Sponsored By Oxley Developments
18 Sep 20. GORE PHASEFLEX Microwave/RF Test Assemblies Honored, Set Gold Standard With Industry Innovators Award. Gore’s purple RF/Test cables recognized as a Gold honoree in the 2020 Military & Aerospace Electronics Innovators Awards. W. L. Gore & Associates announced today that its GORE® PHASEFLEX® Microwave/RF Test Assemblies were recognized among the 2020 Military & Aerospace Electronics Innovators Awards. An esteemed and experienced panel of judges from the aerospace and defense community recognized Gore as a Gold honoree. These assemblies are being recognized for their durability and reliability for precision testing of electronic warfare (EW) / radar suites; electronic surveillance/counter measures; radar warning systems; missile approach warning systems; and navigation/communication systems.
Precision Testing is Critical
These test environments are complex settings filled with electronic components and there is a necessity to make accurate and reliable microwave/RF measurements. The reliability of the test system is crucial, and the microwave/RF test cable assemblies are a critical piece. GORE PHASEFLEX Microwave/RF Test Assemblies are the lifeline between the test equipment and the mission-critical systems under test. The ability to reliably deliver precision measurements for mission-critical applications such as radar, EW and C4ISR suites in military aircraft is essential. Making accurate and reliable measurements requires microwave/RF cable assemblies that can be used in a controlled test lab and also in the field, directly on the aircraft flight-line test system. GORE PHASEFLEX Microwave/RF Test Assemblies meet rigorous environmental challenges including temperature changes, moisture, shock, vibration, mechanical stress and flexure. These cables endure constant coiling and uncoiling as well as being dragged, pulled, stepped on or even run over by carts. They have survived sharp edges, hinges, fuel, water and hydraulic fluids. In addition, during this exposure, these cables can be routed to, over, under and through the aircraft to connect to the device under test (DUT) without harm. They are available with assembly lengths up to 120 feet, which is also necessary to reach many systems on the aircraft.
“On behalf of the Military & Aerospace Electronics Innovators Awards, I would like to congratulate Gore on their Gold–level honoree status,” said Military & Aerospace Electronics Editor- in-Chief John Keller. “This competitive program allows Military & Aerospace Electronics to celebrate and recognize the most innovative products impacting the aerospace and defense community this year.”
“You can’t trust the product performance if you can’t trust the test results. Testing must identify problem components and detect performance issues which may lead to intermittent failures in theater,” said Gore’s product specialist Chris Ericksen. “The reliable electrical performance of our cables makes troubleshooting easier, faster, more efficient and, most importantly, more accurate.”
17 Sep 20. US Army Futures Command picks Austin Community College for software factory. Army Futures Command has picked Austin Community College District as the home of its software factory to collaborate with student software developers at a time when the service is hungry to bring software developers to its ranks as it modernizes in a digital age.
The factory “will be the first of its kind and will provide a training pipeline for soldiers and ACC students,” a Sept. 17 Army press release states. “The factory is designed to help students rapidly scope and solve real-life problems through advanced software development processes.”
Through collaboration between Army soldiers, the students at the college and the greater community, “it’s going to force us to think differently about how we think about the future,” Army Futures Command Commander Gen. Mike Murray said in the statement. “There’s nothing but goodness here in terms of bringing fresh ideas to solve problems.”
The entity is the first soldier-led software factory in the Army and “the vision is to develop a pathway to two- and four-year degrees and connect soldiers and students with industry partners,” the statement reads.
After a nationwide search, the Austin-based college, which is also home to Futures Command headquarters, was chosen based on its reputation for “being a feeder for talent, innovation of its advanced ACCelerator learning lab and launch of its recent bachelor’s degree in software development,” according to the statement.
The factory will offer training in new technologies like data science and artificial intelligence and curriculum will be developed by the college, the AFC leadership and help from global software development companies.
Software development has become central to the way the Army wants to modernize going forward. It is playing a key role in the development of new weapons systems. Software factories, most notably the Air Force’s Kessel Run program, have become popular in recent years across the department as a way to quickly boost capabilities.
The Army is in the middle of a major campaign of learning called Project Convergence at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, which is seeking to connect assets across the battlefield to fight together to shorten the decision cycle and the kill chain against near-peer adversaries.
Murray told Defense News in a recent interview there are three key technologies today that when paired together in novel ways can provide a strong advantage against possible conflict. Those technologies, which are entirely reliant on software development, are artificial intelligence, autonomy and robotics in the air and on the ground.
“To make those three work in a digital environment, you have to have an underlying robust and resilient network,” Murray said, “and you have to have a data architecture and the data and the talent to put all that together.
A recent ground robotic combat vehicle exercise at Fort Carson, Colorado, is another snapshot highlighting the need to focus on software development.
As the Army ventures into developing robotic vehicles that don’t just do the dull, dirty and dangerous work, “the biggest thing is going to be software development, improving autonomous and automation software,” Lt. Col. Chris Orlowski, the service’s robotic combat vehicles product manager, said at a recent AUVSI unmanned systems defense conference.
“Teleoperation is nice, it works okay if you’ve got the right radios and the right environments, but long term, when those environments become tested, I think teleoperation will be less viable and we will have to really push the automation and autonomy on these platforms,” he said.
The software factory will open in January with 30 soldiers and civilians. More than 15,000 service members expressed an interest in participating within the first week after an internal announcement. (Source: Defense News)
16 Sep 20. Aitech Systems, a leading provider of rugged board and system level solutions for military, aerospace and space applications, has joined The Open Group Sensor Open Systems Architecture™ (SOSA) Consortium. With the goal of creating a common framework for transitioning sensor systems to an open systems architecture, the SOSA Consortium is based on key interfaces and open standards established by an industry-government consensus.
