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24 Aug 23. US Army rollout new procurement contract technology.
The US Army is rolling out contract writing software as a replacement for the Standard procurement System that has been used for 27 years.
US Army rollout new procurement contract technology
The document includes detailed information on the manufacturers and suppliers and their products, along with contact details, to inform your purchasing decision.
The first ACWS user group consists of 104 contracting employees from 29 sites, including Army Contracting Command-Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Army National Guard offices around the country, who will offer input on the system prior to the next release.
The second ACWS deployment, which will include about 350 more Army Contracting Command and Army National Guard customers, is scheduled for the first quarter of fiscal year 2024. ACWS will ultimately replace the Procurement Automated Data and Document System and the Standard Procurement System/Procurement Desktop-Defense.
The new ACWS system will: generate Uniform Contract Format solicitation, award, and modification documents; generate Procurement Data Standard-compliant transactions; import vendors from the System for Award Management; link to the Procurement Integrated Enterprise Environment Clause Logic Service to complete required clause interviews; receive purchase requests from the Defence Enterprise Accounting and Management System; and connect to the Federal Procurement Data System to complete required clause interviews.
First contracted with CGI in June 2017 for $133.9m, the ACWS programme has seen its own share of set-backs. Greg Youmans, Director of Enterprise Business Systems at the Office of the Deputy Asst. Secretary of the Army for Procurement gave a presentation to the Procure-to-Pay & Financial Audit Training Symposium in 2022, at which point the Army was assessing the program to determine options for the ACWS path forward.
According to Youmans, results from the system qualification testing in December 2021 described the ACWS as neither effective or suitable; in January 2022 the ACWS milestone decision authority made the decision not to conduct the limited deployment of software release.
According to data gathered from Highergovafter.com, the ten year indefinite delivery contract was terminated for convenience in January of 2023. By then, contracts of $68.5m had already been awarded.
A year later, Youmans was back at the 2023 session of the training symposium, describing a new approach for the ACWS. The Army would leverage Air Force software to meet 36% of the ACWS requirements, bring in another 39% from VCE, PIEE and SAM to bring in another 39%, and fill another 25% from the USDA using interagency agreements.
24 Aug 23. Wireless Energy-Delivering Crystals Could Unleash Drones’ Capabilities. Crystals with the capacity to transform light directly into mechanical energy without using electricity as an interim stage could unleash a host of advances. For example, drones that run on laser beams could cut back on batteries, or do without them entirely, with the weight savings enabling extra capabilities.
The idea of wireless transmission of energy has long-standing appeal. Nikola Tesla spent years trying to develop a way to power lights without wires, and such is his veneration that some people believe he did it, only for the technology to be suppressed. Proposals to beam energy collected by solar panels in space are another version that experiences periodic revivals.
Usually, however, these involve converting the transmitted electromagnetic radiation into electricity, which is then used to power motors or light globes. Unfortunately, one of the most basic laws of physics is that every energy conversion involves some inefficiency. Consequently, Professor Ryan Hayward of the University of Colorado at Boulder is looking to minimize the transformations required.
“We cut out the middle man, so to speak, and take light energy and turn it directly into mechanical deformation,”
Hayward said in a statement. The key to this process lies in organic crystals that bend when exposed to light.
Hayward leads a team that are using these photomechanical materials to do work so that robots don’t need to carry batteries with them, at least as long as they have a clear line of sight back to the light source. Thus a drone powered by a laser beam could stay aloft longer, and possibly perform more complex aerial maneuvers than if it had to carry batteries and other heavy electrical systems.
Photomechanical materials are not new, but previous versions were inefficient and broke so easily they were more curiosities than the basis for useful machines. Hayward’s team has found that tiny, highly ordered diarylethene crystals can do much better when combined in larger numbers.
“What’s exciting is that these new actuators are much better than the ones we had before,” Hayward said. “They respond quickly, last a long time and can lift heavy things.”
Hayward’s team are embedding arrays of the crystals in microscopic holes in polymer materials. They found this makes them both more robust and more powerful. When exposed to light the crystals cause the polymer to bend, which can spin a motor. They have demonstrated 0.02-milligram crystals can lift objects thousands of times their weight.
