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15 Aug 19. Technology born from the US and Israel’s special defence relationship. Israel and the US have for decades held a strong military relationship that has defined the countries’ foreign policies. This partnership is more than just geo-political, with military technology forming a central tenant. Army Technology looks at some key Israeli defence industry programmes in which the US has an interest.
Iron Dome, Israel’s advanced short-range air defence system, has been acquired by the US marking a new step in two countries’ partnership on the system. Iron Dome has seen $1.4bn of US funding from the beginning of its development until now. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) say that the system has a near 90% success rate in neutralising enemy rockets, missiles and mortar fires.
One of the things that sets Iron Dome apart is how it assesses where projectiles fired into Israel will land. Anything that is predicted to land in an uninhabited area is not shot down, cutting costs and increasing efficiencies.
In 2014 US defence contractor Raytheon became an active partner in the programme, alongside Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries. This deal moved some production to the US and has led to Raytheon developing a US version of Iron Dome called SkyHunter.
A source at Rafael Advanced Systems told Army Technology: “Rafael has been active in the US for over 25 years, in which it has made a significant operational and technological contribution to the US Military and specifically to the Army’s operational capabilities, survival, manoeuvrability and lethality.”
Named after the story of David and Goliath, David’s Sling is another missile system developed under the cooperation between the US and Israel, with the US footing $1.8bn of the development costs.
Rafael said: “Rafael and Raytheon have jointly developed the already operational David’s Sling Air Defense System, which has just completed another series of interception tests in Israel. 50% of David’s Sling production takes place in 20 states in the US.”
This system is a part of Israel’s layered approach to air defence, covering medium ranges and neutralising threats through kinetic force rather than a conventional warhead. Like Iron Dome, the system is another partnership between Rafael and Raytheon, with work split between the US and Israel.
The system has an operational range of 25-185 miles (40-300km) and entered service in 2017 as a replacement for Israel’s earlier Hawk and Patriot missile systems produced in the US. The US Missile Defense Agency is said to be interested in David’s Sling as part of future air defences.
Israel was the first country to fly combat operations using Lockheed Martin’s F-35 advanced fighter platform, buying 50. The country is the only one to receive its own tailor-made variant, the F-35I Adir, making Israel’s F-35 is unlike any other.
Israel secured the purchase with an agreement for the US to make reciprocal purchases from Israeli defence contractors for each F-35 bought, which could total $4bn. Israel also secured deals for its defence sector with Israeli Aeronautics Industries, rather than Lockheed Martin, carrying out depot-level maintenance.
The country also secured an agreement with Lockheed Martin to run its own software alongside Lockheed Martin’s flight operating system. For the US, Israel having a more advanced F-35 in the Middle East allows it to exert power through its strategic ally.
Rafael said: “Throughout the years, Rafael has signed numerous joint ventures with American companies for joint development, production and marketing of air, land and marine systems. American companies involved in such partnerships include Boeing, GD, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, DRS and many more.
United States-Israel Anti-Tunnel Defense Cooperation Act
This joint US and Israel endeavour is designed to enhance technology from the mining and energy sectors to ‘listen’ to the digging of tunnels through vibrations. The system will serve a dual purpose in the national security of both nations as they seek to stop tunnels traversing their borders.
For the US the goal of the system is to help detect cartels building tunnels to transport drugs before they can be completed, and for Israel to prevent Hamas tunnels emerging from the Gaza Strip. Since 2016 the programme has seen $177m of US investment according to a report from the Congressional Research Service.
This month Israel reportedly tested the tunnel detection technology, however, it has yet to publish details. The US is also interested in the anti-tunnel technology after extensive use of tunnelling by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
Elbit’s unmanned aerial systems
Elbit Systems is an Israeli company specialising in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) now with a US-based division. A focus of this collaboration is the Elbit Hermes 450 medium-sized unmanned aerial vehicle. Used by the Israel Air Force as an assault UAS, it has been frequently used in air-raids on the Gaza Strip. In the US, the US Customs and Border Protection agency used them for surveillance on the US-Mexico border. The Elbit Hermes 450 also forms the backbone of the UK’s Watchkeeper programme which brings together Elbit and Thales.
Elbit) has seen its technology employed in different ways by the US and Israel. The Israel Air Force has modified the company’s Hermes 450 to be an assault vehicle, equipping it with hellfire missiles. The US, on the other hand, has employed unarmed drones on the US-Mexico border for surveillance and policing purposes.
