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06 Dec 19. Curtin Uni receives federal funding boost as part of Australian Research Council. Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan announced almost $4m worth of Australian Research Council (ARC) grants as part of the Discovery Projects scheme for 11 research projects to be lead by Curtin with impacts for Australia’s growing space sector.
Curtin University has been awarded almost $4m by the federal government to fund new research projects, ranging from the solar system and the Earth’s tectonic records to lithium batteries and renewable energy – each with flow on benefits for the Australian space industry and its attempts at value adding to global programs.
Two research projects led by John Curtin Distinguished Professor Zongping Shao, from Curtin’s WA School of Mines: Minerals, Energy and Chemical Engineering, were awarded more than $750,000.
Professor Shao’s research will aim to develop high-performance lithium batteries that have the potential to boost Australia’s world-leading lithium mining industry, as well as developing an innovative hybrid hydrocarbon-carbon fuel cell for long-life power generation.
New research, led by John Curtin Distinguished Professor Phil Bland, who leads Curtin’s Space Science and Technology Centre, received $526,000 in ARC funding to pinpoint the origins of hundreds of meteorites as part of an international collaboration.
Other Curtin projects funded by ARC Discovery Projects grants will aim to gain a better understanding of Australia’s natural resources, investigate how to support people achieve difficult goals, explore an energy storage solution to a dish-Stirling concentrated solar power system, and search for the most disruptive stellar-mass and supermassive blackholes in the universe.
Curtin University deputy vice-chancellor, research, Professor Chris Moran congratulated the Curtin researchers on being awarded ARC Discovery Projects grants.
The remaining projects will work to identify the source of cosmic rays – the highest-energy particles in nature – using the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope, investigate creating green concrete from lithium waste, and examine the history, impact and potential future of zoo biology with the aim of improving human-wildlife relations.
“The ARC Discovery Projects scheme aims to support national and international research collaborations and enhance the scale and focus of Australian research,” Professor Moran said.
Professor Moran added, “With this support from the federal government, these Curtin researchers will lead significant research projects that have the potential to create lasting scientific, economic, sustainability and social benefits.” (Source: Space Connect)
06 Dec 19. Kongsberg team demonstrates remote tower capabilities at RAAF Amberley. Kongsberg Defence Australia, in collaboration with Indra Australia, has demonstrated the Kongsberg Remote Tower Module solution deployed at RAAF Amberley. The Remote Towers solution, with its advanced electro-optical sensors, is controlled from the Remote Tower Module (RTM) located approximately 1,200 kilometres away at Kongsberg Defence Australia’s Canberra office.
Representatives from the Australian Defence Force, Airservices Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority last week attended live system demonstrations in Canberra, conducted under the sponsorship of the RAAF Air Warfare Centre Innovation Hub.
As previously demonstrated at RAAF Amberley, the RTM demonstrates high-resolution real-time live panoramic streaming of imagery across an ordinary commercial point-to-point connection, providing the same “out of the window” view quality as sitting in a tower at the airfield.
Additionally, instant remote control of the pan-tilt-zoom camera and other system operations was available through commercial network connections, enabling remote tower operations. Live infrared image streaming is also proving to be an effective situational awareness asset at night, particularly in monitoring movements of wildlife.
John Fry, general manager of Kongsberg Defence Australia, said the new technology will advance Australia’s capacity to provide air traffic services in remote locations across the country.
“The implementation of this technology will reduce operating and infrastructure costs and will open up opportunities for remote locations and communities all over the country. Kongsberg Defence Australia would like to acknowledge the great team effort we have had together with the RAAF Air Warfare Centre, 44 Wing and Indra Australia that has made this successful demonstration possible. We are now excited to explore new opportunities to field this technology in Australia and the region,” Fry said.
The Kingsberg Remote Towers solution was recently commissioned in Norway for Avinor Air Navigation Services in the world’s largest remote tower project, and this is the first installation of the system in a remote configuration outside of Norway.
Mr Fry added, “With military operations that include remote air bases, orphan airfields, firing ranges and local civilian airports, the ability to implement stable real-time remote operations across a low bandwidth connection provides significant opportunities for a country like Australia.”
The system will remain active and available for further demonstrations into early 2020. (Source: Defence Connect)
04 Dec 19. DOD makes plans to support emerging tech on base. The Pentagon wants to take advantage of emerging technologies, such as 5G and the internet of things, on base as well as on the battlefield. Lawmakers, however, raised concerns that base and depot infrastructure may have trouble supporting that innovation.
When Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) asked military readiness leadership during a Nov. 21 House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness hearing whether they were concerned “that you’re going to wake up one day and not be able to have the infrastructure to work on those new technologies,” the question was initially met with silence .
Rogers continued, noting that depots have historically struggled to get military construction funds for infrastructure upgrades: “What do you think you’re going to be able to do about that in the future? Do you think you’re going to be able to be more aggressive in that front and productive?”
Vice Adm. Thomas Moore, head of Naval Sea Systems Command, acknowledged the problem, testifying that the Navy had experienced difficulties securing military construction funds because it had each of the depots “compete against themselves.”
However, he said, that issue was addressed as the Navy implemented its shipyard infrastructure optimization plan, which “takes a look at the infrastructure needs across the entire organic depots … and then the Navy can set the priorities,” Moore said. “So I think the competition for MILCON is best served when you can put an integrated plan together and you’re not just doing this one project at a time.”
The Marine Corps is working on a similar plan and has three ongoing construction projects, said Maj. Gen. Joseph Shrader, commanding general for Marine Corps Logistics Command.
Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Ga., was one of the first DOD locations to get 5G capability and also is moving to become a “net zero energy consumer through employing renewable and resilient technologies,” the commander said.
Shrader said the new 5G infrastructure “will enable us to employ more capable, automated and IT maintenance management solutions.”
To prepare for imminent tech shifts, the Army is leaning heavily on Futures Command, according to Lt. Gen. Duane Gamble, the Army’s deputy chief of staff, G-4.
“In some cases, we don’t know what the modernized system looks like quite yet,” he said. “There are decision points for every program along the way so that the industrial base, the infrastructure can be modified, improved, or reconstructed, developed or restored or modernized through [Sustainment, Restoration, and Modernization] funding.”
Gamble also said the Army was “cognizant” but not worried about declining infrastructure unable to support developing technologies.
“We don’t want to wake up one day and have a system that we don’t have the sustainment capability of Army to maintain it,” Gamble said. (Source: Defense Systems)
03 Dec 19. Safran, MTU agree framework for future fighter engine. Safran and MTU have agreed details on the development of a next-generation aircraft engine to power the New Generation Fighter (NGF) for France, Germany and Spain. The agreement, announced on 3 December, sees Safran Aircraft Engines of France and MTU Aero Engines of Germany settle the details of the engine development programme for the NGF component of the wider Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/ Système de Combat Aérien Futur (SCAF). This builds on the letter of intent (LOI) signed between the two companies in February 2019, which specified that Safran would take the lead in engine design and integration, with MTU leading engine services.
“In the framework of the contractual scheme defined by France and Germany, Safran Aircraft Engines will be the prime contractor and MTU Aero Engines the main partner for the first phase of Research and Technology (Phase 1A),” the companies said, adding that the two partners had also agreed on the foundation of a 50/50 joint venture that will be incorporated by the end of 2021 to manage the development, production, and the after-sales support activities of the new engine to power the NGF.
Known as both the Next European Fighter Engine (NEFE) and the New European Engine (NEE), the NGF powerplant is one of a number of core FCAS/SCAF elements to be covered in the first demonstration phase that is set to be launched in January 2020. The NEFE/NEE powerplant is included in the NGF itself, with the two other core elements comprising the Remote Carrier (RC) loyal wingmen and the Air Combat Cloud (ACC). This first phase should see an NGF demonstrator flying in concert with an RC (the combination of which is known as the Next-Generation Weapon System [NGWS]) while networked together in the ACC by the end of 2026. (Source: Jane’s)
02 Dec 19. France’s armed forces minister: How AI figures into operational superiority. Robot vs. human: This is the new battle in vogue. Ask Col. Gene Lee, a former fighter pilot and U.S. Air Force pilot trainer, defeated in 2016 by artificial intelligence in an air combat simulation. This specific AI program, even deprived of certain controls, is able to react 250 times faster than a human being. It is one story among many others of how AI technologies play and will play a leading role in operational superiority over the next decades.
I personally choose not to oppose the human to the robot. There is no discussion of replacing human intelligence by artificial intelligence, but it will be essential in increasing our capabilities manyfold. AI is not a goal, per se; it must contribute to better-informed and faster decision-making for the benefit of our soldiers.
AI means unprecedented intelligence capabilities. Crossing thousands of satellite images with data provided by the dark web in order to extract interesting links: This is what big-data analysis will make possible. AI also means better protection for our troops. To evacuate wounded personnel from the battlefield, to clear an itinerary or a mined terrain — as many perilous tasks that we will soon be able to delegate to robots. Lastly, AI means a stronger cyber defense. Cyber soldiers will be capable of countering at very high speed the increasingly stealthy, numerous and automated attacks that are threatening our systems and our economies.
