Sponsored by Blighter Surveillance Systems
28 Apr 22. Blighter Surveillance Systems (‘Blighter’, www.blighter.com) the British designer and manufacturer of electronic-scanning military radars and surveillance solutions, has been awarded a contract to supply vehicle-mounted tactical radars on an Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) for a Northern European NATO customer for border security applications.
For this programme, Blighter will be supplying its B422 180-degree ground surveillance e-scanning radar in a vehicle-mounted configuration to be fitted to a six-wheeled UGV, driven by the need for flexible and rapidly-deployable threat detection for perimeter and border security. The radars will be augmented by Electro-Optical systems provided by a systems integrator for the programme to provide the UGV with a full-spectrum approach to threat detection.
At this stage, the full complement of systems will be delivered and installed by the latter half of 2022. The B400 series of tactical radars are designed to provide long-range ground surveillance to detect moving vehicles and individuals up to 32 km from a fixed, mobile or portable position. The B400 series benefits from a very wide vertical elevation beam, allowing for simultaneous detection of targets both nearby and at great distance, with an unsurpassed level of ground clutter cancellation resulting in a low false alarm rate.
This is not the first instance of Blighter providing its B400 tactical radars to mobile platforms. Last year the company was selected to supply advanced integrated target acquisition radars to a fleet of armoured fighting vehicles.
Blighter radars are deployed in more than 35 countries across the world, delivering round-the-clock all-weather security protection along borders, for coastal facilities, military bases and critical national infrastructure.
Blighter CEO Angus Hone said: “We are pleased to have been awarded this contract, which exemplifies our expertise in providing integrated threat detection for armoured vehicles. This contract once again demonstrates our status as a trusted supplier of best-in-class e-scanning tactical radars to increase safety and security, not only in Europe, but throughout the world.”
27 Apr 22. DOD IG says Army could waste nearly $22bn on augmented reality headsets. Program officers failed to set baseline levels to determine whether IVAS would meet user needs before procuring units, a misstep that could cost billions of taxpayer dollars, according to an inspector general report.
The Army failed to define key metrics to determine whether soldiers would actually find its tactical augmented reality goggles useful – a move that could cost nearly $22 bn in taxpayer funds, according to a recent watchdog report.
The Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program has been underway for nearly four years and promises to integrate key warfighting functions such as radio communications, high-resolution night, thermal sensors, and overlays of maps and other imagery used to enhance situational awareness.
But according to a Defense Department inspector general report released April 22, IVAS program officials did not clearly define “measures of user acceptance levels to determine whether IVAS will meet user needs.”
User acceptance is considered a “core metric” gathered through surveys to measure soldier experience and track progress through the system’s development, according to the report.
“The purpose of user acceptance testing is to consistently monitor the likelihood of meeting user needs. The more prototype testing with Soldiers and incorporating changes based on Soldier feedback, the higher likelihood of their acceptance of IVAS,” the document states.
But the IG found that program officials didn’t define those minimum user acceptance levels because Army policy didn’t require it.
“Procuring IVAS without attaining user acceptance could result in wasting up to $21.88 bn in taxpayer funds to field a system that Soldiers may not want to use or use as intended,” the inspector general wrote.
The IVAS program has been heralded as a success story in Army technology procurement, one that used rapid acquisition authorities and relied on frequent user feedback to go from a $23 m prototyping effort to a $21 bn contract with Microsoft that made national headlines last year.
The program has hit some setbacks, that Army Secretary Christine Wormuth previously said were related to image displays in the headset and were being worked through.
DOD’s inspector general recommended the Army’s acquisition chief develop a service-wide policy that requires program officials to define user acceptance measurements for testing. But Douglas Bush, the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology) disagreed, writing in response that such policy “already exists” under current Army regulations and that any additional policy would need to be cleared and “analyzed for impact” by the director for Army Test and Evaluation.
The IG requested the Army acquisition chief reconsider the position. (Source: Defense Systems)
29 Apr 22. The French defence procurement has officially notified Thales and CS GROUP to develop PARADE drone countermeasures system.
- A consortium led by Thales and CS GROUP has been notified by the French defence procurement agency (DGA) to develop and deliver the PARADE1 drone countermeasures programme capability, with firm commitments for €33m out of a total programme budget of €350m over 11 years.
- The modular, multi-mission PARADE system will detect, classify and safely neutralise micro- and mini-drones either to protect sensitive sites on a temporary basis or as part of overseas deployments abroad.
- The PARADE system will reinforce public safety and protect infrastructure at two major sporting events in France: the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Thales and, CS GROUP are working with their partners in France and Europe’s defence industrial and technological base on are developing the PARADE programme capability to provide permanent deployable protection for critical infrastructure from drone threats. The programme follows an open competition contract was awarded after a European competitive tendering process launched by the DGA in 2021 to strengthen the drone countermeasures (counter-UAV) capabilities of the French armed forces.