Elbit Systems came into existence in 1966, opening a US arm of the company Elbit Systems of America in 1993. The US wing of Elbit started life as a key contractor in the F-16 programme. Since then the company has expanded its US operation to cover eight states. (Source: army-technology.com)
12 Aug 19. US Army researchers use AI to extend battery life. The Army Research Office is funding research that uses artificial intelligence to identify materials that can transform energy storage, with possible ramifications for soldiers on the battlefield and everyday consumers.
Army-funded researchers at Cornell University are using AI to process possible configurations of elements to come up with combinations for possible alloys that scientists can test to see if they can contribute to more efficient energy storage.
Dr. Purush Iyer, the network sciences division chief at the Army Research Office, which is part of the Army Research Laboratory, told FCW via phone that, while the research is ongoing, it’s already proven to be useful.
“Power is absolutely important in the Army. Soldiers walk from place to place carrying their gear. They have tons of equipment with them [and] tend to carry very expensive batteries. It can be a limiting factor,” Iyer said.
“Portable, safe, fuel cells are definitely incredibly important,” and has potential beyond defense, such as in the automotive industry and electric cars.
Iyer said the method will lead to more applications to address materials science challenges.
“The problem is not solved yet; it’s not settled. And people are working on it from multiple angles,” Iyer said. Research is limited by how quickly experiments materialize, data is analyzed, and results culminate from betting on the right combinations of materials that yield the right properties, he added.
The hope is that extended life battery fuel tech would be employable in the next five to ten years, Iyer said, but is hard to pinpoint a timeline for field delivery. But he drilled in on this point: DOD and society writ large needs to manage expectations around artificial intelligence.
“Machine learning is not a silver bullet, you have to apply it in a very, very refined way to get the kind of benefits that are necessary,” Iyer said. (Source: Defense Systems)
14 Aug 19. New supercomputer will help prevent nuclear weapon testing. The Department of Energy’s newest supercomputer will be capable of conducting 1.5 quintillion calculations per second, making it more powerful than the world’s current second most powerful supercomputer.
The department announced Aug. 13 that it had inked a $600m deal with Cray Inc. to build its third exascale-class supercomputer. Among other responsibilities, the Energy Department is charged with maintaining the United States’ stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Dubbed “El Capitan,” the supercomputer is part of the Exascale Computing Project, a DOE effort to increase computing power so that the department can run highly advanced simulations and modelling of the United States’ nuclear arsenal. These simulations help alleviate the need for underground testing. El Capitan is expected to be used by the department’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s weapons design laboratories to run 3D simulations that are too difficult for today’s state-of-the-art supercomputers.
“NNSA is modernizing the Nuclear Security Enterprise to face 21st century threats,” said Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the NNSA administrator and the department’s under secretary for nuclear security, said in a release. “El Capitan will allow us to be more responsive, innovative, and forward-thinking when it comes to maintaining a nuclear deterrent that is second to none in a rapidly-evolving threat environment.”
El Capitan will be located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. The department’s two other supercomputers, Aurora and Frontier, are located at Argonne National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, respectively. All three supercomputers are being built by Cray. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
14 Aug 19. Can swarming drones map battles in real time? Against the gray sky, the black robots hum. The swarm moves without words, mapping the neighborhood below, a flurry of buzzing and plotting, sharp angles and short orbits, creating in real time a blanket of surveillance over the selected objective. Part of DARPA’s OFFSET (OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics) program, the quadcopters are pieces in a greater whole, an incremental step to providing an expansive robot’s-eye view to humans fighting on the ground.
The neighborhood in question for this exercise was an urban warfare training complex at Fort Benning, Georgia, in June 2019. Flying through and over the “Selby Combined Arms Collective Training Facility,” the quadcopters worked with ground robots to identify locations of interest and then create a perimeter around that objective, in a process DARPA likens to “the way a firefighting crew establishes a boundary around a burning building.”
Firefighting looms large in the modern conception of swarm tasks. In January 2019, the Air Force Research Laboratory, together with the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, launched a project for drone swarms to model wildfires, with lessons applicable to military and battlefield uses. Finding danger and plotting a path for humans through it is an ideal task for robots.
In DARPA’s OFFSET exercise, the swarm had to find a mock city hall, an objective inside that building, and then provide situational awareness over the area in runs that lasted 30 minutes. Using commercial off-the-shelf machines and custom software, the program wants to create in real life as close to the kind of real-time tactical information a person might find in a strategy video game.
OFFSET is scheduled to have new exercises and new updates roughly every six months for the next two years, with the June sprint the second in the series. The end goal is for swarms of up to 250 drones to operate autonomously, providing real-time information to humans who can then move through the battlefield confident that the area has at least been robotically scouted and monitored.
