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17 Jun 20. Future Combat Air System: Owning the sky with the Next Generation Weapons System. When facing today’s uncertainties, air superiority, which was underpinning western military operations for over 40 years, is no longer a given thing. The playing field is levelled by opponents’ constant investment in integrated air defence systems, hypersonic weapon technologies and low observability technologies. Western air forces need to regain their ability to counter threats by accessing highly contested environments in a scalable, flexible and dynamic way rather than a local and static one.
By intelligently teaming sixth generation manned fighters with unmanned platforms, the Next Generation Weapon System or NGWS will provide European air forces & navies with capabilities well beyond existing fighters. With no agreed definition of a sixth-generation fighter, Airbus’ understanding is that such a New Generation Fighter or NGF will be a more sophisticated and connected platform than what currently exists.
The NGF will set the next level of survivability in terms of passive stealth (signature reduction and electromagnetic emission control) and active stealth (electronic counter measures).
The heart of the NGF will be provided by its extremely capable avionics and sensor suite. The increase in processing power, storage and connectivity will grant the pilot with greatly heightened situational awareness and the ability to rely not only on its own sensors and effectors, but also on other platforms’ ones. Combined with the introduction of artificial intelligence and the ability to team with unmanned platforms, the NGF will become a battlefield management platform capable of operating deep within the enemy airspace.
Powerful engines equipped with thrust-vectoring nozzles combined with high-performance flight control system will ensure the NGF’s manoeuvrability, speed, and range. Innovative effectors will provide the fighter with unprecedented firepower, ranging from stand-off kinetic loads (including hypersonic ones) to directed energy weapons (lasers and microwaves) to electronic warfare capabilities (including cyberattack).
However, more sophistication also means higher development costs leading to a declining number of platforms and/or effectors. Eventually such dangerously low levels result in critical availability levels. This is problematic, as operational studies indicate that penetrating contested environments will require an adequate number of manned platforms. Hence, it is important to set the right level of capabilities for the NGF by taking a holistic approach when right sizing its stealth, velocity, manoeuvrability, range, sensing and effects generation’s capabilities.
The NGF alone will not suffice for the most demanding missions in highly contested environments. To counter such threats, the NGF will team with unmanned platforms called Remote Carriers or RCs acting as force multipliers. Adding capabilities in a scalable and flexible manner will enhance the overall mission effectiveness, efficiency and survivability of the NGWS.
Infographic Future Scenario
RCs will be a family of unmanned platforms ranging from 200 kilograms for disposable RCs, to under 2 tons for recoverable ones and even several tons in the case of loyal wingmen. Airbus is currently studying and optimising with users their design. The RCs will provide various non-kinetic effects (Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance, Airborne Electronic Warfare) as well as kinetic ones (A2G SEAD/DEAD and Strike).
With “packs” of RCs teaming with NGFs, the NGWS will clearly establish a new operational dimension. An augmented level of effectiveness will be achieved by opening new fields of tactics based on collaborative combat, the use of deception and numeric superiority. Efficiency will improve by ensuring the required mix of capabilities for a given mission is deployed. The NGF will stay at a safe stand-off distance whilst closer RCs deal with the threats, thus keeping the pilots out of harm’s way and increasing the manned platform’s survivability.
Within the NGWS, the Air Combat Cloud or ACC will connect the manned and unmanned platform and provide the teaming intelligence for faster collaborative combat. The ACC will deliver common situational awareness by instantaneously capturing, sharing, merging and processing massive amounts of data from all connected NGFs and RCs. The ACC’s warfare analytics and real-time coordination will provide better situational awareness, tactical options, decisions and collaborative effects
Airbus has a leading role within the Next Generation Weapon System programme programme which will be the core of FCAS. Airbus is Dassault’s main partner for the NGF and the lead for the RCs and the ACC with MBDA and Thales as its respective main partners. This will benefit Airbus’ sites in securing work and maintaining technological excellence for decades to come. (Source: ASD Network)
18 Jun 20. Bittium Develops Capabilities for Autonomous Systems in a Project under the European Defence Industrial Development Programme. Bittium is part of the iMUGS (integrated Modular Unmanned Ground System) project that is operating under the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP). The iMUGS project is developing new capabilities for European defence forces based on autonomous systems.
Goal of the project is to develop a modular and scalable architecture for hybrid manned-unmanned systems in order to address a large range of missions and to enable easy update or modification of assets and functionalities within the system: aerial and ground platforms, command, control and communication equipment, sensors, payloads and algorithms. The project will also develop a prototype for demonstrating the features of the implementation.
