16 Nov 10. Electro Optic Systems Holdings Limited has released the first remotely operated weapon system that can be entirely operated and controlled by means of wireless network communications. Remotely controlled weapon systems have been in development for almost 20 years, and have been used in combat operations for approximately 5 years. The key objectives of these systems have always been the improvement of weapon effectiveness, and the removal of the gunner to a safer position remote from the weapon itself. A key limitation until now has been the need to locate the weapon system operator relatively close to the deployed weapon, because the weapon controls were connected by cables. Wireless controls have not been possible because of several safety and security issues:
1. A wireless system could be taken over by opposing forces and used against friendly forces unless very secure communications were employed.
2. The absence of a human operator results in deficiencies in the overall situation awareness at the weapon location, giving rise to safety and security concerns.
3. The need for clear identification of friendly forces to prevent fratricide.
4. Unpredictable time delays in very remote control links require certain functions of the weapon application be implemented robotically but without allowing robot control of the weapon itself.
All of these issues have been overcome by EOS, in cooperation with EOS’s partner on remote weapons systems, Northrop Grumman with a generic device architecture that can be rapidly adapted to specific military digital environments. EOS has obtained patent coverage in the US and other countries, for its implementation of this next generation of remote weapon system. The patents cover rules-based weapon controls to allow reliable and safe weapon operation over limited bandwidth and stressed communication systems.
BATTLESPACE Comment: There is a growing trend for manufacturers to produce wireless turret systems which not only save weight and costs, they save the need for a slip ring on the turret. EOS has claimed a ‘first’ for this system, although Indicomm Global, the U.K. wireless specialist developed a similar system and trialled it with DRS Technologies Inc. at Bovingdon last year for the CVR(T) upgrade requirement. The system worked perfectly with no signal egress but was not carried forward as the MoD had reportedly purchased the slip rings!
06 Dec 10. Airborne Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Minefield Detection System (ASTAMIDS) demonstrated it can detect simulated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in a recently completed U.S. Army evaluation of the end to end system. The system was flown on the Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC)-owned MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned air system. ASTAMIDS’ laser also demonstrated its capability as a target designator for Hellfire missiles: in three missile firings, all missiles made direct hits on their targets. In addition to detecting simulated IEDS, ASTAMIDS streaming telemetry data was collected, analyzed and processed on the ground using the new ASTAMIDS Ground Exploitation Station (AGES) processing equipment and software. AGES operators were able to identify target locations in near real-time.
07 Dec 10. Lockheed Martin announced an exclusive licensing agreement with Dr. Shimon Maimon, chief executive officer of IR Solutions, Ltd., for use of his company’s inventions to produce lighter, higher resolution and more reliable infrared sensors for military applications. The licensing arrangement will allow the development of improved Forward Looking Infrared systems that use Dr. Maimon’s patented “n-type-Barrier-n-type” (nBn) and other barrier-type focal plane inventions. They are described in recently issued U.S. Patent 7,687,871 (Reduced Dark Current Photodetector). nBn technology allows detector coolers for infrared systems to operate at higher temperatures than currently, reducing complexity and increasing system performance. Re