As the Pentagon’s blue-sky projects wing, DARPA is focused on advancing the technology to the point where it can be picked up and refined by other labs or industry. Building tactics from the new capabilities, and machines specific to swarm-human teaming, will have to come later. It’s worth looking at the swarms as a possible component of future battlefields, and when designing technologies to meet the needs of the now, keeping an open mind to how swarms might change or hinder those same functions. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
13 Aug 19. Israelis Test Classified Tunnel Tech To Stymie Terrorists; US Watches. It is a highly classified system based on sensors that monitor what is happening on the ground and provide warning in the event of a cavity discovery, but its full details may not be published.
Israel has developed systems that are uncovering a great number of tunnels that cross the Israeli border from Gaza and Lebanon.
These technologies are being studied by the U.S military, which is working hard to prepare for what they believe will be enormously complex tunnel warfare in Asia, as Breaking D readers know. The U.S Army for example, recently launched an accelerated effort to train for subterranean combat. Finding new tunnels will be a key part of such combat.
The Israelis are combatting terrorists trying to enter Israel through the tunnels. The huge effort involved in digging these tunnels, especially in the rocky soil in Northern Israel, was made to give Hamas in Gaza and the Hezbollah in Lebanon an advantage after the Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system proved its capability against their rockets.
After the first tunnels were discovered under the Israeli border with Gaza the IDF made it a top priority to find ways to detect digging operations and existing tunnels. A technology lab, manned by a team of, physicists, engineers, intelligence personnel, and geologists, was hastily established in the Gaza Division of the IDF for detecting tunnels.
It’s part of integrated efforts by Israeli on the technological, intelligence and operational fronts. The laboratory later was expanded to the border with Lebanon after tunnels were discovered there. That lab is the technological arm for detecting the tunnels and uses innovative soil research that includes scanning and decoding signals. It is also working to improve existing technologies and strives to develop new detection and mapping detection techniques. The laboratory members work closely with intelligence personnel for detection, mapping and ways to destroy them.
The IDF last year completed a four-month review of what it considered its outdated approach to underground combat, and published a new training manual.
The timeline of Leonardo DRS’s 50 years of innovation is peppered with notable technologies and capabilities that have given militaries around the world a warfighting edge. Here’s a look.
These efforts appear to have led to a series of successes over the past few months, with the exposure and destruction of a number of tunnels from Gaza and Lebanon to Israel. It is a highly classified system based on sensors that monitor what is happening on the ground and provide warning in the event of a cavity discovery, but its full details may not be published. Grouped together, these sensors have a strategic significance since it appears to be the first effective system of its kind in the world for this purpose.
In addition to the detection systems, the IDF’s special units within its engineer’s corps have been equipped with a special conical penetrator, special drilling systems, systems that can be inserted into a tunnel to check it, a robotic system used to inject certain “emulsions” after the tunnel is detected and before it is destroyed and another special “emulsion” used to quickly seal the tunnel’s shaft. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
13 Aug 19. Sanborn Introduces the Next Generation of M-Maps™ Product Line. Sanborn today announced implementation of the next generation of HD Map technology for level 4 and level 5 autonomous vehicles. “Sanborn continues its commitment to helping our customers succeed by creating new scalable technology,” said John Copple, President and CEO. “The Sanborn M-Maps™, developed for the autonomous vehicle market, provide precision datasets with absolute accuracy, enhancing safety and operational capability for our clients and enabling them to make leaps forward in bringing autonomous vehicles to reality.”
