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13 Sep 23. Babcock strengthens its data capabilities in defence with Palantir partnership. Babcock is strengthening its digital defence capabilities through an Enterprise Agreement (EA) with Palantir Technologies UK, announced at DSEI today.
The partnership will provide Babcock with a data platform aimed at transforming, capturing, integrating, modelling and building data-driven solutions. Unlocking the power of data in this way will enable us to make better informed data-driven decisions, maximise platform availability on our customer assets, and understand where we can drive even more value through data.
The partnership will support all areas of Babcock’s defence business across submarines, warships, army equipment and training right through to supply chains.
Welcoming the announcement at DSEI, Babcock CEO for Land, Tom Newman, said: “As the defence landscape becomes increasingly digital in nature, our data challenges are also growing in complexity and volume.
“Given the complex defence supply chains we operate in, having a true data picture of that ecosystem is vital in allowing us to make better strategic decisions and aligns us to our customer’s digital defence backbone.”
Guy Williams, Head of UK Defence & National Security from Palantir Technologies UK Ltd., said: “We’re excited to partner with Babcock as they realise their digital defence ambitions. Together, we are driving toward a new era for the UK’s Defence enterprise – one that is pioneering, modern and AI-enabled.
“Our partnership with Babcock will help ensure the MOD maximise operational output at pace, whilst empowering Babcock’s talented workforce to become truly digitally enabled.“
The agreement with Palantir will consolidate data streams into one place, whether that’s on supply chains or asset management, with toolsets and analytics. Unlocking the real value of that data will build on our data intelligence and engineering expertise to deliver better data-driven solutions, faster and more cost-effectively – anywhere in the world.
This new platform approach will also allow us to co-ordinate more closely with the customer and improve how we better understand and utilise data, enabling us to be a key part of our customers’ critical defence missions.
For example in DSG, we’re combining this smart data approach with our deep engineering expertise to improve fleet availability and real time identification of any issues throughout the asset lifecycle.
Using the right technology and harnessing it for greatest impact means we can provide optimal performance, mitigate risks for the British Army realising value for defence across equipment support.
Areas the partnership will focus on include:
- Equipment support and maintenance: Data insights on how to increase platform availability and readiness, as well as spares provision and requisition.
- Training contracts: Insights into training performance, training needs to support strategic decisions and customer requirements.
- Shipbuilding: Cost-savings and efficiencies by bringing together disparate data streams that teams are working on at any point in an asset lifecycle.
Pictured: Tom Newman,Babcock CEO for Land with Guy Williams, Head of UK Defence & National Security from Palantir Technologies UK Ltd.
14 Sep 23. Honeywell (NASDAQ: HON) and Civitanavi Systems (EURONEXT MILAN: CNS) have launched a new inertial measurement unit for commercial and defense customers worldwide. The HG2800 family consists of low-noise, high-bandwidth, high-performance, tactical-grade inertial measurement units designed for pointing, stabilization and short-duration navigation on commercial and military aircraft, among other applications.
The inertial measurement units (IMUs) have been developed to meet the needs of a broad range of guidance and control applications. The new IMUs help customers looking for high bandwidth, low data latency and low noise. They also help with silent operation for acoustic-sensitive systems. The technology addresses the needs typically associated with surveillance, targeting and imaging. Applications include, but are not limited to, unmanned aerial vehicle surveys, radar antenna stabilization, underwater autonomous vessels, and sensitive camera systems that require both visible and infrared sensors.
“The HG2800 IMUs provide an advanced solution available today for a wide range of applications around the globe,” said Matthew Picchetti, vice president and general manager, Navigation & Sensors, Honeywell Aerospace. “The HG2801 originates entirely within the EU, while the HG2802 is a non-ITAR classified IMU. Both provide higher accelerometer performance and capabilities for industrial, commercial and military customers.”
“One year after its announcement, this collaboration has brought to market the new HG2800 inertial navigation systems, low-cost, low-power solutions for precision pointing and stabilizing devices, confirming our exceptional agility and leading high-performance FOG technology with Honeywell’s market leadership,” said Andrea Pizzarulli, chief executive officer, Civitanavi Systems.
At just 32 cubic inches, the new HG2800 can sense linear acceleration and angular rates to stabilize camera images, reduce blurriness and enhance resolution, providing customers with enhanced visibility and accuracy. The inertial measurement units utilize Honeywell and Civitanavi Systems’ technologies to help enhance point-targeting capabilities and stabilization accuracy, and to improve measurement precision and dependable operation when GPS is unavailable. The HG2800 also has a flexible power supply to simplify system integration, while consuming less power than previous offerings.
The HG2800 is also integral in Honeywell’s Celestial Aided Alternative Navigation product, which tracks stars and resident space objects to provide a passive unjammable solution with GPS-like accuracy in GPS-denied or -spoofed conditions.
“Our celestial navigation system relies on highly accurate pointing, which is enabled by the HG2800’s low noise,” said Ben Mohr, offering director, Alternative Navigation Products, Honeywell Aerospace. “The HG2800 IMUs provide the higher performance capabilities we need in a smaller package, allowing us to achieve better than 25-meter accuracy in our celestial navigation system.”
The HG2800 IMUs include Honeywell’s MV60 next-generation micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) accelerometers and Civitanavi Systems’ closed-loop fiber-optic gyro sensors (FOGs) and are available worldwide. For more information visit aerospace.honeywell.com.
11 Sep 23. Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT), in conjunction with the University of Iowa’s Operator Performance Laboratory (OPL), completed an artificial intelligence (AI) demonstration using two piloted L-29 aircraft (acting as surrogates for uncrewed systems) performing jamming support in a simulated air-to-ground mission. The successful execution of the electronic attack task by AI agents shows how autonomous uncrewed aerial systems can operate in coordination with crewed tactical platforms in future combat operations, creating a powerful, unified team to address complex threats.
This project, named Enhanced Collaborative High-Frequency Orientation System (ECHOS), was sponsored by Lockheed Martin’s 21st Century Security Demonstrations & Prototypes (D&P) organization. “ECHOS is a terrific example of using artificial intelligence and UAS to further enable the DOD vision of Joint All Domain Operations (JADO), providing new capabilities to identify targets and deliver effects,” said Joe Villani, Lockheed Martin D&P vice president.
The L-29s were flown by experienced OPL pilots, following instructions from the AI agents in the form of heading, altitude, and speed cues. Demonstrating how AI can provide data for rapid decision making and increased mission effectiveness by reducing pilot workload. The pilots maintained the option to stop following AI cues if at any point they felt unsafe, or the agent tried to go outside acceptable operating conditions.
