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31 Dec 21. Ukrainian Firm Flight Tests Drone-Based AWACS. Ukraine’s Infozakhist Research and Production Center test flew the Gekata radio reconnaissance unmanned system for the first time recently, Ukrainian defense news website Defense Express revealed. The system comprises eight Ukrspecsystems PD-2 drones — four active and four spares — and a ground control station. Each drone carries with it an Infozakhist radio technical intelligence box suspended with the aircraft’s body tracking “signal pulses from the radar stations, electronic warfare support measures, anti-craft warfare, and airplanes.”
The system can reconnoiter a ground target from a distance of up to 450 kilometers (278 miles) and is capable of detecting radio signals from ground and air sources in real-time. The drone’s small size — its wingspan is five meters (16 feet) — in comparison to an aircraft-based electronic intelligence also makes it harder to detect.
Tracks Up to 200 Targets Simultaneously
The platform can track up to 200 targets simultaneously and processes up to 2.5 million impulses per second. Moreover, it comes at a fraction of the cost of a traditional Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS).
The director of the scientific and production center at Infozahist, Yaroslav Kalinin, explained in a previous Defense Express interview that “by placing 10-kg (22 lbs) containers with equipment on several UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicle], we create a mobile reconnaissance network that begins to perform the same functions as bulky ground complexes.”
“But now we are not tied to the terrain, that is, we can look into every hole of enemy positions. In fact, we use a drone network to do what AWACS aircraft are used for.”
(Source: News Now/https://www.thedefensepost.com/)
27 Dec 21. With first shipboard radar now running, Raytheon looks to upgrade SPY-6 for distributed operations. Even as Raytheon Missiles and Defense is building and installing its first SPY-6 radars, it’s also working with the U.S. Navy to add new functions to the radars with a software tool that would connect ships’ radars for an enhanced view of potential threats on the ocean. Four versions of the SPY-6 radar will outfit seven types of ships in the Navy’s future fleet. It’s still early in the program: Just one destroyer, the Jack H. Lucas, has had its large V1 Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) installed and turned on to begin integration testing. The first of the smaller V2 and V3 Enterprise Air Surveillance Radars (EASR) are slated for installation in 2022. But Raytheon is planning for the day when dozens of these radars are out at sea, with the potential to communicate with one another and offer a clearer view of the battlespace for Navy and joint force operators. Raytheon, the Office of Naval Research, and the Above Water Sensors office in the Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS) recently completed a demonstration of the Network Cooperative Radar concept, which they say is the underpinning for the Navy’s distributed maritime operations concept.
Bryan Cavener, director of advanced technology at Raytheon Missiles and Defense, told Defense News this month in an email the project showed “how multiple radars could communicate and cooperate together on objectives. Network Cooperative Radar is consistent with the U.S. Navy’s vision for Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO), which hinges on distributing forces throughout the battlespace and then linking those units together in a robust network architecture.”
With this more complete picture of the operating area, the Navy can make better decisions to achieve and maintain sea control and project power, he said. “They could, for example, track an object together, communicating information to each other on what each radar ‘sees.’”
This capability could become critical in the future, as adversaries become better at hiding ships, aircraft and weapons in both the physical environment and the electromagnetic environment.
“One of the principal benefits of distributed sensing is the ability of forces in different parts of the battlespace to share their tactical data, creating a more complete picture across the force,” Cavener said. “NCR-enabled sensors will have a substantially improved collective capability to see through operational factors that might mask an adversary unit; where one ship might not see a contact, a ship in a different part of the battlespace might be well-[positioned] to track the contact and then share that information with the rest of the force.”
Though Raytheon and the Navy did not detail the next steps for this effort, which began in 2016 and falls under the Navy’s Future Naval Capabilities science and technology program, Cavener said demonstrating flexible hardware with software-defined capabilities is an important first step in realizing distributed maritime operations.
“Our new ‘software-defined aperture’ model of radar development means we can deploy smarter radars every day through cyber-hardened software upgrades,” he said. “Programs like Network Cooperative Radar and [the Radar Modular Assembly-based Flexible Distributed Radar] are so exciting because they are proving out this model. In the case of NCR, these are SPY-6 radars that we developed new software for to perform distributed sensing.”