Millions of new drones will enter the skies over the next 20 years, creating an extremely complex aviation ecosystem and raising significant safety and security challenges. To address this constantly evolving threat environment, the consortium led by Thales and CS GROUP will provide a scalable, modular, multi-mission drone countermeasures system to protect people, fixed military sites or facilities deployed abroad. The system can also be used by the armed forces to help protect events, people and civil and military infrastructure, in particular during large gatherings. PARADE will be a modular, multi-mission system that can be deployed by the armed forces on a temporary basis to protect a fixed site or as part of military operations overseas.
Drone countermeasures are a priority for the French government as the preparations for the Paris 2024 Olympics continue. The partnership between Thales, a recognised player in civil and military air operations for over 40 years, and CS GROUP, an integrator of critical drone countermeasures systems in France, is an integral part offully aligned with the missions conducted under the country’s special air security arrangements (DPSA2) designed to provide enhanced protection during sensitive events. PARADE will provide additional detection and response capabilities for the DPSA, improving security for two forthcoming international sporting events due to take place in France: – the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games – for which drone countermeasures are a government priority.
The contract initially first order calls for the acquisition of six PARADE drone countermeasures systems. With contributions from French SMEs such as CerbAir, Exavision and MC2 Technologies, as well as the Dutch company Robin, the PARADE system will provide decision support and, analysis of complex situations and the capability to neutralise micro-drones and mini-drones. The programme contract also includes operator training and system/ and equipment maintenance and upgrades.
The PARADE system provides permanent 360° site protection and is designed for easy transport from one site to another by road, air or sea, considerably increasing its scope of use and speed of deployment.
The first PARADE systems will be delivered to the DGA within a year of the launch of the programme.
As an expert in air supremacy, Thales offers integrated solutions to protect airspace, citizens and infrastructure, and will draw on its experience as a systems integrator and its know-how in air defence, cybersecurity and digital architectures. CS GROUP is a pioneer in drone countermeasures and has deployed operational solutions to meet civilian as well as military requirements since 2016. The company develops modular, scalable, interoperable, cybersecure systems built around a command and control capability that uses artificial intelligence and data fusion technologies to provide a clearer understanding of this constantly evolving threat.
The PARADE system provides permanent 360° site protection and is designed for easy transport from one site to another by road, air or sea, considerably increasing its scope of use and speed of deployment. This solution could also be used for combined civil-military operations, for example to protect critical infrastructure such as military bases in France or in overseas theatres of operations.
The first PARADE systems will be delivered to the DGA within a year of the launch of the programme.
“Thales’s drone countermeasures solutions ensure safety and security at all levels of military and civil airspace. The expertise and experience of our industry ecosystem and our partnerships with French SMEs offer real opportunities for us to innovate and further enhance our value proposition. The consortium led by Thales and CS GROUP enables us to offer a drone countermeasures solution that meets the requirements of the DGA and the French armed forces and ensures the highest level of safety and security for people in large gatherings.” Thomas Got, Managing Director, Integrated Airspace Protection Systems, Thales.
“CS GROUP has been involved in drone countermeasures for over eight years and actively monitors the latest technological advances in order to respond effectively to the evolving drone threat and meet the related operational requirements, from large-scale event security to counterterrorism and protection for troops on overseas deployments abroad. The partnership between CS GROUP and Thales provides a comprehensive vision of air security at all levels to guarantee permanent situational awareness and determine the best way to respond to threats. We are very proud that our consortium has been selected for the PARADE programme and that our solution will be helping to keep people safe at major events.” Marie de Saint Salvy, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, CS Group.
1 PARADE: Programme de protection Protection déployAble modulaiRe Anti-DronEs / Deployable, modular anti-drone countermeasures programme protection
2 DPSA: Dispositif Particulier de Sureté Aérienne/special air security arrangements
27 Apr 22. IAI partners with Hyundai to supply AESA naval radars to Philippines. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has signed an agreement with Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) to supply its ELM-2258, also known as the advanced lightweight phased-array (ALPHA) 3D radar system, to the Philippine Navy. In a media release on 26 April, IAI said the ELM-2258, developed by its subsidiary Elta Systems, will be integrated on the Philippine Navy’s new corvettes that are being developed by HHI. IAI’s ALPHA 3D radar system is a combat-proven multifunction radar that uses active electronically scanned array (AESA) technology and has the capability to “help the Philippine Navy address [a] wide range of current and future threats”, a spokesperson for the company told Janes. Featuring a fully digital software-driven architecture, the ALPHA 3D radar system delivers low life cycle costs (LCC) as well as a cost-effective ability to cope with new threats, the spokesperson said, adding that this is ensured by regular future upgrades primarily through software updates. HHI will lead the integration of ELM-2258 on the Philippine Navy’s new corvettes, the spokesperson added.(Source: Janes)
27 Apr 22. Germany Axes Joint MPA Project, Ends Psychodrama. At the beginning of April, two major procurement cases were processed, increasing the future capabilities of the Bundeswehr while axing a joint project with France and ending a psychodrama in Germany.