Sanborn originally launched its HD Map product line called “M-Map™” for the US market in 2018 based on research and development that started in 2015, and has continued delivering this first-of-its-kind solution to a range of clients. The new M-Map™ structure is easily adapted to the unique formats customers need. Sanborn M-Maps™ also now feature a range of sub-products that can be configured to meet specific customer requirements. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
13 Aug 19. Comprehensive range of phase shifters covers almost any requirement up to 40GHz. The comprehensive range of coaxial and waveguide phase shifters manufactured by US firm L3 Narda-ATM is now available to microwave design engineers in the UK through the company’s representative, Basingstoke-based Link Microtek. Covering microwave frequency bands all the way up to 40GHz, the phase shifters come in both coaxial and waveguide styles and can be specified with digital counting dial, direct reading dial and servo motor control options. A number of models are specifically designed for use in Ka-band systems. Ideal for adjusting the phases of elements within a phased array antenna system, the devices are primarily aimed at military or commercial radar applications and can also be used for drive feed balancing on high power amplifiers, as well as general test-and-measurement applications. The coaxial phase shifter line includes units with minimum adjustable phase shifts of 30, 40, 60, 90, 180 and 360 degrees/GHz. Featuring low insertion loss, the devices have maximum VSWRs ranging from 1.3:1 to 2.0:1, while power-handling capability is specified as 100W average and 3kW peak. They are housed in sturdy aluminium enclosures with a corrosion-resistant epoxy coating and use SMA, Type N or 2.92mm stainless-steel coaxial connectors. On standard models the phase shift is adjusted via a rotating control knob, with the position fixed by means of a lock nut. The waveguide phase shifters, meanwhile, are available in both low-power and high-power versions offering minimum phase adjustment from 0 to 360 degrees, with low insertion loss and low VSWR. Covering waveguide sizes from WR28 to WR137, the low-power models feature a maximum RF power rating of 100W (CW), while the high-power models can handle maximum average powers ranging from 160 to 11,500W and peak powers from 18 to 2500kW, depending on waveguide size.
09 Aug 19. SOCOM Plans New Artificial Intelligence Strategy. Advancements in technology are spurring Special Operations Command to examine how it can improve its artificial intelligence capabilities on a data-driven battlefield.
“We really wanted to focus on growing the discipline,” David Spirk Jr., the organization’s chief data officer, said during a speech at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association. This “applies to people, applies to technology and applies to the culture and those changes in the formation to get there.”
To do this, the command is crafting a new artificial intelligence and machine learning strategy to inform its future spending, he said. These advancements are expected to improve technologies across the core military services as well, he noted.
“Data-driven technologies can be used in every function that we have,” Spirk told National Defense on the sidelines of the conference. “We hope to demonstrate the capability and then allow that to just grow in the services where, naturally, it should.”
The Defense Department earlier this year released an AI strategy geared toward advancing the technology to counter peer competitors such as Russia and China.
SOCOM’s roadmap is being created using ideas such as Jeff Bezos’ strategy for developing Amazon, trends in industry and lessons learned through the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, Spirk said during his speech.
The command is “taking those data principles and recognizing that it’s really about freeing your data — it’s about open [application programming interfaces],” he said. “It’s not about closed block technology or systems. We’ve modeled our data strategy out of that.”
The blueprint will help SOCOM determine asset allocation for AI as it builds its program objective memorandum for fiscal years 2022 to 2026, Spirk said.
“We’re going to start the crafting of a real roadmap,” he said. “This will help the command … talk about the investments we need to make and the resources that we’re going to need.”
All of the SOF components will gather at a symposium in September to begin developing the new strategy, he noted. The meeting will be limited to the military, which will first establish its goals for investing in AI and machine learning before reaching out to academia and industry for input, Spirk said
“We’re not bringing industry and academia in there yet,” he said. “What we’re going to do is we’re going to establish our requirements, we’re going to set what that roadmap is, and then we’ll probably have a follow-on [event] where you can talk to everybody about what our conclusions were and the direction that we’re going.”
SOCOM has not decided if the entire report will be publicly releasable, he added.
The “crux” of the roadmap will be based on a “three-six-five” strategy that has three lines of effort, six focus areas and five collective outcomes, Spirk said.
The lines of effort include having an AI-ready workforce, AI applications and AI outreach, according to his presentation slides.
The command has pilot projects in the works that are “maturing to the point that we’re ready to showcase them,” he noted. At the end of the first three years, the goal is to be able to measure the progress it has made in this technology, he noted.
“We’ll understand programmatically where we need to put resources, where we need to invest, where we might need to divest and the opportunity to transition,” he said.
SOCOM needs to have personnel that are focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning initiatives, he noted. The command must show that there is a financial benefit to working in these fields “and let the nerds get promoted,” he said.
“The modern AI-ML workforce is really where I worry about the delivery and sustainment of some of these initiatives,” Spirk said. “We need to talk about how do we make this a career opportunity to continue developing what really amounts to … almost a language-type skill.”
The six focus areas of the strategy will be: perception and action; planning and maneuver; communication resilience and cyber protection; recruiting, training and talent management; predictive maintenance, logistics, planning and forecasting; and vendor contract and budget management, according to the slides.
Technologies within the focus areas could potentially be combined into an algorithmic warfare cross-functional team similar to the one executing Project Maven, a Defense Department initiative focused on using AI and machine learning to sift through drone video footage and identify items of interest to warfighters, Spirk said.