This does not mean all the problems of wireless energy transmission are solved. Currently the team can only make their crystal-polymer combination bend and unbend with exposure to light, as rings within the crystals’ molecular structure open and close. The team want to have a wider range of capacities at their disposal. Hayward also acknowledges, “We still have a ways to go, particularly in terms of efficiency, before these materials can really compete with existing actuators.”
The study is published in Nature Materials. (Source: UAS VISION/iflscience)
23 Aug 23. The Open Group FACE™ and SOSA™ Consortia To Host Technical Interchange Meeting and Expo at MOSA Industry & Government Summit in Atlanta. The Open Group FACE™ and SOSA™ Consortia have announced that the annual FACE & SOSA Technical Interchange Meeting (TIM) and Expo have been incorporated into the inaugural Modular Open System Approach (MOSA) Industry and Government Summit & Expo, taking place in Atlanta, GA September 18-19, 2023.
As Premium Partners, The Open Group FACE and SOSA Consortia will participate in the industry event that brings together the Office of the US State Department (OSD), services, industry, and academia in an effort to collaboratively work on the challenging problems of MOSA.
Event attendees will hear from a range of experts during a multitude of keynotes, panel discussions, and more intimate breakout sessions. Participating organizations will also showcase solutions from Aviation Mission Computing Environment (AMCE), Dynamic Airspace and Mission Planning Environment (DAMPE), to Airborne Radio Control (ARCM). Other solutions that will be discussed and demonstrated include Aircraft Survivability Equipment (ASE), Common Pilot Vehicle Interface (PVI), Degraded Visual Environment (DVE), Link 16, C5ISR, navigation, power distribution, unmanned vehicle control, Modeling, Simulation, and Training (MS&T), and readiness.
Steve Nunn, President and CEO of The Open Group commented: “Events like these play a key role in facilitating industry discussions about the latest trends and developments contributing to the evolution of open standard solutions. Building on the success of previous Technical Interchange Meetings, The Open Group is an integral part of the 2023 MOSA Summit and Expo, and we’re looking forward to seeing over 85 FACE and SOSA Member organizations exhibiting at the Expo.”
The Expo will feature over 130 exhibitors, including AFLCMC, C5ISR, DEVCOM AvMC, NAVAIR, PEO Aviation, their industry partners, and others, who will perform real demonstrations of MOSA using aspects of the FACE and/or SOSA Technical Standards. To find out more and register for the event, visit: https://events.techconnect.org/MOSA_2023/index.html
23 Aug 23. Maritime start-up CUBEDIN and Thales, the world-class global leader in advanced naval technologies, have announced a ground-breaking collaboration that marks a new era in naval innovation.
Having formalised a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in October last year, the two companies are now embarking on an exciting journey to create a modular flexible platform integrating Thales’ sensors and systems into the CUBEDIN concept.
This innovative solution will seamlessly integrate Thales’s state-of-the-art sonar sensors into a warship through CUBEDIN’s software platform. This ensures that modular vessels are equipped with unparalleled versatility, enabling rapid deployment and customisation of sonar sensors to address a wide array of maritime challenges.
The partnership between CUBEDIN and Thales brings together the best of both worlds – CUBEDIN’s expertise in maritime software solutions and Thales’s proficiency in naval anti-submarine sonar systems.
“At CUBEDIN, we’re driven by a passion for pushing the boundaries of maritime technology with our software. This partnership with Thales is a testament to our commitment to innovation,” said Danny Ingemann, CUBEDIN CEO. “By seamlessly integrating Thales’s cutting-edge sonar sensors through our software solutions, we’re creating a game-changing platform that will empower naval forces with unmatched flexibility and capability.”
Through this collaboration, modular ships will receive a unified, software-driven ecosystem that seamlessly connects Thales’s sophisticated sonar sensors, enhancing surveillance, detection, and response capabilities.
Renewed anti-submarine warfare capabilities are necessary to address increasing threat of submarines.
New threats and the need to conduct operations in both deep and shallow waters have led to a significant shift in operational requirements. Drawing on strong references and unparalleled skills in the undersea battlespace, Thales collaborates with each customer to adapt its proven, interoperable solution to the specific needs of any type of surface vessel.
