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26 Jan 23. US Army Guardsman Wins CENTCOM Innovation Contest with C-UAS Software. Massachusetts Army National Guard Sgt. Mickey Reeve won the U.S. Central Command’s Innovation Oasis contest this fall for his counter-unmanned aerial system training software.
The tool simulates U.S. military c-UAS operating systems allowing operators to train with adjustable scenarios and locations. The customizable trainer can be used by teams to sharpen reaction time, refine engagement drills and streamline communications.
“This tool will potentially have the ability to influence operators to become more proficient at their jobs, which could positively impact the mission and save lives,” Reeve said. “I think it is going to be a massive benefit to our organization.”
For CENTCOM, the contest was a way to find a practical idea that could help the joint force and inspire change across the command.
“This program is about building a culture of innovation across all of CENTCOM,” said Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of CENTCOM. “It’s about finding those great ideas hidden from view inside a squad, trapped inside of a ship, locked down in a cubicle in one of our bases, or tucked away in an aircraft hangar. We want to unlock, embrace, and then uplift those ideas and then implement them across the entire organization.”
Reeve came up with the winning idea while assigned to the Prince Sultan Air Base counter UAS team. Noticing a training gap within their simulators, he used his programming background to find a solution.
“I’m somebody that’s always had that work-oriented mindset, and I’m always craving that next thing to do,” he said. “This was a great opportunity for me to provide that outlet and to work on a solution that I found for my base.”
After seeing flyers for Innovation Oasis, he decided to enter and spent hours refining a functional prototype for his pitch. Thanks to the help from those around him, the Interim Platform Agnostic Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System Trainer was born.
“My team did a fantastic job of supporting me the entire way,” he said. “None of this would’ve been possible without them.”
CENTCOM awarded Reeve the Defense Meritorious Service Medal for winning Innovation Oasis. He was also given the ability to attend the military school of his choice during the calendar year.
Following the selection, Reeve went on a tour of Washington, D.C. and the Middle East to promote not only his idea, but innovation throughout CENTCOM. The hope was that hearing Reeve’s journey would inspire other service members.
“The ideas are out there and they’re good ideas,” he said. “We have a tremendous talent pool throughout our organization.”
Army Futures Command’s Software Factory will work on bringing Reeve’s idea to the field.
With the success of the first Innovation Oasis, CENTCOM is already planning for another contest this spring with the hope it will be even bigger. (Source: UAS VISION/US Army)
26 Jan 23. The US Army wanted its new futuristic do-it-all goggles to make soldiers more lethal by improving their communications, situational awareness, and marksmanship capabilities, all in one high-tech package. But a new assessment from the Defense Department’s top weapons tester suggests that the cumbersome new system is actually making soldiers worse at their jobs — and soldiers absolutely hate it.
The Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) 1.0 was subjected to an operational demonstration during May and June of last year “to support a production and rapid fielding decision,” according to the Pentagon’s Directors of Operational Testing & Evaluation’s (DOT&E) fiscal year 2022 assessment of DoD weapons systems.
The results of the demonstration weren’t pretty. Not only did the system not “demonstrate improvements” to deficiencies identified during previous hands-on testing from active-duty soldiers, but the infantry company that tested the system “was more successful accomplishing their operational missions with their current equipment than with IVAS 1.0,” according to the DOT&E assessment.
“Soldiers hit fewer targets and engaged targets more slowly with IVAS 1.0 than with their current equipment on the buddy team live fire range,” the assessment says.
A ruggedized version of Microsoft’s Hololens 2 headset, the IVAS is intended to “[integrate] next-generation 24/7 situational awareness tools and high-resolution simulations to deliver a single platform that improves soldier sensing, decision making, target acquisition, and target engagement,” according to the Army.
While these performance issues are potentially attributable to the learning curve associated with integrating new technology into existing infantry operations, the DOT&E assessment also indicates that “user acceptance remains low” for the IVAS. Soldiers simply “prefer their current equipment (Nett Warrior and PVS14 and Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular [ENVG-B] night vision devices)” over the IVAS.
