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16 Apr 21. Triton exceeding operational expectations. The MQ-4C Triton is doing “better than expected”, the US Navy’s program executive officer has said following a year of deployment in Guam.
The US Navy has lauded the capabilities of the Northrop Grumman-built MQ-4C Triton UAV, which has been tested by Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 during its deployment in Guam over the past 12 months.
The squadron deployed two MQ-4Cs in January 2020 in a bid to establish early operational capability, with the UAVs providing surveillance for the US 7th Fleet while also exercising the logistics train expected to support future deployments.
The UAV’s performance was assessed during a two-hour review with the Navy’s Air Boss, Vice Admiral Kenneth Whitesell.
Speaking at the at the Unmanned Systems-Defense webinar of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International earlier this week, Rear Admiral Brian Corey, program executive officer for unmanned and strike weapons, said UAVs exceeded expectations.
“Triton is doing very, very well,” he said. “In fact, it’s doing better than we expected in Guam,” he said.
RADM Corey continued, “First off, anyone that has operated an air force knows that airplanes work and then they break. We have an air force of two [Tritons] and we put Triton out there [Guam] with early operational capability, knowing that we didn’t have a fully fleshed-out set of depot-level maintenance and that sort of thing.
“So, we have had some amazing success here over these last several months. We got over there, we were able to fly, we were able to interact in the airspace until we could fly in the entire Pacific region, until we got co-operation from our partners.”
RADM Corey said the aircraft delivered products to the 7th Fleet and to the Pacific Fleet commander within mission parameters.
The Triton is now expected prove its operational capability in other locations over the coming months to achieve integrated functional capability 4 (IFC4).
Australia is expected to receive the first of six to seven Triton air vehicles in 2023, with Northrop Grumman expected to begin building the airframe later this year.
Remotely flying out of RAAF Edinburgh, South Australia, the Tritons are capable of monitoring 5.2 million square kilometres in a 24-hour mission and seamlessly flying a round trip for sustained surveillance and in support of allied freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea from the Northern Territory – increasing Australia’s interoperability with key allies, particularly the US. (Source: Defence Connect)
14 Apr 21. Augmented reality goggles and the future of defense acquisition. The US Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System has been in the works for years, but the potentially multibillion deal could mark a paradigm shift in how the Defense Department buys and leverages technology.
The Army made national news when it announced a deal to buy more than 120,000 augmented reality headsets from Microsoft for $22bn in order to enhance soldier training and situational awareness.
The Integrated Visual Augmentation System, which has been in the works for more than three years and has functions like radio communications and high-resolution night and thermal sensors, is undeniably cool. But there’s more to the potentially multibillion deal, which could mark a potential shift in how the Defense Department can and should buy new technology.
One of the biggest clues to what the future of defense acquisition looks like, at least for the next four years, could lie in President Joe Biden’s pick to oversee it, according to Tara Murphy Dougherty, the CEO of Govini, data and decision science firm.
“The biggest news in acquisition that I think still remains to be unpacked… is Mike Brown’s [nomination] as undersecretary,” Murphy Dougherty said. “It clearly, in my mind, is a statement by the Biden team about how they are trying to position DOD acquisition and the focus on things like [Other Transaction Agreements] and getting out of maybe the [Federal Acquisition Regulation]-based days of old and building the bridge to the innovation community.”
That is definitely evident with IVAS, which started as a $23m OTA and has skipped the procurement “valley of death” where promising prototypes never make it into warfighter hands.
But the lasting test of the strategy likely lies in the contract language, and whether the production contract mirrors the original OTA or if it suffers from “FAR creep,” according to Stan Soloway, the former deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition reform.
Soloway, who runs the consulting firm Celero Strategies, told FCW the production deal is “potentially fairly significant, but what we don’t know is how precedential it’s going to be.”
“If you look at the transitions to production that are taking place, very often the production contract looks more and more like a traditional FAR contract,” Soloway said, “in other words, even though the government has the authority to use the same OTs [we] see they are most often actually not taking advantage of it.”
