Sponsored by Blighter Surveillance Systems
28 Apr 21. Sonardyne wins Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation for unlocking the secrets of our restless sea floor. A pioneering system developed by marine technology company Sonardyne to study ocean floor movement has been recognised with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation, the highest award a UK business can receive.
Developed over more than a decade and in use globally by the energy and ocean science sectors, Sonardyne’s seabed deformation monitoring system provides engineers and scientists with critical new understanding of the seafloor and the physical processes that act upon it.
Using a network of autonomous, battery-powered instruments deployed on the seabed, the system measures horizontal and vertical seabed movement, at a level of precision that was previously impossible. Initially developed for the offshore industry to identify geological hazards within oil and gas reservoirs, it has since been adopted by the earth science community to study everything from undersea landslips near volcanoes to deep sea plate tectonic motion. Such motion can trigger devastating tsunamis in some of the world’s geological hot spots, including the infamous Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’.
The Queen’s Award, conferred by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, on advice of the Prime Minister, recognises and encourages commercial success resulting from outstanding innovative achievements by businesses in the UK.
Graham Brown, Managing Director of Sonardyne, says, “On land, global positioning satellites are used to undertake real-time earth observations, but the signals they transmit cannot penetrate through water. This has created a huge challenge for the energy and earth science community. Put simply they’ve been bound by the limits of physics. We have broken through these limitations and opened up new capabilities. This has led to a whole new era of research for seabed science, delivering new insights into the fundamental processes around subduction zones and consequently understanding the risks of earthquakes and tsunamis.
“This award, our fourth Queen’s Award, reflects the commitment of our workforce, both here at our headquarters in Hampshire and at our international locations, in solving our clients’ most important underwater challenges. It has added significance this year, as we celebrate our 50th year in business.”
The instruments used in Sonardyne’s seabed deformation monitoring system have been engineered using low power electronics and long-life batteries, all in pressure tolerant housings, enabling them to remain on the seabed for more than 10 years at a time.
They also contain Sonardyne’s underwater digital acoustic communications technology, which won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation 2014. This allows hundreds of instruments to be deployed simultaneously and the data they gather to be wirelessly gathered using subsea robots and crewed or uncrewed surface vessels.
Users of Sonardyne’s seafloor monitoring system include international energy company Shell and Earth research organisation Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Shell’s research geophysicist Dr. Paul Hatchell (retired) said: “Sonardyne’s seafloor deformation monitoring technology was a complete game-changer for helping Shell to gain insight into their offshore reservoirs, located in very deep water, where direct access to the seafloor by people is obviously not practical.
“I worked closely with the Sonardyne team on this application from the very beginning. This award is highly deserved recognition of their dedication to technological innovation throughout our 15-year journey together and I am thoroughly delighted with today’s announcement.”
Dr. C. David Chadwell from Scripps said: “Congratulations to Sonardyne on the award. By applying their decades-long experience in innovative engineering and quality production, Sonardyne has expanded geodetic monitoring of the seabed beyond that of a couple of research groups to a much wider international scientific community ready to tackle the offshore problems associated with subduction zone earthquakes and their tsunami hazards.”
28 Mar 21. Saudi Arabia looking for Q-53 counter-fire radars. Saudi Arabia has a requirement for export versions of the AN/TPQ-53 (Q-53) counter-fire target acquisition radar, according to a US Army announcement released via the US government’s System for Award Management website on 26 April.
The announcement was released to obtain information from companies about their ability to produce, test, deliver, field, and support 14 radars with the Saudi designation SAU/TPQ-53. It said this designation refers to a configuration that satisfies United States exportability and Saudi customer requirements, which were not released with the announcement.
The initial contract will last for 56 months, including 24 months of support for fielded systems, with options for further support contracts over the following three years.
The announcement noted that Lockheed Martin currently has the Q-53 in full-rate production for the US Army.
The system is a vehicle-mounted radar that automatically detects, classifies, and tracks mortar, artillery, and rocket projectiles to determine where they will land and locate their points of origin so they can be accurately counter-attacked.
