Sponsored by Blighter Surveillance Systems
11 Feb 22. Skydio Gets $100m US Army Short Range Reconnaissance Program Contract. Skydio announced that the U.S. Army has selected the Skydio system for its Short Range Reconnaissance (SRR) Program of Record. This contract has a base year value of $20.2 million, ensuring Soldiers have access to the world’s most advanced autonomous drone technology. The Firm-Fixed-Price Five Year Production Other Transaction (OT) agreement will be worth up to $99.8 million over the period of performance. Managed by the Program Executive Office for Aviation’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (PM UAS) Project Management Office, the SRR program aims to equip Soldiers with a rapidly deployable small UAS solution to conduct Reconnaissance and Surveillance (R&S) activities. After evaluating proposals from over 30 small UAS SRR vendors, and rigorous testing of five finalists in partnership with the Defense Innovation Unit, the U.S. Army chose Skydio for final integration based on Soldier feedback and design review packages intended to assess the overall product performance, quality, and production readiness.
“This is an exciting milestone for Skydio, the Army, and most importantly the men and women who serve our country. For drones under 20 pounds, civilian drone technology has raced ahead of traditional defense systems. With the SRR program, our Soldiers will now have access to the most advanced capabilities in the world in this class,” said Skydio CEO Adam Bry. “Skydio drones deliver unparalleled situational awareness and ease of use in the most demanding situations thanks to Skydio Autonomy. We are proud to work with the Army and look forward to fielding these units, while continuing to pioneer the capabilities that provide our troops with the real-time data needed to successfully and safely complete their missions.”
“The selection of the U.S. Army’s short range reconnaissance provider for tranche 1 is a significant milestone for the Army, our strategic partners and the domestic industrial base. The future for our Soldiers is now,” said Col. Joseph Anderson, Project Manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. “The relationships we have formed with industry demonstrate our commitment to compete and our ability to lead and innovate advanced technology in unmanned systems.”
Skydio X2D is the ultimate solution for military and defense customers to perform reconnaissance, search and rescue, and security patrol missions. Skydio X2D pairs Skydio Autonomy, the world’s leading AI-driven flight autonomy software, with a foldable, highly portable airframe that leverages hyper-strength composites to withstand the most demanding environments. X2D features dual color optical thermal sensors, and is equipped with GPS-based night flight and strobe lighting, making it ready for both day and night operations, while providing up to 35 min of flight time on a single battery. Designed, assembled, and supported in the USA, X2D complies with the NDAA’s rigorous supply chain security requirements and offers superior cybersecurity protection. (Source: UAS VISION)
10 Feb 22. Teledyne FLIR launches Conservator™ Subscription Software to Accelerate AI Development with Thermal Imaging. The data lifecycle management (DLM) application optimizes dataset development with access to an annotated infrared and visible library for neural network training and advanced model performance testing. Teledyne FLIR today announced the release of Conservator™, a cloud-based dataset development subscription software for perception engineers using thermal infrared and visible image datasets to train neural networks.
Subscribers also gain access to application specific segments of the Teledyne FLIR annotated image library of more than one million images with more than 100 object label categories. Designed to meet the workflow demands of data scientists in automotive, defense, security, and smart cities applications, Conservator scales to support enterprise artificial intelligence (AI) teams in the research and development of object detection models.
“Conservator is a powerful application for data scientists developing datasets with a full complement of workflow functions including annotation, version control, data right access and model performance,” said Arthur Stout, director of AI product management at Teledyne FLIR Infrared Imaging OEM. “AI starts with quality data and this application supports collaboration to advance multi-sensor neural network development in commercial and defense AI applications.”
Conservator includes dataset workflow tools for annotation, curation, quality assurance, and dataset version control. Built on a scalable and stable database, Conservator can manage petabyte scale libraries. In addition, the included Conservator Insights™ desktop tool provides analysis and visualization of model performance against ground truth references. This empowers data scientists to quickly pinpoint the specific images in large datasets causing false positives or missed detections, enabling rapid dataset iteration and neural network re-training. Conservator follows the recent release of the Teledyne FLIR expanded free starter thermal dataset for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and self-driving vehicle researchers and developers. With both thermal and visible annotated images across fifteen object categories, the free starter thermal dataset allows the automotive and academic community to quickly evaluate the vehicle safety algorithm performance, neural network testing, and thermal sensors, such as the FLIR ADK™.
