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03 June 21. USAF awards $465m contract for new E-11A planes. The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday awarded Learjet a contract worth up to $465m for Bombardier Global 6000 business jets, which will be modified into the E-11A aircraft used to relay data between platforms that cannot normally share information.
The contract immediately obligated $70 million to pay for the first Global 6000 out of a potential total of six planes. That aircraft will become an E-11A once it is modified with Northrop Grumman’s Battlefield Airborne Communications Node payload.
The Air Force received $63 million for the E-11 program in fiscal 2021 to procure the first aircraft. As part of its FY22 budget request, which was rolled out last week, the service requested $124 million for another two E-11s.
The BACN payload provides relay, bridging, and data translation for platforms that are not able to communicate, either because they use different voice and data link systems or are separated by mountains or other terrain that impedes a reliable connection.
The new E-11A aircraft would expand the current fleet and allow the Air Force to “rapidly respond to the operational needs of combatant commanders worldwide,” Elizabeth Rosa, the Air Force’s BACN procurement lead, said in a news release.
Currently, the Air Force retains seven aircraft with the BACN payload. The service was left with three E-11As — which are crewed by two pilots — after one E-11 crashed in Afghanistan in January 2020. It also operates four EQ-4B Global Hawk drones equipped with the BACN payload.
Last year, the service attempted to retire a total of 24 Global Hawks, including the EQ-4B aircraft, as part of the FY21 budget. Congress ultimately rebuffed the proposal. At the time, the Air Force said it expected to buy five E-11As to offset the divestment of the EQ-4B. (Source: Defense News)
02 June 21. USAF buys more BACN. The US Air Force (USAF) is strengthening its Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) fleet, with a further six aircraft to be procured over the coming five years. The Department of Defense (DoD) announced on 1 June that Learjet Inc., located at Wichita in Kansas, has been awarded USD464.9m for the procurement of up to six Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft and completion work out to May 2026.
The BACN system is designed to increase the range of voice communications in mountainous terrain by relaying the signal over an extended distance. It can also act as a bridge between frequencies, enabling a convoy commander on a frequency-limited radio to talk with a supporting close-air-support asset on a different frequency
News of the contract came some five months after the USAF first disclosed that it was to expand its BACN fleet that was and is currently comprised of three Bombardier Global 6000 regional jet-based E-11As (one of the original four was lost on operations in Afghanistan in 2020) and four Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft. In January, the USAF awarded Northrop Grumman USD3.6 billion for continued BACN operations, sustainment, and support through to January 2026. (Source: Jane’s)
31 May 21. USAF to replace JSTARS units in Georgia with new tech. The US Air Force said it plans to phase out its decades-old JSTARS aircraft and radar system used for battlefield surveillance and replace it in central Georgia with new missions driven by upgraded technology.
The JSTARS mission is shared by both active-duty airmen and Georgia Air National Guard members at Robins Air Force Base south of Macon. Since 1991, the system has used large Boeing 707 planes to gather battlefield information from the air for use by U.S. commanders.
The Air Force plans to begin retiring the JSTARS aircraft beginning with four planes in fiscal 2022, acting Air Force Secretary John P. Roth told a news conference Friday. It will likely take at least five years to phase out the entire program, he said.
The move will allow 2,000 active duty and National Guard airmen at Robins to transition to four new missions coming to the base, Roth said. They include the Advanced Battle Management System, an intelligence-gathering network under development that allows real-time sharing of battlefield information between satellites in space, military aircraft, ground forces and commanders.
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, a Georgia Republican whose district includes Robins Air Force Base, said the JSTARS program, while effective for decades, has become “old technology and we have to move to new technology to protect the United States.”
U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, a Georgia Democrat, said the new missions will ensure Robins remains essential to national security.
“These upgrades will ensure that this base is strong for decades to come,” Ossoff said. “These are cutting edge capabilities. … We’re glad they’re coming to Georgia.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/AP)
03 June 21. New networked night vision for soldiers. Marines? You’ll have to wait. The Army has already seen an estimated 6,000 of its newest, most advanced night vision goggles fielded to troops over the past two years.
Most of that has gone to the active duty side. If it’s recent budget request is approved, 7,118 more pairs of Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular will be in troops hands by the end of next year.
More than 5,000 are headed to close combat forces on active duty while another 1,600 will flow to the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve will get 439 devices.
But not every soldier will be getting the goggles soon. Nor will Marines.
