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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

28 May 2015

Rheinmetall to Play Important Role in New Polish Wheeled Armoured Vehicle

Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV) has recently signed a cooperation agreement with Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ) and its subsidiary Obrum for a new amphibious vehicle for the Polish military. Specifically, Rheinmetall and its Polish partners have agreed to develop a state-of-the-art 6x6 wheeled armoured vehicle, oriented to the requirements of the Polish Army’s light armoured reconnaissance vehicle (LOTR) procurement programme, and systematically designed to meet Poland’s – and other nations’ – future military needs. Design and development of the LOTR will take special account of experience gained in current asymmetric conflicts, the first vehicle of its kind to do so. It is slated to replace the Soviet-era BRDM-2 still in service with the Polish Army. Fully amphibious, the LOTR will feature a high level of protection and an excellent payload-to-total weight ratio. With an authorised total weight of up to 20t, the new vehicle will have a carrying capacity of 3.5t, opening up a wide variety of options during reconnaissance missions and other military operations.

Already contemplating the next step, RMMV and PGZ (or rather Obrum) plan to create a sales joint venture, laying the groundwork for marketing the vehicle – and possible derivatives – internationally.

27 May 2015

Rolls-Royce to Supply MTU Engines for British Army’s SCOUT SV

Rolls-Royce has received an order from General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) for the delivery of 589 MTU Series 199 diesel engines for use in the new SCOUT Specialist Vehicle (SV) for the British Army.

The future SCOUT SV armoured fighting vehicles of the British Army will be powered by MTU 8V 199 TE21 engines. (Photos: Rolls-Royce)

The contract value is approximately €80 million and will be the first time that MTU engines have been utilised in British Army platforms. The vehicles will be delivered by General Dynamics UK in six variants and will form the backbone of the British Army’s future fleet of armoured fighting vehicles. Delivery of the engines will start in 2016, and the last engines will be delivered in 2022.

We are delighted that our MTU engine has been trusted for this important project,” Dr. Ulrich Dohle, Rolls-Royce Power Systems, CEO, said. “This order once again proves that when it comes to performance and reliability, the Series 199 engine is benchmark in its power range.”

The MTU 8V 199 TE21 engines each have a power output of 600kW and are the most powerful engines of the series.

The 8V 199 TE21 engines each have a power output of 600kW and are the most powerful engines of the series. Engines of Series 199 have established themselves in various armoured vehicles, among them the Austrian ULAN and the Spanish PIZARRO vehicles. MTU’s scope of delivery includes the cooling system and two generators with 550A with each engine.

26 May 2015

GDELS and Sky-Watch Partner to Explore Future UAS Opportunities

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAV) are becoming an integral part of modern warfare and provide increased situational awareness for troops and commanders on the ground. General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) has recently signed a Memorandum of Interest (MOI) with Danish UAV company Sky-Watch in Støvring, which allows the two companies to explore potential areas of
cooperation within next generation applications of the UAV technology in the battlefield.

"Sky-Watch is constantly striving to be at the forefront of the rapidly developing UAV technology.
We offer our vast accumulated know-how within sensor fusion to our partners, in the pursuit of finding new ways to solve tomorrow’s challenges," said Michael Messerschmidt, Sky-Watch Chief Business Development Officer. "We constantly re-think and re-define the value
proposition, of our own as well as our partners’ ideas and concepts and I believe that we can identify
some very exiting avenues of cooperation with GDELS."

Sky-Watch currently offers the HUGINN X1 multi-purpose Quadrotor UAV deployed all over the world and is currently developing the MUNINN X1, a next-generation fixed-Wing VTOL UAV. The future of UAVs in the battlefield will be explored by Sky-Watch Labs, the research and development arm of Sky-Watch, in cooperation with partners such as the Technical University of Denmark on a variety of projects.

With regard to the acquisition of new Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) for the Danish Army, GDELS is prepared to take its partnerships with Danish industry to the next level and explore business in adjacent markets like the one of Sky-Watch. GDELS has signed Industry Cooperation agreements with 40 Danish companies of all sizes across the country and has already defined projects in excess of 3,7 billion kroner covering all of the technology areas defined in the Danish Government´s Defence industry strategy.

"Throughout the past 20 years GDELS Industry Cooperation program has been one of the catalysts for the development of the Danish defence industry," Jens Bauer, GDELS Senior Director International Business & Services, responsible for Industrial Participation. "We have executed projects of almost KR1,7 billion with the industry, which has helped to contribute to the development of new products and technologies in a variety of companies. By engaging with an innovative and creative company such as Sky-Watch, we help plant the seed for the future of the Danish defence industry."

GDELS´s Industry Cooperation plan for the APC programme is based on 20 years of experience and
partnership with Danish industry. The programme expands relationships beyond production and
sustainment contracts to also include research & development projects, which will lay the foundation
for growth in the Danish Defence industry for decades to come.

22 May 2015

Boeing Details AH-6i Programme

Boeing, at the end of this year, will be starting up a production line for a Middle Eastern customer, with deliveries of 24 AH-6i aircraft to be complete by 2017, with a Performance Based Logistics (PBL) - Light package. According to Brad Rounding Manager BD Attack Helicopers, Boeing is, “working with several others; excited about more.” Development for the LITTLE BIRD is derived from AH-64 and A/MH-6M, the latter from SOF, who developed all the weapons on this programme, and Boeing currently upgrading existing airframes.

24 AH-6i will be delivered to an international customer. (Photo: Mönch)

Weapons and pay load include an open systems architecture (MX-15Di EO/IR sensor currently installed); an advanced glass cockpit; NVG compatibility; qualified M-134 mini gun (7.32mm); .50 cal GAU-19B (12.7mm); M260 7 shot rocket podes (70mm); HELLFIRE missiles; semi-active laser (SAL); improved performance via dual channel FADEC; an optional Goliath tank (63gal) to be put behind the aircraft plus two conformal outside tanks; and more.

Commonalities with APACHE include weapons management, obstacle avoidance, and crashworthy protected seat for SOF customer.

The AH-6i can be modified into an unmanned configuration, optionally manned, flown via laptop, and Boeing is always interested in pursuing customers for its Unmanned LITTLE BIRD programme and recently finished modifying a Korean manned MD500D helicopter into an optionally piloted helicopter and is preparing for flight test later this year.

Armour Kits for V-22 OSPREY

Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) issued a Combat Mission Need Statement in March 2014 to develop new armor plates to protect the V-22 OSPREY's passengers. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)  worked with a Florida-based composite armour company and the Army Aviation Development Directorate to develop an armour solution in only 179 days, beginning deliveries in October 2014. The Advanced Ballistic Stopping System kit consists of 66 plates sized to fit along the OSPREY's interior bulkheads and deck. The whole kit adds 800lbs (360kg) of weight to the aircraft, affecting payload and unrefueled range, so it can be installed or removed when needed in hours and partially assembled in pieces to only protect certain parts. Each full kit costs $270,000. As of May 2015, 16 kits had been delivered to the US Air Force, and procurement is available for Marine Corps MV-22s if they choose.

