Sponsored by Blighter Surveillance Systems
28 Feb 19. US Navy completes mine-hunting sonar system developmental tests. The US Navy has completed the developmental testing for the AN/AQS-20C mine-hunting sonar system at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division (NSWC PCD). The Raytheon-developed AQS-20C, which is an advanced variant of the AN/AQS-20 system, is set to be incorporated into the littoral combat ship (LCS) mine countermeasures mission package. Developmental testing is performed to verify whether the system’s design conforms to all technical specifications. As part of the testing, the towed sonar sensor carried out 12 underway missions in various operational modes and at different depths. The US Navy conducted the missions at four separate NSWC PCD test ranges aboard the test vessel M/V Patriot.
With the successful completion of the developmental testing, the Navy will now integrate with and deploy the AQS-20C from the mine countermeasures unmanned surface vehicle (MCM USV). The MCM USV, which is currently undergoing developmental testing as a component of the Unmanned Influence Sweep System, is a semi-autonomous surface craft that can be used to support the employment of various mine countermeasure payloads.
NAVSEA noted that the vehicle can be launched and recovered by the LCS, from other vessels of opportunity, or from shore sites. The USV can be deployed to support minesweeping, mine-hunting and mine neutralisation operations.
Some of the key capabilities of the vessel include propulsion, power generation, communications to and from the host ship, radar, optical cameras, navigation, and a modular payload system.
Furthermore, the US Navy will subject the AQS-20C test results to scoring and performance assessment. Thereafter, a final developmental testing report will be delivered in the spring.
The US Department of Defence approved the Navy’s project to develop a mine countermeasure unmanned surface vehicle to replace its aging MCM infrastructure, reported USNI News.
The system comprises four sonar arrays, including two side-looking arrays and a gap-filler sonar array. The fourth one is a forward-looking sonar array designed to provide simultaneous detection, localisation and classification of bottom mines, close-tethered moored mines, and volume-moored mines. The mine-hunting sonar system has the capability to deliver high-definition images of bottom mines. This will deliver both range and contrast data that form a three-dimensional image to assist operators in mine identification during post-mission analysis. (Source: naval-technology.com)
28 Feb 19. USAF B-52 bombers to be integrated with AN/APG-83 SABR system. The US Air Force (USAF) B-52H Stratofortress and B-1B Lancer bombers are set to be equipped with the fifth-generation, platform-agnostic AN/APG-83 scalable agile beam radar (SABR) system to replace the existing radar. The USAF intends to replace the B-52’s Northrop Grumman AN/APQ-166 mechanically scanned radar as part of a radar modernisation programme. As part of the plan, Boeing is considering SABR for the B-52 Bomber Modernisation Radar System, which includes engineering, manufacturing, development and delivery of an initial seven radar units. Production of the B-52 commenced in 1952. Currently, there are 76 of the aircraft in service with the USAF.
The SABR system, developed by Northrop Grumman, will also be integrated into the US Marine Corps F/A-18C/D Hornet strike fighter and other aircraft platforms. Northrop Grumman has completed the integration of the advanced AN/APG-83 SABR system onto multiple configurations of F-16 aircraft.
According to the company, the system design benefits from the fifth-generation active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar capabilities of the AN/APG-77 on the F-22 Raptor and the AN/APG-81 on the F-35 Lightning II.
The firm projects SABR as a cost-effective, off-the-shelf, low-risk radar upgrade solution for multiple platforms.
Northrop Grumman airborne C4ISR systems vice-president and general manager Tom Jones said: “The SABR and SABR-Global Strike family of radars provides differentiating capability for air dominance and strike missions.
“Our hot production and sustainment lines are already in place to support our current and future customers’ needs for decades to come.”
Northrop Grumman stated that it is in full-rate production of SABR to support F-16 upgrade programmes. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
28 Feb 19. ELTA to supply MF-STAR radars for Israeli Sa’ar 6-class corvettes. Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) subsidiary ELTA Systems has received a contract to supply four ELM-2248 MF-STAR multi-function digital radars for installation on the Israeli Navy’s new Sa’ar 6-class corvettes. The radars contract was awarded by the Systems Missiles and Space Group of IAI. The advanced MF-STAR radars, which will be installed on the ship’s masts in a new, box-like antenna configuration, are based on the latest active electronically scanned array (AESA) technology.
The Navy’s corvettes have been recently procured to support the country’s sea blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has been in place since 2007, and safeguard critical infrastructure, such as natural gas platforms against missiles, rockets and enemy aircraft.