The current Army budget request calls for fielding a total of 108,251 sets, which would cover the infantry, reconnaissance and combat engineers attached to infantry in the coming years.
The Marines are tied in with the ENVG-B program, as well, having sent jarheads to help test and evaluate the device. But for now, they’ve gone instead with the Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggle, according to officials.
Navy budget request documents show Marines added $10m to equip one infantry battalion and three combat engineer companies with the SBNVG.
The SBNVG device provides white phosphorous I2 vision and thermal imaging as well as hand or helmet-mounted controls, much like the ENVG-B. However, it does not allow for software networking, so Marines may not have the ability to use the goggle for navigation or wirelessly link to a weapon-mounted camera sight that allows for rapid target acquisition like the ENVG-B.
The ENVG-B system connects to the smartphone-based Nett Warrior system and Android Tactical Kit, which allows developers to build applications that it can access.
Soldiers can use the ATK with augmented reality applications to overlay map graphics and blue force tracking capabilities for increased situational awareness, communication and mission planning across day and night operations, according to an Army statement.
They can also add enemy icons on the system and share with others across their network.
Budget documents show that the Marines seem to be leaving open a possible switch or upgrade in a program they’ve dubbed, “Future Night Vision Goggle.”
They are looking to that program to supplement the SBNVG that will couple the goggle with a “thermal sensor, heads up display and have the capability to connect to a tactical network.”
The Future Night Vision Goggle program would supplement the SBNVG by allowing it to couple the goggle with a “thermal sensor, heads up display and have the capability to connect to a tactical network.”
Military Times recently visited the Washington office of L3 Harris Technologies, one of two companies providing the ENVG-B to the Army under a $442m contract issued in October. Elbit Systems of America is the other company building the device under the contract.
The goggle provides a white phosphorus display that far exceeds the shaded, grainy green glow of past devices such as the common PVS-14. The user can link their goggle to the Family of Weapons Sights-Individual attached to their rifle or carbine to see what’s at the other end of their barrel using the Rapid Target Acquisition software.
The binocular view gives actual depth perception, a challenge with the older monocular PVS-14 and other night vision devices.
The RTA view can be displayed in three ways. First is a circular weapon sight view that floats as the weapon is moved in the goggle vision. Second is a picture-in-picture mode, much like on a standard television. Third is making the RTA view from the weapon sight the full screen seen through the goggle.
The goggle also provides thermal vision. That comes in either a reverse negative “black hot,” where the heat source is dark and the background is white, or in “white hot,” where the heat source is white and the background is black. Both provide contrast options that help heat jump into view quickly.
Lastly, outline mode gives a near-1980s music video feel with heat lines outlining the source. The view shows contrasts between materials, making equipment, weapons and devices identifiable in detail.
Users on patrol can also select a navigation mode that will give them their compass heading in the top of their view.
L3 Harris has provided more than 6,000 pairs of a “directed requirement” version of the goggle, which is a dark black version with the helmet mount, goggle and battery pack and processor.
The more permanent version is still undergoing testing and evaluation. It is similar, but slightly more ruggedized and tan colored.
Leith Ames, director of business development for L3Harris, said goggles have already gone to the 101st Airborne Division, 25th Infantry Division and 82nd Airborne Division.
Ames is a retired Army officer who previously worked in acquisitions for both the Army and Special Operations Command.
The current version is now being tested by soldiers at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana, Ames said. The device has gone through a few rotations with units at JRTC.
Soldiers with the 101st also spent three weeks testing the device at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, earlier this year, according to an Army statement. (Source: Army Times)
31 May 21. US Navy uses Thales’ SMART-L MM/N radar data to intercept a ballistic missile in space.
- Tracking data provided by Thales’ Smart- L Naval Multi-mission radar used by US Navy to intercept a Ballistic Missile in space during At Sea Demo/Formidable Shield 2021 (ASD/FS21) exercise.
- For more than 5 minutes, the Smart L MM/N tracked the ballistic missile which obtained speeds of 3km/second at more than 300 Km
May 31st 2021 – In a large U.S.-led military Missile Defence exercise, the U.S. Navy’s USS Paul Ignatius used data from Thales’ long range surveillance radar SMART-L MM/N to conduct a “Launch on Remote” test of a Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) and guide it to intercept a non-separating ballistic missile well outside the earth’s atmosphere.
Installed on the Royal Netherlands Navy HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën, the SMART-L MM/N autonomously, without being cued, detected and tracked the ballistic missile, during the At-Sea Demo / Formidable Shield 2021 (ASD/FS21) exercise. This is an Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) exercise on the Hebrides test range in the Atlantic Ocean, organized by the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet and the Maritime Theater Missile Defence Forum.