The result could lead to non-traditional companies, which the Defense Department is trying to attract, exiting deals once they move to production.
“The one big question is: is the production contract a continuation of those commercial terms and conditions that were in the original OTA? If the answer is yes, that could set the stage for a lot more successful transitions to production,” Soloway said. “If the answer is no, we remain stuck in this, yes OTAs can help expedite the process, they can help bring new capabilities into the process, but it’s not clear that they’re going to be as successful in expanding the industrial base, which is one of the purposes.”
Jerry McGinn, former principal deputy director at the Defense Department‘s office of manufacturing and industrial base policy, told FCW that other transaction agreements can’t be made into “an end in themselves,” but should be used to fuel innovation.
“You want to use those kind of vehicles to bring in non-traditional [companies] to bring in new commercial tech, test drive it to find out if it works. And then you want to transition it to you know to programs of record — and those aren’t OTs. So it’s got to be part of the toolbox,” said McGinn, who is now the executive director for the government contracting initiative at George Mason University’s School of Business.
“You can’t make them an end in themselves.”
But with IVAS’ success and the steady increased use of other transaction agreements, the oversight isn’t far behind.
“I worry about [the Government Accountability Office], the inspectors general, and I worry about Congress,” McGinn said — though he stressed that there is a legitimate need to protect taxpayer dollars and prevent waste, fraud and abuse.
But just as Congress granted the new acquisition authorities to accelerate DOD’s adoption of emerging technology, the legislative body and other watchdog entities may need reform as well when it comes to their oversight duties.
“They have oversight functions that are completely appropriate,” McGinn said, “but the challenge is how they evaluate programs — cost, schedule, and performance and other oversight functions. Those were all set up to deal with the regular acquisition system and in the 1950s.”
McGinn said the way Congress and other watchdog organizations conduct their oversight duties must change to match new, rapidly changing technologies.
“These functions are incredibly important and they need to because you got to protect taxpayer dollars,” McGinn said, “but we have to have a paradigm shift in acquisition governance structures as well as the acquisition approaches in order to be ultimately successful.” (Source: Defense Systems)
14 Apr 21. New US Army tech ‘sees’ through battlefield blind spots. Soldiers drive their M3A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles to reach a phase line where they will move into a defensive posture during platoon scout training. (Staff Sgt. Andrew Porch/Army)
Advances in ground robots, small drones, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data processing are being combined in an effort to help soldiers “see” the battlefield in ways hardly imagined until recently.
Four Army Research Lab projects at various levels of development aim to improve soldiers’ situational awareness by enabling them to spot roadside bombs, track targets, distinguish people in crowds and even merge their own human vision with computer vision for a full-scope view of the tactical edge of combat.
Dr. Alexander Kott, ARL’s chief scientist, spoke with Army Times about work that the lab and its partner researchers are doing in the area.
Kott looked to history to help contextualize what’s been happening in recent years and what’s still to come in terms of melding new technologies to provide soldiers a new vision for the battlespace.
Field telescopes or spyglasses dramatically increased the ability of ground warfare officers to conduct maneuvers and command forces in the 1600s.
Combinations of mathematics, aerial observations and communications technologies allowed artillery forces in World War I to strike at unseen targets. Beginning in the early 1940s, during World War II, nascent night vision technology pioneered the capabilities of forces to fight effectively in the dark.
Kott said the new ways in which scientists are combing technologies also signifies an historic change.
“We are in the midst of a revolution in how the battlefield is being perceived,” Kott said.
A lot of that is happening because wearable technologies, from goggles to body-worn sensors, are only now becoming feasible to use effectively.
One project already in the works is an “object detection module” that allows the soldier at the tactical level to use on-hand small drones to process data that would help with in-vehicle target detection and threat prioritization.
