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10 Sep 21. MOD awards £3.8m contract for advanced base protection system. Programme TALOS, overseen by Strategic Command’s innovation hub (jHub), helps to rapidly bring new technology into defence. A £3.8m contract to trial an advanced base defence system has been awarded to the American company Anduril Industries through Strategic Command’s jHub. The system uses an advanced operating system, which is assisted by AI, and a network of sensors to autonomously detect, classify, and track potential threats. It uses a combination of sentry towers, ground sensors and drone technology to alert personnel of any intrusion on the ground or in the air and then presents options for personnel to respond. The system has the capacity to add different sensors and autonomously offers options to respond, depending on the threat. The contract was awarded as a part of Programme TALOS, a MOD programme focused on accelerating a defence-wide approach to integrated command and control (C2). The system has been offered through a new subscription model, meaning the software and hardware will be updated with the latest technology whilst also being maintained for operational use. This approach ensures that defence is equipped with the latest cutting-edge technology whilst also allowing the jHub to work with the company to trial and deploy new technology as it is developed. It forms part of the jHub’s work towards a Sustainable Tech Adoption Model (STAM), which is looking into different ways of working with industry to procure new capabilities. Programme TALOS previously experimented with counter ground intrusion towers at the UK’s overseas base in Akrotiri, Cyprus, to see whether the systems could be integrated into the existing C2 network. This next step allows the UK to continue to develop advanced, multi-domain, integrated force protection technology.
General Sir Patrick Sanders, Commander of UK Strategic Command, said, “This state-of-the-art technology will give our serving men and women help by identifying and assessing external threats in nanoseconds. The artificial intelligence at the heart of this system has great potential to protect our people and sites. It’s another success for our innovation team at jHub, working closely with Anduril to help create a bespoke system, from idea to implementation at pace, to meet the specific requirements of our Armed Forces.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
09 Sep 21. Did Pakistan drop Leonardo as lead on Sea Sultan aircraft conversion? Pakistan’s Navy has inducted into service its first Embraer Lineage 1000 jetliner, which is to be converted into the “Sea Sultan” design under the country’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft program. However, there remain unanswered questions surrounding the selection of a prime contractor and which company will carry out the conversion.
The Sept. 2 induction ceremony took place at PNS Mehran naval air station, where the P-3C Orion aircraft — which will be replaced by the Sea Sultan — operates.
A Navy release stated two more Lineage 1000 aircraft are under contract to “be equipped with the latest weapons and sensors to undertake Maritime Air Operations.”
Defense News reported in October that Pakistan selected the Brazilian-made Lineage 1000 for the program.
Pakistan previously hired Italy’s Leonardo as the prime contractor for the program, Defense News reported in July, and South Africa’s Paramount Group was to prepare the aircraft for conversion. But a source with knowledge of Pakistan’s defense programs told Defense News that Paramount Group is the lead contractor, with Leonardo relegated to supplying hardware.
He said Leonardo seems to have accepted this, knowing it could gain the experience to eventually independently offer a Lineage 1000 conversion. It’s unclear why Paramount Group was given the lead role.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the program, added that the first Sea Sultan will likely be used for training and liaison missions.
Former Australian defense attache to Islamabad and independent analyst Brian Cloughley described the Sea Sultan program as uncharacteristically quick by Pakistani standards.
“Acquisition of the new patrol aircraft is a welcome development for the PN, but it is intriguing that the usually lengthy contract process has taken such a short time. Apparently there were no competing tenders, and it is not known, indeed, if conventional procedures were followed,” he said.
“There has been no indication of exactly what systems exist in the aircraft delivered, and it is probable that much more work requires to be carried out. Involvement of South Africa’s Paramount Group is notable, and it is regrettable that the project’s mechanism is shrouded in unnecessary concealment.”
Publicly available information shows Paramount Group’s aerial platform experience is with light aircraft, UAVs and modernizing South Africa’s decommissioned fleet of Mirage F1 fighters.
The company did not return requests for comment on its capabilities regarding conversion and systems integration on larger platforms. Leonardo also did not respond to a request for comment.
Like other Pakistani procurement programs, the Ministry of Defence Production is handling the Sea Sultan effort. Defense News made several requests to the ministry to clarify whether Paramount Group is the lead contractor on the Sea Sultan program; on what basis it was selected; and how the contract was finalized so quickly, but there was no response.
Pakistan’s military has good working relationships with Leonardo as well as Germany’s Rheinland Air Service and Turkish Aerospace Industries, and those firms have considerable experience relevant to the Sea Sultan program. Paramount Group does not appear to have the same level of experience.
There is also no indication the Lineage 1000′s manufacturer, Embraer, is involved in the program. Analyst Alexandre Galante, who previously served in Brazil’s Navy, believes the company could have contributed its know-how, as it previously converted the E190 (from which the Lineage 1000 is derived).
“Embraer carried out studies a few years ago of a maritime patrol version of the E-Jet E190, but the project did not go ahead” he said, citing a lack of financial resources to invest in new equipment, as the military budget is mainly consumed by pay and pensions. “For this reason, the Brazilian Air Force purchased used P-3A aircraft and hired Airbus to modernize them.”
Nevertheless, he added, “Brazilians are looking with interest at the changes that the Pakistan Navy will make to the Embraer Lineage.”
But Guy Martin, who has followed South African military developments since 2004 and is an editor at defenceWeb, is confident Paramount Group can successfully carry out the conversion.
He pointed to work done by the company’s Paramount Advanced Technologies division (previously Advanced Technologies and Engineering) in supplying avionics for South Africa’s Hawk trainers as well as upgrading Spain’s Mirage F1s, Algeria’s Super Hind Mk3s and Azerbaijan’s Super Hind Mk4s. That gave the firm considerable experience in “weapons, sighting systems, helmet systems, and cockpit/avionics upgrades,” he added.