The cooperation between Thales and CUBEDIN A/S demonstrates Thales’s ambition and commitment to partnering with local companies for the benefit of both the local and international defence industry and customers.
Thales and CUBEDIN’s new approach to designing modular combat platforms aims to provide Thales’s cutting-edge Anti-Submarine Warfare and Mine Warfare sonar technologies to these new modular vessels.
This collaboration will allow both partners to define the best trade-off in terms of modularity and performance at sea. CUBEDIN is the newest arrival within modular shipbuilding. The solution enables the building of smarter, flexible warships through the integration of modules, enabling it to carry out any type of mission across the world.
Visit the CUBEDIN website for more details: https://cubedin.com/
22 Aug 23. AFWERX Reaches Out to Academia for New Technologies. AFWERX, the innovation arm for the Department of the Air Force, met with entrepreneurs, educators and researchers at a recent Academia Days outreach event in Dayton, Ohio, to hear about their dual-use and defense-specific technologies.
“Some of America’s most disruptive and game-changing military technologies grew out of research from universities and nonprofit institutions,”
said Col. Elliott Leigh, AFWERX director and chief commercialization officer for the DAF.
Nearly 100 representatives from 29 of the nation’s universities as well as virtual attendees gathered to hear about innovation funding through AFWERX, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the U.S. Space Force, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation.
“It’s not just about aircraft,” Leigh said. “Just about everything you can think of, there’s an Airman somewhere who can use it to do their job better.”
The AFWERX mission is to accelerate agile and affordable capability transitions by teaming leaders in innovative technology with Airman and Guardian talent. Leigh said AFWERX can help bring together entrepreneurs, who have partnered with academic and nonprofit institutions, and funding through the Small Business Technology Transfer, or STTR, program.
The STTR program requires that a small business join forces with a university, a federally funded research center or a qualified nonprofit institution. The academic or nonprofit research institution performs 30% of the work, while a small business must perform at least 40%.
Leigh pointed to low observable, or ‘stealth,’ technology as an example of a disruptive innovation made possible by research institutions.
During the 1950s, P. Ya. Ufimtsev, a Soviet Russian physicist and mathematician, found ways to calculate the diffraction of light waves when they came into contact with certain shapes. Soviet officials, believing Ufimtsev’s work offered no military or economic value, allowed him to publish his findings as, “Method of Edge Waves in the Physical Theory of Diffraction.” While the publication received scant attention in Russia, Denys Overholser, an American stealth engineer with Lockheed’s Skunk Works, realized Ufimetsev’s methods could help conduct finite analysis of radar reflection, a critical piece to developing the F-117 Nighthawk and stealth technology as a whole.
Today, the DAF Small Business Innovation Research and STTR focus areas include artificial intelligence, machine learning, small unmanned aerial systems, extended reality, autonomous technology, robotic-process automation, 3D printing and additive manufacturing, mental health, next-generation gaming, and other technologies.
AFWERX wants to grow its database of subject matter experts for future projects. Projects could include working closely with Spark Cells, being evaluators for new contract awards and expertise for future research and development projects.
Additionally, entrepreneurs working with AFWERX can also attend events where they will have a chance to meet with officials from the Air Force’s major commands, or MAJCOMs, and program executive offices, or PEOs. MAJCOMs and PEOs can sponsor their technology during the development and prototyping phases before possibly becoming government customers.
Information about the AFWERX SBIR/ STTR programs can be found here.
The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit www.afresearchlab.com.
The innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory brings cutting edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. Employs approximately 325 military, civilian and contractor personnel at six hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4B budget. Since 2019, has executed 4,671 contracts worth more than $2B to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. (Source: UAS VISION)
23 Aug 23. Thales Australia developing masterplan for Maritime Autonomy and SME Collaboration Precinct. Thales Australia has announced that the company is developing a masterplan to establish a Maritime Autonomy and SME Collaboration Precinct on the Newcastle foreshore to support the RAN’s SEA 1905-1 program should the company be selected. The precinct is expected to inject over $40m into the Hunter economy in the first five years, as well as create 100 new jobs on the company’s Carrington site.
