Sponsored by Blighter Surveillance Systems
31 Mar 21. Finland Invited to Join Game-changing New Eurofighter Radar Programme. Finland has been invited to have a role in the future capability development for an advanced new radar for Eurofighter which will secure the skies over Europe for decades to come.
Jeremy Quin MP, the UK’s Minister of State for Defence Procurement, said a role in developing the game-changing new technology, ECRS Mk 2, is part of Eurofighter’s best and final offer to Finland’s HX fighter acquisition programme.
The European consortium, backed by the Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, is also developing 70 packages of work which will create significant numbers of high-quality, long-term jobs with more than 100 Finnish companies. Speaking at a virtual briefing, Mr Quin spoke of the UK and Finland’s shared defence and security threats from Russia and other “non-state adversaries” and confirmed the UK’s commitment to strengthening its Joint Expeditionary Force, where it partners with Finland.
He added: “I have invited Finland to join the UK’s ECRS Mk2 radar programme, bringing Finnish expertise into its future development for the benefit of both our countries.
“I am not alone in wanting Finnish expertise to be part of developing our future capability, the other Eurofighter partner nations are committed to making sure Finland is part of the decision-making.
“As we look forward to Europe leaving behind the challenges of the pandemic, let’s focus our investment in European technology and capability that gives us the military edge we need and supports European jobs.”
Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Wigston, Chief of Air Staff, Royal Air Force, added that Finland was being offered “a long term partnership with the RAF” as part of the Eurofighter offer.
He added: “For Finland, Eurofighter would be a gateway in to Europe’s defence and aerospace programmes, defending our skies and deterring our potential adversaries in to the future.”
Andrea Thompson, Managing Director – Europe & International, BAE Systems – Air, said the industry partners behind the Eurofighter offer were in advanced talks with Finnish industry about more than 70 packages of work.
She said: “More than 100 Finnish companies will benefit from proposed packages of work, which will deliver significant numbers of jobs.
“We will ensure Finnish industry benefits from the creation of highly-skilled jobs that are needed to build, maintain and upgrade the aircraft over many decades.
“This will deliver high-quality, long-term jobs which will stay in Finland for as long as Eurofighter will remain in service in Finland.”
Speaking on behalf of the EUROJET consortium, which produces the EJ200 engine for Eurofighter, Alex Zino, Executive Vice President of Business Development and Future Programmes for Rolls-Royce Defence, said: “As part of our offer, Finnish Defence personnel and strategic industry partners will be given the sovereign capability and skills, as well as operational knowledge on the engine, in order to lead on all activities where EUROJET will become a supplier to Finland.
“This transfer will result in a combined workload of approximately 1.5 million man hours over 40 years.” (Source: ASD Network)
01 Apr 21. Kongsberg Geospatial and Sentient Vision Partner on AI Sensor Analysis. Kongsberg Geospatial, developer of the TerraLens Geospatial SDK, announced that it has partnered with Sentient Vision Systems to enable real-time analysis of sensor video data from drone-based sensors, using Sentient’s Kestrel, an AI–enabled computer vision system that provides automated object detection.
Kongsberg MIDAS (Modular ISR Data Analysis and Storage) provides a simple, powerful tool for reviewing and comparing real-time, near real-time and historical sensor data, including full-motion video (FMV). Sentient Kestrel is now integrated within MIDAS as a powerful analysis tool.
This new capability will help to enhance the effectiveness of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) that are deployed by search and rescue organizations, law enforcement, and military organizations for a variety of applications, including Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and search and Rescue (SAR) missions.
MIDAS allows operators to examine video data in real-time, and easily compare and cross-reference it with data collected from previous missions in the same area. MIDAS seamlessly integrates with real-time tools like Sentient Kestrel for tasks like identifying a search and rescue subject under conditions where they might easily be missed – in heavily wooded areas, in poor weather, or on choppy seas.
The Kongsberg Geospatial MIDAS system is based on technology developed for the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) project which required the storage and retrieval of vast amounts of intelligence data for later analysis by Intelligence Analysts. Kongsberg Geospatial has now packaged this functionality into a portable form factor for use by both military and civilian organizations.
