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26 Sep 19. US Air Force begins prototyping replacement for the F-35. It appears as if the US Air Force is responding to global sixth-generation fighter competition with breakneck speed, but not in the direction many were expecting, with renewed focus on developing and integrating attritable unmanned systems to support traditional manned platforms like fighters and long-range strike capabilities.
As the fifth-generation revolution continues to transform Australian and allied air forces, regional air forces have been modernising and expanding their own fighter fleets to bolster the combat capability of their fighter forces, with the domestic development of comparable fifth-generation platforms key to establishing and maintaining regional air and multidomain dominance.
Fighter aircraft, like every facet of military technology, are rapidly evolving. The current global and regional transition from fourth-generation to fifth-generation fighter aircraft, like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter platforms, is reshaping the role of fighter fleets and the balance of power in Australia’s region.
Fifth-generation fighter aircraft represent the pinnacle of modern fighter technology. Incorporating all-aspect stealth even when armed, low-probability-of-intercept radar, high-performance airframes, advanced avionics and highly integrated computer systems, these aircraft provide unrivalled air dominance, situational awareness, networking, interdiction and strike capabilities for commanders.
However, the increasing production and operation of similar weapons systems by potential adversaries, following the development of the Russian Su-57 and export variants in the mid-2000s, combined with the advent of China’s J-20 and FC-31, is serving to narrow the fifth-generation capability gap between the US and its global allies, including Australia.
In response, the US has kicked off the development of its own sixth-generation suite of systems for both the US Air Force and US Navy as part of a modernisation and recapitalisation program for the ageing F-22 and F-18E/F and G series Super Hornet and Growlers.(Source: Defence Connect)
26 Sep 19. Boeing Australia announces collaboration on AI research for unmanned systems. Boeing Australia is linking up with Australia’s Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence Cooperative Research Centre to collaborate on the development of advanced artificial intelligence technologies to create smarter unmanned systems for global forces.
In a statement, Boeing said “embedding machine learning techniques onboard will help unmanned systems better understand and react to threat environments.”
Over the next 12 months, Boeing Australia will design and test cognitive AI algorithms to enable sensing under anti-access conditions and to navigate and conduct enhanced tactics in denied environments,” said Dr Shane Arnott, director of Phantom Works International.
It marks the first time Boeing has developed an innovation project with the Defence Cooperative Research Centre (DCRC), as the two work towards examining an unmanned system’s route planning, location and identification of objects and the platform’s subsequent behavioural response.
“Together with Boeing, we are investing in advanced technology that can have real game-changing product outcomes for our military to match the evolving threats and achieve a sustainable autonomous industry for Australia,” said Professor Jason Scholz, chief executive officer of the DCRC for Trusted Autonomous Systems.
The DCRC for Trusted Autonomous Systems was announced by the Australian government in 2017 to support the rapid creation and transition of industry-led trustworthy smart-machine technologies through the innovation ecosystem to the Australian Defence Force.(Source: Defence Connect)
26 Sep 19. DST to demonstrate cavitation breakthroughs at Pacific 2019. DST will be showcasing its support in the cavitation and correlation space for the Australian Defence Force’s maritime activities at the Pacific 2019 international maritime exposition. One of DST’s key activities supporting RAN mission survivability, and which will be highlighted at Pacific 2019, is the organisation’s research in the area of hydrodynamics.
Understanding hydrodynamics is critical in evaluating the performance of hull shapes, control surfaces and propulsion for naval platforms. These issues impact a platform’s range, manoeuvrability, acoustic signature and impact fatigue.
Defence scientist Dr David Clarke and colleagues have been developing a range of innovative experimental capabilities, some unavailable internationally, to study hydrodynamics and support Defence in its acquisition, sustainment and understanding of naval platforms, ranging from offshore patrol vessels and guided missile destroyers to crewed and unmanned/autonomous underwater systems.