The site at Carrington has been used to support the Navy’s Huon Class MHC vessels and mine warfare capability which are scheduled for gradual retirement.
The new precinct will be used to help the company deliver the Royal Australian Navy’s Mine Countermeasures and Military Survey Capability SEA 1905-1 program, should Thales be selected for the project.
Detailing the company’s plans, Thales Australia confirmed the site will be developed to create an Australian eyes-only base for maritime autonomous capability helping to accelerate SEA 1905-1, supported by the company’s DISP Level 3 classification.
Thales Australia bills the Carrington site as the “ideal location”, with access to shallow and deep water for trials while maintaining Navy’s ambitions for maritime autonomy development in the Hunter.
It expands the company’s global autonomous capabilities, with Maritime Autonomy Centres currently operating in the United Kingdom and United States.
Thales Australia explained the new site will enable technology pooling to enhance industrial efforts between the AUKUS partners, while also drawing from expertise from research institutions, SMEs, and industrial partners to promote the development and integration of autonomous capabilities in support of the nation’s future nuclear-powered submarines.
The site enables the continued development of mine countermeasure capabilities in the Hunter, Troy Stephen, vice-president, underwater systems, Thales Australia and New Zealand, said.
“Newcastle, and the Hunter region, have been a stalwart of the RAN’s mine countermeasure capability from the time of construction of the first Huon Class MHC vessels by ADI in the nineties, through to today, with MHC maintenance and support continued to be carried out at Carrington,” Thales’ Troy Stephen explained.
“As Newcastle has evolved into a modern metropolis, the RAN’s mine countermeasures and military survey capability will also undergo rapid advancement and a significant technological step-change into autonomy under SEA 1905-1. Carrington, the home of the MHC, is the ideal location to develop and deliver the next generation of sovereign mine warfare capability for the RAN, providing the ideal test and evaluation environment whilst generating significant investment in local SMEs and jobs in the region.” (Source: Defence Connect)
21 Aug 23. Epsilor Announces its Agreement for Li-Ion Army Vehicle Batteries with Hanwha Defense Australia (HDA). Epsilor’s COMBATT NATO 6T type Li-Ion vehicle battery to be integrated in HDA’s $1bn contract with the Australian Government acquiring self-propelled artillery systems for the Land 8116 Phase 1 program
Epsilor, a world-recognized developer and manufacturer of smart batteries, charging systems, wearable power and communication systems for high-reliability applications, announced today that it has signed an agreement with Hanwha Defense Australia (HDA) for the supply of NATO 6T type Li-Ion vehicle batteries for LAND 8116 Phase 1 Protected Mobile Fires program, Huntsman vehicles over the next several years.
Epsilor’s COMBATT line of vehicle batteries provides the highest energy density in the market. Epsilor offers 2 types of 6T batteries: Li-Ion and LiFePO4.
Epsilor provides modern combat vehicle batteries with sufficient energy and high-power rates while operating numerous onboard electronic systems that require extensive and continuous electric power, including manned and unmanned turrets, missile launchers, radars and active protection systems, jammers, situational awareness and C3 systems, air conditioning and other power consumers.
“Epsilor is pleased to mark another strategic milestone in this cooperation with Hanwha Defense Australia, which not only equips modern combat vehicles with sufficient energy and high-power rates but also showcases Epsilor’s cutting-edge developments, extending its already well-known capabilities,” said Epsilor’s President Ronen Badichi. “Epsilor’s 6T batteries were chosen to be integrated into this momentous project based on our proven technological and engineering capabilities as well as our industry leading battery capacity.”
“The Australian Market has become more and more significant to Epsilor’s global marketing activities” said Hagai Shmuel, Epsilor VP of Marketing.
Epsilor is a globally recognized developer and manufacturer of custom and standard batteries, chargers and mobile power systems for the defense, medical, aerospace, industrial and marine markets. The company offers a wide variety of electro-chemistries, smart electronics and sophisticated battery management systems (BMS). The company’s products have won several awards for their innovation and smart operational approach.