Sentient’s Kestrel is an AI-enabled computer vision system that automatically detects objects in electro-optical (EO) and infrared (IR) video over land and maritime environments. Kestrel can detect objects down to a few pixels in size, and can dramatically increase the effectiveness of video surveillance, while reducing operator fatigue. In addition to highlighting objects in a live data feed, Kestrel provides object tracking with a visible history of movements and a predicted future path. Kestrel has been field-proven with a wide range of air platforms and has over 3,000 deployments across six continents.
“We developed MIDAS to provide a standards-based toolset to allow UAS operators to truly make effective use of video data to provide actionable intelligence,” said Ranald McGillis, president of Kongsberg Geospatial. “With the addition of Sentient’s Kestrel computer vision technology, we can extend that functionality to provide a tremendously useful near real-time capability for applications like search and rescue.”
“We are excited that our Kestrel object detection software is now part of the Kongsberg Geospatial MIDAS system,” said Dr Paul Boxer, Managing Director of Sentient Vision Systems. “The combination of these industry leading solutions will enable our customers to greatly enhance real-time situational awareness, intelligence analysis and lifesaving capabilities.” (Source: UAS VISION)
01 Apr 21. Army Times reported that the US Army has moved ahead on ‘mixed reality’ goggle with Microsoft in $21.8bn contract. The Army announced it has reached an agreement with Microsoft on a $21.88bin, 10-year contract to produce its futuristic do-it-all goggle.
The Army announced it has reached an agreement with Microsoft on a $21.88bin, 10-year contract to produce its futuristic do-it-all goggle.
The program, the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, has been the centerpiece for future plans to integrate an array of technologies previously only available to fighter pilots or troops in vehicles to individual, dismounted soldiers.
The announcement made today by Program Executive Office-Soldier and Microsoft states that the program, which entered its early phases in 2018, will now move from prototyping to production.
The goggle presents a mixed reality view that allows a soldier to use the same goggle to train, rehearse and fight on the same platform. It uses sensors that provide users with night vision, thermal or standard daytime optics.
The base device is a ruggedized version of the Microsoft HoloLens 2, using the company’s Azure cloud services.
“The program delivers enhanced situational awareness, enabling information sharing and decision-making in a variety of scenarios,” according to a company statement.
“Microsoft has worked closely with the U.S. Army over the past two years, and together we pioneered Soldier Centered Design to enable rapid prototyping for a product to provide Soldiers with the tools and capabilities necessary to achieve their mission,” according to the statement.
The goggle can also feed a wealth of information to the user, to include navigation aids, the location of friendly troops, weapons sights’ views, facial recognition software and augmented reality avatars for training scenarios.
The prototype version being used last year weighed 2.5 pounds, the same as the new Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular. The IVAS, however, has a design that reduces neck torque by holding the eyepiece closer to the face, officials told Army Times.
The system also records training scenarios that can then be used for instant after-action reviews, much like a replay in televised sports. Soldiers in the field for recent experiments have been able to see in the google view the video feed from a micro-drone they deployed themselves.
The goggle uses a tactical assault kit, which in recent testing was a Samsung Android smartphone, a conformable batter and radio. Running with all applications, the IVAS system battery lasts for eight hours of continuous operations, officials said.
It can also plug into larger networks and cloud computing to draw in more information but is capable of working without a connection.
The goggle then can sync with a company-level cloud, called the “bloodhound,” that processes the data and updates it with new information. The bloodhound then connects with the larger network or cloud when accessible.
In early work with the company Shield AI, developers are testing out 3D mapping scans of building interiors, which could be piped into the goggle, allowing a team to see the layout of a building before kicking down doors.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers adjusted the sensing tech on the goggles, using them to detect from a distance whether soldiers were feverish.
Early plans have called for an initial purchase of 40,000 pairs of googles for the Army. The Marine Corps and special operations forces have also been involved in experimentation and testing with the device and are expected to field it as well.
Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston gave the goggles a test run at Fort Belvoir, Va., last year and spoke with Army Times about the device.
“Half the battle is just knowing what the other squad members are going to do,” Grinston said. “Imagine integrating them in the matter of a week. You used to have to wait until a squad live fire.”
Also last year the Army ran a two-week training familiarization and test of the goggles that included a 72-hour training event in which an Army infantry company, a Marine platoon, support platoon and opposing force platoon ran live fires and multiple tactical squad tactics lanes at Fort Pickett, Va. (Source: Army Times)
30 Mar 21. Excelitas Technologies Launches Point Source LEDs for Red Dot. High-Efficiency Technology Enables Streamlined Integration, Improved Performance in Red Dot Sights.
