Sponsored by Blighter Surveillance Systems
09 Oct 19. Next Generation Handheld Targeting System to combine capabilities of three systems into a single, lightweight system. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been selected to build prototype Next Generation Handheld Targeting Systems (NGHTS) for the U.S. Marine Corps. These handheld systems will enable forward observers to quickly and efficiently acquire and designate targets with a high level of precision.
“Our latest solution, based on our decades of experience in delivering handheld targeting systems, will provide the mobility and precision that forward observers need,” said Bob Gough, vice president, land and avionics C4ISR, Northrop Grumman. “Combined with network connectivity, these capabilities will enable more informed and rapid targeting decisions.”
The systems developed under the second phase of the NGHTS program are designed to replace three legacy systems, incorporating their separate target location, laser spot imaging and laser target designation capabilities into a single, lightweight system.
Northrop Grumman has delivered more than 20,000 man-portable target location and designation systems to the Department of Defense.
09 Oct 19. UK MPAs won’t be diverted to overland surveillance tasks, says RAF. With the Royal Air Force poised to take delivery of the first of nine P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, a senior officer has sought to allay concerns that the planned fleet is too small to handle UK global commitments. On 2 September 2006, a BAE Systems Nimrod MR2 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) of the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) exploded in mid-air while conducting a sortie over Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. All 14 crew members were killed, making it the British military’s single biggest loss of life in an operational theatre since the 1982 Falklands conflict. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
09 Oct 19. Deleted image shows Singapore air force Heron 1 UAV with new belly payload pod. The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has inadvertently revealed the existence of an enhanced version of its Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron 1 medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (MALE UAV) during the biennial ‘Forging Sabre’ exercise being staged from Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, United States, from 30 September to 10 October. An image published by Singapore-based news agency CNA on 7 October clearly showed an RSAF Heron 1 UAV that has been equipped with a belly mounted bulged pod – housing an undisclosed external sensor payload – being towed at the airbase. The image was quietly removed for unknown reasons by the morning of 8 October and replaced by an image of another RSAF Heron 1 UAV without the belly pod. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
09 Oct 19. SIG SAUER Electro-Optics ROMEO1PRO Open Reflex Red Dot Sight Now Available . SIG SAUER Electro-Optics is pleased to introduce the all-new ROMEO1PRO Open Reflex Red Dot Sight. The ROMEO1PRO is capable of mounting to any pistol with a SIG SAUER PRO slide cut, and is crafted for durability, and for use in harsh environments.
“The ROMEO1PRO is the latest evolution of the ROMEO1 sights and brings a new level of durability and performance to the open-reflex red dot sight,” said Andy York, President, SIG SAUER, Electro-Optics. “The adoption of a red dot sight on pistols is becoming the standard in the commercial, law enforcement, and military markets, and the ROMEO1PRO is the ultimate solution for fast, responsive target acquisition and accuracy combined with the easy mounting option of the PRO footprint.”
The SIG SAUER Electro-Optics ROMEO1PRO is a miniature open reflex red dot sight, available with either a 3MOA or 6MOA red dot. It comes with 12 brightness settings for a full range of lighting conditions, and the TruHold™ Lockless Zeroing System designed to endure recoil and return to zero shot after shot. The ROMEO1PRO features a molded glass aspheric lens with high-performance coatings for superior light transmittance and zero distortion, a new upgraded point-source emitter for increased brightness in day or night conditions, MOTAC, a 20,000-hour battery life, and an IPX-7 waterproof rating. The ROMEO1PRO is housed in aircraft grade aluminum to ensure corrosion resistance, includes a ruggedized steel protective shroud in the box for extreme durability, and is available in black or FDE.
SIG SAUER pistols with a PRO slide cut (rev2) include the P320 XFIVE Legion, P320-M17, P320 XFULL, P320 XCARRY, P320 XCOMPACT, and P320 XVTAC.
ROMEO1PRO Open Reflex Red Dot Sight Specs:
Illumination Settings: 10 Daytime/2 Night Vision
Window Height: .71in/18mm
Window Width: 1.1in/28mm
Overall Elevation Adjustment Range: 100MOA
Overall Windage Adjustment Range: 100 MOA
MSRP: $519.99 – Black
MSRP: $549.99 – FDE
The SIG SAUER Electro-Optics ROMEO1PRO is currently shipping, and available for purchase at retailers nationwide and on the SIG SAUER Webstore. Complete product specs and information for the ROMEO1PRO are available at sigsauer.com.
08 Oct 19. Argentina re-roles Pucara from light strike to surveillance. Argentina has retired its Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) IA-58 Pucara from the counterinsurgency light strike role, employing it instead solely as a border surveillance and patrol aircraft. The change in role was formalised during a ceremony held by the Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina: FAA) on 4 October, with the final public appearance of the aircraft in its light attack guise taking place at an airshow two days later. In its new surveillance role, the aircraft will now be known as Pucara Fenix. According to the FAA, the Pucara Fenix will be fitted with the improved Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6A-62 engines and new four-bladed propellers of the IA-58H upgrade (previously, the Pucara was powered by Turbomeca Astazou XVIG units with three-bladed propellers), as well as a podded Fixview electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret, and datalink. With one aircraft already converted to this standard, the air force hopes that FAdeA will convert another two so as to field the aircraft in its new role for at least a further 10 years. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
BATTLESPACE Comment: The Editor is reminded of the 1983 Paris Airshow where a Pucara had a ‘Combat Proven!’ sticker on display. Someone wrote below ‘But Came Second!’
09 Oct 19. DSIT launches SwordFish towed array sonar for export market. Key Points:
- DSIT has received approval to market a lightweight anti-submarine sonar system to international customers
- The system allows operators to conduct anti-submarine patrols from vessels as light as 400 tonnes
Israeli company DSIT Solutions has received approval from its government to export the SwordFish towed array sonar system, and is showcasing the product outside the country for the first time.
The product is being showcased at the Pacific 2019 international maritime exposition, which runs from 7–10 October in Sydney. It is being marketed as a lightweight, low-frequency anti-submarine system that can be operated and monitored remotely from shore without too much intervention from personnel at sea. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
08 Oct 19. How airmen can work together for persistent ISR. There is always a next war. Great power competition is here. Now is the time, while the United States maintains a position of strength, to ensure we are not outmatched, out-thought, or out-witted. Rapidly and realistically positioning the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance enterprise for first-mover advantage in today’s data-driven environment is beginning with purposeful urgency.
