Sponsored by Blighter Surveillance Systems
25 Sep 19. DSIT Solutions Ltd. to launch its new SwordFish™ TAS for detecting and tracking submarines at sea depth. The Towed Array Sonar system is designed for a variety of missions and is suitable for use on vessels of various sizes, including frigates, corvettes, OPVs and other small vessels.
DSIT Solutions Ltd. (DSIT) – a pioneer and world leader in underwater defense and security solutions based on advanced, sonar and acoustics technologies for naval missions – will launch its SwordFishTM Towed Array Sonar (TAS) system at Pacific 2019. Towed by the vessel, the SwordFishTM complements DSIT’s BlackFishTM HMS (Hull Maunted Sonar) system for use at various sea depths and for different mission types. When used close to the shoreline as a standalone solution, all DSIT’s sonar systems can be operated via one onshore control station.
DSIT’s FishTM anti-submarine warfare (ASW) family is capable of underwater target search, detection, tracking and classification both in passive, active and parallel modes. Each sonar system includes machine learning technologies for automation algorithms, reducing operator workload and required expertise. Designed to operate with the medium frequency of both the BlackFishTM HMS and Bow Mounted Sonar (BMS) in littoral and deep-water ASW operations, the low-frequency SwordFishTM TAS is the latest solution to join the family.
The SwordFishTM TAS system is connected to the vessel’s stern via a light winch, the cable length of which is determined according to the mission type and requirements. The lightweight TAS system, with its low deck signature, is suitable for Frigates, Corvettes, OPVs of various sizes, and even small vessels such as Fast Patrol Crafts (FPC).
“We identified the operational need to locate and track submarines at various depths and in different mission environments, including when using small vessels for either offshore or green waters missions,” says Hanan Marom, VP Business Development & Marketing of DSIT. “SwordFishTM TAS is designed as a complementary system to the BlackFishTM HMS and BMS to meet the requirements of a wider range of missions.”
Other DSIT solutions that will be displayed at Pacific 2019 include the SeaShieldTM Underwater Coastal Surveillance System – a long-range underwater Passive and Active detection system, warning against underwater and abovewater targets including submarines, semisubmersible vehicles and surface ships; AquaShieldTM – an advanced Diver Detection Sonar (DDS) system; and PointShieldTM – a portable and/or stationary PDDS for medium-range ship or asset protection.
26 Sep 19. HENSOLDT delivers Ground Surveillance Radar to Royal Thai Police . Reliable radar detection for ground surveillance. The sensor solutions provider HENSOLDT will equip the Royal Thai Police with its Single Mast Solution (SMS) consisting of the Spexer® 360 radar integrated with an electro-optics system and the CxEye Software. After passing acceptance trials without issue, the SMS was delivered.
“Our Single Mast Solution is an extremely reliable radar, particularly suited for situational awareness”, said Nathan Manzi, Head of Asia Pacific. “CxEye assists the users, in real time, to easily and quickly evaluate and coordinate a response to threats”.
SPEXER® 360 is a lightweight, low power, X-band radar, designed to be deployed on a variety of platforms. SPEXER® 360 can be easily integrated with additional sensors through a highly flexible C2 system. Designed for both military and civil applications SPEXER® 360 offers a highly capable and affordable surveillance capability.
HENSOLDT’s CxEye, command, control and display software, provides powerful integration for sensors, such as radars and cameras, within a single, simple, easy to use display package.
26 Sep 19. Elbit Systems Canadian Subsidiary Completes Tests of a Second Sonar System with the Royal Canadian Navy. Elbit Systems’ Canadian subsidiary, GeoSpectrum Technologies (GTI), announces the successful Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) trial of its Towed Reelable Active Passive Sonar (TRAPS) on board the HMCS Glace Bay of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), completing final assessment of a second TRAPS onboard RCN’s vessels (tests of GTI’s TRAPS onboard HMCS Shawinigan were competed during September 2018). The performance trials of TRAPS with HMCS Glace Bay were conducted by the Department of National Defence’s science and technology organization and the Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC).
Easily deployed and recovered by a single operator, the sonar system showed great potential through the trials period, meeting predicted ranges in target detection, in both passive and active modes against different targets.
TRAPS is a Low Frequency (LF) variable-depth-sonar intended for detection, tracking and classification of submarines, midget submarines, surface vessels and torpedoes. Its’ “wet-end” towed arrays’ acoustic elements are a vertical projector and a receive array. TRAPS’ unique advantage is that its’ projector array is reel-able and stows on the winch drum with the receive array and tow cable. This system enables the Royal Canadian Navy to expand the capabilities of ships like the Kingston and Henry Dewolfe Class into an Anti-submarine role.
Elad Aharonson, General Manager of Elbit Systems ISTAR Division, commented: “We see a growing interest in our unique Underwater Warfare portfolio as acquiring advanced ASW capabilities becomes increasingly important in many parts of the world.”
26 Sep 19. Switzerland selects Thales for national airspace surveillance and protection.
- To enable the Swiss Air Force to protect national airspace, territory and populations, Thales’s SkyView system has been selected.
- The selection follows an international tender process comprising a thorough evaluation of competing products, and extensive testing carried out in Switzerland.
- Switzerland joins France and other NATO countries in introducing new digital architectures for its air command and control system capabilities.
SkyView has been selected by the Swiss Federal Office for Defence Procurement (armasuisse) to upgrade the country’s FLORAKO air surveillance system, which provides 24/7 surveillance and protection of national airspace, territory and populations.
SkyView correlates civil and military data in real time, providing a better overall picture of national airspace and allowing faster decisions to be made. It also enables operators to conduct air policing operations and detect and respond to all types of airborne threats.
SkyView is the culmination of 50 years of experience in air operations and has been deployed at over 80 command and control centres in more than 30 countries. It processes data from over 600 radars and interconnects with external systems via more than 60 types of interfaces. The product is co-developed with users according to a roadmap that reflects their exact requirements.
