Sponsored by Blighter Surveillance Systems
12 May 21. Crowsnest to be retired by decades’ end. A recent release from the UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has said the UK will retire its troubled Crowsnest Airborne Early Warning (AEW) system, which has only just entered initial service, before the end of the decade.
DASA has partnered with the Royal Navy on a £1.25m competition for ‘innovations that improve situational awareness for Royal Navy Carrier and Littoral Strike Groups’ in a bid to replace Crowsnest.
The DASA release says the current ‘assumption’ for the Crowsnest replacement is a singular large radar mounted on an uncrewed aerial system (UAS), however, DASA added it was interested in potential alternative solutions.
The release adds: “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.”
Previously, Naval Technology revealed details about the Royal Navy’s Project Vixen, which is researching the utility of naval UAS that could be used for strike, AEW, and air-to-air refuelling missions.
Work on Project Vixen came to light shortly after the Royal Navy released a request for proposals (RFP) for potential electromagnetic catapult and arrestor wire systems that could be used to launch and recover ‘air vehicles’ from ‘a suitable ship’ by as soon as 2023.
At the time of the RFP, Naval Technology reported that the cats and traps would likely support the future operation of UAS from the two aircraft carriers for AEW and potential airborne aerial refuelling (AAR) roles.
The existing Crowsnest system is due to make its operational debut during this year’s maiden deployment of the UK’s new Carrier Strike Group centred around HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The system consists of an AEW radar fitted to a Merlin Mk2 helicopter.
DASA is looking for ideas that can improve ‘horizon surveillance and/or target detection capability’, ‘operational effectiveness through timely processing and dissemination of information’ and ‘operational efficiency through optimisation of system functionality’.
In the past, Crowsnest development has been slammed by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee which bemoaned ‘inadequate department oversight.’ from the Ministry of Defence over the programme.
As of late last year, MPs said the programme was running 18 months behind schedule. The airborne radar is now likely to achieve full operating capability in 2023. (Source: naval-technology.com)
19 May 21. Al-Udeid Operating New Counter-drone System Amid Growing UAS Threat. The Air Force’s key operating base in the Middle East has adopted a new counter-drone system, first deployed to the nation’s nuclear bases to protect them from the growing threat of unmanned aerial systems.
Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar, recently deployed the counter-small unmanned aerial systems tool to protect the sprawling base, which is home of the nerve center of Middle East air operations, mobility and refueling, and strike aircraft including B-52s. The new system lets its operators identify incoming threats and sever the connection between drone and operator, according to an Air Forces Central Command release.
“The goal of the program is to build counter measures for Al-Udeid AB that would pose as a last line of defense against all small UAS threats,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Walters, the 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron’s noncommissioned officer in charge of the C-UAS program.
Air Force Global Strike Command and U.S. Strategic Command first deployed the system to an undisclosed number of sites in 2019. The service said at the time that the systems use command and control, detection, and jamming to counter drones.
At Al-Udeid, operators take a 40-hour course, which includes hands-on work, before they can operate the systems. The system is “tailored” to threats specific to the region, which has seen UAS attacks on U.S. military sites in Iraq and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
“We are able to showcase our defensive capabilities and tailor the C-UAS briefings with a historical background to threats in the region,” said Maj. Shawna Rogers, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing senior intelligence officer, in a release.
U.S. Central Command boss USMC Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. told lawmakers last month that drones represent the most “persistent and dangerous” threat to troops and that countering them is a top priority.
“These small- and medium-sized UAS proliferating across the [area of operations] present a new and complex threat to our forces and those of our partners and allies,” McKenzie said. “For the first time since the Korean War, we are operating without complete air superiority.”
(Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://www.airforcemag.com/)
20 May 21. Cambridge Pixel Unveils Scalable Cloud-based ‘Radar Video in a Standard Web Browser’ Application.
Cambridge Pixel’s new software enables the display of sophisticated radar imagery with maps and target symbology on any computer, tablet or smart phone running a standard web browser such as Edge, Firefox, Safari or Chrome.
