Wednesday, September 28, 2016

DARPA Picks BAE’s Smart Handheld EW Sensor « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

DARPA Picks BAE’s Smart Handheld EW Sensor « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: BAE Systems has been awarded a DARPA contract that may help address one of the most pressing threats the US Army has identified — Russia’s increasingly impressive and powerful use of Electronic Warfare on the battlefield.

The technology for a new handheld tactical sensor that soldiers can easily carry to monitor and analyze the electro-magnetic spectrum on the battlefield was developed under DARPA’s Computational Leverage Against Surveillance Systems (CLASS) program and the Cognitive radio Low-energy signal Analysis Sensor ICs (CLASIC) program.

As Sydney has reported, the brand new Army Rapid Capabilities Office is studying proposals to spend between $50 and $100 million on urgently needed electronic warfare gear. Those options include sensors to detect radar and radio signals, and jammers to block them, mounted on ground vehicles, soldiers’ backpacks, and drones. It’s unclear at this point whether the DARPA system might be considered by the Army’s RCO.

The system is part of a wider effort by BAE Systems to develop something close to the heart of Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work’s Third Offset, a system using artificial intelligence to read and analyze an enemy’s communications and EW emissions, providing soldiers at the tactical level with tools to manage something that used to be handled back in the command center.

Marines Testing Out World’s Smallest Drone – Defensetech

Marines Testing Out World’s Smallest Drone – Defensetech: Top Marine Corps brass have said they want rifle squads to deploy with drones in the future. And if they deploy with this one, they won’t even notice the weight in their pack.

The PD-100 Black Hornet, made by Proxdynamics of Norway, redefines small when it comes to unmanned aerial vehicles. The pocket-sized black or grey birds, which look like helicopters in miniature, weigh 18 grams–the equivalent of three sheets of paper, Proxdynamics General Manager Arne Skjaerpe told Military.com. They come equipped with day or night-vision cameras and can be operated using a device reminiscent of a beige Nintendo Wii controller and an attached tablet.

It’s the smallest operational drone in the world by far, he said.

“From our perspective, this was developed to give the dismounted squad its own ISR capability,” Skjaerpe said. “That was the big idea, and still is the big idea.”

And the Marine Corps is buying. Skjaerpe said the service has already purchased a small number of the systems, which come with two birds apiece, for test and evaluation purposes. Marine infantry units got a chance to test them out twice this summer: at the Rim of the Pacific multinational exercise, and at Marine Air Ground Task Force Integrated Experiment 2016, which took place at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, in July.

Air Force Fielding New Sensors to High-Altitude Drone – Defensetech

Air Force Fielding New Sensors to High-Altitude Drone – Defensetech: Even as it begins developing the future B-21 stealth bomber for the U.S. Air Force, Northrop Grumman Corp. is busy outfitting new sensors to the RQ-4 high-altitude drone to meet the service’s rising demand for surveillance missions.

The Falls Church, Virginia-based company already this year flew a new sensor onboard the Global Hawk — and plans to test and field two more technologies in coming months, according to Mick Jaggers, vice president and program manager for Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system programs.

Through a cooperative research and development agreement with the Air Force, Northrop flew a Global Hawk with the latest Senior Year Electro-optical Reconnaissance System sensor, or the SYERS-2, made by UTC Aerospace Systems, Jaggers recently told Military.com.

The sensor is also fitted on the U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane and provides multi-spectral imaging of targets to extreme ranges; the active-duty Global Hawk has since been returned to the Air Force “since that demo was successful,” Jaggers said.

Next up are two other systems called the Optical Bar Camera, or OBC, and the MS-177 Multi-Spectral Sensor System, he said.

Marine Corps to Equip Infantry Units with Polaris ATVs - DoD Buzz

Marine Corps to Equip Infantry Units with Polaris ATVs - DoD Buzz: The U.S. Marine Corps is about to outfit its infantry regiments with a version of the Polaris Defense MRZR four-seater, all-terrain vehicle.