21 May 2015

Swiss military budget to be CHF6 billion by 2020

According to news sources, Switzerland will buy 1,900 DUROs, 500 model 90 rifles, six HERMES 900 UAS, 879 light vehicles, and will procure RUAG COBRA mortar systems in proposed double digits. By 2020, CHF6 billion Swiss military budget will be available, money that has not been used in the GRIPEN referendum that led to Switzerland not opting the GRIPEN. Furthermore, the country will spend CHR560 million for F-18 upgrades.

Boeing is committed to performance excellence on the Swiss HORNET U25 programme, and is also committed to Life Cycle Planning with the industry team in Switzerland and Finland (RUAG, Patria, Insta, and Boeing) to complete a support programme that encompasses structural upgrades, mission systems upgrades, software updates, and logistics support throughout the life of the HORNET fleets in Switzerland and Finland, until 2030 and beyond.

Upgrade 25 capabilities include digital-radar warning system, cockpit displays, an upgraded digital recorder, an advanced targeting infrared pod, an upgraded GPS, and armament computer memory upgrade. To date 23 F-18 HORNETs  have received the upgrades, with a total of 32 F-18 HORNETs receiving the upgrades by the close of 2015. The first flight of an upgraded Swiss F/A-18 HORNET outfitted with new technologies and innovations was in 2011. Boeing is working with the US Navy and Swiss to define a future upgrade programme.

SOFIC 2015: Impressions from the Show

SOFIC 2015: A vehicle to blend in and be protected

SOF sometimes want to blend in the normal street picture, but at the same time want to be protected and have the high mobility of military 4x4 and not an SUV. At SOFIC Navistar is presenting a solution, so commanders don’t have to choose between blend-ability and high performance. Navistar Defense is showcasing its Special Operations Tactical Vehicle (SOTV). Navistar’s SOTV-B (Blended) variant is on display in booth 2040. It is a low-profile, purpose-built armored vehicle designed for counter-insurgency operations. “While it may look like a typical small truck seen throughout the Middle East and around the world, it’s anything but,” said Kevin Thomas, president, Navistar Defense. “The SOTV is a purpose-built vehicle designed specifically to provide the highest levels of protection and performance, while ‘hiding in plain view.” It can be everything you want, at display is a vehicle that looks like a Toyota HILUX, but it also could like a Ford or Mercedes-Benz 4x4 or any other kind of product. The “inside” is always the same, with a protected cell and high performance, but the outside is just a lightweight – non-protected – facelift from fiberglass. This outside can be quickly changed, if you need another colour, or another vehicle type.
Everything in the SOTV—from the powerful engine, to the dynamic suspension and drive train, to the armor system, to the modular electronics capability—is designed for the highest level of mission performance and protection. As a purpose-built vehicle with a robust design and components, it provides a significantly longer life cycle than an up-armored light truck. And it is a little bigger inside, to give the fully loaded operators more space – but you won’t see the difference from the outside.
The SOTV-B shares significant commonality with the SOTV-A, which is Navistar Defense’s tactical variant for covert operations. Highly modular, the SOTV can be configured with a variety of weapons and C4ISR packages for a wide range of missions. On the flat back you could even place a mortar system – well you won’t blend in anymore, but the payload is 4,000 lbs.
“The SOTV-B vehicle provides significantly greater protection and performance than traditional up-armored commercial light trucks,” Thomas added. “It can be skinned to look like any truck of choice—flexible, but designed from the inside out for special operations.” And they are built for a long life cycle of up to 20 years, normal protected 4x4 often are done after eight to twelve month. They just don’t like the extra weight that the armor brings on. The US SOF already have bought some of these vehicles, for evaluation and testing, Navistar is still in a phase of proofing this “different” concept with USSOCOM.
Technical details: 0-60 mph in under 13 seconds, fits in a CH-47 CHINOOK, 4,000 lbs of payload at the flat back, 60° longitudinal side slope, 24’’ fording depth, up to 600 LB-FT of torque and armored.

Andre Forkert

SOFIC 2015: 1st Active Protection System for Helicopters

There are many vehicle Active Protection Systems out there, but all for land vehicles. At SOFIC 2015 Orbital ATK is showing its HAPS (Helicopter Active Protection System), the first one of its kind.
Just some weeks ago, Orbital ATK completed key test of this system. ATK performed a live-fire demonstration of a key
element of its Helicopter Active Protection System (HAPS). The HAPS Kill Vehicle (KV)was able to launch, perform pitch maneuvers and fly to a detonation point that simulated the location of an incoming rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). The demonstration is a valuable step toward a solution for the RPG threat to helicopters flying missions in dangerous areas.
Helicopters are vulnerable to damage from RPGs because the aircraft often hovers in position at low altitude, making it easy to target by an enemy on the ground. HAPS is designed to identify an incoming threat, launch and guide a KV to a precise location and detonate a warhead at a point where the RPG is rendered ineffective. All of this is designed to occur within a fraction of a second and far enough away from the helicopter to ensure the crew and aircraft are not harmed by metal fragments from the destroyed RPG.
The live-fire demonstration was designed to prove-out launch from a fixed ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispense System, off-axis pitch maneuvers of the KV and controlled flight of the KV to an impact point. The test flights successfully demonstrated these attributes and validated a number of HAPS components, including the KV launch cartridge, KV divert and attitude thrusters, non-linear guidance and control algorithms, and the fast-sync wireless command guidance link. “Orbital ATK is dedicated to working with our customers to further develop this first-of-kind active protection system for helicopters and put it into the hands of our armed forces,” said Bill Kasting, vice president and general manager of Orbital ATK’s Defense Electronic Systems division of the Defense Systems Group. “Our design uses the helicopter’s existing, fixed Countermeasures Dispense System to launch the kill vehicle, allowing HAPS to meet the performance goals and the size, weight and power constraints.”
“Our aircraft protection systems demonstrate a commitment to protecting the warfighter,” said Mike Kahn, executive vice president and president, Orbital ATK Defense Systems Group. “We took an innovative approach to meet operational needs that can make a real difference in the level of safety for helicopters and their crews.”
The HAPS system consists of an Engagement Management Module, a slightly-modified Counter Measures Dispense System, such as the ALE-47, and the KVs that launch from the counter-measures dispenser. The KVs fit within the envelope of the standard flare and chaff launch tubes. In addition to countering RPGs, HAPS can serve as a last line of defense against advanced man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS.
The live-fire test was conducted in Socorro, New Mexico, and witnessed by personnel from the Rapid Reaction Technology Office of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The Technology Office sponsored the testing of Orbital ATK’s internally-developed active countermeasure.
Orbital ATK’s aircraft survivability product portfolio includes the AAR-47 missile, laser and hostile-fire threat warning sensor and the ShotFinder acoustic hostile-fire detection system. The AAR-47 missile warning system is installed on more than 3,200 fixed and rotary-wing aircraft and is flown by the U.S. and its allies in more than 16 countries.
Andre Forkert

20 May 2015

SOFIC 2015: Photographic Recap of Day 2

Boeing Media Press Trip 2015

AESA Roadmaps Include Incremental Releases of New Software

According to Deb Rub, VP/GM Boeing Global Strike, the Advanced Super HORNET and Advanced F-15 are receiving new sensors and IRST. The Advanced F-15 is also receiving digital helmet mounting cueing, and a breath of capabilities on all on a proven platform, thereby extending the F15 life until 2050.

