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07 Jan 22. US Army finally picks an optic for Next Generation Squad Weapon. The Next Generation Squad Weapon-Fire Control will be built by the Vortex Optics/Sheltered Wing partnership. The companies are scheduled to produce as many as 250,000 optics over the next 10 years. (Vortex)
The Army hasn’t yet decided which of two competitors will build the Army and Marine Corps replacement for the M4, M16 and M249 yet, but on Friday, they announced who’ll be making the advanced optic to go on top of the Next Generation Squad Weapon.
Vortex Optics subsidiary Sheltered Wings has been selected to build as many as 250,000 Next Generation Squad Weapon – Fire Control systems at a starting price of about $20m over the next decade. The partnership beat out L3 Harris, the other company selected to provide a prototype for testing and evaluation.
“The NGSW-FC system is a ruggedized fire control that increases accuracy and lethality for the Close Combat Force. It integrates a number of advanced technologies, including a variable magnification optic, backup etched reticle, laser rangefinder, ballistic calculator, atmospheric sensor suite, compass, Intra-Soldier Wireless, visible and infrared aiming lasers, and a digital display overlay,” according to a release from the Army’s Cross Functional Team-Soldier Lethality.
Beginning in earnest in 2018, the Army narrowed its decades-long attempt to replace the more than half century old weapon by selecting the 6.8mm as the intermediate caliber replacement. The round has shown in ballistics testing that it outperforms the existing 5.56mm and 7.62mm rounds for lethality, range and accuracy.
But to take full advantage of that new round and weapon combo, the Army needs a better optic.
And they want more than just nice glass.
The new optic will basically be a computer atop the weapon, calculating range, ballistics, atmospherics, directional information, digital overlay and wireless features to link to devices such as the still-developing Integrated Visual Augmentation System, the Army’s new “do-it-all” goggle expected to begin fielding later this year.
The NGSW-FC will replace the close combat optic, rifle combat optic and machine gun optic. But neither the optic nor the weapon will be “pure fleeted” anytime soon, meaning all soldiers and Marines will get it.
This gear rollout is slated for the close combat forces — special operations, Marine and Army infantry, combat engineers and scouts, primarily.
The Army is scheduled this year to choose between the NGSW prototype offerings from Sig Sauer, a more conventional AR-style design, and the True Velocity/LoneStar Future Weapons, an option which features a bullpup design. (Source: Army Times)
06 Jan 22. Thales wins VASSCO contract to support air surveillance systems. The French defence ministry’s aeronautical maintenance directorate (DMAé) has awarded Thales a ten-year contract under the VASSCO programme to provide through-life support for the principal components of the national air command and control system (SCCOA). Thales’s main responsibilities include:
- Performance-based logistics support sustainment for the SCCOA system to meet the requirements of the French armed forces
- Management and coordination of some 15 companies and organisations involved in logistics support for the SCOAA system, including CS Group and the French defence ministry’s military aircraft maintenance service (SIAé)
- Provision of a 360° picture of critical systems status and through-life support planning to meet the operational needs of the French forces
SCCOA comprises more than 700 complex systems such as air defence radars, control centres, ground-air communications and information systems installed at 125 sites across mainland France and the overseas territories to detect and defeat air threats. The air command and control system plays a key role in airspace protection, enabling the French forces to conduct their missions effectively in France and in overseas theatres of operations.
The VASSCO programme is designed to meet current and future technological challenges and guarantee higher operational availability of the system. It provides the French defence ministry’s aeronautical maintenance directorate (DMAé) with three major innovations:
- Unified logistics management. A technical and logistics platform will combine the support capabilities of government and industry to drive higher efficiency across the entire logistics support chain.
- Optimised logistics support. Guaranteeing the efficiency of logistics support solutions is more crucial than ever. Local stocks of parts and consumables will be created at the main government sites, and a 24/7 hotline will be available to guarantee end-to-end logistics support and maintain or quickly restore operational service.
- Data-driven logistics support. With a unified information system for operational logistics management, VASSCO will guarantee data integrity and rapid dissemination of information to all the stakeholders in the logistics support ecosystem, ensuring digital continuity and paving the way to predictive maintenance while improving operational availability and security.