“I would like to thank armasuisse for its continued trust in us for a project that is vital to Switzerland’s national sovereignty. SkyView 4.0 is an all-digital system incorporating the latest Big Data and artificial intelligence technologies, and will provide the Swiss Air Force with a highly capable solution for airspace surveillance and air command and control.”
24 Sep 19. USAF teams with USSOCOM on future autonomous ISR capabilities. The US Air Force’s (USAF’s) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) directorate has teamed up with US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to develop future autonomous capabilities and processes for ISR operations, which may fold into a Department of Defence-led effort to construct a tailored “global command and control” system that leverages advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing.
Air Force Lieutenant General VeraLinn Jamieson, deputy chief of staff for ISR and Cyber Effects Operations, confirmed the partnership with USSOCOM but declined to provide details on the specific capabilities being explored by both organisations. “We have partnered with SOCOM to look at, how do we automate manual tasks so that we can remote and perhaps go to some more autonomous capability?” Lt Gen Jamieson said during an 18 September media roundtable. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
24 Sep 19. Raytheon wins contract on mobile radars worth as much as $500m. The Missile Defense Agency awarded Raytheon a contract modification worth as much as $500m for continued research and development on the Sea-Based X-Band radar and the Army Navy / Transportable Radar Surveillance Control Model-2, according to a Sept. 23 contract announcement. Both projects are mobile, X-band radars designed to provide or supplement ballistic missile defense. The Army Navy / Transportable Radar Surveillance Control Model-2 is land-based and can be deployed in a forward-based mode or as part of a stationary ballistic missile defense system. According to the Missile Defense Agency, the radar can be transported via aircraft, truck, ship or rail.
The Sea-Based X-Band is located on a self-propelled vessel, which allows it to be moved for testing or to provide advanced missile detection in a place where no radar exists. The Missile Defense Agency initially awarded Raytheon $371.2m for the indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract in November 2017 for continued product improvement, war fighter support, engineering services, cybersecurity and test, modeling and simulation support.. The Sept. 23 modification raises that contract’s ceiling to $962.1m. The deal runs through Oct. 31, 2022, with a one-year option. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
24 Sep 19. MV-22 conducts night landings on Queen Elizabeth. The first night deck landings of a US Marine Corps (USMC) Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor have been conducted from the UK Royal Navy (RN) aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. Undertaken on 19 September by an MV-22 aircraft from HX-21 Squadron, based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, the trial was designed to expand on the extant day clearance by undertaking a night evaluation of Queen Elizabeth’s lighting, deck configuration, deck motion, and handling qualities. A total of 22 deck landings were conducted, using 2 spot, 3 spot, and 4 spot.
“Initial feedback suggested it was a positive trial and further demonstrates the interoperability between the UK and US operating to the Queen Elizabeth class [QEC] aircraft carriers,” an RN spokesperson told Jane’s.
BATTLESPACE Comment: The signs have been there for about five years that the Royal Navy and Marines covet the MV-22 Osprey and a number of aircraft have been flying in the UK. Bell-Boeing have asked prospective buyers to speed up their requirements prior to the line closing. Expect money to be found for around 8-10 airframes. Japan and Israel have already signed up as potential customers.
24 Sep 19. Rosoboronexport establishes C-UAV cluster. Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport, a subsidiary of state corporation Rostec, has established a counter-unmanned aerial vehicle (C-UAV) portfolio, company director general Alexander Mikheev told journalists on 17 September. He said the cluster would be presented at the Dubai airshow in November where “we will conduct negotiations with Arab partners on the newest Russian-made C-UAV systems, combining these systems into a single cluster”.
Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov added that the new C-UAV cluster comprised of both soft- and hard-kill systems. “[The portfolio includes] air defence assets, namely Pantsir-family self-propelled anti-aircraft gun-missile systems, Sosna surface-to-air missile systems, Igla and Verba man-portable air defence systems, and a number of C-UAV systems, including Sapsan-Bekas, Ataka-DBS, Solaris-N, Pishchal-PRO, and Taran-PRO,” Chemezov said. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
24 Sep 19. Monitoring the airspace is an important task. Even more so when dangers are becoming smaller and smaller: The use and circulation of small drones has increased substantially over recent years and months. While some regulatory frameworks exist, their implementation has proven difficult in practice. Airports especially are high-risk areas, as a collision between drones and airplanes – whether intentional or not – may result in accidents and even deadly crashes. Added to that the risk of drones employed as weapons by dropping explosives, biological or chemical substances, it becomes clear that airports and other critical infrastructures must be continuously monitored, secured and have access to means of intervention in cases where drones may enter their airspace.
The deployment of HENSOLDT counter-UAS (C-UAS) technology at the G7 Summit in Biarritz is the most recent success of the modular Xpeller family and certainly a highlight of Franco-German cooperation. Through its subsidiary in France in cooperation with Aéroports de Paris (ADP), HENSOLDT was able to support the French authorities in securing a number of events of national and international importance.
HENSOLDT initially demonstrated the capabilities of the Xpeller System as part of ADP’s existing counter-UAV system Hologarde while securing Paris Air Show this year. The installation convinced the customer to immediately reuse the system to secure the national parade on the 14th of July in Paris. The Xpeller modules used in all of the events are Z:NightOwl cameras, Spexer radars and proprietary software. These modules can be easily integrated into existing systems. The experiences gained with and the feedback received from each installation were used to immediately optimize the following deployment.
Given that the initial contact between ADP and HENSOLDT was only established in February 2019, the realisation of three challenging installations in less than six months is yet another success. It proves the agility and flexibility of HENSOLDT Ventures, the home of Xpeller. “HENSOLDT is further cooperating with ADP to provide C-UAS capabilities to airports worldwide,” said Markus Wolf, Director Sales Xpeller. HENSOLDT Ventures offers alternative Xpeller variants to cater to various distance requirements to monitor the target in real-time – even including counter-measures such as jamming and counter-drones.