That kind of foundational ability has already been used in various Army Combat Capabilities Development Command programs. For example, small drone tactical intelligence in the ATLAS program provides soldiers with faster target identification, acquisition and engagement than manual methods. And the object detection technology within the Artificial Intelligence for Maneuver & Mobility program aids autonomous robot navigation, according to an ARL statement.
Another example is a project announced earlier this year that is not a single device but a drone-based multi-sensor system that allows for standoff detection of explosive hazards.
Scientists have connected a variety of drone-based sensors with machine learning algorithms to detect the variety of explosive emplacements used against vehicle convoys.
An early phase of the program used airborne synthetic aperture radar, ground vehicular and drone LIDAR, high-definition electro-optical cameras, long-wave infrared cameras and non-linear junction detection radar.
The test came through a 7km track that had 625 emplacements, which included explosive hazards, simulated clutter and calibration targets.
That dense and complex terrain was used to gather terabytes of data. The data was then used to train the AI/machine learning algorithms so that they could do autonomous target detection specific to each sensor.
The next steps will pull together the research, enabling real-time automatic target detection that is then displayed to the user with an augmented reality engine. That way, soldiers can see the threats best identified by the system while on the move.
It’s one thing for a drone to provide data to a machine that then identifies the subject. It’s quite another to provide a human user a full picture of the battlefield all around them.
The Tactical Awareness via Collective Knowledge, or TACK, program is combining human and computer vision at the squad level.
TACK tracks the user’s eye movements, fatigue and gaze. That way, if a soldier looks to a point of interest, the device begins translating what they are seeing or even sending a companion drone or other sensor to check out what is in their view.
This is being applied already within the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, a multi-function, mixed-reality goggle. Microsoft was recently awarded a nearly $22bn, 10-year contract to produce the device.
Kott pointed to the IVAS as a prime example of how a variety of sensors, AI and machine learning can meld into a system that not only feeds data to the user but also helps translate the data to a human-friendly form and can be shared across platforms for a fuller picture of what’s happening at multiple levels of combat.
TACK is already being used but is expected to evolve significantly over the coming decades. Right now, the configuration is being tested to help soldier with decision making.
By 2025, developers hope that TACK can help command-level decision makers, in part by using sensing to assess squad situational awareness and share that across echelons.
From 2035 to 2050, they aim to modify systems on the fly, enable faster decision making, reduce soldier risk and provide greater battlefield intelligence and adaptability.
One of the early development projects showing promise is finding new ways for computers to take degraded visuals — from limited resolution images to motion blurred video or from poor visibility due to rain, fog or dust storms — and make that video usable for analysis or viewing without requiring large amounts of computer power only available far from the battlefield.
That’s especially important for target tracking and identification.
The novel approach uses existing visual similarity between objects, which helps match up and clear up the degraded video quicker without requiring a top-to-bottom rebuilding of the image.
This works by “teaching” the algorithm what to look for so it can better identify what’s in the blurred image.
“Our scientists discovered you can teach a computer with deep neural networks, you can actually teach them how to find things in a very blurred picture without turning it into a good picture, much cheaper in computer power,” Kott said. “(The computer) can “see the tank” even if you have a very poor picture in a dust storm.”
As that method becomes refined, the next step is to get it onto very small platforms such as small drones and ground robots, he said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military Times)
14 Apr 21. US Army Wants Tens of Thousands of New Night Vision Devices for Drivers, Support Soldiers. The Army wants to buy thousands of new, low-cost night vision devices for drivers and other logistics troops who are not among the close-combat units slated to receive cutting-edge systems like Microsoft-made Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, headsets.
Since it launched its bold modernization strategy in 2017, the Army has focused on improving the situational awareness of infantry and other close-combat units by developing systems such as IVAS and Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binoculars, or ENVG-Bs.
The service just awarded a $22bn contract to Microsoft to produce IVAS for about 120,000 soldiers in close-combat units. Scheduled for fielding later this year, the sophisticated goggles are designed to equip combat troops with a head-up display that allows them to view tactical maps, as well as their weapon-sight reticle. IVAS will also replace night-vision devices that have to be mounted on special helmet brackets.
