Sponsored by Blighter Surveillance Systems
21 Feb 19. Raytheon will participate in Army missile defense radar ‘sense-off.’ Raytheon will participate in a missile defense radar “sense-off” to test designs that could be included in the U.S. Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense system under development. The Army announced plans for the sense-off in October, resetting the approach for the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor, or LTAMDS, program that has struggled to bring about a new radar for well over a decade. The sense-off is “separate and distinct” from contracts awarded to Raytheon and Lockheed Martin last fall to come up with design concepts for a new missile defense radar, according to Bob Kelly, Raytheon’s director for integrated air and missile defense in the company’s Integrated Defense Systems division, who spoke with reporters Thursday.
According to an Oct. 29 notice posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website, the sense-off will take place this spring at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. Each vendor with a radar will have roughly two weeks on the range to demonstrate capabilities. A down-select will happen by the end of the year.
“We can meet the timeline for both the sense off and initial operational capability in fiscal year 2022,” Kelly said.
However, it’s unclear what this means for the prior technology development program. Kelly said that effort remains relevant, with the contract ongoing, but referred any further questions about its status to the Army.
“Our developmental efforts — what we do for one, it serves the other as well,” he said. “We were both [Raytheon and Lockheed Martin] going to develop prototypes. But with the sense-off, we’re doing it faster,” and with more competitors.
The sense-off strategy accelerates the timeline by a couple of years, Kelly said.
The other lingering question is whether the LTAMDS will include 360-degree coverage — a high priority for the Army, but seemingly one downsized in importance for the LTAMDS effort.
“The threshold is not for a 360-degree radar,” Kelly said, adding that Raytheon’s base design does include the capability. “We have a lot of scalability in our system, so if the Army decides they don’t want [360-degree coverage], we can give them the opportunity in the future to upgrade.”
The Raytheon-made Patriot air and missile defense radar was first fielded in the 1980s, and the Army attempted to replace the system with Lockheed Martin’s Medium Extended Air Defense System through a co-development effort with Germany and Italy. But that program was canceled in the U.S. after closing out a proof-of-concept phase roughly six years ago.
Since then, the Army has studied and debated how to replace the Patriot radar with one that has 360-degree detection capability, while Raytheon continues to upgrade its radar to keep pace with current threats. It is acknowledged that there will come a point where that radar will not be able to go up against future threats.
“The Patriot remains exceptional” today, Kelly said. “LTAMDS is looking out beyond tomorrow.” (Source: Defense News)
21 Feb 19. Streamlight® Inc., a leading provider of high-performance lighting and weapon light/laser sighting devices, introduced non-laser versions of its popular TLR-6® ultra-compact, lightweight weapons light. Available with three different light housings that securely attach to the trigger guard of select Glock® and M&P® Shield™ handguns, the new models are designed to maximize visibility in a variety of tactical and home defense applications.
“We continue to enhance the versatility of the TLR-6 weapon light by introducing non-laser body housings for select subcompact pistols,” said Streamlight President and Chief Executive Officer Ray Sharrah. “These newest models give law enforcement agencies with non-laser policies as well as other users an ultra-bright, weapons-mounted option for a variety of Glock and M&P handguns.”
The TLR-6 Non-Laser is available with body housings that fit Glock® 42 and Glock® 43; Glock® 26, Glock® 27 and Glock® 33; and M&P® Shield™ handguns, respectively.
In 2015, Streamlight became the first company to offer a light and integrated laser for subcompact handguns when it introduced TLR-6 models that fit the trigger guard of Glock® 42 and Glock® 43 handguns. Today, the company offers multiple models of the light to fit a variety of compact pistols and full-size handguns.
The TLR-6 Non-Laser uses the latest in power LED technology to deliver 100 lumens, 2,000 candela and a beam distance of 89 meters. Its parabolic reflector produces a balance of beam and peripheral illumination. The light delivers a run time of one hour and is powered by two CR-1/3N lithium coin batteries. It features an integrated battery door that permits batteries to be replaced while the light remains mounted on the gun.
The light is manufactured from durable, impact-resistant engineering polymer. Depending on the model, it weighs 1.12 to 1.16 ounces, and measures 2.20 inches. It is IPX4 rated for water-resistant operation, and also is impact-resistant tested to one meter.
The TLR-6 Non-Laser comes with Streamlight’s Limited Lifetime Warranty. It has an MSRP of $125.00.