“This was an awesome experience, and the event went smoothly. It was an exceptional example of industry and academia working together on a cutting-edge project. We’re excited to take this to the next level,” said Tom “Mach” Schnell, OPL founder and director.
The AI agents were trained using advanced deep multi-agent reinforcement learning techniques, incentivizing emergent collaborative tactics. There is minimal reward shaping on these agents, emphasizing mission completion. Agents were able to learn these tactics with sparse rewards, ensuring the best possible tactics for the mission were executed.
This demonstration focused on sim-to-real transfer to train an AI agent in a simulated environment, fly it on real aircraft and test the behavior. The tests successfully demonstrated AI agents can be trusted to deliver high performance and reliable behaviors. Throughout day one of testing, the agents aligned between the fighter and target within a very tight tolerance, never allowing the radar to get a track on the fighter. The team successfully completed all test cards ahead of schedule in three days of testing.
By the end of 2023, the Skunk Works and OPL team will test AI in an end-to-end Suppression and Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD/DEAD) mission. Lessons learned will inform follow-on AI/autonomy development in support of future programs such as the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA), as well as ongoing crewed-uncrewed teaming development. This work furthers Lockheed Martin’s 21st Century Security vision to deliver integrated, mission-focused capabilities with speed and efficiency to keep our forces and allies ahead of ready. (Source: PR Newswire)
13 Sep 23. Adarga AI Delivers Decisive Military Advantage With Launch of Next-Gen Information Intelligence Software. Adarga, the British AI leader in information intelligence, today announced the launch of Adarga Vantage: its high-speed, high-precision information analysis tool. Underpinned by Adarga’s data science heritage in defence and national security, it’s built to supercharge the analysis of in-house and open-source information – delivering decision advantage in the face of growing geostrategic challenges.
Adarga Vantage is available to buy today and has already been rolled out to Adarga’s existing military, government and commercial customers. Powered by leading, proprietary and fine-tuned AI models designed for defence application, and built with transparency at its core, Vantage takes a sophisticated approach to human machine teaming.
Analysts and planners can now collect, assess and interpret the overwhelming volumes of information at their disposal over 20 x faster and deliver dynamic insight and improved foresight to decision-makers at all levels. This is a vital capability if organisations are to mitigate risk and remain competitive in an environment that is more complex, more volatile and more unpredictable than ever before.
Vantage enables users to interact with and interrogate information in powerful new ways, using a single search to explore summarised, interlinked and contrasting themes in minutes. Themes that have been identified across ms of organisational and open-source articles in 75+ languages. Analysts can compare different narratives and instantly discover key actors, organisations, places, events, and the complex relationships between them that have been identified and evidenced by Vantage.
Vantage’s market-leading question and answer (Q&A) tool deploys Adarga’s proprietary generative AI model built for the high-stakes information environments in which its customers operate. Whether to unravel deep themes or quickly understand a situation, Q&A gives any user the power to answer complex queries in seconds and be presented with credible, evidenced responses in natural language. Trained on defence, national security and geopolitical risk data, Vantage is built to answer questions using only the open-source and organisational information that’s been curated by the customer.
While Adarga’s software has been designed initially for defence, the need to understand and interpret the increasingly complex global situation is applicable to a broad range of users. This is why Adarga Vantage is already deployed to several multi-national corporate organisations, supporting their understanding of rapidly evolving situations and helping safeguard against significant financial and non-financial risks.
CEO of Adarga, Rob Bassett Cross said: “Geostrategic pressures across the world have never been greater than in the past half century. Understanding the causes and effects to global security and geopolitics is complex, and understanding where this will lead is uppermost on all organisations agendas.
As the speed, scale and complexity of the threats we face increase, so must the capabilities of the technologies we employ to analyse, interpret and combat them. At Adarga we are committed to supporting the UK and our Allies in the constant race for information advantage, and as such, will continue to develop our technology to not just match, but exceed, the pace of our adversaries.” (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
15 Sep 23. AERALIS secures strategic collaboration with Babcock to pioneer flexible aircraft delivery. Bristol based light jet company AERALIS®, has announced a memorandum of understanding with Babcock France to explore the operation of flexible aircraft ‘as a service’ enabled by the design of AERALIS’s unique modular aircraft system. The agreement seeks to outline the value of a transformational delivery operating model for making different AERALIS aircraft configurations available to air forces as a service, including how this could support future flexible and affordable combat air support and training constructs ready for 5th and 6th generation Combat Air. AERALIS and Babcock will look to develop flexible solutions compatible with a number of current and future operational requirements, including using Babcock’s existing pedigree in both the UK and France to offer a clear response in support of March’s UK France Joint Leaders’ Declaration concerning Anglo-French interoperability of future air systems.
Babcock France is currently under contract with the French MOD to deliver both Advanced and Lead-in training assets, including aircraft and simulation. In this field, Babcock partners with Dassault Aviation in France to provide a complete system to the French Air Force delivering world-class training to upcoming jet pilots and weapons systems officers. Babcock is also a lead partner in Ascent flight training, delivering flying training to pilots and air crew to the three services of the UK armed forces.
The list of AERALIS partners has continued to grow and this comes after an agreement was signed with France-based RED Air provider STDS in April this year complementing AERALIS’s existing agreements with both AirTanker and Ascent flight training, further strengthening AERALIS’ market position in Europe.
Babcock Chief Executive Aviation and France Chief Executive Officer, Pierre Basquin said:
“Innovation is key for Babcock, due to the nature of the critical and challenging operations we are delivering to our customers. Working with Aeralis, an agile partner with a strong vision for “out of the box” solutions, will help us to find the best platform for the future military flight training opportunities we have in Aviation”.
AERALIS’s founder & CEO Tristan Crawford commented:
“AERALIS is delighted to have signed this Memorandum of Understanding with Babcock to explore a highly innovative aircraft service offering in the light fast jet aviation sector. Babcock is set to become an important partner as part of developing AERALIS’s exciting service offering across multiple opportunities in the defence aviation market.”
14 Sep 23. Hadean to power synthetic environment for AI-enabled laser systems LVC training. British spatial computing company, Hadean, is set to participate in the inaugural industry-led event October Sky in Sydney, Australia, and pair with AI driven laser company, AIM Defence, to power a synthetic environment for AIM’s Fractl C-UAS to be integrated with Hadean’s Live, Virtual & Constructive (LVC) training environments.
