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29 Sep 21. US Army trains forces across military on tools to fight drones. Training on counter-drone tools led by the U.S. Army through the Defense Department’s Joint C-sUAS Office (U.S. Army)
Part of the U.S. Army’s lead role in standardizing anti-drone strategies across the armed forces is a joint training effort on a suite of tools and sensors to jam or take out small unmanned aerial systems.
With a training course in Arizona, as well as a mobile training capability, the Joint C-sUAS Office is teaching war fighters about their options to counter the rising battlefield threat of drones that interfere with operations, conduct intel or carry weapons. The tools developed the various military branches span radio frequency disruptors to vehicle-mounted sensors to find and more accurately target UAS.
“It is a system of systems approach,” said Col. David Morgan, Joint C-sUAS Office division chief for requirements and capabilities. “There’s no one silver bullet that is going to address this.”
Once trained on these various systems, “any joint warfighter — any soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine — should be able to do the very basic things needed to counter a particular threat,” Morgan said.
At a small UAS academy at Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona, war fighters from across the military get classroom training and hands-on experience with a range of counter-drone tools.
In addition to that two-week, on-site class, five-person mobile training teams also make that learning available to deployed units around the country.
“JCO develops a joint training program in order to ensure that the war fighter has the ability to employ capabilities effectively against an evolving enemy,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Hester, the office’s capabilities integration branch chief.
Defensive tools in the mix include the Dronebuster family of radio frequency jammers, which aim to interrupt the control of the drone by overwhelming the control frequency and taking over the drone’s wireless control link. This can force the drone to stop and hover, or to return to the operator.
Another tool, the Smart Shooter, is a fire control system used to significantly increase the accuracy of small arms. A targeting aid, it makes conventional rifles precise enough to hit a moving drone. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
30 Sep 21. Super Rare Royal Saudi Air Force Boeing RE-3A Spy Plane Makes Stopover At RAF Waddington. The Royal Saudi Air Force Boeing RE-3A TASS (Tactical Airborne Surveillance System) supported by a Saudi A330 MRTT is reportedly on its way to the U.S. for rework. A Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) RE-3A signals intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft arrived at RAF Waddington, UK, on Sept. 30, 2021. Using radio callsign RSF1077, the aircraft, serial number 1901, arrived straight from Prince Sultan Air Base, in central Saudi Arabia, home of the RSAF’s 19th Squadron, with support tanker A330-MRTT, serial 2405, RSF 1078, which landed at East Midlands airport wearing the 89th anniversary scheme.
The photos of the Saudi SIGINT aircraft you can find in this post were taken by our friend and photographer Martin Fox.
The RE-3 is a super rare aircraft. Just three such aircraft are known to be in service. Two, including the airframe 1901, are RE-3A TASS (Tactical Airborne Surveillance System), while one is an RE-3B Improved Tactical Airborne Surveillance System (ITASS) aircraft, serialled 1902.
Although this has not been confirmed yet, the aircraft, that is quite similar to the Baseline 11 standard U.S. Air Force RC-135V/W Rivet Joint (and RAF RC-135W Airseeker), was on its way to the U.S. where it will probably undertake maintenance/upgrade works.
The RE-3A belongs to a batch of eight KE-3A tankers the RSAF received in 1986 and delivered, along with five E-3A Sentry AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control Systems), as part of the “Peace Sentinel” program.
According to aerospace writer and journalist Jon Lake, the seventh tanker, was delivered to Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services (the former E-Systems) at Majors Field, Greenville, Texas, where it was converted to become an RE-3A SIGINT platform, equipped with the Raytheon TASS. After the conversion to the RE-3A standard, the aircraft flew again to the U.S. for additional upgrades in December 2001 and was finally re-delivered to the RSAF in January 2004.
The conversions were managed on the RSAF’s behalf by the U.S. Air Force 645th Aeronautical Systems Group, also known as Big Safari special projects office (responsible for most USAF SIGINT and ISR programmes). While missing the distinctive “hog nose” of the American Rivet Joint, the Saudi spyplane sported similar “cheek” fairings and ventral antennas.
In 2009, the U.S. approved the upgrade of the RE-3s as part of a program worth 530M USD with L-3 Communications Integrated Systems Company in Greenville, TX, as main contractor.
The upgrades included the “installation of 10 AN/ARC-230 High Frequency Secure Voice/Data Systems, 25 AN/ARC-231 or 25 AN/ARC-210 Very High Frequency/Ultra High Frequency (VHF/UHF) Secure Voice/Data Systems, four Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Low Volume Terminals (MIDS-LVT), four LN-100GT Inertial Reference Units, 25 SY-100 or functional equivalent Crypto Systems, seven SG-250 or functional equivalent Crypto Systems, six SG-50 or functional equivalent, 10 CYZ-10 Fill Devices, modification of existing ground stations, TASS equipment trainer, mission scenario generator (simulator), and maintenance test equipment; spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation including flight/operator/maintenance manuals, modification/construction of facilities, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and support services and other related elements of logistics support.”
According to the U.S. DSCA (Defense Security Cooperation Agency) upgrades would enable the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) to sustain their capability, maintain interoperability with USAF and other coalition forces, and provide flexibility options for future growth. “The upgrade will enhance the RSAF’s ability to use a common architecture for efficiently communicating the gathered electronic data, within the RSAF and with other regional coalition forces.”