The division currently offers rotary- and fixed-wing integrated mission systems, such as its FLASH (Flexible Light Armaments System for Helicopters) weapon and sensor kit, which is already fitted to Iraqi Airbus EC635 helicopters. Its similar SWIFT system (Smart Weapons Integration on Fast-Jet Trainers) integrates a range of South African guided and unguided weaponry.
It can therefore integrate a wide variety of equipment, “as Paramount has nearly 40 partner companies for its SWIFT and FLASH suites,” Martin said.
“Paramount has also established partnerships with Boeing and more recently Leidos in the United States, and can bring these partners in on conversion projects should it need additional expertise.” (Source: Defense News)
09 Sep 21. Rafael and Safran team up on FIRE WEAVER and MOSKITO TI targeting solution. RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. (RAFAEL) and Safran Vectronix AG (SAFRAN) have signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MoU) for Rafael’s FIRE WEAVER networked Sensor-to-Effector system integrated with Safran’s MOSKITO TI observation and location unit.
The pairing of MOSKITO TI and FIRE WEAVER allows all tactical commanders and soldiers to see the same, integrated battlefield image. Moreover, any target can be detected, acquired, and neutralized with pinpoint precision and optimal efficiency, including from standoff distances. Together, these capabilities drastically increase the force’s effectiveness and survivability.
FIRE WEAVER is a revolutionary networked Sensor-to-Effector System designed for the new wave of digitized land-based operations. Enabling unrivaled speed, accuracy, and safety for tactical forces, FIRE WEAVER complements battle management systems by connecting all sensors and effectors in real time, presenting augmented reality information onto weapon sights, instantly selecting the most relevant effector for each target, and enabling simultaneous precision strikes. FIRE WEAVER’s battlefield digitization process enables increased manoeuvrability and expanded effectiveness for infantry-level soldiers and commanders in the field.
MOSKITO TI is a lightweight, multi-purpose target locator that combines higher usability, lower weight, and broader capabilities than any other device in its class. It includes all the essential day/night viewing, measuring and geo-location functions in an efficiently compact, user-friendly package. MOSKITO TI features innovative, versatile view modes, unique connectivity features, and powerful software options. It will enable commanders and soldiers alike to access, receive, and disseminate operational data to other troops and HQ more easily.
This collaboration brings together two world-class defense technology developers – Safran with state-of-the-art optronics equipment, systems, and sensors, and RAFAEL advanced weapon systems addressing the defensive and offensive requirements of the modern battlefield.
This partnership will provide a significant upgrade to tactical maneuvering force operation performance, specifically when it comes to situational awareness, identifying and distinguishing friend from foe, location, and target neutralization.
Since 2019, FIRE WEAVER has been assessed by various military forces like the US Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) program, Israel’s ground forces divisions or by the German Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Federal Armed Forces (BAAINBw) as part of its “Transparent Battlefield” study in support of its dynamic operations (ErzUntGlas).
Patrick Drach, Safran Vectronix VP Sales and Marketing : “We strongly believe that the smart digitization of sensors and the optimization of the sensor-to-effector link will make the difference in modern areas of operation. The cooperation between Rafael and Safran is a big step of two world leaders in their domains of activities which go hand in hand to deliver the next level of capabilities to their customers.”
Shmulik Olanski, VP and Head of Rafael’s Multi-Domain Directorate: “We are eager to begin this collaboration with Safran Vectronix, a world-class developer of optical systems. This agreement is part of RAFAEL’s core strategy to form global partnerships, and we are confident that bringing together FIRE WEAVER and MOSKITO TI will elevate both these systems to the next level of performance, to provide tactical forces around the world a significant force-multiplier.
To learn more about the system please visit us at DSEI London, Sep 14-17, on the Rafael booth H5-220 or the Safran booth H6-320.
09 Sep 21. HENSOLDT’s Sensor Solutions at DSEI 2021. Detect and Protect on the ground, in the air and at sea. Sensor solutions specialist HENSOLDT presents its broad range of sensor technologies in the Air, Maritime, Land and Security domains at DSEI 2021. HENSOLDT is excited to announce the expansion of its portfolio and will be showcasing a product launch event on Wednesday 15th September. For more information, please visit HENSOLDT at ExCel London, booth No. H2-405.
In the Maritime domain, HENSOLDT will exhibit the SharpEye range of 2D navigation radars and Integrated Navigation Bridge System (INBS). These systems are used extensively by the UK Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary. HENSOLDT will also be presenting a range of multi-sensor optronic masts for submarines, and a new 3D naval surveillance radar, the name of which is due to be announced at a product launch event on Wednesday 15th September.
In the Land domain, HENSOLDT will present its advanced armoured vehicle solutions, including innovative Optronics systems such as MUSS – Multi-functional Self-protection System, alongside SETAS – See Through Armour System. HENSOLDT’s impressive portfolio of advanced active and passive radar sensors for the Land domain are represented by the TRML-4D air defence / weapon location radar, and the ground-breaking TwInvis passive radar. HENSOLDT will also feature portable battlefield radar solutions such as its SPEXER 360 and 600 products, which are designed to provide excellent performance in all weather conditions. Alongside HENSOLDT’s system level technologies, there will be a selection of weapon sights on show.
In the Air domain, HENSOLDT will present its airborne multi-mission surveillance radar PrecISR, along with other HENSOLDT sensors such as the ARGOS II electro-optical gimbal, which can be seamlessly integrated into the new Xplorer Mission System. Helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft are protected by the Airborne Missile Protection Suite AMPS, whilst the modular Kalaetron electronic warfare system provides warning against radar threats, but can also be used for strategic Signals Intelligence in an enhanced configuration. Also, on display is HENSOLDT’s Mode 5-capable IFF portfolio together with avionics equipment such as crash recorders and tactical data links.
In the Security domain, we are focusing on our innovative suite of software solutions which are to include the CxEye Command and Control (C2) Software and Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) systems.