“We are very pleased that Aitech has joined The Open Group SOSA Consortium as our newest member”, said Judy Cerenzia, VP of Forum Operations at The Open Group. “We welcome their expertise and look forward to their contributions to the SOSA Technical Standard and Business Strategy as we continue to evolve the SOSA ecosystem.”
By joining the SOSA Consortium, Aitech will contribute its rugged plug-in modules and systems design expertise to help define desired capabilities in Modular Open Systems Approaches (MOSA).The development of SOSA aligned products will accelerate the development of embedded computing technologies, including more advanced cybersecurity, improved SWaP-C and other capabilities that defense organizations need to build ever more capable equipment.
Aitech will provide customers with both hardware and software solutions that are SOSA aligned for use in the next generation of defense programs. Building to a common standard allows the company to focus on enhancing the functionality of its defense products, and less on equipment interoperability or integration issues. Aitech will focus on plug-in modules, inter-module interactions, security and small form factors, in addition to other technology platforms that will be evaluated for future implementations.
“The sharing of technological innovations among member companies is a critical component to the success of today and tomorrow’s military systems. The more we can collaborate, the better defense systems will be,” said Duc Huy Tran, VP global marketing for Aitech Systems. “With a basis for a common infrastructure and a sound method of interoperability, the SOSA Consortium provides the framework for Aitech, and all member companies, to reduce integration costs as well as development time and risk.”
As a technology leader, Aitech invests in next generation single board computers (SBCs), GPGPU products, graphics XMCs, communication and I/O cards, Ethernet switches and power supplies as well as system level products to provide its customers with a large selection of open-standard hardware architectures for rugged applications. The company brings more than 37 years of extensive expertise in designing and manufacturing cutting-edge open standards and custom defense and space electronics solutions.
For more information please call 888-Aitech-8 (888-248-3248), visit www.aitechsystems.com or e-mail .
Get our updates: https://www.linkedin.com/company/Aitech
About The Open Group:
The Open Group is an international vendor and technology-neutral consortium upon which organizations rely to lead the development of technology standards and certifications, and to provide them with access to key industry peers, suppliers, and best practices. The Open Group provides guidance and an open environment in order to ensure interoperability and vendor-neutrality.
Further information on The Open Group can be found at www.opengroup.org.
About The Open Group SOSA™ Consortium:
The SOSA™ Consortium is creating open system reference architectures applicable to military and commercial sensor systems and a business model that balances stakeholder interests. The architectures employ modular design and use widely supported, consensus-based, nonproprietary standards for key interfaces. The SOSA Consortium enables government and industry to collaboratively develop open standards and best practices to enable, enhance and accelerate the deployment of affordable, capable, interoperable sensor systems. For more information about The Open Group SOSA Consortium, please visit www.opengroup.us/sosa
About Aitech Systems:
In business for more than three decades, Aitech is one of the world’s first, independent, open systems architecture, COTS/MOTS innovators offering open standards-based boards and integrated computing subsystem products, with customization services for rugged and severe environment, military, aerospace and space applications…i.e. products for Air, Land, Sea and Space. For more information, please visit www.aitechsystems.com
15 Sep 20. Updating software in flight? The USAF may be close. The U.S. Air Force will soon announce that the service can update an aircraft’s software while in flight, the Air Force’s chief software officer said Tuesday.
Nicolas Chaillan, the service’s software czar, hinted at the announcement during a wide-ranging interview on a webcast hosted by C4ISRNET, but he declined to share which aircraft could handle the upgrade before the formal announcement is made. The update is part of a larger push by the Air Force to modernize its software practices.
However, Chaillan described the news as a “gamechanger” and offered insight into the challenges associated with updating software during flights.
“We need to decouple the flight controls, the [open mission systems], all the air worthiness piece of the software from the rest of the mission [and] capability of [that] software so we can update those more frequently without disrupting or putting lives at risk when it comes to the flying piece of the jet or the system,” Chaillan said.
A formal announcement could follow in coming days.
The Air Force is embracing agile development and DevSecOps in several of its programs to accelerate development time and deploy tools faster. Critical to this effort has been two Air Force environments — Cloud One and Platform One. Platform One, which was recently deemed an enterprise solution by the Department of Defense, is a software development platform that hosts a broad range of DoD components, including the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. The JAIC moved to the Air Force platform as it awaits the results of an ongoing court battle between Amazon Web Services and Microsoft over the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI cloud.
Chaillan said the F-35 program is also planning to move to Platform One soon. He added that he wants the platform to serve as a “software factory as a service.”
In the next 12 to 18 months, Chaillan said that he sees the service continuing to add artificial intelligence and machine learning into its systems at scale. Both Cloud One and Platform One will be critical to the development of those systems. Cloud One, a multi-cloud environment with Microsoft and AWS, will also be looking to add new vendors “down the road,” Chaillan said. The Air Force’s decision to go the multi-award route over the single award structure like JEDI made sense because of the advancement of cloud technology taken by the Air Force, Chaillan said.
“When JEDI started, it did make sense to have a single award because cloud is very hard and very complex and it did makes sense to start there. Would I do that now? Probably not. I think technology changed,” Chaillan said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
15 Sep 20. Expanse and National Defense ISAC Announce Partnership. Partnership Provides ND-ISAC Members Access to Expanse’s Attack Surface Management Capabilities.