About Hanwha Defense Australia
Hanwha Defense Australia is a subsidiary of Hanwha Aerospace, a division of the vast Republic of Korea Fortune 500 conglomerate Hanwha Corporation. Hanwha Corporation has been operating in Australia since 2005 in areas including mining equipment, logistics and sustainable energy.
Headquartered in Melbourne, Hanwha Defense Australia was established in 2019 with an initial focus on Land Systems. The company signed a contract with the Commonwealth of Australia to supply self-propelled artillery systems under LAND 8116, a $0.9bn to $1.3bn project.
The company was also recently announced as the preferred tenderer for LAND 400 Phase 3 to supply the Redback Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) to the Australian Army.
These vehicles will be manufactured in the Greater Geelong area of Victoria at the HDA Armoured vehicle Centre of Excellence (H-ACE), Avalon, now under construction.
Epsilor will showcase it’s COMBATT 6T product line at DSEI during September 12-14 – come meet us at booth H4-701 and book a meeting with us there. (Source: PR Newswire)
21 Aug 23. USAF Adopts C3 AI to Conserve Fuel Use, Increase Flight Efficiency. C3 AI (NYSE: AI), the Enterprise AI application software company, today announced that the U.S. Air Force will adopt a C3 AI air logistics optimization application to conserve flight energy as a new order under a previous U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) agreement.
To optimize energy use across aircraft, the C3 AI air logistics optimization application uses information such as sensor and mission data to create prediction models that help DoD leaders establish more efficient flight protocols, ultimately lowering fuel consumption without compromising combat capability. The application has been shown to significantly increase the accuracy and reliability of fuel consumption predictions, which can ultimately lead to — through faster and more accurate analyses — more efficient use of fuel and reduce the impact of fuel use on the climate.
“Our work within the DoD has led to significant efficiency and productivity improvements, most recently proven when the Air Force designated a C3 AI application as the system of record for all new predictive maintenance programs across the department,” said C3 AI CEO Thomas M. Siebel. “We’re proud of the work C3 AI is doing across the DoD to deliver immense value and show how adoption of commercial AI solutions accelerates results, including this most recent application that optimizes fuel use for the Air Force.”
The C3 AI air logistics optimization application fuses aircraft sensor and mission data to analyze the effectiveness of operational energy initiatives. This application can reduce the time from raw data collection to AI insights by 92% — from three days to around two hours. This is made possible by the C3 AI Platform, which can automatically process significant amounts of data easily and report findings into a user-friendly dashboard.
The pilot project for this application generated such robust results that the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), a DoD organization focused on accelerating the adoption of commercial technology, issued a success memo detailing the highlights of the program. A success memo allows the DoD and other government organizations to quickly acquire and adopt the technology.
Air logistics optimization is the third C3 AI project that DIU has facilitated — the first, the Predictive Analytics and Decision Assistant (PANDA), was recently named the system of record for all U.S. Air Force Rapid Sustainment Office Condition Based Maintenance Plus (CBM+) predictive analytics projects.
The second project enables the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to create, in minutes, tens of thousands of physically realistic AI-generated trajectories with only a small set of training data and physics rules, providing up to a 100-fold increase in model generation capacity and speed.
This third project, air logistics optimization, transitioned after C3 AI successfully completed a prototype other transaction in May 2023. It allows for follow-on production contracts from any government organizations with similar problem sets directly with C3 AI.
About C3.ai, Inc.
C3 AI is the Enterprise AI application software company. C3 AI delivers a family of fully integrated products, including the C3 AI Platform, an end-to-end platform for developing, deploying, and operating enterprise AI applications, C3 AI applications, a portfolio of industry-specific SaaS enterprise AI applications that enable the digital transformation of organizations globally, and C3 Generative AI, a suite of large AI transformer models for the enterprise. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
21 Aug 23. Forensic investigation goes mobile with Thales.
- Thales presents its Evidence and Investigation Suite, a new generation of biometric identification solution dedicated to police and security forces.
- The cutting-edge offering includes a complete set of features supported by cloud-based solutions and compact multimodal biometric devices, for faster crime-solving and efficient investigation of persons-of-interest.
- In addition, the ultra-mobile multifunction application provides front-line operators with adapted biometric solution, bringing forensic investigation capabilities to the field.