The end of a joint project:
On April 4, the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee approved the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) project to supply the German Air Force with five Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft at a cost of $1.77 bn. (The Budget Committee of the Bundestag had approved a budget envelope of 1.43bn euros on June 23, 2021).
Despite all the rhetoric deployed by the Bundestag, by personalities from the government coalition or from the Union, this FMS case finally torpedoed the final chance of developing a Maritime Airborne Warfare System (MAWS) with France.
To be honest, this project was ill-starred from its very inception.
Instead of hiring the most capable prime contractors for this kind of maritime patrol aircraft, (Dassault Aviation and Thales), the decision-makers in both Germany and in France decided instead to ask Thales to form a consortium with three German companies, Hensoldt, ESG (Elektroniksystem) and Diehl to develop the mission system. Dassault Aviation and Airbus would have come into play only later, during the second stage of the project, to develop a new aerial platform for the new, jointly-designed mission payload.
Since 1958, Dassault has designed and produced several generations of French maritime patrol aircraft, from the ‘Atlantique 1’ (via Bréguet), then the ‘Atlantique 2’, followed by the ATL2 upgrade, its OCEAN (Continued optimization of the maintenance of the Atlantic 2, i.e, the vertical support of maritime patrol aircraft) follow-on up to the Falcon 10X, not to mention the Falcon 200 MSA, sold to demanding export customers such as Japan…Yet, it’s decided that Dassault should be kept outside the MAWS project.
For Germany, the decision to buy the P-8 Poseidon is a deliberate choice, both for diplomatic and for schedule reasons.
The P-3 Orion was certainly outdated, but other European solutions existed, all of which would have allowed the German Navy to wait for the MAWS, including the lease of three upgraded ‘Atlantique 2’ from France. This was a strong political gesture from Paris, given the sacrifice required of the French Navy to give up three aircraft.
Yet, Germany’s defense procurement agency, the BAAiNBw, pushed for a quick solution, which also allowed it to make a strong push for extended capabilities, and so transforming a technical decision in a diplomatic one.
By claiming that it could resume co-operation with France at a later date, Germany wants to have its cake and eat it, too. Having its cake is buying off-the-shelf, and eating it by picking up technological bricks from France (Thales) and developing its own system: the perfect solution viewed from Berlin…
End of a psychodrama
The Bundestag’s Defence Committee also approved a budget of €152.6m for arming the Bundeswehr’s five Heron TP unmanned aircraft (three armed out of five, in practice) with 80 missiles (€38.17m) and 60 training missiles (€27.5m), already leased and stored at Tel-Nof air base in Israel.
This being a complex political issue in Germany, approval was given only subject to the following restrictions & regulations:
- The use of armed drones will only be allowed if the Bundestag has previously “explicitly” approved it in the deployment mandate. The Bundestag can also fix “limits to the mission, the field of operation and the powers to be used;”
- The deployment must also be carried out with strict respect for the protection of civilians. The draft states: “Combating legitimate military targets in armed conflicts with armed UAS (drones) should be avoided if it is expected to result in loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects or combine into a plurality of such consequences disproportionate to the concrete and immediate military advantage anticipated.” It was considered that these guarantees poorly masked the new government coalition’s distrust of the Bundeswehr, which was obliged to submit in practice to the operational control of the Bundestag on its future deployments.
At first sight, these restrictions seem to be less demanding than those expressed by Ms. Hertha Däubler-Gmelin, an MP who, in an internal report for the SPD leadership dated October 12th, 2021, accepted the arming of drones only under the following conditions:
- The express prohibition of extrajudicial executions in order to ensure strict respect for international law and the Basic Law, and to differentiate expressly from the practice of other States;
- The categorical rejection of fully automated drones and other lethal autonomous weapon systems. The decision to use weapons can only be taken by people who, through their personal involvement in the area of operations, are able to assess the risk for the military, but also and above all for the affected civilian population;
- The development of a binding deployment doctrine for armed drones by the Federal government in order to ensure the highest level of transparency in the use of armed drones vis-à-vis the Bundestag and the public. It must also be ensured that the Bundestag is immediately informed in the event of changes to the general rules of engagement;
- The use of armed drones only if explicitly provided for in the Bundestag mandate for the foreign deployment of the Bundeswehr, in order to achieve a high degree of transparency and control;
- UAV command, tracking and control units should be stationed in the mandated operational area; there should therefore be no decision at a distance. This is the only way to realistically assess the situation in the area of operation: danger for the German military and the civilian population, and to make a decision without other considerations;
- The best possible training, care, support and follow-up must be provided for soldiers who must make immediate decisions in the operational area;
- The necessary adherence to international rules for the deployment of armed drones and their operational uses;
- Enacting arms export laws that restrictively regulate the export of armed drones. Arms exports should in principle only be possible to the EU, NATO and equivalent countries and, in absolute exceptions, only in individual cases justified in accordance with the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT);
- The SPD undertakes that the future federal government, when supporting European armament projects such as the “Future Combat Air System” (FCAS), will make binding the principle of strengthening “meaningful human control” from the initial development of the systems in question;
- The strengthening of the powers of the Bundestag in the field of export controls.
