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20 Nov 20. France orders Falcon 2000 LXS maritime surveillance aircraft. The French ministry for the armed forces has awarded Dassault Aviation a contract for the construction of seven Falcon 2000 LXS aircraft in the maritime surveillance configuration. France plans on eventually ordering a total of 12 such platforms for the navy. Florence Parly, the French minister for the armed forces explained on 19 November, while visiting a Dassault aviation factory in Seclin in the north of France, that the new platforms will not only replace the current aircraft operated by the French Navy but will also bring increased capabilities. She specified that the Falcon 2000 LXS will be equipped with a tactical datalink system, a mission system, the Thales Searchmaster radar, the Safran Euroflir electro-optical turret, a search and rescue beacon detection device, air-droppable liferafts, observation windows, secured military communications, and a secured GPS receiver. Maximum flight time will reach 8 hours.
The studies for the Avion de Surveillance et d’Intervention Maritime (AVISMAR), maritime surveillance and intervention aircraft programme were launched in November 2018. The programme aims at replacing the five Falcon 200 Gardians and the eight Falcon 50Ms currently operated by the French Navy. The Gardians will be taken out of service in 2025 and the Falcon 50Ms in 2029. Both types will have served for more than 40 years. (Source: Jane’s)
19 Nov 20. Black Sage Awarded CUAS Radar System Contract by United States Air Force. Recent Selection by the Air Force Extends Black Sage’s CUAS Collaboration with the Department of Defense.
In order to provide the precise targeting data required by the THOR system, Black Sage utilized its proprietary DefenseOS® software to receive and process data from the CUAS radars and export the data to the US military’s Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control (FAAD C2). During a successful evaluation, the integrated CUAS radar system, FAAD C2 and THOR weapon targeted and defeated drones.
“We are pleased to announce the Air Force purchased a CUAS radar system from Black Sage to integrate with AFRL’s THOR weapon,” said Trent Morrow, Black Sage’s Chief Strategy Officer. “This is another step forward in Black Sage’s relationship with the Air Force.”
THOR is a counter-swarm electromagnetic weapon developed by AFRL for defense of airbases. The system provides non-kinetic defeat of multiple targets. It operates from a wall plug and uses energy to disable drones. The system uses High Power Microwaves (HPM) to cause a counter electronic effect. Targets are identified, the silent weapon discharges in a nanosecond, and the impact is instantaneous.
Black Sage’s DefenseOS® open architecture command and control software enables rapid integration of CUAS sensors and effectors. Since the company’s founding in 2014, DefenseOS® has facilitated the integration of over 30 CUAS sensors and effectors.
In the continuous pursuit of the highest performing CUAS sensors and effectors, Black Sage has evaluated five different Passive RF components and multiple radar sensors in this calendar year alone. These component evaluations also allow Black Sage to serve customers as an “honest broker” with respect to manufacturer claims and actual performance.
Black Sage is honored to be selected by the Air Force to provide a CUAS radar system within the scope of AFRL’s THOR program. The company looks forward to continuing its unwavering support of the Department of Defense and its CUAS mission.
About Black Sage
Black Sage is a CUAS solutions provider and systems integration partner, serving military organizations, internal security agencies, and airport authorities worldwide. Our mission is to protect civilian and military personnel from unmanned threats. Black Sage’s open architecture DefenseOS® command and control software is the nerve center that controls industry leading sensors and effectors required for a modular, layered air defense network. The company’s Innovation Lab coupled with our three research facilities representing urban, rural, and remote environments enables continuous, rapid prototyping, testing and deployment. These resources allow Black Sage to address the constant evolution of UAS threat capabilities. (Source: PR Newswire)
20 Nov 20. Plan to enhance Australian radar capability unveiled. The latest sovereign capability implementation plan has been published by Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price, outlining key priorities for the development of enhanced radar capability.
The Department of Defence has released its latest implementation plan for its Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities — Enhanced active phased array and passive radar capability.
This forms part of the government’s Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan announced earlier this year, which aims to build a “robust, resilient and internationally competitive” Australian defence industry.
This latest plan outlines four critical industrial capabilities, which Defence seeks to gain access to or control over:
- Active and passive radar design and production — research, design, assembly, integration and upgrade of advanced radar technologies that offer scalable and capable radars for use in the maritime, land and air environments;
- Adaptive methods — Research and development of adaptive methods to enable superior performance in contested and degraded environments;
- System design and integration skills — Development of complex radar systems engineering, hardware and real-time software engineering skills to design and integrate technologies within the radar, including improved data and sensor fusion; and
- Sustainment of advance radar systems — Skills, equipment and facilities necessary to maintain and provide ongoing assurance of leading radar systems.
