology. Tiny light box opens new doors into the nanoworld. Using a box of stacked atomically thin layers of tungsten disulphide, Chalmers researchers have succeeded in creating a type of feedback loop in which light and matter become one. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a completely new way of capturing, amplifying and linking light to matter at the nanolevel. Using a tiny box, built from stacked atomically thin material, they have succeeded in creating a type of feedback loop in which light and matter become one. The discovery, which was recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, opens up new possibilities in the world of nanophotonics.
Photonics is concerned with various means of using light. Fibre-optic communication is an example of photonics, as is the technology behind photodetectors and solar cells. When the photonic components are so small that they are measured in nanometres, this is called nanophotonics. In order to push the boundaries of what is possible in this tiny format, progress in fundamental research is crucial. The innovative ‘light box’ of the Chalmers researchers makes the alternations between light and matter take place so rapidly that it is no longer possible to distinguish between the two states. Light and matter become one.
“We have created a hybrid consisting of equal parts of light and matter. The concept opens completely new doors in both fundamental research and applied nanophotonics and there is a great deal of scientific interest in this,” says Ruggero Verre, a researcher in the Department of Physics at Chalmers and one of the authors of the scientific article.
The discovery came about when Verre and his departmental colleagues Timur Shegai, Denis Baranov, Battulga Munkhbat and Mikael Käll combined two different concepts in an innovative way. Mikael Käll’s research team is working on what are known as nanoantennas, which can capture and amplify light in the most efficient way. Timur Shegai’s team is conducting research into a certain type of atomically thin two-dimensional material known as TMDC material, which resembles graphene. It was by combining the antenna concept with stacked two-dimensional material that the new possibilities were created.
The researchers used a well-known TMDC material – tungsten disulphide – but in a new way. By creating a tiny resonance box – much like the sound box on a guitar – they were able to make the light and matter interact inside it. The resonance box ensures that the light is captured and bounces round in a certain ‘tone’ inside the material, thus ensuring that the light energy can be efficiently transferred to the electrons of the TMDC material and back again. It could be said that the light energy oscillates between the two states – light waves and matter – while it is captured and amplified inside the box. The researchers have succeeded in combining light and matter extremely efficiently in a single particle with a diameter of only 100 nanometres, or 0.00001 centimetres.
This all-in-one solution is an unexpected advance in fundamental research, but can hopefully also contribute to more compact and cost-effective solutions in applied photonics.
“We have succeeded in demonstrating that stacked atomically thin materials can be nanostructured into tiny optical resonators, which is of great interest for photonics applications. Since this is a new way of using the material, we are calling this ‘TMDC nanophotonics’. I am certain that this research field has a bright future,” says Timur Shegai, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at Chalmers and one of the authors of the article.
Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg conducts research and education in technology and natural sciences at a high international level. The university has 3100 employees and 10,000 students, and offers education in engineering, science, shipping and architecture.
With scientific excellence as a basis, Chalmers promotes knowledge and technical solutions for a sustainable world. Through global commitment and entrepreneurship, we foster an innovative spirit, in close collaboration with wider society. The EU’s biggest research initiative – the Graphene Flagship – is coordinated by Chalmers. We are also leading the development of a Swedish quantum computer.
Chalmers was founded in 1829 and has the same motto today as it did then: Avancez – forward.
10 June 19. USN readies carrier fleet for F-35Cs. F-35C Joint Strike Fighter tests aboard carriers highlighted a need for modifications to jet-blast deflectors and other equipment or systems. The US Navy (USN) is designing modifications for its next Ford-class carriers to accommodate operational Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) squadrons, service officials said, and the USN remains on schedule for changes to existing Ford- and Nimitz-class ships.
“F-35C modifications for [Ford-class] CVN 78 and CVN 79 are currently scheduled for a future post-delivery modernisation maintenance period that will occur prior to the planned F-35C operations on those carriers,” USN spokesperson Captain Danny Hernandez said.
Those two ships are already well under construction. The successor ships will get the required modifications during the proper stage of construction.
“This has always been the plan for CVN 78 and CVN 79 over several budget cycles,” Capt Hernandez said. “CVN 80 and CVN 81 will be constructed with those modifications made during construction and will not require a post-delivery modification.”
