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20 May 21. SOFIC 2021: USSOCOM touts amphibious MC-130. The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is considering the design and development of an amphibious MC-130 aircraft to support operational requirements in the age of ‘Great Power Competition’ (GPC), service officials have disclosed.
Addressing delegates at the virtual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) on 19 May, the Program Executive Officer for Fixed Wing, Colonel Ken Kuebler, suggested the MC-130 Amphibious Capability (MAC) concept could allow the aircraft to “land and take off” from land and sea during the same mission.
Kuebler was unable to provide Janes with a projected timeline for the effort. However, USSOCOM’s Fixed Wing Technology Insertion Roadmap, which was illustrated at the event, referred to a 2022–25 timeframe for the MAC.
Lockheed Martin’s MC-130 Commando II aircraft is operated by the US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and tasked with “clandestine, or low-visibility, single or multiship, low-level infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces”. According to AFSOC documents, the aircraft is ideally suited to operating in “politically sensitive or hostile territories”.
Referring to the historic consideration by the US Department of Defense to design an amphibious C-130 aircraft, Kuebler suggested there was “enough command interest” at USSOCOM to pursue the MAC concept today.
“There is enough of a focus on peer and near-peer as we look at emerging threats. Is it going to be cost effective? That’s why we have several lines of effort early on and there will be plenty of off-ramp [opportunities] along the way to determine if we move forward,” he said. (Source: Jane’s)
19 May 21. Researchers Develop ‘Digital Dog Nose’ for UAVs. New sensors developed by Professor Otto Gregory, of the College of Engineering at the University of Rhode Island, and chemical engineering doctoral student Peter Ricci, are so powerful that they can detect threats at the molecular level, whether it’s explosive materials, particles from a potentially deadly virus or illegal drugs entering the country.
“This is potentially life-saving technology,” said Gregory. “We have detected things at the part-per-quadrillion level. That’s really single molecule detection.”
Because Gregory’s sensors are so small and so powerful, there is a wide range of applications.
“The platform is broad-based, so you can apply it to lots of different venues, with lots of different end users,” said Gregory.
While his research is largely funded by the Department of Homeland Security, other government agencies have taken notice of Gregory’s sensors.
The Department of Defense may be interested in using it to monitor wounds in soldiers and to detect roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
If a soldier or first responder suffered an open wound from shrapnel, Gregory’s sensors could help determine if the wound became infected.
“Hydrogen peroxide generated by the human body for wounds is an indication of how good or how bad antibiotics are working to fight the wound,” said Ricci. “Our sensor could be used as a wearable device to sniff out peroxide coming from the wound at the part-per-billion level.”
At Miami Heat basketball games, dogs have been used to sniff traces of COVID-19 coming from the pores in people’s skin. In an article published in the prestigious journal Nature, Gregory stated that his sensors could be used for the same purpose.
“Where dogs are detecting it from the skin, our sensors would detect it from biomarkers in people’s breath,” Ricci said, who is from West Warwick.
The Coast Guard has shown an interest in using the technology to “sniff out” illegal drugs being smuggled into the United State aboard ships.
Shrinking the ‘Digital Dog Nose’
“Anything that can typically be sniffed out by a dog we can do,” said Gregory. “That’s why we’ve called it the Digital Dog Nose.”
The Digital Dog Nose was featured on shows such as CBS This Morning in November 2019, but what was once the size of a toolbox has been reduced to a quarter of the size of a pack of cigarettes.
“By decreasing the thermal mass of the sensor, we’ve decreased the amount of power required to run the sensor,” said Gregory. “We started with a thermal mass on the order of grams. Now the thermal mass of our sensor is on the order of micrograms.”
One of the keys to making a device as small and powerful as Gregory’s is to find the right battery.
“We have partnered with a company that makes very thin, low-mass batteries in Colorado called ITN Energy Systems,” Gregory said. “They make lithium batteries that are no thicker than a piece of paper. The process has been about finding the right partners, which helps us improve our catalysts and improve our sensor platform.”
Passing the Test
In March 2021, the Naval Research Laboratory brought its mobile testing unit to URI’s W. Alton Jones Campus to put Gregory’s explosives sensors and others to the test.