For decades, Thales expertise has allowed investigation professionals to record, analyze and compare biometric characteristics with the highest level of performance. Today, Thales puts forensic investigations to the next level with one of the top NIST-ranked solutions, uncompromised on accuracy, customizability, and scalability. With its new Evidence and Investigation Suite, Thales put the emphasis on remote accessibility and utmost mobility, offering forces full flexibility and improved results.
According to the World Bank, 7 out of 10 individuals will live in cities by 20501. This rise in global urbanization leads to a significant need for technology to effectively improve public security. Thales Evidence and Investigation Suite is a cloud-based comprehensive suite of solutions and services that fulfill security forces’ time constraints and flexibility demands. The Suite boosts and enhances the current capabilities of field operations by allowing investigators to access highly professional tools remotely on their mobile phones from anywhere.
“In the fight against crime, time is the enemy”, highlights Luc Tombal, Public Security Solutions Director at Thales “that’s why Thales Evidence and Investigation Suite was created by experts with extensive field knowledge for experts.”
Thales’ solution comprises compact devices that can capture biometric data such as facial and iris images, finger- and palmprints wherever they are needed; as well as secure data storage capacity and processing tools that support forensic teams during investigations. The security forces can rely on Thales and its 30+ years of biometrics expertise when making critical decisions in the fight against crime.
“Thanks to the ultra-mobile multifunction application, each investigator can benefit from having a biometric forensic lab at the palm of their hand that strives to simplify and accelerate the procedure. Time optimization is crucial in investigations, and this unique approach allows access to vital information within minutes, expediting criminal case resolutions compared to the traditional days-long process,” added Luc Tombal.
21 Aug 23. Flare Bright is Exhibiting at DSEI 2023. Flare Bright recently carried out a Wind Measurement trial, which took place at Welsh Government’s St Athan airfield and site, in collaboration with Zenotech for the UK Research and Innovation Future Flight Phase 3: SafeZone project. Flare Bright’s in-house Wind Measurement Capability underwent rigorous real-world test and evaluation, with the aim of setting new industry standards.
Teaming up with Zenotech, specialists in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models, Flare Bright’s data sets will be compared against a high-fidelity CFD model (produced by Zenotech) and on-site anemometers, to validate the data sets that were captured by our system during flight. This collaboration promises to reshape the landscape of wind measurement technology.
This Wind Measurement system that has been developed is quickly becoming invaluable when it comes to activities such as: Air Drops, In-flight safety, Site Planning and much more. We will also be launching a new product at DSEI, and can’t wait to share our latest innovation with you all. Hall 2, Stand: H2-585.
21 Aug 23. Airmanship data capture technology flies high with a Defence Innovation Loan.
VRAI secured a DASA Defence Innovation Loan to help commercialise their data capture and analysis technology to help the RAF rapidly assess airmanship in future aviators.
- VRAI’s data capture technology, funded through the DASA Open Call, has the ability to codify and predict airmanship performance. This technology can be used to accelerate training time for RAF recruits.
- Additional funding secured through DASA’s Defence Innovation Loan programme will help VRAI further develop the technology and prepare for commercialisation
- Run in partnership with Innovate UK, Defence Innovation Loans are designed to help SMEs develop and commercialise their mature defence solutions
- As part of the project, DASA provided guidance and helped VRAI test the system with the RAF and obtain vital military end user feedback
Virtual training has become an essential component of modern defence, ensuring armed forces personnel can train proficiencies at scale while reducing costs. However, capturing and analysing training data has been a persistent challenge in defence, particularly in areas such as airmanship data from trainee pilots.
Airmanship refers to the non-technical skills, and judgement required for aerial navigation. To operate an aircraft safely, it is vital that trainees are trained to a high standard to have good situational awareness, decision-making ability and aircraft knowledge.
However, there are numerous obstacles to assessing pilot airmanship. It is constrained by the availability of in-person instructors that can observe students, as each instructor can only manage two or three students at a time. It is also heavily reliant on subjective observation.