We have everything to win in embracing the opportunities offered by artificial intelligence. This is why the French Ministry of Armed Forces has decided to invest massively in this area. However, we are not naïve, and we do not ignore the risks associated with the development of emerging technologies such as AI.
Hence, we chose to develop defense artificial intelligence according to three major principles: abiding by international law, maintaining sufficient human control and ensuring the permanent responsibility of the chain of command.
To ensure daily compliance with these principles over the long term and to feed our ethical thought, as new uses of AI appear every day, I decided to create a ministerial ethics committee focused on defense issues. This committee will take office at the very end of this year and will come as an aid to decision-making and anticipation. Its main role will be to address questions raised by emerging technologies and their potential use in the defense field.
At the heart of these questions stands an issue that is of interest but also of concern, both within the AI community and within civil society. It comes down to the lethal autonomous weapon systems that some call “killer robots” — weapon systems that would be able to operate without any form of human supervision, that would be able to alter the framework of the mission they are allocated or even assign new missions to themselves.
It is important to know that such systems do not exist yet in today’s theaters of operation. However, debating about them is legitimate. In fact, France did introduce this issue in 2013 to the United Nations in the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. We do wish these discussions to continue in this multilateral framework, the only one that can eventually bring about a regulation of military autonomous systems, as it is the only one that is altogether universal, credible and efficient. We cannot rule out the risk of such weapons being developed one day by irresponsible states, or falling into the hands of nonstate actors. The need to federate with all other nations in the world is even more imperative.
France defends its values, respects its international commitments and remains faithful to them. Our position is unambiguous and has been expressed in the clearest terms by President Emmanuel Macron: France refuses to entrust the decision of life or death to a machine that would act fully autonomously and escape any form of human control.
Such systems are fundamentally contrary to all our principles. They have no operational interest for a state whose armed forces abide by international law, and we will not deploy any. Terminator will never march down the Champs-Elysées on Bastille Day. (Source: Defense News)
29 Nov 19. World First: Naval Group successfully completes testing of its Launch and Recovery System up to and including NATO sea state 5/6 at the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands. Naval Group achieved 100% successful recoveries of ECA Group’s Inspector 125 up to and including sea state 5/6 using its Launch and Recovery system (LARS) in MARIN test facilities (Wageningen – The Netherlands). In Naval Group’s Dutch partner MARIN facilities, Belgian and Dutch officials witnessed the 100% successful launching and recovery of USVs using Naval Group Launch and Recovery System (LARS). The tests were conducted up to sea state 5/6 (significant waves height: 4m) and with incoming waves from all directions (including leeward of the mothership).
This is a world first and proves that the launch and recovery concept developed by Naval Group is the answer for operating USVs safely in harsh maritime environments. Naval Group demonstrated its expertise and qualifies its system, paving the way to new capabilities for navies needing to operate USV at sea in difficult conditions.
Naval Group mothership has one port and one starboard LARS located slightly aft of midship, close to the ship’s centre of gravity. Each LARS consists of a pivoting A-Frame davit with the USV, weighing up to 18t, housed in a floating cradle. It allows the simultaneous launch of two USVs with maximal safety. For the Belgian-Dutch mine countermeasure (MCM) program, conducted by Belgium Naval Robotics – a Naval Group and ECA Group consortium -, they will be used to operate two ECA’s Inspector 125 USV.
Claude Bultot, the Belgian program director said “This success is an important milestone in the program and towards the implementation of a new way to conduct our minehunting activities that will be more efficient and safer for our crews. We are looking forward to the next steps together with the Dutch navy and with our industrial partners from Naval Group and ECA Group.”
These tests belong to a series for the MCM BE/NL program. In August 2019, first tank tests were carried out in MARIN facilities with the same scale model of the ship’s hull and propulsion system under calm sea conditions. The first objective was to confirm and fine-tune computational fluid dynamic predictions made for speed and to validate the overall hull drag and propellers efficiency. The second objective was to assess interactions between the hull and propulsion system in order to estimate the total propulsion power of the ship. The next series of tests will take place in February and will assess the cradle handling dynamic aspects.
The contract for twelve minehunters for the Belgian and Dutch navies will run over ten years. After a three-year design period, Belgium Naval & Robotics will move into the production phase for these ships and drone systems, with a first delivery due in 2024. Six ships will be delivered to the Belgian navy and six to the Dutch navy; all are equipped with complete drone systems (toolboxes) in total containing over a hundred underwater, surface and aerial drones fully dedicated to mines countermeasures.
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.