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29 Sep 21. China preps rollout of a new carrier-based fighter jet. China will debut its next-generation, carrier-borne fighter jet later this year, according to the country’s main state-owned aerospace conglomerate and the chief designer of its current carrier-based fighter jet.
This comes as China has demonstrated a pair of its land-based J-20 stealth fighters powered by indigenous engines at the ongoing Zhuhai airshow.
Speaking at a press conference at the airshow, Sun Cong, the chief designer of the mainstay jet fighter of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, carrier air wings, said that “people should be able to see good news on the next-generation aircraft carrier-based fighter jet” later this year.
Sun led the design of the Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark. He said more will be revealed about the new program when the time is right, according to remarks carried by the nationalist tabloid Global Times.
Similarly, state-owned aerospace and defense conglomerate Aviation Industry Corporation of China, or AVIC, said on its account on Chinese social media app Weibo that a new carrier-borne aircraft would be revealed before the end of 2021, although it is not clear if it was making its own announcement or just echoing Sun’s remarks.
Neither Sun nor AVIC revealed more details about the program, although the social media post included a graphic showing what appeared to be a stealthy twin-tailed design under wraps.
It has been speculated in recent years that China is developing a new carrier-based fighter jet based on the Shenyang J-31 as the next-generation combat aircraft to equip China’s growing fleet of aircraft carriers.
China has two carriers in service and is building a third, significantly larger carrier. The first two ships are equipped with a ski-jump to assist aircraft in taking off, while the latest vessel being constructed in Shanghai will be equipped with catapults to launch heavier aircraft and conduct operations more quickly.
The J-31 is a twin-tailed, twin-engine, mid-wing design that incorporates some low-observable features and bears a passing resemblance to the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. It first flew in October 2012 and was present at the 2014 Zhuhai airshow.
Originally a private venture designed for the export market, the type found no takers among the group of countries that sought Chinese arms, however the design underwent a substantial rework and started flying again in 2016.
Like the J-15, the J-31 has so far only flown with imported Russian engines, although China has since made strides in its ongoing efforts to refine its own indigenous combat aircraft engine development efforts.
This is underscored by the stealthy Chengdu J-20 fighter powered by indigenous engines making its debut at this year’s Zhuhai airshow, with a pair of aircraft powered by WS-10C engines taking part in the daily flying display.
Both jets carried People’s Liberation Army Air Force, or PLAAF, national insignia, although neither carried five-digit PLAAF serial numbers.
These aircraft will join the increasing number of twin-engined Shenyang J-11s and J-16s, powered by the indigenous WS-10 since around 2011 or 2012. The single-engine Chengdu J-10, powered by the WS-10, has also started entering service with PLAAF units, replacing the Russian AL-31 turbofan engine after a protracted development cycle.
However, production examples of the carrier-borne J-15, which like the J-11 and J-16 have roots in the Russian Sukhoi Su-27/30 Flanker family of multirole fighter jets, continue to be powered by the Russian engine. (Source: Defense News)
28 Sep 21. Top Secret Stealth Plane Gets Exposed? The short video of what seems to be a brand new (and super cool-looking plane) elicited non-answers by the Skunk Works chief. Eyebrows have been raised!
A Defense One webinar hosted today (September 28) featuring Jeff Babione left some viewers with many more questions than answers. Babione is the leader of Lockheed-Martin’s Advanced Development Programs—better known as Skunk Works. Skunk Works, legendary designer Kelly Johnson’s creation, gave rise to a number of remarkable designs, including the U-2, SR-71, F-22 and F-35.
Asked if he could elaborate on a six-second video of a stealthy-looking aircraft or aircraft part, which has been on Twitter a few days, Babione simply said, “I cannot.”
Then asked whether the Skunk Works security protocol had changed, he simply said, “We’re good.”
The lack of an answer sent defense and aerospace analysts and writers to social media, where the speculation ran rampant. Maybe it was a giant failure of operational security on a new project, some opined. Others guessed that it could be a decoy to send foreign entities on a wild goose chase, while at least one figured it was a giant nothingburger—a stealth test object remarkably similar to a test object featured in a YouTube video that’s 13 years old and has 43,000 views (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LIqRshUoPc timestamp 1:48).
