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RADAR, EO/IR, NIGHT VISION AND SURVEILLANCE UPDATE

Sponsored by Blighter Surveillance Systems

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07 Nov 19. British Army releases RFI for weapon locating radar. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) released an initial request for information (RFI) on 31 October for new weapon locating radar systems being procured under the Project Serpens programme. Formerly the Next Generation Weapon Locating System (MGWLS), the new systems are to be introduced from 2026, with a main gate award in 2024.

According to the RFI, which was seen by Jane’s on 5 November, the new system will provide a suite of networked sensor systems to detect, acquire, track, and assess adversary indirect fire threats, including mortars, artillery, and rockets at “vastly increased” ranges compared with currently fielded systems. (Source: News Now/IHS Jane’s)

07 Nov 19. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) recently demonstrated their laser weapon system for the U.S. Air Force at a government test range at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where the system successfully engaged and shot down multiple fixed wing and rotary drones. The Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) operated in a fully-netted engagement environment with a government command and control (C2) system and radar sensor. The radar track was provided to airmen who operated ATHENA via cues from the C2, then ATHENA’s beam director slewed, acquired, tracked and defeated the drone with a high-energy laser.

Validating this type of full kill-chain performance has been a priority of the U.S. Air Force and other branches of the Department of Defense, and it remains a requirement for laser weapons to be effective against unmanned aerial systems (UAS) on the battlefield.

“We’ve watched in recent news this type of laser weapon solution is essential for deterring unmanned vehicle type threats, so it’s an exciting time for us to watch airmen compete Lockheed Martin’s critical technology. ATHENA has evolved to ensure integration and agility are key and it remains an affordable capability for the warfighter,” said Sarah Reeves, vice president of Missile Defense Programs for Lockheed Martin.

The ATHENA system was developed by Lockheed Martin to integrate seamlessly and provide a cost-effective, complementary anti-drone capability with the network of systems the warfighter is already using. ATHENA was operated by USAF personnel during this demonstration, and it was able to destroy multiple drones in engagements representative of what is being encountered by U.S. armed forces today.

The ATHENA high-energy laser system is transportable and therefore enables the Air Force to emplace it anywhere they need to defend bases and high-value assets.

07 Nov 19. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has delivered its 500th AN/APG-81 fire control radar for the F-35 Lightning II. The Northrop Grumman AN/APG-81 active electronically scanned array is the cornerstone of the F-35’s advanced sensor suite, providing unparalleled battlespace situational awareness that translates into platform lethality, effectiveness and survivability.

“As a principal member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 industry team, our continued investment in facilities and equipment, production enhancements in process and design, and expanded supply chain capability through second sourcing helped reach this milestone,” said Chris Fitzpatrick, director, F-35 programs, Northrop Grumman. “The 500th delivery of this top-of-the-line fighter radar was made possible by our continuous focus on quality and excellence across our company.”

The AN/APG-81 radar has long-range active and passive air-to-air and air-to-ground modes that support a wide range of demanding missions. These modes are complemented by an array of stealth features as well as electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance functions.

Northrop Grumman plays a key role in the development, modernization, sustainment and production of the F-35. In addition to producing the AN/APG-81 radar, the company manufactures the center fuselage and wing skins for the aircraft, produces and maintains several sensor systems, avionics, mission systems and mission-planning software, pilot and maintainer training systems courseware, electronic warfare simulation test capability, and low-observable technologies.

07 Nov 19. UK MoD funds projects to develop counter-drone capabilities. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has funded 18 projects to foster the development of new technology to counter hostile drone threats.

The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has awarded contracts to several companies to address the future threats of unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Made available through competition, the nearly £2m of funding will help detect, disrupt and defeat hostile drones.

DASA conducted the competition on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

The winning projects include a proposal to develop ways to detect drones controlled by 4G and 5G technologies, electronic defeat or interceptor solutions, as well as use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to enable identification of drones.

BAE Systems, MBDA, Northrop Grumman, QinetiQ, and Thales are some of the major companies to have received the contracts.

Other firms and organisations include Airspeed Electronics, Animal Dynamics, Cubica Technology, PA Consulting, Plextek Services, Autonomous Devices, Northumbria University, RiskAware, and University College London.

Competition technical lead David Lugton said: “The introduction of unmanned air systems (UAS), often referred to as drones, has been one of the most significant technological advances of recent years and represents a shift in capability of potential adversaries.

“The threat from UAS has evolved rapidly and we are seeing the use of hostile improvised UAS threats in overseas theatres of operation. There is a similar problem in the UK with the malicious or accidental use of drones becoming a security challenge at events, affecting critical infrastructure and public establishments; including prisons and major UK airports.”

DASA received more than 90 bids for the competition, which was unveiled in April.

The focus is to acquire cost-effective sensing and defeat capabilities, and technologies to mitigate the threat of drones operating in swarms and in congested airspace.

Under Phase I of the Countering Drones competition, the companies will demonstrate proof of concepts of their proposals.

The first phase is expected to run until mid-2020. A collaboration day for the competition is to be held later this month in London, UK, to encourage industry and academia to make collaborative bids for Phase 2. (Source: army-technology.com)

07 Nov 19. At Europort in Rotterdam, HENSOLDT UK presents Manta NEO, the next-generation of its Kelvin Hughes Integrated Navigation System (INS), designed for all types of vessels up and to and including the largest state-of-the-art cruise ships.  Manta NEO has its roots in the original concept INS, going back to the early 2000s.

