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11 Aug 21. U.S. Department of Defense and Robotican Complete Autonomous C-sUAS Interceptor Demonstration with Low Collateral Effects. Robotican has successfully conducted an autonomous drone interception demonstration for the U.S. Department of Defense Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate (IWTSD).
Robotican unveiled its 3rd generation of the Goshawk interceptor drone, developed to provide fully autonomous interception capabilities needed by C-UAS systems. The Goshawk’s unique design provides a remarkable interception envelope to capture hostile drones during any stage of their mission. A designated net enables the Goshawk to capture and carry the hostile drone; delivering it to a predefined area for safe disposal – with no collateral damage.
In the demonstration, the hostile drones were launched from a remote location to penetrate a no-fly zone protected by the Goshawk. After initial target detection, the Goshawk was automatically launched on its interception mission – autonomous from launch to landing. Various scenarios and profiles were enacted during the demonstration, such a complex target chase and a challenging head-on engagement, with the Goshawk and target drone flying head-on towards each other. All targets were successfully intercepted with the catch, carry and disposal performed to demonstrate the benefit of retrieving hostile drones. The target drones used were of varying sizes and models representing the operational need.
Hagai Balshai, CEO Robotican, “We are very proud of our achievement. Our challenge was to develop an autonomous drone interceptor that causes no collateral damage, which we believe is key for an efficient 24/7 C-UAS system. This successful demonstration gives us confidence in our solution, and in the journey, we have begun with this amazing technology.”
Robotican specializes in autonomous robotics and drones for challenging operational needs. Since 2013, the company has supplied unique and creative robots and drones. Our products are the result of our in-house, multidisciplinary and professional team, abundant with autonomous drone experience. (Source: PR Newswire)
11 Aug 21. For the first time ever, over the high desert of southern California on July 2, 2021, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) used an Avenger® Unmanned Aircraft System equipped with a Lockheed Martin Legion Pod® to autonomously track and follow targets of interest. This industry-funded demonstration brings military aviators one step closer to gaining autonomous systems that support manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) in joint all-domain operations.
“GA-ASI is committed to developing persistent and affordable solutions to meet the challenges of air domain awareness and defensive counter air against near-peer threats,” said GA-ASI Vice President of Special Programs Chris Pehrson. “The success of this Avenger/Legion Pod demonstration represents an important step toward more sophisticated autonomous missions for unmanned aircraft and MUM-T in a complex battlespace.”
During the flight, Legion Pod’s infrared search and track system, IRST21®, detected multiple fast-moving aircraft operating in the area and fed target tracking information to the Avenger’s autonomy engine. The autonomy engine prioritized the targets informing Avenger maneuvers for target engagement.
“This flight demonstrates a critical sensor capability that enables unmanned combat air vehicles like the Avenger to operate autonomously in Joint All-Domain Operations,” said Dave Belvin, vice president of Sensors and Global Sustainment at Lockheed Martin. “We designed Legion Pod to passively detect and track targets for tactical fighter pilots in radar-denied environments. This capability provides the data necessary to enable unmanned vehicles to track and engage hostile airborne targets without human intervention.”
This flight builds on GA-ASI’s autonomy flight test series that started in December 2020 to demonstrate next generation air-to-air Unmanned Aerial Vehicle functionality. Integrating Legion Pod software into the Avenger Mission Management System (MMS) took less than three months and was enabled though the Open Mission Systems (OMS) message standards. This OMS demonstration proves that existing operational systems can be rapidly integrated across platforms with minimal cost.
11 Aug 21. Quarterly AI Software Engine Update. DroneShield Ltd (ASX:DRO) (“DroneShield” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce the release of its 3Q21 AI Software Update. This major update will run across the entirety of the DroneShield radio frequency sensor product range including RfPatrolTM, RfZeroTM, RfOneTM and DroneSentry-XTM.
This update continues to improve on the Company’s industry leading Machine Learning/AI techniques to detect improvised threats in near-to-real time. The focus of the update is the improvements in the efficiently of its Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) running on the embedded FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array) hardware. These improvements not only increase scan speed and detection accuracy but also the power draw and heat management of the devices, leading to longer operating times when running on battery power.
