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04 Aug 23. HENSOLDT passive radar available as deployable variant. “Twinvis” enables covert operation at long distances. Sensor solution provider HENSOLDT has developed a new version of its “Twinvis” passive radar, which is now being launched in a fully integrated shelter variant for military use as “Twinvis Military Sheltered”. So far, “Twinvis” has been available as a set-up kit for integration by the customer. A specially established production line at the German HENSOLDT site in Ulm enables the prompt call-off of systems in order to meet the requirements of existing and interested customers at short notice.
“Twinvis” is a passive radar based on the latest digital technology that can be used in long-range military airspace surveillance or, in the medium term, in civil air traffic control. A passive radar acts purely as a receiver, i.e. it does not transmit itself, and locates targets by evaluating reflected signals from existing third-party transmitters.
“Our fully automated, intelligent signal processing and sensor data fusion opens up an unprecedented possibility for armed forces to conduct covert operations at long range for a wide range of targets up to and including stealth threats. The ‘Twinvis’ is highly mobile and networkable in real time for this purpose. And it can do so either as an autonomously operating cluster of several distributed passive radars or paired with powerful air defence systems with active radar sensors,” says Markus Rothmaier, Head of Naval & Ground Radars at HENSOLDT.
The “Twinvis Sheltered” can be flexibly and easily deployed on military carrier vehicles and set up and dismantled in the field by just two people. A self-sufficient operation is possible, even without personnel on-site if required. The system has a high-performance antenna unit as well as processor and infrastructure components. The modular system architecture enables, among other things, the processing of multiple digital frequency bands, which offers procurers and users growth potential and the ability to plan incremental upgrades for the future. Several systems are under contract with customers inside and outside NATO.
03 Aug 23. MARSS to showcase NiDAR: AI-driven situational awareness technology at DSEI. MARSS, a technology leader protecting millions of lives around the world, announces its attendance at DSEI in London, from 12-15 September 2023. MARSS will be showcasing its NiDAR platform, including CUAS capabilities, from a replica Command and Control centre, at stand H1-680.
UK-based MARSS will be bringing a Command and Control (C2) centre to the heart of DSEI. The replica X-JOC, MARSS’ all-new expeditionary C2, is operated using MARSS’ AI-enabled surveillance and security system, NiDAR, which is used to automatically detect, track, classify and respond to asymmetric threats, utilising on-board sensors and connected hardware.
Showcasing multi-domain situational awareness and a sensor agnostic approach, visitors will be able to experience first-hand the unique capabilities of NiDAR in a variety of scenarios.
MARSS will also be sharing its latest news and developments – including NiDAR’s debut on a NATO navy vessel and its latest high-profile projects from around the world. Also on display will be the all-new-and-improved RADiRguard perimeter detection system, and the most recent updates to MARSS’ CUAS Interceptor.
Rob Balloch, Senior VP Sales of MARSS Group, commented: “We are delighted to be showcasing the power of NiDAR and our CUAS technologies to visitors and delegations at DSEI London for the very first time.
“MARSS has been developing NiDAR and our Hybrid Intelligence approach to C2 for more than 15 years, and now our products are protecting people and critical infrastructure across the globe. With our technology breaking new ground, including NiDAR’s debut on a NATO navy vessel, and launching our expeditionary NiDAR X range of C2 solutions, we have a huge amount to show and share with visitors.”
Mike Collier, Business Development Manager NATO, added, “Our customised X-JOC container will allow visitors to get hands on with MARSS’ system and witness how we are revolutionising security with our proprietary Hybrid Intelligence approach.
“As a UK company, it is particularly special to showcase our technology to the home audience, in addition to international visitors, and we’re looking forward to demonstrating our range of intelligent surveillance and security solutions with exhibition delegates.”
02 Aug 23. Anduril, Epirus to boost USMC drone defenses. Two defense companies teamed up in support of the U.S. Marine Corps to create a system capable of detecting, tracking and zapping drone swarms.
Epirus, a directed-energy specialist, and Anduril Industries, focused on software and autonomy, fused their respective Leonidas high-power microwave weapon and Lattice command-and-control program for a recent Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory evaluation. The integration and testing was announced July 27.
The Leonidas system uses energy blasts to fry electronics, namely those aboard unmanned aerial systems. It can be used surgically, to target a single object, or more widely, to wall off an area. Lattice, on the other hand, acts as an artificial intelligence-enabled operating system, with applications ranging from air defense to border security.
“Leonidas’ successful integration with Lattice demonstrates the system’s ability to rapidly ingest and process inputs, including timing, radar track data, commands and more, through Lattice to lock and track designated targets,” the companies said in a joint statement. “When cued by Lattice, Leonidas effectively neutralizes targets, without harming operators nor blue force assets.”
Epirus and Anduril said they would continue to partner on counter-unmanned aerial sensors, command-and-control networks and other products in advancement of the Corps’ overhaul known as Force Design 2030.
The U.S. military is increasingly concerned about drones. The commercially available equipment can be used to spy and target, as is seen in the Russia-Ukraine war, and can be strapped with explosives for deadly one-way attacks, as is happening in the Middle East. Central Command in January blamed Iran for a drone attack on a base in Syria used by U.S. and local forces.
The marriage of Leonidas and Lattice is the latest in a string of collaborative successes for Epirus. The California-based company in June said it joined forces with DroneShield and its sensing-and-jamming DroneSentry. Months before that, it worked with General Dynamics Land Systems to mount a Leonidas to a Stryker combat vehicle.
Separately, U.S. Special Operations Command picked Anduril to lead its counter-drone integration efforts. The deal, disclosed in early 2022, was worth $1bn, Defense News reported. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
31 Jul 23. Denmark replacing radars in coastal regions. Denmark is to replace two of its coastal air-defence radars to enhance the surveillance of its airspace, Janes has learnt. A Danish Ministry of Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organisation (DALO) spokesperson informed Janes on 26 July that the authority plans to replace the Alenia Marconi Systems S-723 Martello 3D radar on the island of Bornholm and the Leonardo RAT-31 DL (previously Selex) radar in Skagen.