09 Sep 21. Chess Dynamics launches Hawkeye MMP. Chess Dynamics, the leading British surveillance, tracking and gunfire control specialist, has today announced the launch of the Hawkeye Modular Mission POD (MMP). It is Chess’ latest electro-optical solution in the land domain and part of the wider high-accuracy servo-stabilised solutions portfolio, building on the combat-proven Hawkeye Vehicle Systems for long range detection and 24-hour target observation.
The Hawkeye MMP is a highly stabilised, plug-and-play solution. It is a long-range surveillance device and can track targets accurately even in challenging environmental conditions. The system is highly reconfigurable due to its modular, open architecture and a range of configurations that can be rapidly adapted to many tactical situations are easily achievable.
David Tuddenham, Group Managing Director of Chess Technologies, comments: “We are proud to expand our combat-proven Vehicle Systems portfolio for long range detection and 24-hour target observation with the Hawkeye MMP. It has a proven capability in meeting customers’ vehicle surveillance requirements for accuracy, full integration and interoperability, and is testament to the innovative engineering capabilities of our team.”
Future-proofed, Robust, Modular Architecture System
Designed for easy installation, the Hawkeye MMP combines a fully modular and reconfigurable system with payload options for surveillance, targeting and C-UAS scenarios. It also includes a proven, easy to use and intuitive visual interface, which presents clear images of objects of interest.
The modular, open architecture of the Hawkeye MMP solution enables rapid interchangeability for multi-role missions and provides significant cost-saving opportunities for future mission module changes and the facilitation of sensor refresh programmes.
The flexibility of using modular surveillance, targeting and C-UAS pods removes the need to hold dedicated vehicles for those specified roles. The system uses ‘a single head’ with rapid removal and rapid replacement of the quick fit Pods for mission role changes. This results in it being interchangeable between platforms, easily integrated onto many tracked or wheeled vehicles and suitable for fixed or mobile installation.
Hawkeye MMP can also be connected to a BMS to hand off and receive targets very quickly and effectively, considerably enhancing mission performance. In addition, the modular approach enables defence forces to be agile and responsive and gives a future proof system for the life of the vehicle.
08 Sep 21. Cubic, Logos Technologies Fly BlackKite Wide-Area Sensor on ISR-ONE Unmanned Aircraft System. Advanced infrared camera system easily mounted to long-endurance platform for persistent surveillance. Logos Technologies LLC, an industry leader in wide-area motion imagery (WAMI), announced today that its BlackKite infrared WAMI pod was successfully test flown on ISR-ONE, a long-endurance, Group 3 unmanned aircraft system (UAS) developed by ISR Systems, a wholly owned subsidy of the Cubic Corporation.
The test flights, which took place in mid-August in Pendleton, Oregon, had a BlackKite mounted on the pylon of an ISR-ONE and imaging a vast area kilometers in diameter. In surveilling so much ground with the WAMI system, Cubic’s UAS demonstrated capabilities of particular interest to U.S. Central Command, Special Operations Command, and other government users.
“We were very excited to work with Cubic on this,” said Doug Rombough, VP of Business Development for Logos Technologies. “The BlackKite pod is designed to operate from a variety of UAS, planes, and helicopters—and ISR-ONE proved no exception. All it took was connecting a few bolts and cables to turn the Cubic UAS into a formidable WAMI platform.”
Weighing less than 38 pounds, BlackKite can image an area 12 square kilometers in size—tracking every vehicle and detecting moving dismounts within that coverage zone in near-real time, day and night. At any given time, up to 10 different video “chip-outs” can be transmitted to the ground, so operators can follow unfolding events. Likewise, BlackKite records and stores imagery for use by forensic analysts.
In February 2020, Cubic announced that it had signed a cooperative research and development agreement with Special Operations Forces Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (SOF AT&L) for work on advanced airborne payloads. WAMI is one such sensor modality that has attracted the attention of the U.S. military.
“BlackKite is a great match for ISR-ONE,” said Robin Pengelly, Senior Director of Business Development at ISR Systems. “The ability to provide an unblinking eye around the clock, in a package light enough to be mounted on our aircraft alongside other electronic warfare payloads, really opens the door to true 24hr multi-INT surveillance from tactical UAS platforms.”
In the wake of a successful test flight, Logos Technologies and Cubic are now ready to demonstrate BlackKite and ISR-ONE for military customers and how the two mature technologies can support a wide range of missions, added Rombough.
About Logos Technologies
Founded in 1996, Logos Technologies LLC is a diversified science, engineering, and technology company specializing in the fields of advanced sensors, wide-area motion imagery, advanced analytics, and processing of large, multisource datasets. Logos serves government customers, including the Department of Defense, Intelligence Community and Department of Homeland Security, as well as a range of customers in commercial and international markets. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
09 Sep 21. Elbit Systems Unveils ARCAS: AI-Powered, Computerized Solution for Assault Rifles. The innovative system transforms assault rifles into digital networked combat machines. Elbit Systems announced today the unveiling of the ARCAS, a built-in computerized Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered system that interfaces with the rifle’s Electro-Optical (EO) sight, with a helmet mounted eyepiece and with the rifle’s assemblies, providing soldiers with real-time intuitive actionable combat information. ARCAS transforms assault rifles into digital, networked combat machines enabling a step change in the lethality, mission effectiveness and survivability of dismounted soldiers in both day and night.
ARCAS provides infantry and Special Operation warriors with combat capabilities that were not available for them before, including: passive range measurement, automatic ballistic correction, detection of fire sources, video motion detection, the ability to shoot around the corner and from the hip, interface with tactical Command and Control (C2), navigation assistance, friend or foe identification, tracking of stoppage and ammunition and weapon zeroing without the need for live fire.
An AI-powered computer is integrated into the assault rifle’s forward grip, running innovative software and a range of applications. The miniaturized computer unit receives and processes data collected from the soldier’s field of view (as perceived by the EO sight), tactical information from C2 systems, data from other ARCAS users in the team and the rifle’s mechanical information. The combat information is presented to the soldier as an intuitive augmented reality layer on top of the scenery that is seen through the EO sight or the helmet mounted eyepiece. Soldiers operate the system using a joystick button placed on the rifle’s forward grip and a Graphical User Interface inspired by the gaming world.