The Budget Committee finally validated the entire project on April 6, thereby putting an end to a major national psychodrama that dates back to 2014, and which could have been resolved long ago, given the solution that was finally adopted. (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/)
27 Apr 22. Teledyne FLIR Introduces Hadron 640R Dual Thermal-Visible Camera for Unmanned Systems. Teledyne FLIR, part of Teledyne Technologies Incorporated, today announced the release of its high-performance Hadron 640R combined radiometric thermal and visible dual camera module. The Hadron 640R design is optimized for integration into unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), robotic platforms, and emerging AI-ready applications where battery life and run time are mission critical. The 640 x 512 resolution Boson longwave infrared (LWIR) thermal camera inside the Hadron 640R can see through total darkness, smoke, most fog, glare, and provide temperature measurements for every pixel in the scene. The addition of the high definition 64 MP visible camera enables the Hadron 640R to provide both thermal and visible imagery compatible with today’s on-device processors for AI and machine-learning applications at the edge.
“The Hadron 640R provides integrators the opportunity to deploy a high-performance dual-camera module into a variety of unmanned form factors from UAS to UGV thanks to its incredibly small size, weight, andpower requirement,” said Michael Walters, vice president product management, Teledyne FLIR. “It is designed to maximize efficiency and its IP-54 rating protects the module from intrusion of dust and water from the outside environment.”
The Hadron 640R reduces development costs and time-to-market for integrators and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) product developers by offering a complete system through a single supplier, Teledyne FLIR. This includes offering drivers for market-leading processors from NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and more, plus industry-leading integration support and service from a support team of experts. It also offers flexible 60 Hz video output via USB or MIPI compatibility. Hadron 640R is a dual use product and is classified under US Department of Commerce jurisdiction. The Teledyne FLIR Hadron 640R is available for purchase globally from Teledyne FLIR and its authorized dealers. To learn more or to purchase, visit www.flir.com/hadron640r.
26 Apr 22. Lockheed sending first five A4 radars to Army next month. Lockheed Martin is preparing to deliver the first five Sentinel A4 radars to the US Army for formal testing next month while an additional five radars, which will be handed to operational Army units, are on schedule to be delivered in July 2023, a company official here told reporters.
Mark Mekker, Lockheed’s director for Army radar programs, said Monday the company remains ahead of schedule in producing the air and missile defense radar, which replaces the legacy Sentinel A3.
The five radars are on track to complete contractor testing and will move on to developmental and operational testing for the Army in May, which is planned to take between eight and 12 months, Mekker added.
Meanwhile, the Army decided last year it would order five additional units earlier than planned, dubbed user evaluation systems, to send directly to operational units to help soldiers begin training on the new radar while it is still undergoing government testing. Those additional units are scheduled for delivery in July 2023, Mekker said.
The Army in June 2021 identified the Sentinel radar as a “key enabler” tied directly to the service’s top modernization efforts, Inside Defense reported at the time.
Under the service’s current contract with Lockheed, the Army can currently exercise options for another eight radars.
During a tour of both its Syracuse campus and a satellite site in Cazenovia, NY, the company showed the production lines for several military radar programs, including the Army’s Q-53 counterfire target acquisition radar and the Air Force’s new long-range radar, nicknamed 3DELRR. Lockheed Martin paid for reporters’ travel and hotel expenses to visit its Syracuse facility.
In Syracuse, the service’s first TPY-4 radar, which the Air Force last month selected for its 3DELRR program, was sitting in the company’s anechoic chamber, a unique room designed to both prevent echoes and contain the waves the radar gives off. Company officials explained one of the main purposes of the anechoic chamber was to provide a baseline of a radar’s capability so the company could compare its performance in a sterile environment against how it operates in a real-world scenario.
About 40 minutes away from the Syracuse campus sits the company’s Cazenovia testing site. The site itself is a relatively small and secluded space overlooking valleys in northern New York. When reporters arrived at Cazenovia, the company had one Q-53 radar and one TPS-77 long-range air surveillance radar set up at the site.
Off to the side from the two radars, which were flanked by a series of lightning arresting poles, as well as one worker who was actively updating the software on the TPS-77, sat a building for engineers to work from and a radome.
The radome, a large, spherical enclosure that resembles a huge golf ball, is used primarily to operate radars without interference from the environment. Its unique shape is necessary to produce an optimal surface for the radar’s waves to penetrate the special material used to construct the building.
Company officials also said the valleys’ geography combined with unique structures scattered throughout them, such as wind farms, made it ideal for testing military radars, which need to be able to distinguish useful targets from other clutter in a variety of conditions.
Off in the distance, a small white building can be seen sitting in one of the valleys. A Lockheed official said that building was the company’s random target generator, a facility equipped to send out its own waves that can mimic the appearance of a useful target and give another radar a specific entity to detect and track. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
26 Apr 22. Paramount Land Systems signs agreement with Defensphere on mixed reality tech. Paramount Land Systems armoured vehicles will be able to make use of mixed reality situational awareness technology after an agreement was signed with European company Defensphere.