Excelitas Technologies® Corp., a global technology leader delivering innovative, customized photonic solutions, today introduced its new SharpDot™ Point Source LEDs for streamlined integration into red dot sights. The new LEDs are designed to provide long-lasting, enhanced red dot brilliance at relatively low cost.
The Excelitas SharpDot Point Source LEDs feature the highest-efficiency Resonant Cavity LED (RCLED) technology in the industry, delivering excellent brilliance and very low power operation to maximize battery life. SharpDot LEDs can be operated down to 15nA for night-vision applications. The five well-defined dot sizes from 10um-80um allow for various shooting distances, ideal for red dot and reflex sights.
The product’s matte black housing minimizes unwanted reflections for a uniform dot profile and crisp, clear patterns. Eight standard red dot sizes (20µm, 25µm, 30µm, 40µm, 50µm, 80µm, 85µm and 120µm), custom dot sizes and reticle patterns are available, as well as other dot colors such as yellow and green.
“While all red dot LED designs need to be robust, durable and energy-efficient, every red dot application is different and each customer has unique requirements, so we’ve created an extensive product offering of efficient RCLED red dots to yield a variety of sizes and colors,” said Mark Gaston, Senior Product Manager at Excelitas. “Whether your goal is reducing power consumption, clear and sharp patterns, night vision and low current operation – or all of the above – Excelitas specializes in customer-specific designs to meet the needs of the most demanding applications.”
The RoHS-compliant SharpDot Point Source LEDs are readily available in a variety of dot sizes. Excelitas’ SharpDot Point Source LED products are surface mountable enabling easy integration into standard and flexible PCBs. Custom integrated subassemblies utilizing SharpDot are also available.
30 Mar 21. Thales and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) combine forces to develop innovative sonar technology to clear the seas from mines.
- Following the signature by the French Defence procurement agency (DGA) and its Japanese counterpart, theAcquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) of a Defence cooperation agreement, Thales and MHI are joining forces to develop a Dual Frequency sonar demonstrator to be evaluated at sea both in Japanese and French waters.
- This 5-year project is a stepping-stone for Franco-Japanese cooperation in mine action and further consolidates the existing partnership between MHI and Thales.
- The partnership’s objective is to develop an improved autonomous mine countermeasures system capable of detecting, classifying and localising all types of mines.
Within the framework of the French-Japanese bilateral Defence agreement, France and Japan have signed a Project Arrangement for the second phase of the cooperation project consisting of the development by Thales and MHI of a dual frequency sonar demonstrator for mine countermeasures aboard an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV).
While mines or even the possibility of mines potentially threaten everyone at sea, dealing with them effectively is vital in keeping key trade corridors open and guaranteeing maritime access and force projection—this is especially important for countries with highly valuable assets or ports that have a high volume of commercial traffic. In response to the growing threat posed by bottom laid, semi or fully buried mines in coastal areas, DGA and ATLA have decided to cooperate in order to study the performances of innovative dual frequency sonar technology.
To achieve this, both countries have chosen to trust MHI and Thales, who share technological excellence and complement each other, strengthening through this agreement their continuous and successful collaboration. As a world leader in mine countermeasures with over 300 mine-hunting systems in service worldwide, Thales will provide its recognised expertise in sonar processing as well as its latest generation High Frequency synthetic aperture sonar, SAMDIS, with multi-aspect capability. MHI on its side will provide its Low Frequency synthetic aperture sonar and the OZZ-5 AUV.
The smart integration of the High Frequency & Low Frequency sonars, coupled with a combined automatic detection and classification function, will not only provide capability and performance enhancement into a single solution but will also mutually benefit each sonar’s processing and imaging. This will result in a unique autonomous mine countermeasure system capable of detecting, classifying and localising all types of mines (from fully buried mines to ground mines).
This agreement kicks off a 5-year project for design, development and integration of the dual frequency synthetic aperture sonar processing, and at sea experiments (in Japan & in France). This is the materialisation of years of long cooperative efforts between the DGA, ATLA, Thales and MHI to jointly build a project that satisfies both French Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force requirements and allows France and Japan to stay at the forefront of innovation on unmanned mine countermeasure systems.