Images of the RE-3A taking part in a flypast at the end of the multi-national Gulf Shield military exercise in April 2018 revealed the new “look” of the Saudi SIGINT aircraft that was eventually given the “hog nose” along with revised dorsal and ventral antenna farms. Those antennas are used by the aircraft to eavesdrop enemy signals, transmissions, detect frequencies used by radio and radars and pinpoint sites of interest, mobile stations, SAM batteries, etc. In other words, the aircraft is an intelligence gathering platform that can help to “build” the enemy EOB (Electronic Order of Battle) so as to achieve the so-called Information Superiority. As done by the RSAF RE-3s in the war against Houthi rebels in Yemen. (Source: News Now/https://theaviationist.com/)
29 Sep 21. Excelitas Technologies® Corp., a leading industrial technology manufacturer focused on delivering innovative, market-driven photonic solutions, unveils its new Mamba40 lightweight optics for night vision goggles. The high-performance optics are an excellent choice for border surveillance, law enforcement, marine and naval surveillance, as well as tactical professionals and first responders. Mamba40 offers high performance in a lightweight form, with 72 lp/mm resolution and distortion below 6 percent. It provides a crisp 26 mm f/1.2 focal length and excellent 40-degree field of vision (FOV) that aids situational awareness. The ITAR-free Mamba40 can be used in a monocular or binocular low-light environment. The objective and eyepiece are designed to work together when used in an application with the latest generation of high-resolution image tubes. The Mamba40 objective offers a spectral range of 600 nm-900 nm, 92 percent transmission and weighs 35g. The eyepiece has a spectral range of 420 nm-620 nm, 85 percent transmission and weighs in at 25g. The optics are compatible with an 18 mm image intensifier tube. Mamba40’s viewing angle and bright optics are well suited for aviation, close-quarter engagement, surveillance and recon applications. Configurations can also be customized to meet specific customer needs. The optical system is designed to operate from -40TC to +55 C. It can be stored in temperatures from -51CC to +71CC. It can withstand 5-55Hz vibration and force up to 2.5g. Mechanical shock is rated at 40g/ms, and sealing is IP658.
Brad Tan, Excelitas’ Business Development Manager, said, “Our expertise in developing cutting-edge optics for a wide range of advanced applications informed the Mamba40 design. Its high-performance specifications are specifically meant to maximize professional users’ awareness of critical situations around them, helping keep them safe.”
For more information, please visit https://www.excelitas.com/product/mamba40-40-degree-field-view-optics-image-intensifiers.
28 Sep 21. U.S. Government Awards Citadel Defense Multiple Contracts for New Drone and Pilot Location Solution. Citadel’s new offering detects, locates, tracks, and safely neutralizes unwanted drones. Citadel Defense has been awarded three new counter unmanned aircraft systems (CUAS) contracts from the U.S. Government for their newest product, Titan Drone Finder (Titan DF). Developed alongside servicemen and servicewomen, the new Titan DF solution allows operators to locate the drone, track the flight path, and autonomously neutralize threats that cross a user-defined alert zone.
Christopher Williams, CEO of Citadel Defense said, “We take every measure to compress the time and space required for operators to make a decision and take action against a threat in their airspace.”
Citadel’s rapidly growing family of Titan CUAS systems has industry-transforming automation that creates a distinct operational advantage for servicemen and servicewomen on the front lines. When defending against swarms and difficult-to-detect threats, AI-powered combat systems like Titan allow operators to identify and terminate enemy UAS threats with unmatched speed, accuracy, and reliability.
“Machines can perceive, decide, and act more quickly and accurately than humans in complex environments. Citadel solutions autonomously clear the airspace of UAS threats, keeping servicemen and servicewomen available for other important tasks in high-risk and resource-constrained environments,” explained Williams.
Results from recent government-sponsored CUAS evaluations accelerated the contract awards. Matt England, Chief Growth Officer at Citadel said, “In deployment overseas and in the U.S., users of Titan continue to unilaterally confirm the system outperforms competing Radio Frequency CUAS capabilities at Fixed, Mobile, and in Dismounted operations – all at a lower cost that enables scaling of Force Protection where it is needed.”
The company has expanded their Application Programming Interface (API), making drone and pilot location data accessible for layered defense systems and multiple command and control systems deployed across the military and government. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
28 Sep 21. Teledyne FLIR Introduces Neutrino SX8 Mid-Wavelength Infrared Camera Module and Four Neutrino IS Series Models with Integrated Continuous Zoom Lenses With High Operating Temperature (HOT) Focal Plane Array (FPA) Technology for Faster Imaging and Multiple Integrated Continuous Zoom (CZ) Lens Options, the Neutrino® Portfolio Offers Superior Performance for Integration within Airborne, Unmanned, C-UAS, Security, Surveillance, and Targeting Systems Teledyne FLIR, part of Teledyne Technologies Incorporated (NYSE:TDY), today introduced the Neutrino SX8 mid-wavelength infrared (MWIR) camera module and four additional Neutrino IS Series models designed for integrated solutions requiring HD MWIR imagery with size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP+C) constraints for commercial, industrial, defense original equipment manufacturers (OEM), and system integrators. Based on Teledyne FLIR HOT FPA technology, the Neutrino SX8 offers high performance, 1280×1024 HD MWIR imagery for ruggedized products requiring long life, low power consumption, and quiet, low vibration operation. The SX8 and the Neutrino IS series models are ideal for integration with small gimbals, airframes, handheld devices, security cameras, targeting devices, and asset monitoring applications. 1/3 Reduced Time-to-Market and Development Risk The latest additions to the Neutrino MWIR camera portfolio continue to provide shortened time-to-market and reduced project risk with off-the-shelf design and delivery. Teledyne FLIR also provides highly qualified technical services teams for integration support and expertise throughout the development and design cycle. All the cameras and solutions in the Neutrino series are classified under US Department of Commerce jurisdiction as EAR 6A003.b.4.a and are not subject to International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Neutrino IS products include a Teledyne FLIR CZ lens integrated with a Neutrino SWaP Series camera module (VGA or SXGA). All four models using the Neutrino LC and two models using the Neutrino SX8 provide crisp, long-range MWIR imaging. The purpose-designed, factory-integrated CZ lenses and MWIR camera modules provide performance, cost, schedule, and risk benefits unmatchable by other camera or lens suppliers. To learn more about the entire Neutrino family of MWIR camera modules, including the Neutrino SWaP, Neutrino Performance, and Neutrino IS series, visit www.teledyneflir.com/neutrino.