IAI vice-president and ELTA CEO Yoav Tourgeman said: “ELTA is a long-time supplier of leading-edge radar systems to the Israeli Navy and Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
“The IDF has a long history of being a technology innovator when it comes to procuring the newest technologies, and the MF-STAR best fits that category.
“The MF-STAR was designed from the ground up with innovative and reliable technologies, based on our experience of over half a century of producing and deploying a vast array of radar systems.”
The radar solution being offered by ELTA includes four conformal phased array S-Band antennas providing 360° coverage.
According to the IAI, the Navy opted for the MF-STAR as it is optimised for the design of the Sa’ar 6 vessel.
AESA technology offered by the MF-STAR radars has the ability to provide faster threat alert response time and better accuracy.
It also provides an optimal situational awareness picture (SAP) by enabling the Navy to simultaneously track multiple targets and different target-types.
Built by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, the Sa’ar 6-class vessels are based on the German MEKO 100 patrol corvette and are expected to offer enhanced attack capabilities. (Source: naval-technology.com)
28 Feb 19. Collins Elbit Vision Systems plans new capabilities for F-35 helmet. Key Points:
- CEVS is looking to bring additional colour capabilities to its F-35 HMDS
- The company is targeting 2026 for this new configuration
Collins Elbit Vision Systems (CEVS) is planning to use microdisplay technology to bring additional colour capabilities to its Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) helmet-mounted display system (HMDS), according to a company statement.
Bret Tinkey, Collins Aerospace Avionics HMDS programme manager, told Jane’s on 26 February that microdisplay technology is utilised to support the projected display that is reflected off the pilot’s display visor. He said the colour helmet display is still in development and the actual colours selected to be used at the aircraft level will be determined based on a full human factors assessment that Lockheed Martin will co-ordinate. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
28 Feb 19. Concluding extensive flight testing and verification by Special Operations pilots, Elbit Systems’ new Terrain Following and Terrain Avoidance (TF/TA) system was declared operational onboard C-130 aircraft of an unidentified Air Force. The provided TF/TA system is part of an Elbit Systems’ lead comprehensive C-130 avionics upgrade program.
Elbit Systems’ TF/TA system enables military transport aircraft to safely conduct low altitude flights in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC), significantly extending their operational envelop. The Company’s TF/TA system combines high resolution ground mapping data from an onboard Terrain Following Radar that is complimented by a Digital Terrain Elevation Database, offering high maneuverability. The system’s real-time terrain data processing and advanced algorithms, take into account the aircraft’s flight performance characteristics, thus enabling anticipation of variations in the terrain and providing optimized climb/descent commands to keep the aircraft in the selected altitude for the entire mission.
Elbit Systems’ TF/TA is offered to military air-lifters and helicopters and can be implemented as part of the Company’s basic Communication, Navigation and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) avionics upgrade suite or as a stand-alone component.
28 Feb 19. PAL Aerospace and Air Affairs Australia to grow Pacific presence. Canada-based PAL Aerospace and Nowra-based Air Affairs Australia have announced the initiation of a strategic partnership for the provision of special mission aircraft and support services within Australia and the south Pacific.
The announcement follows a memorandum of understanding signed by the two companies in 2018 to support the pursuit of special mission opportunities in maritime patrol and defence based activities in Australia and the Pacific region. A combined PAL Aerospace and Air Affairs Australia offering facilitates the delivery of global in-service support capacity and consolidates worldwide experience in the maintenance and operation of a variety of special mission aircraft and configurations. Both companies believe this co-operative ability to provide customers with world-class solutions from the factory to the airfield and beyond creates a tremendous value proposition.
Chris Sievers, CEO of Air Affairs Australia, welcomed the signing of the strategic partnership and the opportunities the partnership presents, saying, “The teaming agreement between Air Affairs Australia and PAL Aerospace represents a significant addition to our capabilities in the region. Our collaboration with PAL Aerospace will further cement the presence of both organisations in Australia’s evolving aviation special mission industry.
“The ability for Air Affairs Australia to drive technological innovation in Australian aviation is greatly enhanced by this arrangement.”
PAL Aerospace senior vice-president of business development John Turner reinforced these comments, saying, “Air Affairs are an extraordinary partner to have in the region and their commitment to the Australian aviation industry is unquestionable. The establishment of this partnership will facilitate resource sharing and knowledge transfer that will expand capabilities in the region and benefit Australian industry.”