Rub sees an additional 15 GROWLERs, 12 Super HORNETs, and near term international orders for Super HORNETs (retrofittable to Advanced Super HORNETs) to take the production line into next decade (the US Navy intents to fly HORNETs until 2040); while the F-15 will be in production until late 2018, with needs being there for this aircraft (according to Deb Rub this includes Asia-Pacific and the Middle East).

Boeing partners with Raytheon for the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for both aircraft; sharing 90% technology communality of hardware. While new radar technology is not planned; new capabilities with a roadmap with synergies are being looked into. According to Boeing, "the AESA Radar is the most advanced tactical radar in operation today.  AESA Radars are built with modular hardware components that can be independently and incrementally upgraded based on specific customer needs.  In addition, the services' roadmaps include incremental releases of new software.  This approach constantly improves on the AESA radars' technology and maintains the effectiveness of fielded AESA radars, ensuring customers have the right capability at the right time and at the right price."

Second Modernised French AWACS Delivered

Initial operating capability (IOC) of the modernised French Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) fleet has been achieved with Boeing’s delivery of the second of four upgraded aircraft and completion of the operational tests and evaluations. The upgrade is part of a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) between the French Defense Procurement and Technology Agency DGA and the US government.

With the declaration of IOC, the French Air Force is able to utilise the new capabilities of the Mid-life Upgrade to protect our national and international interests," said Lt.Col. Olivier Duplessy, French Air Force AWACS Program Officer. "This improvement will contribute to maintaining high operational performance and reinforce interoperability capability for at least the next twenty years.”

France has four AWACS to monitor national airspace, national interests, and support allied missions. The aircraft are receiving modifications through a Mid-life Upgrade (MLU) to increase the fleet’s surveillance, communications and battle management capabilities. AWACS crew members will experience reduced workload, receive more actionable information and have better situational awareness thanks to these enhancements.

The exemplary teamwork between Boeing and Air France Industries was key in delivering the first two upgraded AWACS on schedule,” said Yves Galland, President Boeing France. “We are looking forward to pursue our successful partnership with Air France Industries to deliver the last two aircraft on time and meet the French Air Force requirements on this strategic programme.”

Boeing, as prime contractor, provides hardware, software, engineering and quality assurance support. Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance, a Boeing subcontractor on the project, is upgrading the electrical, mechanical and structural systems and mission hardware on the aircraft. The first MLU AWACS was delivered in July of 2014.

Boeing Returns Air Force E-4B Aircraft to Service Ahead of Schedule

Boeing recently completed maintenance on a US Air Force E-4B advanced airborne command post earlier than planned, enabling the Air Force to quickly return the vital aircraft to operational service.

It was the first E-4B serviced at Boeing’s San Antonio, TX site. Boeing also performs maintenance on Air Force C-17 GLOBEMASTER III airlifters, KC-135 aerial refueling tankers and on commercial aircraft at that site.

The E-4B fleet is an essential element of our nation’s defense. Boeing’s ability to return this aircraft to service, ahead of schedule, benefits the men and women who serve on them as well as the citizens they protect,” said Joseph Stupic, Chief, E-4B Section, USAF.

Based on the Boeing 747-200 commercial airplane, the E-4B’s primary role during a conflict is as an airborne command post under the direction of the president, secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Boeing built the E-4 fleet and, with the Air Force, has supported the aircraft since the program’s launch in 1974. The company is on contract to maintain the readiness of the aircraft’s systems, bringing each aircraft in for service every two years.

SOFIC 2015: Leidos Showcases Integrated Solutions

Leidos, a security, health and engineering company, is presenting new perspectives on C2 (command and control), data analytics, cyber, maritime solutions and intelligence services.

The booth is featuring a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Operations Center (ROC) workstation that supports RPA operations Tip-to-Tail, designed as a service-oriented architecture, delivering mission flexibility with a reduced infrastructure footprint. ROC has a scalable, multi-level security domain capability that is a fully integrated crew solution tailorable to mission needs. Leidos Airborne System Integration Operation has partnered with multiple US DoD organizations, including the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and the 27th Special Operations Wing to successfully design, develop, and deliver this cost-effective solution.

SOFIC provides an opportunity for Leidos to demonstrate the breadth of our integrated capabilities that enables Special Operations Forces to effectively address complex, global mission needs,” said Leidos National Security Sector President, Lou Von Thaer.

Leidos is also demonstrating the capabilities of a “Maritime Autonomy Package” on a 40’ vessel that will operate in the Gulf of Mexico. During SOFIC, visitors can enter the ROC for a real-time view of the vessel operating in fully autonomous mode (without human interventions). This vessel will demonstrate the capabilities of multi-INT sensor systems and coastal patrol, surveillance and reconnaissance, including dissemination of target imagery and radar tracks to a C4I node located in the Virginia Beach, Va area. Within the ROC, a screen will relay the C4I node’s tactical display and imagery where visitors can observe the vessel operating in real-time and re-task the vessel to conduct alternate missions.

Among other capabilities showcased in current operation are solutions supporting intelligence agencies, military services and Special Operations Forces for complex missions, including:

Command & Control Solutions:
Tactical Communications Solutions (TaCS) provides design, integration, test and delivery of TaCS to US, coalition and international partners. Solutions range from Multi-Level Security (MLS) Enterprise systems to secure fixed, mobile, transportable and portable communication systems linking the tactical edge to key decision makers for real time mission planning, intelligence and operations.

Data Analytics:
AIMES is a next-generation motion imagery exploitation tool created to solve the tough challenges faced by today's motion imagery analysts. It is the full motion video solution of choice for the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS)-Air Force and DCGS-Army.

eXpeditionaryRT (XRT) is a ruggedized, transportable RT-RG (Real Time Regional Gateway) System that supports tactical mission scenarios which are mobile and disconnected from the traditional SIGINT(Signals Intelligence) Enterprise. XRT provides users with the capability to ingest data from local collection assets and conducts analysis on-site in real-time.

Tactical Geolocation Service is an automated geo-location processing system which is designed to read line of bearing (LOB) data in near real-time from a stream or drop box and produce geo-locations. With the use of Mongo DB, these geo-location results are databased and can be populated in GoogleEarth (in kml format) in near real-time for users to assess activity in their environment.
Andre Forkert

SOFIC 2015: Products and solutions at display

Over 340 companies are presenting their solutions and products at this year’s SOFIC. Here is just an extract:

Boeing has solutions for Rapid ISR Sensor Exploitation (RISE), Signal Intelligence Solutions, Tactical Compact Relay (TCAR), UAVs (Schiebel S-100, INTEGRATOR and some more), the Small Diamter Bomb and the 4x4 Phantom BADGER (for internal V-22 transportation) on display.