The Australian Department of Defence is actively pursuing innovation, and both the defence industry and stakeholders acknowledge the increasing challenges associated with protecting sovereign spaces, primarily due to the proliferation of drones and the integration of smaller-scale technologies into the military arsenal. Additionally, the complexities posed by real-world civilian behaviours and environments also come to challenge the effectiveness of defensive strategies.
Orchestrated by innovation execution (IX) company, Chaos1, the demonstration aims to bring together a number of AUKUS industry, academia and government partners to tackle critical technology adoption challenges currently faced by the Australian Defence Force and boost the Australian DoD’s capacity for outcome-driven innovation. This includes, Second Front Systems, a U.S.-based public-benefit software company which accelerates the delivery of mission-critical software solutions and driving advancements in the realm of federal security and technology.
From the end of September, and for the duration of the two-week event, Hadean will work with Chaos1, AIM Defence, and Second Front to demonstrate integration of the Fractl laser C-UAS system in the real world into a common operating picture inside a virtual environment. The exercise will bridge physical and virtual worlds by bringing a real asset, located in Melbourne, and integrating it into a digital realm deployed in Sydney – over 900 kilometres away.
Focused on providing a solution to one of five strategically aligned technology objectives curated by Chaos1, Sensor Defeat: Counter-crewed and uncrewed systems technologies, the experiment will showcase how integrated teams can rapidly translate emerging, digitally-enabled technology into mission-viable capability for the end-user.
Hadean Co-Founder & CEO, Craig Beddis, said: “Enabling repeatable training for both humans and AI to operate novel high-energy CUAS capabilities in a safe and secure environment, with minimal risk, is critical given the increasingly important role of uncrewed aircraft in the modern battlefield. It’s a huge privilege for Hadean to participate in the October Sky experimentation initiative and closely support our partners Chaos1 and AIM Defence, as a technology enabler, in their mission to drive innovation in the Australian defence industry and overcome the strategic challenges of the Australian DoD.”
AIM Defence Co Founder, Jessica Glenn, said; “Iteration pace is the key factor in AIM’s success. Testing our systems in virtualised environments enables us to move significantly faster while also ensuring that the system is regularly encountering a wide range of operating scenarios. Integrating Fractl with Hadean’s platform allows us to decentralise our testing capability and run simulated engagements anywhere in the world”
Chaos1 Founder & Managing Director, Benny Johanson, said: “The partnership with Hadean, AIM Defence and Second Front is a clear example of how we’re looking to rapidly bridge the gap between emerging technology and mission-viable capability for the end-user. Through a trust-based partnership, we are excited to work alongside Hadean, AIM Defence and Second Front to solve some of Defence’s tough capability problems at the speed of relevance.
Building on a long history of innovating within Defence, October Sky aims to provide an opportunity for industry to better understand the end-user’s problems and address emerging technology challenges at pace.
Hadean is a UK-based spatial computing company modernising the military training and simulation ecosystem. Our technology provides the spatial compute infrastructure that enables allies, domains, systems, and technologies to deliver next-generation multi-domain training, decision support, test and evaluation, and wargaming. Our customers and partners include BAE Systems, CAE, the UK Ministry of Defence, the British Army, Microsoft, and Cervus. For more information please visit: https://defence.hadean.com/
14 Sep 23. BAE Systems’ FalconWorks division and leading sustainable aircraft technology developer, Hybrid Air Vehicles, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore new ways of communicating and gathering intelligence.
Earlier this week at DSEI, the team at FalconWorks also announced a new framework agreement with QinetiQ, which will see both parties collaborate on autonomous Uncrewed Air Systems (UAS) and mission management systems.
UAVTEK Limited, a UK specialist in the manufacture of small UAS, also teamed up with FalconWorks this week, signing a Memorandum of Collaboration to explore leveraging its complementary UAS technologies.
This follows FalconWorks’ celebration in recent weeks of the first stratospheric flight of PHASA-35, BAE Systems’ High Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS) UAS. This milestone has advanced the Company’s understanding of the science and climatological conditions required to make operations in the stratosphere possible and repeatable.
Launched in July, FalconWorks is a new unit within BAE Systems’ Air Sector focusing on advanced and agile research and development into cutting-edge combat air capabilities. It was formed in response to the increasing pace of technological change and evolving threat environment facing military customers around the world.
The business supports major programmes such as Typhoon and Tempest and also collaborates with SMEs and academia to deliver rapid concepting of new products and services, which air force customers need to maintain their edge.
Dave Holmes, Managing Director of FalconWorks, BAE Systems’ Air Sector, said: “Defending our freedom is becoming ever more unpredictable – the only constant is change. The creation of FalconWorks is a reflection of the changing environment and our goal to ensure innovative technology development is at the core of everything we do.
“This new division builds on our established expertise in world-leading combat air programmes such as Typhoon, F-35 and Tempest to unlock opportunities to expand our portfolio and deliver the breakthrough technologies which keep our customers ahead.”
The arrangement with QinetiQ will explore the potential to collaborate and develop a family of UAS, managed by a FalconWorks developed common goal-based autonomous mission management system, which will be interoperable with existing and future crewed and uncrewed systems, enabling militaries to generate operational effects and providing a concentration of combat air power.
The MoU with Hybrid Air Vehicles will see FalconWorks explore the potential defence and security applications of its ultra-low emissions aircraft, Airlander, which has the ability to operate from any reasonably flat surface and the potential to stay airborne for up to five days while fitted with up to ten tonnes of computing, communications, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
BAE Systems’ agreement with UAVTEK will focus on exploring how to maximise the parties’ capabilities in the micro UAS market, initially around the nano Bug UAS, and the potential defence and security applications of the technology.
BAE Systems is at the heart of the UK’s sovereign combat air capability, delivering combat air readiness to air force customers around the world. FalconWorks will be a vital part of BAE Systems, exploring market opportunities in the UK and international air sector.
13 Sep 23. DOD Exercises Option on Second Micro Nuclear Reactor Design. As part of the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) initiative Project Pele, the Department of Defense (DOD) has awarded a contract option to X-energy, LLC of Rockville, Maryland in order to develop an enhanced engineering design for a transportable micro nuclear reactor.
In 2022, SCO selected BWX Technologies, Inc. of Lynchburg, Virginia to build a prototype micro reactor. This work is underway and long lead hardware fabrication has begun. By executing this contract option with X-energy, SCO seeks to develop a complementary micro reactor design that builds upon X-energy’s developments completed under Project Pele in 2022. This option continues funding for X-energy to develop its design to meet the technical requirements of Project Pele, targeting a reactor design which is ready for licensing by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for both commercial ventures and military resiliency.