The spokesperson was unable to elaborate on the operational and technical requirements of the new radars. DALO also plans to replace the radar on the Faroe Islands as part of the procurement programme. In total, replacing all three radars with new enhanced long-range systems is expected to cost DKK400–800m (USD59–118m), with deliveries expected from 2025 to 2029. (Source: Janes)
31 Jul 23. USAF unlikely to speed E-7 delivery. Speeding up the introduction into service of the Boeing E-7is one of the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) major acquisition priorities, but the programme cannot move much faster, said Steven Wert, programme executive officer for digital systems at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.
“Boeing has to build a green aircraft, and they have to convert it to [a] configuration that can support the radar, and then the mission systems. Then you have to test and certify airworthiness… There’s only so fast you can [certify] the first one.”
“We’re looking at things like advanced procurement funding. We buy long-lead so we’re not waiting to build a subsequent fleet,” said Wert. (Source: Janes)
01 Aug 23. How Taiwan plans to counter drones by mid-2024. Taiwan is trying to accelerate the development and production of military drones and countermeasures by expanding two national defense programs and focusing on autonomous swarms.
Taiwan’s air defense identification zone has over the last year been subject to drone intrusions carried out by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Since the PLA began flying drones within the area last September, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry recorded one flight in April and two in May.
According to the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., that tracks these developments, the PLA might begin conducting these unmanned flights more often over the next two years, along with piloted aircraft. China considers Taiwan a rogue province, and has threatened to take it back by force.
Amid this ongoing threat, Taiwanese defense officials have pointed to their country’s underdeveloped drone capabilities. Taipei has attempted to tackle this gap by creating two national drone programs focused on different capabilities.
“The first is the Drone National Team and focuses on building and producing a variety of military drones, with nine private companies included thus far in the program. The second, the Drone Defense National Team, centers around counter-drone systems, and its sole prime contractor is Tron Future,” Yu-Jiu Wang, the CEO of the Taiwan-based firm, told Defense News.
During the IDEX arms fair held in the United Arab Emirates in February, Tron Future said its aim was to produce 100 anti-drone radars in 2023 due to an increased demand. It’s unclear if the company reached this objective.
Ships launching countermeasures are seen on a screen showing a real-time feed from an indigenously made Rui Yuan drone during a military exercise at the Pingtung Airbase in southern Taiwan on Jan. 24, 2019. (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)
The executive said three other private companies are qualified as subcontractors to supply counter-drone equipment to Tron Future for system integration, and that the manufacturer also provides radars, jammers and sensors to the Drone Defense program for its own assembly.
Taiwan ultimately wants to amass about 3,200 military UAVs of different types by June 2024 under the Drone National Team, the more offensive-oriented program, Reuters reported.
Yu-Jiu decline to comment on the feasibility of this goal, but stated the project is expected to last at least five years, and that the drones’ specifications are regularly assessed and upgraded based on the latest trial results.
“Taiwan is preparing to have some of the world’s most comprehensive drone-defense capabilities in all major military and civilian infrastructure within the next two years,” Yu-Jiu said. “This is a race of technologies, so the requirements are constantly being enhanced.”
Any countermeasures must be able to neutralize drone swarms, Yu-Jiu added, by using sophisticated sensors, artificial intelligence and distributed control systems.
“Autonomous swarm soft-kill [non-kinetic] countermeasures are starting to be deployed later this year [in Taiwan], and autonomous swarm hard-kill ones are currently under development,” he said. (Source: Defense News)
01 Aug 23. DroneShield Launches Area-Specific Satellite Denial Systems.
DroneShield Ltd (ASX:DRO) (DroneShield or the Company) announced launch and initial order from a Defence customer for its target area-specific Satellite Denial Systems. There are multiple Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) used around the world – the U.S. GPS being the most known, alongside of the Russian GLONASS, the Chinese BeiDou and the European Galileo system.
DroneShield has used GNSS denial against drones/UAVs for number of years as part of smart defeat capability within its products. The Company has developed a number of unique techniques during that time and has a growing reputation as experts in this domain. Importantly, DroneShield systems work on focussing the disruption on a specific targeted area.
A FVEY government (FVEY, or Five Eyes, refers to U.S., UK, Canada, Australia and NZ) has requested that DroneShield develops this capability to the next level with a paid R&D project, expected to be followed by a series of further projects, each project including more advanced development of the system. The dollar value is not material for the initial project, but it is an area of expansion that is likely to become material in the next 24 months.
DroneShield’s CEO, Oleg Vornik, commented: “DroneShield has proven a successful ability to rapidly innovate and deliver on defence R&D contracts, as recently demonstrated in our Electronic Warfare domain efforts, where the Company has progressed from the initial $600k project, to $3.8m, to $9.9m, all within a 3-year period.”
“Both Electronic Warfare and Satellite Denial represent closely adjacent areas to our core C-UAS space, with the learnings able to be channelled into our C-UAS work, in addition to the contracts on their own representing value for the business.”
01 Aug 23. US Army gets new prototypes of Microsoft’s augmented reality headsets. The U.S. Army announced last week that it has received prototypes for the latest variant of its augmented reality headset and plans to begin testing them sometime this month.
According to a July 28 release from the Pentagon’s Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, Army officials received 20 prototypes of the 1.2 variant of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System — or IVAS — last Tuesday.
The augmented reality headsets feature a heads-up display that integrates “next-generation situational awareness tools and high-resolution simulations to provide soldiers with improved mobility and lethality in combat environments,” according to the Army.
The service said it plans to feature the latest headset prototypes during a user assessment this month, in which “two squads of soldiers will use IVAS 1.2 to measure the system’s performance and ensure engineering efforts are on schedule and meeting design objectives.”
The service announced a 10-year contract with Microsoft — worth as much as $21.88bn — in March 2021 to develop the equipment, which is based on the technology company’s HoloLens headset. Following testing of the 1.0 prototype of the system, the Army awarded Microsoft a task order in December 2022 to develop the 1.2 variant of the device.
Delivery of the IVAS 1.2 prototypes comes as the Army’s effort to develop an augmented reality headset has faced delays and scrutiny from DOD officials about the equipment’s usability. The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General warned in an April 2022 report that DOD’s inability to determine “minimum user acceptance levels” when testing the headsets could result in the department wasting billions of dollars on a system that soldiers may not want to use.
During testing of the IVAS 1.0 prototype last year, soldiers were found to be “more successful accomplishing their operational missions with their current equipment than with IVAS 1.0,” according to the fiscal year 2022 report from the Pentagon’s Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation.
