Sponsored By Oxley Developments
02 Jul 19. Saab opens new innovation centre in UK to boost research capabilities. Saab has opened a new innovation centre in the UK to undertake research and development (R&D) projects. The Sweden-based aerospace and defence company has invested an initial £3.5m in the UK Innovation Hub, located at Imperial College London’s White City Campus.
The investment will fund Saab’s UK-wide network of R&D projects and is expected to increase in the future.
Saab noted that the innovation hub will serve as the focal point for managing the company’s investments in UK-based projects.
Imperial College London’s Institute of Security Science and Technology (ISST) is implementing the partnership with Saab.
The initial focus of the innovation hub will be on radar technology, and Saab will fund a research project at ISST into multi-static and multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) radars.
The hub is expected to broaden its scope to include electronic warfare and cybersecurity in the future.
UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to the Nordic and Baltic region Mark Prisk said: “I am delighted to support the opening of Saab’s new Innovation Hub, which serves as the focal point for their initial £3.5m investment.
“It’s brilliant to see companies like Saab capitalising on the UK’s cutting edge R&D capabilities and partnering with one of our leading universities. Their investment further strengthens the enduring bond between the UK and Sweden.”
In December, Saab opened the UK’s first Digital Control Tower at Cranfield Airport in partnership with Cranfield University.
Head of Saab UK Andrew Walton said: “Saab has a 40-year record of being a trusted partner with the United Kingdom.
“By building on our ongoing work with Cranfield University and opening our new UK Innovation Hub with Imperial College London, we are demonstrating our continuing commitment to investing in the UK and our confidence in Britain as a hotbed of innovation and talent.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
02 Jul 19. Rohde & Schwarz extends frequency range of its industry leading R&S SMA100B RF and microwave signal generator up to 67 GHz. The analog microwave signal generator R&S SMA100B now provides microwave signals up to 67 GHz with industry-leading RF performance. In overrange operation, it even provides signals up to 72 GHz. The R&S SMA100B generates signals with lowest single sideband phase noise and highest output power with extremely low harmonics at the same time.
With the new frequency options, the R&S SMA100B now covers frequency ranges of up to 31.8 GHz, 40 GHz, 50 GHz and 67 GHz. The analog microwave signal generator supports all relevant application fields in the aerospace & defense, wireless communications and semiconductor industries. The R&S SMA100B is a future proof investment for all microwave applications and an ideal instrument for the characterization of microwave components, devices and systems.
The 40 GHz instrument covers all major radar bands, and with the 67 GHz instrument engineers have a signal source that covers the emerging Q/V band used for very high throughput satellite feeder links. With the introduction of the 5G mobile network standard, first commercial deployments will use frequencies up to 39 GHz or even higher, while the use of frequencies beyond 40 GHz is under investigation. The 67 GHz instrument supports component testing in the 60 GHz frequency range also for non-cellular standards such as IEEE 802.11ad and in overrange operation for standards such as IEEE 802.11ay.
Purest signals for first class devices
Thanks to its ultra low phase noise option, the R&S SMA100B can output the purest RF signals with a single sideband phase noise of -120 dBc/Hz (40 GHz, 20 kHz offset; measured). The R&S SMA100B signal generator can act as an ideal local oscillator (LO) during radar system integration or in radar test systems. With the increase in sample rates of analog to digital converters (ADC) and digital to analog converters (DAC), clean RF carriers with lowest phase noise and lowest wideband noise are required. Lowest wideband noise of -150 dBc/Hz (e.g. at 30 GHz, 40 MHz offset; measured) helps to measure the true performance of a device. With this industry-leading instrument, users can ensure their products and devices have a technological lead and a clear competitive advantage.
