Sponsored by Blighter Surveillance Systems
18 Mar 20. L3Harris is building an AI tool to help process imagery. L3Harris is building a new platform that will help analysts in the military use artificial intelligence to identify objects in large imagery data sets.
“In general, there’s a big challenge with the amount of remote sensing data that’s coming down, whether that’s from space or airborne assets,” explained Will Rorrer, principal of business development for geospatial at L3Harris Technologies.
“So there’s lots of imagery and other data types coming down from above, so much so that it really can’t be looked at in its entirety — certainly not exploited in its entirety — by traditional means (with) purely human analysts. And so things like counting objects in imagery, monitoring different places, that’s where there’s a natural adoption of machine learning type of techniques,” he continued.
L3Harris officials declined to share who the end customer for their product will be or the exact value of their multimillion dollar contract, which was issued by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.
It’s no secret that the Department of Defense and the intelligence community are eager to use artificial intelligence tools to sift through the vast torrent of data created by an ever increasing number of sensors and pick out the most important information for human analysts. For its platform, L3Harris is focusing on creating the training data and workflows that will enable a machine learning tool to process data for the Department of Defense and provide deliverable intelligence.
Machine learning platforms are essentially made of three parts: the training data the neural network will learn from, the machine learning algorithm itself, and then how the platform integrates into other Department of Defense systems.
L3Harris will be working on what Rorrer calls the front end and the back end of the AI platform.
“A lot of AI/ML technologies can be ported into that middle category,” he said. “Neural network applications that have been developed in commercial space can be brought in if we can address the front end and the back end of that in DoD space.”
For nearly 30 years, L3Harris has been incorporated advanced modeling and simulation capabilities to test out new payloads and optical systems, using computers to plot out how the atmosphere and other factors will impact their technologies. Now the company plans to use those modeling and simulation tools to develop the training data that will teach a machine learning algorithm how to solve complex DoD problems, such as identifying a threatening object within satellite imagery.
“All of that summed up—we make very good fake imagery,” said Rorrer. “ We’ve taken that technology that was essentially developed for another reason and pivoted (to using it) as a source of synthetic training data for these neural net applications.”
Synthetic training data can be especially important for developing DoD or intelligence community AI applications, since there’s often not enough real world imagery of the threats they’re focused on, said Rorrer. L3Harris believes that they can create fake imagery that looks enough like the real thing that when real imagery is fed into the algorithm it can find the objects it’s supposed to.
“On the back side, it’s the overall management of the workflows,” said Rorrer.
In other words, it’s about making sure the algorithm’s outputs can be integrated with other DoD systems.
Also, as a machine learning tool is used to process real data, it naturally changes and incorporates what it learns into its algorithm. The DoD needs to know how the algorithm is changing over time and it needs to trace the outputs back to what inputs were fed into it.
L3Harris declined to give a timeline for delivery of the tool, although they noted that the contract included a base year with options years the Air Force could exercise. (Source: Defense News)
18 Mar 20. Raytheon Company (RTN: NYSE) has developed, manufactured and delivered the first-ever 3rd GEN FLIR™ sensor system under a U.S. Army contract awarded in 2016. This latest Forward-Looking Infrared, or FLIR, system gives soldiers four fields of view and the ability to see across long- and mid-wave IR bands simultaneously with a stabilized line of sight. Forward-looking Infrared is an advanced targeting system that uses heat, not light, to see through darkness, smoke, rain, snow or fog to perform targeting, reconnaissance and fire support. Second generation systems allow soldiers to see the battlefield with just two fields of view and far less clarity.
“Making the leap from 2nd to 3rd Generation FLIR is like moving from a standard tube television to high-definition 8K,” said Sam Deneke, Raytheon Land Warfare Systems vice president. “This breakthrough technology enables U.S. and allied troops to own the night with more detail and precision than ever before.”
Existing Army platforms have second generation sighting systems designed for each vehicle. Raytheon’s new 3rd GEN FLIR systems will support all next-generation interfaces, offering a common thermal sighting system across all vehicle types. Raytheon has provided FLIR sensors to the U.S. and allied nations for over 50 years.
