SNC to trial ISR high-altitude balloon for UK MoD

by Olivia Savage

SNC to demonstrate stratospheric ISR capability to UK MoD (Sierra Nevada Corporation)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has selected Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) unmanned high-altitude balloon (HAB) as part of Project Aether, the company announced on 10 August.

Project Aether is a UK MoD programme that seeks an unmanned stratospheric ultra-persistent communication and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.

An SNC spokesperson told Janes that the company intends to launch the platform in September during a 12-day period in the southwestern region of the US.

The MoD is soliciting bids for the next phase (Flight 2), which is expected in 2023, the SNC spokesperson added.

According to an MoD pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) issued in December 2021, Project Aether is a GBP100 million (USD120 million) programme that will span from 31 May 2022 to 31 December 2023.

The PQQ stated that the stratospheric unmanned system must be “on task for several months at a time … with minimal maintenance efforts and [have] global reach”.

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AUSA 2022: Rafael showcasing 100 kW-class Iron Beam, details development path

by Ashley Roque

The laser system used in early 2022 trials was the Iron Beam prototype previously seen at a Rafael facility. (Israel Ministry of Defense)

Rafael and the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMoD) want to have a 100 kW-class ground-based laser ready for fielding in the next couple of years that can assist Iron Dome intercepting unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), mortars, rockets, and anti-tank missiles in flight. The duo does not have an agreement with the US government to work together on the weapon yet, but Rafael will be at this year's Association of the United States Army (AUSA) convention showcasing the new capability.

Michael Lurie – the vice-president and head of the land manoeuvre systems directorate at Rafael, and the incoming CEO of Rafael USA – spoke with Janes on 30 September about Iron Beam development ahead of the annual conference in Washington, DC.

“We think the system will be the first operational high-energy laser system, not because we're the most advanced technologically … there are other US companies and probably other countries that are technologically very developed, but [Israel has] a very urgent need,” he said.

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AUSA 2022: Leonardo DRS coalition unveils single Stryker C-UAS

by Ashley Roque

Leonardo DRS and its industry partners are unveiling a single-vehicle C-UAS at the AUSA 2022 conference in Washington, DC, from 10 to 12 October. (Leonardo DRS)

Leonardo DRS, along with seven industry partners, spent the past year designing, integrating, and testing a counter-unmanned aerial system (C-UAS) based on a single Stryker Double-V Hull Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICVVA1) that it will showcase at the Association of the US Army (AUSA) 2022 conference in Washington, DC, from 10 to 12 October.

Ed House, Leonardo DRS's senior director for land systems, provided Janes with an initiative overview on 4 October ahead of the annual meeting in Washington, DC. This new single-vehicle capability was born, in part, from the company's work with the army on the Mobile, Low, Slow, Unmanned Aircraft Integrated Defeat System (M-LIDS) programme − a two-vehicle C-UAS system based on the mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) all-terrain vehicle (M-ATV).

During the AUSA 2021 conference, Leonardo DRS approached the service about working on a fully integrated C-UAS capability based on a single vehicle, House said.

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UK MoD seeks portable tablets for rotary-wing platforms

by Olivia Savage

The UK MoD is seeking portable tablets for use on rotary-wing platforms that alert users to potential obstacles. Pictured are 845 Naval Air Squadron (NAS), Commando Helicopter Force, Merlin Mk3, 662 Squadron AAC Apache AH1, and 27 Squadron RAF Chinook CH-47. (Royal Navy)

UK rotary-wing platforms will get portable electronic devices that enhance situational awareness for the crew.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has detailed a requirement for a Common Aviation Situational Awareness (CASA) tool intended for use on rotary-wing platforms such as the Boeing Apache, Boeing Chinook, Leonardo Merlin, Leonardo Wildcat, and Airbus Helicopters Dauphin, according to a dynamic pre-qualification questionnaire (DPQQ) on 4 October.

Valued at GBP10 million (USD11.25 million), the five-year contract is expected to start on 3 July 2023. The deadline for interested parties to submit proposals is 3 November.

It is envisaged that the situational awareness tool will be a tablet-based digital moving map that has a wire/obstruction alerting system, the MoD said. It will therefore be independent of the airframe and integrated systems, the MoD added.

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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has selected Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) unmanned high-altitude...

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