Sponsored by Blighter Surveillance Systems
11 Dec 19. DOD invests in counter-drone technologies. As the number of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) grows, so too does the Defense Department’s need to protect the military services from encountering unwanted flying objects. This year, DOD spent about $900m on counter-UAS solutions, according to a new report titled “The DOD’s C-UAS Strategy” by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement. DOD requested $500m for counter-UAS funding for fiscal 2020, which is a reflection of the department’s likely move toward integrating such solutions into broader programs, the report states. DOD’s focus is shifting from developing new technologies and training to building standard acquisition processes, so that in 2020 it can concentrate on interoperability and synchronizing counter-drone initiatives across the department.
The report looks at the top counter-UAS technologies that the military is deploying in the near term, and at what’s coming up farther out into the future.
Current efforts include an August award by the Air Force to Ascent Vision Technologies for $23m to supply mobile counter-drone vehicles for the eXpeditionary Mobile Air Defense Integrated System program. That program uses radar, optics, radio frequency detection, a jammer and electronic command and control mitigation to find and remove unknown UAS, according to the report.
The Army is making similar moves. In January, it awarded SRC a $108m contract to deliver a vehicle-integrated Silent Archer counter-drone system that uses radar, cameras and jamming technology to detect, track and defeat small, low-flying drones. It is also looking to augment its defensive arsenal with anti-drone ray guns that use radio control frequencies to disrupt commercial drones’ communications, forcing them out of the air.
Other tools are still in the development phase. For instance, in October, the Air Force received a mobile high-energy laser weapon system from Raytheon that the service will send overseas as part of a yearlong experiment in training operators and testing the system’s effectiveness. “Essentially an ‘anti-drone buggy,’ the high-energy laser system is mounted on a small all-terrain vehicle and uses electro-optical/infrared sensors and high power microwave (HPM) systems to detect, track and disrupt the guidance system of drones. Once the UAV is pinpointed, it is quickly neutralized with a laser,” according to the report.
Lockheed Martin also is working on its own high-energy laser system called ATHENA, or the Advanced Test High Energy Asset system. The transportable ground-based system uses a specialized 30-kilowatt beam that applies intense heat to damage or destroy UAVs or other close-in, low-value threats such as improvised rockets, vehicles and small boats.
Other initiatives include the Air Force’s Tactical High-power Microwave Operational Responder. THOR is an electromagnetic weapon developed by the Air Force Research Lab that provides non-kinetic defeat of drone swarms or multiple targets for airbase defense. The system operates from ground power and uses short pulse of microwaves to disable the electronics on the drones.
Right now, fully autonomous, artificial intelligence-driven C-UAS solutions are mostly in the planning phases, but there are budding efforts. For instance, Customs and Border Protection awarded a $1 million to Citadel Defense to use the company’s AI-powered drone solution, Titan, to protect the southern border from UAS delivering contraband or assisting illegal crossings. It uses AI and deep learning identify and classify an approaching UAS or a swarm of drones and applies countermeasures to induce the device to land or return to its home base.
In May, Raytheon announced that it had successfully tested a hot fire rocket motor for its smart bullets, drone interceptor technology that can track targets on the move. The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency contracted with Raytheon Missile Systems in January 2017 to work on a prototype under the agency’s Multi-Azimuth Defense Fast Intercept Round Engagement System program, which aims to use ammunition rounds that can alter their flight path in real time to stay on target to engage multiple fast-approaching threats.
“Though many of the existing solutions represent huge technological advancements from where we were just five years ago and show a tremendous amount of potential, the technology has not quite caught up with the need and a ‘silver bullet’ solution to the small drone problem remains elusive,” the report states. (Source: Defense Systems)
11 Dec 19. Pentagon wants to streamline its counterdrone focus. The Pentagon’s top acquisition official believes countering small drones is a key priority for the Department of Defense in 2020, and has a plan to concentrate such programs to “three to five” key systems that can be deployed across DoD. Speaking to reporters Dec. 10, Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said that a string of visits to the Middle East and elsewhere has led her to conclude that “we need to continue to focus heavily on counter-UAS systems and strategies.”
“We have had each of the services and a number of agencies over the last few years, focused on trying to come up with systems to combat this,” Lord said. “What we in the department have done, and what I talked to everyone downrange about, is the fact that we’re coalescing these efforts to try to be efficient and effective.”