In the project, Bittium is responsible for the execution of resilient and networked data transfer, including both tactical communications and data transfer over commercial 4G and 5G cellular networks. The iMUGS project will begin in 2021 and the duration of the project is approximately 30 months. The participating countries in the project are Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia and Spain. The total value of the project is approximately EUR 32m of which Bittium’s share is approximately EUR 3.5m. The project does not change Bittium’s financial outlook for the year 2020.
“The project is a significant first step towards new type of performance. Autonomous systems is an extremely important new domain in both civilian and tactical applications. We are proud to have been selected to this project based on our high-quality competences,” says Jari Sankala, Senior Vice President, Defense & Security, Bittium.
European Defence Industrial Development Programme
The European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) is the second pre-phase prepared by the European Defence Fund which is used to test the practices related to the fund’s performance for the purposes of the actual programme. The budget of the Development Programme is EUR 500m. The Programme is being carried out according to its multiannual work programme. The first calls for proposals were executed in 2019.
The goal of the EDIDP is to foster competitiveness and innovation capacity of the defence industry throughout the European Union by supporting the activities during the development phase of defence materiel. Another goal of the Programme is to foster better exploitation of the results of defence research. The beneficiaries of the Programme are industrial companies based in the European Union, and the aim is to increase the cross-border co-operation between the companies. Also third-country owned companies that are located in the area of European Union can take part in the activities within the Programme if it can be ensured that it does not threaten the security interests of the EU or its Member States.
17 Jun 20. Artificial Intelligence, Warfighters Form Enhanced Partnership on Battlefield. Artificial intelligence by itself is not a game changer, but when it’s paired with humans, it can be a great tool — particularly in the future of warfare, Defense Department experts said.
The most important element in the battlefield of the future won’t be rockets, bullets or robots, but data and the ability to collect it from any point and send it where it needs to be, the experts said yesterday at a Defense One Tech Summit panel discussion titled ”Linking Land, Air, Sea, and Space to Dominate the Battlefield of Tomorrow.”
Data shareability is at the heart of the military’s next-generation, multidomain operations concept. It’s a vision of the future in which every tool in the U.S. arsenal — on the land, air, sea, space and cyberspace — can communicate instantaneously at high bandwidth.
The speakers included: Cynthia Bedell, director of computation and information sciences at the Army Research Laboratory; Preston Dunlap, the Air Force’s chief architect; Dr. Tim Grayson, director of the Strategic Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; and Lisa Sanders, director of science and technology for U.S. Special Operations Command.
Artificial intelligence, or AI, could possibly be deployed on the battlefield in multidomain operations in five to 10 years, Grayson noted.
“Mosaic warfare,” a concept being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, would link warfighter platforms — missile batteries, tanks, planes, ships and so on — through a communications network powered by AI, he said.
Layering a network with AI would enable the warfighter to better decide which asset is most effective in carrying out a specific mission. For example, if both Air Force and Navy aircraft are in an area to be targeted, AI could suggest which would be the better choice.
In a mosaic warfare ground scenario, AI might suggest sending an unmanned aerial vehicle or ground robot ahead of the main, ground battle force. That unmanned system might spot an enemy tank and pass the coordinates back, which are then relayed to a non-line-of-sight strike system in the rear that, in turn, launches its munitions and takes out the target.
Bedell said that while large platforms such as ships and aircraft can carry a lot of power and computing, soldiers on the ground usually can’t. AI could be used to optimize communications in controlling how data and bandwidth are used most effectively, she explained.
In another example, Bedell said AI algorithms could be refined as systems learn certain behaviors. An unmanned ground vehicle could learn a safer route to avoid detection, moving in the shadows instead of traveling in the middle of a road. Those lessons could be shared from machine to machine. The Army Research Laboratory plans to do some experiments along those lines this fall.
Bedell said an important aspect of AI is learning how human behavior changes when working with autonomous partners and how autonomous partners interact with different humans.
Grayson added that humans are better at making high-level decisions, while AI-powered machines can process complicated things at great speed. DARPA, in partnership with the Air Force, will be conducting experiments along these lines to better understand these interactions, he said. (Source: US DoD)
17 Jun 20. Droniq and Sky Drone Partner on BVLOS and UTM. Frankfurt-based Droniq and Sky Drone have entered into a strategic partnership that allows Droniq to use Sky Drone’s unique technology for controlling UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) remotely in real-time and without any limitation in range.