The 3Q21 software roll out will utilise the new DroneShield Access Portal, allowing customers to securely log in and access their device updates, documentation and comprehensive training materials. The DroneShield Access Portal is available to all of the Companies existing customers and subscription holders.
Angus Bean, DroneShield’s CTO commented, “Delivering quarterly software updates to all our devices in the field, provides our customers will the highest levels of responsiveness and best product performance. It allows the technology development to remain agile to the changing nature of improvised threats and the Electronic Warfare field more broadly. This update builds upon the vast learnings DroneShield has from its global fleet of in-service products.”
10 Aug 21. SCHIEBEL CAMCOPTER S-100 Completes Successful Flight Trials for US Navy. Schiebel Aircraft and Areté Associates successfully showcased the CAMCOPTER S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) combined with Areté’s Pushbroom Imaging Lidar for Littoral Surveillance (PILLS) sensor to the US Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR).
In a combined demonstration sponsored by the US Office of Naval Research (ONR) on a commercial vessel off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, Schiebel and Areté demonstrated the CAMCOPTER S-100 and its capabilities, as well as Areté’s Push- broom Imaging Lidar for Littoral Surveillance (PILLS) system.
PILLS enables hydrographic mapping of ocean littoral spaces with a low size, weight, and power (SWaP) sensor that easily integrates into the S-100. PILLS has multiple military and commercial applications.
Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group, said:
“We are proud that we could successfully showcase the outstanding capabilities and data-gathering features of our CAMCOPTER S-100 to the US Navy. Globally, we operate extensively on land and at sea and we are confident that our unmanned solution is also the right fit for the US Navy.” (Source: UAS VISION)
09 Aug 21. Counter-UAS: Going Beyond ‘Selling Boxes.’ Small drones or small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) moved from a novelty to an everyday presence over the past decade across civilian day-to-day life, and also finding a place supporting nefarious uses such as contraband smuggling, airport disruption, terrorist attacks, and military conflicts. Rapid improvements in maneuverability, autonomous flight capabilities, flight endurance, camera technology and more, make small and cheap drones an appealing platform for reconnaissance and payload delivery. The counterdrone (also known as counter-UAS, c-UAS) industry has also been rapidly growing to keep pace.
Early Days of Counter-UAS
Early efforts (mid 2010s) are viewed as mostly “garage work”, a combination of repurposing existing technologies for a new objective of detecting drones (such as the use of traditional ground-based radars to now monitor the skies for drones). Both counter-UAS manufacturers and customers experimented and learned at this stage, what worked and what didn’t, while often exploring exotic concepts including hunting drones with eagles, using barking dogs to detect drones, and leveraging other emerging technologies.
Maturation of an Industry By the late 2010’s, Radio Frequency (RF) started to emerge as a single sensor winner, owing to its ability to accurately detect and track drones without the very substantial false alarms produced by standalone radar sensors, as well as its ability to detect hovering drones, significant range advantage (up to 10km for best of breed sensors), and superior cost-to-covered area ratio. As an example of this cost per coverage difference, most radars, even today, cannot detect small drones more than 1-2km away, and those that can, often cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more. Additionally, RF systems can pick on Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs), and Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) on the water, as those tend to use largely similar RF protocols without getting caught in the ground clutter that would influence the radar or call for a completely different radar to perform the job effectively. In the counter-UAS industry the threat shifted to a UxS threat (UAVs, UGVs and USVs) and RF sensors were more easily adapted to support the multi-domain threat.
Sophisticated customers have started to adopt a multi-sensor approach, such as systems including RF, radar, cameras, acoustics and more. The concept behind a layered system is essentially two-fold – either increase the likelihood of any stealth/rare drone being detected by setting the system to “alarm if any sensor type triggered” mode or reduce false alarms through seeking multiple sensors to confirm the alert prior to alerting the user. Higher end systems enable a setting of value ranges for the multi-sensors, optimizing the probability of detection, minimising the false alarms, and tailoring the system performance for a particular installation.