Cambridge Pixel, a developer of radar display, tracking and recording sub-systems (www.cambridgepixel.com), has introduced new software components to enable the display of radar video on any computer, tablet or smart phone running a standard Internet web browser such as Edge, Firefox, Safari or Chrome.
This Radar Video in a Browser application simplifies the construction of web-based display applications for maritime, naval, air traffic and security system integrators. The new software components enable radar video to be displayed with maps, tracks (primary radar tracks, fused tracks, AIS, ADS-B) and alarms as part of an integrated surveillance picture. Radar processing can be handled by a remote server or delivered via a cloud-based architecture for rapid scalability, with licenses to support up to 100 clients.
Andrew Haylett, product manager, Cambridge Pixel, said: “Many of our customers, particularly those developing vessel traffic and port security systems, are starting to embrace web-based display applications. The browser-based approach separates the processing from the display and therefore any device capable of running a browser can serve as the display. This can simplify the deployment of a new installation and reduce cost as the only software necessary at the display end is the browser itself.”
As part of the new product, a scan conversion server application, SPx Radar Web Server, receives radar video and creates radar images. The browser connects to the Server and requests radar video for the geographic area that it is displaying. The radar image for that area is created and delivered to the browser where it is blended with underlay and overlay graphics, including maps and target symbology.
“Our web-based radar display application provides integrators with great flexibility and our cloud-based solution enables instantaneous scalability to add more clients as is needed,” said Andrew Haylett. “What’s more, each browser has its own unique view of the radar image, effectively having its own dedicated scan converter running in SPx Radar Web Server, allowing an operator to change scale and position independently of other users and to see the radar video at full resolution.”
Cambridge Pixel’s SPx suite of software libraries and applications provides highly flexible, ready-to-run software products or ‘modules-of-expertise’ for radar scan conversion, visualisation, radar video distribution, target tracking, sensor fusion, plot extraction and clutter processing.
Cambridge Pixel’s radar technology is used in naval, air traffic control, vessel traffic, unmanned systems, Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS), commercial shipping, security, surveillance and airborne radar applications. Its systems and software have been implemented in mission-critical applications with companies such as BAE Systems, Frontier Electronic Systems, Blighter Surveillance Systems, Exelis, Hanwha Systems, Kelvin Hughes, Lockheed Martin, Navtech Radar, Raytheon, Royal Thai Air Force, Saab Sensis, Sofresud and Tellumat.
For more information about Cambridge Pixel’s radar technology please visit www.cambridgepixel.com or call: +44 (0) 1763 852749 or email: .
19 May 21. Thales delivers first Sea Fire fully digital radar with active antenna for France’s future FDI frigates.
- On April 27th 2021, Thales delivered the first digital Sea Fire radar for integration on the French Navy’s first Defence and Intervention Frigate in Lorient.
- A key milestone in the FDI programme, following a seven-year development and in-line with the French defence procurement agency’s initial schedule.
- The Sea Fire is the latest-generation solid-state modular multifunction radar, with a four-panel AESA1 antenna, simultaneously performing long-range air and surface surveillance, as well as fire control to protect the French frigates from all types of threats in complex environments.
1Active Electronically Scanned Array
Launched in 2014, the first of the five Sea Fire AESA digital radars for French Navy’s future Frégate de Défense et d’Intervention (FDI) arrived at the Lorient shipyard on April 27th 2021 for integration on the first vessel.
Today’s naval forces face faster, more manoeuvrable and increasingly complex threats. Vessels need protection from conventional ballistic or air threats, surface and asymmetric threats, but also from high-velocity and saturation attacks. At the same time, they have to take into account reduced crewing requirements, the need for improved maintenance and the imperatives of cybersecurity.
Sea Fire is the solution of choice for commanders responsible for ensuring vessel survivability in the face of a rapidly expanding array of threats. With its fully solid-state four-panel AESA antenna, Sea Fire can search for air and surface targets simultaneously, scanning an area of several hundred square kilometres with 360° coverage in azimuth, 90° in elevation and an unmatched refresh rate.