“We are delighted that the DMAé has renewed its confidence in Thales with this major award. We will assume the responsibilities of VASSCO programme prime contractor for the next ten years and coordinate the entire ecosystem of government and industry partners and providers. VASSCO will guarantee higher performance of the components making up the French armed forces, which is a crucial part of France’s permanent air security presence.” Christophe Salomon, Executive Vice President Land & Air Systems, Thales.
06 Jan 22. US Security forces airmen step up anti-drone training after recent attacks in Iraq, Syria. Security forces airmen at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait are stepping up their counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems efforts following a series of drone strikes against U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq and Syria carried out in the past few days.
U.S. Central Command’s boss, Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., said last year that the proliferation of small, cheap drones is the “most concerning tactical development” since the rise of the improvised explosive device in Iraq. Both the Army and the Air Force have been working to bolster their counter-SUAS efforts, with the Air Force’s 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron developing seminars to provide guidance on how to handle threats from such drones.
“The seminars are a one-on-one opportunity for general leadership to understand what our capabilities are,” Staff Sgt. Daniel Butts, the NCO in charge of counter-SUAS for the 386th ESFS, said in an Air Force press release. “These systems provide real time video or a picture and now leadership has a better understanding of what others could use it for.”
“We call it the ‘kill chain’….detect, track, identify and defeat,” Butts said. “The main thing is detecting so we’re able to see it and track it. Once we’re able to track it, we’re going to identify it, which is key to helping us understand if it’s hostile or not and to what extent. Then we can defeat it.”
The training takes place as U.S. forces in Iraq still face threats from so-called “suicide drones,” according to the U.S.-led coalition there.
On Monday, two armed drones were shot down as they headed toward a facility housing U.S. advisors at Baghdad airport. Then on Tuesday, two explosives-laden drones targeting an Iraqi military base housing U.S. troops in western Anbar province were again downed by base air defenses.
While the U.S. military officially ended its combat mission in Iraq in December, around 2,500 troops will remain in-country in an advisory role. (Source: Defense News)
05 Jan 22. Quanergy Delivers Industry First 200 Meter Range for OPA-Based Solid State LiDAR. Quanergy Systems, Inc., a leading provider of OPA-based solid state LiDAR sensors and smart 3D solutions for automotive and IoT, today announced the successful demonstration of its Optical Phased Array (OPA) technology out to a range of 200 meters. This doubles the range achieved earlier in the year and further expands the set of applications the technology can address through the S3 Series LiDAR, a true solid state sensor using an industry-first, scalable CMOS silicon manufacturing process for cost-effective, mass-market production.
The demonstration was conducted with a solid-state LiDAR S3 test platform with a single scanning beam. The test included the detection and tracking of difficult-to-detect objects, including a target with 10% reflectivity mounted on a vehicle stationed 200 meters away and a person with dark clothes as he walked the entire distance to the vehicle at 200 meters.
“This demonstration of Quanergy’s OPA technology at the 200 meter range is a major milestone for the industry since it highlights its efficacy for a broad range of industrial automation and automotive applications,” said James Hodgson, Principal Analyst, ABI Research. “Its range performance, CMOS-based process, coupled with its ability to operate with no moving parts with a very high mean-time-between failures, positions OPA as the leading technology for high manufacturing scale automotive applications, expected to surpass Digital MEMS and Flash.”
“Quanergy has advanced its OPA-based solid-state technology and can now detect objects out to a 200 meter range,” said Dr. Tianyue Yu, Quanergy’s Co-Founder and Chief Development Officer. “Quanergy’s OPA Technology offers the highest reliability with no moving parts, adaptive zoom for zoom-in/zoom-out capabilities to focus on any obstacles and active scanning which allows for steering capability and flexibility to collect points in any pattern. These attributes provide for high-volume, high-yield, low-cost manufacturing.”
In June 2021, Quanergy entered into a definitive merger agreement with CITIC Capital Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: CCAC) (“CCAC”). Upon closing of the transaction, the combined company will be named Quanergy Systems, Inc. and is expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol “QNGY.” The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022, subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions.
