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28 Sep 23. Joint Statement from Department of Defense Chief Information Officer John Sherman and Assistant Secretary of Commerce Alan Davidson on the Emerging Mid-Band Radar Spectrum Sharing (EMBRSS) Feasibility Assessment. Spectrum is foundational to our economic prosperity and global technological leadership, from high-speed wireless internet access, to connected vehicles and smart manufacturing, to the next generation of space-based innovation. Spectrum is also vital to our most sensitive and important Federal missions, including military radar operations for homeland security, the training of our war fighters before they deploy overseas, and our ability to develop new and advanced military capabilities.
Within this context, the Department of Defense (DoD) has completed and submitted to the Department of Commerce the Emerging Mid-Band Radar Spectrum Sharing (EMBRSS) Feasibility Assessment as directed by Section 90008 of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This 20-month study included extensive inputs from the Military Services and other defense stakeholders, interagency partners, industry, and academia.
Under the statute, the Secretary of Commerce will now coordinate with the Secretary of Defense and other federal stakeholders to determine the next steps beyond the EMBRSS study with the complementary goals of furthering US economic competitiveness while ensuring a strong national security. Both are vital to the nation.
The White House is actively coordinating interagency discussion on spectrum policy to ensure all options are considered to achieve the nation’s economic and national security needs. (Source: U.S. DoD)
27 Sep 23. GE Aerospace and StandardAero unite to power Canada’s military ambitions. The collaboration promises an economic boost and stronger Royal Canadian Air Force defence capabilities. In a strategic alliance, GE Aerospace and StandardAero have joined forces to bolster the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) multi-mission aircraft (CMMA) requirement by supporting the Boeing P-8A Poseidon.
This partnership ensures the reliability of the P-8’s CFM56-7B engines but also fuels economic growth and job creation in Canada, according to a study by Doyletech Corporation.
The P-8A Poseidon, based on the 737-800 ERX, relies on the CFM56-7B engines, which CFM International, a joint venture between GE Aerospace and Safran Aircraft Engines, produces.
Canada’s homegrown solution
If selected for the CMMA requirement, these engines will benefit from the full spectrum of maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) capabilities offered by StandardAero’s facility in Winnipeg. This alliance ensures that the RCAF will operate a multi-mission aircraft supported directly from Canada.
What makes this collaboration significant is the potential economic windfall for Canada. According to an independent study by economists at Ottawa-based Doyletech Corporation, the selection of the Boeing P-8A Poseidon for the CMMA requirement could generate nearly 3,000 jobs and infuse $358m (C$483m) into Canada’s economy annually.
In GlobalData’s Analyst Briefing: Canada Considering P-8A Poseidon Purchase from Boeing worth around $6 bn, Harpreet Sidhu, Associate Defense Analyst at GlobalData, explained the purchase, “The Canadian government expressed its desire to replace the existing fleet of CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft with a new Canadian Multi-Mission Aircraft (CMMA).
In line with the modernisation requirement, the country is considering purchasing 14 units of P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft from Boeing to replace its ageing 14 units of CP-140 maritime aircraft. The acquisition of P-8A aircraft will enhance Canada’s capabilities for maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, and gathering intelligence in its regions of interest.”
StandardAero, which has held a license as an MRO provider for CFM56 engines since 2010, has a track record of overhauling more than 700 of these engines, including over 100 CFM56-7B engines installed on P-8 aircraft for global military customers at its Winnipeg facility.
President of StandardAero’s Military division Marc Drobny expressed confidence in their ability to support the RCAF, saying, “The Winnipeg operation is one of North America’s leading engine overhaul facilities and is our largest site, supporting more than 1,200 workers.”
The CFM56 engine family holds a distinction in aviation history as the first to achieve over 1.2 bn engine flight hours. The CFM56-7B, in particular, has a dispatch reliability rate of 99.98%. This reliability has made it a favoured choice among 600 airline and military operators worldwide.
Kris Shepherd, vice president and general manager of GE Aerospace Mobility Engines & Marine, affirmed GE’s commitment, stating, “GE is honoured to support Boeing’s bid for the Canada Multi-Mission Aircraft requirement.”