21 Feb 19. South Korea accelerates airborne sensor and EW acquisition programmes. The Republic of Korea (RoK) is advancing efforts to introduce new long-range airborne sensor and electronic warfare (EW) capabilities. Jane’s understands from RoK military and foreign defence company sources that the Defense Agency for Technology and Quality (DTaQ) commenced detailed studies of the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) requirement at the end of 2018. The effort seeks to acquire between four and eight aircraft worth up to KRW2trn (USD1.7bn), according to the Ministry of National Defense’s (MND’s) defence white paper for 2019-23, announced in January. The first aircraft is expected to be delivered in 2023 to facilitate wartime operational control transfer from the US military. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 Feb 19. Rheinmetall unveils C-UAV jammer. Rheinmetall Defence unveiled a counter-unmanned aerial vehicle (C-UAV) jammer at the IDEX 2019 conference being held in Abu Dhabi on 17-21 February. The company said the modular multichannel jammer can be configured through software programming to all frequencies up to 8 GHz, depending on the operating frequencies of incoming threats. It has a range of up to several kilometres and, depending on national regulations, additional channels can be applied for further scenarios and situations such as interrupting mobile phone communications and radio-frequency communication services. The jammer can also be connected directly to the Oerlikon Skymaster command and control system. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 Feb 19. Jadara developing new sight for Terminator missile. Jordan’s Jadara Equipment and Defence Systems is developing a new sight for the Terminator man-portable guided missile system, a company official told Jane’s during the IDEX show held in Abu Dhabi from 17-21 February. Unveiled at the SOFEX show held in Jordan in March 2018, the Terminator’s original sight had an optical viewer, a non-cooled thermal imager, and a laser for the missile’s beam-riding guidance system. The new version dispenses with the optical sight and instead uses two electro-optical day cameras, one with a wide field-of-view for acquiring targets and the other with a narrow field for engaging them. “The replacement of the optical system by high-definition cameras will reduce the total weight of the Terminator launcher by 1.2kg and reduce the rate of failure,” Khaled Jaafer, the vice-chairman of Jadara, told Jane’s. Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
19 Feb 19. UK Defence Secretary Announces First Deployment for New Sub-hunter Aircraft. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced that the UK’s new fleet of submarine hunting aircraft will take to the skies over the Arctic next year. While visiting Royal Marines and Royal Navy personnel on winter training in Norway, the Defence Secretary announced that as part of their first deployment next year the RAF P8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft will be in the Arctic to counter Russian submarine activity that has reached Cold War levels.
This deployment is part of the Defence Arctic Strategy, which will be published this spring, deepening our relationship with regional partners and sharpen our expertise of operating in the extreme cold environment.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “The Arctic Strategy puts us on the front foot in protecting Britain’s interests in this expanding new frontier. Whether it’s sharpening our skills in sub-zero conditions, learning from longstanding allies like Norway or monitoring submarine threats with our Poseidon aircraft, we will stay vigilant to new challenges.”
Nine of the P8 Poseidon aircraft will be delivered to RAF Lossiemouth in 2020 at which point they will begin reconnaissance patrols over a wide range including the High North and North Atlantic.
While in Norway the Defence Secretary also met with the elite commandos of the Royal Marines and discussed the unique challenge of honing their combat skills hundreds of miles inside the Arctic Circle where temperatures drop as low as -30°C.
As part of the Defence Arctic Strategy, the Royal Marines have committed to a 10-year training programme with their Norwegian counterparts, which will see around 1,000 Marines travelling North each year. A long-term NATO ally, Norway is also a fellow member of the Joint Expeditionary Force and Northern Group – two initiatives through which the UK is enhancing its co-operation with key northern European partners. Elsewhere in the region this year, RAF Typhoons will guard NATO’s northern flank as part of the Icelandic Air Policing mission. (Source: ASD Network/U.K. MoD)
18 Feb 19. Textron and IMSAR Successfully Integrate and Demo Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) with the Aerosonde SUAS. Integration of NSP-3 Enables New All-Weather Payload Capability.
Textron Systems, a business of Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT), and IMSAR announced today the successful integration and demonstration of IMSAR’s NSP-3 Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) system on Textron Systems’ Aerosonde® Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS). The combination of the expeditionary Aerosonde platform with the all-weather, day-and-night NSP-3 radar system enables advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in a variety of austere locations and extreme weather conditions.
