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15 Jan 21. Slovakia to buy 17 Israel Aerospace-manufactured radar systems for €150m. The Slovak Ministry of Defence has received approval to procure 17 radar systems manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The Slovak Ministry of Defence has received approval to procure 17 radar systems manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
The radar systems are being acquired under the agreement led by the International Defense Cooperation Directorate (SIBAT) in Israel’s Ministry of Defence.
According to IAI, the agreement also includes technology and knowledge transfer.
IAI vice-president and ELTA CEO Yoav Turgeman said: “We are honoured to be the Slovakian government’s choice and to incorporate IAI’s MMR Radar into their air defence solution, and we thank the Israel Ministry of Defense for the cooperation.
“The MMR leverages state-of-the-art technologies to provide a dependable picture of the air and awareness of the situation at hand. Approximately 130 MMRs have been delivered to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, and are already operational in the United States and Canada, in addition to Israel.”
IAI and Israel’s Ministry of Defense will provide guidance to produce the radar components. It will be manufactured in cooperation with Slovakia defence industries.
The company noted that the radar systems will be ‘interoperable with Nato defence mechanisms’.
Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz said: “I congratulate the employees of the Israel Ministry of Defense and IAI on another significant achievement, which reflects the excellent capabilities of Israel’s defence industry, as well as Israel’s strengthening relations and cooperation with Nato countries.
“Under my leadership, the defence establishment will continue to promote technology procurement and development agreements, which are part of the security concept of the State of Israel and are particularly important for Israeli resilience at this time due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
13 Jan 21. US Army maintaining IVAS first unit equipped goal, crafting ‘mitigation’ plan. The US Army is still planning to meet its Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) first unit equipped (FUE) date sometime between July and September but is also deciding how to avoid subsequent delays after lawmakers sliced USD235m from the technology’s procurement budget.
In late December 2020 President Donald Trump signed a USD2.3trn comprehensive spending bill for fiscal year 2021 (FY 2021) that included a steep IVAS spending cut and called for the service to detail additional per unit costs and fielding plans. Lieutenant Colonel Brad Winn, the Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team’s IVAS lead, recently updated Janes about its development effort with Microsoft to militarise the company’s HoloLens 2 augmented reality (AR) system to include linking the device to One World Terrain and Nett Warrior.
Lt Col Winn said he anticipates meeting the remaining IVAS prototyping and testing milestones, adding that “we’re still on track to field the first unit with IVAS in the fourth quarter of FY 2021”. However, the service is conducting an analysis to determine “when and how many systems” will be included in the FUE batch.
”As of right now, we don’t see production delays for FUE,” Lt Col Winn wrote in a 12 January email. “Beyond that, it’s too soon to say if or how the cuts will impact [the programme].
“Funding cuts are never easy to digest because we must find ways to mitigate the impact and remain on schedule in order to get a critical system into the hands of our close combat forces in a timely manner,” he added. (Source: Jane’s)
12 Jan 21. HENSOLDT delivers two ARGOS II Electro-Optical Systems (EOS) to the police helicopter squadron of Thuringia. For HENSOLDT, it is another important EOS contract with a delivery as first tier supplier and prime contractor directly to the customer. “We are offering a turnkey solution here and are assuming responsibility for the entire project until the return delivery of the helicopters with integrated and approved ARGOS II systems in November 2021,” said Martin Kress, Head of Airborne Sensors & Missile Warning Systems at HENSOLDT Optronics.
The ARGOS II airborne electro-optical system is designed for installation on helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for surveillance missions. The stabilised system is composed of a number of sensors and electronics in a single interchangeable unit. These include a high-definition (HD) MWIR thermal imaging camera with continuous zoom and a unique HD multispectral TV zoom camera. A SWIR spotter camera provides additional multispectral capabilities, especially under harsh conditions with low visibility. The near-infrared (NIR) laser pointer improves the system’s operational efficiency. The ARGOS-II system can also be equipped with a dual-wavelength, high-power, low-divergence laser designator/distance detector (LDR). The LDR has selectable target designation and eye-safe range finding modes and also includes a training mode.
HENSOLDT Optronics has contracted INTERCOPTER GmbH in Taufkirchen for the integration. Together with its subsidiary Advanced Aerospace Developments GmbH, Intercopter is carrying out the development of the supplementary type certificate (STC), the production of the integration kit, the helicopter integration, the flight tests and the certification of the ARGOS II on the two EC145 (BK117-C2) helicopters of the Thuringian State Police.
