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28 May 21. EOS eyes expansion in Europe. The Canberra-based firm has signed a teaming agreement with a German defence company in a bid to expand its footprint in Europe.
ASX-listed technology company Electro Optic Systems (EOS) has signed a co-operation agreement with Germany-based firm Diehl Defence GmbH & Co KG.
The initial objectives of the agreement are to support collaboration on advanced stabilised and remotely operated weapon systems (RWS) for the European and NATO markets.
EOS’ RWS technology is designed to deliver accurate, long-range and wide-area imagery of the battlespace, while simultaneously providing precise target engagement from behind protection.
Diehl is expected to leverage the technology to offer “best-in-class engagement” of moving drones by direct fire.
As part of the teaming agreement, an RWS production line is to be set up across Diehl’s German facilities to support efficient delivery of the equipment to European forces.
This agreement also includes options for further collaboration between the firms on Space and high power electro-magnetic technologies.
“This Cooperation Agreement with Diehl aligns companies that not only have complimentary and non-competing cutting- edge technologies but organisational cultures and values that are strongly aligned,” Dr Ben Greene, group CEO of EOS said.
“EOS is excited by the prospect of being able to offer and support our land and space technologies in conjunction with great German engineering know how for the European and NATO markets.”
Helmut Rauch, board member of the Diehl Foundation and CEO of Diehl Defence, added, “At Diehl we have a tradition of more than a hundred years of moving into new, demanding fields of technology on a proven foundation.
“Strategic partnerships are very important to our owner-managed company. The great technologies of EOS and the extraordinarily well-fitting corporate culture of EOS offer us excellent opportunities to develop a strategic business area – we look forward to it.”
EOS’ European push follows its expansion in the US market, with the Canberra-based firm securing an 80,000-square-foot facility in Huntsville, Alabama, in 2018 to support its space, missile defence, and weapon system businesses.
EOS Defence Systems USA celebrated the unveiling of its first complete R400 RWS produced at its Huntsville facility late last year.
(Source: Defence Connect)
27 May 21. US Army deploys Artemis demonstrator to Europe, eying high-speed ISR jet capability. An Army intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance high-speed jet technology demonstrator — dubbed Artemis — has deployed to Europe to support the service’s Defender exercise and help assess what is in the realm of the possible for future ISR fixed-wing capability.
The service has significant obsolescence problems with its current fleet of Cold War-era Guardrail Common Sensor ISR aircraft deployed in both South Korea and Europe. The Army has reached a point where it is pulling parts from the boneyard to keep the aircraft operational, Col. James DeBoer, the Army’s project manager for fixed-wing aircraft, told Defense News in a recent interview.
“We’re getting to the point where we are just having significant issues with it,” he said, so the Army is trying to figure out how it will replace a required capability and what that future ISR aircraft will look like.
Artemis — or Aerial Reconnaissance and Targeting Exploitation Multi-Mission Intelligence System — is one effort among several to assess ISR capabilities for high-speed jets to possibly replace Guardrail, a turboprop aircraft based on the King Air.
The Army awarded a contract to Leidos in November 2019 to build Artemis using a Bombardier Challenger 650 jet. The plane has been assessed in the Indo-Pacific and European theaters and will undergo evaluation over the summer at Defender Europe, a division-sized exercise designed to test the service’s ability to deliver a force from the U.S. to Europe and then to operational areas throughout the continent.
“One of the things we saw, and we know that we’re concerned about with near-peer [adversaries], is we need to look at our sustainment, our ability to move around; so we did see one thing that came out the demonstrations is we can get to where we need to a lot faster,” DeBoer said of Artemis’ previous deployments in both theaters.
“It may take us five to seven days to get a turboprop over to Europe because you have to take the northern route. We just don’t have the legs. And if we’re going to go to Korea, it’s even longer because of the legs on the King Air type,” DeBoer said. “We can’t really make the jump to Korea from Alaska. We have to go the other way.”
Since those demonstrations, the Army has upgraded Artemis with better sensors, particularly communications sensors developed for Guardrail with the capabilities to talk over satellites and other direct and more reliable communications.
Artemis recently participated in the service’s Future Vertical Lift exercise — Edge 21 — at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, which was designed to prepare the aerial tier’s participation in Project Convergence this fall. The new communications sensors were tested at Edge 21.
Project Convergence has become the Army’s annual event that helps it assess how its capabilities under development are coming together to fight across all domains.
Artemis will return from Europe in time to participate in Project Convergence.
In Europe this summer, the Army will evaluate how the platform performs in terms of payload, range, ability to stay on station and ability for electrical power to support smarter sensors, DeBoer said.
The Army is also in the process of bringing online a second technology demonstrator called ARES — or Airborne Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare System — after awarding a contract to L3Harris Technologies in November 2020 to build it and then fly it this summer. ARES is based on a Bombardier Global Express 6500 jet that will have a different signals intelligence package on it than Artemis, according to DeBoer.
While the name implies the technology demonstrator would have an electronic warfare capability, it won’t start out with the capability and may never have it, DeBoer noted.
The Army is also upgrading its Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System, or EMARSS, with a newer King Air platform that includes enhanced sensors that could perform the Guardrail mission. The service awarded a contract to L3Harris and Sierra Nevada Corporation to do the integration work. That team is currently building the aircraft, and it is expected to fly in the middle of next year, according to DeBoer.
The Army will collect data from both the Artemis and Aries demonstrators as well as analysis from its EMARSS-E program (the “E” at the end stands for “Electronic Intelligence”). DeBoer’s office will take the information back to senior leaders to determine how to shape a possible prototyping effort, dubbed the High Altitude Detection and Exploitation System, or HADES, that could eventually turn into a program of record to replace Guardrail, the colonel said.