The SMART-L MM/N radar successfully tracked the ballistic missile for more than 5 minutes as it reached speeds of 3 km/second and an altitude of more than 300 km. USS Paul Ignatius received the tracking data through the NATO communications network. Based on this track data, USS Paul Ignatius performed engagement planning and conducted the “Launch on Remote” test of the SM-3 interceptor against the identified threat. The test was a success: the ballistic missile was destroyed in space.
ASD/FS21 involved 10 countries, 15 ships and a variety of aircraft and land based assets. During the exercises, a high number of Air and Surface Warfare, Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) and IAMD scenarios were executed. Other scenarios that tested the Thales systems on board of HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën were the engagement against a supersonic sea-skimming cruise missile and an IAMD scenario in which they were tracking and executing engagements on air threats, while simultaneously tracking a ballistic missile threat.
The purpose of ASD/FS-21 is to improve allied forces’ interoperability in a live fire IAMD environment by using NATO Command & Control reporting structures. This supports the participating navies to build, understand and train their IAMD capabilities in a multi-national environment. Maintaining this capability is crucial for nations to be ready and perform these operations in a potential crisis situation.
HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën was prepared for BMD/IAMD tasking through an upgrade program that includes new systems such as a new Command Information Centre and the new SMART-L MM/N. Together these systems contribute to a new BMD Early Warning capability for the “De Zeven Provinciën” class and the Launch on Remote test provided essential data for the development of the BMD Engagement Support capability.
“The Royal Netherlands Navy has convincingly demonstrated its BMD technology over the past 15 years. We are proud and happy to see that the Navy once again proved its value to NATO through this successful Launch on Remote test. Thales is the only European supplier capable of supporting navies in IAMD tasks. With this impressive result we can confidently look to the future.” Gerben Edelijn, CEO of Thales in the Netherlands.
About SMART-L Multi Mission
SMART-L Multi Mission is a rotating, fully digitally controlled Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. Application of high-end techniques results in a radar with an unrivalled long-range performance of 2000 km. Within this enormous range, SMART-L MM detects a wide spectrum of objects: air-breathing targets, stealth objects and ballistic missiles. SMART-L MM autonomously detects ballistic missile type objects. The AESA technology supports state-of-the-art Dual Axis Multi-beam modes of operation, engagement tracking and a non-rotating ‘staring’ mode.
The programmable radar offers full flexibility. Additional capabilities can be added during lifecycle, according to customer needs. This makes the radar future proof for evolving requirements. At present, the Royal Netherlands Navy contracted Thales for the development, production and installation of four SMART-L MM/N systems.
These systems will be used for the surveillance of the Netherlands air space. Multiple armed forces across the world have expressed an interest in SMART-L MM. In various tests and demonstrations at the Thales premises, SMART-L MM detected and tracked satellites in orbit at ranges up to 2000 km. At present, twoof the four Royal Netherlands Navy’s De Zeven Provinciën class Air Defence and Command frigates have received the SMART-L MM/N, with the other two ships to follow. The first of the two SMART-L MM radars contracted by the Royal Netherlands Air Force has been installed on site in Wier in the North of the Netherlands.
01 June 21. Hanwha Wins $22m Contract to Develop Anti-Drone Lasers in Korea. Korea’s Hanwha Group has won a 24.3bn-won ($21.8m) deal from the Agency for Defense Development to develop a key device that helps laser beam weapons target drones flying several kilometers away, the company announced.
Over the next four years, Hanwha will develop a prototype of an amplification device that magnifies the output and travel distance of laser beams.
“Laser weapons can shoot down fast-flying objects at the speed of light. Based on 20 years of research into laser technologies, Hanwha also won Korea’s first-ever laser anti-air defense system project from the Defense Acquisition Program Administration in 2019,” a Hanwha official said.
While Hanwha is developing the hardware for combating drone threats, the government-funded Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute is developing an anti-drone software system.
According to the KAERI, it will form a consortium with 22 partners to co-develop an integrated anti-drone system. The 42bn-won project will see the development of a total anti-drone system that can detect, identify, analyze, neutralize and investigate illegal drones by 2025.
The program includes five public institutions including KAERI and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute and 18 private anti-drone companies including LIG Nex1.