The discussion in Tweets even disagreed on whether it was piloted or a drone, and even which side was up!
Whether it’s the next big thing, or a giant letdown, the short video caught our attention for a few minutes today—and now you can see and speculate as well. (Source: News Now/https://www.planeandpilotmag.com/)
29 Sep 21. Northrop Grumman Demonstrates Rapid Software Deployment via the Cloud Leveraging Platform One. Demo marks digital transformation milestone enabling capabilities critical to Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2). Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC), in collaboration with the United States Air Force 76th Software Engineering Group (76SEWG), carried out a first of its kind demonstration leveraging the Air Force’s DevSecOps environment, Platform One, to provide a simulated mission software update to flight-rated mission hardware through a secure cloud environment. Utilizing mission critical Open Mission Systems (OMS) software, the 76SWEG team modifed code that initiated an automated build and containerized software transfer via encrypted internet to an East Coast Northrop Grumman team. The software update was deployed to flight-rated hardware, and the team then executed a simulated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission, returning data and results to 76SWEG developers at Tinker Air Force Base at the conclusion of the mission. This was the first demonstration of an OMS software payload deployed by geographically dispersed teams using Platform One in a secure cloud environment.
“To help connect the joint force, Northrop Grumman is advancing the speed of delivering mission specific software payloads, new capabilities and improved performance to operational platforms hours/minutes before, or even during, a mission,” said Scott Stapp, vice president and chief technology officer, Northrop Grumman. “Northrop Grumman has enabling technologies that are required for JADC2, including advanced networking, AI, space, command and control systems, and is a prime contractor for key aeronautics platforms.”
This demonstration achieved a number of digital transformation development goals for government and industry by combining a DevSecOps Pipeline based on Platform One, Kubernetes containerization and mission critical software meeting the OMS and Universal Command and Control Interface standards. It also showed how commercial technologies can securely integrate using open architecture standards in support of the Department of Defense’s broader JADC2 efforts.
27 Sep 21. MoD Partners with Aerospace Xelerated to Support Startups Using Autonomy and AI to Solve Challenges in Aerospace.
- The Ministry of Defence, through the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), has joined Aerospace Xelerated as a new programme partner.
- Led by The Boeing Company, Aerospace Xelerated, formerly known as the ATI Boeing Accelerator, will invest in world-class startups solving challenges for the aerospace sector, ranging from autonomous navigation to reduced workload.
- Successful startups will benefit from a GBP100K equity investment from Boeing, a further GBP100K+ in programme perks, access to future programme partners, investors and more.
- Due to the new partnership, the application deadline has been extended to 12 pm BST on the 8th of October 2021.
Aerospace Xelerated has today announced that MOD has joined as a programme partner. Applications are currently open for its third cohort, with the programme being led by industry partner Boeing. DASA finds and funds innovation to support UK national security quickly and effectively, and support UK prosperity. On behalf of the MOD, DASA will support startups by providing insights from and access to front line commands, aligning them with the MOD’s interest in national security and innovation priorities.
Anita Friend, Head of DASA, commented, “The MOD is keen to understand how early engagement between start-ups and MOD in programmes such as this can lead to improved outcomes for Defence and for the companies involved. By partnering in Aerospace Xelerated and helping the companies understand the needs and opportunities provided by Defence, we hope to accelerate our own learning as well as theirs.”
Nichola Bates, Managing Partner at Aerospace Xelerated and Head of Global Accelerators and Innovation Programs at Boeing commented:
“As a programme, we’ve already been fortunate enough to work with the DASA team as mentors and experts, and I’m delighted they’ve joined as the lead for MOD’s partnership in our third year. They bring not only their expertise to our cohort but also provide access to wider MOD capabilities. There is a great opportunity for startups applying to our programme to learn from the team and make valuable connections that will make a difference to their businesses. We’ve had applications from all over the world so far, and we’re encouraging startups to get applications in early before they close on October 8th!”
