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11 Aug 22. USAF moves to shield Wedgetail acquisition from continuing resolution. The U.S. Air Force is trying to speed up a contract award in its plan to buy Boeing’s E-7 Wedgetail early warning and control aircraft to protect the program from a potential continuing resolution that could limit available funds. The Air Force selected the E-7 in April to replace a portion of its E-3 Airborne Warning and Control fleet, a command-and-control platform the service has been operating for more than 40 years. The service’s proposed 2023 budget calls for retiring 15 E-3s, or about half the fleet, and includes $227m in research, development, test and evaluation funds for the replacement.
Steven Wert, the program executive officer for the service’s Digital Directorate, which oversees the Wedgetail acquisition, told reporters this week that if Congress fails to pass a fiscal 2023 defense budget on time, it would delay the Air Force’s current plan to award Boeing a contract by February of next year.
Lawmakers have until Sept. 30 to pass an appropriations bill, a fast-approaching deadline made more challenging by the August congressional recess. If Congress fails to approve a budget, it must approve a continuing resolution as a stopgap measure to keep the government funded until it does. Continuing resolutions freeze funding at prior-year levels and restrict agencies from awarding contracts to start new programs or increasing procurement quantities.
Agencies can request “anomalies” to shield priority programs from the impact of a CR, and Wert told reporters during an Aug. 10 briefing at the Air Force’s Life Cycle Management Industry Days event in Dayton, Ohio, the service plans to request protection for the E-7 acquisition.
At the same time, the service is also seeking congressional approval to shift, or reprogram, fiscal year 2022 funding from other accounts to speed up the E-7 award. If approved, the Air Force could award the deal to Boeing before February, Wert said.
“That new-start reprogramming would give us the flexibility to potentially speed it up somewhat,” he said. “It’s not going to be a dramatic speed-up, but we’re doing everything we can.”
The Air Force expects to have its first E-7 on hand by fiscal 2027. While the aircraft is an off-the-shelf solution, it will require some software upgrades as well as integration of new hardware.
The Royal Australian Air Force also flies the Wedgetail and Wert said the service is working closely with Australia to identify options to collaborate and accelerate test and evaluation. The U.K. also signed a deal with Boeing in 2018 to buy five E-7s and is considering expanding that procurement and Saudi Arabia has shown interest in the platform, Wert said.
“The potential is there for cooperative programs between the nations that are currently using the E-7,” he said. “We are hearing of a lot of interest from other nations to look to E-7 as well.” (Source: Defense News)
11 Aug 22. This infantry squad vehicle is getting a laser to destroy drones. The U.S. Army is trying to integrate a 20-kilowatt laser onto its GM Defense-made Infantry Squad Vehicle that could potentially destroy drone threats, according to both the service’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office and the company performing the integration work.
The program, dubbed Army Multipurpose High Energy Laser, or AMP-HEL, would serve as a means to protect infantry brigade combat teams from small drones, L. Neil Thurgood, the tech office’s director, said Aug. 10 at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.
SAIC is the lead integrator per an other transaction authority agreement that allows for rapid prototyping over a five-year period, according to Greg Fortier, the company’s vice president of fires, aviation and missile defense. The company is also involved in integrating a palletized high-energy laser capable of defeating small drones, he added.
That palletized laser system was developed in conjunction with the Joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office, and it has already been demonstrated and deployed, Jeannie Sommer, deputy director of the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, said at the symposium.
That office is also preparing to field its first directed-energy short-range air defense systems — a 50-kilowatt laser mounted on a Stryker combat vehicle — by the end of the fiscal year, Sommer added.
The office is also preparing to deliver the first prototypes of the Army’s Indirect Fires Protection Capability-High Energy Laser system, which features a truck-mounted, 300-kilowatt laser, by the fourth quarter of fiscal 2024.
Dynetics, a Leidos company, is the integrator for the IFPC-HEL effort. Major test events are expected for the system later this year.
The Army’s pursuit to counter small drones is heating up through directed-energy solutions, among other means, including a new development: The service’s Air and Missile Defense Cross-Functional Team has taken on an effort to develop a capability that can detect, track and defeat small drones, Col. Pat Costello, the team’s new director, said on a panel at the symposium. (Source: Defense News)
11 Aug 22. US Army must start ‘leaning’ on kinetic options for counter-drone as autonomous UAS proliferate. Autonomous drones are a “direct attempt to evade” EW countermeasures, according to a top cUAS general.
The US military will need to start “leaning” toward kinetic options for knocking out drones as unmanned aerial systems become increasingly autonomous, the Army’s top counter-drone leader said Wednesday.
The Army is investing heavily in counter-drone solutions, as recent conflicts have demonstrated their effectiveness as a relatively cheap weapon on the battlefield. But as advanced adversaries add more autonomy to their drones, the systems will become harder to knock out of the sky because the drones will rely far less on a communications link for navigation, insulating them, to an extent, against electronic warfare threats.