There are two distinct reasons for this detailed in the DOT&E report. First, a “majority” of soldiers who participated in the operational demonstration “reported at least one symptom of physical impairment to include disorientation, dizziness, eyestrain, headaches, motion sickness and nausea, neck strain and tunnel vision.” These issues were first reported by Bloomberg back in October.
The second reason is a bit simpler: the IVAS simply can’t get the job done compared to legacy equipment. Soldiers “cited IVAS 1.0’s poor low-light performance, display quality, cumbersomeness, poor reliability, inability to distinguish friend from foe, difficulty shooting, physical impairments and limited peripheral vision as reasons for their dissatisfaction,” per the DOT&E assessment.
The Army knows that IVAS 1.0 is something of a lemon. Indeed, as Task & Purpose previously reported, the service awarded a “task order” to Microsoft in mid-December to develop a new variant of the system known as IVAS 1.2 that will include a new form factor designed to address the “physiological impacts identified during testing,” the service announced in January.
According to Breaking Defense, the Army still plans on fielding the 5,000 IVAS 1.0 units it’s currently procuring from Microsoft at $46,000 a pop to training units and Army Recruiting command for a total price tag of $230m.
In the meantime, the service and Microsoft will start work on an IVAS 1.1 system that will “maintain the current helmet-like display but add in an improved low-light sensor to aid maneuver and positive target identification,” according to Breaking Defense, with those units headed to non-light infantry units sometime by 2024.
Until the 1.1 and 1.2 IVAS variants prove effective, the Army is hedging its bets. As Defense Daily reported in December, the fiscal year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act included a $360m cut to the Army’s planned IVAS buy, restoring $300m for ENVG-B procurement instead. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://taskandpurpose.com/)
25 Jan 23. Reutech develops ship navigation radar receiver. Reutech Radar has developed a passive ship navigation radar receiver that can detect ‘dark’ vessels that have switched off their AIS transponders, but not their navigation radar.
Anthony Green, Specialist: Systems and Solutions at Reutech Radar Systems, told defenceWeb that the RIS 100 Navigation Radar Intercept Sensor (NRIS) came about from the fact that although vessels may switch off their Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders, they are highly unlikely to switch off their navigation radars, as this would constitute a major safety hazard.
When vessels deliberately switch off their AIS transponders, it is highly likely they are doing something illegal, such as illegally fishing, smuggling, dumping waste oil at sea, engaging in piracy etc. Sometimes vessels turn off their AIS for good reason, such as trying to avoid pirates in dangerous waters like the Gulf of Guinea, but such actions are in the minority.
“Going dark” is especially common among trawlers engaged in transshipment, or the illegal transfer of fish from one vessel to another. Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing costs West African nations alone $2.3 bn each year, according to the United Nations, but is a worldwide problem. It is estimated that only 20% of Chinese fishing vessels of West Africa switch on their AIS.
AIS receivers have been in use since 2008 and were meant to support safe navigation and collision avoidance by automatically transferring information about a vessel to other ships. AIS has increasingly has been used in fisheries enforcement.
One method of detecting dark ships is to use radar, but that requires an active radar signal, which could in theory be detected by the target vessel. Reutech’s NRIS is passive, so it is highly discreet. Green told defenceWeb that Reutech’s system is the only such solution in the world.
One NRIS system has been installed at the Slangkop lighthouse in Kommetjie for trials. The system has already received its first order, from a southeast Asian customer, and according to Green has been very well received.
The RIS 100 NRIS is a Radar Electronic Support Measures (R-ESM) receiver that covers the X-band marine radar frequency (S-band will be added at a later stage) and provides a bearing line (strobe) on the emitting radar. “The accuracies delivered by the sensor allow for correlation between RIS 100 strobes, Automatic Identification System reports and, if available, radar tracks to identify commercial shipping that have not activated their AIS transmitters,” Reutech explained.