Textron Systems and IMSAR quickly and easily performed the mechanical integration of the NSP-3 radar system into the Aerosonde aircraft, with radar electronics in the fuselage payload bay and an externally mounted antenna pod. Software integration included the ability to send radar flight plans directly to the Aerosonde operator. During multiple flights, the fully integrated system demonstrated day-and-night operations, collecting high-resolution SAR, Coherent Change Detection (CCD) imagery and Moving Target Indication (MTI) detections and tracks. The demonstration included precise cross-cueing of the Aerosonde platform’s full-motion video system from MTI targets that were detected and tracked by the radar system, highlighting the NSP-3 radar system as a sensor and platform multiplier.
“Textron Systems has spent the past several months conducting various Aerosonde demonstrations, as part of our commitment to continuously upgrading and advancing the system,” said Textron Systems Senior Vice President & General Manager David Phillips. “This latest integration demonstrates an added SAR capability, which we are excited to offer to authorized customers, and further extend the system’s flexibility and capability.”
Textron Systems Aerosonde SUAS, which has accumulated more than 300,000 flight hours of operational maturity, offers proven multi-mission performance in land- and sea-based applications. The Aerosonde is equipped for real-time, full-motion video and communications relay within a single flight, day or night. The Aerosonde system features a range of 75 nautical miles, 200 watts of available payload power, more than 14 hours of endurance, distributed manned/unmanned teaming capability and is deployable in 20 minutes or less. Further, incorporating a Lycoming® EL-005 heavy fuel engine, the Aerosonde is the only system in its class with a propulsion system completely supported by a manufacturer with unmatched manned aviation expertise, including a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Production Certificate.
IMSAR’s NSP-3 multi-mode radar system combines operationally proven NanoSAR technology with a revolutionarily small size, weight, and power form factor at a low cost. The NSP-3 can produce high-resolution SAR imagery, CCD, MTI, as well as maritime surveillance in all weather, day or night. (Source: ASD Network)
20 Feb 19. Robin Radar, the Amsterdam, Netherlands. Specialist radar company, with around 40 staff has developed a new C-UAV radar. Robin Radar uses highly specialised radar to track small targets that traditional radar can’t see— differentiating it from military detection, which is designed to locate larger military drones, and can’t differentiate drones from birds. Smaller drones, as at the Gatwick incident, are increasingly a threat, while bird strikes (when large flocks fly across flight paths) pose a danger to flights, both military and commercial.
Robin Radar has 33 years’ experience in this area and uses highly specialised radar, acoustic sensors and cameras for comprehensive detection, tracking and identification of foreign objects. Alongside its partners, it can also work to neutralise detected drones using a sophisticated drone jamming system that can detect multiple targets simultaneously.
Robin Radar’s tech can also distinguish drones from other moving objects, like birds, to avoid false alarms, and is also deployed by wind farms to shut down turbines when needed in order to mitigate mortality of birds, as well as at airports to protect planes from bird strikes.
Robin started in the eighties as a project within the well-respected Dutch Research Institute for Applied Science (TNO). The project name was an acronym for Radar Observation of Bird INtensity. The goal was to prevent collisions between birds and planes from the Royal Netherlands Air Force. In conjunction with the FlySafe initiative of the European Space Agency (ESA), TNO developed software algorithms to process raw radar images from air defence radars to visualise bird intensity.
In 2010 high-tech entrepreneur Siete Hamminga spun out the technology from TNO to make it commercially available. In 2014 the Dutch government challenged the industry to come up with solutions against small drones. Thirty-eight companies responded. Robin Radar became number one and won the tender to develop a purpose-built drone detection radar. The radar was first operational in June 2015 to protect the G7 Summit in Germany.
In 2016 Robin Radar was recognised by the Dutch government as one of the top 3 most innovative SME companies of the Netherlands. The Royal Netherlands Air Force was their first customer way back in the eighties, and still is one today.
Year on year growth : 2015> 1m euro rev, 2016>4,4m rev, 2017> 5,6m rev, 2018> 6m rev
Turnover target: 25m rev in 5 years
Number of staff: went for 20 to 40 people in 2018
Total investment to date: ~ 5m euro
Robin Radar is a gazelle company (high-growth company that has been increasing its revenues by at least 20% annually for four years or more, starting from a revenue base of at least $100,000). It is among the 25 fastest growing tech companies in the Netherlands.