The service approved an abbreviated capabilities development document for the effort a year ago.
Moving to faster jets for the ISR mission has “certain advantages,” DeBoer said, “from just purely how quickly we can move them, maybe have fewer of them and maybe even have them back a little bit farther from the threat so that we can operate them in a safer environment.”
The ARES platform is larger and has more endurance, he said, as well as a lot more electrical capability and more payload capacity. “The conversation comes back to where’s the smart place to invest. How much payload do we need? We always want to look at the ability to grow over time, we always add more capability to aircraft.”
The Army’s office dedicated to fixed-wing aircraft was also recently tasked to explore the commercial world as well as science and technology advancements for a high-altitude, extended-range, long-endurance ISR observation capability using things like steerable balloons and solar gliders, DeBoer said.
While the service is in the nascent stages of analysis, it is calling the program HELIOS. For now, the fixed-wing office as well as the Army’s Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors are assigned to work together on the project, according to DeBoer.
“We’re looking at this in addition to HADES,” he said, “but we’re not as far along in the process.”
The Army is talking to industry and labs around the country to check on the status of technology, DeBoer said. Once the fixed-wing office and PEO IEW&S come back with data, Army senior leaders will determine a way forward, which could include the development of an abbreviated capabilities development document and possibly technology demonstrators. (Source: Defense News)
26 May 21. WhiteFox STRATUS Cloud-Based Drone Detection Service. WhiteFox, a global supplier of airspace security, has launched STRATUS, the world’s first cloud-based system to detect and track drones. WhiteFox has adapted its core technology that stops drones from operating unsafely or illegally, such as smuggling drugs into prisons and surveilling nuclear power plants.
STRATUS is available in a cloud-based application, enabling every industry to benefit from drone detection technology.
While drones offer many benefits for the commercial industry, in the wrong hands, they are equally dangerous. The U.S. federal government has repeatedly warned that the risk of a drone attack is steadily increasing in the U.S. due to drones’ widespread availability and ease of use. Small drones have been used to smuggle drugs into prisons, attempt the assassination of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, drop explosives on U.S. soldiers, commit corporate espionage, and shut down airports— costing airlines $64M in a single shutdown.
Tim Bennett, who oversees counter-drone technologies at the Department of Homeland Security told NBC News,
“One of the biggest problems is that we don’t have a true understanding of the complete air picture.”
Traditionally to detect drones, expensive equipment would have to be installed at each facility that required protection. However, STRATUS instantly creates a virtual bubble of protection to track drones and perform risk assessments in real-time. The system enables users to define geofences and notification criteria. Users can track, report, and log drone activity as it occurs with instant text or email notification. Users can also access historical drone traffic over their facilities and produce reports showing exactly what has happened. WhiteFox sensors provide coverage in major metropolitan cities across North America. Customers simply need a computer or phone connected to the Internet to use STRATUS and instantly track drones intruding in their airspace.
As the future of drones is developing, WhiteFox provides this solution as an accessible way to make drone flight information available to increase the safety and security of our airspace.
“STRATUS is a giant leap towards trusted autonomy. But in the wrong hands, drones can fly with near impunity—doing whatever they want with those on the ground often helpless to stop a reckless or malicious drone. WhiteFox envisions a future where drones benefit our lives much like cars. Many drones are authorized and provide substantial benefits to society. But just as when a car breaks the law, people can see that, and the proper authorities can respond. STRATUS is the first-ever technology to create that kind of transparency and accountability of drone activity. After thousands of hours of customer feedback and testing, we are proud to publicly launch the technology that will save lives and help unlock the immense potential of the commercial industry.” says WhiteFox Founder and CEO Luke Fox.
For customers who have the legal authority to mitigate drones, STRATUS can be paired with other WhiteFox products to provide to enable the safe, surgical mitigation of dangerous drones by safely landing them. As more and more drones fill the skies, knowing where drones are operating and what they are doing will lead to more responsible and beneficial drone use. (Source: UAS VISION)
27 May 21. RFEL Awarded Contract for TRAILBLAZER on Boxer MIV. RFEL are pleased to announce their award to supply their TRAILBLAZER driver vision aid into the Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) programme for UK MOD. The programme will be delivered over a 10-year period, sustaining and creating jobs in the local community and beyond. TRAILBLAZER improves driver and crew effectiveness by extending visibility beyond the normal daylight spectrum, overcoming adverse weather and low-light conditions with enhanced thermal imagery. TRAILBLAZER is safe by design and is the chosen Driver Vision System for hatches down driving in all weather and light conditions.
The TRAILBLAZER system acts as the eyes of the MIV vehicle for the driver, commander and crew. The configuration supplied into the MIV programme will be RFEL’s latest, 3rd generation series of products, using the most modern processing technology available. Individual camera clusters distributed around the vehicle deliver a full 360° panoramic situational awareness capability. They feature high performance electro-optics covering visible and thermal spectral ranges together with RFEL’s class leading Video Fusion technology.
The software defined capability of TRAILBLAZER ensures the camera modules can be continuously updated, with product enhancements and new features developed during the operational life of the vehicle. This extends longevity of service by offering the ability to adapt to customer needs and urgent operational requirements.
TRAILBLAZER is fully compliant to the UK Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA) standards. This implements a highly flexible video over Ethernet distribution supporting multiple, concurrent fields of view for driver and crew. In addition, ultra-low latency point-to-point links support a dedicated Driver’s Display. TRAILBLAZER delivers excellent coverage with ultra-wide fields of view giving unparalleled situational awareness, especially to the rear of the vehicle, where the PAX camera ensures the safety of the crew when the door is utilised.