28 Sep 21. Low-latency 360SA Multi-format Video Management System delivers <30ms performance. Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division, a proven supplier of rugged video management systems engineered to succeed, announces a breakthrough in rugged deployed video situational awareness for manned and unmanned ground vehicles with the 30ms latency performance of its new 360SA Video Management System. The 360SA integrates state-of-the-art projected capacitive (PCAP) rugged touch screen displays with a scalable, highly rugged video gateway and a video format converter to support the requirements of warfighters across a wide variety of vehicle types. When combined with cameras, the 360SA provides a complete situational awareness hardware solution. Video delays from sensor to display greater than 60ms can make it difficult for operators to have complete confidence that what they are seeing aligns with reality. Compared to alternative video situational awareness and driver vision enhancer (DVE) solutions that deliver >60ms latency, Curtiss-Wright’s 360SA system achieves the “sweet spot” of <30ms glass-to-glass latency. This desired level of performance supports ideal driver aid and situational awareness video at full HD resolutions. The 360SA achieves its unprecedented combination of affordability and high performance with a unique design approach, including innovative FPGA video pipelines, to fulfill the promise of “real-time” through-armor and DVE performance. Working closely with industry-leading rugged camera suppliers and DVE/360SA systems experts, Curtiss-Wright can deliver complete turnkey systems. The 360SA Video Management System is the industry’s first cost-effective solution to combine a low-latency video management system with a full-HD video ground mobile command control system.
“Reliable, cost-effective solutions for true low-latency video systems in military ground vehicles, which are critical for improving situational awareness and the safety of today’s warfighters, have long been desired, but until now, have been out of reach,” said Chris Wiltsey, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions division. ”Delivering video and image from sensor to screen in real-time is the best way to get vital visual information to warfighters in a fast and effective manner, whether for local situational awareness or DVE applications. Our 360SA Video Management System seamlessly integrates all the components of an end-to-end video solution to significantly reduce the latency that has compromised previous situational awareness alternatives.”
Ideal for use in closed hatch operation of tactical vehicles, the 360SA Video Management System is a modular open systems approach (MOSA) based solution. Its open architecture commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) video system design is “camera agnostic” with support for 20 x SD/HD/3G-SDI, 4 x Composite/YC, and 1 x HDMI. The standard configuration features:
- GVDU low-latency rugged LCD display: an innovative display solution that allows for video scaling and buffering to sub-frame latency
- RVG-MS1 multi-sensor rugged video gateway: low-latency sensor distribution system providing multi-input and output capability for demanding video sensor applications
- RVG-FC1 video format converter: flexible building block capable of converting between a range of video formats and resolutions (15 different formats and resolutions are supported)
Unmatched Near-Zero Latency Glass-to-Glass Performance
The 360SA Video Management System’s GVDU display features unique low-latency display buffering that provides 2.7ms buffering of 1920x1080p 60fps video. On its own, this fully tested, field-proven display offers a maximum latency of just 14.86ms. When used in combination with our digital video switches, glass-to-glass latency rated at 26.8ms has been measured on deployed ground vehicle systems, with a maximum of 31.53ms.
The RVG-MS1 video gateway provides 25 inputs and 20 outputs in a unit that weighs only 3.25 kg (7.17 lbs.) and requires only 80W of power maximum. It offers a low-latency video path of 16ms. In addition, this size, weight and power (SWaP) optimized video gateway supports H264 encoding of any input. It also supports single, dual, triple, and quad views in various layouts. Curtiss-Wright’s range of RVG products provides system designers with a scalable, building-block approach to video system design on platforms of all sizes.
In addition, image flipping and graphical overlays are available on a low-latency <30ms path, with a maximum 60ms latency when multiplexing imagery for 360-degree situational awareness.
Curtiss-Wright’s video solutions meet GVA and Vehicular Integration for Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance/Electronic Warfare (C4ISR/EW) Interoperability (VICTORY) standards.
To find out more about this powerful new situational awareness system, download the 360SA product sheet here: https://www.curtisswrightds.com/products/video-solutions/video-distribution-systems/360sa.html
28 Sep 21. MESA Radar Sets Sights on Airborne Battlespace. How Northrop Grumman’s advanced sensor for airborne early warning and control provides superior situational awareness.
Wedgetail. Peace Eagle. Peace Eye. Known by different names, the 737 Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) system provides a long range picture of the battlespace with its enhanced Airborne Moving Target Indication (AMTI) capability.