The counter-UAS industry has grown from a small handful of companies in mid 2010s, to hundreds globally today. While many counter-UAS providers are resellers or suppliers of early-stage prototypes, the list also includes few dozen OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), with a few of them also integrating third party technologies.
This evolution of the threat and need for a more comprehension solution, creates a challenge for end customers, many of whom realize they need to move beyond “buying boxes” as in the early counter-UAS days (“boxes” being individual counter-UAS products, such as a jammer or single detection devices).
Users now seek a streamlined counter-UAS capability. This includes:
• utilisation of any counter-UAS equipment they may have already purchased previously through enhanced signal processing from those sensors,
• augmenting with complementary sensors and effectors, and
• stitching the whole solution together into an intuitive, low cognitive burden on the user, complete system, which is interoperable with other systems they may already have in place.
Appropriate deployment advice and post-sale service including regular software upgrades, is part of the picture.
End users of counter-UAS equipment increasingly want their problem of airspace control and awareness solved, rather than having to “buy yet another box” to address the latest threat. Solution providers who will continue to win in this space, will be focused on understanding and solving (often via a custom solution) the customer’s capability gap, rather than forcing the customers to buy their wares.
09 Aug 21. ADF tests air defence radar capability. Two RAAF united have deployed air defence and surveillance technologies during Australia’s largest multinational training exercise.
The Royal Australian Air Force’s No. 3 Control and Reporting Unit (3CRU), based at RAAF Base Williamtown, and the No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit (114MCRU), based at RAAF Base Darwin, put air surveillance and tactical air defence radar capabilities to the test during Exercise Talisman Sabre 21 (TS21).
Supporting No. 41 Wing Group commitment to the delivery of sensor and communications effects for the exercise.
As part of their contribution, personnel transported surveillance radars, communications cabins and satellite terminals to engage in real-time training scenarios.
The units, which form part of No. 41 Wing Group, transmitted data via satellite to the Control and Reporting Centre at RAAF Base Williamtown, near Newcastle.
“As part of the exercise activity, these 41 Wing unit deployments made an important contribution to delivering the surveillance picture for the exercise – for all participants,” No. 41 Wing Group Captain Brett Risstrom said.
“…The transmitted data provided operators with vital communications and surveillance information to manage aircraft postures, detect and track opposing aircraft, and be able to provide tactical direction to aircraft, assisting in the co-ordination of the missions.”
TS21 enabled the units to complete competency upgrades for both air battle managers and air surveillance operators.
The activities also enhanced interoperability, facilitating support for the forward deployment of sensor equipment, co-operation with other command and control systems, and validation of tactics, techniques and procedures.
“TS21 was an important force-generation training activity as it allowed 41 Wing units to maintain the highest level of operational proficiency in both deployable and fixed-base environments,” GPCAPT Risstrom added.
A ceremony in Kissing Point, Townsville, marked the end of TS21 late las month — a three-week, multinational military exercise involving approximately 17,000 troops from Australia, the US, UK, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, and South Korea, along with observer nations France and India.
Exercise highlights included:
• South Korea’s inaugural participation — the nation’s destroyer, ROKS Wang Geon, contributed to a maritime warfare scenario involving around 20 ships and 60 aircraft;
• the inaugural deployment of the US MIM-104 Patriot surface to air missile;
• 120 Spartan Paratroopers from Alaska embarking in two RAAF C-17A Globemaster III aircraft in Darwin, jumping over the skies of Charters Towers to join Australian land forces;
• amphibious forces from Australia, the US, Japan and the UK operating from HMAS Canberra for the first time as an integrated landing force; and
• the inaugural deployment of the US Space Command. (Source: Defence Connect)
05 Aug 21. US transport security department begins testing drone security equipment at Miami International. The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun its initial test of technologies at Miami International Airport that will detect, track, and identify (DTI) drones entering restricted airspace. Drones, also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), pose a threat to aviation security when flown into certain restricted airspaces. TSA chose Miami as the first UAS DTI testbed due to an ongoing perimeter intrusion technology pilot as well as the strong existing partnerships with the airport.