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The Army also began equipping infantry units with ENVG-Bs in 2019. The binocular-style device gives soldiers enhanced depth perception and features a thermal image intensifier so they can see enemy heat signatures both at night and in the daylight through smoke, fog and other battlefield obscurants.
The service has stressed from the beginning that non-combat arms soldiers do not need sophisticated devices such as IVAS and ENVG-B, but maneuver officials at Fort Benning, Georgia, announced Wednesday that the Army wants to upgrade its inventory of outdated AN/PVS 14 monocular night vision devices.
“We are looking for night vision that is better than PVS 14s, not quite the ENVGs … not quite IVAS types of things, but more focused on the logistics side of a [brigade combat team] and how they support the close-combat force,” Lt. Col. Christopher Kennedy, chief of the Lethality Branch at Benning, told an audience at the Maneuver Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate’s Industry Day. “There is going to be opportunity for night vision vendors. … We are looking to buy tens of thousands of systems.”
As part of the Army’s Night Vision Modernization Strategy, the service hopes to begin buying these improved night vision devices for $6,000 to $8,000 apiece beginning in 2024, Kennedy said.
“We are calling it Night Vision Next,” he said, describing how the Army plans to do a robust market survey — “so going and saying, ‘Hey, show me what you got.'”
The new devices will be for troops who support combat forces but are less likely to get into direct firefights with enemy forces, Kennedy said.
“Not that it is not intended for a firefight, but it’s really intended to enable those who are going to be drivers of vehicles and those who are going to be doing some close-in logistic type things — loading, unloading trucks; loading, unloading ammo; fueling — different things like that while still maintaining … a firefight capability,” he explained. “This is really, truly helping someone do their job in limited visibility.”
Army funding for the effort isn’t budgeted until 2024, but the service could begin buying new devices sooner if the right capability becomes available, Kennedy said.
“We are looking to procure things pretty fast,” he said. “If somebody comes in and wows us with something with a good price and it really looks like what we want … there is nothing that says that can’t be moved to the left.” (Source: glstrade.com/Military.com)
14 Apr 21. Excelitas Technologies Introduces New OrcIR Long Range, High Definition MWIR Thermal Camera. Excelitas TechnologiesE Corp., a global technology leader delivering innovative, customized photonic solutions, today announced a significant launch order for the company’s latest long range, High Definition (HD) MWIR Camera – OrcIR. The OrcIR combines the latest small pitch sensor technology with a custom designed, continuous zoom optic to deliver exceptional long-range imaging performance in a compact space envelope.
OrcIR is the latest embodiment of the Excelitas modular camera architecture for high-performance, high definition, MWIR thermal imaging. This architecture combines exceptional image clarity with affordability by leveraging a high level of commonality across the camera range. OrcIR is optimized for longer range applications including border and naval surveillance, fire control and C-UAS applications. For maritime installations, OrcIR features an optional Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) tilted window, providing protection against wiper abrasion and environmental conditions.
An evolution of the proven CheetIR-L thermal camera, OrcIR offers increased range performance with a longer focal length of 500 mm in the narrow field of view. The philosophy of the Excelitas camera range is to provide market-leading imaging performance in a ruggedized, low SWAP-C package. This is achieved using a custom designed, F/3 zoom lens combined with the latest generation of high operating temperature (HOT), 1280×720, 10 mm imaging engine. OrcIR delivers an unrivalled level of performance to enable fast and effective decision making in a compact package.
OrcIR has been designed to accommodate future technology enhancements by offering the option to adopt future sensor developments as they mature. This innovative approach provides integrators and end users with the latest in MWIR imaging technology, increasing camera performance with minimal obsolescence and greatly reduced through life costs.
Additional information about the OrcIR is available at https://www.excelitas.com/product/orcir-long-range-high-definition-thermal-imager.