The push towards autonomy “is a direct attempt to evade the EW-type (electronic warfare) of capability because now you’re not cutting a link,” said Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, director of the Joint Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems Office, told Breaking Defense. While EW solutions will still be needed, “you’re going to start leaning more towards having a kinetic solution.”
“They’re building in redundancy in these systems where if you cut off something, they can fall back on something else,” he said during the interview at Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Ala.
Gainey’s organization is tasked with leading the Pentagon’s effort on countering unmanned aerial threats, developing doctrine, requirements, materiel and training for cUAS. For the last 18 months, the JCO has hosted three demonstrations with industry to test cUAS capabilities. Those demonstrations have tested a range of systems, including bullets, electronic warfare, drones that intercept other drones and high-powered microwaves to counter small flying threats. For the Army, it’s about ensuring a range of capabilities are available.
“If you’re focused only on an EW system and they’ve evolved past whatever you’re denying with that EW or nonkinetic capability, we got that kinetic effector that can then provides that capability,” Gainey said during his speech at SMD.
At the first JCO demonstration in April 2021, the Army and Air Force tested technology called “low-collateral interceptors,” which capture or intercept small drones with minimal risk to surrounding air space. Gainey said the Air Force has found “three or four” low-collateral interceptor solutions that are currently undergoing operational assessment in the field, including in Ukraine.
“Some … the Ukrainians are using so we’re getting a lot of data back on that,” Gainey said in his speech.
The JCO is also looking at high-powered microwave technology to defeat drone swarms, in which a pack of drones can fly together and complete coordinated tasks. The high-powered microwave technology sends out a high-voltage burst of energy that can knock out a computer systems.
“This is going to provide us the best opportunity to get after larger swarms that come your way because essentially, you’re looking (at) technology, that if it continues to move, can potentially fry the electronics in these UASs,” Gainey said in the interview.
Gainey also highlighted a palletized 10-kilowatt laser developed by the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, that has been deployed in theater and is undergoing operational assessment in the field.
“We’re sending it into theater, placing it and going to operationally assess and see what kind of success we’re going to have and what range of targets (and) success we’re gonna have, as we make our ultimate decision on what’s the right size system to have for the counter-UAS fight,” Gainey told Breaking Defense.
Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood, director of the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, announced yesterday that the service’s Directed Energy Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense program would deliver its first Stryker-mounted 50-kilowatt laser in the next 45 days. That program is designed to defend against different sized drones, as well as rockets, mortars and artillery.
Thurgood announced an additional directed energy project at the symposium on Wednesday called the Army Multi-Purpose High Energy Laser, planned to be mounted on the Infantry Squad Vehicle, to give soldiers another cUAS option.
“If you can imagine now, in a location where you have 10, 20, and 50 kilowatt (lasers), now you’re talking about making decisions on which way to move forward, you have a range of opportunities,” Gainey said in the interview. “So whichever one hits the sweet spot for us, is what we will scale and get out to the services moving forward.” (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
11 Aug 22. Babcock inks deals to pitch Israeli tech for British radar, air defense programs. Babcock International has signed it’s second deal in a fortnight aimed at offering Israeli technology for British defense programs.
The British company’s latest agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries and its subsidiary Elta Systems is aimed at proposing a long-range radar for the Defence Ministry’s Serpens program.
The program, valued in excess of £400 million (U.S. $486 million) is for the British Army’s next-generation weapon-locating system that needs to be able to detect and find hostile mortars, artillery and rockets.
The agreement will see Elta’s battle-proven Compact Multi-Mission Radar offered by Babcock in the U.K. Babcock said in an Aug. 11 statement that the system will be partly produced and integrated in the U.K.
Britain wants to replace its current capability, the Saab-supplied Mamba, around 2026. The Swedish company was awarded a £46 million deal in 2020 to extend the life of the program until Serpens is ready for deployment.
The agreement with IAI comes about two weeks after Babcock inked a deal with another Israeli company to propose technology to the British Army — on this occasion to offer a battle management, command, control, communications, computers and intelligence capability for a new ground-based air defense capability.
Babcock signed the memorandum of understanding with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to offer the latter’s Micad platform for the Defence Ministry’s Sky Sabre GBAD program, which is based on the Common Anti-Air Modular Missile built by the European consortium MBDA.
Babcock and Rafael have worked together in the delivery and maintenance of the Sky Sabre system since 2017, with the first units introduced to British forces in the Falklands.
“It makes clear sense for both parties to further develop the collaboration so that Micad can be readily offered into the wider land GBAD program,” Simon Holford, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance director at Babcock, said during the Farnborough Airshow last month when the tie-up was announced. (Source: Defense News)
11 Aug 22. US Army division tests Integrated Visual Augmentation System. The test will support the Army’s plan to equip infantry soldiers with mixed reality headsets. The US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers have conducted operational testing of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The test was part of the Army’s plan to equip infantry soldiers with mixed reality headsets.