This digital radar is at the forefront of technological innovation and benefits from all Thales’s Big Data and cybersecurity expertise. Subsequent software developments will further improve the product’s performance and operational availability throughout its lifecycle. The huge volumes of data generated by each panel — in the order of one terabit per second — can be processed using advanced algorithms to optimize the radar’s performance in its specific operating environment. This new AESA fixed-array radar offers twice the operational availability of earlier-generation radar systems with mechanically scanned antennas.
Manufactured in Limours, south of Paris, with the involvement of a French network of small medium- sized companies, the Sea Fire started production in May 2018 and successfully passed initial qualification tests late 2020. Despite difficulties caused by the Covid-19 crisis, Thales aligned with the initial schedule planned, delivering the first of five Sea Fire radars on time to the Lorient shipyard for integration.
“Drawing on more than 70 years of Thales experience in the field of surface radars, the Sea Fire is designed to help navies to counter all types of threats, from slow-moving targets to supersonic missiles.Thales is proud to be on board the future FDI frigates with a digital radar that brings modern frigates the same power and performance as a destroyer and ensures that commanders can fulfil their mission with optimum safety.” Rémi Mongabure, Bids Director for multifunction radars at Thales.
18 May 21. Gigajot Unveils World’s First Commercially Available Quanta Image Sensors. Gigajot Technology, inventors of the Quanta Image Sensor (QIS), today announced the first QIS products, marking the dawn of a new era in solid-state imaging. The CMOS-based QIS devices utilize Gigajot’s patented sensor architecture and pixel design to achieve record low noise that enables accurate detection of individual photons of light. The new QIS products are capable of photon counting at room temperature while operating at full speed, and achieving high dynamic range – all in small pixel, high resolution formats. With 5-10x read noise improvement over conventional small pixel image sensors, QIS enables imaging at ultra-low light levels not previously possible.
Gigajot’s pioneering QIS products target high performance imaging applications such as scientific, medical, defense, industrial, and space. The 16-megapixel GJ01611 utilizes a 1.1-micron pixel to achieve room temperature 0.19 electron read noise and less than 0.09 electron/second/pixel dark current, while the 4-megapixel GJ00422 employs a 2.2-micron pixel and provides 0.27 electron read noise with single-exposure high dynamic range of 100 dB. These innovations will be presented at the Symposium on VLSI Technology, June 19, 2021. Leveraging advanced stacked CMOS backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor process technology, the sensors are capable of photon counting at room temperature without elaborate cooling systems – made possible by industry leading dark current and read noise. Gigajot’s proprietary readout architecture enables photon counting cameras to operate at high-speed and low-power. Additionally, the single-exposure high dynamic range mitigates the motion artifacts that result from conventional multi-exposure HDR techniques.
Photon counting and reliable photon number resolving, until now, only partially available utilizing esoteric EMCCD technology in highly controlled laboratory environments, is now possible with a compact form-factor camera, operating at room temperature – with the additional benefits of higher resolution and speed. “The ability to do photon counting at room temperature is a game changer for our research efforts in Astrophysics and Quantum Information Science,” said Dr. Don Figer, Director of Center for Detectors and the Future Photon Initiative in the College of Science, Rochester Institute of Technology.
GJ00422 and GJ01611 evaluation and camera development are supported by Gigajot’s Camera Development Kit (QIS CDK). Available now, the QIS CDK has a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 interface and user-friendly software, in a small form factor. Capable of true photon counting out of the box, the QIS CDK can be setup in minutes for evaluation or incorporated directly in customer systems.
About Gigajot Technology, Inc.: Headquartered in Pasadena, CA, Gigajot is developing the next generation of image sensors. Gigajot’s mission is to develop innovative Quanta Image Sensor (QIS) devices and advance this technology for the next generation of image sensors, offering high-speed and high-resolution single-photon detection to realize new, unprecedented image capture capabilities for professional, and consumer cameras. At Gigajot, every photon counts. For more information, visit www.gigajot.tech. (Source: PR Newswire)
14 May 21. Fortem’s SkyDome “under evaluation by US Department of Homeland Security. The ExecutiveGov news service reports the US Department of Homeland Security has partnered with Fortem Technologies to evaluate the potential application of a company-built airspace monitoring system to border security missions under a cooperative research and development agreement.