10 Feb 22. The US Army’s $22bn augmented reality headset program is ‘alive and well’ despite delays. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth also said she could envision changes to the cross-functional team structure of Army Futures Command, with the possibility of sunsetting some teams and creating others. Army Futures Command’s most high profile program is still in the works, despite delays, the Army Secretary said at a think tank event on Tuesday. The Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program, went from a relatively small other transaction agreement to a potentially multibillion-dollar production deal with Microsoft. The system, which has been in the works for about four years, integrates warfighting functions like radio communications and high-resolution night and thermal sensors.
When asked about the project at a Feb. 8 event hosted by the Center for a New American Security, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said despite delays, “IVAS is alive and well.”
The Army and Microsoft are currently working through the challenges that Wormuth said involve the headset’s display.
“And really the challenge we’re facing right now is a little bit in the visualization of the headset and…the resolution of the imaging and that’s really what the delay is about,” she said, noting that the first version of IVAS may not be as “streamlined” as the Army ultimately wants but “it’s the alpha version and we need to start there.”
Future of AFC
Wormuth said that the command is safe from major changes for now, but tweaks to Army Futures Command’s structure to keep up with updated needs in the coming years is possible.
“We’re not envisioning any major changes to Futures Command right now,” Wormuth said, adding that the organizations that handle Army modernization – Futures Command, the cross functional teams, the program executive officers, and Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology) – generally work well together.
However, the structure of the cross-functional teams, which are charged with helping craft requirements before they’re transitioned to a full Army program, could see updates in future years, she said.
“By virtue of how AFC was stood up, the cross functional teams are there to work on development efforts before they become programs of record. So over time, years from now, we may well get to a point where we’ll do some tweaking of AFC,” Wormuth said.
“We may not need all the cross-functional teams that we have now; we may need new cross-functional teams to work on new areas. So I can envision making some changes potentially down the road but right now I think we have to keep the momentum going.”
Funding concerns also weigh on the Army’s modernization efforts this year. Echoing concerns defense officials voiced to Congress in January, Wormuth said the lack of certainty around fiscal 2022 funding could affect planning the Army’s large scale technology demonstration, Project Convergence at Yuma Proving Ground, scheduled for later this year.
“We are going to have to make some hard choices and everything is on the table,” Wormuth said of stopgap funding.
Moreover, Wormuth said the goal is to keep pace with the efforts, look at each program to determine which ones can go from prototypes to programs of record, while keeping costs in check.
“We really have to find a way to move forward with the six modernization portfolios that we have – air and missile defense, long range fires, network, soldier lethality, and next generation vehicles. The challenge is how do we do that within our budget while we’re also needing to take care of soldiers, families, and reinvest in our infrastructure.” (Source: Defense Systems)
08 Feb 22. USAF officially looking for vendors to potentially replace E-3 AWACs. In a new solicitation, the Air Force states it could put a company under contract in fiscal 2023 to make the first two prototype E-3 replacement airplanes. The US Air Force could buy the first two aircraft to replace the E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control fleet as early as fiscal 2023, the service announced today. The service is now seeking information from industry about whether companies can deliver “at least two production representative prototype aircraft, including ground support and training systems, within five years starting in FY23,” when a contract is expected to be awarded, an Air Force solicitation states.
Although the request for information doesn’t constitute a promise from the government to start a program of record, the move shows that the Air Force may be inching closer towards replacing the aging AWACS.
But a big question remains: Will the Air Force choose to sole source Boeing’s E-7 Wedgetail — an aircraft that has garnered support from top service leaders such as Air Combat Command head Gen. Mark Kelly and Air Force Pacific Command head Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach — or does the new solicitation signal a more open competition for the aircraft?
The RFI provides little information about how the Air Force could structure a new program, if it chooses to pursue one.
Instead, the services calls on companies to submit information on proposed E-3 replacement aircraft, including on key systems such as: its advanced air moving target indication radar, battle management command and control (BMC2) system, self-defense capabilities and key communications systems like Link 16 and Mobile User Objective System.
The aircraft should be able to conduct at least six missions simultaneously, such as offensive counter air, defensive counter air, air traffic control, close air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, aerial refueling or combat search and rescue. The solicitation also asks whether the proposed offer is capable of conducting maritime surveillance.
The E-7A Wedgetail is the likely forerunner for the E-3 replacement, given the fact that it’s made by American aerospace giant Boeing and operated by close US allies such as Australia and the United Kingdom.
During the US Air Force’s Red Flag air combat exercise held last month, an Australian Wedgetail flew alongside US F-22s and F-35s. That experience could help ease the way for the US to incorporate the E-7 in future operations should it ultimately chose to buy it, said Maj. Gen. Case Cunningham, commander of the Air Warfare Center, during an Air Force Association event in January.