Introducing a simplified menu structure similar to mobile phones, as well as a much faster processor and a more secure Android-based platform, Manta NEO is the innovative successor of the original Manta. Manta NEO offers a market leading user interface for ease of operation, with full integration to all existing navigation equipment and sensors.

“When developing Manta NEO, our intent was to create a common structure across all integrated products within the platform,” explains Kevin Robertson, Director Cruise & Special Projects. “We have also made better use of the screen area to show radar and the information provided by the Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS). The new Manta NEO Multifunction Displays (MFD’s) provide configurable access to all tasks critical to navigation – Radar, ECDIS, Conning Displays, Bridge Alarm Management, greatly improving situational awareness.

HENSOLDT UK builds on the legacy of its predecessor company Kelvin Hughes with decades of experience in radar, ECDIS and VDR systems in operation globally. With thousands of vessels operating Kelvin Hughes products, globally, high levels of confidence exist, for current and future customers, with regard to Manta NEO.

“Our initial target market are vessels where innovation is sought.  Use of the best solid-state radar available will provide the navigators with high definition situational awareness through data fusion”, explains Kevin Robertson. With Manta NEO, HENSOLDT UK will initially focus on the cruise and mega yacht sector, with great potential in merchant shipping where solid-sate radar had previously been considered to be an expensive “nice to have”.

07 Nov 19. Saab flies new electronic attack pod on Gripen for first time. Saab flew its Electronic Attack Jammer Pod (EAJP) on the Gripen combat aircraft for the first time on 4 November, the company announced.

According to Saab, the pod’s interfaces with the aircraft’s hardware and software, as well as cockpit control and monitoring, were tested during the flight. “The purpose of Saab’s new EAJP pod is to protect aircraft against radars by sophisticated jamming functions, thereby blocking the opponent’s ability to attack them,” the company added.

The EAJP is part of Saab’s Arexis family of electronic warfare (EW) systems, and the test marked the latest milestone since the system was first briefed to reporters earlier in the year.

Speaking at the company’s production facility in Linköping in late May, Petter Bedoire, Saab’s head of marketing and sales for EW, said that the podded system that is aimed at affording the Gripen E/F (or any other modern combat aircraft) an electronic attack (EA) capability analogous to the Boeing EA-18G Growler aircraft.

The Arexis EA Jammer Pod provides forward and aft coverage to support the ingress, strike, and egress of a package of strike aircraft. It utilises a VHF/UHF surveillance and acquisition radar in the L and S bands that incorporates gallium nitride (GaN) AESA technology.

With flight trials of the pod now underway, Saab has noted a 12-month lead time for any customer wishing to adopt it.

This podded system is part of a wider EW capability that has been developed for the Gripen E/F, and that is so far delivering highly positive result in test. Speaking at the same media event earlier in the year, Marcus Wandt, one of four Saab test pilots committed to the Gripen E programme, noted, “We expect a lot from [the new integrated EW suite], and we haven’t been disappointed so far.” (Source: IHS Jane’s)

06 Nov 19. USAF JSTARS wrap up 18-year Middle East deployment. The USAF’s  E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft have exited the Middle East after being deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility for 18 years.

Known as JSTARS, the airborne ground surveillance, battle management and command and control aircraft departed Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar Oct. 1, according to an Oct. 31 Air National Guard news release.

“Looking out the window of the flight deck and seeing Al Udeid drifting into the distance for the last time after so many years was a momentous occasion,” said Col. Konata Crumbly, a JSTARS aircraft commander, according to the Air Guard release.

“It is difficult to measure the kind of success our Team JSTARS airmen and soldiers achieved over the last 18 years; it can only be measured in lives not lost,” Crumbly said.

The JSTARS departure from the Middle East comes just after the aircraft surpassed 113,337 combat hours — or nearly 13 years of constant flying — in the CENTCOM area of responsibility in September. The aircraft flew daily, averaging roughly 11 hours per flight, to support theater operations, the news release said.

Altogether, JSTARS racked up 10,938 sorties and 114,427 combat flying hours to support almost every CENTCOM operation — to include Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Freedom’s Sentinel and Inherent Resolve — during the wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

The JSTARS aircraft, based out of Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, first started deploying to the Middle East in November 2001, which prompted the Air Force to stand up the service’s first total force initiative wing, known as “Team JSTARS.”

The wing includes Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Air Control Wing, the Air Combat Command’s 461st Air Control Wing, and the active-duty Army Intelligence and Security Command’s 138th Military Intelligence Company.

“Team JSTARS’ flawless deployment of the Joint STARS weapon system over nearly two decades is a textbook example of total force integration and joint force execution done properly,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Grabowski, Georgia Air National Guard commander.

“They have set the gold standard in TFI and will continue to lead the way as they restructure to the new Advanced Battle Management System, supporting the Air Force we need,” Grabowski said.

The JSTARS are expected to continue flying for a few more years, until the mid-2020s, but will ultimately be replaced by the Advanced Battle Management System, in accordance with the 2019 defense budget. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Airforce Times)

06 Nov 19. Are banned Chinese cameras watching the US military? Amid news that thousands of banned Chinese-made surveillance devices are in use across American government installations, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is asking the Pentagon what Chinese gear is at U.S. military facilities.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper made public Wednesday, Rubio said the Trump administration needs a comprehensive strategy is required to address the threats posed by foreign-sourced components and sub-components.

“The Department of Defense must act quickly to identify and remove this equipment as every day that passes only provides our adversaries additional time to infiltrate and exploit our national security networks as well as the ability to monitor U.S. military activities that may be of interest,” Rubio said.