The sensor may also provide early indication of a vessel approaching from over the horizon since the mast-head navigation radar may be detected before a vessel’s own radar detects the hull of the arriving vessel. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
23 Jan 23. Epirus wins $66m Army contract for drone-frying Leonidas microwave kit. Epirus, a U.S. company specializing in directed energy and its defense applications, secured a $66m prototyping contract with the U.S. Army, as the service attempts to counter a proliferating number of overhead threats.
Under the deal handled by the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, or RCCTO, Epirus will this year furnish several prototypes of its counter-drone and counter-electronics high-power microwave kit, known as Leonidas. The latest version of Leonidas, according to the company, was introduced in April.
“Time and time again, we’ve seen that current air defense systems are ill-equipped to tackle the threat of autonomous drone swarms,” Epirus CEO Ken Bedingfield said in a statement Jan. 23. “This contract with the RCCTO brings new counter-swarm capability to the UAS fight with our cost-effective, modular and upgradable Leonidas systems.”
The RCCTO serves as a bridge between the science-and-technology community and the Army’s program executive offices, shepherding promising tech out of the lab and into soldiers’ hands. With the Leonidas equipment, the California-based company is focusing on the service’s indirect fire protection capability investment, meant to tackle rockets, artillery, mortars, missiles and, more broadly, unmanned aerial threats. High-power microwave systems use bursts of energy to disrupt or destroy distant electronics.
Military adoption and deployment of drones has mushroomed in recent years, with Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine again pushing their use into the popular spotlight.
Footage captured by drones can inform military planning and strikes; they can also be outfitted with explosives and other ordnance to wreak havoc from afar. A military base in Syria used by U.S. and local forces was attacked with three drones earlier this month. Two were shot down, according to U.S. Central Command.
“As the threat environment continues to evolve, so, too, will our capabilities,” Bedingfield said Monday, “ensuring the U.S. Army is equipped with effective countermeasures to near-term and over-the-horizon electronic threats for decades to come.”
Epirus in October announced it and General Dynamics Land Systems successfully mounted a Leonidas array onto a Stryker combat vehicle and then ran it through testing, at which it fried both individual drones and collective swarms. The so-called Stryker Leonidas, developed in less than one year, was on display that same month at the annual Association of the U.S. Army convention. (Source: Defense News)
23 Jan 23. US and South Korean troops “detect unmanned aerial vehicle in South Korea” say reports. According to a report released in Stars & Stripes and reported by UAS Vision, US forces stopped an unauthorised drone flying near a military outpost that hosts a missile-defense system in South Korea.
“US and South Korean troops detected an unmanned aerial vehicle flying near Forward Operating Site Carroll, near Camp Carroll in Seongju County, roughly 130 miles south of Seoul, Eighth Army spokesman Lt. Col. Neil Penttila wrote in an email Wednesday to Stars & Stripes. The troops “swiftly acted to deny its entry” and an investigation is ongoing, he said.
“The site houses a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, also known as THAAD. The United States deployed the anti-missile battery to South Korea in 2017 as a defense against threats from North Korea, U.S. Forces Korea said at the time. A U.S. soldier at the site spotted the drone at 12:54 p.m. Tuesday, according to a Yonhap News report the next day that cited South Korean military officials. The U.S. military used a jamming system to intercept the drone, causing it to possibly crash, the officials reportedly said.
“A search for the drone was underway Wednesday but military officials do not believe it originated in North Korea, according to Yonhap’s report. South Korea’s military is attuned to drone incursions after North Korea sent five of them into the country’s airspace on Dec. 26. The South scrambled fighter jets and deployed helicopters to northern Seoul and the western coast, where the drones were spotted.
“None of the drones were captured and at least one is believed to have returned to North Korea, the Ministry of National Defense said last month. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time apologized for failing to capture any of the drones and said it was difficult tracking them due to their small size,” says Stars and Stripes.
For more information visit: www.stripes.com; www.uasvision.com
18 Jan 23. Hidden Level and Saab progressing FAA UAS detection and mitigation research. Hidden Level, Inc. reports it continues to support the FAA’s Airport Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Detection and Mitigation Research Program, both independently and as a partner to Saab, Inc.
