Rise of the robots: AI in the airborne battlespace
24 January 2022
by Gareth Jennings
The UK-led Tempest future combat aircraft will feature AI and autonomy at its core. These capabilities will extend to the platform's unmanned ‘loyal wingmen' and the wider Future Combat Air System. (BAE Systems)
The combat aircraft on today's drawing boards are being designed with artificial intelligence (AI) and/or autonomy at the core of their capabilities, and the UK-led Tempest programme is at the forefront of this global trend.
As defined by the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), AI encompasses the theories and techniques that enable computer systems to perform tasks normally requiring human or biological intelligence. Autonomy is the characteristic of a system using AI to determine its own course of action by making its own decisions, while autonomous systems contain AI-based components that enable them to exhibit autonomy.
Some of the leaders in the UK's efforts around AI and autonomy came together in June 2021 at the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) in London to discuss the subject that is in its infancy, as well as the varied technological and ethical issues that surround it.
France, Germany, Sweden launch future transport aircraft
04 July 2022
by Gareth Jennings
Seen being displayed at ILA 2022, the C-130 in service with the Luftwaffe, the Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace, and the Swedish Air Force is one of the aircraft types earmarked for replacement by the FMTC project. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)
France, Germany, and Sweden have agreed development of a new fixed-wing medium-lift transport aircraft, it was announced on 30 June.
The French Ministère des Armées reported the agreement, saying that the three countries launched the Future Mid-Size Tactical Cargo (FMTC) programme during the Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace (AAE)-hosted French Presidency of the Council of the European Union (PFUE) European Wings event.
“It was during this event on 23 June that an agreement was signed for the Future Mid-Size Tactical Cargo (FMTC), a tactical transport aircraft project replacing, by 2040, the [Lockheed Martin] C-130 Hercules and Casa [Airbus Defence and Space (DS)] CN235 fleets. Supported by the European Defence Agency (EDA), this agreement allows the definition of the aircraft intended to operate in addition to the [Airbus DS] A400M fleet from 2040,” the AAE said.
US Army interested in enhanced M-SHORAD capability for ground threats
01 July 2022
by Ashley Roque
An M-SHORAD Stryker, assigned to the US Army's 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery, targets a UAS and launches a Stinger missile on 9 March 2022 near Rutja in Estonia. The service is seeking industry feedback on ammunition cartridges that will enable the weapon to target ground threats too. (US Army)
The US Army wants soldiers using the Stryker-based Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) weapon to also be able to target ground threats and is seeking information about “state-of-the art” ammunition cartridges to help make that a reality.
On 27 June the service issued a sources sought notice for a potential 30×113 mm Multi-Mode Proximity Airburst (MMPA) requirement that calls for more accurate, lethal, and reliable cartridges than the currently fielded XM1198 High Explosive Dual Purpose with Self Destruct design.
More specifically, a future MMPA would provide M-SHORAD vehicles with the ability to “rapidly transition” to defeat both ground and air target sets, instead of just the latter.
“MMPA will integrate with the XM914 weapon system utilising a United States government contact fuze setter and will require advanced proximity fuze and airframe/propulsion components to meet performance goals,” the army wrote.
An Israel-supplied Searcher UAV of the Indian Navy on display. The MoD seeks to acquire 40 domestically manufactured UAVs for deployment on warships. (Indian Ministry of Defence)
India has announced an intention to procure 40 Naval Shipborne Unmanned Aerial Systems (NSUAS) for warships more than 100 m in length.
In a request for information (RFI) issued on 29 June, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Indian Navy said that the NSUAS will be used for surveillance tasks, including signals intelligence (SIGINT), target acquisition, reconnaissance, and maritime domain awareness around a naval task group.
Secondary roles would comprise anti-piracy, anti-terrorist activities, and assistance in Search-and-Rescue (SAR), the MoD said in the RFI document.
data, the Indian Navy operates three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) squadrons from shore-based locations.
data adds that each squadron is very likely equipped with four IAI Heron Mk II and six IAI Searcher II UAVs.
The latest requirement is focused on procuring indigenously developed platforms.
Podcast recording date: 26 April 2022.
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