F-35Cs reached initial operational capability (IOC) on 28 February 2019, but the USN does not expect to deploy the first operational squadron of the aircraft until 2021, and service officials anticipate making all necessary modifications to operationally deploy the aircraft when the vessels are needed.
“Sequencing of F-35C modernisation efforts for Ford- and Nimitz-class carriers is on track,” Capt Hernandez explained.
“The Nimitz-class and Ford-class aircraft carriers, by design, can operate with F-35Cs,” he noted.
Indeed, the USN has been conducting carrier tests with F-35Cs for some time.
For example, test pilots determined the JSF’s carrier speed needs during the lowest and highest “energy” catapult shots during October 2015 tests involving military- and maximum-level launches with simulated missiles aboard USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN 68) in the Atlantic Ocean off the Virginia coast. The tests also helped prove F-35C carrier suitability and integration during at-sea operations. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
10 June 19. Orbit’s Orion Airborne Audio Management Systems for Heron TP. Orbit Communications Systems Ltd., a global provider of airborne communications solutions, announced at the Israel Defense & HLS Expo (ISDEF 2019) that Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) placed a $US1.8m order for Orbit’s Orion airborne audio management systems for integration aboard its next-generation medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) Heron TP unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Delivery of the systems is expected in 2019 and 2020. Orbit’s Orion enables essential communications between the UAV and civil Air Traffic Control (ATC) and other ground stations.
“All large UAVs are required to communicate directly with civil airports via Air Traffic Control using their own on-board systems,” explained Aharon Huberman, Senior Program Manager in the MALAT division of IAI. “Orbit’s Orion is the most mature solution on the market, in terms of its capabilities, reliability and regulatory compliance.”
“We believe that our ability to adapt the system and deliver it under an extremely tight schedule were key considerations in MALAT’s decision to select our audio management solution,” commented Ben Weinberger, CEO of Orbit. “We are proud to provide readily integrated radio gateway solutions to help simplify IAI’s development and operation on a system level,” he added.
About Orbit’s Orion
Orion is an innovative airborne audio management system, featuring exceptional 3D Audio, Adaptive Noise Reduction and Voice-Activated Detection as standard features. A patented Dual IP Ring topology provides unsurpassed system redundancy, and the modular design permits reduced weight, incremental scalability and flexibility to suit both manned and unmanned aircraft of any size. (Source: UAS VISION)
10 June 19. Back to the future: Combining a mothership with modern PT boats for sea control. PT boats combined high speed, swarming tactics and an arsenal to level the playing field against larger and more expensive surface ships during the Pacific War. The shift towards the contested waterways of the Indo-Pacific, combined with advances in technology, provides the opportunity for developing a potent new form of sea control.
Maritime warfare is evolving at a similar pace to that of other domains, and the rise of unmanned technologies, advanced sensors and increasingly cost effective submarines and small surface warships is shifting the balance of power away from fleets of destroyers, frigates and aircraft carriers. The importance of maritime choke points is enhancing the lethality of these platforms, giving rise to a new era of asymmetric naval warfare particularly in the Indo-Pacific where maritime choke points like the Straits of Malacca, Lombok and Sunda challenge traditional maritime protection doctrine.
Enter the realm of maritime asymmetric warfare, which serves as a powerful balancing force between two actors defined by significantly different levels of power and whose strategy and tactics differ significantly. Asymmetric warfare is typically defined as a form of guerrilla warfare, insurgency driven and as is increasingly common in the modern era, a form of terrorism.
Throughout the Second World War, both the Allies and Axis powers used asymmetric warfare in terms of submarine raiding and the Pacific theatre’s PT boats to harass Japanese surface warships and convoys until the might of the US and broader allied navies could be brought to bear – the advent of the PT boats and the subsequent swarming tactics were used with relative success.
While the increasing proliferation of highly capable conventional submarines, like the Russian Kilo Class and the various variants operated by nations throughout the Indo-Pacific, Singapore’s existing Archer and Challenger Class submarines, French Scorpene Class and Australia’s Collins Class, all serve as key asymmetric force multipliers capable of directly influencing the tactical and strategic calculations of nations dependent on the critical maritime choke points in the region.
While submarines represent the high-end of the maritime asymmetric warfare calculations, fast, nimble and light torpedo and anti-ship missile carrying vessels supported by dedicated or pseudo-motherships are potent, cost-effective ways of establishing sea control while also providing close-in support for larger, power projection focused naval task groups.