Based on this technology Droniq will offer a complete hardware package for locating, controlling and transmitting data of drones during BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) flights. This technology is part of the UTM (UAS Traffic Management) system Droniq offers for the German market. That UTM service allows the safe integration of drones into airspace and provides the basis for broad commercial use of drones over large distances.
“Sky Drone perfectly complements the UTM approach of Droniq and is an essential building block for making BVLOS flights reality. We’ve seen the technology being used at several of our customers in Germany and are absolutely convinced of Sky Drone’s technology and their pragmatic mentality”, said Ralph Schepp, COO of Droniq.
Tracking, command & control and payload data transmission via mobile network in one package
As an exclusive partner of Sky Drone in Germany, Droniq is now able to provide real-time communication for drones during their flights. By using the 4G/LTE network of Deutsche Telekom, real-time command and control, video, sensor and telemetry data can be transferred with low latency from the drone to the ground control station and vice versa. This technology complements Droniq’s LTE-tracking module “HOD4track” (Hook-On-Device), which sends its position every second via the mobile network to the UTM system. That device also receives signals from helicopters, gliders and small aircraft in the vicinity and sends those to the UTM as well. That way the drone pilot is always apprised of the situation in his airspace. Furthermore, the HOD4track broadcasts its own position so that other aircraft in the vicinity see the drone right in their cockpit.
The CE-conform product “HOD4command” extends Droniq’s offering by adding real-time communication with the drone over unlimited distances. It can be mounted onto any aircraft and integrates seamlessly into all supported autopilots. The drone therefore becomes controllable over long distances. The data communication is end-to-end encrypted and therefore protected from unauthorized access. The Sky Drone technology the HOD4command is based upon, is already in use in Africa and Europe helping deliver medicine and vaccines to hard-to-reach villages.
In Germany it is used for intersite logistics of a large pharmaceutical company. The structurally identical product “HOD4stream” is available with a larger data plan that allows real-time transmission of video, sensor and telemetry data. In industrial applications like maintenance and inspection of pipes and routes as well as in industrial facilities, data can be transferred and analyzed in real-time. First responders already use this technology for remote situational awareness.
“Droniq is the ideal partner for our real-time communication system for drones that’s already being used across the globe. Their reach in Germany and Europe allows the efficient use as well as safe integration of drones into the public airspace”, said Boris Boege, CEO of Sky Drone. (Source: UAS VISION)
12 Jun 20. Mercury Takes High-Performance Graphics Processing to the Edge. Transformative technology enables sensors to synthesize situational awareness information in real time and detect threats faster.
Mercury Systems, Inc., a leader in trusted, secure mission-critical technologies for aerospace and defense, today unveiled the new GSC6204 OpenVPX™ 6U NVIDIA® Turing™ architecture-based GPU co-processing engine, providing accelerated high-performance computing capabilities to commercial aerospace and defense applications.
“Our customers need real-time, data center-level performance in their platforms to process the unrelenting streams of data from high-resolution, long-range sensors,” said Joe Plunkett, Vice President and General Manager of Mercury’s Sensor Processing group. “As part of our commitment to Innovation That Matters, we’re leveraging NVIDIA GPU technology to embed the latest parallel processing capabilities into ruggedized solutions and bring supercomputing closer to the edge. By making commercial technology profoundly more accessible to aerospace and defense, we can more rapidly turn sensor data into actionable information.”
“Mercury Systems is doing great work in harnessing the power of NVIDIA GPUs in their solutions,” said Anthony Robbins, Vice President of Federal at NVIDIA. “The rapid advancements made in parallel processing and HPC have had a significant impact on the ways that companies like Mercury are applying AI to solve real-world problems across all industries.”
Compute-intensive AI, radar, electro-optical/infrared imagery, cognitive EW and sensor fusion applications require high-performance computing capabilities closer to the sensor for effectiveness. To address this need, Mercury’s purpose-built GSC6204 module incorporates the NVIDIA Turing GPU architecture to bring the latest advancements in processing and scale to the embedded domain. Powered by dual NVIDIA Quadro® TU104 processors and incorporating NVIDIA’s NVLink™ high-speed direct GPU-to-GPU interconnect technology, the module delivers the same massive parallel processing capability found in data centers. Combined with Mercury’s HDS6605 Intel® Xeon® Scalable server blade, SCM6010 fast storage, SFM6126 wideband PCIe switches, streaming IOM-400 I/O modules and ruggedized to withstand environmental extremes, these GPU co-processing engines are a critical component of a truly composable high-performance embedded edge compute (HPEEC) environment unmatched by competing solutions. (Source: ASD Network)
10 Jun 20. NextFlex Secures Seven Years of Funding, Up to $154m, in Cost-Sharing Agreement with AFRL. Funding includes money from the Office of the Secretary of Defense to fuel electronics innovation for manufacturing and military purposes.