The past paradigm: crew-to-aircraft model
During our careers, the Air Force ISR enterprise grew in both capability and capacity. In the late 1990s, the Air Force operated an ISR enterprise dominated by manned aircraft, each with their own specialized team operating unique systems that turned data into initial intelligence. Only a few organizations could turn raw airborne sensor data into intelligence in near-real time. We were only beginning to move data to the analyst, versus deploying the analyst to the data.
As battlefield demand of ISR grew, we scaled up. We were fortunate to help build and execute airborne intelligence operations on a global scale, connected via a global network — we called them “reachback” operations. Reachback operations were the first step in transmitting ISR sensor collection across the globe in seconds. Even today, few nations can conduct this type of ISR operational design. The enterprise has continued to advance, achieving fully distributed operations around the world. We also made it possible to remove humans from aircraft, allowing missions to fly nearly three times longer and expand the data available to exploit. Correspondingly, the Air Force increased the number of organizations that could accept data and create intelligence.
Following 9/11, our nation’s needs changed; the fight necessitated the Air Force grow its capacity to deliver intelligence for expanded operations in the Middle East. We bought more unmanned vehicles, trained more ISR Airmen, and created more organizations to exploit data. Collection operations were happening 24/7 and most sorties required multiple crews to fly, control sensors and turn collection tasks into intelligence. As reachback operations grew, they became the Distributed Common Ground System and developed the ability to exploit aircraft sensor data. This growth was significant, but at the tactical level we employed the same crew model and simply grew at scale. This resulted in manpower growth, but also in disparate, distributed crews working similar tactical requirements with little unity of effort or larger purpose. This limited the ability of ISR airpower to have broader operational effects. While suitable for counter-terrorism, history tells us this approach is ill advised for great power conflict.
Observe and orient: the data explosion and sense-making
The traditional crew-to-aircraft model for exploitation must fast forward to today’s information environment. The Pentagon has shifted its guidance to this new reality. The Defense Department recently declared information a seventh core function, and the Air Force’s formal ISR flight plan maps a course for digital-age capabilities to turn information into intelligence. This “sense-making” must be able to handle both the complexity of a diverse information environment and scale to contend with an exploding volume of data. Access to expanded data sets, from diverse collection sources and phenomenology, is near and urgently needed. The Department’s focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning in this realm remains stable and necessary. The next step is to retool how we task, organize, and equip both intelligence collection and analytic crews.
As the Pentagon focuses on open architectures, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and data standards, the field is rapidly moving out. Air Combat Command , the Air Force lead command for ISR, is attacking the crew-to-aircraft model to test a sensor-agnostic approach using multiple data sources to address intelligence requirements. Cross-functional teams of Airmen are now assigned broader operational problems to solve, rather than a specific sensor to exploit. This will change joint and service collection management processes. ACC is tackling this future. We are supporting Air Force commanders in Europe and the Pacific with a pilot project that allows Airmen to explore these sensor-agnostic approaches. An additional element to our future success is partnering with our joint and allied partners, as well as national agencies, to bring resources, tools, and insights to bear. As we field the open architecture Distributed Common Ground System, we are shifting the focus from airmen operating specific sensors to airmen leveraging aggregate data for broader analysis.
Headquarters Air Force and ACC are installing technologies to ensure readiness for the future ISR enterprise. Cloud technology paired with artificial intelligence and machine learning promises to speed human-machine teaming in generating intelligence across warfighting domains at the speed and scale necessary to inform and guide commanders. Underpinning this effort is a new data strategy and agile capability development for rapid prototyping and fielding. The Defense Department and the Air Force must continue to prioritize this retooling. Our adversaries see the opportunities; this is a race to the future.
Situational awareness in the next war will require the development and fielding of AI/ML to replace the limited and manpower-intensive processes across the Air Force ISR enterprise. Employing AI/ML against repetitive data exploitation tasks will allow the service to refocus many of its ISR Airmen on AI/ML-assisted data analysis and problem solving.
ISR and multi domain command and control … enabling decide and act
A headquarters-led initiative, with eyes toward a joint capability, is the creation of a collaborative sensing grid that operates seamlessly across the threat spectrum. Designs call for a data-centric network of multi domain platforms, sensors, and airmen that work together to provide persistent ISR. Equipped with manned and unmanned platform sensors capable of computing via AI/ML, these capabilities will link commanders to real-time information, plus tip and cue data from sensors-to-sensors, joint commanders, and weapons. This collaborative sensing grid is a foundational element for multi domain command and control . The vision of MDC2 is to outpace, outthink and outmaneuver adversaries.
Creatively and rapidly applying new technology to operational problems is a long-held characteristic of airmen. Our DCGS airmen are no different. Non-material solutions deserve as much attention as hardware. This pilot project is our vanguard initiative to prepare for rapidly changing future systems environments. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
08 Oct 19. Dedrone Acquires DroneDefender™ Defeat Technology from Battelle. Airspace security technology company launches consultancy, Dedrone Defense, providing authorized customers a complete detect and defeat system to protect themselves against adversary drones.
Dedrone, the market leader in counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) technology, today announced the purchase of DroneDefender from Battelle. This purchase includes all assets and intellectual property associated with DroneDefender. With this acquisition, Dedrone has launched a new consultancy, Dedrone Defense, specializing in services and solutions for U.S. federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, and providing a proven, end-to-end solution that detects and classifies airspace activity, protects assets from drone threats, and defeats adversary drones.
Dedrone’s counter-sUAS platform is a complete technology solution which collects and aggregates drone activity data through sensors, and that data is then automatically analyzed by DroneTracker software. DroneTracker recognizes and classifies radio frequency (RF), WiFi, and non-WiFi sUAS, transmits data to command and control centers, and can be programmed to automatically trigger alerts and countermeasures when a sUAS threat is confirmed. DroneDefender uses radio control frequency disruption and is a lightweight, point-and-shoot system with a demonstrated range of 400 meters.