The letter comes after Forbes reported the government has made little progress complying with a legally mandated ban on Chinese surveillance tech. Government contractor Forescout found 3,500 devices from from telecom giants Huawei and ZTE, as well as surveillance camera makers Dahua and Hikvision, on U.S. government systems a month before the ban was to take effect.

Language in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act banned the procurement of Chinese-produced cameras and associated electronics to ensure U.S. government installations are not at risk of surveillance by potentially malicious Chinese technology. The provision also prohibited the renewal of any contracts currently in use across the federal government.

“As you continue to posture the Department of Defense in the era of great power competition, we must remain vigilant to attack from every possible source,” Rubio said in his letter to Esper. “I strongly urge you to implement a comprehensive and proactive approach meeting the requirements of the ban cited in the FY 2019 NDAA.”

Among other questions, Rubio’s letter asked what steps DoD has taken to address the NDAA’s ban on procurement; whether DoD has considered removing the technologies, and whether the future will bring further prohibitions on additional products or manufacturers.

Rubio wanted to know whether DoD has a way to purge non-traditional surveillance gear automatically. “How would you detect non-traditional IP-connected products, those beyond, if future prohibitions on such products materialize?” (Source: Defense News)

06 Nov 19. US Army rolls out new day and night sights. The US Army has begun rolling out its new night vision equipment it announced on 1 November. The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT), 1st Infantry Division, has become the first unit to receive the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular (ENVG-B) and the Family of Weapon Sights – Individual (FWS-I). The ABCT began fielding the equient in September.

The ENVG-B and FWS-I systems are the most advanced night vision equipment in the US Army. The ENVG-B and FWS-I allow soldiers to see through fog, dust, and smoke, in both day and night environments.

‘The ENVG-B will truly be the greatest goggle that we’ve ever fielded,’ said Brig Gen Anthony Potts, PEO Soldier. ‘The thermal channel has a day-night capability and we’ve added in things like augmented reality.’

Initially 2nd ABCT soldiers spent two-days in a classroom learning the basics of the equipment, followed by hands-on training at firing ranges. Further training on the new equipment will be conducted over the next several months. The ENVG-B and FWS-I were designed with the input of soldiers in a collaborative effort with PEO-Soldier and SL-CFT using soldier feedback early on in the development to inform design. (Source: Shephard)

06 Nov 19. Ascent integrates new system onto X-MADIS. Unmanned technology and engineering company Ascent Vision Technologies (AVT) has announced that it has integrated the CM262 optic system into its X-MADIS (eXpeditionary Mobile Air Defense Integrated System) counter-UAS system and is supplying systems to the USMC for this role.

X-MADIS, and variants, are already fielded with the CN202U EO/IR system and has successfully defeated UAVs and won contracts with the USMC and the USAF. It was developed by AVT with Sierra Nevada Corporation and RADA Technologies.

The CM262 system weighs 12kg and has four integrated sensors consisting of high-definition daylight with 60x optical zoom, high-definition medium-wave IR 20x optical zoom, short-wave IR, and 10km laser range-finder. It is designed for on-the-move for land-based and maritime operations and is a gyro-stabilised system with onboard real-time video stabilisation.

The system is capable of detecting small UAVs and the radar ‘slews to cue’ the CM262 to identify targets and uses Sky Net Recurve and Recurve Max jammers to defeat UAVs identified. It can also be linked to man-portable air defence, short-range air defence (SHORAD), very-SHORAD and tactical IAMD systems for kinetic operations.

It is provided in fixed-site (X-MADIS FS), vehicle-mounted X-MADIS Mobile, and X-MADIS on-the-move (OTM). The latter can operate at speeds of up to 65kmh on rough terrain.

The company is in the process of delivering multiple units of the CM262 system to the USMC with a contract worth more $US5m for use with the Marine Air Defense Integrated System (MADIS) which is almost identical to X-MADIS.

It has achieved success in defending deployed personnel, particularly with the USMC. The company recently announced that a USMC Light-MADIS (L-MADIS) downed an Iranian UAV on 17 July, 2019 in the Persian Gulf. The UAV had flown within 900m of a US Navy ship.

The company announced in August that it had been awarded a contract worth more $23m to deliver X-MADIS system to the US Air Force with deliveries to begin in 2019, a deal which followed 18 months of testing.  (Source: Shephard)

06 Nov 19. USN begins AN/SPN-50 radar testing. The US Navy (USN) has begun land-based testing of its new AN/SPN-50(V)1 Shipboard Air Traffic Radar (SATR) at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Webster Outlying Field (NAWCAD WOLF) facility in St Inigoes, Maryland, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has disclosed. Managed by NAVAIR’s Naval Air Traffic Management Systems Program Office (PMA-213), the AN/SPN-50 SATR programme is designed to meet requirements for a next-generation air traffic control (ATC) radar to sequence, separate, and vector aircraft into the final approach of USN nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and large-deck amphibious ships. The new radar is being procured to replace the legacy AN/SPN-43C S-band ATC radar. Saab Defense and Security USA was in September 2016 awarded a USD38m Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract by NAVAIR for the design, development, manufacture, integration, demonstration, and test of the AN/SPN-50(V)1 SATC radar system. The EMD phase of the programme includes the initial procurement of two engineering development model (EDM) radars and a single post-Critical Design Review production representative system.

A total of 25 follow-on production systems are intended to enter service from the early 2020s, with the two EDMs to be brought up to full production standard with mod kits. A production decision is expected in late 2020.