The report also noted that “the majority of soldiers reported at least one symptom of physical impairment to include disorientation, dizziness, eyestrain, headaches, motion sickness and nausea, neck strain and tunnel vision” when using the IVAS 1.0 headset.
Col. Anthony Gibbs — head of the Army’s Project Manager Soldier Warrior office — noted in a statement that soldiers’ feedback following last year’s operational testing was instrumental in developing the updated headset.
“We took those lessons learned and all that soldier feedback and in less than a year have what we now call version 1.2 of the system,” Gibbs said, adding that Army officials believe the latest variant is “really going to hit the mark in terms of what we need to put out there for our soldiers to give them the situational awareness and the leap-ahead capability they need to stay ahead of our peers.”
The Army plans to use earlier variants of IVAS for training purposes, while the service’s close combat force is set to receive IVAS 1.2.
A Microsoft spokesperson also noted in a statement to Nextgov/FCW that delivery of the IVAS 1.2 prototypes “is three months ahead of schedule and part of our commitment to move with speed to deliver on this critical program.”
“Microsoft is collaborating closely with the U.S. Army to develop the next iteration of the IVAS headset that improves on earlier variants with a slimmer, lighter and more balanced form factor to greatly improve soldier comfort and performance,” the spokesperson added.
Douglas R. Bush, the Army’s acquisition chief, told Congress this April that the service hopes to bring the IVAS program into full production as soon as summer of 2025. (Source: Nextgov/FCW)
30 Jul 23. Droniq announces project to integrate radar-based sensor technologies into UAM ecosystems. Droniq has announced on social media the “Air Mobility Initiative – Positioning & Guidance Systems (AMI-PGS) research project”. According to the company website the goal of the project is to “explore the benefits of GNSS-independent, local radar-based sensor technology for applications beyond precise positioning to enhance the safety and efficiency of UAM elements (eVTOL, airspace, and ground infrastructure).
“The project focuses on the requirements of eVTOLs (electrically powered vertical take-off and landing aircraft). In this context, it specifically investigates novel take-off and landing procedures, GNSS-independent positioning, and connections and information flow to an Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system”. For more information: https://lnkd.in/eRi-BY5V (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
01 Aug 23. Sensor solutions provider HENSOLDT is taking the development of its collision warning system for civil and military drones to a new level. The demonstrator study for a “detect-and-avoid radar” – commissioned by the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) – enables a further step towards the safe integration of drones into controlled airspace.
The German customer has drawn up requirements for an investigation into the implementation of a gradual and full-scale airspace integration of the EURODRONE. For this, a DAA system is foreseeably necessary, which is to be advanced in a gradual series development.
In the run-up to this future development of a DAA system, HENSOLDT – as a long-standing partner of the German Armed Forces in the field of radar technology – has carried out risk-minimising national and European studies regarding the conception and design of a special radar sensor system for such a DAA system. The flight test campaigns carried out and the results obtained in the course of these studies in preparation for development are already proving the functional capability.
The “detect-and-avoid radar” is one of the decisive sensors in a complex DAA system on board unmanned aerial vehicles. It supports the calculation of evasive manoeuvres for collision avoidance by detecting, classifying and forming complete tracks of approaching objects in the airspace. Due to the multifunctional design of this radar, the requirements for integrating a weather radar function will also be taken into account and a possible perspective regarding the support of a separate landing aid will be opened up.
The currently commissioned study for the DAA radar includes the investigation of the technical feasibility of such a radar for the EURODRONE project, the verification with a near-series demonstrator as well as the risk minimisation for a future series development. Since the novel “detect-and-avoid radar” is a flight- and mission.
24 Jul 23. Altitude Angel begins rolling out low altitude surveillance network at sites in the UK. Unified Traffic Management (UTM) company Altitude Angel has begun deployment of a commercial, aviation-grade sensor network designed to optimise wide-area low-altitude drone and aircraft detection in the UK, says the company press release.
Incorporating purpose-built ADS-B and Mode S receivers, as well as SDR (Software Defined Radio) capabilities, the network is capable of detecting existing and future ‘Remote ID’ broadcasts from transmitters on drones, as well as collecting transmission information from the common control systems used to pilot them. This means the sensor network will detect drones which are intentionally electronically broadcasting their location, as well as many which are not. And due to the detection technologies used by Altitude Angel, low-flying crewed aviation can be detected and located using other passive sensors even when they are not broadcasting any signal.
This additional data received by the sensor network is ‘fused’ with Altitude Angel’s already extensive air-surveillance picture (taken from primary sources – such as the sensor arrays deployed on its ARROW towers and trusted secondary providers), to create a high-resolution, near real-time digital map of the low-altitude airspace.
The new network has been extensively tested across four sites, but is being rolled out to a further 30 sites across the Midlands and Southeast of England. Altitude Angel is also announcing a programme to enable authorities to soon extend coverage where required, in turn, giving them access to the overall surveillance picture.
“In building this network we’re building the most comprehensive, real-time picture of whatever is moving through the country’s low-altitude airspace,” said Richard Parker, Altitude Angel, CEO and founder. “Coupled with our ARROW technology, the sensor network is a key component in the enablement of the digitisation of low-altitude airspace, leading toward greater visibility of air traffic, and enabling automated BVLOS drone operations anywhere in the UK at scale, while providing operators of uncrewed aircraft the security they need to operate safely in unsegregated airspace.”
Approved third parties may apply for access to the surveillance data stream through Altitude Angel’s Developer Platform.
For more information visit: www.altitudeangel.com (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
26 Jul 23. UK Future Flight 3 project demonstrates advanced sensing technologies aimed at safe autonomous flight. Drone Defence is collaborating with Volant Autonomy, Sky-Drones, Dronecloud and other partners to safe autonomous flight corridors in the Channel Islands, UK. Project ALIAS is sponsored by Innovate UK’s Future Flight 3 competition.
Drone Defence reports a major milestone with a successful capability demonstration with consortium partners in Wiltshire, England. During the demonstration, the partners showcased an array of advanced sensing technologies, including RemoteID, radars, and cameras, integrated into our ground-based detect and avoid physical infrastructure. These state-of-the-art sensors ensure safety and seamless integration of autonomous flights within the designated corridors.