Accordingly, Defence has set out a plan to attain the following capabilities in collaboration with industry over the coming years:
- Modelling and simulation – Access to the skills, tools and facilities that would help Defence form an understanding of the threat profiles and environmental factors that would support design, development and testing in a classified environment; and
- Test facilities – Access to large and secure anechoic chambers for radio frequency quiet field testing.
Defence has set out an implementation timeline, with specific responsibilities delegated to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, the Joint Capabilities Group, Vice Chief of the Defence Force – Future Force Design, and the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG).
The timeline includes an exploratory study on advanced semiconductor technology design and manufacture (late 2021), aimed at assessing the viability of establishing an in-country semiconductor production capability.
Defence will also develop a strategic plan and associated technology roadmap of the capability expectations and technology evolution projection for the next 15 years, designed to provide visibility of acquisition and support programs to guide industry investments, innovation, collaboration, and research and development efforts.
“Australia boasts world-leading active phased array radar capability and we have enormous potential in the development of passive radar systems and related technologies,” Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said.
“We need a strong partnership with Australian industry to maintain and grow the capability advantage provided by our innovative Australian companies and their substantial expertise in these radar systems.
“This latest Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Plan demonstrates the Morrison government’s commitment to enhancing those critical capabilities in Australia.”
The release of this latest roadmap follows the publication of the Combat Clothing, and the Munitions and Small Arms Plans in December 2019, the Land Combat and Protected Vehicles Plan in August 2020, and the Aerospace Platform Deeper Maintenance and Structural Integrity Implementation Plan earlier this month. (Source: Defence Connect)
17 Nov 20. DroneShield highlights DroneOptID’s AI-driven UAS identification capabilities. DroneShield has introduced a new artificial intelligence (AI)-based optical system, DroneOptID, to its DroneSentry counter-unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS) suite, improving the system’s ability to detect and identify UAS platforms and their payloads.
DroneOptID is co-developed with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), with funding from the Australian government and local authorities in New South Wales. The software is integrated with DroneSentry’s cameras, using a computer vision system to analyse a target.
DroneShield CEO Oleg Vornik said the software is hardware-agnostic and enables the camera to pick up an image of a UAS, identify the platform, and then classify the UAV’s payload, whether that is explosives or a camera or other sensor.
While automated identification has been present in security cameras for several years, it has mainly focused on tracking humans or vehicles on the ground, Vornik told Janes.
However, identifying a small UAS presents a different challenge. For example, it could be travelling at speeds of up to 20 m/s. It can also be challenging to identify a white-coloured UAS against a cloudy white sky.
The software uses a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) model, Vornik said, which essentially matches the objects it sees in the sky against a large library of datasets.
“Often in the non-AI world, you have almost a binary approach: a human might look at something and ask if it is a match or not a match,” Vornik explained. “The AI approach is more about probabilities – it says, how likely is this object to match the target that you’re looking for?” (Source: Jane’s)
10 Nov 20. Israeli researchers and industry increase counter-UAS capabilities. Arie Egozi reports on new research and industrial developments in Israel to increase anti-drone protection capabilities
The attack by Iran on Saudi oil facilities in September 2019 came as a surprise to both US and Saudi Arabian intelligence agencies. The weapon systems used in the combined attack performed by cruise missiles and armed drones included seven Quds 1 cruise missiles powered by Iranian-built jet engines derived from a Czech engine.
The Quds-1 is believed to be similar to the Soumar long range cruise missile but simpler and much cheaper.The Iranians also used eight armed drones that were developed in Iran based on technology acquired in other countries. While the targeting method is not known, the Israeli experts pointed to the accuracy of the weapon systems: they “hit exactly where they should,” one of the experts said.
The experts add that the weapon systems were launched either from South–east Iran or by Iranian proxies in Iraq.
Israel has been worried by the cruise missiles threat and in recent years has accelerated its efforts to prepare for such attacks.
Uzi Rubin, former head of the Israel missile defence organization, has investigated the attack. He says that it was highly concentrated and began and ended in a short period of time. He adds that the swarms of attacking drones arrived at a fairly tight structure, throughout the flight, from take-off to impact.