18 Mar 20. Leonardo DRS, Inc. announced today that the first Distributed Aperture Infrared Countermeasure (DAIRCM) advanced aircraft protection systems have been deployed on U.S. Air Force HH-60G helicopters in support of a Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement. Under the Air Force Materiel Command contract, Leonardo DRS integrates DAIRCM kits on the HH-60G platforms.
“Leonardo DRS is proud to enhance the HH-60G helicopters with a state-of-the-art protection system,” said John Baylouny, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Leonardo DRS. “The DAIRCM system will immediately enable combat survivability for our flight crews while supporting their ability to accomplish diverse mission sets in any operational setting.”
The AN/AAQ-45(V), DAIRCM, is at the forefront of aircraft defensive protection technology and was developed by Leonardo DRS through three of its business units: Airborne & Intelligence Systems, Daylight Solutions, and Electro-Optical & Infrared Systems. As missile and other anti-aircraft threats continue to evolve and expand around the world, frontline helicopters will require a small but capable system to defeat these threats.
17 Mar 20. Raytheon set to deliver new CUAS capability to US Army. Raytheon is preparing to begin deliveries of a new surface-launched counter-unmanned aircraft system (CUAS) capability to the US Army in mid-second quarter 2020, following the completion of developmental, operational, and customer acceptance testing at the Yuma Proving Ground in December 2019. The system will comprise the new Coyote Block 2 interceptor and the Ku-band Radio Frequency System (KuRFS) 360° detection and intercept radar.
In a parallel development, the US government earlier this year cleared Coyote Block 2 for Foreign Military Sales, paving the way for possible exports of the Block 2 weapon and KuRFS radars to approved allied nations. Raytheon, in conjunction with the US Army, will conduct a briefing on, and demonstration of, the Block 2/KuRFS CUAS capability to “interested foreign governments” later this year.
Under the provisions of an extended Joint Urgent Operational Need (JUON) requirement, originally issued by the army’s Program Executive Office (PEO) Missiles & Space/Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar Program in July 2018, Raytheon will deliver an undisclosed number of Coyote Block 2 interceptors and new, four-cell launcher units, along with new Ku-band Radio Frequency System (KuRFS) 360° detection and intercept radars. These will be coupled with the army-standard Forward Area Air Defense/Counter-Rocket Artillery Mortar Command and Control (FAAD/C-RAM C2) systems supplied by Northrop Grumman, and all elements will be integrated on the army’s primary objective platform – the 4×4 Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) – to deliver a new, ready-to-deploy tactical Howler CUAS capability for the service.
Raytheon characterises the Block 2 development as “high-end missile-like technology in a low-cost airframe”. Developed in under 18 months and optimised in the CUAS role to take on Class 1-Class 3 UAS threats, the Coyote Block 2 is furnished with a blast fragmentation warhead – significantly larger than its Block 1B predecessor – specifically designed to address manoeuvring UAS threats. (Source: Jane’s)
17 Mar 20. Raytheon plows ahead to build US Army’s future radar. The first antenna array for the U.S. Army’s Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor passed through initial testing at Raytheon’s Massachusetts-based facility, and it will embark on future testing at an outdoor range in the short term, a company official told Defense News.
The antenna array went into an indoor, climate-controlled test range, and its performance was evaluated against simulated targets, Bob Kelley, Raytheon’s director of domestic integrated air and missile defense programs for business development and strategy, said during a March 16 interview.
The technology “came out fantastic on the other side,” he added.
Now the array will be mounted on a precision-machined enclosure for integration, Kelley said, and then it will head to a range for testing with real-world targets such as air traffic coming in and out of Boston’s Logan International Airport.
Raytheon is plowing ahead with an aggressive schedule to deliver the first LTAMDS radar to the Army next year. So far it’s on track and on schedule.
The company finished building the first radar antenna array in less than 120 days after being selected for the job, following a competition to replace the service’s Patriot air and missile defense system sensor.
The radar will become a part of the service’s future Integrated Air and Missile Defense System that will replace the entire Patriot system. Raytheon also manufactures the Patriot.