The counterdrone market has exploded in recent years, with both major defense players and smaller commercial firms trying to take advantage of a market that by one estimate could be worth $1.8bn in 2020 and $5.4bn by 2028. The Pentagon has been investing heavily in various pilot programs for the technology.
While Lord’s A&S shop will continue to help guide developments across the department, she said the Army has recently been named the “executive agent” for counter-UAS capabilities, in order to make sure there is a single cohesive vision of how to develop the capabilities. And rather than have a wide range of systems out there, Lord wants to see a small handful of proven technologies.
Routine teleconferences with staffs from the various combatant commands will help clarify needs in the field, which in turn will help DoD officials “neck down” to what systems have the right “sensor modalities and actual, either kinetic or electronic warfare-type, systems to neutralize incoming threats.”
“My goal is to make sure we have three-to-five systems that are tailored to a series of different types of threats, and that we can get the economy of scale, of having a few best systems out there,” she said.
The comments came weeks after the first event run by DoD’s Trusted Capital program — which aims to match private investors with small startups in areas that the Pentagon needs an American-owned technology base. The event occurred in Texas, with a focus on both small unmanned systems and the ability to defeat them. According to Lord, 39 manufacturers of either UAS or counter-UAS systems met with 12 Trusted Capital providers; she later clarified that those 12 are not the totality of the firms involved in the Trusted Capital program. (Source: Defense News)
10 Dec 19. Northrop Grumman picked to upgrade Leonardo surface-search radar aboard Navy MQ-8C unmanned helicopters. The Leonardo AN/ZPY-8 multi-mode surveillance radar provides second-generation active electronically scanned array (AESA) surveillance capability.
Military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) experts at Northrop Grumman Corp. will upgrade a sophisticated surface-search radar system on eight of the U.S. Navy’s MQ-8C Fire Scout shipboard unmanned helicopters.
Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., announced a $9.1m order Monday to the Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems segment in San Diego to provide eight AN/ZPY-8 radar modification kits for MQ-8C UAVs.
The order includes eight forward-access panel modification kits, non-recurring engineering, and qualification as part of the MQ-8C mission processor unit upgrade. The AN/ZPY-8 Osprey MM radar aboard the Navy MQ-8C fleet is from Leonardo MW Ltd. in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Northrop Grumman is the designer and systems integrator of the MQ-8C Fire Scout, an unmanned version of the Bell 407 helicopter from Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas. The manned version of the Bell 407 seats seven, can carry a useful load of 2,347 pounds, flies as fast as 140 knots, and has a range of 324 nautical miles.
The long-range MQ-8C is designed to fly from the decks of destroyers and other naval surface warships to extend the surveillance and reconnaissance range of the Navy’s surface ships that are operating away from aircraft carriers and land-based aircraft.
The Navy chose Leonardo MW Ltd. to provide the MQ-8C radar in 2016. Leonardo MW is an arm of the Leonardo-Finmeccania corporation in Rome, which oversees the company’s aerospace, defence and security operations in the United Kingdom.
The Leonardo Osprey MM is a multi-mode surveillance radar for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft that provides second-generation active electronically scanned array (AESA) surveillance capability. It brings together wide-azimuth and -elevation electronically scanned fixed antennas with a compact radar signal processor and multi-channel receiver.
Employing high-frequency radio waves, an Osprey-equipped MQ-8C Fire Scout can detect targets at long ranges, at night, and in poor visibility to detect distant threats.
The small-size Osprey MM provides high-performance sea surveillance against difficult targets, as well as land surveillance with wide-swath high-resolution ground mapping, small and low-speed ground target indication, air-to-air surveillance, tracking, and intercept. It can interleave modes rapidly and provide scan-independent beam steering.
Osprey MM comes with a variety of antenna sizes, depending on the azimuth coverage to facilitate the MQ-8C’s operation to and from unprepared surfaces. It offers persistent surveillance and target detection from high altitudes to enhance MQ-8C fuel efficiency.
Osprey MM’s flexible configuration, with antenna size and installation options, its low SWaP, air cooled line replaceable units (LRU), and its open standard interfaces all simplify its integration. At the core of the Osprey MM’s AESA radar design is its ability to tolerate individual element failure. It offers reduced maintenance.
