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07 Nov 19. Australian Army enlists SitaWare HQ for Track Management Capability. The Australian Army has selected Systematic’s SitaWare Headquarters (HQ) software to enhance its deployable command-and-control (C2) capabilities, the company announced on 7 November. The software will be used by the service as its interim Track Management Capability (TMC), which aims to support coalition interoperability by enabling blue force tracking, shared situational awareness, and communications between partners.

According to Systematic, TMC will be rolled out to the army’s deployed headquarters operating at brigade-level and above. The Deployable Joint Force Headquarters (DJFHQ) – an element of the Brisbane-based 1st Division – is the first element to field TMC, which is designed to operate on a range of platforms, including the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN’s) Canberra-class landing helicopter dock vessels, which are central to the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF’s) amphibious capability.

SitaWare HQ is designed for brigade/battalion headquarters, as well as mobile tactical headquarters-level use and includes a range of functionalities, including integrated chat, collaborative planning tools, mapping, and picture management. The software is based on the HTML5 platform and can be accessed directly using a standard web browser.

TMC will also feature SitaWare’s Variable Message Format (VMF) Gateway module, which leverages its research with the Australian Army’s Land Network Integration Centre (LNIC) to enhance interoperability with other communications standards, including those supporting Multilateral Interoperability Programme (MIP), NATO Friendly Force Information (NFFI), Over-The-Horizon Gold (OTH-Gold), and Link 16 formats.

The earlier work also established a Capability Technology Demonstrator (CTD) that tested compatibility with the army’s systems. Trials of the VMF CTD demonstrated its ability to support 25,000 entities, a scale that is representative of a coalition and multi-national environment.

“The software is already deployed on the Mission Partner Environment (MPE). Systematic will provide TMC-specific features in our next three releases of SitaWare HQ,” Systematic’s Vice President for the Asia Pacific Region, David Horton, told Jane’s. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

06 Nov 19. Slon wind tunnel test model revealed. Russia’s Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) announced on 5 November that it had completed the manufacture of an aerodynamic model of its proposed heavy-lift transport aircraft known as “Slon” (Elephant).

The model, made of aluminium alloys and steel, will be used in wind tunnel tests in 2019 and 2020. In a statement, TsAGI said that the testing campaign in 2020 will include airflow visualisation and aerodynamic studies of take-off and landing aerodynamics. TsAGI first revealed in January that it was constructing an aerodynamic mock-up of the aircraft, consisting of the fuselage, wings, engine nacelles, vertical and horizontal stabilisers, and landing gear housing. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

06 Nov 19. Altitude Angel Launches Tactical Deconfliction Service. Altitude Angel, a leading UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) technology provider, has announced the launch of the ‘second phase’ of its revolutionary Conflict Resolution Service (CRS) with the introduction of Tactical deconfliction. Following the initial launch of the Conflict Resolution Service in July of this year, with Strategic deconfliction, Altitude Angel continued to research, develop and test the pioneering technology behind its Tactical deconfliction service.

Now, with the introduction of Tactical deconfliction, CRS is able to go beyond the pre-flight phase into airborne operations. Tactical deconfliction will provide live alerts when boundaries between remote ID transmitting drones intersect and also offer alternative flight-plans in real-time – enabling pilots to avoid in-air collisions. All of this can be done on a global scale thanks to Altitude Angel’s global ‘elastic’ infrastructure. As the programme expands over the coming few months, Tactical CRS will also help to deconflict drones against aircraft with transponders, as well as drones which don’t have remote ID flying in the vicinity of Altitude Angel’s planned sensor network which will come on-line in spring 2020.

The inability of drone technology to be able to ‘deal with the unexpected’, such as manned aircraft, drones and obstacles or airspace closures which weren’t foreseeable before the flight happened, or, would previously have been managed by a human pilot, has been widely considered as a road-block to automated drones flying BVLOS.  This in turn has restricted the widespread commercial use of drones.  Now, with the launch of Altitude Angel’s Tactical Deconfliction service as an API, automated day-to-day drone flights flying BVLOS is a significant step closer.

Tactical CRS offers implementors a choice about the level of capability they wish to utilise, as well as to have the service deconflict against just their own drone fleet, or against all those been shared publicly.

On the launch of Tactical CRS, Richard Parker, Altitude Angel, CEO and founder said:

“We continue to make available advanced technologies which help to solve the fundamental blockers preventing the integration of routine automated beyond visual line-of-sight flights into our skies. Tactical CRS enables fleet operators to quickly and easily integrate complex tactical avoidance guidance at a fleet-level or higher, helping to ‘tick the box’ on safety factors previously blocking widespread adoption.”