“When it comes to creating an airspace security program, detection and defeat go hand-in-hand,” said Joerg Lamprecht, CEO and co-founder of Dedrone. “DroneDefender is an exceptional technology which Dedrone is proud to incorporate into our counter-sUAS ecosystem. In order to best serve our customers in the Department of Defense and in the U.S. federal space, Dedrone Defense is available to provide the essential tools to assess airspace activity, protect civilians and critical assets, and eliminate unauthorized sUAS-based threats.”
DroneDefender and all operations associated with the technology will be led from the company’s Washington, D.C.-area office, under the new entity, Dedrone Defense. Dedrone Defense provides federal departments and agencies with the tools and solutions needed to protect against all sUAS threats. All current customers of DroneDefender will have access to acquire Dedrone’s drone detection software and hardware solution to complete their counter-sUAS programs.
“Today’s announcement of this sale is a success story for both Battelle and Dedrone,” said Battelle President and CEO Lou Von Thaer. “The DroneDefender was an innovation developed by our researchers to meet an urgent need. We developed it and delivered it to our customers rapidly, where it was deployed in the field proving very effective in countering nefarious drone activity. We are proud to see it being integrated into Dedrone’s systems.”
Part of Battelle’s mission is to develop technology and to ensure that it is commercialized and deployed as quickly as possible to help society.
Battelle and Dedrone began working together in August 2017 to develop a collaborative solution to provide airspace security for militaries and critical infrastructure. In June 2018, Dedrone successfully demonstrated the capabilities of DroneTracker and DroneDefender at ThunderDrone, a U.S. Special Operations Command and SOFWERX rapid prototyping event, ranking first place out of 45 other counter-sUAS companies. DroneDefender units are currently in use by the U.S. Departments of Defense and Department of Homeland Security and other federal entities and will continue to be manufactured in the United States by Dedrone.(Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
08 Oct 19. Sightmark Mini Shot M-Spec LQD now NTOA Tested and Recommended! After being meticulously field tested and abused by members of the National Tactical Officers Association, Sightmark is proud to announce the Mini Shot M-Spec LQD (SM26043-LQD) is NTOA Tested and Recommended. Multiple officers ran this particular Mini Shot reflex sight model through range and torture testing in order to grant it recommended status. An innovative optic designed for serious real-world use, the 3 MOA Mini Shot M-Spec LQD is truly versatile, coming standard with both riser and low-profile mounts, making it an ideal red dot to use with shotguns, rifles and even handguns. Featuring a durable aluminum housing with a steel protective shield, the Mini will take almost anything you throw at it and boasts a 12 hour auto shut-off to conserve battery life while not in use. 10 brightness settings and ambidextrous digital switch controls keep the Mini usable by all kinds of shooters in many different kinds of environments.
NTOA members have tested more than 2,000 products in real-world situations through the NTOA’s Member Tested and Recommended Program (MTRP) since 2003. Results of these tests are shared with the law enforcement community in The Tactical Edge magazine, our online database, our eNewsletters and the product manufacturers themselves. The MTRP logo displayed on product packaging and websites is regarded by many law enforcement agencies as paramount to their product purchasing decisions.
08 Oct 19. RAAF to fit Super Hornets with IRST. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is to equip its Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets with the same AN/ASG-34 podded infrared search-and-track (IRST) system as carried by the US Navy (USN).
A sources-sought notification issued by the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) on 2 October calls for 12 IRST systems to cover the RAAF’s fleet of 24 Super Hornets.
According to the notification, the contract is expected to run for 36 months, although no further details pertaining to timelines or contract values were disclosed.
Developed by Lockheed Martin, with Boeing and General Electric, the AN/ASG-34 IRST is a passive system geared at giving the Super Hornet the capability to locate and engage airborne and ground targets when use of the Raytheon AN/APG-79 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar would give away the aircraft’s position.
Unlike most other IRST systems that are fully integrated with their host aircraft, the AN/ASG-34 is designed to be carried in a modified centreline drop tank. Boeing officials previously told Jane’s that locating the IRST underneath the aircraft has no adverse effect on its ability to identify and track aircraft that might be flying higher than the Super Hornet and that at 10 miles (16 km) from the target aircraft it will provide unlimited visibility up to 60,000 ft (as high as any target would fly). (Source: IHS Jane’s)
08 Oct 19. Logos Technologies Unveils New Platform-Flexible Multi-Modal Sensor Pod at AUSA. Pod combines wide-area hyperspectral capability with wide-area motion imagery (WAMI) and high-resolution imagery. The Multi-Modal Sensor Pod combines wide-area, hyperspectral, and high-resolution sensors into a single podded system, with real-time onboard processing and storage. (Graphic: Business Wire)
Logos Technologies announced today that it will be exhibiting for the very first time its airborne, platform-flexible Multi-Modal Sensor Pod (MMSP) at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Meeting and Exposition, on October 14-16.
Mounted on planes, helicopters and Group 3-5 unmanned aircraft systems, the MMSP houses:
- A wide-area motion imagery (WAMI) system,
- a wide-area hyperspectral imager,
- a high-resolution spotter, and an
- onboard embedded processor for real-time processing and storage.
The three MMSP sensors work in partnership, with autonomous cross tasking, to deliver comprehensive, multi-layered information in real-time.
“This is invaluable and a great force multiplier to the warfighter,” said Doug Rombough, VP of Business Development for Logos Technologies, “because it greatly reduces the number of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sorties needed over a target area, saving time, saving platforms and saving equipment.”
As part of the MMSP, the WAMI system can image a city-sized area in medium resolution, enough to detect and track every mover within the vast scene, while the narrow-field high-resolution spotter can be cued to monitor 10-plus locations automatically, providing identification-quality imagery.
The hyperspectral imager provides additional information by scanning the scene for unique spectral signatures of camouflaging netting, explosive stores, tank hulls or any other relevant targets. The MMSP hyperspectral imager covers an area 15 times larger than that of traditional hyperspectral sensors.
“The MMSP covers an area in real-time as well as records, tags and stores up to eight hours of imagery for review by analysts while the pod is still in the air. It does all of this while fitting in a package that weighs less than 100 pounds (45kg),” Rombough said.
In addition to the MMSP, Logos Technologies will also be exhibiting the following lightweight WAMI systems:
- the Redkite platform-flexible pod,
- the Redkite-I for the Insitu Integrator,
- the Kestrel Block II for aerostats, as well as
- the Multi-Modal Edge Processor.