As long-term partners, GE and StandardAero inaugurated a $50m aircraft engine testing, research, and development centre in Winnipeg in 2012. The 122,500 square foot facility is at the James A. Richardson International Airport. StandardAero maintains and operates the certification test centre under a long-term contract.
Moreover, StandardAero’s strong rapport with GE Aerospace extends to supporting the CT7/T700 engine platforms on the Canadian Military EH101 Cormorant and CH-148 Cyclone Helicopters. This collaborative history shows their readiness to fulfil Canada’s CMMA requirement while ensuring the RCAF remains mission-ready. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
27 Sep 23. Argentina enhances naval surveillance and Airforce capacity with new aircraft.
Minister of Defense Jorge Taiana advances key acquisitions during official visits.
Argentina is gearing up to bolster its maritime and aerial capabilities with acquisitions and upgrades.
During his official visit to Italy, Minister of Defense Jorge Taiana made strides in enhancing the country’s military capabilities, signing an agreement for advanced helicopters and overseeing the delivery of transport aircraft for the Argentine Air Force.
Argentina’s Minister Taiana inked a letter of intent to acquire eight AW 109 helicopters at the Leonardo aerospace factory in Italy. These helicopters will play a role in strengthening the Argentine Navy’s surveillance and control efforts in the South Atlantic, particularly within the Exclusive Economic Zone.
The AW109 multipurpose helicopters are versatile and capable of fulfilling various roles, including surveillance, emergency medical services, and search and rescue missions. These helicopters are equipped with side winches for air evacuations, accommodating one pilot, one co-pilot, and six crew members. With a range of approximately 574km, they can operate for up to three hours.
Argentina has also signed a letter of intention to foster cooperation and acquire light and medium utility helicopters from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). In other Argentinian helicopter developments from this year, the acquisition of six Bell 407GXi helicopters was made in June to help perform critical search and rescue missions efficiently and effectively.
This acquisition is expected to expand Argentina’s control and surveillance capabilities in maritime spaces under national jurisdiction, particularly when incorporated into ocean patrol vessels.
Cooperation between Argentina and Italy in defence matters has a long history, dating back to 1992 when the Defense Cooperation Agreement was signed in Rome. This partnership focuses on cooperation in the production sector and acquiring defence equipment capabilities.
In a parallel development, Minister Taiana led the delivery of the B-200 “Hurón” aircraft in the Río Cuarto Material Area in the province of Córdoba. This addition is part of a broader initiative to restore the transport aircraft capabilities of the Argentine Armed Forces. The “Hurón” is the fifth to join the Argentine Air Force, with more planned for the future.
The B-200 “Hurón” aircraft is a training platform for new aviators and supports passenger and cargo transportation as the State requires. It has 850 horsepower engines, a maximum fuel capacity of 3,690 pounds, and a top operating speed of 245 knots. The aircraft can carry up to eight passengers.
During his visit to the Río Cuarto Material Area, Minister Taiana inspected various units and projects within the Air Force. These included the modernisation of weapons systems, inspections of aircraft, and the development of aeronautical components. The area’s maintenance shops ensure the Air Force’s capabilities remain at their peak.
As Argentina continues to invest in its defence capabilities, these acquisitions and upgrades are poised to strengthen its position in the South Atlantic and beyond, safeguarding its territorial integrity and enhancing its ability to respond to various challenges effectively. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
27 Sep 23. Portugal Acquires Germany’s Fleet of P-3C Orion Patrol Aircraft. The Air Force has acquired the entire inventory of the P-3C fleet made available by the Federal Republic of Germany, consisting of six aircraft, Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) sets, spares, support equipment and test benches, as well as flight simulators and of tactical procedures.
The contract was formalized yesterday, September 25, at the Air Force General Staff facilities, in the presence of the Air Force Chief of Staff, General João Cartaxo Alves, and the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Portugal, Julia Monar, among other senior officials.