The camera configuration for Boxer MIV has been specially designed by RFEL to the high specifications of the customer, including 2 new TRAILBLAZER products. The MIV configuration consists of newly developed models alongside RFEL’s standard models. The PAX camera gives coverage in all light conditions to ensure the safety of the crew entering or leaving the vehicle. TRAILBLAZER Cameras are compact and modular by design, enabling a plug-and-play approach to system design.
26 May 21. Finger Size LiDAR Device Now Available. A nanophotonics-based LiDAR technology developed by a POSTECH research team was presented as an invited paper in Nature Nanotechnology, the leading academic journal in the field of nanoscience and nanoengineering.
In this paper, a POSTECH research team (led by Professor Junsuk Rho of the departments of mechanical engineering and chemical engineering, postdoctoral researcher Dr. Inki Kim of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Ph.D. candidate Jaehyuck Jang of the Department of Chemical Engineering) in cooperation with the French National Science Institute (CNRS-CRHEA) focused on the LiDAR device developed through studying the metamaterials based ultralight nanophotonics.
In addition, the paper introduces core nanophotonic technologies such as the phase-change material-based beam scanning technique, a flash-type LiDAR that does not require beam scanning by applying point-cloud generation device, and light-source device integration and scalable manufacturing methods.
In particular, the paper explains that the ultra-precise LiDAR device developed by the research team can be applied not only to autonomous vehicles, but also to intelligent robots, drones, 3D panoramic cameras, CCTVs, and augmented reality platforms. LiDAR technology collects the depth information of an object by irradiating a laser beam onto the object and measuring the time of its return. LiDAR sensors are gaining attention in the field of future displays from machineries—such as autonomous vehicles, artificially intelligent robots, and unmanned aerial vehicles—to being mounted on iPhones for 3D face recognition or used in secure payment systems.
Currently, the high-end mechanical LiDAR system on the roof of autonomous vehicles is about the size of two adult fists stacked together, and costs tens of thousands of dollars. In addition, there are still many challenges to be overcome, such as a charging process that consumes a huge amount of power and heat management.
As a solution to this, the research team proposed an ultracompact LiDAR technology based on nanophotonics. The researchers explain how this nanophotonic technology can innovate the LiDAR sensor system in various aspects, from the basic measurement principles of LiDAR to the latest ultrafast and ultra-precise nanophotonic measurement methods, and nanophotonic devices such as metasurfaces, soliton microcomb, and optical waveguides.
“Currently, the research team is conducting several follow-up studies to develop ultralight metasurface-based compound LiDAR systems,” remarked Professor Junsuk Rho. “If this research is successful, we can look forward to manufacturing affordable ultrafast and ultra-precise LiDAR systems at an affordable cost.” (Source: UAS VISION/Phys Org)
25 May 21. Norway and Netherlands partner on Thales’ Multi Mission Radar Ground Master 200 MM/C.
- Norwegian Defence Material Agency (NDMA) signs agreement with the Netherlands Defence Material Organisation (DMO) for five Thales Ground Master 200 multi-mission compact radars (GM200 MM/C).
- This radar enables superior situational awareness and operational excellence through 4D active electronically scanned array (AESA), with fire support and weapon location capabilities.
- Highly tactical and mobile, the radar provides simultaneous accurate detection, tracking and classification against all current and future threats on the modern battlefield, including drones.
Building on the strong international NATO cooperation within the Ground Based domain, as well as strategic bi-lateral defence ties, the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) has signed an agreement with the Netherlands Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) for the acquisition of five Thales Ground Master 200 Multi-Mission Compact radars (GM200 MM/C). The agreement also includes an option for three additional systems.
Troops today face a multitude of ever-evolving threats in the battlefield, including advancements in the area of indirect fire (observation, range, speed, accuracy), threatening a radars’ capacity to detect targets in a very short time span while potentially becoming a target itself. To protect high-value assets and troops, Thales offers time-on-target solutions from the Ground Master 200 Multi-Mission family – radars that are able to detect smaller, faster, more agile targets at longer ranges, while retaining a very high tactical mobility and a very short deployment time.
This first ever Government-to-Government contract between the countries will provide the Norwegian and Netherlands Armed Forces with a common radar platform for further collaboration in the areas of threat assessment. The GM200 MM/C radar is designed for the modern battlefield, with operational excellence and military doctrine development in mind. Both parties will benefit from the latest in software defined radar technology, enabling future upgrades and capabilities expansion to manage the ever-evolving spectrum of future threats.
The GM200 MM/C is one of most flexible radars on the market today, offering radar operators with more time-on-target in order to gather as much information on incoming threats as possible. Featuring new-generation 4D Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology, a unique ‘dual-axis multi-beam’ providing unrestricted flexibility in elevation and bearing, it offers excellent theatre protection. The radar automatically detects, tracks and classifies multiple UAVs, RAM (Rockets, Artillery, Mortar), missiles, aircraft, helicopters and is particularly suited to weapon locating, air surveillance and air defense. In addition, the compact design of the GM200 MM/C provides extremely high mobility, very short deployment times and ease of transportation on any platform.
“This is a very important milestone in the close military cooperation between Norway and the Netherlands. This agreement will provide the Norwegian Armed Forces with a new artillery location system with sufficient protection, mobility, range and accuracy to be able to be used in all types of operations both nationally and internationally.” Rear Admiral Bjørge Aase, Deputy Director General in Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency.