20 Feb 19. New Modular Anti-Drone Solution from MyDefence. For the past three years, MyDefence has been hard at work with development of a new type of anti-drone system that can effectively solve the problem of protecting large scale areas against the threat of drones. The system is named KNOX and is a customizable end-to-end anti-drone solution with purpose-built RF sensors, drone radars, and integrated EO/IR for visual tracking.
KNOX is now available for commercial use at airports, prisons, critical infrastructure as well as for military use for base security.
The KNOX anti-drone solution fortifies an area against unauthorized drone flights, providing both passive detection and active defeat solutions to neutralize any small drones in the secured airspace. The name KNOX is inspired from the infamous Fort Knox – one of the most secure locations on earth.
To accomplish the most effective detect-and-defeat solution, KNOX utilizes different sensor technologies, which each serves a purpose in detecting, locating, tracking and defeating a drone threat in the vicinity of the secured area.
The anti-drone system includes RF sensors to detect and ultimately defeat drone threats. For military customers, we supply reactive smart jamming effectors – a next generation jamming technology with the least possible impact on other radio communication. Other sensor technology includes purpose-built drone radars that track the location of drones as well as integrated EO/IR for visual tracking in real-time. The combination of sensor technologies complements each other to provide the best possible protection against unauthorized drones.
“We have always engineered our anti-drone solutions around the tactical requirements of the end-user, and I am proud to announce the release of our newest solution, KNOX, which provides the necessary scalability to accommodate protection of very large sites, modularity to integrate third-party sensors and flexibility to integrate the solution into existing security infrastructure,” says Luke Layman, CEO of MyDefence North America.
KNOX is designed for any scale of installation sites, from prison facilities to large international airports spanning miles across. The anti-drone solution can be utilized to protect critical infrastructure and military bases that require scalable anti-drone solutions, which will fortify and harden the perimeter against unauthorized drones in the airspace.
“Allowing customers the ability to integrate third-party sensors and not being dependent on one type of C2 user interface provides a future-proof system, which can continuously be upgraded as the threat evolves and new mitigation solutions are introduced,” says Layman.
The underlying modularity of the software suite handling inputs from the sensors allows for the anti-drone system to be integrated into a customer’s existing security setup, without the need for a stand-alone system. The seamless integration into a customer’s existing security setup results in less required operational training and for a more open platform that can accommodate current and future requirements of the customers. (Source: UAS VISION)
19 Feb 19. Drone Aviation upgrades US Army’s WASP aerostat. Drone Aviation has commenced the communications upgrade on the US Army’s Winch Aerostat Small Platform (WASP) tactical aerostat. The WASP upgrade is designed to maximise payload flexibility and follows several customer-requested capability enhancements to incorporate advanced secure communications and ISR capabilities, following deployment with Department of Defense forces. The WASP’s ability to incorporate the latest in secure communications and ISR equipment is enabled by its modular payload integration system, which allows operators to hot swap payloads in theatre to meet evolving mission requirements.
The WASP is a tactical and mobile aerostat system which provides day/night video, secure multi-frequency and multi-wave form wireless communication range extension capability in the battlefield either from a stationary position or while being towed. Operating at altitudes of up to 1,500ft above ground level, the WASP system can significantly extend ISR capabilities and secure communications in remote and austere locations. The soldier-operated systems can be rapidly configured to support a variety of mission requirements for days, weeks or months with customised payloads. (Source: Shephard)
19 Feb 19. Air2030/C2Air – Receipt of Bids for the New Airspace Surveillance System. On 11 February 2019, the three successful candidates submitted to armasuisse their offers for the new airspace surveillance system. The submission of offers marks the beginning of the evaluation phase. The current Ralus / Lunas air handling and driving system needs to be replaced. In this perspective, experts from Armasuisse and the Air Force have tested three replacement systems in three different countries in Dübendorf over the last six months. The tests focused on the functionality of the flight path calculators as well as the management capabilities of civil and military air traffic.
The three bidders, namely Thales (France), Saab (Sweden) and Raytheon (USA), have now forwarded their offers to Armasuisse. The submission of these offers marks the beginning of the evaluation phase during which armasuisse will evaluate the offers, draw up an evaluation report and submit to the Air2030 program management a recommendation concerning the choice of system.