The Air Force identified this acquisition as an excellent opportunity to guarantee the operation of the current P-3C CUP+ weapons system, in service with the 601 “Lobos” Squadron, in the coming years without significant constraints, ensuring support with high levels of availability and the increase in current aircraft readiness rates, as the necessary material available on the market is becoming scarce.
The P-3C CUP+ ensures coverage of the entire area of the two flight information and search and rescue regions under the jurisdiction of the Portuguese State (one of the largest in the world), contributing decisively to very long-range search and rescue missions, which guarantees the safeguarding of human life in cases of accidents or emergency situations occurring at sea.
At the same time, it is the only one that combines the characteristics of speed and range with a set of mission and weapons systems. This allows anti-surface and anti-submarine combat missions to be carried out, contributing in an essential way to the security and defense of the national territory.
Until the beginning of September this year, the 601 Squadron carried out 288 missions, totaling 1179 hours and 45 hours of flight time. Of these missions, in 2023 we highlight the participation of Squadron 601 in the service of NATO, in Italy, supporting Mediterranean surveillance, and in Lithuania, within the scope of maritime patrolling of allied countries. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Portuguese Air Force)
25 Sep 23. NATO Set to Adopt British MOD Standard for Counter-Drone Technology. The U.K.’s SAPIENT protocol emphasizes plug-and-play sensors and autonomous decision-making—it could change the battlefield calculus in Ukraine. NATO wants to open new lines of communication—but not between its member nations.
Rather, the organization is exploring a new way for counter-uncrewed aircraft systems (C-UAS) to talk to each other. Open-source intelligence company Janes reported NATO will adopt the U.K. Ministry of Defense’s (MOD) Sensing for Asset Protection with Integrated Electronic Networked Technology protocol, or SAPIENT, as a “C-UAS standard.”
Essentially, SAPIENT will lay out new guidelines for manufacturers of C-UAS sensors and other technology. The framework emphasizes plug-and-play components, artificial intelligence-based decision making, and a lower burden to acquisition and integration.
In 2024, NATO will begin a yearlong ratification process to adopt SAPIENT as a Standardization Agreement, Cristian Coman, chief scientist for the Joint Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) division of NATO’s Communications and Information (NCI) Agency, told Janes. It will require the approval of 14 member countries.
Prior to the announcement, the NCI Agency organized a 10-day series of C-UAS exercises in Vredepeel, Netherlands, for NATO’s C-UAS Technical Interoperability Exercise (TIE23), hosted by the organization’s C-UAS Joint Nucleus within the Dutch Ministry of Defense.
The demonstrations ran from September 12 to 22 and looked at how SAPIENT interacted with some 70 C-UAS systems—including newfangled concepts such as jet-powered drones and net-tossing UAS.
What Is SAPIENT?
Written and sponsored by the U.K. Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and funded by the MOD, SAPIENT was designed as an open architecture that can integrate autonomous sensor information into a single picture. The MOD adopted it as the country’s C-UAS standard in 2019.
“In the SAPIENT system, the individual sensors are advanced, using [AI] to make detections and classifications locally, sending only the information, not the raw data, to the command and control [C2] system,” a summary on the U.K. government’s official website reads.
“They also make operating decisions autonomously, such as which direction to look or whether to zoom in, in order to fulfill higher-level objectives,” it continues. “These higher-level objectives are managed by a decision-making module which controls the overall system and makes some of the decisions normally made by the operators. This reduces the operator’s need to constantly monitor the output of the sensors.”
More specifically, SAPIENT calls for AI algorithms that reside both in the decision-making modules and the onboard sensors themselves. It encourages an architecture in which different sensors use a shared interface to talk to each other, which could reduce integration time and create a competitive market for suppliers.
The system also enables “multisensor fusion,” meaning several different nodes jointly handle tasks such as correlation, association, tracking, and decision-making. In addition to lowering the cognitive burden on operators, it’s expected to reduce the bandwidth requirements for network traffic and the cost of acquiring new tech.