“The procurement of the MMR by Norway creates a common radar platform that can be further developed by the Norwegian and Netherlands forces based on threat evaluation and doctrine development. Both countries benefit from the software-based radar that enables upgrades and performance enhancements in order to counter future threats, such as drones.” Netherlands Defence Materiel Organization.
24 May 21. US Air Force set to award $490m contract to counter small drones. By the end of this fiscal year, one company could rake in a contract worth up to $490m to provide the U.S. Air Force with technologies to counter the threat of small, commercially made drones.
On April 13, the Air Force released a request for proposals for the “rapid research, development, prototyping, demonstration, evaluation, and transition” of technologies that can be used to counter small unmanned aerial systems.
Responses to the solicitation are due May 14. The service plans to award a contract worth up to $490m to a single vendor that can team with other companies to provide various counter-drone products. The period of performance for the contract is 72 months.
According to the solicitation, the Air Force is seeking a wide range of technologies that can be used to address the unique requirements of users, which may face differing threats based on geographic region or other factors. The service hopes to test out prototypes of various solutions and buy “limited product quantities” while it introduces the technologies.
The Air Force didn’t lay out exactly what technological solutions it wanted to purchase in its public solicitation, and the service did not provide further information to Defense News on the subject before press time.
However, a December 2019 PowerPoint presentation created by the Air Force Research Laboratory pointed to cyber and electronic warfare technologies, directed-energy weapons like lasers and microwave devices, and “interceptors” that kill a target through kinetic force as potential options.
In the Middle East, equipping commercial off-the-shelf drones with weapons has become a cheap and effective way for Iranian-backed Houthi forces to attack Saudi Arabian forces and civilians, as well as partner forces like the U.S. military that are supporting Saudi Arabia’s defense, said U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie.
“For the first time since the Korean War, we are operating without complete air superiority,” he stated in written testimony to lawmakers on April 20.. “As a result, USCENTCOM has made the counter-UAS effort one of its top priorities, and employs a variety of systems and tactics to defeat these threats. Until we are able to develop and field a networked capability to detect and defeat UAS, the advantage will remain with the attacker.
In fiscal 2020, the Air Force fielded counter-drone technologies to meet three urgent requirements and delivered other new capabilities to 14 installations, the service said in its biennial acquisition report.
“In FY21 and FY22, the [counter-small UAS] program will focus on fielding an initial operational capability to 30 high-priority sites to protect critical assets and infrastructure,” it said. “The program will also support fielded urgent needs and integrate with additional systems such as counter rockets, artillery and mortars (C-RAM) and forward area air defense command and control (FAAD-C2).”
Last August, SRC Inc. won a $90m contract for unspecified counter-drone systems. It also includes the costs of sustaining the company’s Multi-Environmental Domain Unmanned Systems Application, a command and control platform that was used by Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates to link its counter-UAS technologies on the same network. (Source: Defense News)
24 May 21. Russia’s real-world experience is driving counter-drone innovations. The Russian military is actively working to develop concepts, tactics, techniques and procedures against aerial drones. The Russian Ministry of Defence has invested heavily to defend its forces against the growing threat and proliferations of UAVs large and small, from those manufactured by foreign states to those used by a growing slate of nonstate actors and terrorist organizations.
This investment comprises the development of technologies, incorporating the lessons learned from its own military and from other forces’ combat, and continuing to refine its electronic warfare capabilities as a key element of counter-unmanned aerial system tactics, techniques and procedures.
Learning from experience
Russia’s own involvement in the Syrian conflict started in 2015 when it brought its military in direct conflict with forces and coalitions fighting the government of President Bashar Assad. While Russia considers Syria its own “sandbox” for testing multiple weapons systems, the unpredictable Syrian military battlespace also resulted in nonstate actors experimenting with commercial off-the shelf drone technologies by launching multiple mass UAV attacks against the Russian base at Hmeimim.
At the same time, the Russian military was a keen observer of combat drone use against its allies in Syria and in Libya.
The ongoing drone use by the anti-Assad Syrian forces against Russian targets, along with Yemen’s Houthi forces against Saudi Arabian targets, and the recently concluded war in Nagorno-Karabakh confirmed the MoD’s conclusion: A robust electronic warfare defense, together with early warning radars and anti-aircraft systems, can provide adequate protection against the growing use of UAVs by global belligerents.
In Syria, the MoD dubbed this triple c-UAS layer as the “echeloned defense” that was effective against do-it-yourself-type drones, but that is still unproven against more sophisticated military drones currently in service with multiple combatants around the world.
Following the conclusion of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War, Russian military experts remain committed that the above-mentioned “echeloned” combination would have worked well against Azerbaijani drone attacks, especially given that some form of this echelon comprising EW and anti-aircraft systems in service with the Armenian forces was able to blunt certain Azeri UAV operations. As Turkish combat drones in Libya and Syria attacked Moscow’s allies, the older Soviet and Russian-made anti-aircraft systems had limited success against adversarial UAVs, but could not be more effective without other “echeloned” elements described above.
The continuous Houthi drone strikes against Saudi targets also expose the limits of modern Western-made anti-aircraft systems like the Patriot; such systems may not be adequate against small UAVs with very low radar signatures. The cost of deploying such anti-aircraft systems against small drones may be prohibitively expensive, necessitating a different approach to dealing with this new and evolving threat.
Finally, Russian support for the separatist forces in eastern Ukraine confirmed the importance of drones as a key intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance element in today’s combat, and the importance of robust EW defenses should the Ukrainian military start fielding more sophisticated UAVs against pro-Russian forces.
Concepts and technology
According to Lt. Gen. Alexander Leonov, chief of the Russian air defense forces, the ongoing efforts by nonstate actors and terrorist organizations to improve their UAVs and their usage methods indicate that in the near future, the threats associated with the use of drones may increase not only in Syria but also in other countries.