Introducing VRAI: Combining virtual reality technology with data capture
Newcastle-based SME, VRAI, which specialises in virtual reality (VR) simulation training and data capture, recognised the need to provide trainee pilots with personalised training plans and data-driven feedback, to help them achieve their maximum potential in a shorter amount of time.
With the help of DASA funding, VRAI developed a solution to enable the Royal Air Force (RAF) to better measure and predict trainee pilot performance, using a combination of VR and data capture technology, called HEAT.
HEAT, which has been used to train staff in an array of vertical industries, can capture and generate rich data sets from commercial off-the-shelf VR solutions, which enables the capability to capture and store pilot data from simulated flying tasks.
VRAI’s data capture and analysis technology enables the RAF to train airmanship in future military pilots to a higher standard, faster, and in a more cost effective way.
It helps defence and security by:
- enabling instructors to train more students at the same time
- ensuring training performance is measure accurately
- ensuring good airmanship qualities can be codified, resulting is less subjective monitoring of student performance
- ensuring that students can readily self-assess their strengths and weaknesses against data
- enabling projections of trainee performance can be used to develop individualised training programmes
- enabling instructors to focus on more value added tasks when training students
Testing helps VRAI collect 1 bn airmanship data points with the RAF
VRAI submitted their innovative data capture solution to the DASA Open Call in 2020 and were awarded £348,000 in funding. DASA played a significant role in the project by offering VRAI guidance and helping them to test the system with the RAF, receiving valuable feedback from military end-users. The innovation was implemented at three RAF stations within a three-month timeframe, gathering nearly one bn data points from 40 RAF pilots, across the RAF 22 Group, and positive feedback from users.
During the testing, VRAI was able to collect valuable trainee data which can be used to standardise airmanship training and assessment, helping to significantly reduce the amount of time needed to train quality pilots.
Flying towards commercialisation: Defence Innovation Loans
With an eye towards the future, VRAI secured a Defence Innovation Loan to the value of £544,742, to further develop their innovation and market readiness.
They will use these funds, to apply machine learning (ML) to the innovation in order to generate more robust actionable insights to further develop trainees, while also ensuring the RAF can utilise the system for self-training. To help with this, VRAI will also use the funding to develop customised dashboard metrics relating to airmanship.
Niall Campion, Founder of VRAI said: We believe the technology we’re developing with this funding will allow us to bring genuinely game changing advancements in how training is delivered and its success is measured. Without DASA funding it would have been impossible for us to bring this product into the UK defence supply chain. By providing vital working capital while we demonstrate the value of the product in the defence industry, the Defence Innovation Loan will help us grow our business and deliver measurable improvements to training across both defence and other simulation markets.
Meet VRAI at DSEI 2023
If you are interested in learning more about VRAI and their innovative solutions, be sure to visit them at DSEI 2023. You can find them at the UK MOD Science & Innovation Stand: H1-810, alongside DASA.
Need help bringing your defence innovation to market?
One of DASA’s main financial mechanisms to support with business readiness and the commercialisation of innovations is through the Defence Innovation Loans programme. Run in partnership with Innovate UK, these are designed to help growth-minded SMEs develop and commercialise their mature defence solutions and in doing so, tackle some of the challenges businesses face in moving from technology development to product and company scale up.
Defence Innovation Loans Key points:
- Exclusively for SMEs
- Innovations must be at Technology Readiness Level 6 or above
- Loans from £100,000 – £2m
- Loans can cover up to 100% of project costs to aid commercialisation of the solution
- Below market interest rate
- In partnership with Innovate UK
Learn more about Defence Innovation Loans here and submit an application: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/competition-defence-innovation-loans/competition-document-defence-innovation-loan
17 Aug 23. India’s tech play for naval leadership. WMSV II unmanned surface vessel undergoing tests. The Indian Navy is fast-tracking efforts to develop and deploy new digital naval systems, including advanced unmanned vessels, to position itself as the leader in maritime security for the Indian Ocean region. Vital for global trade, the region extends from the east coast of Africa to Indonesia and Australia. Two-thirds of the world’s oil shipments and one-third of the world’s bulk cargo traffic traverse the ocean. So, the stakes are high indeed.