NextFlex, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) Manufacturing Innovation Institute, announced today that it has secured seven years of government funding worth up to $154m in a cost-sharing agreement with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The seven-year agreement also includes funding from the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s (OSD) Manufacturing Technology program, which focuses on cross-cutting defense manufacturing needs.
The funds will be used to directly support NextFlex’s ongoing mission to drive manufacturing technology needs for OSD Research & Engineering modernization priorities and developing FHE innovations to accelerate its adoption in the US, with particular focus given to Department of Defense technology transitions that increase military capabilities, and on developing a robust FHE workforce.
“We’re beginning to see some of the initial projects we’ve collaborated on with our members make great strides towards the market, or towards active military use,” explains NextFlex Executive Director Dr. Malcolm Thompson. “As the leading member organization and collaboration partner in the field of FHE, we know this new funding will pave the way towards the vision of Electronics Everywhere.”
Under the new Cooperative Agreement, NextFlex will update and extend its project support and technology roadmaps into FHE manufacturing in partnership with DoD and other government agencies to achieve specific goals in support of these agencies’ missions. With the additional funding, the Institute will also be able to expand on the number of FHE projects with its member partners and continue building a more robust FHE ecosystem in the US.
“We are excited to continue our partnership with NextFlex and its members. The Flexible Hybrid Electronic manufacturing ecosystem did not exist five years ago,” said Dr. Richard Vaia, Chief Scientist for the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate at AFRL. “Today these technologies are not only providing component solutions to our current platforms but are revolutionizing our design concepts for future transformation capabilities for 2030.“
“Over the last five years, the DoD and Government partnership with NextFlex and members demonstrated numerous flexible hybrid electronics-based prototypes for Modernization Priorities. We are excited to support the OSD ManTech Office in the execution of the second AFRL Cooperative Agreement. Many new approaches will be implemented in the second agreement supporting emerging National Advanced Manufacturing challenges and DoD priorities,” said Dr. Eric Forsythe, NextFlex Government Program Manager and ERP SAMM Hybrid Thrust Lead at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory.
NextFlex also announced today that it has received an additional $10M through the Department of Defense (DOD) Defense-wide Manufacturing Science and Technology Program to advance the state of the art for defense-essential manufacturing capability, through the development of technologies and processes necessary for the production of defense systems. This funding will be used for projects within NextFlex’s 100-member network that advance FHE manufacturing processes in support of DOD advanced manufacturing goals.
“I am proud to support Nextflex’s successful collaborations with organizations like The Center for Advanced Microelectronics Manufacturing (CAMM) at Binghamton University,” said Rep. Anthony Brindisi (NY-22). “I applaud NextFlex’s decision to use additional federal funding for advanced manufacturing projects that will accelerate the adoption of flexible hybrid electronics in the US.” (Source: ASD Network/NextFlex)
15 Jun 20. Omnetics reduces time and cost of connectors designs for application specific systems. Beginning with Defense and Orbital space industry, leaders have turned to Omnetics for new designs that can meet new fit, for and function connections into low profile, light-weight electronic modules. Advanced connectors designed for portable robotics, asynchronous devices and person borne sensor systems frequently require both power and signals to be routed and fitted within totally new physical formats. Omnetics mixed signal devices meet high shock and vibration resilience to assure continuous signal integrity throughout the life of the instrument.
Surveillance devices, neurological test instruments, prosthetics and even shock-test equipment have moved to using Modified-Standard Connectors from Omnetics.
Omnetics is a highly agile firm focused on high-quality and fast service. By rapidly configuring solid models of proposed devices and using 3-d additive processes, new concept connectors, based on previously proven devices are shared with the designer in need. This provides a friendly interactive process in completing the design truly needed but assures highest quality and a ready-made manufacturing process. Final products are built by our Military Quality manufacturing team.
