Friday, August 19, 2005

Off the Wire, 8/19

Australia Orders Sensors for Armored Vehicle

Source: Engineered Support Systems

Engineered Support Systems (St. Louis, MO) has received a new $7-million contract from the Australian Defense Material Organization's Land Maneuver Systems Branch in Melbourne for the development of a Multi-Spectral Sensor Suite (MSSS) to be used with the Australian Light Armored Vehicle (ASLAV). Engineered Support's Systems & Electronics, Inc. (SEI), subsidiary will design, develop, and test the MSSS in their St. Louis and West Plains, MO, facilities.
The prototype system will begin Australian Defense Force (ADF) testing in the fall of 2006. The development activity is expected to last 21 months, with the potential for a follow-on production award in 2007 under Stage 2 of the program.
The MSSS is a reconnaissance and surveillance package consisting of a laser rangefinder, thermal imager, and ground-surveillance radar integrated with SEI's stabilized common gimbal (SCG-100) and soldier-machine interface. The MSSS will be capable of three modes of operation: mounted on the vehicle, connected to the vehicle by a cable, and completely dismounted. The package will also be compatible with operation on a 10-m mast currently in service with the ASLAV-Surveillance (ASLAV-S) variant. The MSSS package will be designed as a kit for installation on the ASLAV-S by the ADF. The kit is adaptable to a wide range of wheeled and tracked vehicles.

For more on advanced sensors for ground forces, see Clear in Sight.


UK, France Fund Missile-Seeker Demo

Source: QinetiQ

As a result of initial conceptual-research work carried out by QinetiQ (Farnborough, UK) into the Dual Mode Active Infrared (IR) and Imaging IR Seeker (DUMAS), a Thales-led team has been awarded a $7.4-million demonstrator contract for advanced missile-seeker technology.
The DUMAS has its origins in conceptual research carried out by QinetiQ, and as a result of this initial work, funded over several years by the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the French Délégation Générale pour l'Armement (DGA, France military-procurement agency), Thales has now been awarded a $7.4-million contract by the Western European Armaments Organization (WEAO) to supply a DUMAS missile-seeker technology demonstrator.
The UK MoD, French DGA, and industry are jointly funding the four-year program, under the auspices of the European Research Grouping Arrangement No. 1 (EUROPA MOU). The DUMAS project will provide demonstrator hardware for flight trials onboard a French Puma helicopter in 2007-2008.
QinetiQ will continue to work alongside Thales UK on the advanced seeker algorithms and the control processor. Safran (created by Sagem's recent merger with Snecma) is also on the team to provide systems-engineering support as a weapons-systems prime contractor. Thales UK will manage the program and will lead the seeker integration, mechanical design, and joint algorithm-design and -modeling activity. The Thales teams in France will provide the overall engineering lead and head the infrared- and laser-sensor designs and seeker trials.
The DUMAS program now provides the Thales led team with an opportunity to further its capability in the emerging infrared seeker market. A production version of DUMAS is expected to have application in a number of programs, including the UK MoD's Selectable Precision Effects At Range and the French DGA's Armement Air Sol Modulaire – a modular air-to-surface weapon – as well as the SCALP-EG missile program.
DUMAS technology combines an active infrared-scanning laser and a passive infrared detector that, used in conjunction with sophisticated algorithms, detects, images, and identifies targets. The DUMAS is expected to improve existing and new missile systems by increasing target-search areas and by providing automated target-identification capabilities.

For more on dual-spectral seekers, see Aircraft Countermeasures and the Dual-Spectral Threat.