About Quanergy Systems, Inc.
Quanergy Systems’ mission is to create powerful, affordable smart LiDAR solutions for automotive and IoT applications to enhance people’s experiences and safety. Quanergy has developed the only true 100% solid state CMOS LiDAR sensor built on optical phased array (OPA) technology to enable the mass production of low-cost, highly reliable 3D LiDAR solutions. Through Quanergy’s smart LiDAR solutions, businesses can now leverage real-time, advanced 3D insights to transform their operations in a variety of industries including industrial automation, physical security, smart cities, smart spaces, and much more. Quanergy solutions are deployed by nearly 400 customers across the globe. For more information, please visit us at www.quanergy.com. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
24 Dec 21. Despite delay, ‘mixed reality’ goggle for soldiers, Marines on schedule for 2022. The recent push for an advanced augmented reality goggle for dismounted soldiers and Marines hit a technological speed bump this past year but is still on track to reach troops’ hands in 2022.
The Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, is the Army’s project to put navigation, intelligence, situational awareness and advanced target acquisition into the viewfinder of grunts, special ops and those who support them in the close fight. The goggle uses augmented reality to overlay displays into the vision of the user. Kicked off in 2018, the program run by the Army’s Program Executive Office-Soldier had an aggressive fielding date of early 2022. Following some inconsistencies in the heads-up displays and moisture control problems with some devices, the Army has added another round of tests and pushed back the fielding to late 2022.
PEO Soldier commander Maj. Gen. Anthony Potts told Army Times in October that the push was done out of an abundance of caution. The team, Potts explained, is pushing the boundaries of technology with their demands for a wider field-of-view than ever before available on a night vision device.
What was happening was the heads-up displays were showing a kind of “screen door effect” where the image resolution had a grid-like view.
Current vision devices offer about a 40-degree field-of-view for night vision or thermal sites. The new goal sought to double that to 80 degrees.
But the processing basically stretched the view, something like looking through a stretched balloon, throwing off the accuracy by only a few degrees, but enough to affect the user.
Army scientists are working through the issue, Potts said. But the IVAS that’s fielded this coming year will still offer an estimated 70-degree field-of-view, nearly twice that of standard devices.
Ongoing, on-schedule work that will continue as the testing proceeds includes stabilizing software sets, working on single-channel radio links, tactical cloud packages to add capabilities on the fly in the future and system integration with other devices that troops carry, Potts said.
The IVAS is slated for special operations, Army and Marine infantry and their immediate supporting units, such as combat engineers and scouts. (Source: Defense News)
05 Jan 22. Egypt launches Apache upgrade. The US Department of Defense (DoD) has contracted Lockheed Martin to upgrade the sensors of Egypt’s Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters as the first step in a planned modernisation of the fleet to the latest AH-64E Apache Guardian standard. Awarded on 28 December the USD102.4m deal covers the production and delivery of hardware components and spares of the AN/ASQ-170 Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight (MTADS)/ AN/AAR-11 Pilot Night Vision Sensor (PNVS) system. The MTADS/PNVS extends the Apache’s optical targeting ranges, at the same time as providing the crew with high-resolution images to help avoid obstacles, such as wires and trees, during nap-of-the-earth flight. News of the award, which is set to run till 31 July 2024, came about 19 months after the US State Department approved the remanufacture of 43 Egyptian AH-64D helicopters for an estimated USD2.3bn. (Source: Janes)
05 Jan 22. NATO trials Dstl standard for counter-drone systems. SAPIENT successfully facilitated more than 70 connections between systems during technical interoperability exercise, leading to widespread industry adoption. Originally developed by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and Innovate UK, SAPIENT is an open software architecture that helps different sensors, interfaces and decision-making modules work together with little or no software engineering, and can improve efficiency through use of autonomy.
With the misuse of small, widely available drones representing a significant and growing risk to operations and day-to-day defence activity, NATO is working with industry to develop capabilities to counter this threat, and in November 2021 undertook a trial of various counter-drone technologies and systems. The counter-uncrewed air system technical interoperability exercise (C-UAS TIE 21) included testing SAPIENT’s Interface Control Document (ICD) as a candidate draft standard for counter-drone systems.