For more information on Logos Technologies and its innovative sensor products, please visit Booth 1467, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington, D.C., or the company website: www.logos-technologies.com. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
07 Oct 19. Security Radar Integrators Selects Echodyne Radar for Counter-UAS Security Solutions. 3D Radar will be Primary Sensor in C-UAS Security Solutions for Airports, Seaports and other Critical Infrastructure. Echodyne, the manufacturer of innovative, high-performance, small electronically scanned array (ESA) radars for government and commercial markets, announced today that its EchoGuard radar has been selected by Security Radar Integrators (SRI) as its preferred 3D radar sensor for C-UAS security solutions. The radar is recognized in the industry as the best-performing sensor in its class and is a critical component for UAS detection, tracking, classification, and identification in multi-sensor systems.
Echodyne’s breakthrough MESATM technology delivers a high-performance radar in a compact, solid-state, commercially-priced format for security integrators who require excellent range, detection accuracy, and consistent sensor performance. Because it is a true beam-steering ESA radar, EchoGuard offers unprecedented capabilities for a range of commercial and governmental applications. When integrated into multi-sensor systems, such as SRI’s, Echodyne radars reliably cue other sensors for rapid object identification and potential mitigation.
“SRI has enjoyed great success securing airports and other critical infrastructure from unwanted intrusions,” said Daniel Flynn, President of SRI. “Echodyne radars have demonstrated tremendous capabilities that we and our customers need in our solution portfolio as we add 3D capabilities to secure against UAS threats.”
Echodyne’s 3D surveillance radar, EchoGuard, has been fully integrated into SRI’s industry-leading Airfield Radar System (ARS). After numerous evaluations by National Safe Skies Alliance, ARS has become the leading radar based security solution for airports, and SRI is extending its reach into seaports, corrections facilities, and other critical infrastructure.
“Echodyne is pleased to be selected by SRI and work with a leader in perimeter security solutions for high-risk critical infrastructure,” said Eben Frankenberg, CEO of Echodyne. “Our selection underscores the superiority of our EchoGuard radar for small UAS detection and tracking.” (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
08 Oct 19. Cambridge Pixel Unveils Dual Redundant HPx-346D Analogue to ASTERIX CAT-240 Radar Converter.
- Dual network HPx-346D module provides redundancy against network failure where radar surveillance data is critical to a navigation, command & control (C2), coastal surveillance or WECDIS/ECDIS system
Cambridge Pixel, a developer of radar display, tracking and recording sub-systems (www.cambridgepixel.com), has expanded its range of radar interfacing hardware with the introduction of its dual redundant HPx-346D analogue to ASTERIX CAT-240 radar video converter.
The dual network HPx-346D card converts analogue radar signals from most legacy radars into an ASTERIX CAT-240 network data stream for output simultaneously to twin networks. This capability provides redundancy against network failure in applications where radar surveillance data is critical to a navigation, command & control (C2), warship electronic chart display and information system (WECDIS/ECDIS) or coastal surveillance system.
David Johnson, CEO, Cambridge Pixel, said: “The launch of our dual network HPx-346D legacy to CAT-240 converter is driven by demand for dual redundancy among our naval and coastal surveillance customers. It is also further evidence that the display of radar is increasingly moving up the supply chain and becoming a mission critical part of modern navigation and command & control systems.
“With the second network interface on the HPx-346D module our customers now have the option to output the CAT-240 data to twin networks at the same time or to configure the card to output to a single network and then switch over automatically in the event of a network failure,” added David Johnson. “Whichever option is selected dual redundancy is achieved.”
The HPx-346D supports a wide variety of signal types and input voltages allowing connection to a diverse range of commercial and military radar types including those from Furuno, JRC, Hensoldt/Kelvin Hughes, Koden, Kongsberg, Raytheon, Sperry and Terma. The HPx-346 accepts radar video, trigger and azimuth signals in the form of ACP/ARP. The card also supports radars with collision avoidance ARPA (automatic radar plotting aid) displays.
Both the dual channel HPx-346D and single channel HPx-346 cards are small form factor modules that can be configured as standalone radar processors with the card installed within existing equipment or supplied in a compact enclosure. The cards require only a DC power supply and are ideal for interfacing legacy radars to modern network-based display systems.
Cambridge Pixel’s HPx-346D data converter is part of a family of radar acquisition and processing components that provide system integrators with a powerful toolkit to build server and client display systems. The company’s world-leading SPx suite of software libraries and applications provide highly flexible, ready-to-run software products or ‘modules-of-expertise’ for radar scan conversion, visualisation, radar video distribution, target tracking, sensor fusion, plot extraction and clutter processing.
Cambridge Pixel’s radar technology is used in naval, air traffic control, vessel traffic, commercial shipping, security, surveillance and airborne radar applications. Its systems have been implemented in mission critical applications with companies such as BAE Systems, Frontier Electronic Systems, Lockheed Martin, Barco Defence, Blighter Surveillance Systems, Exelis, Kelvin Hughes, Navtech Radar, Raytheon, Royal Thai Air Force, Saab, Hanwha, Sofresud and Tellumat.
07 Oct 19. Ottawa Airport tests QinetiQ’s counter-drone system. Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport has partnered with NAV CANADA and QinetiQ Canada to trial the company’s Obsidian Counter UAS system. The three organisations are working in cooperation to facilitate the installation and employment of the Obsidian micro-Doppler radar unit with the goal of determining the feasibility of the system to function compatibly in a civilian airport environment. Several objectives for the trial have been identified, including:
- Evaluating the accurate and timely detection/early warning of drones or remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS);
- Assessing the effective utilization of the system to initiate an appropriate response to drone/RPAS detection between the Airport Authority and NAV CANADA;
- Assessing system compatibility in an international airport environment where other partner systems could cause interference; and
- Demonstrating the airport’s commitment to promoting innovation and leadership in addressing the challenge of drone detection and mitigation.
The Airport Authority is continually seeking ways to improve situational awareness within its vast perimeter, regardless of weather or lighting conditions. QinetiQ’s Obsidian Counter UAS System has been designed specifically for drone detection, and features enhanced scope and coverage to recognize drone features, while avoiding misclassification of non-drone activity such as bird or wildlife movement.