In a news release, PEO IWS Rear Adm. Seiko Okano praised the distributed sensing demonstration as an enabler of future operations.
“SPY-6 will provide an unprecedented level of protection to naval forces, and software updates like this demonstrate that it’s only getting better,” she said. “Programs like NCR ensure SPY-6 will be the backbone of our distributed sensing capabilities in the future.”
First, though, the radars will have to be fielded.
Jack H. Lucas, the first Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, has its AN/SPY-6(V)1 Air and Missile Defense Radar installed and up and running. The ship achieved the “light off” of its Aegis Combat System on Dec. 17, marking the start of onboard combat system testing and crew training. This is the first time the new radar and the Aegis Baseline 10 software have interacted on a ship, though they’ve gone through extensive and ongoing land-based testing.
At Raytheon’s manufacturing plant in Andover, Mass., workers are producing one radar array a month, or a pace of three ship sets a year.
“We’re really starting to turn the crank on production,” Scott Spence, the director of naval radar programs at Raytheon Missiles and Defense, told Defense News over the summer.
A plan for future production calls for a maximum requirement of 59 ship sets over five years, or about 12 a year across all four variants — with the largest V1 going on Flight III destroyers; the small rotating V2 going on America-class amphibious assault ships, San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks and Nimitz-class aircraft carriers; the small fixed V3 supporting Ford-class carriers and the Constellation-class frigates; and the large V4 being retrofitted onto Flight IIA destroyers.
A separate production line builds the smaller V2 and V3 radars, Spence said, and that line is also getting up and running ahead of an increase in demand. Spence called 12 a year the upper limit of what they’d expect — particularly given the funding challenges that could put frigates and DDG backfits on a slower path forward, and the fact that the Navy won’t commit to a multi-ship buy on amphibious ships due to uncertainty about how many the service wants.
Still, he said, Raytheon is doing what it can to make these sales appealing. On the DDG backfit side, Spence said Raytheon has been working hard to reduce the time it would take to install the new radar in a maintenance availability.
The large four-sided radar, with each side made up of 24 2-foot-by-2-foot Radar Modular Assemblies — compared to the even-larger V1 radar that has 37 RMAs per side — will replace the legacy AN/SPY-1D. Spence said the drawings are already done and match the power and cooling capabilities of the Flight IIA destroyers; now they’re working on the installation and integration plan.
“It’s really about trying to get that ship in and out of its [availability] as quickly as possible and get it back in the service. So we’ve been able to shrink that timeline down quite a bit. … And that was probably one of the biggest concerns I think the Navy had, is they didn’t want the ships laid up for a long period of time, as you can imagine,” Spence said.
Installing the first V1 radar on Jack H. Lucas helped refine that plan, he said.
“One of the ones we really looked at was how to actually fasten the array to the ship structure, and create a basically bolt-in configuration that allows you to very quickly put that array on there. So we took a lot of the lessons learned to how we’ve lifted and loaded the SPY-6(V)1 onto the Flight IIIs and said, let’s duplicate that type of infrastructure.”
On V2 and V3, Raytheon conducted important testing in 2021 to get the radars ready for installation and integration in 2022. The summertime test event at the Wallops Island Test Facility in Virginia focused on anti-air warfare, air traffic control operations and power system modeling, Spence said, adding that the testing was shortened because of the common hardware and software shared with the V1, which already conducted significant testing ahead of its installation on a ship.
The additional capabilities tested over the summer are needed for amphibious assault ships and aircraft carriers to control the fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft coming and going, and due to the enhanced threats they may face as capital ships. (Source: Defense News)
23 Dec 21. The USAF is ready to retire four E-8C Joint STARS jets in 2022. The Air Force has given the all-clear to begin retiring the fleet of E-8C Joint STARS aircraft at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, the latest step in a yearslong debate over the fate of ground target-tracking planes.
Four jets — a quarter of the total fleet — will head to the boneyard by September, though an exact date hasn’t been scheduled yet, the base said Tuesday. Their crews will be shuffled to other career fields as well.
