Sponsored by Blighter Surveillance Systems
06 Dec 18. FLIR Introduces Raymarine Element Series with Lifelike Sonar Imaging. FLIR Systems (Nasdaq: FLIR) today announced the Raymarine Element™, a new generation of advanced, combination sonar and GPS displays. Featuring the acclaimed Raymarine RealVision™ 3D and new HyperVision™ sonar technology, the Element series delivers lifelike imaging and helps meet the demands of both coastal and bass fishermen with advanced sonar, versatile mapping capabilities, and a highly intuitive user experience.
Building on the success of FLIR’s award-winning Raymarine Axiom® navigation displays, the Raymarine Element incorporates integrated patent-pending RealVision 3D sonar technology, improving anglers’ underwater view with 3D bottom imagery and more precise location of fish targets. Element also introduces new patent-pending HyperVision 1.2-megahertz sonar technology, featuring ultra-high Compressed HighIntensity Radar Pulse (CHIRP) sonar frequencies. HyperVision enhances the DownVision®, SideVision®, and RealVision 3D sonar, allowing anglers to see structure, vegetation, and fish with lifelike detail.
Optimized for a simplified user experience, Element’s new LightHouse Sport operating system and intuitive keypad controls let anglers quickly mark their favorite fishing spots and create their own high-definition bathymetric maps using the new Raymarine RealBathy™ real-time sonar map generator capability. Element’s user experience is further enhanced by an onboard quad-core processor, delivering instantaneous chart redraw, smooth RealVision 3D imaging, and fast response while on the water.
“With the new Raymarine Element series, we are making our most advanced sonar technology and intuitive user experience available to a larger audience of recreational boaters,” said Jim Cannon, President and CEO at FLIR Systems. “Element has impressive performance for its category, with the remarkable clarity of HyperVision imaging and our new LightHouse Sport operating system. Together, Element redefines the category for combined sonar and GPS navigation displays, giving anglers topline capabilities.”
The Element series consists of 7-, 9-, and 12-inch display models. Element will begin shipping in the first quarter of 2019 through FLIR’s maritime dealers and retailers.
07 Dec 18. Saab to merge surveillance systems and surface radar solutions units. Global company Saab has revealed plans to merge two of its business units to form a single entity next year, in order to strengthen its radar portfolio and target future market needs. Under the plan, the company will combine its Airborne Surveillance Systems and Surface Radar Solutions businesses. These units fall under the company’s surveillance business division. The newly merged single unit will be known as Radar Solutions and is to be headed by Lars Tossman. The current head of Airborne Surveillance Systems, Tossman has been associated with Saab for 30 years and served in a number of management roles within the company. According to the company, Radar Solutions will consolidate the entire range of activities required for airborne, ground-based, naval and fighter radars. The new unit will also align synergies in both research and development and marketing and sales.
Tossman said: “Radar is one of Saab’s core areas and Saab is a world-leading sensor provider. With the new Radar Solutions business unit, we can create even more synergies between airborne, ground-based and naval radars, further strengthening our radar offer.”
A provider of land and Sea Giraffe radars, airborne radar systems and electronic warfare, the company is the preferred combat system integrator for various projects.
In July, the US Navy placed an order with Saab for the delivery of Sea Giraffe AMB multi-mode radars (MMRs).
In November 2015, the UAE awarded a development and production contract to Saab for the GlobalEye advanced airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system. The country sought for additional functionality for the system in June. (Source: army-technology.com)
06 Dec 18. Afghanistan fielding special mission PC-12s, MoD confirms. Afghanistan is operating Pilatus PC-12 turboprop special mission aircraft it ordered six years ago, the country’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) inadvertently confirmed in an unrelated tweet on 6 December. An image of a PC-12 in national markings was posted on the MoD’s official Twitter account in relation to airstrikes conducted in the Uruzgan province of the country. Afghanistan ordered 18 “uniquely modified” PC-12s in 2012, with a further contract for five signals intelligence (SIGINT)-configured aircraft following in 2015. While the contract notifications were posted at the time by the US Department of Defense (DoD), until now there had been no official announcement as to the aircraft having been received into service.
According to Jane’s C4ISR & Mission Systems: Air , Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) delivered the first aircraft to Kabul in 2013 under civil registrations. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) had reportedly received 13 aircraft by late March 2015, with at least nine further aircraft understood to have been delivered since then. If correct, Afghanistan has received 22 of the 23 aircraft it ordered.
The US 438th Air Expeditionary Wing that oversees Afghanistan’s aviation forces had not responded to a request for clarification and comment by the time of publication, while SNC has previously declined to discuss the Afghan contract.