“Fortem said Tuesday it will present the SkyDome System with aerial object detection technology to DHS’ Air Domain Awareness and Protection program for a demonstration test across multiple operational scenarios in three U.S. states bordering Canada,” says the news story. “Skydome includes the artificial intelligence-based TrueView radar and software designed to track nefarious drones in real time. Timothy Bean, CEO of Fortem, said the company designed its radar technology to defend against drones that do not emit radio frequency signals and pose national security risks.
“DHS’ ADA effort seeks surveillance platforms and approaches to protect the U.S.’ northern border from unmanned aircraft systems and other airborne threats.The department will use data from the test to form requirements for future aerial security programs.”
For more information
19 May 21. British threat detection specialist Silent Sentinel (www.silentsentinel.com) has signed a contract with Counter-UAS solution provider SKYLOCK (www.skylock1.com) to provide swift delivery of its Jaegar Ranger 225 uncooled LWIR, and Jaegar Searcher 700 cooled MWIR thermal camera platforms for use by an East African government, with a delivery time of six weeks. SKYLOCK is part of the Israeli Avnon Group. In order to fulfil an unprecedented immediate operational requirement, Silent Sentinel will provide a Jaegar Ranger 225 LWIR uncooled thermal camera as well as a Jaegar Searcher 700 cooled MWIR thermal camera. The Jaegar Pan and Tilt unit (PTU) will form part of both systems.
The cameras will be mounted on vehicles and are well suited to drone detection missions. The Jaegar’s unique through-shaft allows a radar to sit above the PTU enabling uninterrupted 360° continuous rotation, ideal for drone detection and tracking applications. The radar will be supplied by Observation Without Limits and C-UAS software provided by MyDefence, a subsidiary of SKYLOCK.
The Jaegar has a rapid release mechanism that allows for a range of interchangeable payloads to be mounted on the PTU making the platform extremely modular. The Jaegar is IP67-rated meaning that its ruggedized housing will ensure high performance even in the harsh conditions of East Africa. Suitable for mobile and vehicle-mounted applications, the Jaegar’s through-shaft allows the camera to continuously rotate through 360°, offering effective long-range detection of small aerial targets whilst the vehicle is travelling over rough terrain.
Silent Sentinel was able to perform rigorous Factory Acceptance Tests remotely and will deliver the system less than six weeks after it was ordered, meeting the immediate needs of the customer rapidly and efficiently and demonstrating their ability to respond to exceptional orders.
James Longcroft, Sales Director at Silent Sentinel said, “This contract represents an opportunity to showcase the durability and accuracy of the Jaegar camera in Counter-UAS operations, as well as the agility and efficiency of Silent Sentinel in delivering the system despite such an unusually quick turnaround. This vehicle-mounted C-UAS solution is indicative of Silent Sentinel’s position as a supplier of versatile threat detection in a broad range of climates and conditions.”
Ofer Kashan, CTO of SKYLOCK said, “This first phase of delivery required an agile supplier with the ability to provide versatile and durable equipment within a short timeframe, and we are pleased to announce this partnership with Silent Sentinel, whose high-performance systems will operate seamlessly alongside our Counter-UAS expertise to meet the unique needs of our customer in this harsh environment.”
12 May 21. Australian government promises AUD35.7m to support emerging UTM technology. Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced new policy measures aimed at creating an Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system in collaboration with Defence, Airservices and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), according to a report by Australian Aviation. Minister McCormack promised to invest AUD35.7m into the emerging aviation technology, based on plans laid out in the government’s National Emerging Aviation Technologies (NEAT) policy statement released last week. NEAT says the Department of Infrastructure is preparing an “action plan” to create an air traffic control style system designed to work in conjunction with existing processes for traditional aircraft. It will also include a new National Drone Detection Network that will use sensors to monitor the devices and safeguard privacy, noise and their use at cultural sites. It aims to begin initial operations in 2023, says Australian Aviation.
“Growth in the use of drones and eVTOL in Australia is estimated to support more than 5,000 jobs and a AUD14.5bn increase in GDP over the next 20 years – of which AUD4.4bn would be in regional areas across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria,” said Deputy PM McCormack.
