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19 Sep 19. Remote vision system issues impede Boeing KC-46A progress. Key Points:
- Two key issues are holding back Boeing’s progress in addressing KC-46A tanker remote vision system (RVS) problems
- A key US Air Force (USAF) officer said these two issues, acuity and depth plane compression, are very complex
Boeing is making progress on resolving problems with its KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling tanker’s remove vision system (RVS), but two complex issues impede further advancement, according to a top US Air Force (USAF) official.
General Maryanne Miller, Air Mobility Command (AMC) chief, told reporters on 18 September at the Air Force Association’s (AFA’s) annual conference that these two RVS issues are the acuity of the system and depth plane compression. The acuity issue, she said, is giving refuelers 20/50 vision. Perfect vision is considered 20/20. The RVS allows boom operators to monitor and direct refueling with receiver aircraft.
Gen Miler said depth plane compression is how far the aerial refueling boom is from the target aircraft. Both Boeing and USAF teams have been working through possible solution sets for these two issues that Gen Miller called complex and that she expects these to be presented within a couple of months. Boeing will be graded pass or fail on these two remaining RVS issues, she said. Otherwise, Gen Miller said, the company is making progress on the other seven critical performance parameters.
Gen Miller said a new Category 1 deficiency has emerged with the aircraft’s floor locks. Category 1 deficiencies are urgent issues with no workarounds. Boeing spokesman Charles Ramey said on 18 September that the company is pursuing two paths to resolve this issue. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Sep 19. Swiss Air2030 – New Airspace and Air Operations Monitoring System Elected. The evaluation of the three candidates for the new airspace and air operations monitoring system for the Swiss Army concluded with the selection of the winning candidate. The management of the Air2030 program has followed the recommendation of the team of experts in favor of the French candidate, Thales with its Skyview system. The acquisition will be the subject of a request to Parliament in the 2020 weapons program.
The “C2Air” project involves the replacement of the Ralus/Lunas subsystems of the Swiss Air Force’s current airspace surveillance and flight operations system. Over the last twelve months, specialists from armasuisse and the Swiss Army have tested three replacement systems from three different countries in Switzerland, evaluated the offers received and made a recommendation to the Air2030 program management in an evaluation report.
The Director General of Armaments has now followed this recommendation and awarded the contract to the French candidate Thales with the Skyview system. Thales was chosen because of its best value for money. In addition, Skyview is the system that proves to best meet the requirements. It is expected that the Federal Council will submit the acquisition of this system to Parliament in the message on the 2020 Army. The other candidates were Saab (Sweden) and Raytheon (United States). The manufacturer and the system selected do not cause any harm to the other PAC and Bodluv projects of the Air2030 program.
Florako Airspace Surveillance and Flight Operations System
Ralus (Radar-Luftlage-System) collects the radar data and establishes the image of the air situation. Lunas (Luftlage-Nachrichtensystem) reproduces all the data on the screen to support the conduct of the engagement.
These two subsystems are part of the Florako Airspace Surveillance and Flight Operations System. The latter 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 C2Air project (Air Command and Control) is part of the Air2030 program, as are the next combat aircraft (PAC), long-range surface-defense (Bodluv) and Radar projects. The C2Air and Radar projects are older in time and will be the subject of a request to Parliament in separate weapons programs. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Swiss Dept. of Defence, Civil Production and Sport)
17 Sep 19. Saudi oil attack highlights Middle East’s drone war. Region particularly vulnerable to cheap and nimble weapon that evades air warning systems. Saudi Arabia knew it was vulnerable to attack by drones long before the attack on Abqaiq. Long before the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities that knocked out half of its oil production, the kingdom knew it was vulnerable to assault from armed drones. Houthi rebels in neighbouring Yemen have often used this new type of aerial weapon, alongside missiles, to target Saudi airports, desalination plants and crude facilities in the past 18 months.
The rising threat has prompted numerous Saudi agencies — from Saudi Aramco, the state oil company, to air defence, ports and civil aviation authorities — to scout the US and Europe for adequate defence systems, said one defence industry executive.