Perched on top of the AEW&C system is the Northrop Grumman designed and built Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) sensor. The radar is the eyes of this impressive bird. The MESA radar electronically scans the skies around the Boeing 737-based aircraft, providing the warfighter with an unrestricted 360-degree view.
“This powerful sensor provides mission crews with the tools needed to track airborne and maritime targets while maintaining continuous surveillance of the operational area,” said Howard Lurie, vice president, airborne surveillance business unit, Northrop Grumman. “The ability to accurately detect and identify targets at increasingly longer ranges is critical to maintaining an advantage.”
Near-peer adversaries have been developing sophisticated advancements in platforms and system capabilities that threaten our warfighters’ advantage in the battlespace. The MESA radar for the AEW&C system provides critical domain awareness for warfighters and allows them to see farther and make accelerated and informed decisions to meet mission objectives.
Targeted Energy and Increased Range
MESA provides the ability to dynamically adjust to each unique or emerging tactical situation. The advanced radar can extend its detection range without having to fly closer to a threat situation. By targeting its energy to the threat, the sensor can nearly double its detection range in the emphasis location, all while maintaining a full background of the entire battlespace. Compared to other surveillance radars, MESA also has higher update rates for enhanced tracking, bringing battle management to the edge of the radar surveillance envelope.
This powerful radar system enables tracking of airborne and maritime targets simultaneously, including the ability to revisit high profile targets at rapid rates. At the same time, MESA provides a fully integrated, world-class, long-range Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) capability to maintain continuous surveillance of the operational area.
Maintaining Situational Awareness
Modern jamming threats can jeopardize the warfighters’ understanding of the environment. With MESA’s multiple channels and independent receivers, the sensor uses modern electronic protection techniques to adapt to jamming and electronic attack threats, while simultaneously maintaining situational awareness. No matter the threat, MESA ensures the warfighter retains a constant view of the battlespace.
Proven and Trusted Capabilities
When tracking and identifying electronic signals and targets, false alarms or thermal noise can be mistakenly identified by a surveillance radar. With MESA’s quick updates of the entire landscape, the sensor provides higher quality data – reducing inaccuracies and furthering the edge of the warfighter.
Northrop Grumman’s MESA also has a robust IFF system that recently achieved AIMS certification for a new Mode 5 for the system. An IFF system identifies if the other signal is – as the name states – friend or foe.
“Mode 5 enhances the ability to protect our warfighters by using advanced waveforms, cryptology and techniques to further the proven performance of MESA and its IFF system,” said Jack Hawkins, director, MESA, Northrop Grumman.
Currently, Australia, Turkey and South Korea have fielded AEW&C systems with production underway for the United Kingdom’s first AEW&C system.
28 Sep 21. Boeing Awarded Contract for Five P-8A Aircraft for Germany. The U.S. Navy today awarded Boeing [NYSE: BA] a production contract for five P-8A Poseidon aircraft for Germany. First deliveries are slated to begin in 2024 when the P-8A Poseidon will eventually replace Germany’s fleet of P-3C Orion aircraft.
“We’re pleased to have finalized this sale to Germany and to expand our footprint in-country by bringing the P-8A and its unique multi-mission capabilities to the German Navy,” said Michael Hostetter, vice president, Boeing Defense, Space & Security, Germany. “The P-8 will ensure the German Navy’s ability to perform long-range maritime surveillance missions and will play a pivotal role in the region by leveraging existing infrastructure in Europe and full interoperability with NATO’s most advanced assets.”
German industry is a critical partner with the P-8A Poseidon program. By working with local partners, Boeing will provide support, training and maintenance solutions that will bring the highest operational availability to fulfill the German Navy’s missions. On June 17, Boeing signed agreements with ESG Elektroniksystem-und Logistik-GmbH and Lufthansa Technik AG to collaborate in systems integration, training, and sustainment work. German companies that currently supply parts for the P-8A include Aircraft Philipp Group GmbH, Aljo Aluminium-Bau Jonuscheit GmbH and Nord-Micro GmbH.
“With strategic agreements and industry partnerships already in place, we stand ready to deliver a robust sustainment package for the German Navy’s P-8A fleet,” said Dr. Michael Haidinger, president, Boeing Germany, Central & Eastern Europe, Benelux and Nordics. “Together with the German Navy, the Federal Ministry of Defense and local industry, we will ensure maximum operational availability that will allow the German Navy to meet the full range of its maritime challenges.”
Deployed around the world with more than 135 aircraft in service, and over 350,000 collective mishap free flight hours, the P-8A will significantly advance Germany’s anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and search-and-rescue mission capabilities.
Germany is the eighth nation to have acquired the P-8A, joining the United States, Australia, India, the United Kingdom, Norway, Korea and New Zealand.
28 Sep 21. £3.8m in contracts awarded to mitigate the radar risk of windfarms. Seven projects have been awarded funding to develop technologies that support the coexistence of offshore windfarms and UK air defence systems. Funded through the BEIS Net Zero Innovation Portfolio and delivered by MOD, the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) with the support of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have awarded contracts worth £3.8m for Phase 2 of Windfarm Mitigation for UK Air Defence, a competition which aims to develop technologies that reduce the impact of offshore windfarms on Air Defence (AD) surveillance.
Offshore wind will play a key role in delivering the net zero ambition by 2050, with a government commitment to scale it up to 40GW by the end of the decade. To achieve net zero targets, the UK will need additional offshore windfarms around the UK.