“Thales is very proud to be part, together with our partner MHI, of the very first Franco-Japanese Defence Cooperation project.We are really enthusiastic to bring our field proven expertise with our SAMDIS High Frequency sonar for the benefit of France and Japan national and foreign Defense forces through this successful unique cooperation for safer seas.” Alexis Morel, Vice-President Underwater Systems, Thales.
“In Japan, Thales is focused on building long-term sustainable partnerships with our key stakeholders. This extended partnership with MHI affirms our commitment to the country and to deepening bilateral ties between France and Japan. I am confident that our technologies and close collaboration can deliver unique and innovative solutions that will strengthen the capabilities of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force as they build local expertise for the future,” Cyrille Dupont, President and CEO, Thales Japan.
25 Mar 21. “Directed energy weapons to receive most C-UAS funding” – Verdict poll. Directed energy weapons are likely to receive the highest investment among C-UAS interdiction methods, according to a poll published in Army Technology.
“Verdict has conducted a poll to determine which among the counter-UAS (C-UAS) interdiction methods is likely to receive the most investment,” said the news report. “Analysis of the poll results indicates that directed energy weapons (DEW) are expected to receive the highest investment, as voted by a majority 52% of the poll respondents. Jamming method was voted to receive the highest investment by 18% of the respondents, while unconventional projections method was voted by 15% of the respondents. Another 9% of the respondents opined that conventional projectiles have the potential to receive the highest investment, while the remaining 6% of the poll respondents voted for spoofing.
“The analysis is based on 577 responses received from the readers of Verdict’s defence sites, Airforce Technology, Army Technology, and Naval Technology, for a poll conducted between 11 February and 01 March 2021.”
26 Mar 21. Skeyes to demonstrate integrated solution to protect against unauthorised drones at Brussels Airport in late March. Belgium air navigation service provider skeyes is planning ‘a major demonstration of an integrated solution at Brussels Airport using cooperative and non-cooperative drone detection products and services, integrated with Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) software’ at the end of March 2021. The aim is to detect and identify drones and distinguish between authorised and unauthorised drone flights.
Skeyes also plans to carry out the first tests and demonstrations of its ‘6th NeTWork’ platform, a joint venture with Proximus and DroneMatrix to perform missions on demand for business purposes later this year.
Skeyes founded SkeyDrone at the start of 2020 and the subsidiary plays a proactive role in numerous research and development projects, in close cooperation with various Belgian and European stakeholders including Unifly and Senhive. The launch of the skeyes Drone Service Application software enables skeyes to manage drone flights in the vicinity of Belgian airports that fall under the responsibility of skeyes and is the result of intense and fruitful cooperation between skeyes and SkeyDrone.
In a skeyes blog, Hendrik-Jan Van Der Gucht Managing Director of SkeyDrone says: “In the coming years, we will play a central role with Skeydrone in the preparations for the implementation of U-space in Belgium.
“The expertise we have gained and the pioneering role that skeyes plays have allowed us to start from a solid base. SkeyDrone’s business plan is built around three pillars or categories of services: managing drone traffic, offering data analytics services or drones as data collectors, and providing solutions in the area of drone detection and protection.
When it comes to managing drone traffic, we need to distinguish between the periods before and after the European UAS regulations come into force, which are expected in 2023. Today, we provide UTM solutions, both software and hardware, to managers of so-called UAS geographical zones, including skeyes. By 2023, we aim to become one of the first U-space service providers (USSP) in Europe.”
Skeyes COO Peggy Devestel said: ““skeyes was one of the first ANSPs in Europe to prepare for the integration of unmanned drone traffic. To name but a few initiatives: in 2018, skeyes – in collaboration with the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority – launched the droneguide app: an online software platform that intuitively indicated in which parts of our airspace drones could or could not be flown based on the former Belgian drone legislation. Using this tool, professional drone pilots could also obtain the necessary authorisations and report their flights before carrying them out in controlled airspace.
“Furthermore, skeyes has participated in several national and European pilot projects, mainly with a view to exploring and testing our future role in U-space. The most ambitious project was undoubtedly the EU-funded SAFIR project in 2019. With a consortium of 11 international companies – including some big players such as Amazon – we demonstrated in a very complex environment – the port of Antwerp and part of the Antwerp CTR – how various practical applications with drones could be orchestrated while safely using new operational concepts and technologies. It was Unmanned Traffic Management put into practice. Besides the technical possibilities and challenges – such as drone detection – these tests provided us with a great deal of knowledge about the roles we could take in the future U-space landscape, which we expect by 2023.