Paramount on 22 April said it had signed a strategic Letter of Intent (LOI) with the Estonian-Croatian Defensphere OU to collaborate in the development, installation and global marketing of the Vegvisir Mixed Reality Situational Awareness System (XRSAS).
Designed as an entirely original situational awareness system, Vegvisir provides armoured vehicle personnel with ‘through the wall’ 360-degree visibility of the battlefield, Paramount said. Its mission computer oversees the technology’s videographic systems, its four layers of sensor systems and its algorithms in synthesizing camera imaging entirely external to the vehicle. The mil-spec video headset is utilised to provide a mixed-reality overview of both activities in the immediate periphery of any land vehicle, and also of objects of interest which may be significantly further away.
Deon Grobler, Chief Executive Officer of Paramount Land Systems, stated: “In 2022-era austere environments of conflict, today taking place both external to and within any given country’s borders, there is an increasing demand for outstanding levels of situational awareness on the battlefield. It is critical for crewmembers carrying out a myriad of assignments such as reconnaissance, border patrol and peacekeeping, to have the ability to observe, orient, decide and engage in time-sensitive scenarios with greater efficiency and mission survivability than ever before”.
Vegvisir is being developed in line with NATO military standards and is also being integrated within other platforms used on the battlefield, including unmanned land vehicles, stand-alone sensors, and battlefield management systems. The Vegvisir system also has the potential to be used for training activities and simulations for mechanized infantry, Paramount said.
Ingvar Pärnamäe, Chief Executive Officer of Defensphere OU, stated that “Vegvisir and technologies like it offer today critical actionable intelligence to help decision-makers on and off the field of combat, to have all the information and understanding that they would need to reach sound conclusions, those often executed on-the-fly. We are pleased to partner with Paramount Group in deploying our situational awareness and sighting technology within its fleet of advanced armoured land vehicles.”
Augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality solutions are becoming mainstream as higher-resolution graphics, head-mounted displays and improved computing power come to the fore. The idea behind virtual reality is to simulate the different senses like hearing, vision, and even touch sometimes to bring users to a whole new world, virtually.
Augmented reality (AR) involves digital information brought into a user’s field of view and overlaid onto the real world, which they observe typically through glasses/helmet mounted displays, such as the Microsoft HoloLens, Google Glass or Meta 2, or a smartphone camera. Similarly, mixed reality (MR) is an extension of augmented reality that allows virtual and real elements to interact – for example using a real tool to change a virtual aircraft part, or in Paramount’s case, provide ‘through the wall’ visibility of the battlefield while crew remain inside their vehicle.
Vegvisir creates a 360-degree field of vision with a camera and sensor system installed on the armoured vehicle that allows the entire crew to see a real-time, simultaneous, minimum-latency image of the surroundings of the vehicle. It combines four complementary layers of sensors to ensure visibility in a range of tactical situations, both in daylight and, by using thermal sensors, in the dark. Defensphere expects to bring Vegvisir to market by 2023. The start-up initially raised €550 000 from investors in four European countries, valuing the company at more than €5 m. Established in 2001, Defensphere plans to hold a second round of funding in 2022 with the aim of growing its engineering and sales team.
27 Apr 22. US Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems National Action Plan. On April 25th., the Biden Administration released the first whole-of-government plan to address UAS threats in the Homeland. Through the Domestic Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems National Action Plan, the Administration is working to expand where we can protect against nefarious UAS activity, who is authorized to take action, and how it can be accomplished lawfully.
The Plan seeks to achieve this legitimate expansion while safeguarding the airspace, communications spectrums, individual privacy, civil liberties and civil rights. To achieve this balance, the Administration is calling on Congress to adopt legislation to close critical gaps in existing law and policy that currently impede government and law enforcement from protecting the American people and our vital security interests.
Over the last decade, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or “drones”) have become a regular feature of American life. We use them for recreation, for research, and for commerce. But the proliferation of this new technology has also introduced new risks to public safety, privacy, and homeland security. Malicious actors have increasingly used UAS domestically to commit crimes, conduct illegal surveillance and industrial espionage, and thwart law enforcement efforts at the local, state and Federal level.
UAS serve many beneficial commercial and recreational purposes. As has been the case with many technological advances, they can also be exploited for pernicious purposes. To protect our Homeland and prevent their growing use from threatening the safety and security of our people, our communities, and our institutions, this Counter-UAS National Action Plan will set new ground rules for the expanding uses of UAS and improve our defenses against the exploitation of UAS for inappropriate or dangerous purposes.