“They’ve been in a panic [over drones] since the new year,” the executive said. “It’s come down from the top — protect the nation. If you tell me [your system] can do it, get it here now.” The details of last weekend’s attacks on Abqaiq, a crude processing centre, and the Khurais oilfield, remain murky: On Sunday, Houthi rebels said they had used 10 drones to conduct the assault. But Washington has blamed Iran, which is accused by the US and Saudi Arabia of smuggling arms to the Houthis, including missiles and drones. A US official told the FT on Tuesday that US intelligence indicated the strikes also included long-range weapons, raising the possibility of cruise missiles. Saudi Arabia has not yet backed up such claims. Iran has denied any involvement. Either way, armed drones have become the latest weapon of choice across the Middle East. And as tensions between the US and Iran have ramped up, the Iranian-aligned Houthis have escalated attacks across Saudi Arabia’s southern border. The cheap, nimble weapon that can easily evade air warning systems is posing a novel defence challenge for the world’s largest oil exporter — also one of the world’s biggest arms buyers — and other countries in the region. “
This is the advent of 21st-century drone warfare in the Middle East,” said Bilal Y Saab, director of defence and security at the Middle East Institute in Washington, and a former adviser at the Pentagon. “In this race, the advantage is to the adversary, because our responses are not efficient.” Last month, the Houthis were blamed for a drone attack on Shaybah oilfield in eastern Saudi Arabia and in May, the rebels claimed they had used drones to attack Saudi oil pumping stations and a vital pipeline deep inside the kingdom. Elsewhere in the region, the Israeli military last year said it shot down an explosive-laden Iranian drone as it flew over the Sea of Galilee. In August, Hizbollah, the Iran-allied Lebanese militant movement, accused Israel of using a drone to strike its media office in Beirut. Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the UAE import drones from markets such as China; meanwhile Israel, Iran and Turkey manufacture their own.
The Middle East is particularly vulnerable to drone attacks “because it has a lot of centralised economic assets which are critical”, said Jack Watling, a research fellow in land defence at the London-based Royal United Services Institute. “Their countries are dependent on oil and have relatively badly-protected installations,” he said. “It’s a target-rich environment with existing conflicts occurring across large swaths of the region.” The asymmetry between strike and response is notable. Israel has used Patriot missiles costing $3m to $4m to take down quadcopter drones costing about $1,000. Mr Watling’s research has uncovered details of Syrian opposition forces making drone bodies from plywood covered with plastic sheeting, the wings and tails constructed from expanded polystyrene. He describes Iranian-designed drones manufactured in Yemen by Houthi groups on 3D printers, fitted at the last minute with Iranian electronics.
“These are not particularly sophisticated,” he said. Anti-drone defence infrastructure is expensive to build, including GPS jammers to neutralise drone navigation, search and track facilities to identify incoming drones, and missile and radar-guided canon interceptors to destroy them. Recommended Oil Oil price spikes as fears mount over Saudi supply disruption Richard Gill, managing director of the UK company Drone Defence, is in discussions with Aramco. “I would be looking at multiple layers of sensing technology . . . radars, cameras, microphones, radio-frequency scanning technology, electronic warfare and then the full range of countermeasures that go with that,” he said. “But it’s military-grade technology and it’s massively expensive. To install a defensive system is extremely complex and the threat is evolving at such a rate that it’s very hard to keep up to date, because the adversaries change the type of technology they use in a way that almost renders the defence moot.”
“Industry is not geared up to provide the numbers that are required to protect these facilities,” Mr Gill said. “These sensors are made by very few people in very small numbers.” Saudi Arabia — which already has US-built Patriot anti-missile systems — in particular has a vast number of targets: oil refineries, desalination facilities, air ports, military air bases, and religious sites such as Mecca — spread over a huge geographical area. Effective protection on the scale of the Abqaiq facility, which spans several kilometres, is almost impossible. “There is no technologically perfect solution to this,” admitted Mr Saab, who said his former bosses at the Pentagon were at a loss over how to manage the proliferation of drone warfare. He compared the current defence gap to the strategic threat faced by US forces encountering IEDs after the Iraq invasion. Mr Saab said worse is to come. “They [the militias] are only just scratching the surface of what drones can do.” He warned of drone swarms, techniques to manipulate flight paths, and masking of radar signals. “Expect more of those,” he said. “This is the tip of the iceberg.” (Source: FT.com)
17 Sep 19. South Korea to develop anti-drone system amid standoff with North. South Korea is to invest 88bn won (£59.6m) to develop a weapons system by 2023 that can detect and strike drones, its procurement agency said on Tuesday, after incidents of infiltration by North Korean spy drones. The system, nicknamed Block-I, is designed to track and destroy small drones and other aircraft by locking invisible optical fibre razors on a target at close range, the Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said.
“We aim to improve the system so that it will ultimately be capable of intercepting a fighter jet and satellite,” Song Chang-joon, a senior official at DAPA, said in a statement.
A North Korean drone was found in 2017 on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas.
About 550 photographs of the site of a U.S. anti-missile defence system, taken with a built-in camera, were recovered from the drone, South Korean officials said.
In 2014, a North Korean drone crashed while returning to the North after reconnaissance missions that included flying directly above the South’s presidential Blue House and taking pictures of it, according to the South Korean military. The anti-drone system is part of a South Korean drive to funnel resources into modernising its military even as it seeks to defuse tension with North Korea through talks. The two Koreas are technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. (Source: Reuters)
17 Sep 19. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has continued development of its Advanced Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS), which offers crystal clear resolution, unmatched multi-spectral range and significant cost savings for the F-35 Lightning II. Advanced EOTS includes a larger aperture and provides pilots with multi-spectral sensing options such as high-resolution Mid-Wave IR, Short-Wave IR and Near IR. Utilizing the same volume and weight, Advanced EOTS is effortless to integrate into the F-35 Lightning II with the “plug and play”
feature. Additionally, because of increased reliability and reduced costs per operating hour, Advanced EOTS is expected to provide more than $1bn in life cycle cost savings for users.