He points out that Russia gained valuable experience in countering such drone attacks, and that these skills and knowledge are now reflected in air defense combat manuals and are part of tactical, select and reconnaissance training. In fact, the Russian Ministry of Defence notes that today, all military districts across the country have units to counter adversarial drones.
The Russian experience defending its Khmeimim base from UAV strikes has become the foundation of its military’s c-UAS training program. Starting in 2019, all major military exercises and drills include the defense against an adversary’s massed drone attacks. The electronic warfare systems and technologies emerged as a key concept in this training. Across the Russian military services, in numerous drills, exercises and maneuvers, EW training is regularly conducted against adversarial drones, and practically all c-UAS drills feature EW systems as a key element.
Such symbiotic pairing typically unfolds in drills where the “adversary” forces use UAVs as key ISR elements against Russian troops, vehicles and systems.
Typically, the Russian military uses a combination of portable and wheeled EW systems. The Borisoglebsk and Zhitel systems are often tested in such drills; the EW specialists conduct electronic reconnaissance, then collect and analyze intelligence data, followed by conducting radio interference to “drown” adversarial UAV control channels along with drones’ communication channels with GPS navigation satellites.
In another typical c-UAS exercise that was conducted this year, the “adversary” force used several UAVs to conduct reconnaissance and coordinate artillery strikes against Russian positions. The Southern Military District’s mobile EW groups used an R-934BMV automated jamming station, the Silok-01 electronic warfare system and the Pole-21 advanced radio suppression system to discover enemy UAVs in order to interfere with their communications and suppress their control channels, rendering them useless for further operations.
In Syria, the MoD confirms that a combination of hand-held and stationary systems are used to suppress and jam drones that continue to harass and attack Russian positions. Using such systems allows the Russian military to directly influence UAVs’ control and navigation channel receivers. The EW troops intercept control channels, and the operator monitors the position of the UAV and proceeds to take control of the drone, giving the UAVs a command to land.
In Russia, military forces started using Stilet and Stupor portable c-UAS rifles, along with the newest Krasukha-C4 EW complex designed to identify adversarial strike aircraft and to suppress their communications and navigation. In a recent Black Sea drill, the EW detachments used the Krasukha system to target and disable multiple drones flying at low and medium altitudes.
Today, the Russian military is making c-UAS training mandatory across its services. In July 2018, the MoD announced that all ground forces, marines and airborne troops will have to learn how to shoot down drones with assault rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles and automatic weapons. This c-UAS concept of operations was developed taking into account the Russian military experience in Syria.
There is also evidence that the Russian MoD is eager to expand its c-UAS training and field activity beyond countering small, low-flying drones. In 2018, Russian EW systems jammed American drones operating in Syria, providing the MoD with valuable data and experience in countering more advanced adversarial UAVs.
The Russian military is also making sure its c-UAS systems and concept of operations involve the latest technologies, such as artificial intelligence, for the greatest advantage against the growing sophistication of the global drone force. New counter-drone radars and UAVs capable of targeting other drones are in development by the Russian military-industrial enterprises.
As the UAV threat will continue to persist, Russian MoD efforts will be directed at the continuing refinement of its c-UAS practices, while seeking to introduce technology capable of offering protection against adversaries’ drone developments. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
24 May 21. Italian Air Force eyes microwaves and lasers to defeat drones. Directed-energy beams could be the next step in bringing down hostile drones, officials from the Italian Air Force are predicting.
“This technology is moving really fast and we are evaluating both microwave and lasers as solutions for stopping drones,” said Col. Salvatore Lombardi, director of the Air Force’s UAV center of excellence at Amendola Air Base, southern Italy, which trains personnel, studies capabilities and develops standards.
He said Italian experts will join officials from fellow NATO countries in October to test-fire different kinetic solutions, including lasers, against drones at the Salto di Quirra military test range in Sardinia, Italy.
Until lasers get the nod, the Air Force will continue using an anti-drone system of systems named ACUS, or Air Force Counter Unmanned System, which fights drone threats using radio frequency and GPS jamming, said Col. Luca Urso, the head of counter-UAV programs at the Air Force headquarters’ logistic department.
Guns can also be used to shoot down drones or to fire a net to capture them, he added.
To detect, track and identify drones, the system relies on a radio frequency detector, which senses commands being issued to a drone by its operator, as well as radar and electro-optical sensors.
With an eye on the future, the system is built with open, modular and scalable architecture to allow plug-in solutions.
“We closely watch the military market as well the civilian drone market to monitor potential threats to military bases, airports and national airspace,” Lombardi said.
Components of the Air Force setup are provided by Italian defense firm Leonardo, which also supplies the British Royal Air Force with counter-drone technology.
The firm is now developing its radar technology to better identify drone threats, with smarter algorithms and passive radar shaping up as two key research areas.
As opposed to regular radar, which emits a signal and waits for it to bounce back from a target, passive radar picks up signals that are emitted elsewhere and deflect off the target. That becomes useful in cities, where TV, cellphone and other signals abound.
“Laboratory tests with passive radar as a way to identify drones have been positive,” according to a Leonardo official.
Algorithms are also under development to distinguish radar images of drones from, for example, seagulls, or figure out which drone in a swarm is carrying a bomb.
As drones become more autonomous, meaning less radio traffic, the possibility of using radio frequency detection could be reduced, making radar more important.
“The development of better batteries gives drones more processing power, which in turn allows them to be more autonomous, which in turn means we cannot expect to track the instructions they are sent,” the company official said.