“They set up a field test outside using their vapor test bed,” said Ricci. “They were able to select an explosive molecule and deliver it to the sensor system. Knowing what the level was, they wanted to see how our sensor would respond. One of the tests was at the part-per-quadrillion level.”
Staying a Step Ahead
As bad guys have developed new explosives or new ways to improvise on existing explosives, the good guys have tried to stay a step ahead.
“The Department of Homeland Security has asked us to be flexible enough to anticipate and adapt to emerging threats that may come several years down the road,” said Gregory. “We can tweak our catalysts for a specific molecule that is the current threat. That’s what we do with biomarkers. That’s what we do with drugs. What’s nice about this platform is that it’s flexible.”
Coming a Long Way
The sensors Gregory and Ricci have developed have been tested and improved upon over a long period of time. The professor’s research was originally funded 20 years ago by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a research and development agency of the United States Department of Defense that is responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military.
After two years of DARPA funding, the Army funded the project for a year. The Department of Homeland Security has provided funding ever since.
“At the time, this research was very novel and very different,” said Gregory. “DARPA funds projects that are high risk, high reward. We’ve demonstrated that the gamble they took on our concept back then has paid off.”
Michael Silevitch, the Robert D. Black Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Northeastern University, has collaborated with Gregory on his research for more than 10 years.
“This is breakthrough technology,” said Silevitch. “Otto’s work on chemical detectors has evolved to the point of being ready for use in many applications, including the deployment of his sensors on a drone-based platform to help protect soft targets such as schools, shopping malls or places of worship.”
Taking the New Steps
Now that the sensors are very small and lightweight, they could be attached to drones, leading to many new applications.
“We’ve been talking to drone companies about using our sensors on their drones,” said Gregory. “Drones need very lightweight, portable power supplies and you have to tap into their wireless communication. It’s a much different set of engineering conditions than using a robot arm that the Army is looking to use for roadside IEDs.”
Gregory and Ricci are also working on sensor arrays, to differentiate one explosive, or threat, from another.
“We’ll need an array of sensors to detect a specific explosive in the presence of other explosives or precursors,” said Ricci. “If there’s a plume of three different explosives, we may need to identify one from the others.”
Ready to Use
Now that the sensors have proven to be effective, implementing them in real-world situations is just a matter of funding.
“Our sensor is not an off-the-shelf commercial product yet, but we have a potential partner,” Gregory said. “We just need a customer to step up to the plate and say here’s an order for 1,000 of these, can you deliver them?” (Source: UAS VISION)
17 May 21. DoD Publishes DevSecOps 2.0 Docs For Accelerating Apps. After just three years, there are now 200 teams across DoD doing DevSecOps, which has saved, on average, a year and $12.5m per app it’s been used to launch, the Air Force’s Chief Software Officer says. When you consider the number of apps, that’s significant. And now there’s a push to make DevSecOps resources available to JADC2.
In just three years, the Department of Defense has made significant progress in creating a secure software development operations environment, or DevSecOps, to make better code faster. As part of these ongoing efforts, the Pentagon has released a batch of Enterprise DevSecOps v2.0 documents — and one of the leaders behind that initiative has just started working with the Joint Staff J6 on making DevSecOps resources available to Joint All Domain Command and Control.
JADC2, as it’s called, is the future interservice meta-network to link forces across land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. It’s such a daunting technical challenge that traditional federal procurement processes can’t develop it fast enough — but DevSecOps could.
“DevSecOps is the foundation of the success of JADC2,” said Nicolas Chaillan, the Air Force’s chief software officer, in an interview with Breaking Defense. “Without DevSecOps, you won’t be able to move at the pace” needed, Chaillan told me.
What’s In a Name?
DevOps combines software development and IT operations for the rapid creation and use of apps, with developers and users working side by side to test new software, find improvements, and quickly push out upgrades. DevSecOps brings in cybersecurity experts and practices to DevOps. In DoD’s case, this entails implementing zero-trust security in the DevSecOps environment. Talking to Chaillan for just a few minutes reveals his focus on security, with zero trust frequently mentioned.
Also underlying DoD’s DevSecOps is a software development framework called Agile, which enables teams to continuously improve and rapidly update the underlying code for apps.