24 Sep 19. Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) will deliver a prototype high-power microwave system to be deployed to troops overseas under a U.S. Air Force contract. Troops will use the HPM system to destroy hostile drones.
Raytheon’s HPM system uses directed energy to take down drones. HPM’s wide beam can disable multiple targets at one time. The contract follows a separate Air Force contract in which Raytheon will build two prototype high-energy laser systems, also to be deployed overseas. The HPM and HEL systems can be used independently or together to counter-unmanned aerial system threats.
“There’s more than one way to defeat a drone,” said Dr. Thomas Bussing, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president. “We are delivering the world’s first defensive directed energy systems that can be used alone or in tandem to defeat enemy drones at the speed of light.”
The HPM and HEL contracts follow successful demonstrations of Raytheon’s directed energy systems for the Air Force and the U.S. Army.
10 Sep 19. Trillium Engineering successfully tests new h.265 video encoder for tactical drones. Trillium Engineering, an industry leader in gimbaled camera systems for small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), successfully conducted a test flight of a new video processor that will dramatically improve the operation of Group 2 UAS. The current crop of full-motion video camera systems used on tactical UAS rely on an H.264 video compression codec standard. The resulting picture is “good enough” for close targets. But when the UAS operates at long ranges from the ground station, the bit rate to the operator is reduced.
As a result, critical details in the imagery get fuzzy.
“You can’t tell, for example, if the person you are monitoring is holding a rifle or a shovel,” said Rob Gilchrist, president of Trillium Engineering. “This means that you have to scrub some missions because you can’t make a positive identification.”
However, by adapting its video camera systems to the newer, more efficient H.265 standard, Trillium Engineering promises to change all that.
In late August, company engineers took an HD80-MV gimbaled camera with a video processor designed to handle the new H.265 standard and mounted the system on a Cessna aircraft. The plane served as a test surrogate for a Group 2 UAS, with the HD80-MV controlled from a laptop on the ground.
“When the plane was in the air, we reduced the bit rate to mimic a UAS that was further away,” Gilchrist said. “Then we switched the standard from H.264 to H.265. The difference in the picture was remarkable.”
The streaming midwave IR and electro-optical imagery was 50 percent clearer than what cameras on Group 2 UAS normally produce.
The airborne demonstration of the H.265 video processor for small, gimbaled cameras was funded in part by a Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, awarded in the fall of last year by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. The next step is to demonstrate the new capability to UAS companies.
“We’ll be demonstrating our H.265 processing capability on multiple Group 2 platforms over the coming months,” Gilchrist said.
23 Sep 19. NATO’s Not Ready For Saudi-Style Drone Attacks; ‘It’s A Serious Problem.’ “The threat that we face has developed faster,” than countermeasures, giving adversaries like Russia, and Iran, some asymmetric advantages. A senior Pentagon official said today that NATO isn’t prepared to fend off attacks by swarms of small drones and short-range missiles, like those that struck Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.
“We’re seeing asymmetric investments in things like swarming UAS technology, like unmanned aerial systems that really fly more like the cruise missiles,” John Rood, under secretary of defense for policy said. “It’s a serious problem.” Rood didn’t specifically mention the Saudi attacks, but the parallels are clear. He pointed to the type of assaults Russia launched in Ukraine, and Iran in Saudi Arabia earlier this month.
Speaking at a Center for European Policy Analysis event in Washington, Rood said the threats from such weapons and tactics have developed faster than NATO’s ability to rework missile defense and radar systems to detect smaller, faster-moving objects.
“As part of our investment priorities we have to shift as an alliance where we’re putting our level of effort if you will, to put a little more emphasis in that area.”
Rood offered no specifics, but called out the Russian use of drones as forward artillery spotters in Ukraine as a real warning of an emerging way of war. “That’s the changing the situation we face. And clever adversaries like the Russians are applying that in new ways. If we went to school on what the Russians applied in places like Ukraine, I think that would be a real challenge for NATO to deal with on the battlefield, so that’s what we’re talking about within the NATO alliance. We need to do much better.”
The Russian tactics in Ukraine are well known at this point, but the threat posed by relatively cheap drones and cruise missiles launched by countries — and their proxies — far below the level of “great power competition” was tossed into the open earlier this month when the the Abqaiq oil facility in Saudi Arabia was peppered with dozens of missiles and drones, shutting the massive complex down.
The attack, which hit 17 different targets at a well-defended facility critical to the Saudi oil industry, shocked the globe and prompted the Trump administration to send hundreds of troops and more air defense equipment to the Kingdom, which has already purchased hundreds of billions of advanced US military kit over the years.
Abqaiq, a well-known target of Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, was protected by several Shahine short-range missile systems and at least one US-made Patriot missile system, but the expensive radars and missiles did little to stop the onslaught. The Houthis claimed credit for the attack, though the Trump administration has laid the blame directly on Tehran.
For a half century, DRS has provided military forces around the world with advanced technologies and capabilities to meet their mission needs. Here are some highlights.
The Kremlin had a good laugh at the inability of the US-made air defense systems to stop the attack on Saudi Arabia, with Russian President Valdimir Putin suggesting Saudi buy the Russian-made S-300 or S-400 missile defense system instead. (NATO ally Turkey was recently expelled from the F-35 program precisely for buying the S-400 missile system.)
Despite the failure of some larger air defense systems, there have been some recent successes against small drones. Marines aboard the USS Boxer recently knocked down at least one Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz by using a truck-mounted Marine Air Defense Integrated System to jam the bird when it came within 1,000 yards of the ship.
The Army has also been working on a variety of ways to knock small drones out of the sky, including lasers, and has made its short-range air defense program, IBCS, one of its top priorities.
By the end of the year, Northrop Grumman is slated to deliver 10 command posts for the IBCS system, with flight tests ahead of operational testing in 2020. Elsewhere, General Dynamics is preparing to deliver prototypes of its Stryker 8×8 armored vehicles equipped with the Initial Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense system, or IM-SHORAD, which is designed to protect fast-moving ground forces from drones, helicopters and low-flying attack jets. Raytheon has done extensive testing on its own laser counter drone system, as we reported from the Paris Air Show.