The Windfarm Mitigation for UK Air Defence competition was run behalf of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and undertaken in partnership with the Royal Air Force (RAF),to seek ideas from industry and academia to reduce the adverse impact that windfarms can have on AD and Air Traffic Control (ATC) surveillance systems.
Technologies that were submitted during the competition include:
- alternative technologies that could reduce radar clutter caused by offshore windfarms
- improvements to the probability of intruder detection
- the capability to fill or remove gaps in radar coverage
- alternatives to radar
- solutions to the cumulative effect of windfarm development
- metasurfaces applied to, or alterations to the design of, the wind turbines
- alterations to the initial radar signal or radar station or processing of the return
Wing Commander Kevin Walton, Co-Chair of the Ministry of Defence/Offshore Wind Industry Council Air Defence Mitigation Task Force said:
“Offshore wind will play a major role in achieving our Net Zero Targets. The technology being developed in this competition will help the UK achieve its renewable energy targets without compromising the surveillance of UK airspace.
“In addition, the technology being developed will help boost UK prosperity, entrepreneurs and innovators by investing in innovative technologies.
“Phase 2 of this competition develops on the Phase 1 activities and moves further to identify operational systems that will help enable the coexistence of offshore windfarms and the UK’s Air Defence and ATC surveillance systems.”
Aviation and windfarms working together
Seven projects led from six organisations have been awarded Phase 2 funding to fast-track their innovative solutions. The organisations are:
Advanced Material Development Ltd
Phase 2 Funding: £392,605
Their solution introduces advanced nano-scale Radar Absorbing Material (nRAM) at the manufacturing stage of offshore windfarms, ensuring RF absorption is integrated into the base materials of offshore windfarms.
Saab Technologies UK Ltd
Phase 2 Funding: £599,692
To incorporate Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques into air defence radar, providing a trusted air surveillance picture in noisy and cluttered environments.
Trelleborg Applied Technologies
Phase 2 Funding: £600,000
Their solution is to deliver Frame (Full Radar Absorbing Materials and Equipment) to mitigate wind turbine radar interference.
Thales UK Ltd (Project 1)
Phase 2 Funding: £481,019
To design and demonstrate multistatic, staring radar systems using a validated synthetic environment, to provide continuous all-weather air surveillance in and around windfarms.
Thales UK Ltd (Project 2)
Phase 2 Funding: £599,970
A solution to synchronise two remote Holographic radars to demonstrate synchronised multi-static staring radar (MSAR), to reduce the impact of windfarm clutter and enhance detection and tracking performance.
Phase 2 Funding: £505,938
A solution involving multiple low-cost, multi-role, passive sensors on the nacelles of wind turbines that can transform the turbines from being a radar disrupter, to becoming the eyes and ears of an advanced air defence.
Phase 2 Funding: £600,000
A solution to develop a novel metasurface manufacturing method for the mitigation of radar clutter caused by windfarms.
Ensuring the UK can continue to defend its airspace and the safe flight of aircraft
These solutions will help ensure the continued development of vital wind turbine sites, without impacting military AD and ATC.
What happened in Phase 1?
This follows on from Windfarm Mitigation for UK Air Defence: Phase 1, where £2m worth of contracts were awarded to Thales, QinetiQ, Saab, TWI and Plextek DTS to fast-track their ideas for technologies that could mitigate the impact of windfarms on the UK’s AD radar system.
Phase 1 identified and advanced multiple promising routes for windfarm radar mitigation, such as new radar signal processing methods or radar absorbing treatments and applying metamaterials to control the radar signature of wind turbines. Additional findings recommended a hybrid approach, involving changes to both radar and turbine design to solve the problem in the long term. Phase 2 studies aim to clarify this further. Read more about it here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/offshore-windfarm-development-boosted-by-2-m-research (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
21 Sep 21. Brown: Air Force Serious About E-7 Wedgetail. Acquiring the Wedgetail “gives us a path” while the service awaits a space-based capability, Air Force Chief of Staff CQ Brown said, as “an option to be able to get the capability much faster than if we were to start a new start from scratch.”
The Air Force is looking seriously at buying the E-7 Wedgetail to replace the aging Boeing E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) planes, with an eye to the 2023 budget.
“We are doing internal analysis,” Chief of Staff CQ Brown told reporters today here at the Air Force Foundation’s annual Air, Space & Cyber conference. “The E-7 is a good platform. It’s flown by the Royal Australian Air Force, and the Royal Air Force is getting ready to procure some as well.”
Boeing originally built the Wedgetail for the Royal Australian Air Force, signing a developmental contract in 1999. It has been providing updates and maintaining the Australian aircraft since the plane first came into service in 2009. The UK announced in March 2019 it intended to buy five E-7s, but in March of this year decided to cut the number to three, according to a report in Janes.
Brown said he has been in conversations with both the Australian and British air chiefs about the capability, but that the service has not yet initiated conversations with Boeing about how soon after a budget decision the company could begin production for the Air Force.
Ultimately, Brown said, military commanders want to move the mission to track moving targets in the air and on the ground) to space-based systems, as first announced by Space Force head Gen. Jay Raymond in May.
“When you look to the future, ideally you’d like to be able to look at capability that can be defensible,” he said.
But the Wedgetail could fill the gap in the meantime. Brown explained that the service’s analysis is looking at the AWACS “mission capable rates, and how much it cost to be able to maintain and keep those aircraft viable. And this is why we are taking a look at the E-7.”