Highest output power with lowest harmonics
At microwave frequencies, attenuation from cables and test fixtures is usually a concern. The R&S SMA100B offers different output power stages to compensate for these losses. Users can upgrade their 31.8 GHz, 40 GHz, 50GHz and 67GHz instrument to ultra high power performance via a keycode without having to send the instrument back to service. With the ultra high output power option, the instruments provide sufficient output power with extremely low harmonics, eliminating the need for external amplifiers and filters and simplifying setups at the same time. Equipped with the ultra high output power option, a 40GHz instrument delivers up to 27dBm at 25 GHz, while a 67GHz instrument provides up to 23 dBm at 40GHz and up to 17 dBm at 67GHz.
High dynamic uninterrupted level sweep and Scan AM
The R&S SMA100B provides more than 70 dB of uninterrupted RF level sweep without glitches or signal blanks during the level sweep. With an ultra high output power option installed, the R&S SMA100B is ideal for measuring the gain transfer curve or output saturation point of high power devices such as amplifiers based on GaN technology or traveling wave tube amplifiers (TWTAs) used in modern satellites. When equipped with the Scan AM software option, the R&S SMA100B can simulate amplitude variation coming from scanning radar antennas in order to perform receiver tests with modulation depths of more than 70dB.
Plug & play with R&S LegacyPro
The R&S SMA100B is included in the R&S LegacyPro program and can easily replace obsolete signal generators from Rohde & Schwarz and other manufacturers in automated test environments without the need to modify the test software. The R&S SMA100B RF and microwave signal generator with all new options is now available from Rohde & Schwarz. For more information, visit: https://www.rohde-schwarz.com/ad/press/purest-signal
02 Jul 19. Modern battleships: Arsenal ships and next-gen surface long-range maritime strike. While aircraft carriers will continue to serve a pivotal role in the era of increasingly advanced, long-range integrated anti-access/area denial (A2/AD), heavily armed arsenal ships have been floated as complementary platforms that can enhance the lethality of contemporary navies – supporting destroyers, cruisers, frigates and aircraft carriers and amphibious power projection operations.
Prior to the successful raids against the Italian naval base at Taranto and US naval base at Pearl Harbour, the battleship and its quicker brother, the battlecruiser, were the undisputed king of the seas. Heavily armoured and armed, they came to represent not only the prestige of the nation, but also served to highlight the intention and power projection capability of great powers.
However, as is inevitable, the passage of time and rapid evolution of technology rapidly diminished the power and relevance of the battleship – the Pacific theatre and to a lesser extent the Battle for the Atlantic gave rise to the aircraft carrier and its revolutionary carrier air wing and the power projection capabilities afforded to aircraft carriers and their supporting task groups.
By the end of the Second World War, the battleship had seemingly reached the pinnacle of its design, armour, speed and offensive capability – culminating in a series of designs built by Germany, Japan, the UK and the US. It seemed as if the era of the battleship was at an end – while the Soviet Union and its successor, Russia, operate the nuclear powered Kirov Class, only the US would retain the battleship comparable in the now famous Iowa Class.
As carrier-based combat aircraft and their weapons systems and long-range precision munitions became ever more advanced throughout the Cold War, even the US phased the venerable battleship out of service – replaced by advanced guided missile cruisers, destroyers and frigates powered by increasingly advanced radars like the SPY-1 system and supporting Aegis combat system, and armed with a suite of advanced gun and missile systems.
The advent of advanced integrated anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) networks in the Indo-Pacific, combined with increasingly capable anti-ship cruise and ballistic missile batteries and integrated air defence networks supported by long-range precision fire from short batteries, have limited the effectiveness of carrier-based strike aircraft with their limited range and payload capacity.
In response, both the US and Russia have sought to respond with a modern incarnation of the battleship, a heavily armed long-range maritime strike platform capable of supporting aircraft carrier strike groups and amphibious operations; the arsenal ship.
The US arsenal ship and DD-21
Initially proposed by the US Navy in 1996 – the early concepts of the arsenal ship highlighted a ship with a comparatively small crew and as many as 500 vertical launch tubes to provide ship-to-shore bombardment and fire support for amphibious operations fulfilling the role traditionally occupied by the battleships of old and to a limited extent guided missile cruisers, destroyers and frigates.