The latest version uses gallium nitride technology that makes the radar more powerful and reliable. This additional power can be used to extend its range and detect unmanned aircraft while simultaneously performing its original counter-fire role, according to Lockheed Martin.
The US government approved the sale of 26 AN/TPQ-53(V) radars to Saudi Arabia at an estimated cost of USD662m in June 2017. (Source: Jane’s)
28 Apr 21. HENSOLDT has received an order from Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) worth nearly 75m euros to equip the Royal Netherlands Army’s “Fennek” armoured reconnaissance vehicles with visual systems. The scope of the order includes 188 BAA II NL observation and reconnaissance systems as well as a number of spare parts.
“Our optronic solutions combine sensors from different technologies to provide armoured vehicle crews with an excellent situational awareness,” said Andreas Hülle, CEO of HENSOLDT Optronics. “In the field, this capability is essential to fulfil the mission and ensure the protection of the crews.”
The BAA II NL is the logical further development of the BAA II JFST, which is already in use in the Joint Fire Support Team (JFST) of the German Armed Forces. The external dimensions have remained the same and the use and menu navigation have also been left unchanged in order to keep the training effort for the crew as low as possible. The scope of the contract also includes adjustments to the YellowKite camera, which will be optimised to become a day-vision/near-infrared (NIR) camera with colour vision and will receive a near-infrared cut filter. In addition, HENSOLDT provides a digital outlet. HENSOLDT will deliver the observation and reconnaissance systems to Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), which will handle the integration of the BAA II NL and its command and control system into the Fennek reconnaissance vehicles. Deliveries to KMW will begin in autumn 2022 with the qualification systems. Series delivery will start in 2023 and is scheduled to be completed by 2027.
27 Apr 21. Startup Awarded Contract for AI-Based Counter-Drone System. Citadel Defense, a San Diego-based startup, recently received a multi-million dollar contract from the Pentagon for its artificial intelligence-based counter-unmanned aerial system technology.
The military is facing a growing threat as adversaries develop and purchase inexpensive and potentially lethal drones. To counter them, agencies are investing in a number of defensive platforms to knock out enemy UAS.
Citadel Defense was awarded a contract from the Defense Department in March for its Titan jammer capability following a competitive evaluation of two dozen counter-small unmanned aircraft systems.
“Titan was developed at a time where other systems … were proven to be ineffective or unusable with the threat downrange,” said Christopher Williams, CEO of the company. “We developed it alongside the Special Operations Forces community … to effectively address the mission.”
Titan is an AI-powered system designed to take out small UAS. It can operate fully autonomously while using machine learning and a radio frequency sensor to detect, track and defeat enemy drones, according to the company.
During the competition, Titan proved to be highly effective in dense urban environments, causing little disruption to surrounding electronics, Williams said.
The system can be used for fixed, mobile or dismounted operations and weighs about 20 pounds, he noted.
Titan also performed well when presented with unpredictable scenarios such as drone swarms, the company said.
The technology can protect ships, vehicles, robotic platforms and bases from small-UAS threats.
Under the contract, Citadel Defense was set to deliver “dozens” of platforms starting in the beginning of March, Williams said.
At the end of March, Citadel Defense won a $5m follow-on contract from the Defense Department for the capability. (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
27 Apr 21. Thales selected by Lockheed Martin to deliver airborne anti-submarine warfare sonars to the U.S., Indian, Greek and Danish navies.
- Lockheed Martin and Thales closed negotiations for the supply of up to 55 ALFS anti-submarine warfare sonars to the U.S. Navy and foreign navies.
- As a tier-one supplier to Lockheed Martin, Thales will deliver the ALFS systems for installation on the MH-60R helicopter platform.
- The navies of India, Greece and Denmark will receive the helicopter dipping sonars through U.S. Foreign Military Sales of the MH-60R.
Thales has signed a contract with Lockheed Martin as a tier-one supplier for the delivery of up to 55 airborne anti-submarine warfare sonars. The ALFS (Airborne Low Frequency Sonar)* dipping sonars will be installed on the MH-60R platform for the U.S. Navy and three additional navies. Delivery of the first 42 systems will occur over the next five years with a delivery of 13 optional systems to occur in year six.