13 Apr 21. US Air Force seeks EO/IR sensor options for MQ-9. US Air Force Material Command’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) directorate is gathering industry input for a slate of “alternative and improved” options for electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) sensors, designed for the air service’s MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial system (UAS) and other medium altitude UAS platforms.
“As a critical component of the current MQ-9 weapon system, the EO/IR sensor’s capabilities are integral to the combined ISR and Strike mission,” according to a 9 April request for information (RFI). “As such, the [US] Air Force is interested in EO/IR sensor capabilities that are currently available with minimal integration cost to the current platform, as well as researching alternative ways to support future lower-end, lower-cost ISR missions which may include initiatives to modernise, augment, [or] replace existing systems,” the RFI stated.
The command’s ISR division and its Special Operations Forces (SOF) directorate are leading the effort, with plans to reach initial operating capability (IOC) for the new tranche of EO/IR sensors for the MQ-9 by early 2022. The anticipated IOC for potential sensor solutions for medium-altitude UAS aside from the MQ-9 is planned for mid-2030, the RFI stated.
Air service leaders issued a RFI last June, calling for industry options for a new medium-altitude UAS for ISR and strike missions. In that RFI, service officials suggested potential offerors use the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Skyborg programme as a baseline for formulating their proposals. Skyborg is AI initiative focused on co-ordinating unmanned aerial systems and manned fighter jets. (Source: Jane’s)
13 Apr 21. NATO relies on Thales for a real-time view of the operational situation in joint theaters.
- Thales has been awarded by NATO for the delivery of Increment 2 for the NATO Common Operational Picture (NCOP) programme, which will provide joint forces under NATO command with enhanced situational awareness and decision support in the theatre.
- Thales was selected for Increment 1 in 2012 and has now been chosen to upgrade the current version of the system, which has been in service at NATO command centres since 2015.
- Through this contract, Thales will continue to help NATO enhance its mission coordination, planning and command capabilities by providing a unified, real-time representation of information from theatres of operations.
On 17 March 2021, NATO awarded to Thales the new increment to provide an operational situational awareness system that will give NATO commanders a shared picture of an area of interest or mission to enhance overall awareness of joint forces operations and support mission planning, coordination and command.
Joint operations today involve land, air and naval units with many different types of command systems, which generate huge amounts of georeferenced operational information. NCOP will capture, aggregate and correlate all this information to generate a single, comprehensive picture of the theatre of operations, providing a Common Operational Picture (COP) that will ensure that each entity has a shared view of the location, actions and intentions of the forces in the field.
To meet this requirement, Thales has developed a software system based on an open architecture, with specialised modules that draw on the company’s experience of different aspects of the command chain and are fully compliant with commercial and military standards. This system is designed to provide the operational community with secure access to multiple COPs overlays on a geospatial reference. Tactical information from multiple systems and data sources will improve situational awareness for joint forces.
Each COP is displayed in real time and shows key elements such as operations in progress, friendly and enemy forces, their logistics and operational capabilities, weather conditions and possible action plans for future coordinated efforts.
NCOP allows for synchronised management of all deployed forces and provide effective support for collaborative planning and decision-making in an operations centre. This in turn will enable joint forces command to achieve information superiority.
With this second contract, NATO will benefit from Thales’s extensive expertise in interoperability management. Thales will upgrade the technology used in the current system, which has been in service at NATO command centres since 2015 and national command centres in France, Poland and Spain. Thales will also add new functionality for time management, event correlation and future strategic analysis.
“Thales is proud to strengthen its partnership with NATO and to help achieve greater decision superiority for NATO forces. We thank the Alliance for placing its trust in us once again and for this latest opportunity to support NATO’s capacity to efficiently manage joint forces operations.” Gérard Herby, Vice President, Protection Systems, Thales.
12 Apr 21. France offers Germany four Atlantic 2 maritime patrol aircraft. The French Armed Force Ministry has offered four Breguet Atlantic 2 planes to plug a looming gap in the German Navy’s anti-submarine capabilities, provided that Berlin springs for modernizing the planes.