But, as Rood pointed out, “The threat that we face has developed faster” than our own countermeasures. “As much progress as we’ve made, if you’re not staying equal to, or making greater progress than, the threat picture, it’s a serious problem.”
It is the classic dilemma of warfare. You come up with a good weapon or tactic or both. The enemy comes up with a countermeasure, sending you back to the drawing board. And on and on. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
23 Sep 19. Reworking military C-UAS systems for the civil market – DSEI highlights technology advances. Airport operators mulling over the best way to manage drone incursions found an array of solutions to choose from at the biennial Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) event in London 10-13th September 2019. Solutions ranged from integrated detection and mitigation systems to basic monitoring equipment, designed to help the operator make informed counter-UAS decisions. Drawing on experience in the military sector, these companies are bringing field-proven technology to the civil sector. Enhanced surveillance to detect small, slow moving drone targets is increasingly required in the civil sector. UK manufacturer Blighter Surveillance Systems exhibited its A400 series counter-drone air security radar with improved detection capability for low, slow and small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones. The company has increased the vertical elevation coverage from 30° to 40° and boosted the Digital Drone Detection (D3) technology to capture tiny radar reflections typically received from a drone such as a DJI Phantom. Blighter has also added an adaptable digital signal processing platform which enables the Ku-band radar to operate as a mobile unit.
Vice-President of Marketing Nick Booth told Unmanned Airspace to expect further developments over the next six months. “Customers are asking for extended range from 3.5 km to 5 km, and we are developing the micro-Doppler to identify and classify drones.” Currently surveillance information is used to que the camera so an operator to determine this, enhanced classification will lessen the load on the operator. Blighter e-scan radar is part of the Anti-UAV Defence System (AUDS) operating at London Gatwick and Heathrow airports since December 2018 to mitigate against drone incursions. The AUDS consortium also incorporates Chess Dynamics’ electro-optical video tracker, Enterprise Control Systems’ RF inhibitor, and Metis’ RF passive detector.
Advanced Protection Systems (APS), Polish manufacturer of ctrl+sky C-UAS, also exhibited an enhanced version of its surveillance capability. The company has partnered with UK electro-optics specialist Silent Sentinel showcased the new, military-grade 3D Radar sensor, with extended range (3km) and classification capabilities. 3D Radar sensor is utilising a hybrid AESA/MIMO architecture, and is integrated with military grade day vision and thermal camera technology. CEO Dr Maciej Klemm told Unmanned Airspace the technology is advancing faster than the regulatory environment at airports. “It doesn’t make sense to wait for an incident to happen. A drone is way more dangerous than a bird for an aircraft engine.” Dr Klemm said it is time for the airlines to join the discussion as they are most likely to recognise the risk posed by drones.
APS’s ctrl+sky system is installed and operating at Stavanger Airport, under a framework contract to Norwegian air navigation service provider Avinor to protect up to 15 airports, and is used at military facilities in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The system includes four different types of technologies, as well as an integrated jammer capability and kinetic effectors. While Dr Klemm believes this type of solution offers valuable protection for small and medium-sized airports, he says the military market still dominates the business.
In a White Paper* published by US supplier DeDrone earlier this year, detection equipment installed at several UK airports revealed hundreds of drone incursions over a five-month period during 2018. Following the demonstration, London City and Edinburgh airports installed DeDrone RF sensors to monitor drone activity.
Another company focused on improving drone detection at airports, Swedish manufacturer Saab displayed its latest Giraffe ELSS (Enhanced, Low, Small and Slow) X-band surveillance radar and digital air traffic control solution at DSEI. The ELSS software add-on function detects all types of drones and operates simultaneously with standard detection capability across the company’s Giraffe range. Combined with Saab’s digital control tower, the data can be presented to the operational team to help determine what procedures to apply. CEO Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions Per Ahl told Unmanned Airspace: “We see a growing interest in combining enhanced radar capability with digital tower services. It’s one thing to detect a drone, the next step is to decide what action to take.” The ELSS capability offers drone detection across the entire runway protection zone which typically extends up to 5 km from the threshold and 500 m either side to a height of 2,000 ft. “As drone numbers increase, establishing an operational concept around this operation at an airport becomes more important.”
Saab participates in EUROCAE Working Group WG100, tasked with developing standards for remote and virtual towers. Current activity includes setting minimum aviation system performance standards (MASPS) for target tracking technologies and optical systems. “By using digital information, we can display targets on screen and reduce the pressure on the operators,” said Ahl.
Communications specialist Frequentis also makes the connection with digital tower services, and has entered into a partnership with UAS service provider Altitude Angel to develop a harmonised framework for unmanned and manned traffic management. Earlier this year, Frequentis introduced a secure communications link between UAV pilots and air traffic control units in cooperation with Sunhillo to provide a common air situation picture. The UAS-C connection automatically enables UAS data to be visualised alongside other radar and Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) targets in a UTM environment. UAS-C can be connected remotely via LTE or directly via a secure IP network connection and supports all types of UAV operations flying beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), including flying in or through controlled airspace, regardless of size, altitude or mission.
Israeli manufacturer IAI made the transition from military to civil applications for its DroneGuard solution when it supplied equipment to Buenos Aires Airport in 2018 to provide protection for the duration of the G20 Summit. Applicable to large installations, DroneGuard comprises IAI’s solid state 3D X-band radar with a 4 km range, RF detector and electro-optics day/night camera. This also features an automatic target recognition algorithm capable of detecting the shape of the drone from the video. The company’s jamming technology includes a narrow 20deg low power beam which can be directed at a specific target. Regional Marketing and Sales Director Yoel Starovolsky reported growing interest from airports in Europe, Asia and the US in counter-drone technology. “We have completed some demonstrations,” he told Unmanned Airspace. “The system prevented several drone encroaching on Buenos Aires during the G20 Summit. Airports are looking for solutions and it is only a matter of time before this kind of equipment is deployed.”
