Sponsored by Blighter Surveillance Systems
12 May 21. Blighter Co-Founder & CTO Mark Radford offers insight to UK Government counter-drone Action Group.
Mark Radford, Co-Founder & CTO of Blighter Surveillance Systems (‘Blighter’, www.blighter.com), the British designer and manufacturer of electronic-scanning radars and surveillance and Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS) solutions, has given a presentation to the first C-UAS Industry Action Group, a virtual roundtable with C-UAS policy and technical leaders established by the UK Home Office’s Joint Security and Resilience Centre (JSaRC).
Mark Radford was among representatives from industry and academia and presented to the Action Group yesterday, which was chaired by Shaun Hipgrave, Director of Protect, Prepare, CBRNE and S&T of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism. The virtual event was attended by senior representatives from the Home Office, Department for Transport (DfT), the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and other key Government departments.
The aim of the Action Group was for industry to present the latest technical developments and trends in the C-UAS market to Government, as well as addressing the challenges faced by the sector.
With the use of drones becoming increasingly prevalent in both military and civilian domains, the necessity for UAS detection, identification and tracking technology is becoming ever clearer. Mark Radford was invited to share his expertise in the ways in which this technology can be effectively used for the protection of the public, critical national infrastructure, and the UK as a whole.
Mark offered his insight into the role of radar in C-UAS and highlighted the need for more government support to facilitate the accessibility of anti-drone test centres as well as the importance of sharing information between C-UAS providers and government.
Speaking after the event, Mark said, “Those of us in industry have long been pushing for more government support in the field of C-UAS, especially given the threat posed by hostile drones to our national security and infrastructure. JSaRC brought in a great mix of academia, industry and government for some open discussions on the present and future challenges facing this sector and it is encouraging to see the government step up to address them.”
13 May 21. Airbus Tests Ground Control of Maritime Patrol Aircraft Sensors. Airbus has finished its flight tests for the Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS) workstations on board its C295 aircraft.
This represents a new way of managing airborne tactical mission systems, not only for manned and unmanned fixed wing aircraft but will extend to rotorcraft as well.
According to Airbus, it represents a harmonisation of “mission system architecture, human-machine interface (HMI) and concept of operations (CONOPS).”
Known as the C295 FITS mission system (COMMOMISS), FITS can be operated by ground-based personnel with all of the sensors being controlled “in near real time by a mission operator based at a ground station.” Tasks tested included Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) pointing control and radar management, using the installed Ka band SATCOM.
The testing was conducted during April over southern Spain from Airbus’ Getafe site. An Airbus C295 Intelligence Surveillance Recognition (ISR) testbed equipped with a Collins aviation package conducted four maritime patrol flights. (Source: Armada)
12 May 21. Telephonics Corporation Completes Successful Demonstration of its MOSAIC AESA Radar within U.S. Air Force AgilePod. Telephonics Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Griffon Corporation (NYSE: GFF), announced that it successfully completed a demonstration of its MOSAIC® Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar system in September with the U.S. Air Force during its Combat Lancer 2020 exercise. The flight demonstration, which took place in September and accumulated over 9 hours of operational flight time, showcased MOSAIC’s true dual-beam surveillance capability and ease of integration into the U.S. Air Force’s AgilePod™ and open architecture systems, including the Open Mission System (OMS) and Common Open Architecture Radar Programs Specification (COARPS).
Known as a global leader in the design and development of over land and maritime surveillance radar systems, Telephonics’ dual-beam technology, utilizing two independent beams from a single radar aperture, allows MOSAIC to perform continuous autonomously scheduled Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) or Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) imaging while simultaneously conducting surveillance (GMTI or maritime surveillance/MMTI), detection and tracking operations. This drastically improves radar detection and imaging performance from a single aperture.
“This year’s Combat Lancer exercise was the smoothest the team has experienced due to the great collaboration between the AFRL/Leidos team and Telephonics. The Telephonics next generation MOSAIC AESA has the potential to add great benefit to platforms adopting AgilePod’s capability,” said Captain Jacob Turing, Combat Lancer Program Manager.