The new DevSecOps 2.0 docs include:
- A fundamentals guide
- A strategy guide
- Tools and activities guide
- A playbook
- A reference guide for Cloud Native Computing Foundation Kubernetes, a cloud technology used for automating tasks, getting apps into the cloud (e.g., to servers), and underlying cloud operations.
Chaillan joined DoD after years in the private sector, where he founded 12 companies and also created and sold 190 software products. Beginning at 14, Chaillan became a pioneer of and early contributor to PHP, which has become a widely used programming language for web servers. His background includes software and cybersecurity. “The two go together,” he says, but “at the same time, it’s about the right balance” between the speed of software development and security.
He was initially tapped in 2018 to co-lead, with the DoD CIO, the initiative to bring DevSecOps to the DoD enterprise. A great deal of his time has been spent “breaking silos” to enable collaboration, Chaillan says. He was surprised when some people told him early on he was “wasting his time” on these efforts — but he hasn’t quit.
The result? Today, there are more than 200 teams implementing DevSecOps across the Defense Department, Chaillan tells me, with 650 software containers.
What’s a container? In layperson’s terms, it’s a way to package software so it can be run in the cloud. A container can hold multiple apps, and containerized apps can be deployed on a variety of servers without time-consuming reconfiguration for each one. This simplifies and speeds up the process of getting software to users. It also helps avoid getting “locked in” with a single cloud provider or platform. Containers enable software developers to focus on building apps and the IT team to focus on infrastructure (e.g., servers that host apps), deployment (getting apps into the cloud so people can use them), scaling the needed resources to run apps, and other operations.
Containers are critical to Chaillan’s focus on avoiding so-called “lock in” to a single provider or platform. “This was important,” Chaillan says, “because we wanted to give teams options, while at the same time make sure we’re not building software in a vacuum and that we can reuse software across DoD programs.”
Chaillan describes the approach as the “Lego block concept,” in which teams can share containers among themselves and other teams. This more modular, adaptive, and flexible approach to software, in which a high percentage of code can be shared, contrasts with the software for the F-35, where Chaillan notes only five percent is shared between platforms today.
“It’s very important to us that we do better than that,” Chaillan says. “We don’t want to get locked in, whether a DevSecOps or cloud platform,” referring to PlatformOne and CloudOne, respectively.
Now, Chaillan says, “We have some of the largest DoD programs on [PlatformOne].” He says the apps currently entail “a little of everything.” However, he adds, “When I started, I wanted to focus on the war mission, well, because that’s why we’re here. I wanted to demonstrate it’s possible on weapons systems, because if you can do it on weapons systems, you can pretty much do it anywhere. So, we wanted to show the hardest use case first.”
That included F-16 software, which took just 45 days in 2019 to move into the DevSecOps environment. “That was a big win, just showing we can do that on the jet that is 40 years old, using legacy software.” It expanded from there to include the F-35 and B-21, among others, as well as code for the Navy’s AEGIS and code being developed by the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.
So far, PlatformOne has saved, on average, a year and $12.5m per app it’s been used to launch, according to Chaillan. That adds up across the volume of apps DoD expects to develop going forward.
There are two options: The Party Bus, which is a multi-tenant cloud environment, and Big Bang, which enables people to take PlatformOne code to be deployed anywhere — on premise or in the cloud across classification levels, as well as at the edge on jets and bombers, for instance.
“It’s been a big enabler,” Chaillan observes. “It allows teams to move to DevSecOps on Day 1 instead of having to spend a year to build [all the prerequisites]. This is a living, breathing organism, if you will, and DevSecOps moves very fast, and that’s part of the challenge.”
Another challenge is training people in DevSecOps. So Chaillan and his team created a self-guided curriculum for would-be users. The goal this year, Chaillan says, is to train 100,000 people in DevSecOps.
Despite the initial success, Chaillan says, “I still struggle with silos, but once you get going, people tend to jump on the train.”
And the success started relatively early for Chaillan and his team. The 1.0 DevSecOps doc, which took about four months to develop and eight months to be approved, focused on building blocks like zero-trust security, behavior detection, continuous monitoring, and Kubernetes. Upon release of the 1.0 doc, Chaillan says it got 500,000 views on LinkedIn alone. “It was pretty amazing,” Chaillan reflects. “Clearly, a lot of people paid attention to it.”