The Plan provides eight key recommendations for action:
- Work with Congress to enact a new legislative proposal to expand the set of tools and actors who can protect against UAS by reauthorizing and expanding existing counter‑UAS authorities for the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Defense, State, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency and NASA in limited situations. The proposal also seeks to expand UAS detection authorities for state, local, territorial and Tribal (SLTT) law enforcement agencies and critical infrastructure owners and operators. The proposal would also create a Federally-sponsored pilot program for selected SLTT law enforcement agency participants to perform UAS mitigation activities and permit critical infrastructure owners and operators to purchase authorized equipment to be used by appropriate Federal or SLTT law enforcement agencies to protect their facilities;
- Establish a list of U.S. Government authorized detection equipment, approved by Federal security and regulatory agencies, to guide authorized entities in purchasing UAS detection systems in order to avoid the risks of inadvertent disruption to airspace or the communications spectrum;
- Establish oversight and enablement mechanisms to support critical infrastructure owners and operators in purchasing counter-UAS equipment for use by authorized Federal entities or SLTT law enforcement agencies;
- Establish a National Counter-UAS Training Center to increase training accessibility and promote interagency cross-training and collaboration;
- Create a Federal UAS incident tracking database as a government-wide repository for departments and agencies to have a better understanding of the overall domestic threat;
- Establish a mechanism to coordinate research, development, testing, and evaluation on UAS detection and mitigation technology across the Federal government;
- Work with Congress to enact a comprehensive criminal statute that sets clear standards for legal and illegal uses, closes loopholes in existing Federal law, and establishes adequate penalties to deter the most serious UAS-related crimes; and
- Enhance cooperation with the international community on counter‑UAS technologies, as well as the systems designed to defeat them. (Source: UAS VISION)
26 Apr 22. DroneShield, an Australian/US global leader in Artificial Intelligence based platforms for protection against advanced threats such as drones and autonomous systems, has commenced a release of a ground-breaking software update across the global fleet of its C-UAS portable, vehicle/ship based and fixed site devices, deployed with military, intelligence community, Homeland Security, law enforcement, critical infrastructure and other users.
Enrolled devices receive quarterly firmware updates of the proprietary DroneShield RFAI Artificial Intelligence engine, with periodic quarters being major enhancements, such as this 2Q22 release.Major upgrades include:
- Site Install Wizard – the new ‘Spectrum Viewer’ mode, in which C-UAS detection devices scan the deployment area for optimal sensor placement, and
- the “Machine Learning in the loop” option to enhance the RFAI engine from the data received by the user. These features were added in response to the end-user requirements.
Angus Bean, DroneShield Chief Technology Officer, commented, “DroneShield offers unparalleled C-UAS performance as the original pioneer in this sector. Ongoing R&D programs sustain the cutting-edge nature of our products, protecting and serving our user community. We are excited about the enhancements to the performance of our deployed fleet of devices, developed, field-tested, and rolled out in a highly expedient manner.”
The updates will be rolling out across DroneShield devices globally in the next week, with heightened urgency given the continuous widespread use of drones in Ukrainian and Middle Eastern conflicts. The technology upgrade is validated by deployments with the US Air Force and Australian Army.
26 Apr 22. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has integrated the Leonardo Seaspray 7500E V2 multi-mode radar onto an MQ-9A Block 5 Remotely Piloted Aircraft and performed its first test flight on Apr. 14, 2021. The maritime-focused radar is also being fitted for the MQ-9B SeaGuardian® RPA.
“The benefits of this Maritime Patrol Radar (MPR) in the complex littoral and maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) environment will add world-class situational awareness for our RPA,” said GA-ASI Vice President of International Strategic Development Robert Schoeffling.
Designed and manufactured in Edinburgh, UK, the Leonardo 7500E V2 radar is the latest variant of the highly successful Seaspray Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar family, featuring updated processor and receiver technology to meet the evolving demands of the ISR mission set. The 7500E V2 is the largest and most capable Seaspray AESA radar and enhances the operationally proven 7500E.
The Seaspray greatly enhances the capabilities of GA-ASI RPA and builds on the already close working partnership between GA-ASI and Leonardo.
Tony Innes, VP Sales, Radar and Advanced Targeting at Leonardo said, “GA-ASI are an important partner and I’m delighted to see our joint projects generating interest in the market. Seaspray’s long-range, wide-area maritime and ground surveillance capability makes it an ideal fit for the MQ-9A and MQ-9B. The V2 offers significant range increases for certain critical modes, improved maritime detection and the ability to handle a high number of targets, while improving on its already-capable over-land mode suite.”
26 Apr 22. USAF chooses Boeing E-7 Wedgetail to replace old AWACS planes. The Air Force has chosen the Boeing E-7 Wedgetail to replace its aging fleet of E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) planes, but the first prototype won’t be ready until fiscal 2027, the service announced in a statement today.
“The Boeing E-7 is the only platform capable of meeting the requirements for the Defense Department’s tactical battle management, command and control and moving target indication capabilities within the timeframe needed to replace the aging E-3,” the Air Force said in a statement.
The service intends to ink a contract with Boeing sometime in FY23 and will begin funding the acquisition of the first “rapid prototype aircraft” using the $227 m in development funding requested as part of the FY23 budget. A second prototype aircraft is planned to be funded in FY24, followed by a production decision in FY25.