“The attacking drones seemed to carry fairly small warheads, or no warheads at all, and the damage done was more to the containers’ outer shells. This helped the attackers politically…The restraint of the attack planners, who have carefully limited its power to cause economic damage but not loss of life, is noteworthy,” he said.
Researchers at Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva in southern Israel, are developing a detection system which they say is unique in its ability to pinpoint the location of the drone operator. The research is being led by Dr Gera Weiss and conducted by lead researcher Eliyahu Mashhadi. “We insert all the points along the flight path into a deep neural network that is trained to be able to predict the exact launch point and the location of the drone operator” Mashhadi said. The researcher explained that while testing the model with the flight simulator, a 78% accurate location was achieved. A new system under development goes a stage further and locates the operator so he/she can be neutralized before another drone launch.
Meanwhile, Israel’s counter-UAS industry is also gearing up its capabilities with new partnerships and product launches. Among some of the most significant recent activities Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) recently entered a collaboration agreement for the integration of interception capabilities into the company’s anti-drone system, Drone Guard. The intercepting drone developed by the Iron Drone start-up can be launched during day or night from a docking station that hosts several ready-to-use drones. Several intercepting drones can be launched simultaneously to address several targets or swarms.
According to Alex Levit, director of marketing and business development in Elta, the IAI subsidiary, the Iron Drone is designed to intercept hostile drones: “We see this drone as a complementary system to our Drone Guard which uses an X-band radar, either static or carried by two soldiers. In other configurations we can offer the system with a rectangular antenna that covers 360 degrees or a rotation antenna when the radar is carried by a vehicle.”
Rafael has also developed an integrated UAS and drone interception system, the Drone Dome, and recently integrated a laser weapon into the system.
According to Col (Ret) Meir Ben Shaya, Business Development Director Air & Missile Defense Systems Division at Rafael: “In the coming years every sensitive site will be protected by such a system, and every convoy of a high ranking official like a president “. In addition to the laser gun Drone Dome also features a jamming system for disrupting communications between the drone and its operator. Drone Dome’s range reaches several miles but causes minimal interruptions to other systems in nearby urban areas, says the company. The standard Drone Dome system comprises a RADA RPS-42 S-band multi-mission hemispheric radar, a Controp MEOS electro-optical (EO)/infrared surveillance suite, a communications package, and the C-Guard RD jamming and NetSense Wideband detection sensor systems developed by Netline. The UAV and drones threat is neutralized by activation of directional GPS/GNSS and radio-frequency inhibitor/jammer devices.
The Rafael official said that recently the system has been equipped also with a Differential Times of Arrival (DTOA) sensor that increases detection accuracy.
Addressing the increasing demand for protection of vehicles and convoys against hostile drones, Elbit Systems has developed the mobile ReDrone, a vehicular configuration of the company’s operational anti-drone protection and neutralization system. The vehicular version detects, identifies and neutralizes all types of drones (at any radio frequency) within a radius of several kilometers, providing any vehicle with a 360 degrees protection shield against hostile drones. According to Elbit, the ReDrone Vehicular Tactical System works automatically or manually, with no setup or operator control required for the entire process. Its open architecture enables a full data flow to the vehicular control system and an effective interface with command and control centres. With the detection of a hostile drone, the ReDrone Vehicular Tactical System neutralizes all communications between the drone and its operator, including radio, video and GPS signals. The system is also capable of separating a drone’s signals from its operator’s remote control signals in order to locate and track each of them separately.
The SkyLord, “killer” drone, now used by US Special Forces and developed by Xtend, carries “a very light-weight net, flies over the enemy drone, releases the net and kills the props,” the company explains. The company says SkyLord can use current C-UAS sensors to locate the drone but the take-down is managed by a soldier equipped with a simple-to-use handheld controller. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
10 Nov 20. Department 13 delivers counter-drone technology to South-East Asian government. Department 13 has been awarded a contract to deliver counter-drone solutions to a South-East Asian government, the second time the company has been selected in the region.
According to a company press release, a number of Department 13 counter-drone MESMER systems will be strategically placed around critical infrastructure and assets in South-East Asia. The complete turnkey counter-drone solution will detect, identify and mitigate unauthorised drone activities and help the government monitor and manage unauthorised drone usage.