The Airport Authority also referenced the findings of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on UAS Mitigation at Airports published last week which stated: “The threat of UAS intrusions introduces great risk and highlights the need for solutions that can safeguard airports from rogue UAS and this potentially disruptive technology. Recent UAS incidents at airports raise concerns of gaps in safety and security and underscore the need for airports to have clear policies to manage these incidents.”
President and CEO of the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority, and member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force Mark Laroche said: “The trial with QinetiQ’s Obsidian Counter UAS System will provide all parties the opportunity to test a viable detection and mitigation system at an active airport. The trial dovetails perfectly with both the Airport Authority’s Drone Incident Protocol and the recommendations in the BRTF’s Interim and Final reports.” (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
07 Oct 19. ANDURIL adds interceptor drone to its AI-driven counter-drone solution. A robust interceptor drone is the latest addition to ANDURIL’s counter-drone system for military and industrial applications. ANDURIL demonstrated a high-powered interceptor drone to NBC News at the company’s test facility near Irvine, California, using the drone to bring down an off-the-shelf quadcopter hovering 100 ft off the ground, before landing undamaged itself. NBC reports ANDURIL recently signed a military contract to deploy interceptor drones overseas in conflict zones.
ANDURIL secured its first contract in 2017 to provide perimeter security to US Customs and Border Protection for the US-Mexico border. The company subsequently expanded its Artificial Intelligence (AI) –based technology to support drone detection and mitigation activity. The company’s suite of detection and identification products includes Sentry Tower – a network of optical, micro wave and infrared detection systems – and AI-powered Lattice sensor fusion system. Lattice is a software and hardware system which can be used to integrate third party sensors into a single networked platform. It is designed to classify and track any vehicle, person, drone or other threat in a defined area. The counter-drone solution also includes the modular Ghost UAS component, an autonomous single rotor, long-endurance high speed drone. It is operated autonomously from the Lattice web mobile App. Multiple Ghosts can be controlled by one operator to support large-scale operations such as patrolling wide areas. ANDURIL latest addition is the military-grade interceptor drone, designed to counter drone intrusions.
ANDURIL systems are currently used for perimeter security applications by military forces in the US and overseas. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
01 Oct 19. Integrating drone detection systems into airport surveillance networks in Germany “will cost EUR500m.” Building an integrated drone detection system (DDS) into Germany’s busiest airports will cost around EUR500m, according to Germany’s air navigation service provider Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS).
DFS has been asked by the government to research counter UAS equipment purchases and integration of a DDS into the national UAS traffic management (UTM) system to protect the airspace up to 4,000ft and 18km around the country’s 16 largest airports, according to Ralf Heidger of the DFS, speaking at the U-space ConOps and research dissemination conference, Eurocontrol, September 30-October 1.
The agency has developed a concept which integrates the DDS with the national UTM and ATM systems.
Each DDS will comprise phased array and other bespoke radars, radio frequency detectors fused with primary trackers to ensure the system can distinguish between drones, commercial aircraft and other flying objects. The system will be fully integrated within the UTM, which will be able to tell which of these tracks are being cooperatively tracked, or not. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
02 Oct 19. Aaronia and ideaForge to provide counter-drone solution. German counter-drone company Aaronia has partnered with ideaForge to offer a combined solution to provide an intrusion monitoring solution to track dynamic threats for markets. Indian company ideaForge manufactures drones for defence, homeland security and industrial applications and the two companies are offering a single solution to mitigate drone threats. Aaronia’s AARTOS system detects the RF emission of any drone and offers a live situation awareness display. “Although drones are leading industrial revolution 4.0 and bringing about business transformation, the lack of regulations and ease of access to drones have led to an increase in their malicious use. Aaronia’s solution combined with ideaForge’s expertise will make way for safer use of airspace and yet allow monitoring of threats/assets on ground in a safe environment,” says ideaForge Co-Founder & CEO, Ankit Mehta. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
06 Oct 19. Gatwick drone-incident police report raises more questions than it answers. In a statement released early on 27 September 2019, the Head of Operations Command for Sussex Police in the UK published the Force’s findings into the Gatwick Drone incident of last December, concluding that:
- The incident was “a serious and deliberate criminal act designed to endanger airport operations”
- There were 129 reports of drone sightings, of which 109 were from “credible witnesses” including a pilot, airport workers and airport police
- The incidents were ‘grouped’ across the three days, with 12 distinct incidents, six of which included two drones operating simultaneously
- The timing of each incident and modus operandi showed that the offender(s) had detailed knowledge of the airport and its operation
However, the Force has now ceased any further activity, following an extensive criminal investigation, which with support from national expertise, identified, researched and ruled out 96 people ‘of interest’. We understand that the case has not been closed, however.
The circumstances of the incident and sequence of events continue to leave us puzzled, and many of the questions are not addressed, let alone resolved. For example, the drone sightings varied in length but lasted as between seven and 45 minutes, witnessed by an average of 10 people per event. How was it possible that none of the (credible) witnesses were able to track the drone back to its point of launch/land? An airfield is large installation, but without the clutter of buildings of a city centre. How did the Command and Control process not successfully establish contact (by visual or aided means) with the drones and subsequently track them? Why is there no detail of how the drones were behaving – were they hovering, flying fast in a straight line, carrying out evasive or unpredictable manoeuvres? Why have none of the ‘credible witnesses’ come forward to the public or sold their story to the media?
There are simple processes and procedures that all security staff and operations staff should have training and awareness of. Our work shows that you don’t need everyone to be experts in countering drones, but you DO need staff to understand what a drone looks and sounds like, and most importantly, what to do. Simple steps of how to respond, how to keep visual contact, and how to report what they see would do much to improve counter-drone security.
While we all acknowledge that there is no silver bullet answer to counter-drone problem, we consider that the best options available combine the implementation of counter-drone systems technologies in detection and defeat (as discussed in one of our earlier articles), with improvements in processes focussed on reporting, decision-making and Command & Control (C2) and a people-focussed track which would include training and education, rehearsals and exercises, from security staff to Boards of Directors. Implementation of such systems required efficient command chains, with specific authorisations and authorities, with near-perfect interfaces between security and police forces. The act of bringing down a potentially hostile drone over a congested area is not something to be taken on lightly, nor without the legal backup to do so. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
BATTLESPACE Comment: Once again Sussex Police fail to solve what looks like a very simple crime! Enough said!