However, while US Congress cancelled funding for the project in 1998 – the US Navy modified the four oldest Ohio Class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) to a guided missile role (SSGN), allowing them to carry up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles using vertical launching systems (VLS) installed in the ballistic missile tubes. The modified SSGN were used to great affect in operations against the regimes of Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar Al-Asad.
Building on this and the ensuing trial of the Ohio Class concept, the US Navy initiated development of the DD-21, which would eventually become the Zumwalt Class guided missile destroyer that would serve as a test-bed for a follow on cruiser concept and incorporate a range of advanced weapons systems, including an electromagnetic rail gun and a battery of approximately 256 VLS tubes.
It was also anticipated that the DD-21, the Zumwalt Class and follow-on cruiser would make use of an advanced gun system (AGS), which would also make use of guided rocket-assisted five-inch munitions that could be rolled out across the rest of the fleet and, potentially, allied fleets including the Royal Australian Navy.
Russia’s Kirov and Lider Class
Russia and the preceding Soviet Union established a small fleet of heavily armed, nuclear powered Kirov Class battlecruisers designed to counter the traditional maritime dominance of the US Navy’s aircraft carriers and supporting strike groups and to rapidly intervene in any potential US support travelling across the Atlantic in the event of a Soviet invasion of western Europe.
However, the heavily armed vessels while undergoing a suite of modernisation programs – the Kirov Class is expected to eventually make way for a fleet of advanced Lider Class guided missile destroyers designed to replace the Kirov Class vessels in the anti-shipping and long-range maritime strike role, with a focus on establishing sea control and enhancing Russia’s growing sea control ambitions.
A new piece to the jigsaw puzzle
Arsenal ships are designed to fulfil a unique role within the overall confines of contemporary naval doctrines and force structures. Such vessels when integrated as part of carrier or amphibious strike groups can also serve two roles – one of the supplementary air defence escort and the second being the long range maritime strike for ship-to-shore and anti-ship roles.
Australia is defined by its relationship and access to the ocean, with strategic sea-lines-of-communication supporting over 90 per cent of global trade, a result of the cost effective and reliable nature of sea transport. Indo-Pacific Asia is at the epicentre of the global maritime trade, with about US$5trn worth of trade flowing through the South China Sea and the strategic waterways and choke points of south-east Asia annually. The Indian Ocean and its critical global sea-lines-of-communication are responsible for more than 80 per cent of the world’s seaborne trade in critical energy supplies, namely oil and natural gas, which serve as the lifeblood of any advanced economy.(Source: Defence Connect)
01 Jul 19. Cougar Acquires Advanced Technology Aircraft to Fill Market Gap. Cougar Aircraft Corp has acquired the assets of the GA-7 Cougar light twin aircraft, designed and formerly produced by Grumman Gulfstream, famous for military and executive jets. Cougar now owns the FAA Type Certificate A17SO, the technology, production tools, and world-wide rights needed to build this aircraft. The GA-7 is a perfect solution to fill the urgent need in the training market, and with its robust construction can handle the real-life flight testing required to advance to the next stages in alternative propulsion.
The aviation training market has exploded with airline demand, and it is forecast that training over 800,000 pilots worldwide will generate a need for thousands of new planes. That adds up to potential sales of over $7bn USD. Market demand to produce new training planes has increased so much the one major light plane maker has revealed a 700-plane backorder and $350m in annual turnover.
The GA-7 is a proven and respected aircraft that offers a safe and profitable training platform; what’s more, modified GA-7s have already flown with alternative powerplants. The GA-7 uses advanced fighter jet construction derived from its Grumman heritage, combined with simple modular assembly, allowing for low cost, high volume production of new aircraft. As an added bonus, the GA-7 offers an exceptionally long service life of its main wing components at 42,000 hours – compared to a typical 12,000-hour service life. This means many more profitable flight hours and less frequent aircraft fleet replacements.