During the demanding air defence exercise, SAPIENT proved highly successful in providing the standard for underlying information exchange.
It enabled more than 70 connections between counter-UAS (uncrewed air systems) and Command and Control (C2) systems. It also facilitated 17 advanced autonomous sensor modules (ASM) from different vendors to connect to 7 decision-making modules (DSM). Impressively, in some cases this connection was completely plug-and-play, achieving zero-second integration time.
As a result, many suppliers of counter-drone technology have now adopted the SAPIENT standard. It has already been adopted by MOD as the standard for counter-UAS technology.
David Lugton, Dstl Project Technical Authority for counter-UAS systems, said: “NATO TIE adds to the recent success of the SAPIENT deployment at Contested Urban Environment 2021 and builds on its adoption in the UK MOD C-sUAS Strategy. The widespread voluntary adoption of SAPIENT by industry across NATO was highly impressive, paves the way to an open commercial market of SAPIENT compliant C-UAS components and places the architecture as a crucial enabler as the demand for rapid C-UAS interoperability increases across the NATO nations.”
By providing a common standard for interfacing sensing, effector, fusion and C2 element, SAPIENT facilitates the use of autonomy and reduces the workload on operators. And by using the openly-available SAPIENT Interface Control Document, suppliers and partners can ensure they develop compatible modules, making integrations between systems quick and easy.
Dstl’s Professor Paul Thomas said: “Zero-second integration is really important. Rather than spending months or years developing a system, by which time the threat has changed or gone away, you can simply click together these pieces and they just work at deployment time. So you can respond to a new or an emerging threat by integrating the pieces you need at the time you need them.”
The NATO TV channel have produced a video article about the exercise, which includes footage of various counter-drone technologies in action. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
04 Jan 22. Indra’s Lanza 3D deployable air defence radar clears Nato tests. The system delivered satisfactory results and showcased accurate target detection during all tests.
and consulting company Indra’s Lanza 3D deployable air defence radar (DADR) has successfully cleared Nato’s tactical ballistic missile detection and tracking tests.
Clearance of these tests certifies the Lanza 3D sensor’s tactical ballistic missile detection and tracking capabilities.
The system delivered satisfactory results and showcased accurate target detection and tracking capabilities during all tests.
The 3D LANZA DADR development was initially supported by the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade.
According to Indra, the radar showcased its abilities to detect and track missiles, thereby, providing air traffic control (ATC) and command centres with necessary early warning data to neutralise attacks or reduce damage.
The Nato tests took place at the Radio-Electric Assessment and Analysis Center (CEAR) of the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA) in Guadalajara, Mexico.
During the tests, the radar’s track initiation and target tracking capabilities were tested and evaluated.
A Nato Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) certification and testing tool was used to check the missile detection and tracking capabilities of the radar. (Source: Google/airforce-technology.com)
03 Jan 22. USMC mulling interceptor upgrade for MADIS to counter UAS. Part of the Pentagon’s broader counter UAS strategy it published last year, the Marines hope to field a system by fiscal 2025. The Marine Corps is collecting information from industry this month on potential counter UAS interceptors it can add to the next block of its ground-based air defense vehicle, following up on the Pentagon’s strategy published last year. The Ground Based Air Defense program office “is interested in interceptor solutions that could be recoverable, field refurbish-able and/or non-recoverable that minimizes cost per engagement of Group 1-3 threats,” according to the public notice. Responses from industry are due on Jan. 20, and the service hopes to field a system by fiscal 2025. The Pentagon characterizes the sizes of unmanned aircraft into “groups.” Group one represents small handheld drones deployable by just one or two Marines on the ground, while group five aircraft are similar in size to full-scale helicopters. The interceptors the service is soliciting would be equipped on the Marine Air Defense Integrated System, also called MADIS. MADIS is essentially a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle with an array of sensors, communications equipment and light weaponry that Low Altitude Air Defense Marines, all called LAADs, can use to fight off incoming hostile drones. The system has proven particularly effective in the Middle East, where terrorist cells have used small UAS for reconnaissance as well as dropping grenades, mortars and “acid,” according to a service statement published in June. The service is seeking solutions rated at a technology readiness level of seven, according to the RFI. The Pentagon’s technology readiness level scale rates capabilities from one to nine based on their time in development and how applicable they are to the military’s use cases. A seven indicates the system has been prototyped and put through some level of operational testing. The questions posed by industry, however, suggested the service’s request to defeat group one, two and three UAS with a single interceptor may be impractical due to the range of capabilities some larger drones possess.