“Depending on Germany’s needs, the four planes could be sold once the update to Standard 6 will be taken in charge by Germany,” a French defense spokesperson wrote in an email to Defense News.
“The four planes will be at the latest aircraft standard which successfully passed the initial operational capability milestone of the French navy in 2020, with a range of high-tech equipment for maritime patrol missions,” the email read. “The proposal includes training and maintenance.”
The ministry declined to specify a price tag for the offer. Weapons and countermeasures would be “processed in a second step,” the email stated.
Driving the French offer is a desire to keep Germany connected to the future Maritime Airborne Warfare System that the two countries want to jointly develop for fielding around 2035. But the German sea service needs new planes by 2025, the year the current P-3 Orion fleet is slated to reach the end of its serviceable life.
Defense officials in Berlin have yet to make up their minds about which aircraft they plan to propose to lawmakers for funding in the decade between. A spokesman said a decision was due before parliament goes on recess for the summer in late June.
According to the French ministry, the Atlantic 2 offer is “based on operational cooperation,” with negotiations continuing between the two navies and civilian defense leadership.
A German Navy spokesman referred questions about the viability of the French offer to the Defence Ministry in Berlin.
Former German Navy chief Vice Adm. Andreas Krause, who retired in late March, had advocated for buying American-made P-8 Poseidon aircraft as an interim solution, citing on Twitter a mid-March Defense News story about the requisite Pentagon clearance for a sale.
The new service chief, Vice Adm. Kay-Achim Schönbach, has yet to speak on the issue, according to the service spokesman. (Source: News Now/Defense News)
12 Apr 21. System defends aircraft against surface-to-air infrared missile threats. The U.S. Navy recently awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) a $115m production contract for U.S. Department of the Navy’s Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (DoN LAIRCM) systems. Northrop Grumman was also awarded additional contracts recently including integration, sustainment and support of the DoN LAIRCM systems.
Northrop Grumman’s DoN LAIRCM system combines an advanced infrared missile warning system and directed laser countermeasures to defeat surface-to-air missiles. Image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense. Photo taken by PO3 Walter Estrada The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.
Northrop Grumman will integrate the latest version of the DoN LAIRCM system onto U.S. aircraft. The DoN LAIRCM is currently in service on both rotary and fixed wing aircraft. Additionally, Northrop Grumman will install DoN LAIRCM systems on aircraft owned by allied governments.
“The DoN LAIRCM award signifies Naval Air System Command’s continued confidence in Northrop Grumman’s 50 years of expertise in missile warning and infrared countermeasures systems,” said Bob Gough, vice president, navigation, targeting and survivability, Northrop Grumman. “We remain fully committed to delivering this life-saving capability to our warfighters.”
Under this latest task order, Northrop Grumman will continue to provide support and maintenance for the battle-proven DoN LAIRCM systems that are currently installed on U.S. military aircraft. One of the most advanced aircraft survivability equipment available, Northrop Grumman’s LAIRCM system provides maximum aircraft and aircrew survivability. The DoN LAIRCM system defends aircraft against surface-to-air infrared missile threats. The system automatically counters advanced infrared missile systems by detecting, tracking and jamming the threat with a high-intensity laser beam.
Northrop Grumman’s Infrared Countermeasures (IRCM) systems are installed on more than 1,500 aircraft of more than 80 different platform types worldwide and are the frontline defense system for U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps platforms.
12 Apr 21. US counter small UAS programme on track with field tests, but faces challenging schedule. Calls by US Congress to field a low collateral Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-sUAS) in 2021 is looking unlikely according to an article published in National Defense magazine. However, the Pentagon is progressing well with development and testing of C-sUAS equipment following the establishment of the Joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-sUAS) Office (JCO) by the Defense Department in 2019.