Today, Expanse, the leading attack surface management platform, and the National Defense ISAC (ND-ISAC) announced a partnership to provide ND-ISAC members exclusive access to several cybersecurity and Internet facing asset management capabilities provided by Expanse. Through the partnership, Expanse is offering complimentary trial access to their Expander service, which provides attack surface management tailored to the needs of leading Defense companies, including detection of prohibited software, hardware and cloud assets.
“In this constantly changing security environment, empowering ND-ISAC members with better IT visibility and management capabilities can help protect our nation’s most important defense assets and suppliers.”
With Expanse, ND-ISAC members would receive a comprehensive, continuously updated inventory of all of their Internet-connected assets and key contextual details to operationalize findings, including associated exposures, and custom rule-sets to continuously monitor for non-compliant configurations and risky communication behaviors.
Expanse’s offerings to ND-ISAC members include:
- Expander Trial Access: ND-ISAC members are eligible to receive complimentary trial access for 30 days to Expander, which provides a complete, current, and accurate inventory of all their Internet-connected assets, including IP ranges, certificates, domains, and any exposures present on each of those assets that could be attacked or exploited.
- Remote Desk Protocol (RDP) Tippers: Expanse’s RDP Tipper Reports will provide ongoing alerts about externally accessible RDPs on the public-facing Internet, including the technical details, attribution details, and risk context to enable ND-ISAC members to investigate and remediate any potential misconfigurations.
- Defense Industry Benchmark Reports: Upon request, ND-ISAC members will enjoy full access to personalized defense industry benchmark reports, accompanied by an out brief with Expanse cyber risk analysts, that compare their organization across similar peers to understand empirical metrics including attack surface, exposures, and sprawl.
- Secure From Home Trial Access: Secure From Home gives companies the ability to continuously identify and remediate risks beyond the endpoint for workstations connecting from outside the enterprise perimeter. This is especially important as organizations deal with the rapid and unexpected shift to work from home operations.
To help launch this partnership, Expanse and ND-ISAC are hosting a deep-dive discussion of how the ND-ISAC member companies should be managing their Internet attack surface given the evolving threat environment and compliance landscape. If you are interested in learning more about ND-ISAC membership visit www.ndisac.org. If you would like to learn more about the partnership between Expanse and ND-ISAC visit ndisac.org/expanse/.
Expanse protects the world’s most important organizations by discovering risks on the Internet that no one else can find. Expanse customers comprise more than 10% of the routable Internet and rely on Expanse to discover, evaluate, and mitigate their global Internet attack surface. Using patented data collection, processing, and analysis technology, Expanse reduces risks associated with Internet assets and enables a secure digital transformation for the world’s largest organizations. Founded in 2012, Expanse is headquartered in San Francisco and is backed by more than $135M in funding. Request a demo at www.expanse.co.
About National Defense ISAC
ND-ISAC is the national defense sector’s non-profit organization formed to enhance the security and resiliency of the defense industry and its strategic partners. ND-ISAC provides defense sector stakeholders a community and forum for sharing cyber and physical security threat information, best practices and mitigation strategies. ND-ISAC also hosts the Defense Industrial Base Sector Coordinating Council (DIB SCC). For more information, visit www.ndisac.org. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
15 Sep 20. New Applications From LiquidPiston Enable Aircraft Electrification To Improve Drone and Rotorcraft Flight Duration and Fuel Efficiency. Using the company’s innovative X-Engine, LiquidPiston is working with the U.S. Army and its xTechSearch small business technology competition to develop new UAV propulsion and aircraft auxiliary power systems
LiquidPiston, Inc., developer of advanced rotary internal combustion engines for diesel and jet fuels, today announced it received a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grant from the U.S. Army for the development of its X-Engine as a hybrid-electric propulsion platform for UAVs. The company showcased its X-Engine powered propulsion platform in a successful parallel hybrid UAV demonstration using jet fuel, watch the first flight here [short version; longer version]. The company was also named one of 12 winners in the U.S. Army xTechSearch 3.0, a prize competition to award and accelerate innovative technology solutions that can help solve key Army challenges, for its X-Engine configured as a high-efficiency auxiliary power unit (APU). These new aviation applications of LiquidPiston’s X-Engine technology demonstrate the versatility of the X-Engine system and its ability to provide compact, fuel-efficient power for manned or unmanned aircraft using military-grade heavy fuels such as JP8.
“This SBIR award and xTechSearch 3.0 innovation competition showcases the Army’s interest in innovative, fuel-efficient power sources to deliver the power needed to support Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Modernization Priorities,” said Alec Shkolnik, CEO and co-founder of LiquidPiston. “When we reimagined the rotary engine with the X-Engine, we knew it could be used to improve power generation in a number of different ways, given its high power-to-weight, efficiency, and ability to run on heavy fuel including Jet-A / JP8 fuel which the Army wants to use exclusively. The versatility of LiquidPiston’s X-Engine enables the company to provide hybrid-electric power generation in various form factors, which makes it uniquely suited to serve not just FVL, but all 6 of the Army’s modernization priorities.”
The X-Engine, a rotary engine that operates on the company’s patented High-Efficiency Hybrid Cycle (HEHC), is the perfect power source for a hybrid-electric propulsion platform because of its compact size and fuel efficiency. UAVs with Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) capabilities enable the Army to launch and land UAVs on a small area and set up and stow quickly while the X-Engine hybrid-electric power system allows minimization of heavy, low energy density onboard batteries. The X-Engine, configured as a parallel electric hybrid, also provides UAVs with the unique ability to cruise in “quiet mode” using electric-only power, with the ability to restart the engine mid-flight, enabling more efficient fuel usage and stealthier missions. The ability to do this on jet fuel has not previously been demonstrated in other vehicles currently fielded.