However, the Air Force announced plans in October to put Boeing on contract to provide further technical information about the Wedgetail and provide analysis on how it could meet US requirements and standards. This additional RFI could signify that the service intends to widen its aperture before committing to the E-7.
Mike Manazir, Boeing’s vice president for defense business development, told reporters in November that he was “very confident” that the Air Force would chose the Wedgetail to replace its E-3 fleet.
“I believe they’ll be announcing sometime in 2022 that they’re going to move forward on the E-7,” Manazir said. “I think we’re going to be able to capitalize with all of our allies and bring that great capability to the United States Air Force.”
If the Air Force decides to compete the contract, other aerospace companies could step in with additional options.
During Dubai Airshow in November, Saab CEO Micael Johansson told Breaking Defense that the company is ready to offer its GlobalEye airborne early warning and control plane to the United States.
“I don’t know whether it’s really political, that they have to select US companies for that [opportunity],” said Johansson. “We will be willing to discuss [industrial] partnerships, of course around that as well. But I think we have a very competitive solution.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
09 Feb 22. Ultra’s Hawk IFF Deploys Successfully in UAS Exercises at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Ultra Electronics and Berry Aviation Inc. demonstrated the capabilities of its Hawk Identification Friend or Foe (IFF), a micro-device that enables automatic determination of the identity of airborne vehicles, in support of Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS) mission experimentation during MFIX 22.
For three weeks, the MFIX exercise bridges the gap in Army capabilities by joining programs of record with emerging technology and experiment with new solutions.
Daniel Pikora, President of Ultra Specialist RF, commented: “The counter-UAS mission requires rapidly detection and identification of threats in the battlespace. During these experiments at MFIX, Hawk micro-IFF demonstrated an identification capability for Group 1 UAS’s. Ultra’s micro-IFF solution provided a ‘first-look’ blue-force identification capability to the support counter-UAS systems deployed during the experiment.”
Small commercial UASs are being used increasingly as tactically significant weapons and/or surveillance platforms. The Hawk IFF allows blue force identification in a fraction of the time than traditional methods. C-UAS experiments at MFIX are set to turn the tide of UAS identification by quick identification of red force UAS thus increasing standoff range and reaction time. Ultra Electronics provides miniaturized IFF transponders to counter the proliferation of small UASs in the battlespace. The Hawk IFF weighs only 7.6 ounces and is roughly 20X smaller than classic IFF devices, an ideal solution for U.S. allies and partners as they rely on small UASs for attack, defense and surveillance. (Source: UAS VISION)
02 Feb 22. Quicker radar development, desire for lessons-learned helped drive US Navy single-phase delivery decision for CVN 79. The US Navy (USN) chose to change the way it would take delivery of aircraft carrier (CVN 79) in part because development of the proposed radar suite for the ship moved along more quickly than anticipated and the USN also wanted to build up more lessons-learned for later Ford-class carriers, according to Rear Admiral James Downey, USN Aircraft Carriers program executive officer.
The initial Kennedy plan broke up the normal single carrier delivery, Rear Adm Downey noted on 1 February during a carrier panel discussion at the American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE) 2022 Technology, Systems & Ships and Combat Systems Symposium.
“It was a two-phase approach, with the hull, mechanical, and electrical (HME) [components] delivery later this year and, in two more years, to finish the combat system,” he said.
“That would have had us fully man the ship now, and then deal with the issues of not having a complete ship and finish the ship by 24. We modified that to a traditional ship delivery,” he added. (Source: Janes)
07 Feb 22. U.S. Soldiers with the 1st Stryker Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, conducted Mobile Low, Slow, Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Integrated Defense System (M-LIDS) training, Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Jan. 25, 2022. The Soldiers trained on the M-LIDS weapon system, which can be mounted on vehicles and is designed to target and disable, or destroy hostile drones or other unmanned aerial vehicles, in support of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve advise, assist, and enable mission. The Moog Reconfigurable Integrated-weapons Platform (RIwP®) is a revolutionary remote turret, providing the Warfighter overmatch capability and increased survivability to exceed current and emerging threats across the full spectrum of conflict. In many configurations RIwP® medium caliber precision lethality, for tactical and combat platforms, provides greater firepower than most currently fielded combat systems ensuring advantages over ground and air threats. Current configurations include the option for multiple missiles, direct fire weapons and sight combinations. All direct fire weapons feature reload under armor for increased crew protection. DRS designed the system to work with the Moog turret and then we integrated all of it onto the vehicle.