Acquiring the Wedgetail “gives us a path” while the service awaits a space-based capability, he said, as “an option to be able to get the capability much faster than if we were to start a new start from scratch.”
Indeed, the commander of Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, has expressed interest in the E-7, due to concerns with the flagging readiness of the AWACS planes.
Given that “it’s already a proven capability, and having seen it in action, I think it’s something we do want to use,” he added. “And at the same time, if this becomes a (budget) line, we’ll probably start replace some E-7s.”
Brown noted that he personally has flown the E-7 twice. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
25 Sep 21. US Army mints deal with Dynetics to build system to counter drones and cruise missiles. The U.S. Army has finalized a $247m contract with Leidos-owned Dynetics to build prototypes for its enduring system to counter both drone and cruise missile threats, confirming the decision Defense News broke last month.
Dynetics will deliver 16 launchers, 60 interceptors and associated all-up-round magazines to the Army over a performance period ending March 31, 2024, according to Army leaders in charge of the effort.
By the fourth quarter of fiscal 2023, Dynetics will make 12 launchers available to the Army, Maj. Gen. Robert Rasch, the service’s program executive officer for missiles and space, told a group of reporters in a Sept. 24 briefing.
The service intends for the Indirect Fires Protection Capability, or IFPC, system to protect critical fixed- or semi-fixed assets and to be a more mobile solution than one that would suffice at a forward operating base.
The deal comes after the service held a shoot-off that pitted Dynetics against a Rafael and Raytheon Technologies team.
Raytheon and Israel-based Rafael offered up the Iron Dome launcher and Tamir interceptor (known as SkyHunter in the U.S.), while Huntsville-based Dynetics brought Enduring Shield, featuring a launcher based off the Army’s internally developed, but later canceled Multi-Mission Launcher along with the Raytheon-produced AIM-9X Sidewinder interceptor.
The Army originally planned to develop and field its own multi-mission launcher as part of the enduring solution, but canceled that program in favor of finding a more technologically mature launcher.
Both teams had a chance to bring launcher and interceptor combinations to shoot against threat representative targets at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, earlier this year.
The Army is using Iron Dome as an interim cruise missile defense capability as it works to adopt an enduring Indirect Fires Protection Capability, or IFPC, system that will initially be able to counter unmanned aircraft and cruise missile threats and later be able to take out rockets, artillery and mortars.
Rasch said the shoot-off was only meant to provide data to the vendors as they put together proposals for the Army.
Additionally, the shoot-off “wasn’t about hits or misses,” Rasch said. “It was about demonstrating that kill chain from sensor — in this case, the Sentinel radar — providing data, fire-control quality data, to the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System — IBCS — which then creates a fire control engagement for the launcher and the interceptor to engage on. That’s the primary piece of data that we collected, that’s what we provided back to the industry partners so that they could then write their final proposals.”
According to the IFPC solicitation, the Army wanted solutions that could tie into current and future versions of the Sentinel radar and be integrated with the service’s IBCS.
Following the prototyping phase, the Army may initiate a follow-on production contract for 400 launchers and associated interceptors, according to the solicitation. That decision will come in FY23, according to Rasch, with an entry point into a production phase. (Source: Defense News)
30 Sep 21. Silent Sentinel launches new Rapid Deployment Kit for its thermal cameras. British threat detection specialist Silent Sentinel has announced the launch of its brand-new man-portable system capable of providing rapid deployment of cameras from its Oculus and Aeron ranges. The Rapid Deployment Kit (RDK) was officially unveiled at DSEI 2021 in London, where it was available to view in-person for the very first time.
Developed to meet the increasing demand for flexible surveillance, the RDK allows for swift set-up of a surveillance position even in remote locations. The RDK consists of a Pelican watertight, dustproof and crushproof carry case containing a tripod, an Oculus or Aeron thermal PTZ camera, and a laptop or GTAC depending on the needs of the customer. The Kit takes no more than twenty minutes for one individual to set up, and has a bank of six 5590-type NATO standard hot-swappable batteries which means that the Aeron camera can provide uninterrupted surveillance for up to 30 hours, or indefinitely when connected to an external power source such as AC 110-220 or DC from a vehicle.
The RDK weighs approximately 30kg (depending on the camera model), meaning the contents of the lightweight and durable carry case can be split between two individuals and carried to otherwise inaccessible locations, making it ideally suited to search & rescue operations conducted by law enforcement and disaster relief organisations such as FEMA.
Once deployed, the RDK can also be connected with a mesh radio to create an arrayed network of systems capable of providing surveillance and threat detection over a wide area. The RDK’s durability and the PTZ’s precision means it is well-suited to the most challenging of applications, such as maritime, border security and vehicle-mounted installations, and can be quickly configured accordingly. If required, the RDK can be upgraded to include a complete Over The Horizon (OTH) capability including remote power control and camera streaming.
Both the Oculus and Aeron ranges offer thermal and HD visible sensors contained within a compact, hard anodised ruggedised housing which, like all Silent Sentinel products, is tested to an IP-67 level of environmental protection, providing optimum performance in the harshest environments. This means that the RDK can be deployed in any climate (capable of operating within a temperature range of -30°C to 65°C).
The unveiling of the Rapid Deployment Kit follows the launch of the recent launch of the Jaegar Sonus and the Aeron Laser Range Finder, marking yet another step forward in Silent Sentinel’s ambitions to expand their technological offering.