“Due to their extraordinary energy density, nuclear reactors have the potential to serve multiple critical functions for meeting resiliency needs in contested logistical environments,” said Dr. Jeff Waksman, Project Pele program manager. “By developing two unique designs, we will provide the Services with a broad range of options as they consider potential uses of nuclear power for both Installation and Operational energy applications in the near future.”
The DOD uses approximately 30 Terawatt-hours of electricity per year and more than 10 m gallons of fuel per day—levels that are only expected to increase due to anticipated electrification of the vehicle fleet and maturation of future energy-intensive capabilities. A safe, small, transportable nuclear reactor would address this growing demand with a resilient, carbon-free energy source that does not add to the DOD’s fuel needs, while supporting mission-critical operations in remote and austere environments.
This contract option for one year of work by X-energy will not result in a completed engineering design, but will allow a thorough analysis of design options, leading to a Preliminary Engineering Design and initiation of a regulatory preapplication process.
“The Strategic Capabilities Office specializes in adapting commercial technology for military purposes,” said Jay Dryer, SCO director. “By nurturing and developing multiple micro reactor designs, SCO will not just provide options for the military Services, but will also help jumpstart a truly competitive commercial marketplace for micro reactors.” (Source: US DoD)
12 Sep 23. Curtiss-Wright is Plugged-in to the Electrification Revolution for Aerospace & Defense Platforms with Stabilization, Actuation and Sensor Solutions. Curtiss-Wright Corporation (NYSE:CW) today announced that it is ideally aligned to help drive the transition to electrical power currently underway across the Aerospace & Defense industry with new solutions and technologies from its Defense Solutions, Actuation, and Sensors divisions. Growing demand for solutions that deliver reduced size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) and enable zero emission initiatives, combined with the emergence of new applications – such as autonomous vehicles, swarming and loyal wingman drone fleets, and underwater unmanned vehicles (UUV) – is helping to accelerate the move away from fossil fuels and legacy hydro-mechanical system designs.
Curtiss-Wright is participating in the move to electrification across a broad range of air, land, and sea platforms and currently supplies a number of core technologies and services that span both the Aerospace and Industrial markets and are also transferable to Defense applications.
Drive Technology and Motion Control
Reflecting the turret drive stabilization market’s steady move toward electromechanical operation in recent years, at DSEI 2023 Curtiss-Wright will showcase its next-generation High-Voltage Turret Drive Stabilization System (HV TDSS). The HV TDDS converts 28V battery power up to 750V peak power for precision maneuvering of high-inertia loads on such platforms as large caliber turrets and main battle tank turret drive and stabilization systems. The innovative system provides short-burst high power without adding SWaP-C or the risk of damage to sensitive electronics. It’s ideal for applications such as high-speed motion control systems, mobile air defense, high-speed launchers for active protection systems, and mobile radar stations, cranes, trucks, and excavators. The HV TDDS is also well suited for use in naval weapon system applications on a wide variety of platforms, including warships.
The Benefits of Electro-Mechanical Actuation (EMA) Technology
Electro-mechanical actuation (EMA) technology delivers proven and compelling benefits and advantages, such as superior reliability and improved energy efficiency, over traditional hydraulic approaches for a wide range of aviation applications. Compared to hydraulic actuation, EMA delivers significant improvements for SWaP, with lighter and smaller alternatives that result in significant weight savings at the system level. In October 2017, Curtiss-Wright was first-to-market with a distributed rotary electromechanical spoiler and flap actuation system developed for Part 23 aircraft.
Curtiss-Wright is committed to being an industry leader in bringing the revolutionary advantages of electric actuation to flight, from fixed wing to rotorcraft, from general business jets to military platforms. Curtiss-Wright’s Actuation Division is a leading supplier of EMA systems for a wide range of defense aviation applications, including flight controls, engine controls, and landing gear. Of note, the division supports Eviation’s all-electric aircraft, the Alice, with a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) lightweight, plug-and-play primary flight control actuation EMA solution that reduces cost, schedule risk, and program risk. In addition, Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions Division provides Eviation with its IADS flight test software for real-time and post-flight data visualization, analysis, and reporting.
In February 2023, Curtiss-Wright announced that it had been selected by Dynetics, a Leidos company, to provide EMA actuation technology to support the new Enduring Shield platform to meet the U.S. Army’s cruise missile defense needs. Under the contract, Curtiss-Wright is providing EMA elevation and stabilization actuators for the mobile ground-based weapon system, which is designed to acquire, track, engage and defeat cruise missiles, rockets and unmanned aircraft system threats.
The Electric Path to Decarbonization of Military Flight
As requirements for electric solutions for military aviation are rapidly growing, Curtiss-Wright’s Actuation Division develops technology that contributes to the survivability of defense aircraft while improving their reliability. We are also seeing expanding use of uncrewed aircraft in the defense sector, a type of platform for which electric systems are highly relevant. In support of commercial aircraft and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) markets, the division’s highly integrated electromechanical actuators are helping to increase flight efficiency and support decarbonization efforts. For example, to power the new generation of zero-emission/electric aircraft, Curtiss-Wright’s distributed flight control systems are being used where conventional hydraulic architectures are no longer an option.
The Actuation Division’s Exlar business is an industry-leading supplier of electrically powered stabilization and elevation solutions for demanding applications. Examples of military applications supported by Exlar include EMA to replace hydraulic and pneumatic technologies on missile defense systems, end-of-arm components for bomb disposal robots, lift actuation for high power microwave weapons and jet blast deflectors onboard naval platforms such as aircraft carriers.
Next Generation Airframes and Electrification
In 2022, Curtiss-Wright’s Actuation Division announced that it was selected by Airbus UpNext to provide custom EMA technology for use on the eXtra performance WING demonstrator project which is focused on decarbonization and improved efficiency for next-generation aircraft. The project, which will explore active control technologies to improve wing performance, includes an intelligent wing tip, known as a semi-aeroeslastic hinge, which holds great potential for the reduction of CO2 emissions. Curtiss-Wright is providing Airbus UpNext with an actuation system for control of the semi-aeroelastic hinge on a scaled demonstrator aircraft. The demonstrator integrates the eXtra performance WING on a Cessna Citation VII business jet. The semi-aeroelastic hinge technology enables a more efficient wing design that improves aircraft fuel burn and reduces environmental impact. The demonstrator will improve and optimize wing aerodynamics and performance for future commercial aircraft, regardless of propulsion solution and aircraft configuration. Curtiss-Wright derived its design from electric actuator technology it developed for a recent business jet program as well as heritage concepts reaching as far back as the hinged-wing North American XB-70 supersonic bomber project of the 1960s.