In support of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) role in UAS security, TSA is collaborating with airport, local law enforcement, and intra-agency partners including the DHS Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) to test the effectiveness of certain technologies that can detect, track and identify UAS threats in aviation, surface, and related transportation domains. The technologies will be evaluated in laboratory and operational field environments. During the test at MIA, TSA will review a range of security and surveillance technologies that are able to detect, track and identify UAS operations by radar, thermal imaging, and artificial intelligence.
Throughout the MIA test bed process, equipment will be tested and evaluated, and the data collected will be shared with the interagency and industry stakeholders for further evaluation and assessment. The information and data collected from the test will assist with finding effective solutions that mitigate the risks that unauthorized UAS operations pose to the nation’s transportation system.
Daniel Ronan, Federal Security Director with the Transportation Security Administration said: “TSA’s establishment and management of this assessment of UAS detection technologies is a critical part of our agency’s overall strategy to collect data for further deployments of equipment at US airports.”
(Image: Left: Congressman Carlos A. Gimenez (R-FL), ranking member of the committee on Homeland Security, joined TSA and MIA officials to discuss the beginning of TSA drone detection technology testing at MIA)
For more information visit: www.miami-airport.com (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
09 Aug 21. Bradley International Airport hosts drone detection exercise conducted by US security, police and state officials. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) law enforcement, the Connecticut State Police (CSP) and the Connecticut Air National Guard participated in a joint drone detection practical exercise on Thursday, August 5.
The Unmanned Aviation Systems (UAS) team designed the exercise to assess the Air Guard’s 103rd Security Forces Squadron’s ability to respond to a drone incursion on their base at Bradley International Airport (BDL).
In this practical exercise, a police-operated drone was flown to an area within the base perimeter of the airport. With the exception of senior base personnel and the FAA, no one was aware that this was an actual test of the security forces to respond to such an incident, which included notifying external agencies and coordinating a response. A TSA video team was on hand covertly recording the incident. The UAS team will use the video for evaluation and training.
In response to the planned incident, a security patrol quickly located the state police trooper, who was piloting the drone from a covert location.
“This was a totally new exercise concept and tested our joint-response capabilities,” stated Lt. Colonel William Deme, 103rd Security Forces Squadron Commander. “This was a great first exercise and we learned a lot. This bolsters our readiness.”
In addition to testing the Air Guard’s response, the CSP also used the exercise to ensure they had a high degree of preparedness to respond to a UAS incident. Major Shawn Corey, Commanding officer of the Emergency Services Unit, responded in person to the incursion report and had a police mobile drone detection platform transported up to the police barracks at BDL. “If there was a persistent threat to an airport in Connecticut from a drone, these are just some of the measures we would take to mitigate the threat,” he stated.
The Connecticut State Police has several future exercises scheduled throughout 2021, and TSA will continue to play a role in supporting a partner agency as they hone their drone mitigation strategies and techniques.
“In Connecticut, TSA, CSP and the Air Guard are the primary members of a UAS rapid response team,” said Steve Blindbury, TSA’s Connecticut Assistant Federal Security Director for Law Enforcement. “The only way to ensure you are truly ready to respond to an UAS incursion to commercial air space is to participate in frequent exercises.” For more information visit: www.tsa.gov.org (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
06 Aug 21. UK orders Type 163 laser target designators to fill NATO mission gaps. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has contracted Leonardo for eight Type 163 laser target designators (LTDs). The contract, worth GBP800,000, was awarded in June 2021 for delivery the following month, and was revealed to Janes in August. The invitation to tender (ITT), issued in April 2021, stated a requirement for the LTDs “to terminate the capability gap on Op CABRIT and enable training and currency to continue for Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs), notably for Very High Readiness (VHR) forces”. Operation CABRIT is the United Kingdom’s contribution to the NATO mission in Estonia. The Type 163 is in service with UK forces. It has a laser output power typically more than 80 mJ, weighs 2.5 kg including the battery, and measures 322 × 142 × 87 mm. Leonardo has recently upgraded it with an improved human-machine interface and will be adding an integrated digital magnetic compass later this year.