The flexibility of the X-Engine can further be seen with the company’s development of various APU concepts for Army aircraft and land vehicles. The company entered into the xTechSearch competition with a high-efficiency aviation APU concept for rotorcraft. The proposed unit is compact, highly-efficient, and can perform the typical on-ground APU functions but also functions in-flight to offload the main engines in providing supplementary power for hydraulics, heating and cooling, and addresses the increasing power demands of the onboard electronics, weapons and other equipment. In APU applications, the X-Engine approaches the power density and packaging similar to a turbine-based APU, with the efficiency of a Diesel engine. Today’s APU’s are only 5-10% efficient, making them useful for only short periods on the ground. The LiquidPiston APU would offer substantial gains in power and efficiency and offload the main engines, allowing a helicopter substantial gains in range, or adding a passenger or other payload capability.
The X-Engine, when matured and deployed, will help to provide the increasing power requirements for direct and hybrid electric propulsion for the US Army Future Tactical UAS (FTUAS) and other DoD UAS programs as well as Auxiliary Power Units (APUs), Supplemental Power Units (SPUs) and Power & Thermal Management Systems (PTMS) for manned rotorcraft and fixed wing aircraft.
Dr. William Cohen, Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Army Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology) i.e. ASA(ALT), said “Advanced power generation and alternative fuels are critical for the Army, and we continuously seek new technologies that can materially improve our ability to execute national security missions. Reliable engine technologies that offer a wide range of sustainable applications, from UAVs to auxiliary power units for air and land vehicles, can increase endurance and lessen reliance on contested or extended supply lines. Potential benefits include increased reliability and access to power, increased redundancy within the power distribution network, reduced logistics footprint associated with fuel distribution, and extended operational reach.”
To learn more about these developments, LiquidPiston’s X-Engine, and participation in the Army xTechSeach click here. For media assets click here.
The xTechSearch, or Expeditionary Technology Search competition, was first launched in June 2018 by the United States Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASA(ALT)), which serves as the Army Acquisition Executive. The competition is a four-phase catalyst for the Army to engage with the community of innovators such as LiquidPiston.
About LiquidPiston, Inc.
LiquidPiston, Inc. develops compact, quiet, fuel-efficient, low-vibration, multi-fuel capable combustion engines that are scalable from one horsepower to over 1,000. The company’s patented High Efficiency Hybrid Cycle (HEHC), an improved thermodynamic cycle, and engine architecture enable the company to create engines optimized for fuel efficiency. LiquidPiston’s engines have only two primary moving parts – a shaft and rotor – resulting in compact size and low-vibration operation. Although they are rotary engines, LiquidPiston’s engines are not Wankel engines; they are uniquely configured to adopt the company’s patented thermodynamic cycle and its associated efficiency and low-noise benefits. To learn more, visit www.liquidpiston.com. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
15 Sep 20. The US Air Force has built and flown a mysterious full-scale prototype of its future fighter jet. The U.S. Air Force has secretly designed, built and flown at least one prototype of its enigmatic next-generation fighter jet, the service’s top acquisition official confirmed to Defense News on Sept. 14.
The development is certain to shock the defense community, which last saw the first flight of an experimental fighter during the battle for the Joint Strike Fighter contract 20 years ago. With the Air Force’s future fighter program still in its infancy, the rollout and successful first flight of a demonstrator was not expected for years.
“We’ve already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it,” Will Roper told Defense News in an exclusive interview ahead of the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference. “We are ready to go and build the next-generation aircraft in a way that has never happened before.”
Almost every detail about the aircraft itself will remain a mystery due to the classification of the Next Generation Air Dominance program, the Air Force’s effort for fielding a family of connected air warfare systems that could include fighters, drones and other networked platforms in space or the cyber realm.
Roper declined to comment on how many prototype aircraft have been flown or which defense contractors manufactured them. He wouldn’t say when or where the first flight occurred. And he refused to divulge any aspect of the aircraft’s design — its mission, whether it was uncrewed or optionally crewed, whether it could fly at hypersonic speeds or if it has stealth characteristics.
Those attributes, he said, are beside the point.
The importance, Roper said, is that just a year after the service completed an analysis of alternatives, the Air Force has proven it can use cutting-edge advanced manufacturing techniques to build and test a virtual version of its next fighter — and then move to constructing a full-scale prototype and flying it with mission systems onboard.
“This is not just something that you can apply to things that are simple systems” like Boeing’s T-7 Red Hawk trainer jet, the first Air Force aircraft to be built using the “holy trinity” of digital engineering, agile software development and open architecture, Roper said.
Get breaking news in your inbox
“We’re going after the most complicated systems that have ever been built, and checked all the boxes with this digital technology. In fact, [we’ve] not just checked the boxes, [we’ve] demonstrated something that’s truly magical.”
Now, the Next Generation Air Dominance program, or NGAD, sits at a decision point. Roper declined to say how quickly the Air Force could move its next-gen fighter into production, except to say “pretty fast.” But before the service decides to begin producing a new generation of fighters, it must determine how many aircraft it will commit to buy and when it wants to start purchasing them — all choices that could influence the fiscal 2022 budget.
The program itself has the potential to radically shake up the defense industry. Should the Air Force move to buy NGAD in the near term, it will be adding a challenger to the F-35 and F-15EX programs, potentially putting those programs at risk.