Thales has delivered more than 300 ALFS sonars to the U.S. Navy since the early 2000s and this new contract with Lockheed Martin will continue to support the Navy’s readiness strategy. The navies of India, Denmark and Greece will receive their first deliveries of the ALFS sonar system through direct U.S. Foreign Military Sales of the MH-60R platform.
To maintain control over their maritime space and protect security interests around the world, naval forces need reliable, high-performing systems to operate with optimum effect on missions including anti-submarine warfare, maritime search and rescue, defense of maritime approaches and fleet protection for naval forces on deployment.
Offering unparalleled protection to maritime convoys, the ALFS anti-submarine warfare system is capable of detecting, classifying, prosecuting, harassing or attacking submarines, making Thales the benchmark for the world’s major navies. In addition to the U.S. Navy, the other navies that have chosen Thales dipping sonar solutions include the navies of Australia, France, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, South Korea, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
As a low frequency active sonar, ALFS is designed for the initial detection and tracking of opposing submarines. It offers a long detection range with a wide coverage rate and a low false alarm level, both in deep and coastal waters. It can be used autonomously to clear a particular area or as a complementary anti-submarine warfare asset to sonars on board surface vessels for target relocation and attack.
“Earning the trust of the U.S. Navy, its allies and partners around the globe is a source of pride for our team. This contract enhances our position as a strategic supplier to Lockheed Martin and further consolidates the Group’s world leadership position in anti-submarine warfare systems. We will continue to improve the performance and competitiveness of our airborne sonars to meet the new anti-submarine warfare operational challenges of our customers.” Alexis Morel, VP Underwater systems, Thales.
Note to Editors
* The Thales ALFS systems are from the same product family of airborne anti-submarine dipping sonars as FLASH and Compact FLASH but each product has variances due to system destinations and the technological requirements to comply with local laws including U.S. ITAR.
27 Apr 21. NHIndustries chooses Thales’s TopOwl helmet system for special forces NH90 pilots.
- With its high-definition digital display, the new-generation TopOwl Digital Display system enables helicopter pilots to fly in all degraded visual environments.
- The helmet-mounted sight and display system has been developed and refined in partnership with the French defence procurement agency (DGA) and operational personnel over the last 20 years, and is now the most advanced and capable solution in its class.
- With its customised helmet-fit system, TopOwl is a key asset for pilots and a decisive factor in ensuring mission success.
NHIndustries has chosen the new-generation TopOwl Digital Display helmet from Thales for the special forces variant of the NH90 helicopter. This variant has been developed at the request of the French defence procurement agency (DGA) to meet the requirements of France’s special forces, and is also available to partner countries and other NH90 customers. This digital generation of Thales’s TopOwl helmet system uses augmented reality to enhance the operational capabilities of combat helicopter pilots, especially when flying in highly degraded visual environments. TopOwl has also been selected for the Standard 3 upgrade of the Tiger combat helicopter being developed jointly by France, Germany and Spain.
Special forces units are specially trained to gather intelligence and operate behind enemy lines. The upgrades to the NH90 for special forces significantly improve mission capabilities and position the new variant as one of the highest-performance tactical transport helicopters in the world, especially for extreme environmental conditions such as brownout, whiteout, fog and dark night operations.
The TopOwl helmet has been in service since 2005 and has been combat-proven in multiple theatres of operations. The new digital generation offers higher-definition rendering and live lossless video streaming to expand the helicopter’s flight envelope in degraded visual environments. It leverages the latest digital technologies and is cybersecure by design.
TopOwl Digital Display reduces pilot fatigue and enables crew-members to cooperate more efficiently, which is crucial to success on the most difficult missions, by displaying relevant information in the pilot’s line of sight and incorporating a spatialised audio alert system and ambient noise reduction technology.
26 Apr 21. Counter-drone director talks testing in Saudi Arabia and regional expansion. The Saudi government knows from experience the threat posed by drones. The September 2019 attack on the country’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities by drone swarms and low-altitude cruise missiles exposed a gap in the kingdom’s defenses, despite a mix of long-, medium- and short-range platforms.