Related: Advances in periscope-hunting anti-submarine radar promises to keep the enemy’s head down
On this order Northrop Grumman will do the work in Santa Clarita and San Diego Calif.; Fort Worth, Texas; and Lititz, Pa., and should be finished by April 2021. (Source: Google/https://www.militaryaerospace.com/)
09 Dec 19. China mass producing Y-9 surveillance aircraft. China is mass producing Shaanxi Aircraft Industry Group Corporation (SAIC) Y-9 special mission aircraft, according to a report published by the state-owned Global Times newspaper on 8 December. The article, which is based on a TV programme broadcast the previous day by CCTV-7, claims that the Y-9 special mission aircraft will “allow the Chinese military to recognise every hostile movement, and even sabotage enemy communications”.
The Global Times report states that a pulse assembly line has been created at the SAIC manufacturing facility in Hanzhong, with each airframe progressing through five assembly stations before the completed aircraft emerges from the final stage. The caption on one of the broadcast images claims that this process enables a 30% increase in throughput.
The aircraft’s design is derived from the Antonov An-12 ‘Cub’ – several units of which were bought by China from the Soviet Union in the 1960s – and was produced as the Shaanxi Y-8 from the early 1970s. Production of a modernised and uprated version, the Y-9, began around 2010, with the aircraft entering service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in 2012.
The baseline variant of the Y-9 is used as a tactical transport aircraft and can carry about 20 tons of cargo or about 100 paratroopers. Previous analysis by Jane’s assessed that about one-third of Y-9 aircraft are built to this baseline configuration.
The Y-8/Y-9 airframe has also been used for the development of several variants of ‘special mission aircraft’, the Gao Xing/New High series, which includes airborne early warning and control (AEW&C), anti-submarine maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), electronic intelligence (ELINT), communications intelligence (COMINT), electronic countermeasures (ECM), and psychological operations (PSYOPS) versions. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Dec 19. NATO takes first steps beyond AWACS. The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) has awarded six contracts as it plans for the follow-on capability to the NATO AWACS fleet.
Contracts went to the Boeing-ABILITI Consortium (US), General Atomics (US), Lockheed Martin (US), Airbus (Germany), L3Harris Consortium (UK) and MDA (Canada) following an international bidding process.
NATO’s E-3A AWACS fleet is set to retire in 2035, after 50 years of service. To plan for the required follow-on capability, NATO’s Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (AFSC) project will involve industry at a very early stage to develop new options for future NATO surveillance and control capabilities, based on future technology and requirements.
The concept stage of the AFSC was initiated in 2017. Being managed by the NSPA, work under this phase will include studies and the development of technical concepts that will help inform future decisions by NATO, individual nations or multinational groups to acquire new systems.
Concept development and assessment activities will take place in 2020-2022 timeframe. High-level concepts proposed by the six contractors will be assessed by NATO to identify the most promising concepts for further development and feasibility analysis in a second competition that will be announced later in 2020. (Source: Shephard)
09 Dec 19. UK lays out P-8 delivery schedule. The UK Ministry of Defence has revealed the delivery schedule for its P-8A MRA1 maritime patrol aircraft in a Freedom of Information Act release to Jane’s on 5 December.
According to the schedule, the first four aircraft will be handed over to the Royal Air Force (RAF) at US Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville in Florida, the main US Navy P-8 training and logistics base. The last five UK aircraft will be delivered from Boeing’s Seattle assembly facility direct to RAF Lossiemouth.
Three UK P-8s will have to operate from a temporary base until runway repairs at their main operating base are complete in late 2020.
It had previously been announced that only the first two Poseidons would operate from the army-controlled Kinloss airfield in Moray while resurfacing work is carried out to reinforce the main runway at nearby RAF Lossiemouth. The first UK P-8 was handed over to the RAF in October and is scheduled to fly to Kinloss in March or early April 2020. The second aircraft will fly to Kinloss at around the same time and the third aircraft will follow it to this airfield by the end of October.