And because the advanced manufacturing techniques that are critical for building NGAD were pioneered by the commercial sector, the program could open the door for new prime contractors for the aircraft to emerge — and perhaps give SpaceX founder Elon Musk a shot at designing an F-35 competitor.
“I have to imagine there will be a lot of engineers — maybe famous ones with well-known household names with billions of dollars to invest — that will decide starting the world’s greatest aircraft company to build the world’s greatest aircraft with the Air Force is exactly the kind of inspiring thing they want to do as a hobby or even a main gig,” Roper said.
The disclosure of a flying full-scale fighter prototype could be just what the Air Force needs to garner more financial support from Congress during a critical time where the service is facing budget constraints and needs to gain momentum, said Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense budget analyst with the American Enterprise Institute.
“If you can quickly get to something and show progress through product, it just changes the whole dynamic for the Hill,” she said. “[Roper has] got so many headwinds, it seems this would be a likely avenue to show conceptual success for his ideas.”
A radical new acquisition
Flying a prototype of its future fighter was the easy part. Now the Air Force must choose whether to commit to a radical method of buying it.
Over the last 50 years, the U.S. industrial base has dwindled from 10 manufacturers capable of building an advanced fighter to only three defense companies: Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman. The time it takes the Air Force to move a new fighter from research and development to full-rate production has stretched from a matter of years to multiple decades.
The result is that every fighter program becomes existential for companies, who fight to prove that they can meet technical requirements during the development and production phase at a lower cost than their competitors. The companies are finally able to turn a profit during the later years of a program, when they become locked in as sustainment providers with the technical knowledge necessary for upgrading, repairing and extending the life of their product — often with little congressional interest or scrutiny.
“The sustainment account is a black hole that nobody understands. The [operation and maintenance] account is a black hole that no one can figure out,” Eaglen said. “The person who can change sustainment can change the acquisition game, writ large.”
For the Air Force, the turning point is when an aircraft hits 15 years old. At that age, maintenance costs compound rapidly, growing another 3-7 percent every year, Roper wrote in a Sept. 15 document titled “Take the Red Pill: The New Digital Acquisition Reality.”
But what if instead of spending significant funds on sustaining old jets, the Air Force used that money to buy new ones?
Instead of buying a large quantity of a single fighter over decades and retaining each plane for 30 years or more — as is currently the norm — the “Digital Century Series” model, proposed by Roper, posits that advanced manufacturing and software development techniques make it possible for the Air Force to rapidly develop and buy aircraft more frequently, much as the service did during the 1950s when it bought six fighters from six companies just years apart from each other during the original Century Series.
In August, Air Force’s advanced aircraft program office completed a business case analysis of the Digital Century Series model meant to validate whether the idea was technically feasible and, more importantly, whether it could save money.
Leaders found that by applying digital manufacturing and development practices — as used by the T-7 program, as well as in the development of the NGAD prototype — it could drop the total life cycle cost of a next-gen fighter by 10 percent over 30 years compared to legacy fighters like the F-35 and F-15, Roper wrote.
But for the same price as a single variant of a digitally manufactured fighter produced with a 30-year life cycle, the Air Force could buy a new fighter every eight years and replace them after 16 years — before the plane reaches the 3,500 flight-hour mark here it starts needing heavy overhauls and expensive modifications to extend its service life.
“I don’t think it’s smart thinking to build one and only one aircraft that has to be dominant for all missions in all cases all the time,” he said. “Digital engineering allows us to build different kinds of airplanes, and if we’re really smart … we ensure smart commonality across the fleet — common support equipment, common cockpit configurations, common interfaces, common architecture, even common components like a landing gear — that simplify the sustainment and maintenance in the field.”
The main difference is that the Air Force would flip from spending the majority of fighter program costs upfront instead of at the end of the aircraft’s life. To continuously design new fighter jets, the service would keep multiple vendors constantly under contract for the development of new planes, choosing a new design about every eight years. To make a business case that is profitable for industry, it would then buy batches of about 50-80 aircraft every year.
The result is a 25 percent increase in development costs and an 18 percent increase in production costs. However, the price of modernizing aircraft would drop by 79 percent while sustainment costs are basically cut in half, Roper wrote in the paper.
“I can’t make both ends of the life cycle go away; industry has to make a profit somewhere,” Roper said. “And I’m arguing in the paper that if you get to choose what color of money you use for future air superiority, make it research, development and production because it’s the sharp point of the spear, not the geriatric side that consumes so much of our resources today.”
There is also a strategic benefit to continuous fighter production and development, Roper said. It puts China on the defense, having to respond to U.S. technical advances as new capabilities — whether they’re hypersonic missiles or drone wingmen — are matured and spiraled into the fighter’s production.
“This speeds up the pace at which we can do things so that we can be the disrupter instead of the disrupted, but it does so in a way that can’t be undermined by throwing cheap labor at the problem,” he said.
The next step is for Air Force leadership to decide how much it can afford for the program in FY22 and whether it will adopt the Digital Century Series model for developing the aircraft.
“What we need to do going forward is simply understand the [Department of the Air Force’s] level of financial commitment and the date they want us to charge towards for initial operations, and we can fit the acquisition strategy for [NGAD] to it, and explain how quickly we can afford to spiral and when we need to retire the aircraft to generate enough savings to afford those spirals,” he said.
“Perhaps getting to the fastest [initial fielding date] may not be the most important thing. It may be important for us to push the [technical] boundaries more. Those are decisions that I’ve given for leadership to think about. But every decision I’ve given them is a better decision over the legacy ones.”