The Air Force’s use of the phrase “rapid prototype” seems to be stretching the meaning of both words. The first aircraft won’t deliver to the US Air Force until FY27, despite already being in production for the UK’s Royal Air Force, a five year gap that doesn’t quite seem rapid. As to being a prototype, the E-7 Wedgetail itself is a proven design, based on the Boeing 737 Next Generation airliner and first delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force in 2009.
That said, it’s possible the US-specific version of the Wedgetail could include various new or developmental capabilities. In a request for information released by the Air Force in February, the service sought details from industry about potential AWACS replacements and their respective capabilities, including and advanced air moving target indication radar, battle management command and control (BMC2) system, self-defense systems and key communications systems like Link 16 and Mobile User Objective System.
The Air Force statement does not make note of any changes to the baseline configuration. Boeing referred questions about the Air Force’s decision to the service.
“We continue to be encouraged by the U.S. Air Force’s interest in the E-7A,” Boeing spokeswoman Didi VanNierop said in a statement. “We are confident in the E-7’s proven capabilities and look forward to delivering those capabilities to the U.S Air Force.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
20 Apr 22. A lesson from Ukraine: counter UAS technology is still one step behind the threat. The new Unmanned Airspace annual review of the counter-UAS (C-UAS) industry shows that although C-UAS technology and operational procedures are improving they still cannot quite match the proliferation of threats posed by drone operators
The failure of Russia’s advanced, layered and previously effective counter-UAS systems to deal with the relatively modest capabilities posed by Ukraine’s drone forces shows there are still wide gaps  in the technical and organisational capabilities of military and civil security forces to detect, classify and deal with emerging drone threats. “The preferred solution is to deploy a network of meshed low-cost sensors of different types to provide early identification of targets and this has proved to work well in defence of static targets (and worked well for Russian forces in Syria),” according to the Guide’s author Philip Butterworth-Hayes. “But in more mobile C-UAS units the ability for early detection can be greatly reduced.“
This is one of the reasons why industry has focused so heavily on mitigation measures over the last 12 months. For many years, directed energy weapons have been identified as the key game-changer in air defence against drones and there are now 26 C-UAS directed energy programmes under way around the world – including laser-based systems. Outside the USA, France and Germany, the Middle East has recently become a global centre for development and deployment of directed-energy C-UAS systems, with research and deployment taking place in Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Israel is developing a “laser-wall” air defence system to protect itself from drone and missile attacks. On the ground, recent technical advances in energy storage and miniaturisation suggest that lasers will soon be ubiquitous on the battlefield to support more mobile units. In February 2022 Rheinmetall announced details of its Skyranger 30 high energy laser (HEL) programme, capable of laser outputs of 20kW now, 100kW later.
There are also 12 net capture drone systems on the market and 23 types of intercept drones under development or deployed, according to the Unmanned Airspace directory. One of the most remarkable of these is the Lockheed Martin MORFIUS armed drone equipped with a High-Powered Microwave (HPM) weapon – MORFIUS units are launched at hostile drones, or drone swarms, and then disable them in close proximity with potentially a gigawatt of microwave power.
In the civil domain and in protection of fixed assets progress is being made by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) to develop common criteria for aligning C-UAS solutions based on an analysis of risk, according to Paul Hansen, Project Manager, EC JRC Transport and Border Security, speaking at the March 2022 Amsterdam Drone Week event. The risk will vary between a nuclear plant, a water purification centre and a Christmas market, “so we advise that infrastructure managers make their risk analysis depending on their needs, and not simply via an excel spreadsheet.” The JRC will produce a handbook for C-UAS protection of critical infrastructure later this year. Every geo-zone around a critical infrastructure (the wide “early warning” zone, the “action” zone where the risk is mitigated and the “protected” zone, the critical infrastructure itself) needs a counter UAS system, he said, and they will all need to be integrated.
Another major disconnect in the civil world is the separation of responsibilities between drone detection agencies (air navigation service providers, for example) and security agencies responsible for mitigating the threat. In the USA, for example, there are only four federal agencies legally licensed to neutralise drone threats, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GA) report .
The Global Counter-UAS Directory and Buyer’s Guide
The Global Counter-UAS Directory and Buyer’s Guide is available free of charge at https://www.unmannedairspace.info/counter-uas-industry-directory/. The publication gives civil and military purchasers of C-UAS equipment from around the world an instant view of industry capabilities. It lists C-UAS products and services in the following categories:
- Detector systems
- Directed energy
- Electronic counter measures (ECM)
- Integrated systems
- Intercept drone
21 Apr 22. Dedrone delivers first multi-layered mobile AI-powered drone detection unit. Dedrone has announced the launch and delivered its first portable detection unit, DedroneRapidResponse. Dedrone detects, identifies, locates, and analyzes nearly 300 drone types. The new solution offers Dedrone’s AI-powered technology in a mobile platform attached to a tower, anywhere from 30-50’ high, that can be easily towed and maneuvered on a trailer using an SUV or truck. DedroneRapidResponse, available for use around the world, provides critical capability to ensure public safety at large events including sports, parades, concerts, large gatherings, crime scenes, police activity, and more.