The collaboration aims to revolutionising the way drones navigate the skies by ensuring safe and efficient autonomous drone operations, says Drone Defence. By establishing safe autonomous flight corridors in the Channel Islands, the partners aim to demonstrate the potential of drone technology while fostering a sustainable and secure airspace environment.
For more information visit: www.dronedefence.co.uk (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
26 Jul 23. FAA seeks industry interest in drone detection data services to monitor DJI drones. The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking sources for drone detection data services to monitor DJI drone activities at various locations along US land and coastal national borders. Deadline for replies is 1 August 2023.
According to the www.sam.gov website:
“The purpose of this Statement of Work (SOW) is to establish a contract to procure drone detection data as a service (DaaS) renewal for 12-months for 26 sensors, DaaS new for 12-months for 11 sensors, and installation credits for 11 new sensors to monitor DJI drone activities primarily along US southern border regions, but also includes various locations near other land or coastal US border areas.
More detailed SOW objectives are available on the website.“This is a market survey for information and comments from industry that will aid in the formation of a strategy for the acquisition of DaaS. The FAA provides second level engineering and logistics support to the CBP Counter Unmanned Aircraft System (CUAS) program. This program is designed to identify, intercept, and tag unmanned aircraft which may be deemed a threat or potentially being used for illegal activity. DaaS is a critical piece of the CUAS mission and requires specific operational capabilities and performance requirements which are explained in the accompanying statement of work (SOW).
“The responses to this market survey will be used for informational purposes only. This is not a screening information request or request for proposal of any kind. The FAA is not seeking or accepting unsolicited proposals. The FAA will not pay for any information received or costs incurred in preparing the response to the market survey. Therefore, any cost associated with the market survey submission is solely at the interested vendor’s expense.
“At this time the nature of the competition has not been determined. The FAA may decide to do a full and open competition or set aside all or part of the procurement for small businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses or eligible socially and economically disadvantaged businesses that are certified by the SBA for participation in the SBA’s 8(a) Program. For more information: https://sam.gov/opp/190dad71248c4e68828c545735e064f3/view
29 Jul 23. European Defence Fund EUR43m counter UAS tender has a deadline of November 22. In June 2023 a European Defence Fund EUR 43m counter-UAS tender (EDF-2023-DA-AIRDEF-CUAS) was launched with a deadline of 22 November 2023.
The specific objective of this topic is to:
- tackle safety and security concerns (e.g. malevolent users attempting deliberately hostile missions such as the use of explosive payloads, ISR);
- consider the various threats in their environmental and operational context as mitigation options may vary from different scenarios (e.g. depending on the size of the area to protect, the value of the unit to protect, the reaction time required and the need to minimise fratricide and collateral damages);
- provide a suite of solutions to comply with a broad set of rules of engagement (ROEs), each adapted to the surrounding environment and the operational scenarios (including the transition from peace-time to war-time), including from a sensing perspective;
- cover fixed (i.e. continuous protection of Forward Operating Bases (FOB), critical infrastructures, 24/7, at reasonable operational and maintenance costs), deployed (i.e. quick deployment with minimum logistic support, as well as rapid integration of additional sensors and effectors within a recognised open architecture, for tactical military activities as well as civil events) and mobile (i.e. protection of mobile units/elements) applications;
- include a set of various C-UAS capabilities, such as navigation systems spoofing, RF jamming, kinetic effectors (soft/hard with lethal or non-lethal effects), catch or hit-to-kill by a swarm subset or direct energy weapons (e.g. high-power lasers and/or microwaves);
- improve identification and classification capabilities of the system.:
The proposals must address the development of a C-UAS system, from a detailed design (i.e. critical design review) up to a system prototype to be tested and qualified in relevant defence operational scenarios, demonstrating its ability to:
- with a selection of passive and active sensors, detect, track, classify, identify, support decision making and counter class I UAS (single and/or multi-UAS) through an optimal selection and activation of relevant effectors using multiple technologies;
- ensure effective protection of critical defence infrastructure, installations and assets;
- operate with limited impact on existing communications or position and navigation infrastructures.
In addition, the proposals may address other operational scenarios, if deemed relevant.
The following table lists the types of activities which are eligible for this topic, and whether they are mandatory or optional (see Article 10(3) EDF Regulation):
Types of activities
(art 10(3) EDF Regulation)
(a) Activities that aim to create, underpin and improve knowledge, products and technologies, including disruptive technologies, which can achieve significant effects in the area of defence (generating knowledge)
(b) Activities that aim to increase interoperability and resilience, including secured production and exchange of data, to master critical defence technologies, to strengthen the security of supply or to enable the effective exploitation of results for defence products and technologies (integrating knowledge)
(c) Studies, such as feasibility studies to explore the feasibility of new or upgraded products, technologies, processes, services and solutions
(d) Design of a defence product, tangible or intangible component or technology as well as the definition of the technical specifications on which such a design has been developed, including any partial test for risk reduction in an industrial or representative environment
(e) System prototyping of a defence product, tangible or intangible component or technology
(f) Testing of a defence product, tangible or intangible component or technology
(g) Qualification of a defence product, tangible or intangible component or technology
(h) Certification of a defence product, tangible or intangible component or technology
(i) Development of technologies or assets increasing efficiency across the life cycle of defence products and technologies
The proposals must cover at least the following tasks as part of the mandatory qualification activities:
- the proposals must address the qualification of the prototype to be developed, based on use cases jointly agreed by the supporting Member States and EDF associated countries (Norway);
- in particular, the proposals must address the provision of drawings, reports, analyses, certification plan and data in view of future certification of the system by the supporting Member States and EDF associated countries (Norway) authorities.
In addition, the proposals must substantiate synergies and complementarity with activities described in the call topic EDIDP-CUAS-2020 Counter Unmanned Air Systems (UASs) capabilities.
- projects addressing activities referred to in point (d) above must be based on harmonised defence capability requirements jointly agreed by at least two Member States or EDF associated countries (or, if studies within the meaning of point (c) are still needed to define the requirements, at least on the joint intent to agree on them)
- projects addressing activities referred to in points (e) to (h) above, must be: supported by at least two Member States or EDF associated countries that intend to procure the final product or use the technology in a coordinated manner, including through joint procurement
And based on common technical specifications jointly agreed by the Member States or EDF associated countries that are to co-finance the action or that intend to jointly procure the final product or to jointly use the technology (or, if design within the meaning of point (d) is still needed to define the specifications, at least on the joint intent to agree on them).