In addition to the Thuringia State Police, the German Federal Police has also recently started using the ARGOS II from HENSOLDT in its helicopters. HENSOLDT’s Airborne Service Center in Oberkochen takes care of the long-term and sustainable maintenance of the ARGOS for its customers.
12 Jan 21. Leonardo delivers Miysis DIRCMs for UK Shadow fleet. Leonardo has delivered to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) Miysis Directed Infrared Countermeasure (DIRCM) suites for integration aboard the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) Raytheon Shadow special mission aircraft fleet.
Speaking to Janes on 11 January, Head of DIRCM Campaigns at Leonardo Edinburgh, Dave Gourlay, said that despite restrictions placed on the workforce due to Covid-19, the company had completed its September 2019 defensive aids suite (DAS) contract with the MoD ahead of schedule.
“We are now allowed by the MoD to reveal that the delivery of all Miysis systems for the Shadow were handed over ahead of schedule. The numbers are not releasable, but the first was delivered in Q4 of 2019, and the last in Q4 of 2020,” Gourlay said.
As noted at the time of the award at the DSEI 2019 defence exhibition in London, Leonardo was prime on the effort to protect the Shadow electronic intelligence (ELINT) aircraft from the latest-generation infrared (IR)-seeking missiles.
With Leonardo having now delivered all of its Miysis systems and DAS controllers, Thales is providing its Elix-IR threat warner and Vicon countermeasures dispensing system for the full defensive package that will be integrated aboard the Shadow fleet by Raytheon. Gourlay declined to say when all of these elements might be integrated and in use, although the MoD had previously noted an initial operating capability date of “early 2021”. (Source: Jane’s)
11 Jan 21. France Signs Agreement to Purchase NGC’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. The government of France signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) with the U.S. government signifying their intent to purchase Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) E-2D Advanced Hawkeye.
The LOA allows the U.S. Navy to begin contracting activities with Northrop Grumman for production of E-2D airborne command and control aircraft. The signed LOA secures the sale that will include three E-2D aircraft, nonrecurring engineering, spares, repairs and support equipment, training and follow-on support, within the congressional approval funding limit. The anticipated contract award will be in 2022 with aircraft delivery to France in 2028 at the latest.
“The procurement of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will provide France a generational leap in capability for unparalleled situational awareness for their air defense fleets,” said Janice Zilch, vice president, manned airborne surveillance programs, Northrop Grumman. “We have a long standing relationship with France as it transitions to E-2D’s from a two-decade legacy of E-2C aircraft.”
The French Navy has been operating the E-2C Hawkeye since 1998 and is the only country other than the United States to operate its E-2 Hawkeyes from an aircraft carrier. This capability enables interoperability exercises that support Hawkeyes from each other’s carrier flight decks. With the U.S. Navy’s fleet transition to E-2D squadrons, the French Navy intends to maintain interoperability and partnership by taking steps to procure three E-2D aircraft.
The E-2D is the U.S. Navy’s premier airborne command and control aircraft for all targets and all environments. It delivers advanced radar capability for unmatched detection and tracking. Additionally, it provides 360 degree simultaneous air and maritime surveillance, enabling nations to protect sea lanes, monitor coastlines and support civilian emergency coordination operations. The E-2D is a force multiplier for interoperability, reciprocal information sharing and commonality across the battle force.
Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.” (Source: ASD Network)
11 Jan 21. Dubai Tech Company Develops Magnetic Shield C-UAS System. Cusp Technologies, a Dubai-based tech solutions company, has developed a new system for using magnetic beams in many applications specially in defense and space. One of its main applications is to repel hostile drone attacks.
The innovative system is based on the use of advanced magnet technology to create a “magnetic shield” to repel hostile attacks from drones, which are either directed remotely, or have pre-programmed routes.
The technology also provides the potential to expand its defense capabilities and create a magnetic shield that can counter any kind of military attacks.
“Drones widespread in the past few years, so the risks that these aircrafts pose have increased. This could cause damage to the main infrastructure, and paralyze both trade and travel in many countries,” said Mohamed Saleh, founder and chairman, Cusp Technologies.
He added that the company has conducted a recent study to develop technology and systems that enhance the capabilities of countering the attacks of these aircrafts. It concluded that magnetic beam techniques can be used in the applied and military fields, as these technologies are designed to protect certain areas, pointing out that the features of these technologies is the result of 5 years of research, and hard work.
He pointed out that the new technology proved very positive results in preventing drone attacks, with the possibility of expanding its capabilities and being useful in other fields such as space technology. Saleh confirmed that another research study is currently being conducted in cooperation with a specialized American company, in order to increase the effect of the magnetic beam to a range of up to 100 km.