Oren Sabag, General Manager, Elbit Systems ISTAR, commented: “ARCAS is another important building block in our advanced portfolio of solutions for dismounted soldiers. The development of this new solution is part of our continuous effort and R&D investments aimed at enabling a step-change in the effectiveness and survivability of infantry and Special Forces”.
Designed in an open architecture approach, ARCAS has two configurations. It can include a thermal or low light sight as part of the system, and is capable of interfacing to any existing EO sight. ARCAS can run additional and third party applications depending on the customer’s operational needs and requirements.
07 Sep 21. UK MoD orders thermal imaging systems from Theon Sensors. The order includes delivery of 500 units of Thermis CS imaging systems by next year. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a contract to Theon Sensors to deliver Thermis CS thermal imaging systems. The thermal imagers are being procured in support of Sniper In-Line Low Light System (SILLS) – Long Wave InfraRed (LWIR) Thermal Sight “Weapon Sight 2”. The order includes the supply of 500 units of Thermis CS imaging systems. The company is required to complete the delivery of these units next year.
Furthermore, the order includes options that can be exercised to acquire extra units. The contract will be executed by the company in coordination with its UK-based partner Active Electronics.
Theon Sensors claims that its thermal imaging systems are designed to support multiple platform capabilities.
Currently, the company’s night vision and thermal imaging products are fielded by several Nato end-users, providing cross-operational capability and repair support in a collaborative environment.
Theon Sensors 5EYES Armies Business Development and US operations director Michalis Kolotos said: “We are honoured by the trust and selection of the UK MoD.
“Theon Sensors is determined to empowering overmatch through its Thermal Imaging – Thermis Clip-On Sight (12um) solution for the UK operators.
“This contract follows an earlier award by the Canadian Armed Forces for the Damon (NV) and Thermis (TI) clip-on solutions for a similar Sniper Program, as well as sales of thermal imaging systems in European and Far Eastern countries.”
In June, a consortium of Hensoldt Optronics and Theon sensors received a contract from the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation Executive Administration (OCCAR-EA) to produce night vision goggles (NVG). (Source: army-technology.com)
08 Sep 21. Thales and Schiebel showcase S-100’s sensor suite capabilities in trials. The trials proved data integration and CMS level tasking of the S-100 platform. Thales and Schiebel have demonstrate the maritime capabilities offered by CAMCOPTER S-100 uncrewed air system’s (UAS) integrated sensor suite during UK flight trials.
The UAS’ sensor set included Thales I-Master radar operating with maritime modes, the IAI POP ULTRA electro-optical/infra-red (EO/IR) sensor pod, identification, friend or foe (IFF) transceiver, and automatic identification system (AIS) receiver.
The trials, which took place off the North Wales coast, demonstrated how a ship can benefit from the intelligence collected during an extended operating range in a maritime/littoral operation.
The CarteNav AIMS Mission System was used to integrate the sensor suite data to provide wide area radar coverage.
Thales noted that intelligence was delivered into the Thales TACTICOS Combat Mission System through a Digital Supervisor/OARIS bridge to complete the trial.
This proved data integration and CMS level tasking of the S-100 platform.
Schiebel Business Development global head Neil Hunter said: “Our S-100 is a proven capability and is in service with a number of navy’s around the world.
“We have extensive experience flying off ship decks, not just alongside but at sea in demanding wind and sea state.
“The sensor suite we have demonstrated in the UK shows the S-100 flexibility to work with a range of sensor types, and in this configuration, we believe meets a lot of emerging navy requirements.”
Last month, Schiebel successfully completed flight trials of Camcopter S-100 UAS for the US Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR).
The Camcopter S-100 vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAS operates day and night and can perform in all weather conditions.
The platform has, so far, supported many naval customers and completed missions on more than 40 ships. It can be used for a variety of operations, such as search and rescue, tactical maritime missions, and overwatch. (Source: naval-technology.com)
08 Sep 21. Silent Sentinel Inc, the US division of British thermal imaging specialists Silent Sentinel (www.silentsentinel.com) has been selected to provide a series of its market-leading Mid-Wave Infrared (MWIR) thermal imaging platforms to safeguard an 80km stretch of Mexican coastline, spanning a large naval base and various tourist resorts. The Osiris Searcher cameras will each be paired with a Terma maritime surveillance radar, integrated with Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) software from Prodar.
In order to guard this stretch of the Mexican Pacific coast against seaborne threats from human traffickers, pirates and cartels, Silent Sentinel will be providing three systems, each comprising of an Osiris Pan-Tilt Unit (PTU) fitted with a 550mm cooled MWIR thermal lens and a 30x zoom HD visible camera. The Osiris Searcher will provide identification of small watercraft at a range of up to 10km and detection up to 40km. Each Osiris camera platform will operate in tandem with a coastal security radar provided by Terma and integrated by Prodar, utilising Prodar’s P-Shield VTS software to provide protection for one of the largest Mexican naval ports on the Pacific coast.
The Osiris Searcher is a high-specification mid-to-long range Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) camera capable of supporting multi-sensor technologies, with 360° continuous rotation, pan-tilt speeds of up to 100° per second and accuracy levels of 0.002°. Such high levels of accuracy are of paramount importance when detecting the shallow-draught vessels favoured by criminals and traffickers at long distances. Like all Silent Sentinel platforms, the Osiris Searcher is contained within a hard anodised IP67-rated ruggedised housing, built to marine specifications and designed to resist saltwater corrosion. The Osiris is also capable of operating within a temperature range of -30°C to 65°C.