It is hoped that runway resurfacing work at RAF Lossiemouth will have progressed enough for the fourth aircraft to be flown to the airbase, via NAS Jacksonville, by the end of 2020. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Dec 19. NSPA awards contracts for future surveillance and control capabilities. The Nato Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) has awarded contracts to support the development of Nato’s future surveillance and control capabilities. The selected companies will develop high-level technical concepts for the Nato requirement. Awardees include General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, MDA, Airbus and consortiums led by Boeing and L3Harris Technologies. NSPA selected the six contractors under a Nato Security Investment Programme (NSIP). The Boeing ABILITI consortium includes Leonardo, Indra Systems, Thales and Inmarsat.
Members in the L3 Harris team are Videns, Musketter Solutions, Hensoldt Sensors, 3SDL, Synergeticon, IBM UK, and Deloitte Consulting & Advisory.
Nato is working on acquiring a follow-on capability to replace the AWACS fleet, which is expected to retire in 2035.
The organisation set up the Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (AFSC) project for the requirement. It wants the industry to develop new concepts to meet future surveillance and control capabilities.
AFSC project manager Cagatay Soyer said: “We are very impressed with the strong industry participation and interest shown for this visionary project and we look forward to the first concept results in the coming months.”
The Concept Stage of the AFSC project was launched in 2017. NSPA is tasked with undertaking studies and developing concepts to help Nato in arriving at the decision to procure new systems.
NSPA stated that the programme will involve concept development and assessment activities in the period between 2020 and 2022.
Nato will assess and select the ‘most promising’ concepts, which will undergo advanced development in the next phase of the programme. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
09 Dec 19. DJI Drone Detection System Passes UK’s National Infrastructure Protection Agency’s Evaluation. DJI AeroScope to be included in CPNI Catalogue of Security Equipment. DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and creative camera technology, is pleased to announce that its AeroScope drone detection system has been evaluated and passed by the UK’s Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure. The ready-to-use system which can identify, track and monitor airborne drones, was assessed successfully under the CPNI Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (CUAS) Detect, Track and Identify (DTI) Testing and Evaluation Standard and will be included in the CPNI Catalogue of Security Equipment (CSE).
“Whether implementing safety features into DJI drones or developing protocols such as our ‘Elevating Safety: Protecting The Skies In The Drone Era’, DJI recognises the importance of working with all stakeholders to ensure a safer flying environment for everyone,” said Christian Struwe, Director of Public Policy, DJI EMEA. “It’s fantastic news that our DJI AeroScope system has been recognised by the UK’s Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, as a remote-ID solution to enable authorities to identify who is flying near sensitive locations or in ways that raise serious concerns.”
Aviation regulators in many countries are moving to require remote ID systems for drones as a solution to concerns about drone safety and security and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will impose remote ID requirements in July 2020. DJI’s AeroScope system is consistent with its problem-solving approach to drone regulation, which aims to strike a reasonable balance between authorities’ need to identify drones that raise concerns and drone pilots’ right to fly without pervasive surveillance. DJI has led the industry with safety and security advances such as geofencing and sense-and-avoid technology, and believes the rapid pace of innovation provides the best means to address new policy concerns.
AeroScope works with all current models of DJI drones, which analysts estimate comprise over two-thirds of the global civilian drone market. Since AeroScope transmits on a DJI drone’s existing communications link, it does not require new on-board equipment or modifications, or require extra steps or costs to be incurred by drone operators. Other drone manufacturers can easily configure their existing and future drones to transmit identification information in the same way.
During the CNPI’s assessment they found AeroScope was very simple to set up, learn and use with an intuitive interface. It responded to multiple UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) operating concurrently and the detection, tracking and identification performance was consistent.
AeroScope is now included in the CPNI Catalogue of Security Equipment (CSE), and further information will be available on the CPNI’s public website next year.
04 Dec 19. US Air Force calls industry meeting day for C-sUAS research contract. The USAF Research Laboratory, Information Directorate, Rome NY (AFRL/RI) will be conducting an Industry Day for the C-sUAS acquisition. The purpose of this meeting is to provide interested companies/entities with an overview of the C-sUAS contract, promote an early exchange of information, and provide an opportunity for both the Government and Industry to gather more information prior to the Draft RFP and RFP being issued.
A general session will be held the morning of 16 December 2019 for interested parties to obtain information from the Government Program Management and Contracting team. The team will also be hosting 20-minute private appointments the afternoon of the same day. When registering, please indicate if a 20-minute private appointment is desired. Due to space constraints, attendance will be limited to two individuals per company. Representatives must be cleared through the company they are registered with. Attendees must be US citizens.