Saab USA’s SATR solution is based on an evolved variant of the Sea Giraffe AMB radar (already in service on USN Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships under the designation AN/SPS-77(V)1), which swaps the travelling wave tube transmitter of earlier versions for a solid-state transmitter. According to the company, the AN/SPN-50(V) variant is adapted “to provide increased range as well as including the latest reliability improvements for the type”. A weather mode has also been introduced (using a third-party processing module supplied by BCI Sensors). (Source: IHS Jane’s)

06 Nov 19. US Army awards Phase I SBIR funding to Autonomous Solutions. The US Army has awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding to Autonomous Solutions Inc (ASI) to develop a deep learning (DL) architecture to support sensor fusion in GPS-denied environments. Funding was awarded by the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicles Systems Center.

ASI chief technology officer Jeff Ferrin said: “Environmental sensing today typically includes cameras, LiDAR and radar. Each of these devices has a specific purpose, but not all of them work well in every situation.

“For example, cameras are great at collecting high-resolution colour information, but do not provide much useful information in the dark.”

Poorly lit or degraded visual conditions pose challenges to not only cameras, but also LiDAR and radar sensors.

The performance of LiDAR can be affected in fog, heavy rain, snow or dust, due to its use of light spectrum wavelengths.

Radar is designed to penetrate such environments, but ‘often lacks spatial resolution’, ASI said.

Ferrin added: “ASI’s goal is to design a deep learning architecture that fuses information from LiDAR, radar and cameras. We plan to build upon machine learning techniques we have already developed for LiDAR data.”

Deep learning is a type of machine learning and artificial intelligence that allows users to extract relevant information from vast amounts of data.

The grant funding will allow ASI to address the gap in existing deep learning research efforts for LiDAR and radar.

The army intends to have improved data utilisation for a better understanding of a vehicle’s surroundings.

In the grant solicitation, the army stated: “It is anticipated that harnessing a wide variety of sensors altogether will benefit the autonomous vehicles by providing a more general and robust self-driving system, especially for navigating in different types of challenging weather, environments, road conditions and traffic.”

Under the Phase I SBIR contract, ASI will showcase the capabilities of the deep learning architecture in a simulation environment.(Source: army-technology.com)

05 Nov 19. PacStar® Introduces Tactical Edge, High-Performance Compute Platform for AI and Video. PacStar 453 NVIDIA GPU Enhanced Server Module Expands PacStar 400-Series for New Applications in Autonomy, Cyber and Sensor Fusion. PacStar®, a leading developer and supplier of advanced communications solutions for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), today announced the addition of PacStar 453 NVIDIA GPU Enhanced Server to its PacStar 400-Series family of small communications modules. PacStar 453 enables the deployment of video and artificial intelligence (AI) applications in environments with disconnected, intermittent and limited connectivity to networks providing cloud and headquarters data access.

The new module is based on the powerful and proven PacStar 451 server platform that features Intel Xeon D processing, up to 64 GB RAM, 16 TB storage, and 10 GigE SFP+ ports, combining high-power general-purpose computing with a PCIe connected NVIDIA GPU with 512 CUDA cores. The new module is a key component in ensuring access to mission critical data processing, while maintaining size, weight and power (SWaP) requirements unmatched by other COTS appliances.

PacStar 453 is the optimal platform for tactical and distributed deployment of video and AI applications performing:

  • Video: Encoding, Decoding, Transcoding, Analytics, Object Detection
  • Natural Language Understanding and Translation
  • Cybersecurity: Threat Analytics, Vulnerability Detection, and Defensive Adversarial ML
  • Sensor Fusion, Health Monitoring, EW Signal Processing, Augmented Reality
  • Autonomous Systems Operations, Navigation, Predictive Maintenance
  • Decision Support
  • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

“We are thrilled to provide our customers with an AI and video processing platform at the tactical edge. PacStar 453, combined with PacStar 400-Series, is capable of managing and processing massive volumes of data acquired by sensors at the tactical edge,” said Charlie Kawasaki, chief technical officer, PacStar. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)

04 Nov 19. The GAO just sustained Leupold’s protest against Sig Sauer.  The Government Accountability Office just announced that it would be sustaining a protest filed by Oregon-based optics manufacturer Leupold & Stevens regarding a contract modification tendered by Navy Surface Warfare Center Crane.

Crane has served for years as US Special Operations Commands’ go-to procurement and development center for small arms and warfighter-worn accessories.

The protest, formalized and filed in August of this year, was based on a contract between Crane and Sig Sauer awarded in October 2018 revolving around Sig’s Squad-Variable Powered Scope (Second Focal Plane) offering — officially known as the SU-293/PVS — which Crane decided to pick up for SOCOM’s special operators.

Designed to run with SOCOM’s vast arsenal of M4 carbines, the SU-293/PVS, essentially a Sig TANGO6, would maximize the effective range of the rifle up to 600 meters.

In the protest, Leupold asserted that Crane had improperly modified its contract with Sig to include a new reticle — an etched and illuminated Tremor8 instead of the wire reticle the SU-293/PVS was originally manufactured with.

The overall modification beefed up the original S-VPS(SFP) contract from a $12.1m order with a further $9.4m, leading Leupold to file a protest that Crane should have kickstarted a new contest instead of continuing with the contract, and in failing to do so, the SOCOM procurement house violated the rules which surrounded the program.

According to the GAO’s website, the GAO “generally sustains protests where it determines that the contracting agency violated procurement statutes or regulations.” The site goes on to say that in the event of a sustained protest, the office recommends that the protestor be reimbursed legal, consultation, and filing fees to a point.