The GA-7 could become the first and perhaps only light twin manufactured in China. Acquisition of an existing Type Certificate, which is valid forever, can save 10 years and many millions of dollars compared with development of a new, unproven aircraft model. With both single and twin-engine aircraft models and a 5,000 square meter facility ready to start production immediately, this is a golden opportunity for Chinese participation in aircraft manufacturing at a fraction of the usual cost of entry.
Cougar Aircraft Corp is now inviting investors and suppliers to participate in their exclusive FAA and CAAC world-wide rights to bring these aircraft to a global market that is clearly in need of many more airplanes. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
01 Jul 19. Royal Navy tasks team to add AI to UUVs. The Royal Navy is exploring the addition of using artificial intelligence (AI) to task autonomous submersibles to hunt underwater mines. BAE Systems’ Applied intelligence business line and geospatial and data company Envitia have teamed to provide this to the service under the navy’s Route Survey & Tasking Analysis (RSTA) project, which will involve them adapting autonomous systems with AI, delivering this for routine mine countermeasure missions by 2022.
Mine-hunting is currently carried out by a fleet of mine-hunter ships using sonar to survey seabeds looking for anomalies, but these new AI-enabled submersibles will be able to scan an object, identify the threat, and make decisions about what to do with it more quickly.
As part of the Mine Countermeasures and Hydrographic Capability (MHC) programme, RSTA will intelligently task a fleet of autonomous vehicles, utilising machine learning, to analyse mission conditions and improve the success rate of all its missions over time.
‘AI is set to play a key role in the future of the service,’ Adm Phillip Jones, former First Sea Lord, said.
‘As modern warfare becomes ever faster, and ever more data-driven, our greatest asset will be the ability to cut through the deluge of information to think and act decisively.’
Envitia is the prime contractor for the project, working with BAE Systems Applied Intelligence to deliver RSTA, one of the first applications to be built on the Royal Navy-developed NELSON data platform, a common data platform to deliver coherent access to Royal Navydata at sea and ashore.
‘We’re delighted to be supporting Envitia on this important project, it is hugely complementary to our work on programme NELSON and demonstrates our commitment to supporting SMEs in the UK MoD marketplace,’ Sandy Boxall, BAE Systems sales director, added.
In addition, Envitia is utilising its maritime geospatial toolkit to deliver services into the application, to ensure RSTA has accurate and up-to-date maritime data for each mission.
‘Envitia has a strong heritage with maritime data, and this project demonstrates the successful journey Envitia has been on since last year, working with our customers to utilise authoritative data to aid mission planning through to post-mission analysis,’ Nabil Lodey, Envitia’s CEO, noted.
‘This application has the potential to transform mine surveying and increase the efficiency of the navy mine-hunting capability, and we are proud to be leading the way.’ (Source: Shephard)
02 Jul 19. German Army selects Systematic’s SitaWare Headquarters. The German Army has selected Systematic’s SitaWare Headquarters to enhance the command-and-control capabilities of its deployable command posts.
SitaWare extends the German Army’s legacy C2 system and can be operated on in-service IT platforms. It enables seamless connectivity between existing national and international systems.
“The advanced command-and-control functions and comprehensive situational awareness picture that the system features improve the existing C2 capabilities of the German Army,” explains Sven Trusch, Vice President of Business of Development at Systematic. “Interoperability is a core element of SitaWare’s capabilities and the software will greatly improve the army’s ability to undertake operations with its partners. Few militaries conduct missions independently, therefore we understand that it is crucial for information from our systems to be made available to others, even those that do not operate with SitaWare.” Trusch adds.
The C2 package will largely be deployed at division and brigade command posts and will be complemented by Systematic’s IRIS WebForms software, which provides a Military Text Format (MTF) capability.
SitaWare is operationally proven and the German Armed Forces already have long-term experience with the software. Headquarters is the core of the Mission Enabling Service Bundeswehr, which is hosted on the HaFIS IT platform and provides the current operational picture for the Bundeswehr Joint Forces Operations Command in Potsdam.