The Florako airspace surveillance and command system
Ralus and Lunas are subsystems of the current Florako airspace and driving monitoring system. Ralus (Radar Luftlage-System) collects the data and establishes the image of the air situation, while Lunas (Luftlage-Nachrichtensystem) reproduces all the data on the screen in order to support the conduct of the engagement in its actions.
Florako is intended to identify civil and military aerial objects (eg airplanes, helicopters and drones) and to conduct Air Force engagements, including ground-to-air defense. Since 2005, Swiss airspace has been monitored 24 hours a day by Florako.
Link with the Air2030 program
The Air2030 program includes not only the plans for the next combat aircraft and the new long-range air defense system, but also the C2Air and Radar projects. These two projects concern the progressive replacement or upgrading of the mentioned Florako components. They are older and will be the subject of a request to Parliament in separate weapons programs. Maintaining the value of the Florako radar detectors has been approved with the 2016 weapons program. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Swiss Dept. of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport)
19 Feb 19. The Vernon Police Department has implemented the FACT Duty™ Weapon-Mounted Camera (WMC™) from Viridian® Weapon Technologies. Viridian and the City of Vernon will hold a joint press conference as Vernon becomes the first agency in the state of Texas to formally adopt this technology. Chief Randall Agan and Viridian officials will speak on Tuesday, February 19 at 10:00 am at police headquarters: 1306 Main Street Vernon, TX 76384.
In addition to Vernon’s deployment, there are more than 50 other departments in Texas currently testing and evaluating the FACT Duty WMC. Nationally there are over 400 agencies testing and implementing this new technology.
The FACT Duty fits standard police duty weapons and holsters and records automatically, providing an unobstructed view from the end of an officer’s firearm. The need for this product continues to be validated in current events throughout the United States.
“We saw the importance of this technology when testing and that’s why we are announcing this today,” said Police Chief Agan. “This is easy to implement and affordable, but most importantly we feel it benefits our officers. The challenges they face today mean that having this visibility into potential use-of-force incidents is very important. And we have already seen the FACT Duty help us gain valuable footage from the field that was not captured by other camera systems.”
Viridian has created an important new category for law enforcement with the introduction of the FACT camera. This unique Weapon-Mounted Camera provides an unobstructed view of critical use-of-force events from the end of the firearm, addressing limitations officers can face with body cameras.
The highly advanced WMC employs a 1080p full-HD digital camera with a microphone and 500 lumen tactical light. Viridian’s proprietary INSTANT-ON® technology automatically activates the camera and microphone whenever the officer draws the firearm from its holster. Not only does this eliminate risk of failure to manually turn on the camera during a critical event, but it also keeps the officer from fumbling with cumbersome equipment.
“The Vernon Police and Chief Agan’s announcement today is a big milestone,” said Viridian President and CEO Brian Hedeen. “Their deployment of the FACT Duty is not only the first in the state of Texas—but it shows how committed they are to modern policing. Our WMC provides a perspective that did not exist before it was in the field. It is our hope that the WMCs help Vernon and all other departments across the country feel more prepared for situations they may face while on duty.”
Easy Purchase and Implementation
FACT WMCs do not require the purchase of supplemental equipment or services and are designed exclusively to answer the needs of today’s officers. The WMC generates just a small fraction of the data to manage compared to other law enforcement recording options because it only records when the officer’s weapon is drawn.
After the purchase of the WMC, there are no maintenance fees, monthly charges or other significant expenses required. This results in significantly lower comparative data management costs than other evidentiary camera systems. The FACT Duty is a one-and-done solution for law enforcement administrators and purchasing departments.
The WMCs fit on existing standard-issue firearms and fit seamlessly in multiple duty holster platforms, making it easy for implementation by any law enforcement agency. The cameras feature a recording time of over three hours to handle virtually any scenario. They also incorporate secured data access and are easily rechargeable.
Body and dash cameras were not designed to capture officer-involved shootings. However, Viridian WMCs were designed specifically for this purpose.
16 Feb 19. FLIR set to add Endeavor Robotics to its unmanned future. A camera is never just a camera anymore. For FLIR — the company whose bread and butter may be lenses and images but whose product is best thought of as an intelligence add-on more than any pedestrian photography — was never just about the camera. FLIR’s cameras and sensors have been incorporated into vehicles for decades, a platform on platforms. But in the past two years, FLIR has moved to acquire robotics companies of its own. A new deal, announced Feb. 11, 2019, is set to have FLIR acquire Endeavor Robotics.