Jane’s understands that the PC-12s are operated by Special Mission Wing squadrons 1, 2, and 3. Of these, 1 and 2 Squadrons are understood to be stationed at Kabul, with 3 Squadron said to operate from Kandahar. It is interesting that this capability resides with the Afghan National Army (ANA) Special Operations Forces (SOF) rather than the Afghan Air Force (AAF), but as the best trained and best funded arm of the ANSF it is probably best placed to take on these sophisticated aircraft at this time. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
06 Dec 18. Lithuanian Air Force deploys two long-range 3D radars. The Lithuanian Air Force has deployed two new long-range 3D radars delivered by the Nato Communications and Information (NCI) Agency. The new radar systems were supplied by Spanish company Indra and were put through various testing such as factory acceptance, site acceptance and live flying prior to delivery. Tests were conducted by NCI Agency and saw the long-range radars demonstrate the required capabilities against a target.
Other Nato nations, including the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, have received a similar capability from NCI Agency. The Lithuanian radars have already been deployed and are currently supporting both national and Nato’s air surveillance capability as part of the Nato Integrated Air and Missile Defence System. The combined Nato air surveillance data provide Lithuania with a clear picture on air traffic beyond the nation’s borders. NCI Agency general manager Kevin J Scheid said: “Today’s event, the initiation of this radar system, continues Lithuania’s steadfast endeavour to secure its freedom and to never allow the atrocities of the past to be repeated. Nato stands with you in this endeavour.
“In this regard, this is not just a state-of-the-art radar system, but a technological declaration of independence. And how appropriate that this declaration comes on the 100th anniversary of Lithuanian independence.”
The modern air surveillance capability procurement project involved a study on the capabilities of Lithuania’s existing radars, which could not meet Nato’s requirements. The procurement project also includes an option for a third radar. Work on the procurement of the radar is expected to completed by 2020. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
04 Dec 18. Belgium goes Dutch for Squire radars. Belgian Defence Minister Sander Loones signed an agreement with his Dutch counterpart, Ank Bijleveld, on 28 November for the Netherlands to transfer nine Squire battlefield surveillance radars for the Bataljon Jagers te Paard ISTAR battalion in Heverlee, east of Brussels, the two countries’ ministries of defence (MoDs) reported on their websites on 29 November.
The Netherlands will upgrade the radars to Squire block 2, which can detect and identify unmanned aerial vehicles at a range of 6 km, people on foot at 12 km, and tracked vehicles at 48 km, according to the Belgian MoD. Belgium’s ISTAR Battalion plans to place the radars into service during the first half of 2019, replacing battlefield surveillance radars dating from 1987. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
04 Dec 18. DroneShield Ltd (the “Company” or “DroneShield”), a leader in the emerging industry of drone security solutions, announced on the ASX that Zain Group (“Zain”) and DroneShield have entered into a Teaming Agreement. Zain Group (KWSE:ZAIN) is a leading Middle Eastern mobile and data services operator headquartered in Kuwait, with substantial operations across a number of Middle Eastern countries, a workforce of over 6,000, over 47m active individual, business and governmental customers, and a market capitalisation of approximately US$7bn.
04 Dec 18. UK P-8 Poseidon programme hit by USD167m foreign exchange hike. Currency devaluations have caused a USD167m cost hit to the UK’s project to buy nine Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, according to new data revealed to Jane’s. A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman told Jane’s on 27 November that foreign exchange fluctuations over the past year had been missed out of the ministry’s annual Defence Equipment Plan report earlier this month because of a “misinterpretation” of programme reporting rules. The Defence Equipment Plan originally reported GBP207m (USD26m) in savings on the P-8 project over the 2017-18 financial year and no foreign exchange costs due to the estimated 20% devaluation in the UK currency against the US dollar since the 2016 referendum voted in favour of the UK leaving the European Union. (Source: News Now/IHS Jane’s)
04 Dec 18. MyDefence to showcase vehicle-based C-UAS system for NATO. Danish company MyDefence has disclosed that its newly integrated vehicle-based counter-unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS) solution will undergo evaluation at the NATO Non-Lethal Technology Exercise (NNTEX-18) in December. The news follows an announcement on 13 November that the company had completed integration of its C-UAS solution on board a General Dynamics Land Systems Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV), which enables users to “detect and defeat enemy drones used for reconnaissance or as weapon delivery systems”.