Matthew Short, Technical Director at Silent Sentinel said, “The Rapid Deployment Kit is indicative of our ambition to provide cutting-edge and precise threat detection and surveillance in all environments, no matter how remote. With its’ easy portability and flexible range of capabilities, the RDK represents a significant step in Silent Sentinel’s pledge to provide the latest technology as standard in our products.”
24 Sep 21. American research investigates the counter drone capabilities of a flock of pigeons. American researchers are examining whether the flocking instincts of pigeons can be harnessed to counter armed drones as the rapid development of ‘swarm’ technology prompts warnings that the emerging UAV threat is difficult to contain according to a report by iNews. According to the newspaper, the pigeon research, being carried out by an unnamed private US company according to an industry expert, aims to harness the birds’ natural flocking instincts and acute vision to draw them towards the particular sound and motion of a “quadcopter” drone. The birds will be trained to fly at a machine or machines en masse, neutralising an attack on a potential target from an airport to an open-air concert at the cost of their own lives. The research is a response to the extraordinary pace of development in drones which is seeing robotic and increasingly capable autonomous aircraft move rapidly from the purview of state militaries into the technological and commercial mainstream. For more information visit: www.inews.co.uk (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
27 Sep 21. Bronco II, AC-208 out of SOCOM Armed Overwatch competition. The Paramount/Leidos Bronco II and MAG Aerospace MC-208 Guardian have been eliminated from the US Special Operation Command’s Armed Overwatch competition, leaving three other aircraft in the running for a roughly 75-aircraft order. The remaining competitors are the Textron Aviation Defence AT-6E Wolverine, L3 AT-802U Sky Warden, and Sierra Nevada Corporation M28/C-145 Wily Coyote, Aviation Week reported last week. The Bronco II (Mwari) was offered by a team comprising Leidos, Paramount USA, and Vertex, with the aircraft carrying out flight demonstrations in June and July 2021. However, after several successful flights, the aircraft was parked on the ground on 9 July when one of the main landing gear legs collapsed, resulting in minor damage to the aircraft. Although Paramount/Leidos were confident the incident would not affect its chances in the competition, the Bronco II is one of the first aircraft to have been eliminated. The remaining competitors are expecting an imminent request for proposals (RFP).
The head of the Air Force’s Special Operations Command, Lieutenant General Jim Slife, last week said there is a good likelihood the armed overwatch programme will transition to procurement in fiscal year 2022.
Special Operations Command revealed its Armed Overwatch programme in February 2020. SOCOM previously evaluated the OV-10G+ Bronco in a field test in Iraq in 2015 as it pursues a light attack capability. The command is looking to budget $101m for the first new light attack aircraft with another ten per year for the next seven years. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
27 Sep 21. Flying Colours Corp. ramps up specials mission expertise. Flying Colours Corp., the maintenance, refurbishment, and completion specialist, continues solidifying its reputation for complex special mission expertise across a range of aircraft types having completed two significant projects in the last quarter.
Having undergone interior completions work at Flying Colours Corp. Peterborough headquarters in Ontario a fifth Saab GlobalEye platform was delivered from Bombardier’s Toronto manufacturing site in August. As a Bombardier Special Mission completion partner for Saab’s GlobalEye program, a dedicated Flying Colours Corp. team is responsible for the design, manufacturing, installation, and completion of the highly specified interior, which is based on the Bombardier Global 6000/6500 type. Each monument shipset is individually produced to leverage the Global airframe as Flying Colours Corp. supports Saab through the introduction of a practical, functional interior for the mission system operators.
“We have had extensive experience working on the Global family in both VIP and special mission formats and are proud to have delivered these aircraft in partnership with Bombardier to Saab. Saab’s GlobalEye project specifically showcases the high levels of technical expertise delivered by our experience, knowledge, and the exceptional talent within our team,” says Sean Gillespie, Executive VP for Flying Colours Corp.
In addition, the fourth in a series of six Q400MR multi-purpose aircraft has been re-delivered to aerial firefighting specialist partner Conair. Flying Colours is responsible for the engineering, fabrication, installation, certification, and completion of four different cabin interiors to support passenger, cargo, combi-transport, and medevac special missions. On completion of the interiors, a fifth firefighting capability is equipped by Conair. The ability to easily change the aircraft purpose within a quick time frame, maximises operational efficiency and costs, in a diverse range of operating environments. The final two aircraft are anticipated to be completed in 2022.
“Medevac, VIP/combi configurations, and surveillance, are just some of the special missions’ mods we’ve undertaken for governments, military, border forces and private clients over the years. Creating a practical, functional area for a very precise task requires an intelligent approach, technical expertise and engineering talent, all of which we have in abundance,” adds Gillespie. “For all our special mission work, from small medevac reconfigurations, through to the large aircraft modifications, the original airframe is leveraged to perform above and beyond the original spec and is adapted for an unambiguous role. We effectively alter the aircraft DNA, so it becomes perfectly designed to execute a particular task”.
Flying Colours Corp. has noted an increased interest in special missions requests in the last six months for multi-purpose interiors, and the modification of regional jets into corporate shuttle interiors. In addition, it is expanding its capabilities to further support aerial firefighting in response to the growing crisis related to the spread of wildfires, and their presence globally. Gillespie confirmed Flying Colours Corp. is attending the Aerial Firefighting Conference to be held in Abbotsford, BC, 26 October 2021, in support of its partners, and other specialists, in this high demand field.