Sikorsky is showing a mock-up of the S-97 RAIDER. This one should fly twice as fast as a normal helicopter, with a low acoustic signature, exceptional hover capabilities and agility for close air support (CAS). It offers seats for six soldiers and can be refueled in the air, max. gross weight is 11,400lbs with a flight time of >2.7 hrs. (range up to 600 km) and a cruise speed of >200 kts.

As payloads HELLFIRE missiles, 2.75’’ rockets, .50 cal gun and 7.62 mm gun are plannes.

RAIDER just completed ground testing and the first flight is expected in two to four weeks.

At last year’s SOFIC MOHAC was shown for the first time. MOHAC is the first camera especially developed for the needs of Special Operation Forces (SOF), other sport or action cameras aren’t designed for military operations. Their large size and awkward shape hinder movement and create dangerous snag hazards, they fail under the rigors of combat, and their difficult to operate e.g. with gloves. MOHAC from RAPID is the first military-optimized helmet camera. It delivers the smallest, lightest, simplest and toughest ruggedizes camera solution available. The camera (F2.8°, 140° >Field of View, CMOS sensor) is in their final phase and series production will be by May. With its curved profile it matches the shape of the helmets and creates the closest possible fit. It is IP68 (waterproof 10 m) ruggedized and controlled by a single button (Off, Photo or video with internal microphone). MOHAC offers up to 1080p HD video or 12 MP photo quality and can be remote controlled. Even an App is available for the control via cell phone. Vibrations as a tactical feedback allow the control even in absolute darkness. Two batteries (CR123) or the MOHOC Li-Ion rechargeable battery pack (included) and a (secure) 64 GB card allow the use for up to three+ hours.

Now MOHAC is just one month short of series production. Allready 2/3 of the first production rate is sold. Latest upgrades were on the WiFi and Bluetooth for live transmission as well as the development of an IR-Model. New are also are some accessories like a K9 mount for dogs (carried on the head) or a flat mount for a tripod.

With one small hand-sized device called HEATS, General Atomics is developing a new way to protect combat swimmers. HEATS (High Energy Aluminum Thermal Source device provides divers with an unexpected long-lasting localized heat source. So frogman can extend their range. It was designed to operate independently from undersea vehicles. The HEATS packs activate simply by opening the watertight seal, to deliver hours of optimally regulated swimmer heat. The packs can be tailored to any size (and so time) or shape. HEATS packs are extremely energy dense: 11kWh/L; 4.2kWh/kg – more than 15-times the energy of a primary lithium-ion battery.
Andre Forkert

SOFIC 2015: The PD-100 BLACK HORNET - A 24-hour Nano-UAV Solution for Today's Modern Soldier

Prox Dynamics' PD-100 BLACK HORNET Personal Reconnaissance System (PRS) was publically displayed for the first time in 2012, and it was fielded with several units in Afghanistan. The PD-100 BLACK HORNET is a complete system comprising two nano air vehicles (NUAV) and a ground element. It’s design and functionality is closely linked to the Personal Reconnaissance System concept. This is evident in the system size, layout and simplicity, but most importantly in the performance and specifications of the system.

In 2014, the night-capable PD-100 BLACK HORNET T (for thermal) was introduced. The PD-100 “T” nano-UAV includes a specifically designed and integrated thermal and daylight camera with fused imagery that will provide warfighters with a low or no light tactical ISR capability.

The air vehicle itself weighs 18g and comprises all the subsystems found in larger systems; an advanced autopilot capable of autonomous flight; a payload consisting of three daylight cameras  or night vision cameras that provides tilt and zoom functions for a 24/7 operational requirment; and a single digital data link which is used to uplink vehicle and payload commands, and downlink compressed image and system data at ranges up to 1,000 metres. The internal rechargeable battery provides endurance of more than 25 minutes depending on wind conditions and operating radius.
Navigation and flight guidance is performed by the inertial reference unit and the onboard GPS. Total weight of all electronics including processors, antennas, gyros, accelerometers, pressure sensor, compass, GPS and PCB is only three grams. The whole system has a weight of 1.3kg.

Flight control is provided through the autopilot using a simple and innovative rotor mechanism consisting of only a handful moving parts. The air vehicle is capable of operating in 10-15 knots winds thanks to the agility and maneuverability offered by single rotor designs.

The ground element of the BLACK HORNET system consist of a Base station, a hand Controller and an external Display. The Base station is the hub of the system providing the operating system, main electronics, internal batteries and chargers. In addition it is used to house, recharge and protect the air vehicles when they are not in use.

The Controller is used for all system interfaces including controlling the air vehicle and the payload. As seen in the pictures the system does not employ a joystick for aircraft control, but rather utilizes the capabilities of the autopilot and simple to understand button functions to command the aircraft. The Controller also contain the ground part of the data link a GPS.

Main features of the PD-100 system:

  • Embedded mission planning functions 
  • Single hand operation 
  • Hand launched and automatic landing 
  • Live stabilised video and still images 
  • In-flight still image analysis 
  • Target position estimation 
  • Auto and directed autopilot modes 
  • Auto return if loss of link or low battery 
  • Embedded mission review functions
  • 25 Min. endurance
  • 1.6 km radio LOS range

In 2014, the night-capable PD-100 BLACK HORNET T (for thermal) was introduced. The PD-100 “T” nano-UAV includes a specifically designed and integrated thermal and daylight camera with fused imagery that will provide warfighters with a low or no light tactical ISR capability.

The introduction of the PD-100 T significantly enhances the Black Hornet Personal Reconnaissance System solution, offering a 24-hour Cargo Pocket ISR capability to the warfighter,” said Ole Aguirre, VP Business Development at Prox Dynamics. The PD-100 enjoys a proven, combat worthiness record from operations in Afghanistan by US allies. Operational since 2011, the PD-100 has been in use by the UK Army and several coalition partners and is described as a “life saver” and “game-changing” technology by the UK Ministry of Defense. The inclusion of a complete, digitally enhanced thermal sensor from FLIR Systems, paired with an EO camera, enables unprecedented mission flexibility and situational awareness in night operations.

We believe this is the single-most important upgrade on the PD-100 system to date. The PD-100 T combines EO and thermal camera into an 18 gram helicopter, allowing fused live video and still images to be viewed by the operator. Today’s modern warfighters demand a 24-hour solution, and here you have the first nano-UAV solution to achieve this,” says Petter Muren, CTO and Founder of Prox Dynamics. In June 2014, Prox Dynamics introduced the PD-100 BLACK HORNET PRS Block II, an upgrade from the original Block I, with enhanced wind performance, enhanced EO cameras and several important software upgrades.

SOFIC 2015: Interview with Trijicon - ”In a Word: Precise”

In an interview with John Rupp, Vice President of Business Development Trijicon, MT was informed on the company, customer preferences, and Trijicon’s future.