Kevin McSweeney, President, Telephonics Corporation added, “We are excited for this opportunity to introduce our MOSAIC AESA to the U.S. Air Force and the potential for growth in our relationship. While the Air Force is not a new customer to Telephonics, as many of its aircraft fly with our communications systems onboard, this marks the first time we are showcasing our advanced surveillance capabilities. We believe the advanced modes developed exclusively for this radar exceed current AESA capabilities and are thrilled at the potential opportunities the system presents.” (Source: PR Newswire)
13 May 21. Luxury jet makers battle over lucrative spy plane niche. Last month, a ghostly grey business jet took off from central Sweden and headed across the Baltic on a routine spying mission.
The converted Gulfstream, caught on a tracking website, was flown by the Swedish Air Force and patrolled an area thick with Russian radar signals off the militarised coast of Kaliningrad.
Apart from a couple of unobtrusive bulges underneath, Sweden’s two Gulfstream-based S102B Korpen spy planes look like any other sleek corporate jet.
But inside, the Swedish jets and a growing fleet of newer corporate aircraft contain the eyes and ears of a relentless intelligence war.
From the South China Sea to the Middle East and the Baltic, governments are eyeing “special mission” business jets capable of looking or listening at potentially lower running costs than converted passenger or military planes.
It’s the latest chapter for a discreet market worth an estimated $3bn to a handful of corporate jet specialists and the Israeli, European and U.S. arms firms that supply advanced intelligence systems.
The rising demand for small jets with systems once reserved for bigger planes has energised a market led by General Dynamics (GD.N) subsidiary Gulfstream, with Canada’s Bombardier (BBDb.TO) and France’s Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA) snapping at its heels.
“A key area for growth is in signals and electronic intelligence,” said defence analyst Francis Tusa.
“This is increasingly viable on smaller aircraft because of improvements in electronics and their reduction in size. It’s all about processing power and the size of electronics.”
The trend accelerated last month when Sweden’s Saab (SAABb.ST) paired its new-generation GlobalEye early warning system, carried on Bombardier Global business jets, with Gripen warplanes in its bid for a crucial Finnish fighter contest.
Missions vary widely from intelligence planes that passively scoop up radar and listen to communications to the most advanced early warning aircraft that actively scan or watch for threats.
“It’s the difference between listening out for the sound of a burglar or shining a bright torch,” a defence executive said.
All eyes are now on South Korea, which may search for new early warning planes later this year to augment its Peace Eye fleet based on Boeing 737s, analysts and industry sources said.
It is already looking for target-tracking or “listening” jets, prompting U.S. defence giant Raytheon (RTX.N) to propose putting consoles and artificial intelligence on Bombardiers.
While such orders are small in volume, they are more profitable and resistant to crises such as COVID-19.
“Even as demand generally softened due to the pandemic, Textron Aviation saw a slight increase in special-mission orders in 2020,” its defence head Tom Hammoor said. Its Beechcraft King Air turboprops carry out reconnaissance and law enforcement.
Basic corporate jets can cost anywhere from $20m to $60m but the price tag for converting them into spy planes rises quickly and could surpass $200m for a high-end product, industry sources say.
Heavily exposed to fluctuating demand for civil business jets after quitting the rest of the aerospace industry, Bombardier says it is now dedicating more resources to military missions.
“We’ve been approached (with) numerous opportunities … I would say in the last couple of months,” Chief Executive Eric Martell said in response to a Reuters query.
Jetmakers do not disclose data for sales of special-mission aircraft. The market is estimated by U.S. research firm JETNET to be about 5% of annual large-cabin business jet deliveries.
According to JETNET, Gulfstream is the leader in business jet deliveries to government customers, competing with rivals such as Bombardier and Dassault, which recently clinched orders for seven Falcon 2000 Albatros planes for the French Navy.
LUXURY TO SPYCRAFT
But Gulfstream is ending production this year of its popular G550 corporate jet, which was recently delivered to Israel as a surveillance aircraft, creating a potential opening for rivals.
“For Bombardier and (Dassault’s) Falcon, much depends on what Gulfstream does to position a new model to take the place of the G550 as the dominant special-mission business jet,” Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia said.