The new technology is scheduled to be displayed on a special platform that will be launched during the “IDEX 2021” and” NAVDEX 2021”exhibitions, which will be held between February 21-25 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center. More than 60 countries are participating in the two exhibitions, with 1,300 companies. (Source: UAS VISION)
08 Jan 21. Drone Dome C-UAS upgraded to defend against drone swarms. Rafael’s Drone Dome counter-UAS (C-UAS) system has been upgraded to intercept drone swarms, an increasingly important threat following the recent armed drone attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
Rafael says the system has achieved 100% success in all test scenarios, including target detection, identification and interception with a high-power laser beam. The upgrade is focused on enhancing the capability to deal with swarms, or a mix of drone with manoeuvring capabilities designed to avoid C-UAS.
When the command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) sub-system performs a positive identification, the system allocates the target to the laser effector, which locks and tracks the target and performs a hard-kill. The new upgrade may include a more powerful laser and additional sensors that will better handle the evolving threat. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
11 Jan 21. US DoD Releases Counter-Small UAS Strategy. The US Department of Defense leadership recently approved a new strategy to lead and direct Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-sUAS) activities across the Department. This strategy will provide the framework for addressing sUAS hazards and threats in a variety of operating environments, including the U.S. homeland, host nations, and contingency locations.
Adversary UAS represent a rapidly proliferating, low-cost, high-reward asset for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and lethal attacks on U.S. personnel and interests. To lead and direct efforts for identifying and prioritizing joint gaps and C-sUAS solutions, the Defense secretary designated the Army as the DoD executive agent for C-sUAS activities. The Army secretary then established the Joint C-sUAS Office (JCO) and designated Maj. Gen. Sean A. Gainey as its first director.
The recently approved DoD C-sUAS strategy emphasizes a new approach that is focused on rapid innovation, synchronization of materiel and non-materiel solutions, and relationships with allies and partners. These strategic objectives will be achieved by working through three lines of effort:
1) Ready the Force: Focuses on the development of innovative solutions using a risk-based approach to guide investment in C-sUAS capabilities. This LOE will guide the rapid development of a suite of solutions that addresses emerging DoD requirements.
2) Defend the Force: Emphasizes the provision of mission-ready forces that are able to deter and defeat sUAS threats. This can be done through the development of operational concepts and doctrine, establishment of joint training standards and refinement of existing training content.
3) Build the Team: Stresses partnership with the national security innovation base, federal and non-federal entities, allies, and partners to facilitate rapid development and deployment of effective C-sUAS solutions while maximizing interoperability. Leveraging existing relationships and creating new partnerships will enable innovation, prevent technology gaps, and expand information and security data sharing.
Through the implementation of this strategy, the Department will successfully address the challenge posed by both hazard and threat sUAS operating within the U.S. homeland, in host nations, and in contingency locations. Commanders in all of these varied operating environments will have the solutions they need to protect DoD personnel, facilities, assets, and missions from both current and future sUAS threats.
The complete document can be accessed here: https://media.defense.gov/2021/Jan/07/2002561080/-1/-1/0/DEPARTMENT-OF-DEFENSE-COUNTER-SMALL-UNMANNED-AIRCRAFT-SYSTEMS-STRATEGY.pdf?source=GovDelivery (Source: UAS VISION/US Army Press Release)
11 Jan 21. Night-Vision Revolution: Less Weight, Improved Performance. Leveraging new tech, DARPA aims for night-vision goggles the size and weight of regular eyeglasses. For decades U.S. warfighters have benefitted from advanced night-vision technology, allowing pilots to fly low-level missions on pitch-black nights and ground forces to conduct operations against adversaries in the dark. But current night-vision goggle (NVG) technology requires cumbersome binocular-like optics mounted on a helmet, offering limited field of view (FOV) and putting unhealthy strain on the wearer’s neck. Building on recent scientific advances in photonics and optical materials pioneered in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO), a new effort seeks to develop next-generation NVGs that are as lightweight and compact as a pair of regular eyeglasses or sunglasses.
DARPA today announced its Enhanced Night Vision in eyeglass form (ENVision) program. ENVision aims to create lightweight NVGs that offer a wide FOV across multiple infrared (IR) spectrum bands without needing separate optics for each IR band. The goal is to enable night vision through fog, dust, and other obscurants as well as provide thermal vision – all via a single flat lens. A Proposers Day for interested participants is being held via webinar on January 21, 2021.