These new capabilities are implemented in the variable pressure water tunnel, or cavitation tunnel, in the Cavitation Research Laboratory (CRL) at the University of Tasmania (UTAS).
UTAS, DST and Defence have invested significantly in the CRL over more than 20 years. Under the guidance of Professor Paul Brandner, the CRL facilitates unique, world-leading hydrodynamic measurement capabilities enabling DST to conduct high-value experimental investigations in support of Australian Defence and international collaborations. This relationship between DST and the CRL has been active for over 20 years.
The test section where the team test model propellers and appendages is small compared to the overall structure, most of which is dedicated to conditioning the water flow before it reaches the model.
Dr Clarke explained the importance of the work and the impact of the Tasmanian facility in particular, saying, “Apart from the flow being uniform and with low turbulence, the Tasmanian facility is one of only a few in the world that has fine control over nucleation.”
“It has the smarts to strip out small bubbles and inject new ones of the correct size – nuclei are one of the two major components that need to be controlled to investigate cavitation. Local pressure is the other major component,” Dr Clarke said.
One prime example of innovative capabilities on offer is 3D digital image correlation (DIC). To measure the deflection and vibration of items, the team trialled an innovative photogrammetric technique, which had been used before in wind tunnels but not in a cavitation tunnel where the range of refractive indices makes getting suitable image quality difficult. A unique pattern is painted on the item being examined.
By recording and then correlating how that pattern moves from frame to frame through a sequence, you can get well below sub-pixel precision in movement detection.
“We were the first in the world to publish on getting such a capability to work in a cavitation tunnel. The noise floor for measurements is now sitting about 20-30 nanometres,” Butler explained.
It all adds up to DST being able to provide high-quality testing on a mid-range scale to give a good degree of confidence in its computational models. According to Clarke, experimental testing on a larger scale is very expensive. He says testing at an early stage and developing competency in analysing results and understanding the fluid mechanics of a system or component is very valuable.(Source: Defence Connect)
25 Sep 19. Australian Academy of Science welcomes R&D cooperation agreements with US. The Australian Academy of Science has given a big thumbs up to the new space cooperation plan signed by Australia and the US, as well as other plans to enhance science cooperation across a range of areas. Academy president Professor John Shine said the academy welcomed the Australia-US bilateral science and technology initiatives announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison during his meetings in Washington. Those initiatives include significant investment of $150m into local Australian businesses, researchers and new technologies to support NASA’s mission to return to the moon and travel to Mars.
That represents a big boost for the Australian Space Agency.
“The government’s space investment builds on a long history of cooperation between Australia and the US in space missions and will have a lasting impact on the growing space industry and workforce in Australia,” he said.
The Australia-US space deal was the headline event of the PM’s visit to the US, but there were other agreements that the academy said would boost cooperation between Australia and the US.
High-level discussions will be held in Washington in November to develop a critical minerals action plan and increase trade in rare earth elements between the US and Australia. Rare earth minerals are essential to support our high-tech future, the academy said.
Australia and the US also signed an agreement to work together on reducing and eliminating marine plastic debris and to support efforts on improved waste management, recycling and innovation, which is both timely and essential.
As well, Australian scientists will provide advice on lithium-ion recycling and hydrogen safety, both areas in which Australia has substantial expertise.
Lastly, there’ll be increased cooperation between the National Science Foundation and Australian researchers on research projects of mutual and strategic interest.
“The bilateral agreements between Australia and the US provide opportunities for Australian scientists to contribute their expertise to a number of issues of global importance, where science will be critical to finding environmental and technology solutions,” Professor Shine said.