“New mission requirements and capabilities are already reimagining the … battlefield,” Col. Michelle Carns, commander of the 461st Air Control Wing, said in a release Tuesday. “The men and women of the 461st ACW are poised to provide unrivaled expertise to usher in that vision.”
Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System planes have played a key role in supporting the Army’s ground operations overseas since the 1990s, helping to direct movement around a combat zone and alert troops to potential targets and threats.
The service ran a competition to replace them with a more modern airframe but decided to end it in 2018, fearing the planes could be vulnerable to surface-to-air missiles.
Typical Joint STARS missions require 21 people onboard, including three to fly the plane and 18 to handle tasks like navigation, managing the air-to-ground radar, moving target identification and threat analysis.
Those airmen will get the option to switch to other jobs at Robins, the Air Force’s only Joint STARS base, or to transfer elsewhere. John Roth, then the acting Air Force secretary, previewed the plan in May.
New units slated to arrive at Robins include an Air National Guard air control squadron focused on the Middle East, North Africa and Central and South Asia; an active duty group designed to create new electronic warfare technology; an active duty squadron to pilot the E-11 Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft that acts as a flying radio; and a complex dedicated to the Advanced Battle Management System.
ABMS was first conceived as a potential successor to ground and airborne target-tracking planes, but has taken on new life as a catch-all array of hardware and software that links aircraft, satellites and munitions together in combat. But the concept is still largely in development, and it isn’t clear what jobs airmen would take on until it matures further.
“The air and space systems that make up the ABMS network will include a fusion center and associated supporting activities,” the Air Force said in 2018. “The network will also include some remotely piloted aircraft at Robins with sensors capable of collecting and transmitting information from the battlefield.”
Active duty airmen with the 461st Air Control Wing can either join the new units or move to a different job at another base, the Air Force said. Georgia Air National Guardsmen with the 116th Air Control Wing will retrain for ABMS-related battle management and command-and-control roles at Robins. The base’s staffing level is not expected to change.
Robins first needs to pass an environmental inspection before bringing on future missions. That planning could be done as early as October.
House and Senate lawmakers warned in the 2022 defense policy bill that the Air Force needs to keep the E-8C fleet flying until a replacement is in the works, and worried that pulling it from operations too soon would shortchange commanders who need airborne intelligence.
The legislation did not expressly ban the Air Force from getting rid of the planes, securing a win for service leaders who have pushed to dump Joint STARS for newer technology. The bill was still awaiting President Joe Biden’s signature as of press time Thursday. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Airforce Times)
28 Dec 21. Lithuania receives 830 new riflescopes. The devices were acquired in March under a €4m ($4.5m) contract with the Czech company Meopta Systems s.r.o.
The Lithuanian MND has been increasing efforts to modernise the equipment of its dismounted troops and has announced on 27 December the delivery of 830 new MeoForce DF 1-4×22 riflescopes.
The devices were acquired in March under a €4m ($4.5m) contract with the Czech company Meopta Systems s.r.o. The agreement comprised over three thousand riflescopes, which will be handed over by the end of 2022.
According to a press release from the Lithuanian MND, the new equipment will be used by troops of the National Defence Volunteer Force that are equipped with G36 assault rifles.
In September this year, Lithuania’s Defence Materiel Agency acquired a new batch of these small arms which will be delivered in 2022 and 2023.
These rifles were procured under a €19m ($22m) contract with Heckler & Koch. Details about the number of guns purchased were not disclosed.
Shephard Defence Insight notes that, in October 2018, the Lithuanian Army also purchased G36 rifles under a contract worth $12.6m. (Source: Shephard)
23 Dec 21. iRayUSA, a Texas-based designer, manufacturer and distributor of premium thermal night vision devices announced the US availability of a new thermal rifle scope, the RICO MK1 640 35MM, from InfiRay Outdoor. The RICO MK1 640 35MM features the same high performance iRay Micro II core and high contrast AMOLED HD found in the existing RICO MK1 line, but introduces a new 35mm lens option. With its 35mm lens, the RICO MK1 640 35MM provides a 2X base magnification for customers that demand an increased field of view while hunting.