*Dedrone White Paper: https://www.qolcom.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Dedrone_Airport_Airspace_Activity_Study_2018.pdf (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
18 Sep 19. US Air Force awards Citadel Defense counter drone contract. The US Air Force selected Citadel Defense’s Titan counter drone system following 18 months’ validation by the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. Citadel Defense technology will be used by the Air Force to protect bases, air shows, and Air National Guard emergency responders as drone threats escalate. It is Citadel’s 10th government counter-drone contract, and follows a contract award in July from the Defense Innovation Unit for use by military, government and law enforcement agencies. Citadel reports its equipment has been tested, validated, and deployed across 15+ countries. Evaluations have been carried out be the US Special Forces, Air Force, Army, Navy, Defense Innovation Unit, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Patrol, FAA and government-funded Science & Technology labs.
Titan’s detection and adaptive jamming capability is designed to autonomously defeat swarms of drones. Citadel’s CEO, Christopher Williams says TITAN incorporates requirements from over 200 stakeholders including warfighters, leadership, and policy makers. “The solution must be capable of complete autonomous operation. It must be easy to use with setup and takedown in minutes, not hours. It must not require signal expertise or calibration to operate. And it must be able to detect and defeat drones without disrupting tactical communications.” Citadel’s artificial intelligence and targeted jamming capability is designed to force drones to safely land before they can become a threat, thereby protecting the airspace while minimizing disruption or interference to surrounding equipment. The system can adapt to new threats operating on common (2.4 GHz, 5.8 GHz) and hobbyist (433 MHz, 915 MHz, 1.2 GHz) communication links. Citadel’s deployable technology prevents unauthorized drones from entering a protected airspace by disrupting the radio-control and video signal, forcing the drone to safely land before it can become a threat. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
19 Sep 19. US Army outlines six-layered battlefield counter-UAS research programme. The US Army will start final level 6 TLT trials (Levels of Technology Readiness) on its Ballistic Low Altitude Drone Engagement (BLADE) programme by the end of the year. Level 6 is a model or prototype that has been tested in an operational environment, such as an aircraft or vehicle.
The US Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) is supporting the Army’s six modernization priorities and has developed the BLADE programme as part of a five-layered counter-UAS defence system – https://asc.army.mil/web/news-alt-ond19-ccdcs-road-map-to-modernizing-the-army-air-and-missile-defense/ – to protect troops on the battlefield from close-in UAS attacks.
“At the tactical edge, maneuvering soldiers need to have local protection to shoot moving targets such as unmanned aerial systems (UAS), which range from Group 1 (very small UAS) to Group 5 (the largest UAS…. BLADE is a set of enabling technologies that are integrated with an armament system to defeat smaller unmanned aerial systems at close ranges, which includes the distance a Soldier can see a UAS without using binoculars, according to the CCDC. “Its intuitive interface makes the BLADE easy for soldiers to use….The BLADE system works with the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS), and uses advanced fire control and precision targeting enablers to detect, track and defeat unmanned aerial systems. Mounted on a tactical vehicle, CROWS contains a sensor suite and fire control software that allow the warfighter to remotely engage targets. CROWS can engage targets during the day or at night, and includes a daytime video camera and a thermal camera.”
The following text, outlining the five other counter-UAS layers under development, is taken directly from the CCDC website (see link above).
Layer 2 is MMHEL
One of the key areas the Army is accelerating is solid-state high-energy laser (HEL) technology. More-efficient laser technology will enable laser-directed energy to be carried on smaller, more mobile Army platforms, which will increase combat capability and improve sustainment. Solid-state laser systems can engage and destroy incoming munitions and drones at a low cost per kill compared with fielded air and missile defense systems.
CCDC’s Army Research Laboratory supports the Army by developing and maturing new fiber laser technology that gives lasers higher power and more efficient output with reduced size, weight and complexity. These higher-power laser systems will have increased lethality and range. The main advantage of fiber lasers is that the laser beam quality is extremely high, which enables the laser beam to focus tightly at long distances. Delivering the laser power into a small area is the key to lethality at long ranges.
The Multi-Mission High Energy Laser (MMHEL), a laser weapon system integrated onto a combat platform, is part of the family of laser technology that the Army is developing. In addition to lethal effects, high-energy lasers can be used for long-range surveillance and tracking.
A Level 7 operational demonstration with the MMHEL will be conducted in fiscal year 2021 using a variety of targets. Then, in fiscal year 2022, RCCTO will field a platoon of four Stryker vehicles with an experimental MMHEL prototype with residual combat capability in support of Maneuver – Short-Range Air Defense.
Layers 3 and 4: MADT and Next-Gen Fires Radar
The Maneuver Air Defense Technology (MADT) project is developing critical technologies to enable a greater level of protection by hitting larger aircraft at increased ranges compared with fielded Short-Range Air Defense Systems.
The MADT missile interceptor technologies are designed for integration into the Maneuver – Short-Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) platform. The Army recently announced that the first five prototypes of that platform will be delivered for testing beginning in October. These short-range air defense systems will be mounted on a new Stryker variant with a turret that will initially hold two HELLFIRE missiles, an M230LF 30 mm chain gun, a 7.62mm machine gun and four Stinger missiles. M-SHORAD will provide 360-degree air defense protection for Stryker and armored brigade combat teams.
As part of a complex system of ground-based radars, satellite sensors and interceptor missiles, missile interceptor technologies work by using infrared sensors on satellites to monitor heat signatures produced by launching rockets. Once a launch is established, tracking is transferred to radar systems that help verify the missile’s trajectory.
Missile interceptor technologies are also designed to operate with current and next-generation fires radar technology via the network. Next Generation Fires Radar is a collaborative CCDC, Aviation & Missile Center, ARL and C5ISR project to develop technology for an all-digital radar system that will substantially increase performance and reliability over current and planned radars by enabling multiple target tracking and adaptive beam forming. Multimission systems enabled by Next Generation Fires Radar will provide Soldiers with a more resilient capability because they will be able to operate across multiple radar bands for improved performance and survivability.