Altitude Angel is launching the Tactical deconfliction service as part of an exclusive access programme (EAP) which has already seen nature-inspired engineering business Animal Dynamics, ‘drone-in-a-box’ company Herotech8, and drone operations management platform, DroneCloud, become signatories.

Available via Altitude Angel’s developer platform and powered by its GuardianUTM operating system services, CRS addresses the key risks which prevent BVLOS operations today.  CRS comes in two classes:

Tactical CRS

Tactical CRS provides information to drone pilots or the drone itself to ensure separation is maintained during the in-flight phase. The dynamic system will continuously monitor the airspace around a drone for the ‘unexpected’, such as other aerial vehicles or changes to airspace (such as a Temporary Flight Restriction/Dynamic Geofence around a police incident).  After identifying a potential conflict, CRS will make the necessary routing adjustments via instructions or alerts which are communicated to the pilot in command or to the drone’s control software, allowing the drone to maintain an appropriate distance between other airspace users or fly around restricted airspace so it can continue safely (and efficiently) to its destination. Tactical CRS respects the implementor’s choices for privacy and control and is intended to supplement any on-board sense-and-avoid technologies, which usually only operate in close proximity to other air traffic.

Strategic CRS

Conflict resolution information is provided to a drone operator during the flight planning phase (pre-flight phase) of the operation by comparing it to other previously submitted flight plans, against ground and airspace geofenced areas available in Altitude Angel’s worldwide data feeds. The system will then propose alterations to the take-off time and/or route to eliminate the conflict, suggesting minimally invasive changes to permit the mission to continue unobstructed. Developers and drone manufacturers can utilise CRS to securely share flight plan data and opt-in to ‘global conflict resolution’, where all flight plans which have been shared will be checked for conflicts. ‘Private’ modes exist for fleet operators who only want to check for conflicts against their own drones or customers. (Source: UAS VISION)

06 Nov 19. PRIMOCO Tests UAV Navigation’s Flight Control System. Primoco, a Czech company, has been testing the latest version of UAV Navigation’s Flight Control System (FCS) on its 150kg fixed wing UAV. During the tests Primoco noted a number of improvements, including more efficient and advanced control, and in particular a completely automatic take-off and landing capability without using RTK or DGPS systems.

Primoco UAVs are mid-size Unmanned Aerial Vehicles that meet the complex needs of real world applications in today’s civilian market. The Primoco UAV is built to be reliable and easy to operate. It can take off and land in daylight, at night and during poor weather conditions.

UAV Navigation, a Spanish developer of advanced flight control solutions for professional UAVs, has been involved in the project from the start. Since 2016, close cooperation between the technical teams has allowed rapid development of the platform from prototype to deliverable product. UAV Navigation follows a strict philosophy of creating long-term partnerships with its clients.

UAV Navigation’s FCS allows standard runway landings without the need to install bulky, expensive extra equipment, such as RTK or DGPS systems. This keeps the cost of the final product down and maximizes available payload. Using just a simple radar or laser altimeter, the autopilot is able to perform high precision landings, even in high cross-wind conditions.

The UAV Navigation autopilot controls the platform completely automatically through all modes of flight, including fully auto take-off and landing. (Source: UAS VISION)

05 Nov 19. Schumer proposes $100bn tech ‘moon shot’ versus China. With an eye on China, the U.S. Senate’s top Democrat is floating plans for a new, deep-pocketed agency to invest $100bn into cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics and fifth-generation networking known as 5G. Speaking at a conference of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., floated his plans for a new technology-focused subsidiary of the National Science Foundation, which would work with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which would be the foundation’s analogue within the Defense Department

The proposed agency would invest $100bn over five years into universities, companies or other specialized government agencies “in the Defense Department or not,” as well as individual academic researchers, Schumer explained.

“This should not be a partisan issue, this is about the future of America, this should not be a political issue,” he said. “This should be of the same importance as putting a man on the moon.”

To become law, the idea would have to pass Congress and get the president’s signature. According to Schumer, his “discussion draft” has support from people close to President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., but it’s “thus far been unable to get their full-throated support.”

The comments come as the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence — chartered by Congress and led by Eric Schmidt, the former head of Google parent Alphabet, and Bob Work, the former deputy secretary of defense — warned there’s too much red tape and not enough federal investment in research and development funding for computer science.

“The kind of research that needs to be done would have a long revenue stream,” Schumer said. “We will do better than the Chinese government, dollar-for-dollar, in investing in AI, but if they outspend us 3-, 4-, 5-to-1 ― which they are doing now ― we’ll fall behind in five or 10 years and rue the day.”

