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15 Aug 19. Israeli corvette upgraded with ALPHA radar. At least one of the Israeli Navy’s three Saar-5 corvettes now has the new IAI-Elta ELM-2258 Advanced Lightweight Phased Array (ALPHA) radar, images emerging from the multinational Exercise ‘Mighty Waves’ have shown. The ALPHA is a multi-function active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar that operates in the S-band to detect and track threats and provide guidance for weapon systems. Israeli Naval sources told Jane’s in 2017 that the Saar 5 corvettes Hanit and Eilat would receive the radar as part of an upgrade that would also see the integration of the new Barak 8 surface-to-air missile. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
15 Aug 19. Eye In the Sky: DOD Announces AI Challenge. When disaster strikes, speed is critical. The time it takes to properly assess damage in the wake of a major event can be the difference between life and death. However, emergency responders must often navigate disruptions to local communication and transportation infrastructure, making accurate assessments dangerous, difficult and slow. And while satellite and aerial imagery offer less risky alternatives that cover more ground, analysts must still conduct manual, time-intensive assessments of images.
The Defense Innovation Unit’s xView2 Challenge seeks to automate post-disaster damage assessment. DIU is challenging machine learning experts to develop computer vision algorithms that will speed up analysis of satellite and aerial imagery by localizing and categorizing various types of building damage caused by natural disasters.
The xView2 Challenge is DIU’s second prize competition focused on furthering innovation in computer vision for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. This year’s competition builds upon the xView1 Challenge, which sought out computer vision algorithms to locate and identify distinct objects on the ground useful to first responders.
“DIU’s goal in hosting this challenge is to enlist the global community of machine learning experts to tackle a critically hard problem: detecting key objects in overhead imagery in context and assessing damage in a disaster situation,” said Mike Kaul, DIU AI portfolio director.
“We are always looking for ways to improve rapid damage assessment to ensure we and our partners deliver the right resources to the right places at the right time, and we are confident the DIU Challenge can contribute to that goal,” said FEMA Regional Administrator Robert Fenton, a partner in the challenge.
DIU led a team of experts from academia and industry to create a new dataset, xBD, to enable localization and damage assessment before and after disasters. The dataset will provide the foundation for the challenge. While several open datasets for object detection from satellite imagery already exist — for example, SpaceNet and xView — each represent only a single snapshot in time and lack information about the type and severity of damage following a disaster.
The largest and most diverse annotated building damage dataset, xBD allows ML/AI practitioners to generate and test models to help automate building damage assessment. The open source electro-optical imagery (0.3 m resolution) xBD dataset will encompass 700,000 building annotations across 5,000 square kilometers of freely available imagery from 15 countries. Seven disaster types are included: wildfire, landslides, dam collapses, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes/tsunamis and wind and flooding damage.
There are three competition prize tracks for the xView2 Challenge:
- Open source
Teams compete for leaderboard positions and awards for top scores. By releasing their models publicly under a permissive open-source license, teams also become eligible for an additional open-source award.
- Nonexclusive government purpose rights
Teams grant government purpose rights to become eligible for awards or top scores on the leaderboard. Solutions can be used to help future disaster recovery efforts.
- Evaluation Only
Teams retain their intellectual property and only grant DIU the right to benchmark their solution and compete for leaderboard position. Top teams in this category will still be eligible for a special monetary prize pool for their submissions.
The best solutions for all three categories will be eligible for a share of a $150,000 prize purse. Top solvers will also be invited to present their work at the December NeurIPS 2019 Workshop on AI for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Winners of any cash prize will be considered eligible to be awarded follow-on work with the Defense Department. The competition will start this month and runs through November.
Findings will be applied in both operational and academic use cases that include, but are not limited to: obstructed roads, rerouting across obstructed roads, force of nature identification, resource allocation decision-making, object recognition and object identification. Baseline models, developed collaboratively between DIU and Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute, will be publicly available as a starting point for the Challenge. In addition to advancing the state of the art in damage assessment, it is envisioned that the xBD dataset will provide researchers, companies and other groups with the means and motive to develop algorithms that bring humanitarian assistance and disaster response into the age of AI.
The challenge’s partners represent a first-of-its-kind coalition between the artificial intelligence and disaster response communities including NASA Earth Science Disasters Program, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Region 9, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Cal Fire, the California National Guard, DOD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute, the United States Geological Service, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the National Security Innovation Network.
12 Aug 19. USN scans for replacement AN/SPS-49 radar antenna. The US Navy (USN) is examining the possibility of acquiring a replacement rotating antenna system for the Raytheon AN/SPS-49(V) L-band 2D air search radar.