Soldier Systems Daily reports that while Leupold has been vindicated and Crane has now been forced to withdraw the modification, they won’t be awarded anything in return. However, this does leave Crane and Sig in an interesting situation, as the latter will be unable to pay the former the $9.4 million modification for the new reticles.

As a result, the path ahead for the SU-293/PVS remains unclear.

Sig could potentially offer to eat the cost of the modification from the wire reticle to the Tremor8, and include the latter in the scopes they deliver as long as the original S-VPS(SFP) contract is left intact. Conversely, Crane could simply cut the contract and hold a new contest that factors in the new reticle they desire. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military Times)

05 Nov 19. WideBlue, a multi-award winning product design and development consultancy, will be demonstrating its leading edge expertise in optoelectronics at the Censis exhibition which takes place in Glasgow on 7 November.  Censis is the leading organisation for sensing, imaging and IoT technologies. Integration of photonics into products is a major strength of WideBlue.  The company brings together optics with associated mechanisms, electronics, software and image processing to create innovative systems. The Wideblue team has been responsible for optical system design of many consumer, commercial and scientific imaging systems.  WideBlue has also designed and developed a broad variety of emission and detection systems incorporating: solid state illumination including LEDs and LASERs, CMOS and CCD imaging devices, photomultiplier detectors, SPADs, ultra-violet/visible and infra-red.  Optical simulation software is also used to model optical performance, for example, to help optimise complex shaped light guides or to develop multi-stage lens systems.

Based in Glasgow, WideBlue has a 13-year track record of helping clients take innovative and novel product ideas from the drawing board to prototyping and on to full scale manufacture and commercialisation.  The company was established in 2006 as a management buyout from the Polaroid Corporation’s European research and development division working on the company flagship instant camera range and related products.   Since then the company has been delivering hundreds of projects for a variety of organisations from start-ups and university spin-outs to multinational corporations.  The company is frequently engaged in collaborative projects working with some of Europe’s leading research organisations and universities, especially in the areas of imaging, optoelectronics and bio-medical engineering.  The skill set in-house ranges from physics, optics, electronics and software through to mechanical engineering, prototyping, manufacture and supply chain management.

WideBlue now has a multi-disciplinary workforce of 17engineers many of whom have multiple degrees in electronics, physics, product design, engineering and production.  The company has won numerous awards for product design including a European Design Award in 2017 for the development of a mobile phone ophthalmoscope for client Peek Vision.  It has also won accolades for its work on the I-1 instant analog / digital camera for The Impossible Project.

Exhibiting alongside Wideblue at Censis is A2E, a sister company in the Pivot International group.  A2E will be showing some of their work on the latest smart meters.

Russell Overend, managing director, Wideblue said: “We are delighted to be attending Censis which is regarded as the premier show for innovation in imaging, sensing and IoT technologies.  It is a great forum for meeting new customers, sharing best practice and finding out the latest developments in these fields.”

05 Nov 19. Ascent Vision C-UAS Activities Expand. Ascent Vision Technologies (AVT) continues to experience rapid growth with the awarding of several large defense contracts for its counter UAS (CUAS) and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) technologies.

The growth is complemented by the company’s significant expansion, both of its workforce and its office and production facilities. The expansion is part of AVT’s overall strategic growth plan.

Over a dozen new employees have joined the AVT team this year, ranging from entry-level and interns to technical positions and senior executives. In addition, AVT has expanded its Bozeman operation with the addition of a secondary facility to support production of the eXpeditionary Mobile Air Defense Integrated System (X-MADIS). 2019 has been the strongest year yet for sales of the system. The X-MADIS is in service globally, protecting some of the world’s most influential leaders, as well as combat forces, civilians and critical infrastructure.

AVT’s Melbourne, Australia office is relocating to a larger facility to support research and development of ISR systems for AVT’s global customer base. The move will also accommodate the growing team based there and allow for future growth.

“We have come a long way in just four years,” said Tim Sheehy, CEO at AVT. “I am very proud of our team and the hard work they have done to get us to where we are today. The company has evolved from specialising in airborne surveillance solutions to leading the way in counter UAS with the innovative X-MADIS fully integrated anti drone solution.”

Much of AVT’s recent focus has been in the CUAS field, given the escalation of drone threats. Over the past two years, there has been a significant increase in malicious drone activity, ranging from single-use hostile small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) to drone swarms.

AVT has become globally recognized as a leading provider of portable, on-the-move CUAS solutions. AVT’s pioneering systems are supporting airborne, ground and maritime missions around the world. Over the past 12 months alone, AVT has received contracts for over $40m in products and services to support anti-drone initiatives around the world. (Source: UAS VISION)

05 Nov 19. AVT Australia wins ‘eye in the sky’ contract for Australian Army. The Australian Army has awarded AVT Australia a $5.2m contract to develop a system capable to improve the image quality of drones.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price announced the Defence Innovation Hub contract with AVT Australia at the Defence Innovation Hub Industry Conference in Canberra.

“AVT Australia is committed to developing the world’s best micro gimbal system, which could provide a significant capability edge in a future battlefield environment,” Minister Price said.

Under the deal, AVT Australia is aiming to reduce the size of the technology to enable integration of multiple sensors as well as incorporating a range of autonomous tracking algorithms.

Minister Price also announced a $3.4m contract with Textron Systems for the continued development of its drone technology, which follows a successful phase one contract with the Defence Innovation Hub, and demonstrates the Morrison government’s commitment to exploring how unmanned aerial systems (UAS) can benefit the Australian Defence Force.

“Defence is Australia’s largest and most experienced UAS operator, and it’s important to remain at the cutting edge of a capability that offers superior surveillance, intelligence and force protection,” Minister Price said.