John Rupp, Vice President of Business Development Trijicon standing on the right, next to Volker Schwichtenberg, CEO of Mönch. (Photo: Mönch)

What are the main demands your customers ask for at the moment?
J. Rupp: Our customers in the US, as well as most of our customers in Europe and in the Middle East, are very interested in the precision that our products provide, the reliability of our products, and also the durability. The ACOG and VCOG and the entire series of Trijicon products now have a reputation for durability and a proven combat record. The ACOG, in particular, has an extensive combat record for incredible durability and also minimal life-cycle costs. When you are purchasing a Trijicon product, you have it for an extended period and the product just does not seem to fail.

What will we see in the future? What will be the next steps in development?
J. Rupp: I think what we are trying to do is - particularly with respect to Europe - is to provide a line of products that have our traditional capabilities (which are tritium-based products), but also some battery-powered products. So, for those countries that cannot accept tritium products, we will now have the battery-powered options in our four power and three and a half power ACOGs. So, you will see a series of battery powered ACOGs emerging. We will expand the Trijicon product line in the European market with this development. Also, the traditional ACOG is now being reinforced by the variable power optical gun sight (VCOG) which is a one to six power magnified sight, on the first focal plane. So, there are really minimal adjustments that the soldier has to do. All he has to do is mount the VCOG onto his weapon, zero it, and then he is ready for training or combat.

The Trijicon VCOG (Variable Combat Optical Gunsight) is a rugged variable powered riflescope with an LED illuminated first focal plane BDC reticle. The VCOG is designed for extreme durability and features superior glass quality. (Photo: Trijicon)

What is the philosophy of your products and your company? What makes you outstanding in comparison to others?
J. Rupp: Well, I think the philosophy of our company is that it is a small family company of about 210 employees in Michigan and another 20 employees in Virginia – and we try to remain responsive to our  customers and agile. Our products are known for their unique use of tritium and fibre optics. The company is also known for the precision of our optics. That we will tailor our reticules, to what the force that is buying our optics wants, whether it is 5.56, 7.62 or some other calibre ammunition. The US Marine Corps has bought almost a quarter million of our products. The US Army has bought about another 150,000. Worldwide, we now have surpassed the million mark for the number of ACOGs that have been purchased. And, our customers buy them mainly because the product lasts. The product is seen as a unique value because once the acquisition force, or the armed force, purchases them, they are going to have that product for an extensive period of time with very minimal cost. The US Marine Corps is now approaching 7 to 10 years on their family of Trijicon optics. They will come out of Afghanistan, and most of the optics are working like the first day they went into combat.

But what if I need service for example in Europe or in the Middle East? What service are you offering there?
J. Rupp: The service we offer is a limited lifetime warranty. Also, if any work has to be done on the optic due to combat or extenuating circumstances, the force just sends it back and we set up a service contract. The work is done at our factory in Michigan. So, those optics that come out of combat that may have been damaged by explosives or damaged by extreme wear and tear, they are reworked at our factory and returned to the user at a fraction of what the original cost is. So for example, an optic that was purchased for $800-1000, generally the repair is run at approximately $200 or less.

At the moment in Ukraine we have a very unstable situation. Does that influence your products or your work?
J. Rupp:  It does. I mean, we would like to pursue a business arrangement with all the nations of central and eastern Europe: our allies, partners and in some countries, they are NATO nations. So, the countries of Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Germany are very important strategic partners for the United States and therefore very important potential customers for us. We see the potential for those nations to work with the USMC and United States Army soldiers who already have ACOGs and Trijicon products on their weapons - to be a force multiplier. That we are able to sell our products to those nations and offer them the same high quality optic of a US serviceman or woman.  Those nations will either be able to receive training by US forces at their joint training and exercises, or by Trijicon employees who will provide free training and free support from Trijicon’s office in Virginia.  This is standard practice for Trijicon.

Will Trijicon have news in 2015?
J. Rupp:  Yes, Trijicon will be offering new products at Shot Show in 2015, and, more importantly, Trijicon will be offering a series of new products throughout the entire calendar year. We are excited about the new products being developed for 2015, but more importantly is the company’s dedication for new product developments and introductions on a consistent, year-round, basis.

Thank you very much.

Trijicon at a Glance

Trijicon, based in Wixom, MI, manufactures and distributes optical sighting devices for firearms, and specialise in self-luminous optics and night sights, mainly using the slightly radioactive isotope tritium, light-gathering fibre optics, and batteries. Trijicon is a contractor for the US military and supplies the Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG) and RX01 reflex sights. The ACOG, Reflex, TriPower, AccuPoint, and Night Sights are available to military, law enforcement, and civilian markets.

SOFIC 2015: Leupold Exhibits All New Dual-Enhanced View Optic (D-EVO)

Leupold engineers have innovated again with the all new Dual-Enhanced View Optic (D-EVO). A unique, innovative design allows the 6x20mm D-EVO to be paired perfectly with the Leupold Carbine Optic (LCO™), or virtually any red dot sight, to deliver a bold aiming point for reflexive shots and a magnified image for long-range precision with the mere movement of your eye. The exclusive Close Mid-Range Reticle with Wind Holds (CMR-W) allows users to successfully estimate range and engage targets with greater precision, speed, and flexibility and the hold-overs are compatible with 5.56/.223 and 7.62/.308 cartridges. The reticle features a 0.5 MOA dot surrounded by a 5 MOA circle, mil-based ranging features and windage hold points. The D-EVO utilises minimal rail space, is waterproof to 66 feet, and is backed by the Leupold Gold Ring Lifetime Guarantee.

The features are: DiamondCoat 2 scratch resistant lenses for maximum brightness and resolution, a extremely lightweight aluminium housing, 0.1 miliradian (mil) per click, wide field-of-view, a magnification of 6x, elevation/windage adjustment of 50 MOA, all with a weight of 391 grams.
Andre Forkert

SOFIC 2015: GLOCK Presents Modular Optic System

GLOCK engineers have developed the Modular Optic System (MOS) to simplify mounting of popular optical sights without costly machining of the pistol’s slide. With the MOS the shooter can mount the sight of their choice easily and quickly with just a few tools. The MOS will come with four adapter plates to accommodate most popular optic models, Torx wrench and screws and a cover plate for use without optic. The MOS is available in these pistol models: G34 Gen4, G35 Gen 4, G41 Gen4 and G40 Gen4.

There are 4 numbered GLOCK MOS Adapter Plates available for Optical Sights of following manufacturers: Adapter Docter, Meopta, Insight (01); Adapter Trijicon (02); Adapter C-More (03) and Adapter Leupold (04).

The MOS Adapter-Set includes a Torx Screwdriver (TX10) and four Torx screws to install the GLOCK MOS Adapter Plates. All screws come with a drop of glue applied.
Andre Forkert

“Winning in a Complex World”

This year’s conference theme of SOFIC, “Winning in a Complex World,” is providing a
forum for military, government, academia and industry to network and discuss
current and future challenges and how to best support Special Operations
Forces (SOF) around the globe.

Over 10,000 visitors preregistered and already the first day was packed. 340
companies present their solutions and products. This year is not an
“international” SOFIC – it is a biyearly change between domestic and an
international event – although there are numerous international SOF partners
invited and present, e.g. from Jordan, UAE (they even have their own booth
of the Presidential Guard), KSK (DEU), MARSOF (NLD), Norway, France and many
other. From the Airborne, Ranger and Special Forces arm patches it is
obvious that the US Forces are the majority.