According to the company: “The FAA first announced an effort to test and evaluate technologies and systems that could detect and mitigate potential safety risks posed by unmanned aircraft at and near airports in August of 2020. Five airports were selected for participation in the testing program, including Syracuse Hancock International Airport. Hidden Level deployed its Airspace Monitoring Service for evaluation as a standalone solution as well as a complementary technology to Saab’s SAFE Airport Event Management system in the spring of 2022. The FAA’s UAS detection and mitigation research is expected to continue through 2023. The results from this testing and evaluation effort will be used to assist with planning for certifying, permitting, or authorizing UAS detection and mitigation technologies at airports around the country. Hidden Level’s Airspace Monitoring Service (AMS) offers an additional level of situational awareness, providing a very robust surveillance picture,” reported the company. “Using passive RF technology, sensors interpret a 3D location, classification, and other identifiers to provide UAS and operator geolocation data. With drone surveillance integration, airport operators can manage drone threats in the same way they manage other high-impact events at their airport.”
For more information: https://www.newswire.com/news/hidden-level-saab-continue-uas-research-work-with-the-faa-21926096?utm_content=234856782&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin&hss_channel=lcp-18760229 (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
17 Jan 23. USMC “approves next step in Iron Dome acquisition.” Breaking Defense reports that following a trio of live-fire tests that wrapped up last year, the US Marine Corps recently approved the next stage of development for a mobile air defense capability based in part on Israel’s Iron Dome system.
“The Corps’ Milestone Decision Authority met on Dec. 13, 2022 and approved the Medium-Range Intercept Capability (MRIC) program to move forward with the certification process, according to Barbara Hamby, a spokesperson for the USMC Program Executive Officer (PEO) Land Systems,” said the report.
During 2023 a series of activities will take place culminating with a quick reaction assessment for the MRIC prototype, under the Middle Tier Acquisition Rapid Prototyping framework.
IRON DOME™ is a combat proven system that detects, assesses and intercepts incoming artillery such as: C-RAM, Cruise Missiles, Precise Guided Missiles (PGM), UAVs, Air Breathing Threats (ABTs) and dense salvos.
For more information: https://breakingdefense-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/breakingdefense.com/2023/01/marines-greenlight-mobile-iron-dome-launcher-development-seek-2025-prototype-fielding/?amp=1 (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
19 Jan 23. Dedrone partners with G4S to support Latvian police operations. Dedrone has today announced that it has entered a partnership with G4S, an Allied Universal® company, covering Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). G4S will now offer Dedrone’s command and control (C2) drone detection, tracking and identification (DTI) solution suite to its customers in more than 50 countries across EMEA.
“This partnership with Dedrone enables us to add another layer in our risk-based assessment approach, to assess the customer specific threat level, in perimeter and airspace protection. Dedrone’s ability to easily integrate with third-party products also means that our customers can quickly incorporate counter-Uncrewed Aerial System (cUAS) capabilities into their existing security infrastructure,” said Erik Deleersnyder, Regional Director Technology Solutions Development at G4S.
The State Police of Latvia is one of G4S’s first clients to benefit from this new partnership, with Dedrone used to establish a mobile drone detection system for large events in Riga, according to a company press release.
“This detection equipment is a significant addition to the State Police of Latvia’s ability to effectively control the traffic of Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The first tests with Dedrone have proven that it’s of a high quality; it will undoubtedly improve our ability to strengthen Latvia’s internal national security.” said State Police of Latvia representative with responsibility for Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) and air navigation, Māris Vitkovski. “These devices make it possible to determine the height, route and, most importantly, the location of a drone’s remote pilot, which is essential for detecting any potential law-breaking. We will use Dedrone to ensure public safety, including during public events, in order to prevent violations, including those that may threaten the safety of the public.”
Latvia has 6000 registered drone pilots and many more who are not licensed, so the police need to strike a balancing act between guarding against the risk of drones and allowing people the freedom to use them in a safe and responsible way. For more information: www.dedrone.com
19 Jan 23. North Rhine-Westphalia police start operations with ESG’s Elysion counter-UAS software. At the end of November 2022 the North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) police announced its decision to procure ESG’s ELYSION software. Police forces in NRW are now using ESG’s counter-UAS software, reports the company, following a series of operational tests by the Drone Defence Operational Advisory Centre at the NRW Central Police Office. ELYSION also demonstrated its operational readiness at last year’s G7 summit in Elmau, Germany.