Chaillan says the response was important because his goal has been to build a “very strong public community of practice around DevSecOps.” To do this, he’s created partnerships across the DoD services, federal agencies, the Intelligence Community, and private companies — including about 100 startups. That community of practice has grown to about 1,500 people sharing information and collaborating.
The Automation Effect
DoD’s DevSecOps entails a significant amount of automation, from security to testing. Chaillan says there are “so many pieces that will benefit” from automation. In the case of PlatformOne, it now releases 31 times a day, which “isn’t Facebook, but it’s pretty good,” Chaillan jokes.
With DevSecOps automation, DoD can “effectively save between 12 to 18 months per program for every five-year cycle of planned time, just by automating” a single process around continuous authority to operate. In addition, DevSecOps condenses the timeline between getting feedback from the warfighters using the software and the development team’s ability to push small, incremental improvements faster. Chaillan says this process can save, on average, six to eight months. So far, Chaillan says, DoD has saved 100 years of planned time by moving these apps into the DevSecOps environment.
“That’s 100 years of planned time that was going to be spent — well, I guess wasted — without that automation,” Chaillan observes. “The fact is, no one is waiting for us to figure this out. Other nations are also rapidly adopting DevOps, so it’s important for us to automate as much as we can.”
The goal is to get DoD to a place where someone can “push a button [and] deploy anywhere” — to the edge, in the cloud, on premise, Chaillan says.
Bringing DevSecOps to JADC2
Chaillan recently announced that, in addition to his current Air Force CSO position, he will be working part time on JADC2 with Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, the director for Command, Control, Communications, and Computers / Cyber and chief information officer, Joint Staff J6. The J6 has been charged with leading the JADC2 effort.
“The goal is to bring all the great work we’ve done with all these programs and help with the adoption of PlatformOne in JADC2 as an enterprise service that will be available for teams.” This will include all the component pieces already in place, such as DevSecOps, identity management, and, of course, zero-trust security. “You can’t just connect things and hope for the best,” Chaillan observes. “You have to have that zero-trust enforcement.”
The first step will be to assess where the DoD is in regards to the J6 roadmap for introducing enterprise services into JADC2. “A lot of it is still being discussed,” Chaillan says. “I just started [working on JADC2] two weeks ago. But the vision is to sit down with all the services and collaborate and bring some of these centralized options to enable teams to move faster.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
17 May 21. Australian Defence Industry Minister rejects Elbit BMS rumours. Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price rejected rumours about the Elbit Battle Management System at the Defence Connect Budget Lunch last week. The Minister for Defence Industry rejected rumours that the Australian Army had ceased its contract with Elbit for use of Elbit’s Battle Management System (BMS) during the Defence Connect annual Budget Lunch last week.
Theories began circulating about the Australian Army’s relationship with Elbit late last month, with a handful of media sources speculating that the contract between the Army and Elbit had been suspended. According to one media outlet, the use of the BMS was to end within the next month.
In a discussion panel in front of over 190 leading members of defence industry, government and Defence, Minister Price denied the rumours.
“The Battle Management System has not been cancelled. Just so everyone understands that. That is actually untrue. I think it’s important that we actually make sure we know what the truth is around that,” Minister Price said.
The comments from Minister Price came following a statement earlier this month from Elbit Systems of Australia managing director Major General (Ret’d) Paul McLachlan, AO, CSC, which also denied the rumours.
“Elbit Systems of Australia strongly refutes the security rumours raised in recent media articles,” McLachlan said in the statement.
“Elbit Systems of Australia utilises secure software development processes in collaboration with the Department of Defence, including the provision of all source code.
“Elbit Systems of Australia will continue to work closely with the Australian Defence Force to deliver its network capability requirements, utilising our 250-strong workforce, including 80 military veterans and 100 systems and software engineers.
“Elbit Systems of Australia is expanding and enhancing our proven ability to bring world-leading innovative technologies to meet Australian capability requirements for the Australian Defence Force, homeland security and emergency management agencies into the future.” (Source: Defence Connect)
17 May 21. Perspecta wins $474m OTA for background check management. An IT system prototype built by Perspecta to manage mass amounts of security clearance background checks will transition to production under an other transaction agreement from the Pentagon’s background investigation agency.