To work in conjunction with the MESMER systems, Department 13 is developing a customised web portal to provide the government with flexible and efficient processes that will enable them to locally add Wi-Fi drones into the system to constantly improve mitigation capabilities. The portal will enable the South-East Asian government to instantly update the systems identification database and action appropriate mitigation responses on a local level in real-time. The web portal is also being built to allow for a seamless integration of MESMER and a number of additional intelligence products developed by other companies that the government uses to enable the detection and mitigation of multiple targets from all directions in an omnidirectional manner.
This project will provide long-term consistent advances in the South-East Asian government operations, safety and security, whilst creating new technology and security jobs within their departments. Training and support services to the government will be provided by Department 13 in collaboration with local system integrator in South-East Asian for the next three years.
Department 13’s Chief Executive Office Lee Croft said, “the MESMER systems and web portal will work together to determine whether a target is a drone, is authorised or unauthorised, and can determine the brand of the drone and its registered user. It will then create a historic list of unwanted and friendly drones, and automatically alert staff and security when there is a potential threat, known or unknown, in the monitored airspace. “This solution will allow the South-East Asian government to conduct their own compliance and risk management, quality assurance, and easily add locally encountered Wi-Fi drones to their MESMER systems and web portal which further improves the systems instant effectiveness. Collaborating with the local South-East Asian system integrator provides us with a quality, long-lasting working relationship and will ensure the systems operate as efficiently as possible.”
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10 Nov 20. Latest software release from Citadel Defense features artificial intelligence and machine learning. US counter UAS equipment supplier Citadel Defense says it has launched a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning software release for its Titan counter drone systems that are deployed across thirteen countries. In a press release, Citadel says its AI and machine learning software has evolved over 27 months of deployments across multiple combatant commands and hundreds of unique environments. As a result of company’s dataset adapted for AI-based drone detection, Citadel says it can cost-effectively extend protection against emerging foreign-built drones.
“Library-limited counter drone systems that are overly complex put important missions at risk along with our servicemen and women. Titan’s use of AI, machine learning, and automated robotics significantly reduces operator stress while accelerating response time,” explains Christopher Williams, CEO of Citadel Defense. “By substantially reducing system complexity, providing an industry-leading low false alarm rate, and delivering the most expansive detection and mitigation threat coverage, Citadel’s customers can focus on their missions without unnecessary and potentially life-threatening distractions,” he adds.
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11 Nov 20. Black Sage assists drone monitoring at Incheon International Airport. Illegal drones were detected close to Incheon International Airport by a C-UAS system featuring Black Sage technology and layered sensors installed at Incheon International Airport according to press release by Black Sage. Air traffic quickly and safely returned to normal due to the efficiency and effectiveness of the airport authority’s security system and protocols.
Black Sage’s DefenseOS command and control software integrates and manages a layered defense network comprising sensors and effectors, and integrates with partner sensor suites to maximise their effectiveness.
“Black Sage is proud to work with our partners at Incheon International Airport Corporation to increase the safety of passengers arriving and departing from their airport,” stated Trent Morrow, Black Sage’s Chief Strategy Officer. “Our Counter UAS solutions are deployed with militaries and airports worldwide protecting people and critical infrastructure.”
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11 Nov 20. QinetiQ completes ‘drone strikes’ review – first task in EASA study into vulnerability of manned aircraft. UK research agency QinetiQ has completed the first deliverable in the three-year Horizon 2020 programme ‘Vulnerability of Manned Aircraft to Drone Strikes’ for the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Drone Collision Task Force. QinetiQ was awarded a EUR 1.8m contract in June 2020 complete the following research by June 2023:
- to deepen the understanding — through experimental testing and simulation techniques — regarding the effects of a potential collision of drones in the consumer / prosumer market segment (‘threat’) with manned aircraft (‘target’); a synthesis report on these simulation and experimental activities and obtained results is planned 24 months after project start;
- to identify drone design strategies aimed at containing the risk that drone-aircraft collision may induce on the aircraft and its occupants; and
- to draft design requirements and test standards for future drones to be put on the market within the EU open category (CE marking) addressing the containment of the above risk.
The programme of work, undertaken by QinetiQ, is spilt into nine tasks, relating to research planning, development and validation, exploitation and mitigation, whilst remaining engaged with Stakeholders.
The Task 1 report just published aims to identify the state-of-the-art in drone collision modelling, explore opportunities to cooperate with other studies, and gather data, methods and conclusions that would benefit the ongoing programme. It provides a summary of the state-of-the-art in both drone collision testing and modelling has been provided, and research cooperation opportunities are proposed. Supporting data to aid in future tasks has been extracted from the identified studies and reported.