PAL Aerospace is an international aerospace and defence company with a focus on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance solutions. Air Affairs Australia is an accomplished aviation special mission organisation and is able to leverage its significant proven experience to deliver highly tailored, high reliability special mission solutions to its defence and government clients throughout Australia and the world. (Source: Defence Connect)
27 Feb 19. Northrop to deliver Triton drone to Australia in 2023, says Air Force official. The Royal Australian Air Force is on track to take delivery of the first of six Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance drones in 2023, a senior official said Tuesday at the Avalon Airshow. Group Capt. Jason Lind, the director of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare at Air Force Headquarters in Canberra, said the country has allocated AU$1.4bn (U.S. $1bn) for the acquisition of the aircraft and ground control systems. It’s expected the total spent over the life of the program will fall between AU$3bn and AU$4bn. Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper forecast the requirement for seven Triton drones under Project Air 7000 Phase 1B to supplement the manned Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft with the Air Force’s Surveillance and Response Group. A decision to acquire six aircraft was announced by Defence Minister Christopher Pyne on June 26, representing Gate 2 (Second Pass) approval. A decision on the seventh aircraft will be made at a later date. Australia is acquiring the multiple intelligence gathering version of the Triton, and the Gate 2 decision saw the firm order for the first aircraft, with the others to be added as milestones are achieved and as the variant matures in service with the U.S. Navy. All aircraft are expected to be in service by mid-2025. Lind said Australia has entered into a cooperative development program with the U.S. Navy to further develop the Triton, adding that eight Royal Australian Air Force personnel and defense officials are embedded in the U.S. program office. He said the program will leverage experience gained through a similar cooperative program currently in place for the P-8A.
“We have learned a lot of things and derived a lot of ‘goodness’ out of the Poseidon cooperative program, and we’ll be working closely with the U.S. Navy to further develop Triton and how we can leverage off some of their support methodologies as well,” Lind said.
“I think Triton brings something incredibly different to the RAAF and the wider Australian Defence Force.” (Source: Defense News)
27 Feb 19. Boeing seeks UK decision on Wedgetail jet buy this year – executive. Boeing hopes Britain will decide this year on plans to buy E-7 Wedgetail early warning jets, an executive said, after talks last year sparked a row over competition in arms procurement. Britain said in October it was in exclusive discussions with Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) about buying jets to replace its fleet of six ageing E-3D Sentry planes without holding a tender. It did not give a timeline for the roughly $1bn (752m pounds) deal, but defence trade media reported that it wants the first jet in service by 2022.
“We hope to have a decision this year,” Scott Carpendale, Boeing Defence Australia’s director of commercial derivative aircraft, told Reuters.
“There are reasons why that is really important in terms of production availability and obviously the sooner they make a decision the sooner we make their aircraft. They are looking for that capability as soon as possible,” he said at the Australian International Airshow.
Britain’s decision to skip a formal tender, on the grounds that this was the least risky option, angered European rivals Airbus and Saab which had proposed a joint offering. It led to an unusual public rebuke from UK parliamentarians who had pushed for a competition.
It came as Britain prepares to take delivery of its first Boeing P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, also selected without a competition to fill an urgent capability gap. The early-warning and sub-hunting planes are both based on the 737 passenger jet.
In a letter late last year to the British parliament’s defence committee, Saab said the Ministry of Defence had ignored an offer of a detailed briefing on the Erieye sensor system that it proposed to place on Airbus A330 planes, indicating a lack of interest in a bid.
Defence sources said Airbus had also privately complained to the government.
Carpendale said Boeing and other key suppliers had made sure they had room in their schedules to support production and they were providing data on how Australia had operated Wedgetail, but Britain was still going through the approvals process.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence did not respond to a request for comment. An RAAF spokesman declined to comment.
Australia, a close ally of Britain, has six Wedgetails in operation and has developed advanced proprietary capabilities that it could potentially share depending on government agreements and U.S. export approvals, Carpendale said.
Early-warning systems like Wedgetail are designed to manage battles from the sky, tracking multiple airborne and maritime targets at the same time. They then use that information to direct other assets like fighter jets and warships. Australia has deployed Wedgetail in Iraq and Syria.
RAAF Squadron Leader Martin Davies, who previously served on the E-3 in Britain’s Royal Air Force, said Wedgetail’s E-Scan radar was more advanced than the manual one on the E-3.
Saab has said it offered to “cloak” the A330 plane electronically to make it more survivable and has denied that the Airbus jet and Swedish radar involved more procurement risk. (Source: Reuters)
26 Feb 19. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has successfully integrated the advanced AN/APG-83 SABR system onto multiple configurations of F-16 aircraft and is now taking the next step in expanding to additional platforms, including the U.S. Air Force (USAF) B-52H Stratofortress and B-1B Lancer bombers as well as the U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18C/D Hornet strike fighter. Northrop Grumman’s SABR system design leverages proven, fifth-generation Active Electronically Scanned Array radar capabilities of the AN/APG-77 on the F-22 Raptor and the AN/APG-81 on the F-35 Lightening II. SABR provides a reliable, cost-effective, off-the-shelf, low-risk radar upgrade solution for multiple platforms.