The production agreement, using the Pentagon’s other transaction authority with less rigid competitive contract requirements for some technology development projects, is worth about $474m over five years, the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency estimated in its announcement May 14. The agency is building its capacity to manage about 95 percent of the federal government’s background investigations. That task is made more difficult by the government’s huge backlog of checks that have slowed the security clearance process.
The award, with a one-year base and four one-year options, follows the completion of a prototype process that started in 2019, in which Perspecta developed an enterprise IT system and data analytics capability for the agency.
The production OTA will continue Perspecta’s work on developing and operating the prototype as part of a comprehensive IT system DCSA uses to manage background checks and security clearance investigations for federal employees and contractors, the announcement stated.
Defense IT contractor Peraton Inc. bought Perspecta earlier this year for more than $7bn.
DCSA became the federal government’s primary background investigator in 2019 when an executive order from then-President Donald Trump transferred the authority from the Office of Personnel Management to the Pentagon.
The federal government’s security clearance backlog sat at 188,000 cases as of May 2020, according to a report from DCSA last June. That number was down from a peak of 725,000 active investigations in April 2018.
(Source: C4ISR & Networks)
17 May 21. How Northrop Grumman is Helping to Digitally Transform the Fleet. Imagine a scenario in which the U.S. Navy identifies a new air, surface or subsurface threat while monitoring an adversary’s training exercise. That new threat metadata is then delivered to a software factory’s Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipeline. Within 24 hours, every Navy surface ship operating at sea receives a compiled and tested combat system software patch to address the threat.
“That’s the Navy’s vision, and we are ready to help them get there,” said Todd Leavitt, vice president, naval & oceanic systems, Northrop Grumman.
As a DevSecOps industry leader, Northrop Grumman is drawing on years of Lean-Agile system and software development experience to help the Navy turn its combat system speed-to-fleet vision into reality.
Northrop Grumman has system coordinator responsibilities for Unified Platform (UP) for U.S. Cyber Command, and is also performing on the U.S. Air Force’s five-year Software DevSecOps Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA). On UP, Northrop Grumman is creating and rapidly deploying cyber capabilities across the Department of Defense using the Air Force Platform One ecosystem.
Northrop Grumman’s UP work builds on the Cyber Mission Platform (CMP) program where Northrop Grumman reduced the CI/CD Pipeline from months to days and reduced average release installation from hours to minutes.
Northrop Grumman also works with industry partners, including small businesses, to enhance core team competencies. “Some of our best ideas are born in collaborative environments where team members are mission-focused and free to challenge assumptions and conventional paradigms with different perspectives,” said Ludwig Tokatlian, manager, advanced technology, mission systems, Northrop Grumman.
Northrop Grumman leverages its “Factory in a Box” containerized software development environment approach in this case to work coding and refactoring challenges in real-time, collaboratively with teammates from the defense and software industries.
“We see the success our teammates have had on software development programs across Defense Department services; as leaders on the Air Force’s Platform One initiative, the Navy’s Submarine Warfare Federated Tactical Systems (SWFTS) program, and on U.S. Strategic Command’s Decision Support System (DSS) program, and we are excited to partner with them,” said Tokatlian.
Northrop Grumman’s cross-functional team is ready to bring fresh ideas to the Navy Forge software factory later this year, but recognizes that Lean-Agile and DevSecOps are only two pieces of the equation. The Northrop Grumman team is also leveraging its strong model-based systems engineering tools and techniques to help ensure the Navy has a framework for understanding the combat systems architecture it has today, and a roadmap toward the integrated combat system architecture of tomorrow.
“One of the keys to helping achieve the Navy’s vision is in successfully integrating sound model-based systems engineering practices and tools with Lean-Agile and DevSecOps,” said Leavitt. “Our team is ready to work with the Navy and other industry partners collaboratively to do that.”
17 May 21. The modernisation of the armed forces calls for new solutions. New: ODU AMC® High-Density Flash Drive with 12 positions. ODU has designed a 12 position Flash Drive. This Flash Drive enables the user to back-up and secure data in harsh environment. The portable data storage device is ideal for securely up- and downloading data to defence systems or other devices that operate independently of a static infrastructure in harsh environment.