We are designing, developing and integrating advanced software architecture and digital components into a state-of-the-art radar test bed with an open systems software environment. A government-owned test bed and open architecture software will enable the Army to field new capabilities more quickly and increase competition for best-of-breed upgrades. The test bed, which is planned for fiscal year 2021, will demonstrate improved readiness by allowing Soldiers to perform maintenance and upgrade cycles primarily through software changes.
Layer 5: HEL-TVD
Many of our projects begin as prototypes or technology demonstrators, which enable us to refine technologies and inform the Army’s path ahead. The High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator (HEL-TVD) is a good example.
The current HEL-TVD is a 100 kilowatt -class laser system on a Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles platform. It consists of a laser projected through a high-velocity, target-tracking beam control system; power and thermal management systems to power and cool the subsystems; and agility to defeat complex targets. During the past few years, Army S&T work on this effort made significant progress in integrating a militarily significant power level on a tactically relevant platform.
Now the Army is leveraging that progress to merge the HEL-TVD with similar efforts by the Navy and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This partnership will allow the services to achieve a higher-power system that can protect sites from rockets, artillery and mortars and unmanned aerial systems, as well as more stressing threats—significantly increasing the warfighting capability being transitioned.
While the RCCTO pursues this rapid prototyping initiative, the S&T work continues on the next-generation capability. ARL is currently developing proof-of-concept fiber lasers and components and plans to reach Technology Readiness Level 4 (or higher) in 2028.
Layer 6: LOWER-AD (largest dome of protection)
The Patriot missile system is instrumental in protecting forward-deployed forces, friends and allies against incoming air and missile threats. The CCDC Aviation & Missile Center is developing and demonstrating the Low-Cost Extended Range Air Defense (LOWER AD) missile interceptor technology that is smaller and less costly than larger systems. The LOWER AD project will demonstrate critical technologies to defeat subsonic cruise missiles and lethal unmanned aerial systems, leaving the advanced Patriot interceptors for the more stressing threats.
The LOWER AD technology will make it possible to reduce the size of the missile, which in turn will allow more missiles per launcher. Internal components of the LOWER AD missile technology will include improved navigation and a low-cost seeker and warhead, which will maximize its capability to protect defended areas and troops.
LOWER AD will conduct a flight test in fiscal year 2021, using various targets at extended ranges to demonstrate Level 6 maturity of the technology. A flight test with the ballistic test vehicle will be conducted in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2019 to verify key component performance.
To develop air defense technologies for a maneuverable, multimission force, we work closely with other government, academic and industry partners. Some of the key projects include digital radar technology, missile interceptor components, air defense gun technology and integrated fire control. We collaborate with industry by leveraging traditional contracting methods, Small Business Innovation Research initiatives, cooperative research and development agreements and a number of different collaborative consortiums, including the Defense Ordnance Technology Consortium and the Aviation and Missile Technology Consortium.
With academia, we have teamed with Carnegie Mellon University to develop advanced algorithms that can be applied to air defense, and the University of Oklahoma to work on advanced radar hardware. CCDC ARL has cooperative agreements and grants with the University of Oklahoma and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory to develop algorithms and techniques, as well as digital array operation. ARL has also established a cooperative agreement with Penn State University to develop advanced fiber lasers, and the CCDC Data and Analysis Center has a biannual agreement with the University of Alabama Industrial and Engineering Management Department.
The CCDC enterprise is closely integrated and synchronized with the Air and Missile Defense Cross-Functional Team, which maintains a prioritized list of air and missile defense S&T projects. We have aligned our S&T portfolio 100 percent with the Air and Missile Defense Cross-Functional Team priorities, and we work closely with them to support the air and missile defense modernization priority.
CCDC supports the Air and Missile Defense Cross-Functional Team by providing research, development and engineering expertise to demonstrate near-, mid- and far-term technology. CCDC engineers who work with the cross-functional team keep leadership informed about their activities, and coordinate with representatives from the other centers. These representatives provide periodic cross-functional team and CCDC execution reviews, and they meet regularly for road mapping and status updates, including program executive office and program manager transition agreement partnerships.
The representatives also reach back to their respective centers for information to support the cross-functional team. For example, when the cross-functional team requested a cost-benefit analysis of air and missile defense technology, a CCDC Data and Analysis Center representative pooled the expertise of a group of analysts who quickly conducted risk and performance analyses to support the project.
The CCDC Data and Analysis Center also provides feedback on new equipment training, developmental testing, operational testing and flight tests as they relate to human-systems integration, including how to increase Soldier system performance and reduce physical and mental workload. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
22 Sep 19. FLIR Introduces M300 Series Marine Cameras. FLIR Systems (NASDAQ: FLIR) today announced the FLIR M300 Series, a new generation of maritime thermal cameras delivering advanced awareness-enhancing technologies, safer navigation, and seamless integration with onboard boat systems. FLIR M300 Series cameras are designed for the most demanding professional mariners and first responders who operate in the harshest marine environments.
The successor to FLIR’s industry-leading M-Series of maritime cameras, the next generation M300 Series consists of five models featuring rugged and robust new pan and tilt housings – four models with the FLIR Boson™ resolution thermal camera cores, plus a visible-only, high-definition (HD) model. The series is highlighted by two dual sensor models, the M364C and M364C LR, which offer mariners greater awareness via FLIR’s patented Color Thermal Vision™ (CTV) technology. This proprietary multispectral imaging technology for the FLIR M300 Series and FLIR’s Raymarine Axiom® line of navigation displays blends thermal and high-definition visible color video for enhanced identification of buoys, vessels, and other targets at night.
The M300 Series integrates with the latest-generation marine navigation displays, including FLIR’s award-winning Raymarine Axiom family of multifunction displays.