This contract reinforces Silent Sentinel’s position as a global leader in Electro-Optical maritime threat detection, with products that are designed to be easily integrated into a wider software-based solution. The technical partnership with Prodar is indicative of Silent Sentinel’s ambition to provide best-in-class thermal imaging systems that form part of a versatile maritime threat detection array.
On top of Silent Sentinel’s recent successes in providing maritime surveillance to naval bases along the East Coast of the US, this order constitutes a significant expansion of the business as a whole, following the recent establishment of Silent Sentinel Inc. in St Petersburg, Florida last year. The successful completion of this order proves Silent Sentinel Inc’s value as a key player in the North American thermal imaging market.
07 Sep 21. YellowScan Launches Explorer – Compact, Long-Range Platform. The new YellowScan Explorer can be mounted on a light manned aircraft or switched to different types of UAV platforms.
The YellowScan Explorer is the first LiDAR that can be mounted on a light manned aircraft or helicopter and be switched to a UAV platform. This versatility allows the end user to tackle a wide range of projects with the proven ease-of-use of YellowScan’s UAV LiDAR solutions.
The objective with Explorer is to offer the market a solution that strikes the right balance between size, range, accuracy and weight. Designed to be mounted on fixed-wing UAV, multirotor UAV and manned aircraft (light plane and helicopter) Explorer can enable a large variety of mission profiles.
Combined with 1-year unlimited technical support and training, our users will be ready to take full advantage of Explorer’s functionality and successfully complete their surveying projects. (Source: UAS VISION)
07 Sep 21. US Navy Arms Surface Ships with Counter-Drone System. With the use of drones becoming more prevalent, the US Navy has found a way to ensure all of its surface ships can repel unmanned aerial vehicles. The Drone Restricted Access Using Known Electromagnetic Warfare system, or DRAKE, built by Northrop Grumman and originally used on Humvees during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is now used across the Navy’s surface fleet.
“Anybody these days can kind of just buy a $1500 drone and they can use it to fly over the gates and anything else that they want and come see the ship if they really needed to. So, the Navy saw a very big need for having something to defend ourselves against something so simple that is so common these days,”
Gunner’s Mate Kyle Mendenhall told reporters aboard USS Kansas City (LCS-22) last month.
“What this essentially does is it works like a normal jammer. So whenever we have a drone that gets a little bit too close, or flies somewhere that it shouldn’t be, or is in any way, shape or form a risk to us, we can just turn on our DRAKE and the DRAKE will basically keep it from coming close to the ship,” he added. “So it projects basically like an umbrella. So when the drone flies in, this will just cut off the signal.”
The system can be used both off battery power and plugged into the ship. DRAKE was originally mounted on HUMVEES and used to prevent improvised explosive devices (IED) from detonating in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“What this does is it repels drones based on the frequency that they use. So it has pre-programmed frequencies that are common-used frequencies amongst drones and it has the ability to just stop the signal from going,” Mendenhall said. “It won’t necessarily knock them out of the sky, but what it will do – like I said – is as soon as they hit that wall, they can’t go any further.”
With the ability to emanate both high-band and low-band signals, the DRAKE system effectively places a shield around the ship by disconnecting the signal between the operator and the UAV, therefore preventing the drone from coming too close. Operators of the DRAKE can wear the system as a backpack and move around the ship. Kansas City, which has not yet had to use the blocking capability, has multiple DRAKE systems aboard.
“If we encounter a [drone] that happens to come up on the forward-end of the ship, up near the foc’sle, and then it just decides to bolt and go to the aft end on the flight deck, I can just pick this backpack up, I can run to the flight deck and I still keep blocking that signal to make sure the drone stays away from us,” Mendenhall told reporters.
The DRAKE system can also be configured based on the geographical location in which a ship is operating.
“Depending on the AORs, so the area of responsibility that we’re in, we can reconfigure the frequencies that this blocks based on the area that we’re in,” Mendenhall said. “So it doesn’t have to just be specific [to] the one I bought at Target that was $50 . . . we can reconfigure it based on where we’re going.”
While the Navy has for several years been grappling with large Iranian drones operating in the Persian Gulf, the threat to surface ships operating in U.S. Central Command was recently highlighted by an exploding drone that killed two crew members on a merchant tanker off the coast of Oman in July. CENTCOM at the time said samples from the drone used in the attack were “nearly identical to previously collected examples from Iranian one-way attack UAVs.”
The DRAKE system is constantly in use aboard the ship to detect drones, though it’s not always emanating the signals required to block a UAV.
“Every duty section has these available to them. So these are always able to be implemented at any time,” Mendenhall said.
“It’s hard to detect which direction a drone comes from and they can come from the water side and we would never see it, so we always will have one that’s operating to be able to detect and deter.”
In the continental United States, Mendenhall needs authority from the ship’s commanding officer to use the system, but can employ DRAKE if a threat arises.
“If it’s something that we deem a threat, I can turn it on no big deal, and I will backfill basically the chain of command,” he said.
The ship’s anti-terrorism watch officers have the necessary authority to use the blocking system.
“So when we’re in port, we still have use of it,” Mendenhall said. “And we try to refrain from using it, if you will, unless it absolutely is necessary because just because it picks up a signal, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a threat to us. So it does have a wide range to be able to just detect. But it doesn’t always mean that it’s a threat. Basically, we’d have to see it over our ship to know that it’s a threat to us.”
This isn’t the first system a U.S. Navy ship has used to block a drone threat. During a transit through the Strait of Hormuz in 2019, amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD-4) downed an Iranian drone that came too close. Boxer was likely using an anti-Unmanned Aerial System Marine Air Defense Integrated System (MADIS) that was mounted on a Marine Corps MRZR to take down the drone, USNI News reported at the time. (Source: UAS VISION/USNI News)
07 Sep 21. SteelRock Technologies expands NightFighter counter-drone family. SteelRock Technologies is exhibiting its man-portable NightFighter Counter-UAV effector systems at DSEI 10-13 September in London. The equipment is designed to mitigate all modes of intrusion by rotary and fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles. The latest models include modular customised configurations to suit military, civilian and commercial security applications. NightFighter L (high antenna gain) and NightFighter S (low gain) variants have been demonstrated to be effective against UAVs at ranges in excess of 5km and 2.5km respectively. NightFighter X is a portable all-in-one solution that can be body-worn for omni-directional personal protection against drone threats. It can also be attached to the NightFighter antenna array for directional deployment.