“If they don’t have a replacement that’s as suitable and popular … then Bombardier and Falcon gain.”
Gulfstream said orders will shift to its newer models. Dassault had no immediate comment.
The business of turning luxury into spycraft is not new, dating back to a Grumman executive turboprop in the 1960s.
But demand for “missionized” business jets is accelerating as radars get smaller and planes fly further.
U.S. jetmaker Boeing (BA.N) argues only its larger 737-based platforms have the all-round capability needed for demanding missions. Its P-8 maritime patrol version also carries weapons.
Systems supplier L3Harris Technologies (LHX.N), however, said large-cabin business jets were used in most projects over the last five years in areas such as multi-role surveillance.
Sean Stackley, president of its Integrated Mission Systems business, said it was looking at more than half a dozen new sales campaigns, including with two NATO countries.
Even as corporate airframes equip for war, there is talk of pressure from another emerging rival: long-endurance drones.
Northrop Grumman’s (NOC.N) Global Hawk, for example, is used for intelligence gathering over water and coastal areas and costs about $130m, according to industry experts.
“The main future threat to this market is from unmanned aerial vehicles and to a lesser extent low-earth-orbit satellites,” Tusa said. “But they are not cheap. So a business jet solution sits well with that.”
11 May 21. Look out! DASA competition seeks to enhance Royal Navy early warning capabilities. Getting the full picture: £1.25m for innovations that improve situational awareness for Royal Navy Carrier and Littoral Strike Groups.
Royal Navy Carrier and Littoral Strike Groups need a clear picture of the battlespace to ensure surface and airborne threats can be responded to within appropriate timescales.
So, in partnership with the Royal Navy, the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is pleased to launch the Look out! Maritime Early Warning Innovations competition, which aims to develop alternative future concepts for the Early Warning systems currently deployed in Maritime Task Groups.
How much funding is available?
£1.25m is available for Phase 1 of the competition, with a maximum of £250k for each funded proposal. The closing date for proposals is midday BST on Tuesday 6 July 2021.
Seeking an alternative solution to traditional airborne sensor-mounted platforms
Royal Navy Carrier and Littoral Strike Groups need a capability that provides air and surface surveillance that enables over-the-horizon situational awareness. This capability ensures Commanders can detect, track and recognise surface and airborne objects, and respond to them efficiently.
Current early warning maritime capabilities are delivered by sensors mounted aboard airborne platforms, with the current assumption for a follow-on for Crowsnest (an AEW fitted to the Merlin Mk2 helicopter) being a singular large radar sensor mounted on an uncrewed air platform.
Have an alternative solution?
DASA welcomes alternatives that are not based on this approach and match or exceed current airborne capabilities. We are seeking a potential successor to Crowsnest, which has a planned out-of-service date of 2029. Submit a proposal If you have an innovative idea that can enhance:
* horizon surveillance and/or target detection capability
* operational effectiveness through timely processing and dissemination of information
* operational efficiency through optimisation of system functionality
What early warning maritime challenges do we want you to overcome?
* improving threat detection and situational awareness, including detecting, tracking, recognising and identifying hostile and non-hostile contacts, on the surface of the water and in the air
* enhancing information processing and dissemination, including integrating the data from sensors and other air and surface platforms within the Maritime Task Group into a composite picture of activity to enable timely decision making
* optimising efficiency by minimising workforce requirement through a reduced operator and support burden
* novel or innovative methods of combining system functionality will also be considered, alongside solutions to enhance decision-making efficiency
Thinking of submitting a proposal?
The closing date for proposals is Tuesday 6 July 2021 at midday BST.
11 May 21. USMC Rifle Squads Will Test the Army’s New High-Powered Night Vision Goggle-Binoculars. Infantry Marines will get the chance to test the Army’s new night vision goggles, which are being compared to something straight out of a video game.
Marine rifle squads will evaluate the Army’s Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular, or ENVG-B, which soldiers have been using since 2019. There has been no official decision to swap the Marine Corps’ Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggles for the Army gear, but tests are underway to evaluate the two systems, said Kelly Flynn, a Marine Corps Systems Command spokeswoman.
