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06 Jan 21. US lawmakers strengthen JSTARS aircraft retirement requirements. US lawmakers have made it more difficult for the US Air Force (USAF) to retire its Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) aircraft.

The fiscal year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) eliminates a previous provision that required the USAF to first declare initial operational capability (IOC) for Increment 2 of the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) internet-of-things (IoT) combat concept before retiring JSTARS aircraft. IOC is a point in time during the production and deployment phase where a system can meet the minimum operational capabilities.

To retire JSTARS platforms, the air force must now certify to Congress that it has identified a capability with sufficient capacity to replace the current fleet of 16 JSTARS aircraft. It must be in a manner that meets global combatant command (cocom) requirements and potential global basing locations for such capability. The USAF must also certify that such replacement delivers capabilities that are comparable, or superior, to those provided by JSTARS aircraft.

A critical Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on ABMS from April 2020 demonstrated that the USAF was unsure about what it wanted to do with the system, experts told Janes at the time. The USAF would likely acknowledge that it is taking an unconventional development approach with ABMS.

A pair of experts agreed that the FY 2021 NDAA strengthens the standard for the USAF to retire JSTARS platforms. Todd Harrison, director of the aerospace security project and defence budget analysis division at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) research institute in Washington, DC, told Janes. (Source: Jane’s)


07 Jan 21. Department of Defense Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Strategy published.


06 Jan 21. U.S. Air Force Funds Adaptation of Automotive Radar for Autonomous “Flying Cars.” Metawave awarded USAF prime contract to participate in AGILITY PRIME, an initiative to advance the capabilities of electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft.

Metawave Corporation has been awarded a prime, Phase One contract by the United States Air Force (USAF) to provide a high-precision, all-weather sensing solution for electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The initial Metawave study outlined by the contract will identify modifications needed for the company’s existing “SPEKTRA” radar for aerial operations, all of which will be applied to development of next-generation eVTOL air-vehicles.

The USAF’s AGILITY PRIME initiative seeks to advance the development of applicable technologies for operational, human-rated eVTOL aircraft by 2023. In addition to traditional aerospace companies, the Air Force is directly engaging with innovative new sector entrants, such as Metawave, that have demonstrated their ability to provide “enabling technologies” that will advance the requirements of AGILITY PRIME.

Metawave’s SPEKTRA is a compact analog antenna system that has provided the automotive industry with high-precision radar capabilities accurate out to 330 meters. The current long-range high-resolution SPEKTRA analog radar design enables critical features for next-generation cars, including adaptive cruise control, lane change assist, and automated emergency braking. Based on the level of precision required to safely deliver these features in all-weather conditions, SPEKTRA is an excellent candidate for a rugged sensor system for future eVTOL aircraft, and will enable precision eVTOL navigation and obstacle avoidance.

As part of this Phase One effort, Metawave, in partnership with the Arizona State University Center for Wireless Information Systems and Computational Architectures, will modify the SPEKTRA radar for longer ranges and navigation in three-dimensional (3D) space.

Maha Achour, CEO and founder of Metawave, said the requirements of the aerospace application are a natural extension of SPEKTRA’s current capabilities extending high-resolution imaging radars to Ariel Vehicles.

“Both the automotive and eVTOL markets require the highest level of precision delivered by SPEKTRA,” Achour said. “For both applications, the ability to reliably distinguish between several objects close together in all weather and light conditions is an important capability for all phases of transport, including flight. The most significant difference is the operational range of the radar.”

The AGILITY PRIME initiative was launched by AFWERX, the new rapid innovation branch of the Air Force. AFWERX is devoted to quickly fielding emerging commercial technologies for a variety of future-facing applications. AFWERX’s eVTOL project is its biggest program to date, awarding $38M thus far to more than 250 selected proposals for aircraft and flight-enabling technologies.

The Washington, DC-based start-up company Rhea Space Activity (RSA) worked with Metawave to develop the SPEKTRA concept as a parallel application for its well-established commercial automotive uses. RSA identified SPEKTRA’s two-dimensional (2D) solid-state beamsteering and all-weather operational capabilities as uniquely suited to solve several problems related to providing eVTOL aircraft with reliable situational awareness.

With SPEKTRA nearing commercial operation, RSA suggested AGILITY PRIME as a good fit for further development of the radar system’s capabilities.

Shawn Usman, astrophysicist and Founder of RSA, said that adaptation of driverless car technologies could be used for a variety of national security applications.