In another example of how EMA is bringing innovative solutions to aviation, Curtiss-Wright’s Actuation Division, also in 2022, was selected by Airbus to provide rotary and linear actuators, alongside control and power electronics, to open, close, latch and lock the new A350F freighter aircraft’s Main Deck Cargo Door. Curtiss-Wright’s EMA design also includes a high-voltage DC architecture that minimizes weight, offers improved reliability over legacy systems, and incorporates health monitoring functions.
Sensors: Moving from Wire-Wrapped to Solid-State
Curtiss-Wright’s Sensors Division produces high-accuracy linear variable differential transformers (LVDT) and other position sensors, solenoids and valves that enable precise control of fuel metering and air management systems in aircraft gas turbine engines and contribute to reduced fuel burn. The division also supplies linear and rotary electro-mechanical actuators with integrated gearing/clutches/brakes/position sensing and actuation control electronics. The division’s ultra-high temperature sensing and control solutions are supporting the next generation of aircraft engine development programs with control solutions located close to the engine core to deliver even greater levels of fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Their solid-state sensor products provide electronics-based sensing technologies that deliver reduced size, mass and cost versus conventional inductive solutions, and support the growing need for lighter and ‘smarter’ sensors in markets such as AAM.
In one recent example, the Sensors Division was selected to provide a new tailplane indication system for the upgrade of a leading training aircraft platform. The solution features contactless rotary hall effect sensors and microprocessor driven indicators that increase system service life from 400 flight hours to more than 80,000 flight hours. These rugged long-life programmable DC-output based contactless sensor solutions eliminate the need for modifications to the aircraft’s electronics, greatly reduce service intervals, and significantly increase the life of the tailplane indication system. The new electronic sensor design replaces legacy wire-wound sensors. This new generation of contactless sensors is smaller and lighter and has no moving parts, all of which makes them ideal for use in next generation Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) platforms.
08 Sep 23. How DARPA is tackling long-term microelectronics challenges. Years before U.S. consumers felt the impact of semiconductor supply chain shortages, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency was already mulling how to tackle the long-term technological barriers facing commercial industry and the national security community.
In the last 30 years, the U.S. has gone from producing 37% of the global microchip supply to around 12%. Today, Taiwan produces most of the world’s supply of advanced semiconductors and China exports a large portion of its microchips to the United States. These chips power everything from cell phones to cars to the Pentagon’s premier fifth-generation fighter aircraft, the F-35.
Concern around the resulting U.S. dependency on overseas microelectronics supply chains hit the mainstream during the COVID-19 pandemic when a microchip supply shortage caused car prices to skyrocket. But DARPA, the Pentagon’s hub for high-risk, high-reward research and development, had been working to get ahead of the problem for years before that.
The agency’s heritage in microelectronics research dates back decades and includes programs such as the Metal Oxide Silicon Implementation Service in the 1980s, which sought to quickly produce microelectronic devices. More recently, and following the release of a 2017 report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology that highlighted how technological limits were impeding U.S. semiconductor innovation, DARPA began formulating a plan to help push against some of those limits.
“Before the urgency of the discussion was happening, we had people who really recognized that it was a pretty urgent problem,” DARPA Director Stefanie Tompkins told C4ISRNET in an Aug. 22 interview.
It’s not unusual for DARPA to show up early to a problem set — in fact, that’s part of the agency’s mission. Mark Rosker, director of DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office, said the agency was designed to protect the Defense Department from technological surprise, which means it’s often looking 10 to 15 years into the future to anticipate what challenges the national security community will be facing at that time.
“Inherently what that does is it puts us in a position where we’re looking for technologies that are going to be disruptive, that will cause change that’s not anticipated,” he said in an Aug. 23 interview. “I think that often puts us in a position, typically, of higher risk and often — not always, but often — longer timescale.”
Where DARPA fits
The agency in 2017 established a sweeping research effort called the Electronics Resurgence Initiative, or ERI, announcing it would invest more than $1.5bn over a five-year period in a slate of programs designed to get after the key technological barriers facing commercial industry and national security agencies as they sought to advance microelectronics research and development and manufacturing.
Last year, DARPA reupped its commitment to forward-leaning microelectronics research, launching ERI 2.0 with an emphasis on cutting-edge manufacturing opportunities as well as technologies that can help electronic systems operate in extreme environments. DARPA plans to spend another $3bn on these efforts over the next five years.
Today, as federal agencies like the Department of Commerce and Department of Energy, look to reinvigorate the microelectronics ecosystem by investing in foundries and supporting U.S. research in areas that are “relatively understood,” DARPA’s niche is in tackling longer term technology challenges.
“Trying to develop the kinds of capabilities that lead to disruption, I think in the long run will keep U.S. manufacturing capabilities ahead of our competitors,” Rosker said. “I think our friends at other agencies . . . agree with us that this is complementary to what they’re doing.”
Driven by the growing urgency within the U.S. around addressing microelectronics supply chain vulnerabilities, Congress last summer approved the $52bn Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors, or CHIPS Act. The measure, which runs through 2026, funds semiconductor workforce improvement efforts, research and development and manufacturing. It also provides a 25% tax credit for investments in domestic manufacturing facilities and equipment.
According to an Aug. 9 White House fact sheet, companies have announced more than $166 bn in semiconductor and electronics manufacturing investment in the year since the CHIPS Act passed. The Commerce Department has established the National Semiconductor Technology Center, meant to serve as an innovation center for semiconductor technology. And the Defense Department, which received $2 bn in CHIPS Act funding, is on the verge of choosing regional hubs for its Microelectronics Commons — a network designed to create pathways to commercialize microelectronics research and innovation.
While DARPA didn’t receive CHIPS Act funding, Carl McCants, special assistant to the DARPA director for ERI, said the congressional and presidential interest has deepened the agency’s engagement with DoD’s microelectronics initiatives, the National Semiconductor Technology Center and industry — all partnerships that benefit the organization’s work.
“It leads to more discussions, it leads to more collaborations,” he told C4ISRNET in an Aug. 22 interview.
Electronics Resurgence Initiative
That collaboration, McCants said, is a big part of ERI and its successor ERI 2.0, which aim to tackle technological hurdles that affect both the national security community and the broader commercial industry.