“Despite calls for establishing anti-drone technologies at key facilities, Korea currently lacks enough technology. Deploying imported equipment is both expensive and has security issues, so KAERI formed the consortium to develop independent technologies,” a KAERI official said.
The program will first apply the anti-drone system at nuclear facilities and airports. (Source: UAS VISION/Korea Herald)
01 June 21. AVT Australia launches new ISR technology. The Melbourne-based technology company has rolled out a new imaging system designed to enhance small UAS capability. AVT Australia has officially launched its CM62 Micro Gimbal — multi-sensor imaging technology, which combines high-definition electro-optical (EO) imagery and a custom long-wave infrared (LWIR) core in a 260-gram, compact system. The gimbal, which was developed under a Defence Innovation Hub (DIH) contract, is designed to Offer high performance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), in a small, lightweight and low-power system, helping to enhance future small unmanned aerial system (sUAS) operations capability.
The new technology is currently on display at Land Forces at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre alongside other AVT products.
“We are proud to announce the public launch of the CM62 Micro Gimbal, which will deliver innovative surveillance capabilities for Group 1 UAS missions,” Joel Pineiro, managing director at AVT Australia, said.
“The CM62 represents a new generation of miniature surveillance systems that is capable of delivering accurate daylight and thermal imaging, with superior onboard processing features, in a system that weighs as little as 260 grams.
“This system will have a significant impact on the future-warfighter during sUAS operations.”
AVT has encouraged delegates at Land Forces to view the CM62 Micro Gimbal on the AVT Australia booth (#1P3).
This launch of AVT’s new technology comes less than a month after the firm was selected by Defence to supply its advanced CM234 Spitfire camera gimbal for incorporation into the Australian Army’s future tactical UAS platforms under the Tactical UAS Replacement and Enhancement Project (LAND 129 Phase 3).
The sensor technology aims to enhance ISR capability by leveraging an imaging system that uses electro-optical, short wave and medium wave infrared cameras, along with laser range finding and target designation technology.
The technology is set to support UAS platforms developed by either Insitu Pacific Limited or Textron Systems Australia, which have been selected as the final two companies in the tender evaluation process for LAND 129 Phase 3. The government is expected to announce its final decision later this year. (Source: Defence Connect)
30 May 21. DroneShield Releases Next Generation Optical AI Software. DroneShield Ltd (ASX:DRO) (“DroneShield” or the “Company”) announced the release of DroneOptIDTM 2.0, the second generation version of its optical Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning based software. The original DroneOptIDTM system, developed in collaboration with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) under a Defence Innovation Network grant from the Australian Government, has paved the way into a sophisticated AI-based software engine to detect, classify and track small, rapidly moving UAS, as well as their payloads.
The updates include a substantial overall enhancement of the engine, effectiveness in a wider range of environments including night-time via thermal sensors, improved detection and classification of UAS payloads and cutting-edge technology estimating the target distance and altitude from the sensor.
The update is provided as part of the overall the DroneSentry-C2TM command-and-control ecosystem. The software processes imagery from a number of third-party camera hardware partners, including TRAKKA cameras, as part of the on-vehicle TIPS-C solution.
DroneShield utilises its proprietary techniques in signal processing and Machine Learning/AI to do near-real time detection and identification of unmanned robotic systems, with DroneOptIDTM being the optical sensor stream of work in parallel with RFAI cutting edge software engine in the radiofrequency sensing space. The software is designed to run on all DroneSentryTM platforms incorporating a camera sensor.
Oleg Vornik, DroneShield’s CEO, commented, “DroneOptIDTM carries our cutting-edge AI capabilities in the optical/thermal space, along with out RFAI global leadership in the AI processing of the radiofrequency spectrum. In addition to enabling a variety of cameras substantially enhanced capabilities of target tracking via a layer of software, it also opens the door to a variety of sophisticated target tracking applications on battlefield, cluttered urban and other complex environments, for a variety of threats, which is of interest to our existing and prospective Government and military customer base.”
27 May 21. Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod Successfully Integrates with Kuwait F-18 Super Hornet. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), in conjunction with the U.S. Navy, completed its first flight test integrating Sniper® Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for the Kuwait Air Force. Sniper ATP will be located on the Weapon Station 5, an area on the aircraft where pods or weapons attach and is expected to be fielded with the aircraft in late 2023. This integration gives existing and future Super Hornet fleets the ability to add Sniper ATP’s precision targeting and surveillance capabilities, which are critical to pilot survivability.