The proposed product and technologies should meet the following functional requirements:
- The C-UAS system should include battlefield management features, providing for the following capabilities:
- ensure effectiveness of the protection of moving units and assets (e.g. ground formations, convoys, ships located in the vicinity of a harbour or coastal patrolling);
- facilitate the interaction of C-UAS system with security and defence systems for fixed, deployed and mobile assets;
- consider non-static, effector-dependent danger areas in order to reduce risk of blue-on-blue or collateral damage, when protecting groups of moving objects (e.g. convoys, formations);
- ensure robustness and high availability, without being saturated in case of multiple threats (i.e. either single or multiple UAS units, either uncoordinated or operating as a team or as a single system, including swarms);
- provide an extended range of operational performances (e.g. extended ranges for surveillance, detection, identification and neutralisation) to face possible improvements of UAS threats;
- require minimum operator effort for decision making;
- neutralise the threat with focus on semi-autonomous (or even manual) technical solutions (HITL);
- in critical scenarios, where extremely high tempo and/or high threat volume prohibit the use of human sound judgement, provide options for temporarily allowing automatic C-UAS engagements with specified effectors in defined areas, within the LOAC and relevant ROE;
- offer all-weather, 24/7 operational capability, in a wide variety of climate conditions;
- provide simulation and training features in realistic scenarios;
- provide real-time playback functions for mission analysis, training and other purposes;
- require limited logistic support for deployment and maintenance.
- Regarding command and control (C2), the C-UAS system should be able to:
- plan and monitor subsystems missions and conditions;
- merge information from heterogeneous sensors;
- report about any internal or external elements that could affect the system performances;
- evaluate the possible engagement approaches to the operator, coordinate the engagement approach selected by the operator and report on the resulting outcomes;
- balance the autonomous processing of information across the adopted sensors and timely report to a central Battle Management/C2 system in order to reduce operational manpower load and bottlenecks;
- generate, disseminate and update real-time operational picture and alerts;
- integrate multilayer C2 system with cross-security-domain approach;
- allow subsystems dynamic deployment and multi-instance integration;
- provide a range of selective engagement and mitigation alternatives with the ability to evaluate mission success probabilities and potential resulting drawbacks;
- compute success probability, time to complete the neutralisation and drawback probabilities, depending on the characteristics of the effectors, for each of the possible neutralisation approaches;
- integrate and connect all the sensors and the effectors in a local C2 station;
- implement data fusion and automatic procedures and rules in order to focus human operations on action, resources coordination and cooperation. A user-friendly interface should be provided.
- Regarding sensors, C-UAS should:
- enable omnidirectional detection (e.g. rotating or staring) while also being capable of limiting the detection to a sector of choice;
- include the capability of detection for non-cooperative UAS, including autonomous, in the suite of sensors, as well as various technologies for detection and tracking (e.g. EO/IR, RF, acoustic);
- provide dynamic scalability of sensors and effectors using communication protocols that allow plug-and-play deployment.
- In terms of data and information processing, the proposed solution should:
- enable machine learning to allow using recorded signals or signatures in order to enhance the performance of target recognition and identification;
- integrate, process and display different information sources for classification/identification (e.g. sensors information, ACO, civil UTM/ATM information…).
- In terms of interfaces and interoperability, the C-UAS system should:
- be based on an open, flexible, modular and scalable architecture based on a plug-and-play component approach which allows deployment of specific configurations adapted to the threat scenarios;
- provide standard interfaces and interoperability with relevant foreseen UAS systems (e.g. U-space) and higher air defence C2 elements or other units.
The outcome should contribute to:
- consolidating and validating doctrine and CONOPS in the field of C-UAS;
- developing a comprehensive C-UAS capability for the EU and EDF associated countries;
- reducing the minimum reaction time compared with current systems;
- enhancing situation awareness and protection of critical areas and strategic assets;
- ensuring interoperability with existing security and defence systems in order to easily adapt to current monitoring systems;
- further increasing the effectiveness of C-UAS technologies/systems to be able to better counter the current and future UAS threat (including the use of MOTS UAS and swarms).
The list of all projects in this EUR714m EDF call comprise:
- EDF-2023-DA-MCBRN-FCS: Federating CBRN systems; EUR 15 000 000; No fixed maximum number of projects (but normally 1 expected)
- EDF-2023-DA-C4ISR-LCOM: Laser communications; EUR 17 000 000; No fixed maximum number of projects (but normally 1 expected)
- EDF-2023-DA-C4ISR-TRPAS: Tactical RPAS; EUR 42 000 000; No fixed maximum number of projects (but normally 1 expected)
- EDF-2023-DA-C4ISR-DAA: Detect and avoid; EUR 40 000 000; No fixed maximum number of projects (but normally 1 expected)
- EDF-2023-DA-SENS-GRID: Sensor grid; EUR 27 000 000; No fixed maximum number of projects (but normally 1 expected)
- EDF-2023-DA-CYBER-CSA: Full-Spectrum Cyber Situational Awareness for enhanced Cyberspace Operations Support; EUR 20 000 000; No fixed maximum number of projects (but normally 1 expected)
- EDF-2023-DA-CYBER-DAAI: Deployable Autonomous AI Agent; EUR 26 000 000; No fixed maximum number of projects (but normally 1 expected)
- EDF-2023-DA-SPACE-SSA: Initial operational capacity for Space situational awareness C2 and sensors; EUR 100 000 000; No fixed maximum number of projects (but normally 1 expected)
- EDF-2023-DA-MATCOMP-MJR-CBDIN: Technologies and processes for maintenance, joining and repair through an innovation test hub; EUR 30 000 000 excluding remuneration of EDA; No fixed maximum number of projects
- AIR-EDF-2023-DA-STFS: Smart technologies for next generation fighter systems; EUR 30 000 000; No fixed maximum number of projects (but normally 1 expected)
- EDF-2023-DA-AIR-SPS: Self-protection systems; EUR 33 000 000; No fixed maximum number of projects (but normally 1 expected)
- EDF-2023-DA-AIRDEF-CUAS: Counter unmanned aerial systems; EUR 43 000 000; No fixed maximum number of projects (but normally 1 expected)
- EDF-2023-DA-GROUND-MBT: Main battle tank platform systems; EUR 20 000 000; No fixed maximum number of projects
- EDF-2023-DA-GROUND-IFS: Long-range indirect fire support capabilities for precision and high efficiency strikes; EUR 27 000 000; No fixed maximum number of projects (but normally 1 expected)
- EDF-2023-DA-NAVAL-MMPC: Modular and multirole patrol corvette; EUR 154 500 000 excluding remuneration of OCCAR; No fixed maximum number of projects (but normally 1 expected)
- EDF-2023-DA-UWW-ASW: Unmanned anti-submarine and seabed warfare; EUR 45 000 000; No fixed maximum number of projects (but normally 1 expected)
- EDF-2023-DA-UWW-MCMC: Future maritime mine countermeasures capability; EUR 45 000 000; No fixed maximum number of projects (but normally 1 expected)
For more information
29 Jul 23. “China supplying Russia with C-UAS technologies” – US ODNI report. Counter-drone systems feature prominently among the list of supplies that China has provided to Russia over recent months, according to a report “Support Provided by the People’s Republic of China to Russia” from the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
“In October 2022, China Taly Aviation Technologies Corp, a procurement unit of the PRC’s Air Force Equipment Department, shipped parts sent to Russia’s sanctioned state-owned missile manufacturer Almaz Antey for use on mobile radar units Russia uses the radar to detect enemy jet fighters, missiles and drones as part of its S-400 anti aircraft missile system being used in Ukraine, according to US arms analysts interviewed by Western Press.”