ERI’s original focus was on six challenges it expected the U.S. would face in the next decade. They included efforts to leverage AI hardware to reduce the time it takes sensors to process information, improve manufacturing technology and boost security.
Those focus areas birthed at least 50 DARPA programs through which the agencies developed partnerships with universities, commercial companies and the traditional defense industrial base. According to McCants, many of these organizations had never worked with DARPA.
“It expanded our research, expanded our footprint, expanded, really, the access to a different set of subject matter experts that can help us do what we needed to do and what we’re trying to do,” he said.
One of the ERI programs that has had the biggest impact, according to Rosker, is an effort called Photonics in the Package for Extreme Scalability, or PIPES. The effort uses light to improve electrical data movement between individual chips and boost performance.
Commercial companies like Intel and Xilinx as well as major defense firms like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and BAE systems have been working with research teams from the University of Pennsylvania, Sandia National Laboratory and other institutions on PIPES. Rosker said the effort is already changing the way those companies think about building microelectronics.
Another ERI effort, Automatic Implementation of Secure Silicon, aims to design a mechanism for automating the process for building security into a chip’s design. Rosker explained that chip designers are constantly making performance and material trades as they consider how and whether to make a product more secure.
This program, he said, not only brings automation to that process, but it would allow designers to “make those trades in a real way, in a verifiable way.”
ERI 2.0 builds on the initiative’s original research thrusts but adds two more focused on novel manufacturing techniques and developing electronics that can survive in extreme heat or cold.
The centerpiece of ERI 2.0 is an effort called Next-Generation Microelectronics Manufacturing, or NGMM. The program aims to create a U.S.-based center for fabricating what are called 3D heterogeneously integrated microsystems.
At a basic level, the premise of 3DHI research is that by integrating and packaging chip components differently, manufacturers could disaggregate functions like memory and processing to significantly improve performance. It’s a technology area that could not only transform the U.S. industrial base, but that other nations, including Taiwan, have a strong interest in.
In July, DARPA chose 11 industry teams to begin the foundational work to establish the future domestic 3DHI hub. McCants expects to release an industry notice for the next two phases of the program by the end of this year and to have the center established by 2029.
He called that timeline “generic,” adding that he’s hopeful DARPA can move faster.
“As with any DARPA program, things could be sped up or things could be slowed down,” McCants said. “There’s a timeline and a time sensitivity to being able to pull this together and move forward.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
08 Sep 23. POWER Program Selects Teams to Design Power Beaming Relays. DARPA is entering the first phase of the Persistent Optical Wireless Energy Relay (POWER) program, aimed at revolutionizing energy distribution through airborne wireless power transfer. Three teams — led by RTX Corporation, Draper Laboratory, and BEAM Co. — will design and develop wireless optical power relays. The program goals include demonstrating the key components necessary for a resilient, speed-of-light energy network.
“This project has the potential to advance power beaming by orders of magnitude, which could radically reshape society’s relationship with energy,” said Dr. Paul Jaffe, who leads the POWER program at DARPA. “A wireless energy web could unlock power from new and diverse sources, including from space, and rapidly and reliably connect them to energy-starved consumers.”
To support rapid development, the optical energy relays designed in POWER’s phase one will be demonstrated in pods carried by existing aircraft in the project’s second phase. Additionally, power beaming will enable smaller, less expensive future aircraft since fuel storage and engine volume could be dramatically reduced. This will be explored through conceptual designs in phase one. Eventually these new, small, distributed platforms could provide cost-effective aircraft with unlimited range and endurance to support military missions.
Each relay design will be evaluated based on accurate and efficient energy redirection, wavefront correction for high beam quality, and throttleable energy harvesting. In the third and final phase of the program, the relays will be demonstrated through an airborne optical pathway that aims to deliver 10 kilowatts of optical energy to a ground receiver that is 200 kilometers away from the ground source laser.
“Energy underpins every human activity, including defense. We need ways to deliver energy that overcome the vulnerabilities and other shortcomings of our current paradigm,” explains Jaffe. “The next leap forward in optical power beaming could hinge on relay technologies.”
Effective relays are a critical missing component necessary for a practical, flexible, and adaptive wireless energy web. These relays will overcome the unacceptable conversion losses that occur when changing from propagating waves to electricity repeatedly in a multiple-hop network. Relays also enable high-altitude transmission, which is vastly more efficient than beaming power through the thick, turbulent, lower atmosphere. This high-altitude optical layer will provide the long-range, high throughput backbone for the wireless energy web.
“Each of the selected teams proposed unique technical approaches to the power beaming relay problem, ranging from novel combinations of existing technologies to high-risk, high-reward technological innovations,” said Jaffe. “The range of proposed solutions encompasses a balance of assured performance and potential breakthroughs in size, weight, and power to enable small distributed systems for the future wireless energy web.”
The first phase will include benchtop demonstrations of critical technologies and is expected to last 20 months with potential for a three-month option of additional risk reduction efforts. The second phase will involve an open solicitation in early 2025 and will focus on integration of the relay technologies onto an existing platform for a low-power, airborne demonstration. (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/DARPA)
07 Sep 23. Defense firms research voice commands to speak with drones. Not far from the front lines, under dense vegetation that obstructs satellite signals, a military nano-sized drone is conducting a reconnaissance mission. From a safe distance, the operator utters a voice command that an artificial intelligence-based software turns into drone language, causing the tiny robot to change course: “Sharp turn left and head straight.”
The scenario is hypothetical, but seeing drones in conflict zones embedded with an AI-assistant capability, enabling two-way voice communication between drones and their handlers, could become a reality in the not-so-distant future, according to defense analysts.
“The ultimate goal right now, largely influenced by Ukraine, is to make the interactions between the operator and the drone as efficient as possible,” said Samuel Bendett, research analyst at the U.S.-based Center for Naval Analyses. “This includes how the data is transmitted from the UAV and how it is analyzed by the operator,” he added, using the acronym for unmanned aerial vehicle.
One of the ways defense manufacturers are approaching the problem is by developing ways to simplify how humans steer drones on the battlefield, injecting voice control into the mix to replace the traditional control panels of sticks and levers.
A company who has been experimenting with the technology is U.S.-based Teledyne Flir Defense, which has partnered with AI startup Primordial Labs, of New Haven, Conn., to include voice control to the Black Hornet micro-drone, widely used by militaries globally.