Omnetics Connector Corporation has over 30 years’ experience and builds all products in the USA. They have standard products in stock at Digi-key and maintain strong support and relations with a world-wide distribution and sales team trained for focus on both standard and customized designs for connector miniaturization to form, fit and function. Connector products include a line of Micro and Nano Strip connectors, a family of Micro Circular connectors, a full line of Micro-D connectors, the world-Class Nano-D connectors (both QPL rectangular connectors), both Latching Micro and Nano-connectors, and a line of Polarized Nano-connectors, believed to be some of the smallest, highest-reliability connectors in the world (Source: army-technology.com)
15 Jun 20. Sonardyne’s Vigilant sonar to provide critical hazard avoidance for new diver delivery system. Underwater obstacle avoidance technology from maritime defence and security specialist Sonardyne International Ltd. has been chosen for a new design diver delivery unit (DDU) being built by SubSea Craft.
Sonardyne’s Vigilant forward looking sonar (FLS) will provide a critical hazard avoidance capability for the crew and embarked divers of the VICTA Class DDU when navigating on or below the surface.
Using a compact and sophisticated bow-mounted transducer arrangement, Vigilant FLS displays water depth, sub-surface obstacles and features by creating an accurate 3D model of the underwater environment. The model is displayed relative to the underwater vehicle or surface vessel it’s fitted to, overlaid on standard charts in real-time, providing operators with a detailed topographical image of their route ahead.
Vigilant FLS provides this easy to interpret 3D bathymetry out to 600 m over a 90° field of view, as well as automated warnings of unseen collision hazards out to 1.5 km, supporting safe navigation for mariners, underwater vehicle pilots and unmanned surface and subsea systems.
SubSea Craft’s VICTA Class DDU offers the speed and endurance of a long-range insertion craft with the stealth and capacity of a swimmer delivery vehicle. It can travel up to 250 nautical miles (nm) at speeds of up to 40 knots on the surface, whilst submerged it cruises at 6 knots, with a ‘sprint’ capability of 8 knots, for up to 25 nm to deploy and recover up to eight operatives (two crew and six divers) to their objective area mission-ready.
“Being able to detect – at range – navigation hazards, before they become a real threat, is mission-critical to the sort of operations likely to feature in VICTA’s playbook,” says Tim Chicken, SubSea Craft’s Chief Commercial Officer. “Vigilant is the solution. With Vigilant integrated into VICTA, complete with its easy to use, intuitive graphic user interface, pilots can visualise the environment ahead to navigate safely and avoid obstacles ensuring safe insertion and recovery of operators, regardless of the mission. As VICTA is designed around the operator, Vigilant was the ideal solution.”
“Vigilant FLS offers naval forces with unprecedented subsurface situational awareness with unrivalled range,” says Ioseba Tena, Global Business Manager for Marine Robotics and Defence at Sonardyne. “With Vigilant integrated into VICTA, complete with its easy to use, intuitive graphic user interface, pilots can visualise the environment ahead to navigate safely and avoid obstacles ensuring safe insertion and recovery of operators, regardless of the mission. Quite simply, it provides a tactical advantage for their operations.”
11 Jun 20. French civil, military authorities flight test RPAS integration in controlled airspace. Bordeaux and Marseille control centres (ACCs) controlled a military MALE drone in their airspace FL145 / FL230 in a safe manner on the 19 May 2020 for a period of three hours. The country’s civil and military authorities are very much committed to participate in the development of a European regulation to integrate MALE RPAS in civil air traffic in non-segregated airspace.
For a training mission with an AWACS in a military area (TSA) located in the South-East of France, the French Air Force flew the REAPER RPAS, based in the military airbase of Cognac, in civil air traffic beyond segregated airspace. Prior to conduct this trial in a safe manner, the National Supervisory Authority had validated the safety study.
Bordeaux and Marseille ACCs controlled the REAPER without specific onboard equipment such as a ‘Detect and avoid’ system, between FL 145 and FL 230, and successfully performed handovers between civil units and military units in lower and upper airspace. The REAPER performance was equivalent to those of regional aircraft.
The French air navigation service provider DSNA says the initial feedback of this live trial is promising. It said the RPAS demonstrated that it could fly on its planned route but also evolve like a manned aircraft under this real-life operational conditions, for example when in the tactical phase, the controller gave a new heading instruction for a direct route.
DSNA, the French Air Force and the French military aviation authority have been performing test flights to assess accommodations of RPAS within civil IFR air traffic including coordination, transfers and abnormal modes since 2017.
General Reutter, director of the French military authority, welcomed this event. “With this operational exercise, we can confirm risk analysis under the auspice of the European Defence Agency (EDA). We are proud that these results can feed the guidelines for accommodations from the EDA and EASA. They will participate in the current working on the part ‘Certified’ of the ongoing civil drone European regulation and should facilitate the implementation of the Europen MALE program.”