“The SABR and SABR-Global Strike family of radars provides differentiating capability for air dominance and strike missions,” said Tom Jones, vice president and general manager, airborne C4ISR systems, Northrop Grumman. “Our hot production and sustainment lines are already in place to support our current and future customers’ needs for decades to come.”
Northrop Grumman’s SABR is under consideration by Boeing for the B-52 Bomber Modernization Radar System, which includes engineering, manufacturing, development and delivery of an initial seven radar units. The USAF has expressed a desire to upgrade the entire B-52 fleet with a new radar system. Additionally, a version of SABR has been developed for the B-1B fleet.
Northrop Grumman is in full-rate production of SABR in support of F-16 upgrade programs for international and domestic customers. The company stands ready to deliver this advanced radar capability for additional platforms, including the F/A-18C/D, B-52H and B-1B.
26 Feb 19. The Demand for Airborne LINX in the European Police Force Grows! Since the release of Airborne Technologies Airborne LINX leading-edge surveillance system, more and more European Police Forces are integrating this capability into their fleets and joining the LINX club. The latest member to join is the Bulgarian Border Guard. Airborne Technologies was awarded a FRONTEX funded contract to upgrade one of the Bulgarian Border Guard’s AW109 helicopters with the Airborne LINX system. Besides the integration of Airborne LINX, the platform will be high-end equipped with a FLIR Star Safire 380 HD, an ECS Line of Sight Downlink and a payload friendly carbon fibre tactical workstation.
Wolfgang Grumeth, CEO of Airborne Technologies, said: “We are proud that Airborne LINX is on the rise amongst Europe´s Police Forces. With the Bulgarian Border Guard, a further European authority trusts our experience and our innovative solutions. In the meantime, aircraft – rotary and fixed wing – with our surveillance technology on board are on duty for numerous police forces all over Europe. With the AW109 missionized with Airborne LINX, the Bulgarian Border Guard will be one of the best-equipped police forces in Europe. Welcome to the club!”
21 Feb 19. MyDefence launches new version of its KNOX C-UAS system for large-scale protection. MyDefence has announced a new version of its KNOX counter-UAS system (see also https://www.unmannedairspace.info/counter-uas-systems-and-policies/lockheed-martin-and-mydefence-link-to-form-new-c-uas-capablity/) aimed at protecting large scale civil and military areas against the threat of drones.
According to the company: “It 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 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.
“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. 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: www.unmannedairspace.info)
21 Feb 19. AIO develops integrated soldier-worn display for Egyptian special forces. Arab International Optronics (AIO) has developed the Egyptian Integrated Soldier System (EISS) and showcased it at the IDEX exhibition in Abu Dhabi in February. AIO is owned 49% by Thales Group and 51% by the Egyptian government.
The EISS is an integrated surveillance and aiming ensemble that provides images from different electro/optical devices to a head-mounted display (HMD), and links these optics to either the daylight scope of an RPG-7 or a targeting dot sight on a machine gun or assault rifle.
Each system has two assemblies: the commander and the soldier. The commander system has a helmet group consisting of a thermal sight and a single eye piece HMD, and a weapon group that is a thermal sight. Power and control is provided by a belt-mounted rechargeable battery with a control switch.
The soldier system helmet group consists of a daylight and lowlight camera mounted on each side of the helmet, plus the same HMD as the commander. Mohammed Galal Abdel Hamid, AIO’s product development manager, told Jane’s that in practice the soldier would remove whichever camera was not needed for a mission depending on whether it was day or night. The weapon group has the same twin-sight capability, and the control box is also the same. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 Feb 19. DRDO unveils model for coastguard’s multimission maritime aircraft. India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) unveiled a model of the Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMMA) proposed for the Indian Coast Guard’s (ICG’s) requirement, at Aero India 2019. The aircraft has been designed to be rapidly configurable, and can take on multiple roles such as maritime surveillance, pollution surveillance, search and rescue, cargo and personnel transportation, and air ambulatory operations. It has been equipped with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, in addition to maritime search, and airborne target tracking radars with small target imaging, detection, and classification capabilities. Its electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) payloads include mid-wave infrared (MWIR) and short-wave infrared (SWIR) sensors, a spotter scope, and a laser rangefinder. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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.