07 Oct 19. Semi Conductor Devices (SCD) ‒ a global leader in the development and manufacture of a wide range of cooled and uncooled infrared detectors and high-power laser diodes ‒ which recently announced contracts valued at more than USD 60m, is announcing additional contracts received valued at more than USD 15m for its InGaAs SWIR-based solutions for various types of surveillance systems. The company’s SWIR solutions enable target identification and tracking at both short and long ranges, operating in the most challenging environmental conditions. The contracts are for the company’s customers in North America and Western Europe. Deliveries were initiated in the third quarter of 2019.
The solutions are based on SCD’s InGaAs SWIR sensors, including the 10 micron Cardinal 1280 detector (currently in full-scale production), that enables long-range surveillance, even in severe weather conditions such as fog, haze, rain, etc. SCD’s InGaAs SWIR technology also includes Low Light Level capability for night vision requirements based on its advanced low noise Read-Out Integrated Circuit (ROIC), as well as Laser See Spot capability embedded into the pixel level.
“Over the past two years, we have seen increased demand for EO/IR systems based on the SWIR spectrum, which enables short- and long-range surveillance in difficult environmental conditions. We are proud to have developed the technology and product lines, including the advanced embedded ROIC functionality, to meet this growing operational need. Recent contracts for these applications indicate SCD’s leadership in this important market,” the company’s CEO, Dan Slasky, commented.
He continued, “As part of a strategic initiative at SCD, significant capital is being invested by SCD to support the continuous growth and demand for our products worldwide. Therefore, we have initiated a large 3-year program with investments in the tens of millions of dollars, aimed at expanding capacity and introducing new technology infrastructure into our FAB facilities. The program, termed ‘SCD FAB 2020’, is intended to support the growth of SCD’s product lines over the next decade by expanding both FAB production and R&D infrastructure for SWIR, MWIR and LWIR product lines. We are also growing our US manufacturing capability at our Colorado Springs facility, expanding by more than 2500 square feet.”
07 Oct 19. Facebook Millionaire Sells Counter-Drone System. Anduril Industries has launched the Interceptor drone as part of the Lattice AI cUAS (counter Unmanned Aerial System) solution to detect and interdict unmanned aircraft or autonomous drone systems. This system brings proven Anduril technology to the increasingly critical counter-drone mission, providing an additional dimension of force protection for military personnel and installations or critical infrastructure.
Anduril Industries Inc., the 2-year-old startup in Irvine, Calif., began shipping Interceptors to military clients in the U.S. and the U.K. earlier this year; it’s sent dozens so far and has hundreds more in production. The company says its most recent contract is to deploy Interceptors overseas to conflict zones, though it declines to provide details. This summer it raised $120m from Founders Fund, General Catalyst, Andreessen Horowitz (in which Bloomberg LP, which owns Bloomberg Businessweek, is an investor), and other venture capital firms. Investors valued the company at about $1bn, four times its last funding round in 2018.
Anduril already had contracts to build surveillance systems on military bases and along the Mexican border, using towers and drones packed with cameras and other sensors. Its software then processes the field data, alerting officers and soldiers to possible disturbances. But the company wants to move beyond simply identifying threats using computers. The Interceptor, which Anduril hasn’t previously discussed publicly, is its first computer-operated weapon.
Silicon Valley has a long history of supplying the Pentagon, but the two have drifted apart over the past 50 years. Today the Department of Defense relies mostly on a few traditional suppliers such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. It’s had little use for startups. Commercial tech companies haven’t been particularly enthusiastic about government work, either, and the antipathy has increased since the election of Donald Trump.
Last year a group of Google employees resigned in protest of the company’s work on a program, Project Maven, to use artificial intelligence software to analyze drone imagery. Google’s parent, Alphabet Inc., then announced it would stop working on the project, embarrassing and angering U.S. officials in the process. Workers at Amazon.com, Microsoft, Palantir, and other companies have also demanded that their employers cancel contracts with military, law enforcement, and federal agencies that are enacting Trump’s border and immigration policies.
The protesters have argued that technologists shouldn’t build products without regard for the way they’re used. In mid-September, Seth Vargo, a former employee of Chef Software Inc., a Seattle company, deleted publicly available code he’d written for its systems after finding out Chef worked with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “When I learned that my code was being used for purposes that I perceive as evil, I had to act,” he says. A week later, Chef said it would stop working with the agency.
Anduril presents itself as immune to such angst. Its founder, Palmer Luckey, is one of Silicon Valley’s most famous Trump partisans. The 27-year-old has gleefully trolled the Valley’s liberals since he left Facebook Inc. in 2017 under controversial circumstances. Founders Fund, one of Anduril’s first big investors, was started by another Trump stalwart, Peter Thiel. Trae Stephens, Anduril’s chairman, is also a Founders Fund partner and took part in Trump’s transition team. The company recently began working on Maven, the project Google dropped.
Executives at Anduril say they’re less interested in serving any particular president than in fulfilling the Pentagon’s enduring need for reliable technology. Some companies, Stephens says, have complicated things for themselves by concealing or downplaying their defense work, leaving employees who are uncomfortable with such projects to feel, justifiably, that they’ve been lied to. “They said, ‘We didn’t sign up to develop weapons,’ ” Stephens says. “That’s literally the opposite of Anduril. We will tell candidates when they walk in the door, ‘You are signing up to build weapons.’ ”
Anduril’s origins date to conversations Stephens had with his colleagues at Palantir Technologies Inc., a data-analysis company Thiel co-founded in 2004. They thought a software startup focused on high-tech military applications could outmanoeuvre traditional contractors. At first, according to Matt Grimm, who spent seven years at Palantir and is now Anduril’s chief operating officer, it wasn’t so much a plan as a bonding exercise as they sat in airport lounges or attended each other’s weddings. “It’s like that idea, ‘Hey, we should all go camping sometime!’ But it doesn’t really happen,” he says.
Palantir executives had experienced the frustrations of trying to win federal contracts. Until he left the company in 2013, Stephens worked to sell technology to the government, a job he describes as “yelling as loud as possible into the void.” The shouting did eventually pay off. Palantir sued the U.S. Army in 2016 for refusing to consider it for a large intelligence contract. It won the case and, this March, landed the contract itself, which could be worth as much as $800m.
