USSOCOM awards Armed Overwatch contract to L3Harris Technologies

by Andrew White

L3Harris Technologies' AT-802U Sky Warden. (L3Harris)

US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has selected L3Harris Technologies as the lead contractor for its long-awaited Armed Overwatch programme.

The company was awarded a contract worth a maximum of USD3 billion on 31 July, although it was officially announced by the Tampa-based command on 1 August.

The Armed Overwatch programme intends to provide US Special Operations Forces (SOF) with up to 75 “deployable and sustainable manned aircraft systems [capable of] fulfilling close air support [CAS]; precision strike; and SOF intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) in austere and permissive environments”, according to USSOCOM's request for information for the programme.

Additional requirements called for a “multirole, modular” aircraft capable of supporting counter-terrorism/counter-violent extremist organisation operations in addition to “collapsing the stack by merging the capabilities of larger ISR and armed aircraft capabilities into one cost-effective, resilient package”.

Use of Armed Overwatch aircraft is expected to increase availability of other air assets to support operations against more advanced adversaries.


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UK seeks new GEO satellite for Skynet

by Olivia Savage

Skynet 6A (pictured above), scheduled to be launched in 2025, will fill a capability gap while the MoD sets the requirements for the Skynet Enduring Capability. (Airbus)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is seeking a Narrowband Satellite System (NSS) for the Skynet Enduring Capability (SKEC).

A Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ), published by the MoD on 10 August, outlined a requirement for a narrowband ultra-high frequency (UHF) geosynchronous (GEO) satellite and its control system for SKEC.

A deadline for expressions of interest has been set for 20 September. The satellite must also meet NATO STANAG 4681 Ed 2 and/or MIL-STD-188-100 standards.

The SKEC space segment comprises two separate procurements, the first of which involves the acquisition of a GEO NSS. The second one seeks multiple medium-sized GEO satellites with X and Mil Ka-band payloads, which will help meet a wideband requirement, the MoD detailed.

It is expected that SKEC will provide the MoD with a next-generation satellite communications (satcom) capability. It is anticipated that the satellites will be in service until at least 2040, the MoD disclosed. The MoD also hopes to have the capability to monitor and control the platforms.


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UK launches next phase of UAS Heavy Lift challenge

by Olivia Savage

The Royal Navy trialling Windracers Autonomous Systems' Ultra fixed-wing UAS (pictured) in the UASHLC. (Crown Copyright 2022)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched Phase 2 of the Unmanned Aerial Systems Heavy Lift Capability (UASHLC) challenge.

According to the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) published on 5 August, the MoD is seeking to “support and inform the development of maritime operating concepts and enable assessment, analysis, exploration, and evaluation of the use of UAS for beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) payload delivery and broader UAS capabilities”. The MoD is therefore seeking to accelerate the development of one or more suppliers' platforms, as well as the key technologies that will enhance UAS operational capabilities.

The closing date for suppliers to submit a PQQ is 5 September, with a contract expected to run from September 2022 to August 2027, the MoD said. Up to GBP95 million (USD116 million) is available for the programme, the MoD added.

The MoD was unable to provide further comment at the time of publication.


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Czech Republic to buy Heron UAVs from Israel

by Gareth Jennings

The Czech Republic is looking to buy three Heron 1 UAVs from Israel, with the deal expected to be concluded by the end of 2022. (IAI)

The Czech Republic is to buy three Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as part of the country's wider Concept of Capability Construction of the Army of the Czech Republic plan.

The Czech Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the plan on 8 August, saying that negotiations for the procurement are to begin with the Israeli government shortly as it plans to acquire equipment seen “as crucial in conducting aerial reconnaissance and performing other tasks for direct combat support and protection of Czech army units”.


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https://www.janes.com/defence-news/air-platforms/latest/ussocom-awards-armed-overwatch-contract-to-l3harris-technologies

US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has selected L3Harris Technologies as the lead contractor fo...

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