“We understand the importance of providing pilots with the most advanced technologies available today,” said Michael Williamson, vice president of Sensors & Global Sustainment at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
Lockheed Martin is prepared to integrate Advanced EOTS on the F-35 should customers require the upgrade as part of F-35 follow on modernization.
Advanced EOTS was funded through internal investment and was vetted through Operational Analysis against the most demanding F-35 missions. It provides enhanced performance for both air-to-air and air-to ground day and night missions. With Advanced EOTS, customers get significantly expanded capabilities, greatly increased performance, higher reliability and sizable sustainment savings.
17 Sep 19. USMC ‘proves’ it can integrate Iron Dome with G/ATOR. The US Marine Crops (USMC) has “proved” it can “integrate” components of Rafael’s Iron Dome air- and missile-defense system into its existing radar and command and control infrastructure, according to the service.
During a live-fire demonstration in August, the USMC examined various options for a medium-range intercept capability, including whether it could net together Northrop Grumman’s AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) and a Common Aviation Command and Control System (CAC2S) with Iron Dome components. The demo “proved” that it is possible to “successfully counter emerging threats”, USMC spokesperson Barbara Hamby told Jane’s.
“The programme office went from disparate systems that were not integrated to an initial system-of-systems live fire demonstration in four-and-a-half months,” she wrote in an email on 17 September. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
16 Sep 19. Airbus to develop high-resolution technology for UK MOD. Airbus has won a design study from the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to develop the technologies for a cluster of ultra-high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites for the UK Ministry of Defence.
The satellites will also have the ability to collect radio frequency (RF) signals. Called ‘Oberon’, the project will see Airbus develop the technologies that could lead to an in-orbit demonstration in 2022 and potentially an operational capability as early as 2025.
The innovative techniques and technologies developed within the project will allow the ground to be seen in outstanding detail regardless of darkness, or of cloudy weather conditions.
Colin Paynter, managing director of Airbus Defence and Space UK, said, “Project Oberon builds on Airbus’ expertise in space radar technology developed over 40 years. I look forward to seeing this study leading to a new world-class surveillance capability for the UK MOD, helping to protect our armed forces across the world.”
Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of Dstl, added, “This addition to our capability is a valuable part of the future of defence space. Partnership between Dstl and Airbus on this project secures UK jobs as well as continuing to exploit advances in the UK space sector.”
Dstl delivers high-impact science and technology (S&T) for the UK’s defence, security and prosperity. Dstl’s role is to deliver S&T for defence and security and to steward defence and security S&T capabilities
Dstl is an executive agency of the MOD, run along commercial lines. It is one of the principal government organisations dedicated to S&T in the defence and security field, with six sites; Porton Down, near Salisbury; Portsdown West, near Portsmouth; Fort Halstead, near Sevenoaks; Sandridge, near St Albans; Langhurst, near Horsham; and Alverstoke, near Gosport.
Dstl works with a wide range of partners and suppliers in industry, in academia and overseas. Airbus is a leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2018 it generated revenues of €64bn and employed a workforce of around 134,000. Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as one of the world’s leading space companies. (Source: Space Connect)
15 Sep 19. F-35 and F-22 RIP? Researchers in Austria Have Created a Working Quantum Radar. RIP F-22 and F-35? Key point: A real quantum radar could undo decades of work on stealth, upending the superiority of the F-22 and F-35. A new high-definition stealth radar system that could change the nature of warfare has been demonstrated for the first time. The result, quantum radar is a high definition detection system that provides a much more detailed image of targets while itself remaining difficult to detect. Quantum radars could provide users with enough detail to identify aircraft, missiles, and other aerial targets by specific model.
Researchers at Austria’s Institute of Science and Technology in Klosterneuburg, Austria, used entangled microwaves to create one of the world’s first quantum radar system.
Under a principle known as quantum entanglement, two particles can be linked together regardless of distance, forming what scientists call a quantum entangled pair. When something happens to one particle it can be noticed in the other particle. This in turn leads to a process called quantum illumination, where information about one particle’s environment can be inferred by studying the other particle. (Source: News Now/https://nationalinterest.org)
15 Sep 19. Elbit Systems Ltd. (NASDAQ:ESLT and TASE: ESLT) (“Elbit Systems”) announced today that its U.S. subsidiary, Elbit Systems of America, LLC (“Elbit Systems of America”), completed the acquisition of the Night Vision business of L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) (“Harris Night Vision”) for a purchase price of $350m.
Bezhalel (Butzi) Machlis, Elbit Systems President & CEO, commented: “The market position and technological strength of Harris Night Vision make this acquisition significant to our long-term growth strategy, with a particular focus on the U.S. We believe that the completion of this acquisition will be beneficial both for Elbit Systems and for Harris Night Vision’s customers and employees.”
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.