“Rapid technological innovation in the U.S. driverless car sector is also demonstrating remarkable compatibility with the high-performance requirements of many Department of Defense missions,” Usman said. “SPEKTRA in particular is versatile enough to support unmanned VTOL operations as well as fixed-wing flight. By guiding small yet highly innovative companies like Metawave through the complexities of programs such as AFWERX, RSA plays a crucial cooperative role in developing core technologies, like SPEKTRA, to push the boundaries of current consumer-facing innovations, while helping to solve critical national security issues.”

Following the completion of Phase One, Metawave will apply for a Phase Two contract to bring operational radar hardware to USAF personnel. The Phase Two effort will include a series of field tests of the proposed design array under a variety of varied situations and environments.

SPEKTRA’s high angular resolution enables it to distinguish between objects right next to each other (such as a car and a biker). Its narrow beams in the analog domain enable it to quickly detect objects in the vehicle’s field of view (FoV) with very high accuracy, while avoiding interference. SPEKTRA’s focused beams and small cross-sections allow it to detect objects, such as pedestrians and road hazards, at long ranges and in all weather conditions. The narrow beam and high angular precision of the system also allow SPEKTRA to track cross-traffic, a difficult problem for traditional radar.

About Metawave Corporation

Metawave SPEKTRA™ is the first automotive, analog beamsteering radar capable of distinguishing between objects that are next to each other, in difficult driving scenarios and in all-weather conditions, making cars safer and smarter. Metawave TURBO™ active repeaters and KLONE™ passive reflectors enable faster, more efficient 5G deployments, bringing connectivity to billions of users both indoors and out. All of Metawave’s platforms are powered by AWARE™, Metawave’s AI software for object classification on the road, and effective network optimization for 5G deployment. Founded in 2017, Metawave is headquartered in Palo Alto and has state-of-the-art labs in Carlsbad and Palo Alto, CA. (Source: PR Newswire)

05 Jan 21. Kopin Corporation Ships First Production Order of 720p Color OLED Microdisplays. 720p Display Utilizes Duo-Stack OLED Structure and ColorMaxTM Technology for High Current Efficiency and Color Fidelity.

Kopin® Corporation (NASDAQ: KOPN), a leading developer and provider of high-resolution microdisplays and display subassemblies for defense, enterprise, industrial, consumer and medical products, announced today it has shipped its 720p (1280 x 720 resolution) OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) microdisplays for a production order from a US company for public safety applications. The 0.49-inch-diagonal 720p display incorporates Kopin’s ColorMaxTM technology for superb color fidelity (greater than 90% sRGB average) and a duo-stack OLED structure for high current efficiency (over 10 candela per ampere). A duo-stack OLED has two OLED structures on top of each other and connected in series. Because a duo-stack structure provides far more flexibility in the OLED stack design than a single-stack structure, it offers the potential for much higher current efficiency, much higher brightness, lower power consumption and longer lifetime. Kopin’s patent-pending ColorMax technology, which incorporates a specially configured anode structure in the Si backplane, suppresses color mixing among tiny sub-pixels (2.8 μm x 8.4 μm in the 720p display), which otherwise would be severe for duo-stack OLED structures. The duo-stack OLED structure has been developed by our OLED foundry partner, Lakeside Optoelectronic Technology Co., Ltd. (Lakeside), which has consistently produced 720p displays with high color fidelity and excellent OLED efficiency.

“We are very pleased with our first production order of our color duo-stack 720 OLED microdisplays which is for a product made by a US company,” said Dr. John C.C. Fan, CEO of Kopin Corporation. “Though this initial order is fairly modest in size, it is an important milestone for our OLED microdisplay business, and is a true proof-point of our fabless OLED display business model in which our OLED partner, Lakeside, manufactures the displays on our ColorMax backplane wafers to meet our specifications. With the successful production of duo-stack color displays on our ColorMax wafers, we believe it will be the first of many orders from companies around the world that want to leverage our industry-leading technology.”

About Kopin

Kopin Corporation is a leading developer and provider of innovative display and optical technologies sold as critical components and subassemblies for military, industrial and consumer products. Kopin’s technology portfolio includes ultrasmall Active Matrix Liquid Crystal displays (AMLCD), Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCOS) displays and Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) displays, a variety of optics, and low-power ASICs. For more information, please visit Kopin’s website at www.kopin.com.

About Lakeside Optoelectronic Technology Co., Ltd.