Aerospace Xelerated will be investing in startups building autonomous and AI solutions that advance the way aircraft are built, from the factory floor all the way to the passenger journey.
The two previous cohorts have gone on to raise £20m in additional funding and create over 100 jobs across the UK. Organisations to work with past cohorts as partners or mentors include GKN Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, PWC, Chevron Technology Ventures and EasyJet. Further programme partners will be announced in the coming weeks.
Startups accepted on the programme will benefit from an optional £100k equity investment from Boeing. They will also have access to strategists and technical experts from the industry and support in developing proof of concept opportunities.
Through Aerospace Xelerated, startups will be introduced to a network of angels, venture capitalists and the wider aerospace industry, throughout the 12-week programme and wider ecosystem events. Successful companies will also receive mentoring from a global network of experienced entrepreneurs, mentors and investors, plus over £100k in programme perks from partners including startup providers Google, Amazon, Stripe, Digital Ocean and many more.
Aerospace Xelerated is looking for startups across the following areas; assured autonomy; autonomous navigation; generative design; smart maintenance; adaptive learning; reduced workload and Aerospace AI Applications. Companies must be late seed-stage, software only, and working with AI or autonomous technology. (Source: ASD Network/UK MoD)
23 Sep 21. ECA’s Belgian subsidiary opens new R&D centre in Mouscron. The centre is located within a new building that also accommodates the company’s headquarters. ECA Robotics’ Belgian subsidiary has inaugurated a new research and development (R&D) centre in Mouscron, Belgium. The centre, which will be used to carry out mine warfare related R&D activities, is part of a new building that also houses ECA Robotics Belgium’s headquarters. An opening ceremony was held to celebrate the opening of the new offices. It was attended by Belgian Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder.
ECA Robotics Belgium CEO Steven Luys said: “These new offices are supporting the growth that ECA Robotics Belgium is currently experiencing, and evidence of the acceleration of its recent development. We would like to thank the city of Mouscron, the IEG local authority, and the Belgian Defence for their support in setting up ECA Robotics in Belgium.”
A total of 18 employees, including a team of seven engineers, are already working on new innovations in the field of mine countermeasures (MCMs).
ECA said that the new offices can accommodate 25 workers.
In July this year, ECA Robotics Belgium was awarded a contract for the Mine Risk Clearance for Europe (MIRICLE) project. This project work will be carried out at the Mouscron premises.
The MIRICLE project, which is worth $11.8m, will be implemented under the umbrella of the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP).
Dedonder said: “As minister, it is important for me to be here for this occasion, a prime example of how the Belgian Defence and industry are collaborating in the interests of our security. he Research & Development performed here contributes to building the foundations of our Belgian Navy 2.0, with new technologies to reinforce our position as a world authority in the field of mine countermeasures. The defence, companies and the academic world have the opportunity of working together to create a more secure future for our country and its residents.”
ECA GROUP recently awarded contracts to Patria and CTM to deliver electromagnetic and acoustic modules for a minesweeping solution. (Source: naval-technology.com)
24 Sep 21. Could solar panels in space power Army operations on Earth?
It’s hard to run an extension cord to a forward operating base.
Military outposts need a lot of power, but they’re frequently located in places without easy access to electricity. The U.S. Army can’t exactly build a field of solar arrays every time it sets up shop in remote locales, and fossil fuels can be expensive and difficult to transport out to the field.
What the Army needs is an energy source it can tap into from anywhere on Earth with limited infrastructure, and the Air Force Research Laboratory believes it might just have the solution: A constellation of satellite-mounted solar arrays that can collect energy on orbit and beam it down to Earth. Terrestrial service members would be able to plug into that energy source from anywhere on the planet with mobile equipment, enabling them to power an entire forward operating base or simply charge a radio.
It sounds like wild science fiction, but AFRL engineers say it’s possible, and they’re working toward a technology demonstration as early as 2024.
The initiative is called the Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research, or SSPIDR.
“SSPIDR is sort of a portfolio of tech development. So ultimately, our goal is solar to RF [radio frequency] power beaming — taking power from the sun that we collect in space, converting it to RF on orbit, and beaming that to the ground where it would then be converted back to power by a rectifying antenna, or rectenna,” SSPIDR chief engineer Mandy Self told C4ISRNET.