The NATO exercise, scheduled to be held on 5-7 December at Quantico, Virginia, is to feature an LAV fitted with MyDefence’s 360° On-The-Move RF sensors, which the company said can detect and defeat enemy UASs by searching for control signals and video feeds out to a range of 1-2 km, depending on the environment. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
30 Nov 18. AI In Your Eye: Army Goggles Will ID Targets Automatically. US Army soldiers are testing goggles with an image-recognition system that can automatically spot threats like tanks and warn the rest of the squad — or transmit the target data to a distant missile battery so they can take it out. US Army soldiers are testing goggles with an image-recognition system that can automatically spot threats like tanks and warn the rest of the squad — or transmit the target data to a distant missile battery so they can take it out. It’s the long-awaited realization of the desire to make “every soldier a sensor” feeding intelligence over wireless networks to the rest of the force. The artificially intelligent target detection will be part of the Integrated Vision Augmentation System (IVAS), for which Microsoft’s HoloLens won a two-year, $480m contract earlier this week. I’ve written extensively about IVAS’s other features back when it was still called HUD 3.0. It’s essentially an infantryman’s version of a fighter pilot’s Heads-Up Display, combining advanced night vision with augmented reality technology (much like Google Glass) to superimpose a targeting cross-hairs — wirelessly linked to the soldier’s weapon to show exactly where it’ll shoot — and tactical data over the wearer’s field of vision. Other aspects will monitor the medical condition of the soldier and record such things as blast overpressure from roadside bomb blasts to assist medical treatment.
But this is the first I’ve heard about the image-recognition feature. Brig. Gen. Chris Donahue — until recently director of the Army’s infantry modernization team — mentioned it in a discussion of IVAS features he said “we’re already prototyping.” It’s not clear whether it’ll be an integral part of IVAS or an add-on, though he did say “it’s on the body,” which implies there’s either some kind of body camera or a supplemental processor not built into the goggles themselves.
The hard part yet to be figured out, Donahue acknowledged, is how to transmit the data from frontline troops to distant artillery. But the Army has two other modernization teams — for the network and long-range precision firepower (LRPF) — already working hard on how to share targeting data: Once they have a solution, the infantry should simply be able to plug in.
AI Targeting, In Detail
Here’s how Donahue described the auto-targeting at this week’s AUSA AI conference, with our annotations:
“Imagine you’re fighting some enemy out there and you’ve determined what your target is: The first thing you want to kill is a SA-22, the second thing is an S-300, the next thing is an S-400 (all three of these are Russian anti-aircraft systems, which new Army multi-domain doctrine prioritizes destroying, preferably with long-range missiles, so the Air Force can strike freely — ed.) and the fourth thing is a T-90(tank).”
“Because of the machine learning and AI built into IVAS, it’s going to instantly look across the battlefield and pick out the SA-22. Why? Because it has the data, it’s seen thousands of images of this, back in its cloud, which probably sits back on the vehicle.” That might be a Humvee, for example, or an armored troop carrier like the 8×8 Stryker or tracked Bradley. This approach is an example of the Army moving away from central servers on fixed bases and instead pushing computing power to individual vehicles or even foot soldiers on the “tactical edge.”
“With the right network … it then shoots directly from that individual, goes all the way back, goes back to the LRPF (missile battery). Probably humans in the loop. They hit a button; LRPF shoots and kills the SA-22.” Pentagon policy requires a human being to make all decisions to use lethal force, although a less scrupulous adversary could save precious seconds by automating the decision to fire. Given how often even cutting-edge image recognition AI screws up, however, it seems like a very good idea to have a trained human check the target really is an enemy tank and not, say, a friendly one or a school bus full of orphans.
“As that individual (soldier) continues to scan over to the left, they see a T-90 tank. It instantly kicks over to the person in their squad who’s holding the Javelin (anti-tank missile); they shoot the Javelin, they kill the T-90.” Again, Donahue’s talking about the AI automatically warning a human being, who then decides whether to shoot. Given the other features of IVAS already described, it’s likely this warning would consist of some kind of red icon popping up on the augmented reality goggles of every other soldier in the squad, probably with some kind of arrow pointing towards the threat.
This may sound awfully distracting, but it’s a lot better than soldiers having to take their eyes off the battle to look down at a modified smartphone for tactical updates, as with the current Nett Warrior system running the Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK) app. Years of “attention management” research on aircraft pilots show that people in combat hyperfocus on the threat in front of them and stop checking instrument displays — which is what you want them to do, rather than wander into combat staring down at a screen like an iPhone addict about to walk into an open manhole.
So in Army testing, soldiers vastly prefer the IVAS approach of putting vital data right in their field of vision. In fact, young troops wanted more data than their seniors originally thought they could handle, another Army one-star said. “What they ask for is more data, not less, because they’re just comfortable, because of the way they’ve been raised, with screens and video games,” said Brig. Gen. Joseph McGee, head of the Army’s talent management task force. “In the experiment with the heads-up display, we gave them just one or two pieces of data, and the soldiers came back and said, ‘I don’t just want one or two, I want 10 or 15 different data feeds coming in.’”