“Our warfighters experience significant neck strain from current NVGs caused by the weight of the optics extending 4-5 inches in front of their helmets,” said Rohith Chandrasekar, program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office. “If you’ve never worn NVGs for hours at a time imagine wearing a baseball cap all day with a two-pound weight attached to the front of the bill – that gives you a small sense of the stress experienced. Extended use of such systems leads to a condition where the neck no longer has energy to keep the head upright requiring warfighters to use their hands to lift and point their heads. NVG wearers also have to swivel their heads frequently for peripheral vision since current optics only provide a 40-degree field of view compared to the 120-degree wide view we have with our eyes, which only makes use of NVG systems more painful.”
Besides the weight and field-of-view constraint, current NVGs provide only a narrow segment of the IR portion of the spectrum (typically near-IR) that limits what types of threats the viewer can see at night. Efforts to expand FOV and IR bandwidth to date have involved increasing the number of optics, which increases weight.
The ENVision program is designed to break the paradigm that increased performance can only be achieved by an increase in weight.
“DARPA investments over the past decade have led to breakthroughs in the areas of planar optics, detection materials, and novel light-matter interactions,” Chandrasekar said. “ENVision will leverage these advancements, amongst others, to develop enhanced night-vision devices in lightweight eyeglass form factors.”
ENVision will also investigate the possibility of night vision using direct photon up-conversion from infrared to visible photons using thin materials.
“This will further simplify NVG systems by advancing from the multi-step conversion currently used to a single step up-conversion process,” Chandrasekar said. “Some of these processes even conserve the momentum of photons, which, in theory, could enable night vision without the need for any optics.”
The ENVision program focuses on developing prototypes of multi-band, wide-FOV night vision systems and investigating methods to amplify photon up-conversion processes from any IR band to visible light. (Source: ASD Network/DARPA)
11 Jan 21. DoD Drone Strategy Focuses On Low-End Threats – Not Nation-States. In April, the Yuma, Ariz. test range will host a competition of “low collateral damage” countermeasures designed to stop mini-drones without firing a shot. But can such a restrained approach stop the drone swarms Russia and others are developing?
Got lasers? Jammers? Wireless hacking tools? Then check out the competition the Pentagon will formally kick off Friday, with an open invitation to industry to bring their “low collateral damage effectors” to Yuma Proving Ground this April. The objective: pick the best system or systems for all the armed services to buy to defeat small drones when physically shooting them out of the sky is too dangerous to civilians or friendly troops.
“Bring all your low-collateral effectors to the range first week of April, and we’ll select the best ones and move forward with that as the joint solution,” Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey said in a CSIS webcast Friday.
Gainey, an Army two-star, helms the all-service Joint Counter-UAS (Unmanned Air Systems) Office (JCO), which last week formally rolled out the Defense Department’s strategy to stop small drones.
But that strategy, Gainey’s remarks, and the low-collateral-damage effort itself all seem to emphasize the kinds of threats encountered in the Middle East, where terrorists have used relatively small numbers of small drones as both spies and improvised bombers.
That’s only half the problem, however. Nation-states like Russia, Iran, and even Azerbaijan are looking at how to deploy large swarms in large wars – a very different scale of threat that might require different kinds of countermeasures.
The Russian Ministry of Defense “is developing swarm tactics… spearheaded by key Russian military R&D institutions, such as the Advanced Research Foundation – Russia’s DARPA equivalent – and the ERA Tech city,” said Sam Bendett, a CNA analyst who studies Russian military robotics and other unmanned systems. “Several key Russian defense companies are also working on swarm technology.”
The recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the Caucasus, in which Azerbaijani drones decimated Armenian tank units, “really pushed the MOD to think hard” about swarm warfare, Bendett told me.
While CSIS moderator Tom Karako tried to raise the great-power threat during Friday’s webcast, neither Gainey nor his civilian strategy chief, Nicole Thomas, actually addressed it during 75 minutes of discussions.
That doesn’t mean the military is blind to the danger, Karako told me afterwards. “I don’t think there’s any lack of attention, among the Joint Staff or the services, to how small UAS would fit into the high-end fight,” he said. “It’s not lost on anyone that Russia and China would bring to bear orders of magnitude more stressing challenge then what we’ve seen in the Armenia and Azerbaijan conflict or with Iran’s attack on Abqaiq.”
“We are absolutely considering the near and mid-term great power threat as we develop the key performance parameters that future systems must meet,” JACO spokesman Jason Waggoner told me. “The strategy is focused on dealing with sUAS [small Unmanned Air Systems] across the spectrum from hazards to threats, [and] it is intended to be flexible enough to deal with threats across the board.”