Raytheon has taken its years of experience refining gallium nitride technology at its Massachusetts-based foundry to help design a new radar system that will provide the Army 360-degree threat detection capability in a configuration that includes one large array in the front and two smaller arrays in the back.
The contract is worth roughly $384m to deliver six production-representative units of the LTAMDS. The Army is working to rapidly deliver initial capability under an urgent materiel release.
The service in 2019 held a “sense-off” at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, between three working radars from Raytheon, a Lockheed Martin and Elta Systems team, and Northrop Grumman. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
17 Mar 20. The U.S. government has cleared Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) to sell the Coyote® Block 2 counter-drone weapon to approved allied nations as part of the Howler counter-drone system. In 2019, the U.S. Army deployed Howler, a combination of the Ku-band Radio Frequency System and Coyote Block 1, into the battlefield. The high-speed, highly maneuverable Block 2 is designed to use Raytheon’s KuRFS multi-mission radar as its fire control source.
“Delivering this enhanced version of the combat-proven Coyote strengthens our allies’ defenses against enemy drones,” said Sam Deneke, Raytheon Land Warfare Systems vice president. “Block 2 is fast, effective and protects troops on the battlefield.”
Raytheon recently completed developmental, operational and customer acceptance testing on the Coyote Block 2 variant. Powered by a jet engine, the new weapon can be launched from the ground to destroy drones and other aerial threats.
“The KuRFS radar gives soldiers unprecedented vision of individual drones,” said Bryan Rosselli, vice president of Raytheon Mission Systems and Sensors. “The ability to quickly and clearly detect, track and discriminate the threat leads to positive identification, and makes the Coyote all the more precise in its ability to intercept drones.”
Raytheon expects to achieve full-rate production of Coyote Block 2 in 2020.
16 Mar 20. Pakistan aiming to procure radomes for its AN/TPS-77 and YLC-18A radar systems. The Directorate of Procurement (Air) for the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has issued invitations for tenders to procure an undisclosed number of radomes for the service’s Lockheed Martin AN/TPS-77 and China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) YLC-18A ground-based air-defence radar systems. The move, which was announced on 11 March, comes after Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) revealed in its yearbook for 2017-18, which was released in September 2019, that the PAF had placed an order worth USD24.9m for five of the Chinese-made YLC-18A radars. The PAF has invited responses to the radome tender by 1 April. No further details were provided. (Source: Jane’s)
16 Mar 20. USN set to test, roll out E-2D Advanced Hawkeye upgrades. The US Navy (USN) is preparing to introduce a raft of enhancements for its E-2D Advanced Hawkeye carrier-borne airborne early warning and control aircraft. Upgrades include an aerial refuelling capability, communications and Navigation Warfare (NAVWAR) improvements, and a datalink upgrade, according to the Naval Air Systems Command’s in-house journal Naval Aviation News. Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 203 (VX-20) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, is leading development test and qualification activity. The ability to refuel in-flight, being incorporated in the Delta System and Software Configuration 3AR (DSSC-3AR) build, will provide the E-2D with extended persistence and increased flexibility through greater range and endurance. (Source: Jane’s)
16 Mar 20. STORM-SLX Precision Rangefinder reaches delivery milestone with US Army. L3 Harris has delivered it 3,000th STORM-SLX Precision Rangefinder to the US Army, as part of a $215m contract awarded in 2019. The tactical optical rifle-mounted device is the smallest laser rangefinder used by the US military. Lynn Bollengier, president of integrated vision solutions at L3 Harris, said: ‘Our STORM portfolio has supported the US Army for more than 15 years, enabling the dismounted solider to locate and engage targets.’ Since 2005, L3 Harris has delivered a total of 17,000 devices from its Storm family of targeting systems.(Source: Shephard)
13 Mar 20. Second RAF Poseidon arrives in UK. The second of nine Boeing P-8A Poseidon MRA1 maritime multimission aircraft (MMA) for the Royal Air Force (RAF) arrived in the United Kingdom on 13 March. Aircraft ZP802, City of Elgin, flew into Kinloss Barracks (formerly RAF Kinloss) in Scotland some six weeks after the first aircraft, ZP801 Pride of Moray, arrived from the United States on 4 February.