- Optimizes crew survivability through the use of reload under armor for all direct fire weapons and at least STANAG III interior protection
- Advanced fire control architecture featuring a dual-axis, long range, independently stabilized sight for optimum on-the-move targeting and engagements
- Meets all threshold and most objective requirements for precision medium caliber lethality, Counter-UAS kinetic defeat, and Maneuver Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD)
- Offers more firepower than most fielded combat systems
- Light weight for tactical platforms
- Stationary and on-the-move capability against both ground and fixed wing, rotary wing and Group 1 – 5 Unmanned Aerial Systems
- Commonality of base system elements maximizes the efficiency of training, logistics and spares management, saving time and money
- Tailored overmatch to current and emerging battlefield threats
- Optimizes crew protection through the use of reload under armor for all direct fire weapons
- Commonality of base system elements maximizes the efficiency of training, logistics and spares management
07 Feb 22. Update on Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) awards £90m subcontract to Thales UK for state-of-the-art sighting systems on Challenger 3. The contract will provide sights (panoramic and fixed azimuth weapon aiming sights) for both the vehicle commander and gunner. Thales will also provide a Signal Processing System (SPS), which will deliver state of the art video tracking and Wide Area Search and Detection (WASAD) capability.
Commander’s sight: Orion
Gunner’s sight: DNGS-T3
20 Dec 21. A demonstration of counter-unmanned aircraft systems solutions generates interest from 16 foreign partners. When a Soldier encounters an adversary’s unmanned aircraft system, hovering just outside her foxhole, she can either hope she wasn’t seen, or she can deploy LIDS to incapacitate it—disabling the electronics and even shooting it right out of the sky—and not have to worry. The combat successes of the Low-Slow-Small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integrated Defeat System (LIDS) have generated international interest in the system as a deterrent to small UAS outside of traditional air defense system capabilities. LIDS was developed by Integrated Fires/Rapid Capabilities Office (IF/RCO) in the Program Executive Office (PEO) for Missiles and Space. To showcase the system capabilities, IF/RCO hosted an International Demonstration Day on Aug. 18 during routine testing at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.
The demonstration featured fixed-site LIDS (FS-LIDS), which includes the Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control, counter unmanned aircraft electronic warfare system, electro-optical infrared camera, direction finding sensors, mesh-net Internet Protocol radios, and the AN/TPQ-50 Multi-mission Radar. For kinetic defeat, FS-LIDS employs a Ku Band Multifunction Radio Frequency System Radar and Coyote Block 2 Interceptor. The U.S. Government also exhibited Mobile LIDS (M-LIDS), which is equipped with all five LIDS capabilities, plus a 30 mm chain gun that are all integrated into mine resistant ambush protected all-terrain vehicles.
The LIDS family of systems uses a modular framework with a cutting-edge capability, overlaid on existing programs of record, to create a mechanism to defeat UAS from the smallest systems to Group 3 unmanned aircraft capable of carrying large explosives or sophisticated observation payloads. These aircraft typically weigh more than 55 pounds, but less than 1,320 pounds and operate below 18,000 feet at speeds of slower than 250 knots—like the Shadow and the Integrator.
To demonstrate the full range of the system, the Army conducted eight scenarios: three used the Counter Unmanned Aircraft Electronic Warfare System, two used the XM914 30 mm cannon with proximity fused ammunition, and three used the Coyote Block 2 Interceptor. Threats included single flights and swarms in multiple configurations. All of these scenarios used Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control to provide command and control, engagement operations, situational awareness and automated air-track information to support multiple simultaneous missions with electro-optical infrared sense support from the Nighthawk camera.
Foreign partners noted the Coyote’s automatic re-attack capability, which enhances “probability of kill” for each round fired. The detonation associated with the terminal engagement of the kinetic kills, while impressive, is only part of the capabilities available for the LIDS family of systems. The counter unmanned aircraft electronic warfare system provides an extra layer of defense for integrated kinetic weapon systems and has the ability to mitigate swarms of UAS in multiple configurations.
IN MODERN WARFARE
The number of commercial off-the-shelf drones and the availability of kits and online tutorials to build drones out of easy-to-find items, means that counter unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS) must be modular, open architecture and scalable to evolve with the threat. Both terrorist organizations and nation states have used weaponized drones to inflict damage ranging from targeted attacks on individual tanks to broad scale attacks against strategic critical infrastructure.
In an August 2021 post on an industry website, GlobalData Thematic Research, part of a London-based data analytics and consulting company said, “C-UAS can employ several methods to detect the presence of hostile or unauthorized UAS. As new technologies such as artificial intelligence and drone swarms mature, unmanned aerial vehicles have the potential to revolutionize modern warfare. To counter this emerging threat, investment in cutting edge C-UAS is essential.”