The third annual Defence Innovation Hub Industry Conference acknowledged the significant potential that Australian small businesses have to deliver advanced Defence capability.

“More than 85 per cent of the almost 100 contracts so far awarded by the Defence Innovation Hub have been with small businesses,” Minister Price said.

“And since its inception, investment from the Defence Innovation Hub has resulted in the creation of over 200 new local Australian jobs.” (Source: Defence Connect)

01 Nov 19. EUROCAE sets up counter drone working group November 1. European standards agency EUROCAE approved the creation of Working Group 115 on Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) on 25 October 2019. Experts are invited to participate from airlines, airports, authorities, law enforcement, system manufacturers and suppliers, EUROCONTROL, ANSPs, U-space SPs, experts of R&D and economical domains and all other interested parties with experience in UAS. The Kick-Off meeting for WG-115 activities will take place on 12 December 2019 at the EUROCAE premises in Saint-Denis, France.

Identified as an urgent need by aircraft operators, airport operators and regulators, a global European approach on C-UAS capabilities was recently recognised at political level. The EUROCAE Technical Advisory Committee identified the standardisation activities that would contribute to an overall C-UAS holistic action plan. Standards will be needed to specify minimum performance of the surveillance system, interface requirements with airport stakeholders and interoperability requirements for the defeat capabilities. Deliverables covering this scope are expected to be available by Quarter 2 of 2021.

Enquiries requested by 2 December 2019 to: alain.vallee@eurocae.net

For more information visit: www.eurocae.net (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)

01 Nov 19. SmartRounds unveils counter drone missile with computer vision. US company SmartRounds has launched a counter drone missile which can be fired from the ground or another Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The Smart Anti-Vehicle Aerial Guided Engagement (SAVAGE) missiles are self-guided ‘fire-and-forget’ projectiles designed to give military, homeland security and law enforcement the ability to deal with threatening UAVs. SmartRounds. has been issued a US patent “Non-Lethal Smart Weapons with Computer Vision” for these munitions.

SAVAGE missiles are solid fuel propelled, titanium nose cone equipped, long range guided missiles that can be fired at high velocity (~350 mph) and equipped with computer vision object detection and target tracking, a form of artificial intelligence AI. The missile impacts the enemy drone with enough kinetic energy to disable or destroy it, and is equipped with a parachute to safely return to the ground for reuse.

SmartRound’s proprietary computer vision algorithms along with an electro-optical sensor allow the missile to follow the target after it leaves the launcher by adjusting the missile’s aerodynamics and changing its direction. This ensures that the projectile will reach its target even if the UAV is moving at high speed. The on-board CPU/GPU microprocessor along with pre-programmed algorithms keep the UAV in its “sights” by means of MEMS activated fins. AI algorithms also give multiple SAVAGE missiles the ability to communicate with each other in flight to maximize their effectiveness in dealing with a “swarm.”

SAVAGE will be available in 2Q20, and field tests are planned in November 2019. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)

01 Nov 19. DARPA tests wide-area drone tracking system in San Diego. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is testing a wide-area drone tracking system throughout the week starting 28 October 2019 in San Diego and National City. The test is looking at potential drone tracking systems for large cities, where tall buildings present particular tracking challenges. The test involves sensors placed on two tethered aerostat balloons roughly 500 feet above ground level and optical sensors on hovering drones and building tops.

About a dozen commercial drones flown by Federal Aviation Administration certified pilots are simulating the use of unauthorized drones flying in urban areas. The installed sensors are intended to differentiate small drones from buildings, vehicles and animals that may be in the background. The drones do not record or store data during their flights and all drone flights during the testing period are coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration to avoid conflict with military and civilian air traffic.

The research is primarily aimed at protecting US military from drone attacks in urban settings overseas, however it is also applicable to help protect city areas from potential drone-enabled terrorist threats, according to the agency.

For more information visit:

https://www.darpa.mil/news

(Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)

01 Nov 19. CS demonstrates Boreades counter drone solution for Olympic Games. French company CS Group demonstrated its Boreades counter drone solution as part of the selection process ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. A ‘Safe Drone Seminar’ organised by the SGDSN included a series of test scenarios to demonstrate ways of neutralising Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) which could disrupt Jeux Olympic Paris 2024.

CS’ BOREADES anti-drone solution is designed to integrate several detection, identification and neutralization sensors to respond to all types of threats and neutralize all types of commercial drones (with or without remote control). It features real-time supervision and control of the means of neutralization from the command and control station.

On the occasion of this demonstration, CS was able to successfully demonstrate different sequences of electromagnetic interference:

  • Directional interference: controlled by the command and control station (C2) of the Boreades system, allowing neutralization to be focused on the target by limiting the impact on the environment;
  • Omnidirectional jamming: aimed at deploying a bubble of protection around the site to be protected, and preventing multiple attacks (swarms of drones) coming from several directions.

CS also demonstrated its interceptor capability, which is designed to identify the target drone and activate neutralisation of the drone. CS is in the process of developing a jammer linked to the interceptor drone which is designed to land the target drone. This solution has several advantages: It has limited electromagnetic impact due to its close proximity to the target drone; and being airborne can be more effective than ground-based neutralisation solutions.

Boreades also incorporates the Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) solution from Air Space Drone (ASD) to provide an integrated solution that manages both cooperative UAVs and illicit drones.

Boreades is among four security solutions from CS Group which have been approved by the Industry Strategic Committee (CSF) for deployment at major events such as the Jeux Olympic Paris 2024.