DSNA Director Maurice Georges said: “The French civil and military authorities are very much committed to building a safe, fair and efficient airspace for both manned and unmanned operations. Moreover, DSNA actively participates in the SESAR program to enable RPAS insertion in nominal and emergency conditions in controlled airspace. The results of this trial will be very helpful.”
A new, more advanced experiment with cross-border operations is planned towards the end of 2020.
(Image: French military Reaper)
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12 Jun 20. AFRL’s ‘Quantum Collider’ Focuses On Boosting ISR, PNT. The lab is also kicking off “a worldwide $1m challenge that canvases the international quantum research community for novel solutions in the emerging field,” AFRL says.
In a first of a kind event next week, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) will award up to 36 contracts designed to push research on ground-breaking uses of quantum science out of university labs and eventually into the hands of warfighters.
“Quantum information science (QIS) will impact many future Air Force capabilities. This includes GPS-like precision in locations where there is no GPS signal or it is severely degraded, ultra-secure global communication networks, high-precision sensors linked together with a quantum network, and new computing paradigms for optimization of asset and resource allocations, discovery of new materials, and novel applications of artificial intelligence,” Michael Hayduk, Information Directorate deputy director responsible for coordinating quantum research across AFRL, said in an official story.
The virtual “Quantum Collider and Pitch Day” will focus on quantum communications, computing, timing and sensing, according to AFRL. The June 15-16 event could result in up to $5.4m in total awards.
The Quantum Collider will be the first of many quantum-focused efforts AFRL debuts this summer, the official story says, including the standup of a new quantum information science innovation center in Rome, New York. The lab is also kicking off “a worldwide $1m challenge that canvases the international quantum research community for novel solutions in the emerging field.”
Chinese advancements in quantum computing in recent years have heightened interest among US national security leaders. For example, in 2017 China became the first country to demonstrate ‘quantum entanglement’ from a satellite to Earth.
Such capabilities could lead to much more secure communications between satellites and ground stations, as well as encrypted signals that are nearly impossible for hackers to break.
Although expressing some caution about the “hype” around quantum computing, Mark Lewis, director of modernization in Mike Griffin’s Research and Engineering shop, said recently that quantum science is also a focus area for DoD-wide research.
The Quantum Collider is the first of a series of planned AFRL events aimed at spurring cutting-edge university research, based on awards under the little-known Small Business Tech Transfer Research (STTR) program. Air Force acquisition head Will Roper told reporters on Tuesday that the STTR account has only about “$100m and change” to spend per year, but is important all the same.
“During the event, teams that include a university and/or non-profit and a small business — selected by a panel earlier this year — will have 20 minutes to pitch their ideas to senior Air Force and DoD officials. According to AFRL, “Since each session concludes with a Phase I contract award decision, small businesses that partner with nonprofit research institutions could receive $150,000 from the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.”
04 Jun 20. EDA to assess impact of EU chemical/waste regulations on defence. EDA has just launched a new study to evaluate the impact EU regulations on chemicals and waste might have on the wider defence sector. The results are expected to be available by the end of this year.
The study does not cover the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) nor the CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging) regulations which have already been assessed in an EDA study in 2016 and whose effects on defence equipment have proven to be significant – from design and manufacturing to in-service use, maintenance and disposal.
In the new study, due to be delivered in December, the focus will be on other EU regulations related to chemicals which may also have an impact on European defence capabilities, such as:
- Biocidal Products (BPR)
- Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP)
- Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS)
- Greenhouse Gases (F-GAS)
- Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS).
The study will also look into potential repercussions on defence of the recently revised EU Waste Framework Directive (WFD), and specifically its provision under Article 9 on providing information to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) database on Substances of Concern in articles as such or In complex Products (SCIP), as from 5 January 2021.
The study will be carried out by a consortium encompassing Milieu Consulting SPRL (consortium leader) and REACHLAW Oy.
The aim of the study is to provide detailed information on the impact of those EU legislations on the defence sector and to propose recommendations on how defence stakeholders (Ministries of Defence, Armed Forces, defence industry) could deal with them in a more coherent way.
As part of the study, the contractor will be conducting consultations with a range of relevant stakeholders, such as the European Commission, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), Member States’ MoDs, Member States’ competent authorities as well as defence industry stakeholders, including the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) as well as National Defence Industry Associations (NDIAs). (Source: EDA)
27 May 20. EDA project aims for multifunctional smart textiles for defence. Smart textiles are a new generation of innovative material offering very interesting multifunctional properties such as being integrable into uniforms and platforms. They therefore have drawn the attention of the defence sector.