“The announcements are a reminder of the importance science plays as a soft power asset in international engagement.” (Source: Space Connect)
23 Sep 19. F-35 Helmet Mounted Display Contract Announcement. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $352,672,006 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N00019-19-D-0015). This modification increases the ceiling and scope of the contract to include the procurement of Lot 12-14 Generation 3 helmet mounted displays in support of the F-35 Lightning II program. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in December 2020. No funds are being obligated at time of award; funds will be obligated on individual orders as they are issued. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
(defense-aerospace.com EDITOR’S NOTE: The F-35 helmet, which is tailor-made for each pilot, has long been known to be an expensive piece of equipment, and was revealed some years ago to cost about $400,000. By early 2018, the price had increased to $600,000, according to a March 2018 report by the Project On Government Oversight. Now, barely 18 months later, its cost has increased again, this time to $737,800.
This figure is calculated by dividing the price of the above contract by the number of aircraft (478) in the F-35’s Lots 12 to 14. Consequently, its cost has jumped by 23% in just one year – for a piece of equipment that, however sophisticated it may be, is still just a helmet.) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/US Department of Defense)
23 Sep 19. DroneBase Names Hangar Technology as Strategic Partner to Provide End-to-End Drone Services for AEC Industries. This Marks DroneBase’s First Software Offering for Enterprises in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction. DroneBase, the leading global drone services company, today announced that Hangar Technology, an AirMap company, will serve as its AEC software partner. As Hangar’s strategic technology partner and premier U.S. licensee operating under limited exclusivity for the JobSight platform, DroneBase has integrated JobSight into its workflow to better serve customers in the architecture, engineering, and construction markets.
“By offering an end-to-end solution for customers in AEC, DroneBase can better understand the needs of this industry and identify additional ways businesses can benefit from drone technology,” said Dan Burton, Founder and CEO of DroneBase. “Through our long-standing relationships with both AirMap and Hangar, we have helped create a thriving drone industry. This partnership will only enhance how enterprises leverage drone data.”
DroneBase will integrate Hangar’s JobSight technology into its workflow, providing AEC enterprises with a full-service drone solution to document progress, manage teams, and build more efficiently across all projects. The partnership also cements DroneBase as the drone services provider for all existing JobSight customers in the United States.
“Using Hangar’s JobSight, any AEC company can get on-demand access to drone-enabled insights across projects,” said David Hose, CEO of AirMap. “Combining this with DroneBase’s professional drone services network makes it easy, valuable, and scalable to integrate drones into day-to-day operations.”
In September 2018, DroneBase and Hangar first partnered to leverage DroneBase’s API and global Pilot Network and Hangar’s drone analytics platform in order to provide enterprise customers with comprehensive and easy-to-use insights from their drone operations. Today’s announcement builds on that partnership with new and enhanced flight automation capabilities purpose-built with AEC customers’ needs in mind.
Additionally, DroneBase’s partnership with Hangar Technology builds upon the existing relationship between DroneBase and AirMap, the leading airspace intelligence platform for the drone economy, which acquired Hangar Technology in September 2019. Today, DroneBase’s Pilot Network of over 60,000 pilots in all 50 states and over 70 countries utilize AirMap’s APIs for airspace awareness, compliance, and authorization when flying in controlled airspace or other complex airspace environments. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
24 Sep 19. RelmaTech Moves International Remote ID Ops to USA. Remote ID and Tracking technology company RelmaTech has taken a strategic step toward establishing an international footprint by incorporating in the United States. Based in Greenville, South Carolina, RelmaTech Inc. will take over the lead from its UK parent in marketing the company’s technology solutions and professional services portfolio world-wide.
RelmaTech, which specializes in global solutions for real-time vehicle/device identification, live tracking and situational awareness across multiple applications, has been actively involved in the development of the drone industry in the U.S. for several years. RelmaTech was the only overseas company invited by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to participate on the 2017 FAA UAS Remote ID and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC). More recently, RelmaTech played a key role in the NASA UTM TCL4 program and FAA UPP trials in Reno, Nevada as an active member of the State of Nevada team, led by the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS).
“Establishing a formal business presence in the U.S. has always been on our radar,” says Philip Hall, RelmaTech’s Co-Founder and CEO, and President of RelmaTech Inc. “Being part of the Nevada TCL4 and UPP teams on those ground-breaking programs gave us the perfect opportunity to showcase our technology to NASA, the FAA, and the global UAS industry. The encouraging response was a clear message that now was the right time to bring forward those plans.”