For more information visit: www.australianaviation.com (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
18 May 21. AVT Australia Demos Micro Gimbal to Defence Stakeholders. AVT Australia has successfully demonstrated its innovative CM62 Micro Gimbal to key personnel in the Defence Science & Technology Group (DST), Defence Innovation Hub (DIH), and the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
AVT Australia conducted a series of flight, laboratory, and environmental demonstrations to showcase the capabilities of the CM62 Micro Gimbal. This included demonstrations of Electro-Optical (EO) ultra-zoom, long-wave infrared (LWIR) imagery and a range of onboard smart features.
The CM62 Micro Gimbal is a miniature multi-sensor imaging system that has been developed to provide improved intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and target acquisition capabilities during small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) operations.
The system combines HD long-range EO imagery and a custom LWIR core in a 260g, compact system. With improved stabilisation, the Micro Gimbal facilitates accurate day and night target detection and identification, in a small, lightweight and low power system to enhance the operator’s situational awareness in the field.
“AVT Australia has set the industry standard for miniature gyro-stabilised imaging systems for ISR and target acquisition operations” said Chief Technology Officer, Philipp Senn. “The capabilities of the CM62 Micro Gimbal have never before been achieved in a system of its size, weight and power. We are proud to develop world-leading capabilities here in Australia.” (Source: UAS VISION)
18 May 21. Trident Aerospace Reaches 4,000 ISR Flight Hours with Hydra Technologies S-45 BAALAM UAV. Trident Aerospace, the group’s Phoenix-based ISR Services company with a strong presence in Latin America, has announced that one of its customers has reached 4,000 flight hours in a continuous ISR services contract over a 24-month period. Providing persistent support for critical law enforcement operations and exceeding the contractual requirements of 1,500 flight hours per year.
“We are proud to announce this important milestone, achieved with a S45 BAALAM system from Hydra Technologies. The S-45s have successfully flown supporting the customer’s law enforcement operations and performed flawlessly despite challenging missions and sometimes extreme weather conditions,” said Robert Morris of Trident Aerospace. “This is only one example of the reliability of the S45 that has managed to be successful in supporting the customer’s needs at all times.”
Specifically designed for harsh weather conditions, the S-45 BAALAM UAV is a twin engine, tactical unmanned aerial system with an endurance of 12 hours, a command and control range of 75 miles and a 17,000 feet operating ceiling. Payloads include EO/IR as well as SIGINT and ELINT capabilities. Trident Aerospace offers contractor-owned/contractor-operated full ISR solutions, as well as the sale of their full unmanned aerial systems, for government institutions in border protection, law enforcement and intelligence support. The company also provides solutions for private sector customers such as utility, oil and gas companies through sophisticated aerial unmanned systems solutions, in addition to the unmanned systems.
Trident Aerospace and Hydra Technologies recently announced a broad ranging alliance that is certainly proving to be successful and especially beneficial for customers throughout the American continent, Africa and the Middle East. (Source: UAS VISION)
17 May 21. I spy with my little eye… The MI5 camera that is so small it’s almost invisible. Details about device are top secret, but British security services have poured millions into the development of ‘ultra miniature’ technology The proposed miniature camera will be much smaller than one of the developers’ recent miniaturised devices (pictured mounted on a butterfly’s wings), which was used to track the insects as they migrate CREDIT: University of Michigan
The UK military and intelligence services are paying the inventor of the world smallest computer to develop an “ultra miniature” spy camera.
Details about the device – including its size and how it operates – are top secret, but it is likely to be so tiny as to be barely visible to the naked eye.
The camera is being developed by Professor David Blaauw and his team at the University of Michigan, who are credited with inventing the world’s smallest computer. Their Michigan Micro Mote – M3 – computer fits easily on the rim of a coin and is no more than 0.3mm on each side. An earlier version was just 1mm by 1mm by 1mm.
The university boasts its latest version, unveiled in 2018, is “dwarfed by a grain of rice”. Prof Blaauw, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, has used his “low power” system to even fit tracking devices to butterflies.