Any technology developed to counter a threat will always generate technology to overcome it, and the official said he expects to see drones devised to take out the radars that spot them.
“In the future we could see kamikaze drones targeting radar, like an anti-radiation missile. That means the radar you use has to be harder to spot by a drone. We are working on radars that use reduced power, change frequency constantly and transmit intermittently,” he said. (Source: Defense News)
24 May 21. Boosted by international expertise, UAE edges closer to homemade counter-drone tech. Electronic warfare specialist SIGN4L is preparing to mark two milestones this year with the expected launch of its first integrated counter-drone system between the Emirati firm with Israel Aerospace Industries, and the completion of its first operational prototype of a high-energy laser with European consortium MBDA and French firm CILAS.
These steps by the subsidiary of defense conglomerate Edge could help the United Arab Emirates develop indigenous capabilities to design, create and operate locally made technology for countering unmanned aerial systems.
“UAE’s cooperation with European companies and Israel will increase its know-how in the field and might be used as a learning experience for developing its own system in the future,” according to Jean-Marc Rickli, head of global and emerging risks at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy think tank. “The laser technologies require advanced technologies; the other is more mainstream. There are many companies addressing some counter-drone techniques, and so the UAE will be an addition to this.”
Equipping commercial off-the-shelf drones with weapons has become a cheap and effective way to target forces and infrastructure, particularly in the Middle East.
The first phase of the high-energy laser system involving SIGN4L, missile-maker MBDA and Ariane Group subsidiary CILAS will see the creation of a modular, land-based platform.
“The memorandum of understanding signed enables SIGN4L to tailor an end-to-end C-UAV solution against hostile unmanned aerial vehicles. The end product is a modular system that will comprise electronic sensors for detection and identification, and high-energy lasers to neutralize micro- and mini-UAV threats,” Waleid Al Mesmari, Edge’s vice president of program management for its electronic warfare and intelligence business, told Defense News.
The companies agreed to look into potential cooperation during the International Defence Exhibition and Conference, held Feb. 21-25 in the UAE, but few details were revealed then. Al Mesmari said the cooperation allows the UAE to benefit from international expertise.
“We are witnessing a technology breakthrough here and are excited to join forces with our partners in bringing this solution to market. SIGN4L is a significant contributor to key aspects of the modular solution, and in collaboration with its partners is involved in managing and developing subsystems,” he said.
The multistage program kicks off with the development of a land-based system, followed by integration on air and sea platforms. “The first phase of the program will be a highly effective, land-based system that combines sensor data from various sources with the latest data fusion, signal analysis, jamming technologies and directed-energy weapons. At a later stage, the solution will be tailored to fit on a variety of platforms, including in the air and at sea,” Al Mesmari explained.
Regarding the system’s range, he said the aim is to “identify the drones, assess the threat potential and, where necessary, neutralize threats.”
“We are planning to have in place a running prototype this year that can be used for extensive testing and characterization. Following that, the system will be manufactured in accordance with customer requirements. The development work will be distributed between the UAE and France, and we are looking forward to gaining new skill sets and international experience from our global partners,” Al Mesmari said.
Working with IAI
Meanwhile, SIGN4L and Israel Aerospace Industries plan to develop counter-drone systems, marking the first defense collaboration of its kind between the two countries.
“This collaboration follows an extensive and detailed road map. Key components of the system have been tested, and the next phase on C-UAV is to confirm the final configurations and building blocks,” Al Mesmari told Defense News.
SIGN4L expects to complete work on the integrated solution this year, which should employ a variety of detection and interception techniques. The detection and tracking elements will rely on radar, radio frequency monitoring, electro-optical cameras and infrared sensors. Both soft- and hard-kill capabilities are also expected.
“Soft-kill methods of interdiction include radio-link jamming, GPS jamming, spoofing and cyber takeover. Hard-kill capabilities — such as high-energy lasers, electromagnetic pulses, missiles and guns — will also be available based on the level of threat as well as the customer’s targeted operating environment,” Al Mesmari said.
The agreement for bilateral work on the system was also signed during IDEX in February. It called for a fully autonomous counter-UAV system that requires no human intervention and is supported by 3D radar, communications intelligence technology and electro-optics integrated into a unified command-and-control system.
Al Mesmari said the systems under development are being tested across multiple threat landscapes and are performing well.
“To manage any type of drone and respond to urgent and emerging threats, the system must detect, identify and defeat the threat where necessary. First, our radars, cameras and sensors would detect the threat and communicate that data through the system. It would then monitor the progress of the targets and identify whether they are friendly or unfriendly. To defeat the threats deemed unfriendly, the laser weapon system could be activated, or the cyber takeover system could be used to neutralize the threat,” he said.
“The region has specific needs when it comes to its environment; therefore, the system will perform better in hot, humid and dusty weather. With that being said, we are looking to offer a comprehensive and robust solution for the global market that caters to a wide range of capabilities and diverse threats.”
Rickli, with the Geneva-based think tank, noted there are a few techniques used to defend airspace from drone threats.
“When it comes to counter-drone solutions, we can identify three types of techniques: destruction, neutralization and taking control of the drones. The laser falls into destruction; the Israeli solution falls into the neutralization, destruction and possibly taking-control categories,” he told Defense News.
But due to the various sizes and threats posed by drones, there is no solution that can offer all three techniques, he added.
“Think about the differences in the drones that blocked Gatwick airport in 2018 — commercial drones — [and] those used against Saudi Aramco [oil facility] in 2019, and those used for targeted killing by the USA. They are very different, flying at different altitudes with different performance, and therefore makes a comprehensive defensive very difficult.” (Source: Defense News)
24 May 21. Leonardo to upgrade NATO AWACS aircraft. Leonardo is to upgrade a first Boeing E-3A Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) aircraft test aircraft as part of NATO’s wider Final Lifetime Extension Programme (FLEP).