In November 2016, FLIR acquired Prox Dynamics, maker of the sparrow-sized Black Hornet micro-drone. It was FLIR’s first foray into its own unmanned vehicles. In January 2019, FLIR acquired drone-maker Aeryon Labs, which produces vehicles that weigh less than 20 pounds for a number of militaries across the globe.
“Now with Endeavor, we’ve started down that path of executing our inorganic phase of our growth strategy for unmanned,” said David Ray, president of the Government and Defense Business Unit at FLIR. “What that does is it allows us to have a platform to move the customer’s vision forward for this whole notion of manned-unmanned teaming. It’s driving an open architecture, an environment where you can have both manned vehicles and unmanned really cooperating and delivering missions like never before.”
Endeavor Robotics is the largest get by FLIR of the lot. FLIR is set to buy Endeavor for $385m — almost twice as much as FLIR paid for Aeryon Labs, and nearly three times as much as it spent on Prox Dynamics.
With Endeavor Robotics comes a whole host of tracked unmanned ground vehicles, including the infantry-deployable (and -tossable) FirstLook, and the larger and heavier PackBot and Kobra. These robots can incorporate a variety of sensors from FLIR, for everything from video and infrared to chemical detection. Being in-house means FLIR can experiment and explore more fusion of its various platforms.
“With our Black Hornet we can have a reconnaissance system that is connected to a vehicle,” Ray said, “a tank or whatever it may be, where you could actually launch Black Hornet aircraft from another vehicle. As we enhance our sensors across both, we’re able to bring that power to bear in terms of layered surveillance.”
While FLIR is still relatively new to robotics, it’s used to working across sectors. FLIR sensors have been used by the military, government, law enforcement and in the security space, and have had to stay competitive with commercial companies. Lessons learned from an application in nuclear reactor security might be applicable to a sensor on an explosive ordnance disposal robot. Those updates and lessons have stayed fixed to the specific sensor. With the new robotics companies acquired by FLIR, it can adapt its vehicles and sensors in a more holistic way.
“Our latest Black Hornet III is able to operate in GPS-denied environments,” Ray said. “And so the beauty of Endeavor being part FLIR is we can go look at how we take an investment and enhancements we’ve made and see what it takes to go transfer that into a vehicle. The ultimate goal is being able to build world-class R&D and generate world-class capability, and then be able to expand that across multiple platforms.”
FLIR’s past, present and future remain very much about the core business of providing sensors for others to incorporate. Also in that future we can anticipate FLIR adapting and designing its own vehicles around its sensors. That means looking at the way the data collected by those sensors can be turned into everything from useful navigational information for an autonomous system on the vehicle, to vital information relayed by tablet to soldiers commanding the robot nearby. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/C4ISR & Networks)
18 Feb 19. U.S. Government Approves Release of Boeing EA-18G Growler to Finland. Boeing [NYSE: BA] and the U.S. Navy have received U.S. Department of Defense approval to offer the EA-18G Growler to Finland. Previously only Australia had been authorized to purchase the airborne electronic attack (AEA) aircraft.
Boeing and the Navy have offered the Growler and F/A-18 Super Hornet in a response to query issued by the Finnish Ministry of Defense as part of their HX fighter program procurement.
“All strike fighter aircraft rely on Growler escort to increase survivability during high-threat missions,” said Dan Gillian, Boeing vice president, F/A-18 and EA-18G programs. “The combination of the Super Hornet Block III and Growler would provide Finland with superior technological capability particularly suited to Finland’s HX mission requirements.”
An F/A-18 variant, the Growler is the world’s most advanced AEA platform and the only one in production today. It’s capable of disrupting, deceiving or denying a broad range of military electronic systems including radar and communication systems. In addition to the U.S. Navy, the Growler is flown by the Royal Australian Air Force. (Source: https://www.unmannedairspace.info)
18 Feb 19. L3 Technologies and Saudi Arabian Military Industries Sign MoU to Collaborate on Electro-Optical/Infrared Technologies and Special Mission Systems. L3 Technologies and Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) announced today the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore opportunities for collaboration within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) on projects related to the electrooptical/infrared (EO/IR) and special mission systems markets.