Against this backdrop, EDA has incorporated smart textiles into the so-called Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) of its capability technology group (’CapTech’) devoted to Materials & Structures, and a specific Technology Building Block (TBB) was set up for them. Furthermore, other EDA CapTechs, such as those dealing with CBRN, Human Factors and Ground Systems, have taken initiatives related to smart textiles.
In January 2019, EDA launched a project on “Smart TextILEs in defence: looking at the soldiers of the future” with two participating Member States, Spain and Portugal. The practical implementation of this project, called STILE, was assigned to a consortium led by the Spanish research institute AITEX, in collaboration with two Portuguese organisations, CITEVE and INEGI.
The objective of STILE is to lay the foundation for a future ‘European Multifunctional Smart Textile’ for defence able to respond to a certain number of requirements in terms of functionality, integration, comfort and weight. More precisely, it was aimed to define a roadmap for developing a system offering several functionalities in a textile substrate, and to come up with a proof of concept that integrates various functionalities with state-of-the-art technologies.
The initial analysis undertaken under the project confirmed that Europe lacks multifunctional smart textile capabilities in defence. Hence the importance for the STILE project to produce a proof of concept of multifunctional smart textiles able to integrate in a single model all the afore-mentioned features and requirements.
Preliminary results of the project give already an overview of the current R&T development and technology needs as well as the challenges laying ahead to overcome those needs. The methodology used was based on the technical knowledge of the consortium members and the collection of data coming from multiple sources, including a technology foresight workshop on smart textile technologies organised at EDA, a survey done among the Agency’s ‘Materials’ CapTech experts as well as various meetings with experts.
A medium to long-term technology roadmap was established with a set of actions required to develop an innovative smart textile for future defence applications, including the incorporation of modern design and development methodology by the textile industry. For this purpose, two simulation models were developed to evaluate the main concepts regarding the thermal protection capacity of the garment and the thermal signature under different ambient conditions.
Proof of concept
As a first step of the roadmap, a multifunctional smart textile prototype – the first of this type and quality in Europe – was produced with the following functions (each of them tested):
- signature management: the textile has multispectral camouflage in both static and moving positions
- CBR threats monitoring: the smart textile detects the presence of hazardous agents (e.g. H2S, NO2, Cl2) and provides warning to the soldier
- improved mobility, using various textile structures as well as seamless technology in body mapping concept
- flame retardancy, water and dirt repellence and anti-mosquito solutions
- physiological monitoring: the smart textile measures the heart rate and provide info to the soldier
- temperature regulation (cooling and heating): the smart textile is able to control the body temperature through monitoring of the ambient temperature
- communication: the smart textile provides all parameters, such as the heart rate, to the soldier via an app in the smartphone, embedded in the system. In addition, the data can be transferred to the operating centre, if needed.
Testing in the field
From June 2020 onwards, the STILE prototype will be further tested in the field to make sure that it fulfills the stringent military requirements. At the end of the project (expected in May 2021) an exhibition centre will be organized to reveal the fully tested STILE model to the European defence and dual use community, reaching out the potential users in the European Ministries of Defence. (Source: EDA)
12 Jun 20. EDA work on MALE-type RPAS Air Traffic Integration backed by French test flight. EDA’s groundwork to help Member States move towards the integration of MALE-type Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in civil air traffic in non-segregated airspace received a significant boost recently when a live MALE RPAS flight test carried out by the French Air Force (FAF) contributed to paving the way for the validation of the risk analysis previously done in an Agency study carried out in 2018/19 as well as the EDA and EASA guidelines.
To date, the conclusions of EDA’s study on the ‘Accommodation of MALE-type RPAS: scenarios and safety case’, delivered in February 2019, had only been tested through simulations but never under real flight conditions. On 19 May 2020, the French Air Force flew a REAPER RPAS, based in the military airbase of Cognac, in civil air traffic beyond segregated airspace. During this over three-hour flight, several hand-overs were carried out between civilian air traffic control centers in Bordeaux and Marseille. Portions of the cruise were carried out in upper airspace, up to FL 230. The RPAS had no specific onboard equipment such as a detect and avoid system.