The Marine Corps currently has 195 pairs of ENVG-Bs. Soon, squads will be selected to conduct a larger user evaluation, Flynn said.
Read Next: Coast Guard Cutter Fires Warning Shots at Charging Iranian Speedboats
“The Marine Corps is currently working … to develop a timeline and evaluation plan,” she added.
The Marine Corps started fielding its NVGs in 2020 after signing a $250m contract for the devices in 2019. Brig. Gen. A.J. Pasagian, head of Marine Corps Systems Command, said service leaders still believe in the goggles because it’s “ready technology today.”
But leathernecks are keeping a close eye on the capabilities of the Army goggle-binocular, he added. The tests are part of an effort to equip infantry Marines with lighter, state-of-the-art gear that will help them keep the edge in a fight against a more sophisticated enemy, such as Chinese or Russian troops.
Flynn said the Army’s night-vision system works on a network to share data and provide a common operational picture. The Marine Corps’ NVGs, however, provide “increased depth perception, improved clarity and thermal-imaging capability to detect targets at extreme darkness or through battlefield obscurants,” she added.
The Marines’ new NVGs combine a night-vision binocular with clip-on thermal imager. They can detect targets in very low light, bad weather and through smoke.
The Army’s goggle-binocular, a wireless system with a built-in thermal imager that officials say improves marksmanship during the day and night, has generated buzz since a brigade posted a video to social media showing soldiers’ view when wearing them.
“You have never seen night vision like this!” the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team tweeted in April.
The brigade’s video and photos show soldiers outlined in bright, glowing detail. Weapons, vehicles, walls and terrain appear outlined in a similar light. Machine-gun fire and mortar rounds give off a vibrant blue-green light.
“We own the night,” the Lancer Brigade added in a separate tweet.
(Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military.com)
10 May 21. Pentagon wants a cheap, ground-launched and hand-held counter-drone capability. The Pentagon wants industry to bring cheap, ground-launched capabilities as well as hand-held options to destroy small drones to its next demonstration in an effort to acquire new technology to combat the unmanned threat, according to a request for information posted May 7 to the federal contracting website beta.sam.gov.
The Joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office and the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office are running the September 2021 demonstration. The JCO and RCCTO want whitepapers to help them choose participants who have possible solutions that fit either in the cheap, ground-launched counter-UAS capability or the hand-held systems categories.
“Ground-Based Aerial Denial is defined as solutions that are ground-launched with no inflight terminal guidance, providing denial or defeat of single or multiple sUAS,” the request explained. The solution should not include ground emitted cyber or electronic attack through radio frequency waves capabilities, the RFI added. Systems should cost less than $15,000 per drone engaged, the JCO laid out.
For a hand-held capability, the office wants something that can be held, attached to a weapon or user while conducting dismounted operations, and weighs less than 24 pounds. Systems should cost less than $37,000 per unit.
The JCO may award prototype projects following the demonstration and a review of capabilities, the request noted. The office plans to complete demonstration evaluations within 30 days following the event and will notify companies if they are chosen for a possible prototype award.
If a prototype effort is successful, companies may be selected for follow-on production contracts without further competition, the RFI stated.
An industry day is planned for May 12, with submissions due May 28.
The September demonstration will be the second effort in a campaign to bring the best c-sUAS technology into an enduring solution.
The JCO was established in late 2019, and the defense secretary at the time delegated the Army in November 2019 to lead the effort to take a petting zoo of c-sUAS, many of which were rooted in urgent Middle East conflicts, and consolidate capabilities into a select group of interim systems.
Pentagon leaders in late September 2020 approved a set of requirements to help counter small drones, laying a path for how industry can develop technology to plug into a single command-and-control system.
The JCO has already chosen an interim set of capabilities to counter small UAS from a poll of 40-plus systems, but it is rapidly working to stay ahead of the threat curve through the development of its future c-sUAS system architecture.
The first demonstration at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, this spring looked for low-collateral effects interceptors. Three teams were evaluated during that effort.