The first operational deployment of SitaWare Headquarters with the German Army will be in support of the service’s role as the Framework Nation in NATO’s Lithuania-based Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup. There, the C2 system will be fielded with the 10th Armoured Division’s 104th Tank Battalion, which is spearheading the army’s contribution to the eFP.
Among other tasks, SitaWare Headquarters will provide a detailed Common Operating Picture to commanders and enable shared situational awareness with partners, notably the Lithuanian Land Forces, who are equipped with SitaWare Headquarters and Frontline and will be fitting their new Boxer armoured fighting vehicles (Vilkas) with SitaWare Frontline.
The eFP Battlegroup in Lithuania is one of four multinational battlegroups established along NATO’s Eastern flank. The deployments are intended to enhance security and undertake training to improve cohesion and interoperability between NATO members. SitaWare functions across all echelons of the battlespace, from multi-national headquarters through to mounted applications and dismounts. SitaWare is operationally proven and in service in over 30 countries, with both conventional and special forces personnel.
29 Jun 19. Are enemies one heartbeat away from being found out? The key to targeted killing is surveillance and verification. This element of counterinsurgency warfare looks for clear targets and makes sure that the people found are the same people that intelligence points to. This style of conflict is also one reason drones have so dominated the popular understanding of America’s long-running war. Now, this idea is also the impetus behind a Pentagon program called “Jetson,” which can identify unique biometric signatures from heartbeats using a laser.
The device, as reported by MIT Technology Review, detects a person’s “unique cardiac signature with an infrared laser” at up to 650 feet away from the person in question, with longer ranges possible in the future.
That kind of range is impressive, and it can work through light clothing, though it’s likely stopped by heavier garments and, one would imagine, body armor. This is because the laser reads vibrations on the surface of the person. A special gimbal holds the beam in focus so the laser can, over 30 seconds, identify a unique signature.
As the MIT Technology Review noted, finding a unique signature in a database first requires those databases, and so a collection of biometric information is a first step before using a laser to confirm a person is who the sensor says they are. In countries where the U.S. military regularly collects biometric information, that’s one way for the military to build the database, though there are also plenty of other avenues for people to volunteer information, like heartbeats, to commercial tracking services.
Asymmetric warfare has a long tradition of uniformed forces trying new approaches to distinguish between civilians and irregular combatants. Should biometric targeting become a regular part of this future, the laws of war will likely need to explicitly address the questions facing data processing broadly: can the model account for false positives? Does living in an occupied country invalidate a claim to the privacy of one’s own heartbeat? Can the data be maliciously spoofed, leading to failure at the point of the data set that might be imperceptible to users?
Jetson was built at the request of U.S. Special Forces and fits into a broader set of tools for quietly executing the assigned tasks of long-running war. It will likely, within the parameters it was designed for, help fulfill those existing objectives. It is not hard to imagine the technology finding a home with internal security forces, where the conditions and legalities are different. Jetson is, after all, adapted from a commercial vibration-reading tool, and could likely be incorporated into a range of sensor packages as an additional feature. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
28 June 19. SelectTech to develop roll-on conference capsules for USAF. SelectTech Services has received a contract from the US Air Force (USAF) for the design, development, integration, test and delivery of two Roll-On Conference Capsules (ROCC). The $8.5m contract was awarded by the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Mobility and Training Aircraft Directorate as part of a competitive acquisition process dedicated to small businesses. The ROCC will serve as a transport module that will be loaded into the cargo compartment of the C-17A Globemaster III.
It is intended to replace the existing Silver Bullet modified airstream trailers for officials travelling abroad in C-17 aircraft.
The USAF will certify the capsules for personnel occupancy and use during all phases of flight on board the aircraft.
The ROCC has the ability to provide a private, enclosed work area and rest space to allow senior leaders and their travel teams to work and rest while travelling.
It comprises two modules, one for the private area and the other is the conference room / staff area.
These modules will be connected with the USAF’s Steel Eagle Communications Suite to enable users to have connectivity during C-17 flight operations.