In a sources sort notice published on 9 August, the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane Division said it was “conducting market research related to the design, manufacture, first article test, and production of a replacement AN/SPS-49 antenna system used in harsh environments aboard select US Navy ships”.
Introduced to service in the mid-1970s, the AN/SPS-49 radar is the USN’s principal long-range 2D air search radar being fitted to Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, CG-47 Ticonderoga-class Aegis cruisers, LSD 41 Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock ships, and LHD 1 Wasp-class amphibious assault ships. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
13 Aug 19. HENSOLDT delivers Naval Radar to Norwegian Coast Guard. Reliable air and sea surveillance for arctic patrol vessels. The sensor solutions provider HENSOLDT will equip the Norwegian Coast Guard vessel “Svalbard” with the latest version of its TRS-3D naval radar and MSSR 2000 I IFF System. This is already the second upgrade contract from the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency as HENSOLDT is already under contract to equip the three new Arctic Coast Guard Vessels in the P6615 Program with the upgraded radar and IFF system. Under both contracts worth more than € 27 m HENSOLDT will deliver four TRS-3D radars including the latest solid-state technology and signal processing software from 2021, in parallel to the building program of the new Arctic Coast Guard vessels. The TRS-3D includes a secondary radar MSSR 2000 I for Identification-friend-or-foe (IFF). It operates all current IFF modes, including the latest “Mode S/Mode 5 Level 1/2” standard answering the most recent NATO requirements.
“Our TRS-3D naval radar is an extremely reliable radar, particularly suited for littoral missions”, said HENSOLDT-CEO Thomas Müller. “We are taking the upgrade contract of the Norwegian Coast Guard as proof of the customer’s satisfaction with our product and services”.
TRS-3D is a three-dimensional multimode naval radar for air and sea surveillance. It includes the ability to correlate plots and tracks of targets with the MSSR 2000 I identification system for automatic identification of vessels and aircraft which is essential to avoid friendly fire and to establish a comprehensive situation picture. It is used for automatically locating and tracking all types of air and sea targets and safe guidance of on-board helicopters. Thanks to its signal processing technologies, the TRS-3D is particularly suited for the early detection of low flying or slow moving objects under extreme environmental conditions. More than 50 units of the radar are in operation with naval forces around the world. Among the ships equipped are frigates and corvettes of the German Navy, the US Coast Guard National Security Cutters and the “Squadron 2000” patrol boats of the Finnish Navy.
13 Aug 19. Australia signs first ‘Defence Export Facility’ deal. Australia has announced the signing of its first agreement with local industry through which the government will provide funding to support efforts to boost defence exports. The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) said on 13 August that Canberra-based CEA Technologies has signed a AUD90m (USD61m) loan agreement that will be used to develop a new engineering and manufacturing facility for phased-array radars.
The facility, also in Canberra, will be dedicated to growing exports and meeting Australian Defence Force requirements. Funding for the facility was provided through the government’s Defence Export Facility, which was established early 2018 with a budget of AUD3.8bn. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
13 Aug 19. Iran ‘rebuilds’ Russian air surveillance radar. Iran’s air-defence force has unveiled what it says is a refurbished version of the Russian-made Gamma-DE air surveillance radar called the Falagh (Falaq). The announcement was made during an event that was held in Tehran on 10 August. Brigadier General Alireza Sabahi-Fard, the commander of the Khatam al-Anbiya Air Defence Base, the air-defence arm of the regular military, said the Falagh is based on the Gamma surveillance radar that Iran received years ago: an apparent reference to the towed 67N6E Gamma-DE that was seen rotating in the television coverage. Brig Gen Sabahi-Fard said that a lack of spares and inability of foreign engineers to repair the system due to sanctions prompted his force to “reconstruct” the system, a process that took 2,300 man-hours. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
09 Aug 19. Extending Field of View in Advanced Imaging Systems. New program focuses on developing curved infrared focal plane arrays to improve optical performance and widen field of view while reducing system size of military imagers. The military relies on advanced imaging systems for a number of critical capabilities and applications – from Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and situational awareness to weapon sights. These powerful systems enable defense users to capture and analyze visual data, providing key insights both on and off the battlefield. Today, nearly all imaging systems rely on detector arrays fabricated using planar processes developed for electronic integrated circuits on flat silicon. While significant progress has been made in advancing these technologies for narrow field of view (FOV) systems, optical aberrations can limit the performance at the periphery in wide FOV systems that then require large, costly, and complex optics to correct. The trade-off for correcting optical aberrations by using large, heavy lenses is a reduction in optical signal and a large size penalty, which limits their use for new and emerging capabilities.