Unveiled at the International SOF Week in Tampa, Florida, in May, the drone was integrated with the Anura software – coined by Primordial Labs as a “tactical AI assistant” – where it was able to receive voice commands from its operator from a computer and fly to different points in the conference hall.
“We first learned about the Anura voice control technology late last year and thought it would be a very interesting modality to bring to our Black Hornet end-users,” Ole Seeland, product director of reconnaissance systems at Teledyne, told Defense News. “U.S. Special Operations Command has supported this effort with both funding and requirements.”
Implementing auditory controls for drones is not necessarily a new science, as Seeland points out, as there is already a considerable amount of research on it from aviation and industrial-robotics applications. What’s new, though, is the increasing interest some militaries in the technology, especially in the United States. Primordial Labs has previously stated that they are on contract with Special Operations Command to fold 100 additional autonomous behaviors into Anura this year.
Traditionally, manufacturers of autonomous systems have relied on visual processes, which Seeland says has led to concerns over greater cognitive burden for operators, reduced situational awareness, and increased time to make decisions.
“This reliance on the visual system is not unexpected as the acoustic environments for many of our customers are not conducive to auditory exchange, but there are use cases for which it is incredibly well-suited,” Seeland said.
These could include alerting a user of changing or critical information while simultaneously providing instructions and suggestions as to what actions to take. Additionally, it can benefit operators wishing to fly their drones hands-free, enabling them to operate multiple missions and helping to reduce human error.
Relying on voice commanding can also be effective for transmitting and receiving a high density of information quickly and intuitively, the Teledyne official added.
The development and integration of voice controls into drones remains at an early stage, in need of additional operational testing.
For Teledyne, fitting the Black Hornet with Anura “is a technology demo, not a finished product … and a good capability demonstrator for future requirements,” Seeland stated. He added that feedback received from the company’s user community indicates they’d like to see the technology more tightly integrated with the rest of the Black Hornet system.
Currently, the scope of spoken orders for the software is rather simple – route reconnaissance, carrying out diverse survey methods in a given zone, or circling a point.
A potential add-on the companies are envisioning is a talk-back capability, where the drone would be able to respond to its operator about what it perceives based on an object-recognition program. At this stage, however, there is no timeframe for when this might happen, said Seeland.
Lost in translation
While industry experts seem to agree that the prospect for voice-guided drones to become operational is somewhat near, they argue that it could take some time for them to be acquired by militaries.
“I agree that we’re not decades away, but likely still severely years from adoption by conventional forces,” Matt McCrann, the U.S. subsidiary’s CEO of Australia-based DroneShield, said.
An important element to consider is that the level of interest in this capability will vary, as pointed out by Yoav Poizner, the head of business development at the Israeli firm Elbit Systems. Some less-developed armies are only now beginning to procure modern communication systems, which means voice-controlled drones might not be a priority.
“It might be that this new technology could be right around the corner, but it could also be something customers are not looking for,” Poizner told Defense News in an interview.
Steering drones via voice commands is one of the many machine-intelligence capabilities Elbit is investigating for its Legion X application, a system designed to link several unmanned systems using artificial intelligence.
Bendett, the defense analyst, concurs that although the capability could prove to be convenient, every operator works in a unique way – some may prefer to work as they do now, using visual modalities, while others would be satisfied having a drone communicate back using an actual voice.
Another challenge he highlights is related to the possibility for some users to get emotionally attached to their systems.
“Some are getting attached to their drones as if they were their actual comrades – we are seeing that language used by some Russian bloggers,” he said. “So, if your drone is talking to you as if it is human, and then is lost, that can potentially add a psychological trauma for operators,” Bendett said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
08 Sep 23. German military’s metaverse promises virtual foes with an AI punch. Imagine a drone swarm so cunning it can overwhelm any air defense, or an air defense weapon so smart it can see through any drone swarm’s tactics. New investments in military equipment will soon lead to artificial intelligence-powered sniff tests to see how such ideas would perform in the real world.
At least, that’s the promise of a consortium of German startups and defense academics, who say their GhostPlay virtual battlefield offers acquisition officials the chance to game out new features for unmanned systems, counter-drone guns and everything in between in order to identify shortcomings during the design phase.
At the heart of the platform, internally dubbed a metaverse for the Bundeswehr, or German military, lies a kind of supercharged artificial intelligence engine built on self-learning and enhanced autonomy, according to Yvonne Hofstetter, the CEO of 21strategies. The German company, whose proprietary technology is already deployed by traders in the financial industry, leads the GhostPlay project along with local sensor specialist Hensoldt, the Bundeswehr University Hamburg, and Switzerland-based Borchert Consulting and Research.
The German Defence Ministry funded the idea in the course of a €500m (U.S. $540m) COVID-19 subsidy package, spread over four years and meant to jolt the country’s high-tech defense research sector into action. Grants are managed through a joint venture of Germany’s two Bundeswehr universities (there is also one in Munich) dubbed dtec.bw.
What sets GhostPlay apart from other military initiatives dabbling in artificial intelligence is its use of “third-wave” algorithms, Hofstetter said in an interview with Defense News, meaning the simulated battlefield actors make decisions that are more “human-like,” with surprises and unpredictability included.
That is compared to “second-wave” AI technologies that essentially behave as supporting acts to humans — optimizing or speeding up decisions instead of coming up with novel courses of action.
GhostPlay programmers say they can create would-be battlefields as digital twins of the real world. For example, if the assignment were to recreate Lithuania for a simulation, coders would fan out to copy the environment “down to the last leaf” using satellite photos and local authorities’ databases on everything from housing, infrastructure and vegetation, Hofstetter said.
Coders can also replicate the performance of enemy weapons, especially former Eastern bloc types, using data from open-source intelligence. That includes characteristics of air defense weapons or seeker technology in missiles.
“There is enough info … kind of scary, really,” said Hofstetter, adding that old military handbooks of the German Democratic Republic have offered a window into warfighting tactics on display today in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
And even without data, the GhostPlay engine still serves up veritable foes by way of algorithms constantly fine-tuned via lessons learned in countless simulations.
The physical domain
Researchers have begun toying with the idea of transferring some of the project’s AI decision-making logic to existing military equipment. If successful, that could give legacy systems a new lease on life and surprise adversaries with new capabilities in old kit, said Heiko Borchert of Borchert Consulting,
A paper authored by GhostPlay officials last year states the fire control system of the German Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, for example, could significantly enhance the target hit rate and increase its own chance of survival when infused with advanced AI algorithms.