For the purpose, the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), 1st Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) rehearsed combat missions under various weather conditions. The IVAS headset has the capability to integrate several technologies to keep soldiers efficient on the battlefield.
Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 501st PIR, 1st IBCT, 82nd Airborne Division commander captain Roberto Huie said the new technology will be a ‘huge benefit’ for the soldiers.
He said: “Such a system will significantly improve reaction time for unit leaders who make decisions under the stress of battle.”
As per Program Executive Office Soldier, the IVAS may soon combine 24/7 situational awareness tools and high-resolution digital sensors.
This will support troops with enhanced sensing, decision-making, target acquisition, and engagement.
Opposing force and Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 501st PIR, 1st IBCT, 82nd Airborne Division commander captain Phillip Johnston said as part of the test, the soldiers were able to plan, rehearse, and execute nine different missions.
He said: “We trained at a level […] we have not seen previously in the Army.
“It was invaluable to have an outside look into the company from the Operational Test Command without having the pressure of graded evaluations that normally come with training events.”
In October 2021, the US Army postponed its plan to field Microsoft’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) to 2022. (Source: army-technology.com)
11 Aug 22. US Navy demonstrates IPOE mission with Snakehead LDUUV. Snakehead supports the IPOE mission by providing guidance, navigation, propulsion and situational awareness. The US Navy has tested the Snakehead large displacement uncrewed undersea vehicle (LDUUV) prototype for an end-to-end intelligence preparation of operational environment (IPOE) mission. The demonstration was conducted at Narragansett Bay Test Facility on 21 July. It was performed by a team led by the Naval Undersea Warfare Centre (NUWC) Division Newport.
As part of the test, the LDUUV carried out a long-distance ingress, as well as a sonar survey box.
The vehicle then egressed back to the test facility, marking a new milestone in total sortie endurance.
Conducted with Draper Laboratory’s Maritime Open Architecture Autonomy, the sortie gathered sonar data using a technology from the Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory.
The IPOE mission is also a major step towards determining the area of interest and further pushes into planning a relevant course of action for supporting the warfighter.
Undersea Warfare Platforms and Payload Integration Department head Chris DelMastro said: “The accomplishment of this mission in the system’s intended operational environment was a big step for the program to gain confidence in the vehicle software and hardware systems, as the team pushes toward extended endurance operations and layering additional system capability.”
The Snakehead is a multi-mission, reconfigurable, modular LDUUV, which can be deployed from both submarines and surface ships.
The LDUUV has so far performed 155 in-water sorties and more than 78 hours of runtime, using a government-owned modular open system architecture for mission planning, operations and analysis.
In the past year, the team has also carried out around 190-hour long simulations using full-up vehicle software-in-the-loop simulation and hardware-in-the-loop tools. All such missions proved that the software is operating as per the requirements and that the mission parameters are set aptly. (Source: naval-technology.com)
08 Aug 22. Autonomous Flight Technologies develops low-cost target for counter drone tests. The Tactical High Reconnaissance Aerial Evasive Target (T.H.R.E.A.T) developed by Autonomous Flight Technologies is designed to provide a target for Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS) test activity. Developed by Autonomous Flight Technologies, T.H.R.E.A.T is designed to be flown over federal test sites instead of higher cost consumer-rated drones. The company’s initial target audience is prime contractors with the goal of becoming compliant with government performance requirements, says a UAS Vision report.
According to Autonomous Flight Technologies, THREAT is not reliant upon being connected to the internet or a cloud-based service. It is point to point between the aircraft and ground station. The data stream is also encrypted for complete security. All materials are sourced based on keeping costs low, as well as utilizing recycled plastics. By reducing cost, budgets for expendable targets can be stretched to allow for more testing within a static budget, reports Autonomous Flight Technologies.
The equipment uses common 18650 Lithium-Ion battery cells. If pushed past their limits, these safety features help prevent thermal runaway events and uncontrollable battery fires. They also provide long duration flight for their size and weight, trading high performance for flight duration allows this sUAS to fly farther and stay on station for extended durations.
The airframe consists of carbon fibre plate and tube, as well as printed 3d components. It can be flown via hands on radio control, ground station with telemetry data link, or a hybrid of both. The base model of THREAT is simply a flight capable airframe with localization and telemetry capability. For more information visit: www.autonomousflight.us (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
05 Aug 22. DJI pulls portable version of its AeroScope drone detection system. DJI has told Unmanned Airspace that it has ceased production and sales of its portable AeroScope drone detection platform, though its static unit is still being marketed. AeroScope “rapidly identifies UAV communication links, gathering information such as flight status, paths, and other information in real-time” according to the product’s website. There has been considerable speculation about the status of Aeroscope following social media reports that the drone detection system used by Ukrainian forces had ceased to operate, reports refuted by DJI. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
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