IF/RCO is excited to act as the lead system integrator within PEO Missiles and Space to provide a quick, affordable and innovative C-UAS solution that is readily exportable. For economies of scale and efficiency, IF/RCO will combine United States and foreign military sales requirements under the same contract whenever possible in accordance with PGI 225.7301(c)(ii), from PGI 225.73, “Acquisitions for Foreign Military Sales.”
The Army initially deployed LIDS to U.S. Army Central Command’s area of operations in 2017, and with the addition of the more recently deployed Coyote Block 2, provided the United States with an improved capability to defeat threat drones. There is an increase in the DOD down-selection of “best of breed” systems to counter small drones as a first step in a longer-range plan to streamline programs and capabilities across services, according to PEO Missiles and Space. The Joint C-UAS Office selected the FS-LIDS and Coyote Block 2 Interceptor as the best initial DOD solution based on capability and performance. With this selection, the Army has drafted a capability-development document to transition C-UAS fixed site and semi-fixed site from a quick-reaction capability to a program of record.
The international demonstration was largely successful. Sixteen countries attended and witnessed eight effective scenarios employing the LIDS family of systems. Scenarios included electronic warfare kills and kinetic kills from both fixed site and M-LIDS configurations. Modern warfare is leading to an increasing urgency for C-UAS solutions and IF/RCO estimates significant demand for procurement of C-UAS leading to an increasing number of foreign military sales cases and foreign military funding cases in the next 10 years. (Source: https://asc.army.mil/)
03 Feb 22. Flex Force delivers 1000th Dronebuster hand-held drone countermeasure system. Flex Force Enterprises reports delivery of its 1000th Dronebuster hand-held drone countermeasure. Flex Force designed the Dronebuster in 2017 to be an effective, low-cost drone countermeasure. After fielding the 1000th system, Drone Force continues to diversify the Dronebuster product line to now include multiple variants. This year will see production deliveries of the latest Satellite Navigation Attack feature along with other performance and durability upgrades to the Dronebuster family of products. Flex Force CEO Jake Sullivan noted: “We continue to develop and upgrade the Dronebuster to match the evolving drone threat. The Dronebuster continues to be the most effective and easy-to-use hand-held countermeasure for our US and international partners.” The Dronebuster is being marketed for authorised US Government and International government end-use only. Flex Force will have the Dronebuster and ASP products on display at various U.S. and international trade shows this year. For more information visit: www.flexforce.us (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
04 Feb 22. Advanced Protection Systems partners with ORLEN Security to offer drone detection solutions. Advanced Protection Systems (APS) has signed a partnership agreement with ORLEN Security. APS’ SKYctrl anti-drone systems and FIELDctrl 3D MIMO radar family will be used to support a wide range of security activities by ORLEN Security to ensure the security of national critical infrastructure. ORLEN Security focuses primarily on the safety of customers from the segment of strategic units for the national economy, facilities subject to mandatory protection and facilities whose business profile is associated with a high level of operational risk (refining and petrochemical industry). For more information visit: www.apsystems.tech (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
04 Feb 22. Bahrain Defence Forces select BATS C-UAS equipment. February 4, 2022 Philip Butterworth-Hayes Counter-UAS systems and policies. Belgian Advanced Technology Systems (BATS) has announced that Bahrain Defence Forces has bought an undisclosed number of C-UAS systems and associated logistics and training services. According to a company press release the DroneGuard, BATS’ C-UAS solution, features a suite of technology sensors (4D radar, COMINT, COMJAM, Ultra Long Range EO/IR) closely integrated and managed by a C2 system that will enable BDF to detect, classify, track and counter multiple drone targets. DroneGuard underwent extensive demonstrations and trials with BDF during 2021, says the company, and successfully passed 21 over 21 scenarios. For more information: https://www.bats.be/press-uk/bahrain-defence-forces-select-bats-for-supply-of-c-uas-systems (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
07 Feb 22. Boeing rolls out first Poseidon MMA for South Korea. Boeing presented the first of six P-8A Poseidon multimission maritime aircraft (MMA) for South Korea on 3 February. Aircraft 921 (tail number 230921, construction number 170023) was rolled out of the Boeing paint shop near Seattle in the livery of the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN). With South Korea’s Foreign Military Sales procurement having been approved in September 2018, which the country signed in March 2020, deliveries are due to begin in 2023. Once in service, the P-8s will initially augment the RoKN’s eight Lockheed Martin P-3C/K Orion maritime patrol aircraft, before eventually replacing them. Derived from the Boeing 737-800 commercial airliner (but with 737-900 wings), the P-8A Poseidon has been built by a Boeing-led industry team that includes CFM International, GE Aviation, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and Spirit AeroSystems. (Source: Janes)
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.