Ukrainian forces are finding increasing numbers of PRC components in weapons used by Russia, according to the report.
For more information: https://democrats-intelligence.house.gov/uploadedfiles/odni_report_on_chinese_support_to_russia.pdf (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
28 Jul 23. Roketsan shows new C-UAS mobile air defence system at IDEF 2023. Counter-UAS systems and policies. AT IDEF 2023 Roketsan showed its new Burc mobile air defence system (MADS) comprising AESA radar, Sungur anti-aircraft missiles and a TRMekatronik 20mm calibre three-barrel cannon. The vehicle on display featured a rotational turret and integrated command and control system, mounted on FNSS’s 8X8 Pars Scout.
The Burc Mads has a reported maximum range of 8 km. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
28 Jul 23. Turkey’s ASELSAN shows new C-UAS laser weapon among air defence systems at IDEF. Turkish defence manufacturer ASELSAN has exhibited four new air defence systems at the IDEF defence show.
According to ASELSAN General Manager Ahmet Akyol: “Our four new systems, named after our heavenly homeland, will provide our security forces with important capabilities in the field. The first of the products we launched is our GÜRZ Hybrid Air Defense System. GÜRZ stands out as an innovative air and missile defense system that offers multiple interceptors against very low and low altitude air threats of our ASELSAN. The GÖKSUR Near Air Defense Missile System, which will be added to our reliable solutions that are in active use in the field of air and missile defense, draws attention as another national system we exhibited at IDEF. GÖKSUR will be able to perform air and missile defense missions against the threat set in Mavi Vatan, including anti-ship missiles, Armed/Unarmed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, cruise missiles, warplanes and helicopters.
“GÖKBERK, which we have developed with national resources, can perform the physical destruction of threats using laser weapons and functional destruction by using the Kangal mixer subsystem. Another product that excites us all and will form the backbone of our country’s air defence is the GÖKDEMİR Launch System. We aimed to use the air-air missiles of the GÖKDEMİR Launch System for land-based air defense. GÖKDEMİR Launch System; It will perform air and missile defense missions against threats including warplanes, Armed/Unarmed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, cruise missiles, air-to-ground missiles and helicopters.
“These four systems, which will give our security forces a significant tactical advantage in the protection of the sky homeland, will not only eliminate foreign dependency, but also make a name for themselves as products with far superior performance than equivalent systems.”
For more information: https://www.aselsan.com/tr/haberler/detay/169/gok-vatana-dortlu-kalkan (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
27 Jul 23. US Army awards Lockheed Martin Aculight USD220m for C-UAS laser weapon. Lockheed Martin Aculight Corp., Bothell, Washington, has been awarded an Other Transaction Authority agreement with a ceiling of USD220,842,090 from the US Army to develop, integrate, manufacture, test, and deliver Indirect Fire Protection Capability-High Energy Laser (HEL) prototype weapon systems. Work will be performed in Bothell, Washington; Moorestown, New Jersey; Owego, New York; Oldsmar, Florida; Orlando, Florida; Sunnyvale, California; and Huntsville, Alabama, with an estimated completion date of October 18, 2025. The company has been working on a number of HEL projects including a 300 kilowatt laser under the Pentagon’s High Energy Laser Scaling Initiative (HELSI). For more information: https://www.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract/Article/3464499/ (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
26 Jul 23. Albany University’s CEHC, Hidden Level researching drone detection technology for US Air Force. The USA’s University at Albany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) is partnering with C-UAS company Hidden Level to create a software tool, via CEHC’s new Open Source Intelligence (OSI) lab, for the U.S. Air Force that can be used to mitigate UAS security risks and identify potential threats.
According to a university blog post: “AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Department of the Air Force, selected Hidden Level last month to receive a highly competitive Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contract, which will support a Phase I proof-of-concept phase for the creation of the new security tool.
“With more commercial drones entering airspace, the risk of malicious uses of the technology continues to increase,” said Coulthart, director of the OSI lab. “Hidden Level has developed a sensor technology that is designed to track drones in the air, in real-time. However, we still do not know much about who is flying them and why. That’s where open source, and our lab, can help…..Through the STTR contract, researchers at Hidden Level, in partnership with the OSI lab, are leading a three-month study to assess the feasibility of combining publicly and commercially available information with its real-time UAS detection data.”
“The idea here is that we can locate drones in the air through the existing sensor technology, while also tapping into open source intelligence data derived from our lab, such as emergency responder broadcast traffic, news articles or any other relevant information that is available to the general public,” said Coulthart, quoted in the artlicle. “There is nothing like this that currently exists on the market — in terms of combining a drone sensor network with OSINT to help assess potential security risks.”