Technologies that SOCOM is eyeing include “artificial reality,” intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, and identity management, according to the presentation.
“You can see how we’re beginning to fuse those technologies, fuse those data sets to build smart systems that are capable of improving our operators’ capability to execute successful operations at a rate of precision and speed that has never been accomplished before,” Spirk said.
The collective outcomes that the strategy aims to achieve are: established cloud-empowered data and services; ubiquitous use of agile practices in unclassified and classified software development environments; normalized acceleration of procurement; a recognized talent acquisition, development and coaching pipeline; and a codified transition plan to a sustained digitally-enabled future, the presentation stated.
When operating in a data-driven battlefield, the command will not be able to rely on having large amounts of information about an adversary, Col. Mike McGuire, director of the combat development directorate for SOCOM, said during a panel discussion. Instead, the command will need to focus on predicting the adversary’s next move in order to react faster, he noted.
“When we look at things at the tactical level, how can we predict … and mitigate those risks that come with acting early?” he said. “I don’t think we’re ever going to win if we all wait for perfect information. … We want to get the right information to the right person at the right time and in the right format so they can actually take some kind of action.”
The command is also examining how it can leverage artificial intelligence to improve how it trains its warfighters, Spirk noted. AI could help SOCOM recruit potential candidates as well as improve the performance of its operators, he said.
“How do we tailor our training so that we can maximize their effort and grow them at a faster rate and hold them in the force?” he said. AI can also be used to measure performance, he noted. “This is where we can turn to technologies that already exist in the sports world, that already exist in some of our medical professions.”
Additionally, data-driven technology could be used to predict maintenance issues before they arise, he noted. The command is currently experimenting with this idea using the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and plans to expand that work to the Air Force Special Operations Command’s fleet of CV-22 Ospreys, he said.
“I think we’re going to start to make some pretty good progress against that over the coming 12 months,” he noted.
All special operators will need to understand how data can be used on the battlefield, McGuire noted. Similar to how commandos must know basic skills such as putting on a tourniquet, each one must learn how data applies to the current fight, he said.
“It doesn’t take a force full of PhDs,” he said. “It just takes everybody to have a little bit of understanding quickly.”
This would reduce the need to outsource tasks such as structured query language databasing, which is used to retrieve data and interface with databases, he said.
“Fifteen years ago we already had a decision point within our organization where you can either hire some company to build an SQL database for you or you could teach your people to do SQL databasing and own it forever,” he said.
To develop and explore new technologies, the command is building a digital data mission management team at SOCOM headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Spirk said. Professionals will be brought in to either manage programs or work on the technologies themselves, he noted.
“This is where we’ll be able to programmatically begin applying and advocating for policies and the technologies that currently exist,” he said. “But we need to infuse [those] inside our own workflows and the headquarters.”
He is also working with SOCOM Acquisition Executive Jim Smith to draw up requirements for future technologies and “to ensure that everything we’re bringing in now … works together and isn’t the closed, old block technology,” Spirk added.
The command will need to examine the time, expense and complexity associated with data technology gaps, which will help leaders decide if they can be filled in-house or if they need to outsource work to industry, he noted. SOFWERX — the command’s initiative that fosters technology experimentation with nontraditional partners — will be used to bring data experts together, he said.
“What we’ve determined is, we don’t need to be everywhere. What we need to make sure is that we’re connecting everywhere,” he said. (Source: glstrade.com/NDIA)
13 Aug 19. US Navy to replace touchscreens with mechanical controls. Gas Turbine System Technician (Electrical) 3rd Class Damion Ray, left, repeats speed change to the conning officer while manning the lee helm on the bridge of the guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham. Credits: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay. The US Navy is to replace touchscreen controls on destroyers with physical systems in 2020 after a report into the fatal 2017 USS John S McCain collision branded the controls ‘unnecessarily complex’. The investigation into the accident that resulted in the deaths of 10 sailors said that the complexity of the control system and a lack of training led to the collision.
Bridge design on US naval vessels is largely uncontrolled by the military, with a lack of specific requirements leaving design decisions to shipbuilders. The step-back in technology will give sailors more tactile feedback and remove the ambiguity and uncertainty that played a role in the collision.
The Navy will retrofit mechanical controls on all DDG-51 (Arleigh Burke) class destroyers that currently use the Northrop Grumman Integrated Bridge and Navigation System (IBNS).
When reached for comment Northrop Grumman told Naval Technology: “We continue to work closely with the Navy on its navigation modernisation program by providing advanced capabilities to support the fleet.”