Both these aircraft and the remaining seven to be delivered will be operated from RAF Lossiemouth a short distance away from Kinloss Barracks, when construction of new facilities is to be completed later in the year. Operations are set to commence in early Q4 2020, with the type being flown by 120 Squadron and 201 Squadron, with 54 Squadron serving as the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU).
Delivery of the first Poseidon MRA1s marks a major milestone in the reconstitution of the UK’s airborne maritime patrol capability that was put on hiatus in 2010 with the retirement of the BAE Systems Nimrod MR2 and the cancellation of its Nimrod MRA4 replacement.
Once fully operational, the Poseidons will assume responsibility for protecting the Royal Navy’s two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, as well as undertaking their baseline maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) roles. While it was originally intended that the platforms should have an overland surveillance capability, an RAF officer recently told Jane’s that this will not now be the case, due to the relatively few number of aircraft being procured and their commitment to their core carrier protection/MPA and ASW tasks.
The RAF’s P-8As will be at the same standard as the aircraft fielded by the US Navy (USN) and all other export nations except India, which operates its own P-8I Neptune configuration (the most notable difference being the inclusion on the P-8I of a Magnetic Anomaly Detector [MAD] boom in place of the P-8A’s Multi-Static Active Coherent [MAC] acoustic detection system for submarines). (Source: Jane’s)
16 Mar 20. Vuzix to develop customised waveguide-based optics engine. Augmented reality (AR) technologies and products supplier Vuzix is set to develop a customised waveguide-based optics engine for an unidentified US defence contractor. An agreement has been signed by both parties but financial details have not been disclosed. Under the first phase of the agreement, an upfront payment has been agreed by the sides. It also includes phase-gated development milestones and other payments.
Vuzix expects the first phase of the agreement to generate initial non-recurring engineering (NRE) revenue in the coming six months. The following phases of the agreement are anticipated to generate more NREs.
Subsequently, the final product design will lead to mass production of the waveguide-based optics engine.
Vuzix president and CEO Paul Travers said: “We are excited to enter into this partnership and believe it represents a strong vote of confidence in our capabilities and recognition of our leading position within the waveguide optics technology space.
“Additionally, the agreement demonstrates how Vuzix is able to leverage our industry leading optics technology and partner with top US Defence contractors across a variety of vertical markets.”
A display engine is required for waveguides, which are high-quality, full-colour transparent optical structures. They are built from plastic or glass and used in near-eye augmented reality displays and lenses.
The company works with customers to build the product taking into consideration specifications such as size, light coupling, power consumption, resolution and more.
The display engine is lightweight and projects an image that is clear and can be seen only by the user.
In July 2012, the US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command awarded Vuzix with a multiphase contract for the development of a wide field of view (WFOV) see-through waveguide (STWG) system. (Source: army-technology.com)
09 Mar 20. US Navy unveils Threat Tracker drone detection technology. US Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) scientists and engineers have developed a system to autonomously detect, track, and classify unmanned aerial systems (UAS) from the land or sea. The Threat Tracker is a detection system comprised of commercial off the shelf 3D radars and optical sensors according to a report by Naval Sea Systems Command. The equipment will be on display at Sea Air Space Exposition 6-8 April 2020.
“What makes the Threat Tracker unique is that it incorporates machine learning algorithms to autonomously process radar detections, analyse thermal images to assist in video based tracking, and classify tracked targets to determine if the object is a UAS,” said Marvin Peardon, NSWC PCD Threat Tracker program manager. “This is important because it can decide on its own if it is a bird or an actual UAS.”
Another unique feature is the Threat Tracker’s Gyro-stabilized marine platform.
“We developed this system with the ability for it to be mounted on a boat or vehicle,” said Jeremy Johnson, NSWC PCD Threat Tracker systems manager. “The Gyro-stabilized Marine Platform will prevent the imagery from being distorted and possibly misclassified.” Once the imagery is classified, the information is sent to the user’s command and control (C2) system of choice.
“We developed this programme to be able to provide the information collected to any C2 system,” said Peardon. “The user at that point can make a determination about the next step.”
Threat Tracker successfully performed during a recent exercise, and Peardon and Johnson said they hope to conduct operational testing this year.