A modern PT-109?
Essential to the success of the high-tempo, hit and run tactics implemented by the US Navy during this period was the relative small, fast and inexpensive PT boat. Originally conceived as anti-ship weapons, building on the early success of the original destroyer type platforms, PT boats were publicly credited with successfully sinking several Japanese warships during the period between December 1941 and the fall of the Philippines in May 1942.
There are few international examples of vessels that fit the role of a contemporary PT boat, with most contemporary peer or near-peer competitor navies focused on establishing solely ‘high end’ capabilities –however, Australia’s unique operating environment, combined with the changing strategic environment, requires the joint development of a ‘high’ and ‘low’ capability mix of naval capabilities.
Taiwan is one such nation that has developed a credible contemporary to the PT boat. The Tuo Chiang Class corvettes have a top speed of 40 knots when fully armed with a suite of advanced, domestically manufactured anti-ship and anti-air cruise missile systems designed to counter the growing threat posed by the Chinese armed forces, namely the Chinese Navy and its growing submarine and surface warfare capabilities.
Looking further abroad, the Norwegian Navy has developed a modest fleet of superfast, stealth ‘missile corvettes’ in the Skjold Class, which weigh in at 274 tonnes fully loaded with a maximum speed of 60 knots (110km/h). The vessels incorporate a relatively potent arsenal for a vessel of their size, including eight Kongsberg Naval Strike Missiles and a 76mm mounted gun.
Australia’s fleet of F-35s are expected to be equipped with a modified variant of the Naval Strike Missile, the joint Norwegian and Australian developed Joint Strike Missile. Additionally, the Skjold Class has a relatively small crew requirement of about 14 and can be equipped with both Link 11 and Link 16 to better disseminate information between a range of ADF assets as part of the broader ‘joint force’.
Australia’s Arafura Class is designed to replace approximately 26 vessels across four warship classes currently in service with the Royal Australian Navy, including the Armidale, Huon, Leeuwin and Paluma Class vessels, while also providing additional support for deployed amphibious task groups centred on a Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD), and the future Supply Class fleet auxiliaries are designed to operate either independently or as part of a larger task group.
Accordingly, the Arafura Class could serve as a pseudo-mothership for small hunter-killer groups of the Australian Skjold Class vessels to support Australia power projection and sea control operations, while also supporting and protecting larger naval assets like the Canberra Class in high intensity operations – effectively establishing a ‘high’ and ‘low’ capability mix for the Royal Australian Navy.
Designed to hunt in packs, these highly capable vessels serve to mimic the wolf pack tactics of the German U-Boats, maximising the offensive capabilities of a force limited by domestic and broader international political realities. These platforms leverage their cost effective nature, combined with swarming tactics and the increasing capability and interoperability afforded by relatively cheap missile systems, to overwhelm the defences of multibillion-dollar warships and unarmed tankers.
The combination of these multi-domain capabilities affords nations and non-state actors to level the tactical and strategic battlefield when competing with middle and superpowers capable of fielding a range of costly, yet advanced, integrated and multi-domain power projection capabilities – doing so often forces these larger nations to consider their options, bringing them to the negotiating table and effectively nullifying their traditional strengths. (Source: Defence Connect)
09 June 19. Enigmatic ‘Bullet-Shaped’ US Plane Tested in Secrecy Ahead of Likely Maiden Flight – Report. The mysterious plane was first spotted back in 2017, but throughout the decade of its development, constructors have maintained a shroud of secrecy around the project, revealing next to no details about the potentially revolutionary aircraft.
The “bullet-shaped” Celera 500L, a mysterious pusher-propeller plane by Otto Aviation, was spotted doing high-speed taxi tests at the Southern California Logistics Airport near Victorville, US, The Drive reported. According to the magazine, the test may indicate that the plane is finally preparing for its maiden flight after around a decade of development in total secrecy.
The magazine noted that the plane has revamped wings since it was last seen in 2017, getting winglets at the tips. Celera 500L also apparently received a new propeller, an aerodynamic spinner and combined air intakes and exhausts. The latter will be used not just to redirect the exhaust, but to also give the plane additional propulsion by mixing gases with heated cooling air, according to the aircraft’s patent documents.