The data is protected from external access via standard devices by the special ODU interface.
Possible applications for the Flash Drive:
– mounted and dismounted PC´s, handhelds and mobile devices
– unmanned systems such as UAV, USV, UGV, UUV
– embedded systems & computers in harsh environment e.g. Military, Agriculture-, Waste-, Forestry-, Mining-, Heavy Construction machinery and devices
– USB 3.2 Gen1x1
– ultra rugged design
– robust mechanical and optical coding
– protection class IP68 / 69K in mated condition
– temperature range -40°C to 85°C
– PSLC (Pseudo Single Level Cell) technology
– long durability & a high degree of reliability
– more write and read cycles than common MLC Flash Drives
– reduced susceptibility to data errors
17 May 21. US Navy’s Neptune project seeks new RF payloads. The US Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) is looking to develop a new class of subminiature radio frequency (RF) signal processor payload for the sea service’s growing arsenal of unmanned platforms, according to a 13 May industry solicitation.
The new RF processing payload system being developed under the ONR programme, dubbed the Neptune Payload Prototype Project, will be designed to “support multiple RF missions with a limited set of hardware, a wideband transceiver capability with self-contained software-defined or reconfigurable hardware-accelerated processing as required”, the Request for Solutions (RFS) notice by the Strategic & Spectrum Missions Advanced Resilient Trusted Systems (S2MARTS) other transactional authority (OTA), stated.
“Candidate component technologies that are available for integration to satisfy ONR’s payload requirement include currently available integrated wideband RF transceiver chipsets, Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), RF Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (RF ASIC), Radio Frequency System-on-Chip (RFSoC), and high-performance microcontrollers,” the solicitation added.
Navy programme officials have set a five-year window for development work on the Neptune payload prototype, at an estimated cost of USD3.7m over the duration of the effort, according to the RFS. The ONR engineers are open to integration of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)-based software-defined radio technologies into prototype offerings, given those COTS technologies meet “current high-technology readiness levels (TRL)” as defined by the programme officials, the solicitation stated. (Source: Jane’s)
17 May 21. Pentagon seeks ‘data advantage’ in new strategic guidance. The Pentagon is implementing new policies and procedures to codify best practices in the department’s data management operations in an effort to ensure US armed forces maintains “data advantage” over its adversaries in future conflicts.
“Data is a strategic asset [and] transforming the [US] Department of Defense (DoD) to a data-centric organisation is critical to improving performance and creating decision advantage at all echelons from the battlespace to the board room, ensuring US competitive advantage,” Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks wrote in a 5 May memorandum that was officially released by the Pentagon on 10 May.
The policy memorandum focuses on five main pillars across four major target areas within the department, designed to “ensure all DoD data is visible, accessible, understandable, linked, trustworthy, interoperable, and secure”, she said in the memo. Those pillars include efforts to maximise data sharing and data use rights across the DoD, as well as to ensure the common data interfaces utilised by the department consist of “industry-standard, non-proprietary, preferably open-source, technologies, protocols, and payloads”, the memo stated.
The other pillars, in terms of data publishing and storage, state all data assets should be published in the Pentagon’s federated data catalogue, while storage should be conducted in a “platform and environment-agnostic, uncoupled from hardware or software dependencies”, according to the memo. Finally, DoD data policy makers are aiming to develop and adopt “industry best practices for secure authentication, access management, encryption, monitoring, and protection of data at rest, in transit, and in use”, it added.
The memorandum comes several months after the Pentagon issued its overarching strategy on how it will gather, store, and manage collected data, and leverage it towards development of advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). (Source: Jane’s)
17 May 21. South Korea advances local UAV technology for autonomous intelligent future, says GlobalData. Following the announcement from South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) that it has developed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) autonomous navigation technology;
Mathew George, Ph.D, Analyst, Aerospace, Defense and Security at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:
“DAPA identifies the UAV autonomous navigation technology as a building block for the future battlespace. South Korea can progress this technology to function like the Loyal Wingman program and pair future UAVs with the upcoming KF-21 Boramae and have an independent, autonomous system carrying out missions with the optimal resources. There is also a possibility to develop a network of UAVs that function as a swarm to optimally conduct surveillance of areas and decide on the best course of action and number of UAVs to conduct that mission.