Invoking the space race of the 1960s, Schumer stressed that America must lead in AI innovation, particularly in comparison to China, which he said runs an oppressive surveillance state. America’s top spot, he added, would to promote a future of privacy rights, individual liberty and democratic values.

“We need to match and exceed their level of commitment,” Schumer said of China, “which thus far we have not done.” (Source: Defense News)

05 Nov 19. Airbus reveals LOUT unmanned stealth testbed for Germany. Airbus has revealed a stealth unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) demonstrator aircraft that it has been developing in secret for over a decade. The Low Observable UAV Testbed (LOUT) was shown to reporters for the first time on 5 November during the company’s annual Trade Media Briefing at Manching in southern Germany.

Speaking at the unveiling of what remains a classified programme for the German government, Mario Hertzog, German Low Observable (LO) Demonstrator Head, noted the secrecy of the project before providing as much detail as he was permitted.

“Nobody is aware of what we have been doing here – this is a classified project that was started as long ago as 2007. The development contract was awarded in 2010, and the LOUT has been developed in Manching and Bremen in a Skunk Works approach,” Hertzog said.

Shown to reporters in an anechoic chamber, the LOUT is designed to be a subsonic diamond-shaped LO vehicle that measures 12 m x 12 m (approximately the same size as the BAE Systems Taranis UAV demonstrator from the UK) and weighs four tons. It is designed to offer visual, acoustic, radar, and infrared stealth against ground-based threats, indicating that a potential strike role for the technologies is being developed and tested.

The aircraft features an internal weapons bay and all-aspect stealth design features, including radar-absorbing materials, low-radar cross section (RCS) engine inlets, structural cooling technologies, minimised gaps between surfaces, and unspecified LO coatings. With the LOUT optimised to be stealthy against ground-based threats, the intakes are mounted on top of the aircraft.

The LOUT also featured a canopy, although Hertzog noted that this was to test the LO properties of the transparency itself for sensor and other applications, rather than to indicate any manned capability for the aircraft. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

04 Nov 19. India marks milestone in indigenous development of submarine AIP system. India has successfully operationalised a land-based prototype (LBP) of an indigenously developed air independent propulsion (AIP) system, the country’s defence ministry announced on 30 October.

The LBP, which has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO’s) Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL), would eventually be incorporated on the Indian Navy’s future submarines.

The NMRL was tasked to develop a fuel cell-based AIP system for India’s Project 75 (Scorpene) submarines. This system is intended to match the form and fit of the AIP plug for these submarines, which has been catered into the vessel’s design. French shipbuilder Naval Group will design the support for this integration. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

04 Nov 19. Airbus developing in-flight smoke screen to protect hovering H145M helos. Airbus Helicopters is developing a smoke screen to be deployed from its H145M helicopter when inserting troops in the hover, a senior company representative said on 4 November.

Speaking on the opening day of the Airbus Defence and Space (DS) Trade Media Briefing 2019 at the company’s Donauworth facility near Munich, Mark Henning, Senior Programme Manager H145M Governmental Business, said that the system, which is a first for helicopters, has shown positive results in early ground-based tests.

“We are developing an in-flight rapid obscuration system to make the H145M invisible during the most dangerous phase of its mission – when hovering at about 20 m when dropping troops. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

01 Nov 19. Canadian companies establish joint SkySensus BVLOS project. A group of Canadian companies have come together to set up Project SkySensus, a research project intended to advance the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) technology beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). Three Alberta-based enterprises have partnered with defence contractor Peraton Canada in the five-year commitment. The initiative is related to Peraton Canada’s obligations under Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy. This policy requires companies winning military and Coast Guard contracts to invest in Canada’s economic development at a commensurate level to the value of the contract. Participation from Transport Canada, NAV Canada and the Department of National Defence will be structured as part of the project.

The companies will jointly implement a series of research and development activities within increasingly progressive complex environments. A series of capability demonstrations will result in risk modelling and technology advancements to increase the safety of future BVLOS operations. In addition to Peraton, the consortium includes drone operator Canadian UAVS, geospatial and automation specialist Aerium Analytics, and the Foremost UAS test range in western Canada.

The Foremost Centre for Unmanned Systems test range is supporting regulatory compliance test and evaluation for the project: an area extending over 700 nautical miles which includes class F restricted airspace up to 18,000 ft for UAS BVLOS research and development and test evaluation.