27 Sep 21. WZ-7 High-Altitude Reconnaissance Drone at Airshow China. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force will for the first time display the WZ-7 high-altitude reconnaissance drone at the Airshow China 2021, to be held in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province, from September 28 to October 3, a spokesperson at the PLA Air Force announced. As one of China’s largest drones, the WZ-7 will be deployed in missions that require extended endurance like border reconnaissance and maritime patrol, experts said.
Revealing the lineup for the exhibition, Senior Colonel Shen Jinke, spokesperson at the PLA Air Force, said that the J-20 stealth fighter jet and Y-20 large transport aircraft will join the event, the KJ-500 early warning aircraft and the H-6K bomber will be put on static display, and the J-16D electronic warfare aircraft and the WZ-7 reconnaissance drone will make their public debuts, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Friday.
Domestically developed and produced by China, the WZ-7 is a high-altitude reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle designed to conduct missions including border reconnaissance and maritime patrol, CCTV said.
Featuring a tandem-wing design and being large in size, the WZ-7 has a long endurance, which makes completing its intended missions possible, a Chinese military expert told the Global Times on Friday, requesting anonymity.
The drone’s official designation is now confirmed as the WZ-7, and the PLA Air Force is presenting it to the general public at the air show indicating that it has entered service with the PLA Air Force, the expert said, noting that it was previously known by its codename, the Soar Dragon. (Source: UAS VISION/Global Times)
24 Sep 21. Here are the cheap counter-drone solutions DoD tested in the Arizona desert. The Pentagon has demonstrated another round of systems capable of countering small drone threats focused on cheap, ground-launched and hand-held options in the desert in Arizona.
After soliciting whitepapers in May on the federal contract opportunities site, the Joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office — or JCO — and the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office — or RCCTO — chose five solutions to go up against threat targets at Yuma Proving Ground from Aug. 30 through Sept. 17.
The five drone busters are Northrop Grumman’s XM1211 30mm Proximity Round, the Smash Hopper from Smart Shooter, Flex Force’s Agile Small Deflection Precision Stabilized Weapon System, IXI’s DroneKiller and the DroneGun MKIII from Drone Shield.
The DroneGun and the DroneKiller each use electronic warfare capabilities to neutralize a drone threat while the rest rely on kinetic measures to defeat unmanned systems, Michael DiGennaro, the JCO’s acquisition and resourcing division test team lead, told reporters in a Sept. 24 briefing.
Both hand-held systems did “effectively engage the targets that were presented to them,” he said.
Flex Force’s offering uses a 7.62mm round, while the Smash Hopper uses a 5.56mm round that is fired from a regular handheld weapon that would deploy with a soldier, DiGennaro said.
Northrop’s proximity round was fired from an XM914 chain gun already in the Army’s inventory. The rounds are capable of detecting an approaching aircraft, and as the aircraft comes within range, the round explodes and the craft, flying through a cloud of debris from the explosion, is taken down.
“Ground-Based Aerial Denial is defined as solutions that are ground-launched with no inflight terminal guidance, providing denial or defeat of single or multiple sUAS,” as explained in the May request posted to a federal contracting website. The solution should not include ground-emitted cyber or electronic attack through radio frequency waves, the request for information added.
Systems should cost less than $15,000 per drone engaged, the JCO said. (Source: Defense News)
27 Sep 21. Thales and Ritek Expand Their Radar Collaboration.
- Thales and Norwegian mechanical engineering company Ritek today announce their intention to collaborate on radar opportunities in Norway.
- The collaboration will increase the Norwegian footprint in the domain of radars and strengthens the development of an important SME in the defence value chain in Norway.
The Norwegian Defence Material Agency (NDMA) signed an agreement with the Netherlands Defence Material Organisation (DMO) for five Thales Ground Master 200 multi-mission compact radars (GM200 MM/C) in May 2021. Ritek will perform the vehicle integration of the counter-battery radars.
Morten Minsaas, COO of Ritek comments: “Ritek’s collaboration with Thales has developed over the last two years, from initial discussions about integrating the artillery locating radar on a carrier, to now also include additional collaboration on future projects. The projects we cooperate on are very challenging and will contribute in developing Ritek further as an integration partner for demanding international OEMs, within the defence industry, as well as a new business area for us.”
Nils Toverud, CEO of Thales in Norway comments: “Creating a strong footprint in Norway is important for Thales. We are delighted to collaborate with Ritek, a competent and trustworthy partner, with a long history supporting the armed forces and strong commitment to quality and delivering on time – an excellent collaborator and we look forward to working hand in hand.”
Thales has 300 employees in Norway, that delivers high grade communication technology to both Norway, NATO and our allies, as well as a variety of services and technology solutions, including transport, secure communication, passports, ID-cards, and defence technology.
When the Netherlands and Norway signed the agreement for the counter-battery radars, Chief Investment Officer in the Norwegian Defence Material Agency, Rear Admiral Bjørge Aase, commented: “The contract will give the Armed Forces a new counter-battery radar with excellent protection, mobility, range and accuracy to be utilized in all types of operations both nationally and internationally.”
Morten Minsaas, COO of Ritek concludes: “We expect both financial and organic growth in addition to export opportunities based on our collaboration with Thales. If we succeed together, we foresee an increase in our staff from the current 55 to close to 70 employees – a significant growth for a regional SME like Ritek. Thales will, through the industrial cooperation ambitions, provide Ritek with know-how and technology transfer. Through this, Thales will contribute to a challenging and very interesting development for our employees, as well as the company as such.” (Source: ASD Network)
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.