Monaco-based firm MARSS hopes to fill that gap. It opened a new facility in the Saudi capital of Riyadh in January and hopes to secure a deal with the kingdom to counter unmanned aircraft systems. Defense News spoke with the company’s new managing director in Saudi Arabia, Andrew Forbes, on March 11 about its local work and systems currently undergoing tests.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
Did MARSS customize any specific systems in response to Saudi Arabia’s counter-UAS needs?
The NiDAR system provides a C4I [command, control, communications, computers and intelligence] capability. One of the beauties there is that it is an agnostic, software-based platform, meaning the system can connect to any type of sensor or effector. It has gained interest in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We may customize it for the Arabic language, but strangely enough one of our customers asked to remove the Arabic and keep the English.
This specific system can be connected to any sensor — whether sonar, radar, naval or air radar; camera systems can be connected, as can jamming capabilities, effectors and hard-kill capabilities. We can customize the setup depending on what the customer wants and the specific issue and location.
Considering the extreme heat in Saudi Arabia, we used components and capabilities that are more rugged to standup to the harsh environmental conditions. We also worked in a capability to withstand sandstorms.
After opening a new location in Saudi Arabia, and given the kingdom’s decision to stop contracting with firms without local headquarters, what are your cooperation plans with the government?
MARSS has worked in the kingdom for about 10 years. We’ve done multiple small projects and we have good relationships with customers here. For us, multiple counter-drone projects are [related to our office’s growth]. We are working on rapid setup and localizing more capabilities in the kingdom as we increase the number of employees in this headquarters. In total, by the end of 2021, we want 50 employees based in Saudi Arabia — a team of mixed nationalities. We are engaged into localization and Vision 2030, [Saudi Arabia’s economic initiative].
How can your systems help secure Saudi airspace? Are you working on joint programs with local firms?
There is a real drone threat every day in Saudi Arabia. That’s where the role of our systems comes in. We are offering to protect key installations and infrastructure. Vision 2030 doesn’t actually specify that we should have a joint venture with local companies; it says you have to be a local company. We are eyeing joint ventures with Saudi Arabian Military Industries, and we are holding weekly conversations with SAMI and its subsidiary Advanced Electronics Company. But we are in the preliminary stages of discussions with SAMI.
Tell me more about the tests NiDAR is undergoing in the kingdom. What is MARSS offering regarding training Saudi officials and technicians?
We have the system set up and we are using it. It is in the kingdom and being tested with live targets. We cannot share test details ongoing in the kingdom, but MARSS follows standard factory acceptance tests and site acceptance testing procedures to ensure our systems operate as designed and to the satisfaction of the client.
MARSS provides theoretical and hands-on training on our NiDAR systems delivered to the Saudi client.
How do you intend to increase your footprint in the region?
We are looking for other partnerships. Specifically, we are looking for opportunities in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. (Source: Defense News)
21 Apr 21. Drone Defence launches lightweight drone electronic tracking device. The UK’s Drone Defence has launched its AeroPing electronic device that attaches to existing drones and provides e-Identification and location, with a very high degree accuracy, in real time.
According to a company blog article:
“When drone pilots use AeroPing, authorities and air traffic managers can visualise and track drone flights alongside manned aircraft on our AeroTracker interface, which is available on a wide range of devices and is set to be released shortly. On this interface, airspace managers and drone users can set customised geographical warning zones. When an aircraft is detected inside a designated area, real-time alerts and notifications are displayed on the interface and can be sent to a device of the user’s choice – including mobile phones and smart watches. Full and comprehensive flight logs are also stored on the AeroTracker interface, which can replay previous flights in full.
“Combined with the AeroTracker interface, AeroPing provides a complete solution for authorities and air traffic managers to identify and track drones alongside other forms of aviation in their area of responsibility, whilst providing reassurance, real-time information, and flight logs for drone operators.
“AeroPing has many real world uses for drone operator too, including:
- Increasing airspace safety by improving awareness
- Automatic flight log recording for pilots.
- Increasing accountability.