“ELYSION is a comprehensive further development of the GUARDION software core consisting of processing core intelligence and highly networked, map-based situation display,” says the company report. “The extensive operational experience and feedback from various civilian, police and military customers and users have been directly incorporated into the ELYSION software, so that it reflects the diverse and highly complex requirements of operations in an ideal way.”
There was also a successful acceptance of the “Defence System against Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” (Abwehrsystem gegen unbemannte Luftfahrzeuge – ASUL for short) by the German Armed Forces in summer of last year.
For more information: https://esg.de/de/blog/a/2212/polizei-nrw-entscheidet-sich-bei-drohnenabwehr-fuer-esg-software-elysion (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
21 Jan 23. DroneSec reports 60% increase in drone incidents in 2022 compared with 2021. Drone threat intelligence company DroneSec has published a review of major drone incidents recorded in 2022, compared with incidents in 2021. According to the report: In 2022, DroneSec recorded two thousand, five hundred and fifty-four (2,554) artefacts which equates to roughly seven artefacts per day in 2022.
Overall, 2022 saw a significant increase in number of drone incidents, peaking at 223 incidents in November 2022, a 130 per cent increase from January 2022. This likely signifies the increase in number of drone operators, threat actors and malicious groups utilising drones for illicit deeds. Drones are more easily attainable today with heavy-lift and fixed wing drones, typically meant for agricultural uses, also available on e-commerce websites. This accessibility allows criminal groups to possess such drones easily and modify them to carry heavy loads of contraband for illegal deliveries, or to fit the drones with explosives for strike purposes, says DroneSec.
Key observations compared to 2021 include:
– 60% increase in overall drone incidents
– 140% increase in residential incidents
– 130% increase in in event spaces or areas of interest incidents
– 100% increase in government & critical infrastructure incidents
– 50% increase in border incidents
– 40% increase in prison deliveries
– 30% increase in aerodrome incidents
The countries that experienced the most incidents included:
India – 15%
Canada – 11%
USA – 10%
UK – 9%
Myanmar – 8%
Ukraine – 6%
The drone make/models that were involved in the most incidents:
DJI Mavic 2
DJI Phantom 4
DJI Mavic 3
The known seizure and apprehension rates for all incidents was:
Seizure of the drone – 17%
Apprehension of the operator – 5%
DroneSec records incidents and events that revolve around the use of drones, their innovation, and counter measures. We classify drone incidents as events where drones were used as a medium in the conduct of illicit acts. Events include drones used for the transportation of weapons, narcotics and/or contraband across borders or restricted areas. Similarly, events where drones were sighted to have infringed airspace boundaries of manned aircrafts or areas with no-fly-zones such as hospitals or airports are also classified as drone incidents.
For more information visit: www.dronesec.com
Blighter Surveillance Systems is a world-leading designer and manufacturer of best-in-class electronic-scanning ground-based radars, surveillance solutions and Counter-UAS systems. Blighter’s solid-state micro-Doppler products are deployed in more than 35 countries across the globe, delivering consistent all-weather security protection and wide area surveillance along borders, coastlines, at military bases and across critical infrastructure such as airports, oil and gas facilities and palaces. Blighter radars are also used to protect manoeuvre force missions when deployed on military land vehicles and trailers, and its world-beating multi-mode radar represents a great leap in threat detection technology and affordability for use in a variety of scenarios.
The Blighter range of radar products are used for detecting a variety of threats, from individuals on foot to land vehicles, boats, drones and low-flying aircraft at ranges of up to 32 km. Blighter Surveillance Systems employs 40 people and is located near Cambridge, UK, where it designs, produces and markets its range of unique patented solid-state radars. Blighter prides itself on being an engineer-led business committed to providing cost-effective and flexible solutions across the defence, critical infrastructure and national security markets.