“Another field that made a mention in the announcement was Urban Air Mobility to reach destinations in the most optimal route. Similar ideas on autonomous driving capability were shared last month but in the unmanned ground vehicles domain with announcements from DAPA and Hanwha. It seems that South Korea is not just embracing a future of interconnected devices and autonomous systems but is also taking active steps to be a major player and provider of the building blocks of future.” (Source: GlobalData)
14 May 21. AeroVironment Demonstrates Earth Version of Mars Helicopter. Engineers at AeroVironment Inc. showed off last Thursday the company’s terrestrial version of the helicopter it developed for NASA’s mission to Mars.
Nicknamed Terry, the terrestrial aircraft was flown for members of the media by Matt Keennon, the technical lead for rotor system development on the Mars Ingenuity helicopter program at the Moorpark facility of the Simi Valley unmanned aircraft manufacturer.
Ben Pipenberg, engineering lead on the helicopter program, explained before the flight that Terry has an airframe identical to Ingenuity and that structure composites and mechanism were built from the same molds as the Mars version.
“Terry is designed to fly here on Earth, so the motors were redesigned and are more powerful and have a higher torque to handle the denser atmosphere and the higher gravity,” Pipenberg explained.
Ingenuity has flown five times on the surface of the red planet since its initial flight on April 19 when it became the first aircraft to fly on another world.
AeroVironment Chief Executive Wahid Nawabi said there are many applications that come from Ingenuity that apply to other aircraft in development by the company.
As an example he gave the Sunglider, the solar-powered drone that last October reached an altitude of more than 60,000 feet and successfully demonstrated mobile broadband communications. The aircraft’s development and testing is funded by HAPSMobile Inc. a joint venture between AeroVironment and SoftBank Corp., a Japanese telecom and internet company.
The Sunglider must be lightweight, just like the Mars helicopter. The large drone, with a wingspan longer than 260 feet, is propelled by 10 electric motors powered by solar panels and is designed for continuous flights of months without landing.
“Every single gram of weight that goes into this airplane we have to be able to justify and rationalize,” Nawabi said.
Additionally, there are environmental conditions that are similar between the Sunglider and Ingenuity as well as the communications of both aircraft.
“These are autonomous systems. Nobody really flies (the Mars helicopter). It has to fly by itself,” Nawabi said. “The same thing with the Sunglider. The computers really fly the airplane. So what we learn here or there is cross-applicable to all of our products and businesses. (Source: UAS VISION/San Fernando Valley Business Journal)
14 May 21. SOR Autonomous Platform Enters Defence Sector. Strategic Elements Ltd (ASX:SOR) is pleased to report that it will conduct a feasibility and scoping study with the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST Group) for autonomous sensing and search of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) sources.
The feasibility and scoping study will cover the integration of DST Group search algorithms into subsidiary company Stealth Technologies’ autonomous unmanned ground vehicle (UAG) and unmanned airborne vehicle (UAG) hardware and software platforms and development of an initial software exemplar.
The DST Group is part of the Australian Department of Defence dedicated to providing science and technology support to safeguard Australia and its national interests. One of the key DST Group priorities is to improve the Australian Defence Forces’ CBRN defence capability through the protection of personnel from the strategic, tactical and physiological impacts of exposure to toxic chemicals and materials and CBRN weapons.
Operating in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threat environments is arguably the hardest assignment that war fighters have. Not only do they have to perform strenuous tasks such as keeping adversaries at bay or supporting civilians in the aftermath of a disaster, they also face the challenge of potentially having to do these tasks in the presence of dangerous and invisible threats that spread rapidly and widely if uncontained.
The threat of CBRN attacks against military forces and civilian populations is growing. State and non-state actors are increasingly willing to use these indiscriminate methods, and knowledge of CBRN agent manufacturing processes is proliferating. Technology has the capability to enable teams to respond faster and more flexibly to CBRN events; achieve enhanced situational awareness; and manoeuvre safely, effectively and unimpeded in complex contaminated environments for prolonged periods of time.