RelmaTech’s flagship product is its innovative Secure Integrated Airspace Management (SIAM) system. Enabled by a small light weight, low power, low cost, stand-alone module that can be easily installed on all types of UAS, SIAM is unique in that it provides UAS Remote ID and tracking capabilities with minimum latency in both networked and non-networked environments.
The NASA TCL4 program involved UAS flying in high-density urban areas. For the Nevada TCL4 trials, which were conducted in Downtown Reno during May and June this year, it was the first time in U.S. aviation history that such flights were performed in a metropolitan area under beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) conditions. All drones flown in the Nevada TCL4 test program were fitted with a SIAM module and the NIAS Range Operations Center used the SIAM web portal to identify and manage in real-time the location of all TCL4 aircraft operating in the test area. Similarly, participating TCL4 operators, pilots and authorized actors used SIAM to have full situational awareness of the shared airspace.
“As both Brian Wynne (President, AUVSI) and Jay Merkle (Executive Director, UAS Integration Office, FAA) said at the recent North Carolina Drone Summit and Flight Expo, Remote ID is the key in the latch to unlocking commercial UAS BVLOS operations. This neatly puts into perspective our decision to advance formalizing our presence in the U.S.” explains Hall, who also serves on several U.S. and international committees working on the development of standards for UAS and their operations. RelmaTech’s SIAM system has been supporting commercial UAS operations since mid-2016, and in March 2017 Australian company V-TOL Aerospace used SIAM to claim the world’s first UAS day and night BVLOS flight operations managed using a UTM system. (Source: UAS VISION)
23 Sep 19. Boeing and Safran invest in EPS. Boeing and Safran have jointly invested in Electric Power Systems (EPS), a company that offers certifiable and lightweight energy storage products for the aerospace market. The investment will enable EPS to further develop aviation-grade energy storage and advance technologies to reduce the costs of battery systems for electric aircraft. Between them, Boeing HorizonX Ventures and Safran Corporate Ventures are strengthening their advanced battery solutions capabilities. In 2018 Boeing invested in Cuberg, an advanced lithium metal battery technology company; while Safran Ventures also recently invested in OXIS Energy, a UK-based leader in lithium-sulphur cell technology for high energy density battery systems.
Brian Schettler, managing director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures, said: ‘EPS’ battery technology meets Boeing’s high standards of safety and can enable significant cost savings for customers. This strategic investment accelerates the development of clean, quiet and safe urban air mobility solutions.’ (Source: Shephard)
22 Sep 19. ASTM Remote ID and Tracking standard demonstrated. The ASTM Remote ID and Tracking standard has been implemented in a demonstration to support the remote identification of drones by law enforcement and citizens in the US and Switzerland. Carried out by AirMap, AiRXOS, ANRA Technologies, CNN, Flite Test, Kittyhawk, Uber, UASidekick, Wing and Skyward, the demonstration saw all core components of the ASTM remote ID standard implementation deployed, including a DSS node, a remote ID service and display provider service, and an AR-powered remote ID display functionality to participating observers using the AirMap for Drones mobile application.
The ASTM Remote ID and Tracking standard provides a flexible and scalable way to remotely identify UAS while protecting operator privacy. The standard proposes a Discovery and Synchronization Service, which enables UAS Service Suppliers (USS) to exchange safety-critical information while protecting operator privacy. Different USS are able to exchange data via the Linux Foundation’s open-source InterUSS Platform. The InterUSS Platform implemented the Discovery and Synchronization Service (DSS) defined in the proposed ASTM Standard. Remote ID is essential to the advancement of the drone industry as it allows for safety, accountability and transparency for all stakeholders. These demonstrations verified ASTM network remote ID capabilities. (Source: Shephard)
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.