The agreement, which supports KSA’s Vision 2030 goals for enhanced indigenous capabilities in the aerospace and defense industries, will enable the companies to work together in developing an EO/IR and mission systems industry within the Kingdom that includes a focus on sustainment, training, manufacturing, and research and development, as well as the pursuit of strategic opportunities.
“Establishing this relationship with SAMI is an important part of L3’s international growth strategy,” said Stephen F. O’Bryan, L3’s Senior Vice President and Chief Global Business Development Officer. “By working collaboratively to provide sustainment, training and manufacturing capabilities within the KSA, we can significantly broaden our support for Saudi government and military forces.”
L3 Technologies has designed and manufactured industry-leading multi-spectral and multi-sensor EO/IR imaging and targeting sensor systems for over 43 years. As an immediate extension to this line of business, L3 actively designs and integrates fully customizable mission systems for air, land and maritime vessels. Together, one of the priority areas for L3 and SAMI will be to focus on developing a center within the Kingdom to indigenously design and implement these advanced technologies and solutions for a variety of customer-specific applications.
“Our strategic MoU with L3 comes as part of our commitment to supporting the objectives of the Saudi Vision 2030, as we work closely to further develop both the sensor and mission systems industry within the Kingdom and create a Center of Excellence around these technologies,” said Dr. Andreas Schwer, CEO of SAMI. “Over the next 10 years, we envision a provision of comprehensive through-life support for this technology: from IRAD activities to sustainment.”
19 Feb 19. Airbus and Hisdesat successfully process first TerraSAR-X radar imagery. Airbus Defence and Space, in partnership with Hisdesat Servicios, have generated the first joint TerraSAR-X/PAZ radar interferogram, marking a major milestone and a demonstration of the capacity for cross-sensor optical sensor reflection, otherwise known as interferometry. Interferograms are typically used to derive the topographic elevation and deformation of the Earth’s surface, and are created using at least two different images acquired at different date.
The flattened cross-sensor interferogram has been created from a mixed image pair with four days temporal separation acquired by TerraSAR-X and PAZ (StripMap scenes from 22 and 26 November 2018). The area covers the oil and gas production site Burgan (Kuwait) and parts of the Persian Gulf. The oil field is the world’s largest sandstone oil field with a total surface area of about 1,000 square kilometres.
Hanjo Kahabka, head of production and radar constellation manager at Airbus Defence and Space said, “This is a major step towards achieving the implementation of our TerraSAR-X/PAZ Radar Constellation. The level of accuracy obtained with this interferogram is a guarantee for our customers to continue to rely on the high quality standard we have set with TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X, but with an improved monitoring capacity.”
As PAZ is positioned in the same orbit as TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X and features exactly identical ground swathes and acquisition modes, all three form a high-resolution SAR satellite constellation, jointly exploited by Hisdesat and Airbus.
“In Hisdesat we are very proud of reaching this milestone. Interferometry is one of the most technically demanding applications and thanks to this successful joint exercise with Airbus we have not only demonstrated the top performance of our PAZ satellite but its full compatibility with TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X,” Miguel García Primo, chief operating officer at Hisdesat, said. (Source: Defence Connect)
15 Feb 19. It’s a cat and mouse game as militaries fight the big threat of small drones. In August 2014, well-directed artillery fire was used to devastating effect in Ukraine, leaving three mechanized battalions a smoking ruin. Because the units and their positions were identified by a mini-drone, the Ukrainian government lost 200 vehicles, and very-short-range air defenses weren’t even able to locate it.
Today, UAVs have grown from a niche intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to “a favored tool of the non-state actor, initially for ISR, but increasingly for weapons delivery,” according to a newly released assessment of military capabilities and defense economics by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
While much has been made of emerging hypersonic weapons, “uninhabited aerial vehicles” of all classes are another key modern air-defense challenge, according to IISS, alongside other traditional targets and “novel threats,” like combat aircraft with a reduced radar-signature, precision-guided munitions and land-attack cruise missiles.
“The U.S. military and any military has to prepare for an operating environment in which enemy drones are not just occasional, but omnipresent,” said Dan Gettinger, co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College. “Whether it’s a small, tactical UAS, midsize or strategic, drones of any size will be commonplace on the battlefield of the future.”