USSOCOM Commander, General Joseph L. Votel opened the conference with a
nearly hour-long speech, and more than 1,500 attendees were listening. He
said, that the USSOCOM normally spend 1.8% of the annual defence budget,
that means even SOF have to spent it in a wise way. He presented his
priorities, in 3rd place today is building up partnerships around the world.
The needs for SOF missions are so high, even the US can’t manage it alone.
In 4th comes the preparation for the future trends. “It needs courage and
the right thinking and the help of the industry to come up with the right
solution at the right time”, so the commander. One of the top priorities of
procurement are UAS. Last year the procurement of tactical UAS was doubled.
Another technology topic and driver of importance is TALOS. The project is
now 1.5 years running, with hundreds of partners. Originally the prototype
should be ready by 2017, now the first full integrates TALOS should be
delivered in August 2018. He asked the industry to develop the equipment to
win tomorrows challenges. And therefore new partnerships between the
military, industry, education and other partners have to be created.
“Industry is inexplicable part of SOF! We are in this together”, so the

USSOCOM Acquisition Executive, Mr. James F. Geurts followed the commanders
speech and provided perspectives on SOF’s challenges and needs.

Over the course of three days, attendees will also have the opportunity to
engage with USSOCOM Program Executive Officers and Directors, Program
Managers, the Office of Small Business Programs representative, the
Technology & Industry Liaison Office representative, and other acquisition
experts who will identify top priorities, business opportunities, and
interests as they relate to USSOCOM acquisition programs.
Andre Forkert

SOFIC 2015: FLIR Systems presents surveillance vehicle and handheld sensors

At this year’s SOFIC FLIR is presenting its FLIR LTV, a All-TerrainSelf-Contained Mobile Surveillance System based on a Polaris 4x4 ATV. Cerberus LTV is a lightweight all terrain reconnaissance and surveillance system that gives operators the ability to go almost anywhere and conduct fully self-contained surveillance missions using advanced radar, electro-optical and thermal imaging systems. Complex long range, world class sensors are seamlessly woven together on a mobile platform to maximize detection, reliability and scalability while minimizing nuisance and false alarms. Payloads can be changed depending on the mission and networked with other sensors, FLIR vehicles and command and control nodes, yielding an unparalleled capability. LTV is perfect for guarding borders and critical infrastructure.

This vehicle is good for following applications:
• Force Protection
• Border Surveillance
• Tactical Reconnaissance
• Pipeline Security
• Mobile Security
• Target Tracking
• Long Range Surveillance

Key features are the sensors on the ATV – all directly from FLIR – a radar and visible/thermal camera payloads ranging from 700 m to 30 km, with slew-to-cue of cameras to radar tracks. Optional Payloads cover up to four spectral bands including visible, near-IR (NIR), short-wave IR (SWIR) and mid-wave IR (MWIR) bands, option for All-digital, High Definition 1080P/720P for all video channels, it can track over 500 targets at the same time and use Laser Designator, Laser Rangefinder, Laser Pointer and Illuminator options to measure, locate and point them for other forces. Wirelessly provides other personnel, vehicles and C2 systems with target bearing and geo-referenced coordinates, identifying the precise location and direction of the target.

Also at their booth, FLIR is showing its great range of handhelds and weapons night vision sensors.

Andre Forkert

19 May 2015

Unmanned Systems - Primary Users of Satellite Bandwidth

Today’s unmanned aerial systems (UAS) rely on satellite communication (SATCOM) links that allow UAS pilots to direct the aircraft from ground control stations based in the continental US.

The communications-hungry drones consume large amounts of bandwidth to pipe battlefield video feeds and other sensor data back to intelligence centers and to forces on the ground. As a result, satellites are becoming overloaded by the never-ending demand. Experts say the problem will only grow worse as the services increase the number of UAS or remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) in the skies.

The US Defense Department’s (DoD) space sector is struggling to keep pace with the proliferation of drones. Since the 2009 cancelation of the Air Force’s Transformational Satellite programme, which was supposed to provide more capacity for overloaded military SATCOM networks, US Air Force (USAF) officials increasingly have turned to commercial providers to make up the difference. Nearly 80% of the US government’s satellite communications capacity comes from the commercial sector.

Part of the challenge for the DoD is providing a means for transmitting information securely over these networks. Communications routed through commercial providers are largely not protected to the same degree as transmissions over military-owned satellites, which require encryption and other security measures that safeguard them from attack. Though the ultimate plan is to move all of the DoD’s battle-hardened space-based communication needs onto military systems — a transition that analysts say could take years, even decades — Pentagon officials for the foreseeable future will remain dependent upon commercial providers to supplement the network.

The growth of unmanned systems is still being grossly underestimated. Despite combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, the need for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities will only continue to escalate. Fewer boots on the ground mean more eyes in the sky.

By 2020, the government will operate nearly 800 satellite communications-enabled unmanned systems. PREDATORs and REAPERs will account for the majority, with the US Army’s GRAY EAGLE UAS, the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance aircraft, and the USAF’s GLOBAL HAWK rounding out the total. They will continue to constrain available satellite networks, many of which were designed in previous decades when unmanned aircraft communication was not even a requirement.  Industry is willing to make the investments to better meet military demands, company officials said. But the commercial investors expect a reasonable return for their money.

The government will be procuring nearly $50 billion worth of remotely piloted aircraft by 2020, at a rate of 70 to 100 medium altitude long edurance (MALE) UAS per year, all with SATCOM capability. Those new systems will require data throughput rates of 10 to 16 megabits per second. High-altitude systems, such as GLOBAL HAWK, will need even faster data rates, as high as 138 megabits per second, all driven by advanced sensor suites comprising high-definition cameras, wide area surveillance technology and simultaneous video feeds.

The bandwidth challenges if not addressed will cause even more headaches down the road as drone missions expand. Soldiers are exploring the utility of UAS as flying versions of today’s truck-mounted communication network nodes. To help ease the communications traffic, DoD officials transitioned UAS communication operations from the Ku-band spectrum to the higher Ka-band frequencies, which have more bandwidth and would allow troops greater command and control (C2) of their drones. The Wideband Global SatCom (WGS), the department’s newest and still growing constellation of satellites, has two-way Ka-band capability. 

Boeing WGS: High-Capacity Military Communications System

Boeing's Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) provides worldwide flexible, high data rate and long haul communications, being a constellation of highly capable military communications satellites that leverage cost-effective methods and technological advances in the communications satellite industry. With launches since 2007, WGS Space Vehicles are one of the US Department of Defense's (DoD) highest capacity communications satellites. Each WGS satellite provides high capacity service in both the X and Ka frequency bands, with the unprecedented ability to cross-band between the two frequencies onboard the satellite. WGS supplements X-band communications, provided by the Defense Satellite Communications System and augments the one-way Global Broadcast Service through new two-way Ka-band service.