According to the press release, DedroneRapidResponse can be deployed in under 30 minutes to ensure uninterrupted airspace protection of outdoor events.
Using cloud-enabled software, DedroneRapidResponse pinpoints the drone, providing insights into its load and the pilot’s location as soon as a drone is turned on, giving security teams a significant headstart on a pilot about to fly into a “no-fly zone.” The tower is deployable in under 30 minutes and offers a range of 5km detection through a multi-layered solution with two cameras to track multiple drones simultaneously. Additionally, Dedrone can easily network multiple trailers to deliver optimal drone security for large public safety events.
“Most police departments and city administrations know they have a significant public safety risk from malicious drones, having seen the issue at either an airport, stadium or public event in their jurisdiction,” said Aaditya Devarakonda, CEO of Dedrone. “We created DedroneRapidResponse to address the many instances where drone detection needs to be truly multi-layered yet agile and adaptive, such as special events or other large outdoor gatherings. Unlike anything else on the market today, DedroneRapidResponse provides a multi-layered mobile security solution that makes it easy to quickly address a city, agency or company’s airspace security needs, ensuring protection of people, property and information from drone threats.”
St. Petersburg police department was the first law enforcement department in the country to utilize mobile airspace security, deploying DedroneRapidResponse for the 2022 Firestone Grand Prix, an IndyCar motor race.
For more information visit: www.dedrone.com (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
20 Apr 22. Estonia to host counter drone demonstration EW Live event 19-22 September 2022. The Estonian Ministry of Defence will host the Electronic Warfare (EW) Live Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS) event organised by Tangent Live taking place from 19-22 September in Tartu, Estonia. The event offers the opportunity to demonstrate live to more than 30 global military delegations, as well as key regional civil protection stakeholders, actively seeking to purchase C-UAV capabilities. The demonstrations are due to include the following:
- Laser effects (capabilities and power TBC)
- Integrated solutions
Working closely with the Estonian Ministry of Defence and the Estonian Academy of Security Services, the event provides a live environment at Ridali Airfield for three days of live demonstrations. Speaking slots at the event-opening conference on 19th September are also available.
- Companies receive example scenarios and contacts before set-up
- Scenario writers will provide more specific information on request
- Companies are given two days (18-19 September) for set up and testing
- Live demonstrations will run hourly over the course of three days, 20-22 September
- Military/Civil Delegations will be coached daily from Tartu to Ridali Airfield
For more information visit: www.tangentlink.com/events/electronic-warfare/ (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
19 Apr 22. DroneSec launches StolenDroneInfo to help security agencies track rogue drones. DroneSec has launched a new database of stolen drones which allows security agencies to track global markets for rogue drones and operators.
According to Arison Neo, COO of DroneSec, “StolenDroneInfo is a free-to-use global tracking system for stolen drones. This tool not only helps individuals, but law enforcement and counter-drone (C-UAS) systems detect stolen drones mid-air, making risk-based decisions on the fly.
“One of the main reasons we built this was because a large percentage of contraband drops are made with stolen or second-hand purchased drones. Bad guys love them because they reduce attribution and hide their identity. We released StolenDroneInfo as a module to our Notify platform to track stolen drones and help C-UAS threat modelling in real-time. Drone detection systems can check the database to query if a drone they’ve spotted mid-air is stolen, just like police registration cameras check vehicles. They can make better, more informed risk-based decisions for their customers.
“Buyers too can check if the drone they are purchasing is stolen or illegitimate (even discovering the drone’s make, model and manufacturer date). Additionally, it syncs with our threat intel platform, meaning our crawlers check for the serial# across Open-Source Intelligence – such as FB marketplaces, craigslist and eBay.
“Lastly, it helps law enforcement determine if a drone they seized was stolen, and even let the owner know (or vice versa). This reduces the ability for stolen drones to operate and increases the chances of owners being reunited with their drones.
For more information: https://stolendrone.info/home (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
19 Apr 22. A new way to capture rogue drones: detachable drone rotors attached to a net. Start-up LAMAT has developed a drone interceptor with detachable rotors attached to a net which capture the rogue drone.
According to a company press release:
“This drone interceptor is designed to catch light UAVs. High power-to-weight ratio is a competitive advantage of this concept. It allows the drone to fly fast. Before an attack, the target can be circumflown for identification. Drone rotors are used to spread the net. High-energy rotors allow the use of a larger net. At the moment of attack, the rotors accelerate and detach from the frame. At the same time, the net fastening straps are released. The Kevlar net blocks the target’s rotors and disrupts the glider control. After an attack, the interceptor descends using a parachute and emits a sound signal. The interceptor can be reused. The interceptor does not contain any prohibited components. Racing drone components were used. The interceptor is launched from the container. Several containers with interceptors can be placed on a patrol car. A racing pilot can single-handedly operate the complex.”
For more information: https://lamat.me/works/interceptor.html (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
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.