The JCO released the Counter sUAS Strategy in January 2021 which provides a framework for addressing the challenge posed by malicious drones and information sharing systems. This followed selection of 10 initial joint C-sUAS system in mid-2020 and investment in these capabilities. The JCO is on track to host its first industry day in April at Yuma Proving Ground, Arozona in collaboration with the US Air Force. The office plans to select an initial capability for procurement and fielding in 2022.
The JCO supports a layered approach to C-sUAS, designed to address a range of threats and fill capability gaps by development new capabilities and upgrading existing ones. Among these, Unmanned Airspace reported tests conducted by Northrop Grumman and Pierce Aerospace earlier this year.
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12 Apr 21. Counter drone sales account for almost all news orders reported by RADA Electronic Industries. Israeli defence technology company RADA Electronic Industries has announced the receipt of USD24m of new orders in the first quarter of 2021, including USD9m in new orders during March 2021. This figure represents a growth of 50% in new orders during the first quarter when compared to the first quarter of 2020. The majority of these new orders will be delivered during 2021.
Of these new orders, approximately 90% were orders for RADA’s software-defined tactical radars for counter UAV, short-range air defence (SHORAD) and counter fires (C-RAM), with 40% of the orders coming from the US market and 50% from the rest of the world. The remaining 10% were for RADA’s legacy avionics systems production.
RADA CEO Dov Sella said, “The 50% growth in new orders in the first quarter, when compared to last year, increases our confidence in our revenue guidance of over USD120m for 2021. We are particularly pleased with the flow of new orders coming from non-US markets. At the same time, we are satisfied with the continued stability in our legacy avionics business demonstrating an annual revenue rate of approximately USD10m.”
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www.rada.com (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
07 Apr 21. KWESST signs exclusive license agreement with AerialX for counter drone technology for US and Canadian militaries. Defence and security technology company KWESST Micro Systems has signed an ‘amended and restated license agreement’ with AerialX Drone Solutions for counter-drone technology. In October 2019 KWESST signed a non-exclusive worldwide license with AerialX and has now gained exclusive rights to the technology for US and Canadian militaries. The product which is based on the licensed technology is being marketed under the name GreyGhost and is an autonomous soldier-portable micro drone missile system that defends against small hostile drones including swarms using high-speed kinetic impact.
Under the agreement, KWESST’s also retains its non-exclusive worldwide rights. KWESST has agreed to issue AerialX 100,000 shares of KWESST in consideration of the new exclusive rights and an additional 100,000 shares of KWESST upon AerialX meeting certain technological milestones.
The growth of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) creates new threats and challenges for NATO countries including the US Department of Defense (DoD) and Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND). Recent technology trends have enabled state actors, non-state actors, terrorist organizations and criminals to easily convert legitimate applications of sUAS into efficient weapons. These small drones provide NATO adversaries with a low-cost means of conducting intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions or direct attack of NATO forces.
“The Pentagon last year established the Army-led Joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office, or JCO, and approved a set of requirements to help counter the threat posed by small drones and formalized requirements for how technology developed by industry players can seamlessly plug into a single command-and-control system. Evaluation of industry counter drone systems are expected to be ongoing throughout 2021,” said Jeff MacLeod, KWESST’s President and CEO. “In the U.S. and in 2021 alone, DoD plans to spend at least USD $404m on counter-UAS (c-UAS) research and development and at least $83m on c-UAS procurement(1).”
The counter drone market has grown considerably in recent years, with both major defense contractors and small technology companies actively competing to gain market share in a market that by one estimate could be worth $5.4bn by 2028(2).
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05 Apr 21. XTEND announces delivery of “dozens of SKYLORD GRIFFON C-UAS units to US Army Special Operations Command.
XTEND has announced it has delivered dozens of SKYLORD GRIFFON systems, for operational usage to the United States Army Special Operations Command.
