industry news

UK DASA seeks proposals for new biological agent detection system

14 August

The UK Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has launched a new competition to seek proposals for technologies that would help further develop bio-detection capability. DASA aims to develop a fieldable system that would detect and report without users coming into close contact with hazardous and dangerous agents in the field.

The competition is seeking ideas that are focused on sensors and reporting mechanisms and that would be capable of remotely detecting the hazards as quickly as possible, thereby enabling front line users to safely avoid the threats. In addition, technologies capable of detecting the hazard to a lower confidence level and then cue deployment of a high-confidence sensor could also be considered.

According to DASA, the current methods to detect, locate and report hazardous biological materials consume a lot of time and are labour intensive.

DASA is looking for proposals for proof-of-concept technologies above Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 2 Phase I. The competition’s Phase I has been allocated a total budget of up to £500,000 to fund around three to five projects. Phase I research projects are expected to run for up to six months.

Additional funding is anticipated to be available for the future phases to further develop technologies to higher TRLs. The competition is scheduled to close on 7 November.

Alion submits final proposal for RCN’s Canadian Surface Combatant

13 August

Alion Science and Technology’s wholly owned subsidiary Alion Canada has submitted the final proposal for the Canadian Surface Combatant programme. By submitting its final bid and compliance forms to the Canadian Government the company marked a major milestone in the procurement of the surface combatant for the Royal Canadian Navy.

Alion Science and Technology chief operating officer Bruce Samuelsen said: “We provide a world-class combatant that is a proven, affordable, off-the-shelf solution. Our offering is focused on the Royal Canadian Navy’s stated requirements and will generate jobs and innovation across Canada.”

Samuelsen added that the company is ready to work in collaboration with Irving Shipbuilding and the government to begin the production of the Canadian Surface Combatants and enable the vessels to set sail in the water as soon as possible.

Canada selected a military-off-the-shelf procurement model to reduce costs, enhance delivery schedules and meet performance requirements.

Alion Canada’s ship design is based on the De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate, a NATO vessel developed and constructed by Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding.

The combat system solution provided by the company for the Canadian Surface Combatant is based on the upgraded capabilities provided by Atlas Elektronik and Hensoldt Sensors.

The vessel has been designed to carry out a wide range of tasks, which include decisive combat power at sea and support during land operations, counter-piracy, counter-terrorism, interdiction and embargo operations for medium intensity operations, as well as humanitarian aid, search-and-rescue, law and sovereignty enforcement for regional engagements.

Construction of the first vessel is expected to commence in the early 2020s.

Sweden chooses Lockheed’s PAC-3 MSE missiles

13 August

The Swedish Government has formalised an agreement with the US to acquire the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles and related support equipment.

Built by Lockheed Martin, PAC-3 is an advanced, capable and powerful theatre air defence missile that uses ‘hit-to-kill’ technology that engages threats through kinetic energy through body-to-body contact. It protects soldiers against incoming threats, including tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft.

The company serves as the prime contractor on the PAC-3 MSE upgrade to the Patriot air defence system. The upgrade helps expand the lethal battlespace with a dual-pulse solid rocket motor, thereby ensuring enhanced performance in altitude and range.

“We’re honoured to partner with Sweden on their efforts to protect and defend their armed forces, citizens and infrastructure,” said Jay Pitman, vice president for PAC-3 at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Today’s global security environment demands reliable hit-to-kill technology and innovative solutions. PAC-3 MSE interceptors will provide Sweden with a formidable layer of defence.”

With the signing of the contract, Sweden will become the sixth international customer to procure the PAC-3 MSE missile, joining the US, Qatar, Japan, Romania, Poland and the UAE.

Joint Forces Command’s Zephyr-S UAV beats flight endurance record

13 August

The Joint Forces Command’s high altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) operational concept demonstrator aircraft has beaten the world flight endurance record by remaining airborne for more than 25 days without refuelling.

The Airbus-developed Zephyr-S unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has the capability to operate in the stratosphere at an average altitude of 70,000ft while carrying out a wide range of operations, including land and maritime surveillance, and a number of communication tasks.

Operating completely on solar power, the operational concept demonstrator flies above conventional air traffic and can fill a capability gap complimentary to satellites, UAVs and manned aircraft in order to provide persistent local satellite-like services.

During the flight the ultra-lightweight drone remained airborne for 25 days, 23 hours and 57 minutes, surpassing the previous record of 14 days, 22 minutes and eight seconds set by an earlier Zephyr variant.

Joint Forces Command commander general Sir Chris Deverell said: “This is a great example of how Joint Forces Command is at the heart of innovation for UK defence. We are demonstrating new technology that puts our armed forces at the cutting edge of communication and surveillance.”

The aircraft is being delivered by the UK Defence Equipment and Support Technology Office under the Operational Concept Demonstrator contract signed with Airbus in 2016. The deal involves the acquisition of three Zephyr-S UAV platforms, with additional flight trials planned over the coming months.

The OCD will help the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) in understanding the use of advanced technologies in a HAPS capability to deliver operational effect for future acquisition projects.