- Unlocking restricted airspace.
- Enabling operations alongside manned aviation.
- Supporting insurance claims with an independent source of data.
- Aiding in drone fleet management.
- Tracking assets in real-time.
- Acting as a defence if accused of breaking drone regulations.
21 Apr 21. Drone Defence secures UK CPNI certification for AeroSentry and AeroEye counter drone technology.
The UK Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) has certified counter drone technology platforms AeroSentry and AeroEye manufactured by Drone Defence. The CPNI drone detection standard is the official government validation of counter-drone technology. Drone Defence’s multi-sensor systems are designed to increase security for critical infrastructure by giving a comprehensive view of the skies to air traffic managers.
AeroSentry detects, tracks, and identifies drones by combining RF, radar, and optical sensors, and works hand in hand with AeroEye – an AI powered video analytics technology designed to detect, track, and identify drones at ranges of over a kilometre.
Both systems can be driven by Drone Defence’s Solar Sentinel, a solar powered, rapidly deployable drone detection system. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
21 Apr 21. Malaysian law enforcement officials test counter drone equipment in combined demonstration. Malaysia’s National Task Force (NTF) reports an anti-drone operation demonstration at Kementah stadium during April. The national law enforcement agency is carrying out the tests in partnership with the PDRM Air Movement Teal (PGU), Staff Division and Defense Intelligence (BSP), ATM and J5-Plan NTF Operations. The demonstration aims to showcase the effectiveness of anti-drone functions and airspace security against threats posed by drones.
Officials involved in supervising the demonstrations include Rasha Azaldin Shafii, Chief Drone Unit PGU-PDRM superintendent; Admiral Madya Dato, NTF Commander; Aris Adi Tan bin Abdullah, Head of Staff of Air Territory 1; and Brigadier General Abdul Halim bin Abu Hassan TUDM a representative of the NTF Drone Unit agency.
For more information visit:
www.mot.gov.my (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
21 Apr 21. USAF updates tender document for counter small UAS technology first issued in January. The US Air Force has updated its Request For Proposal (RFP) for counter small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-sUAS) now due submission by 14 May 2021. The Air Force Research Laboratory, Information Directorate, Rome NY (AFRL/RI) has a requirement to provide a focused yet flexible, rapid, agile contracting vehicle between Air Force Research Laboratory, its Products Centers, and the Operational Community to support rapid research, development, prototyping, demonstration, evaluation, and transition of Counter small Unmanned Aircraft System (C-sUAS) capabilities. These capabilities are to be used in combating Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS)—and others leveraging COTS technology—presently being used by our adversaries in asymmetric warfare against U.S. military personnel and materiel. Emphasis will be placed on: a) development of technology capability solutions that address specific user requirements; b) delivery of prototype technologies for evaluation and feedback in the context of the user’s operational environment; and c) provision of a mechanism for user acquisition of limited product quantities required for operational introduction of technologies. Anticipated deliverables include software, hardware, technical documentation and technical reports.
For the aforementioned requirements, the Government anticipates a single award Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite-Quantity (ID/IQ) research and development (R&D) contract with Cost-Plus-Fixed-Fee Completion (CPFF/C) Task Orders, an ordering period of seventy-two (72) months, and a maximum ordering amount of approximately $490,400,000.
The North American Industry Classification Systems (NAICS) code for this effort is 541715 with a small business size standard of 1,500 employees based on the Aircraft, Aircraft Engine, and Engine Parts exception.
Department of Defense, Air Force Research laboratory FA8750 AFRL RIK
Notice ID: FA875021R1000
Original published date: 7 January 2021
Update published date: 14 April 2021
Updated offer date: 14 May 2021
NAICS Code: 541715
www.beta.SAM.gov (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
19 Apr 21. Openworks adds low-cost camera technology to its SkyAI drone detection as part of the Guardion C-UAS system. Openworks has added a low-cost camera to its SkyAI optical classification and tracking technology. According to the company press release, Axis cameras represent an affordable, well-supported solution designed for use in a range of security applications. SkyAI takes a standard Axis camera and adds Artificial Intelligence detection, tracking and motion control to provide robust performance that has been proven on small drones at over 1km with an Axis Q6215. SkyAI can also be trained to detect and track other targets over land, sea or air.