The result was a genuine success, as General Reutter, the Director of the French Military Authority, confirmed afterwards in a press statement: “With this operational exercise, we can confirm risk analysis under the auspice of the European Defence Agency. We are proud that these results can feed the Guidelines for Accommodations from the EDA and EASA. They will participate in the current working on the part ‘Certified’ of the ongoing civil drone European regulation and should facilitate the implementation of the European MALE program”. The full press release is available here.
EDA’s study was ordered in 2018 as part of the Agency’s effort to support Member States in the area of MALE-type RPAS air traffic integration. The study conclusions published in February 2019 provided tailored risk assessments and an enhanced aviation safety case assessment methodology for MALE-type RPAS flying in non-segregated European airspace, alongside manned aviation. Following the presentation of those simulations results, France offered the possibility to perform real flights with a MALE-type RPAS (the FAF Reapers), including a cross-border portion. The successful results of the French test flight will now feed the guidelines for accommodation developed by EDA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and will be used for the ongoing work on the ‘Certified’ part of the European civil drone regulation.
This year, there will be additional cross-borders flights performed by FAF Reapers in the framework of the EDA Accommodation Validation study. (Source: EDA)
23 Apr 20. New R&T project to improve resilience of cold weather operations. EDA’s Steering Board has green-lit the launch of a new research project aimed at studying ways and means of improving the operational outfit and equipment of Armed Forces operating in extreme cold and icy weather conditions.
Picture : Austrian Armed Forces
Military missions and operations in cold climate are particularly challenging as they demand from the troops a great deal of physical, operational and mental resilience. Experience from exercises in extreme cold has shown that a considerable number of the soldiers suffer from cold weather injuries (e.g. frostbite, hypothermia, chilblains, immersion foot) and negative energy balance which can highly compromise their performances. An in-depth knowledge of the risk factors for developing cold-related injuries and their impact on the troops’ safety and effectiveness is thus critical to sustain operations in the north.
Against this backdrop, EDA has just launched a new R&T project to study this problem in greater detail to ascertain consequences and possible countermoves. Under the lead of the Netherlands, three more countries are participating: France, Sweden and Norway (the latter is no formal EDA Member State but has concluded an Administrative Agreement with the Agency). The overall objective is to contribute to improving the European capability of operating in arctic/cold environments by developing tools to reduce the risk of soldiers developing cold-weather-related injuries and enhance war fighter performance.
The project has a duration of three to four years.
It is the first R&T project in EDA to study Cold Weather Operations on a European level. It will be important to identify the standards and procedures are currently being applied in the various Member States. The project will therefore identify national variations in the regulations and threshold values for body temperature, safe working duration and respective garment requirements and develop an interpretation guide to translate the generic advice of the main existing standard in this field, ISO-11079, and its extension to national clothing & equipment items. It will also review and measure individual variation in thermal stress response and nutritional demands in cold environments. Finally, the intention is also to identify the added value of wearable sensor technologies for improved personalised advice.
The Cold Weather Operations project is one of several R&T activities under the CapTech CBRN and Human Factors. (Source: EDA)
15 May 20. New project (SPICE) to improve military sensor performance. EDA’s Steering Board has given its green light for the launch of a new project designed to improve the receiver performance of electronic radio frequency (RF) sensors used in military platforms in adverse and heavily contested environments. Dubbed SPICE (‘Superior Performance in Contested Environments’), the project builds on the successful work already accomplished at the Agency in the same critical domain.
At this stage, the Netherlands and Sweden are participating in this new project which is however open to all Member States. It aims to further develop the excellent results of two previous EDA ad hoc projects on Switched Applications (SWAP) and Switched Applications-Complementary (SWAP-C), local RF power generation and amplification based on switched technology. These projects were focused on narrow band transceivers to improve the performance of radars for naval applications and on wideband transceivers for electronic warfare for combat aircraft. Both of them demonstrated the superior performance of gallium-Nitride (GaN) technology for the transmit path compared to other technologies previously used.
Improving the receivers
Over the next 36 months, SPICE will take this work forward with the aim of improving the performance of the receive channel of the transceiver (dynamic range, linearity, efficiency etc.). This is done in an integral approach over the complete RF chain, while taking into account additional requirements such as cost and other system-imposed constraints (including cooling). The work will start with investigating, defining and specifying concepts with which the linearity and performance of receivers can be achieved. This also includes an assessment of all the technologies currently available.
As part of an exploration and experimentation phase, the consortium will work on wideband receivers, narrowband receivers and packaging and integration technologies. The consortium involved in the afore-mentioned projects remains the same, contributing to increase the expertise of the European defence industry and create a stable supply chain around key European players. (Source: EDA)
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.