The Italian company announced on 21 May that it has been contracted by Boeing, as prime contractor for the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) Programme Management, Agency to upgrade the first NATO E-3A test aircraft.
“The activity, to be completed within 2023, includes the installation and checkout of newly-developed hardware under the FLEP programme [and will be] accomplished by Leonardo’s […] personnel of the Venice-Tessera plant in Italy,” the company said. “Leonardo will then provide support during the final test phase at the Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base [in Germany].”
Leonardo did not specify the nature of the hardware to be fitted to the test aircraft, nor when the upgrade is planned to be rolled out to the remaining 13 aircraft of the NATO E-3A Component. With an original line up of 18 Boeing E-3A AWACS aircraft (now reduced to 14), the E-3A Component is directly supported by Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey, and the United States. (Source: Jane’s)
19 May 21. KEAS launches digital jammers for neutralizing civilian drones and mobile communications. KEAS is expanding its offering and launching the digital versions of its flagship products: the MinKa anti-drone system and the BLOCKio mobile communication jammer.
KEAS’ latest products were recently showcased and tested in front of government bodies at a military camp in the Paris region. “This is a decisive step for KEAS, demonstrating to key national decision-makers our ability to offer a range of high-performance analog and digital products built entirely with French intelligence,” said David Morio, the chairman and CEO of the industrial group.
The vehicle-mounted digital MinKa-750D and mobile analog MinKam-715 anti-drone jammers were exhibited. Equipped with seven frequency ranges at 50 and 15W per band respectively, the units were pitted against drones controlled by professional military pilots. According to a company press release, the pilots, posted at 3,280 ft from the demonstration stand, alternated between low and high approaches (ground level to 490 ft), either fast or slow, and communicated live with the visitors. Each time the jammer was actuated, the pilots reported loss of control of the drones, which reared up in the air.
“The mobile MinKam-715 (44 lb. cabin case form factor) and the digital on-board MinKa-750D are designed to protect sensitive sites such as prisons, G7-type events, convoys, and military zones,” says the press release. “Equipped with omnidirectional or directional antennas, they can neutralize all the frequencies used by known civilian drones, while allowing other RF equipment used by frontline staff to work. Three models are available: jamming on detection, detection only or continuous jamming. The units can also be controlled via a tablet or a C2 command and control API. The benefit of using digital technology lies in the improved performance and real-time configurability in the field. Also on display was the HYDRA solution from CERBAIR, which detects drones by analyzing radio frequencies. The unit couples with the MinKa to activate jamming automatically or manually whenever drones are detected within a radius of around 1.2 miles, depending on the site configuration.”
The second part of the demonstration presented the mobile BLOCKiom-903 and the digital BLOCKio-950D communication jammers, which operate in nine bands at 3 W and 50 W respectively per band.
Based in Grenoble, France, KEAS is an expert in detecting and jamming mobile communications since 2005. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
25 May 21. Sonardyne unveils ‘operate-anywhere’ portable shallow-water tracking system. Energy, defence and science technology company Sonardyne has launched a new, entirely portable configuration of its shallow water Ultra-Short BaseLine (USBL) system Micro-Ranger 2.
Everything needed to start tracking divers, remotely operated vehicles, autonomous underwater vehicles or any other subsea targets is contained in a single, IP67-rated ruggedised case small enough to operate-anywhere, from anything.
The one-box USBL solution is able to track up to 10 targets out to 995 m. Inside the case is a Micro-Ranger Transceiver (MRT) with 10 m of cable, a GNSS antenna with 5 m of cable, and two Nano transponders and command hub. A built-in battery provides more than 10 hours of continuous use, enough for a full day of activity out on the water. The case can also accept external power from a boat or shore supply.
To get started, users simply have to connect their laptop running the Ranger 2 software to the case via Wi-Fi, put the MRT in the water, connect the antenna, and fit a Nano to each target. Sonardyne says even first-time operators can expect to be up and running in around 30 minutes.
Nano transponders are the perfect size and weight for divers, small towfish and micro ROVs. The two that come in the case are Sonardyne’s recently introduced second generation model, offering extended battery life and depth rating. A connector-equipped Nano is also available allowing it to operate continuously via an external power source. Customers can choose the type of Nano transponder that comes with their system at the time of ordering.
The needs of AUV developers who need to both track and communicate with targets have been addressed with the Micro-Ranger 2 integrator system kit. It comes complete with Sonardyne’s add-on Marine Robotics software pack and AvTrak 6 Nanos, which support two-way messaging, vehicle control and tracking in one small instrument.
John Houlder, USBL product line manager at Sonardyne said; “Whether you’re looking for flexibility, ease of use, or convenience, Micro-Ranger 2 is the ideal solution. It’s a smaller, lighter and more complete portable system than anything else on market. And it’s very competitively priced when you consider everything that’s included in one box as standard It’s export-licence free and is engineered to be safely carried on passenger aircraft. Then, when you get to where you’re working; a quayside to track an ROV, a RIB for tracking divers or a small boat to track and control your AUV, just turn it on, connect to the control hub with your laptop and away you go.”
Micro-Ranger 2 is ideal for supporting shallow water operations in offshore wind, including seabed instrument positioning and release with its command functionality and/or positioning objects relative to each other. Because it’s built with the same Wideband-2 signal architecture and 6G hardware as Sonardyne’s Ranger 2 family, it’s also fully compatible with the company’s Release Transponder 6 range (RT 6). It also suits quick mobilisation for underwater inspections using small ROVs.