AFRL believes that’s achievable, but getting there will be a journey. SSPIDR takes an incremental approach, maturing several technology elements of the notional system and leading to three demonstrations. The flagship effort is Arachne — named after a woman who was turned into the first spider, according to Greek mythology — which will consist of an on-orbit demonstration in 2025.
The primary contractor for SSPIDR is Northrop Grumman. The company received a $100m award focused on the solar-to-RF conversion. AFRL is also working with other companies on high-efficiency solar cells, deployable space structures, and more, said Self.
Some technologies involved are already mature, said Self, but they need to be miniaturized. In fact, miniaturization is one of the primary challenges with making SSPIDR a reality. The final size of the system in space is still a conversation, but it depends largely on how well the lab can miniaturize the various components and how much it can condense the total structure into a launch payload. Currently, some of the available technologies are simply too heavy to use for a space-based mission, so a big part of AFRL’s effort is reworking those solutions to reduce mass and size. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
27 Sep 21. New Broadband Diplexers and Phase Shifters for RF Systems. PPM Systems continually expands its range of RF components to ensure customers always have the latest products for their critical RF applications. The components are widely used in defence and satellite communications. The most recent additions to the range are a series of high power broadband diplexers, plus new low to high power RF phase shifters. Broadband Diplexers The CMIDX series of high-power broadband diplexers are capable of handling input power of up to 150 watts, ideal for signal combining applications such as jamming, communication systems, re-broadcasting signals and multiband antenna systems with a common seeder. Phase Shifters RF phase shifters are used in high frequency RF designs to provide a phase shift to the signal by adding propagation delay. PPM Systems can offer both precision voltage and digitally controlled phase shifters, used in applications including: • Communications antennas • Phased-array radar • Satellite communications • Phase cancellation • Beamforming systems. Paul Cotterill, PPM Systems Business Development Manager, said: “Our ever-expanding range of RF components means our customers always have the latest technology available to design and build complex RF systems.” Contact PPM Systems for more information and to discuss specific requirements: www.ppmsystems.com.
24 Sep 21. China to show off its new electronic-attack jet. China is set to debut its dedicated electronic-attack aircraft on public display at the upcoming Zhuhai airshow, giving observers a first look at the newly developed type.
A single example of the type, which is officially designated the Shenyang J-16D, has been parked at the static display area of the airshow in Guangdong Province ahead of the event, which is due to run from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3 next to the city’s airport.
The twin-seat J-16D is based on the J-16 multirole strike fighter, which is itself a development of the J-11B interceptor and the Russian Sukhoi Su-30MK-series, both of which can trace their lineage back to the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker interceptor.
China has acquired the Su-30MKK and the Su-30MK2 for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, or PLAAF, and the People’s Liberation Army Navy, PLAN, respectively. Some 70 examples of both types, which were acquired between 1996 and 2002, are believed to be still in service.
Images of the J-16D taken on the ground and posted online show that it has some notable differences from the standard J-16, the most prominent of which are a pair of pods mounted on its wingtips.
These are believed to perform a similar function to the Northrop-Grumman AN/ALQ-218 on the U.S. Navy’s Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, which is a passive, high performance signals intelligence sensor system used for detecting, identifying, locating and analyzing sources of radio frequency emissions.
Other distinctive differences from the J-16 include a noticeably shorter nose radome suggesting that a smaller radar has been fitted, along with the lack of the cannon mounted on the right side of the fuselage and the deletion of an infra-red search and track system on the front of the canopy.
The J-16D at Zhuhai carries the number 0109 stenciled on the side of its engine intakes, indicating that it is the ninth aircraft from the first production batch. It carries toned-down PLAAF markings but no numbers on its tail, making it impossible to identify which unit it has been assigned to.
The aircraft has also subsequently been fitted for the airshow with four of what appears to be at least three distinct types of standoff jammer pods on external stores hardpoints below both engine intakes and wings.
(Source: Defense News)
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.