The demonstrations are expected to take place twice a year, during which the joint force will examine the most impactful solutions that fill current capability gaps and are ready for a transition into fielded systems. (Source: Defense News)
10 May 21. US security agency tests counter drone technology at Miami International Airport. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has selected Miami International Airport (MIA) for its initial test of technologies that will detect, track, and identify drones entering into restricted airspace. Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) pose a threat to aviation security when flown into certain restricted airspaces, says the TSA press release.
TSA chose Miami as the first UAS DTI testbed due to an ongoing perimeter intrusion technology pilot as well as the strong existing partnerships with the airport.
In support of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) role in UAS security, TSA is collaborating with airport, local law enforcement, and intra-agency partners including the DHS Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) to test the effectiveness of certain technologies that can detect, track and identify UAS threats in aviation, surface, and related transportation domains. The technologies will be evaluated in laboratory and operational field environments. During the test at MIA, TSA will review a range of security and surveillance technologies that are able to detect, track and identify UAS operations by radar, thermal imaging, and artificial intelligence.
Throughout the MIA test bed process, equipment will be tested and evaluated, and the data collected will be shared with the interagency and industry stakeholders for further evaluation and assessment. The information and data collected from the test will assist with finding effective solutions that mitigate the risks that unauthorized UAS operations pose to the nation’s transportation system.
“TSA’s establishment and management of this assessment of UAS detection technologies is a critical part of our agency’s overall strategy to collect data for further deployments of equipment at U.S. airports,” said TSA Federal Security Director Daniel Ronan.
“The UAS threat to airports has increased exponentially over the last several years, which is why it is vital we begin assessing the effectiveness of UAS DTI technologies in live airport environments.” said TSA Counter-UAS Capability Manager Jim Bamberger. “We are thrilled to partner with MIA on such a mission critical project that will pave the way for future technology assessments and help protect airports nationwide against UAS threats.”
Drones and other UAS are used for a wide range of commercial and recreational purposes. While many are equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) software that prevents their use in restricted locations, there are many operators who do not follow rules and safety restrictions and consequently pose a security and safety risk to individuals, infrastructure and airplanes in the national airspace (NAS).
For more information visit:
www.tsa.gov (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
03 May 21. Chinese company unveils counter drone technology at Nanjing World Radar Expo. A report in the Daily Star newspaper says China’s Electronics Technology Group Corporation [CETC] No 14 Research Institute exhibited a portable radar capable of tracking small low-level drones. The YLC-48 radar was on show at the Ninth World Radar Expo in Nanjing. “The radar’s light weight and simple one-button operation means it can be deployed virtually anywhere at a moment’s notice,” says the report.
(Image: Daily Star, Twitter)
For more information visit:
www.dailystar.co.uk (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
06 May 21. Trakka Systems, DroneShield partnership provides counter drone mission management technology. Trakka Systems reports the Trakka Interceptor Package Solution for Counter Terror (TIPS-C) provides mobile, total mission management for the rapidly evolving threat of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS). Trakka’s partner DroneShield provides the DroneSentry-C2 Command and Control software platform, integrating a common operating picture for drone detection and tracking within the immediate airspace, as well as providing the reporting suite.
The TIPS-C is capable of detecting, identifying, and automatically tracking drones of any size while dismissing moving objects. Mounted on a mobile platform, TIPS-C is designed to provide early detection and neutralizing counter-solutions to UAS hazards. It combines Trakka’s TrakkaCam and DroneShield’s RadarZero sensors and DroneOptIDTM optical AI/ML software, to create a joint-capability drone detection and tracking system.
The partners demonstrated the mobile C-UAS solution at Eglin Air Force Base in February 2021.
For more information visit:
07 May 21. Skylock and GBSolution form strategic partnership to provide counter drone solutions in Mexico
May 7, 2021 Jenny Beechener Counter-UAS systems and policies
Skylock Anti-Drone Systems has formed a strategic partnership with Mexican security technology company GBSolution to offer ant-drone solutions to government agencies as well as private initiatives in Mexico. The two companies will collaborate to provide counter drone solutions for civil and military applications throughout the country.