The equipment has been tested for safe deployment in complex radio frequency (RF) environments and directional RF communications inhibition technology with proprietary software and hardware to bring drone threats to ground rapidly and safely.
SteelRock offers the same field-proven RF technology packaged in an OEM module for third party integration in static land-based, hand-carried, vehicle mounted and maritime C-UAV systems.
At DSEI SteelRock is also showing a pre-production demonstrator of its own SR-1 Dronos UAV platform with NightFighter X technology integrated to create a ‘drone versus drone’ aerial solution. For more information visit: www.sruav.co.uk (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
07 Sep 21. Sonardyne adds flagship Navigator model to SPRINT-Nav Mini family. Energy, defence and science marine technology company Sonardyne has introduced a range-topping model of its hybrid, underwater and surface vehicle navigation platform, SPRINT-Nav Mini.
The new Navigator version, available to order from today, extends the capability of the Guidance model introduced last year, by calculating and providing the position of a remote, autonomous or piloted underwater vehicle, or uncrewed surface vessel, in addition to its velocity, depth and attitude.
Small in size and low in power, SPRINT-Nav Mini is engineered to provide accurate, precise and robust guidance, and also survey and inspection capabilities, for vehicle platforms that would normally not be able to host high-end navigation systems. These include observation-class ROVs, low-logistic AUVs, manned submersibles, swimmer delivery vehicles and USVs operating in shallow waters.
With field-proven technology transferred from Sonardyne’s popular SPRINT-Nav product line, the Mini family combines an INS, AHRS, pressure sensor and 500 kHz DVL in a single subsea housing that is just 215 mm high, 149 mm in diameter and as little as 0.7 kg in water; smaller, lighter and lower power than any other competing technology in the same class, and lower in cost than the individual vehicle sensors it replaces.
SPRINT-Nav Mini continues to work even in challenging environments, such as around surface structures and GNSS denied environments, providing a continuous stream of latitude and longitudes, orientation, velocities, depth and altitude at up to 200 updates per second to a vehicle’s primary control system.
Available in 300 m and 4,000 m depth options, with a class leading maximum DVL altitude of up to 200 m, all SPRINT-Navs are supplied pre-calibrated from the factory, enabling users to install it and get to work easily and quickly. Existing owners of SPRINT-Nav Minis can upgrade their Guidance units to the new Navigator version, remotely in the field.
Business Development Manager, Marine Robotics at Sonardyne, Aidan Thorn, said: “It’s an incredibly exciting time for developers and operators of small ROVs, AUVs and USVs with transformational technologies like our SPRINT-Nav Mini Navigator being a true enabler for safer, more efficient and cleaner operations across the maritime space.” He added: “The technology platform is low risk and field proven. This new flagship model will enable vehicle manufacturers and operators to enjoy all the benefits of Doppler inertial navigation from a single instrument. What I like is the simplicity, one unit that’s simple to integrate and easy to operate, leaving more space and power for other data collection payloads. And that ultimately means more capable vehicle for the user.”
01 Sep 21. High energy lasers: almost ready for effective drone defence on the battlefield. It is taking far longer – and costing much more – than originally planned for the world’s militaries to bring lasers for drone defence onto the battlefield.
While the USA and Israel are understood to have deployed high energy lasers (HEL) in some various degrees of operational deployment, there is little evidence, despite claims to the contrary, that a HEL system has successfully engaging an enemy UAS in combat.
Laser weapon systems are currently under development in 18 countries, including 9 of the 10 largest military spenders.
The speed-of-light interface of lasers allows for accurate engagement without the need for calculations of trajectory and also allows for fast re-engagement, an invaluable feature for tackling the threat of drone swarms. Another advantage is the relative cost, the recent democratisation of drone technology, has meant that C-UAS missions using conventional means results in an unsustainable cost imbalance. This issue is easily avoided when the cost of a shot is the price of the electricity required to operate the weapon. This use of electricity also means that as long as the weapon system has access to a power supply it will remain ready to fire, instead of having to rely on a limited number of rounds stored in a magazine. Additionally, engagement using a laser over a missile means that the potential for collateral damage induced by the countermeasure is reduced.
The United States
By far the country with the biggest budget for R&D through to deployment is the United States. To date, the Department of Defense (DoD) has invested billions of dollars in companies such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. These companies have spent more than a decade testing laser systems on Navy ships, fighter aircraft, attack helicopters and Army Stryker vehicles.
The US Army – designated the lead service by the DoD – recently established the Joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office (JCO) and is currently defining the US strategy in this field for HEL development and deployment. Maj Gen. Sean Gainey, director of the JCO has stated that high energy lasers will be integrated into the existing counter sUAS architecture as part of a layered, system of systems approach. A number of laser systems are being trialled and developed, and will be deployed to support other capabilities.
One of the longest running laser systems in development for C-UAS missions is the High Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS) from Raytheon. “With thousands of operation hours under its belt, our HELWS system has proven its mettle” according to Annabel Flores, vice president of Electronic Warfare Systems at Raytheon Intelligence & Space. Having received USD37m in funding for initial prototypes of small vehicle mounted, air defence weapon system since 2019, the laser will be upgraded with a USD15.5m contract from the Air Force Lifecycle Management Centre throughout 2021. This upgrade will be to focus on defending air bases against the threat posed by UAS, as well as supporting associated Air Force field assessments and operator training.
According to an Air Force press release in February this year, the HELWS system is undergoing operator training and initial performance evaluation at an unidentified combat command base abroad.