Each WGS satellite is digitally channelised and transponded. These characteristics provide a quantum leap in communications capacity, connectivity and flexibility for US military forces and international partners, while seamlessly integrating with current and future X- and Ka-band terminals. Just one WGS satellite provides more SATCOM capacity than the entire Defense Satellite Communications System constellation. International partners participating on the programme are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and New Zealand.

WGS provides essential communications services, allowing commanders to exert command and control (C2) of their tactical forces, from peace time to military operations. Tactical forces rely on WGS to provide high-capacity connectivity to the Defense Information Systems Network. Part of the Wideband SATCOM Division of the Space and Missile Systems Center's MILSATCOM Directorate, the WGS system is composed of three principal segments: Space Segment (satellites), Control Segment (operators) and Terminal Segment (users). MILSATCOM is responsible for development, acquisition, fielding and sustainment of the WGS Programme. Block II follow-on satellites 7, 8, 9 and 10 are anticipated for launch in FY15, FY16, FY17, and FY18 respectively. Satellites are launched either via the Delta IV or the Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles.

NATO Secretary General Flying Havelsan KT-1T and T-38M Full Mission Simulators

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow, Chairman of the Military Committee Gen. Knud Bartels, and 28 permanent representatives visited Allied Land Command (LANDCOM) Headquarters in İzmir, Turkey, that incorporates the Multinational Military Flight Crew Training Centre developed by Havelsan to serve Turkish Air Force Command within 2nd Main Jet Base Group Command. The delegation flew with KT-1T and T-38M Full Mission Simulators.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg flew with Havelsan KT-1T and T-38M Full Mission Simulators at the  Multinational Military Flight Crew Training Centre developed by Havelsan. (Photos: Havelsan)

Havelsan gets ready to make a big step to have its name and capabilities known on international platforms by having their simulators used by Air Force personnel of NATO allied countries within the concept of the Multinational Military Flight Crew Training Centre Project, constituting one of the primary aims of the visit.

As an high tech defence cooperation initiative, the Multinational Military Flight Crew Training Centre Project aims to have simulators and co-systems developed by Havelsan used as a common pool. Thusly, it is intended to provide standardised aircrew training for NATO allied countries with Turkey as the lead, sharing flight training experience, developing new cooperation areas among allies and minimising training costs.

CRVS - Boeing's Effective Virtual Training Simulator

Yesterday, Boeing showcased its Constant Resolution Visual System (CRVS), the company's visual display, delivering an high-resolution immersive environment for training systems and for general visualisation applications, to a group of journalists in St. Louis, MO/USA.

CRVS provides constant target visibility throughout the entire field of vision by surrounding the pilot and cockpit in an eggshell-like environment that visually transforms into cities, landscapes and complex combat scenarios. JVC e-Shift 8K projectors further enhance the training experience and enable pilots to identify targets at real-world ranges.(Photos: Boeing)

According to Tom Conard, Director of Boeing Training Systems and Government Systems, CRVS makes virtual training missions and other simulations more detailed and effective, as it offers the same high resolution throughout the entire viewing area, providing an uninterrupted field of view and unvarying target acuity. The CRVS design also only uses 6+2 projectors (in the case of fixed wing training; for the APACHE trainers it is 6+1), allowing for lower acquisition and support costs. Its High Definition (HD) projector format is compatible with a variety of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) projectors and a wide array of image generators. CRVS is scalable, easily upgradeable and flexible.

Boeing has been developing the CRVS as a company-funded project for several years. Its applications include fast-jet, rotorcraft and ground-based training (current configurations include F-15, F-22, M-346, APACHE, and BAE HAWK), as well as visualisations for presentations, virtual prototyping and analysis. CRVS in its fixed wing configuration has been contracted to 78 domestic and international customers, with 70 fielded; while the APACHE Full Mission System, with a five axis full motion seat, has being sold 30+ times, with customers that include the US Army, Japan, and Singapore.

The systems on display used JVC's e-Shift 8K projection technology, bringing CRVS' visual acuity closer to 20/20, while keeping the system’s projector small and affordable. It nearly doubles a projector’s resolution horizontally and vertically, approaching 8K performance from a 4K device. The F-15 simulator incorporated Diamond Visionics' image generator, while the APACHE trainer ran on Rockwell Collins' EP8000

Earlier this year, Boeing selected Diamond Visionics' Imagen Powered by GenesisIG to support the AH-64E APACHE Engineering Development Simulator (EDS). Diamond Visionics collaborated with NVIDIA, a world leader in visual computing, and partnered with Concurrent Computer Corporation’s real-time Linux solutions business, to produce ImaGen Powered by GenesisIG, a powerful 4-channel IG in a single, 4U enclosure.

CRVS is compatible with a wide range of fast jet and rotary-wing cockpits and aviator night vision goggles, and easily integrates with current and future head-mounted displays.

Boeing and Saab Test Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb

Boeing and Saab, earlier this year, have recently tested Boeing’s Small Diameter Bomb I (SDB I), originally developed for use by aircraft, for launch from the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). The testing of the Ground Launched SDB (GLSDB), integrating the SDB I and M26 rocket motor technologies (provided by Nammo) for the MLRS, showed that the bomb can withstand a rocket artillery launch without its performance being compromised.

According to Boeing, GLSDB combines two highly successful, combat-proven systems into an effective ground forces offensive capability, and said that the GLSDB allows the artillery system to reach targets from significantly longer distances, and engage hard-to-reach targets, while maintaining the SDB’s flight maneuverability and accuracy. Under a teaming agreement signed in 2014, Boeing and Saab will offer GLSDB to current and future rocket artillery users.

SOFIC 2015 - Developments in Weapons Programmes

Orbital ATK is displaying several products and technology projects at SOFIC. One is its precision guidance kit PGK). The technology has been proven across artillery and mortar munitions. Most recently, the M1156 155 mm precision guidance kit for artillery passed lot acceptance testing. A total of 42 PGKs were fired from the M109A6 PALADIN. Forty-one out of 42 units performed reliably, demonstrating a point estimate reliability of 97%. All that has to be done is change the ordinary fuze of the artillery or mortar round with the PGK.
Also on display is Orbital ATK’s HATCHET, a miniature precision strike weapon for multiple airborne platforms. The approximately three kilogram weapon has proven its Lethality. The Enhanced Ordnance warhead is four to six times as lethal when compared to weapons of similar size. The ATK HATCHET weights less than 3 kg, and still retains precision guidance with a semi-active laser.
The company also provided a glimpse of its work in developing command guidance for small and medium ammunition. Concepts shown were 20 mm and .50 caliber. Orbital ATK is partnering with DARPA and industry to develop a precision .50 caliber sniper capability.

SOFIC 2015: Vectronix' new lightweight multifunctional sensor for day and night

The MOSKITO TI is the newest multifunctional solution from Vectronix and Sagem and maybe one of the hottest items at IWA. It incorporates eight essential functions in one lightweight device: wide field-of-view (6.25°) thermal imager for detection, LLCMOS camera for 100% positive identification (6x magnification) by day and night, low-divergence fiber laser rangefinder (10-10,000 m) for best performance in harsh environmental conditions, direct view optics for maximum DRI performance, digital magnetic compass, inclinometer, global navigation satellite system (GNSS) and an internal, optional eyesafe laser pointer for target handover.