The Drive indicated that the plane, if what patents say is true, may be revolutionary for commercial air transportation. The declared fuel efficiency is up to 10 times better than those of comparable light passenger aircraft with altitude ceilings reaching up to 65,000 feet (around 20 kilometres) as opposed to around 30,000 feet (9 km) usually seen for this type of plane. Such high efficiency combined with an ability to take off even from the short runways of small airports will allow Celera 500L to turn the existing “hub-and-spoke” commercial aviation model upside down, The Drive stressed citing the patent documents. Right now, airlines use big airports as hubs to join smaller ones as direct flights between minor airports have proven to be economically inefficient due to high costs and half-full airplanes on such routes.
However, if the Celera 500L proves to be more efficient than regular light passenger planes, while providing the same or even greater ranges and comparable capacity and passenger comfort, the situation might change, The Drive indicated.
Still, few details are known so far about the plane itself. The US Federal Aviation Administration approved Celera 500L’s airworthiness in February 2019 and in its documents indicated that it uses a Raikhlin Aircraft Engine Developments (RED) A03 V12 engine, which are currently used on Yakovlev Yak-152 trainer aircraft for the Russian Air Force. At the same time, initial patent designs have suggested the use of a twin-engine powered propeller and it’s unclear if Otto Aviation ditched that idea or not.
Another unknown is if the Celera 500L is merely proof of a new type of aircraft or if it will eventually be turned into a full-fledged passenger airplane. The patent design shows a variant of the plane featuring windows and an emergency exit normally found on passenger planes, The Drive pointed out. The company developing the Celera has been silent about its plans through the course of the aircraft’s development, leaving aviation enthusiasts and media guessing about the plane’s planned capabilities and its purpose. (Source: News Now/https://sputniknews.com)
07 June 19. Integra secures contract from USAF to accelerate GaN/SiC technology. Integra Technologies has received a contract from the US Air Force (USAF) to accelerate technology and manufacturing readiness of its thermally enhanced gallium nitride / silicon carbide (GaN/SiC) technology. The two-year contract will offer the company an opportunity to commercialise its GaN/SiC technology, Integra noted.
The technology can be used for high-efficiency, solid-state radio frequency (RF) power applications.
Integra’s GaN/SiC technology will be suitable for high-power radar systems that require improved performance, increased range and reduced operating costs.
Integra Technologies president and CEO Suja Ramnath said: “We are excited to work with the airforce. Through this effort, we have the opportunity to commercialise our leap-ahead GaN/SiC technology to meet the high-efficiency performance and production readiness requirements of the US Department of Defense.”
The technology is designed to deliver advanced power and efficiency while operating at lower temperatures.
In order to optimise the GaN epitaxial wafer, device design and package design, Integra is leveraging its domestic research and development (R&D) and manufacturing platform.
The contract will also make preparations for the qualification of the thermally enhanced GaN/SiC for production.
Integra supplies RF and Microwave power semiconductor and pallet solutions for mission-critical applications.
The company is a supplier and partner to radar system original equipment manufacturers across North America, Europe and Asia. It serves weather radar, air traffic control, avionics and electronic warfare markets.
In November, the USAF awarded a contract to Qorvo to develop and implement a physics-based, unified GaN modelling framework to advance the design of GaN devices.
The contract seeks to reduce modelling and simulation costs in next-generation defence and commercial systems.
The service also signed a cooperative agreement with BAE Systems in September for GaN-based semiconductor technology development. (Source: naval-technology.com)
07 June 19. Immuta and LMI to develop analytics environments for US DoD. Immuta has partnered with government consultancy LMI to develop compliance analytics environments for the US Department of Defense (DoD).
Analytics environments will contribute to improved decision making surrounding weapons system readiness and sustainment, according to Immuta. The company’s automated data governance platform is a key feature of an integrated data analytics platform designed and managed by LMI for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
The Maintenance and Availability Data Warehouse (MADW) hosts data related to availability, cost, inventory, and transactions.
It comprises more than one billion maintenance records from 46 authoritative data systems on almost all DoD weapons system and readiness.
By integrating availability, cost, inventory, maintenance, and supply data, DoD leaders will have several analyses at their disposal that would assist them in their key decision making, Immuta stated.