Throughout 2020, the 704th Test Group’s Operating Location AA, part of the Directed Energy Combined Test Force, or DE CTF, focused much of its effort on the testing of weapons designed to prevent adversarial drone observation and assault, according to a Raytheon press statement. The latest system tested, the High Energy Laser Weapon System 2 is a counter-Unmanned Aerial System (c-UAS) directed energy weapon (DEW).
Another land-based system undergoing testing abroad is the Tactical High Power Operational Responder (THOR) system – a high-energy microwave laser directed-energy weapon developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). This is a counter-swarm weapon, requiring minimal set-up for fast deployment and is designed to protect airbases.
Boeing recently announced a USD2.5 m upgrade to its Compact Laser Weapon System (CLWS) which has been on active service with the Marine Corps. The system can be installed on a variety of land vehicles and is being promoted to the US Navy. Boeing also developed the vehicle-mounted Avenger system with a 10 kW laser
For the Navy, the Lockheed Martin High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance (HELIOS) system has undergone system integration testing with the AEGIS combat system and factory testing, demonstrating full power operation above 60 kW. HELIOS is due to be integrated with AEGIS into an Arleigh Burke destroyer this year.
Northrop Grumman entered into the field of DEW systems in 2019, pitching against Raytheon for the Army contract to supply a 50 kW Stryker mounted laser. However, due to overheating issues with the power and thermal management system, they pulled out of the competition
A new development being sponsored by the Navy and Marine Corps Science & Technology department is in the field of airborne C-UAS. It was announced in August this year that MZA Associates – a specialist in research and analysis of DEW systems – has been awarded a contract worth USD18.7m to develop a HEL Weapon System that is compact, portable, and low-cost.
Further systems in development include the Applied Technology Associates (ATA) Directed Energy Weapon, which recently received a USD17.6 m award for Phase 1 development of a fixed-site Counter-UAS prototype, building on its LOCUST programme. In October 2020 General Atomics and Boeing announced a partnership aimed at delivering a High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator (HEL TVD) laser system, scalable from 100 kW to 250 kW. A Dynetics and Lockheed Martin team were awarded a US Army contract in 2019, worth USD130 to develop a HEL TVD system which includes a 100 kW laser aimed at defending against rockets, artillery, mortars, cruise missiles as well as drones.
The European Defence Agency (EDA) has been working on a three year project to advance European capabilities in laser technologies. The Tactical Advanced Laser Optical System (TALOS), launched in 2018, is a consortium of 16 companies, laboratories, and universities from 9 European countries led by the French laser and optronics specialist CILAS – part of the Ariane group. The project will develop and demonstrate critical Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) technologies, aimed at countering Rocket Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) as well as UAV threats. This will inform the design and build of a compact high-power laser (100 kW) to be integrated in military applications by 2025. The system will also be operational on maritime, land and air platforms.
In the UK, a joint laser system project is underway operated by a group of companies known as the UK Dragonfire consortium. Led by missile defence specialists MBDA, and comprising Leonardo, QinetiQ, Arke, BAE Systems, Marshall Land Systems and GKN. The system, built for C-UAS and C-RAM is expected to begin trials in 2023 on Royal Navy ships and British army vehicles, and the potential for integration into aircraft such as sixth generation fighters is already under review.
A contract from Germany’s Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology, and In-Service Support (BAAINBw), has been awarded to MBDA Deutschland GmbH and Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH who will collaborate to create a HEL weapon for deployment at sea. The demonstrator is to be created by the end of 2021 and trials under highly realistic conditions aboard German frigate F124 Sachsen are scheduled for 2022.
As well as leading the development of the EU TALOS project, French defence company CILAS is to begin testing its small two-kilowatt laser with the French Navy. The company has been testing its HELMA-P laser platform – which has an effective range of about half a nautical mile – on target drones in France since 2020.
A further collaboration involving CILAS and MBDA has also recently been announced. The European companies have signed a memorandum of understanding with UAE defence firm SIGN4L – an electronic warfare and intelligence specialist – to explore co-development opportunities particularly in the field of HEL weapons systems for C-UAS.
Estonian defence company Marduk Technologies is developing an electro-optical C-UAS platform, the Marduk Shark, which has the potential for mounting a laser system. They recently teamed with Milrem Robotics to give the system portability. The Shark is mounted on Milrem’s THeMIS – an unmanned ground vehicle, to give combat forces increased protection and mobility.
Principally the US and European systems have been designed to protect military infrastructure and other potential targets – warplanes, ships, land vehicles etc. when deployed in war zones, foreign territories, or international waters. So, what is the state of laser C-UAS development in other countries, particularly in the Middle East and Asia, where the threat is mainly from cross-border incursions, surveillance, and localised attacks.
Recent information about Chinese DEW systems is scarce. Chinese media announced in 2014 that it had successfully tested its Low Altitude Guard I 10 kW laser against a range of small UAVs. The system has a reported range of up to 2 km. Low Altitude Guard II debuted at the 2016 Africa Aerospace and Defense tradeshow and appears to be an upgrade to the previous Low Altitude Guard, utilising a 30 kW laser with a range of 4 km and compact enough to be vehicle-mounted. A significant separate development, around the same time, was the Silent Hunter system, which requires two large vehicles to be operational. The laser has a power level of 30-100 kW.
In 2018, the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) showcased its latest C-UAS weapon, the LW-30. This was built onto a 6×6 modified Wanshan WS2250 and, according to CASIC, the complete system includes a command and communications centre and other support vehicles. The 30 kW laser is designed to take down manned and unmanned aircraft and works as a C-RAM weapon. It claims to have an effective firing range of up to 25 km, although this hasn’t been substantiated.
Another system, developed by Guorong Technology and the China Electronics Technology Group, the Guorong-1 is a short-range, vehicle-mounted ground-to-air laser weapon system that can down a UAV from hundreds of metres away.
Light Shield, unveiled at the Zhuhai Air Show in 2014 is another vehicle-based C-UAS system that combines early warning, identification and interference devices and has a laser generator to damage or destroy the target. Developed by China Electronics Technology Group.