Vectronix MOSKITO TI multifunctional sensor. (Photo: Vectronix)

MOSKITO TI combines all essential day and night viewing, measuring, and geo-location functions into one compact and user friendly device. Its outstanding digital and video processing capabilities for observation and reconnaissance missions, the optimized power concept, and the intuitive and unobtrusive HMI are additional advantages. The presence of standard interfaces (RS-232/USB/Ethernet/USB) and protocols also provides perfect connectivity and therefore easy integration into higher-level systems. The weight (>1.3 kg) is incredible for such a multifunctional device. Four CR123 batteries will run the system for >6 hours. An East-European Army is the first customer, deliveries starts in April.

Vectronix MOSKITO TI multifunctional sensor. (Photo: Vectronix)
Andre Forkert

New Anti-UAV Defence System (AUDS)

A trio  of specialist companies in the UK has launched a surveillance and radio frequency (RF) jamming-based system aimed at protecting critical national infrastructure (CNI), military bases and very important persons (VIPs) from threatening unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Blighter Surveillance Systems, Chess Dynamics and Enterprise Control Systems unveiled the Anti-UAV Defence System (AUDS) to the media on 18 May in London. The solution integrates an electronic scanning radar; electro-optical camera; and RF jamming technology into a single package to detect, identify and disrupt UAVs which could be carrying weaponised payloads including improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The development follows multiple incidents involving unmanned systems over recent years including the landing of a UAV on top of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s residence in Tokyo (carrying traces of radioactive material); vertical take-off/landing (VTOL) UAV incursions over UK and French nuclear bases; and a quadcopter UAV which hovered within metres of German Chancellor Angela Merkel at an event in 2013.

Other incidents include dozens of high profile events which have seen UAVs interfering with aircraft at major international airports, including London’s Heathrow; and police helicopters in New York City.

“The threat is the small, hobbyist drones you can buy on the internet,” explained Blighter Systems CEO Mark Radford, while explaining how the AUDS solution is capable of detecting and neutralising UAVs.

The radar is a development of a ground surveillance radar, and a variant of  the Blighter A400 Series Ku band electronic scanning air security radar which is currently deployed with the British military as well as London Heathrow Airport, as well with Republic of Korea government in the demilitarised zone. Capable of detecting a body crawling on the floor, the radar is capable of providing a 180-degree scan at a maximum range of 8km.

Provided by Chess Dynamics, an integrated electro-optic director, infrared and daylight cameras and target tracking software providing cooled thermal imaging (TI) and high-definition colour imagery with a high accuracy servo positioned for tracking capability. This includes automatic target detection and digital video tracker to maintain a lock on fast moving UAVs.

According to Graham Beale, managing director at Chess Dynamics, the EO camera is based on the company’s Hawkeye product which comprises MWIR and LWIR TI capabilities and a 36-degree field of view. He added that a high-quality TV day/night camera was also required because not all UAVs are big enough to emit a strong thermal signature.

Both the radar and EO camera sensors are integrated to a Smart RF jammer or inhibitor, as provided by Enterprise Control Systems (ECS). This multi-band jammer is capable of disrupting GPS, control and telemetry channels of the target UAV via a directional antenna capable of focusing power in the direction of the air frame.

According to ECS’s David Morris, the Smart RF Jammer is derived from counter-IED technology. “We have adapted this technology to counter this new and emerging threat. You can’t sit on your laurels but instead have to invent different techniques to identify and disrupt different parts of the UAV,” he explained.

“We know the vulnerabilities of data links and no system is perfect. We certainly know how to mess up a data link,” Morris added while describing the company’s exposure to counter-IED technology.

Meanwhile, Colin Bullock, CEO of Enterprise Control Systems, said: “With incidents of UAV and drone-related security breaches occurring on an almost daily basis, the AUDS system is able to address the heightened concern about UAVs within military, government, critical infrastructure and commercial security organisations.

“While UAVs have many positive applications, it’s expected that they’ll be used increasingly for malicious purposes - they can carry cameras, weapons, toxic chemicals and explosives - and be used increasingly for terrorism, espionage and smuggling purposes,” he said.

Finally, an integrated Command and Control (C2) system comprising a radar tracking screen; master control screen; and video recording screen, completes the AUDS system.

The basic concept of operation (CONOP) of AUDS sees the radar automatically scan the sky to identify a threat. Once this has been completed, the radar hands control to the EO camera which vertically scans the general area where the radar identified the UAV in order to find and fix the threat before the RF jammer is finally engaged to disrupt and neutralise the target.

Neutralisation of the UAV comprises either landing it in a controlled manner or disabling controls and allowing gravity to take hold.

According to the companies involved, the duration of the process depends on the type of UAV being tracked although there is no restriction on the size or speed of air frame which can be tracked. However, for larger threats such as fixed wing UAVs travelling up to 100kph, AUDS would most likely be able to detect a threat at a range of 5km; with EO camera deployed to find and fix the threat at 4km; and finally the RF jammer being initiated at 2.5km from target. Neutralisation of the target UAV would take just seconds to execute, it was added.

So far, demonstrations have focused on small VTOL UAVs travelling at low speeds which have seen detection successfully executed at a range of just 2km before rapidly deploying the EO camera and RF jammer to detect, track and neutralise the threat.

ECS explained how the RF jammer comprises a 20-degree beam wave, before adding how it was up to the user to facilitate a CONOP for the technology. It was added that AUDS is capable of tracking multiple targets although only a single UAV could be disrupted at any particular moment although subsequent targets could be prioritised for follow-on neutralisation.

Similarly, a number of AUDS could be networked together to provide coverage over a wider area of interest although the companies involved conceded that the current variant was not yet mature enough to handle restrictions associated with blocked radar signals and narrow FoV in and amongst tall buildings in the urban environment.

However, it was added that urban trials are expected to be conducted in the future in order to best identify how to counter UAVs in this type of environment.

To date, a number of government-sponsored trials have been completed in the UK and France with respective ministries of defence witnessing the capability of AUDS. A total of 80 hours of operation has been completed by the system to cover 150 UAV sorties. A further trial programme is scheduled in the US and Canada this year at an undisclosed location.

“In March 2015, the AUDS team took part in multi-supplier French Government trials in Captieux, France, where its counter UAV system proved highly successful in detecting and neutralising a variety of fixed and rotary wing micro, compact and standard UAVs. And last week, the system also performed well in UK Government sponsored counter UAV trials in West Freugh, Scotland,” a spokesperson added.
“The AUDS system is designed for counter-UAV operations in remote border sites or urban areas. It can be operated from fixed locations and from mobile platforms,” it was added.

The companies also described how AUDS could be integrated into a wider air defence system, such as that deployed ahead of the Olympic Games in London during 2012. “AUDS could have supported the military radars with a non-kinetic effect,” Radford added.

He also explained how AUDS was suited to Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) operations, with longer range threats being detected and dealt with by larger systems. “AUDS counters malicious use of commercially available UAVs,” he said.