Under the Utility Task Vehicle program, the Marines are planning to purchase 144 Polaris MRZR-Ds, a new version of the vehicle designed to take diesel and JP8 fuel, Joaquin Salas, business development fort Polaris Defense, told Military.com Tuesday at Modern Day Marine 2016.

No contract has been awarded yet, but the Corps is planning on fielding 18 MRZR-Ds per infantry regiment, according to UTV program information displayed at the USMC’s Program Manager Light Tactical Vehicles booth at the show.

The vehicles are scheduled to go into production in October, Salas said. In addition to the four crew seats, the MRZR-D features a small cargo bed and is capable of carrying 1,500 pounds of payload, Salas said.

Marines on the Hunt for a Ship-to-Shore Game-Changer - DoD Buzz

Marines on the Hunt for a Ship-to-Shore Game-Changer - DoD Buzz: On the heels of two land wars and with the prospect of conflict with a peer or near-peer global power closer than it has been in decades, innovation is the watchword for the Marine Corps. Marines are testing out new ways to integrate cutting-edge technology into their combat model and updating operating concepts with an eye to an uncertain future. And even time-honored processes are up for reconsideration.

“My father was in World War II. He went ashore in an AmTrac going four to six knots,” Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, told reporters at the Modern Day Marine expo here Tuesday. “Marines today are going to shore in [assault amphibious vehicles] at about the same speed. Let’s look at the technology out there and find different ways to do this.”

A Marine Corps task force, Walsh said, is examining the mechanics of ship-to-shore maneuver now with the goal of improving or modernizing the process. The task force, with input from Dr. John Burrow, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, will select one prototype by next spring for demonstration at Camp Pendleton, California.

That prototype could be anything from a tactical jet ski that Navy SEALs for force reconnaissance Marines could use to come ashore as an advanced party to a sensor designed to launch off the Marines’ brand-new amphibious combat vehicles to provide additional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, Walsh said. It could even be a decoy system, he said, designed to look like vessels landing on a beach to distract the enemy while the Marines go ashore elsewhere.

The timeline for developing a prototype makes it likely the system selected will be an already-developed technology that is adapted for the Marines’ use.

US Looks to Accelerate Deployment of South Korea Missile Defense | Military.com

US Looks to Accelerate Deployment of South Korea Missile Defense | Military.com: The U.S. intends to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea "as soon as possible" to counter the threat from North Korea despite opposition from China, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia said Tuesday.

Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said he believes South Korea is firmly committed to the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD system. He told a congressional hearing the system is purely defensive and is not aimed at China but at North Korea.

The plans have complicated South Korea's efforts to foster warmer ties with China, which traditionally has had closer ties with North Korea, and have added to tensions between Washington and Beijing as well. Beijing says the system's radar could reach into Chinese territory.

Seoul and Washington began formal talks on THAAD earlier this year. Russel did not specify when the deployment would happen, but said "given the accelerated pace of North Korea's missile tests, we intend to deploy on an accelerated basis, I would say, as soon as possible."

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How To ‘Land’ A Drone On A Manned Airplane: DARPA’s ‘Gremlins’ « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

How To ‘Land’ A Drone On A Manned Airplane: DARPA’s ‘Gremlins’ « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: This time, General Atomics’ secret weapon isn’t the drone. It’s the mechanical arm that catches it in mid-flight — and then hauls it into the back of a C-130 cargo plane, also in mid-flight.

General Atomics, which builds the iconic Predator, has rolled out its offering for DARPA’s Gremlins program, blandly called the Small Unmanned Air Vehicle (SUAS). The goal: Build drones — and equally critical, a launch and recovery system — that can take off from a manned aircraft, conduct a mission and come back aboard the plane.

Getting the drone back is “the DARPA-hard part,” said Chris Pehrson, General Atomics VP for Strategic Development in an interview at the Air Force Association conference here last week. GA’s solution blends sophisticated software with cartoony mechanics, as if their senior engineer were Wiley E. Coyote.

They recover the drone with “a mechanical arm that comes down and grabs it,” Pehrson told me. “It’s almost like a Transformer-type thing.”