“Our FLIR M300 Series cameras employ advanced sensing and imaging technologies so first responders, commercial mariners, and recreational boaters can navigate safer in limited visibility,” said Travis Merrill, President of the Commercial Business Unit at FLIR. “These professional-grade marine cameras offer industry-leading performance and deep integration with Raymarine Axiom navigation displays to bring mariners a new level of situational awareness.”
The FLIR M300 Series range from $6,495 to $29,495 USD and are available now through FLIR’s network of maritime dealers and retailers. For more information about the FLIR M300 Series, visit http://www.flir.com/m300-series.
22 Sep 19. This Tiny Thermal Weapons Optic with Red Dot Is Designed for Close Combat. Steiner eOptics recently unveiled a sleek new thermal weapons optic equipped with a red dot for close-quarter combat.
The Close Quarter Thermal (CQT) was on display for the first time at Modern Day Marine 2019.
“This our latest thermal camera; it’s a full 12-micron thermal camera with a red-dot overlay,” Don Pride of Steiner eOptics told Military.com.
The thermal can be mounted on any weapons rail to allow shooters to see the green-glowing heat signatures of potential enemy targets in dark spaces, Pride said. It’s designed to be most effective in engagements of up to 12 yards, Pride said, adding that several law enforcement agencies and some special operations unit have requested the technology.
“So, when you punch into a room or something, rather than having night vision in a dark room, you have a full thermal camera,” Pride said. “The good part about that is with night vision, you get into a dark room [and] you are constantly switching your head side to side trying to find out where everything is. With a thermal mounted on your weapon you step into a room, you maintain your weapon as you swing around; if there is any heat in there, it’s going to pop up really bright in your view and you have your red dot to engage.”
The CQT takes two CR-123 batteries and weighs approximately one pound, he said. There is one setting for red-dot only and one for red dot and thermal.
“You can change the pattern of the thermal from a full thermal to an outline mode,” Pride said. “You can also change the red dot from a circle, square, crosshair … the capabilities of this are pretty much unlimited.”
The CQT, however, is not inexpensive. It currently costs about $10,000, Pride said.
“I have got four or five SWAT teams that are really interested in it; I tell them the price and they don’t care,” Pride said. “They like the technology.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military.com)
22 Sep 19. Thales reveals new ISR concepts. Thales has developed new intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) concepts in both the land and air domains and demonstrated these at DSEI 2019 in London in September. Digital Crew is a real-time self-learning artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm applied to digital electro-optical (EO) imagery for recognition of people, platforms, and objects. It is designed to reduce the cognitive load of sensor operators and is effective in day and night conditions.
The system incorporates facial recognition algorithms for identification of individuals using database comparison. It can recognise an individual in a crowd and identify possible threats such as an armed person through comparison with the entities in the database, with up to 1,000 objects stored within the latter. Vehicle types can be automatically identified in overhead imagery.
Digital Crew can also plot the location of a detected target using the bearing of the object and its apparent relative size to calculate the range. A Thales representative told Jane’s that location was accurate to within 2.5 m, and that the effect of camera zoom is automatically considered in the sizing calculation.
It can prioritise identified targets according to pre-set criteria and can be installed on a vehicle platform with a 360° EO system for local situational awareness. The representative said it was important that a human was retained in the decision-making response loop to potential identified threats as the system was not completely infallible when identifying objects as weapons.
Development of Digital Crew began in late 2015 using research funding from Australia, Canada, and the UK’s DSTL, and has been completed. The representative said the system is not yet productised, although there is considerable customer interest. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
20 Sep 19. USMC Eyeing Futuristic Remote Turret for AAVs. The Army is testing a high-tech dual remote weapons station that can be operated from inside a vehicle — a capability Marine officials are eyeing for their aging fleet of Assault Amphibious Vehicles. Last month, soldiers at Fort Sill in Oklahoma tested the R400S Mk2 dual remote weapon system. The R400S Mk 2, which is produced by EOS Defense Systems USA, Inc., can operate a variety of weapons including a machine gun, automatic grenade launcher, 30mm cannon or Javelin missile. It weighs less than 1,000 pounds and can “provide significant and flexible lethality from a land or sea platform,” according to company officials.
The system, which can be used from the back of a vehicle or another remote location, uses high-tech sensors that allow soldiers and Marines identity targets more than 7 miles away.
“You can identify your target at a distance further than the effective range of the weapons systems,” Steve Below, vice president of operations with EOS Defense Systems USA, told Military.com at the Modern Day Marine expo here.
An Army release on systems experiments said the Mk2 can be mounted on light and medium vehicles. Aside from being able to take out land targets, the system was tested on aerial drones at Fort Sill, Below said.
“It hit seven out of 10 at less than 350 meters, but it was a kinetic kill,” he said.
The Army and other branches have fielded similar systems in the past, such as the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, or CROWS. They’re designed to keep the operator out of a turret by allowing them to use a computer screen from inside a vehicle or somewhere off site.
“It keeps the operator under protection,” he said. “… There’s been a lot of interest here, mostly the younger [Marines] who say, ‘Wow. That’s cool. I wish we had one.'”
Last year, Marine officials canceled major upgrade plans for its four-decade-old tracked Assault Amphibious Vehicles. But one thing program officials were still looking to add was a remotely operated gun turret.
The R400S Mk2, which is optimized for tracked vehicles, according to EOS Defense Systems USA, “includes a direct drive sensor unit which minimizes high frequency road and vehicle vibration from degrading the operator video image.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military.com)
20 Sep 19. US Navy’s New Triton Drone Heads To Guam, New Pacific Recon Tool. Originally slated to deploy last year, the Triton drones will give US commanders in the Pacific a powerful new tool to conduct surveillance, and track Chinese moves from afar. The US Navy is sending two high-altitude MQ-4C Triton drones to Guam on their first overseas deployment, placing the sophisticated surveillance platform deep within the Indo-Pacific at a time of rising tensions with China and stepped-up Navy patrols through the Taiwan Strait.