The Steel Eagle pallet will provide electrical power and communications capability to the ROCC.
Mobility and Training Aircraft Directorate C-17 Capabilities Branch materiel leader lieutenant colonel Bena Sellers said: “We are very excited to award this contract and to eventually field the Roll-On Conference Capsules.
“The team has been working on a Silver Bullet replacement for a little over three years now starting with defining the ROCC requirements with the customer.
“We are looking forward to providing senior leaders with an airworthy product that allows them to stay connected, continuing to execute their mission in flight.”
The contract includes an option to support and sustain both ROCCs for up to three years, SelectTech noted. The company aims to deliver the first ROCC for USAF airworthiness testing next year. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
25 Jun 19. US Navy, Marine Corps Boost Investment in AI Platforms. With the promise of streamlining operations and assisting human operators with making decisions faster, both the Navy and the Marine Corps are working on ways to better integrate artificial intelligence into their weapons systems and business practices. The Navy’s fiscal year 2020 budget request targeted the development of artificial intelligence platforms, said Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer.
“As we move from rebuilding readiness to owning the next fight, this budget prioritizes a balanced and strategy-driven approach to provide for a bigger, better trained and more ready force,” he said in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in April. To get at that, it is requesting investments in capabilities in emerging areas such as applied artificial intelligence and machine learning, he added.
In the budget proposal, the Navy requests a 9.5 percent bump in funding over fiscal year 2019 for its research-and-development account, which includes the development of items such as unmanned systems and artificial intelligence.
The Navy is currently employing AI for automated data processing on its unmanned systems, said Jason Stack, the Office of Naval Research’s autonomy portfolio manager and director of its ocean, atmosphere and space research division.
The Navy is using AI for mine countermeasure missions, he said. Unmanned underwater vehicles equipped with artificial intelligence can collect sonar data, examine it and then recognize mines and discard clutter, he said in an email.
The service has already fielded initial AI capabilities, known as automatic target recognition, or “bell ringers,” that assist the human analysts in finding mines, Stack said.
It is also using AI for anti-submarine warfare missions where sensors collect sonar data and machine learning is then used to separate distant enemy submarines from noise, he said.
“Future and more sophisticated AI will be able to simultaneously process a wider array of sensor data and account for more variability in environmental conditions,” he added.
More advanced systems will eventually be able to operate in more extreme and challenging environments, he said. They will one day achieve the performance and trust necessary to be used in a fully autonomous mode and guide vehicle behaviors in real time, Stack said.
Tom Callender, a senior research fellow for defense programs focusing on naval warfare and advanced technologies at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, noted that the Navy is already investing heavily in a slew of new unmanned systems that require artificial intelligence and automation to function. Some of these include the MQ-25 Stingray aerial refueling drone, the Sea Hunter unmanned surface vessel — which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and transitioned to the Navy — as well as a number of unmanned underwater vehicles of varying sizes.
“Especially with the fiscal year ‘20 budget request … [we’ve seen] an acceleration and prioritization of what I would call unmanned systems … across the various domains,” he said.
The Navy is working on ways to mature these systems in terms of autonomy, speed, endurance and payload as well as developing proper concepts of operations and tactics, he added.
The Navy is also using artificial intelligence for military planning purposes, Stack said.
“AI is used to help tactical and operational commanders optimize highly complex planning problems involving resource allocation and scheduling,” he said. “While this is analogous to non-defense problems such as package delivery, military planning also involves highly dynamic and uncertain situations where loss of equipment is a non-trivial concern.”
To that end, AI platforms are particularly well suited to assessing the effectiveness of a plan in execution and could determine when and where modifications need to be made, Stack noted.
However, despite the utility artificial intelligence offers the Navy, there are still several challenges that must be overcome, he noted.
For example, the service often uses “target-poor” data, he said.
“We have seemingly infinite volumes of sonar data from the ocean, yet the number of data points containing enemy mines or submarines is relatively very small,” Stack said. “This is particularly relevant given that many of today’s best AI approaches, e.g., deep-architectures, learn not only how to make decisions but also learn the underlying representations on which those decisions are based.”