The proposal of the feasibility and scoping study is to integrate DST developed search algorithms for locating CBRN sources within a geographic area, into a Stealth Technologies UAV (drone) that is autonomously launched and landed by a Stealth Technologies autonomous UGV (ground vehicle). The autonomous UGV would enable carriage of drones and sensors into the target environment keeping humans at a safe distance. The autonomous UAV enables rapid traversing of the area using sensors to map and/or monitor the location of CBRN sources.
AxV Next Generation Development
Stealth Technologies has developed custom robotics built on top of its AxV autonomous mobile platform to develop the first ‘automated perimeter security solution’ of its kind anywhere in the world. The Company collaborated with US giant Honeywell and the Western Australian Department of Justice to deploy an autonomous security vehicle (ASV) at the Eastern Kalgoorlie Regional Prison. The ASV is being deployed to increase the security of the perimeter and reduce the amount of human involvement in testing and patrols, freeing those staff up for more skilled tasks. The global perimeter security market is forecast to grow quickly reaching USD 282.26bn by 2025.
Stealth Technologies next generation AxV Autonomous Platform is being upgraded with a ‘sensor fusion stack’ that includes additional sensors such as LiDAR, radar, GPS, sonar, thermal imaging and different types of cameras, with each sensor adding different strengths to the fusion data generated. New autonomous releases are being designed for use in various sectors such as security, mining and defence.
The Sensor Fusion stack will also include integration with ongoing collaborative work with Planck AeroSystems enabling Autonomous Drones to launch and land autonomous surveillance flights from a moving ASV platform. Planck is a global leader working with the United States Department of Defense’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), the United States Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security on various aspects of its technology.
In addition, the CSIRO Wildcat SLAM technology will also be integrated with the Sensor Fusion stack. The Company has licensed world leading CSIRO technology that enables robots to work together in teams. The Wildcat SLAM technology leverages more than ten years of research and development at CSIRO’s Data61. Wildcat is a key enabling technology in ‘robot perception’, a system that endows the robot with the ability to perceive, comprehend and reason about the surrounding environment.
Costs of the feasibility and scoping study and software exemplar of approx.$50,000 will be paid by the DST Group to Stealth Technologies with deliverables intended for approx. June 30Th 2021.
Strategic Elements Managing Director Charles Murphy said “Stealth Technologies is building a flexible autonomous platform that we intend to deploy in sectors such as security, defence and mining to name a few. We strongly believe there is a huge shift underway in the automation of human function and the machines that we use. The automation and robotics platform that we are continuing to build and deploy has a tremendous opportunity in front of it and we have a great technical team being superbly led by Executive Director Elliot Nicholls. Stealth Technologies is looking forward to working with the world class team at the DST Group”.
Strategic Elements Background
Investors in SOR potentially pay no tax on capital gains from selling their SOR shares as the Company operates under a Federal Government program setup to encourage investment into innovation. Strategic Elements operates as a ‘venture builder’ where it generates high risk-high reward ventures and projects from combining teams of leading scientists or innovators in the technology or resources sectors.
This announcement was authorised for release by Strategic Elements’ Board of Directors. (Source: PR Newswire)
14 May 21. Pentagon pursuing V-22 software changes to better present existing information to pilots. The Pentagon is working on a pair of software changes to its fleet of Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotors that will have the aircraft better display existing information to pilots.
Colonel Brian Taylor, V-22 joint programme office (PMA-275) programme manager, said that one of these efforts is the cockpit engine health indicator (CEHI). Col Taylor said that V-22 engine performance declines over time due to ingesting sand and debris from degraded environments.
Col Taylor said using the CEHI to give pilots an indication if they are entering a low power engine situation will help their decision making. It would allow V-22 pilots to fly around and clear out their engines before they are caught in a tricky situation.
Another V-22 software effort, the reduced visibility landing system (RVLS), provides pilots a better idea of how he or she is approaching a landing point. The RVLS, Col Taylor said, gives a pilot cuing, improves his or her controls, and enables pilots to get the aircraft on the deck faster.
Col Taylor said these two programmes improve overall Osprey component reliability while also boosting readiness because they reduce the time the aircraft spends in a degraded environment. These two efforts are also a preview of future V-22 software programmes. (Source: Jane’s)
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.