A group of sailors from the Navy’s Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19, (VUP 19) the first unit to fly the Triton, left their base in Jacksonville Fla. yesterday for Andersen Air Force Base in Guam to support the 7th Fleet. Photos of the sailors leaving Florida were posted on the unit’s Facebook page.
A defense official confirmed the two drones are heading to Guam for an Early Operational Capability deployment to assess how they will operate alongside US and coalition aircraft. In the coming years, the Navy’s fleet of Tritons are expected to operate at five bases across the globe.
The Northrop Grumman-made Triton, part of the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program, will give the US a powerful new tool capable of staying aloft for over 24 hours at altitudes exceeding 10 miles, while it scans the ocean and landmasses with its 360-degree radar. It also has a multi-spectral targeting system that can transmit high-resolution images to other aircraft and ground stations.
Getting unmanned systems out in front of manned aircraft and ships in the Pacific has emerged as one of the Navy’s highest priorities, as the so-called “Great Wall of SAMS” China has installed on islands in the South China Sea have forced the US and its allies to reconsider how and where to deploy in the region.
The problem has led the new Marine Corps Commandant to launch a soup-to-nuts review of how the Corps deploys in the face of deadly — and precise — standoff threats, and is certain to be a major point of order in the Navy’s new force structure assessment expected to be released later this year. In the meantime, the Navy asked for $3.7bn to fund a variety of unmanned programs in its 2020 budget request, including $447m for two large unmanned surface vehicles to conduct everything from long-range surveillance to offensive operations.
In the air, Triton has already demonstrated the ability to feed full-motion video to P-8 surveillance planes and ground stations, giving P-8s vastly more visibility and allowing the sub hunters to concentrate on their primary mission while the Triton uses its high-altitude ISR to scan ahead.
The Triton will also eventually replace the aging P-3C.
For a half century, DRS has provided military forces around the world with advanced technologies and capabilities to meet their mission needs. Here are some highlights.
The deployment arrives at the same time that the Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray refueling drone has carried out its first successful test flight at a Boeing facility in the United States. The two-hour flight, remotely controlled by Boeing pilots, featured an autonomous taxi and takeoff, while the plane flew a predetermined route. The Navy envisions the Stingray as its carrier-based refueler of the future, a major undertaking designed to take manned aircraft out of the loop on those dangerous missions.
The two Guam-based drones won’t be the only long-endurance platforms working in the region. In 2018, the Australian government signed a deal with Northrop Grumman for six MQ-4C Tritons, slated for delivery between 2023 and 2025. The agreement included money for the Royal Australian Air Force to embark on a co-development program with the US Navy, meaning Australia will receive the same aircraft that US pilots operate. In April, the State Department also approved the sale of four Tritons to Germany for $2.5bn.
Doug Shaffer, Northrop Grumman’s vice president for the Triton program, said in a statement the “VUP-19’s deployment is a major milestone for the Triton program as we continue to develop and refine the Triton system to meet the U.S. Navy and Australia’s joint requirements for the multi-intelligence configuration.”
In July, Northrop was awarded a $33.8m contract to start work on adding a signals intelligence-gathering capability to the Triton system, with work scheduled to be completed in 2022.
The drones were initially scheduled to deploy to Guam late last year, but after one crashed during a training flight in California in Sept. 2018, the program was put on hold while an investigation was conducted. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
23 Sep 19. Epirus Wins US Air Force Innovation Research Contract @ UAS Pitch Day. Epirus, the only U.S. company developing software-defined electromagnetic pulse (EMP) technology designed to take down dangerous drones, was awarded a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I contract by the U.S. Air Force at its Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Pitch Day on July 24.
Epirus CEO Nathan Mintz and CTO Bo Marr led the company’s presentation, held at the Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security in Burlington, Mass.
Epirus, which is based near the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center in El Segundo, Calif., was one of just 13 firms out of 108 selected to present at UAS Pitch Day. Epirus presented the world’s first ever megawatt-class drone-mounted, directed energy capability system and was the only company with this capability that was selected for a contract award. Epirus presented video demonstrations of the megawatt class system at work in the field.
Epirus’s technology uses a short burst of directed energy to neutralize UAS such as drones, which present a new, unique threat to national security. In fact, recreational drones have caused shutdowns at busy airports like London’s Gatwick, affecting thousands of travelers. And as drone technology becomes cheaper and more easily accessible, the possibility of them being used by enemy combatants of all types continues to increase. The company has expertise in understanding how drones respond to EMP, which helps inform its work in developing technological innovations for how America will defeat drone swarms.
“I am very proud of our team for making the cut among such strong competition. This contract demonstrates the efficacy of our efforts to date and gives us an important financial win as a new company,” said Mintz. “Having our megawatt-class drone-mounted, directed energy capability system recognized by the U.S. Air Force, which has the ultimate responsibility to keep us safe from aerial threats of all types, is a real honour. This contract award will mature the airborne capability and work towards preparing the device for production.” (Source: UAS VISION)
19 Sep 19. Electro Optic Systems (EOS) is exclusively linked with Hanwha Defence Australia as a prime contractor to offer EOS’ T2000 turret, with Hanwha’s ‘Redback’ vehicle for the Army requirement.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Team Redback and a recognition of world-class Australian turret and weapon station technology,” Dr Ben Greene, CEO of EOS, said. “EOS and our Australian supplier base of over 70 SMEs welcome the prospect of providing world-leading technology for this vital Australian Army program.”
Team Redback was one of two teams selected to proceed onto the next stage of the tender, risk mitigation activity (RMA).
“This selection provides an opportunity to show under a rigorous evaluation process the quality, performance and capability that the Australian defence industry can offer. Although over 90 per cent of EOS revenue is consistently derived from exports, meeting ADF needs is of utmost importance to our company,” Dr Greene said.
In the RMA stage, shortlisted vehicles will undergo rigorous testing and evaluation and shortlisted tenderers will conduct Australian industry showcase workshops throughout Australia, which will conclude in 2021 with the submission of best and final offers and final evaluation, with a full contract award expected in 2022. (Source: Defence Connect)
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.