The German government has transferred 46 Gepards to Ukraine from the stocks of manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. As of Aug. 24, a running online list of Berlin’s military support for Kyiv showed the transfer of six more vehicles was in the works.
No longer used by the Bundeswehr, the weapons reportedly have been instrumental in repelling some Russian missile and drone attacks in Ukraine, including against civilian targets.
In the context of GhostPlay, researchers trained the Gepard to fight a variety of platforms, including Bayraktar TB2 combat UAVs, drone swarms, as well as Russian Ka-52 and Mi-28 attack helicopters.
“Preliminary results suggest that the [simulated Gepard] platform learns very fine-granular engagement tactics for different types of threats and even senses when it’s important to destroy the target or only disable it,” according to the paper.
The platform also learned to optimize its sensor mix to detect targets and prioritize them based on the immediacy of a given threat. For example, the fire control algorithm learned to fire first at weapon-carrying platforms, like helicopters or missile-bearing drones, and engage loitering munitions later.
As for drone swarms, the simulated Gepard shot into what appeared on its radar as singular drone cloud; this thinned out the crowd until sensors were able to recognize tracks for each drone. And when a different, more urgent threat suddenly appeared from a different direction, the system managed to turn its turret and fire while a drone swarm conducted “fancy” maneuvers elsewhere meant to confuse the vehicle’s sensors. (Source: Defense News)
15 Sep 23. uAvionix and Iris Automation Partner for Low Altitude, Wide Area BVLOS Operations. Iris Automation and uAvionix have announced a strategic partnership to integrate Iris’ Casia G ground-based collision avoidance data into uAvionix’s SkyLine services for combined Command and Control (C2) and Detect and Avoid (DAA) services.
The combination will enable operators of uncrewed aircraft to obtain superb low altitude airspace awareness and best in class command and control connectivity at price points that do not erode the economic value for small Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS).
“Integration of the Iris’ Casia G data is another step toward enabling scalable and achievable Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights for UAS operators,” noted Christian Ramsey, Managing Director, uAvionix Uncrewed Systems. “With better range than the human eye and artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze the optical image, the system can rapidly detect and classify other aircraft or objects in the air. That data is then ingested and combined with other sensor data, including ADS-B, and displayed for UAS operators in the SkyLine system. It’s the type of novel integration and approach that we feel is important for a Command and Control Communications Service Provider (C2CSP) to provide and one that we have seen successfully meets the safety, efficiency and reliably needs of rapidly evolving UAS operations.”
There are two types of traffic in the air today: cooperative aircraft who share position data through transponders or automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS-B) and non-cooperative aircraft who do not share position data. uAvionix is the market leader in cooperative aircraft detection through its proven ADS-B IN solutions for UAS like pingRX Pro and pingStation3. In concert, uAvionix’s SkyLine software services bring additional value to UAS operators by visualizing air traffic (ADS-B) data within the first cloud-based C2 network management platform.
It’s a combination that provides full optimization of the aircraft’s C2 communications links and enhanced situational awareness for remote UAS operators. The proven and scalable uAvionix SkyLine system inclusive of airborne radios, ground stations, and DAA sensor data is at the heart of two Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) BVLOS waivers and the recent FAA BVLOS exemption granted to uAvionix.
“We couldn’t be more excited for this partnership. uAvionix has long been an industry leader in our space, and their ability to combine multiple technologies to address long standing gaps in our market is unmatched. Combining reliable and protected C2 communications with comprehensive situational awareness just makes sense. With the addition of our non-cooperative aircraft detection data, operators will now have a turn-key solution for their BVLOS operations,” said Jon Damush, CEO of Iris Automation.
Since 2015, Iris Automation has been pioneering detect and avoid technologies to ensure safer UAS operations. Iris’ Casia system uses computer vision and artificial intelligence to detect non-cooperative intruder aircraft that could result in a well clear breach or a ‘near mid-air collision’ (NMAC), providing time for the uncrewed aircraft to alter its flight path and grant right-of-way to crewed aircraft. Iris’ Casia G system is a ground-based variant of the technology and provides a large area of coverage that is infinitely expandable based on the number of ground-based nodes deployed.
The data produced by Iris’ Casia G system serves as a natural complement to ADS-B data available through uAvionix by allowing cooperative aircraft positions to be validated through two independent sensors and rapid identification of non-cooperative aircraft. In combination, the uAvionix and Iris systems provide UAS operators with a level of comprehensive situational awareness that exceeds existing single-sensor-based systems.
The partnership will take a cue from SkyLine, uAvionix’s ground-breaking C2CSP solution that leverages path and frequency diversity to provide operators with proven optimization of C2 connectivity. By directly integrating the Casia G data into the uAvionix SkyLine system, multiple and diverse air traffic data points from both cooperative and non-cooperative aircraft will now be displayed and used by UAS operators for DAA functions.
The two companies are actively collaborating on the integration of the Casia G data into the SkyLine service using field tests and operational scenarios. The resulting capability for advanced airspace awareness and command and control is expected to be available for UAS operators later this year. (Source: UAS VISION)
13 Sep 23. Bell Begins HSVTOL Risk Reduction Testing at Holloman Air Force Base. Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, today announced the delivery of a High-Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing (HSVTOL) test article to Holloman Air Force Base for demonstration and technology evaluation. The team will leverage the Arnold Engineering Development Complex Holloman High Speed Test Track to test the folding rotor, integrated propulsion and flight control technologies at representative flight speeds.
“The HSVTOL test article delivery and start of sled testing operations serves as a major milestone in our mission to develop the next generation of high-speed vertical lift aircraft,” said Jason Hurst, executive vice president, Engineering, Bell. “Bell plans to showcase HSVTOL technology informed by more than 85 years of high-speed rotorcraft development and leverage lessons learned to produce a flying prototype with game-changing capabilities.”
The objective of Bell’s sled test operations is to validate key technologies through a full-scale, integrated demonstration in a representative operating environment. Bell plans for the test article to execute a series of HSVTOL high-speed transition maneuvers, a first of its kind capability for vertical lift aircraft. Prior to delivery at Holloman Air Force Base, Bell successfully completed functional demonstrations at Bell’s Flight Research Center.
Bell’s High-Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing (HSVTOL) technology blends the hover capability of a helicopter with the speed (400+ kts), range, and survivability of jet aircraft. Bell has developed high-speed vertical lift technology for more than 85 years, pioneering innovative VTOL configurations like the X-14, X-22, XV-3 and XV-15 for NASA, the U.S Army and U.S. Air Force, and continues to build on its proven history of fast flight from the Bell X-1.
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