For more information visit:

www.c-s.fr (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)

01 Nov 19. FAA to publish C-UAS industry standards draft roadmap in November. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is developing counter-UAS system equipment standards for detection, management and interdiction of rogue drones and plans to develop a draft roadmap by the end of November, followed by a request for industry comments, according to Robert Sweet, manager of the Strategic Operations Security group within the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization, speaking at the 2019 Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas.

As part of the 2018 FAA Reauthorization act the ‘‘Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018’’ the agency has been given responsibility to work with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DoJ) to develop systems and procedures.to counter drones that pose a “credible threat” to “covered facilities or assets” without impacting the safety or the efficiency of the national airspace system (NAS).

For the last few months the FAA has been working to develop a programme which uses a risk-based approach to deciding how best to protect different assets. According to Sweet there are a number of major areas of concern which will need to be addressed – such as the issue of the limitations of current technology, which is mainly based on RF-detection and jamming systems which cannot safely be used in areas where safety-critical communications could be compromised. Then there is the scale of the problem, especially with the increasing propagation of legitimate drone operations in sensitive airspace areas.

It is part of a wider roadmap which includes testing C-UAS technologies at five airports – one of which has to be a hub facility – and the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City. The FAA is working with the DHS and the DOJ to set up a joint test and evaluation programme, developing a common set of test standards so the agencies can accept each other’s test data and exchange lessons learnt from their individual experiences. This will mean the FAA will be able to tap into DHS experience from fielding C-UAS equipment in a number of roles – with the Coast Guard, at land borders, protecting the UN General Assembly and operational experience with the Secret Service, according to Carissa VanderMey, Senior Advisor for Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) at the DHS.

At the same event Brendan Groves, Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice, said for the DOJ wanted to target the operator as much as the drone. The department has set up its own C-UAS test and evaluation unit, to identify which technologies were best placed to defend the country’s 122 federal prisons. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)

01 Nov 19. EU funding for counter drone research proposed at high level conference. Participants in the high-level international conference on countering the threats posed by unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) called for more action on drone threat mitigation in a statement released on 18 October 2019. The meeting was the latest in a series on this topic organised by the Commission to bring together stakeholders from EU Member States, third countries, international organisations, industry, academia and civil society to exchange views on how best to combat the potential for disruptive, sometimes malicious use of drones. In the statement, published by UVS International, participants identified a pressing need for effective, cost-efficient drone countermeasures solutions and called on the Commission to support and facilitate a coordinated approach that includes appropriate funding mechanisms.

The statement recognised many positive use cases for drones and their potential to make many missions safer, greener and quieter. However, found potential for drones to be misused for terrorist and other criminal acts. Participants identified several areas where further European action on drone threat mitigation should be explored.

The statement said: “First of all, there is a clear need for authorities and other stakeholders to understand and be equipped to continually assess the developing security threats posed by drones. Regular risk assessments in vulnerable sectors, e.g. aviation, critical infrastructure, mass events, borders, prisons, etc. should inform associated counter-drone work.

“Secondly, there is a need to continue to empower competent authorities to exclude non-cooperative drones from restricted airspace. The EU recently adopted a set of regulations aimed at ensuring the safe operation of drones in Europe that also have security relevance. For instance, they require drone operators whose operations may present a risk to safety, security, privacy, and protection of personal data or environment to register with national authorities. They in turn are given the authority to restrict drone use in specific geographical zones. Furthermore, off-the-shelf drones will be required to emit a remote identification signal. This will facilitate the identification of, among other things, the drone and its operator. While these measures will make it easier to protect vulnerable facilities like airports, prisons, and stadiums from unwanted drone incursions, they can still be circumvented by determined antagonists. The unmanned traffic management concept in Europe (U-Space) that is currently under development should enable authorities to more effectively identify cooperative drones in urban airspace. At the same time, for U-Space to be viable, it must account for the concerns of law enforcement and other security authorities operating drones in the same airspace.

“Thirdly, there is a need to facilitate the development of effective tools to counter non-cooperative drones now and in the years to come. This work must necessarily account for the rapid pace of technological advances, how these might be leveraged by antagonists, and the anticipated impact of incidents in different sectors. Doing so will allow stakeholders to develop tools that are commensurate to the risk. For instance, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recently initiated a research project looking into the impact of mid-air collisions between manned aircraft and drones, the result of which should allow authorities to calibrate their responses in line with anticipated effects. It is clear that effective, workable plans and routines are central to any response regardless of sector. Actors should be encouraged to work proactively in laying out responsibilities and putting in place procedures for use in the event of a drone sighting. In the aviation sector, ongoing industry discussions on contingency planning should be encouraged and the need for a regulatory intervention at European level explored.

“There is a pressing need for effective, cost-efficient drone countermeasures solutions. Member States, EU Agencies and EU-funded research initiatives in both the civilian and defence arenas are involved in the development and testing of countermeasures. However, the continued evolution of the threat means that even more testing will be needed in order to make informed procurement decisions at national level. The participants emphasised the need for authorities and other relevant stakeholders to share both the burden of testing countermeasures and outcomes, and encouraged the Commission to support and facilitate a coordinated approach that includes appropriate funding mechanisms and accounts for ongoing and future relevant initiatives. For instance, the Commission was encouraged to explore possible EU funding to support cooperation between law enforcement authorities on the testing of countermeasures. In this regard, there is a need for close dialogue between authorities and countermeasures developers working to meet end-users’ performance requirements, which could be subject to harmonisation. No matter which technological solutions authorities deploy in different settings, there will always be a human dimension to their operations. For this reason, adequate training and guidance organised both at national and EU level is essential in ensuring that drone countermeasures are deployed effectively and within the bounds of applicable law.