President and Chief Executive Officer of Calgary Economic Development, Mary Moran said: “There is a lot of significant innovation emerging from Calgary in the area of drones and autonomous vehicles. Today’s SkySensus announcement further highlights this fast-growing sector and it is safe to say that we are a major hub for unmanned systems in Canada.”

For more information visit:

www.skysensus.ca (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)

01 Nov 19. US Army Assessment Showcases Tech for Multi-Domain Ops. Many of today’s Army modernization efforts are built on a foundation first established in the waning days of the Future Combat Systems program. Along the way, the Army Evaluation Task Force began conducting evaluations at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, with those activities eventually evolving into semi-annual Network Integration Evaluations.

The NIEs, which supported the fielding of network capability sets, further transitioned into Joint Warfighting Assessments, field experiments designed to meet the need for operationally realistic events to assess new concepts and capabilities in support of Army modernization priorities.

The assessments are planned and executed by the Army Joint Modernization Command, based at Fort Bliss, which has the lead for live field experiments within Army Futures Command. The most recent field experiment, “JWA 19,” was conducted in April and May at Yakima Training Center and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, with the joint command partnering with the other services and multinational partners to assess multi-domain operations, concepts and capabilities in a projected 2025-2028 operational environment aligned to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility. The previous assessment was designated “JWA 18.1” and was conducted in April–May 2018 at the Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels training areas in Germany.

“There’s a lot going on in terms of modernization of the force,” said Brig. Gen. Johnny Davis, commander of the Joint Modernization Command. “And there’s a lot of wind in the sails in terms of where the Army is moving in the future.”

Davis outlined the JWA 19 operational environment, pointing to the use of simulation to create many of the challenges anticipated in the 2025-2028 timeframe.

“We believe that some of the systems that we are investing in right now in the Army with the cross-functional teams will mature and be in the hands of our men and women in uniform,” he said. “So we’ve placed some of those capabilities in the simulation here, where our soldiers are fighting in a near-peer environment.”

“That’s pretty cool,” he added. “And it’s an eye opener, because we’re asking our leaders to fight in the futuristic environment in all domains.”

Davis’ comment about all domains reflects the Army’s expectation that future operations will be contested in land, maritime, cyberspace, air and space domains across an increasingly lethal and expanded battlefield. Consequently, JWA 19 explored related challenges in areas like cross-domain maneuver, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, multi-domain mission command, sustainment and cross-domain fires. Specific learning objectives were assigned to each of the areas.

Task organization for JWA 19 featured a combined joint task force under I Corps, with joint service and multinational partners from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Elements from France and Singapore also participated in the event. The live exercise environment included approximately 12,200 deployed personnel.

One of the participating units was “Lancer Brigade,” the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

“Being out here in the field at JWA 19 really allows us to focus on three things,” explained Col. Jonathan Chung, the team’s commander. “No. 1 is building readiness, which is our first priority. Two, it gives us an opportunity to focus on modernization and future force opportunities for development. And three, it’s an opportunity to work through interoperability issues with our multinational partners.”

In addition to JWA 19 participation, he noted that the brigade combat team was able to maximize the field experience through a culminating “Bayonet Focus” training exercise, which he said included experimentation and evaluation of “about seven capabilities and concepts that we have a chance to test and integrate throughout the entire formation.”

Specific examples of new capabilities and concepts designed to enhance the lethality of the Army’s cavalry scouts included the MR-2300 illuminator, InstantEye small unmanned aerial system, and the ENFIRE data collection set.

The MR-2300 is a high-intensity infrared and short-wave infrared illuminator that can be mounted on the Stryker vehicle to enable existing optical sensors to positively identify targets at long range in low/no-light and subterranean conditions.

The InstantEye family of hand-launched, aerial robotic systems provides Stryker elements with immediate tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in urban and rural environments.

The introduction of ENFIRE, which is currently employed by Army engineers, provides a toolset to facilitate a range of Stryker reconnaissance operations.

“The equipment that we’re looking at right now is part of the sensor-enabled scout platoon concept,” said Maj. Dave Sherck, executive officer for 8th Squadron, 1st U.S. Cavalry — the cavalry squadron for the Lancer Brigade. “It’s taking the cavalry scouts from their individual binoculars and what they can see and report, and giving them new tools to do their jobs more effectively and much faster.”

Noting that part of the unit’s reconnaissance mission during JWA 19 was to perform a route reconnaissance for the brigade, he said, “The way that we’ve done this for a long time is that our scouts will get out on the ground with things like rulers and measuring tapes, measuring the angles of turns, velocities of streams and angles of slopes. All of that is very time consuming. And, from a security perspective, it exposes a lot of scouts to battlefield threats.”