Reported in 2020, the Chinese military put out a request for a laser attack pod, and although the tender details are confidential, it is speculated that this is for an aircraft-based tactical weapon. Also reported in the South China Morning Post in 2020, China is installing 20 megawatt generators to its warships to power high-energy weapons and rail guns.
There are also claims that a Chinese handheld laser weapon system, the ZKZM-500, is in development, capable of destroying material and being lethal to personnel. However, this is something strongly disputed by many industry experts.
In Russia the Peresvet system (a play on the name of a Russian warrior monk that also translates as literally as “over-light”) is currently deployed in active service with five of the Russian Federations Strategic Missile Forces for the purpose of air defence. The system has the ability to damage the optical system of aircraft, drones, cruise missiles and satellites – although, it is not powerful enough to physically destroy targets.
Accurate information surrounding this system is highly guarded by the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Defence. Stories of Peresvet’s successful engagement of Israeli drones over Syria have appeared in various Russian and online media, however, there has been no confirmation of this from the Russian MoD or the IDF.
Over the last 20 years, Israel has found itself sorely in need of a low cost per shot air defence system. Challenged with low-cost high-quantity rocket attacks, HEL systems provide a far more economically viable solution to this over other deployed Israeli air defence measures such as the missile-based Iron Dome.
Currently the Israeli arms research and manufacturing company Rafael is working on HEL technology for weapon systems such as the Iron Beam and Light Blade which saw deployment to the Gaza Strip in August of last year. This deployment saw the system largely used against improvised rockets and incendiary balloons as well as UAS.
In June, Israeli defence company Elbit, working in conjunction with the Israeli Ministry of defence and Air Force completed tests of an airborne C-UAS laser system. To carry out C-UAS missions using lasers form an airborne platform is a highly unique and sought after capability. Israel has a high number of C-UAS systems deployed and in development.
Discussing the need to develop direct-energy weapons, Ozgur Eksi, an Ankara-based defence analyst, stated that “Drone warfare architecture may be the most critical operational use, especially for asymmetrical warfare inside Turkey or in cross-border operations [in Syria and Iraq].” Consequently, Turkey has invested tens of millions of dollars into laser C-UAS and C-RAM technology and has two systems under development.
The first, Alka, is built by the state-controlled missile-maker Roketsan. It uses a 50 kW laser and electromagnetic systems to disable a swarm at up to 4,000 metres and destroy a specific target at 500 metres. Roketsan are currently working on integrating the system into a dedicated land vehicle. The Alka system has been described as having shot down an enemy UAS in combat in Libya, this would be a first of its kind engagement, however this claim is widely disputed. The second system is the LSS laser defence system developed by military electronics specialist Aselsan. The LSS targets mini and micro drones up to 500 metres away and it has the ability to track multiple targets. It is designed to be either vehicle or ship mounted. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
06 Sep 21. MCTECH Presents New C-UAS Manpack System. MCTECH, an Israeli company specializing in the development and production of electronic warfare solutions for security forces, armies, and governments, unveiled recently the MC-HORIZON D360BP, a multi-layered manpack system designed to protect against UAVs.
The reactive system can identify drones, acquire the targets, and neutralize them automatically from far distances. A number of such systems were delivered last week to the army of an African country, according to the company.
The system is designed to protect soldiers, including forces on the move, by preventing enemy UAVs from gathering intelligence or bombarding them. The system is reactive, fully automatic, and capable of detecting, acquiring, and neutralizing single targets or drone swarms within a 2km radius, according to MCTECH.
Ido Bar-Oz, the company’s VP, said “In recent years, we have witnessed attempts by terror organizations to attack and harm maneuvering forces using drones, either by exposing the location of the forces or by bombarding them from the air. The great advantage of the system is that it is reactive and carried by a soldier, and thus protects the force while it is on the move for long distances, enabling freedom of movement and air defense during operations.” (Source: UAS VISION/Israel Defense)
03 Sep 21. Pakistan Navy inducts first Long Range Maritime Patrol twin-engine jet. The new aircraft will help bolster Pakistan’s naval capabilities to safeguard maritime interests. Pakistan Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi in a group with Commander Pakistan Fleet rear admiral Naveed Ashraf at the induction ceremony. Credit: Pakistan Navy.
The Pakistan Navy has inducted its first modern Long Range Maritime Patrol twin-engine jet aircraft at a ceremony held at PNS Mehran, Karachi.
This twin-engine jet aircraft is a variant of the Brazilian-built Embraer Jet aircraft used to undertake air operations across the world.
Pakistan Navy has given contracts for two more aircraft of the series.
These aircraft will feature the latest weapons and sensors to undertake maritime air operations.
Commenting on the aircraft, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi commended the transition of Pakistan Navy Air Arm from prop to jet age of Long Range Maritime Patrol Operations.
He also stated that the Pakistan Navy is committed to upgrading its combat inventory for quick response.
Commander Pakistan Fleet rear admiral Naveed Ashraf said that the addition of the new aircraft will bolster the Pakistan Navy’s capabilities to safeguard the maritime interests of the country.
Admiral Niazi handed over the aircraft documents to the commanding officer of the squadron concerned.
In August, the Pakistan Navy’s first MILGEM-class corvette ship, PNS Babur, was launched from a shipyard in Istanbul, Turkey.
The launch of the first vessel came around three years after Pakistan signed a contract with Turkish manufacturer ASFAT for four MILGEM-class corvettes.
Istanbul Naval Shipyard will be responsible for building the first two vessels while the other two will be constructed at Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works.
In July, Pakistan Navy Ship Zulfiquar visited Portsmouth in the UK as part of its overseas deployment (OSD) and took part in a bilateral naval exercise.
The third Pakistan Navy and Royal Navy exercise, WHITE STAR-III, was held offshore Portsmouth. (Source: naval-technology.com)
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