AFRL/RI has a requirement to provide a focused yet flexible, rapid, agile contracting vehicle between Air Force Research Laboratory, its products centers, and the operational community to support rapid research, development, prototyping, demonstration, evaluation, and transition of Counter small Unmanned Aircraft System (C-sUAS) capabilities. These capabilities are to be used in combating Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS)—and others leveraging COTS technology—presently being used by our adversaries in asymmetric warfare against US military personnel and materiel. Emphasis will be placed on: a) development of technology capability solutions that address specific user requirements; b) delivery of prototype technologies for evaluation and feedback in the context of the user’s operational environment; and c) provision of a mechanism for user acquisition of limited product quantities required for operational introduction of technologies. Anticipated deliverables include software, hardware, technical documentation and technical reports.
For the aforementioned requirements, the Government anticipates a single award Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite-Quantity (ID/IQ) research and development (R&D) contract with Cost-Plus-Fixed-Fee Completion (CPFF/C) Task Orders, an ordering period of 72 months, and a maximum ordering amount of approximately USD490,000,000.
A Draft Request for Proposal (RFP) for this effort is anticipated to be released during the 1st quarter of CY 2020. Potential Offerors will be encouraged to review and comment on the Draft RFP, including the Statement of Work (SOW) and Sections L and M. Please monitor this notice for updates.
Note: The 16 December industry day is not a “bidder’s conference” and this announcement is not a contract, request for proposal, a promise to contract, or a commitment of any kind. The Government will not assume liability for costs incurred by any offeror for presentations, marketing efforts or data offered for examination; therefore the cost of preparing information in response to this notice is not considered an allowable direct charge to the Government.
Department of Defense Notice ID: FA875020R1000 Air Force Research laboratory
(updated 3 December 2019)
Industry Day: Monday, December 16, 2019
Location: Griffiss Institute, 725 Daedalian Dr., Rome NY 13441
Contact Information: firstname.lastname@example.org Donna Toole, C-sUAS Acquisition Program Manager
Alternative contact: Matthew Zawisza: email@example.com
Registration deadline Monday December 09, 2019
For more information visit:
06 Dec 19. US Navy researches ML techniques to improve drone detection. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division (NSWC Crane) is working on a research project to improve drone detection capability. NSWC Crane partnered with Old Dominion University (ODU) to research drone detection technologies based on machine learning (ML). Under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), researchers will implement ML methods to detect and identify unmanned aerial systems based on their classification of radio frequency (RF) signals. The objective of the collaborative work is to deliver a portable system that can support the warfighters in constrained and remote environments. The partnership will apply the latest technology to RF signals to deliver the capability.
The project team includes ODU Virginia Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center associate director Dr Sachin Shetty and his undergraduate student research assistant Michael Nilsen.
The duo developed ML techniques to enable adaptive detection of UAS systems. The method successfully completed evaluation at outdoor test ranges.
Dr Shetty said: “The benefits of using this machine learning technique is that no matter what types or models of drones made in the future, the technique can detect them. We didn’t want to create a technique that would be tied to a certain drone model and have to constantly change it.”
“Where the warfighters needs to use rapid drone detection technology, there is often no internet. They need a mobile, lightweight, and packable solution that works in a resource-constrained environment.
“Essentially, we are able to give the warfighter an RF classification toolbox on a device the size of a phone.”
Shetty added that algorithms were tested in multiple rural and urban environments. (Source: naval-technology.com)
06 Dec 19. First modernised P-3 delivered to Chile. The first of two Chilean Navy Lockheed P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft (MPAs) undergoing modernisation and mid-life upgrade work in Canada was delivered back to Chile in the first week of December. Work on the aircraft started in April 2017 under a USD36m contract awarded to IMP from Halifax, Nova Scotia. The second aircraft, which has been undergoing work since mid-2018, is expected to be ready and delivered within the first half of 2020. The Chilean Navy has a third P-3 in its inventory, which could also potentially be sent to Canada to undergo the same works. The work performed in Canada included the check and replacement of structural pieces and sections of fuselage and control surfaces that were worn or fatigued, as well as the complete replacement of the wings by LMA. (Source: Jane’s)
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.