CWID 2005 Issues After-Action Report

Source: Communications-Applied Technology

US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) released its Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (CWID) 2005 After Action Report, citing three technologies out of the 49 trialed that met its top criteria for further funding and evaluation by Joint Forces Command. Of those three is the Incident Commanders' Radio Interface (ICRI), a small, rapidly deployable device that links voice communications across incompatible radios and other communications equipment.
Realigned this year to focus on security within US borders and on the global war on terrorism, CWID 2005 is the Joint Chiefs of Staff's annual proving ground for technologies that improve interoperability among US warfighters, anti-terrorism forces, and international coalition partners. The goal of CWID is to acquire the solutions that are successful in the exercises and make them operational within six to 12 months. Two ICRIs have already been acquired by NORTHCOM HQ and six by NORTHCOM's Joint Task Force-Civil Support.
Manufactured by Communications-Applied Technology, the ICRI created tactical interoperability, linking military and non-military radios, VoIP, and telephone systems despite their dissimilar waveforms and frequencies. By providing voice communications among traditional military allies, a large contingent of non-DoD government agencies, national law enforcement, and the first-responder community, the ICRI demonstrated the operational value and technical maturity for improving the information exchange and situational awareness strategies required by NORTHCOM.
The ICRI's functionality stands in contrast to previous software-based solutions that could not be rapidly deployed, preventing agencies and teams from establishing real-time radio interoperability. The After Action Report states "the 'ICRI' is appropriate to most levels of government that participate in military and state/municipal crisis-response operations, including: governmental department/agency (DHS, DOJ, DOT, FEMA, USCG, FBI, CIA, etc.), combatant command theater, coalition task force commander and/or staff, air, land, maritime, special operation forces, and tactical level (division, ship, aircraft, etc.)."

For more on civil and military communications interoperability, see We Need to Talk.


USAF Gets Support for Weapons Simulation

Source: L-3 Communications

L-3 Communications (New York, NY) announced today that its SYColeman subsidiary has been selected as a principal contractor on the MNGG Advance Simulation Technology (MAST) program, a 10-year time and materials contract for weapon-systems-simulation support to the US Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate (AFRL/MN) at Eglin AFB, FL.
The contract is for a base period through July 2006, and with nine one-year options, has a potential value of $49.7 million if all options are exercised.
SYColeman will support the AFRL/MN by providing simulation capabilities for the next generation of weapon concepts and developing digital simulation tools and hardware-in-the-loop technology for use at Eglin AFB and for transition to other US government facilities.

For more on military simulations, see This Means War.


Missile Tested on Deeply Buried Targets

Source: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, MD) demonstrated a technology milestone for the integration of a boosted penetrator warhead with a long-range cruise missile that can be used against hard and deeply buried targets.
In the test, held at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, in Socorro, NM, the penetrator was expelled from a missile body using a small discharge pressurization device.
The test successfully demonstrated the ability to propel the warhead from the main airframe without altering the airframe's flight path or angle of flight. In operation, the missile would carry the warhead from long ranges against a target. In the terminal phase, just before reaching the target, the warhead would be expelled from the nose of the missile, when a booster would ignite to propel the warhead to high velocity and impact on the target. Other features of Lockheed Martin's dispenser system are planned for demonstration on the Revolutionary Approach To Time-critical Long Range Strike (RATTLRS) program in 2006.
This technique provides significant risk reduction to long-range strike cruise missiles and supersonic cruise missiles, such as the RATTLRS program currently underway at Lockheed Martin's Advanced Development Programs (Skunk Works) in Palmdale, CA, and funded by the Office of Naval Research. Building on a successful collaboration that has produced weapons such as the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, the Skunk Works is leading the RATTLRS development effort with support from Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

For more on stand-off strike weapons, see Hammers of the Gods.


Upgraded Firebee Target Flies

Source: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman (San Diego, CA) reached another milestone for its BQM-34 Firebee aerial target with the latest version's successful first flight featuring an enhanced integrated avionics unit as the vehicle's autopilot. Aerial targets are the US Navy's most realistic means of training sailors and airmen against airborne threats and testing an array of weapon systems, and the avionics upgrade supports the service's aerial-targets transformation plan.
The BQM-34 Firebee's primary mission is to simulate tactical threats by enemy aircraft and missiles for defense-readiness training, air-to-air combat training, and test and evaluation of weapon systems. The BQM-34 Firebee is also in service with the US Air Force and international military services. In addition to serving as an aerial target, the Firebee can also support a variety of operational scenarios including unique payload-delivery missions. Most notably, it supported allied operational requirements during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The aerial-targets transformation plan includes implementing autonomous waypoint navigation; complex, pre-programmed three-dimensional maneuvers; and plug-and-play, common digital architecture for payloads. Northrop Grumman developed this common-technology approach in collaboration with the Navy's targets program office to help simplify logistics requirements, alleviate obsolescence problems, and reduce the operational costs of its fleet of subsonic targets.
The flight took place at the Naval Air Warfare Center at Pt. Mugu, CA, following a Navy-funded 18-month development program. The integrated avionics unit, currently in production for the Navy's BQM-74E aerial target, will also serve as the baseline autopilot for the BQM-74F aerial target, which will enter flight-testing in late August.