LMI data visualisation and product development director Joseph Norton said: “Partnering with Immuta has enabled data scientists to leverage government data in compliance with appropriate governance regulations and privacy safeguards more quickly.
“Given the size of these data sets, Immuta has been a force multiplier in accelerating the delivery of insight to LMI’s clients. We value our partnership with Immuta and look forward to our clients reaping the benefits.”
The partnership will deliver benefits to LMI and its customers, including granular, as well as dynamic control of who is accessing data and for what purpose.
The Immuta platform ensures data is accessed in compliance with all applicable regulations.
Furthermore, the ability to deliver faster predictive insights will enhance the ability of DoD leaders to address critical military readiness challenges.
Immuta CEO Matthew Carroll stated that machine automation is required to augment human processes and support decision making.
Carroll added: “It can provide mission-critical insight that humans alone could not have found or at least could not have discovered in the timeframe necessary. This is especially true for our military and the agencies governing our defence.
“We’re proud to work with LMI to ensure the compliant and ethical use of data in the development of analytic environments that improve the stature and readiness of the US military.” (Source: army-technology.com)
07 June 19. Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group is now using advanced 3D printing from Stratasys (Nasdaq: SSYS) to manufacture, flight-ready parts for several of its military, civil and business aircraft – while producing specific ground-running equipment at a lower cost than aluminum alternatives. The company is currently one of the world’s largest privately owned and independent aerospace and defense companies.
Marshall already has several pieces of 3D-printed ductwork flying on heavily modified aircraft, as well as holders for safety knives and switches for aircraft interiors. 3D printing flight-approved parts on demand enables the company to produce lighter parts than traditional methods, significantly faster and at lower cost.
According to Chris Botting, Materials, Processes and Additive Manufacturing Engineer at Marshall ADG, the ability to create accurate, repeatable and reliable 3D printed parts using aerospace-approved materials are key factors in achieving the performance requirements necessary for use within aircraft.
“When manufacturing on complex engineering programs, we need a method that can create an accurate, complex, functional and lightweight duct efficiently with minimal tooling costs – this is where 3D printing fits perfectly. But we also need to ensure that the ducting work produced will be approved by the EASA for flight,” explains Botting. “As a result, we’re using the Stratasys Fortus 450mc FDM Printer and ULTEM™ 9085 resin – a tough, yet lightweight 3D printing material with high thermal and chemical resistance. This has been crucial to overcoming the stringent requirements of our industry, as we can now 3D print parts with the desired flame, smoke and toxicity properties for use on aircraft interiors.”
On the Ground Savings
The company is also utilizing its Fortus 450mc 3D printer, purchased from Stratasys UK and Ireland Platinum Partner SYS Systems, to build final parts on the ground. Marshall recently created a ducting adapter prototype for vital ground-running equipment – essential for providing fresh air to cool the aircraft’s avionics. 3D printing this particular part helped Marshall transition from typically costly aluminum processes.
“Before committing to expensive aluminum machining, we used the Fortus 450mc to 3D print a prototype in ASA material,” says Botting. “It enabled us to create an accurate working prototype of a complex component. We were then able to demonstrate it had the potential to be 3D printed in Nylon 12 material as opposed to the more conventional method of machining from aluminum. The 3D printed duct led to a significant cost reduction compared to machining the part out of aluminum, as well as a 63% reduction in overall weight.”
The group is also using Stratasys 3D printers for a range of complex tooling applications, including drill jigs, masking templates, bonded fixtures and composite mold tooling. The team regularly produces customized, low-volume production tools within just 24 hours of an engineer’s request. In fact, they are driving use of 3D-printed thermoplastic tools to replace heavy metal tools, reducing the burden on the operator, and crucially, reducing cost and lead times on urgent operational tasks.
Botting foresees the use of Stratasys FDM additive manufacturing to increase across all elements of the business and to drive new applications.
“FDM technology has altered the way we work, and the aerospace-grade 3D printers and materials enable us to meet our increasingly aggressive deadlines and complex manufacturing requirements,” Botting said. “In the future, there is no doubt that 3D printing will continue to have a significant impact in the way we design and manufacture in our business.”
To learn more about Stratasys’ additive manufacturing solutions for the aerospace industry, visit Hall 4, Stand D192 at the International Paris Air Show, 2019, June 17th – 23rd, Paris, France.
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.