“Threat Tracker is not currently a programme of record but we will continue to improve the capabilities with the intent that the Navy or another service will find utility in the system,” said Johnson. For more information visit: www.navsea.navy.mil (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
11 Mar 20. VigilAir V2.0 “achieves C-UAS certification by the UK Center for the Protection of Critical Infrastructure (CPNI).” The VigilAir C-UAS solution (Counter Unmanned Aerial System), from Vorpal Ltd., has been certified by the UK government’s Center for the Protection of Critical Infrastructure (CPNI). CPNI is the UK’s government authority for protective security advice to the UK national infrastructure, working to reduce its vulnerabilities to different threats. VigilAir was evaluated and certified under the CPNI’s Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems Detect, Track and Identify (DTI) testing and evaluation standard.
“VigilAir’s rating as a CPNI certified product enables its inclusion in the CPNI Catalogue of Security Equipment (CSE) – a list of security products that have been carefully evaluated against specific CPNI security standards and have been approved for purchase and use by the UK’s critical infrastructure sectors, such as airports, energy, chemical, nuclear, water and transport facilities, as well as by nationally important assets or events.
Dr. Nir Raz, Vorpal’s CEO said: “The CPNI’s c-UAS certification is the world’s first government-level certification for counter-UAS systems and we are extremely proud to have achieved it. Customers buying VigilAir can do so now safely, knowing that the system has been rigorously tried and tested, evaluated against a comprehensive standard and successfully certified. We expect this certification to advance customer interest and procurements in the UK and globally”.
“VigilAir is an RF-Based system of deployed sensors able to accurately detect, geolocate and track commercial drones and their operators in different environments, including very dense urban environments known to foil similar efforts by other systems. VigilAir provides extremely sensitive detection and highly accurate geolocation and tracking over very large areas, at a low TCO and with virtually zero false-alarms. Being a passive, receive-only system, VigilAir can easily be installed and operated without regulatory or legal limitations. VigilAir generates a comprehensive drone situational awareness which enables users to proactively and intelligently match correct mitigation actions with actual drone threats, on time and with minimal collateral effects. VigilAir has been successfully deployed and operationally employed by multiple customers at Israel and globally.”
For more information
www.vorpal-corp.com. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
11 Mar 20. Aaronia’s AARTOS drone detection system installed as part of London Heathrow’s counter drone solution. Anti-drone capability from German supplier Aaronia has been deployed at London Heathrow as part of the airport’s counter drone solution. These measures have been specifically designed to operate at Heathrow and comprise a range of counter drone technologies designed to enhance detection and minimise delays associated with rogue drone activity.
Aaronia’s AARTOS system is designed to operate over a range of 50 km in all weather, tracking and locating drones and their operators. The stationary unit allows localisation as soon as the drone and controller switch on and is scalable for each category of airport. It includes a 3D multi-functional flight pass view and identifies different drone types.
For more information visit:
www.drone-detection-system.com (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
Blighter® Surveillance Systems (BSS) is a UK-based electronic-scanning radar and sensor solution provider delivering an integrated multi-sensor package to systems integrators comprising the Blighter electronic-scanning radars, cameras, thermal imagers, trackers and software solutions. Blighter radars combine patented solid-state Passive Electronic Scanning Array (PESA) technology with advanced Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) and Doppler processing to provide a robust and persistent surveillance capability. Blighter Surveillance Systems is a Plextek Group company, a leading British design house and technology innovator, and is based at Great Chesterford on the outskirts of Cambridge, England.
The Blighter electronic-scanning (e-scan) FMCW Doppler ground surveillance radar (GSR) is a unique patented product that provides robust intruder detection capabilities under the most difficult terrain and weather conditions. With no mechanical moving parts and 100% solid-state design, the Blighter radar family of products are extremely reliable and robust and require no routine maintenance for five years. The Blighter radar can operate over land and water rapidly searching for intruders as small a crawling person, kayaks and even low-flying objects. In its long-range modes the Blighter radar can rapidly scan an area in excess of 3,000 km² to ensure that intruders are detected, identified and intercepted before they reach critical areas.