The key export of the program so far has been the interface control document (ICD) standards that tell suppliers how to develop compliant components. But researchers have also developed variants of SAPIENT technologies to demonstrate the concept and weigh its benefits for users.
Most recently, SAPIENT was published by the British Standards Institute as BSI Flex 335, which provides U.K. manufacturers with the first iteration of requirements for producing interfaces between sensor edge, effector, and fusion nodes. BSI Flex, which develops guidelines for markets with rapidly evolving needs, accelerated the standard’s development.
BSI Flex 335 makes a few changes to the most recent version of the ICD, most notably a 60 percent reduction in the communications bandwidth needed to run SAPIENT. The living document is expected to be updated later this year.
SAPIENT was initially evaluated as the interoperability standard for NATO C-UAS systems at TIE21, where it made more than 70 connections between C-UAS sensor systems and C2 modules. The organization revisited it during TIE22, where it connected another 31 autonomous sensor nodes from a who’s who of vendors to 13 decision-making nodes.
The program’s standards, decision-making nodes, and sensors were also deployed in the Contested Urban Environment 2021 (CUE2021) exercise, a multinational experiment that tested it with over 60 technologies. AI technology in the decision-making nodes managed the sensors and provided the multisensor fusion the U.K. MOD covets.
In the future, the ministry will look to stack multiple SAPIENT systems in a hierarchy, which could improve scalability and open more real-life scenarios for deployment. The Dstl has also tasked a cross-industry working group—the SAPIENT Interface Management Panel, or SIMP—with creating a “configuration control framework” around the interface and its tools. The panel is open to all and operates on a nonfunded, voluntary basis.
The Implications of SAPIENT
Mario Behn, principal scientist of the NCI Agency’s Joint ISR, told Janes the purpose of the TIE23 trial was to enhance the interoperability of C-UAS technology through SAPIENT. The exercises involved more than 300 participants from 15 NATO-allied and three partner nations, the European Union, and 57 private sector companies. But could these systems one day show up in Ukraine?
Military, scientific, and industry specialists live-tested around 70 systems and technologies—including sensors, effectors, and jammers—designed to detect, identify, and neutralize enemy UAS. Among them were a “fishing net” interceptor drone from Germany’s Argus Interception, which tosses a small net over the enemy’s aircraft, and a jet-powered drone from DDTS (another German firm) that can fly up to 310 mph to intercept fast-moving UAS.
Britain’s MOD believes the ability for different C-UAS to talk to each other through SAPIENT could one day lead to technology that can take control of enemy drones like a parasite, guiding them to a new target or location.
Representatives from several private companies at TIE23 referenced how these systems could combat low-cost, self-detonating Iranian Shahed drones, which are being deployed in droves by Russia in its war on Ukraine. In theory, SAPIENT could allow Ukrainian forces to fire Shahed drones back at its aggressor.
No Ukrainian officials were present for the exercises. But Claudio Palestini, a NATO science officer, said the organization is having “ongoing discussions” with the country about C-UAS issues. Major General Hans Folmer, a senior NATO officer in the NCI Agency, added SAPIENT will bring “big benefits” to alliance members.
Ukraine is not a NATO member—at least, not yet. At present, it’s a partner country, meaning it works closely with the organization but is not a part of it. However, NATO leaders in July agreed to “expedite” its membership.
There is no hard date for Ukraine to join NATO. If it does, the adoption of SAPIENT could change the calculus of the war in its favor. That will all depend, though, on current members’ acceptance of the proposed framework. (Source: https://www.flyingmag.com/)
26 Sep 23. Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® (NYSE: LMT), in partnership with the U.S. Air Force, completed the first flight of the U-2 Dragon Lady’s Avionics Tech Refresh (ATR) program.
The successful first flight tested the new advanced capabilities aboard the U-2 as part of the ATR contract, including:
- An updated avionics suite (communications, navigation, display, etc.) that modernizes the U-2’s onboard systems to readily accept and use new technology.
- A new mission computer designed to the U.S. Air Force’s open mission systems (OMS) standard that enables the U-2 to integrate with systems across air, space, sea, land and cyber domains at disparate security levels.