“Furthermore, the drones that find their way onto the European market need to be safe, secure, operationally reliable, and difficult to use for malicious purposes. Industry is now required to meet certain technical requirements described in the new EU regulations on drones. Besides these mandatory measures, there is a need to continue to explore with industry possible additional voluntary steps that can be taken to make it harder for off-the-shelf drones and drone components to be used in ways that are non-compliant with applicable law. By the same token, the drone industry should make every effort to ensure that their products are cyber-resilient, especially drones that are tasked with providing essential services, such as critical infrastructure facility inspections. In this context, issues of data integrity, confidentiality, and privacy are of relevance. Finally, a future in which drones will operate at low altitudes over urban centres is predicated on secure and reliable communications systems.

“There is also a need to cultivate a common drone culture in Europe. A key way to reduce the number of violations of restricted airspace is through effective outreach to members of the public, e.g. by implementing the existing requirement of a mandatory information leaflet with each purchased drone. By further raising people’s awareness about the risks and liabilities associated with drone operations in restricted areas (like in the vicinity of airports, for instance), we might be able to achieve a common European “drone culture”, where citizens can distinguish between appropriate and dangerous and/or criminal drone use. Besides reducing the number of accidental incursions into controlled airspace, greater public awareness could encourage the public to report on incidents, including instances of misuse. The successful prosecution of rule-breakers may also contribute to a better understanding of the responsibilities of drone operators. Doing so requires that authorities have appropriate awareness of the issue and robust forensic capabilities.

“Finally, the exchange of good practice and experiences across sectors and continents must be intensified. This pertains to areas such as legislation, the setting of standards, testing of different solutions, and operational routines/ practice. It is clear that the drone issue is a cross-cutting one that affects a wide range of sectors here in Europe and around the world. It is local and global, public and private. It involves cities, regional authorities, national governments, and likeminded international partners. For these reasons, it is vital that we maintain a vibrant cross-sectoral and multi-level dialogue in the years to come.”

For more information visit: https://rpas-regulations.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/191017_EC-High-Level-Conference-On-UAS-Threats_Conclusions_TR.pdf

(Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)

04 Nov 19. Ocius Technology joins forces with Sentient Vision to develop innovative autonomous solutions. Sydney-based Ocius Technology has confirmed a collaborative partnership with Sentient Vision Systems at the 2019 Defence Innovation Hub Annual Industry Conference in Canberra to combine optical object detection onto the BlueBottle unmanned surface vessel (USV). Both companies have been individually recognised for their autonomous solution capabilities and awarded separate multimillion-dollar contracts by the Australian government’s Defence Innovation Hub in November 2018 to further enhance those capabilities.  Now, through natural collaboration, they are working together to combine them.

Sentient Vision is the only Australian provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance solutions that has been an integral part of every Australian unmanned aerial system program to date.

The inclusion of Sentient Vision’s ViDAR payload further enhances the Ocius Technology autonomous BlueBottle USV platform’s persistent monitoring and surveillance capability.

This combined sovereign Australian solution of Ocius’ Bluebottle’s cutting-edge, patented technology and naturally inspired design and Sentient’s proven maritime capability is a fantastic example of the smart systems for which Australia is renowned.

Robert Dane, CEO of Ocius Technology, stressed the importance of such a capability, saying, “Australia is responsible for 11 per cent of the world’s oceans and has only 0.3 per cent of the world’s population.

“We are committed to providing a capable, autonomous, persistent wide-area maritime surveillance system for our nation. BlueBottles can carry out maritime surveillance of Australia’s vast coastline at disruptively low cost, with no one in harm’s way and freeing up the Navy and Border Force fleets for other tasks.”

ViDAR, the world’s first optical radar, has changed the outcome for the detection of small and difficult to locate objects at sea since its launch in 2016. ViDAR can conduct persistent wide area searches, autonomously detecting small objects on the ocean’s surface, from a very small size, weight and power optical sensor on manned and unmanned platforms.

In November 2018, BlueBottle USV Bruce participated in the Autonomous Warrior War games in Jervis Bay. Due to extreme weather Bruce was often the only USV operating and its command and control (C2) system was used to control a Navy WAMV catamaran and two DSTG UUVs.

Damien Tyrrell, director of business development at Sentient Vision Systems, welcomed the announcement of collaboration: “Sentient is proud of our continued close collaboration with the Australian government.

“From our origins in the Defence Science and Technology Group’s Capability and Technology Demonstrator (CTD) program, through Defence Innovation Hub contracts, to our proud history of active deployments in support of the Australian Defence Force, we see the inclusion of our wide area motion imagery payload as a part of the BlueBottle USVs as a reinforcement of Australian leadership in advanced autonomous systems.”

Ocius successfully demonstrated the ability of an 18-foot (5.5-metre) BlueBottle USVs to carry 300 kilograms of sensors including deploying advanced Thales sonar arrays from Ocius’ patented keel winch to varying depths, detecting passing vessels and communicating real-time results.

In June, Ocius completed its second Defence contract with the Defence Innovation Hub with six weeks of sea trials ‘over the horizon’ off the NSW coast, working with Navy, DST Group, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and UNSW – demonstrating an intelligent C2 network of persistent USVs.

ViDAR is deployed with the Australian Navy, AMSA, the US Coast Guard and the US State Department, and has been lauded as fundamentally changing the success rate and way of conducting operations for broad area maritime surveillance. (Source: Defence Connect)

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