He has developed an expertise in building powerful but tiny microchips that use very low levels of energy. The microchips have hundreds of uses, from medical implants to soil monitoring, but it is their potential deployment in monitoring devices that has attracted the attention of Britain’s military and security services.
James Bond’s Q – the fictional character who invents the spy’s array of bewildering gadgets – would be proud.
Funding details, uncovered by The Telegraph, show almost £1.5m of military and intelligence services money from the UK has been paid out to Prof Blaauw for the development of the miniature camera
The project is being funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), the Ministry of Defence’s world famous scientific research unit based at Porton Down in Wiltshire, and by the little known Government Communications Planning Directorate (GCPD). The GCPD is the procurement arm of MI5, the domestic intelligence agency, and MI6, its foreign intelligence counterpart.
GCPD’s existence is well known in the spying world but remains largely in the shadows and most people, including many in the Government, are unaware of its important role in keeping the UK safe.
Prof Blaauw, speaking from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the US, told The Telegraph he was unable to discuss the military and intelligence projects he was working on for the British Government. “I can’t really talk about this project,” he said.
But the project gets a brief mention on his very lengthy academic CV, posted online. The document discloses that the “Government Communications Planning Directorate (GCPD)/Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL)” have provided funding for the development of an “Ultra-Miniature Imager Technical Demonstrator”.
The Telegraph understands this is essentially a camera used in surveillance, but would be so small as to be virtually undetectable. The total funding for the project is $1,715,524 – or a little more than £1.2m.
The funding for the project began in July 2019 and ran for three years until April this year. It is unclear if the project has been completed.
Although prof Blaauw could not talk about the specific work, he told The Telegraph: “Our general systems are in the area of a few millimetres in size. The very smallest we have are even smaller than that – about a quarter of a millimetre.
“They are very small but have very limited capabilities. They can sense temperature and pressure. They are so small they make a grain of rice look like a giant balloon.”
Prof Blaauw said he began work on micro computers a little over 20 years ago, and produced the first “small, low power systems” in 2011. One of his most recent projects is to fit sensors to Monarch butterflies to “track them as they migrate from the northern US to Mexico each year”.
Although competitors at IBM and elsewhere have attempted to rival his miniature computers, Prof Blaauw said: “In terms of complete systems of this size, nobody has come close to us.”
The fact that the UK agencies have approached Prof Blaauw and his team demonstrates the understanding in Whitehall for British intelligence and military to be able to outsmart hostile states, among them Russia and China, which have near limitless resources – certainly in terms of manpower – to throw at its spying capabilities. The UK recognises the need to develop and deploy groundbreaking technology to keep ahead of rivals. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
14 May 21. Raytheon’s New Intelligence Aircraft Could Change the War Game. Despite the rapid arrival of smaller kinds of surveillance drones and new kinds of unmanned systems, there is still a pressing need for a new generation of innovations supporting advanced fixed-wing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
Finding enemy armored convoys on the backside of a mountain beyond the line of sight, supporting ballistic missile defense operations, tracking enemy targets from the sky with optical, multi-spectral, and radio frequency sensors, and networking time-sensitive combat data across multiple domains in near real-time amid war . . . are all missions United States, UK, and NATO fixed-wing surveillance assets will increasingly be expected to perform.
Despite the rapid arrival of smaller kinds of surveillance drones and new kinds of unmanned systems, there is still a pressing need for a new generation of innovations supporting advanced fixed-wing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance with advanced aerial data processing, transmission, and command and control.
With this strategic focus in mind, various industry innovators such as Raytheon and Bombardier are introducing a new high-tech, fixed-wing surveillance plane, called ISTAR, for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance.
The new aircraft, built by Bombardier, designed and modified by Raytheon for the ISTAR mission, with support and modification in-country by Korean Airlines Defense, is being offered to support the Korean military as well as other key U.S. allies around the globe.
Raytheon is offering it as the next generation special mission aircraft offering following the retirement of the British Sentinel aircraft on March 31, a Cold War inspired UK surveillance plane which has performed well in a large number of operational circumstances throughout a period of many years, to include the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and various NATO operations.