OpenWorks partners with ESG Elektroniksystem und Logistik GmbH, lead integrator of the GUARDION C-UAS system. OpenWorks engineers have turned the Axis Q6215-LE into an autonomous system that is easy to integrate and can provide many of the high-cost military capabilities at low-cost.
GUARDION, the Counter-UAS solution of ESG and its cooperation partners Rohde & Schwarz and Diehl Defence, as well as other GUARDION Selected Suppliers such as OpenWorks Engineering, is based on the mission-proven system used to secure major political events such as the G7 summit in Elmau in 2015, the state visit of President Obama in June 2016, the G20 summit in Hamburg in 2017 or the celebrations on the Day of German Unity 2018.
For more information visit:
22 Apr 21. DARPA’s plan to use drones to find drones. The military is developing a number of counter-drone systems, using technologies such as directed energy, microwaves and more to defeat small unmanned aircraft systems. But in order to hit the drones, the military first needs to be able to see them. That’s difficult enough in the desert or in open areas, and it’s even harder to do in cities.
That’s where the Aerial Dragnet program comes in. The wide-area surveillance capability from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency uses sensors mounted on drones to detect, classify and track small drones in dense urban environments.
“We’re using drones to find drones, essentially,” Paul Zablocky, a program manager with the DARPA Strategic Technology Office, said Wednesday during the annual C4ISRNET Conference.
The government is concerned about the various dangers posed by small UAS, which can be armed with explosives or used to collect sensitive information.
“A small drone certainly poses a threat, and we’ve seen that at airports. We’ve seen on the news where they’ve been equipped with explosives. We’ve seen them used for ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capabilities. And these can be used against our soldiers as well as civilian populations, so there’s certainly a threat there, and they are widely available,” explained Zablocky.
DARPA wants Aerial Dragnet to eventually be able to interface with C-sUAS systems, passing along its tracking data from optical sensors, acoustic sensors and inexpensive radars so that the weapon system can defeat the threat. DARPA is targeting a price point of $20,000 for coverage of 20 square kilometers (about 12 miles), which Zablocky says is relatively cheap compared to other systems.
Aerial Dragnet was tested in San Diego in 2019 and more recently in Rosslyn, Virginia. The San Diego event was the first test of the system in a dense urban environment, and Zablocky said he was surprised how much clutter showed up in the data. Using data from that test, DARPA has been able to refine its signal processing algorithms, he said.
That effectively wraps up DARPA’s testing of the system, said Zablocky, and the agency is looking to transition the program to another organization for further testing and development.
“We’re in conversations now with transitioning that program over. There’s still a lot of research and development to do,” said Zablocky. “So we’ve brought down a lot of the risks. We’ve — as I said — collected a lot of data and have a much better understanding of what needs to be done, but to really turn this into a capability or product will still take some work, so we are in conversations with various organizations to pick it up and continue to run with it.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
Blighter Surveillance Systems is a world-leading designer and manufacturer of best-in-class electronic-scanning ground-based radars, surveillance solutions and Counter-UAS systems. Blighter’s solid-state micro-Doppler products are deployed in more than 35 countries across the globe, delivering consistent all-weather security protection and wide area surveillance along borders, coastlines, at military bases and across critical infrastructure such as airports, oil and gas facilities and palaces. Blighter radars are also used to protect manoeuvre force missions when deployed on military land vehicles and trailers, and its world-beating multi-mode radar represents a great leap in threat detection technology and affordability for use in a variety of scenarios.
The Blighter range of radar products are used for detecting a variety of threats, from individuals on foot to land vehicles, boats, drones and low-flying aircraft at ranges of up to 32 km. Blighter Surveillance Systems employs 40 people and is located near Cambridge, UK, where it designs, produces and markets its range of unique patented solid-state radars. Blighter prides itself on being an engineer-led business committed to providing cost-effective and flexible solutions across the defence, critical infrastructure and national security markets.