“The dual attention to both FAA-style homeland airspace issues and more traditional military threats reflects the surge in the supply of small UAS and the complexity of the challenge,” Karako told me. “There’s going to be a thick mess of these things out there, and that’s why a strategy like this was necessary to begin grappling with it.”
Certainly, homeland security and counterterrorism deserve major attention. Even in US airspace, the FAA is still struggling to clamp down on irresponsible operators, set up mandatory registration, and require all drones to have a “remote ID” system that broadcasts what they. Gainey and Thomas were optimistic that remote ID will make things easier once it’s in place.
But a terrorist could still register drones under false pretenses and use them for espionage or even to carry explosives. As Amazon drone delivery and other commercial users proliferate, finding a few bad actors in a sky full of drones will become a needle-in-the-haystack problem – only the needles and the stalks of hay are flying around in all directions all the time.
That makes it crucial to understand the airspace around military bases and government buildings, a major focus for the JCO.
The Joint Counter-UAS Office was created in 2019 to bring order to the dozens of different and often incompatible defenses bought in recent years. Last June, it narrowed those dozens down a list of just seven that the services are required to choose from. Even more important, the JCO required all counter-small-drone systems to be compatible with a common command-and-control (C2) architecture, based on the Army’s FAADC2, to allow them to share information and create a single “Common Operating Picture.” It’s also consolidating multiple threat databases into a single Common Threat Library, Gainey said, administered by the Army’s Intelligence & Information Warfare Directorate (I2WD).
“We want to go with common C2 standards so we create that common operating picture [so we can] make rapid decisions based off the threat that we’re seeing,” Gainey said. That’s part of the military’s move towards a system of Joint All-Domain Command & Control (JADC2) unifying all the services, he said. The goal is a meta-network able to share data among “any sensor, any shooter,” with common standards and modular interfaces that let the military plug-and-play new sensors and shooters into the network as technology improves.
That’s the context into which different companies’ individual products have to fit, like those being tested at Yuma in April. That is a joint effort by Gainey’s office, the Air Force, and the Army’s Rapid Capabilities & Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO), which leads ground-force development of cutting-edge tech like high-powered lasers and hypersonic missiles.
But what exactly is a “low collateral damage” counter-drone system, anyway? The Pentagon doesn’t want to be too specific about that, because they want to leave it wide open for companies to offer innovative ideas.
“The Low Collateral Effects Interceptor demonstration event is intended to find unique ideas and solutions on how to defeat small UAS in an environment that requires minimal collateral damage to the surrounding environment or personnel in the local area,” Waggoner, the JCO spokesman, told me in an email. “[That includes] defeating small UAS in urban environments, over sensitive sites, or situations where the rules of engagement would not allow kinetic effects. At this point we have not ruled out any specific interceptor technology or capability group.”
The next tech demonstration, Gainey said Friday, could be for a high-powered laser: The services are already developing such systems to shoot down drones. Unlike a physical bullet or anti-aircraft missile, a laser beam doesn’t drop back to the ground after hitting its target, making it less likely to do collateral damage. (That said, the dead drone has to come down somewhere).
There are other low-collateral damage techniques available as well. High-powered microwaves, like the Air Force’s experimental THOR, can fry electronics from a distance – and the spread of their beams, like shotgun pellets, could help sweep swarms from the sky.
Another wide-area, low-collateral-damage technique is electronic warfare. Jamming radio frequencies can shut down drones’ remote-control links – although that’s not a defense against more sophisticated autonomous models – or blind their sensors.
The Russian military is arguably the world leader in electronic warfare, which it used to shut down Ukrainian communications and paralyze resistance. Ukraine also saw Russian deployment of drones to spot targets for devastating artillery strikes. But in Syria, Russia became a target for small drones itself. In response, it turned to electronic warfare as a key part of a layered defense.
“Russia has encountered the small UAS problem in Syria and devoted considerable resources to tackling the problem,” Bendett told me. “It created what it called ‘echeloned defense’: a combination of early warning radars, EW systems and air defense units which proved successful in dealing with smaller, DIY-style drones that struck its Hmeimim base.”
Countering small drones is now a standard part of Russian combat training, Bendett said, using everything from handheld small arms to electronic warfare. “Almost every EW exercise involves some form of C-UAS training, and other C-UAS drills involve EW,” he said.
On the offensive side, Bendett said, Russia has focused on developing small drones for reconnaissance and electronic warfare, not for direct attack. But, he said, “just like the US and other countries, the Russian military is discussing the use of UAS in swarms.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
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