“Integrating Sniper ATP onto Weapon Station 5, commonly known as the ‘cheek station,’ brings state-of-the-art tracking algorithms, two-way-data-link, and many other capabilities to the Kuwait F/A-18E/F crews that will positively impact the overall success of their missions,” said Kenen Nelson, director of Fixed Wing Sensor Programs at Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control. “This also means that all F/A-18E/F customers will have the option of a reliable, easily maintainable and modern targeting pod.”
To verify the mechanics of the system, flight testing with a non-operational Sniper ATP was conducted at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland in March. Subsequently, flight-testing with an operational Sniper ATP was conducted at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California in March. Both first flight tests were successful.
“The Sniper ATP provides an additional tool in the already robust Kuwait F/A-18 Super Hornet package,” said Jessica Idleman, Boeing program manager Kuwait F/A-18 program. “The Super Hornet provides the warfighter with enhanced situational awareness and Sniper ATP is an important part of our technology insertion plan and future growth of the platform.”
Currently, Sniper ATP flies on both the Kuwait F/A-18C/D and Canadian CF-18 Hornets. As the Kuwait Air Force transitions to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, they will benefit by receiving the new capabilities that the latest Sniper ATP configuration provides to the Super Hornet fleet. There are currently more than 27 countries and 15 different types of aircraft operating with the platform-agnostic Sniper ATP.
The modular design, field-proven reliability (Sniper ATP exceeds 500 hours Mean Time Between Maintenance Events [MTBME]) and a world-class depot partnership with Robins Air Force Base makes Sniper the lowest Life Cycle Costs targeting pod on the market. (Source: ASD Network)
26 May 21. French laser counter drone technology effective over 1km distance. According to Drone DJ, French company Compagnie Industrielle des Lasers (CILAS) is testing a laser that can bring down a drone flying at 30 mph from a distance of 1km. CILAS executives have described the unit as being at a very advanced stage of development, and almost ready to take to the market.
Drone DJ references a report in Popular Science which describes the functioning and testing of the unit. Trials used a manually guided laser honing in on drones tracked by French military radar. The system can be connected to any kind of monitoring and command configuration that incorporates at least two cameras: one filming the wider setting, the other focusing in on the UAV. Data from the two feeds allows the precise location and distance of the target to be established.
CILAS is part of a group of French defense and security companies working in coordination with the French military to develop technology primarily designed for armed forces, but adaptable to private clients as well. Its counter drone High-energy Laser for Multiple Application – Power (HELMA-P) system figures into both categories. For more information visit: www.dronedj.com (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
26 May 21. AeroDefense modifies AirWarden drone detection system to include versatile sensor. AeroDefense is supplying a ruggedized version of its AirWarden drone detection systems to the US Air Force for military use. The company has announced further modification to include a smaller detection sensor that is lightweight and hardened for harsh environments. According to the company, the new sensor transitions from vehicles or marine vessels to temporary mounts with little effort and manpower.
AirWarden is a patented drone detection system that identifies and classifies radio frequency drone and controller signatures and uses these signals to locate both devices simultaneously. For more information visit: www.aerodefense.tech (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
26 May 21. WhiteFox launches STRATUS cloud-based drone detection service to protect critical infrastructure. US airspace security company WhiteFox has launched a cloud-based system to detect and track drones called STRATUS. 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, says a company press release.
STRATUS is designed to create a virtual bubble of protection to track drones and perform risk assessment 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 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.
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.
For more information visit: www.whitefoxdefense.com
Blighter Surveillance Systems is a world-leading designer and manufacturer of best-in-class electronic-scanning ground-based radars, surveillance solutions and Counter-UAS systems. Blighter’s solid-state micro-Doppler products are deployed in more than 35 countries across the globe, delivering consistent all-weather security protection and wide area surveillance along borders, coastlines, at military bases and across critical infrastructure such as airports, oil and gas facilities and palaces. Blighter radars are also used to protect manoeuvre force missions when deployed on military land vehicles and trailers, and its world-beating multi-mode radar represents a great leap in threat detection technology and affordability for use in a variety of scenarios.
The Blighter range of radar products are used for detecting a variety of threats, from individuals on foot to land vehicles, boats, drones and low-flying aircraft at ranges of up to 32 km. Blighter Surveillance Systems employs 40 people and is located near Cambridge, UK, where it designs, produces and markets its range of unique patented solid-state radars. Blighter prides itself on being an engineer-led business committed to providing cost-effective and flexible solutions across the defence, critical infrastructure and national security markets.