According to the company: “XTEND’s signature SKYLORD GRIFFON, is a SMART hard-kill C-UAS platform that allows any operator with no flight experience to kinetically intercept aerial threats using a resilient, ultra-fast drone system. SKYLORD GRIFFON seamlessly interfaces with any detection or command and control system for total control. Fusing edge technology with human-centric cognitive capabilities— such as 3D navigation, visual HMI spatial translation, and augmented reality API—operators can deploy multiple drone teams to detect, identify, and intercept enemy drones. SKYLORD GRIFFON is designed to defeat Group 1/2 COTS UAS in ranges of up to three miles from the launch point. It flies up to 80 miles per hour and uses a single use effector to intercept the target drone within seconds of recognition.”
According to XTEND CEO Aviv Shapira. “The system leverages state-of-the-art AR technology and enables operators to immerse themselves in remote, high-risk, GPS denied locations, avoiding danger. In addition to counter-drone interception, the SKYLORD drone systems are also optimal for ground-based air defense (GBAD), urban warfare, counter improvised explosive device initiatives (C-IED) and subterranean (Sub-T) operations.”
- The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) appointed the U.S. Army as the executive agent to oversee all C-sUAS programmes, according to the company. The executive agent later established the Joint C-sUAS Office (JCO) in January 2020. Today, JCO leads, synchronizes, and directs all counter-drone activities across the DoD. Part of JCO’s strategy is to “Ready the Force,” which includes the development of materiel and non-materiel solutions that maximize counter capabilities as well as aid in the execution of DoD missions and defence against adversaries’ objectives. The DoD has allocated USD404m for C-UAS research and development as well as USD83m for C-UAS procurement for the 2021 fiscal year. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
08 Apr 21. Three Essential Trends Driving SAR Market Share By 2026. The synthetic aperture radar (SAR) market is expected to register sizable growth over the coming years credited to emerging cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services which allows users to conveniently and quickly access SAR imagery and data. The introduction of analytical tools and web portals for SAR data processing is likely to drive industry expansion.
There is a surge in demand for innovative technologies which give situational awareness. SAR provides enhanced image processing capabilities and high spatial resolution. Defense agencies and government authorities are increasingly focusing on the development of space programs and strategies, hence boosting the demand for SAR systems.
Firms operating in the SAR market are also working on advanced technology and product development as well as collaborations. For example, in 2020, the ESA (European Space Agency) announced SAR technology firm ICEYE as their data provider under assessment via its Earthnet Third Party Mission program, where ESA sponsors the cost of access to ICEYE’s SAR data for earth observation and research based application development.
With such strategic initiatives, Global Market Insights, Inc., reports that the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) market may surpass USD 8.5bn by 2026.
Mentioned next are some of the key trends driving synthetic aperture radar
- Robust adoption of K/Ka/Ku frequency band SAR
The K/Ka/Ku frequency band SAR segment is likely to showcase considerable growth owing to rise in SAR surveillance and monitoring in harsh climatic conditions. The K-band frequency is widely used in various short-range applications. Improved capabilities to control the radiation patterns to achieve multi-mode imaging techniques are fueling its adoption in radars.
- Surge in government initiatives
Government initiatives to protect the public from environmental and man-made hazards are on the rise and are expected to boost the commercial and research applications of synthetic aperture radars. Several regional organizations are also adopting SAR imagery for tracking oil spills, in order to save people as well as to ensure the safety of marine ecosystems.
- Multiple development strategies by firms
Several companies are focusing on creating miniature SAR with advanced technologies in order to cater to the increasing demand in many end-use applications. They are also making efforts to reduce the development costs of synthetic aperture radars to enable their commercialization. SAR firms are investing in research & development activities for the designing and demonstration of new technologies in the area of remote sensing.
For instance, in 2020, SAR provider Capella Space unveiled its advanced, highest resolution commercial SAR imagery, having a 50cm x 50cm resolution in the new, specialized Spotlight or ‘Spot’ imaging mode, that gives a crystal-clear SAR imagery. (Source: Satnews)
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