“Is it government’s intent that the interceptor provide defeat capability against all Group 3 UAS targets or some specific low-end Group 3 targets?” one vendor asked.
“The ideal situation would be that the interceptor could defeat some Groups [sic] 3 threats but the Government understands that Group 3 targets represent a large range of capability (i.e. altitude/speed). The Government is looking to understand the current state of the art and RFI responses may inform future requirements,” the service replied.
The Marine Corps’ public notice cites the 2021 Pentagon strategy on countering threats from small UAS.
“Small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) were previously viewed as hobbyist toys, but today it is evident that the potential for hazards or threats has the ability to impact the Joint Force,” then-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller wrote.
“Our initial efforts were intended to meet the immediate needs of Services and combatant commanders. However, as technology and proliferation of sUAS continue to advance at a pace that challenges the Department’s ability to respond effectively within current paradigms, it is evident that we cannot rely on materiel solutions alone,” he continued. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
30 Dec 21. Rostec delivers modernised A-50U long-range aircraft to Russian forces. Russian state-owned company Rostec has handed over a modernised A-50U long-range air surveillance/control aircraft to Russian Aerospace Forces. The Vega Group, a part of the Ruselectronics within Rostec and the Beriev Aircraft Company, which is part of Rostec’s United Aircraft, delivered the long-range ‘flying radar’ to Russian troops. The A-50U radar is capable of detecting fundamentally new types of aircraft, and can also simultaneously track a high number of targets and guided fighters when compared with the earlier upgrade. According to Rostec, A-50U was upgraded under a large-scale programme for the renewal of the Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) aircraft fleet.
Rostec noted that this modernised aircraft is equipped with new electronics for higher performance and speed, and comes with increased functional software capabilities.
The enhanced ergonomics of the plane are designed to increase the tactical personnel’s efficiency.
Furthermore, the upgraded ‘flying radar’ is equipped with a new navigation system.
Vega Concern general director Vyacheslav Mikheev said: “Airborne early warning aircraft are flying radars with the functionality of a command post.
“The speed of detecting and countering air targets of a potential enemy depends on their technical equipment, the performance of the installed electronic systems and flight characteristics, which is confirmed by the combat experience gained.
“We continue to work on the modernization of the military A-50 to the level of the A-50U. This is the seventh such complex delivered to the troops. We plan to commission the next board in 2023.”
The A-50U AWACS aircraft is an advanced version of the A-50 plane.
It can be deployed in a range of missions, including detection, tracking and identification friend or foe (IFF) determination of aerial and land-based targets. Currently, only Russia and the US are engaged in the development of AWACS systems. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
Blighter Surveillance Systems is a world-leading designer and manufacturer of best-in-class electronic-scanning ground-based radars, surveillance solutions and Counter-UAS systems. Blighter’s solid-state micro-Doppler products are deployed in more than 35 countries across the globe, delivering consistent all-weather security protection and wide area surveillance along borders, coastlines, at military bases and across critical infrastructure such as airports, oil and gas facilities and palaces. Blighter radars are also used to protect manoeuvre force missions when deployed on military land vehicles and trailers, and its world-beating multi-mode radar represents a great leap in threat detection technology and affordability for use in a variety of scenarios.
The Blighter range of radar products are used for detecting a variety of threats, from individuals on foot to land vehicles, boats, drones and low-flying aircraft at ranges of up to 32 km. Blighter Surveillance Systems employs 40 people and is located near Cambridge, UK, where it designs, produces and markets its range of unique patented solid-state radars. Blighter prides itself on being an engineer-led business committed to providing cost-effective and flexible solutions across the defence, critical infrastructure and national security markets.