The militant group Hezbollah began to use ISR drones in 2004 and “adapted commercially available hobbyist systems for combat roles,” including the Chinese-made Skywalker, the Talon and the Phantom quadcopter, IISS noted. The three systems are available for purchase on the internet and range in price from $200 to $700.
“The cameras available on these types of UAVs have a clear ISR utility,” IISS wrote. “They have been used for purposes including to correct indirect-fire attacks and to support the guidance of vehicle-mounted improvised explosive devices to their intended targets, as well as in direct offensive operations such as the alleged assassination plot on Venezuelan President Nicolàs Maduro in August 2018.”
While it’s unclear exactly what happened in Venezuela on Aug. 4, 2018, the government claimed an attempt had been made to assassinate Maduro during a speech using two small drones laden with C4 plastic explosive. Open-source investigators at Bellingcatidentified the platform as the DJI Matrice 600, a hexcopter available on Amazon for $5,000.
Beyond a one-off assassination attempt, the Islamic State group was first reported using small UAVs in 2014, and then in scattered reports afterward.
In October 2016, an ISIS drone — a Chinese-made Skywalker X8 — landed near a peshmerga post in the Mosul Dam area in Kurdistan, northern Iraq, and later exploded, killing two peshmerga troops and wounding two French paratroopers.
The fixed delta-wing Skywalker X8 weighed 2.2 kilograms, had a payload capacity of 2.3 kilograms and would have cost $1,500 if outfitted with flying and camera equipment. In other words, the cost is low. But then again, so is the payload.
“This limited payload-capacity — together with challenges in accurately directing such systems onto their target — restricts their effectiveness, although for the non-state actor the propaganda value of an attack may be considerably greater than any physical damage or casualties,” IISS noted.
Russian drone operators in eastern Ukraine, on the other hand, gained experience on platforms later seen in Syria, according to the think tank. Those include the Orlan-10, Takhion and Eleron-3 small UAVs as well as the larger Forpost (that’s Russia name for the Israeli Searcher II).
On the flip side, Russia says its air defense assets in Syria have downed 45 drones targeting its main base in the country, according to the IISS report.
“The Russians have really learned their lessons from the attacks in Syria,” Gettinger said. “They’re engaging in exercises aimed at counter-UAS, which shows they’re taking the threat seriously. … It was a real wake-up call to them that they were vulnerable to seemingly homemade drones.”
How to defeat them? One novel, low-tech approach comes from the Dutch national police, who were experimenting a few years ago with using raptor eagles to target undesirable drones.
The U.S. Army has experimented with nets packed into shotgun shells that can fell a flying drone. But, Gettinger noted, that’s a solution for small units and doesn’t provide protection for entire installations.
Another challenge for troops is telling apart friendly drones from unfriendly ones on a congested battlefield.
“Recognizing the threat is half the battle,” Gettinger said.
Beyond low-tech solutions, there is a booming, high-tech market to counter small, ever-cheaper commercial drones. Indeed, Forbes speculated recently: “If 2018 was the year of the drone, 2019 could be the year of the anti-drone.”
A survey by the Center for the Study of the Drone published in April found 235 products were sold to detect, mitigate, track and stop drones, reported Defense News sister publication C4ISRNET.
These technologies range from audio and visual sensors that can scan the sky for drones, to interdiction machines, net guns, lasers and electronic warfare jamming capabilities. Players in this field include the companies Dedrone, DJI, DroneShield, Rafael, Leonardo and Fortem.
Driven by a global increase in the use of mini-drones by terrorists and criminals, the anti-drone market is expected to grow to $1.85bn by 2024, according to the San Francisco-based market research firm Grand View Research.
“As drones become deadlier, stealthier, faster, agile, smaller, sleeker, and cheaper, the nuisance and threat posed by them is expected to go up manifold at various levels, ranging from national security to individual privacy,” Grand View said. “Keeping the above-mentioned threat in mind, there are significant effort, both in terms of money and time, being invested in the development and manufacturing of anti-drone technologies.
“Thus, it is just a matter of time before redundant and reliable methods of detecting and disrupting drones become widely available and mainstream.” (Source: Defense News)
20 Feb 19. BGTI Support Contract. The UK MoD is close to issuing the BGTI (Battlegroup Therma Imaging) support contract covering Scimitar and Warrior vehicles at the end of February. The contract is currently held by Thales, other bidders are expected to include Qioptiq.
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