“The Sentinel has been a core capability that’s been deployed pretty much in every single UK operation, or coalition operation, whether UK has been involved in and that’s simple, flying from the UK, but more often, the platform is deep being deployed overseas, whether it be to the Middle Eastern Region, or to Africa, or supporting operations in Afghanistan,” Paul Francis, the director at Raytheon United Kingdom, said. “It has a robust flying hours profile. I think it’s like 32,000 hours in actual operations in supporting combat operations.”
Designed for airborne command and control, ISTAR is the latest proposed solution that incorporates a suite of integrated next-generation sensors enabled by advanced computing. The airplane of course operates multi-spectral imagery, signals intelligence sensors and also incorporates Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), a technology which bounces electromagnetic “pings” off of the terrain below traveling at the speed of light and then analyzes the return signal to produce a rendering or image of a given area for commanders.
“The core of the system is Raytheon’s AESA radar, which is a synthetic aperture radar, with a moving target indicated capability. And that was the primary sensor on the Sentinel,” Jason Colosky, a business development executive at Raytheon Intelligence & Space, said.
The ISTAR aircraft is also supported and Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR), and Moving Target Indication (MTI) which operates in a similar fashion making it useful in a maritime environment to track moving ships or detect enemy ground vehicle maneuvers on land. Land movement tracking is also done by ISTAR’s ground-moving target indicator (GMTI) sensor technology, something which Raytheon data says integrates with the SAR applications. The connection between GMTI and SAR modes is made possible by an Advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar system which can even in some instances support ballistic missile defense.
This combined or integrated effect between land and maritime SAR detection is explained in part in a 2019 essay in the Journal of Ocean Engineering and Science, which discusses the impact of variation innovations upon SAR functionality in maritime environments. The essay,
called a “Study of Synthetic Aperture Radar and Automatic Identification System for Ship Target Detection,” explains how high-resolution SAR technologies produce new levels of highly-detailed image renderings.
“High resolution SAR is able to provide images of the two dimensional information objects. A good radar image depends upon a smooth variation in phase history over the data-gathering interval. The high resolution and large spatial coverage of SAR imaging systems offers a unique opportunity to derive the various oceanic features. SAR systems take an advantage of the long-range propagation characteristics of radar signals and the complex information processing capability of modern digital electronics to provide high-resolution imagery,” the press statement states. ISTAR, which can operate at altitudes between 42,000 and 45,000 foot for extended twelve-hour missions, also operates multi-spectral long-range imagery to provide both visible and infrared intelligence and targeting.
Interestingly, ISTAR developers make the point that larger, fixed-wing surveillance platforms, while less stealthy, can still massively impact the speed and operational effectiveness in major power maneuver warfare, due to their ability to provide targeting at long stand-off distances.
While of course still useful for counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations, challenges which are not going away entirely, large ISR planes such as ISTAR can prove even more impactful in a major conflict against a sophisticated adversary . . . provided operators make some key tactical adjustments.
“For the past 15 years, if you had a good radar system, you could keep the ground commander fully up to speed with what’s happening. It wasn’t that the enemy was weak, but the enemy certainly wasn’t complex. This is not the same as what we;re going to face in a peer, adversary type of conflict,” Colosky said.
The concept is, among many things, airborne command and control driven by an integrated suite of sensor and computing technologies architected to pool multiple types of intelligence or multi-INT. ISTAR processes and analyzes that intelligence to offer a near real-time operational picture to war commanders. While there may need to be dispersed, long-range networking, manned-unmanned teaming, advanced computing and high-speed electro-optical and RF data link networking, a medium sized surveillance plane with a small on-board crew performing analytics and command and control is intended to bring certain kinds of unparalleled advantages to high-end warfare.
“It is definitely a stair step progression in technology and the complexity because the adversaries we’re facing now are going to be far more complex in what they can do, so this Is how we are addressing the threat,” Colosky said.