Such systems require large and “target-rich” datasets, he added.
Another major challenge area is endowing machines with the intelligence to understand how well they can perform, are performing and did perform at a given task, Stack said.
It is essential for machines to understand their own proficiency, which is a key element of making AI platforms trusted partners for sailors, he noted.
Another challenge is giving a machine the ability to learn continuously throughout its lifetime, he said.
“This is a research problem because, unlike humans, if you teach an AI [platform] something new in isolation you typically degrade or destroy most of what it knew just before that training evolution,” Stack said.
Lastly, there is still a need to make artificial intelligence platforms robust and adaptable enough to work in environments that have high variability, he said.
“For example, today’s AI systems are typically made more agile by taking the novel data and experiences and sending them back to the engineers and programmers that built the system such that they can account for such experiences in the next software upgrade,” Stack said. “The research challenge is to endow the AI with the ability to adapt in situ to much of this real-world variability.”
Callender noted that some of the key areas for AI utilization within the Navy — such as optimizing logistics, spare parts management and maintenance — aren’t high profile.
It “isn’t as ‘sexy’ as far as the news,” he said. But it “is a key piece that’s very important to the warfighting community.”
AI systems can alert maintainers to when they need to repair or change a piece of equipment, he noted. That will be a critical function as the Navy works to better integrate sensors, algorithms and databases.
Meanwhile, the Marine Corps is also gung-ho about adopting new artificial intelligence platforms into its weapon systems, and is currently using the technology in numerous experiments, said Brig. Gen. Christian Wortman, the commander of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.
There is “a lot of room for experimentation here and we’re doing a lot of learning,” he said during the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space conference in May.
Over the past year, the service has been conducting a fires limited technical assessment where AI played a key role, he said.
The experiment “was highly reliant on AI-enabled mission planning tools [and] loitering munitions that had really interesting autonomy packages and some AI components to them,” he noted.
The warfighting lab is also partnering with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on a program known as Squad X that is meant to give dismounted soldiers and Marines increased situational awareness, Wortman said.
Squad X “takes robotics, unmanned and autonomous systems, provides some AI to those systems and allows them to operate collaboratively with the Marine rifle squad, with the Marine rifle platoon,” he said.
The service also plans to embark on a dense urban operations experiment this summer which will integrate unmanned and autonomous systems into Marine Corps units, he noted.
The service wants to add autonomy to numerous mission areas including long-range precision fires, information warfare, electronic warfare, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, military information support, logistics and protected mobility, Wortman said.
“Certainly, there are lots of options in each one of those areas,” he said.
There also needs to be foundational investments in areas such as the network, data strategy, development of tools, algorithms, AI engines and training and education, he said.
The overall goal for many of these applications is to reduce the cognitive load on Marines, he noted. Artificial intelligence platforms that can analyze data on the fly are one way to help with that, he added.
“I have images of Marines walking around with a whole bunch of radio handsets and a whole bunch of user interfaces overwhelmed by the technology,” Wortman said. “We need to streamline that. We need to make it more intuitive. We need to harness it in a manner that allows them to better understand their environment and helps with the types of decisions that need to be made in order for them to be effective.”
But as the Marine Corps pursues AI tools, it is also important to recognize that future battles may be fought in contested areas where data links can be broken, he noted.
“We have to have the assumption that we’re going to be in an electromagnetic-spectrum contested environment,” Wortman said. “Heightened levels of autonomous capability will be critically important. And using AI to compress the amount of data that we need to transmit and to be selective about when we transmit, will be an important component to make sure that humans are in the loop for the critical decisions that need to be made.”
While AI may be useful in assisting operations on the battlefield, it can also be helpful for business and support operations, Wortman noted. There are “machine learning and artificial intelligence tools that make that more efficient, allow us to do better data analysis and predictive analysis and make better informed decisions,” he said. (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
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.