BAE Systems to develop cyber defence tools for DARPA’s CHASE programme

10 August

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected BAE Systems to develop automated cyber-defence tools. The solution will combine advanced machine learning and cyber-attack modelling to automatically detect and defeat advanced cyber threats, thereby safeguarding extremely large enterprise networks.

BAE Systems Cyber Technology Group product line director Anne Taylor said: “Today, advanced cyber attacks within many enterprise networks go entirely unnoticed among an overwhelming amount of network data, or they require intensive manual analysis by expert teams. Our technology aims to alleviate resource constraints to actively hunt for cyber threats that evade security measures, enhancing the collective cyber defence of these networks.”

The automated systems will be manufactured under DARPA’s Cyber-Hunting at Scale (CHASE) programme in order to develop, demonstrate and analyse new, automated cyber-defence tools for use within and across the enterprise networks.

The contract for Phases I, II and III of the CHASE programme is valued at approximately $5.2m.

The subcontractors and research partners for the company working on the CHASE programme include Digital Operatives, Dr Ruslan Salakhutdinov from Carnegie Mellon University, and Dr Farshad Khorrami and team from New York University.

Work on the project will be carried out at BAE Systems’ manufacturing facility in Arlington, Virginia, US.

BAE’s solution could also be used to safeguard government and military networks.

Salient CRGT to deliver IT support services to USAF Cyber Command

10 August

US-based software company Salient CRGT has secured a subcontract for the delivery of IT support services to the US Air Force (USAF) Cyber Command.

Centech Group selected the Salient CRGT under the USAF’s Network-Centric Solutions-2 (NETCENTS-2), Air Force Net Operations Small Business Set-Aside contract. Under the $6.4m award, the company will deliver weapon system (WS) maintenance, operations, and support services to the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Cryptologic and Cyber Systems Division (AFLCMC / HNCYD).

Salient CRGT chief executive officer Tom Ferrando said: “We are excited to team with Centech providing critical cyber mission support to the USAF. Operating, sustaining, and modernising the system that provides the situational awareness, direction, and control of cyber forces to effectively integrate cyber operations with combat operations in other domains.”

Salient CRGT will support WS operations and maintenance services, including legacy infrastructure, network, systems and operations support for the Cyber Command and Control Mission System.

The company will help improve system performance, reduce system outages, and enable the programme management office to mature the critical node to support future multi-domain operations.

Work on the project will be carried out at Joint Base San Antonio supporting the Command and Control mission for USAF Cyber Command.

AFLCMC is responsible for carrying out the acquisition and providing complete lifecycle support of all aircraft, engines, munitions and electronic / cyber systems for the USAF and its international partners.

Elbit Systems to deliver electronic warfare suites for Israeli Navy

10 August

The Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMoD) has awarded a contract, valued at roughly $85m, to aerospace and defence company Elbit Systems for the delivery of electronic warfare (EW) suites to the Israeli Navy.

The company will supply EW systems for integration on-board the Israeli Navy’s Sa’ar 6-class corvettes under the contract, which will be effective for an operational period of more than ten years.

Israel’s corvettes will be responsible for carrying out missions to ensure the protection and safety of the country’s Economic Exclusion Zone upon deployment.

Elbit Systems EW and SIGINT–Elisra executive vice president and general manager Edgar Maimon said: “We are proud to continue to be the EW house of the Israeli Navy and to have been awarded this contract to equip the new corvettes with the sophisticated EW capabilities necessary to perform a variety of complex missions, while maintaining maximal level of force protection. The increasing demand for our EW solutions is a clear indication for the growing operational importance of advanced and combat-proven EW capabilities in all domains of operational engagement, maritime, land and air.”

Elbit’s EW suites feature open architecture and include digital receivers, signal processing technologies and analysis tools. The contracted systems are intended to provide the flexibility to address both current and future threats, while enabling effective operational capabilities.

Elbit has developed the latest configurations of the EW technologies in collaboration with the Israeli Navy and IMoD’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure.

US DoD bans deployed service members from using GPS-enabled devices

9 August

The US Department of Defence (DoD) has released a memo that prohibits deployed service members from using global positioning system (GPS)-enabled devices.

According to the memo issued by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, the ‘geolocation devices’ barred from usage in deployed settings include physical fitness aids, phones containing location-tracking applications, and other devices and apps that track the location of individuals.

Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Robert Manning III said: “Effective immediately, Defence Department personnel are prohibited from using geolocation features and functionality on government and non-government-issued devices, applications and services while in locations designated as operational areas. The rapidly evolving market of devices, applications and services with geolocation capabilities presents a significant risk to the DoD personnel on and off duty, and to our military operations globally.”

The new policy also allows commanders to determine other areas where this new rule will be applicable.

As part of their workout routines, service members use GPS-enabled devices to track their pace, running routes, calories burned and other personal details. The DoD noted that the devices store the information and upload it to central servers where it can be shared with third parties. This poses a threat as enemies can have access to information on military operations such as personal information, locations, routines and number of DoD personnel.

The new policy will also cover personal phones and other portable devices that are equipped with GPS technology-based apps. However, commanders can make exceptions after undertaking a thorough risk assessment.