According to the report, the literature has shown that – with suitable levels of supporting testing – dynamic finite element (FE) analysis methods provide a credible approach to modelling drone collisions. The range of drone masses considered across all of the reviewed literature show the lowest to be the DJI Spark (0.3kg) up to the DJI Inspire (3.4kg). The range of drones identified fits within the requirements of this programme and so most, if not all, results can be exploited in future tasks. The focus in the literature has been mainly on leading edge impacts and, secondary to that, windshields and engine ingestions. Furthermore, data in the literature is mostly associated with collisions against fixed wing manned aircraft. Hence a number of gaps, notably the lack on collisions against rotorcraft, have been identified which will help direct future efforts within the programme.
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09 Nov 20. First results from Germany’s drone detection tests favour mix of different sensor technologies. German air navigation service provider DFS together with project partners Fraport AG and Flughafen München GmbH have concluded a large-scale test of drone detection system at the two busiest airports in Germany. The partners spent four months testing six different drone detection systems (DDS) at Frankfurt and Munich airports. Last year, DFS was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) to establish systematic drone detection at the 16 designated international German airports and this test project was carried under this mandate. The aim is to detect drones at a distance of 10 nautical miles (18 kilometres) along the approach and departure routes of aircraft to airports.
The detection systems tested had to demonstrate their performance both day and night as well as during a range of manoeuvres with abrupt changes of direction, ascents directly upwards which saw the drones rocket to heights of up to 1,000 feet (about 300 metres) above ground as well as high-speed flights along the runways. Sometimes the drones flew autonomously along predefined flight paths. In other cases, they were controlled manually by professional drone pilots.
According to a DFS press release, a significant result of the test project was that there is no universal solution that can be implemented uniformly at all airports. The solution will be a mix of different sensor technologies, each technology’s individual strengths offsetting the weaknesses of the others. The detailed results of the tests are currently being compiled. The results will be made available to the German Ministry of Transport by the end of this year, together with information on the identification of suitable detection solutions for the 16 designated international airports in Germany. In 2021, DFS will launch a selection procedure for a suitable technology.
For the test project, technical experts at DFS developed special test and evaluation methods for the detection and tracking of drones with reproducible test scenarios, system-supported flight programming and standardised detection analyses. The performance of the systems is assessed by means of a series of statistical computations. “There has never been a more detailed investigation of drone detection systems to date,” said Angela Kies. “Although there have been delays during the one-year period due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we managed to conduct all tests thanks to our well-thought-out hygiene concept.”
Due to their small size, drones are virtually invisible to conventional radar systems. To safely integrate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, or drones) into airspace, both authorised drones and so-called uncooperative drones have to be detected. Uncooperative drones are not visible or identifiable to air traffic control and pose a threat to air traffic at and around airports. A functioning drone detection system is the basis for DFS to maintain safety in air traffic and for the police authorities to be able to initiate effective defensive measures.
Little is known at present about the performance of the detection technologies available on the market. The detection systems already in use at various airports have mostly evolved from military applications and have proven to be ineffective and not very reliable. This reflects the enormous demands placed on the performance of these systems in the airport environment: “Various runway layouts, topographies, building structures and the vegetation in the vicinity make every airport unique,” said Angela Kies, Head of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Department at DFS and DDS project manager.
In addition, detection systems must be able to distinguish drones from other moving objects at airports, such as vehicles, birds or helicopters. The systems must be able to distinguish between a wide range of drones, which are available on the market in all shapes and sizes. This explains why drones of various types were used during the test flights: from agile mini drones to larger multi-rotor systems with higher payload capacity all the way up to fixed-wing drones that can reach speeds of more than 140 kilometres per hour.
Interference from drones is becoming more of a problem
Since 2015, DFS has logged well over 500 cases of interference to air traffic caused by drones at German airports, and the number is increasing. In the spring of this year, Frankfurt, Germany’s busiest airport, was out of service for four and a half hours following two incidents with drones. The upshot is flight cancellations, delays and enormous economic damage. Most importantly, however, drones travelling close to manned air traffic endanger the lives of passengers and aircraft crews. By law, unauthorised drone flights in the vicinity of airports are considered as dangerous interference in air traffic and are punishable with imprisonment for up to ten years in Germany.
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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.