Such doggedness helped Palantir open the government’s door to startups, but the push for change also came from the inside. In 2015, Ashton Carter, then President Obama’s defense secretary, took a series of actions to make the government a friendlier business partner for what Pentagon bureaucrats call “nontraditionals.” After Trump won the presidency, Stephens was appointed to the Defense transition team. He later joined the Defense Innovation Board, a central part of Carter’s reform effort.
Stephens had also begun looking for defense startups in which Founders Fund could invest. Luckey, who’d sold his virtual-reality company, Oculus VR Inc., to Facebook for $2bn in 2014, was also looking to put some of his windfall into upstart military contractors. Founders Fund had backed Oculus, and he and Stephens had become friends over time. Luckey’s career had veered off course just before the 2016 election, when the Daily Beast reported that he’d donated $10,000 to a pro-Trump group that grew out of a Reddit message board, r/The_Donald, known for incubating right-wing memes and conspiracy theories. Luckey’s money was dedicated to putting up insulting billboards about Hillary Clinton. Almost immediately, he disappeared from Facebook’s campus, and in March 2017 the company announced he was no longer an employee. (Luckey says he was fired because of his politics, a claim Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg denied before Congress in April 2018.)
With Luckey now a free agent, he and Stephens got to work on Anduril, recruiting a handful of people who’d been at Palantir or Oculus. Their plan was to follow the approach that had worked for Luckey with virtual reality: combine low-cost, widely available components with sophisticated software. Luckey figured the bar would be relatively low. Despite the lore of the U.S. military’s technical prowess, he argues, the defense industry has been stagnant for decades. “How is it there’s so many billionaires and no Iron Man?” he asks, referring to the fictional weapons-manufacturer-turned-superhero.
Luckey’s colorful public persona was bound to influence Anduril’s brand, for better or worse. At one point early on, he showed up at a Japanese anime festival dressed as a character from a video game, in a costume consisting of a bikini top and fishnet stockings. (He generally avoids cosplay in the office, but he lays on the comic book references pretty heavy no matter the situation.) Such antics haven’t been a liability, even in the buttoned-up defense business, says Joe Lonsdale, an early Anduril investor. “He’s a more serious person than people realize.”
Anduril’s first contract, awarded in 2017, was to provide electronic surveillance technology to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the U.S.-Mexico border. Luckey was a strong proponent of the work—a logical way, he says, to demonstrate Anduril’s technical vision. Of course it also made Anduril instantly controversial by tying it to the Trump administration’s harsh anti-immigration rhetoric and policies.
Luckey at times has seemed to embrace this connection. Almost immediately after his departure from Facebook, he traveled to Washington to advocate for digital border security alongside Chuck Johnson, a right-wing internet provocateur. Even the company’s name called to mind the administration’s nationalist rhetoric: In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Anduril is a sword whose elvish name means “Flame of the West.”
Critics described Anduril as either a technological manifestation of Trumpism, an amoral profiteer, or both. Luckey saw the outrage as useful. “We were telling people that border security is not going to be the last time there’s a controversy around something we’re working on,” he says. Not all Anduril employees are pleased. Grimm, who describes himself as an “Obama fanboy” and the most liberal member of the founding team, grimaces when the subject comes up. “The goal was not to set out and say, ‘We’re the border security company,’ ” he says. “It was actually quite frustrating for us through the first year and a half, because of course that was the narrative.” Anduril executives are quick to point out that many Democrats have supported electronic border surveillance as a more humane alternative to a physical border wall.
On the other hand, immigration rights advocates say companies that work with law enforcement agencies can’t ignore how those agencies treat the people being apprehended. “Assisting in that cruelty, facilitating that cruelty, making sure they have access to more people to be cruel to, it makes the whole situation worse,” says Jacinta Gonzalez, an organizer with Mijente, an advocacy group that’s put together protests against technology companies it believes are aiding in implementing the administration’s immigration policies. The American Civil Liberties Union, meanwhile, has said technologies implemented in conflict zones such as border areas or battlefields tend to seep into civilian life.
Anduril says it now takes in twice as much revenue from the military as from CBP and argues that there should be nothing controversial about providing security on bases. But the Interceptor project steers it toward another hot-button technological issue: the development and deployment of autonomous weapons.
The possible use of miniature quadcopters for spying or terrorism has concerned the U.S. military for years. The fear was underscored this year when military-grade drones were implicated in attacks in Saudi Arabia and the Strait of Hormuz, and last year during an assassination attempt in Venezuela using hobbyist drones. The Defense Department has pursued various remedies, including jamming drones’ signals and netting them like butterflies. But the idea of electronically disabling or ensnaring a drone without destroying it seemed ludicrous to Luckey. Why not just shoot it down? “All the soft kill systems are a waste of time,” he says.
He, Levin, and a handful of colleagues came up with the idea of the Interceptor while hanging around the office one weekend earlier this year. The idea was to equip small drones with computer vision software that would scan a slice of airspace that needed protecting, then automatically ram any objects deemed hostile. They built a rough prototype that could knock down its target some of the time, then shot a smartphone video of a successful attempt and passed it to their contacts at the Pentagon.
As Anduril rushed to refine its early prototypes, the military ordered a handful to try out. By summer the company was claiming a near-perfect success rate. Newer versions of the drones can reach speeds of 200 mph or more—potentially enough to knock larger projectiles from the sky. Anduril has begun building prototypes to take out larger targets, too. Luckey envisions clients who say, “We’d like to apply this to people who are not just attacking a base with a quadcopter—maybe they’re attacking it in an ultralight aircraft, or a helicopter, or a cruise missile.” Anduril plans to sell the counter-drone systems to commercial customers and has held preliminary discussions with oil and gas companies and others that have to police large, wide-open spaces.
The prospect of a 2-year-old startup building and distributing a new class of potentially lethal weapons will undoubtedly raise ethical questions, especially amid a larger backlash against overreach by tech companies. The Interceptor in its current form doesn’t target humans and requires explicit permission from a human operator before each attack, but it’s conceivable that those controls could be changed in the future. “You’ve already developed this technology, opened the so-called Pandora’s box,” argues Marta Kosmyna of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a group opposed to autonomous weaponry. Technologies such as the Interceptor are “very rarely used as intended,” she says.