After incidents with the USS McCain and USS Fitzgerald, the US Navy surveyed the crews of its ships and found a majority of sailors wanted to see a return to more intuitive mechanical controls.
A report from the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that: “Training on the operation of the Integrated Bridge and Navigation System for John S McCain watchstanders was inadequate, because it did not ensure that the crew could perform the basic functions of the watch, such as the transfer of steering and thrust control between bridge stations.”
The report also found that “The design of the John S McCain’s touch-screen steering and thrust control system increased the likelihood of the operator errors that led to the collision.”
The report did not place sole blame on the IBNS, however, adding that the sailors’ lack of training and fatigue also played a key role in the incident.
The incident was caused when sailors attempted to pass control of the throttle from one console to another, resulting in the belief that they had lost control of the ship.
The system on board the ship allows throttle and steering to be controlled from multiple stations on the USS McCain’s bridge. The ship’s crew enabled the “backup manual mode” to get more intuitive control of the ship, however, this meant it could be controlled from multiple stations. As a result crew members on all three stations could steer the ship when they tried to regain control of the vessel steering swapped between the three stations.
As a result, the report recommended that the US Navy “issue permanent guidance directing destroyers equipped with the Integrated Bridge and Navigation System to operate in computer-assisted steering modes, except during an emergency.”
The report added: “Mechanical throttles provide complementary information to an operator: direction, force, and the ability to confirm either visually or by touch whether the throttles are ganged and working in unison.
“Mechanical throttles are used in aviation and on most vessels still operating in the Navy. They are often preferred over touch-screen displays as they provide both immediate and tactile feedback to the operator.”
The report concluded that the US Navy should revise the way it trains sailors to use the IBNS system and provide clearer technical manuals on how to correctly transfer controls between the systems consoles. (Source: naval-technology.com)
13 Aug 19. Sera Star Systems wins spot on USAF aircrew equipment supply contract. Sera Star Systems (S3) has secured a position on a potential ten-year contract for the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC)’s Try-Decide-Buy (TDB) programme to supply aircrew equipment.
A total of 11 small businesses have been selected for the multiple-award indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract with a potential value of $950m. Through the contract, the airforce intends to rapidly equip aircrew with commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) items. The contract will cover items such as uniforms, cold-weather clothing systems, visual augmentation equipment, personal protective equipment, survival equipment, lighting, aircrew support equipment, and communication and electronics test equipment. Other items include tactical, load-bearing, egress, aerial insertion, search and rescue, and personnel recovery equipment, as well as lethality support items. In addition, the TDB contract will involve medical equipment, power management, hydration, ancillary services and testing. In February, AFLCMC issued a second draft version of a request for proposal (RFP) for TDB, seeking industry feedback regarding the revised TDB IDIQ draft RFP. The IDIQ award allows for rapid execution of delivery orders serving the needs of the aircrew flight equipment (AFE) career field. Contracted work is anticipated to be completed by 8 August 2029. AFLCMC received 12 offers for the IDIQ contract. Other awardees include Atlantic Diving Supply, Nightline, Federal Resources, Hurricane Aerospace Solutions, Baker and Associates, Capewell Aerial Systems, and Life Support International. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
13 Aug 19. DARPA Teams Test Swarm Autonomy in Second Major OFFSET Field Experiment. During the second field experiment for DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program, which took place at Fort Benning, Georgia, teams of autonomous air and ground robots tested tactics on a mission to isolate an urban objective. Similar to the way a firefighting crew establishes a boundary around a burning building, they first identified locations of interest and then created a perimeter around the focal point.
OFFSET envisions large swarms of collaborative autonomous systems providing critical insights to small ground military units in urban areas where vertical structures, tight spaces, and limited sight lines constrain communications and mobility.
The program includes multiple “sprint” efforts, which focus on different elements of the command, control, and collaboration among large numbers of vehicles and humans.
For the experiment, which took place in June at the Selby Combined Arms Collective Training Facility in Fort Benning, Georgia, teams undertook a complex scenario spanning two city blocks. Tasks included locating and isolating a mock city hall building, locating and securing an objective inside, and then securing the building – all while maintaining situational awareness of the surrounding area. Runs lasted up to 30 minutes each.
OFFSET includes two main performer types: Swarm System Integrators and Swarm Sprinters. The Swarm System Integrators, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon BBN, create OFFSET architectures, interfaces, and their respective Swarm Tactics Exchanges, which houses tools to help performers design swarm tactics by composing collective behaviors, swarm algorithms, and existing swarm tactics. The Swarm Sprinters perform focused tasks and deliver additional technologies to merge with system integrators.