- New modern cockpit displays to make pilot tasks easier, while enhancing presentation of the data the aircraft collects to enable faster, better-informed decisions.
During this mission the aircraft successfully performed a low-altitude functional check flight to integrate new avionics, cabling and software.
“The successful first flight of the U-2 Avionics Tech Refresh is a significant moment in our journey to rapidly and affordably field new capabilities,” said Sean Thatcher, U-2 Avionics Tech Refresh program manager at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “Leveraging the platform’s open architecture, we’re expediting these capabilities needed for the future Joint All-Domain Operations battlespace.”
The ATR first flight marks a milestone in the U-2’s modernization efforts and its path to be the first fully OMS-compliant fleet. Further testing will solidify a mature software baseline before mission systems are introduced to ensure both functionality and interoperability to meet operational needs. The U-2 ATR contract was awarded by the U.S. Air Force in 2020 and valued at $50m.
26 Sep 23. Indian Air Force scouts for used E145s for AEW conversion. The Indian Air Force (IFC, Delhi International) has turned to the market for used E145s to convert into EMB-145SM airborne early warning and control system (AEW&CS) Netra Mk1 aircraft, the industry news website India Defence Research Wing has reported.
IAF officials said there were plans to add six more E145-based Netra Mk1s. India currently operates two such aircraft, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), with a third aircraft used as a testbed. All three were acquired by the military directly from Embraer and were delivered in 2012, according to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module.
The Brazilian manufacturer has reportedly offered its Praetor 600 business jet, which, while slightly smaller than the E145, has improved range and operating capabilities and is similar enough to facilitate the installation of the already designed AEW&CS modifications.
The Indian Air Force’s DRDO is concurrently working on the modification of six ex-Air India A321-200s into Netra Mk2 AEW&CS aircraft. It also operates three Il-76A-50EIs converted into AEW&CS by Israel Aerospace Industries. (Source: News Now/https://www.ch-aviation.com/)
24 Sep 23. Lithuanian SkyWiper C-UAS systems deployed in thousands in Ukraine. Press reports in mid-September indicate that Lithuanian officials have confirmed the recent and ongoing use of high volumes of Lithuanian-manufactured C-UAS systems In Ukraine, as that nation continues to seek effective counters to Russian UAS.
An announcement in June last year confirmed that 110 C-UAS systems, manufactured in Lithuania, were being transferred to Ukraine. However, Ivan Sybyriakov, Manager of the Unmanned Systems Centre at SpetsTechnoExport, the Ukrainian government-owned organisation, is now quoted as stating that the Ukrainian military currently operates “thousands” of C-UAS systems manufactured by Kaunas-based NT Service UAB. Unmanned Airspace understands the systems in question are the SkyWiper Electronic Drone Mitigation 4 system (EDM4S) and SkyWiper Omni, which Ukraine has been operating since 2021.
The former system, a so-called ‘drone gun’ weighing just 6.5kg, offers a useful range of up to five kilometres and can operate for over an hour, using four 10W antennas to jam and disrupt UAS operating on a variety of frequencies. SkyWiper Omni is an 11.3kg omnidirectional jammer that operates on the same frequencies at a range of up to 500 metres.
For more information: Defense Solutions – NT Service (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
24 Sep 23. Netherlands hosts 300+ participants in NATO C-UAS exercise. Over 300 participants from 15 NATO nations, three partner nations, the EU, industry and the scientific community took part in a NATO exercise earlier this month in the Netherlands, aimed at improving their capabilities in countering potentially hostile small drones.
C-UAS TIE23 (Counter Unmanned Aircraft System Technical Interoperability Exercise) brought together a wide range of specialists, representing a broad spectrum of stakeholders and influencers, to test high-tech commercial solutions used to detect, identify, and neutralise drones. Some 70 systems and technologies, including sensors, effectors and jammers, were tested live. The objective was to verify these high-tech solutions are able to connect instantly and operate together seamlessly.