If the Air Force is going to get financial support for a business plan that requires taxpayers to pay a higher upfront cost for fighter aircraft, it must clearly identify desired combat capabilities, said Rebecca Grant, an aerospace analyst with IRIS Independent Research.
“Now we have the F-35, F-15EX and the Digital Century Series’ small batch costs,” she said. “If it’s that great, maybe it’s worth the upfront cost. I could argue that, for sure. Is this the new F-117, which was similar batch size at similar cost and worth every penny? We just don’t know.”
On the technical side, the Air Force needs to solidify a rigorous, standardized method of conducting test activities in a virtual environment using modeling and simulation tools that can cut down the amount of time needed for live flight tests. It also needs industry to buy in to coding via a government-owned computing environment, Roper said.
“We can’t have every industry partner creating their own mechanism,” Roper said. “We have to have just as rigorous a process for digital design and assembly as we do for physical design assembly. So we will own that in the government, we will certify that in the government.”
And — perhaps most critically — the Air Force will have to sell the concept to Congress. Roper has briefed staff members on the defense committees, and he held classified sessions with many of the lawmakers who sit on those panels to present findings of the business case study as well as the detailed progress of NGAD development and test activities.
“I had some tough audiences on this. I’ve had people that I’ve been told want to cut the program or they don’t understand why we need it,” he acknowledged. “But I have not left a single one of those briefings with anything other than [lawmakers saying]: ‘This is the future, we ought to do it now. And why aren’t we going faster?’ And the answer [to] why we aren’t going faster is simply money. We can push the accelerator down more today because the digital technology allows it.” (Source: Defense News)
14 Sep 20. Cubic’s Nuvotronics Receives DMEA Microelectronics Trusted Source Certifications. Nuvotronics’ trusted supplier status increases support for electronics within Defense, Aerospace and Commercial applications.
Cubic Corporation (NYSE: CUB) today announced Nuvotronics, which operates within its Cubic Mission and Performance Solutions (CMPS) business division received certifications from the Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA) as a Trusted Source for Post Processing and Package/Assembly services. Nuvotronics is one out of approximately 80 contractors in the U.S. to be certified. Nuvotronics is now a part of the DMEA’s Trusted Access Program Office (TAPO), which provides the Department of Defense (DoD) with trusted and assured suppliers of microelectronics parts essential to combat operations.
“This certification will support the continued evolution of our innovative and proven additive manufacturing process that offers trusted solutions for the advancement of U.S. platforms,” said Martin Amen, vice president and general manager, Cubic Nuvotronics. “Additionally, it gives our customers the added reassurance in our advanced technologies particularly within 5G and Satellite Communications.”
“The Post Processing and Package/Assembly trusted services accreditation puts Nuvotronics in a unique and exclusive position to provide the U.S. government and its supporting subcontractors with a consistent, reliable and secure supply chain, free from counterfeit or manipulated electronic parts,” said Mike Knowles, president of Cubic Mission and Performance Systems. “We are honored to be included among the DMEA-accredited suppliers for the DoD.”
The certification aligns with Nuvotronics initiative to provide and support leading technologies for the U.S. government’s focus on Microelectronics, 5G, Space and Electronic Warfare. The certification includes secure access to rare microelectronics design and fabrication skills for systems capable of ensuring technological superiority over potential adversaries.
Nuvotronics has assured access to state-of-the-art foundries through modern trust and assurance methods and demonstration. This also allows for secure government contracting collaboration across the industry utilizing TAPO. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
14 Sep 20. Praeses Presents Its Rook Platform at Second Onramp of Joint Force’s Advanced Battle Management System Field Test.
Praeses, a national leader in software and mobile application development services, participated in the second onramp of the Joint Force’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) field test at Andrews Air Force Base, MD, held August 31 through September 3. The invitation-only event was conducted by the Department of the Air Force, in partnership with U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Space Command.
ABMS, the top modernization priority for the Department of the Air Force, with a budget of $3.3bn, will become the military’s command and control backbone in partnership with all the services across the Department of Defense. The broader effort, known as Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), will allow U.S. forces from all services—as well as allies—to receive, fuse, and act upon a vast array of data and information in all domains at the speed of relevance.
In the onramp, operators used ABMS to detect and defeat efforts to disrupt U.S. operations in space, in addition to countering attacks against the U.S. homeland, including shooting down a cruise missile “surrogate” with a hypervelocity weapon. The ABMS allows a joint force to use cutting-edge methods and technologies to rapidly collect, analyze, and share information and make decisions in real time.
Praeses presented its data fusion technology solution, the Rook Platform—a series of distinct, highly adaptable capabilities for data ingestion, data management, data access, data dissemination, and data fusion that includes end-user tools that leverage this fused data. The Rook Platform unifies data from many systems across many networks regardless of data standards and requires no modification to existing systems.
“We were pleased to demonstrate our Rook Platform at the onramp. It performed exactly as engineered,” said Chris Nolen, Director of the Government Programs Division at Praeses. “Throughout the exercise, we were able to seamlessly integrate with multiple vendor architectures, which included ingesting data from capabilities we had never encountered until we arrived for the exercise. Data from across the mission space was fused together to provide operators with a comprehensive view of what was happening and allowed our forces to take rapid action. The Rook Platform definitely proved its worthiness.”
This most recent onramp (the first was held in December) included 70 industry teams, 65 government teams from every service including the Coast Guard, 35 military platforms, 30 geographic locations, and four national test ranges—all contributing to what officials say could be the largest joint experiment in recent history.