He offered the example of the ENFIRE evaluation, adding, “The elements in that toolkit connect to some sensors that are on the Stryker, giving the soldier some tools that they can use to do things much faster. And the especially cool thing about it is that it takes all that information, aggregates it into a computer, and creates what we call a route overlay.

That overlay is what we send back to the brigade to tell them that all of those big trucks and other equipment can get down those routes.”

Some of the other concepts and capabilities examined during the evaluation included: the tactical power management concept; prolonged medical patient care; the V-BAT vertical takeoff and landing “tail sitting” UAS; electronic warfare; air-launched effects; and the robotic complex-breaching concept.

The breaching concept was explored at Yakima Training Center by elements from the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment. Battalion Commander Lt. Col. John Fursman said, in addition to providing the opposing force for 2-2 SBCT, his unit was also performing its traditional infantry and maneuver tasks during the evaluation.

“The equipment we’ve received here will help to validate some concepts that the Army is looking at for vehicles and equipment that formations like mine can use in future offensive and defensive operations,” he said.

Much of the equipment was focused on the task of “breaching” a complex network of defensive obstacles that would likely be established by future adversaries, he noted.

“One of the most challenging and deadly operations a ground force does is what we call the combined arms breach,” he said. “It’s required to open up that obstacle so that you can put forces through. It’s a very challenging task, with the enemy on the far side of that obstacle ready to destroy you with all of the weapon systems they have.”

Building on earlier experimentation, the breaching concept equipment sought to reduce the risk to soldiers through the introduction of robotic technologies to a range of breaching vehicle platforms.

Capt. Nichole Rotte, company commander for the engineer company supporting Fursman’s battalion, outlined her unit’s responsibilities to get to the breach and open the obstacle.

“The challenge that I have is that my planning factor for moving through a breach is 50 percent loss,” she said. “These concepts to take unmanned vehicles to save soldiers from being lost in the breach mitigate significant risk.”

Emphasizing the “surrogate” nature of the platforms involved, Fursman began his equipment briefing with a modified Puma drone, offering that current efforts include development of a new reconnaissance advanced sensor and exploitation payload with longwave infrared capabilities that could help to detect and map mines and minefields. The demonstration also included conceptual chemical, biological and radiological sensor suites mounted on platforms controlled by soldiers from the Alabama National Guard.

“A lot of the forces out there that we might potentially engage with may use those types of weapons,” Fursman said. “We want to be able to identify where those have been employed as far back as possible, so that we can find a way around them or make sure we don’t run into them.”

Smoke generation capabilities were demonstrated by other surrogate platforms, including the MRZRX and the M58 Wolf smoke generation variant of the M113 armored personnel carrier. Participants noted that the M58 has been removed from Army inventories, in part because of the danger of that mission to crews, but quickly asserted that the introduction of robotics opens new possibilities for the task.

Other participating vehicle platforms ranged from a robotic gun system on a next-generation combat vehicle unmanned surrogate to two remotely-controlled assault breacher vehicles with Marine Corps crews from both Camp Pendleton, California and Quantico, Virginia.

JWA 19 planners said results from the breaching evaluation will be used to inform the Army’s robotic and autonomous systems strategy priorities for the mid-term — 2021-2030.

“The final concept, when it’s adopted, will look different from what you saw today,” said Col. Charles Roede, deputy commander of the Joint Mission Command. “But this is the foundation of validating the concepts.”

“We’ll also put together a report that says, ‘Here’s what went well. Here are things we have identified that are potential avenues for future investigation,’” he added. “We will brief that out to senior leaders, including the Army vice chief of staff. Then the Army vice chief will give us directions from there, saying, ‘Here are the places we need to push our efforts.’”

In addition to identifying a few of the early JWA 19 insights surrounding multi-domain operations — ranging from a need for a robust joint concept to the need to increase joint, interagency and multinational participation in the assessments — command planners have recently highlighted significant progress in the planning and coordination for next year’s event.

Slated for mid-April to late-May, JWA 20 will serve as the Army’s live multi-echelon joint and multinational capstone exercise aligned to the European Command area of responsibility, informed by an existing EUCOM/NATO operational plan, and set in the 2028 operational environment to demonstrate and assess multi-domain concepts, capabilities and formations from brigade combat teams to a combined joint task force.

Significantly, JWA 20 will be linked to Defender 20, a Department of the Army-directed regional exercise integrated into the European Command Northern Exercise Campaign and consisting of both a command post exercise and live training exercises. That linkage will allow expanded assessment of the multi-domain concept and over 49 related enhancing capabilities.  (Source: glstrade.com/NDIA)

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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.

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