The day after Levin’s Interceptor demonstration, employees, their families, investors, and other VIPs filtered in for an office-warming party at Anduril’s new headquarters. Luckey sat with his wife, Nicole, in a booth in the cafeteria. The couple had gotten married a few weeks earlier, and the Anduril event felt almost like a second reception. Sun filled the room, and Dave Brubeck’s Take Five played on the speakers. The crowd sipped cocktails with ice cubes that had Anduril’s logo frozen into them.
Luckey had spent the afternoon across town at a political fundraiser with Donald Trump Jr. Anduril’s founder has donated about $1.3m to GOP-connected groups since 2017, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures, making him an important young donor in Republican circles. One of the first people to approach the cafeteria booth was Hal Lambert, an early Anduril investor and fellow GOP fundraiser, followed by a young man wearing a MAGA hat.
Guests wandered through the cavernous space under a huge American flag, checking out Anduril’s milling machines, 3D printers, and green-screen studio. The walls of every conference room were covered in complicated-looking equations. Grimm confessed he’d told employees to scrawl mathematical things to impress people without advanced degrees.
Later, Stephens and Luckey gave speeches mocking Silicon Valley’s caution about military contracts. “I’m so happy to come back down here to a place full of wonderful people who are also sane and support national security,” Luckey said, to loud applause. Stephens thanked employees for choosing Anduril over the big software companies, even though it had meant sacrificing dream careers in digital advertising optimization.
Not on hand for the event was Thiel, who’d told Stephens in a one-word text message that he wouldn’t make it. Thiel declined an interview request for this story; a Founders Fund spokeswoman, Erin Gleason, says he has “no involvement in the company,” despite his firm’s ownership stake.
Anduril’s founders present themselves as an alternative to a defense industry gone soft after decades of fat contracts. But it’s hard not to notice how deftly the company has insinuated itself into Washington circles in its short history, with prominent allies in both chambers of Congress. Tom Cotton, a Republican senator from Arkansas, says he sees the emergence of defense startups as an encouraging development. “It would be healthier if we had more defense companies to compete on Pentagon contracts,” he says.
Cotton was one of a half-dozen members of Congress who an Anduril spokesman suggested would vouch for it for this story. Another was Will Hurd, a Republican congressman who represents a Texas district along the border with Mexico. Before an interview could be arranged, though, Hurd announced his retirement, saying he was leaving the House of Representatives “to help our country in a different way.” Rumours emerged that he’d be joining Anduril. It isn’t clear how seriously anyone took the possibility, but Luckey was deluged with questions about it. “It was nice that everyone thought of us,” he says, clarifying that, though he’s talked to Hurd since the announcement, he doesn’t expect to hire him. But, Luckey adds, “I’m glad they weren’t thinking, Oh, Will Hurd is going to work for Lockheed Martin.” (Source: UAS VISION/Bloomberg Business Week)
04 Oct 19. JSK and Kraken join to develop ASW autonomous capability for Canada. JSK Naval Support is collaborating with Kraken Robotic Systems to jointly develop an AUV-based sonar capability that will be offered to the Royal Canadian Navy. Anti-submarine warfare specialist JSK will work with the marine sensor and underwater robotics company to develop the system based off their joint expertise in open mission and unmanned sub-surface technologies, they say.
The ThunderFish AUV from Kraken will host the KraitArray sonar system from JSK, which the companies say will be suited to the requirements of the Royal Canadian Navy and other export customers.
It will combine a small, wet winch supplied by Kraken’s Handling Systems group with JSK’s KraitArray, which is a thin 20mm modular array that detects acoustic signatures from submarine contacts.
The winch can be used to lower and recover the KraitArray from the ThunderFish AUV.
‘This is a partnership based on the innovation of both our of companies,’ Brian March, president of JSK Naval Support, said.
‘KraitArray is the only array small enough to fit Kraken’s industry leading ThunderFish platforms, which increases the adaptability of the array and enables the use of the KraitArray in underwater missions of increasing depth and duration.’
‘This collaboration will offer end users significantly improved flexibility across a wide range of underwater situations,’ Karl Kenny, president of Kraken Robotic Systems, added.
‘ThunderFish is a versatile and compact vehicle which, when combined with JSK’s lightweight sonar capability, offers an agile, high performance solution for the detection of underwater threats.’ (Source: Shephard)
04 Oct 19. US Intelligence Agency Considers MQ-25 for Maritime Surveillance Missions. The U.S. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, or NGA, wants to know if Boeing could transform the MQ-25 Stingray tanker drone that it is developing for the U.S. Navy into an unmanned maritime intelligence platform using a modular sensor pod.
This highlights continued interest within the Navy, and elsewhere in the U.S. military, in utilizing the Stringray, a test article for which flew for the first time just last month, for missions beyond just aerial refueling.
NGA awarded the sole-source contract to Boeing’s Phantom Works advanced projects division, the value of which is not disclosed, on Sept. 27, 2019, but only announced it had done so three days later on the U.S. government’s main contracting website FedBizOpps. Under the deal, which Aviation Week was first to report, Phantom Works will conduct a study into what it would take to integrate “NGA’s Maritime Program capability” into the MQ-25, as well as the manned P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, via Boeing’s proprietary Multi-Mission Pod (MMP), according to a so-called Justification and Approval document. U.S. government agencies need to submit this type of document when requesting authority to give a contract directly to a specific company or companies without going through a competitive bidding process.
“The MQ-25 itself is still in early development containing much Boeing proprietary information,” the Justification and Approval, which NGA lawyers and contracting officers cleared between May and June 2019, explains. “Only the suggested source can perform the study as required, to the exclusion of other sources, because Boeing is the direct manufacturer of the system and maintains the unique intellectual knowledge of these systems.”
Boeing first announced it was working on the MMP as a private venture specifically for the P-8A in 2016. At the time, the company said that the pod, which it had flight tested twice already, would incorporate signals intelligence systems (SIGINT) and added communications and data sharing equipment, among other capabilities. This sounds very much like a pod with a dense antenna farm that appeared underneath a P-8A testbed in 2015. The Navy’s Poseidons already have powerful SIGINT and other intelligence-gathering capabilities, which you can read about in more detail here.
The contracting document does not offer any insight into how Boeing might integrate the MMP onto the MQ-25. The company does plan to equip the Stingray with underwing hardpoints to support the Cobham aerial refueling pods required for the tanking mission, which could potentially accommodate an external sensor system. (Source: UAS VISION/The Drive)
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.