Key to the Indian Navy’s digital transformation is its focus on technology developed in India, for reasons of resilience, security and the opportunity to become a technology leader.
India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation, or DRDO, began programmes to develop unmanned systems for the Navy more than a decade ago. Efforts received a boost in 2021 with the announcement of the ‘Integrated Unmanned Roadmap for Indian Navy’, which aims to coordinate government and private sector efforts to develop advanced technologies for navy requirements at home.
A key driver of India’s efforts to modernise and digitise its navy is the apparent increase in activity from the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy) in the Indian Ocean region and China’s expanded used of unmanned vessels. China has been conducting annual joint naval exercises with Iran and Russia in the Gulf of Oman, at the north-most tip of the Indian Ocean since 2019. There have also been reports that China might establish a naval base in Pakistan.
During the past few weeks, the Indian Navy has announced several new unmanned systems initiatives. The navy’s first Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), called ‘Neerakshi’ (meaning ‘eyes in the water’), developed by state-owned Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) and Aerospace Engineering Private Limited (AEPL), was launched last month. The 2.25 metre AUV will be used for underwater surveys, mine detection and mine disposal.
The navy has also confirmed plans to put its new 15 metre Autonomous Fast Interceptor Boat through sea trials beginning after the monsoon season. Developed by the DRDO’s Weapons and Electronic Systems Engineering Establishment (WESEE) and Bharat Electronics (BEL), the USV is designed for maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), and has a maximum speed of 30 knots (55.56 kpmh).
However, these are just two of many naval defence technology projects under development. The digital transformation of the Indian Navy also runs much deeper than unmanned systems alone. A new SDR-NC (software-defined radio – naval communications) has now been deployed across all warships. Meanwhile, WESEE is currently developing a new-generation of data communications system.
Another new leap forward is the navy’s new AI-powered Combat Management System (CMS). The system enables rapid threat assessment and faster reaction-times, supported by its own decision-support tools. Currently under testing, the CMS will be built into all warships commissioned from 2024.
This intensive effort could see the Indian Navy quickly become one of the most digitally advanced in the world. (Source: Armada)
18 Aug 23. 3D printing “saves thousands of man-hours” of work aboard a US aircraft carrier. Beset by the time constraints that come with conventional manufacturing, HII adopted additive manufacturing tech to produce a versatile spot face cutter.
Shipbuilding has always been a famously lengthy development process, and the new demands across defence for contractors to balance time and capability to an optimal level will only strain schedules even further.
However, thanks to developments in advanced manufacturing methods such as 3D printing, the American naval manufacturer HII claims these tech developments will “save thousands of man-hours over time.”
An engineer at HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division has designed an upgraded spot face cutting tool using 3D printing, which was needed to work aboard John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), a US Navy Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier.
Overcoming shipbuilding delays and cost growth
While this may appear to be a small success on the surface, it actually represents the future potential to cut down shipbuilding timeframes at a time of intensifying military demand as our geopolitical environment sours. Particularly in the Indo-Pacific where the US-China rivalry will increase naval production.
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has often tackled the problem of cutting down shipbuilding delays for the US Navy. Recently, the government agency noted that the navy “experiences years of construction delays, bns of dollars in cost growth and frequent quality and performance shortfalls,” which leads to it accepting delivery of incomplete ships after significant delays.
3D printing solutions
The conventional manufacturing route would have taken weeks but meeting schedule requirements for the CVN 79 required a faster, more efficient approach without sacrificing quality.
“This tool example demonstrates the benefit of long-term strategic thinking,” Deputy Chief Engineer John Ralls said. “Newport News Shipbuilding has taken a leadership role in specific technologies, additive manufacturing being one of them. We have removed numerous roadblocks that have enabled us to support emergent parts like this spot face cutting tool.”
HII uses carbide inserts that can be rotated or replaced. Whereas the old cutter is made from steel and must be sharpened almost daily. This adds another level of efficiency in rendering the tool an adaptable and versatile piece of manufacturing equipment.
By 2030, 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, will be a $70.8bn industry, having grown at a compound annual growth rate of 18% between 2021 and 2030, according to GlobalData forecasts. (Source: naval-technology.com)
Oxley Group Ltd
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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.