For more on target drones, see China Eyes Converting Old Fighters to UAVs and Israel Rejects Indian Lakshya, ALH.


Link 16 for Norwegian Air-Defense System

Source: Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace

Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace has signed a contract with the Norwegian Air Force to supply a Link 16 tactical datalink for the NASAMS II anti-aircraft system. The $7.4-million contract represents the first delivery of this technology to land-based units in the Norwegian Armed Forces.
Link 16 is a NATO-standardized tactical datalink that enables the NASAMS II anti-aircraft system to be fully integrated with other NATO systems, enhancing mobility. Link 16 is the backbone of a modern network-based defense in which weapons, sensors, and decision-makers are linked together into a single network for joint operations with other domestic and allied units.

For more on mobile, integrated air-defense networks, see Good Move.


US DoD Releases Roadmap for Unmanned Aircraft

Source: US DoD

Once used only for remote reconnaissance, unmanned-aircraft technology has rapidly evolved in recent years. Such systems now feature strike capabilities and are being used for force-protection and signals-collection missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unmanned aerial systems "have helped reduce the complexity and time lag in the 'sensor-to-shooter chain' for acting on 'actionable intelligence,'" according to a document released by the US Department of Defense (DoD) earlier this month.
The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Roadmap 2005-2030, released Aug. 4 with more than 200 pages, explains these diverse systems range from "micro air vehicles, weighing less than a pound, to massive aircraft weighing more than 40,000 [lbs.], and vary in cost from a few thousand dollars to tens of millions."
The roadmap, now in its third iteration, lays out technology goals for developing unmanned systems over the next 25 years, explained Dyke Weatherington, deputy director of the DoD's Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Planning Task Force. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Weatherington explained that even the name of the roadmap has changed from previous iterations. "Unmanned aerial vehicle," generally referred to as UAV, has been the most commonly accepted term for such aircraft. DoD planners have recently changed that terminology to "unmanned aircraft system" (UAS), which better denotes that much more than just the vehicle is needed to make such systems useful to warfighters. "A UAV by itself doesn't do anything for anybody other than sit on the ramp and provide shade," Weatherington said. "I need an integrated capability to do the mission....That's a vehicle; that's sensor systems; that may be weapons; that's communication systems; that's command and control; that's trained operators. All those elements are critical to deliver the capability."
Unmanned systems are particularly well-suited for "information, surveillance, and reconnaissance" missions at the tactical level, Weatherington said. Specific useful capabilities of such systems include full-motion video and "persistence" – i.e., they can stay in an area observing a developing situation for extended lengths of time.
He said "well-over" 1,000 small, unmanned systems are currently in use in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The top technology goal in the roadmap is to develop the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) to provide a key capability predominantly delivered by manned aircraft in operations today.
"Primarily, for mobile, dynamic targets, the solution today is to send manned tactical aircraft in to find, (identify) and destroy those," Weatherington said.
Manned aircrews aren't the ideal choice for these missions because they put aircrews at risk, he said.
Smaller unmanned systems are "somewhat disposable," Weatherington said. "We don't intend to dispose of them. But...if you need to put them in a situation to save a life, and you end up leaving the aircraft, it's not a significant loss."

For more on US plans for UAVs, see US Plans Expanded Role for UAVs.


First Apache Longbow for Kuwait Delivered

Source: Boeing

The US government, on behalf of the government of Kuwait, accepted Kuwait’s first AH-64D Apache Longbow multirole combat helicopter from Boeing (Mesa, AZ).
The Apache Longbow, delivered in July, is the first of a 16-Apache Foreign Military Sales order with the US Department of Defense (DoD) for the Kuwaiti government. The aircraft will remain in the US until next year to undergo a series of qualification tests.
Maintenance personnel from Kuwait are currently in the US for training and will be followed by Kuwaiti pilots later this year. No firm in-country delivery schedule or contract details have been announced.
Kuwait's Ministry of Defense initially signed a letter of offer and acceptance with the DoD in 2002, making Kuwait the seventh international defense force to select the AH-64D and the 11th Apache customer worldwide.
The AH-64D Apache Longbow features fully integrated avionics and weapons, plus a modem that transmits real-time, secure, digitized battlefield information to air and ground forces. The combat helicopter has the ability to rapidly detect, classify, prioritize, and engage stationary or moving enemy targets at standoff ranges in nearly all weather environments.

For more on Apache Longbows in the Middle East, see Israel Receives First Apache Longbows.

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