“SkeyDrone is an important instrument in the broader drone strategy of skeyes, which will focus on the development and marketing of commercial services, including UTM/U-space and drone detection. Through SkeyDrone, we also want to gather knowledge and develop technology that we can also use for ATM in the future in order to evolve towards a hybrid airspace model where ATM and UTM are jointly integrated.”
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29 Mar 21. US Navy seeks contractor support for CORIAN C-UAS component of SkyTracker system. NAWCAD WOLF Combat Integration & Identification Systems (CI&IDS) division has a requirement for contractor services to provide mission critical sustainment support for the CORIAN Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS), a part of the SkyTracker Technology Suite, at existing CONUS and OCONUS Government locations. The requirement entails providing sustainment support to include engineering, program management and technical support services to support the sustainment of the CORIAN systems at existing Government sites.
Sustainment of the systems includes, but not limited to, maintainability and deployment upgrades of operational systems, reconfiguration of installed systems, training, system maintenance, and hardware repairs.
Contracting organisation: US Navy
Deadline: 7 April 2021
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23 Mar 21. UK regulators launch anti-drone crime campaign after 336 incidents over last five months. March 23, 2021 Philip Butterworth-Hayes Counter-UAS systems and policies, Emerging regulations. In the UK, the Home Office, Police and UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have announced a new campaign aimed at clamping down on drone-related crimes, after 336 drone-related incidents were recorded during the last five months in the UK.
According to a CAA press release: “The new campaign, Operation Foreverwing, will see the three organisations work together to show the work the Police is doing around tackling drone crime, in a bid to deter drone owners from breaking the rules. The Police has dedicated drone teams located across the country, tasked with enforcing the law by handing out fines and confiscating drones if people fail to stick to the rules. With the CAA setting the rules for drone flying, the campaign will raise awareness of the rules while reminding those tempted to break them of the consequences.
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for counter Drones, Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi, said:
“The use of drones has increased dramatically in recent years and as a result of that we are seeing instances of dangerous and irresponsible flying. If you are a drone owner it is your responsibility to make sure you are following the rules for your own safety and that of others around you. These rules can be found in the Drone Code on the CAA website.”
UK law now dictates that CAA registration is mandatory for operators of drones over 250 grams and all drones other than toys that are fitted with a camera. Failure to register leaves drone users at risk of penalties up to UKP1,000. The campaign will see more cooperation between the bodies and joint education targeting drone users.
Jonathan Nicholson, Assistant Director of Communications, CAA, said:
“With close to 200,000 registered drone owners across the UK, the skies are becoming increasingly busy. Our objective is not to stop people having fun or using their drone for business, it’s to make sure that everyone can share the air safely and that means sticking to the rules outlined in the Drone Code.” (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
29 Mar 21. French army tests counter drone capabilities in security exercise at Istres Air Base. The French Ground to Air Defense Squadron (EDSA) 01.950 “Crau” carried out a security exercise at Istres Air Base (BA) 125 “Charles Monier” with the aim detecting potential airborne threats and neutralising those that proved to be a risk.
EDSA “Crau” train regularly to provide force protection and deal with a broad spectrum of threats including drones. As drones can be used for intelligence purposes or malicious acts, the Air and Space Army (AAE) has taken measures in ensure it can counter this evolving threat. In this exercise, an anti-drone control response was quickly activated and successfully secured the area.
EDSA provides support to “protection bubbles” formed during sensitive manoeuvres related to the activity of the Strategic Air Forces (FAS) or the securing of major events such as July 14, the World Cup, etc in France or overseas. The high level of skills of its operators is due not only to the provision of suitable equipment, but also to regular participation in training and exercises of various kinds. For more information visit:
26 Mar 21. Eurocae approves C-UAS services and definition standards based on joint Eurocae-RTCA work. Following joint activity by standards working groups in Europe and US, European standards agency Eurocae has approved ED-286/DO-389 “Operational Services and Environment Definition for Counter-UAS in Controller Airspace” and the standard is available on the Eurocae eShop.
This is the first document produced by the joint activity Eurocae WG115 & RTCA SC238 focused on developing standards to support the safe and harmonised implementation of Counter-UAS Systems into airport and ANSP systems.
WG115 Chairman Jorge Munir El Malek Vázquez, Indra Head of C-UAS, applauded the results “after one intensive year working hard with an incredible team”.
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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.