Lakeside photoelectric technology (Jiangsu) Co., Ltd. is an OLED technology developer and OLED microdisplay manufacturer having a factory in Changzhou, China. For more information, please visit Lakeside’s website at www.hupanoled.com. Kopin and ColorMax are trademarks of Kopin Corporation. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)

04 Jan 21. Saab nabs $1bn deal for two more GlobalEye planes to the United Arab Emirates. Sweden’s Saab has received a much-anticipated order, worth $1bn, for two additional GlobalEye spy planes from the United Arab Emirates, the company announced Monday.

The contract is an extension of a 2015 deal, which saw the country commit to an initial three copies of the GlobalEye, made up of Bombardier Global 6000 business jets equipped with Saab’s Erieye long-range radar and other surveillance sensors. That arrangement included an option for two additional buys, which are now coming to fruition.

“We are proud that the United Arab Emirates continues to show great trust in Saab and our solutions,” Saab CEO Micael Johansson was quoted as saying in a statement. “It shows that Saab remains on the cutting edge regarding advanced technology. The Global Eye program is running according to plan and we have an efficient cooperation with the customer.”

Saab expects work on the two new planes to be finished by 2025, using its Swedish sites of Gothenburg, Linköping, Arboga, Järfälla and Luleå, and Centurion in South Africa.

The contract signing happened on Dec. 30, which means Saab can book it on the 2020 balance sheet, the company said.

The UAE military received its first GlobalEye plane resulting from the 2015 deal in the spring of 2020, as the coronavirus crisis was just beginning to grip the globe.

The Global 6000-series business and VIP jets continue to be popular platforms for intelligence gathering and early warning. A year ago the German government ditched plans to buy U.S. Navy “Triton” drones for signals-intelligence collection, choosing instead to install the requisite sensing equipment on the manned jets. (Source: Defense News)

04 Jan 21. Two More P-8A Poseidon Aircraft Boosts Maritime Patrol Capability. Air Force’s maritime patrol capability will be boosted with Australia set to acquire two more P-8A Poseidon surveillance and response aircraft, bringing the total fleet size to 14.

The Government has also approved sustainment funding for the current approved fleet of three MQ-4C Triton aircraft.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the announcement is part of the Morrison Government’s unprecedented $270bn investment in defence capability over the next decade.

“Together, the Poseidon and the Triton will provide Australia with one of the most advanced maritime patrol and response capabilities in the world,” Minister Reynolds said.

“The Poseidon is a proven capability that will conduct tasks including anti-submarine warfare, maritime and overland intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and support to search and rescue missions.

“These additional aircraft will enhance Air Force’s flexibility to support multiple operations and will play an important role in ensuring Australia’s maritime region is secure for generations to come.”

“The Morrison Government’s continued investment in the Poseidon program is also creating more Australian jobs and opportunities for Australian small businesses.

“Several Australian companies are already completing work for Boeing Defence Australia, and industry investment including facilities works is over $1bn.”

The additional Poseidon aircraft are to be purchased through our existing Cooperative Program with the United States Navy.

Minister Reynolds said being part of the Cooperative Program with the United States Navy allows Australia to share in the benefits of their technical expertise and divide project costs.

“Defence is committed to this cooperative approach; together we are striving to develop this military technology to the highest standards,” Minister Reynolds said.

The Poseidon is a highly versatile, long endurance platform capable of a range of mission types including Maritime Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance and striking targets above and below the ocean’s surface.

The planned integration of the Long Range Anti-ship Missile (LRASM) into Air Force capability will also allow it to strike adversary surface vessels at significantly increased ranges. (Source: ASD Network/MoD Australia)


Blighter® Surveillance Systems (BSS) is a UK-based electronic-scanning radar and sensor solution provider delivering an integrated multi-sensor package to systems integrators comprising the Blighter electronic-scanning radars, cameras, thermal imagers, trackers and software solutions. Blighter radars combine patented solid-state Passive Electronic Scanning Array (PESA) technology with advanced Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) and Doppler processing to provide a robust and persistent surveillance capability. Blighter Surveillance Systems is a Plextek Group company, a leading British design house and technology innovator, and is based at Great Chesterford on the outskirts of Cambridge, England.

The Blighter electronic-scanning (e-scan) FMCW Doppler ground surveillance radar (GSR) is a unique patented product that provides robust intruder detection capabilities under the most difficult terrain and weather conditions. With no mechanical moving parts and 100% solid-state design, the Blighter radar family of products are extremely reliable and robust and require no routine maintenance for five years. The Blighter radar can operate over land and water rapidly searching for intruders as small a crawling person, kayaks and even low-flying objects. In its long-range modes the Blighter radar can rapidly scan an area in excess of 3,000 km² to ensure that intruders are detected, identified and intercepted before they reach critical areas.


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