“Tremendous progress has been made over the past 20 years towards making multi-megapixel infrared (IR) focal plane arrays (FPA) for imaging systems cost effective and available to the Department of Defense,” said Dr. Whitney Mason, a program manager in DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office (MTO). “However, limitations to the technology’s performance and size remain. Current advances on the commercial side have shown the viability of small area, curved FPAs (CFPAs) for visible cameras. While these technologies have shown modest benefits, more must be done to achieve the performance and size requirements needed for imaging systems used in emerging defense applications.”
DARPA developed the FOcal arrays for Curved Infrared Imagers (FOCII) program to expand upon the current commercial trend for visible sensor arrays by extending the capability to both large and medium format midwave (MWIR) and/or longwave (LWIR) infrared detectors. The program seeks to develop and demonstrate technologies for curving existing state-of-the-art large format, high performance IR FPAs to a small radius of curvature (ROC) to maximize performance, as well as curve smaller format FPAs to an extreme ROC to enable the smallest form factors possible while maintaining exquisite performance.
FOCII will address this challenge through two approaches to fabricating a curved FPA. The first involves curving existing state-of-the-art FPAs, while keeping the underlying design intact. The focus of the research will be on achieving significant performance improvements over existing, flat FPAs, with a target radius of curvature of 70mm. The fundamental challenge researchers will work to address within this approach is to mitigate the mechanical strain created by curving the FPGA, particularly in silicon, which is very brittle.
The second approach will focus on achieving an extreme ROC of 12.5 mm to enable a transformative reduction in the size and weight compared to current imagers. Unlike the first approach, researchers will explore possible modifications to the underlying design, including physical modifications to the silicon that could relieve or eliminate stress on the material and allow for creating the desired curvature in a smaller sized FPA. This approach will also require new methods to counter the effects of any modifications during image reconstruction in the underlying read-out integrated circuit (ROIC) algorithm. (Source: ASD Network/DARPA)
06 Aug 19. Echodyne radar certified for sUAS detection. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has certified Echodyne’s EchoGuard 3D radar for radiolocation and radionavigation in the US. The FCC equipment authorization allows the radar to be used in the US for ground and airspace surveillance applications including ground-based airspace management applications that ensure safe navigation of commercial drone missions. EchoGuard is an electronically scanning array (ESA) sold state radar which can be integrated with existing security ecosystems to track small targets. Combined with the company’s Acuity software the operating range for small UAS detection extends to 1km. Operations to date with UAS/UTM customers have been under experimental license arrangements. The FCC certification shows electromagnetic interference from the electronic product is within approved limits. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
12 Aug 19. US Defense Department orders and licenses Dedrone Dronetracker software. The US Department of Defense has announced that the 90th Contracting Squadron at F.E. Warren AFB, WY, has given notice of their intent to award a firm fixed price purchase order to De-Drone, Inc., for Dronetracker systems for Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) detection.
According to a notice in the federal business opportunities registry the award is “on a sole source basis utilizing FAR 13, Simplified Acquisition Procedures in accordance with FAR 13.106-1(b)(1)(i), only one responsible source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements. The 90th Contracting Squadron has a requirement for services that include the De-Drone Licensing.” (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
09 Aug 19. US Army To Pick LTAMDS Winner By September. “This is a radar they’re going to buy for, I don’t know, 30 years? So you want to make sure you’ve got new technology that can meet the threats of the future.”
The US Army will pick a new radar for the Patriot missile by the end of the year, said the three-star chief of Army Space & Missile Defense Command. That follows a “sense off” earlier this summer that pitted the three competitors against each other in a live demonstration, Lt. Gen. James Dickinson told the 2019 Space and Missile Defense Symposium here. Industry representatives in attendance say they are expecting the down-select in September. The Lower-Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) is one of four top priorities for Army air & missile defense modernization, Daryl Youngman told the conference. He’s deputy director of the Air & Missile Defense Cross-Functional Team (AMD CFT) — one of just eight such high-level task forces in the entire Army. Air and missile defense, in turn, is No. 5 of the Army’s Big Six priorities.
The winning system must provide both an immediate improvement over the current Patriot radar and plenty of room to grow and upgrade for future needs, Youngman said.
If LTAMDS succeeds, it could be bought not just for Patriot batteries, but also for use across the force, Army officials have said. To grow into that wider role, LTAMDS must be capable of plugging into the Army’s new IBCS network, which is intended to let any Army air & missile defense sensor — and some non-Army ones like the F-35 — share real-time data with any weapon.