It’s also important to note that the Army is not talking about the AI warning the soldier who’s actually wearing it. That may seem counterintuitive, but given how the human eye and brain are still much more accurate than computerized image recognition, the wearer would probably have already seen anything the IVAS detected.
How ready is this technology? “We’re already doing it. It’s here,” Donahue said. “Now, how you build the infrastructure back behind to do that, we’re not there.” Presumably Donahue’s referring to the wireless networking to transmit the targeting data to artillery batteries many miles away. He might also be referring to the extensive database of images required to teach AI to recognize a tank or anti-aircraft missile.
“Probably nobody’s there,” Donahue added. “We’ve got to build it. It’s a race.”
01 Dec 18. Saab puts marketing effort for Swordfish maritime plane on hiatus. Over the past two years, Swedish aircraft manufacturer Saab has put its advertising muscle into promoting a maritime patrol aircraft it called Swordfish. But in the absence of a launch customer and no immediate sales prospects, the company is ending its marketing campaign — at least for now, the head of its Asia-Pacific business said Thursday.
“From a product perspective, we are no longer marketing it. So it was a concept. It was an opportunity that we looked at on the back of GlobalEye, and we’re just concentrating on GlobalEye,” Dean Rosenfield said in a roundtable with journalists in Saab’s Bangkok office.
Defense News traveled to Thailand the week of Nov. 26 to learn more about the country’s air warfare capabilities, accepting airfare and accommodations from Saab.
Swordfish was initially conceived as a derivative of Saab’s GlobalEye airborne early warning aircraft. Both are based on Bombardier’s Global 6000 airframe and contain a suite of cutting-edge sensors, with Swordfish also adding torpedoes, sonobuoys, anti-ship missiles, an acoustics processor and a magnetic anomaly detector.
But while GlobalEye has landed a launch customer in the United Arab Emirates, Swordfish is still looking for a buyer.
Saab hoped to position Swordfish as a lower-cost alternative to Boeing’s P-8 Poseidon, which is used by the U.S. Navy to hunt submarines and conduct surveillance over open waters. The firm targeted a handful of international countries who had expressed interest in upgrading their legacy maritime surveillance inventories.
One such country was South Korea, which was looking for up to six additional aircraft to augment its fleet of Lockheed Martin P-3 Orions.
In March, one Saab official told Defense News that — should South Korea chose Swordfish as its future maritime patrol aircraft — the company was prepared to allow South Korea to have a hand in producing the aircraft, with the first few aircraft being produced in Sweden and the rest assembled in South Korea.
Saab had responded to South Korean requests for more information about Swordfish, Rosenfield said. But in June the country decided to award a sole-source contract valued at about $1.7 bn to Boeing for the P-8 Poseidon, eschewing the Swordfish and Airbus’ C295.
In July, another sales opportunity for Swordfish was dashed, when New Zealand announced that it would buy up to four P-8s to replace its P-3s.
Rosenfield said that even if Saab wasn’t successful in the Korean competition, the company’s efforts may still prove fruitful as it goes forward marketing its GlobalEye early warning plane.
“But the good thing about what we did there is that it gave us great recognition — brand recognition — particularly as we were marketing a GlobalEye capability like what we are delivering to the UAE,” he said. “That’s where we see it going.”
Rosenfield said there may be opportunities in the future to resurrect the Swordfish sales initiative.
“If there is a customer who has a need for a maritime patrol aircraft, like Singapore for example, and they are prepared to invest in the technology to take something that hasn’t been delivered before to a first customer, then we’re happy to entertain that discussion,” he said.
But currently, “the product, per se, doesn’t exist in the Saab portfolio,” he added. (Source: Defense News)
Blighter® Surveillance Systems (BSS) is a UK-based electronic-scanning radar and sensor solution provider delivering an integrated multi-sensor package to systems integrators comprising the Blighter electronic-scanning radars, cameras, thermal imagers, trackers and software solutions. Blighter radars combine patented solid-state Passive Electronic Scanning Array (PESA) technology with advanced Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) and Doppler processing to provide a robust and persistent surveillance capability. Blighter Surveillance Systems is a Plextek Group company, a leading British design house and technology innovator, and is based at Great Chesterford on the outskirts of Cambridge, England.
The Blighter electronic-scanning (e-scan) FMCW Doppler ground surveillance radar (GSR) is a unique patented product that provides robust intruder detection capabilities under the most difficult terrain and weather conditions. With no mechanical moving parts and 100% solid-state design, the Blighter radar family of products are extremely reliable and robust and require no routine maintenance for five years. The Blighter radar can operate over land and water rapidly searching for intruders as small a crawling person, kayaks and even low-flying objects. In its long-range modes the Blighter radar can rapidly scan an area in excess of 3,000 km² to ensure that intruders are detected, identified and intercepted before they reach critical areas.