The June event brought together the integrators and second set of Swarm Sprinters, including Heron; Michigan Tech Research Institute; University of North Carolina, Charlotte; and Cornell University, to integrate and test swarm autonomy tactics and technologies.
“The pace of our scheduled experiments requires our performers to take risks” said Timothy Chung, the OFFSET program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. “Rapid integration demands that our swarm teams, both integrators and sprinters, develop smarter ways to improve their current processes.”
The experiment at Fort Benning highlighted the benefits of continuous agile development and integration and deployment, the principle at the heart of the OFFSET program. The Swarm System Integrators showed maturation in field operations while the Swarm Sprinters contributed technologies to enhance system performance. The platform experimentation provided insights into the role of commercial-off-the-shelf technologies in a research and development program.
The recent field experiment was the second of six scheduled tests. Additional field experiments are targeted at intervals about six-months apart.
DARPA has awarded contracts for the next Swarm Sprint to develop novel approaches to Human-Swarm Teaming over the next six months to demonstrate in the next OFFSET field experiment. The awardees are:
- Case Western Reserve University
- Charles River Analytics, Inc.
- Northwestern University
Each of the planned five core “sprints” focuses on one of the key thrust areas: Swarm Tactics, Swarm Autonomy, Human-Swarm Teaming, Virtual Environment, and Physical Testbed. Each Swarm Sprint topic emphasizes different perspectives to ultimately enable breakthroughs in swarm capabilities. (Source: UAS VISION)
12 Aug 19. Ukraine and Turkey set up joint venture in field of precision weapons, aerospace technologies – NSDC. State-owned company Ukrspecexport, part of Ukroboronprom, and the Turkish company Baykar Defence, which is one of the leading manufacturers of drones, have created a joint venture in the field of precision weapons and aerospace technologies, the press service of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) has said.
The main task of the joint venture is to combine the capacities of the defense complexes of the two countries for the mass production of new models of modern weapons for their own armies. This will allow transferring from conventional arms sales and purchase contracts to a fundamentally new level of cooperation: the synergy of defense technologies and combination of advanced developments in Turkey and Ukraine, the NSDC said.
One of the joint venture’s first projects will be the development of the next generation unmanned aerial vehicles. This drone will be able to conduct detailed reconnaissance from high flight levels, spend hours in the air, develop a significant cruising speed and strike with a wide range of precision weapons, the report says.
Such capabilities of the new drone will become possible due to the wide use of composite materials, digital technologies, as well as Ukrainian-made engines that can operate reliably in extreme conditions. In addition, they will provide the high carrying capacity of drones, which will carry a large amount of weapons, even compared to conventional attack aircraft. Ukraine and Turkey have a powerful experience in effective cooperation in the field of defense technologies.
Turkish defense enterprises cooperate with Ukraine in the field of digital telecoms systems, combat drones, high-precision aviation weapons and the like. Ukroboronprom enterprises are conducting joint projects to create a military transport aircraft, active protection systems for armored vehicles and radar systems. In recent years, stable mutually beneficial work has been established, which allows the two countries to combine the strengths of their defense industry, the NSDC press service said. (Source: Google/https://en.interfax.com.ua/)
10 Aug 19. What could a military do with this flying saucer? This may be a flying saucer, but don’t call it a UFO. Carefully named, the All DIrections Flying Object, or ADIFO, is instead a saucer-like contraption, a flying prototype built at exploring the aerodynamic potential of an alien craft. It is, at its core, an omnidirectional flying wing built around a quadcopter with jets attached. Its designers see a future for the airframe as an unmanned combat aerial vehicle. In a video posted July 1, a narrator discusses the design process and aerodynamics of the craft. Like many VTOL tools built on a quadcopter frame, ducted fans provide initial lift and mobility at low altitudes and low speeds. The addition of vectored jets on the rear of the craft, combined with four vertical vents and four side-facing vents, promising greater maneuverability at high speeds.
The ADIFO is the invention of Romanian engineer Razan Sabie in conjunction with Iosif Taposu, a scientist with a long career in aerospace research for the Romanian government.
“The aerodynamics behind this aircraft is the result of more than two decades of work and is very well reasoned in hundreds of pages and confirmed by computer simulations and wind tunnel tests,” Sabie told Vice, in the pair’s first American interview. That story explores both the specific nature of the ADIFO, and the long and mostly failed history of flying saucer design.