“Future battlefields will be characterized by information saturation and one of the key objectives of this onramp was to present a dizzying array of information for participants to synthesize, just like they would see in a real operation,” said Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics. “This compelled commanders and operators to trust data analytics and artificial intelligence to understand the battle. Valuing data as an essential warfighting resource, one no less vital than jet fuel or satellites, is the key to next-gen warfare.”
“Praeses was honored to be a key participant at this event and to present our Rook Platform within such a challenging environment,” said Adam Rosen, CEO of Praeses. “Being a part of this important demonstration and contributing to innovation in action were remarkable. As a company, Praeses is committed to engineering excellence as well as to the continued development of ABMS.”
Praeses is a leader in innovative software development and services, offering proven, consistent business success through a unique combination of people, process, and results. Our client base of local, national, and international organizations comprises small businesses, Fortune 100 companies, and federal, state, and local governments.
Our Government Programs Division serves the Department of Defense, the intelligence community, and federal civilian agencies. We deliver essential information to the warfighter and to decision-makers in our nation’s toughest missions. Whether it’s full-spectrum integrated C2 solutions or AI-driven analysis automation, we take a visionary approach to solving complex problems and moving our nation forward through technology innovation. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
11 Sep 20. US Army launching new PNT Modernization Office and Open Innovation Lab. The U.S. Army is opening a new office and laboratory to develop agile position, navigation and timing solutions in an attempt to reduce soldiers’ dependence on GPS.
“We are standing up a new product office called PNT Modernization. So this will be the newest PM shop in the Army,” said Col. Nickolas Kioutas, program manager for position, navigation and timing within the Army’s Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors.
The Army is keen to develop and deploy solutions that can keep soldiers operating in areas where the GPS signal has been denied, degraded or spoofed. The PNT Modernization Office — which will open Oct. 8 — will lead the Army’s efforts to develop solutions using an open-systems architecture.
As it stands up, the PNT Modernization Office will launch a new Open Innovation Lab, a space where commercial entities can work with the Army to develop PNT solutions. Within OIL, the Army has set aside space for the CMOSS [C4ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards] Lab and the Network Cross-Functional Team’s Orion Forge. Located at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, the lab will be physically separated from the more classified areas of the site to encourage more engagement with industry, said Kioutas.
“We’re opening the doors, so to speak, for being a host of vendors — anyone smart on the technologies that we’re looking at,” he said. “And we’re looking at a whole host of technologies.”
Those technologies include radio frequency systems, GPS, Alt-Nav, chip-scale atomic clocks, other timing technologies and celestial navigation, among others. The point is to break the Army’s dependency on GPS. Most importantly, these technologies need to be fielded fast, so rather than spending a decade developing technologies that are meant to last 20 years, the Army wants to release new solutions every five years, ensuring soldiers can always overmatch adversaries’ capabilities.
“We’re looking at a continual rolling upgrade of our technologies,” Kioutas said.
“It’s all about getting our agile-iterations-speed-of-technology development up,” he explained. “We’ve got threats out there that we are trying to pace — to keep ahead of these threats or outpace them — so we need industry’s help to keep inventing new technologies in order to maintain that speed of relevance.”
Of course, implementing that vision isn’t easy. Take for example the Army’s Mounted Assured Position Navigation and Timing System. While a version of that technology could help war fighters continue operating in GPS-denied environments, installing it on existing platforms has proven difficult.
“It can take two or three years to even take what we’ve got and implement it onto different weapon systems platforms such as Bradley [Fighting Vehicles] or Abrams tanks,” Kioutas said.
That’s too slow for the service. Instead of having to custom install each capability upgrade, the Army wants a plug-and-play system that allows it to quickly and easily install the latest capabilities. The key technology at the center of that effort is the C4ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards, or CMOSS.
With CMOSS, the Army is building a common bus or chassis that can be installed on Army systems. In turn, this box hosts a variety of cards that are plugged in to provide different capabilities. Now, instead of replacing the whole box every time the Army wants to upgrade a capability, all it needs to do is swap out the relevant cards.
The Army recently tested the CMOSS capability at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The CMOSS chassis was installed on a Stryker vehicle with a PNT card and an integrated anti-jam antenna. While the Army is still assessing that test, Kioutas said so far it appears to have performed as expected.
Industry partners will work within the Army’s recently released PNT reference architecture and other open standards to develop solutions that are compatible with CMOSS cards and this plug-and-play approach, said Kioutas.
“We’re going to enter an environment where it’s not a one-vender-take-all environment. We’re gonna open it up to all kinds of industry to allow us to really take the best-of-breed technologies and optimize solutions on whatever cards we develop,” he said. “We’ll leverage whatever industry brings.
“The Army never wants to fail another program. Failure in the past happened because it took 10, 15 years to get the capability out. By the time it got out, it was failed technology and the soldiers maybe didn’t like it.”
The PNT Modernization Office will launch a new website Oct. 29, with an industry day slated for Nov. 17. (Source: glstrade.com/C4ISR & Networks)
14 Sep 20. ViaLite Launches New Mil-Aero RF over Fiber Link. The RF over fiber experts at ViaLite Communications have launched a Mil-Aero 10 MHz to 6 GHz RF over Fiber Link Pair. The new products’ design and features have been specifically tailored for demanding air force and navy applications, army telemetry systems, signals intelligence (SIGINT) deployments, tethered aerostat and drone applications, plus multi-service military electronic warfare systems; where fiber is an essential replacement to coax.
As one of ViaLite’s most versatile RF over fiber links it covers bands from HF, VHF and UHF through to telemetry and satcom bands P, L, S and C. It also offers the best Spurious Free Dynamic Range (SFDR) performance in its class, making it ideal for high bandwidth applications or where the application has a large range of RF signal powers. The link is further enhanced by a low noise figure (NF), optional gain and 1 dB compression points (CP).