For more information visit:
www.gbsolution.com (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
06 May 21. US and Israeli defence department partnership selects virtual reality sUAS platform Skylord Xtend. The US Department of Defense (DoD), in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Defense, has selected the Skylord Xtender small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) system from Israeli manufacturer XTEND. Dubbed ‘Ghost’, the UAS delivers multiple, tactical sUAS platforms to assist U.S. Special Operation Forces units engaged in combat operations.
According to the XTEND press release, the Skylord Xtender system is operated with a controller and virtual reality goggles and provides a new way to fly as well as full sensory awareness and heightened interaction in remote environments via 3D VR video, indoor/outdoor 3D navigation, gesture control, and artificial intelligence.
The SKYLORD XTENDER platform allows an operator with minimal flight experience to perform specific remote tasks in complex environments, says XTEND. Built to perform under challenging tactical conditions, Skylord Xtender is designed to operate in GPS denied locations to provide tactical advantages.
“Hyper enabling drones are the future of engagement for dangerous situations worldwide. The IDF has recognized XTEND’s family of products called Skylord as one of the most effective technologies for urban warfare missions, specifically indoor and close-quarters combat,” said XTEND Co-founder and CEO Aviv Shapira. “The Skylord Xtender is one of our most advanced drone platforms and harnessing it under the GHOST initiative will help the US DoD save lives and ensure mission success in any combat scenario.”
For more information visit:
www.xtend.me (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
07 May 21. Air Tractor and L3Harris to develop Sky Warden ISR aircraft. Air Tractor has partnered with L3Harris Technologies to develop an affordable, production-ready intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) strike aircraft. Based on Air Tractor AT-802, Sky Warden system will be designed to perform airborne ISR and other tactical missions in the harsh battlefield environments.
The AT-802U surveillance and light-attack aircraft is a heavily armoured version of the AT-802 agricultural and firefighting aircraft.
It is designed for deployment in airborne ISR, precision-strike, command and control, counterinsurgency (COIN), close-air support, weapons training, forward arming and refuelling point missions.
Air Tractor president Jim Hirsch said: “Air Tractor aircraft were developed precisely to operate in austere environments with limited infrastructure.
“Our aircraft are built to offer unparalleled flexibility, essential ingredients for special mission operators.”
The aircraft can perform ten-hour missions while carrying a 3,629kg payload.
It hosts L3Harris’ advanced communications, sensors and airborne ISR solutions, with capabilities such as take-off and landing on unimproved airstrips.
This enables the aircraft to be ‘deployed and co-located with special mission operators’.
The AT-802U has the ‘versatility and performance attributes’ to meet all Diverse Targeting operational phases-identify, patch, aim, engage and evaluate (F2T2EA).
L3Harris Aviation Services president Luke Savoie said: “Our mission systems, platforms, direct operators and sustainment teams have supported more than 1.3 million combat hours of special operations ISR and attack missions in the past ten years.
“Combining that experience with Air Tractor, one of the largest turboprop aircraft OEMs in the world, enables our team to design and provide a mature platform capable of operating anywhere in the world and provides the tools needed to support any mission.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
10 May 21. Outsight Introduces the First LiDAR Pre-processor. Based in Espoo (Finland), Outsight Photonics has introduced the first LiDAR Pre-processor. The Augmented Lidar Box is a real-time Software Engine that provides the fundamental features you need to use Lidar in any project.
The Augmented LiDAR Box is the first LiDAR Pre-Processor aiming to close the Adoption Gap between Early LiDAR adopters preferring RAW data and the mainstream market requiring ready-to-use yet flexible solutions.
Professional Integrators, OEMs and Solution providers can build differentiating applications based on any LiDAR without needing to deal with the complexity of low-level 3D processing and interfacing with multiple LiDAR products.
Customers are Builders of Smart Machines (ie Mobile robots and Vehicles) and Infrastructure-based solution providers that monitor the flow of People, Goods or Vehicles (ie. Smart Cities, Industry, Road Safety, Logistics, Security & Surveillance…).