The Army is particularly focused on countering high-speed cruise missiles. The LTAMDS program has taken a convoluted path to this point, after a decade of effort. The current program dates to 2016. In 2018, the Army chose two competitors, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, for a technology maturation risk-reduction (TMRR) phase — but jut two months later (in October ’18) decided to change the acquisition strategy and re-opened competition to include the “sense off.” Three teams chose to compete at that demonstration at White Sands Missile Base in New Mexico in May and June: both the original awardees, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin — now teamed with Israeli firm Elta — but also a new contender, Northrop Grumman.
Bob Kelley, senior manager at Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, told me on Tuesday that the test consisted of two weeks of “live air tracks and target injections to determine who has the best technology.”
The second aspect of the competition was to show off a model of the radar configuration at initial operating capability, currently set by the Army for 2022. Finally, the companies each had to write a proposal — all of which were submitted last month — with a view to a winner being selected in September. The program’s moving quickly, Kelley said, a sign of its importance to Army leadership.
Kelley was quick to stress that Raytheon’s bid is not at all based on the original Patriot radar, for which Raytheon was the contractor. “It is a bottoms-up, clean sheet of paper, brand-new solution,” he said. A new approach is essential, he said, because “the requirements that the Army has laid out for this are tough. … They are looking at the most complex threats from our peer competitors.”
Raytheon has invested over $300m into the radar development, since 2013. With that, Kelley explained, the company has been able to mature its gallium nitride (GaN)radio-frequency chips “to what we believe is the industry leading GaN technology, with very high power, efficiency …we make military-grade GaN.”
Likewise, Northrop Grumman touts is own GaN technology. “Northrop Grumman’s LTAMDS solution leverages significant government and industry investment in proven, fielded programs of record to deliver a 360 degree, full-sector GaN based sensor that is architected to meet the U.S. Army’s urgent requirements while enabling significant capability growth for the future,” Christine Harbison, vice president for land & avionics C4ISR at Northrop Grumman, told Breaking Defense in a statement yesterday.
“Our LTAMDS solution builds upon the company’s decades of expertise in sea, land, air and space-based military radar technology and high-performance microelectronics,” she said. “The company’s offering is the latest Northrop Grumman sensor product to incorporate and use GaN high power density radio frequency components for greater performance. Our solution is ready today to address tomorrow’s threats.”
Paul Lemmo, vice president of integrated warfare systems and sensors at Lockheed Martin, told me here that the company’s offering “is a dual-band system, because we believe that to get at today’s threats and do all the missions that they want to do with [LTAMDS]… a dual-band system is probably the best answer.” He noted that a key part of the design is an Elta radar currently used on the Iron Dome missile defense system — the which Congress ordered the Army to buy two batteries of.
“We really have a very challenging surveillance mission, which we’ve chosen to do it with S-band frequency,” he said. “And you also have a fire-control element, for which X-band is typically the best frequency.”
“This is a radar they’re going to buy for, I don’t know, 30 years?” Lemmo mused. “So you want to make sure you’ve got new technology that can meet the threats of the future.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
10 Aug 19. Iran unveils ‘improved’ radar air defence system. Iran unveiled on Saturday what authorities said was a locally upgraded radar system with a range of 400 km (250 miles) that could help defend against cruise and ballistic missiles and drones. The announcement comes at a time of rising tension between Iran and United States. Iran shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone in the Gulf with a surface-to-air missile in June. Tehran says the drone was over its territory, but Washington says it was in international airspace.
State television showed the Falaq, a mobile radar and a vehicle housing a control room, which it said was an improved version of the Gamma, a system that military experts said was of Russian origin.
Western military analysts say Iran often exaggerates its weapons capabilities, though concerns about its long-range ballistic missile programme contributed to Washington last year exiting the pact that Iran sealed with world powers in 2015 to rein in its nuclear ambitions in exchange for an easing of economic sanctions.
“This system has high capabilities and can detect all types of cruise and ballistic missiles and drones,” Brigadier General Alireza Sabahifard, commander of the regular army’s air defences, was quoted as saying by semi-official news agency Mehr.
Sabahifard said the Falaq was a locally overhauled version of a system which had been out of operation for a long time, Mehr reported. He did not give the system’s country of origin.
The Falaq is a phased-array radar system which can be incorporated into Iran’s larger integrated air defence, which includes an S-300 surface-to-air missile system that Russia delivered in 2016, state-run Press TV said.
“The (Falaq) system was developed in order to counter sanctions restricting access to spare parts of a previously foreign-developed system,” Press TV said on its website.
U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on Tehran after pulling out of the nuclear deal, which its other signatories are struggling to maintain as Washington also lobbies to establish a maritime security coalition to safeguard shipping in the Gulf in a related standoff with Iran over oil supplies. (Source: Reuters)
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