Supporting distances of up to 50km, the Mil-Aero link is available in rack chassis card or OEM module format, including ViaLite‘s new black OEM design which is outdoor rated. All formats come with a 5-year warranty as standard – the industry’s longest included warranty – providing protection and reassurance for customers.
Craig Somach, ViaLite Director of Sales, said: “I am very pleased to be supporting our Mil-Aero customers with this new and exciting solution that exceeds current solutions in almost every key category related to SFDR, NF and 1 dB CP.
“The feedback from our users has been very positive and consistently shows the new ViaLite Mil-Aero Link Pair to be setting a new design standard of higher electrical performance and mechanical integrity, along with superior quality and reliability.”
11 Sep 20. Peraton and AFRL announce LBSA testing phase of X-ARBITOR. The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Peraton have announced Lab Based Security Assessment (LBSA) testing phase of the X-domain Agile Rules-Based Information Transfer OrchestratoR (X-ARBITOR). The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Peraton have announced Lab Based Security Assessment (LBSA) testing phase of the X-domain Agile Rules-Based Information Transfer OrchestratoR (X-ARBITOR). X-ARBITOR is a government off-the-shelf cross-domain solution (CDS) set for release in spring next year. The secure and scalable framework supports the rapid deployment of emerging solutions. Entering the LBSA testing phase marks an important milestone in boosting the CDS.
In December 2018, Peraton and AFRL expanded their collaboration on the cross-domain cyber technology programme called Xdomain Technology Through Research, Evolution, Enhancement, Maintenance and Support (XTREEMS).
Under a follow-on $66m contract, Peraton will continue to provide full lifecycle support of CDS to allow government agencies to collaborate and share information securely.
Last year, the partners advanced cross-domain cyber technology solutions with X-ARBITOR under the XTREEMS contract for an enhanced framework for secure collaboration.
X-ARBITOR is a successor to the legacy Information Support Server Environment (ISSE) CDS suite.
It complies with the next-generation guidelines for data sharing throughout several network security domains.
Peraton and AFRL improved their ISSE CDS suite to deliver X-ARBITOR’s ground-up architectural refresh comprising National Cross Domain Strategy and Management Office (NCDSMO) Raise-the-Bar (RTB) needs and implementation needs.
The LBSA test is expected to be completed in January next year.
The company has been providing technical expertise to the AFRL for the past 30 years.
Last month, Battelle won a $16.6m task order from the US AFRL for microelectronic security. A team from the US AFRL also started work on a new research effort called the Individualized Neural Learning System (iNeuraLS). (Source: airforce-technology.com)
11 Sep 20. Defense small-vehicle navigation system designed for export. A new military vehicle navigation system designed and developed by South Africa-based Etion Create is ready for the local and export markets.
Designed for harsh environments and battlefield conditions, the CheetahNAV provides outstanding situational awareness, according to Etion Create. The crew of a light military vehicle can count on highly accurate position information, irrespective of whether they are denied satellite navigation. This is achieved through an advanced inertial measurement system (IMS), comprising several aids, including a gyro-compensated compass and an advanced Kalman filter-based algorithm.
A brochure on CheetahNAV is available here.
“We are confident that the system provides dead-reckoning horizontal position accuracy of 0.2% of distance travelled in a GNSS denied situation,” said Jan Hurter, senior product manager. “This translates, by way of example, to accuracy of just 200 metres over a distance of 100 kilometers.”
The CheetahNAV can integrate with any number of different inertial navigation systems (INS) and can be aligned with any of the satellite navigation constellations. Combined with GNSS and compass information, the system enables dead-reckoning and accurate positioning of the vehicle in tactical situations. The tactical grade integral inertial measurement unit (IMU) ensures jamming-free operation.
Some of the guidance cues the system provides to the crew during tactical maneuvers include the vehicle’s current position, true heading and desired heading towards the next waypoint, current speed and desired speed to reach the next waypoint or destination on time, and the next waypoint or destination. It also shows the pitch and roll attitude of the vehicle and the track it has travelled.
This data is displayed on a sunlight-readable touch-screen enabled moving map display unit measuring 11.6-inch diagonal, in 16:9 TFT format, with a 1920×1080 resolution. Etion Create is also offering a slave unit for the vehicle driver, as the main display might be positioned elsewhere in a space constrained vehicle. This slave unit, measuring 3.5-inch diagonal TFT, displays information that is specifically required by the driver.
Significant benefits of the CheetahNAV system include ruggedness for extreme battlefield conditions and 28V or 12V DC operation in line with military standards. Moreover, it boasts a high operational reliability.
“It is important to note that Etion Create, as original design manufacturer, is focusing the CheetahNAV on the export market, including the possibility of technology transfer for indigenous manufacturing,” said Hurter. “Besides we offer a multi-language option, which is certainly a key advantage in multinational operations that are almost the norm nowadays.”
The CheetahNAV is non-ITAR controlled, which is the preference of most land forces around the world today to meet their battlefield management requirements.
Having utilized the building blocks of previously developed military off-the-shelf technologies, Etion Create considers the system to be at a high TRL (technology readiness level), and thus available for the export market.
Previously called Parsec, Etion Create is a South African original design manufacturer (ODM) with a long-standing international reach and a professional portfolio of technology offerings and experience across a wide range of business sectors, including defence and aerospace, information security, and mining and industrial sectors. (Source: Google/https://www.gpsworld.com/)
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.