ISTAR is larger than the U.S. Army’s Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS) yet smaller than the now retiring JSTARS, something which developers believe may offer an optimal blend of airborne command and control with speed, maneuverability and a wide sphere of interconnected sensors. The strategy may be to blend the unique benefits of a manned airborne command and control asset with cutting-edge or more recent strategic concepts such as real-time, dispersed multi-node “mesh” networking to maximize operational reach while massively expediting high-speed sensor-to-shooter connectivity. (Source: News Now/https://nationalinterest.org)
14 May 21. South Korea awards contract for series production of indigenous coastal surveillance radar. South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has awarded a KRW164bn (USD145.4m) contract to defence systems company LIG Nex1 for the mass production of the indigenously developed Maritime Surveillance Radar-II.
The agency announced in a 14 May statement that the coastal surveillance radar will be deployed by the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) along the South Korean coastline as well as on islands to cover “all sea areas”. The system features “improved detection capabilities” and increased resolution providing more accurate direction and distance determination of ships and aircraft than the ageing coastal radars currently in service, said DAPA.
Development of the new radar, which is also smaller than the ones in service, began in 2015 with collaboration from LIG Nex1 under a project valued at about KRW31.6bn.
South Korean company STX Engine and about 100 small and medium-sized partners will participate in the mass production of the new radar system, which is set to begin in 2022, according to DAPA. The Yonhap News Agency reported that production is expected to last until 2026, to replace ageing radar units “in phases”.
An image released by DAPA shows that the system features a rotating parabolic antenna reflector with a feedhorn support boom setup. The system is housed in a radome and mounted atop a personnel-accessible pedestal.
The radome, which is meant as a protective cover, will enable the radar to operate without interruption even amid strong winds and during typhoons. Moreover, being resistant to heat and shock, system resilience will be improved and power consumption reduced, compared with existing equipment, said DAPA. (Source: Jane’s)
13 May 21. Government of Canada awards in-service support contract for new manned airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability for Canadian Armed Forces.
Through Strong, Secure, Engaged, the Government of Canada is providing the Canadian Armed Forces with the capacity to identify potential threats to Canadian security and sovereignty, including in the Arctic.
Following an open and competitive process, Public Services and Procurement Canada, on behalf of the Department of National Defence, has awarded a contract for the in-service support and maintenance of the 3 King Air 350ER aircraft to Team CERTAS, consisting of General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada, from Ottawa, Ontario, and Voyageur Aviation Corporation, from North Bay, Ontario.
This initial in-service support and maintenance contract is valued at approximately $72m (including taxes) over 8 years and will create or maintain up to 40 well–paying aerospace sector jobs in Canada. This work will support the Royal Canadian Air Force with general aircraft maintenance and deployment logistics, and provide training and engineering services.
As part of its manned airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance project, the Government of Canada purchased the aircraft from Textron Aviation (formerly Beech Aircraft Corporation) through the Foreign Military Sales program of the United States Government.
These aircraft will be configured with military-grade advanced sensors and secure communications equipment, which will improve situational awareness on the ground to support the operations of the Canadian Armed Forces both at home and abroad. The 3 aircraft will be fully integrated with associated mission systems and delivered to the Government of Canada in 2022.
Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) Policy applies to this procurement, generating high-value jobs, innovation and economic growth in Canada.
- On April 26, 2019, the Government of Canada signed an agreement to purchase 3 King Air 350ER aircraft and associated mission systems through the United States Foreign Military Sales program.
- The initial in-service support contract is valued at approximately $72m (including taxes) for approximately 8 years. The initial cost of this contract will be shared between the project and operational budgets. The contract could be extended for over 20 years.
- The contract is being awarded in advance of the 2022 arrival date of the missionized aircraft in order to obtain all the necessary military airworthiness accreditations and specialized training, and to prepare the worksite at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, in Ontario, to receive the aircraft.
- The ITB Policy, including the value proposition, applies to this procurement. This policy requires companies awarded defence procurement contracts to undertake business activity in Canada equal to the value of the contracts. A core objective of the manned airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in–service support project is to secure economic commitments in support of Canada’s in-service support sector and the Canadian economy more broadly. In-service support is one of Canada’s key industrial capabilities and is an important industrial focus of this project. (Source: PR Newswire)
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