“The three-month feasibility study is running now, through August 7, with additional support from UAlbany’s Office for Innovation Development & Commercialization and the SUNY Research Foundation. If successful, the team next plans to create and test a software prototype.”
For more information:
https://www.albany.edu/news-center/news/2023-cehcs-open-source-intelligence-lab-partners-new-drone-detection-software (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
26 Jul 23. Portugal’s Geocompass wins SME contract for government counter-UAS system. Portugal’s Secretaria-Geral do Ministério da Administração Interna (Internal State Department) has awarded a EUR80,000 contract for the delivery of a drone detection and mitigation system to the Portuguese company Geocompass LDA of Montijo in Portugal.
According to a contract announcement in the Europa EU tendering portal, the government department received four tender offers from four Portuguese small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
For more information: https://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:371239-2023:TEXT:EN:HTML&src=0 (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
31 Jul 23. HENSOLDT proves operational capability of land-based sensors at Army Combat Training Centre. AI-supported assistance system “Ceretron” proven under real conditions. In front of representatives of the GÜZ, the Army Development Office (AHEntwg), the Army Command (KdoH), the BAAINBw and the Bundeswehr universities in Hamburg and Munich, the assisted and automated reconnaissance capabilities of the “MUV” could be compared against the real-time situation display of the “AGDUS” duel simulator used at the GÜZ.
Oberkochen/Colbitz-Letzlinger Heide (Germany) 30 June 2023 – Within the scope of a technology demonstration at the German Army Combat Training Centre (GÜZ), the sensor solution provider HENSOLDT has successfully demonstrated the operational capability of its land-based networked sensors with the technology demonstration vehicle “MUV”. In front of representatives of the GÜZ, the Army Development Office (AHEntwg), the Army Command (KdoH), the BAAINBw and the Bundeswehr universities in Hamburg and Munich, the assisted and automated reconnaissance capabilities of the “MUV” could be compared against the real-time situation display of the “AGDUS” duel simulator used at the GÜZ.
During the non-controlled application scenario, it was possible for the first time to detect and classify objects using machine learning algorithms. With the “Ceretron” computing unit, the sensor network was able to detect real camouflaged combat vehicles under attack, to reconnoitre them and to transfer them assisted to a command-and-control information system networked with a headquarters.
Through the AI-supported reconnaissance assistant and the assistance for leading under the hatch, it was possible to pass targets between the individual workstations of the vehicle. By networking laser alarms, reconnaissance optronics, all-round vision, as well as distributing information in the network between several vehicles and command posts, it was possible to automatically resolve several threat alarms.
“In the context of ‘FAWU’ (reconnaissance-guidance-effect-support), HENSOLDT sees its role particularly in the context of reconnaissance with fluid transitions to our other competencies,” says Tanya Altmann, division manager Optronics & Land Solutions and managing director of HENSOLDT Optronics GmbH. “The successful demonstration in Colbitz-Letzlinger Heide has shown that our idea of sensor data fusion, also with a view to the digitalisation of land-based operations, is forward-looking.”
31 Jul 23. DroneShield to host an inaugural C-UAS conference at Indo Pacific 2023. DroneShield is to host its inaugural conference dedicated to unmanned systems and protecting against them on the 8th of November 2023. The conference will be held at the International Convention Centre Sydney, in conjunction with the Indo Pacific International Maritime Exposition 2023 and the AMDA Foundation.
The confirmed high profile speaker and panel list includes:
DroneShield CEO Oleg Vornik, commented, “As drones and counterdrone systems continue to increasingly become mainstay of land, sea and air domains, we are pleased to offer this unique event with some of the best Australian minds in this sector across Defence and industry.”
The event is available to all successful registrants for the Indo Pacific Exposition, subject to capacity.
For registration and further details, please visit: https://www.indopacificexpo.com.au/program/conference/unmanned-systems-and-protecting-against-them
28 Jul 23. IDEF 2023: Armelsan develops Turkey’s first locally designed helicopter dipping sonar. Turkey’s Armelsan Defence Technologies displayed for the first time a scale model of its locally designed and developed Orkun-2053 helicopter dipping sonar at the 16th International Defence Industry Fair (IDEF), held from 25 to 28 July in Istanbul.
The sonar is designed for operating in both deep and shallow waters. The overall weight of the system – including the winch and the cable – is around 270 kg. It has an operating depth of 350 m and is designed to be equipped for 10 tonne-class helicopters, Armelsan’s business development director Erdem Tumdag told Janes.
Development of the sonar began in 2021 after Turkey’s Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB) expressed the need for developing a helicopter dipping sonar.
The Orkun-2053 is a low-frequency passive/active sonar operating in the 3–5 kHz frequency range. The system also features the elimination of Doppler shift induced from the mobile signal source.
The transmission includes frequency-modulated (FM) and continuous-wave (CW) modes along with a combination (FM/CW) signal. The sonar has a detection range of 50 km, with range scales calibrated to 1.5–48 km.
27 Jul 23.US Army gets first 20 IVAS 1.2 prototypes for key test in troubled $22bn program.
The Army’s acquisition chief called the 1.2 redesign the “right direction” but said “were it not to work out, we’d likely just do a new competition, perhaps with somewhat different requirements.”
Microsoft has delivered the first 20 Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) 1.2 prototypes to the Army for an upcoming test, a critical “data point” to see if design changes are enough for soldiers to safely and comfortably use the high-tech system in combat, according to multiple service officials.
If the returns on IVAS 1.2 — including the a soldier touchpoint at Ft. Drum, NY next month, which will see light infantry soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division test the system — do not meet expectations, the service will consider recompeting the program with other companies. the Army’s top acquisition official underlined.
The service received the updated, militarized version of Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 head-up (HUD) display on Tuesday, IVAS product manager Lt. Col. Denny Dresch told Breaking Defense on Wednesday. Drench, and other Army acquisition officers, were on Capitol Hill showing off the newly delivered, working prototypes (among other technologies) to reporters, members of Congress and their staff.
Doug Bush, the head of Army acquisition, was also in attendance and billed the redesign as a step in the “right direction.” He said the upcoming test is a “very important data point,” but one that will provide the service with more subjective feedback.