“Since the release of the RICO MK1 line, we have had customers asking for a scope with a wider field of view,” stated Angelo Brewer, Director of Operations, iRayUSA. “The addition of the RICO MK1 640 35MM confirms InfiRay Outdoor’s commitment to its customers base and ability to continually produce products that are being are asking for,” continued Brewer.
The RICO MK1 640 35MM is available now for a suggested price point of $4999 through the authorized iRayUSA dealer network. As with all iRayUSA products, the RICO MK1 640 35MM comes with a 5-year warranty that includes a 1-week turnaround process. A full list of RICO MK1 640 35MM specifications and an authorized dealer locator can be found on the iRayUSA website, www.irayusa.com.
21 Dec 21. FMV the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration once again awarded Exensor Technology a major contract for the supply of the Flexnet Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) capability. Following the major order received in June for the Swedish National Security Forces – this second order is dedicated to several units within the Swedish Armed Forces. Under the terms of this contract worth over €10m, a significant number of UGS systems will be delivered over the 2022-2024 time frame.
Last Summer, Exensor Technology was selected by FMV for the supply of UGS systems to the Swedish National Security Forces. The new agreement signed in December 2021 further strengthens the strategic partnership and reinforces Exensor’s leading position in the field of UGS.
As part of the new order, Exensor will provide dedicated and tailored UGS systems to a number of units within the Swedish Armed Forces. Each system comprises a portfolio of passive seismic-acoustic and infrared sensors, as well as intelligent motion cameras for the detection, classification and identification of any potential threat on the ground. Systems will be extended to include additional capabilities such as mast mounted cameras, tactical radars and long-range surveillance cameras, as well as maintenance and supply of spare parts.
Flexnet is a force multiplier offering a compact and lightweight footprint for easy transportation and concealment, allowing rapid deployment in remote areas of interests. The system provides early, real-time warning, as well as an increased situational awareness to facilitate decision-making.
Initially developed for self-protection of military forces deployed on operations, Flexnet is now entirely customizable and can be used for various applications, ranging from section level force protection to tactical surveillance of fixed installations.
Yet another important milestone for Exensor, this new contract confirms once again the strategic decision of FMV and FM to implement the use of UGS widespread within the Swedish Armed Forces.
23 Dec 21. Russia Tests Orion UAV to Down Drones In Crimea. The first combat use of the latest attack unmanned aerial vehicle “Orion” against an air target during tests at the Crimean training ground. During the flight, Orion hit ground targets and a helicopter-type drone simulating a maneuvering air target. At present, specialists are testing an aerial reconnaissance complex with unmanned aerial vehicles of long duration of flight, being developed by the Kronstadt group of companies by order of the Russian Ministry of Defense. The Orion UAV will significantly expand the combat capabilities of the Russian Armed Forces. It allows not only to conduct aerial reconnaissance at a great distance from the base airfield for tens of hours, but also to immediately strike at uncovered targets. (Source: UAS VISION/Ministry of Defense of Russia / YouTube)
19 Nov 21. Robin Radar takes off in US market with Boeing deal. Robin Radar Systems have signed a deal with its first U.S. customer to trigger the companies’ phased plan of entering and becoming established in the U.S. market. Boeing will deploy one MAX® avian radar at a U.S. Boeing facility, as part of a six-month trial to mitigate the risk of bird strikes. Boeing will use Robin’s flagship avian radar on a demo and trial case basis, reviewing the radar data to assess and mitigate risk. “The issue of bird strikes is as old as aviation itself,” shares AJ Santomieri, Boeing Flight Operations Support. “We foresee specialized avian radars like these will become the Standard in Aviation and we’re eager to assess its performance.”
The deal marks a critical moment for Robin, as the company takes its first step towards becoming established in the United States with sights set on realizing a firm position in 2022. This opportunity is a result of collaboration between Robin, Boeing and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy through Industrial Participation. For over 100 years, Boeing has been inspiring the world through innovation in aerospace. Today, both Robin and Boeing are pioneering new products, services, and technologies across commercial and military aviation.
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.