The proliferation and misuse of small, widely available drones continues to cause concern. Constantly improving the ability of C-UAS systems to operate together helps to strengthen alliance air defence and deterrence. The exercise was organised by the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency) and hosted by the C-UAS Joint Nucleus within the Dutch MoD. For more information: NATO – Topic: NATO exercises (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
19 Sep 23. Aaronia generates high interest in AARTOS DDS at DSEI 2023. At the DSEI show at ExCeL in London last week, which marked a distinct upsurge in operator interest in counter-UAS advances and solutions, Aaronia’s AARTOS drone detection system (DDS) created an intense customer focus, according to a company release on 15 September.
Currently the most powerful DDS of its type on the market, the AARTOS DDS offers capability tailored to specific operational and budgetary requirements, the company states. From the X2 and X5 mobile, laptop-based variants to the X7 and X9 systems for demanding military applications, the entire range generated interest at ExCeL, but the focus was undoubtedly on the X2 and high-end X9 solutions. Also closely examined by visitors was the AARTOS 360° Smart Jammer.
The compact X2 can be made operationally ready in under 30 seconds, and can both decode drone protocols and determine their location in real time at ranges of up to five kilometres – which can be extended to 40 if the device is used in a fixed location. By comparison to its sibling intended primarily for mobile applications, the X9 is the most powerful DDS in the family and provides gapless ultra-wideband surveillance with over four independent receivers and an optimised amplifier group. It scans the entire frequency range over 1,000 times per second and, with a 14 kilometre base range (extendable to 50), is well-suited to monitoring large areas. The X9 can be installed in a shelter or – of greater interest to military operators – integrated into a vehicle.
AARTOS provides users with drone position, speed and altitude, enabling rapid localisation by simultaneously scanning multiple frequencies and offering operators actioable data in real time. The company’s RTSA-Suite PRO – a real-time spectrum analysis software solution – plays a central role in this process, integrating a wide variety of hardware elements for evaluation. “The many conversations we have had with experts from the various branches of the armed forces show us that AARTOS can make a decisive contribution when it comes to integrating different armed forces,” said Aaronia CEO, Thorsten Chmielus.
In addition to the DDS, the programmable AARTOS 360° Smart Jammer excited significant interest during the event. With a long-range capability (up to 10 kilometres), the device enables individual adjustment or programmability in the 400MHz-6GHz range, quite simply. in real time. It covers all drones in the frequency range and can jam them either automatically or manually. “With the programmable jammer, we are once again underlining our innovation leadership when it comes to providing efficient, flexible and particularly powerful solutions for our customers,” said Chmielus.
There are over 200 AARTOS installations worldwide and the system, in service since 2015 and now in its 6th generation, is constantly being further developed to ensure optimal utility and efficiency.
For more information: www.aaronia.de (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
22 Sep 23. Airservices Australia publishes tender for drone surveillance network covering 29 airports. Airservices Australia has published a request for information tender to industry for the supply of an uncrewed aircraft surveillance system covering 29 airports in Australia where the organisation provides services.
According to the text of the tender:
“This Request for Information (RFI) has been prepared and released by Airservices Australia (Airservices) for information gathering of market capabilities and insight for a subsequent procurement process. Work is currently underway at Airservices to prepare our skies for the safe integration of uncrewed aircraft. We are enhancing our existing drone surveillance capability to keep pace with technology to ensure we have a clear picture of uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) operating around our airports and to safely manage airspace, through the delivery of an Airspace Surveillance Solution at our 29 controlled airports. The new system is targeted for operationalisation by the end of 2025.”
The latest Australian Aviation Network Overview reports a recent spike in activity of small drone operations in around the country’s major airports.
“There has been a net increase in drone detections within the No Fly Zones of major airports,” according to the overview. “The increase in micro drones may suggest that smaller drone technology is gaining market momentum, as their features and capability catch up to those found in larger products and their barriers to operate across metropolitan locations are lower. Government and industry cooperation is progressing trials and enhancing surveillance capability to ensure the safe integration of drone activities and protect the overall aviation network.”
Breakdown of drones detected within No-Fly Zones* at major Australian airports by size(July-August 2023)
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