“That [August test] will give us a good initial view [of] if we’re headed in the right direction, then we have to go to more and more difficult tests,” Bush told reporters.
“Wearing it [alone] like this is one thing but when you have everything else on, it has to work there too,” he added.
While the device is envisioned as technology for soldiers to also use for mixed-reality training as part of the Squad Immersive Virtual Trainer (SiVT) program, the most important factor is that it is suitable for combat.
“The combat capability has always been the Army’s first priority, that was an early decision,” Bush added. And if the 1.2 version is not ready for prime time, Bush said he will advise Army Secretary Christine Wormuth to recompete the contract.
“Were it not to work out, we’d likely just do a new competition, perhaps with somewhat different requirements to see what else is out there,” Bush said. “There’s other companies that could come to the table.”
“In the meantime, we do have good night vision devices, if we need to take longer to get [IVAS] right,” he later added.
A Revamped Design
Soldiers testing out the early IVAS 1.0 version complained of a multitude of problems that ultimately led to the Army and Microsoft to renegotiate their $22bn production deal to include a slightly modified 1.1 version (not yet delivered) and the bigger 1.2 overhaul.
The service credited Maj. Gen. Anthony Potts with “postur[ing] the Army to deliver a data-centric optimized network design for a division fighting formation that will support the Army of 2030.”
“In the ops demo, the infantry company was more successful accomplishing their operational missions with their current equipment than with IVAS 1.0,” the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester wrote in the fiscal 2022 annual report. “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. IVAS 1.0 did not demonstrate improvements in low-light sensors, HUD display, [Family of Weapon Sights-Individual] integration and field of vision.”
Col. Anthony Gibbs, the new project manager soldier warrior, said Wednesday the upcoming 1.2 prototype testing will put software changes through the paces, and said the new low-light sensor from Canon, so far, appears to be a “much better night-vision device.”
Brig. Gen. Larry Burris, the Cross Functional Team-Soldier Lethality director and Infantry School commandant, told Breaking Defense he donned the new IVAS 1.2 prototype on Tuesday night and spent an hour tromping through the woods with other program officials.
“It’s not the darkest night ever but it was cloudy, it was rainy,” but the low-light sensor was “way beyond” what is in the 1.0 version.
That Pentagon test report on IVAS 1.0, also lists a variety of side effects soldiers experienced after wearing the 1.0 device, some associated with what outside AR/VR researchers have referred to as “cybersickness,” with symptoms including disorientation, dizziness, eyestrain, headaches, motion sickness and nausea, neck strain and tunnel vision.
Outside studies suggest there’s not yet a definitive cure for the technology-induced version of motion sickness, but there are ways to mitigate its effects. Dresch and Gibbs are eager to see if the new form factor redesign at least alleviates some of those complaints. Previously, the service used soldier feedback and assembled a “tiger team working group” to help influence the form factor redesign, then-project manager for soldier warrior Col. Troy Denomy told Breaking Defense in May. (Demony has since left that office and is awaiting confirmation to become a one-star general).
That feedback led to the overhaul that moves the device from a helmet-like display that’s not easy to remove, with a 70-degree field-of-view, to a hinged, flat design with a 60-degree field-of-view that soldiers can flip up, Denomy explained then, allowing soldiers to more easily take a break. By shrinking the field of view for 1.2, the service is also hoping it provides users with an improved display clarity that is more in line with their eyes.
Addressing the neck strain complaints, the computer puck on soldiers’ chests that actually does the data crunching for the IVAS 1.0/1.1 versions has moved to the back of the helmet for the 1.2 version to provide a “better center of gravity” that will not make soldiers feel as “front heavy,” Denomy explained. Microsoft also reduced the length of the cord connecting the puck to the HUD, which should improve connectivity between the two, and moved it from the side to the back of the HUD.
“There’s another year of [1.2] development and…what we’re going to do at the end of next month is see if we are on track to where we thought we would be at this point in time,” Drench said. “What’s really going to tell us is the reliability, low-light [sensor] and that form factor.”
(Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
28 Jul 23. US provides real-time situational awareness to KC-135 Stratotankers. The US Air Force used its Real-Time Information in the Cockpit system in its KC-135 fleet during Indo-Pacific exercise.
The US Air Force has integrated its KC-135 Stratotanker fleet alongside Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, French air and space forces and other allies and partners. The allied forces aim to enhance Agile Combat Employment capabilities from dispersed locations during exercise Northern Edge 23-2, July 2-21 2023. The KC-135, equipped with the Real-Time Information in the Cockpit system (RTIC), flew alongside numerous joint and coalition aircraft to modernise and enhance battlespace communications.
Holding the exercise at Kadena Air Base, Japan, the “Keystone of the Pacific,” afforded US forces and partner nations the opportunity to work through interoperability challenges across joint, multinational and multi-domain operations in support of the shared security objectives in the Indo-Pacific region.
Northern Edge 23-2 also achieved the joint force air component commander’s vision by deploying more than 5,000 personnel, 90 fighters and 20 tankers to ten locations throughout the region.
KC-135 RTIC enhances situational awareness
The RTIC programme provides real-time situational awareness to KC-135 crews by displaying enemy threats, target data and allied force locations on an avionics display located in the cockpit.
“Prior to RTIC, we were completely relying on outside sources to tell us where threats were, [to] let us know if we were in danger and tell us where our receivers were.
“Now the KC-135 crews have a moving map screen available in the cockpit and can make their own tactical decisions on whether or not they’re at risk, which will allow them to get closer to the fight and offload fuel,” the US Air Force Major Mike Starley, Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center KC-135 test detachment director, stated.
Boeing built 732 KC-135 Stratotankers for the US Air Force between 1957 and 1965. The Air Force still has 550 KC-135s in service (active duty, 253; Air National Guard, 222; Air Force Reserve, 70) and has made substantial investment in a series of upgrade programmes, including: reskinning of the lower wing surfaces, the installation of new CFM56 engines and new avionics systems.
“We only have so many surveillance aircraft available and in a theater as large as the Indo-Pacific, there’s going to be a lot of holes with no command and control.
“But we’re always going to have a tanker there, no matter what. Now we’re able to take advantage of all that space and use the KC-135, that’s already in the fight anyway, for C2,” Starley added. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
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