Andrew Sijan, Head of Advanced Targeting Campaigns at Leonardo, told Janes that more than 750 Type 163s are in use in 26 countries. Three NATO members had acquired the equipment since January, although he was unable to specify which these were. He said countries were either replacing obsolete and bulky equipment, or that the Type 163’s saving in size, weight, and power and its high laser output made it an attractive option over some existing solutions.
Meanwhile, in the longer term the UK is replacing its JTAC targeting suite with the Dismounted Jointed Fires Integrator (DJFI) system from Elbit Systems UK, which is slated to enter service in 2022 but has a different LTD integrated into the system. (Source: Jane’s)
06 Aug 21. Italy confirms plans to develop G550-based C4ISTAR aircraft in co-operation with the US. Italy has confirmed plans to acquire new Gulfstream G550-based multimission aircraft that will be later modified for conformal airborne early warning and control/electronic attack (CAEW/EA) roles via a deal with the United States, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) revealed in the country’s latest multi-year planning document (Documento Programmatico Pluriennale: DPP) for 2021–23.
The DPP, released on 5 August, provides new details on plans initially announced in October 2020 for the Italian Air Force’s (Aeronautica Militare Italiana: AMI’s) C4ISTAR aircraft acquisition programme that is now budgeted for a total of EUR2.15bn (USD2.5bn) over two separate phases.
The first phase, which has been approved by ministerial decree in February 2021, will see the development of the G550-based C4ISTAR solution over a series of tranches from 2021 through to 2032 for an estimated programme value of about EUR1.223bn to include operational support and related infrastructure.
“The programme relates to a multimission system, based on the Gulfstream G550 aerial platform equipped with modern sensors for strategic information collection and electronic superiority, suitable for integration into a net-centric architecture of C4ISTAR for real-time sharing of information, able to operate both in an autonomous context [and as part] of a complex inter-force structure,” the DPP noted. (Source: Jane’s)
06 Aug 21. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) RQ-4 Global Hawk Ground Segment Modernization Program (GSMP), currently in integration and testing following a successful first flight in 2020, provides new cockpit displays that enhance situational awareness for the pilot and sensor operator while improving overall mission capabilities. GSMP is part of a series of Global Hawk modernization efforts that will enhance the ability of the system to monitor and deter near-peer and peer threats around the globe. The system is on schedule to complete operational test and evaluation in October 2022.
06 Aug 21. Egypt interested in acquiring E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft. Egypt is in discussions with the United States to acquire Northrop Grumman’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft.
This emerged during the United States Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space conference, which was held on 3 August outside Washington, DC. In a presentation by Captain Pete Arrobio with Naval Air Systems Command (Navair), it was revealed that both Egypt and Taiwan are in discussions to acquire the E-2D while France and Japan are in the process of acquiring the type.
Northrop Grumman claims the E-2D is two generations ahead of previous models, allowing it to work with sea, air and land-based combat systems to defeat large and small targets. Its Lockheed Martin AN/APY-9 AESA radar has an estimated range of 550 km through 360-degree coverage and can apparently identify stealthy aircraft. The Advanced Hawkeye reached initial operational capability (IOC) with the US Navy in 2014.
The Egyptian Air Force (EAF) is one of the few Arab air forces with an airborne early warning as well as airborne electronic warfare capability, flying E-2C Hawkeyes, C-130H Hercules electronics intelligence (ELINT) aircraft and several Beech 1900 ELINT aircraft, amongst others.
Between 1986 and 1993, Egypt acquired six E-2C Hawkeyes and in the early 2000s it spent more than $140m modernising five E-2Cs to Hawkeye 2000 standard with APS-145 radar and upgraded mission computer, tactical mission system displays and navigation system. With its APS-145 radar, the Hawkeye 2000 can track more than 2 000 targets simultaneously at a range of over 640 km and control 40–100 intercepts.
In 2003 the United States delivered a single second-hand E-2C that was modernised to Hawkeye 2000 standard. Yet another Hawkeye 2000 was delivered in 2010 and although Egypt requested another example in 2015, it seems this deal never transpired. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
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.