Like many other ideas for the first decades of aviation, the possibility of operating the craft without a human on board opens up greater potential in what an airframe can actually do. Human pilots are subject to the limitations of a body and perception, and a flying disk changing directions suddenly at high speed is not the ideal place for a human to be.
Uncrewed craft can take on novel forms, and execute turns and twists beyond those human limits. While maneuverability is likely the primary selling point for a future role as combat aircraft, the smooth and fin-free form could easily have stealth characteristics built in, and could be further adapted by a dedicated team to fully realizing that stealth flight.
What might a military planner or designer do with such a machine? The proof-of-concept offers little in the way of information about storage space or sensors. With wide enough lenses, a handful of cameras could match the circular symmetry of the vehicle and provide and omnidirectional surveillance presence. The high speeds and potentially low radar profile suggest a role akin to earlier, Cold War spy planes, taking specific pictures in contested space and returning before anti-air systems can act.
And as with any aircraft, the potential is likely there for it to release an explosive payload, taking the flying saucer from an extraterrestrial fear to a terrestrial threat. ADIFO might not be the future of anything. The project’s home page says the team is still attracting partners, and aviation history is littered with proofs-of-concept that failed to materialize in a meaningful way. J*Yet there is something to the idea of a flying saucer working the moment it no longer has to transport a human. It is an old aviation frontier that likely warrants further exploration. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
09 Aug 19. BAE Systems delivers Sceptre planning system. BAE Systems has been awarded a contract to deliver Sceptre to the RAF to transform the way it plans, briefs, executes and debriefs missions on the Typhoon fleet. The system combines three-dimensional in cockpit views, representation of digital aeronautical flight information, potential hazards and conflict detection with real time weather information, an intelligence picture and fast jet performance data.
Sceptre is a modular application capable of being used on a variety of devices including tablets, personal computers and interactive touch tables used for briefing and de-briefing missions.
It enables the operator to effectively be ‘airborne’ with high situational awareness and able to make better, more informed, decisions to achieve mission success. Sceptre helps the operator create a tactically astute plan, holistically reviewed, catering for conflicts and contingencies.
Louise Aiken, head of mission planning programmes, Mission Support and Training Services, BAE Systems, said: ‘We have worked with pilots and our customers to create a highly intuitive system in Sceptre which delivers a wealth of information in simple, actionable way that has not been possible before’.
Sceptre is also capable of mission debrief through merging the real world and synthetic views from all the aircraft’s recording media into an integrated replay format. (Source: Shephard)
09 Aug 19. South Wales Police have confirmed their intention to use facial recognition technology – rolling the application out to 50 police officers for an initial three-month trial. This will enable them to take a snapshot and analyse it immediately to answer the pressing question, “Are you really the person we’re looking for?”.
This introduction comes at a time when the effectiveness of facial recognition technology is still being challenged in court. Despite the positive decision by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary to add a further 20,000 police officers across the country, it is widely understood within senior policing that the benefits to increased quality and efficiency of policing come from a combination of investment in technology and additional new police officers. Senior police executives view the use of biometric technologies as an innovation that can make a transformative step-change in digital policing.
Jason Tooley, board member of techUK and Chief Revenue Officer at Veridium comments: “As police forces recognise that technology innovation for officers can drive improved policing, there is clearly a need to focus on how the technology can be adopted quickly and how public acceptance for this technology can be increased. The use of biometrics can support identity verification on-demand and at scale as has been proven in many other countries where officers currently use consumerised technology.”
“As part of a wider digital policing initiative, it is imperative for police forces to take a strategic approach as they trial biometric technologies, and not prematurely focus on a single biometric approach. This strategy would take advantage of other biometric techniques such as digital fingerprinting which ensure a higher level of public consent due to the maturity of fingerprints as an identity verification technique. It’s clear that alleviating privacy concerns need to be prioritised by the police within the overall strategy for using technology in this area. The public need to be able to see the value of the technology innovation through results in order to advance consent and acceptance by citizens.”
“With the rapid rate of innovation in the field, a multi-modal biometric strategy that allows the police to use the right biometric techniques for the right scenario will accelerate the benefits associated with digital policing.”
Veridium’s authentication platform enables companies to secure identity and privacy in an all-digital world by proving you are who you say you are with biometrics and your smartphone; utilizing new, innovative technology like its 4 Fingers Touchless ID to ensure compliance, whilst also providing a convenient, secure experience.
Our authentication platform and proprietary biometrics provide strong authentication, eliminating the need for passwords, tokens, or PINs – delivering multi factor security with single-step convenience at a lower total cost of ownership than traditional MFA solutions.
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.