The company recently announced several strategic partnerships with the leading LiDAR suppliers in Europe, USA and Asia, among them Velodyne, Ouster, Hesai and Robosense. (Source: UAS VISION)
10 May 21. RAF lost £600,000 missile system in jet test blunder. FOI request also revealed that in the same financial year the Royal Navy lost sonar equipment worth £792,000
A high-tech missile system that cost more than £600,000 was destroyed after plunging from a Typhoon jet during a test, the RAF has admitted.
When engineers ran a test from a motionless £110m Typhoon jet plane, the fighter’s missile guiding unit, a Litening III Reconnaissance Pod, dropped off the bottom of the plane and was damaged beyond repair.
It was accounted for in the 2019/2020 financial year, but the Ministry of Defence declined to reveal the date of the incident.
“In an organisation as large and complex as the MoD such incidents can occur, but we do not take matters lightly, and thoroughly investigate all losses,” a spokesman said.
A freedom of information request also revealed that in the same financial year the Royal Navy lost sonar equipment worth £792,000. Officials said the sonar system, known as a flank array, had been trailing behind a submarine when it was lost at sea.
The disclosures came after it was revealed that the MoD wrote off £450m in the 2019/2020 financial year in contract wrangles, lost equipment and ditched projects.
Harry Fone, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “With the tax burden at a 70-year high, defence chiefs can’t afford to waste a single penny. Ministers must fall into line and get a grip on public sector procurement.”
The MoD said: “We are committed to delivering value for money and ensuring lessons are learnt to minimise future incidents.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
07 May 21. USAF once again asks Congress to let it mothball oldest RQ-4 Global Hawk drones. The Air Force will continue pushing for the retirement of its oldest Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawks, the service’s top officials said Friday, potentially setting up another fight with Congress about the future of the embattled surveillance drone.
“The Air Force will continue to pursue the [fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act] RQ-4 Block 30 divestment waiver in order to repurpose the RQ-4 Block 30 funds for penetrating [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capability,” acting Air Force Secretary John Roth and Chief of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown said in written testimony to Congress.
Roth and Brown testified in front of the House Appropriations Committee ahead of the service’s FY22 budget request, which has not been released.
In last year’s budget request, the Air Force sought to retire Global Hawk blocks 20 and 30 — a total of 24 aircraft — leaving RQ-4 Block 40s and the U-2 spy plane to conduct the high-altitude surveillance mission.
However, Congress blocked the retirement of the RQ-4 unless the defense secretary certifies that the divestment of those aircraft will not prevent combatant commands from being able to accomplish their missions and that the capabilities of a Global Hawk replacement will be worth any increased operation and sustainment costs.
“Until the Air Force provides a comprehensive ISR modernization plan, addressed elsewhere in this bill, [Congress] will continue to be concerned about the sequence of retiring operational aircraft without a suitable replacement capability in place and available,” per members of the House and Senate Armed Service committees.
The service has attempted to retire the RQ-4 multiple times since 2012 and has always been batted back by lawmakers. But if House appropriators plan to oppose new attempts to divest the Block 30 drones, they showed no signs of resistance during the hearing, asking no questions about the platform’s future.
The Air Force maintains an inventory of 21 RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 drones, as well as three Block 20 drones modified to the EQ-4B Battlefield Airborne Communications Node variant.
The platform was “crucial” for conducting high-altitude ISR over its life span and is relevant for missions today, but it cannot survive in a contested environment, Roth and Brown stated in testimony.
“Tomorrow’s conflicts will be contested. Moving beyond this platform allows us to bring the ISR enterprise into the digital-age by using sensing grids and fielding advanced technology that includes penetrating ISR platforms,” they said.
So far, the service has not disclosed how it plans to replace the RQ-4 — one prerequisite for getting a waiver required by Congress.
In a recent wargame carried out last fall, which was set in the mid-2030s, the Air Force fielded a notional Global Hawk replacement that was similar to an unmanned version of Australia’s E-7A Wedgetail aircraft and used primarily as a communications node instead of for ISR collection.
(Source: Defense News)
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.