The integrator kit is ideal for AUV developers who want to trial their ideas and capabilities, including swarm capabilities, inshore before moving into deeper waters.
Sonardyne have also recently introduced an upgraded and extended Nano range which; improves the acoustic performance of the Nano transponder, extends its operational depth range and increases its acquiescent battery life to 90 days. Nano transponders are now available with or without connectors or as OEM options.
21 May 21. DroneShield Expands into Tethered Counterdrone Space. DroneShield Ltd (ASX:DRO) (“DroneShield” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce its expansion into counterdrone capabilities through tethered aerial vehicles via a partnership with Zenith AeroTech.
Zenith AeroTech is a US-based leading developer of highly customisable, heavy-lift tethered aerial vehicles (“TAVs”). As part of the integration partnership, Zenith AeroTech deploys DroneShield’s DroneSentry-C2TM command-and-control ecosystem into its own family of TAVs, along with a miniaturised radar, to counter drone or drone swarm attacks.
Partnership between the two companies enables better, longer range drone detection, combined with countermeasures.
“By putting a detection capability on a TAV, which typically flies at 400 feet, you get better range than if you were to have these systems on a pole or ground vehicle,” said Kutlay Kaya, CEO of Zenith Aerotech. “Also, your alerts will be more accurate because, at elevation, you’ve eliminated clutter.”
Zenith AeroTech offers three different TAV platforms: Hexa, Quad 8, and Quadro. In contrast to standard drones, these three TAVs can stay aloft for hours—and even days—due to Zenith’s Ground Power-Tether Management System, which converts 120- or 240-volt AC power from a generator (or another source) into high-voltage DC, powering both platform and payload. The platforms themselves can carry 5-15kg of payload.
In addition to a capable drone-detection solution, Zenith AeroTech will be offering (where lawful) DroneShield’s soft kill measures, to be used by personnel on the ground. “Because we detect inbound drones from further away, we give personnel on the ground more time to jam them,” Kaya said.
There are many potential markets for TAVs with counterdrone capabilities. The military could use them to protect forward operating bases; civilian security managers might have them fly over sensitive facilities; and law enforcement could use them to safeguard well-attended public events.
“We are already working with a couple of federal agencies, and we anticipate broader adoption of this solution,” Kaya said.
DroneShield’s CEO Oleg Vornik has commented, “DroneShield’s deployment with Zenith takes our cutting edge command-and-control ecosystem capabilities into the tethered drone domain, opening a new range of applications for our Government end-users.”
22 May 21. TSA to Test Drone Detection Capabilities at LAX. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has selected Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to test state-of-the-art technology to detect, track, and identify (DTI) drones that are encroaching on restricted airspace.
Drones, also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), can pose a threat to transportation security when flown too close to certain aviation, surface, or related transportation venues.
Small UAS are used for a wide range of commercial and recreational purposes. While many are equipped with Global Positioning System software that prevents their use in restricted locations, there are many operators who do not follow safety restrictions and consequently pose a security and safety risk to individuals, infrastructure, and airplanes.
TSA selected LAX as an UAS DTI test bed due to its diverse aviation operations, large number of enplanements, frequency of UAS activity, and high passenger volume. This project will utilize a range of security and surveillance technologies including radar, thermal imaging, and artificial intelligence.
“The selection of LAX as a strategic location to test UAS detection technologies underscores the close working and strategic relationship between TSA and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA),” said TSA Federal Security Director for LAX Boyd K. Jeffries. “We are confident that data and information collected here will ultimately benefit and help secure the entire transportation network from the threats that UAS in unauthorized areas present.”
“The UAS threat to airports has increased exponentially over the last several years. That is why it is vital we assess the effectiveness of UAS DTI technologies in live airport environments,” said TSA UAS Capability Manager Jim Bamberger. “We are thrilled to partner with LAX on such a mission critical project that will pave the way for future technology assessments and help protect airports nationwide against UAS threats.”
In support of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) role in UAS security, TSA is collaborating with airport, local law enforcement and interagency partners including the DHS Science & Technology Directorate. Together they will test the effectiveness of certain DTI technologies against threats to aviation, surface, and related transportation domains. The technologies will be evaluated in laboratory and operational field environments.
“A world-class airport is defined by more than a smooth travel experience and historic investments in our runways and terminals; it’s about a world-class commitment to safety and innovation,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “LAX is an entry point for visitors, a crossroads for commerce, and an economic driver for our region – and its selection as a TSA testing ground for UAS detection is a tribute to our daily work to build a secure, dynamic, welcoming airport for passengers, employees, and anyone arriving in our city.”
“LAX’s long history of leadership and innovation wouldn’t be possible without the continuing strong partnership of the TSA, which has long stood with Los Angeles World Airports as we explore and implement technologies that make travel safer and more secure,” said Sean Burton, President, Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners. “As a test site for UAS detection technology, LAX will continue to work hand in hand with the TSA and local law enforcement as we collaboratively address concerns associated with unauthorized UAS in protected airspace.”
“We have seen UAS incursions at airports around the world cause physical and economic damage, and we need to be proactive in protecting our airport, our community and our regional economy against this threat,”
said Justin Erbacci, Chief Executive Officer, LAWA.
Throughout the LAX 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.
Congress funded the DTI test bed at LAX. This is the second site where DTI technology will be tested. TSA announced last week that similar technology will be tested at Miami International Airport beginning in early July. It is anticipated that work on the test bed at LAX will begin in late summer of 2021. (Source: UAS VISION)
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